Nugalia from the Horae Scholasticae


The Horae Scholasticae is the oldest school or college literary magazines in continuous publication in the United States, the first issue having appeared on June 1, 1860. Prior to the publication of the Alumni Horae in 1921 and The Pelican in 1945, the Horae Scholasticae also served to chronicle the School’s history and news of school life, as well as publishing the early literary efforts of many noted 19th-century authors such as Francis Marion Crawford and Owen Wister.

Many of the earlier editions of the Horae Scholasticae contained a column of newsy tidbits called “Nugalia” that encapsulated the day-to-day experience of student life at St. Paul’s School. The June 1st, 1935 edition of the Horae Scholasticae – a celebration of the first 75 years of publication – included this description of the Nugalia column:

The Nugalia (Lat., “stuffs,” “triffles,” “nonsense”) is one of the aboriginal columns of the Horae. In the early issues “The Rural Record”, the School log or diary, supplied a large part of the news.

In 1872 the name of the department was changed from “School Items” to “Items,” and in 1877 it took its present title “Nugalia.” The editors of those good old times embellished the scanty School notes with doggerel, puzzles, and current jokes.

In the spirit of the early editors of the Horae Scholasticae we have created a new feature located in the sidebar of Ohrstrom Blog. Throughout the year we will be publishing small but interesting excerpts gathered from past Nugalia columns and featuring them in the sidebar. Check back often for a regular bit of insight into the history of student life at SPS – and the occasional dose of doggerel!

Below is an archive of all Nugalia posts to date:

Nugalia Entries:

March 17, 1888


Shaker sugar:

About noon, on Friday, the 24th ult., some Shakers drove up to the school-house with candy that had been ordered on Washington’s Birthday. They disposed of their orders and considerable more beside.

March 17, 1888


Key words:

A great furor for type-writers seems to have arisen in the School.  A large amount of writing is done on them every day.

March 17, 1888


Technologically speaking:

A telegraph line has been put in operation between two of the rooms in the Upper School.

October 28, 1882


An episode:

A joyous youth, a ball of leather, careening lightly o’er the heather.

Two hands outstretched, a ball descending; a flash, a blow, a cry heart-rending.

A wounded youth, a ball of leather, both resting on the heath together.

December 17, 1887


Classical conditioning:

It is said that the Romans had time to conquer the world because they did not have to study Latin grammar.

June 1, 1899


Everything’s coming up roses:

The botany section of the Scientific Association has found between April 20, and May 20, seventy-one varieties of the flowering plants and trees. The greatest number found on a single walk was forty-three.

November 30, 1882


Horse chestnut:

We understand that the turf horse, which was purchased with such great difficulty last spring, has been sold for some forty-five dollars.  We are sure it will be missed, for it had become such a familiar sight that the lower grounds can hardly look natural without him.

April 11, 1903


Sappy business:

So many fellows were engaged in sapping that it looked as though this diversion was quite as popular as last year. A large quantity of sap was brought in to Mrs. Neales, who kindly consented to undertake the process of making it into maple sugar.

April 11, 1903


Time after time:

On March 16 clocks were put in the different buildings, which give correct U. S. Observatory time, being set hourly by a master clock in the Curator’s office, which in turn is set every noon by the tick sent out over the Western Union Telegraph Company’s lines.

February 22, 1897


There’s no shoe like a snowshoe:

Showshoeing seems to be more popular than ever this year.  Since the last big snow-storm a good many fellows take long walks around the country every afternoon.

October 28, 1882


Iron curtain:

Many of us have perhaps noticed the change in the manner in which linen is done up.  It is the result of the purchase of a new ironing machine for the laundry.

January 30, 1903


No business like snow business:

Skating has been very good this term, owing to the persistent work of removing snow from a large part of the Upper Pond.  Fiver rinks and a large space uninclosed are in constant use, but the greatest improvement is the high board rink on the “Gulf of Mexico”, where all matches are played.  Great improvement in hockey playing should result from this rink.

November 30, 1882


Chocolate on Ice:

The Missionary Society decided to sell hot chocolate on the ice as soon as the skating began, and it undoubtedly will be most welcome to the skaters.

April 19, 1897


Room and Boared:

A large boar’s head has been presented to the school by A. C. Champollion. It has been hung in the school dining-room, over the mantelpiece. The head, which is a particularly fine one, bears beneath it the following inscription: Presented by André Chéronnet Champollion shot by him in “Blue Mountain Forest,”  September 17th, 1896.

December 16, 1902


Bountiful harvest:

Mrs. Neales decorated the [Lower School] dining-room very tastefully for Thanksgiving Day. Fir trees were placed in the corners of the room, and the fireplace was filled with different fruits of the harvest.

November 25, 1897


Bring in the cavalry:

On October 22d, Company F of the United States cavalry, while passing through Concord, secured permission to come out to the School and drill for the benefit of the boys.  The company consisted of about sixty horsemen, who entertained the crowd for nearly and hour with many feats of skill and daring.

October 24, 1896


Room with a view:

Boys owning cameras should begin at once, before the foliage is entirely gone, to secure views in the vicinity of the School.  The Rector’s annual prizes, awarded last June for the first time, for the most artistic sets of views taken by boys during the year, should stimulate amateurs in the science of photography.

October 24, 1896


Miracle of the fishes:

Rev. Mr. Pearse, who had charge of the chapel for a few weeks during the summer, caught a bass in Long Pond weighing 4 lbs. 14 1/2 oz.

June 2, 1932


Tippy canoe and teacher too:

A new vogue, or should we call it a game, has seized the Lower School in its clutch. The point is to see how many times an individual can turn over his canoe this term. . . Although for quite a time we were under the impression that this was a sport indulged in by only the boys, we now know that masters also not only partake in it, but, lo and behold, lead all the rest!

June 5, 1919


Can you canoe?:

On May 5, canoeing began, accompanied by the usual demand for canoes and the excitement of launching them once again on the Library Pond.

June 1, 1920


Jeepers, creepers:

The “hyla crucifer” better known, perhaps, as “peeper” began nocturnal concerts April 18, and was in full cry about ten days later.  One pauses to note that according to the authorities the full-sized adult varies in length from one inch to thumb-nail size!  What would their song be like, if they were larger?

April 30, 1919


A bad reputaion:

In the last issue of the Horae, the weather man was uncertain whether or not utterly to condemn the fable of the Ground Hog.  Now with the “Hylas” first heard on April 5 and the woods flooded with arbutus, to say nothing of the birds, we may safely invite the ground hog to retire into his lair, taking his fable with him.  His reputation has gone forever, which probably means until next year.

April 3, 1926


Skipping School:

The most popular pastime now current in the school is skipping rope.  The fad started in the Middle but now everyone from the Lower Schoolers to the dignified Sixth Formers may be seen skipping merrily in the gymnasium or the cloister of the big study.

March 26, 1894


The fragrance of spring:

Another school record broken!  A flower in full blossom (the skunk cabbage) was found by a botany walk on March 15.  This is the earliest date on which a flower has been found during the School’s history, and is a sure sign that spring will come a fortnight earlier than usual.

March 13, 1926


Seven in one:

February 27 has the distinction of being the only day in the recent history of St. Paul’s School and probably in all of its history, that has seen seven hockey games played in one rink in one day and each of these for a championship.

March 10, 1894


The cold truth:

On Saturday, February 24, the thermometer registered 24° below zero.

13 March, 1926


Slip slidin’ away:

The side-walks this winter have excited much comment . . .to say that they have been dangerous would be to pass the matter over lightly, and to try and describe the sad experiences of some of our unwarned guests would be getting a little personal. . . However, Nature has come to avenge us, and just as we have been slipping for weeks, now in his turn Old Winter himself is fast slipping away.

October 6, 1890


I once was lost:

During the excavations for the new building this summer, a ring was found, bearing the initials of the Hon. Benjamin R. Curtis, who was here as a boy in 1867.  It was returned to the owner after having been lost twenty years.

5th of April, 1920


Frozen feet:

The ice in the School Pond this year has averaged about thirty-six inches thick.  Under the S. P. S. rink, which is kept clear of snow, it must have been close to the record thickness of forty-six inches.

December 21, 1925


Pajama party:

In the first few days after examinations it was not an unusual sight to see someone in the afternoon wandering around the Upper School in pyjamas [sic].  To sleep all afternoon, and rise only in time for afternoon tea seemed to be the thing for the mentally exhausted.

April 5, 1920


Winter wonderland:

One of the most familiar sights of the winter has been the big, four-horse sleigh which has transported the children of the neighborhood to school in Concord…Those whose memories go back to the dark ages of St. Paul’s will be interested to know that the sleigh in question is the famous old “Daniel Webster,” which was used for the Washington’s Birthday expeditions to Canterbury.

March 13, 1928


Boundary issues:

The School was electrified to hear the announcement made in study the other day that henceforward all boys floating down the sluice on cakes of ice were out of bounds.

December 18, 1890


Ice follies:

On December 8th some of the workmen tried to clear the snow off the lower pond by means of two horses attached to the big snow plough, but they found the ice underneath so bad, that they were obliged to give it up.

December 16, 1930


A visit from a mysterious beast:

On the sixth of December, the peculiar animal first seen at St. Paul’s in 1888, forty-two years ago, appeared again on the ice in Library Pond. . . Mr. Wiggins, it will be remembered, has already immortalized the animal by carving it on his 1888 shield in the Upper School.

February 21, 1914


Thank goodness:

For the Thanksgiving dinner alone, were needed 73 Vermont turkeys, 49 Virginia hams, 2 barrels of sweet potatoes, 5 gallons of olives, 50 dozen bananas, about the same number of oranges, 88 boxes of sardines, 4 gallons of olive oil, not to mention all the delicacies, such as lettuce, nuts and raisins, cranberries, grapes, and the other things that go to make up a proper dinner for the feast.

November 29, 1934


On campfire etiquette:

Despite threatening and at times actual rain, the Middle held its annual Campfire on Saturday night, November 10.  As is customary on these outings, which have been held for over twenty years, everyone concerned had a good time save the food, which was savagely attacked.

October 31, 1919


An old chestnut:

It is many years since the chestnuts have been so plentiful as they have been of late.  If the old weather predictions are true, this fact should presage a hard winter. Everybody will pray devoutly that such may be the case, as anything worse than the abominable season of last year cannot be imagined.

November 30, 1893


Steered in the right direction:

On October 25th an exhibition of trained steers was given on the Lower Grounds by Miss Pierce.

October 17, 1901


Warm news:

The water supplying the shower baths at the Lower Grounds was warmed for the first time on Monday, September 30.

April 5th, 1920


Tractor attraction:

To judge from the crowds of spectators assembled, one of the most marvelous spectacles of modern days is the School tractor. . . While no exact count of the observers was kept, it may be safely estimated that at least three-fourths of the School spent fifteen minutes each watching its labors.

February 12, 1923


Feeding time at the zoo:

There is now quite a zoo here, what with the innumerable birds at the New Upper, a dozen or so squirrels about the Middle, a whole flock of pigeons, and many stray dogs, mice, cats, and rats.  One boy has even gone so far as to build a little  causeway from a nearby tree to his window on the second floor, so that the squirrels may get at their food easily.

June 6, 1928


Shy swans and daring ducks:

Owing to an aversion to publicity, the new swans have not ventured away from the extreme upper recesses of the School Pond.  The ducks, on the other hand, have been so hungry that they have swallowed their pride (which must have relieved them considerably), and spend much of their time waddling around on the shore at the Lower School end of the Pond.

May 4, 1935


A note about a fortunate squirrel:

A baby squirrel is now enjoying all the benefits of civilization on the second floor of the New Upper.

And a not so fortunate one:

The Shattucks rudely evicted a little flying squirrel who had hibernated in one of their clinkers.  He had constructed a comfortable home with cotton waste and three odd rowing socks.