Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

paging would come oddly in the under his eye-perhaps in the volume which rescued the special dewy morning after the ambrosial articles from the miscellaneous night-rather than to possess the ephemera that obscured them; but same in the most decorous library this difficulty may well be left to edition. Our suggestion as to the mechanical genius of the day. detachable articles would meet the

We must confess to a liking for case, and at least rescue what to those forlorn old numbers of any reader might seem true and magazines which the second-hand valuable grain from the society of booksellers term “a mass of highly the chaff, which, we have shown interesting matter.” We prefer to good authority for believing, makes see Kit North's Noctes Ambrosiance the whole produce of any periodical in the yellow old sheets, and in threshing of the brain valueless in the actual type that first passed thirty days.

SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSITIES.

MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD,

July 20. The spirit of this University, such as it is, may be said to be dispersed to the four corners of the earth just now, with the disjecta membra which go to form its corporate existence. Nevertheless, although Oxford is scaling the Jungfrau, and performing feats on the Fiord, and otherwise disporting itself gaily and giddily, a select residuum remains in residence up to a certain fixed date, viz., St. Mary Magdalene's day, which, your non-ecclesiological readers must know, is the twenty-second day of this bright and sunny month. Moreover, those who remain to toy with the delights of this mediæval Athens of ours find abundant recompence. The Bodleian is empty, and you may command the services of half-a-dozen assistants to fetch and carry ponderous or imponderable tomes. The self-asserting and quite too pleasant undergraduate, with his flannels and his fun, is conspicuous by his absence, and his place on the rickety cricket drags is occupied by the festive scout, who is bent on liquidating the earnings of two terms with all possible velocity. That modern excrescence, the academical lady, has “ gone down,” and may be found by diligent search treading on the heels of Pan-Anglican bishops, or in resplendent dowdiness at second-rate watering-places. The common objects of the University, in short, are remote from the Isis, and the whole place looks like a banquet-hall deserted. Under these circumstances, the groves of Academus are enjoyable, and if you have the entrée of a common room where the judicious Fellow congregates quietly and appreciates otium without dignity, you are indeed blessed. Oxford in the Long—not to beat about the bush-is Oxford at its

very

best. It is very unacademical—using the term in its modern sense and supremely collegiate. Perhaps you must be a thoroughbred to enjoy it heartily; yet even a Goth or an American bishop could hardly fail to be impressed with its grave, silent splendour, so suggestive of other ages and widely-differing phases of thought.

Above all, the chiefest glory of Oxford in July is the Magdalen Gaudy. Those who are familiar with Macaulay's dramatic description of the "embattled pile,” and of his stirring story of how the Fellows resisted King James, and the very porter flung down his keys rather than admit the intruded Catholics, may not perhaps have come across Bishop Cleveland Coxe's lines in honour of the brave old college, commencing

England and Oxford, Magdalen and May-day.

Suffiee it that they are a fine tribute of American genius to the most beautiful college in either university, and the one also which alone has played a part in the history of England. It is on the day of its patron saint that this college holds high festival, with such pomp and ceremony as recalls the wassail of the barons. Something analogous to the Gaudy of Waynflete's superb foundation survives in the banquets of the City Guilds; but here we stand super antiquas vias, and there are no outward and visible signs of doing our hospitality by contract. Not to prate about a very pleasant gathering of Magdalenenses and guests, it may be pardonable to mention a few of the ancient customs which exist still-perhaps on the survival-of-the-fittest principle-in connection with the Gaudy. Imprimis, Ganymede is represented by the ehoristers, who adopt the role of ministering angels, and wait upon the guests in their black gowns. Then, after a series of courses, a pause occurs, and the probationer Fellow enters armed with a Latin manuscript, which, after doing obeisance to authority, he proceeds to exploit rhetorically. This essay, as a rule, is a eulogium on illustrious Magdalen men, from Pole and Wolsey to Addison and Gibbon, and is Tory or Communist, High Church or No Church, according to the orator's proclivities. Talking, of course, during this “ exercise,” is quite superseded, and the illusion of being at church is rudely dispelled by the applause which greets the exordium, and the immediate entrance of the haunch of venison. Deglutition at this point recommences, only to cease with a grand Latin grace sung by the full choir—the composition, be it added, of Dr. Benjamin Rogers, the noble church composer of the Merrie Monarch's epoch, whom the college ejected from his office of organist because, forsooth, his pretty daughter had the hardihood to flirt with a Rochester-like gentleman commoner. The last act of the drama consists in the passing round of the grace cup, a custom preeminently of the moyen âge. The man who drinks—after the compli. mentary beatitude “Floreat Magdalena”-on rising is supported on either side by his neighbours, whilst the man opposite also rises to warn him, so the tradition goes, in case anybody with a homicidal mania should show signs of stabbing him in the back. It is difficult to get a mixed company to execute this manœuvre in due form, but the theory survives, and that suffices.

Dr. Pusey has had the last word in the Times, and his friends are congratulating themselves on his duel with Jinx's Baby. The' correspondence between these celebrities has in effect been supremely wearisome. The combatants did not meet on the same plane, or in the same sphere, and hence neither aimed straight at his antagonist. The Professor of Hebrew-a man almost as historical as Wesley-ought not, surely, to descend to journalistic polemics. Among those who know him, whether, theologically speaking, friends or foes, he is reverenced in a degree the world outside Oxford can little comprehend ; and if he is the easiest doctor in the University to place in a false position-on paperhis sincerity cannot be suspected.

It is stated that the gravest dissatisfaction is felt in certain influential quarters at the proposals of the commission to deal with college property. Years ago the University was so much a cipher that the Fellows of New College snapped their fingers at its degrees. Now the tables are turned, and the University will be- omnipotent and omnivorous, whilst the colleges bid fair to sink to the level of unwieldy hotels. Obviously there is no such Radical as a Conservative in office, since the demolition of the autonomy and individuality of the colleges will be attributable not to the agency of those who profess and call themselves Destructives, but to a packed commission mostly composed of staid Conservatives. Speaking dispassionately, this iconoclasm is a blunder in more respects than one. The colleges ought to be taxed according to their means for academical purposes. That, however, is quite a different affair from emasculation or annihilation.

TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN, ·

July 8. TERM is now over, and my present series of letters will be brought to a fitting conclusion by telling you of the fate of our incendiaries. To begin with, there are to be no athletic sports in the College Park next year. Two undergraduates were to have been rusticated, and two graduates were to have been suspended from degrees. But an abject apology was tendered by them, and the Board were moved with pity, So when the grace for suspending the degrees was laid before the Senate, a member of the Board was instructed to move its withdrawal. A debate ensued, in which things were said that the young gentlemen concerned are not likely to forget in a hurry; but the matter ended in a condonation of their offence. Whether the Board remits the punishment of the other culprits, I have not heard. I hope they will be pardoned, as it would be a bad precedent to punish the small fry and let off the big fish.

Our Commencements on the 4th were marked by some incidents of interest. One was the granting a doctor's degree in divinity to a Wesleyan minister. This kind of thing is, of course, a step in the right direction, though not a very marked advance, seeing how thin is the partition that divides Wesleyan Methodism from Episcopal Protestantism. Graces passed the Senate to confer on Mr. Lecky, the historian, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causâ, as also on Mr. Cliffe Leslie. Both gentlemen were absent, so the actual ceremony of conferring the degrees cannot take place sooner than next December. Lecky, of course, you know all about. Leslie is not so well known. He is a professor at Queen's College, Belfast, and is one of the most eminent political economists of the day.

Lord Cairns' Intermediate Education Bill is being watched with interest in academical circles; not only because it may bring grist to the mill by enlarging the feeding ground of the University, but because it offers some hopes of improving their prospects to men already holding University and College offices. A certain Fellow-one who is perhaps more than any other considered our representative Fellow on your side of the water-is said to be ready to discount his chances of University promotion for one of the assistant-commissionerships of a thousand a year. If he succeeds, a versatile and energetic character will be lost to the University ; but the juniors will get a step, and after all il n'y a pas ď homme nécessaire.

The editing committee of Hermathena has lately had a very important

question to decide. Mr. Ellis, the editor of Catullus, offered them a paper, which the committee felt themselves constrained to decline, as contributions could only be received from Dublin University men. A great effort was made by a portion of the committee to relax this rule, and throw the pages of Hermathena wholly open. They were, however, unable to obtain a unanimous decision in this sense, and Hermathena is to remain closed against all but Dublin men. For my own part, I regret the decision, but I hope it is not irrevocable. A somewhat similar question had also to be settled by the editor of Kottabos, but in this instance the case for adhering to its fundamental rule is quite irresistible. Consequently, although it is a compliment to be asked to publish Greek verses by an ex-master of a well-known English public school, there is nothing to regret in having to return them because he does not happen to be a Dublin man.

I have been asked to correct a mis-statement in my last letter. Mr. Swift Johnston, the First Science Scholar this year, was not an American citizen, and had not to be naturalised. He was born at Chicago, N.S., and this fact gave rise to a doubt as to his nationality. Reference was made to counsel, who advised that he was eligible for the Scholarship, and he was duly elected accordingly. The rumour, however, got abroad that he had had to be naturalised, and I wrote under that belief.

The Vacation has begun, and halls, chambers, and quadrangles are well-nigh deserted.

« НазадПродовжити »