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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
The annual reception to new students of the University was held last evening in the Living Room of the Union. Dean Briggs presided and introduced the speakers in the following order. Acting Assistant Dean Yeomans, P. R. Withington '12, Major Henry Lee Higginson '55, President-Emeritus Eliot and President Lowell.
Dean Yeomans said that as he belonged to the Freshman class he would do all in his power to help them. Men are often called to the Dean's office not to receive but to give. Student convictions are respected and their co-operation is desired. He asked the men to make a determined effort and not to turn to mediocracy. A man may have a "C" body and a "C" mind but there is no excuse for a "E" effort.
P. R. Withington '12 spoke of the value of athletics to an undergraduate. He urged every one to make friendships and said that athletics were the surest means to that end. Inexperience is not an excuse for non-participation in some form of athletic work. If a man tries for some team, he keeps in training and avoids the danger of losing his own self respect.
Major Higginson's Address.
Major Henry Lee Higginson '55 expressed the hope that the entering class would enjoy the life in the University and grow to be active men. It is a lamentable state of affairs when men have no definite goal towards which they are striving. You should strive and achieve success but remember that success does not depend upon money. The three essentials of a successful life are knowledge, application, and character. The world is looking for experts, men who do not waste their time, character, or money.
The commonwealth belongs to you and you belong to the commonwealth. We are now in the midst of troubled times and the reason lies in the fact that the whole world has paid too little attention to morals and to religions. We are not "going to smash" nor are we going to have a revolution. Existing conditions are going to be changed but it will take time to do this. Politics are not too dirty for us to take active interest in them. We can make them clean by considering and working over them; by going quietly, learning, teaching, and helping others. Though the tone of business is better today than it was in the past, yet the tendency of men is towards money-getting. We must treat others more kindly; respect misfortune and never raise our hands against it; and consider the other fellow all the time.
President Eliot took as the subject of his address "Looking Ahead." He stated that he had come to the conclusion that young men often lacked the power of looking ahead; of deciding what they meant to be; and of developing their imagination.
The present elective system demands
that an undergraduate foretell his career and choose his course of study accordingly. He should make that choice of studies with the expectation of enjoyment, which should be a part of work. The main satisfaction in life comes from work, and from work that we can enjoy. When your training in the University is finished then you will practice a profession. It is then time to seriously consider the most important event in your whole life, the event of marriage. In later life you will see the reality of this happiness. He who has made the domestic choice will have the deepest satisfaction throughout the hardest kind of work. Contribute largely to the community in which you live, and live with the hopeful idea of the power of enjoyment as life goes on. Cultivate the lasting sports, and a life that will grow more and more as the years go by.
President Lowell's Address.
President Lowell said that college is a world we can make what we really want it to be, because it is homogeneous enough for this purpose. Traditions are short-lived in college for they change with each generation. But during the short college generation of four years many changes can take place. A few strong men always stand out as prominent in molding undergraduate opinion.
We no longer make rules to prohibit the undergraduate from doing what he most desires but we look to him to form high and noble traditions. If you are here to seek pleasure you are in the wrong place. Pleasure is a by-product and has never been found by merely pursuing it. You are here for a far more serious purpose; to qualify yourself and others for a life work. Get into contact with men and find something in common with them. Avoid mediocrity in all things like poison and strive always to break records, not records of others but your own. Keep your minds bright, sharp, keen, and serviceable tools, and remember that the habit of handling masses of facts and seeing them as they are is the greatest part of life.
You owe the community the duty of being a scholar and in this we rely upon you and trust you, and the authorities of the University stand always ready to help you
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