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BENEVOLO LECTORI. S. D.
The flattery, to which authors in old time were wont to stoop, has called forth many a sneer of virtuous contempt from this independent age. Great was their crime in venturing to eulogize the munificent prelate, or the princely baron, to whom their laborious works were dedicated. We avoid such personalities in this day of improvement. True, our adulation is as fulsome as of yore; but the public cannot complain, for the public is the subject of our panegyrics, Scarcely a book is published, in which the author does not “ submit the following pages with the most humble deference to the opinion of the public," or declare (confiding patriot!) that he “ relies for a favourable verdict upon the good sense and judgment, the exquisite taste, and unerring discernment of his liberal and enlightened countrymen."
We place ourselves in the hands of no imperious patron; we truckle to no indiscriminating mob. When we dedicate the Eton Bureau to the whole body of Etonians, we address the greatest individuals in the land, while the number of our patrons admits every shade of excellence. We reck little of any exoteric opinion. We should not exult, if our publication were honoured with an article in the Quarterly; it would be with no feeling of degradation that we should read an attack upon our performance in the pages of the Satirist or the Weekly Dispatch. Far different are our feelings towards the circle of our honoured patrons. A smile from an old Etonian would be our greatest reward; our sensibility would be acutely tried by a frown from a member of the Lower Greek.
Addressing ourselves, then, to you, Gentlemen, for whom everything connected with Eton has so great an interest, we need not apologize for relating without preface a circumstance bearing closely on our present undertaking.
Most of us in our time have ascended in no enviable mood to the room, to which tradition has given the name of Library, that scene of terror and punishment, where, as if in mockery of the culprits below, have been affixed the figures of festive maidens, and triumphant heroes. On the fatal staircase we bave remarked (when our feelings allowed us to remark objects of general curiosity) an ancient and unwieldy chest. Its appearance bafiled conjecture as to the nature of its contents; and conjecture accordingly has not ventured to speak. But for our liberal and patriotic disclosure, our readers would probably have remained in their former ignorance. We have braved the consequences; and richly do we deserve the thanks of all, who will now be made aware that in that ancient depository lay a store of highly interesting and valuable records. Nay, more; we have been induced to give to the world (the Eton world, of course) the benefit of onr inestimable treasure. How we obtained possession of it, it matters little to our readers to know. Whether at the “ witching time of night,” amidst storm and tempest, the chest was supernaturally opened, and, after the sudden disappearance of the records, closed with a noise louder than the thunder echoing without; or whether in milder guise, a benevolent fairy, riding on a sunbeam, contrived to bear the precious burden through the keyhole, and convey it to our desk; whether these, or any other agents gave us possession of the documents, it matters not to our readers. Suffice it for them to know, that from time to time, some specimens of this our collection will appear in the pages of the Eton Bureau. Thus, while we invite the contributions of all our friends, we shall be able, occasionally, to place beside them the works of their ancestors and predecessors in these walks of learning. If we have discovered no state papers written by Walpole in his youth, if we can promise no hitherto undiscovered efforts of Waller's muse, yet may our friends be pleased to learn something of those who in past times sustained, as now, the credit of this place in every manly and honourable pursuit. Perhaps, even the confessions of some who passed the chest of old in their way to the fatal room above, may not be without their interest. But we are anticipating the feast which it is not yet time to set before our readers. To them, be it recollected, we look for the contributions which must form the staple of our produce, the prime flowers of our chaplet. But our flowers must not all exhibit the same hue; our garland must be redolent of various odours. Our contributors therefore must account for the occasional rejection of their choicest gifts, by the abundance of the offerings from which we choose. We invite all to aid us in our work
all who have joined in the sports, the studies, and the honours of this place.
Etone nutriri mihi contigit,
will be a sufficient introduction to our warmest friendship.
And surely now, if ever, should we be active. The united excellence of Eton's ablest champions would not compensate for the loss of him, who learnt at her feet so well how the statesman's wisdom might be blended with the poet's sweetness, how Cæsar governed and Tibullus sang. If we cannot repair that sad bereavement, yet under the shade which he loved so fondly, our young hopes may find a shelter. Of those who shall trust their first dallyings with the muse to these pages, some may hereafter follow the track, if they cannot equal the honours, of the noble and lamented Wellesley.
(Our readers will undoubtedly expect a tale from the above-mentioned chest to follow here, but we regret to say, that owing to the remarkably crabbed and antiquated style of the writing, we have been as yet unable to decipher the characters sufficiently to make any selection worthy of perusal. We hope soon to have mastered the Old English, our present obstacle, as we anticipate something exceedingly interesting, from the cursory view we have already bad of its contents.-Ed.]
By steam and stokers borne a-head,
All climb the giddy heights of knowledge,
A NIGHT IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
In the south east of Sussex, not far from the sea-coast, lie the ruins of an embattled mansion, which once formed the principal abode of the noble family of Dacre. In external appearance, it is true, the castle of Herstmonceux does not much differ from the appearance it presented, when first raised by Sir Roger de Fynes, four centuries ago. But, alas! if we enter the spacious quadrangle, what a change! Where are the ancient draw-bridges, wbich excited the admiration of Horace Walpole? The chapel, the hall, the kitchen, the curious galleries, and a hundred other reliques of by-gone days? Within a century, it stood one of the most perfect and magnificent specimens of an old English house: built of brick, and two hundred feet square, Herstmonceux represented well the period when the baronial castle merged into the embattled and turretted mansion; its towers and courts