Talk:Henry Drinker

Latest comment: 3 years ago by Ccerf in topic Beyond the scope of this page?

16:39, 8 February 2019 (UTC)Ncfc01 (talk)

Deletion of accurate material describing criticisms of Drinker


On 25 Jan 2019 an unregistered user cut a significant part of this article on the otherwise unexplained basis that it was "inaccurate." Removing content entirely because it is (according to one person) "factually inaccurate" is hardly an explanation when that user doesn't say what specifically was inaccurate or in what respect. Nor did the user attempt in good faith to revise the material to make it, in their view, more accurate. The content s/he removed was all cited to reliable sources, was carefully prefaced with such phrases as "according to critics," and was in fact an accurate rendition of what those qualified scholars have published. Although opinionated, that material fairly describes a significant current perspective on Drinker's work and times. Without it, the article is misleading in that it seems entirely laudatory, when in fact unvarnished praise of Drinker is a controversial point of view. Unless the user specifies an inaccuracy (as contrasted with a disagreement with the opinion implied by that criticism), I believe the material should be restored. PDGPA (talk) 21:43, 3 February 2019 (UTC)Reply

I apologize for my unfamiliarity with the Wikipedia rules. Also for the length of this explanation. It is true that I have a point of view on this subject but I will try, at least initially, to avoid stating opinions as opposed to facts. I believe that all of the following statements are facts that can not be disputed in good faith:
(1) When this page was created in 2009, the only content it contained was this assertion:
Henry Drinker was a powerful Philadelphia lawyer who personified the elitism of the bar in the early twentieth century. As Chair of the ABA Committee on Professional Ethics, he became a leading advocate of the Pennsylvania Preceptor Plan, a program designed to forbid lawyers from different ethic backgrounds and lower social strata from admission to the bar.
(2) The basis given for this assertion was "Legal Ethics in the Practice of Law" by Richard Zitrin, et al.
(3) Although a considerable amount of content (about, e.g., Drinker's family background, legal career and musical interests) has been added to the page since its creation, its original assertion, as quoted above, was essentially unchanged until January 7 of this year.
(4) The Pennsylvania Preceptor Plan was proposed in 1925 by Harry S. Knight, the President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and then championed by the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, Robert von Moschzisker. It was adopted in 1927, after the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had rejected the ABA's proposed educational standards, which were advocated by William Draper Lewis, the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
(5) Henry Drinker was the Chairman of the ABA Committee on Professional Ethics from 1944 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1958. There is no record of that Committee discussing the Pennsylvania Preceptor Plan while Drinker was on it (or, as far as I know, at any other time). Nor is there any reason to believe that the Committee would have had any reason to discuss it inasmuch as it was a policy of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, not the ABA.
(6) On November 30, 2018, I wrote to Professor Zitrin and asked him if he could provide me with any evidence that Drinker had been a leading advocate of the Preceptor Plan.
(7) On January 7 of this year, the entry on this page was edited and Jerold Auerbach's book "Unequal Justice" was cited as an additional source for assertions made about Drinker and the Preceptor Plan.
(8) Four days later, Professor Zitrin responded to my November 30 letter and referred me to Professor Auerbach's work (which he said I would have found if I had searched for Drinker on Wikipedia). Professor Zitrin said that he and his colleagues "drew from [Auerbach's] research" and "did not go further in researching" because they considered him to be a reliable source. I understood this to mean that Professor Zitrin and his colleagues had no source other than Professor Auerbach for the assertions he made about Drinker's involvement with the Preceptor Plan.
(9) On January 18, I wrote back to Professor Zitrin and pointed out that the only reference to Henry Drinker in Professor Auerbach's book is to a speech Drinker made at an ABA conference in Memphis in October of 1929. Drinker attended that conference with his friend, William Draper Lewis and he spoke at the meeting of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which Lewis chaired. The subject of his speech was the desirability of imposing a two year college education requirement for applicants to the bar. This was the proposal that the supporters of the Preceptor Plan had opposed and which had been rejected by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which adopted the Preceptor Plan instead. Drinker was strongly in favor of Dean Lewis's position.
(10) Professor Auerbach discusses Dean Lewis's educational proposals at pages 81-82 and 96-97 of his book but he chose to insert his brief quotations from Drinker's Memphis speech at page 127 where he describes the motives of those supporting the Preceptor Plan. An unwary reader (perhaps, in this case, Professor Zitrin and his colleagues) might easily have concluded that Drinker gave the speech in support of that Plan. But he didn't. And Professor Auerbach, who, unlike his unwary readers, had certainly read the speech, was careful not to expressly identify its subject matter. In other words, the only source given for the idea that Henry Drinker was a leading advocate of the Preceptorship Plan does not, in fact, support that proposition.
Anyway, the above constitutes my reasoning for removing the references to Henry Drinker's supposed advocacy of the Pennsylvania Preceptorship Plan. (I should add that I don't agree with Professor Zitrin's characterization of that Plan, but I don't think that is relevant to the question whether Drinker supported it.) I also recognize that since January 7, efforts have been made to distance this page from the Preceptorship assertion while adopting Professor Auerbach's selective use of some of the language Drinker used in his 1929 speech in order to suggest that he was an anti-Semite. My own view is that the snippets Professor Auerbach quoted are not a fair rendering of the speech itself. I also think they give a false impression of Drinker, of his motives in taking the positions he took, and, for that matter, of the Preceptorship Plan. (After all, even if you think Drinker's language proves something about him, it can't be said to prove anything about a Plan that he did not support and with which he had no connection.) That said, if Drinker's supposed anti-Semitism is the real question here, I would be more than willing to address it. Indeed, I have a very lengthy essay on the subject, which I would be delighted to share with anyone who has an interest (although I recognize the anonymity principle may make that difficult). My immediate point, however, is that even though those editing the page are trying their best to faithfully quote to reliable sources, the fact is that the sources that they are citing to are not, on this subject at least, "reliable." Neither Professor Zitrin nor Professor Auerbach has any evidence that Henry Drinker had any connection to or ever said anything about the Preceptorship Plan and I'm reasonably confident (after years of searching) that no such evidence exists. This page's decade old assertion on this subject - set forth above as item (1) - is false and, in my view at least, should not be continued.
Thank you for hearing me out. And, again, my apologies if I am not following the appropriate form.Ncfc01 (talk) 16:39, 8 February 2019 (UTC)Reply
I am not a Wikipedia administrator or any other sort of expert, but I do know something about Wikipedia's rules and norms. One fundamental is that Wikipedia is a compilation built from "reliable sources" and excludes "original research." (Others are that editors act in good faith and with courtesy to one another. Your comment demonstrates that these norms come naturally to you. Thank you for the calm and well-informed explanation of your edits. And there is no need to apologize; Wikipedia expertise is hardly to be presumed.) Thus, if your "very lengthy essay" were published anywhere, including on-line (other than perhaps your own website) you could edit the article to cite that source. But you can't remove material that is germane, and which comes from a "reliable source" (such as Auerbach's book) because you disagree with its point of view. What you can do is edit the article to make more clear that there is a controversy on this point, and cite to reliable sources advancing a different point of view. The one thing you could do now, based on your comment, appears to be that you could edit or even remove the reference to Drinker's role in or position on the Preceptor Plan, if Auerbach's book does not fairly support the assertion. Otherwise, it appears that what you have is what Wikipedia calls "original research," which will not be accepted by the editors of this particular platform no matter how correct or well-informed. A reasonable person could certainly fairly disagree with Wikipedia's rules and norms, but they are what they are. PDGPA (talk) 19:23, 9 February 2019 (UTC)Reply
PDGPA You're wrong on a couple points. Yes, Wikipedia does not allow original research, but this is exactly the kind of discussion that belongs on a Talk page. And no, Ncfc01 cannot publish somewhere and then cite him/herself as a source. If Auerbach's work is deceptive or wrong, it would be better not to cite it at all. If the two of you cannot come to some understanding about what is accurate and fair, I would advise asking an administrator to intervene. That said, I appreciate the civility on both your parts. == BoringHistoryGuy (talk) 21:35, 9 February 2019 (UTC)Reply
I may not have been entirely clear in what I am suggesting here. I am not trying to publish any of my own work. Nor am I trying to insert a critique of either Professor Auerbach or Professor Zitrin on Henry Drinker’s Wikipedia page. It is true that I disagree with their point of view on a number of subjects, but my criticism in this particular case goes to the absence of factual basis for the assertions they have made.
The fact is that both Professor Auerbach and Professor Zitrin assert that the Pennsylvania Preceptorship Plan was an organized effort to (in Professor Zitrin’s words) “keep the bar clean by forbidding membership to lawyers from different ethnic backgrounds and lower social strata.” It is in making that case that they cite to a speech Henry Drinker gave in Memphis in October of 1929. I think anyone reading what they said would assume that that speech was about the Preceptorship Plan. But it was actually about Dean Lewis’s proposed educational requirements. I do not see how there can fairly be said to be a “controversy” on this point. The speech says what it says. To the extent that someone chooses to argue that it was actually about the Preceptorship Plan, he or she is simply wrong.
OK, so does it matter what the speech was about? I think it does. The fact is that while Dean Lewis’s proposed educational requirements were controversial in the 1920s, they are not controversial now. Indeed, we impose much stricter requirements that constitute an even higher barrier of entry to the bar and yet no one contends that we do so “to keep the bar clean by forbidding membership to lawyers from different ethnic backgrounds and lower strata.” Which is why I think it is difficult to argue that Dean Lewis was advocating such a policy in the 1920s. Yet the only policy that Drinker was advocating in his 1929 speech was Dean Lewis’s proposal. I suppose you could edit the Wikipedia entry to make that clear but I’m not really sure why people would consider it important to include the reference. Drinker’s expression of support for Dean Lewis’s now uncontroversial educational proposal doesn’t strike me as particularly significant.
But what if the real point isn’t the policy that Drinker was actually advocating but is instead some of the language he used to make his point? Both Professors Auerbach and Zitrin quote Drinker as referring to “Russian Jew boys.” He does do that in a couple of places. His point was that “at college, at a place where you go to school all day with other boys ... such a boy had a chance to mix with the American boys and to absorb the American boy’s ideal of fair play.” He thought that “the best training that these boys get is going to college.” So if the point to be made on the Wikipedia page is that Drinker once used the phrase “Russian Jew boys,” it would seem to me that one would have to spend a fair amount of time explaining the context in which he used it.
I should add that even more might be said about Drinker’s hostility to solicitation of clients (which is now called marketing). But if that is a topic that should be covered on the Wikipedia page, the place to start is probably Drinker’s book on Legal Ethics which urges a firm stand against “the rising tide of commercialism” and the growing influence of those who would turn the profession into a “mere money getting trade.” I have no doubt that Drinker’s views on that subject informed some of his rhetoric in Memphis about “the competitive business they use down in the slums,” but any effort to cover that subject matter would require a lot more discussion than the quotation of a few words from a speech about the desirability of attending college.
Anyway, it is my belief that in 2009 this Wikipedia page was created to advance a false narrative authored by Professor Zitrin, who mistakenly believed that Professor Auerbach had some research that would back up the claims he made. As for Professor Auerbach, I agree with Professor Joseph W. Bishop of Yale who argued in his August 1976 review of “Unequal Justice” that Professor Auerbach “has marred his argument by suggestion of the false, suppression of the true, distortion of his adversaries’ arguments, and the frequent use of half-truth and sometimes simple untruth.” It is from one of those “suggestions of the false” that the entire myth of Henry Drinker’s advocacy of the Pennsylvania Preceptorship Plan arises. I am not suggesting that Wikipedia should explore all of this. I am suggesting that it shouldn’t be relying on unreliable sources to say things that aren’t true. And while it is true I have an enormous amount of original research to support the positions I am taking, I’m not proposing that Wikipedia publish any of it. My offer to make some of it available to those who have edited this page is an offer to convince the editors not to endorse or repeat false or misleading statements. I am sure they do not mean to do that and I’m equally sure that Wikipedia has no rules requiring them to do so. I’m writing this in the hope of persuading you that the edit I attempted to carry out on January 25 is actually right and a better “fix” of the situation than a massive and presumably contentious rewrite of the page to more accurately describe the rhetoric and subject matter of a not very important 1929 speech.
Thank you again for hearing me out. Ncfc01 (talk) 02:04, 11 February 2019 (UTC)Reply
As I believe you can see, I re-edited a couple of weeks ago in a way that I believe accommodates Ncfc01's legitimate concerns and enhances accuracy. PDGPA (talk) 15:26, 6 March 2019 (UTC)Reply
I think the changes PDGPA made on February 19 and March 6 eliminate the substantive inaccuracy that I identified in my earlier comments. I continue to believe that the selective quotation of a few words from Drinker’s 1929 speech conveys a false impression of both the speech and the speaker, but I concede that it is Auerbach who is the author of that particular sleight of hand and that the entry’s reference to what he said is not incorrect. So I think PDGPA has fairly met my criticism of the entry as it stood prior to this year.

Inasmuch as both PDGPA and BoringHistoryGuy seem to be fair minded and have a genuine interest in the subject matter, I now offer for their consideration three suggestions for improving the already much improved text:

1. In footnote 4, we now cite to Auerbach’s response (in the November 1976 issue of Commentary) to criticism of his work. Should we also cite to the criticism (in the August 1976 issue) to which he is responding?

2. I think the citation to Auerbach in footnote 6 for what Drinker was arguing for in Memphis (the two year collage requirement) isn’t really right. The problem is that Auerbach doesn’t mention Drinker in his discussion of that proposed reform. To the contrary, his only mention of Drinker comes thirty pages later in the course of his discussion of the Pennsylvania Preceptorsip Plan. As I said in an earlier comment, I think this was a deliberate deception on Auerbach’s part and it certainly succeeded in fooling Professor Zitrin and his colleagues. But it also makes it hard to cite Auerbach for what Drinker was actually talking about because Auerbach took pains not to disclose that.

My suggestion for solving this problem would be to cite the speech itself, which was published shortly after it was given. The citation is:

Proceedings of the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association Together with the Proceedings of the American Bar Association Relating Thereto, Printed in Vol. 6 The American Law School Review, 564, 589-90 (1930).

I remember PDGPA saying that Wikipedia has a rule against citing to “original research” but I would have thought that the speech itself was the best proof of what the speech was about. Still, if there’s some problem with that kind of citation, an alternative citation would be to:

Samuel J. Levine, Rediscovering Julius Henry Cohen and the Origins of the Business/Profession Dichotomy: A Study in the Discourse of Early Twentieth Century Legal Professionalism, 47 Am. J. Legal Hist. 1, 8-13 (2005)

I don’t agree with everything Levine has to say about Drinker’s speech but his article is plainly an honest and scholarly piece of work (unlike, in my view, Auerbach’s book). More to the point, it accurately identifies the subject matter of the speech, which Auerbach does not.

3. Finally, insofar as this portion of the entry is meant to cover Drinker’s legal work, it might make sense to include a reference to his earlier work, which was on a different subject but was also, in its time, the definitive text in a specific legal field. Not as sexy as legal ethics, to be sure, but demonstrative of the intellectual influence of the man over an extended period of time. I would suggest something like: “As a young lawyer, Drinker produced the definitive multi-volume treatise on the newly enacted Interstate Commerce Commission” with a citation to Henry S. Drinker, A Treatise on the Interstate Commerce Act and Digest of Decisions Construing the Same (Phila.: George T. Bisel Co. 1909) (3 volumes).

Anyway, those are my thoughts, having now read your recent edits, which – to repeat – consider to be a great improvement over what we had.Ncfc01 (talk) 18:29, 15 March 2019 (UTC) PDGPA (talk) BoringHistoryGuy (talk)Reply

Music work - translations


It is at best misleading to say that Drinker translated "the German text of...Haydn's Creation...." The libretto of the Creation was written in the 1790's and translated, or more accurately, adapted into German before Haydn began to compose. Since the publication of this work eight decades before Drinker's birth it has regularly been performed in English in Anglophone nations. The two editions most common in the US are published by Peters ("Leipzig") and G. Schirmer (New York) and neither credits Drinker. It is possible that Drinker edited the English version to produce a more idiomatic or singable text - unquestionably the original text needs at least minor work - but this is hardly a translation. Dr. Google provides no evidence that Drinker and the Creation had anything to do with each other.

It is also misleading to say that Drinker translated "a variety of works by Johann Sebastian Bach." A little searching finds which shows that he translated all the sacred cantatas as well as the motets and the major choral works. As for the secular cantatas, which appear to be excluded from the above collection, I have no reason to believe that Drinker neglected to translate them: my library has two secular cantata scores with English translations and the translator of both is Henry Drinker.

Consequently I have edited the sentence to omit Haydn's Creation and to change "a variety of works" to "the vocal works". I leave it to someone more skilled in Wikipedia attribution to change source #3, which actually is about Sophie Drinker, to the above reference.

C. Cerf (talk) 15:20, 28 December 2020 (UTC)Reply

Beyond the scope of this page?


Although a number of famous musicians had other occupations (Ives in insurance, Borodin in chemistry, Henry Lee Higginson in several industries), I can't think of another lawyer who, like Henry Drinker, is best now remembered for achievement outside the legal or political field, except for those primarily known for writing books. Are there others? C. Cerf (talk) 15:36, 28 December 2020 (UTC)Reply