Page images
[blocks in formation]

THE annual society campaign has been brought to a close. In one or the other of our two Literary Societies have all of the newly entered members of our College enlisted themselves, "for four years or the war." During this campaign, our Societies, so nearly identical in all that properly distinguishes literary bodies, so nearly akin in their most peculiar features, and so intimately connected in their influence on College Improvement, have waged a war of extermination. Forgetting that the conduct of the two Societies is of vital interest as affecting the advancement, literary and oratorical, of the members, and sinking steady perseverance in the exercises into a station second to mere number of members, we observe partisans of either cause, engaged in a strife for a nominal victory, as short lived as it is factitious.

To this contest for numbers, no one could object, were it made to hold a place subordinate to the legitimate literary exercises of the Societies, nor do we find fault with it. The enthusiasm of the campaign, the ardor of excitement, the glowing patriotism of the busy electioneerer, all tend to raise his ideal and lead him to form higher notions

[blocks in formation]

of what a society should be, than can possibly be attained in a College organization.

But a higher standard of perfection once fixed, an effort to attain to it is but natural. We would expect to see every nerve strained by the votaries of either cause to continually elevate their respective Societies. Here we are at fault-no earnest endeavor on the part of Society-men meets that expectation which their previous ardor has aroused. No really original steps are taken in that march towards perfection, which we would look for, as the fruits of an earnest desire for improvement in the institutions. The fountain of enthusiasm is dried up before its inspiring waters flow so far down the channels as the brief course of a few weeks.

This backsliding has frequently been reproved and variously explained. By some, secret societies" have been reviled as the cause of the decadence. The engrossing tendency of our secret Societies has, it is said, robbed the larger and more public bodies of that charm of novelty and privacy, that once was theirs. It is urged that to many minds the mere secrecy of the smaller societies, to which they may be attached, is an attraction of such potency as to do away with any feeling of obligation to prosecute with energy the duties of the Literary Societies.

This, it is alleged, is the sole cause of degeneracy in our Societies, and this reason has been so pertinaciously urged, as to gain at last general credence. Much odium has by this means been heaped upon Secret Organizations. The Faculty cannot but regard with a suspicious eye institutions whose very members blame them as the cause of a multitude of evils in our midst-and which are a constant subject of complaint and murmur with those whose efforts to gain admittance have proved futile. These latter disappointed ones are only too happy to defame, on grounds apparently so plausible, the very societies to which they would have delighted to join themselves as members.

Secret Societies are doubtless the formidable rival of the older and more democratic of our College associations; but we apprehend that, although they may so far surpass in interest, as to make the larger only a field wherein the strength of the different parties may be measured, this is nevertheless a reproach too sweepingly made and too carelessly substantiated. The fact that the larger societies afford an opportunity to the ambitious and political men of College to display talents for intrigue and shuffling diplomacy, is not so much to be deprecated as the crime of Secret Societies, the active agents in these demagogue movements-as it to be regretted as a necessary evil.

Our Secret Societies form, it is true, parties in our petty politics. But if these were not the controlling elements of our College elections, we should find ourselves divided by sectional feeling into factions virulent and uncompromising.

We would not attempt to investigate at any length the various reasons for that loss of consequence that the larger Societies have sustained. These reasons we do believe are various and different with each class and almost with each individual. We do not believe the decadence attributed to one single cause. Yet there is one cause of great power, as we think, and not difficult of remedy. We allude to that apathy and carelessness after the work of a campaign, that reaction from the undue importance to which the Societies are raised in the canvass for members.

This is but a natural consequence, and yet if it could be avoided, how much more of good would accrue to members both new and old! And it is to be conquered by a sense of duty to self, a resolve not to let pass unheeded, those advantages that are at best but too transitory. One strong effort will break through this deplorable indifference on our part, and will restore to the "Brothers" and to "Linonia" those crowded meetings and eloquently contested debates that were theirs in former years.

Let us not celebrate a victory or mourn a defeat of a few in numbers, by idly boasting as if that were proper use of triumph, or by regretting as though that could help our cause; but let us one and all, Linonians and Brothers in Unity, contend in our improvement for that palm which mere excess of numbers can never deserve, and let us welcome our younger brethren to an energetic and improving year of labor in our literary gatherings.

Mr. McCreed's Church.

"YES, we must have a church!" So said Mr. McCreed, the benevolent man, as he stood gazing upon his numerous vacant house-lots at the edge of the city.

Mr. McCreed was a public benefactor. He engaged in many public undertakings. He gave a great deal of money to aid prominent moral enterprises. The public claimed him as its own property and, with its

usual volubility, clamored forth its praises, "Mr. McCreed, the guardian of public morals, the director of public enterprise, and the model of all good citizens." It appeared he had no faults. His character was as spotless as his white neckerchief. So you would judge by the epithets applied by the public. He was not a Christian. Indeed, private scandal was current, relating to bad-temper and profanity indulged in by the good man; relating to mean and oppressive dealings with his customers and tenants, but fie upon private scandal! Mr. McCreed does not care for private scandal, not he. When any outrageous report comes to his ears, he smoothes his neckcloth and murmurs softly to himself, something like lamb. Probably he is encouraging himself to indulge a lamb-like temper. But what are reports? Every man, however worthy, has his enemies, and so has Mr. McCreed.

"Yes, we must have a church! Here is a fine locality for it. There are but few buildings and scattered, for people dislike to live here, so far from a house of worship. It will effect a great change in the character of the inhabitants. Now they are poor and immoral, but a handsome church will attract a better class. Yes, yes!" and Mr. McCreed gave another glance at the locality, tapped his forehead, and went to visit an architect.

Piles of brick, and stone, and wood; heavy teams continually dragging loads of building materials; men digging, and hammering, and shouting, and running about; curious street committee inspecting the whole operation; inquiries by anxious editors with unusually rotund pocket-books; congratulatory notices in the papers, and the benevolent work is begun. Yes, and Mr. McCreed contemplates it with an unruffled serenity as it progresses day by day. Yet, to a careful observer, there is a joy in his eye, and a lightness in his step, "which was not so before." He is observed to rub his hands together in private. Ah, what a glorious thing it is to serve the public, especially to blow a moral trumpet before it! How it must impart an inward joy, a sense of usefulness and a proper self-estimation! But Mr. McCreed conceals all his happiness from the public, and appears as calm and undisturbed

as ever.

The work goes on. The piles of stone and wood assume form and beauty. The din of hammers and the shouting of men begin to diminish. The painters and frescoers drive out the carpenters, and are, in turn, ejected by the upholsterers. The heaps of rubbish begin to be cleared up. The curious committee adjourn to the interior. At length the noise all ceases, and Mr. McCreed stands contemplating the work

« PreviousContinue »