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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
AT last steps have been taken toward erecting stained-glass windows in the Banqueting Hall of Memorial; and in this action the Class of 1857 have taken the lead.
In order to obtain the best designs for the subjects which have been selected by them, they have, for purposes of competition, sent, through their architects, to several firms, both English and American, a diagram of one of the windows, showing the dimensions of the figures and ornamentation, and containing such restrictions and limitations as have been considered necessary for the general harmony of the stained glass in the Hall; a circular giving the subjects for the window, and the authorities from whence their costumes, etc. may be taken; and also several points relating to the building.
Considering it highly necessary for the preservation of a proper harmony, that all the windows should contain figures appropriate to the Hall, they have chosen as suitable for their window - which is to be erected in memory of their classmates who fell in the war - those of Sir Philip Sidney and Epaminondas, as illustrating Chivalry and Patriotism. These figures, which will be about four feet ten inches in height, are to occupy the greater portion of the spaces above the ventilators, in the two parts of the window under the trefoil; around them, in a style corresponding with the subject, will run a decorative border, which, in the Sidney window, will properly be Elizabethan, and in the Epaminondas window, Grecian, and, above, there is to be a belt with the names of the subjects. The ventilators underneath are to be occupied by representations of episodes appropriate to the figures, together with suitable inscriptions, - the one in the Sidney window, by the representation of the death of Sir Philip, and the incident of his giving the cup of water to a wounded soldier, probably with the inscription, "Thy necessity is yet greater than mine"; and the other, by the picture of the Spartan matron giving the shield to her son, while for an inscription, either on the shield or above the picture, her words may be placed, H tautav n eti tauta. In the trefoil over the two parts of the window is to be the inscription, "The Class of 1857," and on the lower edges of the windows the following, - "In Memory of those Classmates who Fell in the War," and "Erected A. D. 1875."
In the circular of the architects, the strong sunlight - which is of much greater intensity than that generally prevailing in Europe, and to which the window, being on the south side of the Hall, is exposed - is directed to be constantly considered by competitors, in determining the tones of color to be employed in the construction of the window; and there is also great stress laid on the request to avoid ecclesiastical effects, as the general style of the window is to be essentially decorative.
This window is but the forerunner of several others that are to be erected by later classes at no very distant day, and it is to be hoped that, with this good example set before them, the present graduating class, and those succeeding it, will not be slow to take active measures for the adornment of "the grandest college hall in the world."
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