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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
The successive issues of the Graduates' Magazine have a memorial character. Hardly a quarter passes in which there has not occurred the death of some distinguished alumnus of the University. The commemorative articles which appear in the Magazine, however, have but little tinge of sadness. Their note is one of gratitude and pride. Such is the case with the leading article in the March number, on Dr. Arthur Tracy Cabot, for many years a member of the Corporation. The Corporation, as undergraduates perhaps need to be reminded, consists of seven persons--the President, the Treasurer, and five Fellows. These are the legal holders of the property of the University, and the most important administrative body for guiding its policy. No finer spirit is shown in any part of the University's work than in the service given gratuitously by members of the Corporation. Theirs is a labor of love and of honor, a type of what Harvard expects from her sons both for herself and for the community. Dr. Cabot was a distinguished member of the medical profession, a lover of art and science, and a more than loyal servant of the University. His services are now appropriately described by another devoted member of the Corporation, Dr. H. P. Walcott.
The current happenings of the University are followed in articles by Professor Merriman, explaining the new general examination for the A. B. degree, to be taken by those students who concentrate in the Division of History, Government, and Economics; by Mr. H. S. Thompson, who reviews the athletic record of the last five years; by Professor Briggs's ever interesting and refreshingly frank account of the Athletic Committee (reprinted from the President's report), and by an excellent article by Malcolm Donald '99, who points out that there is no foundation for the statement that the Union has not been successful. Quite in contrast with these accounts of modern events are the extracts from the diary of Dr. James C. White '53. The Harvard of his time--half a century ago--was hardly more than a considerable high school, and the undergraduates behaved much like high school boys. Witness these passages in the diary:
"At evening prayers the doors at one end of the chapel in University Hall (the present Faculty room), found to be locked, so that the Sophomores and Seniors who entered by those doors, the Juniors and Freshmen by those at the other end of the pulpit, were barred out. They raised a prolonged stamping." ...."This evening at prayers many of our class kept up a continuous stamping. Twenty-five more up before the Faculty. Three of the ringleaders were punished, one by 'public' admonition, one was advised to leave College, and another was sent off."
Another indication of a state of things that belongs to a distant past appears in an entry for March 20, 1851:
"So much snow has fallen that six horses are required to draw the omnibuses."
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