Snodkins-unhappy wight, to whom are attributed all the sins of dry-brained wits-is credited with the criticism on our college papers of the present day, that no great names are now found among their editors, as of yore. Snodkins "points with pride" to the long list of college editors at Harvard in the palmy days of college journalism; when, for example, such men as C. C. Felton, George S. Hillard, R. C. Winthrop, and James Freeman Clarke condescended to edit and contribute to the Harvard Register, Pere; when Edward Everett was editor of the Lyceum; when Holmes and Motley wrote for the Collegian; and when such a poet as Mr. Lowell used to compose verses for Harvardiana. And now, says Snodkins, not a single famous name on any of our college papers! We are very witty now-a-days, and we write the prettiest of verses and the staidest and wisest of editorials, but where can be found a grain of that Attic salt that flavors the pages of the Harvard Register, of 1827, for example! There is to be found the freshness of sophomoric thought in all its glory; ideas and language that never halt; and as for self-consciousness and disingenuousness, not the least in the world; or, if any, of a most simple and taking kind. And if there appears, now and then, a little pedantry and almost "Western" heaviness, did not the discriminating editors of the Register show their good intentions and appreciation of the fit by adopting as their motto the classic phrase from Byron, "I won't philosophize and I will be read?" And yet, we take it, still in a measure we have inherited something of the style and frequent felicity of expression possessed by these predecessors of ours, and the traditional literary bent of Harvard is by no means lost today. The Register of 1827 lived only two years (striking coincidence with a later case), but in that time it did its full share of literary work. The very titles of its articles, presented today to them, would, we fear, drive an Advocate or Crimson editor into angry convulsions. "The Morality of Ancient Philosophy," "Imagination, as Affecting the Abstruse Studies," "Uses of Literary History,"-think of it, gentlemen! And yet such writers as J. F. Clarke and F. H. Hedge, even in their college days, did not lack entertaining thoughts to utter on these and similar subjects. Dr. Holmes had not then given out his chilling dictum that "Knowledge, like timber, should not be much used till seasoned," and students were not, therefore, half-ashamed to have thoughts on such subjects and to speak them out. But then, as Snodkins holds, there are no more Dr. Hedges and Dr. Clarkes on the papers, and we are doubtless spared many inflictions of premature wisdom by the greater reserve and diffidence of our editors and writers.
There is a very noticeable flavor in these Register articles of the style and habits of thought of the English eighteenth century. Perhaps Dr. Holmes acquired his alleged Pope-like style from the practice of his college days in this sort of writing. If we were to quote certain passages from this book credited to their true authors, we fear we should be held for high treason; for what a ludicrous lowering of dignities there would be! If it were to be known that an overseer of Harvard once penned Horatian stanzas of the following sort, where would all authority flee?
There is, who, strange to say, delights
In moistening days and likewise nights,
With Claret, Port, and Sherry;
Reclined at ease upon his bed,
Cigar-clouds rolling o'er his head,
He greatly waxes merry;
For me, within the grove's cool dell,
Praising bad jokes with "fair," "c'est belle,"
And toasting belles much fairer,
I spend the day in mirth or song,
And also use as agrement
Punch dashed with old Madeira.
But then, as now, in such cases, precautionary signals had to be hung out for the ignorant and slanderous, of this sort: "Let not the friends of college be alarmed, nor those who still have faith in the good order of our institution, withdraw their confidence. This and all following allusions to disorderly practises, have reference to a state of things which does not now exist, and which, it is hoped, never did exist to the extent in which it is here represented. It is the privilege of all poetry to exaggerate." Harvard then, as now, also was the victim of envy and slander. How bravely and unconcernedly she has borne it all these years! We give a specimen of the wit of the Register on the subject of "Cutting in all its Branches," a justification from the papers of the Polyglot Club, once a famous institution of the college: "We cut our teeth in the cradle-cut our fingers and capers while children-cut a figure in our teens-and, at last, Atropos, with her black cap and Damascus scissors, cuts short the thread of our existence. Take almost any case that you choose, and you find cutting almost without exception the safest course." And so the changes are rung on "cuts" for a full page more.