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THE EDITORS TO THEIR READERS.
We know it is usual, upon assuming the Editorial chair, and its dignitatem sine otio, to discourse eloquently of the past glory of the periodical which has recently passed into new hands, and to give assurance that the neophyte Editors will not be forgetful of their own duties while they implore the sympathy and assistance of their patrons. We, however, dear Readers, must be excused from following this course.
The YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE requires no eulogy from us. It is not just entering the lists as a candidate for honors, now first to win the public commendation. Fourteen years of successful effort have earned for it an enviable reputation, and have made it known and respected wherever Yalensia's sons bear with them the remembrance of their happy and profitable college days. Of its glory in the past, of the reverence to which its antiquity entitles it, and of its present prospects, our friends cannot need to be reminded. With all these topics, you, dear Readers, are too familiar to call for a rehearsal of them from us.
Nor do we recognize the necessity which would demand a pledge from us for the faithful performance of our Editorial duties. When we accepted the station to which our respected classmates saw fit to summon us, by that action we place ourselves under obligations to do all in our power for the Magazine. Our acceptance was an ample pledge that our most strenuous efforts should be employed to render the Yale Literary MAGAZINE, during the time of our connection with it, a pleasant and profitable companion for a leisure hour; and that, so far as our labors should avail, its reputation and intrinsic value should be augmented. A repetition of this pledge, at this time, can
not strengthen it, nor can it impress more deeply upon our minds the magnitude of the duties to which we have been called.
Upon others, also, who are desirous that a Magazine be maintained in this College, the responsibility devolves to assist in its support. Whatever we may be induced to do, when we shall assume the gown and cassock, here, in our salutation to our readers, we shall deliver no homily upon duty. At our first introduction, at least, we shall take it for granted that all-Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen, alike-know their responsibilities, and will honor them.
And, expressing so high an opinion of our readers' knowledge and integrity, we are,
Ellis H. ROBERTS,
· Editors for the Class of 1850. YALE COLLEGE, June, 1849.
This pseudo-maxim is particularly agreeable to the class of persons upon whom it confers an extension of privilege. In their view, it has all the authority of indisputable truth. Some of them, doubtless, consider it worthy of a place among the sagest maxims ; even among perhaps above-the proverbs of the Wise Man. At least, it is much more observed as a rule of conduct than the choicest apothegms of Solomon.
No sooner is the stripling admitted to the privileges and subjected to the labors of college, than he assumes haughty airs, and fancying that he himself occupies the highest of positions, regards all in other situations as, of course, his inferiors. Persons of practical sense, unable to perceive the magic power which semi-deifies him, incur his displeasure, and, if he happens to know as much Latin, he will pompously quote:
“Odi profanum vulgus, et arceo." An intellectual atmosphere surrounds him. The Genius Loci bestows upon him privileges elsewhere unknown. It confers license of action ; it nullifies the laws of etiquette ; it makes of no account the proprieties of time and place; it emancipates from the sway of conscience; it sets him above and beyond the jurisdiction of the civil law.
No single person will at any one time give so extensive a verbal exposition of the popular maxim as we have already given ; and many, doubtless, discard it as well in practice as in theory. But collegians generally act as if having a full sense of its truth; and different indi. viduals on diverse occasions furnish practical exemplifications of quite as broad an understanding of its significance.
If you have seen the collegian in society, particularly in the society of ladies—if you have seen him on a steamboat or in a railroad carif you have seen him at a concert or any public exhibition—if you have seen him at any political gathering—if you have seen him at midnight or at noonday: in fine, if you have closely observed the collegian, anywhere at any time, you can hardly have failed to notice his “ I-turnthe-crank-of-the-universe air,” and to conclude that he is fully possessed with the idea that he is a licensed person.
Those who allow this maxim to have the authority of truth cannot have considered what avocations are licensed. The liquor-dealer is licensed to intoxicate men; the inn-keeper to accommodate travelers ; the preacher to exhort and to marry; the circus to exhibit its performances. Thus persons are privileged to transcend the law in a single particular. The avocation of the collegian bears no remarkable resemblance or even analogy to any other licensed calling. All other privileged avocations are of some real or imaginary public utility; but the collegian in the matter in which exemption from restraint is claimed, (which are extrinsic to his studies,) not even assumes that the general interest is at stake. Still, the maxim confers upon him the privilege to transcend every law of conscience and of society.
Nor have those who allow the maxim to have the authority of truth, considered the grounds on which other persons are licensed. Not only the fairer sex but also the more stern, is wont to grant extensive privi. leges to handsome persons. And, on the principle “ extremes meet," greater freedom is always extended to deformed persons than to those who are symmetrically constructed. Anything unusual in personal appearance generally earns favor for its possessor. The redoubtable 5 General Tom Thumb” has enjoyed more freedom from restraint, in .certain respects, than any other man of the age. Collegians, however, do not differ greatly in external appearance from other persons. Nor can they be divided into two classes,-the one consisting of those as beautiful as Paris, the other of those as ugly as Thersites. They can claim exemption from observance of law neither on the ground of beauty nor of ugliness.* - But generally licenses are granted for value received. “Good Mother Church” is accustomed to charge roundly for her indulgences; and municipal and state authorities have something of the witching palm." A business man, before he would allow the truth of the maxim, would inquire whether a consideration had been rendered for the license claimed, or, whether a consideration is likely to be rendered. To the former inquiry, the answer universally would be in the negative. To the latter, an affirmative would frequently be returned ; the avocation being mentioned as a collateral consideration. But if their avocation entitled collegians to extraordinary privileges, much more would professional men and literati generally, justly lay claim to the same freedom
· *We deem it requisite to call the attention of the reader to the axiom: “ Exceptio regulam probat.” It is evident that some men can lay claim to privileges on the latter ground!