HotFreeBooks.com
The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green
by Cuthbert Bede
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Note: With the use of a text-to-speech player and the hard copies of the original editions themselves, this revised electronic edition has been specifically conformed as regards spelling, punctuation and content to the 1853, 1854 and 1857 first editions (save frontispiece and the c1923 edition introductory remarks and page headings, which have been retained here. The first editions' frontispiece have the quotation: ' "A college joke to cure the dumps" -Swift.'). The first editions differ in minor respects not only from the popular c1923 Herbert Jenkins edition from which version 1.0 was prepared but also as between themselves; e.g. "number" in the second sentence of Part I., Chapter One of the first edition becomes "name" in the corresponding part of the 1853 third edition; minor inconsistencies in spelling occur (e.g. "shew" in Part I is spelt "show" later in the work; "Gig-lamps" in Part I becomes "Giglamps" in Parts II and III; etc). Where the first editions contain clear typographical errors which have been corrected in the Herbert Jenkins or other editions, these corrections (very few in number) are indicated in the narrative below by brackets.



THE ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN

BY CUTHBERT BEDE



[NB this e-text contains corrections to the Herbert Jenkins edition made by reference to the consolidated version held by The British Library which combines the first editions of each of the three parts originally published 1853-7. Greek letters in the original are rendered in Roman script and designated: "{ }". Italics are indicated: "~". The illustrations are designated "". The introductory remarks below appear only in the Herbert Jenkins edition, not in the several originals.]



[1 ]

THE ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN



[2 ]

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT

"Let the poker be heated" were the fearful words which greeted Mr. Verdant Green on his initiation into a spoof Lodge of Freemasonry at Oxford. This was one of the many "rags" of which he was the butt during his days at the university.

In this humorous classic there is told the story of a very raw youth's introduction to university life, of fights between "town and gown," escapes from proctors, wiles of bed-makers, days on the river, or on and off horseback, and nights when "he kept his spirits up by pouring spirits down."

These amusing experiences and diverting mishaps of an Oxford Freshman need no introduction to a public that has already read and laughed over them many times before.

The great feature of the volume is that it contains the whole 188 illustrations originally contributed by the Author.



[3 ] THE ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN

BY

CUTHBERT BEDE



WITH 188 ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR





HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED 3 YORK STREET LONDON S.W.1



[4 ] A HERBERT JENKINS' BOOK



Printed in Great Britain by Garden City Press, Letchworth.

[5 ] CONTENTS

PART I

CHAP. PAGE

I MR. VERDANT GREEN'S RELATIVES AND ANTECEDENTS ........7

II MR. VERDANT GREEN IS TO BE AN OXFORD FRESHMAN ........14

III MR. VERDANT GREEN LEAVES THE HOME OF HIS ANCESTORS ...21

IV MR. VERDANT GREEN BECOMES AN OXFORD UNDERGRADUATE ....33

V MR. VERDANT GREEN MATRICULATES, AND MAKES A SENSATION ...........................................41

VI MR. VERDANT GREEN DINES, BREAKFASTS, AND GOES TO CHAPEL ...............................................51

VII MR. VERDANT GREEN CALLS ON A GENTLEMAN WHO "IS LICENSED TO SELL" ...................................6l

VIII MR. VERDANT GREEN'S MORNING REFLECTIONS ARE NOT SO PLEASANT AS HIS EVENING DIVERSIONS ...............72

IX MR. VERDANT GREEN ATTENDS LECTURES, AND, IN DESPITE OF SERMONS, HAS DEALINGS WITH FILTHY LUCRE ..........83

X MR. VERDANT GREEN REFORMS HIS TAILOR'S BILLS AND RUNS UP OTHERS. HE ALSO APPEARS IN A RAPID ACT OF HORSEMANSHIP, AND FINDS ISIS COOL IN SUMMER ......92

XI MR. VERDANT GREEN'S SPORTS AND PASTIMES .............103

XII MR. VERDANT GREEN TERMINATES HIS EXISTENCE AS AN OXFORD FRESHMAN .....................................114

PART II

I MR. VERDANT GREEN RECOMMENCES HIS EXISTENCE AS AN OXFORD UNDERGRADUATE .............................123

II MR. VERDANT GREEN DOES AS HE HAS BEEN DONE BY .......126

III MR. VERDANT GREEN ENDEAVOURS TO KEEP HIS SPIRITS UP BY POURING SPIRITS DOWN ..........................134

IV MR. VERDANT GREEN DISCOVERS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOWN AND GOWN ........................................145

[6 CONTENTS]

CHAP. PAGE

V MR. VERDANT GREEN IS FAVOURED WITH MR BOUNCER'S OPINIONS REGARDING AN UNDER-GRADUATE'S EPISTOLARY COMMUNICATIONS TO HIS MATERNAL RELATIVE ..157

VI MR. VERDANT GREEN FEATHERS HIS OARS WITH SKILL AND DEXTERITY .......................................167

VII MR. VERDANT GREEN PARTAKES OF A DOVE-TART AND A SPREAD-EAGLE .......................................176

VIII MR. VERDANT GREEN SPENDS A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR ....................................184

IX MR. VERDANT GREEN MAKES HIS FIRST APPEARANCE ON ANY BOARDS ...........................................191

X MR. VERDANT GREEN ENJOYS A REAL CIGAR ...............202

XI MR. VERDANT GREEN GETS THROUGH HIS SMALLS ...........209

XII MR. VERDANT GREEN AND HIS FRIENDS ENJOY THE COMMEMORATION .......................................2l8

PART III

I MR. VERDANT GREEN TRAVELS NORTH .....................222

II MR. VERDANT GREEN DELIVERS MISS PATTY HONEYWOOD FROM THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA .........................227

III MR. VERDANT GREEN STUDIES YE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF YE NATYVES .......................................238

IV MR. VERDANT GREEN ENDEAVOURS TO SAY SNIP TO SOME ONE'S SNAP .......................................243

V MR. VERDANT GREEN MEETS WITH THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER .............................................251

VI MR. VERDANT GREEN JOINS A NORTHUMBERLAND PIC-NIC .............................................258

VII MR. VERDANT GREEN HAS AN INKLING OF THE FUTURE ......265

VIII MR. VERDANT GREEN CROSSES THE RUBICON ...............271

IX MR. VERDANT GREEN ASKS PAPA .........................280

X MR. VERDANT GREEN IS MADE A MASON ...................288

XI MR. VERDANT GREEN BREAKFASTS WITH MR. BOUNCER, AND ENTERS FOR A GRIND .............................297

XII MR. VERDANT GREEN TAKES HIS DEGREE ..................302

XIII MR. VERDANT GREEN IS MARRIED AND DONE FOR ...........309

[7 ] THE ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN.

CHAPTER I.

MR. VERDANT GREEN'S RELATIVES AND ANTECEDENTS.

IF you will refer to the unpublished volume of "Burke's Landed Gentry", and turn to letter G, article "GREEN," you will see that the Verdant Greens are a family of some respectability and of considerable antiquity. We meet with them as early as 1096, flocking to the Crusades among the followers of Peter the Hermit, when one of their number, Greene surnamed the Witless, mortgaged his lands in order to supply his poorer companions with the sinews of war. The family estate, however, appears to have been redeemed and greatly increased by his great-grandson, Hugo de Greene, but was again jeoparded in the year 1456, when Basil Greene, being commissioned by Henry the Sixth to enrich his sovereign by discovering the philosopher's stone, squandered the greater part of his fortune in unavailing experiments; while his son, who was also infected with the spirit of the age, was blown up in his laboratory when just on the point of discovering the elixir of life. It seems to have been about this time that the Greenes became connected by marriage with the equally old family of the Verdants; and, in the year 1510, we find a Verdant Greene as justice of the peace for the county of Warwick, presiding at the trial of three decrepid old women, who, being found guilty of transforming themselves into cats, and in that shape attending the nightly assemblies of evil spirits, were very properly pronounced by him to be witches, and were burnt with all due solemnity.

In tracing the records of the family, we do not find that any of its members attained to great eminence in the state, either in the counsels of the senate or the active services of the field; or that they amassed any unusual amount of wealth or landed property. But we may perhaps ascribe these circumstances to the fact of finding the Greens, generation after generation, made the dupes of more astute minds, and when the hour of

[8 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

danger came, left to manage their own affairs in the best way they could, - a way that commonly ended in their mismanagement and total confusion. Indeed, the idiosyncrasy of the family appears to have been so well known, that we continually meet with them performing the character of catspaw to some monkey who had seen and understood much more of the world than they had, - putting their hands to the fire, and only finding out their mistake when they had burned their fingers.

In this way the family of the Verdant Greens never got beyond a certain point either in wealth or station, but were always the same unsuspicious, credulous, respectable, easy-going people in one century as another, with the same boundless confidence in their fellow-creatures, and the same readiness to oblige society by putting their names to little bills, merely for form's and friendship's sake. The Vavasour Verdant Green, with the slashed velvet doublet and point-lace fall, who (having a well-stocked purse) was among the favoured courtiers of the Merry Monarch, and who allowed that monarch in his merriness to borrow his purse, with the simple I.O.U. of "Odd's fish! you shall take mine to-morrow!" and who never (of course) saw the sun rise on the day of repayment, was but the prototype of the Verdant Greens in the full-bottomed wigs, and buckles and shorts of George I.'s day, who were nearly beggared by the bursting of the Mississippi Scheme and South-Sea Bubble; and these, in their turn, were duly represented by their successors. And thus the family character was handed down with the family nose, until they both re-appeared (according to the veracious chronicle of Burke, to which we have referred) in "VERDANT GREEN, of the Manor Green, Co. Warwick, Gent., who married Mary, only surviving child of Samuel Sappey, Esq., of Sapcot Hall, Co. Salop; by whom he has issue, one son, and three daughters: Mary,-VERDANT,-Helen,-Fanny."

Mr. Burke is unfeeling enough to give the dates when this bunch of Greens first made their appearance in the world; but these dates we withhold, from a delicate regard to personal feelings, which will be duly appreciated by those who have felt the sacredness of their domestic hearth to be tampered with by the obtrusive impertinences of a census-paper.

It is sufficient for our purpose to say, that our hero, Mr. Verdant Green, junior, was born much in the same way as other folk. And although pronounced by Mrs. Toosypegs his nurse, when yet in the first crimson blush of his existence, to be "a perfect progidy, mum, which I ought to be able to pronounce, 'avin nuss'd a many parties through their trouble, and being aweer of what is doo to a Hinfant," - yet we are not aware that his debut on the stage of life, although thus applauded

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 9]

by such a clacqueur as the indiscriminating Toosypegs, was announced to the world at large by any other means than the notices in the county papers, and the six-shilling advertisement in the Times.

"Progidy" though he was, even as a baby, yet Mr. Verdant Green's nativity seems to have been chronicled merely in this everyday manner, and does not appear to have been accompanied by any of those more monstrous phenomena, which in earlier ages attended the production of a genuine prodigy. We are not aware that Mrs. Green's favourite Alderney spoke on that occasion, or conducted itself otherwise than as unaccustomed to public speaking as usual. Neither can we verify the assertion of the intelligent Mr. Mole the gardener, that the plaster Apollo in the Long Walk was observed to be bathed in a profuse perspiration, either from its feeling compelled to keep up the good old classical custom, or because the weather was damp. Neither are we bold enough to entertain an opinion that the chickens in the poultry-yard refused their customary food; or that the horses in the stable shook with trembling fear; or that any thing, or any body, saving and excepting Mrs. Toosypegs, betrayed any consciousness that a real and genuine prodigy had been given to the world.

However, during the first two years of his life, which were passed chiefly in drinking, crying, and sleeping, Mr. Verdant Green met with as much attention, and received as fair a share of approbation, as usually falls to the lot of the most favoured of infants. Then Mrs. Toosypegs again took up her position in the house, and his reign was over. Faithful to her mission, she pronounced the new baby to be the "progidy," and she was believed. But thus it is all through life; the new baby displaces the old; the second love supplants the first; we find fresh friends to shut out the memories of former ones; and in nearly everything we discover that there is a Number 2 which can put out of joint the nose of Number 1.

Once more the shadow of Mrs. Toosypegs fell upon the walls of Manor Green; and then, her mission being accomplished, she passed away for ever; and our hero was left to be the sole son and heir, and the prop and pride of the house of Green.

And if it be true that the external forms of nature exert a hidden but powerful sway over the dawning perceptions of the mind, and shape its thoughts to harmony with the things around, then most certainly ought Mr. Verdant Green to have been born a poet; for he grew up amid those scenes whose immortality is, that they inspired the soul of Shakespeare with his deathless fancies!

The Manor Green was situated in one of the loveliest spots in all Warwickshire; a county so rich in all that constitutes the

[10 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

picturesqueness of a true English landscape. Looking from the drawing-room windows of the house, you saw in the near foreground the pretty French garden, with its fantastic parti-coloured beds, and its broad gravelled walks and terrace; proudly promenading which, or perched on the stone balustrade might be seen perchance a peacock flaunting his beauties in the sun. Then came the carefully kept gardens, bounded on the one side by the Long Walk and a grove of shrubs and oaks; and on the other side by a double avenue of stately elms, that led, through velvet turf of brightest green, down past a little rustic lodge, to a gently sloping valley, where were white walls and rose-clustered gables of cottages peeping out from the embosoming trees, that betrayed the village beauties they seemed loth to hide. Then came the grey church-tower, dark with shrouding ivy; then another clump of stately elms, tenanted by cawing rooks; then a yellow stretch of bright meadow-land, dappled over with browsing kine knee-deep in grass and flowers; then a deep pool that mirrored all, and shone like silver; then more trees with floating shade, and homesteads rich in wheat-stacks; then a willowy brook that sparkled on merrily to an old mill-wheel, whose slippery stairs it lazily got down, and sank to quiet rest in the stream below; then came, crowding in rich profusion, wide-spreading woods and antlered oaks; and golden gorse and purple heather; and sunny orchards, with their dark-green waves that in Spring foamed white with blossoms; and then gently swelling hills that rose to close the scene and frame the picture.

Such was the view from the Manor Green. And full of inspiration as such a scene was, yet Mr. Verdant Green never accomplished (as far as poetical inspiration was concerned) more than an "Address to the Moon," which he could just as well have written in any other part of the country, and which, commencing with the noble aspiration,

"O moon, that shinest in the heaven so blue, I only wish that I could shine like you!"

and terminating with one of those fine touches of nature which rise superior to the trammels of ordinary versification,

"But I to bed must be going soon, So I will not address thee more, O moon!"

will no doubt go down to posterity in the Album of his sister Mary.

For the first fourteen years of his life, the education of Mr. Verdant Green was conducted wholly under the shadow of his paternal roof, upon principles fondly imagined to be the soundest and purest for the formation of his character. Mrs. Green, who was as good and motherly a soul as ever lived,

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 11]

was yet (as we have shown) one of the Sappeys of Sapcot, a family that were not renowned either for common sense or worldly wisdom, and her notions of a boy's education were of that kind laid down by her favourite poet, Cowper, in his "Tirocinium" that we are

"Well-tutor'd only while we share A mother's lectures and a nurse's care;"

and in her horror of all other kind of instruction (not that she admitted Mrs. Toosypegs to her counsels), she fondly kept Master Verdant at her own apron-strings. The task of teaching his young idea how to shoot was committed chiefly to his sisters' governess, and he regularly took his place with them in the school-room. These daily exercises and mental drillings were subject to the inspection of their maiden-aunt, Miss Virginia Verdant, a first cousin of Mr. Green's, who had come to visit at the Manor during Master Verdant's infancy, and had remained there ever since; and this generalship was crowned with such success, that her nephew grew up the girlish companion of his sisters, with no knowledge of boyish sports, and no desire for them.

The motherly and spinsterial views regarding his education were favoured by the fact that he had no playmates of his own sex and age; and since his father was an only child, and his mother's brothers had died in their infancy, there were no cousins to initiate him into the mysteries of boyish games and feelings. Mr. Green was a man who only cared to live a quiet, easy-going life, and would have troubled himself but little about his neighbours, if he had had any; but the Manor Green lay in an agricultural district, and, saving the Rectory, there was no other large house for miles around. The rector's wife, Mrs. Larkyns, had died shortly after the birth of her first child, a son, who was being educated at a public school; and this was enough, in Mrs. Green's eyes, to make a too intimate acquaintance between her boy and Master Larkyns a thing by no means to be desired. With her favourite poet she would say,

"For public schools, 'tis public folly feeds;"

and, regarding them as the very hotbeds of all that is wrong, she would turn a deaf, though polite, ear to the rector whenever he said, "Why don't you let your Verdant go with my Charley? Charley is three years older than Verdant, and would take him under his wing." Mrs. Green would as soon think of putting one of her chickens under the wing of a hawk, as intrusting the innocent Verdant to the care of the scape-grace Charley; so she still persisted in her own system of education, despite all that the rector could advise to the contrary.

[12 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

As for Master Verdant, he was only too glad at his mother's decision, for he partook of all her alarm about public schools, though from a different cause. It was not very often that he visited at the Rectory during Master Charley's holidays; but when he did, that young gentleman favoured him with such accounts of the peculiar knack the second master possessed of finding out all your tenderest places when he "licked a feller" for a false quantity, "that, by Jove! you couldn't sit down for a fortnight without squeaking;" and of the jolly mills they used to have with the town cads, who would lie in wait for you, and half kill you if they caught you alone; and of the fun it was to make a junior form fag for you, and do all your dirty work; - that Master Verdant's hair would almost stand on end at such horrors, and he would gasp for very dread lest such should ever be his dreadful doom.

And then Master Charley would take a malicious pleasure in consoling him, by saying, "Of course, you know, you'll only have to fag for the first two or three years; then - if you get into the fourth form - you'll be able to have a fag for yourself. And it's awful fun, I can tell you, to see the way some of the fags get riled at cricket! You get a feller to give you a few balls, just for practice, and you hit the ball into another feller's ground; and then you tell your fag to go and pick it up. So he goes to do it, when the other feller sings out, 'Don't touch that ball, or I'll lick you!' So you tell the fag to come to you, and you say, 'Why don't you do as I tell you?' And he says, 'Please, sir!' and then the little beggar blubbers. So you say to him, 'None of that, sir! Touch your toes!' We always make 'em wear straps on purpose. And then his trousers go tight and beautiful, and you take out your strap and warm him! And then he goes to get the ball, and the other feller sings out, 'I told you to let that ball alone! Come here, sir! Touch your toes!' So he warms him too; and then we go on all jolly. It's awful fun, I can tell you!"

Master Verdant would think it awful indeed; and, by his own fireside, would recount the deeds of horror to his trembling mother and sisters, whose imagination shuddered at the scenes from which they hoped their darling would be preserved.

Perhaps Master Charley had his own reasons for making matters worse than they really were; but, as long as the information he derived concerning public schools was of this description, so long did Master Verdant Green feel thankful at being kept away from them. He had a secret dread, too, of his friend's superior age and knowledge; and in his presence felt a bashful awe that made him glad to get back from the Rectory to his own sisters; while Master Charley, on the other hand, entertained a lad's contempt for one that could not fire

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 13]

off a gun, or drive a cricket-ball, or jump a ditch without falling into it. So the Rectory and the Manor Green lads saw but very little of each other; and, while the one went through his public-school course, the other was brought up at the women's apron-string.

But though thus put under petticoat government, Mr. Verdant Green was not altogether freed from those tyrants of youth, - the dead languages. His aunt Virginia was as learned a Blue as her esteemed ancestress in the court of Elizabeth, the very Virgin Queen of Blues; and under her guidance Master Verdant was dragged with painful diligence through the first steps of the road that was to take him to Parnassus. It was a great sight to see her sitting stiff and straight, - with her wonderfully undeceptive "false front" of (somebody else's) black hair, graced on either side by four sausage-looking curls, - as, with spectacles on nose and dictionary in hand, she instructed her nephew in those ingenuous arts which should soften his manners, and not permit him to be brutal. And, when they together entered upon the romantic page of Virgil (which was the extent of her classical reading), nothing would delight her more than to declaim their sonorous Arma-virumque-cano lines, where the intrinsic qualities of the verse surpassed the quantities that she gave to them.

Fain would Miss Virginia have made Virgil the end and aim of an educational existence, and so have kept her pupil entirely under her own care; but, alas! she knew nothing further; she had no acquaintance with Greek, and she had never flirted with Euclid; and the rector persuaded Mr. Green that these were indispensable to a boy's education. So, when Mr. Verdant Green was (in stable language) "rising" sixteen, he went thrice a week to the Rectory, where Mr. Larkyns bestowed upon him a couple of hours, and taught him to conjugate {tupto}, and get over the Pons Asinorum. Mr. Larkyns found his pupil not a particularly brilliant scholar, but he was a plodding one; and though he learned slowly, yet the little he did learn was learned well.

Thus the Rectory and the home studies went hand and hand, and continued so, with but little interruption, for more than two years; and Mr. Verdant Green had for some time assumed the toga virilis of stick-up collars and swallow-tail coats, that so effectually cut us off from the age of innocence; and the small family festival that annually celebrated his birthday had just been held for the eighteenth time, when

"A change came o'er the spirit of his dream."

[14 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

CHAPTER II

MR. VERDANT GREEN IS TO BE AN OXFORD-MAN.

ONE day when the family at the Manor Green had assembled for luncheon, the rector was announced. He came in and joined them, saying,with his usual friendly bonhomie, "A very well-timed visit, I think! Your bell rang out its summons as I came up the avenue. Mrs. Green, I've gone through the formality of looking over the accounts of your clothing-club, and, as usual, I find them correctness itself; and here is my subscription for the next year. Miss Green, I hope that you have not forgotten the lesson in logic that Tommy Jones gave you yesterday afternoon?"

"Oh, what was that?" cried her two sisters; who took it in turns with her to go for a short time in every day to the village-school which their father and the rector had established: "Pray tell us, Mr. Larkyns! Mary has said nothing about it." "Then," replied the rector, "I am tongue-tied, until I have my fair friend's permission to reveal how the teacher was taught."

Mary shook her sunny ringlets, and laughingly gave him the required permission.

"You must know, then," said Mr. Larkyns, "that Miss Mary was giving one of those delightful object-lessons, wherein she blends so much instructive-"

"I'll trouble you for the butter, Mr. Larkyns," interrupted Mary, rather maliciously.

The rector was grey-headed, and a privileged friend. "My dear," he said, "I was just giving it you. However, the object-lesson was going on; the subject being Quadrupeds, which Miss Mary very properly explained to be 'things with four legs.' Presently, she said to her class, 'Tell me the names of some quadrupeds?' when Tommy Jones, thrusting out his hand with the full conviction that he was making an important suggestion, exclaimed, 'Chairs and tables!' That was turning the tables upon Miss Mary with a vengeance!"

During luncheon the conversation glided into a favourite theme with Mrs. Green and Miss Virginia, - Verdant's studies: when Mr. Larkyns, after some good-natured praise of his diligence, said, "By the way, Green, he's now quite old enough, and prepared enough for matriculation: and I suppose you are thinking of it."

Mr. Green was thinking of no such thing. He had never been at college himself, and had never heard of his father having been there; and having the old-fashioned, what-was-good-enough-for-my-father-is-good-enough-for-me sort of feel-

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 15]

ing, it had never occurred to him that his son should be brought up otherwise than he himself had been. The setting-out of Charles Larkyns for college, two years before, had suggested no other thought to Mr. Green's mind, than that a university was the natural sequence of a public school; and since Verdant had not been through the career of the one, he deemed him to be exempt from the other.

The motherly ears of Mrs. Green had been caught by the word "matriculation," a phrase quite unknown to her; and she said, "If it's vaccination that you mean, Mr. Larkyns, my dear Verdant was done only last year, when we thought the small-pox was about; so I think he's quite safe."

Mr. Larkyns' politeness was sorely tried to restrain himself from giving vent to his feelings in a loud burst of laughter; but Mary gallantly came to his relief by saying, "Matriculation means, being entered at a university. Don't you remember, dearest mamma, when Mr. Charles Larkyns went up to Oxford to be matriculated last January two years?"

"Ah, yes! I do now. But I wish I had your memory, my dear."

And Mary blushed, and flattered herself that she succeeded in looking as though Mr. Charles Larkyns and his movements were objects of perfect indifference to her.

So, after luncheon, Mr. Green and the rector paced up and down the long-walk, and talked the matter over. The burden of Mr. Green's discourse was this: "You see, sir, I don't intend my boy to go into the Church, like yours; but, when anything happens to me, he'll come into the estate, and have to settle down as the squire of the parish. So I don't exactly see what would be the use of sending him to a university, where, I dare say, he'd spend a good deal of money, - not that I should grudge that, though; - and perhaps not be quite such a good lad as he's always been to me, sir. And, by George! (I beg your pardon,) I think his mother would break her heart to lose him; and I don't know what we should do without him, as he's never been away from us a day, and his sisters would miss him. And he's not a lad, like your Charley, that could fight his way in the world, and I don't think he'd be altogether happy. And as he's not got to depend upon his talents for his bread and cheese, the knowledge he's got at home, and from you, sir, seems to me quite enough to carry him through life. So, altogether, I think Verdant will do very well as he is, and perhaps we'd better say no more about the matriculation."

But the rector would say more; and he expressed his mind thus: "It is not so much from what Verdant would learn in Latin and Greek, and such things as make up a part of the education, that I advise your sending him to a university;

[16 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

but more from what he would gain by mixing with a large body of young men of his own age, who represent the best classes of a mixed society, and who may justly be taken as fair samples of its feelings and talents. It is formation of character that I regard as one of the greatest of the many great ends of a university system; and if for this reason alone, I should advise you to send your future country squire to college. Where else will he be able to meet with so great a number of those of his own class, with whom he will have to mix in the after changes of life, and for whose feelings and tone a college-course will give him the proper key-note? Where else can he learn so quickly in three years, what other men will perhaps be striving for through life, without attaining, - that self-reliance which will enable him to mix at ease in any society, and to feel the equal of its members? And, besides all this, - and each of these points in the education of a young man is, to my mind, a strong one, - where else could he be more completely 'under tutors and governors,' and more thoroughly under surveillance, than in a place where college-laws are no respecters of persons, and seek to keep the wild blood of youth within its due bounds? There is something in the very atmosphere of a university that seems to engender refined thoughts and noble feelings; and lamentable indeed must be the state of any young man who can pass through the three years of his college residence, and bring away no higher aims, no worthier purposes, no better thoughts, from all the holy associations which have been crowded around him. Such advantages as these are not to be regarded with indifference; and though they come in secondary ways, and possess the mind almost imperceptibly, yet they are of primary importance in the formation of character, and may mould it into the more perfect man. And as long as I had the power, I would no more think of depriving a child of mine of such good means towards a good end, than I would of keeping him from any thing else that was likely to improve his mind or affect his heart."

Mr. Larkyns put matters in a new light; and Mr. Green began to think that a university career might be looked at from more than one point of view. But as old prejudices are not so easily overthrown as the lath-and-plaster erections of mere newly-formed opinion, Mr. Green was not yet won over by Mr. Larkyns' arguments. "There was my father," he said, "who was one of the worthiest and kindest men living; and I believe he never went to college, nor did he think it necessary that I should go; and I trust I'm no worse a man than my father."

"Ah! Green," replied the rector; "the old argument! But you must not judge the present age by the past; nor measure out to your son the same degree of education that

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 17]

your father might think sufficient for you. When you and I were boys, Green, these things were thought of very differently to what they are in the present day; and when your father gave you a respectable education at a classical school, he did all that he thought was requisite to form you into a country gentleman, and fit you for that station in life you were destined to fill. But consider what a progressive age it is that we live in; and you will see that the standard of education has been considerably raised since the days when you and I did the 'propria quae maribus' together; and that when he comes to mix in society, more will be demanded of the son than was expected from the father. And besides this, think in how many ways it will benefit Verdant to send him to college. By mixing more in the world, and being called upon to act and think for himself, he will gradually gain that experience, without which a man cannot arm himself to meet the difficulties that beset all of us, more or less, in the battle of life. He is just of an age, when some change from the narrowed circle of home is necessary. God forbid that I should ever speak in any but the highest terms of the moral good it must do every young man to live under his mother's watchful eye, and be ever in the company of pure-minded sisters. Indeed I feel this more perhaps than many other parents would, because my lad, from his earliest years, has been deprived of such tender training, and cut off from such sweet society. But yet, with all this high regard for such home influences, I put it to you, if there will not grow up in the boy's mind, when he begins to draw near to man's estate, a very weariness of all this, from its very sameness; a surfeiting, as it were, of all these delicacies, and a longing for something to break the monotony of what will gradually become to him a humdrum horse-in-the-mill kind of country life? And it is just at this critical time that college life steps in to his aid. With his new life a new light bursts upon his mind; he finds that he is not the little household-god he had fancied himself to be; his word is no longer the law of the Medes and Persians, as it was at home; he meets with none of those little flatteries from partial relatives, or fawning servants, that were growing into a part of his existence; but he has to bear contradiction and reproof, to find himself only an equal with others, when he can gain that equality by his own deserts; and, in short, he daily progresses in that knowledge of himself, which, from the gnothiseauton days down to our own, has been found to be about the most useful of all knowledge; for it gives a man stability of character, and braces up his mental energies to a healthy enjoyment of the business of life. And so, Green, I would advise you, above all things, to let Verdant go to college."

[18 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

Much more did the rector say, not only on this occasion, but on others; and the more frequently he returned to the charge, the less resistance were his arguments met with; and the result was, that Mr. Green was fully persuaded that a university was the proper sphere for his son to move in. But it was not without many a pang and much secret misgiving that Mrs. Green would consent to suffer her beloved Verdant to run the risk of those dreadful contaminations which she imagined would inevitably accompany every college career. Indeed, she thought it an act of the greatest heroism (or, if you object to the word, heroineism) to be won over to say "yes" to the proposal; and it was not until Miss Virginia had recited to her the deeds of all the mothers of Greece and Rome who had suffered for their children's sake, that Mrs. Green would consent to sacrifice her maternal feelings at the sacred altar of duty.

When the point had been duly settled, that Mr. Verdant Green was to receive a university education, the next question to be decided was, to which of the three Universities should he go? To Oxford, Cambridge, or Durham? But this was a matter which was soon determined upon. Mr. Green at once put Durham aside, on account of its infancy, and its wanting the prestige that attaches to the names of the two great Universities. Cambridge was treated quite as summarily, because Mr. Green had conceived the notion that nothing but mathematics were ever thought or talked of there; and as he himself had always had an abhorrence of them from his youth up, when he was hebdomadally flogged for not getting-up his weekly propositions, he thought that his son should be spared some of the personal disagreeables that he himself had encountered; for Mr. Green remembered to have heard that the great Newton was horsed during the time that he was a Cambridge undergraduate, and he had a hazy idea that the same indignities were still practised there.

But the circumstance that chiefly decided Mr. Green to choose Oxford as the arena for Verdant's performances was, that he would have a companion, and, as he hoped, a mentor, in the rector's son, Mr. Charles Larkyns, who would not only be able to cheer him on his first entrance, but also would introduce him to select and quiet friends, put him in the way of lectures, and initiate him into all the mysteries of the place; all which the rector professed his son would be glad to do, and would be delighted to see his old friend and playfellow within the classic walls of Alma Mater.

Oxford having been selected for the university, the next point to be decided was the college.

"You cannot," said the rector, "find a much better college

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 19]

than Brazenface, where my lad is. It always stands well in the class-list, and keeps a good name with its tutors. There are a nice gentlemanly set of men there; and I am proud to say, that my lad would be able to introduce Verdant to some of the best. This will of course be much to his advantage. And besides this, I am on very intimate terms with Dr. Portman, the master of the college; and, if they should not happen to be very full, no doubt I could get Verdant admitted at once. This too will be of advantage to him; for I can tell you that there are secrets in all these matters, and that at many colleges that I could name, unless you knew the principal, or had some introduction or other potent spell to work with, your son's name would have to remain on the books two or three years before he could be entered; and this, at Verdant's age, would be a serious objection. At one or two of the colleges indeed this is almost necessary, under any circumstances, on account of the great number of applicants; but at Brazenface there is not this over-crowding; and I have no doubt, if I write to Dr. Portman, but what I can get rooms for Verdant without much loss of time."

"Brazenface be it then!" said Mr. Green, "and I am sure that Verdant will enter there with very many advantages; and the sooner the better, so that he may be the longer with Mr. Charles. But when must his - his what-d'ye-call-it, come off?"

"His matriculation?" replied the rector; "why although it is not usual for men to commence residence at the time of their matriculation, still it is sometimes done. And as my lad will, if all goes on well, be leaving Oxford next year, perhaps it would be better, on that account, that Verdant should enter upon his residence as soon as he has matriculated." Mr. Green thought so too; and Verdant, upon being appealed to, had no objection to this course, or, indeed, to any other that was decided to be necessary for him; though it must be confessed, that he secretly shared somewhat of his mother's feelings as he looked forward into the blank and uncertain prospect of his college life. Like a good and dutiful son, however, his father's wishes were law; and he no more thought of opposing them, than he did of discovering the north pole, or paying off the national debt.

So all this being duly settled, and Mrs. Green being entirely won over to the proceeding, the rector at once wrote to Dr. Portman, and in due time received a reply to the effect, that they were very full at Brazenface, but that luckily there was one set of rooms which would be vacant at the commencement of the Easter term; at which time he should be very glad to see the gentleman his friend spoke of.

[20 ]

Portraits of MR. VERDANT GREEN AND HIS FAMILY.

1. Mr. Green, senior.

2. Miss Virginia Verdant.

3. Mrs. Green.

4. Mr. Verdant Green.

5. Miss Helen Green.

6. Miss Fanny Green.

7. Miss Mary Green.



[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 21]

CHAPTER III.

MR. VERDANT GREEN LEAVES THE HOME OF HIS ANCESTORS.

THE time till Easter passed very quickly, for much had to be done in it. Verdant read up most desperately for his matriculation, associating that initiatory examination with the most dismal visions of plucking, and other college tortures.

His mother was laying in for him a new stock of linen, sufficient in quantity to provide him for years of emigration; while his father was busying himself about the plate that it was requisite to take, buying it bran-new, and of the most solid silver, and having it splendidly engraved with the family crest, and the motto "Semper virens."

Infatuated Mr. Green! If you could have foreseen that those spoons and forks would have soon passed, - by a mysterious system of loss which undergraduate powers can never fathom, - into the property of Mr. Robert Filcher, the excellent, though occasionally erratic, scout of your beloved son, and from thence have melted, not "into thin air," but into a residuum whose mass might be expressed by the equivalent of coins of a thin and golden description, - if you could but have foreseen this, then, infatuated but affectionate parent, you would have been content to have let your son and heir represent the ancestral wealth by mere electro-plate, albata, or any sham that would equally well have served his purpose!

As for Miss Virginia Verdant, and the other woman portion of the Green community, they fully occupied their time until the day of separation came, by elaborating articles of feminine workmanship, as souvenirs, by which dear Verdant might, in the land of the strangers, recall visions of home. These were presented to him with all due state on the morning of the day previous to that on which he was to leave the home of his ancestors.

All the articles were useful as well as ornamental. There was a purse from Helen, which, besides being a triumph of art in the way of bead decoration, was also, it must be allowed, a very useful present, unless one happened to carry one's riches in a porte-monnaie. There was a pair of braces from Mary, worked with an ecclesiastical pattern of a severe character - very appropriate for academical wear, and extremely effective for all occasions when the coat had to be taken off in public. And there was a watch-pocket from Fanny, to hang over Verdant's night-capped head, and serve as a depository for the golden mechanical turnip that had been handed down in the family, as a watch, for the last three generations. And

[22 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

there was a pair of woollen comforters knit by Miss Virginia's own fair hands; and there were other woollen articles of domestic use, which were contributed by Mrs. Green for her son's personal comfort. To these, Miss Virginia thoughtfully added an infallible recipe for the toothache, - an infliction to which she was a martyr, and for the general relief of which in others, she constituted herself a species of toothache missionary; for, as she said, "You might, my dear Verdant, be seized with that painful disease, and not have me by your side to cure it": which it was very probable he would not, if college rules were strictly carried out at Brazenface.

All these articles were presented to Mr. Verdant Green with many speeches and great ceremony; while Mr. Green stood by, and smiled benignantly upon the scene, and his son beamed through his glasses (which his defective sight obliged him constantly to wear) with the most serene aspect.

It was altogether a great day of preparation, and one which it was well for the constitution of the household did not happen very often; for the house was reduced to that summerset condition usually known in domestic parlance as "upside down." Mr. Verdant Green personally superintended the packing of his goods; a performance which was only effected by the united strength of the establishment. Butler, Footman, Coachman, Lady's-maid, Housemaid, and Buttons were all pressed into the service; and the coachman, being a man of

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 23]

some weight, was found to be of great use in effecting a junction of the locks and hasps of over-filled book-boxes. It was astonishing to see all the amount of literature that Mr. Verdant Green was about to convey to the seat of learning: there was enough to stock a small Bodleian. As the owner stood, with his hands behind him, placidly surveying the scene of preparation, a meditative spectator might have possibly compared him to the hero of the engraving "Moses going to the fair," that was then hanging just over his head; for no one could have set out for the great Oxford booth of this Vanity Fair with more simplicity and trusting confidence than Mr. Verdant Green.

When the trunks had at last been packed, they were then, by the thoughtful suggestion of Miss Virginia, provided each with a canvas covering, after the manner of the luggage of females, and labelled with large direction-cards filled with the most ample particulars concerning their owner and his destination.

It had been decided that Mr. Verdant Green, instead of reaching Oxford by rail, should make his entree behind the four horses that drew the Birmingham and Oxford coach; - one of the few four-horse coaches that still ran for any distance*; and which, as the more pleasant means of conveyance, was generally patronized by Mr. Charles Larkyns in preference to the rail; for the coach passed within three miles of the Manor Green, whereas the nearest railway was at a much greater distance, and could not be so conveniently reached. Mr. Green had determined upon accompanying Verdant to Oxford, that he might have the satisfaction of seeing him safely landed there, and might also himself form an acquaintance with a city of which he had heard so much, and which would be doubly interesting to him now that his son was enrolled a member of its University. Their seats had been secured a fortnight previous; for the rector had told Mr. Green that so many men went up by the coach, that unless he made an early application,

—- * This well-known coach ceased to run between Birmingham and Oxford in the last week of August 1852, on the opening of the Birmingham and Oxford Railway. -=-

[24 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

he would altogether fail in obtaining places; so a letter had been dispatched to "the Swan" coach-office at Birmingham, from which place the coach started, and two outside seats had been put at Mr. Green's disposal.

The day at length arrived, when Mr. Verdant Green for the first time in his life (on any important occasion) was to leave the paternal roof; and it must be confessed that it was a proceeding which caused him some anxiety, and that he was not sorry when the carriage was at the door to bear him away, before (shall it be confessed?) his tears had got the mastery over him. As it was, by the judicious help of his sisters, he passed the Rubicon in courageous style, and went through the form of breakfast with the greatest hilarity, although with several narrow escapes of suffocation from choking. The thought that he was going to be an Oxford MAN fortunately assisted him in the preservation of that tranquil dignity and careless ease which he considered to be the necessary adjuncts of the manly character, more especially as developed in that peculiar biped he was about to be transformed into; and Mr. Verdant Green was enabled to say "Good-by" with a firm voice and undimmed spectacles.

All crowded to the door to have a last shake of the hand;

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 25]

the maid-servants peeped from the upper windows; and Miss Virginia sobbed out a blessing, which was rendered of a striking and original character by being mixed up with instructions never to forget what she had taught him in his Latin grammar, and always to be careful to guard against the toothache. And amid the good-byes and write-oftens that usually accompany a departure, the carriage rolled down the avenue to the lodge, where was Mr. Mole the gardener, and also Mrs. Mole, and, moreover, the Mole olive-branches, all gathered at the open gate to say farewell to the young master. And just as they were about to mount the hill leading out of the village, who should be there but the rector lying in wait for them and ready to walk up the hill by their side, and say a few kindly words at parting. Well might Mr. Verdant Green begin to regard himself as the topic of the village, and think that going to Oxford was really an affair of some importance.

They were in good time for the coach; and the ringing notes of the guard's bugle made them aware of its approach some time before they saw it rattling merrily along in its cloud of dust. What a sight it was when it did come near! The cloud that had enveloped it was discovered to be not dust only, but smoke from the cigars, meerschaums, and short clay pipes of a full complement of gentlemen passengers, scarcely one of whom seemed to have passed his twentieth year. No bonnet betokening a female traveller could be seen either inside or out; and that lady was indeed lucky who escaped being an inside passenger on the following day. Nothing but a lapse of time, or the complete re-lining of the coach, could purify it from the attacks of the four gentlemen who were now doing their best to convert it into a divan; and the consumption of tobacco on that day between Birmingham and Oxford must have materially benefited the revenue. The passengers were not limited to the two-legged ones, there were four-footed ones also. Sporting dogs, fancy dogs, ugly dogs, rat-killing dogs, short-haired dogs, long-haired dogs, dogs like muffs, dogs like mops, dogs of all colours and of all breeds and sizes, appeared thrusting out their black noses from all parts of the coach. Portmanteaus were piled upon the roof; gun-boxes peeped out suspiciously here and there; bundles of sticks, canes, foils, fishing-rods, and whips, appeared strapped together in every direction; while all round about the coach,

"Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads,"

hat-boxes dangled in leathery profusion. The Oxford coach on an occasion like this was a sight to be remembered.

A "Wo-ho-ho, my beauties!" brought the smoking wheelers upon their haunches; and Jehu, saluting with his elbow and

[26 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

whip finger, called out in the husky voice peculiar to a dram-drinker, "Are you the two houtside gents for Hoxfut?" To which Mr. Green replied in the affirmative; and while the luggage (the canvas-covered, ladylike look of which was such a contrast to that of the other passengers) was being quickly transferred to the coach-top, he and Verdant ascended to the places reserved for them behind the coachman. Mr. Green saw at a glance that all the passengers were Oxford men, dressed in every variety of Oxford fashion, and exhibiting a pleasing diversity of Oxford manners. Their private remarks on the two new-comers were, like stage "asides," perfectly audible.

"Decided case of governor!" said one.

"Undoubted ditto of freshman!" observed another.

"Looks ferociously mild in his gig-lamps!" remarked a third, alluding to Mr. Verdant Green's spectacles.

"And jolly green all over!" wound up a fourth.

Mr. Green, hearing his name (as he thought) mentioned, turned to the small young gentleman who had spoken, and politely said, "Yes, my name is Green; but you have the advantage of me, sir."

"Oh! have I?" replied the young gentleman in the most affable manner, and not in the least disconcerted; "my name's Bouncer: I remember seeing you when I was a babby. How's the old woman?" And without waiting to hear Mr. Green loftily reply, "Mrs. Green - my WIFE, sir - is quite well - and I do NOT remember to have seen you, or ever heard your name, sir!" - little Mr. Bouncer made some most unearthly noises on a post-horn as tall as himself, which he had brought for the delectation of himself and his friends, and the alarm of every village they passed through.

"Never mind the dog, sir," said the gentleman who sat between Mr. Bouncer and Mr. Green; "he won't hurt you. It's only his play; he always takes notice of strangers."

"But he is tearing my trousers," expostulated Mr. Green, who was by no means partial to the "play" of a thoroughbred terrier.

"Ah! he's an uncommon sensible dog," observed his master; "he's always on the look-out for rats everywhere. It's the Wellington boots that does it; he's accustomed to have a rat put into a boot, and he worries it out how he can. I daresay he thinks you've got one in yours."

"But I've got nothing of the sort, sir; I must request you to keep your dog—" A violent fit of coughing, caused by a well-directed volley of smoke from his neighbour's lips, put a stop to Mr. Green's expostulations.

"I hope my weed is no annoyance?" said the gentleman; "if it is, I will throw it away."

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 27]

To which piece of politeness Mr. Green could, of course, only reply, between fits of coughing, "Not in the least I - assure you, - I am very fond - of tobacco - in the open air."

"Then I daresay you'll do as we are doing, and smoke a weed yourself," said the gentleman, as he offered Mr. Green a plethoric cigar-case. But Mr. Green's expression of approbation regarding tobacco was simply theoretical; so he treated his neighbour's offer as magazine editors do the MSS. of unknown contributors - it was "declined with thanks."

Mr. Verdant Green had already had to make a similar reply to a like proposal on the part of his left-hand neighbour, who was now expressing violent admiration for our hero's top-coat.

"Ain't that a good style of coat, Charley?" he observed to his neighbour. "I wish I'd seen it before I got this over-coat! There's something sensible about a real, unadulterated top-coat; and there's a style in the way in which they've let down the skirts, and put on the velvet collar and cuffs regardless of expense, that really quite goes to one's heart. Now I daresay the man that built that," he said, more particularly addressing the owner of the coat, "condescends to live in a village, and waste his sweetness on the desert air, while a noble field might be found for his talent in a University town. That coat will make quite a sensation in Oxford. Won't it, Charley?"

And when Charley, quoting a popular actor (totally unknown to our hero), said, "I believe you, my bo-oy!" Mr. Verdant Green began to feel quite proud of the abilities of their village tailor, and thought what two delightful companions he had met with. The rest of the journey further cemented (as he thought) their friendship; so that he was fairly astonished, when on meeting them the next day they stared him full in the face, and passed on without taking any more notice of him. But freshmen cannot learn the mysteries of college etiquette in a day.

However, we are anticipating. They had not yet got to Oxford, though, from the pace at which they were going, it appeared as if they would soon reach there; for the coachman had given up his seat and the reins to the box-passenger, who appeared to be as used to the business as the coachman himself; and he was now driving them, not only in a most scientific manner, but also at a great pace. Mr. Green was not particularly pleased with the change in the four-wheeled government; but when they went down a hill at a quick trot, the heavy luggage making the coach rock to and fro with the speed, his fears increased painfully. They culminated, as the trot increased into a canter, and then broke into a gallop as they swept along the level road at the bottom of the hill, and rattled up the rise of another. As the horses walked over the brow

[28 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

of the hill, with smoking flanks and jingling harness, Mr. Green recovered sufficient breath to expostulate with the coachman for suffering - "a mere lad," he was about to say but fortunately checked himself in time, - for suffering any one else than the regular driver to have the charge of the coach. "You never fret yourself about that, sir," replied the man; "I knows my bis'ness, as well as my dooties to self and purprietors, and I'd never go for to give up the ribbins to any party but wot had showed hisself fitted to 'andle 'em. And I think I may say this for the genelman as has got 'em now, that

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 29]

he's fit to be fust vip to the Queen herself; and I'm proud to call him my poople. Why, sir, - if his honour here will pardon me for makin' so free, - this 'ere gent is Four-in-hand Fosbrooke, of which you must have heerd on."

Mr. Green replied that he had not had that pleasure.

"Ah! a pleasure you may call it, sir, with parfect truth," replied the coachman; "but, lor bless me, sir, weer can you have lived?"

The "poople" who had listened to this, highly amused, slightly turned his head, and said to Mr. Green, "Pray don't feel any alarm, sir; I believe you are quite safe under my guidance. This is not the first time by many that I have driven this coach, - not to mention others; and you may conclude that I should not have gained the sobriquet to which my worthy friend has alluded without having some pretensions to a knowledge of the art of driving."

Mr. Green murmured his apologies for his mistrust, - expressed perfect faith in Mr. Fosbrooke's skill - and then lapsed into silent meditation on the various arts and sciences in which the gentlemen of the University of Oxford seemed to be most proficient, and pictured to himself what would be his feelings if he ever came to see Verdant driving a coach! There certainly did not appear to be much probability of such an event; but can any pater familias say what even the most carefully brought up young Hopeful will do when he has arrived at years of indiscretion?

Altogether, Mr. Green did not particularly enjoy the journey. Besides the dogs and cigars, which to him were equal nuisances, little Mr. Bouncer was perpetually producing unpleasant post-horn effects, - which he called "sounding his octaves," - and destroying the effect of the airs on the guard's key-bugle, by joining in them at improper times and with discordant measures. Mr. Green, too, could not but perceive that the majority of the conversation that was addressed to himself and his son (though more particularly to the latter), although couched in politest form, was yet of a tendency calculated to "draw them out" for the amusement of their fellow-passengers. He also observed that the young gentlemen severally exhibited great capacity for the beer of Bass and the porter of Guinness, and were not averse even to liquids of a more spirituous description. Moreover, Mr. Green remarked that the ministering Hebes were invariably addressed by their Christian names, and were familiarly conversed with as old acquaintances; most of them receiving direct offers of marriage or the option of putting up the banns on any Sunday in the middle of the week; while the inquiries after their grandmothers and the various members of their family circles were both numerous and gratifying. In

[30 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

all these verbal encounters little Mr. Bouncer particularly distinguished himself.

Woodstock was reached: "Four-in-hand Fosbrooke" gave up the reins to the professional Jehu; and at last the towers, spires, and domes of Oxford appeared in sight. The first view of the City of Colleges is always one that will be long remembered. Even the railway traveller, who enters by the least imposing approach, and can scarcely see that he is in Oxford before he has reached Folly Bridge, must yet regard the city with mingled feelings of delight and surprise as he looks across the Christ Church meadows and rolls past the Tom Tower. But he who approaches Oxford from the Henley Road, and looks upon that unsurpassed prospect from Magdalen Bridge, - or he who enters the city, as Mr. Green did, from the Woodstock Road, and rolls down the shady avenue of St. Giles', between St. John's College and the Taylor Buildings, and past the graceful Martyrs' Memorial, will receive impressions such as probably no other city in the world could convey.

As the coach clattered down the Corn-market, and turned the corner by Carfax into High Street, Mr. Bouncer, having been compelled in deference to University scruples to lay aside his post-horn, was consoling himself by chanting the following words, selected probably in compliment to Mr. Verdant Green.

"To Oxford, a Freshman so modest, I enter'd one morning in March; And the figure I cut was the oddest, All spectacles, choker, and starch. Whack fol lol, lol iddity, &c.

From the top of 'the Royal Defiance,' Jack Adams, who coaches so well, Set me down in these regions of science, In front of the Mitre Hotel. Whack fol lol, lol iddity, &c.

'Sure never man's prospects were brighter,' I said, as I jumped from my perch; 'So quickly arrived at the Mitre, Oh, I'm sure, to get on in the Church!' Whack fol lol, lol iddity, &c."

By the time Mr. Bouncer finished these words, the coach appropriately drew up at the "Mitre," and the passengers tumbled off amid a knot of gownsmen collected on the pavement to receive them. But no sooner were Mr. Green and our hero set down, than they were attacked by a horde of the aborigines of Oxford, who, knowing by vulture-like sagacity the aspect of a freshman and his governor, swooped down upon them in the guise of impromptu porters, and made an indiscriminate attack upon the luggage. It was only by the display of the greatest presence of mind that Mr. Verdant Green recovered his effects, and prevented his canvas-covered boxes from being

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 31]

carried off in the wheel-barrows that were trundling off in all directions to the various colleges.

[32 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

But at last all were safely secured. And soon, when a snug dinner had been discussed in a quiet room, and a bottle of the famous (though I have heard some call it "in-famous") Oxford port had been produced, Mr. Green, under its kindly influence, opened his heart to his son, and gave him much advice as to his forthcoming University career; being, of course, well calculated to do this from his intimate acquaintance with the subject.

Whether it was the extra glass of port, or whether it was the nature of his father's discourse, or whether it was the novelty of his situation, or whether it was all these circumstances combined, yet certain it was that Mr. Verdant Green's first night in Oxford was distinguished by a series, or rather confusion, of most remarkable dreams, in which bishops, archbishops, and hobgoblins elbowed one another for precedence; a beneficent female crowned him with laurel, while Fame lustily proclaimed the honours he had received, and unrolled the class-list in which his name had first rank.

Sweet land of visions, that will with such ease confer even a treble first upon the weary sleeper, why must he awake from thy gentle thraldom, to find the class-list a stern reality, and Graduateship too often but an empty dream!

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 33]

CHAPTER IV.

MR. VERDANT GREEN BECOMES AN OXFORD UNDERGRADUATE.

MR. VERDANT GREEN arose in the morning more or less refreshed; and after breakfast proceeded with his father to Brazenface College to call upon the Master; the porter directed them where to go, and they sent up their cards. Dr. Portman was at home, and they were soon introduced to his presence.

Instead of the stern, imposing-looking personage that Mr. Verdant Green had expected to see in the ruler among dons, and the terror of offending undergraduates, the master of Brazenface was a mild-looking old gentleman, with an inoffensive amiability of expression and a shy, retiring manner that seemed to intimate that he was more alarmed at the strangers than they had need to be at him. Dr. Portman seemed to be quite a part of his college, for he had passed the greatest portion of his life there. He had graduated there, he had taken Scholarships there, he had even gained a prize-poem there; he had been elected a Fellow there, he had become a Tutor there, he had been Proctor and College Dean there; there, during the long vacation, he had written his celebrated "Disquisition on the Greek Particles," afterwards published in eight octavo volumes; and finally, there he had been elected Master of his college, in which office, honoured and respected, he appeared likely to end his days. He was unmarried; perhaps he had never found time to think of a wife; perhaps he had never had the courage to propose for one; perhaps he had met with early crosses and disappointments, and had shrined in his heart a fair image that should never be displaced. Who knows? for dons are mortals, and have been undergraduates once.

The little hair he had was of a silvery white, although his eye-brows retained their black hue; and to judge from the fine fresh-coloured features and the dark eyes that were now nervously twinkling upon Mr. Green, Dr. Portman must, in his more youthful days, have had an ample share of good looks. He was dressed in an old-fashioned reverend suit of black, with knee-breeches and gaiters, and a massive watch-seal dangling from under his waistcoat, and was deep in the study of his favourite particles. He received our hero and his father both nervously and graciously, and bade them be seated.

"I shall al-ways," he said, in monosyllabic tones, as though he were reading out of a child's primer, - "I shall al-ways be glad to see any of the young friends of my old col-lege friend Lar-kyns; and I do re-joice to be a-ble to serve you, Mis-ter Green; and I hope your son, Mis-ter, Mis-ter Vir—-Vir-gin-ius,—"

[34 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

"Verdant, Dr. Portman," interrupted Mr. Green, suggestively, "Verdant."

"Oh! true, true, true! and I do hope that he will be a ve-ry good young man, and try to do hon-our to his col-lege."

"I trust he will, indeed, sir," replied Mr. Green; "it is the great wish of my heart. And I am sure that you will find my son both quiet and orderly in his conduct, regular in his duties, and always in bed by ten o'clock."

"Well, I hope so too, Mis-ter Green," said Dr. Portman, monosyllabically; "but all the young gen-tle-men do pro-mise to be regu-lar and or-der-ly when they first come up, but a term makes a great dif-fer-ence. But I dare say my young friend Mis-ter Vir-gin-ius,—-"

"Verdant," smilingly suggested Mr. Green.

"I beg your par-don," apologized Dr. Portman; "but I dare say that he will do as you say, for in-deed, my friend Lar-kyns speaks well of him."

"I am delighted - proud!" murmured Mr. Green, while Verdant felt himself blushing up to his spectacles.

"We are ve-ry full," Dr. Portman went on to say, "but as I do ex-pect great things from Mis-ter Vir-gin —- Verdant, Verdant, I have put some rooms at his ser-vice; and if you would like to see them, my ser-vant shall shew you the way." The servant was accordingly summoned, and received orders to that effect; while the Master told Verdant that he must,

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 35]

at two o'clock, present himself to Mr. Slowcoach, his tutor, who would examine him for his matriculation.

"I am sor-ry, Mis-ter Green," said Dr. Portman, "that my en-gage-ments will pre-vent me from ask-ing you and Mis-ter Virg— Ver-dant, to dine with me to-day; but I do hope that the next time you come to Ox-ford I shall be more for-tu-nate."

Old John, the Common-room man, who had heard this speech made to hundreds of "governors" through many generations of freshmen, could not repress a few pantomimic asides, that were suggestive of anything but full credence in his master's words. But Mr. Green was delighted with Dr. Portman's affability, and perceiving that the interview was at an end, made his conge, and left the Master of Brazenface to his Greek particles.

They had just got outside, when the servant said, "Oh, there is the scout! Your scout, sir!" at which our hero blushed from the consciousness of his new dignity; and, by way of appearing at his ease, inquired the scout's name.

"Robert Filcher, sir," replied the servant; "but the gentlemen always call 'em by their Christian names." And beckoning the scout to him, he bade him shew the gentlemen

[36 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

to the rooms kept for Mr. Verdant Green; and then took himself back to the Master.

Mr. Robert Filcher might perhaps have been forty years of age, perhaps fifty; there was cunning enough in his face to fill even a century of wily years; and there was a depth of expression in his look, as he asked our hero if he was Mr. Verdant Green, that proclaimed his custom of reading a freshman at a glance. Mr. Filcher was laden with coats and boots that had just been brushed and blacked for their respective masters; and he was bearing a jug of Buttery ale (they are renowned for their ale at Brazenface) to the gentleman who owned the pair of "tops" that were now flashing in the sun as they dangled from the scout's hand.

"Please to follow me, gentlemen," he said; "it's only just across the quad. Third floor, No. 4 staircase, fust quad; that's about the mark, I think, sir."

Mr. Verdant Green glanced curiously round the Quadrangle, with its picturesque irregularity of outline, its towers and turrets and battlements, its grey time-eaten walls, its rows of mullioned heavy-headed windows, and the quiet cloistered air that spoke of study and reflection; and perceiving on one side a row of large windows, with great buttresses between, and a species of steeple on the high-pitched roof, he made bold (just to try the effect) to address Mr. Filcher by the name assigned to him at an early period of his life by his godfathers and godmothers, and inquired if that building was the chapel.

"No, sir," replied Robert, "that there's the 'All, sir, that is, - where you dines, sir, leastways when you ain't 'AEger,' or elseweer. That at the top is the lantern, sir, that is; called so because it never has no candle in it. The chapel's the hopposite side, sir. -Please not to walk on the grass, sir; there's a fine agen it, unless you're a Master. This way if you please, gentlemen!" Thus the scout beguiled them, as he led them to an open doorway with a large 4 painted over it; inside was a door on either hand, while a coal-bin displayed its black face from under a staircase that rose immediately before them. Up this they went, following the scout (who had vanished for a moment with the boots and beer), and when they had passed the first floor they found the ascent by no means easy to the body, or pleasant to the sight. The once white-washed walls were coated with the uncleansed dust of the three past terms; and where the plaster had not been chipped off by flying porter-bottles, or the heels of Wellington boots, its surface had afforded an irresistible temptation to those imaginative undergraduates who displayed their artistic genius in candle-smoke cartoons of the heads of the University, and other popular and unpopular characters. All Mr. Green's caution, as he crept up the

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 37]

dark, twisting staircase, could not prevent him from crushing his hat against the low, cobwebbed ceiling, and he gave vent to a very strong but quiet anathema, which glided quietly and audibly into the remark, "Confounded awkward staircase, I think!"

"Just what Mr. Bouncer says," replied the scout, "although he don't reach so high as you, sir; but he do say, sir, when he, comes home pleasant at night from some wine-party, that it is the aukardest staircase as was ever put before a gentleman's legs. And he did go so far, sir, as to ask the Master, if it wouldn't be better to have a staircase as would go up of hisself, and take the gentlemen up with it, like one as they has at some public show in London - the Call-and-see-em, I think he said."

"The Colosseum, probably," suggested Mr. Green. "And what did Dr. Portman say to that, pray?"

"Why he said, sir, - leastways so Mr. Bouncer reported, - that it worn't by no means a bad idea, and that p'raps Mr. Bouncer'd find it done in six months' time, when he come back again from the country. For you see, sir, Mr. Bouncer had made hisself so pleasant, that he'd been and got the porter out o' bed, and corked his face dreadful; and then, sir, he'd been and got a Hinn-board from somewhere out of the town, and hung it on the Master's private door; so that when they went to early chapel in the morning, they read as how the Master was 'licensed to sell beer by retail,' and 'to be drunk

[38 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

on the premises'. So when the Master came to know who it was as did it, which in course the porter told him, he said as how Mr. Bouncer had better go down into the country for a year, for change of hair, and to visit his friends."

"Very kind, indeed, of Dr. Portman," said our hero, who missed the moral of the story, and took the rustication for a kind forgiveness of injuries.

"Just what Mr. Bouncer said, sir," replied the scout, "he said it were pertickler kind and thoughtful. This is his room, sir, he come up on'y yesterday." And he pointed to a door, above which was painted in white letters on a black ground, "BOUNCER."

"Why," said Mr. Green to his son, "now I think of it, Bouncer was the name of that short young gentleman who came with us on the coach yesterday, and made himself so - so unpleasant with a tin horn."

"That's the gent, sir," observed the scout; "that's Mr. Bouncer, agoing the complete unicorn, as he calls it. I dare say you'll find him a pleasant neighbour, sir. Your rooms is next to his."

With some doubts of these prospective pleasures, the Mr. Greens, pere et fils, entered through a double door painted over the outside, with the name of "SMALLS"; to which Mr. Filcher directed our hero's attention by saying, "You can have that name took out, sir, and your own name painted in. Mr. Smalls has just moved hisself to the other quad, and that's why the rooms is vacant, sir."

Mr. Filcher then went on to point out the properties and capabilities of the rooms, and also their mechanical contrivances.

"This is the hoak, this 'ere outer door is, sir, which the gentlemen sports, that is to say, shuts, sir, when they're a readin'. Not as Mr. Smalls ever hinterfered with his constitootion by too much 'ard study, sir; he only sported his hoak when people used to get troublesome about their little bills. Here's a place for coals, sir, though Mr. Smalls, he kept his bull-terrier there, which was agin the regulations, as you know, sir." (Verdant nodded his head, as though he were perfectly aware of the fact.) "This ere's your bed-room, sir. Very small, did you say, sir? Oh, no, sir; not by no means! We thinks that in college reether a biggish bed-room, sir. Mr. Smalls thought so, sir, and he's in his second year, he is." (Mr. Filcher thoroughly understood the science of "flooring" a freshman.)

"This is my room, sir, this is, for keepin' your cups and saucers, and wine-glasses and tumblers, and them sort o' things, and washin' 'em up when you wants 'em. If you likes to keep

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 39]

your wine and sperrits here, sir - Mr. Smalls always did - you'll find it a nice cool place, sir: or else here's this 'ere winder-seat; you see, sir, it opens with a lid, 'andy for the purpose."

"If you act upon that suggestion, Verdant," remarked Mr. Green aside to his son, "I trust that a lock will be added."

There was not a superfluity of furniture in the room; and Mr. Smalls having conveyed away the luxurious part of it, that which was left had more of the useful than the ornamental character; but as Mr. Verdant Green was no Sybarite, this point was but of little consequence. The window looked with a sunny aspect down upon the quad, and over the opposite buildings were seen the spires of churches, the dome of the Radcliffe, and the gables, pinnacles, and turrets of other colleges. This was pleasant enough: pleasanter than the stale odours of the Virginian weed that rose from the faded green window-curtains, and from the old Kidderminster carpet that had been charred and burnt into holes with the fag-ends of cigars.

"Well, Verdant," said Mr. Green, when they had completed their inspection, "the rooms are not so very bad, and I think you may be able to make yourself comfortable in them. But I wish they were not so high up. I don't see how you can escape if a fire was to break out, and I am afraid collegians must be very careless on these points. Indeed, your mother made me promise that I would speak to Dr. Portman about it, and ask

[40 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

him to please to allow your tutor, or somebody, to see that your fire was safely raked out at night; and I had intended to have done so, but somehow it quite escaped me. How your mother and all at home would like to see you in your own college room!" And the thoughts of father and son flew back to the Manor Green and its occupants, who were doubtless at the same time thinking of them.

Mr. Filcher then explained the system of thirds, by which the furniture of the room was to be paid for; and, having accompanied his future master and Mr. Green downstairs, the latter accomplishing the descent not without difficulty and contusions, and having pointed out the way to Mr. Slowcoach's rooms, Mr. Robert Filcher relieved his feelings by indulging in a ballet of action, or pas d'extase; in which poetry of motion he declared his joy at the last valuable addition to Brazenface, and his own perquisites.

Mr. Slowcoach was within, and would see Mr. Verdant Green. So that young gentleman, trembling with agitation, and feeling as though he would have given pounds for the staircase to have been as high as that of Babel, followed the servant upstairs, and left his father, in almost as great a state of nervousness, pacing the quad below. But it was not the formidable affair, nor was Mr. Slowcoach the formidable man, that Mr. Verdant Green had anticipated; and by the time that he had turned a piece of Spectator into Latin, our hero had somewhat recovered his usual equanimity of mind and serenity of expression: and the construing of half a dozen lines of Livy and Homer, and the answering of a few questions, was a mere form; for Mr. Slowcoach's long practice enabled him to see in a very few minutes if the freshman before him (however nervous he might be) had the usual average of abilities, and was up to the business of lectures. So Mr. Verdant Green was soon dismissed, and returned to his father radiant and happy.

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 41]

CHAPTER V.

MR. VERDANT GREEN MATRICULATES, AND MAKES A SENSATION.

AS they went out at the gate, they inquired of the porter for Mr. Charles Larkyns, but they found that he had not yet returned from the friend's house where he had been during the vacation; whereupon Mr. Green said that they would go and look at the Oxford lions, so that he might be able to answer any of the questions that should be put to him on his return. They soon found a guide, one of those wonderful people to which show-places give birth, and of whom Oxford can boast a very goodly average; and under this gentleman's guidance Mr. Verdant Green made his first acquaintance with the fair outside of his Alma Mater.

The short, thick stick of the guide served to direct attention to the various objects he enumerated in his rapid career: "This here's Christ Church College," he said, as he trotted them down St Aldate's, "built by Card'nal Hoolsy four underd feet long and the famous Tom Tower as tolls wun underd and wun hevery night that being the number of stoodents on the

[42 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

foundation;" and thus the guide went on, perfectly independent of the artificial trammels of punctuation, and not particular whether his hearers understood him or not: that was not his business. And as it was that gentleman's boast that he "could do the alls, collidges, and principal hedifices in a nour and a naff," it could not be expected but that Mr. Green should take back to Warwickshire otherwise than a slightly confused impression of Oxford.

When he unrolled that rich panorama before his "mind's eye," all its component parts were strangely out of place. The rich spire of St. Mary's claimed acquaintance with her poorer sister at the cathedral. The cupola of the Tom Tower got into close quarters with the huge dome of the Radcliffe, that shrugged up its great round shoulders at the intrusion of the cross-bred Graeco-Gothic tower of All Saints. The theatre had walked up to St. Giles's to see how the Taylor Buildings agreed with the University galleries; while the Martyrs' Memorial had stepped down to Magdalen Bridge, in time to see the college taking a walk in the Botanic Gardens. The Schools and the Bodleian had set their back against the stately portico of the Clarendon Press; while the antiquated Ashmolean had given place to the more modern Townhall. The time-honoured, black-looking front of University College had changed into the cold cleanliness of the "classic" facade of Queen's. The two towers of All Souls', - whose several stages seem to be pulled out of each other like the parts of a telescope, - had, somehow, removed themselves from the rest of the building, which had gone, nevertheless, on a tour to Broad Street; behind which, as every one knows, are the Broad Walk and the Christ Church meadows. Merton Chapel had got into New quarters; and Wadham had gone to Worcester for change of

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 43]

air. Lincoln had migrated from near Exeter to Pembroke; and Brasenose had its nose quite put out of joint by St. John's. In short, if the maps of Oxford are to be trusted, there had been a general pousset movement among its public buildings.

But if such a shrewd and practised observer as Sir Walter Scott, after a week's hard and systematic sight-seeing, could only say of Oxford, "The time has been much too short to convey to me separate and distinct ideas of all the variety of wonders that I saw: my memory only at present furnishes a grand but indistinct picture of towers, and chapels, and oriels, and vaulted halls, and libraries, and paintings;" - if Sir Walter Scott could say this after a week's work, it is not to be wondered at that Mr. Green, after so brief and rapid a survey of the city at the heels of an unintelligent guide, should feel himself slightly confused when, on his return to the Manor Green, he attempted to give a slight description of the wonderful sights of Oxford.

There was one lion of Oxford, however, whose individuality of expression was too striking either to be forgotten or confused with the many other lions around. Although (as in Byron's Dream)

"A mass of many images Crowded like waves upon"

Mr. Green, yet clear and distinct through all there ran

"The stream-like windings of that glorious street,"*

to which one of the first critics of the age+ has given this high testimony of praise: "The High Street of Oxford has not its equal in the whole world."

Mr. Green could not, of course, leave Oxford until he had seen his beloved son in that elegant cap and preposterous gown which constitute the present academical dress of the Oxford undergraduate; and to assume which, with a legal right to the same, matriculation is first necessary. As that amusing and instructive book, the University Statutes, says in its own delightful and unrivalled canine Latin, "Statutum est, quod nemo pro Studente, seu Scholari, habeatur, nec ullis Universitatis privilegiis, aut beneficiis" (the cap and gown, of course, being among these), "gaudeat, nisi qui in aliquod Collegium vel Aulam admissus fuerit, et intra quindenam post talem admissionem in matriculam Universitatis fuerit relatus." So our hero put on the required white tie, and then went forth to complete his proper costume.

There were so many persons purporting to be "Academical robe-makers," that Mr. Green was some little time in deciding who should be the tradesman favoured with the order for

—- * Wordsworth, Miscellaneous Sonnets. + Dr. Waagen, Art and Artists in England. -=-

[44 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

his son's adornment. At last he fixed upon a shop, the window of which contained a more imposing display than its neighbours of gowns, hoods, surplices, and robes of all shapes and colours, from the black velvet-sleeved proctor's to the blushing gorgeousness of the scarlet robe and crimson silk sleeves of the D.C.L.

"I wish you," said Mr. Green, advancing towards a smirking individual, who was in his shirt-sleeves and slippers, but in all other respects was attired with great magnificence, - "I wish you to measure this gentleman for his academical robes, and also to allow him the use of some to be matriculated in."

"Certainly, sir," said the robe-maker, who stood bowing and smirking before them, - as Hood expressively says,

"Washing his hands with invisible soap, In imperceptible water;"-

"certainly, sir, if you wish it: but it will scarcely be necessary, sir; as our custom is so extensive, that we keep a large ready-made stock constantly on hand."

"Oh, that will do just as well," said Mr. Green; "better, indeed. Let us see some."

"What description of robe would be required?" said the smirking gentleman, again making use of the invisible soap; "a scholar's?"

"A scholar's!" repeated Mr. Green, very much wondering at the question, and imagining that all students must of necessity be also scholars; "yes, a scholar's, of course."

A scholar's gown was accordingly produced: and its deep, wide sleeves, and ample length and breadth, were soon displayed to some advantage on Mr. Verdant Green's tall figure. Reflected in a large mirror, its charms were seen in their full perfection; and when the delighted Mr. Green exclaimed, "Why, Verdant, I never saw you look so well as you do now!" our hero was inclined to think that his father's words were the words of truth, and that a scholar's gown was indeed becoming. The tout ensemble was complete when the cap had been added to the gown; more especially as Verdant put it on in such a manner that the polite robe-maker was obliged to say, "The hother way, if you please, sir. Immaterial perhaps, but generally preferred. In fact, the shallow part is always the forehead, - at least, in Oxford, sir."

While Mr. Green was paying for the cap and gown (N.B. the money of governors is never refused), the robe-maker smirked, and said, "Hexcuse the question; but may I hask, sir, if this is the gentleman that has just gained the Scotland Scholarship?"

"No," replied Mr. Green. "My son has just gained his matriculation, and, I believe, very creditably; but nothing more, as we only came here yesterday."

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 45]

"Then I think, sir," said the robe-maker, with redoubled smirks, - "I think, sir, there is a leetle mistake here. The gentleman will be hinfringing the University statues, if he wears a scholar's gown and hasn't got a scholarship; and these robes'll be of no use to the gentleman, yet awhile at least. It will be an undergraduate's gown that he requires, sir."

It was fortunate for our hero that the mistake was discovered so soon, and could be rectified without any of those unpleasant consequences of iconoclasm to which the robe-maker's infringement of the "statues" seemed to point; but as that gentleman put the scholar's gown on one side, and brought out a commoner's, he might have been heard to mutter, "I don't know which is the freshest, - the freshman or his guv'nor."

When Mr. Verdant Green once more looked in the glass, and saw hanging straight from his shoulders a yard of blueish-black stuff, garnished with a little lappet, and two streamers whose upper parts were gathered into double plaits, he regretted that he was not indeed a scholar, if it were only for the privilege of wearing so elegant a gown. However, his father smiled approvingly, the robe-maker smirked judiciously; so he came to the gratifying conclusion that the commoner's gown was by no means ugly, and would be thought a great deal of at the Manor Green when he took it home at the end of the term.

Leaving his hat with the robe-maker, who, with many more smirks and imaginary washings of the hands, hoped to be favoured with the gentleman's patronage on future occasions, and begged further to trouble him with a card of his establishment, - our hero proceeded with his father along the High Street, and turned round by St. Mary's, and so up Cat Street to the Schools, where they made their way to the classic

[46 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

"Pig-market,"* to await the arrival of the Vice-Chancellor. When he came, our freshman and two other white-tied fellow-freshmen were summoned to the great man's presence; and there, in the ante-chamber of the Convocation House,+ the edifying and imposing spectacle of Matriculation was enacted. In the first place, Mr. Verdant Green took divers oaths, and sincerely promised and swore that he would be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Victoria. He also professed (very much to his own astonishment) that he did "from his heart abhor, detest, and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope, or any authority of the see of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever." And, having almost lost his breath at this novel "position," Mr. Verdant Green could only gasp his declaration, "that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm." When he had sufficiently recovered his presence of mind, Mr. Verdant Green inserted his name in the University books as "Generosi filius natu maximus"; and then signed his name to the Thirty-nine Articles, - though he did not endanger his matriculation, as Theodore Hook did, by professing his readiness to sign forty if they wished it! Then the Vice-Chancellor concluded the performance by presenting to the three freshmen (in the most liberal manner) three brown-looking volumes, with these words: "Scitote vos in Matriculam Universitatis hodie relatos esse, sub hac conditione, nempe ut omnia Statuta hoc libro comprehensa pro virili observetis." And the ceremony was at an end, and Mr. Verdant Green was a matriculated member of the University of Oxford. He was far too nervous, - from the weakening effect of the popes, and the excommunicate princes, and their murderous subjects, - to be able to translate and understand what the Vice-Chancellor had said to him, but he

—- * The reason why such a name has been given to the Schools' quadrangle may be found in the following extract from Ingram's Memorials: "The schools built by Abbot Hokenorton being inadequate to the increasing wants of the University, they applied to the Abbot of Reading for stone to rebuild them; and in the year 1532 it appears that considerable sums of money were expended on them; but they went to decay in the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII, and during the whole reign of Edward VI. The change of religion having occasioned a suspension of the usual exercises and scholastic acts in the University, in the year 1540 only two of these schools were used by determiners, and within two years after none at all. The whole area between these schools and the divinity school was subsequently converted into a garden and pig-market; and the schools themselves, being completely abandoned by the masters and scholars, were used by glovers and laundresses." + "In apodyterio domui congregationis." -=-

[AN OXFORD FRESHMAN 47]

thought his present to be particularly kind; and he found it a copy of the University Statutes, which he determined forthwith to read and obey.

Though if he had known that he had sworn to observe statutes which required him, among other things, to wear garments only of a black or "subfusk" hue; to abstain from that absurd and proud custom of walking in public in boots, and the ridiculous one of wearing the hair long;* - statutes, moreover, which demanded of him to refrain from all taverns, wine-shops, and houses in which they sold wine or any other drink, and the herb called nicotiana or "tobacco"; not to hunt wild beasts with dogs or snares or nets; not to carry cross-bows or other "bombarding" weapons, or keep hawks for fowling; not to frequent theatres or the strifes of gladiators; and only to carry a bow and arrows for the sake of honest recreation;+ - if Mr. Verdant Green had known that he had covenanted to do this, he would, perhaps, have felt some scruples in taking the oaths of matriculation. But this by the way.

Now that Mr. Green had seen all that he wished to see, nothing remained for him but to discharge his hotel bill. It was accordingly called for, and produced by the waiter, whose face - by a visitation of that complaint against which vaccination is usually considered a safeguard - had been reduced to a

—- * See the Oxford Statutes, tit. xiv, "De vestitu et habitu scholastico." + Ditto, tit. xv, "De moribus conformandis." -=-

[48 ADVENTURES OF MR. VERDANT GREEN]

state resembling the interior half of a sliced muffin. To judge from the expression of Mr. Green's features as he regarded the document that had been put into his hand, it is probable that he had not been much accustomed to Oxford hotels; for he ran over the several items of the bill with a look in which surprise contended with indignation for the mastery, while the muffin-faced waiter handled his plated salver, and looked fixedly at nothing.

Mr. Green, however, refraining from observations, paid the bill; and, muffling himself in greatcoat and travelling-cap, he prepared himself to take a comfortable journey back to Warwickshire, inside the Birmingham and Oxford coach. It was not loaded in the same way that it had been when he came up by it, and his fellow-passengers were of a very different description; and it must be confessed that, in the absence of Mr. Bouncer's tin horn, the attacks of intrusive terriers, and the involuntary fumigation of himself with tobacco (although its presence was still perceptible within the coach), Mr. Green found his journey from Oxford much more agreeable than it had been to that place. He took an affectionate farewell of his son, somewhat after the manner of the "heavy fathers" of the stage; and then the coach bore him away from the last lingering look of our hero, who felt any thing but heroic at being left for the first time in his life to shift for himself. His luggage had been sent up to Brazenface, so thither he turned his steps, and with some little difficulty found his room. Mr. Filcher had partly unpacked his master's things, and had left everything uncomfortable and in "the most admired disorder"; and Mr. Verdant Green sat himself down upon the "practicable" window-seat, and resigned himself to his thoughts. If they had not already flown to the Manor Green, they would soon have been carried there; for a German band, just outside the college-gates, began to play "Home, sweet home," with that truth and delicacy of expression which the wandering minstrels of Germany seem to acquire intuitively. The sweet melancholy

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse