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The Pierian Sodality that now holds so proud a position in Harvard among the clubs that give any external evidence of their existence was a very humble affair some fifty years ago. The present number of members appears like the most of Xerxes when compared with the small band that discoursed music then.
The Sodality was founded in 1808, but we are only able to trace its history from 1832 on, as the records for the intervening period have disappeared most mysteriously. In those days "scarcely a sound but flutes was heard. From these the gentle murmurings or liquid trills rose from every side of the quadrangle the moment the bell at twelve rang the close of the morning study hours." The violin was not thought much of, and for the term of four years two violins and a violoncello were the only stringed instruments in the club, or in the college at large. French horns, and bass-horns called "semi-brass monsters" were occasional innovations, but we learn that on more than one occasion these instruments "did not chord with the flutes."
The use of just such instruments gave the early Plenians an opportunity to do what every club in college must have envied them for, and of which the "orchestra" of to-day is incapable. In the balmy nights of spring ??? little band of players would go to ??? ton or wherever else there dwelt ??? maidens and serenade them. T ??? were the days of chivalry, and ??? players were amply rewarded by the rustling of a blind or the raising of a sash. Not infrequently the Sodality serenaded the wrong house, as when they uttered their sweet music to the attentive ears of Judge X's servant-maids while his fair daughters were at Judge Y's dance.
A leader seems to have been for some time an unknown quantity, as the secretary speaks seriously of introducing a metronome that they might keep better time! The musical talent in college seems to have been very limited, and the Pierian often had difficulty to maintain its existence. Thus we read in the Reminsicences of an Ex-Pierian that it was "reduced to a single active member, as was the case when Mr. G. held the meeting regularly alone, not forgetting, it is said, to put up the advertising board for his own sole notification each week, calling himself to order, proceeding conscientiously with his solitary rehearsal, practicing upon his flute his accustomed part until the hour of duty was complete, and so striving, not in vain, to keep the sacred flame alive. One might say with perfect truth that the Pierian Sodality attended those rehearsal "as one man."
These are only a few instances of the club's checkered career; were they all to be related, its present flourising condition would be the more gratifying and creditable.
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