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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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It has often been remarked that Harvard does not seem to use all her advantages to the utmost especially in the way of lectures. The instructors in the classical departments do, to be sure, give readings from the ancient authors; and last year there was a very interesting course of lectures given by one of the instructors in philosophy. But beyond that, excepting the lectures connected with the gymnasium work, there has been nothing of the sort. Strangers are invited to speak or read before us, but of the home talent we have no advantage except by taking their courses. Now it would take but little labor for an instructor to prepare a general lecture on work with which he is so thoroughly familiar; and many men who do not find time to take his courses would be only too glad to get the chance to hear such a lecture. Especially true is this of such departments as Music and Fine Arts; for there is a widely spread feeling that such studies are not at all needful in a general education, and in fact those who do not take these courses cannot but hold this opinion. By such lectures men would be enabled to find out for themselves what there is in such studies and would undoubtedly be much more inclined to take them. This is true in a different way of the Natural History courses. Some men think that they merely contribute to one's stock of facts, and not the widening of ideas which should be the true object of a university education. A few good lectures each year would go far towards dispelling such ideas. Again the classical department would undoubtedly be benefited by lectures on the ancient authors and their work, besides the mere reading of their works.

Then we should all be aided towards a better choice of our electives, besides the gain to our stock of knowledge. Such aid is of great importance when there are so many courses to choose from, and so many that one wants to take. At present the only help which we get is from the elective pamphlet or by hunting up the various instructors, But such lectures, although not aiming specifically at such an end, would without doubt accomplish it incidentally; and the instructors would be enabled to do much more service to the university, both in instructing its students and widening its fame.

It seems strange that a college man during term time should compete in any athletic games, at a place so near Cambridge as Boston, as a member of any other association than the H. A. A. or if the club giving the sports. Either he must be ashamed of his college or the game he is contending in; or else he thinks that to enter as a member of some other club gives him an air of importance. It certainly is no more conspicuous to enter as a member of one club rather than another. If he is ashamed of his college he ought not to be here. If he is ashamed of the games in which he is taking part he ought not to allow himself to go into them. Neither of the first two possibilities is likely, therefore he must do it thinking it makes him of more importance to be known as a member of some swell or noted club. This is all wrong. No club stands better than the Harvard Athletic Association in either of these respects and it does not add to a man's worth if he lets his vanity get the better of him by trying to exhibit himself as a member of various organizations. In games where Harvard students are likely to be present as spectators they would like to know what men entered belong to the college. How can they know this, when the college and university are so large and the means of acquaintance so small, if all the Harvard men entered are put down as coming from some distant clubs. Let those taking part avow themselves openly as members of the H. A. A. and the students in general will take a greater interest in their doings and they, themselves, will receive a much heartier support at any games where they wish to compete. Then the proper spirit of pride in the college will be shown.

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