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much to say that if fair Florence had shown a predecessor,” to quote one of Janey Joy's jeers little more color-which, thanks to her practiced at his expense. A fresh-faced young gentleman, self-control, she did not—the speaker would have with light curling hair, which he supposed gave been proportionally gratified; but at this junc- him an English cast of countenance; and to be ture an incident occurred which diverted the at- English in appearance was one of his ambitions. tention of the company present to a more illus- If he had a fault, perhaps it was that he smiled trious pair.
superfluously often, with rather more complaiThis incident was the appearance of a young sance than it is best to indulge openly, where a gentleman of fashionable exterior, who bowed reputation for candor is desirable ; and liked to and smiled graciously on the party below while trifle with his chatelaine, conspicuous from which descending the steps. “Charlotte, my love," depended a broad seal engraved with the Gossihe had said to a lady with a profusion of chest- mer arms. It was a peculiarity in this family nut ringlets by his side, “here is an unexpected to follow his leader, much as the domestic bird pleasure; the Van Waddlevursts !” And let- on their escutcheon does. The elder Gossimer ting fall the glass he had used to assist his had begun by practicing law, and still numbered vision, advanced not ungracefully to pay his re- himself with the profession by keeping a weathspects.
er-worn tin plate to that effect nailed up against The descent of the two created a sensation. the dead-wall as you enter Law Court; and Miss van W. hastened to meet the new-comers Clarendon, coming in turn to years of discrehalf-way; little Kreeper, who like the rest had tion, had dutifully caused his name to be inbeen momently silent, rattled away and laughed scribed in gilt letters beneath, as junior partner more than ever, perhaps to affect indifference; in the labors of the office. The young gentleand the Dowager leaning over, whispered behind man was brisk enough in business matters, and, her fan to the Captain, that it was Mr. Gossimer tracking his Hon. progenitor again, had begun and his sister; their father used to be member by running for the Legislature---and lost his of Congress, you know.” The Captain did not election in St. Jude's, though the thing is scarceknow, not having had the good fortune to vote ly credible. “There are too many nabobs in more than once in twelve years; but he had St. Jude's,” was the ex-Senator's counsel on that heard the name—who has not ? Every one must event. “We must try another campaign in St. have learned at some period of their life that the Michael's. The democracy may cry out against Gossimers move only in the first circles at the being bought, Sir, but it has no objection to beSouth; and all who have met them must re- ing treated into a favorable mood." member the undoubted aristocracy of their de- But where were the necessary funds to come meanor, and how difficult the most leveling re- from? The elder Gossimer had consumed his publican finds it to shake off the conviction that patrimony and his wife's long ago, and had long honor of some kind has accrued to him from a been living, as is vulgarly said, on the interest bow or bit of converse in the streets with one of of his debts, which were stupendous for the base the name.
they rested on-viz., a city establishment, an At the date of this history the head of the estate yielding a greatly overrated and always Gossimer connection was undoubtedly the ex- forestalled revenue, and the reputation of ownSenator and honorable Robert Gossimer Gossi- ing shares in some bank (what bank nobody mer. He signed himself in full in tavern reg- thought of inquiring) of which no cashier could isters and at the foot of party squibs, although, have given account. “ You must not tell me politically speaking, his reputation might have about your being in love, or such nonsense,” been then represented by a cipher. Indeed, the the Hon. gentleman said, during a conference distinguished gentleman had overshot his mark with his son regarding the future prospects of in the memorable campaign of '51, and had car- the latter. “If you like remaining a beggarly ried his inflammatory oratory to such a pitch lawyer without clients you can do so, and marthat he fell into disrepute when civil war ceased ry your Dulcinea, for you are twenty-one, and to be meditated, and common sense and com- your lawful master.” “You misunderstand me, merce joined hands with patriotism for the main- Sir,” the junior partner had responded, respecttenance of peace. He had been trying ever since fully. “By George, you don't think me such a to regain his footing; but the past convulsion bread-and-butter man-about-town as all that, had brought to the surface other men, and bet- Sir! I said she was in love; my meaning might ter, perhaps; and, speechify as he would, the have been somewhat obscure, from my wish not people declined on the whole to restore their for- to appear too boastful.” The ex-member smiled mer champion his arms. He persevered, how- approval and waved his hand. ever, and attended all political meetings and “That alters the case," he said. “Pooh! dinners in his parish; returning home from the you're too much of a coxcomb, Sir! No young latter sittings, when protracted, looking much lady is likely to break her heart for you; you're like himself-he usually went to such places not such a Romeo. You had much better take looking very unlike, with hair roughed back, in my advice, and show your desire to serve the ostentatious likeness of a Great Man who had lady in question by addressing her a note, canbeen his contemporary, and wearing an honest didly stating your slender expectations; and, face. The son of this eminent politician, young now that her aunt has died and left her propClarendon Gossimer, was no worse than his erty to the churches, how heartless a thing it
would be in you—egad!--to condemn her to life-eration to another—they are famous at interlong poverty. D-n it all, Sir; a man who suf- marriages-were rather unequally divided, Clarfers his engagement with a lovely and interest- endon's superficial style degenerating into mere ing young lady to continue, even at her self- flippancy in the sister, and her voice appearing devoted request, after their united prospects are less capable of being made dulce and modulated blighted, deserves to be dru med out of socie- to suit the subject of conversation than that ju
dicious young politician's. “Yours is an older head than mine, and bet- The last meeting between these friends had ter competent to form a judgment in a matter been characterized by a little incident, which, like this,” Clarendon had answered, with sub- affording some insight into the private life of mission. “And I will adopt your counsel, Sir; the Gossimers, may be worth recalling here; it will be at all events the most humane course, but let all who incline to worship our native as you say."
aristocracy pass over the passage. Miss van “Aha! that's right,” the old schemer then W. on a certain occasion had offered a seat in replied, rubbing his hands. “And-and-you her carriage to the brother and sister who for are a man of fine parts, Clarry (I don't mind some reason were in want of a conveyance. saying it before you, for I dare say you've thought The journey was to be a long one, and Florence it many a time yourself), and may make what had driven to the door at an unusually early position in the world you like, with our family hour, and was conducted by Clarendon himself influence to back you—and money. Of course, to the breakfast-room. should you turn your thoughts again to matri- “Charlotte, my love, Miss van Waddlevurst," mony, you had best couple with a social equal, Clarendon had said, with his usual blandness, if you can; but a good fat heiress is not to be on the threshold; and Miss Charlotte, draining despised for want of a vir clarus for her progen- a coffee-cup with her back turned, hastily set it itor. We've a standing, Sir, capable of cloak- down and flew to embrace her friend. ing such a trifling defect. It will not be Miss you dear creature,” making a feint at unloosing Tompkins or Miss Smith, egad !-- it will be Florence's bonnet; "you rise with the-the birds, Mrs.R. Clarendon Gossimer, once the ceremony I am sure. You can not have tasted one morsel is performed."
yet. You must sit right down; it is so dread“Of course," the son echoed, with a sigh ; ful to travel fasting.” and added, “I think I had best get out of the “I assure you I could not taste any thing way of temptation though, Sir; for, jesting aside, more, our quasi heroine answered, smiling. I have been as much in love as I'm ever like to “No? Well, then, we will go into the parlor. be; and with the handsome income we looked Oh dear, yes! I've quite finished; I scarce ever to get by the aunt, if she had not played us that have an appetite; I really don't know what suptrick, no doubt we should have been happy to- ports me. And I'll run up stairs and get my gether.” So the younger Gossimer wrote and bonnet and have the things brought down," dispatched his note, approved by the elder; and Miss Charlotte had rejoined, briskly; secretly which the unhappy lady who read it first tore pleased there was no occasion for her visitor to into fragments and trampled on, and finally approach the table which she had adroitly intergathered up and wept over, and locked away posed her person to hide while the conversation among her broken or superannuated treasures. lasted; for if pride formed a large ingredient in She was of the Gossimer kind, but more affec- the character of both father and son, it was not tionate and better principled ; and having been wanting in the daughter, and the world, generreally enamored of that young gentleman's En- ally so cognizant of one's private affairs, was not glish physiognomy and specious address, never like to know to what straits the reputed wealthy quite recovered the shock of the jilting epistle, ex-Senator was reduced to keep up appearances although, as Clarendon said himself, “nothing through the indiscretion of those most interestcould have been more argumentative and con- ed. Our pair of fashionables had been breakvincing.” After which reassumption of freedom fasting on what you won't find in Soyer, and young Gos sneaked out of town—leaving an old Miss Van's arrival had taken them by surprise. St. Cecilia card tacked, face in, on his office They had risen a good hour before they thought door, announcing the fact to inquiring clients it possible she could call, that every thing of an and duns-accompanied by his sister, a belle of exceptionable kind might be removed betimes; more seasons than I would like to mention, lest for the drawing-room, pending repairs in the the suggestion to invidious minds should be of ball, could be got at only through the breakfastrouge and pearl powder. Certain it is Miss ing-parlor, and a fire had been made in the Charlotte, with all her graces and girlish vivac- former. Young Gossimer had delayed as long ity, was, let us say, half again as old as her as practicable at the street-door, and on the friend Florence, whom she was embracing in stair, to give Miss Charlotte time for a general the well-house, and nearly a head taller. She removal; but his essay at strategy had availed was scrupulously tasteful in her toilet (so she nothing, owing to the lady's endeavor--despite said), and wore curls at all hours of the day and her usual lack of appetite—to make the most evening; indeed it was quite a riddle how the of her breakfast, such as it was, to which she papillotes found time to perform their part. had that moment sat down. What wits the Gossimers heired from one gen- Perhaps even rich, luxurious Florence was
sagacious enough to see through her friend's manquvre: you ladies are wondrous sly in unraveling each other's motives, even the most
COMMENCEMENT WEEK AT
demure of you! She might have thought quiche Thegins on Sunday, the last week in July,
a figure as her dear Charlotte's must require something more than air to sustain it; but when with a Baccalaureate Sermon to the graduating the owner of the curls returned, equipped for class-usually preached by the President, sometravel, and the three issued from the parlor in times by one of the Professors. It is a sermon company (where our heroine and Clarendon had of parting counsel, “last words,” to those who been playing at bagatelle and flirting to pass the are about assuming more responsible duties. It time) nothing remained to excite a suspicion of gives the student a last look at college life, and poverty.
supplies him with maxims for scholarly or active It was Miss Charlotte then who embraced pursuits hereafter. It is often the outflow of a fair Florence, and R. Clarendon Gossimer who rich experience from him who preaches: it consmiled and bowed and noticed the “fortunate tains passages which thrill student hearts and circumstance of their meeting abroad," and ex- inspire noble feelings: the final address is always pressed his happiness at forming the acquaint- couched in plain, affectionate words, such as an ance of Captain Rudder when the ceremony of earnest scholar can alone give to his pupils : introduction was gone through. The Gossi- these words are often treasured far into the busy mers in crossing had brushed by the Countess; years of life. Sunday evening the Yale Misindeed Miss Charlotte's thirteen founces had sionary Society holds its anniversary meeting in momently eclipsed the opposite party. Both the Centre Church, when some celebrated misbrother and sister had accepted invitations to sionary or other preacher discourses upon the the house of that little lady while yet in fashion extension of Christianity. It is well attended, and repute ; but it was not until the latter, reso- but the discourses are often dry and hortatory. lutely watching her opportunity, caught Miss Monday and Tuesday of the week are devoted Charlotte's eye, and nodded with a certain de to the examination of candidates for the new gree of familiarity that that young lady thought Freshman class. The unfledged youth are proper to notice her presence by a distant courte- taken to Alumni Hall, where a round table and sy. Gossimer also perceived who it was, and a few text-books—Homer, Euclid, and Virgil — touched his hat cavalierly ; but appearing to re- are provided for each one, while the professors call something looked back with a remarkably and tutors speedily question them as to their ateager expression of face for him and ready to tainments, and either “admit" or "condition" doff his beaver altogether.
them. It is a dreaded suspense to the young But he found no opportunity, for the Count- men; no subsequent examination ever has half ess was answering in her piquant way a ques- so much terror. Indeed, this ordeal is so much tion propounded by Trout.
feared that students often prefer to wait till the “Who are they?" she repeated in a whisper, September term and spend the vacation in cramwith a laugh. “Do you really want to know ? ming. It is easy to tell the "conditioned," as I am afraid you will run away from poor me, they stand about the entrance, hopeless and forand bow down before them as the Israelites did lorn. It seems to them a lasting disgrace to before their calf."
have failed before the Faculty of Yale, and thus "Not I!" Trout responded. “I'm not fond to have lost caste even before student life has of fashionable people. Don't stand here look- begun; yet it sometimes happens that these very ing on; suppose we go and walk somewhere ?” men ultimately stand very high in the class-lists.
“I suppose I shall be de trop, eh?”' Felt at While this examination is going on, the Sophothis juncture put in. He had been sucking the mores of the two rival societies, “ Linonia" and head of his switch-cane, and converting him the "Brothers in Unity,"are waiting their chance self, so to express it, into a pair of eyes for the to pounce upon the excited youth and “gobble” better observation of affairs opposite, and was them, each into his own society. Hence between only restored to consciousness by the lady next the examination and the Sophomore the Freshhim playfully tapping him on the arm before men have little peace during their first stay at leaving with a Good-by, I'm sorry to go, for Yale. you are so entertaining !”
The influx of strangers has now begun. They “Why I thought I was uncommonly mopish swarm at the hotels, at private houses, and upon and dull this afternoon," the lieutenant said, the streets. They suddenly transform the city with simplicity, and asked the question recorded into a busy assemblage of black-coated men and above.
gayly-dressed ladies. Hacks pass swiftly to and The widow laughed: “I believe we can do fro; booksellers smile blandly upon you as you without you," she said, looking back. “I de- write your name upon their Commencement clare I wish he would fall in love with Miss Registers; shop-keepers stare kindly as you pass Gossimer, for a pair of bigger fools don't exist their doors; the whole city seems in attitude to in Christendom,” she added, with characteristic receive the guests of her honored University. candor to Trout as they tripped up the steps to- The very elements too unite to grace or disgrace gether; and that ardent admirer showed his ap- the occasion with fervent heat. There are greetpreciation of her frankness by a loud haw-haw. lings every where-on the streets, on the green,
at the hotels, in the college buildings, at the to listen to the Alumni orator, who speaks often churches, and wherever the busy foot of man to a somewhat diminished audience upon the can go.
You shake hands, and talk, and talk duties of the scholar: usually a calm, scholarly till you are weary, and then you go to your ho- production, without eccentricity or special elotel and talk till you are hoarse and tired, and quence. then you go to your room and talk with a friend Meanwhile the younger graduates are not idle. or classmate till you fall asleep.
The old recitation - rooms ring with youthful Faster and faster come the strangers. By shouts from manly voices; the college pumpTuesday night not a sleeping-room can be had; handle flies away merrily, as man after man but still they come; where they go, I can not comes up to take a drink at the old familiar say. New Haven, or the college, or both, some- spout. The classes are holding their business how absorbs them during the small hours of the meetings and shaking hands, preparatory to the night, only to reappear in greater numbers with grand suppers of the night. Good-fellowship the morning light. The city is noted for hos- is in the ascendant. pitality; no one comes and goes unhoused and The preliminary steps taken-which means unfed.
that the bills are made out and paid-the classTuesday evening the regular public exercises es disperse for dinner, again to meet in the begin with the Concio ad Clerum at the North same rooms at late candle-light for nocturnal Congregational Church. It is a sermon to the festivities. How happy these class meetings clergy by one of their number, selected by the are! They revive all that is genial and joyous General Association of Connecticut. Hence the in college life; they make us boys again; we audience is mainly clerical, the discourse doc- sing the old college songs with hilarious shouts; trinal, and profound, and dry; the whole affair we roost upon the college fence in “the stilly rather religious than literary. The dry bones night,” when no tutor is near to give us marks; of theology seldom walk and jump and run on we recall all the old jokes; we reseat each oththis occasion.
er upon the familiar benches; we 'rush," and Wednesday morning the graduates gather at “ funk," and "fizzle," as of yore; but with all Alumni Hall; the public exercises of the Uni- this boyishness there is a solid, manly joy in versity begin in earnest. A venerable Alumnus these meetings which invigorates the men who takes the chair, and welcomes his brother grad- go up to them. They lay aside their toil-worn uates to the old Alma Mater. The platform is garments; in the listless, happy mood of freed occupied by venerable, gray-haired men, some men they turn with zest to the trivial incidents graduates, some guests from other colleges. of college life; but when each one has given There you always see Benjamin Silliman and his experience, and to some intimate friend has President Day, the Nestors of an elder generation, confided his hopes, there rises the nobler feeling and around them is here a Major-General, there of brotherhood, and men feel that they have a clergyman (who still retains the Puritanic earnest work to do in life; that this is only a white neck-tie), now a plain farmer, and then breathing spell, during which they may get new a man eminent in political or physical science. strength for the conflict. And the hopes thus The faculty are grouped near by; throughout exchanged, the joy of an old familiar face, the the spacious hall graduates sit by classes or hap- words of cheer spoken to those who are workhazard upon rude pine benches, listening as their ing hard and nobly-nay, the very sight of men elders speak for the successive classes. The who are trying to maintain the intellectual life exercises are varied by the obituary record, by of the nation, is enough to make a manly heart special resolutions, by the announcement of dona- beat high with joy. tions, by remarks of men from abroad, by a word Akin to these class-meetings in interest are of eulogy, by a reminiscence of student life. Often the society gatherings in Linonia and the Brothmen speak with power and point. Times not a ers' halls. They come on Wednesday afternoon. few I have heard that crowd hushed to silence, or Latterly they have been quite a feature of Comburst out in rapturous applause when a live ora- mencement. An elderly and (if possible) witty tor stood upon the stage; even when a dull man man is nominated to the chair. The ball is speaks it is not all in vain; he usually tells some soon in motion. Speeches, amusement, fun fill story or strikes a vein of pathos which quiets his up the hours. These meetings are more spiritrather unruly audience. The Rev. Dr. Bacon, ed than those of the Alumni, and less boisterous arch-polemic as he is, always has a manly word. than those of separate classes. The social eleThe nod of the elder Silliman is equivalent to a ment of college life flows out unrestrained. A speech. President Woolsey knows how to say grave D.D. perhaps begins by relating the stothe right word in the right place, and, careful of ries of his college days, giving them those keen words, never says a thing unless he means it. turns which only a student can relish; then the The jolly Dr. Dutton always sits as Secretary by rival society is denounced ; a campaign song is the little round table.
sung, with cheers; the names of good speakers And so time wears briskly on amidst these are handed in to the President of the day, wbo speeches and cheers till twelve o'clock, when takes care to call them out in turn, with signifithe Alumni hymn (composed one morning by cant remarks. Distinguished men can not sit Percival while dressing himself) is sung; then here idle; their audience are pleased with any the graduates adjourn to the neighboring church I thing which raises a laugh. The speeches usually run to story-telling, and some of the hap- / are discussed ; the Champagne bottles begin to piest things of the whole Commencement are pop freely, when the attention is called to a said in this careless way. The speaking is nat- speech from the President of the evening; hardural and to the point. In respect of good speech- | ly has he closed, and the midnight hour arrived, es the “Brothers" usually carry the day; but when the doors are opened, and a retinue of la“Linonia" beats the “ Brothers" in the elec- dies files along the richly-decorated tables. Then tioneering campaign, and generally has the De comes the presentation. The child is placed in Forest prize orator. The rivalry between the a chair upon the table, in view of the whole comtwo societies is a presidential contest in minia- pany, the happy father by his side; and the witture. The talent of the classes is probably about tiest man in the class begins the presentation equally divided. If you chance to be at either speech. of these meetings, and have indulged your ap- This year the child's name was Oliver Wenpetite unduly, all fears of indigestion will speed- dell Holmes, born July 4, 1861, both which facts ily pass away under their tonic influence. The were happily improved by the orator. When, at clergy are often the best at story-telling; they the close, the little boy reached out his tiny hand seem to have had the most lively college expe- to take the cup, the class rose as one man and riences. The under-graduates enjoy the scene cheered their boy. Then came the parent's reply. with perhaps even keener zest than the gradu. And then toasts were drunk and responded toates, since the jokes and wit relate to scenes that to the memory of the dead drunk in silence; which they are enacting every day for them- cheers were given to every speaker, to every stoselves.
ry; songs were sung with the brave chorus of The evening is occupied with the Phi Beta manly voices ; men grew merrier and merrier Kappa oration. This often draws a crowded with every toast; it became easier and easier to house ; but the audience depends very much make speeches; a few began to bow the head upon the personal reputation of the speaker. upon the breast in heavy slumber; caterwauling It is rarely that a poem or oration from this So- broke inharmoniously in upon the merry-makciety (which embraces many of the best minds ers; cheers and laughter sounded through from in the country) is worth publishing. Men are adjoining rooms, where other classes were relatvery often appointed who have won reputation ing their experiences; the distant songs of stuin other ways than by speaking and writing; dents returning from their society halls stole in hence they are taken at a disadvantage; they upon the midnight breezes. But at last the first do not come up to the popular expectation; and gray streaks of dawn began to strike through the Phi Beta Kappa is in disgrace. It may here eastern windows; then the class, giving cheer be said that genuine oratory at the public exer- upon cheer, marched in double file to see the cises is seldom found. If Yale violated college class-ivy, now clambering up the library walls, traditions, and introduced men upon the Com- in the early morning light. Each man plucked mencement stage who were never before within a sprig for his button-hole—the last memento college walls, as they do elsewhere, the eloquence of the triennial meeting; the parting song was might be of a higher order. So long as these sung; a circle was formed; there was the solexercises are confined to scholars, and held as emn leave-taking and good-by, and another class honors conferred for eminent attainments in had separated, weary from want of sleep, but other walks in life, men will often make fail- stronger for the manly greetings given and exures, and wish they had held their peace. There changed. And yet other classes, long before are indeed very few who can turn from the cares this morning hour, had said the last adieu. of an absorbing profession and at once win aca- The réunions are now over. Nothing redemic laurels.
mains but the Commencement proper, which, The Phi Beta Kappa ended, the graduates like Thanksgiving, always comes on Thursday. assemble by classes for their nocturnal festivi. It is usually a hot day. You can hardly breathe ties. The dining-rooms at the leading hotels the stifled air ; but every body goes to Comare set with sumptuous tables, and around them mencement; it is the great day of the feast. by ten o'clock are gathered, each by itself, the The exercises are held in the Centre Church, classes which this year hold their réunions. The the galleries reserved for the mothers, sisters, elder graduates are generally addicted to good and sweet-hearts of the graduating class, who habits. They finish up their sport by midnight, throw bouquets to the successful speakers; the and go quietly to bed. Not so the younger. It body occupied by graduates ; the platform held shall be a night-long work with these, and es- by the professorial and corporation corps. So pecially with the class of '60, which now holds it may be called a “highly intelligent” audiits first triennial, and celebrates the presenta- ence. It is an old custom to form in procession tion of the silver cup to the first boy born to any on the College green at the ringing of the church member of the class, who is henceforth known bells, and march, juniores priores, to the church, as the “class-boy.” This ceremony is recent in the younger men parting at the entrance with origin, and, I believe, peculiar to Yale. It is the uncovered heads while the Faculty and more main feature in the class-supper. The course venerable alumni pass through. This is repeatof operations is somewhat like this. The class ed in the afternoon. The speaking is about gather-some sixty out of a hundred-around equally divided between the two sessions, though the table; a blessing is asked; the solid viands the best men usually come on late in the day.