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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

THE FRESHMAN CREW.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

IN the last number of the Advocate the Freshmen were most justly censured for neglect of their crew.

This class is the largest that has ever entered Harvard; it by no means lacks good material for a crew, yet it seems in great danger of doing worse even than the last Freshman Class. The Class of '76 were at least enthusiastic, subscribing liberally to meet the expenses of their crew and having all winter long in the Gymnasium from ten to twelve men working for it; but our new associates seem entirely forgetful of the fact that the rest of the College expect them to send a crew to the next regatta. Yet perhaps I am wrong in this; perhaps the Freshmen are mindful of the fact, but think that all that is essential to success at the next race is to elect a captain, a man almost wholly ignorant of rowing, and to enter a crew in the Fall Races so good as to show that, if proper measures are taken, the class can send out a crew which will retrieve the disgrace of last year.

That which is of the first importance, in entering upon the selection of a crew, is the choice of a proper man for captain. It seems incredible that the Freshman Class should, year after year, keep up the childish jealousy between the men fitted in Boston and those fitted elsewhere. It is a fact, I believe, that the election held last fall, far from being a choice of the man best fitted for the captaincy, was merely a struggle between the supporters of two gentlemen who rested their claims upon the fact that one was fitted at a certain school and his competitor at another! The spirit that seemed to actuate the men, as one of the members of the class is reported to have said, was this: "We don't care a straw for the office, but we want to defeat that man from -." If this were not their first year in Cambridge, they would know that just such a spirit among the fellows has already greatly injured one or two Freshman crews: and members of the other classes fear that it will succeed in gaining another victim in the '77 crew.

To those who know anything about this class, and who have watched their crew, it is quite evident that there is no one among them fitted by knowledge and experience to train a crew during the winter and coach them in the Gymnasium; and I think I may venture to say that to most of those men the following seems the best plan that can be followed: There are several fellows, who have been here a year or more and who have pulled during that time, who it is thought would be willing, if asked by the class, to choose a number of men, train them during the winter, and teach them all that can be learned on the rowing weights. When the spring comes, the trainer might take them on the river, going himself as coxswain, and assign to them their positions in the boat as should seem to him best. As soon as the crew are fairly at work, let the members elect one of their number captain, and, while he would have full command over the men, the trainer might still go out for the purpose of giving them style. It seems to me to be proved conclusively by the blunders of '75 and of '76 that a class as a body knows nothing about the qualities requisite in a captain of a crew; and it is well known to any one who has ever pulled that it is soon evident to the crew which of their number is best fitted for captain.

These suggestions I would most earnestly beg the class to consider, not as coming from one busying himself with their private affairs, but as from one of the many fellows in college who take the deepest interest in the success of the crew of '77.

G. C.

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