The Cambridge Letter

It was more than three hundred years ago that Robin Herrick, the jocund lyricist of pastoral England, passed, if we may judge from his Hesperides, a riotous four years in St. John's and Trinity Hall, two colleges backing on the placid Cam. Apprenticed to a goldsmith, he later became a parson in Devonshire, but the fine skill of his rejected trade seems to have followed him into the art of juggling with words.

In youth and later life Herrick never rejected the theory or practise of making hay while the sun shines. "That age is best, which is the first" be says in the incomparable little piece beginning:

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,

Old Time is still a flying."

Cambridge University today, indeed all universities, I suppose, are divided into the Herricks and the Miltons, to take the latter in his mood of "hence, vain deluding joys." This problem faces every freshman, and if his friends, his purse or his tastes decide for him, the decision must be made--whether to regard youth (which means university career) as a gift which must be enjoyed, or as a fateful threshold to life. Only the very lucky ones can have it both ways, can dance in the Spring and reap a catch crop harvest in the Autumn.

The funny part of university cliques is the way that each despises the other. Your orange-tied aesthete complains to his friends "my dean, that dreadful boat club was drunk again last night. It's not that I mind a man getting drunk, but they're such ANIMALS..." Meanwhile the boat club growls about "that pansy with his Egyptian cigarettes, who never does anything for the college."

In the larger division, the workers pity the butterflies, social, sporting or arty, and gape at the way they spend their time, while the butterflies hover contemptuously round the drone workers, and wonder what fun they get.

This section of Cambridge life makes it look very petty, but you have still a large percentage of healthy, great-souled folk who stride toward their goal with unaverted eyes. If Harvard is in any way comparable to Cambridge, it will become less of a butt for yellow journalism when every freshman decides upon his goal and goes for it, without wondering what the other chap is going for.

Too much to hope, perhaps, besides, the Cambridge air is so relaxing.