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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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We feel that few persons are aware of the rapid strides which have been taken at Harvard of late years towards the complete and perfect study of Greek and Roman antiquities. Leaving out of account the curriculum of classical studies common to our colleges in general in a more or less eminent degree, we assume for Harvard the sole enjoyment in America of a chair for the study of classical philology in its strictest sense and as it is followed in the German universities. Such a course was not calculated to reveal any extraordinary or immediate developments, but it is hoped that it will in time replace the stay abroad, which seems a part of the life of every rising philologist, and furnish sufficient inducements for more of our graduates to continue their special studies here. Naturally enough, until the call is more urgent, there will be little need of all the multiplied branches of a foreign university; but every one feels encouraged to believe that, when the time comes, the demand will be readily answered. We will emphasize but lightly the rich stores of our library and its complete collections of the editions and commentaries of all authors, as well as all works which afford collateral reading and are related to the various branches of the study. Another department, however, which is receiving more due attention is the study of ancient art and its remains. Our courses are better and better illustrated each year by numerous casts and statues which fill the recitation halls, and we are almost daily promised fresh arrivals, which will allow us to decipher the inscriptions in the original and to examine the sources of all our knowledge. It is indeed pleasing to think that very soon American students will not feel it necessary for them to live abroad before they can truly come into the title of scholars.

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