John Mason Brown, of the Kentucky and Crities' Circle Mason Browns, asked a Harvard student a few years back what his contemporaries thought of a currently popular professor. "Well," replied the student after due deliberation, "he has a rep as being amusing but a terrific ladies' club lecturer."
"Migawd," groaned Mr. Brown, "that you should say that to me." For if any one man has an intimate knowledge of the genus hokinsoniensis it is he. From Bronxville to Winnetka and from Wellesley to Butte Heights he has trod the boards with a dinner jacket for his buskin and a water pitcher for his scenery. The immediate result of his expeditions was the spread of the gospel of the drayma; a less immediate but just as laudable one in his newest book, "Accustomed As I Am."
Only a real humorist could be amused by giving a lecture, but that is the phenomenon that Mr. Brown represents. He is amused by himself when he forgets names and puts people to sleep as much as he is amused by the trepidations of the lady who is to introduce him and the belligerent attitude of husbands. He is amused by train rides and Gideon bibles, by hostesses who meet him at trains and by after-dinner bores. He is amused by cynics and by bellhops and by Mrs. Roosevelt. With a never-failing geniality he allows his own private amusement to overflow for the benefit of his readers.
There is no use denying that among the other butts of his amusement. Harvard stands high. When Mr. Brown used to give a course at the Summer School (pre-acceleration) he was the only professor who could draw an overflow crowd without benefit of analyzing current events. When he delivered a series of lectures on the theatre two years ago, the s.r.o. sign went up in Emerson D for seven weeks in a row. Harvard has long laughed at the wit of its son, and it is only fair that meanwhile its son shoudl have been storing up laughs at Harvard. Professors, students and the University life itself are all the subjects of his probing pen, which seems to have only to seek to find humor.