The Advocate appears cheerily in its thousandth-or-so-number, with its scanty editorials, like the inadequate short skirts of a growing girl; its verses, its tales and its one page of "solid article." Here the reader catches a whiff of the Ladies' Home Journal; there he finds a hint for those short pages of the Century where the verse is tucked in; but few suggestions of the Advocate in the days when it was only the Harvard Advocate.
The verse of this number is notable. Hermann Hagedorn has a sure and practiced touch. His "America to Europe" says much in its fourteen lines and closes with the memorable phrase: "And that to live at ease may be to die." Arthur Ficke has put into his "Irises" the sound of the "Passing water of the cool stream, Coming from afar," and leaves a faint impression of a passion for which the real Iris would be no solace. Augustus Lord's "By Autumn Seas" is a manly utterance on the old theme of world desolation and the comfort of "Love's dauntless cheer." Conrad Aiken has solzed perforce upon the poetry of the unpoetic in his "Vaudeville." He loves the verse of contrast, the skipping danseuse edging back and forth across the stage, hopelessly beloved by the violinist; and the shadowy silent lady, in spirit skipping after him. Somehow you see them both, and are annoyed to think that people so commonplace should have woes serious enough to be admitted to the Advocate.
Phillip W. Thayer in "A Transfigured Julia" gleefully hits off the capricious changes of fashion in girls: "Lissome Julia anatomically slight," "Robust Julia, playing golf and swimming harder," Suffrage Julia "prances in the [poet's] limelight." Witter Bynner is not up to his poetic form in "Though Wisdom Dies." Wisdom is a theme which cannot be completely developed in two short stanzas nor can imagination be "uncurled small as forget-me-nots." The characteristics of the verse of this number are cleverness, insight, a sure, light touch, and a sense of the sober humor of the contrasts of life.
The two stories are rather too much in the note of the Saturday Evening Post, where a broader development of Biggers's "Next to Advertising" would be a feature. It is an amusing skit drawn with brilliant chalks. H. E. Porter's "Same Old Christmas Story" is the same old Christmas story. Noble graduate of 1907, with a bank account, a tender heart and too much leisure. It reads like that story of Bunner's, where the brave little boy sells the gold brick to a kind old gentleman, and thus provides a Christmas for the family of the unsuccessful bunco steerer.
The number is good, creditable, entertaining; but with the exception of John Corbin's brief account of the rescue of the Advocate in 1890, there is hardly a line from start to finish which might not have been written by an unusually clever and remarkably well-trained Yale man. The flavor is good, but is it the flavor of Harvard?