WHY IS IT?
Sometimes we are tempted to believe in the irony of Fate; especially when, in the intense pre-examination era; Christopher Morley sees fit to ask, in his "Colyum" in the Evening Post (New York), "Why is it that a man who went to Harvard or Yale never forgets it?" To the undergraduate it seems almost like adding insult to injury to put forth such a question at the present time; there are certain days and nights indelibly impressed on our memories--and the shadow of the Widow we have always with us. The waters of Lethe are many miles away.
For the graduate we cannot answer, not yet having attained that status. But a line from Lady Gregory comes to mind: "Let them see me as they have made me cut to be"--which may explain away some of Mr. Morley's bewilderment. After all, human beings in general usually do what is expected of them, and Harvard or Yale men are no exceptions to the rule. For more years, perhaps, than we realize, it has been customary to say of a business or literary success that "it is no wonder; he went to "New Haven (or, Cambridge, as the case may be)". Vice versa, let the same man fall, and he is held up to view as a horrible example of wasted opportunities. The Harvard or Yale man who does anything out of the ordinary has about as much social, financial, or literary privacy as Irvin Cobb's now proverbial goldfish. Small wonder he cannot forget what he is he is not allowed to. Mr. Morley and the rest have taken upon their shoulders an Old Man of the Sea of their own making. Nor will he drop off so long as they persist in clinging the more tightly to him.
Incidentally, and wholly without rancor, we cannot see where Harvard and Yale men are so much more unforgetful than the great majority of other college graduates. Back in the dim recesses of memory we seem to hear echoes of "Good old College days"-and "When we were boys together in X--", and the like. Still, hallucinations are very possible in these advanced days of spiritism.
Seriously, though, Mr. Morley, would you really want us to "forget it"? To lay ourselves open to the charge of thanklessness? That were even worse. There are indeed deep and abiding reasons for the feeling a graduate holds towards his college--reasons which we would gladly make clear to the incredulous if we could. But to attempt this would only be to court a misunderstanding. For, as one Harvard alumnus has said, one no more talks of this than of why he likes his family.