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THE CHARM OF OXFORD
J. WELLS, M.A. Warden of Wadham College, Oxford
Illustrated by W. G. BLACKALL
Second Edition (Revised)
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON KENT & CO., LTD., 4 STATIONERS' HALL COURT : : LONDON, E.C.4
Copyright First published 1920 Second edition 1921
"'Home of lost causes'—this is Oxford's blame; 'Mother of movements'—this, too, boasteth she; In the same walls, the same yet not the same, She welcomes those who lead the age-to-be."
"Much have ye suffered from time's gnawing tooth, Yet, O ye spires of Oxford domes and towers, Gardens and groves, your presence overpowers The soberness of reason." WORDSWORTH.
[Plate 1. Christ Church : The Cathedral from the Garden]
THE CHARM OF OXFORD
There are many books on Oxford; the justification for this new one is Mr. Blackall's drawings. They will serve by their grace and charm pleasantly to recall to those who know Oxford the scenes they love; they will incite those who do not know Oxford to remedy that defect in their lives.
My own letterpress is only written to accompany the drawings. It is intended to remind Oxford men of the things they know or ought to know; it is intended still more to help those who have not visited Oxford to understand the drawings and to appreciate some of the historical associations of the scenes represented.
I have written quite freely, as this seemed the best way to create the "impression" wished. I have to acknowledge some obligations to Messrs. Seccombe & Scott's /Praise of Oxford/, a book the pages of which an Oxford man can always turn over with pleasure, and to Mr. J. B. Firth's /Minstrelsy of Isis/; it is not his fault that the poetic merit of so much of his collection is poor. Oxford has not on the whole been fortunate in her poets. My own quotations are more often chosen for their local colour than for their poetic merit.
I have unavoidably had to borrow a good deal from my own /Oxford and its Colleges/, but the aim of the two books is very different.
WADHAM COLLEGE, OXFORD, April 1920.
INTRODUCTION RADCLIFFE SQUARE THE BROAD STREET BALLIOL COLLEGE MERTON COLLEGE MERTON LIBRARY ORIEL COLLEGE QUEEN'S COLLEGE NEW COLLEGE: (1) FOUNDER AND BUILDINGS NEW COLLEGE: (2) HISTORY LINCOLN COLLEGE MAGDALEN COLLEGE: (1) SITE AND BUILDINGS MAGDALEN COLLEGE: (2) HISTORY BRASENOSE COLLEGE CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE CHRIST CHURCH: (1) THE CATHEDRAL CHRIST CHURCH: (2) THE HALL STAIRCASE CHRIST CHURCH: (3) "TOM" TOWER ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE WADHAM COLLEGE: (1) THE BUILDINGS WADHAM COLLEGE: (2) HISTORY HERTFORD COLLEGE ST. EDMUND HALL IFFLEY MILL
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
I CHRIST CHURCH, THE CATHEDRAL FROM THE GARDEN II ST. MARY'S SPIRE III VIEW IN RADCLIFFE SQUARE IV SHELDONIAN THEATRE, ETC., BROAD STREET V BALLIOL COLLEGE, BROAD STREET FRONT VI MERTON COLLEGE, THE TOWER VII MERTON COLLEGE, THE LIBRARY INTERIOR VIII ORIEL COLLEGE AND ST. MARY'S CHURCH IX HIGH STREET X NEW COLLEGE, THE ENTRANCE GATEWAY XI NEW COLLEGE, THE TOWER XII LINCOLN COLLEGE, THE CHAPEL INTERIOR XIII MAGDALEN TOWER XIV MAGDALEN COLLEGE, THE OPEN AIR PULPIT XV BRASENOSE COLLEGE, QUADRANGLE AND THE RADCLIFFE LIBRARY XVI CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, THE FIRST QUADRANGLE XVII CHRIST CHURCH, THE CATHEDRAL FROM THE MEADOW XVIII CHRIST CHURCH, THE HALL STAIRCASE XIX CHRIST CHURCH, THE HALL INTERIOR XX CHRIST CHURCH, "TOM" TOWER XXI ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE GARDEN FRONT XXII WADHAM COLLEGE, THE CHAPEL FROM THE GARDEN XXIII WADHAM COLLEGE, THE HALL INTERIOR XXIV HERTFORD COLLEGE, THE BRIDGE XXV ST. PETER-IN-THE-EAST CHURCH AND ST. EDMUND HALL XXVI IFFLEY, THE OLD MILL OXFORD FROM THE EAST [End papers]
In what does the charm of Oxford consist? Why does she stand out among the cities of the world as one of those most deserving a visit? It can hardly be said to be for the beauty of her natural surroundings. In spite of the charm of her
"Rivers twain of gentle foot that pass Through the rich meadow-land of long green grass,"
in spite of her trees and gardens, which attract a visitor, especially one from the more barren north, Oxford must yield the palm of natural beauty to many English towns, not to mention those more remote.
But she has every other claim, and first, perhaps, may be mentioned that of historic interest.
An Englishman who knows anything of history is not likely to forget of how many striking events in the development of his country Oxford has been the scene. The element of romance is furnished early in her story by the daring escape of the Empress-Queen, Matilda, from Oxford Castle. The Provisions of Oxford (1258) were the work of one of the most famous Parliaments of the thirteenth century, the century which saw the building of the English constitution, and the students of the University fought for the cause which those Provisions represented. The burning of the martyr bishops in the sixteenth century is one of the greatest tragedies in the story of our Church. The seventeenth century saw Oxford the capital of Royalist England in the Civil War, and though there was no actual fighting there, Charles' night march in 1644 from Oxford to the West, between the two enclosing armies of Essex and Waller, is one of the most famous military movements ever carried out in our comparatively peaceful island. The Parliamentary history, too, of Oxford in the seventeenth century is full of interest, for it was there that in 1625 Charles' first Parliament met in the Divinity School. And fifty years later, his son, Charles II, triumphed over the Whig Parliament at Oxford, which was trying by factious violence to force the Exclusion Bill on a reluctant king and nation. Few towns beside London have been the scene of so many great historical events; yet any one who looks below the surface will attach less importance to these than to the great changes in thought which have found in Oxford their inspiration, and which make it a city of pilgrimage for those interested in the development of England's real life. Matthew Arnold's famous description, hackneyed though it is by quotation, gives one aspect of Oxford, an aspect which will appeal to many beside the scholar poet:
"Beautiful city! so venerable, so lovely, so unravaged by the fierce intellectual life of our century, so serene!
'There are our young barbarians, all at play.'
And yet, steeped in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to the moonlight, and whispering' from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Ages, who will deny that Oxford, by her ineffable charm, keeps ever calling us nearer to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection—to beauty, in a word, which is only truth seen from another side?"
But this is not the real intellectual charm of Oxford, which has been ever the centre of strenuous life, rather than of dilettante dreamings. From the very beginning, she has been a city of "Movements." Some visitors, then, will come to Oxford as the home and the burial-place of Roger Bacon, representing as he does the Franciscan Order, with its Christ-like sympathy for the poor and its early attempts to develop the knowledge of Natural Science; Oxford was in the thirteenth century the great centre of the Friars' movement in England. Others will remember that in the next century it produced, in John Wycliffe, the great opponent of the Friars, the man who, as the first of the Reformers, is to many the most interesting figure in mediaeval English religious history. In the sixteenth century, Oxford plays no great part in the actual revolution in the English Church; yet it will be a place attractive to many who cherish the memory of the "Oxford Reformers," the members of Erasmus' circle —John Colet, Thomas More, William Grocyn, and other scholars—who hoped by sound learning to amend the Church without violent change. Some, on the other hand, will see in the sixteenth-century Oxford, the school which trained men for the Counter-Reformation, such as the heroic Jesuit, Campion, or Cardinal Alien, the founder of the English College at Douai. The Anglican "Via Media" found its special representatives in Oxford in Jewel and Hooker, and in Laud, the practical genius who carried out its principles in the Church administration of his day. It was fitting that the movement for the revival of Church teaching in England in the nineteenth century should be an Oxford movement, and Newman's pulpit at St. Mary's and the chapel of Oriel College are sacred in the eyes of Anglicans all over the world. In the interval between Laud and Newman, Church principles had found a different development in another Oxford man; John Wesley's character and spiritual life were built up in Oxford, till he went forth to do the work of an Evangelist during more than half of the eighteenth century. Wycliffe, More, Hooker, Laud, Wesley, Newman, these are not the names of men who have affected the religious history of the world as did Luther, Calvin or Ignatius Loyola; but they have affected profoundly the religious life of the English-speaking race, and Oxford must ever be a sacred place for their sakes.
And Oxford has been the starting-point of other than religious movements. No place in England has such a claim on the Englishmen of the New World as has Oxford. It was there that Richard Hakluyt taught geography, and collected in part his wonderful store of the tales of enterprise beyond the sea. Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, both Oxford men, were the founders of English colonization. By their failures they showed the way to success later, and Calvert in Maryland, Penn in Pennsylvania, John Locke in the Carolinas, and Oglethorpe in Georgia are all Oxford men who rank as founders of States in the great Union of the West. And in our own day, Cecil Rhodes has once more proved that the academic dreamer can go out and advance the development of a great continent. By his magnificent foundation of scholarships at Oxford, he showed that he considered his old university a formative influence of the greatest importance in world history. Oxford with reason puts up one tablet to mark his lodgings in the city, and another to commemorate him in her stately Examination Schools.
[Plate II, St. Mary's Spire]
But there are many to whom the past, whether in the realm of action or in the realm of ideas, does not appeal, whether it be from lack of knowledge or from lack of sympathy. To some of these Oxford makes a different appeal as perhaps the best place in England for studying the development of English architecture. The early Norman work of the Castle and St. Michael's, the Transition work of the cathedral, the very early lancet windows of St. Giles' Church (consecrated by the great St. Hugh of Lincoln himself), the Decorated Style as seen in St. Mary's spire and in Merton chapel, the glories of the specially English style, the Perpendicular, in Wykeham's work at New College and in Magdalen Tower, the Tudor magnificence of Wolsey's work at Christ Church, the last flower of Gothic at Wadham and at St. John's, the triumph of Wren's genius, alike in the classical style at the Sheldonian and in "Gothic" as in Tom Tower, the Classical work of Hawkesmore at Queen's and of Gibbs in the Radcliffe, the wonderful beauty of Mr. Bodley's modern Gothic in St. Swithun's Quad at Magdalen, and the skilful adaptation of old English tradition to modern needs by Sir Thomas Jackson at Trinity and at Hertford—what other city can show such a series of architectural beauties? And it must not be forgotten that Oxford disputes with York the honour of having the most representative sequence of painted glass windows in England. Oxford, indeed, is a paradise for the student of Art. Nowhere, except at Cambridge, can the series of architectural works be paralleled, and at both universities the charm of their ancient buildings is enhanced by their beautiful setting in college gardens.
It is not an accident that in the old universities more than anywhere else, so much of beauty has survived, nor is it to be put down as a happy piece of academic conservatism. It is rather the natural result of their constitution and endowment. What has been so fatal to the beauty of old England elsewhere has been material prosperity. The buildings inherited from the past had to go, at least so it was thought, because they were not suited to modern methods, or because the site they occupied was worth so much more for other purposes. But the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge could not carry on their work on different sites; "residence" was an essential of academic arrangements; and there was no temptation to the fellows of a college to make money by parting with their old buildings, for their incomes were determined by Statute, and any great increase of wealth would not advantage individual fellows. Hence, while great nobles and great merchants sold their splendid houses and grounds, and grew rich on the unearned increment, and while non-residential universities moved bodily from their old positions to new and more fashionable quarters, Oxford and Cambridge colleges went on working and living in the same places. Much the same reasons have preserved, in many old towns, picturesque alms-houses, to show the modern world how beautiful buildings once could be, while all around them reigns opulent ugliness. Certain it is that only in one instance, in recent times, has an Oxford college contemplated selling its old site and buildings and migrating to North Oxford, and then the sacrilegious attempt was outvoted. Hence, as has been said, the two old English Universities possess in an unique degree the
"Strange enchantments of the past And memories of the days of old."
The charms of Oxford for the historical student and for the lover of Art have been spoken of. But a large part of the world comes under neither head; to it the charm of Oxford consists in the young lives that are continually passing through it. Oxford and Cambridge present ever attractive contrasts between their young students and their old buildings, between the first enthusiasm of ever new generations, and customs and rules which date back to mediaeval times.
But apart from the charm of contrast, Oxford has everything to make life attractive for young men. It is true that the old buildings combine with a dignity a millionaire could not surpass a standard of material comfort which in some respects is below that of an up-to- date workhouse. An amusing instance has occurred of this during the war. The students of one of the women's colleges, expelled from their own modern buildings, which had been turned into a hospital, became tenants of half of one of the oldest colleges. It was very romantic thus to gain admission to the real Oxford, but the students soon found that it was very uncomfortable to have their baths in an out- of-the-way corner of the college. And baths themselves are but a modern institution at Oxford; at one or two colleges still the old "tub in one's room" is the only system of washing. Perhaps this instance may be thought frivolous, but it is typical of Oxford, which has been described, with some exaggeration in both words, as a home of "barbaric luxury."
But after all, comfort in the material sense is the least important element in completeness of life. Oxford has everything else, except, it is true, a bracing climate. She has society of every kind, in which a man ranks on his merits, not on his possessions; he is valued for what he is, not for what he has; she gives freedom to her sons to live their own life, with just sufficient restraint to add piquancy to freedom, and to restrain those excesses which are fatal to it; she has intellectual interests and traditions, which often really affect men who seem indifferent to them; life in her, as a rule, is not troubled by financial cares—for her young men, most of them, either through old endowments or from family circumstances, have for the moment enough of this world's goods. In view of all this, and much more, is it not natural that Oxford has a charm for her sons? And this is enhanced with many by all the force of hereditary tradition; the young man is at his college because his father was there before him; the pleasure of each generation is increased by the reflection of the other's pleasure. What traditional feeling in Oxford means may, perhaps, be illustrated by the story of an old English worthy, though one only of the second rank. Jonathan Trelawney, one of the Seven Bishops who defied James II, was a stout Whig, but when it was proposed to punish Oxford for her devotion to the Pretender, the Government found they could not reckon on his vote, though he was usually a safe party man. "I must be excused from giving my vote for altering the methods of election into Christ Church, where I had my bread for twenty years. I would rather see my son a link boy than a student of Christ Church in such a manner as tears up by the roots that constitution."
But the days of hereditary tradition are over, and Trelawney belongs to an age long past; Oxford now is exposed to an influence compared to which the arbitrary proceedings of a king are feeble. A democratic Parliament with a growing Labour party has far more power to change Oxford than the Stuarts ever had, and even at this moment (1919) a third Royal Commission is beginning to sit. Will it modify, will it— transform Oxford?
The first answer seems to be that the very stones of Oxford are charged with her traditions. During the War the colleges have been full of officer-cadets; they were men of all ranks of life and of every kind of education; they came from all parts of the world; they were of all ages, from eighteen to forty, at least. Their training was a strenuous one by strict rule, a complete contrast to the free and easy life of academic Oxford. Yet in their few months of residence, most of them became imbued with the college spirit; they considered themselves members of the place they lived in; they tried to do most of the things undergraduates do. If Oxford thus, to some extent, moulded to her pattern men who, welcome as they were, were only accidental, surely the college spirit may be trusted to assimilate whatever material the changed conditions of social or of political life furnish to it. The hope of many at Oxford is that there will be a great development and a great change. On one side it will be good if Oxford becomes to a much greater extent not only an all-British, but also a world university; on another side it is to be hoped that far more than ever before men of all classes in England will come to Oxford. It would surprise many of the University's critics to find how much had already been done in these directions. It is certainly not true now that, as one of Oxford's critics wrote,
"Too long, too long men saw thee sit apart From all the living pulses of the hour."
On the contrary, the Oxford of the last generation has already become markedly more cosmopolitan, and she has been drawing to her an ever- increasing number of able men of every class.
But these developments, thus begun, will certainly be carried much further in the near future. Oxford will be altered. Some of her customs will be changed. This may well issue in great and lasting good, though there will be loss as well as gain. But an Oxford man may be pardoned if he believes and hopes that his university will remain the university he has loved. There is a saying current in Oxford about Oxford men, which may not be out of place here—"If you meet a stranger, and if after a time you say to him, 'I think you were at Oxford,' he accepts it, as a matter of course, and is pleased. If you do the same to a Cambridge man, he indignantly replies, 'How do you know that?'" No doubt the saying is turned the other way round at Cambridge, and no doubt it is equally true and equally false of both universities, i.e. it is positively true and negatively false, like so many other statements. But it is positively true; the Oxford man is proud of having been at Oxford; the past and the present alike, his political and his religious beliefs, his traditions and his social surroundings, all endear Oxford to him. May it ever be so.
"Like to a queen in pride of place, she wears The splendour of a crown in Radcliffe's dome." L. JOHNSON.
[Plate III. View of Radcliffe Square]
The visitor to Oxford often asks—"Where is the University?" The proper answer is: "The University is everywhere," for the colleges are all parts of it. But if a distinction must be made, and some buildings must be shown which are especially "University Buildings," then it is undoubtedly in the Square, of which this picture shows one side, that they must be found. Immediately on the right is the Bodleian Library, the domed building in the centre is the Radcliffe Library, and in the background rises the spire of St. Mary's. Of this last building the tower and spire go back nearly to the beginnings of Oxford; they date from the time of Edward I; but for a century, at least, before they were erected, the students of Oxford had met for worship and for business in the earlier church, which stood on the site of the present St. Mary's.
The Bodleian Library occupies the old Examination Schools, which were built, in the reign of James I, for the reformed University of Archbishop Laud; within the memory of men who do not count themselves old, the university examinations were still held in this building. Finally, the shapely dome between the Bodleian and St. Mary's is the work of James Gibbs, the greatest English architect of the eighteenth century, to whom Cambridge owes its Senate House, and London the noble church of St. Martin's in the Fields. The dome was built for a separate library, the foundation of Dr. John Radcliffe, Queen Anne's physician, the most munificent of Oxford benefactors; it is still managed by his trustees, a body independent of the University, but since 1861 they have lent it to the Bodleian Library for a reading- room. It is fitting that the oldest public library in the modern world, a title the Bodleian can proudly claim, should have the finest reading-room, where 400 students can have each his separate desk, and where, if so minded and so physically enduring, they can put in twelve hours' work in a day. No other great library in Europe allows such privileges.
Round these three University buildings are grouped three colleges: Hertford, the youngest of Oxford foundations, the re-creation of an old hall by a Victorian financial magnate. Sir Thomas Baring; All Souls', standing a little beyond, of which the part here shown is the corner of the great Law Library, founded by Sir William Codrington in the days of good Queen Anne; while on the other side of the Radcliffe is Brasenose College (for pictures of which see Plates II and XV). No non-academic building fronts on the Square; the one or two houses facing on the south-west corner are occupied by college tutors. The academic influence has spread even under the earth, for between the Bodleian and the Radcliffe there is a great subterranean chamber of two stories, excavated 1909-1910, which, when full, will contain 1,000,000 books.
It is refreshing to turn from the thought of so much dead industry, as these multitudes of unread books will represent, to the inspiration of the buildings. They are the very epitome of Oxford. The classic symmetry of Gibbs' dome looks across at the soaring spire of the mediaeval University Church, while the Bodleian is one of the best examples of the Jacobean Gothic, which still held its own in Oxford when the classical style was triumphing elsewhere. Such contrasts are typical of Oxford. The University had a European reputation in the days when it was one of the two great centres of mediaeval scholasticism. Roger Bacon, the most famous name in mediaeval science, no doubt saw the tower of St. Mary's beginning to rise. The University welcomed the Classical Revival, it survived the storms of the Reformation, it was the great centre of the building up of Anglican theology under the Laudian rule, it was one of the inspirations of English science in the seventeenth century, though Dr. Radcliffe's generous benefactions are a little later, and have hardly begun to yield their full fruit till our own day. Such are the learned traditions of the Radcliffe Square, while it has also been the centre of the young lives which, for seven centuries at least, have enjoyed their happiest years in Oxford.
The view from the Radcliffe roof is undoubtedly the best in Oxford. It has been thus described by the worst of the many poets who have celebrated the University:
"Spire, tower and steeple, roofs of radiant tile, The costly temple and collegiate pile, In sumptuous mass of mingled form and hue, Await the wonder of thy sateless view."
But Robert Montgomery is more likely to be remembered for Macaulay's merciless but well-deserved chastisement than for his praises of Oxford. Even their utter bathos cannot degrade a group of buildings so wonderful.
THE BROAD STREET
"Ye mossy piles of old munificence, At once the pride of learning and defence." J. WARTON, /Triumph of Isis/
The east side of the University buildings proper was shown in the last picture (Plate III); in the following (Plate IV), the north side of the same block is seen. The old University "schools" lay just inside the city wall, and Broad Street, which is there represented, occupies the site of the ditch, which ran on the north of the wall. This picture is a fitting supplement to the last, for the Sheldonian Theatre on the right of it and the Clarendon Building in the background may claim rank even with the Bodleian and the Radcliffe as the University's special buildings.
The Sheldonian celebrated its two hundred and fiftieth anniversary only last year (1919), when the music which had been performed at its opening was performed once more. It is a building interesting from many points of view. Architecturally it marks the first complete flowering of the genius of Sir Christopher Wren. He was only thirty- seven when it was completed, and had been previously known rather as a man of science than as an architect; he was Oxford's Professor of Astronomy; but Archbishop Sheldon chose him to build a worthy meeting place for his University, even as at the same time he was being called by the king to prepare plans for rebuilding London after the Great Fire.
The very existence of the Sheldonian marks the development of University ideas. The simple piety—or was it the worldliness?—of Pre-Reformation Oxford had seen nothing unsuitable in the ceremonies of graduate Oxford and the ribaldries of undergraduate Oxford taking place in the consecrated building of St. Mary's; but the more sober genius of Anglicanism was shocked at these secular intrusions, and Sheldon provided his University with a worthy home, where its great functions have been performed ever since.
The building is a triumph of construction; it is doubtful if so large an unsupported roof can be found elsewhere; but Wren is not to be held responsible for the outside ugly flat roof, which was put on 100 years ago, because it was said, quite falsely, that Wren's roof was unsafe. That architect had set himself the problem of getting the greatest number of people into the space at his disposal, and he managed to fit in a building that will hold 1,500. It was also intended for the Printing Press of the University, but was only used in that way for a short time, as in 1713 Sir John Vanbrugh put up the Clarendon Building, to house this department of University activity. The "heaviness" of Vanbrugh's buildings was a jest even in his own time; someone wrote as an epitaph for him
"Lie heavy on him. Earth, for he Laid many a heavy load on thee."
Blenheim Palace, his greatest work, is indeed a "heavy load." But the same criticism can hardly be brought against the columned portico, which forms a fine ending for the Broad Street. Vanbrugh's building was superseded in its turn, when the increasing business of the Oxford Printing Press was moved to the present building in 1830.
[Plate IV. Sheldonian Theatre, etc., Broad Street]
Since then, all kinds of University business have been carried on in the old Printing Press. The University Registrar and the University Treasurer (his style is "Secretary of the University Chest") have their offices there; the Proctors exercise discipline from there; the various University delegacies and committees meet there. And another side of Oxford life, not yet (in January 1920) fully recognized as belonging to the University, has found a home there; the top floor has been for twenty years past the centre of women's education in Oxford, a position elevated indeed, for it is up more than fifty stairs, but commodious and dignified when reached at last.
Perhaps the Clarendon Building has gained in lightness of effect by being contrasted with the clumsy mass of the Indian Institute, which forms the background of our picture. The nineteenth century proudly criticized the taste of the eighteenth; but it may well be doubted if any building in Oxford of the earlier and much-abused century is more inartistic and inappropriate than "Jumbo's Joss House," which used to rouse the scorn and anger of the late Professor of History, Edward A. Freeman.
No Oxford colleges are in this picture, though a small part of Exeter, one of Sir Gilbert Scott's least happy erections in Oxford, appears on the right, and a little piece of Trinity on the left; the last-named is the college of Professor Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, better known as "Q," one of the most delightful of Oxford's minor poets. The opening lines of his poem, "Alma Mater,"
"Know ye her secret none can utter, Hers of the book, the tripled crown? Still on the spire the pigeons flutter, Still by the gateway flits the gown, Still in the street from corbel and gutter Faces of stone look down,"
may well have been inspired by this very scene in the Broad, for the grim faces of stone that surround the Sheldonian are one of the features and the puzzles of Oxford. Are they the Roman Emperors, or the Greek Philosophers, or neither? It does not matter, for they are unlike anything in heaven or in earth, and yet they are loved by all true Oxford men for their uncompromising ugliness, which has been familiar to so many generations.
"For the house of Balliol is builded ever By all the labours of all her sons, And the great deed wrought and the grand endeavour Will be hers as long as the Isis runs." F. S. BOAS
The story is told of the old Greek admirals, after their victory at Salamis over the Persian king, that, when invited to name the two most deserving commanders, they each put their own name first, and then one and all put the Athenian Themistocles second. If a vote, on these principles, were taken in Oxford as to which was the best college, there is little doubt that Balliol would secure most of the second votes.
It is one of the three oldest colleges, and actually has been in occupation of its present site longer than any other of our Oxford foundations—for more than six centuries and a half. Yet its greatness is but a thing of yesterday compared to the antiquity of Oxford, and it is fitting that a college which has come to the front in the nineteenth century should be mainly housed in nineteenth century buildings.
Balliol has indeed ceased to be the "most satisfactory pile and range of old lowered and gabled edifices," which Nathaniel Hawthorne saw in the "fifties" of the last century. The painful imitation of a French chateau, the work of Sir Alfred Waterhouse, which forms the main part of our picture, was put up about 1868 (mainly by the munificence of Miss Hannah Brackenbury), and only the old hall and the library, which lie behind, remain of Pre-Reformation Balliol.
In the background of our picture (Plate V) can be seen the Fisher Building, known to all Balliol men for the still existing inscription, "Verbum non amplius Fisher," which tradition says was put up at the dying request of the eighteenth-century benefactor.
While it is true that the pre-eminence of Balliol is a growth of the nineteenth century, yet the college can count among its worthies one of the greatest names in English mediaeval history, that of John Wycliffe. He was probably a scholar of Balliol, and certainly Master for some years about 1360. But he left the college for a country living, and his time at Balliol is not associated with either of his most important works—his translation of the Bible or his order of "Poor Preachers." While at Balliol, he was rather "the last of the Schoolmen" than "the first of the Reformers."
The modern greatness of Balliol is due to the fact that the college awoke more rapidly from the sleep of the eighteenth century than most of Oxford, and as early as 1828 threw open its scholarships to free competition. Hence even as early as the time of Dr. Arnold at Rugby, a "Balliol scholarship" had become "the blue riband of public-school education." It has now passed into popular phraseology to such an extent that lady novelists, unversed in academic niceties, confer a "Balliol scholarship" on their heroes, even when entering Cambridge.
Balliol has known how to take full advantage of its opportunity. Governed by a series of eminent masters, especially Dr. Scott of Greek dictionary fame, and Professor Jowett, the translator of Plato and the hero of more Oxford stories than any other man, it has been ready to adapt itself to every new movement. While the governing bodies of other colleges in the middle of the last century were too often looking only to raising their own fellowships to the highest possible point, the Balliol dons were denying their own pockets to enrich and strengthen their college.
Hence, undoubtedly, Balliol for a long time past has had a lion's share of Oxford's great men; two Archbishops of Canterbury, Tait and Temple, the present Archbishop of York, Cardinal Manning, a Prime Minister in Mr. Asquith, a Speaker in Lord. Peel, two Viceroys of India in Lord Lansdowne and Lord Curzon, poets like Clough, Matthew Arnold and Swinburne, these are only some of the more outstanding names. It is this which makes Balliol Hall so particularly interesting to the ordinary man; knowledge of present-day affairs, not of history, is all that is needed to appreciate its array of portraits.
Nor has Balliol been unmindful of the social movements of our time. It is the chosen home of the Workers' Educational Association in Oxford, and in Arnold Toynbee it produced one of the pioneers and martyrs of modern social progress. Truly Balliol has much more to show to the visitor than its ultra-modern front on the Broad would promise.
The street, on which Balliol looks out, is associated with the most famous scene of Oxford history; the stone with a cross in the middle of the road marks the traditional site of the burning of the bishops, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, although their memorial has been erected 200 yards further north in St. Giles', and though antiquarians argue (probably correctly) that the actual pyre was a little further south, in fact, behind the present row of Broad Street houses.
But it is the living activity of the college, not the sad memories of the street in front, that gives the interest to the picture. The intellectual life of the Balliol men has been well described by Professor J. C. Shairp, whose verses on "Balliol Scholars" are likely to be remembered by Oxford in long days to come for their associations, if not for their poetic merits. He describes what a privilege it is "to have passed," with men who became famous afterwards,
"The threshold of young life, Where the man meets, not yet absorbs, the boy, And ere descending to the dusky strife, Gazed from clear heights of intellectual joy That an undying image left enshrined."
This will come home to many, as they think on their happy Oxford days when they had life all before them, even though their contemporaries have not become archbishops like Temple or poets like Matthew Arnold.
[Plate V. Balliol College, Broad Street Front]
"I passed beside the reverend walls In which of old I wore the gown." TENNYSON.
[Plate VI. Merton College : The Tower]
Merton is not only the oldest college in Oxford, it is also, as is claimed on the monument of the founder, Walter de Merton, in his Cathedral of Rochester, the model of "omnium quotquot extant collegiorum." Peterhouse, the first college at Cambridge, which was founded (1281) seven years later than Merton, had its statutes avowedly copied from those of its Oxford predecessor.
So important a new departure in education calls for special notice. It is interesting to see how the English college system grew out of the long rivalry between the Regular and the Secular clergy which was so prominent in the mediaeval church. The Secular clergy, who had in their ranks all the "professional men" of the day, civil servants, architects, physicians, as well as, those devoted to religious matters in the strict sense, were always jealous of the monks and the friars, who, living by a "rule" in their communities, were much less in sympathy with English national feelings than the Seculars, who lived among the laity. Hence the growing influence of the Regular Orders, especially of the Franciscans and the Dominicans, in thirteenth-century Oxford, excited the alarm of a far-seeing prelate like Walter de Merton. There was a real danger that the most prominent and best of the students might be drawn into the great new communities, which were rapidly adding to their learning and their piety the further attractions of great buildings and splendid ceremonial.
The founder of Merton had the same purpose as the founder of the College of the Sorbonne at Paris, a slightly earlier institution (1257). He intended that his college should rival the houses of the Dominicans and the Franciscans. These friaries were in the southern part of Oxford, and have completely perished, leaving behind only the names of two or three mean streets; but the college system which Walter de Merton founded has grown with the growth of Oxford and of England, and is to-day as vigorous and as useful as ever.
Walter de Merton provided his fellows with noble buildings, at once for their common life and for their own private accommodation, and also with endowments sufficient to enable them to live in comfort, free from anxiety; most important of all, he gave them powers of self-government, so that they might recruit their own numbers and carry out for themselves the objects prescribed by him in his Statutes.
In this great foundation then the three characteristic features of a college are found—a common life, powers of self-government, with the right of choosing future members, and endowments that enable religion and learning to flourish, free from more pressing cares. It is these features which distinguish the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and which have determined their history.
Walter de Merton definitely prescribed that none of the fellows who benefited by his foundation should be monks or friars; to take the vows involved forfeiture of a fellowship. He also especially urged on the members of his society that, when any of them rose to "ampler fortune" /(uberior fortuna)/, they should not forget their /alma mater/.
The founder died in 1277, so that none of the college buildings were complete in his time, except perhaps the treasury, which, with its high-pitched roof of stone, lies in the opposite corner of the Mob Quad to that shown in our picture. Why the Quad is called "The Mob Quad," nobody knows. As was fitting, the chapel was the first part of the college to be finished—about 1300—and it is a splendid specimen of early Geometrical Gothic; it retains a little of the old glass, given by one of the early fellows.
The north side of the Mob Quad, which is shown in our picture, is very little later than the Chapel, and the whole of the Quad was finished before 1400; the rooms in it have been the homes of Oxford men for more than five centuries. It is sad to think that so unique a building was almost destroyed in the middle of the nineteenth century, by the zeal of "reformers"; it was actually condemned to be pulled down, to make way for modern buildings, but, fortunately, there was an irregularity in the voting. Mr. G. C. Brodrick, then a young fellow, later the Warden of the college, insisted on the matter being discussed again at a later meeting, and at this the Mob Quad was saved by a narrow majority. "He will go to Heaven for it," as Corporal Trim said of the English Guards, who saved his broken regiment at Steinkirk.
The "reformers" of Merton had to be content with cutting down their beautiful "Grove" and spoiling the finest view in Oxford by erecting the ugliest building which Mid-Victorian taste inflicted on the University.
In the old buildings which so narrowly escaped destruction may have lived John Wycliffe, who is claimed as a fellow of Merton in an almost contemporary list; his activity in Oxford belongs rather to the later time, when he was Master of Balliol. His is one of the outstanding names in English history; the success of Merton in producing great men of a more ordinary kind can be judged from the fact that between 1294 and 1366 six out of the seven Archbishops of Canterbury were Merton men.
In the great period of the seventeenth century, Merton had the distinction of being one of the few colleges which were Parliamentarian in sympathy. Hence the Warden was deposed by King Charles, who installed in his place a really great man, William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood. But the king did more harm than good to the college; it was turned into lodgings for Queen Henrietta Maria and her court, and ladies were intruded and children born within college walls. These proceedings were respectable, though unusual; but the college was even more humiliated by the visit of Charles II, who installed there, among other court ladies, the notorious Duchess of Cleveland. The college, however, with the Revolution, returned to less courtly views, and its Whig connection found an honourable representative in Richard Steele, the founder of the /Tatler/. It is not surprising that so cheerful a gentleman left Oxford without a degree, but "with the love of the whole society." The college register specially notes his gift of his /Tatler/; he was acting on the sound rule, by no means so universally followed as it ought to be, that Oxford authors should present their books to their college library.
Merton, as has been said, is the "type" college, if one may thus apply a scientific term; hence it is fitting that to it belong the two men to whom perhaps Oxford owes most. Thomas Bodley was a fellow and lecturer in Greek there, before he left Oxford for diplomacy, and accumulated that wealth which he used to endow the oldest and the most fascinating, if not the largest, of British libraries. And among the men who have gained from "the rare books in the public library" a way to a "perfect elysium," none better deserves remembrance than the Mertonian, Antony Wood, whose monument stands in Merton Chapel, but who has raised /monumentum aere perennius/ to himself, in his /History of the University of Oxford/ and his /Athenae Oxonienses/.
[Plate VII. Merton College : The Library Interior]
"Hail, tree of knowledge! thy leaves fruit; which well Dost in the midst of Paradise arise, Oxford, the Muses' paradise, From which may never sword the blest expel. Hail, bank of all past ages! where they lie To enrich, with interest, posterity." COWLEY.
"The appearance of the library" (at Merton), says the great Cambridge scholar, J. Willis Clark, in his /Care of Books/, "is so venerable, so unlike any similar room with which I am acquainted, that it must always command admiration."
He classes it with the libraries at Oxford of Corpus, St. John's, Jesus, and Magdalen, and he regretfully adds that no college library in his own University has retained the same old features as these have done. But none of the four can compare with Merton, either in antiquarian interest or in picturesqueness; it stands in a class by itself.
The Library was built by the munificence of Bishop Reed of Chichester between 1377 and 1379; the dormer windows, however (seen in Plate VII), are later in date. The bookcases in the larger room were made in 1623; one of the original half cases, however, was spared, that nearest to the entrance on the north side, and this is the most interesting single feature in the whole library. It need hardly be said that the reading-desk in early times was actually attached to the bookcase; the library then was a place to read in, not one from which books were taken to be read. The books were to be kept "in some common and secure place," and they were "chained in the library chamber for the common use of the fellows" (J. W. Clark).
The old case that has been retained still has its chained books, and traces of the arrangement for chains can be seen in the other cases. Merton was one of the last libraries in Oxford to keep its books in chains; these were only removed in 1792; in the Bodleian the work had been begun a generation earlier (in 1757).
Not all books, however, were chained; by special arrangements in old college statutes, some of them were allowed out to the fellows. The register of Merton contains interesting entries as to how the books were distributed, e.g. on August 26, 1500, "choice was made of the books on philosophy; it was found there were in all 349 books, which were then distributed." This was a large number: at King's, Cambridge, less than half a century before, there were only 174 books on all subjects, and in the Cambridge University Library in 1473, only 330.
If a book was borrowed, great precautions were taken; the Warden of Merton in 1498 had to obtain the leave of the college to take out a book which he wanted; then, "in the presence of the four seniors," he received his book, depositing two volumes of St. Jerome's Commentaries as pledges for its safe return. A similar ceremony, with a similar entry in the register, marked the replacement of the book in the library. Though printing was already beginning to multiply books, yet then, and for long after, a book was a most valuable possession. The features of these venerable tomes are well described by Crabbe:
"That weight of wood, with leathern coat o'erlaid, Those ample clasps, of solid metal made, The close pressed leaves, unclosed for many an age, The dull red edging of the well-filled page, On the broad back the stubborn ridges rolled, Where yet the title shines in tarnished gold, These all a sage and laboured work proclaim, A painful candidate for lasting fame."
Such books are numbered by hundreds in every college library, and it is only too true of them that:
"Hence in these times, untouched the pages lie And slumber out their immortality."
The reception of such a book in a library was an event, and the record of one gift occupies six whole lines in the Merton Register; its donors are named as "two venerable men," and the entry sweetly concludes, "Let us, therefore, pray for them."
The library, problem, acute everywhere, is perhaps especially so in a college library. How can it keep pace with the multiplicity of studies? How should it deal with books indispensable for a short time, perhaps for one generation, and then superseded? Even apart from the question of the cost of purchase, the amount of space available is small, considering modern needs. These problems and such as these have not yet been solved by college librarians; but the college library, quite apart from the books in it, is an education in itself. The old days of neglect are past, the days reflected in the scandalous story—told of more than one college—about the old fellow who was missing for two months, and, after being searched for high and low, was found hanging dead in the college library. Now the libraries everywhere are being used continually, and men can realize in them, perhaps better than anywhere else, how great the past of Oxford has been, and can form some idea of the labours of forgotten generations, which have made the University what it was and what it is.
Every library has its treasures, to show the present generation how beautiful an old book can be which was produced in days when its production was not a mere publisher's speculation, but the work of a scholar seeking to promote knowledge and advance the cause of Truth. And it does not require much imagination for a student, in a building like Merton Library, to conjure up the picture of his mediaeval predecessor, sitting on his hard wooden bench, with his chained MSS. volume on the shelf above, and poring over the crabbed pages in the unwarmed, half-lighted chamber. If the picture brings with it the thought of the transitoriness of human endeavour, and if the words of the Teacher seem doubly true, "Of making of books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh," yet in the fresh life of young Oxford, such reflections are only salutary; pessimism, despair of humanity, are not vices likely to flourish among undergraduates in the healthy society of modern colleges.
Those only, it might be said, can properly reform the present who understand the past, and it is perhaps the spirit of the Merton Library, at once old and new, which has inspired the statesmen whom Merton has sent to take part in the government of Britain during the last half-century. Lord Randolph Churchill, the founder of Tory democracy, his present-day successor in the same role, Lord Birkenhead, and the ever young Lord Halsbury are men of the type which Walter de Merton wished to train, "for the service of God in Church and State," men who champion the existing order, but who are willing to develop and improve it on the old lines.
"Here at each coign of every antique street A memory hath taken root in stone, Here Raleigh shone." L. JOHNSON.
[Plate VIII. Oriel College and St. Mary's Church]
It is a curious coincidence that three of the most troubled reigns of English history have been marked by double college foundations in Oxford. That of Henry VI, in spite of constant civil war, threatening or actual, saw the beginnings of All Souls' and of Magdalen; the short and sad reign of Mary Tudor restored to Oxford Trinity and St. John's; and in an earlier century the ministers of Edward II, the most unroyal of our Plantagenet kings, gave to Oxford Exeter and Oriel. The king himself was graciously pleased to accept the honour of the latter foundation, and his statue adorns the College Quad, along with that of Charles I, in whose day the whole College was rebuilt. The front may be compared architecturally with those of Wadham and of University, which date from about the same period (the first part of the seventeenth century), when, under the fostering care of Archbishop Laud, Oxford increased greatly in numbers, in learning, and in buildings. Though Oriel has neither the bold sweep of University nor the perfect proportions of Wadham, it yet is a pleasing building, at least in its front.
Like New College, Oriel is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and, also like New College, the name of "St. Mary's" early gave way to a popular nickname. The College at once on its foundation received the gift of a tenement called "L'Oriole," which occupied its present site, and its name has displaced the real style of the College in general use.
It is only fitting that, as in our picture, St. Mary's Church should be combined with Oriel, for the founder was Vicar of St. Mary's, and the presentation to that living has ever since been in the hands of the College. It was as a Fellow of Oriel that Newman became, in 1828, Vicar of St. Mary's, from the pulpit of which, during thirteen years, he moulded all that was best in the religious life of Oxford. The glorious spire of the church was still new when the College was founded.
Oriel and its chapel are among the places for religious pilgrimage in Oxford. As Lincoln draws from all parts of the world those who reverence the name of John Wesley, so the Oxford Movement and the Anglican Revival had their starting-point, and for some time their centre, in Oriel. The connection of the College with the Movement was not in either case a mere accident; the Oxford Revival, at any rate, was profoundly influenced by the personality of Newman, and Newman, both by attraction and by repulsion, was largely what Oriel made him. Among those who were with him at the College were Archbishop Whately, whose Liberalism repelled him, Hawkins, the Provost, whose views on "Tradition" began to modify the Evangelicalism in which he had been brought up, Keble, whose /Christian Year/ did more for Church teaching in England than countless sermons, Pusey, already famous for his learning and his piety, who was to give his name to the Movement, and, slightly later, Church, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's, the historian of the Movement, and Samuel Wilberforce, who, as Bishop of Oxford, was to show how profoundly it would increase the influence of the English Church.
Such a combination of famous names at one time is hardly found in the history of any other college, and it would be easy to add others hardly less known, who were also members of the same body at that famous time. Hero-worshippers can still see the rooms where these great men lived, and the Common Room in which they met and argued, in the days when Oxford did less teaching and had more time for talking and for thinking than the busy, hurrying ways of the twentieth century allow. But Oriel has many other associations besides those of the Oxford Movement. Walter Raleigh, the most fascinating of Elizabethans, was a student there, and probably in Oxford met the great historian of travel and discovery, Richard Hakluyt (a Christ Church man), whose influence did so much to bring home to Oxford the wonders of the strange worlds beyond the seas. It was probably also through his connection with Oriel that Raleigh made the acquaintance of Harriot, who shared in his colonial ventures in Virginia, and who became the historian of that foundation, so full of importance as the beginning of the new England across the Atlantic. It was only fitting that the Raleigh of the nineteenth century, Cecil John Rhodes, should also be an Oriel man, who was never weary of acknowledging what he owed to Oxford, and who showed his faith in her by his works. The Rhodes' Foundation expends his millions in bringing scholars to Oxford from the whole world; already its influence has been great during its twenty years of existence; what it will be in the future, only the future can show. If Mr. Rhodes gave his millions to the University, he gave his tens of thousands to his old College. The result on the High Street is—to put it gently—not altogether happy; but perhaps time may soften the lines of Mr. Champney's somewhat uninspired front, though it is not likely to quicken interest in the statues of the obscure provosts which adorn it.
"The building, parent of my young essays, Asks in return a tributary praise; Pillars sublime bear up the learned weight, And antique sages tread the pompous height." TICKELL.
Queens's is one of the six oldest colleges in Oxford, and is far on to celebrating its sexcentenary, but it has purged itself of the Gothic leaven in its buildings more completely than any other Oxford foundation. It does not even occupy its own old site, for the building originally lay well back from the High Street. It was only the "civilities and kindnesses" of Provost Lancaster which induced the Mayor and Corporation of Oxford, in 1709, to grant to Queen's College "for 1,000 years," "so much ground on the High Street as shall be requisite for making their intended new building straight and uniform." And so the most important of "the streamlike windings of the glorious street" was in part determined by a corrupt bargain between "a vile Whig" (as Hearne calls this hated Provost) and a complaisant mayor. But much of the credit for the beauty of this part of the High must also be given to the architect of University College (seen in Plate IX on the left), who, whether by skill or by accident, combined at a most graceful angle the two quads, erected with an interval of some eighty years between them (1634 and 1719).
A man must, indeed, be a Gothic purist who would wish away the stately front quadrangle of Queen's, designed by Wren's favourite pupil, Hawkmoor, while the master himself is said to be responsible for the chapel of the College, the most perfect basilican church in Oxford.
If Queen's has been revolutionary in its buildings, it has been singularly tenacious of old customs. Its members still assemble at dinner to the sound of the trumpet (blown by a curious arrangement /after/ grace has been said); it still keeps up the ancient and honoured custom of bringing in the boar's head—"the chief service of this land"—for dinner on Christmas Day; while on New Year's Day, the Bursar still, as has been done for nearly 600 years, bids his guests "take this and be thrifty," as he hands each a "needle and thread," wherewith to mend their academic hoods; the /aiguille et fil/ is probably a pun on the name of the founder, Robert Eglesfield. The College at these festivities uses the loving, cup, given it by its founder, perhaps the oldest piece of plate in constant use anywhere in Great Britain; five and a half centuries of good liquor have stained the gold-mounted aurochs' horn to a colour of unrivalled softness and beauty.
Robert Eglesfield was almoner of the good Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III, and, like Adam de Brome, the founder of Oriel, he, too, commended his college to a royal patron. Ever since his time, the "Queen's College" has been under the patronage of the Queen's consort of England, and the connection has been duly acknowledged by many of them, especially by Henrietta Maria, the evil genius of Charles I, and by Queen Caroline, the good genius of George II. Her present Gracious Majesty, too, has recognized the college claim. The Queens Regnant have no obligations to the college, but Queen Elizabeth gave it the seal it still uses, and good Queen Anne was a liberal contributor to the rebuilding of the college in her day; her statue still adorns the cupola on the front to the High.
[Plate IX. High Street]
No doubt it was the royal connection which brought to Queen's, if tradition may be trusted, two famous warrior princes, the Black Prince and Henry V; though it is at least doubtful whether the Queen's poet, Thomas Tickell, Addison's flattering friend, had any authority for the picture he gives of their college life. He describes them as:
"Sent from the Monarch's to the Muses' Court, Their meals were frugal and their sleeps were short; To couch at curfew time they thought no scorn, And froze at matins every winters morn."
The College has an interesting portrait of the great Henry, which may be authentic; but that of the Black Prince, which adorns the college hall, is known to have been painted from a handsome Oxford butcher's boy, in the eighteenth century. While we condemn the lack of historic sense in the Provost and Fellows of that day, we may at least acquit them of any intention of pacificist irony in their choice of a model.
Queen's has had better poets than Tickell on its rolls, but, by a curious chance, the two most eminent—Joseph Addison and William Collins—were both tempted away from their first college by the superior wealth and attractions of Magdalen.
The old local connections which were such a marked feature in the statutes of founders, and which so profoundly influenced Oxford down to the Commission of 1854, have been almost swept away at other colleges; but at Queen's they have always been strongly maintained. It has been, and is, emphatically, a north-country college. Not the least important factor in maintaining this tradition has been the great benefaction of Lady Elizabeth Hastings, fondly and familiarly known to all Queen's men as "Lady Betty." Steele wrote of her when young, that to "love her was a liberal education"; this may have been flattery, but her bounty, at any rate, has given a "liberal education" to hundreds of north-country men, who come up from the twelve schools of her foundation to her college at Oxford.
It is interesting to note in Modern Oxford, attempts to re-establish those local connections, which the wisdom of our ancestors established, and which the self-complacency of Victorian reformers "vilely cast away."
NEW COLLEGE (1) FOUNDER AND BUILDINGS
"There the kindly fates allowed Me too room, and made me proud, Prouder name I have not wist, With the name of Wykehamist." L. JOHNSON.
[Plate X. New College : The Entrance Gateway]
Among the "Founders" of Oxford colleges, three stand out pre-eminent —all three bishops of Winchester and great public servants. If Wolsey has undisputed claims for first place, there can be little doubt that, in spite of the great public services of Bishop Foxe, the Founder of Corpus, the second place must be assigned to William of Wykeham, "sometime Lord High Chancellor of England, the sole and munificent founder of the two St. Mary Winton colleges." Others, beside Wykehamists, hear with pleasure the magnificent roll of the titles of the Founder of New College, when one of his intellectual sons occupies the University pulpit, and gives thanks for "founders and benefactors, such as were William of Wykeham."
In Oxford, without doubt, his great claim to be remembered will be held to be his college with the school at Winchester, which he linked to it. But he was also a reformer and a champion of Parliamentary privilege in the days when the "Good Parliament" set to work to check the misgovernment of Edward III in his dotage, and, as an architect, he is equally famous as having given to Windsor Castle its present shape, and as having secured the final triumph of the Perpendicular style by his glorious nave at Winchester.
William of Wykeham is a very striking instance of what is too often Forgotten—viz., that in the Mediaeval Church all professional men, and not simply spiritual pastors, found their work and their reward in the ranks of the clergy. As "supervisor of the king's works," he earned the royal favour, which, after sixteen years of service, rewarded him with the rich bishopric of Winchester. Such a career and such a reward seem to modern ideas incongruous, even as they did to John Wycliffe, his great contemporary, who complained of men being made bishops because they were "wise in building castles." But many forms of service were needed to create England; Wykeham and Wycliffe both have a place in the roll of its "Makers." At all events, if Wykeham obtained his wealth by secular service, he spent it for the promoting of the welfare of the Church, as he conceived it. The purpose of his two colleges was to remedy the shortness of clergy in his day, and to assist the /militia clericalis/, which had been grievously reduced /pestilentiis, guerris et aliis mundi miseriis/ (an obvious reference to the Black Death).
New College was planned on a scale of magnificence which far exceeded any of the earlier colleges. It was emphatically the "New College,"  and its foundation (it was opened in 1386) marks the final triumph of the college system.
 The popular name has entirety displaced its official style. Rather more than a generation ago, an historically minded Wykehamist tried to revive the proper style of his college, and headed all his letters "The College, of St. Mary of Winchester, Oxford." The result was disastrous for him; the replies came to the Vicar of St. Mary's, to St. Mary's Hall, to Winchester, anywhere but to him; and very soon practical necessity overcame antiquarian, propriety.
Its Warden was to have a state corresponding to that of the great mitred abbots; the stables, where he kept his six horses, on the south side of New College Lane (to be seen in Plate X on the right), show, by their perfect masonry, how well the architect-bishop chose his materials and how skilfully they were worked.
The entrance tower, in the centre of the picture, with its statues of the Blessed Virgin and of the Founder in adoration below on her left, was the abode of the Warden; but his lodgings, still the most magnificent home in Oxford, extended in both directions from the tower.
Behind this front lay Wykeham's Quad, nestling under the shadow of the towering chapel and hall on the north side. Here also, as in the stables, the technical knowledge of the Founder is seen; his "chambers," after more than 500 years, have still their old stone unrenewed; while the third story, added 300 years later on (1674-5), has had to be entirely refaced.
But it is in the public buildings, and especially in the chapel, that the greatness of Wykeham, as an architect, is best seen. In spite of the destructive fanaticism of the Reformation, and the almost equally destructive "restorations" of the notorious Wyatt, and of Sir Gilbert Scott (who inexcusably raised the height of the roof), the chapel still is indisputably the finest in Oxford. And its glass may challenge a still wider field. The eight great windows in the ante- chapel, dating from the Founder's time, rival the glories of the French cathedrals; the windows of the chapel proper, whatever be thought of their artistic success, are a unique instance of what English glass-makers could do in the eighteenth century; and Sir Joshua Reynolds' west window (the outside of which is seen in the centre of the next picture) has at all events the suffrages of the majority, who agree with Horace Walpole that it is "glorious," and that "the sun shining through the transparencies has a magic effect." It must be added, however, that Walpole soon changed his mind, and was very severe on Sir Joshua's "washy virtues," which have been compared to "seven chambermaids."
Not the least interesting feature of the Founder's chapel is its detached bell-tower, seen in the next picture, on the north side of the cloisters. He obtained leave to place this on the city wall, a large section of which the College undertook to maintain-thus adding a permanent charm to their own garden.
The magnificence of the Founder Bishop is well seen in his splendid crozier, bequeathed to him by his college, and still preserved on the north side of the chapel. The results of his work, for Oxford and for learning, will be briefly told of in the next chapter.
[Plate XI. New College : The Tower]
NEW COLLEGE (2) HISTORY
"Round thy cloisters, in moonlight, Branching dark, or touched with white: Round old chill aisles, where, moon-smitten, Blanches the Orate, written Under each worn old-world face." L. JOHHSON.
William of Wykeham's College had other marked features besides its magnificent scale. Previous colleges had grown; at New College everything was organized from the first. As the great architectural History of Cambridge says: "For the first time, chapel, hall, library, treasury, the Warden's lodgings, a sufficient range of chambers, the cloister, the various domestic offices, are provided for and erected without change of plan." The chapel especially gave the model for the T shape, a choir and transepts without a nave, which has become the normal form in Oxford. The influence of Wykeham's building plan may be traced elsewhere also—at Cambridge and even in Scotland.
In these well-planned buildings, definite arrangements were made for college instruction, as opposed to the general teaching open to the whole University; special /informafores/ were provided, who were to supervise the work of all scholars up to the age of sixteen. This marks the beginning of the Tutorial System, which has ever since played so great a part in the intellectual life of England's two old Universities.
Wykeham's scholars all came from Winchester, and were supposed to be /pauperes/, but as one of the first, Henry Chichele, afterwards Henry V's Archbishop of Canterbury and the Founder of All Souls', was a son of the Lord Mayor of London, it is obvious that the qualification of "poverty" was interpreted with some laxity. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that others than Wykehamists were admitted as scholars.
The fact that a mere boy was elected to a position which provided for him for life was not calculated to stimulate subsequent intellectual activity, and Wykehamists themselves have been among the first to say that the intellectual distinction of the great bishop's beneficiaries has by no means corresponded to the magnificence of the foundation or the noble intentions of the Founder. Antony Wood records in the seventeenth century that there was already an "ugly proverb" as to New College men—"Golden scholars, silver Bachelors, leaden Masters, wooden Doctors," "which is attributed," he goes on, "to their rich fellowships, especially to their ease and good diet, in which I think they exceed any college else."
The nineteenth century has changed all this; the small and close college of pre-Commission days has become one of the largest and most intellectual in the University; but Winchester men in their Oxford college fully hold their own in every way against the scholars from the world outside, who are now admitted to share with them the advantages of Wykeham's foundation.
The bishop's careful provision, however, of good teaching at his school and in his college bore good fruit at first, whatever may have been the result later. If Corpus is especially the college of the revival of learning, New College had prepared the way, and the first Englishman to teach Greek in Oxford was the New College fellow, William Grocyn, whom Erasmus called the "most upright and best of all Britons." From the same college, about the same time, came the patron of Erasmus, Archbishop Warham, of whose saintly simplicity and love of learning he gives so attractive a picture. Warham was not forgetful of his old college, and presented the beautiful "linen fold" panelling which still adorns the hall.
At the time of the Reformation, New College was especially attached to the old form of the faith, and it has been maintained that the dangerous lowness of the wicket entrance in the Gate Tower was due to the deliberate purpose of the governing body, who resolved that everyone who entered the college, however Protestant his views, should bow his head under the statue of the Blessed Virgin above. At any rate, one New College man in the seventeenth century attributed his perversion to "the lively memorials of Popery in statues and pictures in the gates and in the chapel of New College."
Certain it is that under Elizabeth, after the purging of the college from its recusant fellows, who contributed a large share of the Roman controversialists to the colleges of Louvain and Douai, Wykeham's foundation sank, as has been said, into inglorious ease for two centuries. Yet, during this period, it had the honour of producing two of the Seven Bishops who resisted King James II's attack on the English Constitution—one of them the saintly hymn writer, Thomas Ken. And to the darkest days of the eighteenth century belongs the most famous picture of the ideal Oxford life: "I spent many years, in that illustrious society, in a well-regulated course of useful discipline and studies, and in the agreeable and improving commerce of gentlemen and of scholars; in a society where emulation without envy, ambition without jealousy, contention without animosity, incited industry and awakened genius; where a liberal pursuit of knowledge and a genuine freedom of thought was raised, encouraged, and pushed forward by example, by commendation, and by authority." These were the words of Bishop Lowth, whose great work on /The Poetry of the Hebrews/ was delivered as lectures for the Chair of Poetry at Oxford.
The spirit of Oxford has never been better described, and even that bitter critic, the great historian Gibbon, admits that Lowth practised what he preached, and that he was an ornament to the University in its darkest period. Of the days of Reform a forerunner was found in Sydney Smith, the witty Canon of St. Paul's.
The names of New College men famous for learning or for political success, during the last half-century, are too recent to mention, but it is fitting to put on record that to New College belongs the sad distinction of having the longest Roll of Honour in the late War. It has lost about 250 of its sons, including four of the most distinguished young tutors in Oxford; History and Philosophy, Scholarship and Natural Science are all of them the poorer for the premature loss of Cheesman and Heath, Hunter and Geoffrey Smith; their names are familiar to everyone in Oxford, and they would have been familiar some day to the world of scholars everywhere. /Dis aliter visum est/.
"This is the chapel; here, my son, Thy father dreamed the dreams of youth, And heard the words, which, one by one, The touch of life has turned to truth." NEWBOLT.
[Plate XII. Lincoln College : The Chapel Interior]
The name of Lincoln College recalls a fact familiar to all students of ecclesiastical history, though surprising to the ordinary man— viz., that Oxford, till the Reformation, was in the great diocese of Lincoln, which stretched right across the Midlands from the Humber to the Thames. This fact had an important bearing on the history of the University; its bishop was near enough to help and protect, but not near enough to interfere constantly. Hence arose the curious position of the Oxford Chancellor, the real head of the mediaeval University and still its nominal head; though an ecclesiastical dignitary, and representing the Bishop, the Oxford Chancellor was not a cathedral official, but the elect of the resident Masters of Arts. How important this arrangement was for the independence of the University will be obvious.
The ecclesiastical position of Oxford is responsible also for the foundation of four of its colleges; both Lincoln and Brasenose, colleges that touch each other, were founded by Bishops of Lincoln; Foxe and Wolsey, too, though holding other sees later, ruled over the great midland diocese.
Richard Fleming, the Bishop of Lincoln, who founded the college that bears the name of his see, was in some ways a remarkable man. When resident in Oxford, he had been prominent among the followers of John Wycliffe and had shared his reforming views; but he was alarmed at the development of his master's teaching in the hands of disciples, and set himself to oppose the movement which he had once favoured. He founded his "little college" with the express object of training "theologians" "to defend the mysteries of the sacred page against those ignorant laics, who profaned with swinish snouts its most holy pearls." It is curious that Lincoln's great title to fame—and it is a very great one—is that its most distinguished fellow was John Wesley, the Wycliffe of the eighteenth century.
The connection of Oxford and Lincoln College with Wesley and his movement is no accidental one, based merely on the fact that he resided there for a certain time. Humanly speaking, Wesley's connection with Lincoln was a determining factor in his spiritual and mental development, and it was while he was there that his followers received the name of "Methodists," a name given in scorn, but one which has become a thing of pride to millions. Wesley was a fellow of Lincoln for nine years, from 1726 to 1735. During the most impressionable years of a man's life—he was only twenty-three when he was elected fellow—he was developing his mental powers by an elaborate course of studies, and his spiritual life by the careful use of every form of religious discipline which the Church prescribed. A college, with its daily services and its life apart from the world, rendered the practice of such discipline possible. It was because Wesley and his followers, his brother Charles, George Whitefield and others, observed this discipline so carefully that they obtained their nickname. It is with good reason that Lincoln Chapel is visited by his disciples from all parts of the world; it has been little altered since his time, his pulpit is still here, and the glass and the carving which make it very interesting, if not beautiful, are those which he saw daily.
The chapel is the memorial of the devotion to Lincoln of another churchman, more successful than Wesley from a worldly point of view, but now forgotten by all except professed students of history. John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln from 1621 to 1641, was the last ecclesiastic who "kept" the Great Seal of England. He had the misfortune to differ from Laud on the Church Question of the day, and was prosecuted before the Star Chamber for subornation of perjury, and heavily fined. There seems no doubt that he was guilty; but it was to advocacy of moderation and to his dislike of the king's arbitrary rule that he owed the severity of his punishment. Whatever his moral character, at all events he gave his college a beautiful little chapel, which is often compared to the slightly older one at Wadham; that of Lincoln is much the less spacious of the two, but in its wood carvings, at any rate, it is superior.
Lincoln had the ill-fortune, in the nineteenth century, to produce the writer of one of those academic "Memoirs," which reveal, with a scholar's literary style, and also with a scholar's bitterness, the intrigues and quarrels that from time to time arise within college walls. Mark Pattison is likely to be remembered by the world in general because he is said to have been the original of George Eliot's "Mr. Casaubon"; in Oxford he will be remembered not only for the "Memoirs," but also as one who upheld the highest ideal of "Scholarship" when it was likely to be forgotten, and who criticized the neglect of "research." The personal attacks were those of a disappointed man; the criticisms, one-sided as they were, were certainly not unjustified.
A university should certainly exist to promote learning, and Mark Pattison, with all his unfairness, certainly helped its cause in Oxford. But a university exists also for the promotion of friendships among young men, and for the development of their social life. Of this duty, Oxford has never been unmindful, and perhaps it is in small colleges like Lincoln that the flowers of friendship best flourish. It is needless to make comparisons, for they flourish everywhere; but it is appropriate to quote, when writing of one of the smaller Oxford colleges, the verses on this subject of a recent Lincoln poet (now dead); they will come home to every Oxford man:
"City of my loves and dreams, Lady throned by limpid streams; 'Neath the shadow of thy towers, Numbered I my happiest hours. Here the youth became a man; Thought and reason here began. Ah! my friends, I thought you then Perfect types of perfect men: Glamour fades, I know not how, Ye have all your failings now,"
But Oxford friendships outlast the discovery that friends have "failings"; as Lord Morley, who went to Lincoln in 1856, writes: "Companionship (at Oxford) was more than lectures"; a friend's failure later (he refers to his contemporary, Cotter Morison's /Service of Man/) "could not impair the captivating comradeship of his prime."
MAGDALEN COLLEGE (1) SITE AND BUILDINGS
"Where yearly in that vernal hour The sacred city is in shades reclining, With gilded turrets in the sunrise shining: From sainted Magdalene's aerial tower Sounds far aloof that ancient chant are singing, And round the heart again those solemn memories bringing." ISAAC WILLIAMS.
Macaulay was too good a Cambridge man to appreciate an Oxford college at its full worth; but he devotes one of his finest purple patches to the praise of Magdalen, ending, as is fitting, "with the spacious gardens along the river side," which, by the way, are not "gardens." Antony Wood praises Magdalen as "the most noble and rich structure in the learned world," with its water walks as "delectable as the banks of Eurotas, where Apollo himself was wont to walk." To go a century further back, the Elizabethan, Sir John Davies, wrote:
"O honeyed Magdalen, sweete, past compare Of all the blissful heavens on earth that are."
Such praises could be multiplied indefinitely, and they are all deserved.
The good genius of Magdalen has been faithful to it throughout. The old picturesque buildings on the High Street, taken over (1457) by the Founder, William of Waynflete, from the already existing hospital of St. John, were completed by his munificence in the most attractive style of English fifteenth century domestic architecture; Chapel and Hall, Cloisters and Founder's Tower, all alike are among the most beautiful in Oxford. When classical taste prevailed, the architectural purists of the eighteenth century were for sweeping almost all this away, and had a plan prepared for making a great classic quad; but wiser counsels, or lack of funds, thwarted this vandalistic design, and only the north side of the new quad was built, to give Magdalen a splendid specimen of eighteenth century work, without prejudice to the old. And in our own day, the genius of Bodley has raised in St. Swithun's Quad a building worthy of the best days of Oxford, while the hideous plaster roof, with which the mischievous Wyatt had marred the beauty of the hall, was removed, and a seemly oak roof put in its place. It is a great thing to be thankful for, that one set of college buildings in Oxford, though belonging to so many periods, has nothing that is not of the best.
But the great glory of Magdalen has not yet been mentioned. This is, without doubt, its bell tower, which, standing just above the River Cherwell, is worthily seen, whether from near or far. A most curious and interesting custom is preserved in connection with it. Every May morning, at five o'clock (in Antony Wood's time the ceremony was an hour earlier), the choir mounts the tower and sings a hymn, which is part of the college grace; in the eighteenth century, however, the music was of a secular nature and lasted two hours. The ceremony has been made the subject of a great picture by Holman Hunt, and has been celebrated in many poems; the sonnet of Sir Herbert Warren, the present President, may be quoted as worthily expressing something of what has been felt by many generations of Magdalen men:
"Morn of the year, of day and May the prime, How fitly do we scale the steep dark stair, Into the brightness of the matin air, To praise with chanted hymn and echoing chime, Dear Lord of Light, thy sublime, That stooped erewhile our life's frail weeds to wear! Sun, cloud and hill, all things thou fam'st so fair, With us are glad and gay, greeting the time. The College of the Lily leaves her sleep, The grey tower rocks and trembles into sound, Dawn-smitten Memnon of a happier hour; Through faint-hued fields the silver waters creep: Day grows, birds pipe, and robed anew and crowned, Green Spring trips forth to set the world aflower."
The tower was put to a far different use when, in the Civil War, it was the fortress against an attack from the east, and stones were piled on its top to overwhelm any invader who might force the bridge.
Tradition connects this tower with the name of Magdalen's greatest son, Thomas Wolsey, who took his B.A. about 1486, at the age of fifteen, as he himself in his old age proudly told his servant and biographer, Cavendish. Certainty he was first Junior and then Senior Bursar for a time, while the tower was building, 1492-1504. But the scandal that he had to resign his bursarship for misappropriation of funds in connection with the tower may certainly be rejected.
On the right of Magdalen Bridge, looking at the tower, as we see it in the picture, stretches Magdalen Meadow, round which run the famous water walks. The part of these on the north-west side is especially connected with Joseph Addison, who was a fellow at Magdalen from 1697 to 1711. He was elected "demy" (at Magdalen, scholars bear this name) the first year (1689) after the Revolution, when the fellows of Magdalen had been restored to their rights, so outrageously invaded by King James. This "golden" election was famous in Magdalen annals, at once for the number elected—seventeen—and for the fame of some of those elected. Besides the greatest of English essayists, there were among the new "demies," a future archbishop, a future bishop, and the high Tory, Henry Sacheverell, whose fiery but unbalanced eloquence overthrew the great Whig Ministry, which had been the patron of his college contemporary.
Magdalen Meadow preserves still the well-beloved Oxford fritillaries, which are in danger of being extirpated in the fields below Iffley by the crowds who gather them to sell in the Oxford market.
Of the part of the College on the High Street, the most interesting portion is the old stone pulpit (shown in Plate XIV). The connection of this with the old Hospital of St. John is still marked by the custom of having the University sermon here on St. John the Baptist's Day; this was the invariable rule till the eighteenth century, and the pulpit (Hearne says) was "all beset with boughs, by way of allusion to St. John Baptist's preaching in the wilderness." Even as early as Heame's time, however, a wet morning drove preacher and audience into the chapel, and open-air sermons were soon given up altogether, only to be revived (weather permitting) in our own day. The chapel lies to the left of the pulpit, and is known all the world over for its music; there are three famous choirs in Oxford— those of the Cathedral, of New College, and of Magdalen, and to the last, as a rule, the palm is assigned. It is to Oxford what the choir of King's is to Cambridge; but the chapel of Magdalen has not
"The high embowed roof With antique pillars massy proof, And storied windows richly dight, Casting a dim religious light"
of the "Royal Saint's" great chapel at Cambridge.
MAGDALEN COLLEGE (2) HISTORY
"Sing sweetly, blessed babes that suck the breast Of this sweet nectar-dropping Magdalen, Their praise in holy hymns, by whom ye feast, The God of gods and Waynflete, best of men, Sing in an union with the Angel's quires, Sith Heaven's your house." SIR J. DAVIES.
Magdalen College was founded by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, who had been a faithful minister of Henry VI. He had served as both Master and Provost of the King's own college at Eton (and also as Master of Winchester College before), and from Eton he brought the lilies which still figure in the Magdalen shield. As a member of the Lancastrian party, he fell into disgrace when the Yorkists triumphed, but he made his peace with Edward IV, whose statue stands over the west door of the chapel, with those of St. Mary Magdalene, St. John the Baptist, St. Swithun (Bishop of Winchester), and the Founder. And the Tudors were equally friendly to the new foundation; Prince Arthur, Henry VIII's unfortunate elder brother, was a resident in Magdalen on two occasions, and the College has still a splendid memorial of him in the great contemporary tapestry, representing his marriage with Catharine of Aragon.
To the very early days of Magdalen belongs its connection with the Oxford Reform Movement and the Revival of Learning. Both Fox and Wolsey, successively Bishops of Winchester, and the munificent founders of Corpus and of Cardinal (i.e. Christ Church) Colleges, were members of Waynflete's foundation, and so probably was John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's, whose learning and piety so impressed Erasmus. "When I listen to my beloved Colet," he writes in 1499, "I seem to be listening to Plato himself"; and he asks—why go to Italy when Oxford can supply a climate "as charming as it is healthful" and "such culture and learning, deep, exact and worthy of the good old times ?" Erasmus' praise of Oxford climate is unusual from a foreigner; the more usual view is that of his friend Vives, who came to Oxford soon after as a lecturer at the new college of Corpus Christi; he writes from Oxford: "The weather here is windy, foggy and damp, and gave me a rough reception."
Colet's lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, perhaps delivered in Magdalen College, marked an epoch in the way of the interpretation of Holy Scripture, by their freedom from traditional methods and by their endeavour to employ the best of the New Learning in determining the real meaning of the Apostle. To the same school as Colet in the Church belonged Reginald Pole, Archbishop in the gloomy days of Queen Mary, the only Magdalen man who has held the See of Canterbury.
Elizabeth visited the College, and gently rebuked the Puritan tendencies of the then President, Dr. Humphrey, who carried his scruples so far as to object to the academical scarlet he had to wear as a Doctor of Divinity, because it savoured of the "Scarlet Woman." "Dr. Humphrey," said the queen, with the tact alike of a Tudor sovereign and of a true woman, "methinks this gown and habit become you very well, and I marvel that you are so strait-laced on this point—but I come not now to chide." This President complained that his headship was "more payneful than gayneful," a charge not usually brought against headships at Oxford.
In the seventeenth century, Magdalen was, for a short time, the very centre of England's interest. James II, in his desire to force Roman Catholicism on Oxford, tried to fill the vacant Presidency with one of his co-religionists. His first nominee was not only disqualified under the statutes, but was also a man of so notoriously bad a character that even the king had to drop him. Meanwhile, the fellows, having waited, in order to oblige James, till the last possible moment allowed by the statutes, filled up the vacancy by electing one of their own number, John Hough. When the king pronounced this election irregular and demanded the removal of the President and the acceptance of his second nominee, the fellows declared themselves unable thus to violate their statutes, even at royal command, and were accordingly driven out. The "demies," who were offered nominations to the fellowships thus rendered vacant, supported their seniors, and, in their turn, too, were driven out; they had showed their contempt for James' intruded fellows by "cocking their hats" at them, and by drinking confusion to the Pope. When the landing of William of Orange was threatening, James revoked all these arbitrary proceedings, but it was too late; he had brought home, by a striking example, to Oxford and to England, that no amount of past services, no worthiness of character, no statutes, however clear and binding, were to weigh for a moment with a royal bigot, who claimed the power to "dispense" with any statutes. The "Restoration" of the Fellows on October 25, 1688, is still celebrated by a College Gaudy, when the toast for the evening is /jus suum cuique/.
Hough remained President for thirteen years, during most of which time he was bishop—first of Oxford and then of Lichfield. He finally was translated to Worcester, where he died at the age of ninety- three, after declining the Archbishopric of Canterbury. His monument, in his cathedral, records his famous resistance to arbitrary authority.
Magdalen in the eighteenth century has an unenviable reputation, owing to the memoirs of its most famous historian, Edward Gibbon, who matriculated, in 1752, and who describes the fourteen months which elapsed before he was expelled for becoming a Roman Catholic, "as the most idle and unprofitable of my whole life." The "Monks of Magdalen," as he calls the fellows, "decent, easy men," "supinely enjoyed the gifts of the founder." It should be added that Gibbon was not quite fifteen when he entered the College, and that his picture of it is no doubt coloured by personal bitterness. But its substantial justice is admitted. Certainly, nothing could be feebler than the /Vindication of Magdalen College/, published by a fellow James Hurdis, the Professor of Poetry; his intellectual calibre may perhaps be gauged from the exquisite silliness of his poem, "The Village Curate," of which the following lines, addressed to the Oxford heads of houses, are a fair specimen:
"Ye profound And serious heads, who guard the twin retreats Of British learning, give the studious boy His due indulgence. Let him range the field, Frequent the public walk, and freely pull The yielding oar. But mark the truant well, And if he turn aside to vice or folly, Show him the rod, and let him feel you prize The parent's happiness, the public good."
Magdalen might fairly claim that a place so beautiful as it is, justifies itself by simply existing, and the perfection of its buildings and the beauty of its music must appeal, even to our own utilitarian age. But it has many other justifications besides its beauty; its great wealth is being continually applied to assist the University by the endowment of new professorships, especially for the Natural Sciences, and to aid real students, whether those who have made, or those who are likely to make, a reputation as researchers. It is needless to mention names: every Oxford man and every lover of British learning knows them.
[Plate XIV. Magdalen College : The Open-Air Pulpit]
For the world in general, which cares not for research, the success of the College under its present President, Sir Herbert Warren, himself at once a poet and an Oxford Professor of Poetry, will be evidenced by its increase in numbers and by its athletic successes. They will judge as our King judged when he chose Magdalen for the academic home of the Prince of Wales. The Prince, unlike other royal persons at Magdalen and elsewhere, lived (1912-14) not in the lodgings of the President, or among dons and professors, but in his own set of rooms, like any ordinary undergraduate. He showed, in Oxford, that power of self-adaptation which has since won him golden opinions in the great Dominion and the greater Republic of the West.
"Of the colleges of Oxford, Exeter is the most proper for western, Queen's for northern, and Brasenose for north-western men." FULLER, /Worthies/.
[Plate XV. Bresenose College, Quadrangle and Radcliffe Library]
Brasenose college is in the very centre of the University, fronting as it does on Radcliffe Square, where Gibbs' beautiful dome supplies the Bodleian with a splendid reading-room. And this site has always been consecrated to students; where the front of Brasenose now stands ran School Street, leading from the old /Scholae Publicae/, in which the disputations of the Mediaeval University were held, to St. Mary's Church.
It was from this neighbourhood that some Oxford scholars migrated to Stamford in 1334, in order to escape one of the many Town and Gown rows, which rendered Mediaeval Oxford anything but a place of quiet academic study. They seem to have carried with them the emblem of their hall, a fine sanctuary knocker of brass, representing a lion's head, with a ring through its nose; this knocker was installed at a house in Stamford, which still retains the name it gave, "Brasenose Hall." The knocker itself was there till 1890, when the College recovered the relic (it now hangs in the hall). The students were compelled by threats of excommunication to return to their old university, and down to the beginning of the nineteenth century, Oxford men, when admitted to the degree of M.A., were compelled to swear "not to lecture at Stamford."
The old "King's Hall," which bore the name of "Brasenose," was transformed into a college in 1511 by the munificence of our first lay founder, Sir Richard Sutton; he shared his benevolence, however, with Bishop Smith, of Lincoln. The College celebrated, in 1911, its quatercentenary in an appropriate way, by publishing its register in full, with a group of most interesting monographs on various aspects of the College history.
The buildings are a good example of the typical Oxford college; the Front Quad, shown in our picture, belongs to the time of the Founders, but the picturesque third story of dormer windows, which give it a special charm, dates from the reign of James I, when all colleges were rapidly increasing their numbers and their accommodation. Of the rest of the buildings of Brasenose, the chapel deserves special notice, for it was the last effort of the Gothic style in Oxford, and it was actually finished in the days of Cromwell, not a period likely to be favourable to the erection of new college chapels.
Brasenose (or B.N.C., as it is universally called) has produced a prime minister of England in Henry Addington, whom the college record kindly describes as "not the most distinguished" statesman who has held that position: but a much better known worthy is John Foxe, the Martyrologist, whose chained works used to add a grim charm of horror to so many parish churches in England; the experiences of the young Macaulay, at Cheddar, are an example which could be paralleled by those of countless young readers of Foxe, who, however, did not become great historians and are forgotten. Somewhat junior to Foxe, at B.N.C., was Robert Burton, the author of the /Anatomy of Melancholy/, who found both his lifework as a parish vicar, and his burial-place in Oxford.
But these names, and the names of many other B.N.C. worthies, hardly attain to the first rank in the annals of England's life. The distinguishing features of the College have long been its special connection with the Palatine counties, Lancashire and Cheshire, and its prominence in the athletic life which is so large a part of Oxford's attraction. To the connection with Lancashire, B.N.C. owes the name of its college boat, "The Child of Hale"; for John Middleton, the famous, giant, who is said to have been 9 ft. 3 in. high (perhaps measurements were loose when James I was king), was invited by the members of his county to visit the College, where he is said to have left a picture of his hand; this the ever curious Pepys paid 2s. to see. A more profitable connection between Lancashire and B.N.C. is the famous Hulmeian endowment, which is almost a record instance of the value of the unearned increment of land to a learned foundation.