Rev. Henry G. Spaulding '60 gave reminiscences of the older Harvard as it was half a century ago, before the Memorial Society in the Fogg Art Museum last evening. Many of the recollections had to do with events and experiences connected with the speaker's own class: its fondness for athletics, its devotion to the old-time system of prescribed studies, its literary efforts and finally its misdemeanors, culminating in an actual rebellion against the Faculty. This same disorderly and rebellious class has furnished five members of the Board of Overseers.
In a brief discussion of the educational problem the speaker said that in his own College days the curriculum was a mixed system allowing a few electives for the Junior and Senior years, but in the main the old prescribed system of study then prevailed. The majority of the Harvard men trained under the compulsory system, put a broad foundation under their culture, while they were able by improving opportunities which in after-life never came again to enter into wide fields of thought and knowledge, lying wholly outside of their special life-calling.
Concerning athletics at Harvard in the late fifties Mr. Spaulding spoke with enthusiasm of the devotion of the undergraduates to all kinds of physical exercises and out-of-door sports. Football, baseball and cricket were played, while boating on the Charles River was a pastime popular with all. There were at Harvard no fewer than 12 boat clubs in those days. One of these, the "Orion," had for its president Charles W. Eliot '53. In early intercollegiate regattas Harvard was usually the winner, but sometimes the prize even then went to Yale. After one of these defeats the officiating clergyman at morning prayers gave out the hymn by Cowper which ends:
"But oars alone can ne'er prevail to reach the distant coast,
The breath of heaven must swell the sail or else the toil is lost."
In closing, a brief account was given of the rebellion of the class in the spring of 1860 and of its Commencement exercises on July 19 of that year.