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No one possessed of ordinary gustatory organs who has had the misfortune to dine during the past two years in Memorial Hall, at Harvard, will be surprised to learn that the students have almost to a man ceased to avail themselves of it, and that the meals there are to come to an end unless by the 22d more diners are forthcoming. High thinking may consort exceedingly well with plain living, but plain living is not poor living, and poor living has been the main feature of Memorial Hall. Carelessly cooked food, served half cold, with execrable tea, and yet more execrable coffee, have been the staple. It is very important that young men should have nutritious, palatable food. Americans visiting the English universities have often remarked on the vigorous, healthy appearance of most of the students. One reason of it is that the living is excellent. In some colleges the hall dinner is much better than in others, but it may be safely asserted that in none has such stuff been served as in Memorial Hall.
Besides in England the student only takes his dinner in the hall, and if he gives notice in the morning that he shall not dine there is in some colleges never charged for his dinner, and in others only twice a week. His breakfast, luncheon and supper, if he choose to order any, are served in his rooms, and he can order at very moderate cost pretty much what he pleases, so that he is comparatively little dependent on the hall dinner; but that in most colleges is a comfortable, sustaining meal, washed down by some of the finest ale in England. The bad fare at Harvard has the effect of sending many students into Boston a great deal more than is desirable, for, astounding as it may seem, Cambridge, a town of sixty thousand inhabitants, is, as Ford wrote of Spain, "a gastronomic erebus," and boasts nothing better in the way of a restaurant than what would be deemed quite fourth-rate in New York. Moreover, the poor food induces, in the words of Cambridge's poet, "restless, unsatisfied longing," which is too apt to be satisfied at the numerous drug stores, at which mysterious and exhilarating medicines are obtained at the wink of the initiated.
An Oxonian lately visiting Harvard expressed amazement at what seemed to him the utter disregard of the comfort of the student in the matter of food and in other respects. In case of sickness the student's position is simply wretched. Except some Gampish old bed-makers, apparently indebted for their position to their ugliness and squalor, not an attendant is visible between early one morning and early the next, and there is no kitchen whence a student can get as much as a bowl of soup or slice of bread and butter. The whole system, or rather want of system, is a serious reflection upon the much vaunted executive of the college, and we do not hesitate to assert that the health of the students has in some cases suffered in consequence.
The wealthier students board at comfortable boarding-houses and get a full meal, and probably, too, eat French dishes and drink champagne twice a week in Boston; but the poorer class has to choose between a cheap and nasty boarding-house and Memorial Hall, and so does not get that amount of nutrition which a young man in full physical and intellectual activity requires, whereas in well-qualified hands Memorial Hall might be a great boon to the student. At Cambridge, England, in consequence of complaints, some of the fellows of colleges gave the commissariat their most careful personal supervision, and with excellent result. Harvard might take example. It is a subject which, as Frederick the Great proved, is not beneath any one's attention. - [N. Y. Times.
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