« IndietroContinua »
The mist bas gone, and we gaze on the pregnant words, “IN THE UNIVERSITY OF SAINT ANDREws." We believe this. We don't impeach your mendacity, here: We thought you were something more than an Englishman. We didn't find “Spaulding,” in the “SaxoNormanic dictionary.” We understand it all, my Cymric Celt. You may wear among us the skin of the British Lion; but we are not deceived by your “bonnie braes."
Fancy the “ daintie” Professor, gentle reader, in kilt and trencher, copying those tumultuous lists of names from dusty encyclopedias in the cloisters of Saint Andrews. Behold him, with your mind's eye, in labor with those ponderous thoughts. Follow him through those verbal gymnastics. Think of the Scotch ale and whiskey it must have taken to start that mental enginery. “Perhaps he is, was, or should have been, possibly," a musician, and played the “pibroch;" perhaps he will tell you, if you ask him, that he is professor of that, too. Who knows? When the next itinerant bag-piper comes by, shut your eyes, gentle reader, think of William Spaulding, and see if you don't break out into “ Auld Lang Syne,” to the tune of “ Bonnie Doon."
Now, fare ye well, W. Spaulding; good-bye my paragon of verbosity; adieu Highland Laddie. I have only one piece of advice for you at parting ; don't issue any more American editions of your works. We like such style only on Fourth-of-July's; and, as that honored anniversary was abolished by the last Congress, we can wholly dispense with your literary pyrotechnics.
The College Book-Store—its History.
Historians, only things of weight
-with truth and clearness should relate.--Heath.
The early history of this Institution, like that of Rome, is involved in myths and fables. But, unlike the historians of that great Empire, we shall not attempt to unravel the tangled web of fable and story in which the embryo was enveloped. We shall not attempt to pierce
the dark clouds that hang over the birth and infancy of this matured Institution. We shall not even offer any theories of others, or originate any of our own, in regard to the childhood of this great notoriety. Suffice it to say, that the idle superstitions that are in vogue in regard to its early history are merely the creations of ignorant curiosity and a prurient imagination. The foolish myths that are so generally believed by the College world, in regard to this Book-store, such as that it sprang up in a night, like the gourd of Jonah-that it leaped forth, as Minerva from the brow of Jove—that it was created by a league of the New Haven booksellers, that it might be a wholesome counter-irritant to their unlimited profits—that, Topsy-like, it “never was born,” but exists because it " grew”—all these fanciful traditions
all not deign to refute. Let us then-though to do so, must cause bitter disappointment to the many who will expect a great feast of mythological fancies in this pretentious history-draw the veil over the long night and the dusky twilight that overshadows the primordial existence of our subject, and let us look at the bright, clear facts that distinctly gleam upon us since that twilight has reddened into the lustre of day.
In the Fall of 1851, Mr. C. T. Seropyan, of the class of '52, was selling books in North College, front corner room, first floor. At the same time Mr. Sámuel Johnson, of the class of '50, then a Divinity student, was amusing himself in the same way, in the room now occupied by Prof. Fisher. These were not probably the first who sold books in College—but the names of their predecessors have not yet been recorded on the scroll of Fame. They are hidden in the night of the past. In the Summer of 1852, Mr. Pliny F. Warner,* of the class of '55, took the branch of the business conducted by Mr. Johnson, and continued to have charge of it for some time in the Fall. He then gave up the establishment for that year to Mr. T. D. Hall of '53, under whose management the business considerably increased. In the following year, Mr. Warner again resumed the proprietorship, occupying 17 South College. During the first of that year, he met with various opposition from other students in College, and more especially from Mr. Fitch, who kept what was then called the College Book-store, a few doors below the New Haven House. The contest,to use the unfulfilled prediction of our American Napoleon-was “short and desperate,"— Mr. Warner was triumphant,—and the Institution became established and acknowledged. During the next year, it enjoyed the monopoly of the sale of Text books, not threatened by rivals within or foes without. The year of 1854 was a critical one for the real College Book-store. Hands joined with hands to destroy it, but their cause was wrong—they could not prosper. Darts of malice, of envy, were hurled by hostile rivals, but they glanced off - they could not penetrate. But it grew rather by opposition—it fortified itself—it enlarged its borders—it strengthened its stakes—it became a power in Yale.
* To this gentleman we are indebted for many of the facts herein contained.
At the end of his Senior year, Mr. Warner gave up his right to Mr. G. A. M., of '57, who turned out to be a bad ruler, and injured the reputation of the store. He left College in the Spring of '56, and then Mr. Warner (at that time residing in Brooklyn) returned to New Haven, at the request of the N. Y. publishers, and reestablished the business,—which he left for the Summer Term in the hands of Mr. J. Edgar, of '55, then a Divinity student. At the opening of the next year Mr. Warner resumed the business, at 155 Divinity, and christened the establishment with the name of “ Student Book-store," to distinguish it from sundry pseudo-College Book-stores in town. Again its popularity was established. Again its star was in the ascendant. Again the day dawned from darkness, and prosperity's sun shone brightly in the sky.
If “we” were Macaulay, and the heroes whose names are here immortalized bad all departed to the “ bourņe from which no traveler returns”-as they have not-we should take great pleasure in contrasting and comparing the administrations of these various worthies. We would show how imbecility ended in ruin, how energy secured success-how adversity tests and develops character-how prosperity enervates. We would accumulate a brilliant array of moral hints, of business maxims; we would collect a heap of startling titheses, of original metaphors, and shower them like gold dust over these pages. We would describe the personal appearance of each and all of these illustrious men; we would place them side by side, take their relative measures, weight and color-stab one with a metaphor, and kiss another with a simile, until we had depicted such a long, startling and sanguinary picture, that all the dailies would haste to copy, and pass it down the centuries for the admiration of unborn Yalensians. But, for the sake of those characters themselves, for the sake of impatient readers, we forbear, and return to our narrative.
In the Fall of '57, Mr. E. DeCost McKay, of the class of '60, took the place from Mr. Warner, and kept it for the remaining three years
of his course.
Under him, the business, though good before, very much increased. In the Fall of '58, a handbill was issued by a well known firm in the city, advertising to sell text books at wholesale prices. By this strategic maneuvre they thought they were sure of success. They were foiled in their own nets. Into the pit they had dug for another, they themselves fell. The guiding Minerva of the Book-store inclined the students to meet, and to agree by unanimous vote of the several classes, to patronize Mr. McKay; and the enemy retired to his intrenchments. By Mr. McKay's shrewd and energetic management it became more than ever a necessity in Yale. At the end of his Sophomore year, the Faculty voted that the store should be open only at certain hours, if kept by an undergraduate. These hours have been somewhat observed ever since,-although in the hands of professional students.
Mr. Selah Merrill, a Divinity student, took the establishment from Mr. McKay, on his graduation, kept it for a few moths, and then sold out to Mr. C. G. G. Merrill, of '61, in whose possession it remained for two years, when it was transferred to the author of this history. It was removed from 151 Divinity to 34 S. M., where it now is, by Mr. Merrill.
Such is a bare sketch of the records of the life of what is now known as 34 S. M. Though sown in weakness it has been gradually raised in power.
It has become a fixed fact in Yale. It is a convenience, a necessity, for teachers and for students. No where can second-hand books be obtained in greater variety; no where can new books be more cheaply furnished. It is an accessible office for the Lit., the Banner, and the sundry issues of College. It is a convenient maelstrom wherein may be thrown the despised text books of the course, when their services no longer are needed.
The proprietor is in rather an anomalous position. His life is a checkered one. Light and shade alternate over his sky. His cup is both sweet and bitter to the taste. He forms pleasant acquaintances, enduring friendships; he meets with vexations both from publishers and customers. The Faculty will persist in changing text books, even though a long row of old ones adorn bis shelves. The publishers will delay their parcels, though the tutors growl and look daggers. For all the tardiness of publishers and faults of authors, he is of course responsible. All classes will persist in calling for Banners that were sold out four months ago. Freshmen, Juniors, Seniors, even, will ask for the January Lit. that never existed—and never will. All classes will inquire
for ponies to works that have never been translated. Theologians will call for German Metaphysics that have never been imported. Scientifics will ask for works on Sciences not yet discovered. Theologians, Scientifics, Academics-all will continually betake themselves to this city of refuge to look for books that have been stolen. And here it is proper to say, that if there is any one who has suffered more by these entry book-thieves than the subscriber, we should really like to see him.
But these clouds have many silver linings. The occupant of 34 S. M. lives in an atmosphere fragrant with literary and classical associations. He can ever say, as did Southey, on entering a library
Moreover, the friendships formed with the leading publishers of the country, with the great body of Yalensians, are more than pleasing. They are not all evanescent; they will be-some of them, at leastpermanent and life-enduring. Unnumbered little kindnesses, scattered over his daily routine, can not all die-they will grow up, blossom forth, and store the rich garners of Memory with golden fruit.
But we have said very much more than we intended-more than the warmest friends of the Institution will care to peruse.
We close, with a word of sympathy for the many who are now arrayed in mourning over the loss of their favorite text books, and whose efforts to ferret out the thieves have been as unavailing as our own,with a word of thanks to our many friends and patrons, and with a word of professional greeting to all the future unknown and unknowing proprietors of this time-dignified Institution. May it live onmay it live ever,—and die only with our own loved Alma Mater.
G. M, B,