YES, life is short. But it 's long enough to have some events crowded into it that don't impress even the casual observer as trivial. Such an event has just made its mark on the Fresh - no, Sophomore page of my life. I have taken the Second-Year Honor Examinations; and the results are - well, I say to the public generally very gratifying, but to myself I acknowledge that some surprise is mixed with my gratification. Now, the thing that I have been puzzling my brains over is, why I should be surprised. In a University where the curve can affect either a ball or a mark indifferently; where the men who want to learn the most and study hardest get the lowest marks; where an instructor marks on the English system, and assures you, as he gives you sixty per cent, that this would entitle you to honors at Oxford or Cambridge; where you can calculate any action of the Faculty by the simple rule of opposites; where, in fact, you can get everything by expecting and deserving nothing, and vice versa, - where, then, all these things are true of the University, why should I be surprised at anything?
Well, I'll tell you briefly what I did in my papers, and then you can judge for yourself whether I ought to be astonished or not. First came the Latin at sight. I had only read, in addition to the common authors, Ennius, Varro, Quintilian, Lucilius, Martial, Juvenal, and some twenty others. With this imperfect preparation I soon saw that I could do nothing, and was about to leave the room in despair, when it came into my head that the examiners were said to admire above all things originality. Now I am original or nothing. I determined to go over the text carefully, and then draw pictures representing the scenes probably described. No sooner thought of than executed! (The paraphrase is my own.) In this way I spent the three hours profitably and agreeably. Next day came the Greek paper. We had been pleasantly informed by a professor that there would be one piece for us to break our heads against. I searched diligently through the paper, but came to the conclusion that all the extracts were equally well adapted for that praiseworthy purpose. Despairing of understanding anything in their paper, I resolved that the examiners should understand nothing in my book. So, being acquainted with Choctaw (a language which closely resembles, yet is totally different from Greek), I wrote in this tongue stories of Indian mythology which I thought might be parallel to the Greek myths. When the examination was over, I walked out feeling that, whatever the examiners might say, they could not accuse me of being commonplace. Well, tempus fugit (notice my exact knowledge of Latin quantity). One day I received a notification commonly yclept a summons. Veni, vidi, vici. The assembled Faculty received me with uncovered heads. The chairman of the returning board bored me with an address three hours long. He alluded in feeling terms to the evidence contained in my Latin paper that I spent my Sundays in profitable conversation, - probably on art, he remarked. He also hazarded a guess that I belonged to the Art Club. (Why he should have supposed this possible I don't know; for I really draw extremely well!)
I was about to attempt some suitable answer when a professor who had for some time with difficulty restrained himself, rushed forward and threw his arms about me. When his emotion permitted him to speak, he ejaculated, "O my son! My life's work has been and is to prove that the Choctaws are the living representatives of the lost digamma. And now I have a fellow-worker, a co-operator, a ???." At this point his emotion again mastered him, and another speaker demanded my attention. And this is what he said: "In the name of the Faculty of Ha-v-erfo(rd) College, I award highest honors to you as a reward for excellence in the special subjects covered by your examinations. And, further, as a reward for the originality and general culture displayed throughout your papers, the degree of D. D., after mature deliberation, is conferred upon you; and as an additional proof of our esteem you will henceforth be allowed to send in petitions on the ground of Catarrh, without a doctor's certificate."
These are the plain, unvarnished facts in regard to my Second-Year Honor Examinations. If you were I, would you be surprised?