The December number of the Monthly made its appearance yesterday, and from beginning to end is a most interesting number. The first article. "An Ideal in College Athletics," by Mr. Evert Jansen Wendell, '82, is one which every college man should read. The writer advances several convincing arguments in favor of athletics, which he says "not only tend to discourage looseness of living and to found a strong constitution, but, if taken rightly, they can hardly fail to develop in the athlete to a marked degree the qualities of courage, perseverance, loyalty, and a high sense of honor." This is a sentiment which must commend itself to all earnest, thinking men. It is undoubtedly the true way to look at athletics; and to reach this result, Mr. Wendell contends, the athlete must begin with a thorough respect for and appreciation of his sport; and he must especially avoid all tricks and underhand practices. That part of the article which relates to the college faculty and to "professionalism" is especially worthy of study, inasmuch as there has been so much discussion on the subject at Harvard of late years. In the first place, the writer takes the ground that "it should be the faculty's endeavor, so far as possible, to give to the athletes of their college all the advantages that their opponents possess, and to let them feel that, as a body, it has a lively interest in their successes; and if anything in the method of conducting the sport seems undesirable, let it appeal to the athletic men-as man to man-to have it remedied." That is the true solution; and, as Mr. Wendell says, nothing "can ever be gained by making an intelligent man conform to rules with which he does not agree!" The writer then deplores the use of the word "professionalism" as applied to dishonest practices, and holds that the faculty is unwise in forbidding all practice with professionals (in the proper sense of the word). We have in college a so-called "sporting element" which is really very deleterious to athletics. The point which Mr. Wendell makes here in regard to betting is a strong one-his position in the matter is undeniably the true one. Too much praise is no praise at all. But it is neither too much nor too little, to say that we have never read so thoroughly sensible and convincing an article on the much-talked about and much-written about subject of athletics.
"Exercise for Health." by Dr. Edwin Farnham, is an argument in favor of out-door exercise rather than gymnasium work. The argument rests upon the fact that it is the condition of the internal organs and not the amount of muscle a man possesses which determines his health. Work is a stuffy, ill-ventilated gymnasium is all very well, but it must be supplemented if not supplanted by out-door exercise.
"An Indian Legend" is a pretty little story, though rather unsatisfactory and a trifle too mysterious.
The paper on "Keat's Poems" shows the result of thorough study on the subject. The criticisms are careful, brief and to the point. The quotations are happily selected. It is altogether a very interesting article.
"The Goldsmith and the Madrigal Boy" is a very pretty tale worked up from the old story in a very powerful way; the vividness of the picture and the gracefulness of the narrative are conspicuous characteristics, rendering it a story which is worthy of being widely read. It is undoubtedly the best article of its kind which has appeared for some time.
Of the poetry, Mr. Carman's "Violets" is a very charming bit, which does credit to its author. The poem is not wearisome nor "long drawn out," as might be expected from the extreme simplicity of the subject. Some of the stanzas are pure poetry. Take as an example:
"With all the delicate sky charm Of deepest wood,
These blossoms yet are pulsing warm With brotherhood."
"Here they are loveliest-endure Unsoiled, apart,
Holding eternal spirit pure, Each in his heart."
The other pieces are "Venus Victa" and "The Message." The former is not as successful an effort as the "Venus Victrix" of the same author, and in this, perhaps, lies its chief fault. It should have come first and so prevented the disappointment we must feel on comparing the two. "The Message" is scarcely up to the usual standard of the Monthly, though it is a fair bit of verse, and, coming as it does from a new contributor, gives promise of better work in the future.
There is one marked improvement in this number of the Monthly over the last: it contains less poetry in proportion to the prose. Too much verse in a magazine of this nature is apt to pall.