The fifty-seventh volume of the Harvard Monthly opens with a sufficiently varied number,--a "homily" on "Harvard Indifference," three short editorials, a sketch of an Italian salt ship in a page or so, five bits of verse, and three stories.
Of the stories only Mr. Smith's preposterous "Page from the Life of the Missing Link" seems really to do its work. It is the kind of thing that a man writes as a "part," perhaps; but it is thoroughly funny and sincere. Of the other stories "There Was One," though not as bad as its title, is a study in anti-climax which hardly entertains us enough as we go along to make us forgive the hoax. "Chapters from a Summer Romance" is conventional in detail and feeble in situation: in the descriptive parts "scarcely a sound broke the quiet," although a hermit thrush "could be heard in the distance; in the narrative part we have, in addition to some very unreal dialogue, the old, old ending! "Thereupon he turned upon his heel and strode off into the night." Heroes ought to behave with more originality that that.
The verse is better: it moves, it rhymes (except once or twice), and if it sometimes fails to know where it is going it can take refuge behind the doctrine of Mr. Rogers's doctrine that "the man who has learned to loan well is getting the best of life." These five writers may at least be said to know how to "leal well" in verse. And sometimes they do much better that that, especially Mr. Weston, whose "Source of a Song" really hits the mark.
About the "homily" on Harvard indifference one has two opinions: it is no doubt well for Freshmen--and for all of us--to realize that there is more to be done here than any one man can do well and that in choosing and rejecting it is important to be one's self. Mr. Rogers is to be thanked for saying that so well. But the conclusion of the homily will certainly be dangerous doctrine for Freshmen unless it is very carefully read and perhaps even then. It seems to mean that in this strange, new college world the things for which men work unitedly are not worth while, and that the things which men get by keeping apart are valuable. What it does mean, of course, is something quite different; namely, that we are to "prove all things: hold fast that which is good." As for the counsel about "leading well," one hopes that the average Freshman will at least postpone his study of that difficult art until after the November hour examinations. For it would certainly annoy the Administrative Board if, in addition to petitions pleading weak eyes, devotion to family, and all of the other good old standbys, it had to consider the cases of any very large number of men who were trying to learn to loaf well-and had tailed.