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Any Harvard man, from the oldest alumnus to the youngest Freshman, will find things to delight him in the September number of the Graduates' Magazine. Perhaps the newly registered undergraduate is wary of an publication which, like the starred courses in the Catalogue, seem "primarily for graduates." If so, he will be happily surprised as well as pleased to read the lively summary of 1911's Student Life and Athletics, the story of the New London race, and the sketch of the International Games. But he will feel in all, in illustrations and in text, in biographical sketches, in essays, and in the solid narrative of Commencement Day, the largeness and the nobility of his University--only a small part of which is in the Cambridge he knows; the best of which is wherever Harvard men are thinking loyally of her and are working heartily for her.
He will read with a tingle of excitement the first article in the magazine: Professor Royce's Phi Beta Kappa oration on "James as a Philosopher." It is exhilarating to discover a tribute to life, instead of the usual dull summary of dead perfections. Where the criticism is keenest it is most flattering to the distinguished philosopher whose death we have all recently lamented, and Professor James would himself have been the first to relish the candor of this study, as he would have been the first to disparage his own eminence as its subject. If Professor James embodies the American spirit, Professor Royce in this brief study has gone deeply into its critical interpretation.
"Some Aspects of the Year," President Lowell's address to the Alumni on Commencement afternoon, is a stimulating summary of achievements and hopes. In common with all other utterances of the President, this review is a union of wisdom and ardor.
The two essays on the late Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson reveal a type of Harvard man all too little known to us today. In the gentle-voiced, frail, friendly Cantabrigian who so recently died, few could have recognized the ardent lover of all that was adventurous and free; the knight-errant champion of Abolition; a man who could lead a mob and who could plot gloriously for jail-deliveries as well as for deliveries from prisons of the mind. As Unitarian minister, as mob leader, as captain of the 51st Massachusetts Volunteers, and as colonel of the first colored regiment of actual slaves enlisted as Union soldiers; as reformer, and as author--essayist, romancer, and poet--Colonel Higginson was a man to know; and the sketch of his career and the tribute by Edward H. Hall '51 will help us to know him.
Less than two pages suffice for "Fifty Years Out," the speech of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes '61, addressed to the Alumni on Commencement Day. It is a superb and stately offering of the fruitions and anticipations of a famous group of Harvard graduates. Those of us who heard Justice Holmes can never forget this address: the rest should read it.
Another prominent member of the class to which Justice Holmes belongs was the late Henry Pickering Bowditch: "soldier and scholar-teacher and friend." The brief biographical sketch by Dr. Harold C. Ernst '76 is timely and just. Dr. Bowditch by birth, by breeding, and by serviceableness represented the quintessence of Massachusetts culture and citizenship, whose consistent but unostentatious motto was ich dien.
Wider known outside, perhaps, than inside the University, was Mrs. Williamina Paton Fleming, whose interesting life and invaluable astronomical researches are commemorated by Professor Edward C. Pickering s. '65.
Even the statistical and formal portion of the September Graduates' Magazine seems more than usually interesting. One becomes aware again that the death of Judge Francis C. Lowell last March has made a vacancy in the Harvard Corporation which has yet to be filled; and that an interesting and hitherto unpublished view of the Harvard of 1770 has recently been found. One reads of the wide variety of things which the holders of Sheldon Fellowships for graduate study are doing; one sees again comparative statistics prepared on the first trial last June of the new plan of admission to College; one finds brief biographies of the new Honorary Doctors created by the President at Commencement last June, and one has the complete and official story of the doings on that historic day.
The reprint of "Commencement Day in History," a Commencement part by Charles R. Joy '08, is particularly interesting in view of the considerable changes planned for the Commencement calendar. The intimate anecdotal tale of Harvard's past is perennially attractive; but the devotees of Class Day spreads wonders if the Corporation could have imagined the horrors of lobster salad a la Beck when in 1693 they passed the following vote: "Having been informed that the custom taken up in the College, not used in any other universities (!) for the commencers to have plum-cake, is dishonorable to the College, not grateful to wise men, and chargeable to the parents of the Commencers, [the Corporation] do therefore put an end to that custom, and do hereby order that no Commencers, or other scholar, shall have any such cakes in their studies or chambers; and that if any scholar shall offend therein, the cakes shall be taken from him, and he shall moreover pay to the College twenty shillings for each such offense."
The Editor's answer to the question, "Was John Harvard the Founder?" effectually lays the ghosts of certain historical anonymities who should rest with the anteColumban discoverers of America and the preAdamite men. It would be an ironical welcome indeed if the young Freshman scion of the Founder's family should learn from our lips that he is historically only a step-son!
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