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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

The College Pump

Artificial Wants

November-December 2002

"Your wooden arm you hold outstretched to shake with passers-by."

Josiah Quincy, A.B. 1790, LL.D. 1824, drafted the following advice to undergraduates in 1837 or '38, while he was president of Harvard. He may well have disseminated it, for advice on the topic was mentioned in the student periodical Harvardiana with some derision. Brian Sullivan, reference archivist in the University Archives, resurrected Quincy's manuscript in time for this year's Great American Smokeout, November 21:

"Although it is not prohibited in private rooms, yet there is scarcely any habit, except such as are vicious, or criminal, for which there is less apology, or which is attended with worse consequences, always troublesome—often injurious, sometimes fatal....

Illustration by Lynne Foy

"Now truly considered there is nothing so insufferably ludicrous, as to see a young man, at that period of his life, when nature has provided his organs of taste and speaking with everything that is requisite for their proper action & enjoyment, turning his mouth into a chimney for the issuing of fetid smoke, and covering its roof, his palate & throat with dry, tobacco cinders & soot, instead of that healthful moisture which nature has provided for the proper action & comfort of that part of his system.

"Let me advise you, as a friend, not to endeavour after the acquirement of such a habit,—and however it may be pressed upon you by the example of others,—Be assured there is in it nothing either manly or gentlemanly—but much that is odious offensive & injurious.

"There is one rule of wisdom which more than almost any other tends to the comfort & happiness of every individual.

"Have, if possible, no artificial wants—

"You will have enough to do in life to supply and regulate those, which are natural. In doing this you will best pursue duty and felicity." 

 

A party before the game. Sorting out memories in the course of moving house, Marc Jaffe '42, now of Williamstown, Massachusetts, came upon a "bit of sophomoriana"—literally—a printed invitation to a party that he and the late Richard Brill '42 had given. The invitation read:

"Mr. M. Henry Jaffe and Mr. R. Llewelyn Brill ["Llewelyn" was not part of Brill's name, but it sounded good, says Jaffe] request the pleasure of your company at a ridotto, orgy, brawl, carousel, revelry, debauch, wassail, Saturnalia and Fête Champêtre to be held at the fine old Colonial manse of Miss Natalie Moran of the debutante season of 1919 at 54 Irving Street, Arlington, on Friday evening, November 24, 1939, from 8:30 until out cold. Dress Optional (except in the case of ladies, where we must insist that they appear fully clothed). Gentlemen will please check their jock straps at the door. Featuring: Carnality, Crapulence, Temulency, Impudicity, Lubricity, Sybaritism, Gluttony, Bibacity, Salacity, Stupration. Also Dancing. The one affair Friday night where you won't have to meet a Yale man socially. Also the only affair that won't cost you anything...." (The hosts knew how to toy with a Latin root. Jaffe went on to become a book editor, Brill a lawyer and peace-movement activist.)

The day after the party, according to The Second H Book of Harvard Athletics, "Early fumbles were costly, and Harvard bowed, 20-7, before 52,000 congealed spectators in the Stadium."

 

 

In leaner times. From a letter to the editor in the March 22, 1958, issue of this magazine: "At two recent meetings of the Harvard Club of Washington, D.C., which were attended by more than 100 members between the ages of 25 and 80, it was observed that there was hardly a fat man in the room," wrote H. Livingston Hartley '23, of Washington. He posed a question to experts in Cambridge: "Our observer pointed out that in comparable gatherings of non-Harvard men, including Congress, Elks, and Chamber of Commerce, the proportion of fat men present is substantial. Some of us down here have been wondering how our years at Harvard have brought us this additional boon, this relative absence of fat."

~Primus V