In the Oxford Magazine, of which five numbers have already appeared, we at last recognize the model college publication. Uniting in its management members of both graduate and undergraduate departments and admitting to the privileges of its columns students as well as professors, it fills a place in college journalism that is occupied by no publication in this country. The only attempt at journalism at all similar, the Harvard Register, failed because it could not be said to represent the undergraduate or the instructor. Although largely filled with contributions from the pens of professors, it was compelled to yield to an official publication of the faculty; it had never commanded the support or interest of the undergraduates.
The Oxford Magazine, on the other hand, unites the desirable features of the Register and the ordinary college journal. It not only gives all the news of the day, but contains articles of a high order of merit on current college topics.
Its arrangement is pleasing and convenient. It contains twenty pages of reading matter, each page being about equal to a page of the Nation. The paper is headed by the calendar for the week, very similar to our own calendar. After this comes a series of short editorials on items of the week, followed by "University and City Intelligence," which comprises items of interest to the entire university. Besides these, there appear several columns of news collected from the different colleges which make up the university. The rest of the paper is filled up with extended articles on university and educational topics, a Cambridge letter, athletic news and a sermon.
The longer articles, which consist of both poetry and prose, are decidedly superior, both as to subject and treatment, to the corresponding features of American college journals. No attempt seems to be made at humorous writing, unless, perchance, it be a bit of verse. The contributions belong distinctly to the class called "solid," and are on such subjects as "Want of Leaders in Oxford," "Democracy and Culture," "University Men and Local Government." There is every evidence that these articles are read with interest, for quite a number of them have called forth lengthy rejoinders.
Besides these, each number contains articles on rowing and on foot-ball. In these is noted the progress made by the crew or team in the past week. The first thing that strikes the reviewer is the great merit of the articles and editorials. Is it to be inferred from this that the English student requires a higher order of literature from his college paper than that which is demanded by his American brother-student? The facts seem to justify this assumption. Of course it must be taken into consideration that a part of this paper is written by graduates and for graduates. But still the fact remains that it is primarily a students' paper, written for the undergraduates. The liberal quotations of Greek and Latin which are scattered through the paper appeal, however, to a body of readers, to whom Latin and Greek are more familiar than perhaps any other subjects. The elective system at Harvard has made it possible for a man to drop his Greek and Latin at the end of his freshman year. The result is that a number of Harvard students are incapable of translating a Greek or Latin sentence, which requires more than the most elementary knowledge of the languages, after their freshman year. In Oxford this is not the case. Greek and Latin are kept up by the student until the classic works are as familiar to him as are the productions of his own countrymen. Oxford men quote ancient languages in their daily conversation. The reason for this is easily understood. The fact that all the students are occupied in the same line of study gives them sympathetic views. Men are readier to converse on the subject of their studies when they are sure that every hearer will know precisely to what they refer, and what they mean.
At Harvard, the number of men who have taken exactly similar courses throughout their college career is limited, and as a result there is no common bond of sympathy existing in the studies pursued. This fact will do much to explain why the college papers devote so much space to athletics, while other topics seem to be neglected. Athletics furnish the only common ground of interest to the majority of students.
But the presence of such articles in the Magazine merely goes to show that the students' thoughts at Oxford run more in the same line than is the case at Harvard. There is no such diversity of interest as is shown by the very fact that American college papers are unable to find subjects that appeal to the entire body of students. As the Harvard publication desires to please its readers, it must resort to the only subjects of general interest - athletics and strictly university topics.
The Magazine gives long accounts of the debates of the Oxford Union which will be of interest to Harvard readers, as our own union was modeled after that at Oxford. The interest displayed by the university at large has made the union one of the most prominent features of English university life. A man who has become distinguished in the union is considered one of the rising men of the university. A brilliant speech excites comments throughout the whole university. This is shown by the fact that the Oxford Magazine devotes an editorial to a young freshman whose first effort in debate was such a success that it was considered a matter of general interest. The poetry of the Magazine is of a decidedly superior tone. An excellent parody of Chaucer runs through several numbers. The Oxford poet, however, seems to delight as much in French forms as his American brother.