It has never been the object of any college journal at Harvard to instruct ; all from the start have been eager to disavow any such purpose. There are, perhaps, three wholesome influences at Harvard to prevent any growth of pedantry among her students: the universal attention given to athletics, the sharp and sincere intercourse of college society, and the watchful influence of college journalism, have all combined to keep a certain practical and real way of life and of thinking prevalent among all classes. In former days a similar result was brought about, as the editors of the first Harvard Register (1827) said in their introduction: "Many of us frequently lay aside the speculations of Plato, the oratory of Demosthenes, the poetic splendors of Homer, and the triangles of Legendre, to assume the looks, the tones, the authority, and that still more efficient instrument, the ferule, of country schoolmasters. By this means we season our visions, theories and demonstrations with something of practical, political and statistical wisdom."
A precursor of much of current college wit may, perhaps, be recognized in a bright dialogue in this book on "The Day Before Commencement," with its scene located in "No. 4 Holworthy." The following good advice is given during the course of it :
"Tom. - Well, now, in good earnest, what do you mean to do with yourself when you come out?
"X. - Do? Why, I'll tell you what I mean to do. Leave off my lazy habits in the first place, smoke no cigars, drink no wine, own no armchair, and stick to the law, Tom, without a poney. I've had an easy time in college, and have enjoyed well the 'Otium cum dignitate' - the learned leisure of a scholar's life - always despising digging, you know, and what with ticking, screwing and deading, am candidate for a piece of parchment tomorrow, certifying that I am admitted to be by all A. B., which being interpreted is A Booby, a passport all the world over. *"
The only exchange ever mentioned by the Register was the Etonian, "published by students of the different colleges in England." The exchange editor (presumably) makes this comment: "The contributor of the best articles, both in prose and verse, is the editor, Winthrop Mackworth Praed ; a name which will hereafter be distinguished in English literature, if the productions of his maturity correspond with the promise of his youth." That exchange editor and successful prophet was J. O. Sargent, at present an overseer of the university. An appeal for the reading-room on page 64 we are tempted to transfer bodily and apply to the present day ; it would fit very well.
"Extracts from a Valedictory Poem," credited to F. H. Hedge, contain some interesting local allusions ;
"What various clubs our leisure hours employ,
Knights, Deips and Akribologoumenoi,
Hermetics, and musicians of the night ;
With those who feed their weekly appetite
On hasty-pudding-literary food!
And ye too, of the famed Porcellian brood !"
And so on, celebrating the students' engine company and
"How many a room by their o'erflowing drenched,
And how few fires by their assistance quenched,"
ended a stirring invocation to the "Harvard Corps, our bulwark and our pride !"