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The opportunities to hear President Eliot speak are not so many that they are unappreciated, and therefore it is not to be wondered that a great many upper class men were to be seen among those who gathered in the lecture room of the Jefferson Physical Laboratory last evening, to hear him speak to the members of the freshman class on the privileges and responsibilities of the life of which they have become a part. President Eliot was received with a great deal of enthusiasm. He said that every man who enters Harvard becomes a part of a noble, historical society; that if he approaches the life in the proper spirit he cannot think of self only. He has a part to play in an organization, the common honor to sustain; he should, therefore, think of the life here in two aspects, for self and for Harvard college.
Considering the question in this light he continued, saying that all education must look to soundness of the body primarily. The student cannot neglect his body except at the expense of his mind; hence the necessity of laying down strict rules to keep the body healthy. Correct habits of eating, of sleeping and of cleanliness should be aimed at is an even development physically, not large muscles, but sound respiration, erect and easy carriage, evenly strong limbs, back and arms. Such a symetrical development of the muscular nature gives an even, placid, firm mental temperament. Then, too the vigorous body is the natural body-less liable to abnormal cravings and appetites; therefore this question has a moral aspect also.
Turning to the intellectual side of the life, he spoke of the policy of the college-liberty of choice in intellectual pursuits, and freedom of discipline. This policy is distinctive of Harvard. While it insures to the individual the highest degree of freedom, it throws upon him a personal responsibility which must be met. Upon the students ultimately depends the success of the policy which the faculty regards as wisest. Continuing, he discussed the habits of study which can be most profitably followed in college and which, when formed, will prove most valuable in after life; also, the need of intellectual enthusiasm and leadership.
Then speaking of the social side of the college life he said that it is one of the pleasantest as well as most valuable parts of our existence here. But for it to be most valuable as well as most pleasant the companionships formed should be intellectual as well as social. When this is so social training is a part of intellectual training.
The moral side of life, he declared to be the most important of all. If the elaborate training men receive here does not result in the improvement of character the training is worthless. He appealed earnestly to every man in the class to do all in his power to purify and elevate college opinion. Here, support of the Chapel system is one of the most important elements of that responsibility, and President Eliot's closing remarks were devoted to this subject.
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