"The thing" is so vast that it covers all the actions of life, from bawling in the cradle to delivering a Class Day oration, and is as uncertain as it is grand. All its admirers, however, unite in condemning certain actions as objectionable, and these, of course, are to be avoided by every true thing-worshipper.
For the instruction of Freshmen, or of those who never have made a study of the matter, we should like to state that an especial object of aversion at Harvard is the Gymnasium. It is regarded as semi-barbarous to go there, and we confess that we are rather afraid to own it, after having visited Lister's palace, and prefer simply to say that we have been exercising. It is allowable to take a pull on the river, or a stroll around the foot-ball ground, but during the winter "the thing" is to take no exercise at all. So the Gymnasium is left to men who do not know what a sin they are committing, and who appear to enjoy playing tenpins all the afternoon, or lifting a five-pound dumb-bell for hours together.
Another form of exercise which is strictly forbidden is taking a walk; how the men who patrol North Avenue in couples would feel, if they knew that to walk is not at all "the thing." If they want to do an errand, they ought to hire a carriage; if they want exercise, - which some men, strangely enough, do, - they can take boxing lessons.
The practice of taking notes in recitations should be avoided, as it gives the appearance of paying attention; it is much better to remember what you can, and put it down in your own room, where no one will see you.
We all know, of course, that it is not "the thing" ever to show the least excitement, wear spring-bottomed trousers, - or a thousand other things. The more important question is, What is "the thing"? and this we have never been able to solve, though we, like many others, have devoted our life to that end. Some say, "not to study"; others, "to dress well"; the Freshmen think they have found it at the Howard: but the general opinion seems now to indicate light ulsters.
We have become thoroughly out of patience with "the thing," - it is so vague and unsatisfactory, - and have determined to leave off trying to discover what it is, and to devote ourselves to grinding for the semiannuals.