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TO the uninitiated the anguish that visits the mind of the ordinary college student when engaged in writing letters is something more readily imagined than described. Letter-writing is such an exceedingly difficult thing that the Faculty should institute a course of electives in that subject, uniting it, of course, with a carefully selected set of prescribed studies, and requiring of the student at least an hour's work in the gymnasium daily. This would insure a clear mind, and would furnish the student with all the muscular development necessary to the undertaking of such a colossal task. Even old Hercules himself would have recoiled if Eurystheus had stepped up with a pleasant, yet not unmeaning smile, and requested him as a thirteenth toil to write a congratulatory letter of eight pages to his cousin, who had just succeeded in obtaining a situation in a "Gentlemen's Furnishing Goods" store at Athens.
There should be four elective courses in letter-writing, as follows:-
Letter-Writing I. (three hours a week). - Text-book to be used, "Williamson's Complete Set of Letters from a Son to his Father," comprising beautifully worded epistles asking for an increase of allowance, long accounts of professors, the different college buildings, examinations, recitations, etc., etc., for immediate reference.
As it is probable that this elective would be taken by nearly every member of the University, it would be necessary to hold the recitations on Jarvis Field; and in case of a storm, the spacious apartments of the College Hospital would afford ample shelter.
In Letter-Writing II. the following text-books should be used: Bell's "General Methods of Letter-Writing," containing letters from the collegian to his mother, from the collegian to his brothers and sisters, from the collegian to his grandfather and grandmother; and "Thompson's Complete Letter-Writer," containing letters from the collegian to the world in general.
Letter-Writing III. would probably be a much more difficult course than either of the others, and would require a thorough knowledge of rhetoric, and of Bain's mental science. The text-book should be Smith's "Epistolary Communication between a Gentleman and his Trades-people." A student having taken this course would be prepared to write such a charming note to any one of his creditors, that he (the creditor) would not only cease asking him for the money, but would offer to pay up the sum in question on the receipt of another letter of a like nature.
Letter-Writing IV. should only be open to those students who had attained 70 per cent in Freshman prescribed small-talk. The textbooks in this course should be Jules Michelet's "L' Amour," and Robinson's "Multum in Parvo; or, The Art of saying a great Deal when you have Nothing to talk about." It is thought that these four electives would cover all the branches of letter-writing, and would be of more practical advantage to the student than any course now given in college. Persons not connected with the College in any way are apt to think that there must be a constant supply of news on hand, and that the only thing to be guarded against in writing letters is the fact that having so much to say the letters might be too long (!).
For the benefit of this well-meaning but misinformed class, the following comedy has been prepared, illustrative of daily life at Harvard College. (All rights reserved.)
SCENE, a room in H-lw-rthy. - TIME, the present.
A HARVARD SENIOR.
A HARVARD JUNIOR.
A HARVARD SOPHOMORE.
A HARVARD FRESHMAN.
On the rising of the curtain, the four characters are discovered, seated in different postures about the room.
SENIOR. Have a cigarette, won't you?
SOPHOMORE. Thanks, no; I 've sworn off.
JUNIOR. By George, is that so! !
FRESHMAN (wearily). I wish to goodness that I could swear off of cigarettes; I believe that they 're worse than cigars.
JUN. (struck by a bright idea). Well, I believe that the paper hurts you.
OMNES. Yes, that 's so.
SOPH. (with an ill-concealed look of satisfaction).
Well, it was pretty hard work for the first week or so, but now I don't mind it at all.
SEN. (after a pause). You fellers been in to see "Our Boys"?
FRESH. (enthusiastically). Yes, I have; it's mighty good, is n't it?
JUN. Well, yes, very fair; I don't think that it would amount to much without Lillian Conway.
SOPH. (with an air of ennui). I used to go to the theatre a good deal in my Freshman year, but I don't care anything about it now.
(FRESHMAN looks around uneasily. Finally, after another pause, all but the SENIOR rise to go.)
SEN. Don't tear yourselves away.
JUN., SOPH., and FRESH. (together). Well, I guess I 'll have to be going.
SEN. Come in again.
CHORUS (from the entry). Thanks, I will.
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