« ПредишнаНапред »
We have read in ancient story, how Pisistratus exbibited his scars to the gaze of the multitude at Athens, how he asked for a guard against the enemies who had thus injured him, and how the people, moved at his sufferings, granted the boon, by which they were themselves enslaved. To gain their favour, the skilful intriguer excited their compassion. Such language was the only appeal we could make to the sympathy of Etonians at our first appearance. Such, at least, were the feelings we expressed to our friends. We pointed to the scoffs of ill-omened critics; we acknowledged our difficulties; we sbewed the wounds dealt us by secret enmity or party spite. All the protection we asked, was a favourable hearing, a kindly feeling from our readers. We have received this, and more than this, from some whose opinion we most highly value; and our position is now no longer that of the timid adventuror, but of the accepted guest. Not that we have the inclination, had we the
power, to convert, like Pisistratus, the aid we have received into an engine of oppression; but we feel that we may assume towards inferior critics a bolder attitude than when we stood forth alone, alike suspicious both of friend and foe.
It might amuse our readers, if it were not a breach of confidence, to recall some of the sentiments expressed by those, whom, before our first appearance, we thought it right to consult. Oft was repeated in our ears the sage remark, that boys ought not to publish. “It will foster vanity and self-importance in the young mind,” said one philosopher; “it is an affectation of the follies of riper years,” said a grave and reverend elder, who had left Eton just six months. If we ventured timidly to suggest the precedents of the Microcosm and the Etonian, the objector was prepared with a reply—“In those days there were no essays to be compiled; no Newcastle scholarship; as yet mathematics were not; it was all very well to scribble in periodicals then.” One prudent comforter would remind us that almost every speculation of this kind had been a pecuniary failure; another observed that there was a deficiency of original talent at this time at Eton. Of course it was idle to refute these wellwishers; but we thought within ourselves, that lack of ability was falsely imputed to those who now are, or lately have been among us; and we felt sure that we should not be left to languish for want of public support, if we did our best to deserve it. Nor were our hopes entirely without sympathy; some, who could best judge of such matters, augured well of our scheme. Advice, indeed, they tendered, and we are proud to acknowledge that we derived benefit from their suggestions.
The important day arrived; the Eton Bureau was
exposed to be rifled by the world. What a host of conflicting opinions did innocent readers pour around our editorial ears! We were in a very chaos of criticism. If we had been less interested, it might have been a pleasing study of character to remark the varieties of animadversion. There was the contributor joining vociferously in the laugh of the circle, which was engaged in discussing his own production. The author of a sonnet would faintly suggest that some gems redeemed the general mediocrity of the poetry; while a sweeping condemnation of the prose articles proceeded from the lips of one, whose face would have reddened if the epigrams had been attacked. Impartial readers differed in their estimate of our work, if there were few, who did not find some fault, yet almost every critic had found something which bis taste approved, Letters received from our numerous friends speak a similar variety of opinion. Some are indignant that they should be supposed to have entertained unworthy jealousies, and repudiate the charge of unkind rivalry towards their competitors. It may be, because those who have never contended, will certainly never feel envy and disappointment at defeat. Some at least, there are, who would be acquitted on this score by any Eton jury. Another gentleman undertakes to refute our strictures on Football, having, as it would seem, totally mistaken our friend A. S. S.'s sentiments. What stolidity!
Beotùm in crasso jurares aere natum.
Then we had proposals of various kinds.
One correspondent would commence, good easy man, memoirs of great Etonians, to appear in a regular series; as if, forsooth, he had access to some original authorities; now had we, with our sources of information, attempted it, the
case would be different. We had moreover an offer of a vast collection of Nursery Rhymes in all languages, “ done" into Latin and Greek after the most approved models of the Cami Arundines ; and the outline of a series of essays intended to prove the connexion between Sanscrit and every other tongue under heaven. We have been asked, where are the boasted treasures of our chest ? May we, in answer, be allowed to say a few serious words on our aim and expectations in launching our little barque ?
Publications, like the Eton Bureau, are looked upon as trifles; to write an article subjects the bold author to the badinage of his curious friends. If the work raise a smile, or serves to wile away a heavy hour, it has, in the opinion of many, fulfilled its office. To us it seems that something higher is involved. A feather will show which way the wind blows; an ephemeral production, thrown up on the surface of the stream, indicates in what direction the current of popular opinion is setting. If we can succeed in placing the Eton Bureau on the wide basis of general support; if we can represent the various shades of feeling prevalent among us, we may trust that our efforts will not have been misdirected. Still more, if we speak the words of those in our little world most worthy to be heard and followed, we shall be conferring a lasting benefit on all who may thus listen to the collected voice of the good and learned, the real aristocracy of our young community. We shall reflect in our mirror the thoughts, the tastes, and the characters which stand out from the undiscerning crowd ; if we can arrest and embody that reflection, we shall deserve the gratitude which we hope to receive. With this view we do not hesitate to ask for contributions as numerous and varied
as the industry of our friends can furnish, that our selection may comprehend something of overy class in literature. True, we must thus reject much which we would fain insert, let this declaration be onr excuse. At all events, the records of ancient Etonians, such as our chest contained, should be postponed to those which exhibit a transcript of living feeling and character. We have acted upon this conviction, and crave pardon for a promise, issued at a time when we could scarcely calculate on such ample assistance as we have since received.
It could not be expected that these views should be entirely carried out in our first attempt. We confidently predict that they will develop themselves in greater fulness as our work advances. * To those who have received in no censorious spirit the first earnest of our intentions, we would offer this acknowledgment of our gratitude. If hereafter, in the same kindly spirit, they should criticise our imperfections, we trust that they will add examples to their rules, and by their own contributions illustrate the excellences which they recommend.
*Αμφ' ώμοισι σάκος θέτο.-ΗοΜ.
* We have given proof that we have no fears for the continuance of our work, by inserting the first part of Lycophron, to be continued by the same able hand.