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"shorts" or "Aannels,” bicycling to their the athletic fields. There are always a various college athletic fields. Several
Several number clad in flannel "bags” and tweed hours later you will see them returning coat (the habitual Oxford uniform) who splashed with mud and eager for a bath walk out in friendly groups into the neighand the inevitable cup of tea. But not all boring country to visit the pretty villages undergraduates spend their afternoons on on the hills around Oxford. Perhaps they will visit Marston with its memories of ing themselves (but nobody else) with Cromwell and his Invincibles, or Cumnor open books make obvious pretense of study. Church with its quaint statue of Queen Punting in these long flat-bottomed punts Elizabeth, or the hill where Shelley used is not as simple as it looks. When the to dream, or the haunts of the Scholar punt reaches the narrowest part of the Gipsy where the pale fritillaries still stream and several boats are passing, it bloom in early spring.
invariably conceives an irresistible desire If you stop in at the Union Society any to go sidewise. A moment later all the afternoon, especially about tea-time, you boats concerned are in collision, and every will find the embryo politicians. Some are one is laughing good-naturedly. Perhaps writing letters in the pleasant writing- you are hastening to reach a favorite part room; some are ransacking the useful lic of the river before opening your luncheon brary for material for Thursday evening basket. There is a sharp snap as your pole debates; others are perusing extensive files breaks under the strain, and as you come of newspapers, or discussing the budget to the surface again and strike out for with a confidence that might be envied by your punt you imagine yourself surrounded the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Here by boats filled with demons grinning sarare men who will eagerly inform you how donically at your discomfiture. A little many Prime Ministers obtained their first later perhaps your wounded pride is salved training at the Union. Nor must the older by the sight of a wretched man clinging to members of the society (no longer under- . the top of an upright pole and settling graduates) be overlooked, especially that slowly but surely into the river. portly person who, while industriously If you are wise you will spend an afterreading one newspaper, is at the same time noon in early spring on the Cher. The quietly sitting on several others.
river is still high along its banks and the The book-shops which abound in Ox- overhanging willow-trees are misty in the ford largely take the place of libraries. distance. The air. is still too sharp for Here books of all kinds are available from loitering in the pleasant summer fashion, the numerous cheap but excellent editions but this is the time of year when you shall to large hand-tooled morocco bindings. If meet pleasant surprises at every turn of you step into one of these book-shops at the winding stream. One day last spring any time of day, you will find men looking a friend and I were gliding softly along at books. Here undergraduate and pro- in that delightfully adventurous frame of fessor meet on the ground of common in- mind that can only be described as the exterest and equal footing, and often you pectation of the unexpected. Suddenly will see them in a quiet corner discussing there was a splashing of water mingled various new publications.
with inarticulate cries, and a great white To take life easy, which is familiarly creature hurtled through the water in our known in Oxford as "slacking,” is one of direction. When we recovered our comthose virtues so subtle that it borders upon posure after a hasty flight and reconnoivice. At the right time there is nothing tered the position from a safe distance, we more delightful and profitable, but as a observed his serene gracefulness the white continuous habit of mind there is nothing swan floating placidly on the water but more demoralizing. There is no doubt casting an indignant eye toward our harmthat the spring term is the season when less canoe. On the green point of an island the slacker is most in evidence. There is not far away we saw the victim of our instill plenty of tennis and cricket, and nocent intrusion. The mate of his serene training for May Eights is in full swing, gracefulness was sitting on her nest and but every pleasant afternoon the Cher and watching with some trepidation the outIsis swarm with punts and canoes. Men come of this episode. lie at their ease on comfortable cushions Later in the spring, when the passing of while others only less idle than they wield boats was a frequent occurrence, the swans the pole or paddle. Boatloads of girl stu- grew accustomed to the disturbance, and dents from the various Halls swing by although a watchful bird usually floated with oars bristling out at every angle. In on the water between the boat and the the delicate green shade under the willow- brooding mate, there was no fear of an trees boats are moored and idlers deceiv- attack. When the pink and white hawthorns were in full bloom along the banks, delicate cuckoo-flower along the banks, or one of the pleasantest sights of the river heard the rapturous skylark above the was to see the two stately swans paddling sunny meadows; you must have read your easily up the current while seven Auffy favorite book of poetry and mused quietly cygnets with bright black eyes scuttled in the contemplation of beauty. anxiously along between them. There are Life inside an Oxford college is full of
“BAREHEADED UNDERGRADUATES IN SHORTS' OR 'FLANNELS,'
BICYCLING TO THEIR VARIOUS COLLEGE
many thousands of these beautiful birds interest and occasionally of noise. There living on the Thames and its tributaries. are nights when all the undergraduates As of old, they are still owned by the assemble to celebrate some athletic victory. Crown and the ancient companies of dyers Perhaps your college has won some races and vintners. Every August "swan-up- on the Isis. There is a dinner in the colpings" are held, and the young birds are lege that night with a few guests from caught and marked with the sign of owner- other colleges. Wine is supplied from the ship on the upper mandible.
college cellars. There are speeches and But it is impossible to describe the charm plenty of laughter, and finally a bonfire at of Oxford waterways. To appreciate their which every one dances hilariously around fascination you must have seen the first the quadrangle. Fireworks are let off.
Some daring spirit leaps across the bonfire, Perhaps they are all well over, but the others follow. Long lines of joyful un- ground on the other side falls sharply dergraduates waltz around the college away. Horses are on their knees and ridcloisters. Some Scotchman appears blow- ers sprawl in the mud. But the horses are ing the bagpipes. As if moved by one im- caught and the riders mount and scurry pulse, the college falls solemnly into line away after the leaders. Sometimes the and marches after him till some new thing winner himself is besmeared with the telltakes their fancy and they scatter all tale marks. through the quadrangles. At last weari- After you have seen the Oxford underness and sleep fall upon the rioters and graduate under all these varied circumthe bonfire smolders into ashes in the dark- stances of his life, working, exercising his ened quadrangle, while the gargoyles no delight in sports, or idling, you will indoubt discuss the antics of undergraduate deed be a strange man if you are not irrelife from an experience of several hundred sistibly attracted toward your cousin. years.
Disagreeable men are here as well as elseAs soon as you arrive at college you will where, and of snobbish men more than a learn the importance of the "scout" or fair proportion. But if one of your acservant who is to guard your physical quaintances cuts you dead in the college well-being. If he lights your study fire quadrangle, there is not sufficient reason only on warm mornings, or neglects to to set him down as a snob. Often it is keep your cupboard filled as you have told due to shyness. But sometimes there is no him, or upsets the ink all over your table, mistake of his intention and all your demoyou may settle down to a life of misery. cratic blood rushes to your face as you But usually he is satisfactory and even in- realize the full force of Tennyson's lines: valuable. Often he has little idiosyncrasies just like the dons whom he tries to
Gorgonized me from head to foot imitate. Sometimes he becomes possessed
With a stony British stare. with the idea that your life needs reforming, and as you look over your letters you The Oxford undergraduate is less effuwill find a tract concealed among them. sive than the American. Fight through a Occasionally he is gifted with a conscience Princeton Freshman-Sophomore rush, and that would do credit to a saint. Like the if you are laid up with a black eye or a don the scout is in the continuous line of twisted muscle, you will find classmates, college tradition, for while undergraduates total strangers to you, shouting up at your come and undergraduates go, he abides windows the next morning to wish you through many generations, and sometimes quick recovery. At Oxford the under(alas, for paternal dignity!) will inforın graduate makes acquaintances and friends you of certain enlightening episodes of pre- more slowly. But for all his quietness and vious years.
caution he is none the less a good fellow, How deeply the love of sports is inbred in and, once your friend, he stands by you the Englishman is apparent from his term with the stanchness of your real American of approval. If you take your luck as it college friends. comes, following hard after your purpose
One of the first persons you meet on regardless of details, you will be known as coming to an Oxford college is your tutor. a “sportsman.” The typical Oxford rid- As an American at Oxford you are preing undergraduate is not much of a stu- sumed to be in serious pursuit of wisdom. dent. He is often in hot water with his Hence you must take an Honor School. college dons. It is on such occasions as Let us suppose that you are to try for the yearly college "grinds" that his quali- the B.A. degree, and have passed the first ties come out. Here are gathered under- set of examinations. You now come to graduate riders and spectators from sev- the final stage of your journey toward the eral colleges, as well as farmers and coun- degree and your work is concentrated in try folk from the neighborhood. The one general field. Perhaps it is that famous ground is often slippery with thick Ox- Oxford school of Litteræ Humaniores (fafordshire mud. But the races are not miliarly known as “Greats”) in which lacking in dash. Here the field sweeps up you study ancient history, philosophy, a gentle incline to a low jump at the top. Greek, and Latin. A certain number of examination papers will be set, the general His chief faults are two. He is sometimes scope of which is defined. Your tutor's hasty in his judgment of your powers, and object is to prepare you for these examina- having made up his mind (for example) tions, for on the examinations alone does that you have only the ability to take a your degree depend. Whether or not you fourth class in the examinations, he occashall attend many lectures is a matter of sionally neglects you for your more brilprivate settlement between you and your liant fellow-student. His second fault is college, or rather between you and your more serious and fortunately is rare.
tutor. Work is adjusted to individual Sometimes an undergraduate finds himself needs. If you learn more from lectures working with a tutor who, although a than in a library, your tutor will ask good scholar, is certainly not a good you to attend many lectures. But at- teacher. A man who has a large fund of tendance at lectures is rarely marked, and information on a certain subject is not necthere is no fixed number of classes to be essarily a teacher; and sometimes a man attended each week.
Your tutor will with less information than he is more able advise you to read certain books, he will to inspire enthusiasm in students and acask you to write essays on various topics, complish the desired results. and he will call upon you to test your Thus it is apparent how much depends knowledge by taking trial examinations. individually on the tutor and the student.