The light of the Room;
And it's why shouldn't every man
Enjoy the Room. chorus of the Porcellian Club song
When a newly initiated member of the Porcellian Club complained last year that sitting in a leather chair and singing praises to the walls was not the stimulating experience he had expected from club life, Theodore Roosevelt IV, '65 let him in on a bit of Porcellian philosophy. "We may be passive," Roosevelt said, "but we're aggressively passive."
While other undergraduate organizations produce plays or publish journals, the members of Harvard's 11 Final Clubs devote their energies to maintaining a refuge from such endeavors. For the more conscientious members of the more conscientious members of the more prestigious clubs, it can turn into a full-time occupation.
Harvard's Final Clubs exist to provide secluded comfort for their selected few while the world passes by on the other side of the locked doors. "It's a step aside from the University," said Kinnaird Howland '66-3, president of the Delphic Club. "When I finish my work it's the place I can go to put my feet up."
The clubs strive to provide their members with the sensation of a man suspended half-way down in his swimming pool, breathing through an squalung--a sort of nullo-euphoria. The club that is most successful in denying the existence of a world outside is the Porcellian.
Founded in 1789, The Porcellian is by far the oldest, the most exclusive, and the most secretive of the Final Clubs. Women are never allowed inside its doors. Distinguished guests of Porcellian members may visit--but only once. (The club turned down President Eisenhower's request for a second look).
The members of the Porcellian thrive on a substitute world of their own. Pictures of famous graduates adorn their walls (Oliver Wendell Holmes is prominently displayed). The rooms are furnished with gifts from former members, and each new sophomore class must memorize which graduate donated which table or chair.
While inside the club, located above J. August, the members address each other as "Brother" this and "Brother" that and refrain religiously from discussing politics. They are instructed to look outside only through a mirror above the J. August sign, placed in such a way that a club member may view the pedestrian life on Mass. live without rising from his over suffered seat.
The pig (the Porcellian symbol) is to dominant feature of the club's reagent decor. There are wild boars' reeds on the walls. There are sculpted pigs and pictures of pigs. The library contains a whole series of looks on pigs, including one edition of The Three Little Pigs.
It's this tradition and atmosphere that the other clubs envy. "The P.C. could take in wonks from now till doomsday and they'd still be number one," said John Potter '66, a member of the Phoenix SK Club. A member of another club confided, "No one will say it in the open, but every damn one of us would rather be in the Pore."
The Porcellian is reputed to hold the most elegant "punches," the weekend outings to which would-be members are invited for inspection. With more local graduates to choose from--the Porcellian is partial to Old Boston families--the club can always find a wealthy alumnus who will lend his palatial residence and spacious lawns to the club for a raucous afternoon of football and drinking, usually carried on simultaneously. Skeet shooting, bowls, or other forms of leisurely recreation are sometimes provided for the less energetic.