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What Time Is It?


The Mass. Hall clock has been neither right nor wrong since sometime before 1830. This is clear to anyone who has ever glanced across the Square at Massachusetts Hall, wondering what time it was. Apparently the Maintenance Department has fallen over a hundred years behind in some of its work, and shows little interest in catching up. That's a long time to let a clock go around with no hands. IS HARVARD SLIPPING? Doesn't the University really care what time it is? Is it just a boyish prank on the part of the Maintenance Department? Or is Harvard too cheap to keep up the clock just because it doesn't face on the Yard?

The historic Hall was twice rebuilt after fires, and while the dial was replaced each time, no one felt that the pointers were important enough. There were less places to go in those days, and people made fewer engagements. However, old views of the "Colleges at Cambridge" show hands on the clock as late as 1790. They apparently even worked, as various hours may be seen in different pictures. The architects at Robinson Hall believe that the mechanism got out of fix early in the 19th century, and was never repaired. If this is the case, it shows exceedingly poor spirit in the Maintenance Department. An old alibi in the archives speaks of removing the machinery to the church opposite, but the church was not built until 1833, three years after the earliest handless picture. Another flaw in the church excuse is that President Weber put a sundial on the building in 1810, so the clock must have run down before then. Anyway, the archive record says that the Board of Overseers was to appoint a committee to see that the churchmen kept their clock right. No one living has seen hide nor hair of any such committee members. If they exist, they aren't on, the ball either.

There is no getting around it; someone has fallen down on the job. In 1725 we voted to give the steward four pounds a year to keep the clock in order, but he hasn't kept his end of the bargain for five generations. Inasmuch as this steward has proved unreliable, it is high time we got one who will really earn his four pounds. There is no limit to the bad effects of a precedent like this, and it mustn't be allowed to go on too long. If something happened to the Memorial Hall clock, would we just let it lie? If the rope on the church-bell broke, would we give up in despair? A University is not made of quitters. The repaired clock would give the Yard a new lease on life, and show the Square that Harvard is still wound up.

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