Three-score pages and ten of the December Advocate are abroad in our midst. True, it opens with a reprint of "France," by John Macy '99, and for the sake of that "France" we could endure much. If you call a dog the Harvard Advocate, undergraduates will be inclined to love it; but unless the standards of the present Advocate not only improve but suffer a sea-change, even the faithful will fall off from it.
Let us suppose that we must read it--after the poem at the start. The second entry is something that someone wrote, but was either too tired or too wise to sign, called "On the Job." It concerns "Camp Devens" and a game of "bridge whist" and "barracks"--with all such intimate local color.
Next comes--oh, yes; oh, yes--a Christmas story. After two pages, in which the old millionaire bachelor demonstrates in many successive speeches that he does not appreciate Christmas, he leaves the club and starts for home in his "perfectly appointed car." Presently he learns from his chauffeur that they have knocked down a child--"a wisp of a girl, poorly clad, whose pinched face spoke the lack of food." From this point on the old millionaire buys Christmas presents until along toward the end, when we hear of "the star which they saw in the East"; and catch from the mother of the wisp that ever-beautiful sentiment, "God bless you, Mr. Campbell. My dead husband once worked for you, and he said you were a hard man. But he surely was wrong." And all this time, "Somehow his heart seemed very light and young within him." We can stand a story like this every Christmas, we can. Our fathers did; and their fathers did before them.
Then comes "New Moon." We suggest to the editors of future anthologies that the title of this immortal lyric be altered to "Diana Hermaphrodite," that the sweet anonymous singer may receive his due reward for it--ing the moon in one stanza and her--ing the poor thing in the next.
Then comes another "war" story--with nothing in it about warfare; then a poem about "the 'pyrus' of the Nile" (we take this to be some new-fangled allegory on those famous banks); then another poem about "our reckless youth," as brilliant as the dullest of the dull spots in a certain older poet; and then a one-act play which with twice as much dramatic spirit would have almost half enough for half an act.
Now we are not trying to make fun of the Advocate. Franklin S. Owen's "Sunset's Cradle Song," with an idea, and a little art, is a lone curd in an ocean of whey.
After that another anonymous poem all over the bottom of a page--always these poems! Then a hoax story--Italian; then a poem; then another hoax story--prepschoolian; then a poem ending:
"All gone? All gone!
No, it's a lie,
They are not gone--
'Tis I that am not I."
Apparently the little dog barked at just this point.
Plainly the Advocate board is print-mad and over-endowed with the price of typesetting. Plainly they are bent on assassinating their own reputations. Most plainly of all, they do not realize that war should not worsen the Advocate. Standards of any college magazine at this time should come up, and easily could come up. Many men in College--even Freshmen--are writing good stuff about brothers under wooden crosses, and about the ambulance work that they have done; many men in English 5 and English 12 and English 31 and English 6 could give lessons to these editors; and there are letters from across. It is the duty of the Advocate to secure the kind of thing that college men like to read and can read. The editors might even go to some of the men outside their evidently narrow clique for help. It would be sad to see the Advocate go on sending good war-time paper to the basket encumbered with spineless imitations of what might have filled cheap magazines a dozen years ago. T. L. HOOD '08