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IT is generally admitted that a class of persons exists in this University - and presumably in others - whose characteristics may best be indicated by the term scrub. The word is in every mouth, but the variety of senses in which it is used is truly remarkable. One man says that every one who is not a gentleman is a scrub; his notions of gentlemen being apparently governed by the cut of their coats. Another person is inclined to number in this category all those whose moral or political opinions decidedly differ from his own. A third, with magnificent impartiality, declares anybody whom he does not happen to fancy to be decidedly scrubby; and so they go on ad infinitum.
The general use and frequent abuse of this excellent word render a word upon it very desirable. It is a term altogether too expressive to be cast aside; yet at the same time it will never do to permit it to be universally applied. A world full of scrubs would be a sorry world.
The ideal scrub is exceedingly primitive in his habits. His hands are indifferently employed for many purposes for which the artificial appliances of civilization have long been in use, while the flowing bowl - especially if it contain water for purposes of ablution - is spurned with magnificent consistency. The contents of his fingernails would give interesting and engrossing employment for a couple of days to the average chemist. His hair, if it chance to be curly, is allowed to curl unchecked over his manly brow; if nature has made it straight, it wanders forlornly about in every direction until some compassionate barber, who is moderate in his charges, mows it down with unsparing shear. From these indications his general appearance may be imagined.
His mental formation is peculiar. Unable to concentrate his energies upon the literary and scientific subjects which are laid before him, he generally determines to relinquish them. At the same time he is by no means idle. He is often to be seen in the nearest billiard-room, gazing wistfully at the green tables and the clicking balls. If by any odd chance he is asked to join in the game, he readily accepts, and the manner in which he handles his cue is ample proof of years of diligent practice. The duty of paying rarely falls to his lot. With the extraordinary effigies which adorn modern playing-cards he is exceedingly familiar, and it is noticed that his hand in poker is not infrequently of a pictorial character.
His theories on various social problems are of a nature calculated to provoke discussion. His language is often of a sort which would hardly receive the approbation of an old-fashioned divine. Religious topics and scientific facts are frequently introduced at times when their connection with the subject of discourse is imperceptible. His conversation at its best would never be selected as a model of grammatical purity or refined elegance. The name of every by-way in his neighborhood is to him a household word; but he is a comparative stranger to the highways, and when seen there, is usually observed to appear ill at ease.
Such is the ideal scrub. Many a good fellow, whose purse will not permit him to choose his tailor, is wrongfully confounded with him. Many a man who swells with as much self-satisfaction as the fabulous frog is nearer to him than he ever imagined. Many approach him more or less nearly at one point or another, but a scrub is a perfect scrub only when he is physically, mentally, and morally in need of a good scrubbing.
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