It is midnight. The lamp burns with intensity, surrounding objects transform themselves into vague and misty shapes, and the oppressive stillness in the air seems almost unbearable. In vain the weary student endeavors to bring some order out of the chaotic confusion into which all her thoughts and conceptions seem to have been thrown, and to express such order in intelligible terms. There is no sign of success, and each consecutive attempt ends in more and more distressing failure.
Eagerly she seizes upon an idea which now apparently presents itself, only to find it, serpentine, twisting from her grasp. She enters upon a train of thinking, and for long is lost in a pandemonium of wild, meaningless conjectures and shadowy, undefined creations. The case is hopeless, and she gives up in despair. But by tomorrow morning her thesis must, without excuse, await the professor at his desk, which she, as its author, must supply. One thing decides itself. Before that student can “sweetly repose in the arms of Morpheus,” some production fit for submission must have come from her pen. Again she struggles to compose her turbulent, stubborn mind and force it into regular action, but just here another still more perplexing problem, “What shall I write?” demands immediate solution,
A whole host of words come trooping up before her heated imagination, but none seem appropriate. After proceeding a short while upon one sentence she throws it aside with disgust, wishing she and every other created being were in—at least another state of existence, and avowing her inability to write a single line upon any theme whatever. She paces the room with a vengeance; gazes long and fixedly upon the starry heavens, as if to draw inspiration from those silent sentinels keeping their nightly vigils without cessation; surveys the earth beneath,now wrapt in her mantle of silence and darkness; wishes that, like the occupant of the lowly cot in an adjoining room, she could lie down to rest at the close of her day’s work ; and once more sitting down, attempts to think, if possible, definitely and coherently. Then, in hot haste, she commences writing and soon produces some sort of composition, which she at once sends to the printer, utterly regardless of its merits and of the fate of the paper that, a short time since, was the object of her greatest care and solicitude.
No, this is not an overdrawn picture. The labors attendant upon school-life generally keep the student busy, and to write a dissertation in an institution of learning requires, of course, much extra work. It becomes difficult for persons disinterested to properly estimate the extent of this extra labor, and to rightly comprehend the obstacles which an enterprise, such as the present, must meet. Most graduates of colleges will, however, recognize the great amount of work we have thus taken upon ourselves and appreciate better our position. Too often, in unlooked-for instances, the question used as the caption of this article puzzles the mind of the student, and often the only way out of the embarrassment is by following the way described above.
P.S.: This one is dedicated to Swathi, my wife and my muse. . .