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“ WHEN SHALL I COME ?"
Oh, come to me when the morn's gray hue
“One generation passeth away, and another cometh."
We mount another round in the ladder of learning, pushing off a crowd who have just preceded us with very little compunction, and making room for another below, who are to push us off in their turn. And now that we have reached this top round, let us sit down and rest ; let us talk (as Æneas said he should, forsitan hæc vobis olim, meminisse juvabit) of the dangers we have passed ; let us think of those times which occur but once in a man's life-of those little eras from which we date the various periods of our College existence—of Livy-Bridge—Tytlerand “the first chapter of Hedge's Logic.” Let us look below and console ourselves by seeing others climb the height that we have gained. Halloo, there—you at the foot of the ladder! this looks like a long climb,
does it not ? but have courage, put your feet careful, hold on tight, and if you feel dizzy, look aloft, as they tell the boys at sea. Ha! there is one poor
fellow getting his comrade to boost him while he hangs on to the skirts of the one above. Stop, stop, iny friend—that is no way to climb-you may get up a few rounds, but at the first long step you'll be left behind, and then good-bye to your climbing—better climb yourself or stay at the bottom. Now and then, to be sure, in a hard spot, you may hold out your hand for a pull up, but don't get boosted, it does not look genteel. There goes one poor fellow off the rounds. Climb careful, there—so you go-good-bye.
The most of College life is a sober reality, a tangible something which is to be done and suffered, which can be thought of, told of, and remembered; but there is, after all, something about the period, spent within College walls, when taken as a whole, that leaves a dim and bewildering impression upon the senses, and, if you stop and try to reflect upon it, it eludes your mental grasp, and mocks your efforts, sporting in your sight like a phantasmagory or a will-o'-wisp, and finally, just as
you have caught it, leaving nothing but an empty shadow in your possession. It is a sort of dream about which you feel an uncertainty whether you know any thing or not, and in the visions of the night the student often lives over again those college days to wake and thank his stars that it was all a dream. A haze comes over your eyes, and there are faint images of new clothes, clean linen, good advice, and pocket money,-generally more of the former than the latter-new boots, blessings, an early breakfast, kisses, tears, and a seat in the stage ; then there is a strange place, strange faces, a bustle, trunks and baggage all in confusion, a steamboat, a river, a railroad, another change, and then comes an ill-defined feeling of something that you have got to undergo. Professors in gold spectacles stare upon you at every corner; students of older classes, especially of the much dreaded Sophomores, are dogging your footsteps wherever you go. Strange questions are asked, and, frightened, you answer, but you know not what. Every thing suddenly assumes an appearance of venerable dignity. You take
your hat to, a lamp-post, and address a boot-black, “ Reverend Sir," without knowing exactly how you got there : you are in the presence of some one, who you are made to understand has a control over your destiny. Ink, pens, and paper are thrust into your hands, you write your name, it may be your death-warrant for aught you know—but you pause not, question not—at length you are told that you are a member of college, and for a moment, perhaps, you elevate your head with an incipient idea of more than usual dignity. But the illusion vanishesyou are brought to your senses by the thundering vibrations of a huge bell sounding its awful tones in your ears--you feel that its summons is for you—but you know not how, or what, or why. What shall you do, where shall you go to answer the call which must not be disobeyed—you wake, and the last bell for prayers is turning over for the last time. It is lucky for you if your clothes are on--run, you may get
Again you sleep, and you are being ground it seems in some strange
sort of a mill. You are upon a great platform, which by some invisible power goes round and round. It is a kind of gauntlet which you are running-on every side are men with instruments of torture constantly changing shape-mostly they resembled some book, but as often a gimblet, a screw, a lead pencil of colossal dimensions, an awful looking straight black line, or a thousand diversified, crooked marks, dots and turns of every shape and description. Each of them are provided with two little human faces, and while they writhe as if in agony and frown horribly on you, you can see them grinning and chattering to each other, as if with delight at your misery. They grasp long whips in their hands, telling you at each blow, that it is for your good they strike, and then if they should miss, leering horribly after you with little demoniac features, exhibiting every form of vengeance and disappointed malice. Again they turn their pleasant faces towards you, and offer you fair fruits which they assist you in plucking, or perhaps remove from your grasp in time to substitute a bunch of withered thorns, which in your eagerness you seize, while they bow low, as if in mock respect for your misery. While the wheel is revolving, you are compelled by an impulse which you cannot resist to climb a long and steep flight of stairs-up, up, you go, almost falling-holding on by the sides until at last you mount the top only to be crowded off and fall on the other side ; down, down you go, with a prospect of inevitable destruction before you. But no! you fall as lightly as a blown-up bladder, without a bruise or a scratch. You have got through—it is commencement day-high honors are yours—loud huzzas and music greet your success-you wake—and again the bell with its everlasting clatter strikes upon your ears. You have dreamed a dream, bui not all a dream. Asleep or awake, prospective or retrospective, there is much in these four years, as mingled and as tangled as the confused images of a dream can be.
Every Society has its peculiar usages and customs, and none are more marked and different from the rest of the world than the customs of college. No one can learn these without experience, and the inconvenience to which he is subject by an ignorance of them, must be borne with in the best way possible, until experience has taught him what nothing else can. The initiatory state through which every one has to pass until he becomes acquainted with these usages, and the awkward mistakes and faux passes committed by him during this initiatory season, are characterized by that peculiar and expressive phrase verdant (vulgus, green.) There are different degrees of this verdancy exhibited by young students, as everybody knows, and generally it is only those whose conduct is characterized by a special want of this very necessary knowledge, that earn the appellation of “ Decidedly Green.” A knowledge of the world, a quick insight into the character of men, and a ready appreciation of peculiar circumstances, together with good sense and judgment, and a polished exterior, will do much-very much-to conceal ignorance which really exists, and hide mistakes when committed ; but I venture to assert, and without any fear of contradiction, that there is not a student in college who can look back upon this beginning of his course and not detect these little oases in his existence. If he fail in perceiving them, it must be from some deficiency in his memory, rather than a want of the facts.
This experience being a thing which cannot possibly be helped, arising from the nature of the case, and for which no one can be blamed, it seems hardly right that the unfortunate sufferer and his mistakes should be made a subject of merriment, and yet, there is something so irresistibly ludicrous in seeing a young man of tender years sitting on the Chapel steps from half past five to six of a cold winter's morning, lest he should not be in season for prayers, that it is almost impossible to repress a smile. Still, young man, we sympathize with you, sor our thoughts go back to the time when we were in a like predicament. And to cheer you on—for heaven knows you need it—we do not mind drawing the veil from a sew of our own innocent blunders, though we may be paid with a laugh for our benevolence.
Never shall we forget that bright morning, when, book in hand, we first fairly set our foot within the precincts of our venerable Alma Mater, and made our first classical and unsuspecting obeisance to a tall and stern looking individual whom we were told was Professor of “Recentology,” but afterwards learned that he was neither more nor less than a good for nothing rake of a lazy Sophomore-who scarcely deigned to look upon us as we passed, hat in hand. We knocked at the President's door ; no answer was returned: but we were not to be intimidated by slight obstacles; one thing we felt sure of, there were no Sophomores there, and that was enough. We walked in and deliberately took a seat. Our eyes were open-we had come to college to learn, and certainly accurate observation is the foundation of all knowledge—nothing escaped our scrutiny—think of it-a Freshman quietly seated in the President's room smoking—for we presume it was only the lack of a cigar that prevented it--and awaiting his return as quietly as might be. We calculated the probable expense of the gilt lookingglass, and examined the paint of the chairs. We looked with awe upon the dark mahogany cases which seemed to frown upon our intrusion, and speculated upon the question whether they contained books or breeches. If the latter, we thought what a fine thing it was to be President of a college; and if the former, we wondered what one man could possibly want of so many—but we had heard of college libraries, and wisely resolved to ask no questions. But the President did not come, and we retired without leaving our card, so that to this day he remains in ignorance of our call.
What a crowd of faces met us at every turn! but stories of college pranks were still ringing in our ears, and in cautious silence we passed on unnoticed. The result of our first day's investigation we well remember was a division of the faculty into two grand classes, consisting of those with light hair and gold spectacles, and those with dark hair and no spectacles ; but as to particularizing individuals, we gave that up in despair.
Furniture was to be bought, and in one of the recitation rooms we found a neat looking young man whom we judged to be one of the faculty ; for who else, thought we, would have any business in a recitation room, except at recitation hours. So, hat in hand, we made our best bow, and politely requested information as to where a table might be procured. We were perfectly enchanted with his politenes-she accompanied us to the place, advised and assisted in making our purchase, and finally politely invited us to join a literary society of which he bad the honor to be a member. Of course we assented with the utmost pleasure. We afterwards discovered that he was not exactly a member of the faculty, but we will let that subject drop.
Time fails us for further disclosures. Leaves change their color in the autumn frost, and Freshman verdancy soon passes into the sere and yellow leaf, when ripened by the sun of experience, and chilled by a cold bath from the second story windows; but those bright days of our youth, those green islands in our existence, let them never be forgotten.
SONG OF THE HERMIT.
WHERE the wild deer hides in the forest profound,
Where the wavering pines in the midnight moan,
Where the bay of the hound in the darksome glade,
Nor glittering gold, nor the bright jeweled hand,