ONE morning, a few weeks ago, in my entry, which is inhabited principally by Juniors and Freshmen, the cards were found to have mysteriously disappeared from the board placed to receive them. Convincing evidence showed that some Freshmen must have been guilty of the deed, and the enraged Juniors resolved, if possible, to fix upon the man. It pains me to be obliged to relate their ill-success. The Freshmen, when examined singly by the visiting committee appointed for the purpose, displayed, as a rule, the most firm and unblushing fronts. Some few instances of sheepishness there were, to be sure, and one Freshman, on the entrance of the urbane investigators, bashfully retreated to his bedroom, whence he was dislodged with some difficulty. All admitted the meanness of the act, and several gentlemen could express the violence of their indignation only by the use of words which even sporting papers banish from their columns. Most of them had no doubt but that some Freshmen resident in the entry were the guilty men, but none had the faintest idea what Freshmen. A dignified impenetrability, in short, characterized their demeanor, and, although the act has since been several times repeated, the Juniors have been obliged to let the matter drop in despair.
Tempora mutantur. No man rejoiced more at the abolition of hazing than myself, for it seemed a brutal and senseless custom. But that I, a member of the class of '75, which instituted this reform, should suffer this humiliation at the hands of the haughty class of '77, - that I, who solemnly promised with the rest to abstain from hazing, should myself be roughed, - is indeed a galling thought! Perhaps, then, the Sophomore theory that "the conceit must be taken out of Freshmen" was not so absurd a one after all. Who knows but that the propensity to haze was a divinely seated instinct, created for good purposes, and that the College has done an unwise thing in attempting to root it out? Surely the Freshman's mind, when he comes here, is in a somewhat critical condition. Reared among the comforts and refinements, to be sure, of home, but also among its restrictions, he has been looking for a year or more to the freedom of college life. After his entrance, therefore, he is apt to think himself suddenly become a man, and to do the most absurd things simply because he considers them manly. Naturally, at the same time, his own opinion of himself becomes exalted. He is a Harvard student and a great man. He feels this keenly, and the consciousness is apt to generate the disagreeable quality which was once known as "cockiness," but which now has no name since the abolition of the Sophomore censorship. Was not the development of these traits in some degree checked by the custom of hazing? If the Freshman felt inclined to turn his newly acquired liberty into license, was it not a wholesome reminder of his days of innocence, when the party of Sophomores visited him, made him read his Testament, and tucked him into bed? If his manly aspirations led him to drink bitter beer and the choking hot brandy-and-water, was it not as good for him as a temperance lecture to be doused in cold water and left to dry? Did not, in short, the Sophomore take the place of a mother to him and frequently perform the functions of the previous maternal supervision? But, it may be said, however this was, the Sophomores were certainly not the men to exercise this restraint. The belief in the conceit of Sophomores is a pretty general one, and may be correct. Nevertheless, it does not seem to me that this quality makes the Sophomore a less powerful agent for the Freshman's good. Conceit is objectionable both in Freshmen and Sophomores, and if the Sophomore has the inclination and the power to make his own feelings less prominent in the Freshman, by all means let him do so.
The outrage which I have narrated, and which suggested this course of reasoning, is a good test of its correctness. For if hazing is a bad thing, we should naturally expect that the consequences of its abolition would not be disastrous. And what do we see? Why, that members of the first class which has ever been exempt from hazing, in less than two months after entrance, have dared to assail one of the most cherished palladia of upper classmen. This state of affairs is one which arouses grave feelings of alarm and demands the deepest consideration. And, in order that it may be duly pondered on, I have written this exposition of it to the Magenta.
A. S. T.