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The gentle intimation recently put forth by the Daily Advertiser, the alleged special mouthpiece of Harvard University, that some of the social features which have hitherto marked the observance of commencement day at the university were no longer to be tolerated within the college precincts, has made a commotion among the alumni scarcely less profound than that occasioned by the action of the overseers in refusing to confer an honorary degree on Governor Butler. The exact meaning of this semi-official utterance was not fully understood at first, but the plain English of it was taken to be that the flowing bowls of punch and other mellowing refreshments which the various classes have been accustomed, more majorum, to provide for their entertainment on commencement day, were no longer to be tolerated. Hence there was a wailing among the festive portion of the alumni, and among the more grave and reverend portion of the graduates as well, for the alumnus, whatever his cloth, who did not take kindly to a glass of punch with a classmate on the occasion of these annual reunions, ranked as a phenomenon in the traditions of Cambridge. The most pronounced temperance devotee rather chose to follow the wise example of old President Kirkland, who, hearing that the flip provided at a neighboring tavern had too great attraction for the collegians under his charge, resolved to investigate the matter himself. Accordingly, entering the tavern one fine morning, he called for a mug of it, and having drunk it, said:
"And so, Mr. Porter, the young gentlemen come to drink your flip, do they?"
"Yes, sir - sometimes," responded Porter.
"Well, sir, I should think they would! Good-day, Mr. Porter," and the president departed, saying nothing more, for he always wisely allowed for the existence of a certain amount of human nature in ingenious youth.
It will relieve the anxiety of the alumni to learn that the impression conveyed by the semi-official announcement is not altogether correct, and that the college authorities will not undertake to interfere in any way with the entertainment provided at the reunions of the different classes. So the alumni can indulge themselves as of yore, with none to molest or make them afraid. The only change in the programme this year will be the omission of the entertainment usually provided for the graduating class by the class next preceding it; and with this part of the festivities omitted, there is little probability that there will be any occasion for regret or anxiety on the part of the college authorities.
Commencement punch is one of the sacred traditions of Cambridge, and it has been handed down along with the other good old customs, with all its mellow influences unimpaired. In the old days the punch used to be served in huge tubs on the college green, and classmates pledged each other's health in generous tin dippers. Of late years. however, each class has provided a separate bowl of punch of its own in the rooms facing on the college yard, and the year of the class has been conspicuously placarded on the outer wall, in order that the graduates might know where their classmates rallied. These little gatherings have always been marked by a spirit of lively cordiality, which might be expected of college classmates coming together after years of separation to renew their friendships and recall the scenes and associations of their youth. There was no rowdyism or gross misconduct at these gatherings, and the effect of the punch has rarely been made manifest, except now and then, in the case of some newly-made Bachelor of Arts, who in that youthful exuberance incident to his acquiring a sheepskin, lost control of his appetite and his legs Such exhibitions have been exceedingly rare, however, and they have been frowned upon as often as they have occurred. The abolition of the graduating class punch will doubtless remove this slight blemish, however, and so the festival will be marked by no unseemly exhibitions on the college green. Apart from the regular graduating exercises, commencement day has always been devoted to the renewal of the relations of classmates with an institution dear to all their hearts and which they all delight to honor. Clergymen, doctors, lawyers, merchants, students, and men in all the higher walks of life, meet on commencement day to welcome each other with friendly courtesy. The several classes, having met together, listen to reports of what has transpired relating to any of their number. Songs are sung in the yard, punch is drank, and then the procession is formed for the alumni dinner, the classes ranking in the order of their graduation, - and it has been happily said that he has the best chance for dinner who has the fewest teeth to eat it.
Such is the story of commencement day, and such, it is hoped, it will ever remain. Last year the various class secretaries, who usually make the arrangements for providing the refreshments for their several classes, were politely requested to have nothing stronger than claret punch, or some equally harmless decoction, provided for the class entertainments. This request was complied with in several instances, but it was generally observed that the claret punch entertainments were neglected by those for whose edification they had been provided, and that the rooms where the old fashioned article was set forth were extensively patronized. But, for all that, there was no disorderly conduct in the yard, and the stories that have been told of riotous conduct on the part of the future alumni were the merest fiction. Of course, the boys, both old and young, are always excessively jolly on these occasions, and sometimes their conduct wakes the echoes under the towering elms of the college yard; but they generally know and recognize the bounds of propriety, and keep within those limits. It is hoped that this commencement will prove no exception to the rule, especially in view of the peculiar interest taken in the affairs of the university this year. Any lowering of the standard now would no doubt be the occasion of just such an order as has been reported this year, but which happily proves to have been unauthorized. - [Gazette.
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