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apathy and carelessness. It is our posi- such an emergency the means of mantion, if hostilities suddenly broke out, to ning our ships would not be equal to which we must look, and it is no use to that of our antagonist. disguise from ourselves the fact that in

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CHAPTER XXIV.
nursemaids or children play about it

. Nobody lives in it. Only when the THE SCHOOLS.

examinations are going on you may see THERE is no more characteristic spot a few hooded figures who walk as in Oxford than the quadrangle of the though conscious of the powers of acaschools. Doubtless in the times when demic life and death which they wield, the University held and exercised the and a good deal of shuddering underprivileges of infang-thief and outfang- graduate life flitting about the placethief, and other such old-world rights, luckless youths, in white ties and bands, there must have been a place some- who are undergoing the peine forte et where within the liberties devoted to dure with different degrees of compoexaminations even more exciting than sure ; and their friends who are there the great-go. But since alma mater has to look after them. You may go in and ceased to take cognizance of "treasons, watch the torture yourself if you are so insurrections, felonies, and mayhem” it minded, for the viva voce schools are is here in that fateful and inexorable

open to the public. But one such exquadrangle, and the buildings which sur- periment will be enough for you, unless round it, that she exercises her most you are very hard-hearted. The sight potent spells over the spirits of her of the long table, behind which sit children. I suppose that a man being Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Co. fulltried for his life must be more uncom- robed, stern of face, soft of speech, fortable than an undergraduate being seizing their victim in turn, now letting examined for his degree, and that to him run a little way as a cat does a be hung-perhaps even to be pilloried mouse, then drawing him back, with

-must be worse than to be plucked. claw of wily question, probing him on But after all, the feelings in both cases this side and that, turning him inside must be essentially the same, only more out-the row of victims opposite, pale intense in the former; and an institu- or flushed, of anxious or careless mien, tion which can examine a man (in literis according to temperament, but one and humanioribus, in humanities so called) all on the rack as they bend over the once a year for two or three days at a alloted paper, or read from the welltime, has nothing to complain of, though thumbed book—the scarcely-less-to-beit has no longer the power of hanging pitied row behind, of future victims, him at once out of hand.

"sitting for the schools” as it is called, The schools' quadrangle is for the ruthlessly

brought hither by statutes, to most part a lonely place. Men pass watch the sufferings they must herethrough the melancholy iron-gates by

after undergo-should fill the friend of which that quadrangle is entered on suffering humanity with thoughts too three sides—from Broad Street, from deep for tears. Through the long day the Ratcliffe, and from New College till four o'clock, or later, the torture Lane-when necessity leads them that lasts. Then the last victim is dismissed; way, with alert step and silently. No the men who are “sitting for the schools” fly all ways to their colleges, silently, in with some jesting remark “ that a fool search of relief to their over-wrought can ask in five minutes more questions feelings-probably also of beer, the than a wise man can answer in a week,” undergraduate's universal specific. The or wish “that the examiners would play beadles close those ruthless doors for a fair, and change sides of the table for mysterious half-hour on the examiners. an hour with the candidates, for a Outside in the quadrangle collect by finish.” But he, too, though he does it twos and threes the friends of the vic- on the sly, is cramming with his coach tims waiting for the re-opening of the at every available spare moment. Hardy door and the distribution of the “testa- had finished his reading a full thirty-six murs.” The testamurs, lady readers will hours before the first day of paper-work, be pleased to understand, are certificates and had braced himself for the actual under the hands of the examiners that struggle by two good nights' rest and a your sons, brothers, husbands perhaps, long day on the river with Tom. He have successfully undergone the torture. had worked hard from the first, and so But, if husbands, oh, go not yourselves, had really mastered his books. And and send not your sons to wait for the now, feeling that he has fairly and testamur of the head of your house ; for honestly done his best, and that if he Oxford has seldom seen a sight over fails it will be either from bad luck or which she would more willingly draw natural incapacity, and not from his the veil with averted face than that of own fault, he manages to keep a cooler the youth rushing wildly, dissolved in head than any of his companions in tears, from the schools' quadrangle, and trouble. shouting, “Mamma ! papa's plucked ; The week's paper-work passes off unpapa's plucked !”

eventfully : then 'comes the viva voce On the occasion at which we have work for the candidates for honours. now arrived, the pass-schools are over They go in, in alphabetical order, four already; the paper-work of the candidates a day, for one more day's work, the for honours has been going on for the hardest of all, and then there is nothing last week. Every morning our three more to do but wait patiently for the St. Ambrose acquaintance have mustered class list. On these days there is a with the rest for the anxious day's good attendance in the inclosed space work, after such breakfasts as they to which the public are admitted. The have been able to eat under the circum- front seats are often occupied by the stances. They take their work in very private tutors of the candidates, who different ways. Grey rushes nervously are there, like Newmarket trainers, to back to his rooms whenever he is out of see the performances of their stables, the schools for ten minutes, to look up marking how each colt bears pressing dates and dodges. He worries himself and comports himself when the pinch sadly over every blunder which he dis- comes. They watch the examiners too, covers himself to have made, and sits carefully, to see what line they take, up nearly all night cramming, always whether science, or history, or scholarhoping for a better to-morrow. Blake ship is likely to tell most, that they keeps up his affected carelessness to the may handle the rest of their starters aclast, quizzing the examiners, laughing cordingly.

cordingly. Behind them, for the most over the shots he has been making in part, on the hindermost benches of the the last paper. His shots, it must be flight of raised steps, anxious younger said, turn out well for the most part; brothers and friends sit, for a few in the taste paper particularly, as they minutes at a time, flitting in and out in compare notes, he seems to have almost much unrest, and making the objects of struck the bull's-eye in his answers to their solicitude more nervous than ever one or two questions which Hardy and by their sympathy. Grey have passed over altogether. When It is now the afternoon of the second he is wide of the mark he passes it off day of the viva voce examinations in honours. Blake is one of the men in. ten years old, and Blake replied, So His tutor, Hardy, Grey, Tom, and other could he. They gave him a paper in St. Ambrose men, have all been in the divinity afterwards, but you could see schools more or less during his exa- there was no chance for him.” mination, and now Hardy and Tom are “Poor fellow! what will he do, do you waiting outside the doors for the issuing think? How will he take it?" of the testamurs.

"I can't tell. But I'm afraid it will The group is small enough. It is so be a very serious matter for him. He much of course that a class-man should was the ablest man in our year too. get his testamur that there is no excite- What a pity!" ment about it; generally the man him- They got into St. Ambrose just as the self stops to receive it.

bell for afternoon chapel was going The only anxious faces in the group down, and went in. Blake was there, are Tom's and Hardy's. They have not and one look showed him what had exchanged a word for the last few happened. In fact he had expected minutes in their short walk before the nothing else all day since his breakdoor. Now the examiners come out down in the Articles. Tom couldn't and walk away towards their colleges, help watching him during chapel, and and the next minute the door again afterwards, on that evening, acknowopens and the clerk of the schools ledged to a friend that whatever else appears with the slips of paper in his you might think of Blake, there was no hand.

doubt about his gameness. “Now you'll see if I'm not right," After chapel he loitered outside the said Hardy, as they gathered to the door door in the quadrangle, talking just as with the rest. “I tell you there isn't usual, and before Hall he loitered on the least chance for him."

the steps in well-feigned carelessness. The clerk read out the names inscribed Everybody else was thinking of his on the testamurs which he held, and breakdown; some with real sorrow and handed them to the owners.

sympathy; others as of any other nine“Haven't you one for Mr. Blake of days wonder-pretty much as if the St. Ambrose ?” said Tom, desperately, as favourite for the Derby had broken the clerk was closing the door.

down; others with ill-concealed triumph, “No, sir; none but those I have just for Blake had many enemies amongst given out,” answered the clerk shaking the men. He himself was conscious his head. The door closed, and they enough of what they were thinking of, turned away in silence for the first but maintained his easy gay manner minute.

through it all, though the effort it cost “I told you how it would be,” said him was tremendous. The only allusion Hardy, as they passed out of the south he made to what had happened which gate into the Ratcliffe Quadrangle. Tom heard was when he asked him to

“But he seemed to be doing so well wine. when I was in."

“Are you engaged to-night, Brown?” “You were not there at the time. I he said. Tom answered in the negative. thought at first they would have sent “Come to me, then," he went on. him out of the schools at once."

“You won't get another chance in St. “In his divinity, wasn't it ?"

Ambrose. I have a few bottles of old “Yes ; he was asked to repeat one of wine left; we may as well floor them : the Articles, and didn't know three they won't bear moving to a Hall with words of it. From that moment I saw it their master.” was all over. The examiner and he both And then he turned to some other lost their tempers, and it went from bad men and asked them, everyone in fact to worse, till the examiner remarked whom he came across, especially the that he could have answered one of the dominant fast set with whom he had questions he was asking when he was chiefly lived. These young gentlemen

on

was

(of whom we had a glimpse at the out- fluous courtesy for the most part. Many set, but whose company we have care- of the men left his rooms considerably fully avoided ever since, seeing that their excited. They had dispersed for an sayings and doings were of a kind of hour or so to billiards, or a stroll in the which the less said the better) had been town, and at ten o'clock reassembled at steadily going on in their way, getting supper parties, of which there were sevemore and more idle, reckless, and inso- ral in college this evening, especially lent. Their doings had been already so a monster one at Chanter's roomsscandalous on several occasions as to a “champagne supper," as he had call for solemn meetings of the college carefully and ostentatiously announced authorities; but, no vigorous measures the cards of invitation. This having followed, such deliberations had flaunting the champagne in their faces only made matters worse, and given the had been resented by Drysdale and men a notion that they could do what others, who drank "his champagne they pleased with impunity. This night in tumblers, and then abused it and the climax had come; it was as though clamoured for beer in the middle of the the flood of misrule had at last supper. Chanter, whose prodigality in broken banks and overflowed the whole some ways was only exceeded by his college.

general meanness, had lost his temper For two hours the wine party in at this demand, and insisted that, if Blake's large ground-floor rooms they wanted beer, they might send for kept up with a wild reckless mirth, in it themselves, for he wouldn't pay for it. keeping with the host's temper. Blake This protest was treated with uproarious was on his mettle. He had asked every contempt, and gallons of ale soon made man with whom he had a speaking ac- their appearance in college jugs and quaintance, as if he wished to face out tankards. The tables were cleared, and his disaster at once to the whole world. songs (most of them of more than doubtMany of the men came feeling uncom- ful character), cigars, and all sorts of fortable, and would sooner have stayed compounded drinks, from claret cup to away and treated the pluck as a real egg flip, succeeded. The company, remisfortune. But after all Blake was cruited constantly as men came into colthe best judge of how he liked it to be lege, was getting more and more excited treated, and, if he had a fancy for giving every minute. The scouts cleared away a great wine on the occasion, the civilest and carried off all relics of the supper, thing to do was to go to it. And so and then left; still the revel went on, they

went, and wondered as much as he till, by midnight, the men were ripe for could desire at the brilliant coolness of any mischief or folly which those among their host, speculating and doubting them who retained any brains at all nevertheless in their own secret hearts could suggest. The signal for breaking whether it wasn't acting after all. Act- up was given by the host's falling from ing it was, no doubt, and not worth the his seat. Some of the men rose with a doing; no acting is. But one must shout to put him to bed, which they acmake allowances. No two men take a complished with difficulty, after dropthing just alike, and very few can sit ping him several times, and left him to down quietly when they have lost a fall snore off the effects of his debauch with in life's wrestle, and say, “Well, here I one of his boots on. Others took to am, beaten no doubt this time. By my doing what mischief occurred to them own fault too. Now, take a good look

in his rooms. One man, mounted on a at me, my good friends, as I know you chair with a cigar in his mouth which all want to do, and say your say out, for had gone out, was employed in pouring I mean getting up again directly and the contents of a champagne bottle with having another turn at it.”

unsteady hand into the clock on the Blake drank freely himself, and urged mantel-piece. Chanter was a particular his guests to drink, which was a super- man in this sort of furniture, and his

It was a

" What are you

clock was rather a specialty.

men commoners' parties. A rush was large bronze figure of Atlas, supporting made towards him. the globe in the shape of a time-piece. “ Halloa, here's Drysdale with lots of Unluckily the maker, not anticipating swag," shouted one. the sort of test to which his work would

going to do with it ?” cried another. be subjected, had ingeniously left the Drysdale paused a moment with the hole for winding up in the top of the peculiarly sapient look of a tipsy man who clock, so that unusual facilities existed has suddenly lost the thread of his ideas, for drowning the world-carrier, and he and then suddenly broke out withwas already almost at his last tick. One “Hang it; I forget. But let's play or two men were morally aiding and at quoits with them." abetting, and physically supporting the The proposal was received with apexperimenter on clocks, who found it plause, and the game began, but Drysdifficult to stand to his work by himself. dale soon left it. He had evidently Another knot of young gentlemen stuck some notion in his head which would to the tables, and so continued to shout not suffer him to turn to anything else out scraps of song, sometimes standing till he had carried it out. He went off on their chairs, and sometimes tumbling accordingly to Chanter's rooms, while off them. Another set were employed the quoits went on in the front quadon the amiable work of pouring beer rangle. and sugar into three new pairs of About this time, however, the Dean polished leather dress boots, with and bursar, and the tutors who lived in coloured tops to them, which they dis- college, began to be conscious that somecovered in the dressing-room. Certainly thing unusual was going on. They were as they remarked, Chanter could have quite used to distant choruses, and great no possible use for so many dress boots noises in the men's rooms, and to a fair at once, and it was a pity the beer should amount of shouting and skylarking in be wasted; but on the whole, perhaps, the quadrangle, and were long-suffering the materials were never meant for com- men not given to interfering ; but there bination, and had better have been kept must be an end to all endurance, and apart. Others had gone away to break the state of things which had arrived into the kitchen, headed by one who could no longer be met by a turn in had just come into college and vowed bed and a growl at the uproars

and he would have some supper; and others, follies of undergraduates. to screw up an unpopular tutor, or to Presently some of the rioters on the break into the rooms of some inoffensive grass caught sight of a figure gliding freshman. The remainder mustered on along the side of the quadrangle towards the grass in the quadrangle, and began the Dean's staircase. A shout arose playing leap-frog and larking one another.

that the enemy was up, but little heed Amongst these last was our hero, who was paid to it by the greater number. had been at Blake's wine and one of Then another figure passed from the the quieter supper parties; and, though Dean's staircase to the porter's lodge. not so far gone as most of his com- Those of the men who had any sense panions, was by no means in a state in left saw that it was time to quit, and, which he would have cared to meet the after warning the rest, went off towards Dean. He lent his hearty aid accord

their rooms. Tom on his way to his ingly to swell the noise and tumult, staircase caught sight of a figure seated which was becoming something out of in a remote corner of the inner quadthe way even for St. Ambrose's. As the rangle, and made for it, impelled by leap-frog was flagging, Drysdale suddenly natural curiosity. He found Drysdale appeared carrying some silver plates seated on the ground with several silver which were used on solemn occasions in tankards by his side, employed to the the common room, and allowed to be best of his powers in digging a hole issued on special application for gentle with one of the college carving-knives.

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