To any one visiting Williams nothing, perhaps, is more striking than the quiet seclusion of the town and college. One of our graduates has said that Harvard is in Cambridge, Amherst is in Amherst, but Williams is Williamstown, which remark probably tells more than appears at a single glance. In fall, as the evenings begin to lengthen and the old Berkshire hills begin to take on the brighter hues of autumn, it becomes a common question among the fellows how the long, dull weeks of the winter term are to be enlivened, every student believing with all his heart that "much study is a weariness of the flesh." It is no longer possible to spend one's spare hours in tramping around the country, visiting the many beautiful places of natural scenery, for which this region is so celebrated. The summer guests have all left for the pleasures and excitements of the city; and almost of necessity must the two hundred and fifty students look to their own resources for social enjoyment. Considering these circumstances, I believe I can safely say that at no other college is there so much ingenuity exercised in attaining this enjoyment, and that nowhere is there found so strong a feeling of fellowship. Few in numbers, nearly every man is known, if not personally, at least by reputation, to every other man. Moreover, when this body of students is broken up into a number of fraternities and social clubs it is by no means strange that so strong a friendship should spring up as exists in numerous instances. Nearly half of the students belong to the fraternities, of which we have seven, and, from what knowledge I have of similar societies in other colleges, nowhere, I think, are they conducted in quite the same manner as here.
The society houses or lodges are tasteful and convenient in design, rich in interior furnishings, forming essentially a home for the society members. Here the leisure hours of every day are passed; the piano and organ stand invitingly open; the convenient sleepy-hollow lures one to recline at ease while he reads a novel from the well-filled book-case close at hand. Here the evenings are whiled away in pleasant chat on college matters or in a beguiling game of whist; and here at various times the students, a choice number, with a few invited guests, devote the evening to a reception or a german. In this way a fraternal feeling is inspired which is nearly impossible when the student is occupied by endless external attractions, the political speech, the lecture, the concert or the theatre-though it must not be thought that he is averse to such enjoyments, for he is alive to these social pleasures, as well as to others of a less public character.
What has been said applies with more or less aptness to the neutrals who, of course, have not their special places of resort, nor, in many cases, the abundance of resource which, here at least, belongs so peculiarly to the fraternity man. The desire for social enjoyment is also met in many cases by the combining of fellows of like tastes and pursuits in little groups, musical clubs, German clubs, Shakespeare clubs and numerous other like organizations suggested by the social impulse of the student mind.
I have mentioned so far only the more specific social enjoyments. Most of the fraternities board together, each at some private house or occupying a table at one of the hotels. There are many little eating clubs among the neutrals, some of them having their tennis courts and other devices for recreation. About half of the students board in commons at College Hall, a custom which is well known at Harvard, as practised at Memorial Hall.
WILLIAMSTOWN, June 5, 1883.