During the past four years our college papers have been going through rather an interesting process of evolution. As many have not been here for the length of time mentioned, and as many others may not have noted the changes, it may be worth while to look back upon what has happened.
In the fall of 1882, four papers were running here, the "Harvard Daily Herald," the "Crimson," the "Advocate," and the "Lampoon." The "Herald" was conducted much as the CRIMSON is now. The "Crimson" was like the "Advocate" in form, but it came out every week. It contained editorials on college matters, short sketches, occasional verse, considerable athletic news, and many items such as now appear in the CRIMSON'S "Fact and Rumor" column. The "Advocate," then smaller than at present, laid more pretence to literary excellence than the "Crimson." In addition to the editorials, sketches, etc., it published short stories and essays. It also gave more attention to items than it now does. The "Lampoon" is but little changed. The articles which it prints to-day are, as a rule, shorter than formerly; the verse, on the whole, is better. But unfortunately fewer cuts are distributed throughout the text.
Four years ago then, the "Crimson," the "Herald," and the "Advocate" often covered the same ground in the editorial and item departments. The "Lampoon," "Advocate," and "Crimson" frequently had articles similar in character, the "Crimson" and "Advocate" being very much alike. It was plain that some process of differentiation was necessary. Accordingly in the fall of 1883, the "Herald" and the "Crimson" combined under the title "Herald-Crimson," afterward CRIMSON. This new paper differed little from the "Herald." Moreover, the "Advocate" has slowly changed, by giving less space to current events, leaving such things to the daily paper. It also prints fewer editorials; for the CRIMSON treats ordinary college matters, and the only thing for the "Advocate" to do in this line is to take time to consider them somewhat more thoughtfully and carefully than is possible for the CRIMSON. Then, too, the "Advocate" is devoting itself more to short stories, and work of a similar nature. Yet even now it is often like the "Lampoon," more especially in its verse.
Last fall the "Monthly" was started for the purpose of printing the "strongest and soberest undergraduate thought." Its articles are longer than the "Advocate's;" and while not neglecting good stories and verse, it gives more attention to essays and reviews. It is a very natural outcome of our work here. We indeed try to think steadily and gravely, and we need some magazines to publish the longer and soberer articles which are the result of such thought. Such pieces the "Advocate" often cannot print.
The CRIMSON and the "Monthly" then, hold fairly well defined positions. But the "Advocate" in certain ways seems to occupy a middle ground between the "Monthly" and the "Lampoon." It often has stories of the same general character as those which appear in the "Monthly; while on the other hand its sketches and verse are frequently suitable for the "Lampoon." Therefore, for the best success of Harvard journalism, it seems to the present writer that in time a fusion of the "Lampoon" and the "Advocate" will be necessary. The result will be a paper devoted to the lighter side of student life, as the "Monthly" is to the more serious. Whatever it prints, however, may well be most excellent in literary from and finish. The "Lampoon-Advocate," or whatever the paper is called, if not professedly funny in everything, may contain, besides sketches such as now come out in the "Lampoon," good, bright, short stories, not too serious, and often humorous. It will publish the best light verse which the college can produce. Further-more it will be illustrated. Although it probably will not have a certain number of pictures, with a joke attached to each, it will give the best artistic work of undergraduates, whether funny or not. In such a paper the humor could be better, for there would be less need of making it to order to fill up a certain number of columns; while the best features of the "Advocate," those which are not preserved in the "Monthly," would be kept. Such a paper, an ideal exponent of the lighter side of student life, if well conducted; could not fall to be a greater success than either the "Advocate" or the "Lampoon" now are, and a greater credit to the editors. The process of evolution here has been going on so steadily within the past few years, that the time does not seem far distant when we shall see at Harvard those papers, occupying distinct fields, the CRIMSON, a daily, the "Monthly, for our sober, steadfast thought, and a "Lampoon-Advocate" for our lighter moments.