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character cannot count upon all his acquaintances as friends. But the prevailing feeling is one of good fellowship. If the now fast disappearing walls of the Old Brick Row could speak before they become the dust of the earth, what tales they could tell of disappointed and gratified ambitious, of discouragement and encouragement, of comedies and tragedies! What scenes they must have witnessed of the quiet shake of a room-mate's hand after some disappointment, and the heartier congratulatory hand shakes of a score of friends after some success!
Although for the most part the conversation of the college man is in a light vein there is a certain quality of seriousness beneath the surface, and the man who will one day tease you about your latest hat or relate to you his experiences with some buyer of old clothes, would the next, if occasion demanded it, sacrifice himself to any extent for you. We do not talk much about books here at Yale, and we do not, some of us, think or read as much as we should perhaps. Nor are we in the habit of discussing psychological problems outside of the recitation room. But our college gossip, our informal way of dropping in upon one another and talking sense and nonsense combined in a way peculiar to college and college men, is worth all the intellectual discussion in the world. little repasts at the round table at "Mory's," our walks about the elm lined streets of the city, our after supper games on the Campus, the life of the Fence and of our eating clubs, are all invaluable, but it is the gossip in our rooms which we shall miss most when we leave the place.
But there is a more serious aspect to the subject of college gossip. The talk of our little world consists very largely in the criticism of men and observations concerning their peculiarities. This is natural and in some ways. beneficial, for while in college there is nothing, perhaps, in which we grow more proficient than the study of human character, which is the greatest study in the world. When such criticism is good natured it develops into that pleasant bantering spirit everywhere present within college walls. There is a phase of our gossip,
however, which is unfortunate. The tendency to judge hastily, on insufficient grounds, when talking over our classmates and discussing with a frankness which is, to say the least, refreshing, "what sort of fellow" a man is, cannot be too heartily deplored. The evils resulting from this kind of gossip are manifold. Some of them we can readily see, some are seen only by the few and become results by slow processes; some we can merely infer. Even at the commencement of freshman year men will say in an off hand manner, as if there were an end of the matter, that a certain man possesses unfavorable characteristics which, as a matter of course, must bar further acquaintance with that person. In many cases the man's personal appearance will be the only guide to such criticism. Some of us may walk in a peculiar manner, or swing our arms in a way different from that of most men; it is unnecessary to infer from this that we are conceited. Perhaps through our inability to always recognize our classmates on the street and our consequent failure to bow we may gain the reputation of being "grouchy "-which is unfair. Oftentimes these remarks are the outcome of a game of college politics, but in the majority of instances, very likely, men say this sort of thing because it forms an interesting topic of conversation and they have nothing else to say. If the man who formulates the derogatory opinion be such as is commonly called in collegiate phraseology "a big man"-the adjective not conveying exactly the same meaning as it does in the world-his remarks are pretty sure to carry conviction. The men who gain disfavor with him will find that his criticism seriously affects their college course. They will know fewer men of the right kind, for we are apt here instead of choosing our friends to have our friends chosen for us, a fact which is undoubtedly due to the unchangeable customs and traditions of the place. Comparatively few of us when we come here have many friends. The minority who come to Yale from the large public schools in a body, and who both from natural circumstances and design on their part live a life different to a great extent
from that of the average man, form a nucleus of more or less intimate friends. Around them, for the most part, clusters the social life of the college. Their opinion is law, more absolute even than the law of the Medes and Persians, leading in some cases even to the severing of existing friendships, and is voiced through college gossip which spreads it from mouth to mouth until in many cases it becomes the opinion of the class. Thus our talks which are such a source of good to us here can easily become a source of even greater evil. We cannot be too careful in what we say about men with whom we are not more or less intimately acquainted. Our careless habit of intimating that somebody "doesn't look like much of a man" often leads to the acceptance by the college as a fact that he isn't much of a man." The cynical, and in some ways almost tragical, remark which the English playwright, Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, makes one of his characters utter-"Good God! I think we are all masquerading!"—may apply to a certain portion of society, but it is not true of college life. We are most of us acting for the best here, and the acts of every man judged from that standpoint will be seen to possess good qualities, only in some they lie deeper than in others. It is certainly a pleasanter task for anyone to see the beauties of the leaf than to discover the worm which is hiding underneath. In the world criticism, while important, does not make so great a difference, but here we are a little family living within four walls, as it were, and within these walls there should be no discord. This would be an ideal state of affairs of course, but taking matters as they are we need not increase by idle gossip the amount of friction, small or large, which must of necessity everywhere be present.
And gossip without criticism will be found to be quite as pleasant. We often discover that our opinion of men, no matter how sure we may be of that opinion, will change with more intimate acquaintance, and then we can only regret that we have been guilty of an injustice. The safeguard against this sort of thing being carried to such an extent that it will become injurious to the college
as well as the individual, lies in the fact that we have here no hard and fast rules for judging men, nor any fixed impressions as to right and wrong, for we judge each man by unformulated, unwritten rules which seem to fit his case. This of course leads to inconsistency, and our opinions, gained from talks with our classmates, will oftentimes be found to possess this quality, which is in itself a great protection. The very thing for which we blame one man we will praise another man for doing, and while we call one man untidy for not brushing his hair we will not let this peculiarity in another bar his election to the promenade committee. Such matters as these are additional proof, if proof be wanting, of the existence of that real democratic spirit which some affirm to be fast disappearing. While we often thrust our democracy in the face of the public and are sometimes guilty of acts of democracy which are not democratic acts, there is nevertheless present here that spirit of fairness which is at the basis of all that is best at Yale. That spirit of fairness we should keep in our college gossip, and not infer that the "grind" is an unpleasant man to know socially because he has but little time for social pursuits, nor believe that the low stand athlete is not a man of intellectual temperament, could he find the time for study and reading. Our first impressions should be modified a little, perhaps, and when we have anything to say about the fellows who live with us here for four years, we should make it optimistic or else indulge in the finest of all eloquence, the eloquence of silence. Thus will our college gossip become what it should be, one of the greatest benefits and pleasures which we can experience who have the good fortune to dwell beneath the elms, whose drooping autumn leaves are the tears Yale sheds in memory of her children who have gone away.
Raymond Sandford White.
BALZAC AND THE "COMÉDIE HUMAINE."
STRANGE, troubled, glorious career, with alternations of despair and hope, of defeat and success, of misery and joy, was that of Honoré de Balzac. His was neither a sunny childhood nor a joyous youth. Shadows hung so heavy on his path that it was only years of patient groping in the dark that brought him out at last into the full sunlight of success. Even then the brightness of his sun was dimmed for him, because, in the years of eager uncertain search for the secret of human life, he had come to realize that that is the mystery of the universe which no man can penetrate, though he seek with tears to do so.
Balzac was ever an ardent, tireless student of human nature, burning to grapple with its problems and to know its utmost depths. To him life was everything, and he would gladly turn from even the "Venus" of the Louvre to watch the meanest French grisette or blanchisseuse de fin. Plunging into literature, heedless of his father's entreaties, he threw his restless energy into novel after novel, trying to set forth his ideas of life-ideas which few cared to hear, and fewer still approved. Mere Grub Street productions these two score novels were, but they taught him the lesson that success is to be wooed charily, and that the fire of boyish enthusiasm rarely contains a spark of genius.
Disappointed but not discouraged by failure, Balzac was now to prove the truth of his own saying that "Misfortune is but a stepping-stone to genius." One day the idea came to him, fascinated him, took entire possession of him, to paint a gigantic picture of the whole society of the times-a "Comédie Humaine," in which rich and poor, good and bad, soldier and politician, peasant and king, should figure in their true proportions. With his imagination, his boundless ambition, and the forty novels which had given him somewhat of a literary style, and almost nothing of a reputation, as his only stock-in-trade,