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IT is said that many of our wise and enlightened legislators, in Congress assembled, cherish in secret a belief that the government of the United States has only to print on a piece of paper the magic sentence, "This is a dollar," to make that hitherto useless paper as valuable a measure of value and medium of exchange as the standard dollar of coin. It is in something of the same spirit that successive classes in Harvard College have voted "that the office of chaplain shall be considered as of more importance than before," and by this vote men of character and ability have been induced to accept an office which had been mocked by the nomination of unworthy candidates. Nevertheless, no permanent dignity has been added to the office, for the good sense of the College has been too great to accept the empty language of a complimentary resolution in place of the pure gold of the feeling that no class should go out into the world's struggle and temptation without thanksgiving for the blessings of the past, and earnest, heartfelt prayer for aid in the future. If this feeling is not strong enough in a class to induce it to repress with just indignation all mockery of an office that ought to be considered one of the most honorable positions that an undergraduate can hold, I think that the minority commit a great error in asking, as a favor, the majority to allow the continuance of an office that is thus shorn of the greater part of its dignity and respect.
Again, I think that the duties of such an office should be performed by some one for whose experience and character a class can have more reverence than is possible towards a person whom we do not know, or, at most, know only in the varied scenes of college life. I do not advocate the abolition of the last opportunity of a class to join in prayer, but only that the importance of that occasion should be appreciated, and that it should not be marred by any wonder as to how well Tom or Dick can "make a prayer." We listen every morning to the simple eloquence of the preacher to the University; can we not trust him at so solemn a time as our Class Day service?
At the last Class meeting, some persons suggested that our action might be another influence in hastening the abolition of morning prayer; but I cannot but think that our rulers are already sufficiently aware of our opinions on this subject to be in no need of further prompting. That action may, however, be of use in showing them that public opinion would not be so violently opposed to such an improvement as is generally thought. At any rate, I do not think that we need fear what outsiders will think, if we are sure that we are doing what is right, and take proper care to let our reasons be known.
We certainly voted very impulsively at our meeting, yet I think that it would prove better to reconsider a hasty action than to have gone on in the old routine without giving the subject proper consideration. It is still possible for the Class Committee, if they find a feeling strong enough to justify them, to call a meeting at which the question may be discussed with proper care, and a decision reached that is of more value than a momentary impulse in a blind copying of an old custom.
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