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“And the neighbors come and laugh and gossip, and so do I.”
- Tennyson, The Grandmother.
VEN the proverbial old maid who, with a pet cat
upon her lap and her knitting in her hand, finds her principal amusement in discussing her neighbors with some other maiden lady equally inclined to gossip, would be surprised could she with perfect propriety be seated behind a curtain in some of our college rooms, when the long afternoon twilight had deepened into night, and the day sounds of the streets had been hushed by the silence of the early evening. Do not be alarmed, most estimable lady! Not for the world would we permit you to be present at a quiet game of poker, or witness the midnight supper
of welsh rarebits and beer, or intrude upon any of those occupations sacred to the dormitory and the college man. Our purpose is an entirely different one, for we should take delight in showing you that the gentle art of gossip belongs not to you alone. No one, better than the college man, understands how to make conversation out of trivial things. A group of fellows lounging
upon the window seat or upon one of the many divans which no well ordered college room should be without, in positions less æsthetic than comfortable, would be an interesting sight for you, man hater though you be, and their conversation, shaped out of odds and ends after the manner of an old fashioned patchwork quilt, would enable you to take notes for the benefit of your sister spinsters, whose remarks upon your mutual friends would afterwards, we are afraid, prove sadly lacking in those intangible elements which make the gossip of college men so delightful. Indeed, if you are ever fortunate enough to secretly hide yourself at this time of day behind your favorite nephew's portieres, you will have dropped in upon the college world at the pleasantest hour of all, when those qualities especially peculiar to honest, healthy college life are most brought out. And even the business man, so cynical as a rule concerning the practical utility of a collegiate education, could he accompany you, would confess, we think, though perhaps in a whisper, that university influences had their value after all.
The larger worries and troubles of the world outside and the smaller annoyances of our daily college life are forgotten in these quiet talks with our friends in each others rooms, for there seems to be an almost unexplainable, immeasurable distance intervening between the campus
and the street. It is then that social distinctions and other matters, which can never, unfortunately, be altogether forgotten in the long days to come, but which are not such sources of vexation to us who breathe the invigorating air of Yale, disappear most from sight. At these times the cynic can argue with the optimist without serious disagreement, and perhaps become an optimist himself. Of the reverse there is little chance, for although there are some things at Yale which tend to make one cynical, the sentiment of the college is generally against the pessimist. In a year or two, chiefly through these talks, one begins to know his friends and enemies, to read the character of his fellow men. Of enemies there must always be a certain number, for any man of at all strong