Imágenes de páginas

If I understand your particular aim, you are desirous of peeping behind the curtain at the way of life which we jolly fellows live here. I cannot better meet your wishes than by transcribing for you the last few pages of my Diary. They will embrace the second week of my residence; so, without further preface, I will lay the valuable manuscript before you.

“ Sunt bona, sunt quædam mediocria, sunt mala plura.” Monday, Eight o'clock.-Washed and went into Chapel. A change of Chaplains. N. B. The present one got through the service in twenty minutes. · Nine.-Went out to breakfast at E- College with Williams, an old Etonian ;—punctual, as per card of invitation ; but, however, found my host in bed. Provision made for a large party, both dainty and solid food; two large ice-moulds inclusive. The company dropped in about a quarter before Ten. Conversation languid or confined ;-riding and driving in all their branches ;the College lectures, and philippics against the severity of the Tutors, filled up intervals. I collected as much, however, that Mr. T.'s cane here was thicker than Mr. Jackson's club (meta-phoricè dixerim) at our own College. In the meanwhile I made up for other deficiencies by doing justice to the good fare. A neighbour, however, was very teasing ; he endeavoured to amuse me, and at the same time give me an idea of his superior gentility, by finding fault with every article at table. He politely informed me that, in all probability, the pigeon-pie I was feeding upon was made up of young rooks, which the kitchen-boy was in the habit of hooking out of their nests from the belfry tower. Heard the clock strike Ten. Did not like to give the signal to rise, as I was quite a junior. Consequence was—too late for Hall Lecture. Gọt off, however, without notice. Mem. To be cautious in future.

Eleven.-Sate down to reading. Rather stupid after a heavy, breakfast. Had got through eight chapters of Herodotus, when Sterling stepped in at One, to ask me if I would take a row up the river to Godstow. Leaped at the proposal. Embarked by Worcester College, and had a most delightful voyage. We rested half an hour on our oars opposite the Port Meadow, to take a view of the Archer-Club and their exploits. Dined at the Pothouse near the Abbey Ruins upon fried eels. Mem. To detail the whole expedition in a letter to Montgomery. It will give him a subject for a Sonnet.

Returned to Oxford about Seven, and hurried to the Christ Church Meadows, to see the boat race between the Brasen-Nose and Jesus. The fornier won the day by a foot or two. Eton and Westminster support their reputation on the Isis. The stroke is rather in favour of the latter : our men pull too quick;—the

stream is nothing here, comparatively speaking. On leaving this animated scene, for both banks were crowded with spectators, who testified their enthusiasm by their clamours, we found the tea things laid in Sterling's room; and we had but just seated ourselves when Mr.Carmarthen stepped in. He consented to join our party, and the remainder of the evening was spent socially and rationally. I have obtained for Courtenay a sketch of the state of modern literature at this University, and shall take an opportunity of dishing it up for him. By the way, I shrewdly suspect one of our party to be the author of a little jeu d'esprit which has just made its appearance, entitled, “ The Reasons for the Exaniner's Choice of Pæstum, as a Subject for the Prize Poem ;" wherein the author attempts to prove that “ Pæstum” is an allegory for the Queen. Before we separated for the night Mr. C. went and fetched me an old treatise upon “ Dreams and Fatal Necessity,” by a Berlin philosopher. 'A very treasure ! Sterling turned us out at Eleven. -Slept well.

Tuesday.-Regular at Chapel.

Ten o'clock.-Hall Lecture. Committed myself sadly by laughing at a poor Grammar-schoolman for his false quantities; only think of producunt and tessēra, and the other day hospītes ! "Twas all Sterling's fault, however, for, had he not previously mentioned the circumstance, my expectations would not have been raised, or my humorous fancies on the alert. On the breaking up of Lecture, a Mr. Tomline, who had shown me much attention at Hall dinner, gave me an invitation to a Wine Party in the evening, and asked me if I was inclined to step over the way and look into the Tennis Court for half an hour. I had a private Lecture on the Medea of Euripides to prepare against One ; but he assured me that there was plenty of time, and I yielded to his solicitations. I met several Eton faces in the room, and somehow the hours slipped by, and it was considerably past Twelve when I plucked up resolution to run away. Of course the Greek play was got up in a hurry, and I shamefully murdered that most beautiful passage, i

Exclous de neywv, uodev TI OOP85, 4.7.n. The Tutor was not very severe in his animadversions, and I therefore felt the more. At the close of the Lecture, however, he took the opportunity to express his disapprobation of black neck-handkerchiefs. Àdhuc sub judice lis est. Am I to put myself to great inconvenience by double accuracy, and the loss of time besides required in the tie of a white cloth, and also hold at naught all retrenchment in the accounts of my laundress ? or shall I venture for once to act in slight of authority; a proceeding I can never approve of, and must actually enter upon? En passant, it was the same unfortunate black neckcloth for which I was turned out of eight o'clock school by one of your masters,

TWO.-Sallied out in my best coat and gloves, to make a few calls. N. B. The cards must simply contain your simame and College; you are finely ridiculed if you tack on a Mr. Among others I called upon a friend at Wadham, where I learnt that “ The Etonian " was taken in by the Book Club, and was in high favour among the Members. Those men of Wadham are clever fellows. In my way back I stepped into the Great Go Schools. Awful Chamber -[now follows a long description which would afford materials for a whole letter ; I will therefore defer the subject and pass on-l then went to Jubber's to get a pate, and took my seat by the counter. I could not avoid hearing the conversation of those strangers, who were sitting in the recess of the shop. They were discussing the abilities of an individual, who proved to be no other than the author of “ The Breakfast Ballad,” in « The Poetry of · The College Magazine.'This gentleman, I discovered, intends to take up “ Aristophanes," for his Greek book in the Little Go, and the circumstance has created some sensations. Of course, the magnanimity or presumption of the attempt will be judged of by the event; though I would not forget that the poet said, “ To dare nobly is to do nobly.” From Jubber's I posted to an artist of the name of Whittock, for the purpose of inquiring when Mr. Tighe's portrait would make its appearance, and whether the costume would be the blue travelling cloak, or a High-street dress, with white hat, &c. The party in the evening were sadly riotous, I found that Mr. Tomline had no more of the accomplishment necessary for a President of a social meeting, than an anxious attention to passing the bottle. Conversation had loog flagged before we adjourned to another room for tea and coffee, while the supper was laying. On our return to Mr. T.'s room, we despatched this meal out of our way, and immediately the egg-flip and the bishop-jugs were placed on the table. Singing soon degenerated into mere discordant outcries, and mirth into a bacchanalian madness. About One o'clock, every, glass had been swept off the table and smashed, and a party sallied out with a redoubtable coal-hammer. N.B. No man has a right to attack the rooms of one with whom he is not in the habit of intimacy. From ignorance of this axiom I had near got a horsewhipping, and was kicked down stairs for going to a wrong oak; whose tenant was not in the habit of taking jokes of this kind.

Wednesday, Two o'clock, A. M.-Helped my scout to put a friend to bed, and then slunk off to my room.

Eight.-Too much indisposed to get up for Chapel mistook the bell for the funeral toll in “ Hamlet," and, thinking

that I was the Danish Prince, dreamed I was on the pointof throwing myself into the grave of Ophelia.

Nine o'clock.Woke, and found myself on the floor.

Half an hour after dressed, and sate down to a solitary breakfast, my own thoughts, and a head-ache. Mem. Never to order in any wine from an Oxford Merchant, at least not till I am a Don, as I observe they send out a sort of essence of sloes, sheer black-strap, which they think quite good enough for us ordinary Under-Graduates.

After Lecture, looked into Sterling's room. Found that he had been disturbed by our last night's debauch, and was aware of my participation in it. He said little, and I felt the more.

I walked with him in the afternoon to a neighouring eminence, ycleped Shotover. It is a wild heathy tract, only partially violated by that sacrilegious Inclosure Act. The fresh air revived me, and we amused ourselves with botanizing and descanting on the beauties of the vast panorama around us. The range of hills, which incloses our Academus like the walls of an amphitheatre, is composed on the north-east by the Chiltern, on the south by a Berkshire branch; while the western outline has retired so far, that it is almost lost in the blue haze of the horizon, On a sudden I remarked a troop of horsemen in a hollow, near one of the stone quarries. · I could distinguish them thụs much, that they were University-men, and were apparently grouped round a certain individual, who seemed to be haranguing them. I could discern no farther. Were they fox hunters at a loss, listening to the directions of some leading sportsman ? I could see no dogs. They might be Cameronians, for all I knew, assembled among the wilds of nature, to secure liberty of conscience, far away from the profane intrusion of the orthodox. There had been no end to my conjectures, had not my companion spared me any farther exertion of the imagination, by informing me that the squadron I had observed were composed of the pupils of the Professor of Geology. He went on-" It is Mr. B. , who is describing the course of the diluvian fluid, and its probable action in the formation of the surrounding hills; as also the direction of the different strata in the neighbourhood. The band are armed with long hammers of approved metal, with which these young philosophers make serious depredations on the stone walls, (for the fields in this part of the country are but rarely inclosed by hedges), and investigate the properties of every pebble. This course of Lectures are decidedly as agreeable and instructive as any in the University. You may learn if you please, to astonish the good people of Abingdon, Henley, Windsor, Eton, London, &c., by diverting the present channel of the Thames with the greatest facility, so that you

happen to light upon the exact spot marked out by Mr. Bas a gorge, and then you may send the river into Wiltshire or Hampshire.” We passed, in our return home, through the little hamlet of Shotover. The cottages are built on the sides, or at the bottom of certain hollows, which are among as many hillocks or mounds of soil, as there are swellings in the crust of a cherry pie : I mention the fact, as I confess myself unable to divine whether those same appearances are natural or artificial. The village of Heddington lay in our way-near which, I understand, was the residence of the great Milton, and there still remains a little brook to mark the spot which furnished the Poet with imagery for the “ Il Penseroso.” .

When I got back to my room I found a note of invitation for an evening party on my table. It was in the hand-writing of one of the fair daughters of a Gentleman who holds an official situation in this University, and for whom I had brought up a letter of recommendation. I cannot say that I felt at all grateful for the kindness of the billet-doux, for I had had such an appalling lecture from Mr. Tomline on the formality and stiffness of the society in Oxford, that I shuddered at the very idea of subjecting myself to its trammels for a single evening. However, my curiosity got the better of my fears, so after dinner I brushed up my locks, and tied the best cloth my taste would allow me, and set off with palpitating heart to the scene of trial. When ushered into the drawing-room, I first observed a most formidable line of females, who were ranged in silent state at one side of the apartment. As in duty bound, and also in obedience to Mr. Tomline's directions, I stalked up to this party, made my bow to two or three ladies whom I recognized, and, having addressed some trifling sentence to each of them, shrunk back again to the group of gentlemen, who were posted in an opposite horizon. Wo be to the bold spirit who attempts to gain a footing by the chair of any Belinda, whom he may select for his attentions ! He may think himself lucky if he does not get a dead cut by the end of his third sentence: I, of course, expected a little sympathy among the ranks of my fellow Gownsmen; but no! we stared at one another like fighting-cocks, or bull-dogs ; and I had made up my mind to sit kicking my heels for an hour or so, when I felt a jog at my elbow, and turning round, discovered our old Eton con Mac Lennox, at my side. Here then was an end of the blue devils, for my companion kept me in a continual glow of animation by the various anecdotes which he told me of the individuals in the room. «« « That Lady," said he, "in the centre, with the head-dress in the shape of a tiara, thinks of nothing below a gold tassel. Beware how you presume to approach her ; for although you are but a Commoner, you

« AnteriorContinuar »