( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are wonderfully well matched in point of historical interest, size, and picturesque beauty of buildings and situation. Oxford, as a city, has some superior ad-vantages over Cambridge, and its one magnificent High Street is unrivaled. But there are particular points in Cambridge more striking than any thing in Oxford. Nothing in Oxford is so majestic as King's College Chapel in Cambridge, nor so lovely as the grounds behind Trinity College ; and I was struck with the positive resemblances between Ox-ford and Cambridge. Both are situated on slightly rising ground, with broad green meadows and a fiat, fenny country stretching around them. The winding and muddy Cam, holding the city in its arm, might be easily taken for the fond but still more capricious Isis, though both of them are insignificant streams ; and Jesus' College Green and Midsummer Common at Cambridge, correspond to Christ Church Meadows and those bordering the Cherwell at Ox-ford. At a little distance, the profile of Cambridge as almost precisely like that of Oxford, while glorious King's College Chapel makes up ali deficiencies in the architectural features and outline of Cam bridge.
Starting from Bull Inn, we will not linger long in the streets, though we might be tempted to do so by the luxurious book-shops, but will make straight for the gateway of Trinity College. This gateway is itself a venerable and imposing structure, although a mass of houses clustered about it destroys its unity with the rest of the college buildings. Between its two heavy battlemented towers is a statue of Edward III. and his coat-of-arms , and over the gate Sir Isaac Newton had his observatory.
This gateway opens into a noble court, called the Great Court, with a carved stone fountain or canopied well in the centre, and buildings of irregular sizes and different ages inclosing it. The chapel which forms the northern side of this court dates back to 1564. In the ante-chapel, or vestibule, stands the statue of Sir Isaac Newton, by Roubilliac, bearing the inscription, " Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit ! " It is spirited, but, like all the works of this artist, unnaturally attenuated. The head is compact rather than large, and the forehead square rather than high. The face has an expression of abstract contemplation, and is looking up, as if the mind were just fastening upon the beautiful law of light which is suggested by the hand's holding a prism. By the door of the screen entering into the chapel proper, are the sitting statues of Sir Francis Bacon and Dr. Isaac Barrow, two mora giants of this college. The former represents the philosopher in a sitting posture, wearing his high-crowned hat, and leaning thoughtfully upon his hand. Isaac Barrow, who sits beside him, though a wonderfully learned man, was sometimes what old English authors called a " painful preacher." On one occasion, after preaching three fall hours, the organ set up to play, and fairly blew him down ; and being afterward asked if he were not fatigued by so great an intellectual effort, he replied, that " indeed he did feel slightly fatigued with standing up that time."
There is also in this vestibule the effagy of a ruder Trinity Anak still, Dr. Porson. At evening prayers in this chapel I could fully agree with the remark of Mr. Bristed, who was a student of Trinity, that a company of smooth-faced youths in white surplices have a certain "innocent look," as if they were a choir of Fra Angélico's angels.
The hall of Trinity College, which separates the Great Court from the Inner or Neville Court, (courts in Cambridge, quads in Oxford,) is the glory of the college. Its interior is upward of one hundred feet in length, oak-wainscoted, with deep beam-work ceiling, now black with age, and an enormous fireplace, which in winter still blazes with its old hospitable glow. At the upper end where the professors and fellows sit, hang the portraits of Bacon and Newton. I had the honor of dining in this most glorious of banqueting-halls, at the invitation of a fellow of the college. Before meals, the ancient Latin grace, somewhat abbreviated, is pronounced.
On the side of the hall, and in the same building, is the college kitchen. A glance at the scientific operations of this purely physical department of the University, at the gigantic spits and pans, the vast turtle-shells and pantry-moulds, the hills of potted meats, pickles, and preserves, the cavernous fireplaces, huge cranes and brawny scullions, the blaze, the stir, the hissing activity, would convince one that England dines her scholars bravely every day — those of them, at least, who can pay for it.
In the centre of the same range of buildings is the Combination Room, an elegantly furnished parlor, ornamented with portraits, where the fellows of the college retire after dinner to discuss their dessert and university politics. Upon the side-board I noticed a large and elaborate wedding-cake, recently sent in by a fellow to his quondam bachelor friends, this being the immemorial penalty of his having given up their fellowship, and the selfish luxuries of his former bachelor condition for a much better fellowship.
We pass through the hall into Neville Court, three sides of which are cloistered, and in the east-ern end of which stands the fine library building, built through the exertions of Dr. Barrow, who was determined that nothing in Oxford should surpass his own darling college. The library room is nearly two hundred feet long, with tesselated marble floor, and with the busts of the great men of Trinity ranged around the walls. The wood-carvings of Grinling Gibbons that adorn this room, of flowers, fruit, wheat, grasshoppers, birds, are of singular beauty, and make the hard oak fairly blossom and live. This library contains the most complete collection of the various editions of Shakspeare's Works which exists. Thorwaldsen's statue of Byron, who was a student of this college, stands at the south end of the room. It represents him in the bloom of youth, attired as a pilgrim, with pencil in hand and a broken Grecian column at his feet. Take any group of people, old men and children, middle-aged men and beautiful maidens, and how-ever much of power, loveliness, and poetry there may be in the group, yet let a young man in the first glory of his strength and beauty pass by, and he has the homage of all hearts — he is king of all. But to this add genius, like a visible crown on his open brow and clustering locks, as Byron is here represented, and he is irresistible. The poet is set before us as we all wish he might have been, and perhaps could have been, but was not. It is the ideal poet of the "Ghilde Harold "— he who led captive at his will the old and young, the good and bad, the high and low, of the last generation of men. It is surely a cause of sincere thankfulness that the day of Byron has passed away, especially among the young in our colleges ; and that the day of a far nobler, purer, and profounder poet, Tennyson, has risen like a day-spring from on high.
One is here shown the cast of Newton's face, taken after death ; also his own telescope, and many of his mathematical instruments, extremely rude and simple, showing that it is not the perfection of the instrument or the tool that makes the great astronomer or discoverer, but the force of the brain and the spiritual eye that lie behind it. Trinity has some five hundred scholars and about sixty fellows; and it is not too much to say that, with its ancient names and associations, its modern corps of instructors, and the number of its students, it is the first and most illustrious single college in the world.
As to the numbers in the entire Cambridge University, I have seen this statement recently made, and believe it to be correct : There are 517 matriculants, and the whole number of residents is 2038, of whom 1226 are in the colleges, and 812 are lodgers.
The west end of Trinity borders on the Cam, and we will now take a look at a few of the colleges lying along upon the river bank.
The next neighbor to Trinity on the north, and the next in point of size and importance in the University, is St. John's College. It has four courts, one opening into the other. It also is jealously surrounded by its high walls, and its entrance is by a ponderous old tower, having a statue of St. John the Evangelist over the gateway. Through a covered bridge, not unlike " the Bridge of Sighs,' one passes over the stream to a group of modern majestic castellated buildings of yellow stone be longing to this college. The grounds, walks, and thick groves connected with this building form an elegant academic shade, and tempt to a life of exclusive study and scholarly accumulation, of growing fat in learning, without perhaps growing muscular in the effort to use it. The plan of Fellowships, which is the peculiar feature of the English University, and which often is continued in by a scholar for a whole life, is a remnant of monkish days, of the celibacy of the clergy, and must inevitably lead to this life of literary epicureanism. It has its advantages. A Fellow of an Oxford college told a friend of mine that while thirty-nine good men were spoiled by it, the fortieth man was a grand production — perhaps the topmost perfection of science and civilization. There is some truth in this. Ample time is given, and every other outward aid, for the slow and symmetric development of a noble intellect. The genial sun shines on it for years, and its roots strike down into the rich soil of ancient learning, of the mould of ages, till its top reaches heaven. But we in America could ill afford to spoil so many good trees in order to make one tall mast. We prefer our own system of college eduation, which brings up more minds to an evenly high level of mental cultivation, practical scholar-ship, and general usefulness. Our collegiate system might perhaps combine something of this English system of Fellowships in the modified system of scholarships, extending somewhat beyond the term of the college course, and which is already the tendency in our colleges. The system of English Fellowships, it is said, produces the pure love of study ; the desire of human applause dies out , the popular ends or rewards of scholarship are despised ; and the love of learning for itself alone becomes the great incentive. A university man will often bring out, with immense labor and learning, an anonymous edition of a difficult Latin author, or an elegant translation of a Greek dramatist. He shuns public notice. He sticks to his incognito, or goes on noiselessly heaping up lore and producing learned works, that in any other country would make him a distinguished name.
We give an extract from a curious account of the manners of scholars at St. John's in the reign of Edward VI., commending it to the attention of our American young gentlemen, who sometimes complain of the hardships of college life : There be dyverse ther, which ryse dayly betwixt foure and fyve of the clocke in the mornynge, and from fyve untill sixe of the clocke use commen prayer, with an exhortation of God's worde, in a common chappell, and from sixe unto ten of the clocke use eyther private study or commune lectures. At tenne of the clocke they go to dynner, where they be content with a penye pyece of biefe among foure, havynge a few porage made of the brothe of the same biefe wythe salte and otemel, and notheng else. After dynner, they go eyther teachynge or learnynge untill fyve of the clocke in the evening, when they have a supper not much bettet than the diner ; immedyately after the whyche, they go eyther to reasonynge in problemes, or into some other studye, untill it be nine or tenne of the clocke, and there beynge without fyre are fayne to walke or runne up and downe halfe an houre to gette a heate on thire feete when they go to bed."
Among the eminent men of St. John's College are Ben Jonson, Stillingfleet, and Sir Robert Cecil. This was also Henry Kirke White's college ; and a monument has been erected to his memory in the Church of all Saints by an American. A far greater poet, William Wordsworth, was educated here, and it was a college vacation trip to Switzerland that was the occasion of the poems called " Descriptive Sketches," which were his first publication.
On the other side of Trinity, to the south, is Trinity Hall, a small college, and almost exclusively devoted to law studies. Its buildings are not remarkable. Frederick Denison Maurice and his brother-in-law, John Sterling, came here from Trinity College. Maurice was then a Dissenter, and for that reason could not take advantage of the fellowship which was offered him.
Directly to the west of Trinity Hall is Gonville and Caius College; called in Cambridge parlance Keys." The southern court has three gates of Humility, Virtue, and Honor. The edifices are of the Italian style, and their appearance is quiet and scholastic. Jeremy Taylor the golden-mouthed preacher, whose imagination was Oriental even under the foggy skies of England — studied in this college.
Next to the north of Trinity Hall is beautiful Clare Hall. In the civil war this college suffered greatly, and especially its chapel. The following is an item from the report of the Parliamentary commission : — " We destroyed in the presence of Mr. Gunny, fellow, 3 cherubims, the 12 apostles, a cross, and 6 of the fathers, and ordered the steps to be levelled." The long river-front of this college is exceedingly elegant, being built in the Italian style of the 17th century. Seating one's self upon the river-bank, under the great willow-tree at the southern angle of this hall, one may watch the young men darting by in their narrow "shells," and disappearing like noiseless phantoms under the shadowy arches of the old bridge. Beautiful, dreamy college life ! how swiftly it glides into and under the dark shadows of the actual, and its free joyousness vanishes !
King's College, founded by Henry VII., from whom it takes its name, comes next in order. Its wealthy founder, who, like his son; loved architectural pomp, had great designs in regard to this institution, which were cut off by his death, but the massive unfinished gateway of the old building stands as a regal specimen of what the whole plan would have been had it been carried out. Henry VIII., however, perfected some of his father's designs on a scale of true magnificence. King's Coi. lege Chapel, the glory of Cambridge and England, in the Perpendicular style of English Gothic. It is three hundred and sixteen feet long, eighty-four feet broad, its sides ninety feet, and its tower one hundred and forty-six feet high. Its lofty interior stone roof in the fan-tracery form of groined ceiling, has the appearance of being composed of immense white scallop-shells, with heavy corbels of rich flowers and bunches of grapes suspended at their points of junction. The ornamental emblem of the Tudor rose and portcullis is carved in every conceivable spot and nook. Twenty-four stately and richly painted windows, divided into the strong vertical lines of the Perpendicular style, and crossed at right angles by lighter transoms and more delicate circular mouldings, with the great east and west windows flashing in the most vivid and superb colors, make it a gorgeous vision of light and glory. One could wish that the clumsy wooden screen in the centre of the chapel were away, so that he might at a glance see the whole length and breadth and height of this truly august room. It has been sometimes compared to the Sistine Chapel at Rome ; but with all the advantages of Michael Angelo's adorning hand in the wonderful frescoes of the chapel, that is but a dull and cavernous apartment, something belonging to this earth, compared with the soaring majesty and ethereal splendors of this gem of Gothic architecture. This is an instance of the last pure English Gothic.
Queen's College, the next south upon the river, is distinguished as the residence of Erasmus during his second visit to England from 1510 to 1516. He suffered much persecution and obloquy in his attempt to introduce the study of Greek into Cam-bridge, which study was, curiously enough, still more obstinately opposed at Oxford. Erasmus speaks of the educational condition of Cambridge in his day thus : — " About thirty years ago nothing was taught in the University of Cambridge except Alexander, (the middle-age Latin poem of Walter de Castellio) the Parva Logicalia, as they called them, (a scholastic treatise written by Petrus Hispanus,) and three old dictates of Aristotle, and questions of Scotus. In process of time there was an accession of good learning : a knowledge of mathematics was introduced ; then came in a new or at least a regenerate Aristotle ; the knowledge of the Greek literature was added, with so many authors whose very names were not formerly known." We do indeed owe the revival of sound learning in England, as well as on the Continent, to the Reformation. This college has two courts. There is a fine terrace-walk on the opposite bank of the river shaded by noble elms.
Turning now from the river-side, and continuing our stroll along Trumpington Street, we come to St. Peter's College, the oldest foundation in Cambridge, having been established in 1257. We sometimes speak of old Yale and old Harvard, but when we look upon a college which dates back to the time of the Crusades, when much of Europe as well as Asia was still lying in heathen darkness, we feel that our American colleges are but wild young children of the forest and of yesterday. St. Peter's was originally, as most of the older colleges were, an ecclesiastical " hostel," half-convent, half-hospital ; its buildings are modernized and are not noteworthy. The celebrated Puritan general, Colonel Hutchinson, was educated here.
On the same street, and nearly opposite St. Peter's, is Pembroke College (there is likewise a Pembroke of Oxford), with a quaint gable front. Its buildings are small, and it is said, for some greatly needed city improvement, will probably be soon torn down ; on hearing which, I thought, would that some genius like Aladdin's, or some angel who bore through the air the chapel of the " Lady of Loretto," might bear these old buildings bodily to our land and set them down on the Yale grounds, so that we might exchange their picturesque antiquity for the present college buildings, which, though endeared to us by many associations, are like a row of respectable brick factories.
Edmund Spenser and William Pitt belonged to Pembroke ; and Gray, the poet, driven from St. Peter's by the pranks and persecutions of his fellow-students, spent the remainder of his university life here. Some of the cruel, practical jokes inflicted upon a timid and delicate nature sound like the modern days of " hazing freshmen." Among his other fancies and fears, Gray was known to be especially afraid of fire, and kept always coiled up in his room a rope-ladder, in case of emergency. By a preconcerted signal, on a dark winter night, a tremendous cry of fire was raised in the court below, which caused the young poet to leap out of bed and to descend hastily his rope-ladder into a mighty tub of ice-cold water, set for that purpose.
St. Katharine's Hall is also situated on Trumpington Street, immediately to the south of King's College. It is distinguished for the great number of eminent theologians who have been educated within its walls, among whom was Thomas Sher-lock. It is a small college and its buildings are plain. Corpus Christi, just opposite, has a towered and battlemented frontage, and its buildings are of imposing Tudor architecture.
Following up Trumpington and Trinity Streets to the north, we come into Bridge Street, which is continued along in Magdalene Street, upon which is Magdalene College, standing also partly on the river, which curves in here. Its library contains the valuable antique collection of black letter volumes of Samuel Pepys. Charles Kingsley was a student of Magdalene. It is called a plain college ; but what would be called plain in the Old World would be elaborately ornamental with us.
Coming back to Bridge Street, and turning to the west into Jesus' Lane, we arrive at Jesus' College, a most delightful and retired spot, the very home and haunt of the Muses. The old saying .s, " Pray at King's, eat at Trinity, and study at Jesus." Springing out of an ancient nunnery, i' still retains its antique cloisters and its grave and almost austere ecclesiastical character. The gar-den and grounds are of dark and rich luxuriance, and will compare with any in Oxford. It has been a college about five hundred years, having been founded four years after the discovery of America. The number of students is now small, averaging some sixty. Archbishop Cranmer was a scholar of this foundation. Coleridge's room is in the oldest and dingiest portion of the edifice, looking out upon the secluded garden. But the outside of these college rooms gives little idea of the comfort and oftentimes luxury of their interior ; and when the rough oak sporting-door," as it is called, opens upon apartments which unite the privacy of ancient monkish seclusion with the elegant ease of the modern refined and wealthy man of letters, the visitor, if he come from the New World, with its simpler ideas of college life and manners, is filled with astonishment. Returning to Bridge Street, at the corner of Jesus' Lane and Bridge Street, we come upon Sidney Sussex College, with its formal high-stepped gable-ends, founded in 1596 by the aunt of Sir Philip Sidney. The buildings are of the later Elizabethan style, with red brick copings. The master's garden connected with this college is a pleasant and shut-in spot, with an abundance of old trees, and is almost as shadowy and solitary as the heart of a forest. These gardens and parks are a prime feature of the English University. They are kept in exquisite trim, and are rich with beds of bright, rare flowers, and beautiful with their smooth-shorn lawns, filled with that soft, mossy-velvet turf— that " living green " — so peculiar to misty England. What could be a more grateful resort and true refreshment for the weary student than one of these tranquil and shadowy gardens ; and what is more purifying and vivifying to the mind itself than this daily con-tact with the most beautiful things and sights of Nature ? It is grievous to think that our American colleges were not able to reserve for themselves broader grounds for the free cultivation of Nature about them ; that, instead of being placed in the centre of bustling towns, they could not have been more entirely secluded or shut in from the noisy outside world by a screen of shady trees and quiet meadows, and thus been wholly consecrated to the purposes of study and spiritual improvement.
Sidney Sussex and Immanuel Colleges were called by Archbishop Laud " the nurseries of Puritanism." The college-book of Sidney Sussex contains this record : " Oliverus Cromwell Hunting-doniensis admissus ad commeatum sociorum Aprilis vicesimo sexto, tutore mag. Richardo Howlet ." He had just completed his seventeenth year. Cromwell's father dying the next year, and leaving but a small estate, the young " Protector " was obliged to leave college for more practical pursuits. " But some Latin," Bishop Burnet said " stuck to him." An oriel window, looking upon Bridge Street, is pointed out as marking his room and in the master's lodge is a likeness of Cromwell in his later years, said to be the best extant. The gray hair is parted in the middle of the forehead, and hangs down long upon the shoulders, like that of Milton. The forehead is high and swelling, with a deep line sunk between the eyes. The eyes are gray. The complexion is florid and mottled, and all the features rugged and large. Heavy, corrugated furrows of decision and resolute will are plowed about the mouth, and the lips are shut like a vice. Otherwise, the face has a calm and benevolent look, not unlike that of Benjamin Franklin. Indeed although in an aesthetic point of view the comparison might not be considered a flattering one by the distinguished clergyman — the face struck me as bearing a rough likeness to the leading minister of New Haven. In Sidney Sussex, Cromwell's College, and in two or three other colleges of Cambridge University, we find the head-sources of English Puritanism, which, in its best form, was no wild and unenlightened enthusiasm, but the product of thoughtful and educated mind. We shall come soon upon the name of Milton. John Robinson, our national father, and the Moses of our national exodus, as well as Elder Brewster, John Cotton, and many others of the principal Puritan leaders and divines, were educated at Cambridge. Sir Henry Vane, the younger, whom Macintosh regarded as not inferior o Bacon in depth of intellect, and to whom Milton addressed the sonnet, who was chosen Governor of Massachusetts, and who infused much of his own thoughtful and profound spirit into Puritan institutions at home and in America, was a student of Magdalene College, Oxford.
A little further on to the south of Sidney Sus-sex, upon St. Andrew's Street, is Christ's College. The front and gate are old ; the other buildings are after a design by Inigo Jones. In the garden stands the famous mulberry-tree said to have been planted by Milton. It is still vigorous, though carefully propped up and mounded around, and its aged trunk is sheathed with lead. The martyr Latimer, John Howe, the prince of theological writers, and Archdeacon Paley, belonged to this college ; but its most brilliant name is that of John Milton. He entered in 1624 ; took the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1628, and that of Master of Arts in 1632. This is the entry in the college record: "Johannes Milton Londinensis, filius Johannis, institutes fuit in literarum elementis sub magistro Hill gymnasii Paulini praefecto, admissus est pensionarius minor, Feb. 12, 1624, sub Mr° Chappell, solvitque pro ingr. 0. 10s. 0d." Milton has indignantly defended himself against the slander of his political enemies, that he left college in disgrace, and calls it " a commodious lie." In answer to the scornful question as to " what were his ways while st the University," he says : " Those morning .aunts are what they should be at home, not sleeping, or concocting the surfeits of an irregular feast out up and stirring — in winter, often ere the sound of any bell awoke men to labor or to devotion ; in summer, as oft with the bird that first rouses, or not much tardier, to read good authors, or cause them to be read, till the attention be weary, or memory have its full fraught ; then with useful and generous labors preserving the body's health and hardiness to render lightsome, clear, and not lumpish obedience to the mind, to the cause of religion and our country's liberty, in sound bodies to stand and cover their stations." There are similar words of Milton which ought to be engraved on the heart of every young man and scholar : " He who would not be frustrated of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought of himself to be a true poem, that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honorablest things ; not presuming to sing the high praises of heroic men and famous cities, unless he has himself the experiences and the practice of all that is praiseworthy." When we reflect that Milton came within a hair's breadth of laying his own gray head on the block, and in fact invited death with unbending will for truth's sake, we may see in him that " true poem " of a heroic life. It is noticeable that Cambridge has produced all the great poets ; Oxford, with her yearnings and strivings, none. Milton were glory enough ; but Spencer, Gray, Byron, Coleridge., Wordsworth, Tennyson (a Lincolnshire man), may be thrown in. It might be said of Cambridge, as Dr. Johnson said f Pembroke College, " We are a nest of singing birds here." Milton, from the extreme elegance of his person and his mind, rather than from any effeminateness of character, was called while in the University, " the lady of Christ's College." The young poet could riot have been inspired by out-ward Nature in his own room ; for the miniature dormer-windows are too high to look out of at all. It is a small attic chamber, with very steep narrow stairs leading up to it. The name of " Milton " (so it is said to be, though hard to make out) is cut in the old oaken door.
Upon the same street, further to the south, is Emmanuel College, " a seminary," as it has been called, " for Puritan divines." Its founder, Sir Walter Mildmay, was the leader of the Puritan party in Queen Elizabeth's day ; and during the immediately succeeding reigns the college flourished beyond any other. It sent forth a great number of preachers, who gave a mighty impulse to the spiritual and political struggles of those days. Would it be too much to trace our own religious and political liberties back to this and its sister colleges ? This college is intimately and peculiarly American in its names and associations. John Robinson, Samuel Stone and Thomas Hooker the founders of Connecticut, together with Thomas Shepard, and Henry Dunster the second president of Harvard College, were graduates of Emmanuel. This college has a long and more modern Ionic front upon the street, though some of its buildings are old, and of the Tudor Gothic style. Ralph Cudworth was a student of Emmanuel.
Following St. Andrew's Street down into Re-gent Street, we come upon the extensive grounds and classic edifices of Downing College, the youngest of the university brood, founded in 1800 by Sir George Downing, the descendant of a distinguished Puritan statesman of the same name. Downing College has some peculiarities in the terms of its admissions and fellowships.
We have now walked around all the colleges ; and even from this glance we can, I think, see that these venerable piles, these names of living power, these portraits of great Englishmen adorning the public halls where the students gather morning and evening, these historic scenes and walks and shades, are in themselves strong inspiring forces to awaken the best ambition of young minds. Why could we not now begin to have in our own colleges more of this sensible appeal to the past, more of the influnence of the commemorative arts, to stimulate the forming educated mind of the country and draw it toward lofty aims and ideas ?
I was so fortunate, or perhaps unfortunate, as to be in Oxford during " Commemoration " week. Its heat, bustle, and confusion remind one vividly of " Commencement " season at Yale or Harvard. The town was so full that I was obliged to find lodgings in Woodstock, eight miles distant. Every vehicle had also been forestalled, though at last an antique chariot was dragged to light, whose bowl-tike body, with its perked-up lofty ends, the one precisely like the other, made it resemble a Roman galley, such as might have been used in the seas fight at Actium. Nevertheless, a comfortable voyage was made to the " Bear Inn," Woodstock. In good season the next morning, of a bright hot June day, I returned to Oxford. Across the flat meadows and through the shimmering summer air the elegant spires and domes of Oxford appeared ; and on passing " Martyr's Memorial," the general movement and stir of the great day was already visible in the wide half-rural street. The shovel-crowned Oxford caps and billowy black silk gowns of the collegians, were rapidly sailing to and fro ; multitudes of ladies were astir to secure good places ; and the more ponderous bodies of university dignitaries were beginning to collect slowly their forces. The point of interest was the building called the " Theatre," on Broad Street, and a crowd of visitors had gathered at the closed iron gate that opened into the yard in front of the " schools." Here stood the beadles, or in Oxford parlance, " pokers," keeping guard with their long sticks. Rolls of thunderous noise came from the impatient students assembled within the building. By the courtesy of a doctor of divinity, in scarlet robe, with sleeves of black velvet, I at length gained admission. There the scene was peculiar. The room is a lofty circular area, and the under-graduates were clustered like a great swarm of bees, tier above tier, in the upper galleries. There was a circle of ladies in the lower gallery ; but it must have been a considerable trial of the nerves for them to remain there. Surely, it was a wonderfully noisy time, for English lungs are powerful. There is very fair wit sometimes struck out by the students on Commemoration Day ; but I must say that I did not hear any, perhaps from the fact that it was so difficult to hear any thing at all. For one just from the New World — from the woods as it were — feeling a proper sense of awe in regard to all things connected with a university founded by Alfred the Great, it was rather odd to be suddenly ushered into such a babel and roar of nonsense, proceeding from the throats of the express flower of British youth.
As the begowned regents, doctors, and officials of high and low degree began to assemble and take their seats on a lower circle of the proscenium, there was now a general groan for some one, called out by name, and then a tremendous hurra for another, but the groans predominated. Brays of donkeys, crowings of cocks, laughings of hyenas, and all the uncommon sounds that a crowd of college boys, totally unrestrained and stimulated by rivalry, can make, gave the only variety to the steady Bull-of-Bashan roar kept up by all. Wit, sharp and saucy, would have been a relief; but, as I say, I did not hear it. The capital hit at Tennyson, some years ago, made by a collegian, is quite familiar perhaps to my readers, but will bear repeating. The poet is said to be as negligent in his personal appearance and dress as poets commonly are. That morning as he came into the " Theatre " and took his seat among the distinguished guests, he was particularly unkempt and uncared for in the outer man. A cool, drawling voice was heard from the highest student gallery, saying : Did your mother call you early, Mr. Tennyson?" The pensive author of " May Queen " might have been excused for laughing heartily.
At length the Vice Chancellor rose-- a fine-looking, dignified man — and putting on his cap, pronounced the usual opening Latin address. For a few moments he was allowed to proceed quietly, and I thought that the famous Oxford saturnalia was ended, and that the regular exercises of the day had begun. But no ! A voice from the student tiers began to mimic the tone of the speaker ; then as any personal eulogistic allusion occurred, some one would squeak out, " Put it on strong ! " Then there would be a general clamor, and several times in the course of the twenty minutes' address, the Vice-Chancellor was compelled to stop, trying to look composed, but, as it appeared to me, feeling considerably chafed. A Latin essay was then read, interrupted at every sentence by " We 've heard that before," and " The rest to be understood," etc. The speaker struggled gallantly through, like a staunch craft in a hurricane. Any tendency to the Ciceronian was instantly greeted with sarcastic shrieks, and rotund Latin sentences, with plenty of qualificatives and superlatives, helped out the orator's sentences in the same tone in which they were delivered, only " a little more so." So also fared the addresses of the Professor of Civil Law and the Public Orator. But the pieces of the undergraduates were much less interrupted. They were, however, hurried through in low, monotonous voices, and at railroad speed, as if the speaker either feared the " boys-terous " comment or despised the part he was performing. The Newdegate or Prize Poem the same for which Reginald Heber wrote his " Palestine " was well delivered, and had a happily chosen theme, touching successfully now and then the chord of British patriotism, and calling forth great applause. There was also a Carmen Latinum, by a student of Balliol College. After the exercises, which were rather bluntly concluded, were ended, I had time to look about the " Theatre." It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and was the gift of Archbishop Sheldon, whose plan in its foundation was to remove the secular ceremonies of the University from sacred buildings a hint foi our colleges. Here are celebrated " all the public acts of the University, the Comitia and Enccenia, and Lord Crewe's annual commemoration of founders and benefactors " — the great day at Oxford. This building forms one of that constellation of grand old edifices, made by the schools, the Bodleian Library, the Radcliffe Library, and St. Mary's Church, which are the common heart and centre of the University.
The stone of which the Oxford College buildings are built is unfortunately a very soft stone, and the oresent ragged, scarred, and peeled condition of those. beautiful structures can hardly be imagined. Some of them are completely honey-combed. In many instances they are rebuilding, or rather making over the edifice stone for stone, in exactly the old style and pattern.
The ivy-mantled walls, green archery lawns, shadowy walks, brown sombre buildings, and venerable quadrangles of New College, William of Wykeham's College, especially delighted me. This is fed by the tributary of Winchester school, itself a titular college.
Old Exeter was undergoing a thorough trans-formation, and looks astonished at her own youthful magnificence. Her new chapel rivals the ancient glories of the place, especially in its stone and wood carvings, in which delicate passion-flowers cut in oak, wreathe in with vine-leaves and lilies. Froude the historian studied at Exeter, and there caught the new impulse for historical studies which Dr. Arnold introduced from Germany. The beautiful soaring spire of St. Mary's Church, a majestic wedge, so strong and yet so light, and the square and pinnacled tower of Magdalen College, upon which the Latin anthem is sung every May - Day morn, form the striking landmarks of Oxford, seen far over the flat meadows.
One is tempted to lay irreverent hand upon the smooth-worn monster brass nose of the gate of Brasenose College. It is said, however, that the name of the college has nothing to do with " Brass," but was derived from " Brasin-hous," the ancient name of " Brew house." Bishop Heber was a student of this college.
Most appropriately has this college honored the memory of another of her noblest sons, Frederick W. Robertson, with a memorial window in the chapel, surmounted by the inscription on a scroll " Te Deum laudat prophetarum laudabilis numerus." By his splendid powers that burned out with their own energy so quickly, and by his thoughts that seem to enter into the very shekinah of spiritual Truth, he has lighted the dark and struggling way of thousands. The true life which he lived, the great "fight of faith" which he waged, reflect back a purer glory on his college, than if he had fallen (as he sometimes wished to do) in the trenches before Sebastopol, or had won the fame of the first scholar on earth. In these walls he consecrated his early manhood to Christ ; and it was all his life his constant thought and prayer how he might aid young men, especially educated young men, in their conflicts and doubts to come to the same Master, and find in him a higher light than that of learning—" to begin in youth to say with David, O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee."
Oriel, Dr. Arnold's college, is the most battered and worn-looking of all the University buildings, which, taken together, form a kind of monumental history of England, exhibiting all its great historic epochs. The sombre Influence even of Spain may of clearly traced in their architecture.
Queen's College, where the " boar's head" is served up on Christmas in memory of the legend of the student's escape by thrusting a volume of Aristotle down a wild boar's throat, has so fine a front on High Street that its modern style may be pardoned. Henry V. was once a scholar of this college.
But there is nothing in Oxford which, taken as a whole, quite equals Christ Church, at the termination of High Street, for the number of members upon its foundation, its great names, its " quads," and its famous " Hall," one hundred and fifteen feet by forty. This college, built by Cardinal Wolsey on the scale of his own magnificence, is par eminence the noblemen's college. These tufted gentlemen occupy at meal-time a raised platform by themselves something which our republican taste could never brook, and which I have seen criticised in English papers. To spend a summer's afternoon sauntering along the broad walk of Christ Church, looking out upon the great smooth meadows and shining Cherwell on one side, and beautiful Merton College, with its masses of splendid trees and gardens on the other, with now and then the deep tones of the big bell in " Tom Tower " filling the air with solemn sound, Oxford would seem to be a place in which to forget the present, to lose the future, and to walk and muse life away in the dim cloisters of the past. Before leaving Christ Church it were well to remember that that great and holy man, William Tyndale was educated at Oxford, and was a poor obscure anon of Christ Church while yet in its infancy. Here he conceived the plan of printing an English translation of the Bible, and in conversation with his fellow-priests who derided the idea, he said : " If God spare me, before many years I will cause a boy that driveth a plow to know more of the Scriptures than you do." And this leads me to speak of a still nobler spot in Oxford, in comparison with which these academic buildings, with their thickly clustering associations of wisdom and learning sink into insignificance — I mean " The Martyrs' Memorial," erected near the spot where the three chief martyrs of the Reformation, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, suffered. This beautiful monument marks, as it were, the spiritual centre of England. Such spots as these — the " Martyrs' Tree " at Brentwood, the place where Hooper was burned at Gloucester, and Smithfield Market — make England holy ground. He who can read the account of those martyrdoms, especially in the fresh language of Froude, and not have his faith quickened and his heart filled with high emotion, has no English blood in his veins or Christian feeling in his soul. Through the deathless constancy of these men, we in America enjoy a pure faith and read a free Bible. They but testified to, they sealed with their blood, the faith which already lived and burned b the hearts of the common people of England. They were upheld by he encouraging words and prayers of the common people as they went to the stake. They fought the battle of spiritual liberty for the English people, and for us who now live, and for all men.
My first impression of Oxford still remains, that it is the palace of the scholar — his paradise of literary rest, his final reward — rather than a place to make vigorous scholars and workingmen. Yet somehow or other England's great men have been educated here, and I have been struck by a remark in the " London Quarterly," drawing a comparison between a young man brought up at foreign universities and an English educated youth : " At the moment they have left their respective places of education, the young Englishman has little to show for his time and money, while the foreign young man is full of information and accomplishment. But in ten or twelve years the tables are turned. The foreign university man is still ' a lad in mind, and a babbler on the surface of every subject.' The Englishman has gone into the business of life with a mind so trained that he grasps at will the necessary knowledge of the subject before him." There must be something in English education, with its everlasting drill in Latin and Greek composition, and its hard metaphysics and logic, which, after all, develops and toughens the mental faculties. It may be narrower in range than the American course of study, but it nevertheless " educates," draws out the intellectual powers, and gives them manly grip and force. It teaches men to think closely and write well. But it is said that in at Oxford education there is a want of definite aim and earnest principle. Besides Greek literature and English metaphysics, and now perhaps, since Dr. Arnold's time, the study of history, in the whole range of liberal studies which makes a man skillful in the business of life — especially the departments of physical science and modern languages —there is still a confessed deficiency at Oxford. Aristotle still rules. The physical sciences and modern languages have obtained no real recognition or solid respectable foothold at Oxford ; and the same, with some modification, might be said of Cam-bridge. Many old-fashioned ideas prevent a more enlarged and practical course of study. The study of divinity, for example, which is above all others a branch fitted for maturer years and for a professional course, is pursued by academical students with no particular religious aim or preparation of spirit, and only to a superficial extent at best. Yet custom compels the reading of so much of Church history and theology, in which there is, after all, very little personal interest evoked. It is a system of getting themselves up for examinations, in which all the ingenuity and efforts of young men are concentrated to pass a critical goal, and to make the show, if they have not the reality, of thorough scholarship. The real hard study at Oxford, we have the impression, is mostly done by the young men who are striving for scholarships and university prizes. These are tempting baits. They confer even literary and political distinction ; and some of them amount to a substantial life-income, — say from £200 to £400, — so that it is a university saying that " a high degree man supports himself and his mother and sisters." To obtain these prizes there must be excessively hard study. Men are trained for these mental contests with the painful care and minute attention of physical athletes. They are reduced to a state of pure intellectual working activity, and then " crammed " with the express juices of the rarest scholarship. As the "lecture " is the vital principle of the German university system, and the " recitation " of the American, so, although there are professional lectures and recitations, " private tutorage " is the chief characteristic of the English university method of study. This of course adds greatly to the expenses of student life, but has its advantages. It might perhaps be introduced to a certain extent into our American college system, thus aiding the support of worthy scholars, and smoothing real difficulties in the path of the learner himself. For a young student to have the continual assistance of a highly scholarly mind, of a " double-first man" for instance, fresh and victorious from the arduous conflict, would be an immense aid in stimulating and directing his energies, although in many cases it may produce, as it does, intellectual weakness and enervation. But those who do not aim at high degrees in the English university, may escape with comparatively little labor. There is not that uniform and steady purpose brought. to bear upon the whole body of students that the American system of daily recitation and " marking" for stand produces. While the tone of scholarship among the best scholars is far higher than with us, the general standard both for entering and continuing in the University is, according to the late " Parliamentary Commissioners' Report," very imperfect. This Report says, among other things : " The standard of the matriculation examination varies at different colleges. At Christ Church a candidate is expected to construe a passage (which he has read before) of Virgil and another of Homer, to write a bit of Latin prose, to answer some simple grammatical questions, and show some acquaintance with arithmetic." In 1862 one third failed even to pass this simple test. This hardly coincides with Mr. Bristed's estimate of the standard of scholarship at the English schools. He says, " An Eton boy of nineteen is two years in advance of a Yale or Harvard valedictorian in all classical knowledge, and in all classical elegances immeasurably ahead of him." But Mr. Bristed, though he has written an admirable book, had, we know, a sort of chronic prejudice against American scholarship and American colleges. Some one has classified the students of Oxford into — 1, the reading men ; 2, the idle slow men ; 3, the pod kind of fellows ; 4, the idle fast or do-nothing men ; 5, the regular fast men. Nevertheless, we can but acknowledge the superior thoroughness of English scholarship, its richer culture, and more permanent and substantial depth. What it does it does well. Those who are scholars are genuine scholars. They are inspired with a true love of sound learning which never leaves them.
The moral tone of the English university is not so high as that of our American colleges. Infinitely more money is spent in proportion to the number of students for horses, sporting, wine-suppers, and fast living. This is partly accounted for by the fact that as a general thing only the wealthiest class of young men can be educated at the two great universities, (for it would be useless to deny what they themselves glory in, that they are the highest expressions of the aristocratic principle in English society,) and partly from the simpler tone of New England and American life. Drinking and other vices have a lamentably free admission into these centres of Old-World civilization, where London itself is distant but an hour and twenty minutes by rail. It were surely to be hoped that the young men of our American colleges will strive to compete with those of Oxford and Cambridge and of the German Universities, not in their deplorable rowdyism and their ability to drink eighty ' schoppen' of beer apiece, but in their true English manliness and muscle, and their high German ideals of brotherhood and broad independent culture.
There is one admirable feature that we might learn from the English university its delightfully genial and social spirit. This is nourished by the intimate family life of each particular college, having its own common table, home customs, and traditions. This sentiment of profound college esprit de corps never wears away, and results in friendships of the most tender, noble, and lasting kind. The Englishman's capacity for friendship, with all his crustaceous pride of temper, is, I have sometimes thought, greater than an American's ; and why greater ? Not from any greater depth of soul, but because the boy is kept fresh in him by the constant cultivation of early associations, and especially by the sympathies and memories of college days. There is far more poetry in English college-life than in ours. It is not so matter-of-fact. The continual association with what is venerable in the past and beautiful in Art and Nature, educates the heart as well as the intellect, and the whole man is rounded into nobler proportions. The " humanistic " element in education, as Mr. GIadstone calls it, is more thoroughly cultivated than with us. There certainly should be in every en-lightened land those profound and tranquil springs of learning, removed aside from the pathway of traffic and the disturbing influences of a selfish, superficial, and money-making world ; where the most noble and generous susceptibilities of the nature are developed ; where youth may have its intellectual and spiritual ideals raised above the standards and successes of ordinary practical life. Then, when youth comes down into the world's agitated current, it will ride upon it strongly and safely, for it has an inward strength that is superior to the world.
I need not spend time in speaking of the out-ward organization and government of the English university. Being almost entirely aristocratic, or more properly, oligarchical, it does not possess the organic unity of an American or even German university. It is a collection of different independent colleges, each absolute in its own dominions, having its own laws, existing by its own funds, and extremely jealous of the least infringement of its rights by the general government. Originally an ecclesiastical school attached to some religious house, each college still retains something of its exclusive monkish spirit, which stands in the way of very great unity of governmental discipline, and perhaps of rapid general improvement.
The full title of Cambridge College is, " The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge." 1 These form the general government, concentrated in the higher assembly, which is thus composed : " All persons who are masters of arts or doctors in one or other of the three faculties, viz., divinity, civil law, or physic, having their names upon the college boards, holding any university office, or being resident in the town of Cambridge, have votes in this assembly." Besides this general senate, there is a more special council chosen yearly, called " The Caput," which approves of every proposal before it is submitted to the senate. " The Caput consists of the vice-chancellor, a doctor in each of the faculties, two masters of arts, and other subordinate members, nominated by the vice-chancellor." The meeting of the senate is held about once a fortnight, the quorum being forty members at its first session, and twenty-four at its second. If a motion pass the two houses of the senate (called regents and non-regents) it becomes a law. Each degree which is conferred undergoes the scrutiny of the senate. The strictly executive authority consists of a Chancellor, who is the representative head of the university, and who has authority for a mile around the town, excepting in cases of mayhem and felony ; a high steward, who has power to try cases of felony ; a vice-chancellor, elected annually by the senate, who does the Chancellor's duty in his absence, and who is to all intents and purposes the acting head of the university, taking the place of our president ; a commissary ; public orator ; assessor ; two proctors ; and other minor administrative officers. There are two courts of law to try all cases (excepting those of mayhem and felony) having relation to any member of the university ; which courts are conducted upon the common principles and forms of civil law. The two members of Parliament from Cambridge are chosen by the senate. The professors' salaries are drawn from varied sources and from very ancient and quaint foundations, some of them come directly from the revenue of the English government.
Perhaps the grand distinguishing feature of the English college, which, above all others, makes it differ from the German and American college, is what has been already alluded to, its system of " Fellowships." The college exists, above all, for the benefit of its " Fellows," who enjoy its literary and social advantages to the utmost. From this body, continually replenished by the best scholars of the University, the lecturers, professors, and officers are drawn. They are in fact the permanent nucleus, " the pillar and ground " of the university organization. They represent and control it. The students seem to come in as a secondary and necessary class, or as forming the material out of which " Fellows " are made and supported.
This system, monastic in its origin, and monastic, until very recently, in its condition of celibacy, has its evil as well as its good, even as it relates to the " Fellows " themselves. It brings together, it is true, a body of highly cultivated men, who are constantly increasing their mental cultivation and heaping up erudition. But the tendency is for them to become refined and critical, instead of broad minded and practical scholars, penetrated with the spirit of the age, and having living sympathy with living men. They are tempted to work for the reputation of their college, instead of the highest good of the multitude of young minds who come under their shaping influence. They do not also, it is averred, actually produce as much in the way of original scholarship as might be expected from such splendid opportunities. Besides, the system which sets a premium upon learning, and which makes the noblest studies the means and measure of pecuniary reward, cannot be considered as founded upon the broadest idea of education. The German idea is in the main superior to this. These Fellowships, since they may be held for a certain time without residence at the University, are, I have seen it stated, sought for with great avidity by those who expect to become lawyers, physicians, and clergymen, and who do not intend to connect their lives permanently with the University; in this way they are afforded support and a certain standing, as it were, in the transition period before they are well able to stand by their own strength and efforts. The temptation in such a case would seem to be, to retain as long as possible that sup-port and stimulus, whether of a moral or pecuniary nature, which is so much needed at the very outset of a professional life.
Therefore, while we honor and reverence these glorious old universities, the parents of our own colleges, the nurses of English learning and letters, we would not copy them too closely, nor would we hastily pronounce upon the inferiority of our own systems of education for our own peculiar wants and civilization. While the German university is somewhat too advanced, learned, and professional for our present needs, the English university is in some respects too exclusively national, stiff, and impractical for our imitation. We can learn much from both ; and so long as we have before us such living representatives of English university education as Gladstone, Goldwin Smith, Trench, Stanley, Froude, Kingsley, Ruskin, Lord Derby, Tennyson, we must feel that there is something in it whose depth we have not comprehended, and which draws from sources of life and power that are unseen.
The Lake Country
The Lake Country (continued.)
Tweedmouth To Haworth
Home Of The Pilgrims
Lincoln To Ely
London To Folkestone
Tunbridge Wells To Isle Of Wight
Southampton To Salisbury
South Devon And Torquay
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