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I REMEMBER last year writing "a few remarks" in answer to the question why I came to college. The answer, though spread over the traditional three pages, was, briefly, culture. Little did I then know the difficulties which lay in the path of the earnest seeker, and it was with a light heart that I set about finding some good foundation on which to build the superstructure of my projected education in Esthetics.
Immediately Fine Arts suggested itself as the most high-toned thing on which to begin. So I commenced looking around for some favorable investment in this line. Firmly convinced of the truth of the proverb, "Palma non sine argento per vias rectas," my small board fairly burned in my pocket, while I was searching for some good introduction to this unknown land.
Convinced, by means of heliotypes and other blind guides, that the thing the least intelligible was the most "high art," I chose the Portfolio, a journal which, until my culture-mania, I had looked upon as the acme of stupidity, and began studying the etchings published therein. By dint of sitting before each plate for half an hour and exclaiming, "How splendid! What depth and juiciness of tone! What exquisite grace in the curves of the left toe!" etc., I had got in a few months to such a pitch of development that the sight of an etching at forty rods affected me to tears.
It is needless to say that what little wealth remained to me, after the first elan of the Portfolio subscription, had been dissipated in heliotypes of the highest class, such as that charming picture by Campagnola representing a very obese gentleman with a pipe in his mouth, lazily inspecting his single sheep, the exquisite grace of whose legs reminds one of the carved animal that goes by that name in the toy known as Noah's Ark.
Those similarly affected with myself will remember sitting before this picture in rapt admiration, uttering from time to time, as the emotion became too strong, such exclamations as "Charming idyl" (fact), or even venturing the quotation, "Tityre tu patulae," etc.
Not content with these exertions, I elected Fine Arts, and here my trouble began. All went well for the first half, and though nothing definite has been heard from the Blue Book of the midyear, yet I rest under the firm conviction that the result was a good hundred. Then, too, Mr. Perkins's lectures must not be neglected, and judge how my feelings were gratified by a glowing eulogy of etching as the highest field of engraving. With what light steps did I attend the next lectures in my favorite elective! But "put not your trust in professors." What is this that I hear? Do my ears deceive me? Alas, no! The note-book has it in black and white. "A few etchings of Rembrandt are good, but none of the modern etchings; and the magazine edited by Mr. Hamerton (alas! my own cherished Portfolio) is the refuge of ignorance and bungling."
The dictum is final. No more will the Portfolio call up the wonted raptures, but still it comes monthly to insult my grief. I give it up. Hereafter I shall consign myself to the "odors of Araby" which haunt Boylston Hall, and the mercies of the Higher Mathematics.
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