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"shorts" or "flannels," bicycling to their various college athletic fields. Several hours later you will see them returning splashed with mud and eager for a bath and the inevitable cup of tea. But not all undergraduates spend their afternoons on
the athletic fields. There are always a number clad in flannel "bags" and tweed coat (the habitual Oxford uniform) who walk out in friendly groups into the neighboring country to visit the pretty villages on the hills around Oxford. Perhaps they
will visit Marston with its memories of Cromwell and his Invincibles, or Cumnor Church with its quaint statue of Queen Elizabeth, or the hill where Shelley used to dream, or the haunts of the Scholar Gipsy where the pale fritillaries still bloom in early spring.
If you stop in at the Union Society any afternoon, especially about tea-time, you will find the embryo politicians. Some are writing letters in the pleasant writingroom; some are ransacking the useful library for material for Thursday evening debates; others are perusing extensive files of newspapers, or discussing the budget with a confidence that might be envied by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Here are men who will eagerly inform you how many Prime Ministers obtained their first training at the Union. Nor must the older members of the society (no longer undergraduates) be overlooked, especially that portly person who, while industriously reading one newspaper, is at the same time quietly sitting on several others.
ing themselves (but nobody else) with
If you are wise you will spend an afternoon in early spring on the Cher. The river is still high along its banks and the overhanging willow-trees are misty in the distance. The air is still too sharp for loitering in the pleasant summer fashion, but this is the time of year when you shall meet pleasant surprises at every turn of the winding stream. One day last spring a friend and I were gliding softly along in that delightfully adventurous frame of mind that can only be described as the expectation of the unexpected. Suddenly there was a splashing of water mingled with inarticulate cries, and a great white creature hurtled through the water in our direction. When we recovered our composure after a hasty flight and reconnoitered the position from a safe distance, we observed his serene gracefulness the white swan floating placidly on the water but casting an indignant eye toward our harmless canoe. On the green point of an island not far away we saw the victim of our innocent intrusion. The mate of his serene gracefulness was sitting on her nest and watching with some trepidation the outcome of this episode.
Later in the spring, when the passing of boats was a frequent occurrence, the swans grew accustomed to the disturbance, and although a watchful bird usually floated on the water between the boat and the brooding mate, there was no fear of an attack, When the pink and white haw
The book-shops which abound in Oxford largely take the place of libraries. Here books of all kinds are available from the numerous cheap but excellent editions to large hand-tooled morocco bindings. If you step into one of these book-shops at any time of day, you will find men looking at books. Here undergraduate and professor meet on the ground of common interest and equal footing, and often you will see them in a quiet corner discussing various new publications.
To take life easy, which is familiarly known in Oxford as "slacking," is one of those virtues so subtle that it borders upon vice. At the right time there is nothing more delightful and profitable, but as a continuous habit of mind there is nothing more demoralizing. There is no doubt that the spring term is the season when the slacker is most in evidence. There is still plenty of tennis and cricket, and training for May Eights is in full swing, but every pleasant afternoon the Cher and Isis swarm with punts and canoes. Men lie at their ease on comfortable cushions while others only less idle than they wield the pole or paddle. Boatloads of girl students from the various Halls swing by with oars bristling out at every angle. In the delicate green shade under the willowtrees boats are moored and idlers deceiv
"BAREHEADED UNDERGRADUATES IN SHORTS' OR 'FLANNELS,' BICYCLING TO THEIR VARIOUS COLLEGE ATHLETIC FIELDS"
many thousands of these beautiful birds living on the Thames and its tributaries. As of old, they are still owned by the Crown and the ancient companies of dyers and vintners. Every August "swan-uppings" are held, and the young birds are caught and marked with the sign of ownership on the upper mandible.
But it is impossible to describe the charm of Oxford waterways. To appreciate their fascination you must have seen the first
interest and occasionally of noise. There are nights when all the undergraduates assemble to celebrate some athletic victory. Perhaps your college has won some races on the Isis. There is a dinner in the college that night with a few guests from other colleges. Wine is supplied from the college cellars. There are speeches and plenty of laughter, and finally a bonfire at which every one dances hilariously around the quadrangle. Fireworks are let off.
Some daring spirit leaps across the bonfire,
As soon as you arrive at college you will learn the importance of the "scout" or servant who is to guard your physical well-being. If he lights your study fire only on warm mornings, or neglects to keep your cupboard filled as you have told him, or upsets the ink all over your table, you may settle down to a life of misery. But usually he is satisfactory and even invaluable. Often he has little idiosyncrasies just like the dons whom he tries to imitate. Sometimes he becomes possessed with the idea that your life needs reforming, and as you look over your letters you will find a tract concealed among them. Occasionally he is gifted with a conscience that would do credit to a saint. Like the don the scout is in the continuous line of college tradition, for while undergraduates come and undergraduates go, he abides through many generations, and sometimes (alas, for paternal dignity!) will inform you of certain enlightening episodes of previous years.
Perhaps they are all well over, but the
After you have seen the Oxford undergraduate under all these varied circumstances of his life, working, exercising his delight in sports, or idling, you will indeed be a strange man if you are not irresistibly attracted toward your cousin. Disagreeable men are here as well as elsewhere, and of snobbish men more than a fair proportion. But if one of your acquaintances cuts you dead in the college quadrangle, there is not sufficient reason to set him down as a snob. Often it is due to shyness. But sometimes there is no mistake of his intention and all your democratic blood rushes to your face as you realize the full force of Tennyson's lines:
How deeply the love of sports is inbred in the Englishman is apparent from his term of approval. If you take your luck as it comes, following hard after your purpose regardless of details, you will be known as a "sportsman." The typical Oxford riding undergraduate is not much of a student. He is often in hot water with his college dons. It is on such occasions as the yearly college "grinds" that his qualities come out. Here are gathered undergraduate riders and spectators from several colleges, as well as farmers and country folk from the neighborhood. The ground is often slippery with thick Oxfordshire mud. But the races are not lacking in dash. Here the field sweeps up a gentle incline to a low jump at the top.
Gorgonized me from head to foot
The Oxford undergraduate is less effusive than the American. Fight through a Princeton Freshman-Sophomore rush, and if you are laid up with a black eye or a twisted muscle, you will find classmates, total strangers to you, shouting up at your windows the next morning to wish you quick recovery. At Oxford the undergraduate makes acquaintances and friends more slowly. But for all his quietness and caution he is none the less a good fellow, and, once your friend, he stands by you with the stanchness of your real American college friends.
One of the first persons you meet on coming to an Oxford college is your tutor. As an American at Oxford you are presumed to be in serious pursuit of wisdom. Hence you must take an Honor School. Let us suppose that you are to try for the B.A. degree, and have passed the first set of examinations. You now come to the final stage of your journey toward the degree and your work is concentrated in one general field. Perhaps it is that famous Oxford school of Litteræ Humaniores (familiarly known as "Greats") in which you study ancient history, philosophy, Greek, and Latin. A certain number of
tutor. Work is adjusted to individual needs. If you learn more from lectures than in a library, your tutor will ask you to attend many lectures. But attendance at lectures is rarely marked, and there is no fixed number of classes to be attended each week. Your tutor will advise you to read certain books, he will ask
Sometimes an undergraduate finds himself working with a tutor who, although a good scholar, is certainly not a good teacher. A man who has a large fund of information on a certain subject is not necessarily a teacher; and sometimes a man with less information than he is more able to inspire enthusiasm in students and accomplish the desired results.
Thus it is apparent how much depends.
you to write essays on various topics, and he will call upon you to test your knowledge by taking trial examinations. individually on the tutor and the student.