ANOTHER chapter of College history will soon be closed, and the needed rest of the long summer vacation will give both teachers and students an opportunity to review with calm judgment the results attained during these nine months of toil. The spirit of advance and improvement which has taken possession of the University has already borne good fruit; and the result of the still more important changes which another year is to bring with it is awaited with some anxiety,. but greater hope. The general tone of the College was never better. The whole tendency is one of increasing liberality toward the student. The consequence of which is a better understanding between the students and the instructors, that cannot but be productive of the best results. Indeed, it may be said that no one thing is of such vital importance to the well-being of an institution of learning, as perfect union of sympathy and purpose between instructors and instructed. This alone insures successful progress in the walks of learning.
In many respects the beauty and simplicity of old-time teaching has not been equalled by the wider acquirements of the present day. In those days teacher and pupils were inseparable friends and associates. The one had something which he must impart, the other the intense desire for knowledge characteristic of the natural and healthy mind. The two elements must meet, and their union must always be productive.
It is not only particular information on a given subject which students require of a professor; it is still more a contact of mind with mind, - a meeting on some neutral ground, where the experience and culture of a mature mind may exert its natural influence on the unformed intellect.
Now the application of this text is by no means impossible at Harvard. Notwithstanding the present satisfactory state of things, we all hope and look for a still better one in the future. The great bane of our College, its indifference and coldness, is not yet entirely done away with. We must get more warmth and enthusiasm into our lives. Contempt for work, and silly admiration of and reliance on unused abilities and aimless talents, however brilliant, are fatal. This sort of spirit it is which prevents the meeting of students and instructors under any circumstances but those of necessity. Blame undoubtedly attaches to both parties, perhaps even more on the side of the students; but we think it does not wholly so rest. It would be rude for us to dictate in what manner an advance toward acquaintance should be made by our instructors. We are well aware that, for many reasons, any general system of receptions is impracticable to them, and even if possible, might become tedious and unproductive of the desired result. But there is one ground which should be common to both parties, now occupied almost entirely by the students; we refer to the College press. That this idea is not a new one is proved by the occasional contributions we receive from members of the Faculty, one of which we are glad to publish in another column; but that such an idea ever occurs to the large majority of the instructors is not the fact. Now, with all due allowance for the trivial character of a College paper, and the unavoidable demands on the time and labor of an instructor, we still think that this is a medium of communication which should be used. That the College papers are not better than they are, is as much the fault of the instructors as of the students. Nor let them think that there are no appropriate subjects on which to contribute. Advice and information on electives, text-books, and methods of study, now given only to a few, and in a desultory manner, would be gratefully received by the editors, and we are sure acceptable to their subscribers. A published list of the best text and reference books on various subjects, and a notice from time to time of new works with their peculiar merits, would be invaluable, and would greatly assist students in their book purchases. Nor would there be wanting lighter topics, if the custom of contributing were once begun.
The natural result of such a system might possibly be the foundation of a University magazine which should adequately express the literary ability of the institution. Here might appear, in conjunction with the best efforts of the students, the latest discoveries of the Professors in their peculiar fields of study; for with so many eminent men in our midst, whose influence is felt in the outside world, it is surprising how little we know of what they are doing. We never know them for what they are except through a medium external to the College. A direct knowledge of their attainments - for they are, or should be, nothing but more advanced students - would incite us to greater exertion, and give occasion to higher thought.
Such a thing, however, could only be brought about by time, and at present we have only to think of the successful management of our more humble publication. To this we invite the contributions of those of our instructors who may feel, as we do, that this is a means to the very desirable end of a better acquaintance. Many of the foregoing ideas were confirmed, and some suggested, by a recent talk on the subject with one of our Professors.