Every student, when he shall have gone away from Cambridge for the last time, will look back to the time when he boarded at Memorial with no small degree of pleasure. Even now as we return after a vacation, we feel a certain pleasure in sitting once more among the noisy groups at the plain rectangular tables in the dining hall. It requires only a few months for a student to get used to the hurry-of his fellow students, not of the waiters, and the noise and clatter. If later he happens to take a meal at a private table, he notices the quiet, is almost puzzled by it, and would really feel more at ease in the noisy hall.
Every one knows what an impetus table championship gives to the formation of friendships, carrying with its a spirit of cheerfulness and joviality. Many men, who are at times a little scrupulous about partaking of spermaceti soup, baked Indian, and corn starch, do away with these scruples for the sake of the companionship, recognizing, perhaps the importance of having good, cheerful company at table in order to get the most good from what he is eating there. Students, especially those who eat at club tables will enjoy looking back to their days of boarding at Memorial, and in days to come will meet their old fellow boarders with great pleasure.
Setting aside this pleasant companionship, and the bare fact that Memorial embodies in its walls a large dining hall, we find certain other pleasant and memorable features also. Who can ever forget the visitors' gallery? Who wants to forget it? Some have almost irreverently called it the "upper world," from which angels at times appear and look down upon the wicked and busy mortals below. Once, we are told, a sweet scented rose fell from this ethereal region. This sacred region is the object of no little worship. I remember once watching the men as they filed into the hall, and I can safely say that I saw nine out of every ten who entered, look up to the gallery, often even before they were seated at table, and without fail afterwards. Then next there is the basement, which some have even dared to call the other place. Of this wonderful place, we have memories both pleasant and not pleasant. Who has ever penetrated the dark recesses? Only a few bold fellows, and they have returned with wonderful reports. Some go as far as to say that it is really hot down there, some say that it reminds them of the dark continent, and some are even more specific, and call it Africa. They have both a Plato and a Persephone down there. Great chaldrons may be seen, presumably filled with some strange liquid or concoction, to judge from the fearful rumbling boiling sound that comes forth. Bones and skeletons of every conceivable kind of animals are there; dark holes and passages, steam from unknown recesses, the clanking of iron, and the roaring of fires are everywhere met with. Indeed, what a place this is ! What a hall it is, with a lower world, our intermediate world, and an upper world, almost a little universe by itself!
Then, too, there are other memories that will always cling about the hall. What graduate will forget the commencement and class day exercises held in Sander's theatre, the concerts, and lectures, the prize speaking, or the dancing and gaiety, and beauty often enjoyed and seen in the dining hall? The old well-worn bulletin boards come in for their share too. Many times we have read them from top to bottom with their notices of Union debates, of games and sports, of tutoring, and of articles for sale. The bulletin boards come to be regarded as a part of the hall itself, I mean, an important part. Next in memory will come the throng of news boys at the entrance-"Record, sir? only one cent." "Herald, Journal, Transcript, and Star." Then there are the theatre stairs in the transept, famous for being the rostrum of that orator so noted among college men, the great and only Damel Pratt. How many discourses in poetry and prose have been heard there, discourses on love, astronomy, metaphysics, philosophy, and politics in general, and on the "great Pratt from Prattville," in particular!
Can we think of any building, then, among all the college piles which holds in itself so many pleasant memories for the Harvard man, when, we will suppose, he has gone out into active life? Certainly there is none,-unless, perhaps, it be University with its proverbial and awe-inspiring "U. 5," which carries with it so many thoughts and experiences of college life.