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THE MISTAKES OF use of the odd moments at college, and that, contrary to the general opinion, it is worse to loaf in college than to loaf in a professional school. The young lawyer, he observed, who has neglected the law may make up his deficiencies in the early years of his practice; "he will have plenty of time then :" but there is no recovery of the years thrown away at college.
Once more, if we could only teach by the experience of others, we should save untold misery. I met not long since a young business man who had been for four years on and off probation in Har· vard College and had not yet received his
degree. In college he had seemed dull. He probably thought he worked, because his life was broken into, more or less, by college exercises, which he attended with some regularity. Now he is really working, with no time to make up college deficiencies, ready to admit that in college he hardly knew the meaning of work,
and to say simply and spontaneously, "I made a fool of myself in college." Another student, who did nothing in his studies, who spent four or five thousand dollars a year, and who constantly hired tutors to do his thinking, was finally expelled because he got a substitute to write an examination for him. Home trouble followed college trouble; he was thrown on himself and into the cold world ; and he became a man. From scrubbing street cars, he was promoted to running them; from running them to holding a place of trust with men to do his orders. “Every day," he said, “I feel the need of what I threw away at college. Do you think if I came back I should need any more tutors? I'd go through quicker than anything, with nobody to help me. What sent me away was the one dishonest thing in my life.” The dishonest thing came about through loafing.
Even socially, as I have intimated, the
loafer seldom or never wins the highest college success. Graduating classes bestow their honors on men who have “ done something," — athletics, college journalism, debating, if you will, not necessarily hard study in the college course, but hard and devoted work in something, and work with an unselfish desire to help the college and the class. At Harvard College in the class of 1899 all three marshals graduated with distinction in their studies. By the beginning of the Senior year the class knows the men to be relied on, the men who are “there," and knows that they are men of active life.
I have spoken earlier of a student's responsibility to some unknown girl who is to be his wife. What is his responsibility to a known girl with whom in college days he falls in love ? Just as college Faculties are blind to the effect of social ambition in students, they are blind to the effect of sweethearts. I
do not quite know what they could do if their eyes were opened; for college rules, happily, must be independent of sweethearts. I mean merely that scores of cases in which students break rules, “cut" lectures, disappear for a day or two without permission, and do other things that look rebellious, are readily accounted for by the disquieting influence of girls. What students do (or don't) when they are in love is a pretty good test of their character. One drops his work altogether, and devotes what time he cannot spend with the girl to meditating upon her. He can think of nothing else; and accordingly for her sake he becomes useless. Another sets his teeth, and works hard. “She is," he says naturally enough, “infinitely above me. How She ever can care for me, I do not know; whether She ever will, I do not know; but I will be what I can and do what I can. I will do whatever I do as if I were doing it for Her. I am doing it for Her. If I succeed, it will be through Her; if my success pleases Her, I shall be repaid.”
No girl worth having will think better of a man for shirking his plain duty in order to hang about her. No girl likes a “quitter ;” and most girls agree with the heroine of Mr. Kipling's beautiful story, “William the Conqueror," when she says, “I like men who do things." The story shows with profound and exquisite truth how two persons of strong character may grow into each other's love and into an understanding of it by doing their separate duties. To go on, girl or no girl, without excuses small or great; to do the appointed task and to do it cheerfully amid all distractions, all sorrows, all heartaches; to make routine (not blind but enlightened routine) your friend - thus it is that by and by when you meet the hard blows of the world you can
“Go labor on; spend and be spent."