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The Cambridge Letter


In a previous letter to the Harvard CRIMSON I mentioned the twelve hundred young hearts which are somewhere pumping blood through twelve hundred acts of young veins, blood which will soon be aerated by Cambridge air, which will soon animate the senses who receive the impressions of the 1935 Freshmen.

It is a curious tribute to the conservancy of the human race that the first arrival in any place, other things being equal, will condescend to the second arrival.

It may be fashionable to arrive late for a theatre, late for a dinner, late for a party, but in general the ensconced person can give points to the newcomer. Upon this system, the third year man looks at the Freshman with amused disdain. The Freshman, it is true, does not know that he must raise his cap to the proctors, does not know that the sleekness of his new gown is revolting, thinks that the head porter is a tutor, and wears his college tie. But the third year man was just the same some time ago, and in the present Freshman he is despising his past self.

But while the Freshman is treated with this amused disdain on one side, he is overwhelmed with solicitations on the other. No wonder the poor devil does not know what to expect.

Arriving in his lodgings or rooms at the beginning of term, unknown, as he thinks, in an unknown town, he finds a pile of letters awaiting him, many in penny-halfpenny envelopes, addressed in a charming hand. Messrs. Cutthroat hope he will have a good term, and will be delighted to see him at their establishment as soon as he can call (lounge suits from eight guineas). Miss Monica Hipline wants to teach him to dance, Mr. Andrew McLewis wants to lend him money, all sorts of unknown friends are anxious of help him. "It's not your money we want," they say, "indeed, we will not mention the cost of these trifles; it's your help, your welfare, your friendship, your success, your health that we are after."

Later, when term is well under way, people begin to call on him. They want his body for football, rowing, or the army training corps; they want his eloquence for the Union Debating Society or for the Communist Club; they want his soul for the Oxford group or the college mission. There is always, of course, a slight subscription, purely nominal. . . .

When the Freshman has dealt with all these persons in his peculiar way, he finds that there are, somewhere, some lectures which he must attend. Is it any wonder that the poor fellow is either driven into his shell, or brought out of it with such violence that the eccentricity of his dress or speech is startling? Is it any wonder that he only settles down in time to treat next year's Freshmen in the same way?

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