Excerpt from A Victorian In the Modern Age

Hutchins Hapgood

Ever since my days as a sophomore at Harvard University, I have seen much of Robert Morss Lovett. As time went on, he got more and more connected with the effort to work for the underdog: freedom of speech, freedom of assemblage, freedom for liberty to organize, freedom for the most extreme expressions of the philosophy of labor. Lovett nevertheless remained definitely within the organization of capitalistic society. He always maintained his position as Professor in the University of Chicago, though often attacked by the reactionary elements and once burned in effigy. Also for years he has written for the liberal New Republic. Somehow not only his friends but his enemies recognize so fully his social good will, that

( 542) he has been able to carry on, standing in the middle of the process, without being shoved off in either kind of sterile propaganda.

Imbued more with a feeling of personal integrity than of theoretical tendency, he kept his old friends and I think in the case of one of them, Robert Herrick, helped his friend more and more to the left. Another very close friend of his, William I. Thomas, has apparently in the midst of social changes remained the same. Thomas is a scientist, a sociologist well-known among the interested; he held a position as Professor of Sociology for many years at Chicago, but his impulse to dig deep into sociological groups of people naturally separated him from the academic life, and for years he has made a living by being employed to make investigations in this country and in Europe, ascertaining the manner of living in large groups, approaching the work with no prejudice. Thomas, although entirely uninterested in propaganda, has always kept himself aloof from any affiliation with the machinery of exploitation. In his little apartment in New York, he did his own washing, much of his own cooking, and, during Prohibition at any rate, made his own drinks; as a pastime he invented what he thought was a new type of golf-ball, but I don't think he was ever able to put it on the market. In fact, he was just as clear as any workingman of personal relations with capitalistic graft; for, in fact, he is a workingman; also a man of extraordinary life-desire, a sense of sex and of mental amusement in the midst of moderate drink. During Prohibition days, many a time Lovett and I dined at his apartment. At these parties, Will would do the cooking, and he cooked beautifully, concoct the drinks, and genially analyze the human animal, temperamentally and sociologically. As I have had frequent opportunity to observe, the scholar may have a permeating geniality peculiarly marked. Then Lovett would often take us to one of his delightful speakeasies, run by some Italian; or we would go to see dear old Luke O'Connor.

I imagine that Lovett very rarely mixes up his various interests, I, at any rate, never heard him speak of his interest in the labor situation and in civil liberties in Thomas's presence; yet I think he like Thomas as much as anybody.


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