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ΕΠΕΑ ΚΑΙ ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ,
[The origin of these Letters is an academical secret-what their effect may be, re
mains to be seen.)
Ceremony of matriculation, Dr. Philip Kingston-The junior tutor-Statutes
Articles-Oxford by moonlight.
TO RICHARD VIVIAN, ESQ., THE GRANGE, ATHERLY, NOTTS.
The Bury, Amersham, June - 18Dear Dicky, Would you believe it, I am a man; 1 your old school chum, aged seventeen years and thirteen days, by virtue of listening to a portly old gentleman in a black gown, white tie, long bands and trencher cap, whilst he recited a Latin sentence, the first half of which I did not hear, and the latter half failed to understand through the absence of my dear old Ainsworth; inscribing my name in a huge folio, and paying three pounds fifteen shillings and sixpence to a red-faced, moreen-gowned official, have acquired the right, the indefeasible right, of being henceforth designated a man, a matriculated member of the college of X- X, in the University of Oxford.
My father and the reverend the president of our college, (always use the plural,) were chums at school, and boon companions at college. My respected parent, having the fair prospect of a good estate, did not devote too much of his leisure hours to the accurate study of the dead languages. Gifted with more than common abilities, and fairly crammed with Winchester scholarship in his early days, by looking now and then not only at, but also into, a few classical aua. thors, learning Johnnie Watts by heart, and trusting a few (as M.Sweeny would say) to the light of nature, he dropped through
Sept. 1840.--- VOL. XXIX.-NO. CXIII.
his degree with ease and quiet to himself, his college, and the university at large, retired to take his station among the great unpaid of the county of Bucks, and became a family man. His cotemporary, Philip Kingston, having little to look at and less to look forward to, worked night and day, cleared prizes, scholarships, a double first, and two essays, rose gradually from scholar to fellow, from fellow to tutor, and from tutor to the headship of his college ; took to wife his old flame, the only child of William Doublefee, the hereditary lawyer of his native village, and at the mature age of fifty-six set up as a Don and a married man. Few men could live together so long, and fail to discover each other's peculiarities; long epistles, provoca. tive of bile or sleep, were carefully eschewed, and the communication between the doctor at Oxford and the squire in Bucks assumed the solid form of venison and brawn, birds and Oxford sausages. One fine morn, the squire conceived the idea of sending his heir to the university, and forthwith despatched an epistle to the learned doctor, who, in the gratitude of his stomach and the plenitude of his power, promised instant admission into his monastery for the heir of his old friend-a high privilege at our college, where the majority of the men have to wait three or four years before they can obtain rooms. On Monday last I rode over to Wycombe, mounted the Blenheim, and arrived in Oxford about four P.m. Having ordered a good dinner, towards college I posted, knocked at the high carved portal of the president's lodgings, sent up my card, and was forthwith ushered into the library of the reverend doctor. On the rug, in the true English position, stood his reverence, tall and genteelly cold, with a cravat so stiff, that a regimental stock would have been limp in comparison.
During the performance of my initiatory bow, I placed my right foot in position on the polished oak floor, made a demi-semi volte, and fell extended half on and half off the Turkey carpet that covered the centre of the floor of the library. The abruptness of my introduction abridged the ceremony, and saved me much formality. A whole hand was extended to raise the fallen-a great favour, as I am given to understand, three fingers being the largest allowance. A few formal inquiries were made as to my health and the well-being of those at the Hall, the nature of my studies and future intentions. I was then requested to call on the junior tutor, Mr. Hetherington, at eight o'clock that evening, made my bow, and returned to my dinner at the Angel.
As the clock chimed eight, my first tap was given on the tutor's oak—no answer; repeated-still no answer ; looked through the keyhole—all dark. Could I have mistaken the porter's directions, No. 5, first pair to the left ? No, there was the name over the door. Then unpleasant thoughts arose, as to its being a civil hint that I was not wanted; these, however, were shortly dispelled by the arrival of the horrible vision itself, full tilt from the common room ; not walking with solemn step and air of gravity, but running and skipping across the quadrangle, audibly chanting Mozart's beautiful “ Sanctus," in a clear musical voice. My unpleasant feelings flew away; he was all apologies and kindness- very youthful in appearance, with keen searching eyes, and a most talented brow, of a short but eminently
graceful figure, and most polished and pleasing address. We were sworn friends in two minutes, chatted over common affairs for a short time, and then turned to business. First, about a dozen lines of the Rambler were converted into my very best Latin-turned over by the tutor, and quietly laid aside; then down came a couple of Sophocles, and a short chorus having been blundered through, and my school inquired after, he informed me that if I called on him at a quarter to ten the next morning I should be matriculated. Thinking that the affair was completed, I was about to take my leave, when he stopped me, and taking up a pale calf covered duodecimo, said,
“ To-morrow you'll have to swear to all these statutes, not one of which you have ever seen or heard of, and the majority of which are very ridiculous and almost obsolete. The sum total of them is, that you will behave like a gentleman and a Christian, obey your official superiors, and abide the fit punishment if you transgress the statutes; you will also be called upon to subscribe your name to the Thirtynine Articles. Now understand them, probably, you cannot at present, and therefore do not think that you assert so much by your subscription ; all you do assert is, that you take them on the word of our church to be supported by Scripture, under the sure hope that their truth will be proved to you by the ministers of that church during the course of your instruction here, unless you wilfully refuse to hear her teachers. Let me request you to regard these articles not as mere negations of errors, or as all equally necessary to salvation, "but as heads of important chapters in revealed truth,' and texts for future discourses, as truths which you will find you must assent to, on account of the clearness of the proof."
Here the college clock chimed the tenth hour, and I was obliged to leave my new friend, with whom I could have wished to have lingered on until midnight.
The lateness of the hour tempted me to wander through the streets, in order that I might test those tales which you and I, Dick, have so often read of Oxford rows, town and gown factions, hell fire and devil-me-care meetings, and try to realise some few of the scenes of Reginald Dalton and the Oxonians. The long streets were almost peopleless; it seemed a city of Carthusians; the stillness was unbroken, save by the chimes of the many steeples, and the passing rattle of the night coaches. The only university-men that I encountered were a couple running from a neighbouring college to their own rooms, with their commoners' gowns tied boa-wise round their necks. It was a calm warm summer's evening; most of the windows of the long, barrack-looking, new buildings of Balliol were open, and though the dark curtains precluded any clear view of the occupants, their voices were clearly audible through the quiet. From an upper floor, whence the sound of the piano was clearly heard, rolled forth the mellow chorus of the “ Chough and Crow," from the united voices of an amateur glee club.
“ A. B. squared plus C. D. squared : equals, E. F. squared— I don't see why I wish to goodness old Euclid had had me for his mother's midwife," growled out the occupant of a first floor.
“ pavepov uev éori, that's a lie, and Aristotle knows it," chimed in the immediate neighbour of the anti-Euclidist. .
“ Really, Mr. President," said a newly fledged orator, the newest member of the last new Balliol debating club, from a ground-floor window ; “really, Mr. President, I maintain—”.
“ That he is a jolly good fellow," cut in the full chorus of the Balliol boat club, over their supper, to the accompaniment of knives, forks, spoons, and wine-glasses, and with such good effect, that I lost the worthy orator's 'speech, and walked off to the Angel, duly impressed with the varied nature of the evening's amusements and employments of the undergraduates of the University of Oxford.
On the morrow the deed of matriculation was done, and ere full noon the coach bore me back again to the old Hall, full three inches taller than when I had left it on the Monday. No more at present from your sincere friend,
X--X Coll., Oxford, Oct. --, 18. MY DEAR Sister, On Saturday last the well-stuffed carpet-bag, huge portmanteau, well-nailed and corded box, and finally the three-dozen hamper of Mrs. Margery's good things, together with your brother, were deposited in perfect safety in front of the Star Hotel, much to the relief of all parties concerned, especially the coachman, Will. Holmes, and his well-ordered though rather over-weighted team. An Oxford coach is never comfortably filled; it is either over-luggaged, overpassengered, and under-horsed, or with no insides and three or four outs, a few packages, and a flourishing team flies along the road, at the imminent risk of the driver's and his companions' necks. For a few days previous to the opening of term, the passengers are one and all Oxford men, each owning one pea-jacket, weighing about sixteen pounds, and a long portmanteau, a carpet-bag, and an unbaked leathern hat-box, and here and there a box of long vacation books. The appearance of the coach, as it whirls through a village, engages the attention of every visible inhabitant. On the outside sit twelve pea-jackets, each with a cigar in his mouth ; inside, four pea-jackets without the cigars. Above, below, around, and hanging on to every excrescence, is luggage, luggage, duly fringed with a row of dust-begrimed hat-boxes, strung like onions on a rope. Few, if any, are friends here and there, one or two are sufficiently acquainted to say _" How do you do?" “ Cold weather.” “ May I trouble you for a light?” And the rest being strangers, and duly infected with Oxford manners, smoke their cigars in solemn silence, from one stage to the other. , On few coaches would you fall in with more intelligent, clever, and highly educated men, and on no road will you find so little conversation.