The Path to Public Service at SEAS
Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum
Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President
Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study
Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum
A GRADUATE of many years' standing, who was talking about the associations of college rooms and their influence on a young man's character, said that he thought that, whenever an opportunity occurred for honoring some one who had become very distinguished and had earned a special tribute from his Alma Mater, an oil painting of him should be hung in the rooms he had occupied, to be handed down from year to year as one of the permanent properties of that room. The present state of our finances would, however, make it necessary to find some less costly transmittendum to perpetuate the memory of a man's character and actions; but it seems an idea worth carrying out in some form, when we think what an addition it is to the attractions of a room, if one of the window-panes has on it initials with an ancient date, or if there is an egg or piece of parchment handed down by successive occupants. A student hears, by chance, that his room has, years ago, belonged to an Adams, an Emerson, or a Sumner, and immediately he feels a bond of union, slight though it be, with those famous men, and a desire to know more of them. If anything could be devised which would possess, not only the intrinsic interest of a transmittendum, but also lend the room the additional charm of having been occupied by a man famed far and wide for great ability or uprightness, it would certainly, in many cases, be setting a strong influence at work to raise the general tone of an undergraduate's life and lead him in those footprints on the sands of time to escape sometimes from the innumerable pettinesses which must surround him.
A tablet might be designed of some suitable material, large enough for a man's name and the date of his class and death, perhaps, to be fastened on the wall, with a shelf below for the standard biography. The whole affair, books and all, need not cost more than ten dollars, and, as it should be one of the highest honors the University has to bestow on her sons, it would not be necessary often enough to make any considerable expense; even if it did, the occupant of the room would be willing to pay part of the expense for the sake of the lustre added to the room, and the relief from the monotony of society shingles and cheap pictures wherewith many of our walls are adorned.
But we are not alone concerned with those additional comforts and decorations which might be obtained; there is at present positive discomfort, and there are many little annoyances that break up our time, and prevent a man from devoting his whole energies to his work. Such annoyances must be slight in themselves, but the effects which they often produce are out of all proportion to their own importance. Who has not been driven from his books by the advent of the daily hag, more ugly than the witches in Macbeth, showing in her own person an utter contempt for cleanliness, and secretly wondering at the foolishness of a man who cares to have his carpet swept and his table dusted? Yet how can the unfortunate goody be expected to know how to take proper care of a room? Possibly in her early years she was in service with some respectable housekeeper, but all visions of that time have grown dim through the long vista of years during which she lived with Pat or Mike, and a brood of children, in two wretched, dirty rooms. After years and grinding poverty have rendered her a fit model for the figure of a Hecate, and experience has taught her that a second bath in a twelvemonth is superfluous, she is, by a bitter irony, appointed to clean and take care of the rooms of perhaps thirty unfortunate students. The innocent Freshman, coming from a home where everything is done by well-taught and comely servants, is surprised at the contrast between the actual Goody and the ideal he had formed from her name of an ancient but respectable peasant.
At first he imagines his entry to be peculiarly unfortunate, but he soon finds that it is a rule with but few exceptions for the Goody to be an ill-favored, ill-odored slattern, who rushes to his room for ten or fifteen minutes each morning, carries out his ashes and slops, and then, with unwashed hands, shakes into an appearance of order his tumbled bed. He remonstrates at first with her, but soon perceives, from her oaths, perhaps, that even a Goody has no respect for a Freshman; still he is comforted by the vain hope that he will soon receive a visit from that victim of a task too great for human powers, who is supposed to be able to superintend a force of twenty five or thirty shiftless, shirking women, who have to do their work in three hundred rooms. Even if he is ever visited, he finds a single complaint of no use, for the "Queen Goody" has no time to see that her subordinate carries out her orders; and when, by reiterated complaints, she is driven to remove the obnoxious woman, the scarcity of candidates for the laborious and unpleasant duty forces her to be content with transferring to a new sphere a Goody who has already shown herself incapable in one entry.
This I know to be a fact; for, during the first term, our entry was given up to the tender mercies of a woman who had been in Thayer last year, and who now has been removed to Matthews, while we, alas! ponder over the resemblance of her successor to the lean and ill-favored kine of Pharaoh's dream.
But, seriously, all that is possible should be done to render our rooms agreeable. There should be two goodies to share the work, - one to make the beds and do what most requires neatness, while the other should carry out the ashes, etc.; and the number of superintendents should be so increased that each goody should feel liable to a weekly or daily inspection, so that, if ignorant, she might be properly taught. But of course Harvard is too poor; and when I count up the different improvements which instructors and students desire, as well as all the advantages of instruction and a pleasant abiding-place for her four years' course which Harvard already offers with her limited means, I am almost ashamed to grumble; still, the more urgent our needs become, the more chance there is that some one will be induced to fulfil them.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.