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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
The modern language conference held in Sever 11 yesterday afternoon was conducted by Professor Child. He stated that the departments of modern languages in the college intend to hold a number of these conferences in the coming year. The papers to be read at these meetings will be the result of special investigation on literary subjects, not necessarily very complicated, but interesting to the general body of students. The first paper yesterday was entitled "Some Observations on the language of Chaucer," and was read by Mr. J. M. Manly. The paper described the use of final e in one manuscript only, "The Dream of Fair Women." The changes in words were, in Chaucer's time, much more easily made than now, as there was no dictionary as a standard, and writers often fixed spelling to suit themselves. This of course complicates matters very seriously, and many passages in Chaucer are still doubtful. The paper showed that a great amount of labor must have been spent on the investigation, as individual instances of elision, pronunciation or suppression were tabulated.
The second paper, read by Mr. H. McCulloch, was "An Historical Study of the French Ballade." It contained short treatises on the different famous writers of the ballad. The speaker said that many writers of this class of poetry have failed to succeed because of the heaviness of their work. In fact lightness and vivacity are almost indispensable to popularity in ballad writing.
The third and last paper was on "The Beginning of National Consciousness in Germany." It was written by Mr. C. H. Carruth, but as he was unable to be present, Dr. Francke, of the German department, consented to read it for him. It was an elaborate treatise, being principally a collection from German authors of passages which show the development of national feeling. The most prominent references in earliest times are to exhortations to soldiers before battles, urging remembrance of the Fatherland. The whole paper showed wide research and careful preparation of results.
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