Charles F[ranklin] 1853- Thwing.

American colleges: their students and work online

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daily bulletin, published monthly, of doings at Yale,
written in a terse and graphic style, and is one of the
most interesting features of an interesting college
journal. Its five editors are usually considered the
best literary men of the senior class, and an election
to the "Lit. Board "is justly esteemed one of the
highest honors of Yale life. In the course of its forty


years, not a few of those who have won distinction by-
literary and educational work have served an appren-
ticeship on the " Lit." Secretary Evarts was one of
the founders of the magazine, and Donald G. Mitchell,
of Yale's class of 1841, Doctor J. P. Thompson, of
1838, Senator O. S. Ferry, of 1844, President A. D.
White, of 1853, and several others not less distin-
guished have been among its editors. It is still an
important factor in Yale life, and together with a
similar journal published by the Princeton students,
is usually regarded as of the best of college publica-
tions of its type.

At the present time Yale has, besides its " Liter-
ary Magazine," two fortnightly papers, the " Courant"
and the " Record." Edited by boards selected from
and in part by the students, they are devoted to the
discussion of college affairs and to the communication
to graduates and the public of Yale news.

Although Harvard's papers have been less numer-
ous than Yale's, they indicate (considered as a whole)
greater literary ability and have had greater influence
on college opinion. The first, the " Harvard Lyceum,"
appeared in 18 10, with Edward Everett among its
eight editors. It was a semi-monthly literary maga-
zine, but had, Mr. Everett remarks in his "Autobiogra-
phy," no permanent literary value. Dying a natural
death before the close of the year, it was succeeded


in 1827 by the " Harvard Register," a monthly journal
of both a serious and a humorous character. Among
its editors were the late President Felton, George S.
Hillard, who wrote over the name of Sylvanus Dash-
wood, and Robert C. Winthrop, whose pseudonym was
Blank Etcetera, Sr. But, like its predecessor, the
financial and literary remissness of the students
digged for it an early grave. In 1830 appeared the
" Collegian," whose brief career is made historical by
the contributions of Oliver Wendell Holmes, then a stu-
dent in the Harvard Law School. Young Holmes wrote
over the signature of Frank Hock ; and in the " Col-
legian " appeared u The Spectre Pig," " The Dorches-
ter Giant," " The Height of the Ridiculous," and other
papers which have not been included in the standard
editions of his works. The " Collegian " was, after a
short life, buried with its fathers, and " Harvardiana,"
on which the founder of the "Atlantic," and the editor
of the " North American Review " first employed his
editorial pen, reigned in its stead. But Mr. Lowell's
wit and wisdom were not sufficient for lengthening
the " Collegian's " life beyond four years. About
fifteen years after its decease, appeared, in 1854, the
" Harvard Magazine." It lived with varying fortunes
for a decade, and numbered among its editors several
who have won distinction by subsequent literary work.
Frank B. Sanborn and Phillips Brooks were two of


the three members of its first board. But in 1864 its
publication ceased ; and in May, 1866, the first num-
ber of the " Harvard Advocate " appeared as a fort-
nightly. For more than twelve years the literary taste
manifested in the " Advocate's " editorial management,
the brightness of its sketches, and the intrinsic merit
and wit of its poetry have given it a pre-eminent place
among college journals. In 1873 a rival appeared in
the " Magenta," since changed, with the name of the
college color, to the " Crimson ; " and these two
papers are now pursuing in generous rivalry a most
successful course of college journalism.

Although few colleges have been as prolific in
newspaper children as Yale and Harvard, yet the
history of journalism at these two colleges represents
in general its history at Princeton, Williams, Brown
University, and the older colleges. But within the
last decade the number of college journals has greatly
increased. At the present time, it is estimated that
at least two hundred papers and magazines, devoted
to college interests and conducted by college students,
are published. The usual pattern of the college jour-
nal is a sheet of twelve pages, of the size of the
"Nation," well printed on tinted paper, and published
either fortnightly or monthly. It has a board of six
or ten editors, elected either by the preceding board
or by the students, or both, and its literary support is


derived from the members of the college as well
as from the editorial pen. Its subscribers number
about five hundred, and are usually equally divided
between the college students and the graduates.
Perhaps a few journals print a thousand copies, but
so large a subscription list is rare ; and two hundred
and fifty copies is as low a limit as is commonly
reached. The usual price of a fortnightly is $2.00
for the college year, and from the proceeds of its
subscriptions and its advertisements it usually suc-
ceeds in meeting the expenses of publication. But a
college journal seldom is, as it is seldom intended to
be, a source of pecuniary income.

There are, however, certain peculiar developments
in the history of college publications which deserve
notice. One of these developments is the " Univer-
sity Quarterly." The " University Quarterly " was un-
doubtedly the most important venture, both in its
intrinsic importance and in the high anticipations it
awakened, ever undertaken in college journalism. It
was a quarterly of two hundred pages started at New-
Haven in i860 by Joseph Cook and other Yale men,
and was intended "to enlist," says the author of
" Four Years at Yale," " the active talent of young
men in American, and so far as possible in foreign,
universities in the discussion of questions and the
communications of intelligence of common interest to



students." Made up of " news, local sketches, refor-
matory thought and literary essays from all the prin-
cipal seats of classical and professional learning," its
chief purpose was to unite " the sympathies of academ-
ical, collegiate and professional students throughout
the world." Its management was vested in editors
and correspondents chosen from the students of
different colleges, and the board at New Haven, the
place of publication, served as a sort of managing
editor. At one time no less than thirty-three colleges
and professional schools were represented by the
" Quarterly," among which were,of the foreign universi-
ties, those of Berlin, Halle, Heidelberg and Cambridge.
But the difficulty of controlling so large and hetero-
geneous a body of editors, and the breaking out of the
war absorbing every bit of undergraduate enthusiasm,
necessitated the " Quarterly's " suspension. The
last of its eight numbers appeared in October, 1861.
But in its brief career it was of much value in uniting
the sympathies of different colleges and in communi-
cating intelligence regarding the higher education in
this and foreign countries. The interest taken in,
and the amount of work done for, the journal by dif-
ferent colleges was most diverse. Yale was undoubt-
edly the most enthusiastic in its support, and about
one-third of the literary matter was contributed by
Yale men. Amherst also manifested much interest


9 8


in the " Quarterly," and of her students Francis A.
Walker was a faithful contributor. Harvard gave
comparatively little aid, but Mr. Garrison, now of the
" Nation," was an efficient representative of the Cam-
bridge college. The average edition of the " Quarterly"
consisted of about fourteen hundred copies ; and it
appears that its pecuniary affairs were wound up with-
out loss to its conductors — a somewhat rare circum-
stance in the death of a college journal.

Another departure from the usual type of the
college journal is representee in the " Harvard Lam-
poon." The " Lampoon," is a college "Punch," issued
fortnightly, of a dozen pages of letter-press and as
many cartoons setting forth humorous scenes chiefly
in college and social life. At its appearance in the
spring of 1876, its pen and pencil were confined to the
college, but at the opening of the academic year of
1877-78, it enlarged its sphere; and for a year its
purpose has been " to reproduce to the life the ' quips
and cranks and wanton wiles' of the free-born
American citizen as well as those of the typical stu-
dent, so that wretches who never heard of Harvard
will be able to smile at his jests and weep over his
pathos. Whenever in future any question of such
general concern as the. natural depravity of the Spitz
dog or the sanitary efficacy of azure glass is endanger-
ing the relations of parents and children throughout


the land ; if the mayor of Boston becomes desirous of
having the horse-cars as well the ferries free ; or the
ladies of Washington seek to restrain Mehemet Ali
Pacha from drinking ice-water when he accepts the
hospitalities of the nation, — Lampy will have his little
say on the subject, and his pen and pencil will not be
idle." The success that has attended " Lampy's "
effort, in view of the usual fate of American humor-
ous journals, is good evidence of the excellence of its
work. Many of its bon mots and verses have been
exceedingly clever, and some of its cartoons are
worthy of Du Maurier. It has been, as a whole,
remarkably free from every feature open to objection
in point of moral taste ; and by the general, as well
as the college, press it has been constantly received
with much favor.

The purposes which the college paper accom-
plishes in American college life are numerous and
important. It is, in the first place, a mirror of under-
graduate sentiment, and is either scholarly or vulgar,
frivolous or dignified, as are the students who edit and
publish it. A father, therefore, debating where to
educate his son, would get a clearer idea of the type
of moral and intellectual character which a college
forms in her students from a year's file of their fort-
nightly paper than from her annual catalogue or the
private letters of her professors. To the college


officers, also, it is an indicator of the pulse of college
opinion. The discussion of all questions regarding
the varied interests of the college — the dissatisfaction
with Professor A 's method of conducting recita-
tions, or with the librarian's new code, or with the
advance in the annual price of college rooms — is sure
to voice itself in the college paper. Indeed the spirit
of rebellion among college men often flows out into
ink, when, if they had no paper in which to relate
their grievances, it would — as it now too often does —
manifest itself in boyish mobs and " gunpowder plots."
The college journal is, indeed, as a distinguished pro-
fessor recently said of the paper of his college, " the
outstanding member of the college faculty."

But the paper reflects the moral and intellectual
condition of its college, not only for the officers and
patrons of its own college, but also for the members
of other colleges. The Harvard papers, for instance,
represent Harvard life to other colleges, just as
American newspapers represent American life to
Europeans. Each paper has a list of some fifty or
sixty " exchanges," which, after being examined by
the " exchange editor," are usually placed in the pub-
lic reading-room for the use of the students. It is
also the custom, to a considerable and a growing
extent, for the best journals to devote at least a page
to news from other colleges. These items of news


are usually culled from the " exchanges," but in some
cases they are directly furnished by correspondents
engaged for the purpose. The influence of college
papers in thus promoting inter-collegiate friendship,
and in exhibiting the methods of instruction and
government, is of great service to the cause of higher

Another important purpose which the college
journal fulfils is in informing the graduate of the
changes through which his alma mater passes ; it is
a fortnightly letter from his college home. Its alumni
column notes the chief events in the lives of all grad-
uates ; and the whole paper helps to keep his college
memories green. About half of the list of subscribers
to many of the journals is made up of the names
of graduates, and graduates not infrequently contrib-
ute articles, especially upon athletic topics.-

The college paper also serves as an admirable
training school for professional journalists. Quick-
ness of thought and of action, coolness of judgment
and of purpose, and impartiality which Mr. Hudson,
in his History of Journalism, suggests as the essentials
of a good journalist, receive excellent discipline on the
college editorial board. The college journal is the
best school of journalism, outside of its own curricu-
lum, which the college affords. The merit of their
editorial work in college has won for not a few stu-


dents, on their graduation, a position on the staff of
a New York or Boston paper.

The character of much of the writing in the best
college papers is most praiseworthy. The topics are
usually of immediate interest to the college world, and
are treated with directness, perspicuity and consider-
able energy of style. Written, as many of the articles
are, under the pressure of college work, they indicate
a clearness of thought and a facility of execution
worthy, in certain cases, of experienced journalists.
But in the college magazines, which are published
quarterly or monthly, these excellences are not as
marked as in the fortnightly or weekly journal. The
subjects of the leading articles in the magazines sel-
dom possess immediate interest, and the style is often
labored and oratorical. In topic and treatment they
are not dissimilar to the forensics and theses which a
senior writes for his professor of rhetoric. But the
editorial paragraphs in the quarterlies are clear, pointed
and interesting.

The wit and humor, also, that abound in the col-
lege journals are of a most commendable and genuine
character. College life, it is needless to say, is fer-
tile, in comparison with business or professional life,
in the ludicrous ; and many of the witticisms that ap-
pear in the college papers are reports of the table-
talk of an eating club, or of the happy retorts of a


professor to a jesting student. Not a few humorous
verses, also, bright and rollicking, have come from
college pens. One of the earliest, as well as one of
the best, parodies ever published in this country ap-
peared in the " Harvard Lyceum," in the first years
of college journalism. Joel Barlow's "Columbiad"
was the object of its pleasantry ; and, written by Ed-
ward Everett in 1810, it has both a literary and an
historic interest. The following extract describes
" the vexations of a person who finds in the midst of
a dance, that his hose are swinging from their moor-

" And while he dances in vivacious glee
He feels his stockings loosening from his knee ;
The slippery silk in mind-benumbing rounds
Descends in folds at all his nimble bounds.

Thy partner wonders at the change. No more
She sees thee bound elastic from the floor ;
No more she sees thine easy graceful air: —
Each step is measured with exactest care."

Of the many bright verses that have of late years
appeared in the college papers, the following from the
" Harvard Advocate" of May, 1870, are pre-eminent.
They were written by Mr. Charles A. Prince of Bos-
ton, when a Harvard student, and are addressed " To
Pupils in Elocution : "


" The human lungs reverberate sometimes with great velocity
When windy individuals indulge in much verbosity,
They have to twirl the glottis sixty thousand times a minute,
And push and punch the diaphragm as though the deuce were
in it.


The pharynx now goes up ;
The larynx with a slam,
Ejects a note
From out the throat,
Pushed by the diaphragm."

But, although the humorous side of college life is
thus developed in the best of the papers, their moral
character and influence are excellent. They are re-
markably free from vulgarity. Slang, though not in-
frequent in college conversation, seldom creeps into
their columns. Their hatred of every species of sham
and deceit is most marked. Their love for what-
ever they regard as their own honor or that of their
college is genuine ; and the respect they constantly,
as a class, manifest for religion is a fit model for the
imitation of certain daily journals. The college paper
is, therefore, in respect to moral character, usually
rather above than below the level of college sentiment,
and its moral influence, therefore, is elevating.

But to these excellent purposes and characteris-
tics of the college paper are joined two evils which
must be weighed in forming any just estimate of its


worth and usefulness. The first evil is that the stu-
dent's editorial duties are liable to exhaust his ener-
gies, and thus to unfit him for his regular college
work. Every college intends to provide her men
with sufficient work to monopolize their time and
strength ; if, therefore, the paper absorbs much of the
student-editor's attention, he is compelled to neglect
his Greek and mathematics. The evil of this course is
obvious. It is the wellnigh universal experience that
the continued neglect of the regular college studies
for the sake of the college paper is seldom helpful,
and is often disastrous, to scholarship and intellect-
ual discipline. A college editorship is an excellent
avocation, but a very bad vocation.

The other danger to which the young editor is ex-
posed is that of forming a faulty style. The rapid
writing which he is sometimes compelled to do culti-
vates superficiality of thought, and the necessity
under which he often labors, of "filling up space,"
fosters bombast, slovenliness, and looseness of expres-
sion. He is frequently placed in emergencies most
opposed to the cultivation of that patient and painstak-
ing habit of composition which it is the especial duty of
a young writer to cherish. But neither this evil nor
that of a neglect of college work is necessarily in-
herent in college journalism; a wise discretion can
avoid them.


The college paper is essentially an American pro-
duction. The German universities have no publica-
tion of the sort, and the English universities of Oxford
and Cambridge have no journal that precisely corre-
sponds to the American college paper. The " Oxford
and Cambridge Undergraduates' Journal " is devoted
to the interests of the Oxford and Cambridge stu-
dents, containing sketches of sermons preached in
their pulpits, and reports of their scholastic and
athletic affairs ; but it is both edited and published by
those not connected with the universities. A few-
papers are, however, issued by the English students.
Their sphere is usually more restricted to the institu-
tion whose name they bear than are the American
college journals ; but in other respects they are not





College fellowships, or post-graduate scholar-
ships, are primarily institutions of Oxford and Cam-
bridge. The twenty colleges of which Oxford uni-
versity is composed possess three hundred scholarships
and nearly an equal number of fellowships. The
purposes which a fellowship is designed to accom-
plish, are chiefly four : it is a reward for high scholar-
ship ; it serves as a ladder for the indigent student
to rise by ; it is a recompense for the instruction which
the fellow is required to give ; and the holders of fel-
lowships form the governing board of the college.
The scholars and fellows are elected, after a competi-
tive examination, by the officers of the college, and
retain their foundation for various lengths of time.
An Oxford fellowship can, with few exceptions, be
held for life ; but marriage, ecclesiastical preferment
or accession to property of a certain amount usually


compels him to surrender his foundation. At Cam-
bridge, however, certain fellowships are held for a
limited number of years, as those in Trinity College
for ten, and those in Queen's for seven. An Oxford
scholarship, too, can seldom be retained for more than
five years.

The annual income of an Oxford scholarship
varies from £60 to ^125 ; but the average is about
;£ioo. The annual income of an Oxford fellowship
is, however, seldom less than ,£200 and seldom more
than ^300. With an annual income of ^250,000
(more than double the income of Harvard university
in all its departments), Oxford University expends each
year ,£35,000 in scholarships, and ,£90,000, in fellow-

The conditions under which the fellow enjoys his
annuity are usually very few and liberal. He is at
liberty to pursue almost any line of intellectual labor.
In many cases his position is a mere sinecure, and
involves no actual work. In other cases it is, and in
all cases may be, most effectually used for the ad-
vancement of the higher learning ; but too often the
holder of a life fellowship at Oxford or Cambridge
is a mere annuitant, and his attainments are of little
service either to the university from which he annu-
ally receives a thousand dollars, or to English scholar-
ship and culture.



Unlike Oxford and Cambridge, the German uni-
versities have no system of fellowships. Each univer-
sity is, however, possessed of a certain number of
" exhibitions," ranging in value from sixty to three
hundred dollars, for the benefit of needy students.
Each needy student also avails himself of the two
public lectures a week, which a professor is required
to give, and is, in many cases, allowed to attend all
the lectures without payment of fees. But to the
student who has taken his degree and is still pursuing
his studies, the German university has neither fellow-
ship nor scholarship to offer.

The pecuniary privileges which the American
college offers its students for post-graduate study are,
in comparison with those provided by the English
universities, very meager. Of our three hundred
colleges, Yale, Princeton, Harvard and the Johns
Hopkins University are the principal ones that
offer fellowships for the prosecution of advanced

Yale has six fellowships, or scholarships, the an-
nual value of which ranges from forty-six to (at least)
six hundred dollars. Two are of the larger amount.
One fellowship is tenable for five years, but the
others for not more than three. High scholarship
and good character are the general conditions for ob-
taining these honors ; and the prosecution of a non-


professional course of study, as science, literature or
philology, in New Haven, under the direction of the
college faculty, is the general condition for retaining

Princeton, which claims to be 4< taking the lead
in encouraging advanced learning by means of fellow-
ships/' now has six, with expectations of an early
increase in their number and income. They are
awarded by competition, which is open to any mem-
ber of the graduating class, and are held for a single
year. The fellow pursues his studies in either phi-
losophy, science, mathematics, classics, history or
modern languages, according as his fellowship is de-
signed. The annual income of three of these founda-
tions is six hundred dollars each, and of three, one-half
this amount. During the last seven years, fellows
have been pursuing advanced studies in philosophy,
philology, and science, both at Princeton and at the
English and German universities. The introduction
of the fellowship system at Princeton is due in the
main to the efforts of its president, Dr. McCosh. It
is substantially the same system which he drew up in
1 860-6 1 for the Scottish universities. " I have," he
writes me recently, " only made a beginning, but
a good beginning. We are really producing scholars."

Harvard, like Yale and Princeton, has six fellow-
ships, but of somewhat larger value than those of her


sister colleges Two have an annual income of about
s,x hundred doHars and four of at least one thousand

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Online LibraryCharles F[ranklin] 1853- ThwingAmerican colleges: their students and work → online text (page 6 of 10)