ITHACA, Nov. 13, 1882. The spirit of progress is still the vital principle at Cornell. Animated by this spirit, which has pushed our youthful university into the front rank of American colleges and forced them to needed reforms, and fearing that it was growing dormant in the breasts of the authorities, certain public-spirited individuals recently demolished a wooden bridge leading to the campus. This action was expected to bring forcibly before the proper persons the fact that the bridge was not in keeping with the other property of the university. Like many radical reforms, this did not meet with that appreciation which is encouraging. Some of the reformers will probably soon be in a state of animated suspension, as the faculty holds frequent and protracted sittings, evidently meaning business. A stone and iron bridge may in time replace the one destroyed, but for the present students and professors are put to great inconvenience.
Field day passed off quietly, without any occurrence worthy of special note. Interest in boating, if not dead, is quite soundly sleeping, but will doubtless revive when the completion of the gymnasium affords opportunity for practice during the winter. Base-ball is monopolizing the enthusiasm of the athletes and students generally, especially since the victory over the Syracuse Stars. Work has begun on the long promised base-ball and athletic grounds, and Cornell will soon have ample room for developing her skill and muscle and for exhibiting that skill and muscle when developed.
The aesthetics of athletics, lawn tennis, is popular with the professors, who enliven the campus in picturesque costumes whenever the weather is favorable.
President White, Professors Tyler, Burbank, Tuttle and Fiske were active in organizing here during the last campaign a branch of the Civil Service Reform Association. They succeeded in giving the old-timers something of a scare, and doubtless contributed to the overwhelming Republican defeat in this country. President White is very much in earnest on the subject of civil service reform.
It is proposed by the faculty to introduce a system of honors, a system which Cornell has been heretofore almost wholly, and perhaps happily, without. Our only prize of special value at present is the Woodford prize in oratory, amounting to $100, and open to seniors. By the new plan two sets of examinations will be held toward the end of the college year, one of which will be for midcourse honors, open to sophomores, the other for final honors, open to seniors.
If there is one subject above another upon which the average Cornell student delights to discourse, it is the many new improvements in the matter of buildings, new courses, etc., now in progress, and especially of the possibilities of the library, which has already attracted much attention, and which probably has the largest endowment of any similar institution in the world. The one person above all others to whose munificence these possibilities are due is the late Mrs. Jennie McGraw Fiske. As a fitting resting-place for her remains, those of her father and of Ezra Cornell, there will be erected a memorial chapel adjoining Sage Chapel. The basement will be a vault for the reception of bodies, and will be entirely without ornament; the upper part will be elaborately finished. Part of the material is already on the spot, and the stone-cutting will be done in the winter, but the mausoleum will not be built till next spring. The new military hall and gymnasium and the physical and chemical laboratory will be completed by the beginning of next term. It is rumored that an astronomical observatory is a matter of the near future.
I must not forget to mention that Prof. W. C. Dole of Amherst, Trinity, Yale, &c., is teaching the Cornell idea how to strike from the shoulder - in other words, is instructing a large class in boxing. X.