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A bad tutor handicaps an undergraduate just as a bad pupil handicaps a tutor. The best Oxford tutors are men whom it is a real privilege to know and work with. They are full of quiet but contagious enthusiasm and eager to impart their interests to the sincere student. Under the Oxford system the student who is graduate with a high rank has a real mastery of his subject, but more important still, he has a mind capable of thinking for itself.
Into this varied and charming life of Oxford more than a hundred Americans are
privileged to enter each year. Most of these are Rhodes Scholars,1 but there are always others, both men and women. I am not unaware of several violent arraignments of Rhodes Scholars which have lately appeared in the newspapers. These attacks have just enough truth to make them deceptive. Incidents are cited in which Rhodes Scholars have failed to perform their trust; but the evil of these articles is that they present such events as if they were of constant occurrence. The result is that while the incidents may be true individually, yet when they are thus grouped together the reader who does not know the other side of the picture obtains a totally false impression. It is not to be expected that all the American Rhodes Scholars should be successful. But taking them as a whole, I believe it would be difficult to find among a body of equal size so many efficient, observant, and interesting men. Many of them play prominent parts in the interests of the university. Last year an American for the first time played on the 'Varsity Rugby team, and another was president of the O. U. A. A. (which is the office corresponding to an American track-team captaincy). Others were active in debating at the Union. Also the famous Vinerian Law Fellowship was won by an American.
But all the elements of success are not to be judged by the outward signs. You must know the Rhodes Scholar (like any other man) before you can express an opinion about him.
The American Club is a place for the dissemination of American news. Here debates on American affairs are held on Saturday evenings. Nor is the lighter side. of life neglected; for a serious evening often breaks up with ragtime on the long
suffering piano, or an old song. Each year the club arranges a Thanksgiving service, which is conducted by some American minister. In the evening comes a banquet followed by speeches. This last Thanksgiving two of the Americans' greatest friends, Sir James Murray and Professor Walter Raleigh, were the English guests and speakers at the banquet. When Colonel Roosevelt came to Oxford to lecture he was the guest of the club at luncheon. On alternate years the Colonial Club and the American Club entertain each other at an informal reception. The purpose of the American Club, in brief, is to increase the interests of Americans at Oxford, especially in affairs concerning their own country.
From the American students' point of view one of the attractions in going to Oxford is the opportunity afforded for travel. During the six weeks' vacation at Christmas and again at Easter, and the three months in summer, the Americans scatter wherever their inclinations and purses will permit. You will find them in big cities and little villages, in Scotland, in Turkey, in Spain-anywhere. You will meet a familiar figure on the snowy peak of a Swiss mountain or in the Roman Forum; for the American at Oxford is not less fond of travel than other Americans, and often some of his pleasantest memories are of vacations spent with friends in many a strange part of the world.
But not all vacations are spent in travel. According to the Oxford system much of a man's work must be done in vacation. So groups of men depart with boxes of books to some pleasant place in the country in England, or perhaps France, or Germany, to work and enjoy themselves in company. Others will go to London or Paris to work in the libraries there. Sometimes a man does his only serious work on one of these reading-parties. I remember a man in Oxford who, as his examinations approached and he found failure staring him in the face, persuaded his college to let him retire from Oxford to the country during term time in order that he might be quiet and study.
Every Sunday afternoon in Oxford term time you may see undergraduates hastening toward North Oxford, where lies the 1 The Rhodes Scholars number about ninety.
chief residential portion of the city. Here kindly hostesses dispense hospitality and the customary cup of tea to their friends and acquaintances. Here are delightful gardens bright with flowers and shady lawns dotted with shrubbery. In the winter you will be received by the fire, but in summer you may find the household gods temporarily set up in the garden. Often you will meet interesting people of all kinds, not the least interesting of whom is the Oxford professor himself.
Many Americans at Oxford will not easily forget the warm welcome that always awaited them in a certain large family where learning and playing were so inextricably confused that each profited by the other; nor the kind American lady whose small parlor was continually full of callers and who stood always ready to play mother to any American who wanted her. Aside from the residents of Oxford there are often American teachers and visitors working in the great libraries or merely spending a few months of leisure in the fascinating city. The college authorities too are most hospitable. You may break bread with many of them before your course is ended. Nor must I forget the kindly president of a certain college who was himself an oarsman as well as a scholar in his undergraduate days, and who never passes by the achievement of any member of his college without a written or, at least, spoken word of approval.
Such, in brief, is the situation in which the American student at Oxford finds himself. He has the inestimable privilege of being at one of the world centers of learning and culture. Surrounded by antiquity, he treads on historic ground at every step, while the beauties of nature and those made by man constantly remind him that
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Oxford is old-fashioned in the finest sense of that word. Tradition and custom are everywhere. The university is conservative to the core. Masses of dead rules remain on the books, but despite this the university continues to turn out good men, and that is its primary object. Each college has its own special traditions and customs. At Magdalen College one of the most beautiful customs comes at dawn on May-day when the college choir sings a Latin hymn on top of the bell tower. Almost every day in the calendar has its special associations, and past and present events are so pleasantly commingled in one's mind that time comes to have a new and richer significance. One of the pleasantest things about my sojourn at Oxford is that many of the happiest memories are of days in the ordinary routine of life, in the college quadrangle, or the lecture halls, or over a friend's fire of a wintry evening. After all, it is the true test of a place if it can charm in those hours when the current of life flows so evenly that the unobservant are fain to call it monotonous.
The United States is a distinct nation, but its relation with Great Britain is as vital as ever it was. And in nothing is this relationship more vital than in matters of intellect. The American universities are especially adapted to the needs of American undergraduates and it would be a misfortune for a man to miss his opportunities there. But to the graduate of an American college, a man who has some knowledge of American ideals, Oxford offers innumerable benefits. It is an enlightening and inspiring experience to dwell within the walls of this most ancient of all English universities, nor need you return any the less a true American because of your admiration for England and the Englishmen.
N a green outlying corner of the kingdom of Bohemia, one summer afternoon, the Grand-Duke Stanislaus was busy in his garden, swarming a hive of bees. He was a tall middle-aged man of a scholarly, almost priest-like, type, a gentle-mannered recluse, living only in his books and his garden, and much loved by the country-folk for the simple kindness of his heart. He had the most winning of smiles, and a playful wisdom radiated from his wise, rather weary, eyes. No man had ever heard him utter a harsh word; and, indeed, life passed so tranquilly in that green corner of Bohemia, that even less peaceful natures found it hard to be angry. There was so little to be angry about.
Therefore, it was all the stranger to see the good duke suddenly lose his temper this summer afternoon.
"Preposterous!" he exclaimed, "was there ever anything quite so preposterous! To think of interrupting me, at such a moment, with such news!"
He spoke from inside a veil of gauze twisted about his head, after the manner of bee-keepers; and was, indeed, just at that moment, engaged in the delicate operation of transferring a new swarm to another hive.
The necessity of keeping his mind on his task somewhat restored his calm.
"Give the messenger refreshment," he said, "and send for Father Scholasticus." Father Scholasticus was the priest of the village, and the duke's very dear friend.
The reason for this explosion was the news, brought by swiftest courier, that Duke Stanislaus' brother was dead, and that he himself was thus become King of Bohemia.
By the time Father Scholasticus arrived, the bees were housed in their new home, and the duke was seated in his library, among the books that he loved no less than his bees, with various important-looking parchments spread out before him: despatches of state brought to him by the