Review of Current Advocate
For an editor of thirty-one years ago to air his opinions about a sheet with which he was once closely identified seems like talking over a grandchild--or a grandmother--in public. But since Harvard, like Nelson's England, expects every man to do his duty, I shall try to do mine in the hope that no family ties may be severed by what I say.
It is hard for me to adapt myself comfortably to the fact that the Advocate is no longer an organ of College opinion. Can it be that the internal economy of the University is so perfected that there are no continuing evils to assail, no grievances so lasting as to call for the use of heavier journalistic ordnance than the daily musketry of the CRIMSON? I must look, it is clear, at the Advocate not as a semi-monthly spokesman of College views, but as a carrier of light waves--of verse, stories, and the occasional essay. If the old Advocate was a bit ponderous, the new Advocate--is it my years?--seems to me not quite heavy enough. But when I come to examine the component parts of this issue, there are really no serious faults to find--no faults, I am sure, of which the editors themselves are not perfectly well aware. The editorial on the after-glow of the Yale game is wholly to the point. It might, to be sure, have been a generous touch to add to the refreshing though that the dogma of Yale infallibility had had a hard blow the further reflection that both colleges may mutually profit by the "exhilarating (not exhilirating) novelty" of Harvard's winning three great events. In Mr. Edgell's story "Two Operas" I find a pleasing old fashioned note--a story straightforwardly told and getting somewhere without baffling allusiveness or the world-worn ennui of two decades of life on this planet. The plot is a trifle better than the telling, but that fault can be remedied. A slightly cynical ending does not destroy the general simplicity. More ambitious and more difficult is the flight of "Tobias Medetates," the most important effort of this number. It is a venture into negro dialect; the character of Tobias is novel and strong. His doctrine of the "come-back" and his ironical "Yessir" are sure touches. I for one can stand more of Tobias. The telling, on the whole, is better than the story. "The First Prophecy" by Mr. Moore deals with remote things--early Britain, Vortigern, Merlin and the Druids. The chronology is a matter of faith, but the influences are distinctly those devices from some course in English. A good imagination and some artistry in words spent too lavishly on the impossible--these things make me wish that Mr. Moore would come off his mediaeval perch; his literary legs will stand firmer on the common ground. At last an essay after the old familiar College type, this time "Concerning College Amours." Mr. Martin has some delicate phrasing, captivating turns of speech, and still looks at life from an upper window. But he is sure to write better because he already writes so well.
Good contrasts are shown between the "Chanson du Crepuscule" by W. G. T--F and the snappy "On Cedar Hill" by E. N. P. which gives a fresh sense of rhythm. This issue leaves one with the impression I have always cherished, that the Advocate serves an excellent purpose. It gives a fair try-out to men who wish to express themselves in the simpler modes of literature. But I cannot believe that enough of the latent capacity of undergraduates is brought out in these fairly readable columns.