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The Charm of Oxford by J. Wells

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"But still the old quadrangle keeps the same,
The pelican is here;
Ancestral genius of the place, whose name
All Corpus men revere."
J. J. C., in "/The Pelican Record/," 1700.

[Plate XVI. Corpus Christi College : The First Quadrangle]

Corpus is emphatically, before all other colleges in Oxford, the
college of the Revival of Learning; its very foundation marked the
change from the old order of things to the new. Its Founder, Bishop
Foxe, of Winchester, was one of the great statesman-prelates to whom
mediaeval England owed so much, and he had a leading share in
arranging the two royal marriages which so profoundly affected the
history of our country, that of Henry VII's daughter, Margaret, with
the King of Scotland, and that of his son, afterwards Henry VIII,
with Catharine of Aragon.

After a life spent "in the service of God" "in the State," rather
than "in the Church," Foxe resolved to devote some of his great
wealth to a foundation for the strengthening of the Church. His first
intention was to found a college for monks, but, fortunately for his
memory and for Oxford, he followed the advice of his friend, Bishop
Oldham, of Exeter, who told him, in words truly prophetic, that the
days of monasteries were past: "What, my lord, shall we build housed
for a company of buzzing monks, whose end and fall we ourselves may
live to see? No, no, it is more meet a great deal that we should have
care to provide for the increase of learning." In the next generation
the monasteries were all swept away, while Foxe's College remains a
monument of the Founder's pious liberality and of his friend's wise

Corpus was the first institution in England where definite provision
was made for a teacher of the Greek Language, and Erasmus hailed it
with enthusiasm; in a letter to the first President of the new
college, he definitely contrasts the conciliatory methods of
Reformers in England with the more violent methods of those in
Germany, and counts Foxe's foundation, which he compares to the
Pyramids of Egypt or the Colossus of Rhodes, among "the chief glories
of Britain."

Foxe, however, did not confine his benefactions to classical studies,
important as these were. He imported a German to teach his scholars
mathematics, and the scientific tastes of his students are well
illustrated by the picturesque and curious dial, still in the centre
of his College Quad, which was constructed by one of them in the
reign of Elizabeth. It is well shown in our picture, as are also
Foxe's charming low buildings, almost unaltered since the time of
their Founder.

But it has been on the humanistic, rather than on the scientific,
side that Corpus men have specially distinguished themselves. The
first century of the College existence produced the two great
Elizabethan champions of Anglicanism. Bishop Jewel, whose "Apology"
was for a long period the great bulwark of the English Church against
Jesuit attacks, had laid the foundations of his great learning in the
Corpus Library, still--after that of Merton--the most picturesque in
Oxford; he often spent whole days there, beginning an hour before
Early Mass, i.e. at 4 a.m., and continuing his reading till 10 p.m.
"There were giants on the earth in those days." Even more famous is
the "judicious Hooker," who resided in the college for sixteen years,
and only left it when, by the wiles of a woman, he, "like a true
Nathanael who feared no guile" (as his biographer, Isaac Walton,
writes), was entrapped into a marriage which "brought him neither
beauty nor fortune." The first editor of his great work, /The
Ecclesiastical Polity/, was a Corpus man, and it was only fitting
that the Anglican Revival of the nineteenth century should receive
its first impulse from the famous Assize Sermon (in 1833) of another
Corpus scholar, John Keble.

Corpus has been singularly fortunate in its history, no doubt because
its Presidents have been so frequently men of mark for learning and
for character. Even in the dark period of the eighteenth century it
recovered sooner than the rest of the University, and one of its sons
records complacently that "scarcely a day passed without my having
added to my stock of knowledge some new fact or idea." A charming
picture of the life of the scholars of Corpus at the beginning of the
last century is given in Stanley's /Life of Arnold/; for the famous
reformer of the English public-school system was at the College
immediately after John Keble, whom he followed as fellow to Oriel, on
the other side of the road. It need hardly be added that in those
days an Oriel Fellowship was the crown of intellectual distinction in

Bishop Foxe had set up his college as a "ladder" by which, "with one
side of it virtue and the other knowledge," men might, while they
"are strangers and pilgrims in this unhappy and dying world," "mount
more easily to heaven." Changing his metaphor he goes on, "We have
founded and raised up in the University of Oxford a hive wherein
scholars, like intelligent bees, may, night and day, build up wax to
the glory of God, and gather honeyed sweets for their own profit and
that of all Christian men." So far as it is given to human
institutions to succeed, his college has fulfilled his aims.


[Plate XVII. Christ Church : The Cathedral from the Meadows]

"Those voiceless towers so tranquil seem,
And yet so solemn in their might,
A loving heart could almost deem
That they themselves might conscious be
That they were filled with immortality."

The east end of Oxford Cathedral, shown both in the frontispiece
(Plate I) and Plate XVII, probably contains the oldest buildings,
above ground, in Oxford. Inside the cathedral can clearly be seen
traces of three round arches, which may well be part of the church
founded by St. Frideswyde in the eighth century. That princess,
according to the tradition, the details of which are all pictured by
Burne-Jones in the east window of the Latin Chapel, having escaped by
a miracle the advances of too ardent a suitor, founded a nunnery at
Oxford. The nunnery, which was later transferred to Canons, was
undoubtedly the earliest institution in Oxford, and in its cloisters,
in the second decade of the twelfth century, we hear of students
gathering for instruction. It was this old monastery, which Wolsey,
with his reforming zeal, chose as the site of his great Cardinal
College, and the chapel of the old foundation was to serve for his
new one, until such time as a great new chapel, rivalling in
splendour that of King's College at Cambridge, had been built on the
north side of Tom Quad. This new chapel never got beyond the stage of
foundations; and hence the old building has continued to serve the
college till this day, having been made also the cathedral of the new
diocese of Oxford, which was founded by King Henry VIII. Wolsey may,
perhaps, be credited with the fine fan tracery of the choir roof, but
he certainly swept away three bays of the nave in order to carry out
his ambitious building plans, and only one of these three bays has
been restored in the nineteenth century.

Wolsey's action at Christ Church was significant. Men felt that the
days of monasteries were past, and the Church was ready to welcome
and to extend the New Learning. But his changes were a dangerous
precedent; as Fuller says with his usual quaintness: "All the forest
of religious foundations in England did shake, justly fearing the
King would finish to fell the oaks, seeing the Cardinal began to cut
the underwood." Henry, however, when he swept away the monasteries,
spared his great minister's work; modifying it, however, as has just
been said, by associating the newly-founded college with the diocese
of Oxford, now formed out of the unwieldy See of Lincoln.

The cathedral is the smallest in England, but contains many features
of special interest; its most marked peculiarity is the great breadth
of the choir, due to the addition of two aisles on the north side;
these were built to gain more room for the worshippers at the shrine
of St. Frideswyde. Another feature of architectural interest is the
spire, which is one of the earliest in England. But perhaps even more
interesting is the wonderful series of glass windows, which give good
examples of almost every English style from the fourteenth to the
nineteenth century. And for once the moderns can hold their own; the
Burne-Jones windows of the choir (not, however, the Frideswyde
window, already mentioned) are particularly beautiful.

The hand of the "restorer" has been active at Christ Church, as
elsewhere in Oxford; Gilbert Scott took on himself to remove a fine
fourteenth-century window from the east end of the choir, and to
substitute the Norman work shown in Plate I. The effect is admittedly
good, but it may be questioned whether it be right to falsify
architectural history in this way.

Oxford Cathedral has great associations apart from the college to
which it belongs. It was to it that Cranmer was brought to receive
the Pope's sentence of condemnation, and in the cloisters the
ceremony of his degradation from the archbishopric was carried out.
Almost a century later the Cathedral was the centre of the religious
life of the Royalist party; when Charles I made his capital in Oxford
and his home in Christ Church, and when the Cavaliers fought to the
war-cry of "Church and King." It is not surprising that, when the
Parliamentarians entered Oxford, the windows of the Cathedral were
much "abused"; that so much old glass was spared was probably due to
the local patriotism of old Oxford men.

In the next century it was to Christ Church that Bishop Berkeley, the
greatest of British philosophers, retired to end his days, and to
find a burial-place; and, during the long life of Dr. Pusey, the
Cathedral of Oxford was a place of pilgrimage, as the living centre
of the Oxford movement.

In the back of the picture (Plate XVII), behind the Cathedral, rises
the square tower, put up by Mr. Bodley to contain the famous Christ
Church peal of bells (now twelve in number), familiar through Dean
Aldrich's famous round, "Hark, the bonny Christ Church bells." When
the tower was erected, it was the subject of much criticism,
especially from the witty pen of C. L. Dodgson, the world-famous
creator of /Alice in Wonderland/. The opening paragraph is a fair
"Of the etymological significance of the new belfry, Christ
"The word 'belfry' is derived from the French '/bel/-- beautiful,
meet,' and from the German '/frei/--free, unfettered, safe.' Thus the
word is strictly equivalent to 'meat-safe,' to which the new belfry
bears a resemblance so perfect as almost to amount to coincidence."

Others saw in the uncompromising squareness of the new tower a subtle
compliment to the Greek lexicon of Liddell, who then was Dean. But in
spite of the wits, who resented any innovation in so famous a group
of buildings, Bodley's tower is a fine one, and really enhances the
effect of Tom Quad.


"And love the high-embowed roof
With antique pillars massy proof."

[Plate XVIII. Christ Church : The Hall Staircase]

When Wolsey began to build what he intended to be the most splendid
college in the world, the first part to be finished was the dining-
hall, with the kitchen. The wits of the time made very merry at this:
their epigram /Egregium opus! Cardinalis iste instituit collegium et
absolvit popinam/ may be rendered:

"Here's a fine piece of work! Your Cardinal
A college plans, completes a guzzling-hall."

Certainly the hall of Christ Church is the finest "popina" which has
ever been abused by envious critics; its size and magnificence place
it easily first among the halls of Oxford, and its great outline
stands conspicuous in all views of Oxford from the south, whether by
day, or when by night, to quote M. Arnold's "Thyrsis":

"The line of festal light in Christ Church Hall"

shines afar. And the kitchen, a perfect cube in shape, is worthy of
the hall which it feeds, and is, perhaps, more appreciated by many of
Oxford's visitors; for the taste for meringues is more common than
that for masterpieces of portraiture. The report to Wolsey, in 1526,
by his agent, the Warden of New College, is still true; the kitchen
is "substantially and goodly done, in such manner as no two of the
best colleges in Oxford have rooms so goodly and convenient."

The approach to the hall, seen in Plate XVIII, is later than Wolsey's
work, but is fully worthy of him. The beautiful fan tracery, which
hardly suffers by being compared with Henry VII's Chapel at
Westminster, was put up, extraordinary as it may seem, in the middle
of the seventeenth century, by the elder Dean Fell; all we know of
its origin is that it was the work of "Smith, an artificer of
London," surely the most modest architect who ever designed a
masterpiece. The staircase itself is later, the work of the notorious
Wyatt, who for once meddled with a great building without spoiling

The history of Christ Church is very largely the history of the
University of Oxford. It is still our wealthiest and largest
foundation, although the disproportion between it and other colleges
is by no means so great as it once was; and, thanks to its having
been ruled by a series of famous and energetic deans, its periods of
inglorious inactivity have been fewer than those of most other
colleges. The roll of deans contains such names as those of John
Owen, the most famous of Puritan preachers, John Fell, theologian and
founder of the greatness of the Oxford Press, Henry Aldrich,
universally accomplished as scholar, logician, musician, architect,
Francis Atterbury, Jacobite and plotter, Cyril Jackson, who ruled
Christ Church with a rod of iron, and who ranks first among the
creators of nineteenth-century Oxford, Thomas Gaisford and Henry
George Liddell, great Greek scholars. It seems that a college gains
something by having its head appointed from outside; the Dean at
Christ Church is appointed by the Crown.

The importance of Christ Church is especially seen in its hall,
through its collection of portraits. It is not only that this is
superior to that of any one other college; it may well be doubted if
the combined efforts of all the colleges could produce a collection
equal to that of Christ Church in artistic merit, or superior to it
in historical importance. The prime ministers of England, of whom
Christ Church claims twelve (nine of them in the last century), are
represented among others by George Grenville, the unfortunate author
of the Stamp Act, George Canning, who called "the New World into
existence to redress the balance of the Old," and W. E. Gladstone;
among the eight Christ Church men who have been Governor-Generals of
India, the Marquess Wellesley stands out pre-eminent; Christ Church
has sent five archbishops to Canterbury and nine to York; there is a
portrait in the hall of Wake, the most famous of the holders of the
See of Canterbury. Lord Mansfield's picture worthily represents the
learning and impartiality of the English Bench. But even more
interesting than any of those already mentioned are the portraits of
John Locke, who was philosopher enough to forgive Christ Church for
obeying James II and expelling him, of William Penn, presented, as
was fitting, by the American state that bears his name, of John
Wesley and of Dr. Pusey, whose names will be for ever associated with
the two greatest of Oxford's religious movements. And it may well be
hoped that C. L. Dodgson ("Lewis Carroll") will delight children for
many generations to come, as he has delighted those of the last half-
century, by his Alice and her "Adventures."

An interest, rather historical than personal, attaches to the group
portrait that occupies a position of honour over the fireplace; it
represents the three Oxford divines--John Fell (already mentioned),
Dolben, who later was Archbishop of York, and Allestree, afterwards
Provost of Eton, who braved the penal law against churchmen by
reading the forbidden Church Service daily all through the time of
the Commonwealth.

Nowhere, so much as in Christ Church, is the poet's description of
Oxford appropriate; her students may:

"Stand, in many an ancient hall,
Where England's greatest deck the wall,
Prelate and Statesman, prince and poet;
Who hath an ear, let him hear them call."

[Plate XIX. Christ Church : The Hall Interior]


"Those twins of learning, which he raised in you,
Ipswich and Oxford, one of which fell with him;
The other, though unfinished, yet so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising,
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue."

Oxford is described by Matthew Amold as,

"Beautiful city, with her dreaming spires,"

yet it is for her towers, especially, that she is famous. Glorious as
St. Mary's is, it certainly does not surpass Magdalen Tower; and it
may well be doubted whether the genius of Wren has not excelled both
Magdalen and St. Mary's in "Tom" Tower. Gothic purists, of course, do
not like it. There is a well-authenticated story of a really great
architect who, in the early days of the twentieth century, was asked
to submit a scheme for its repair; after long delay he sent in a plan
for an entirely new tower on correct Gothic lines, because (as he
wrote) no one would wish to preserve "so anomalous a structure" as
Tom Tower. The world, however, does not agree with the minute
critics; it is easy to find fault with the details of "Tom," but in
proportion, in dignity, in suitability to his position, the greatest
qualities that can be required in any building, "Tom" is pre-eminent.
This is the more to be wondered at, as the tower was erected a
century and a half after the great gateway which it crowns.

The genius of Wolsey had planned a magnificent front, but only a
little more than half of it was completed when Henry VIII ended the
career of his greatest servant, and altered the plans of the most
glorious college in Europe. It was not till the period just before
the Civil War that the northern part of the front of Christ Church
was built by the elder Dean Fell, and the work was only completed
when his son, the famous Dr. Fell, doomed to eternal notoriety by the
well-known rhymes about his mysterious unpopularity, employed Wren to
build the gate tower. Yet the whole presents one harmonious design,
worthy of the most famous of Oxford founders and of the greatest of
British architects. It is fitting that it should be Wolsey's statue
which adorns the gate--a statue given by stout old Jonathan Trelawny,
one of the Seven Bishops, whose name is perpetuated by the refrain of
Hawker's spirited ballad, which deceived even Macaulay as to its

"And must Trelawny die?
Then thirty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why."

Tom Tower appeals to Oxford men through more than one of their
senses; it is a most conspicuous object in every view; and in it is
hung the famous bell, "Great Tom," the fourth largest bell in
England, weighing over seven tons. This once belonged to Osney Abbey,
when it was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, and bore the

"In Thomae laude resono Bim Bom sine fraude."

It was transplanted to Christ Church in the reign of Queen Mary, and
at the time it was proposed to rechristen it "Pulcra Maria," in
honour at once of the Queen and of the Blessed Virgin; but the old
name prevailed. Every night but one, from May 29, 1684, until the
Great War silenced him, Tom has sounded out, after 9 p.m., his 101
strokes, as a signal that all should be within their college walls;
the number is the number of the members of the foundation of Christ
Church in 1684, when the tower was finished. During the war Tom was
forbidden to sound, along with all other Oxford bells and clocks, for
might not his mighty voice have guided some zeppelin or German
aeroplane to pour down destruction on Oxford? Few things brought home
more to Oxford the meaning of the Armistice than hearing Tom once
more on the night of November 11, 1918.

[Plate XX. Christ Church: "Tom" Tower]

A patriotic tradition claims for Tom the honour of having inspired
Milton's lines in "Il Penseroso":

"Hear the far-off curfew sound
Over some wide-watered, shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar."

But it is difficult to believe this; Milton's connection with Oxford
does not get nearer than Forest Hill, and blow the west wind as hard
as it would, it could scarcely make Tom's voice reach so far. And the
"wide-watered shore" is only appropriate to Oxford in flood time, the
very last season when a poet would wish to remember it.

The view in Plate XX of the tower is taken from the front of
Pembroke, and must have been often admired by Oxford's devoted son,
Samuel Johnson, when, as a poor scholar of Pembroke, "he was
generally to be seen (says his friend. Bishop Percy) lounging at the
college gate, with a circle of young students round him, whom he was
entertaining with his wit and keeping from their studies."


[Plate XXI. St. John's College : Garden Front]

"An English home--gray twilight poured
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep, all things in order stored,
The haunt of ancient Peace."
TENNYSON, Palace of Art.

St. John's shares with Trinity and Hertford the distinction of having
been twice founded. As the Cistercian College of St. Bernard, it owed
its origin to Archbishop Chichele, the founder of All Souls', and it
continued to exist for a century as a monastic institution. At the
Reformation it was swept away with other monastic foundations by the
greed of Henry VIII, but it was almost immediately refounded, in the
reign of Mary, by Sir Thomas White, one of the greatest of London's
Lord Mayors. In all these respects it has an exact parallel in
Trinity, which had existed as a Benedictine foundation, being then
called "Durham College," and which was refounded, in the same dark
period of English History, by another eminent Londoner, Sir Thomas
Pope. It is characteristic of England and of the English Reformation
that men, who were undoubtedly in sympathy with the old form of the
Faith, yet gave their wealth and their labours to found institutions
which were to serve English religion and English learning under the
new order of things.

For the first generation after the Founder, St. John's was torn by
the quarrels between those who wished to undo the work of the
Reformation altogether, and those who wished to carry it further and
to destroy the continuity of English Church tradition. The final
triumph of the Anglican "Via Media" was the work, above all others,
of William Laud, who came up as scholar to St. John's in 1590, and
who, for most of the half century that followed, was the predominant
influence in the life of the University. First in his own college and
then in Oxford generally, he secured the triumph of his views on
religious doctrine and order. Of these, it is not the place to speak
here, nor yet of Laud's services to Oxford as the restorer of
discipline, the endower and encourager of learning, the organizer of
academic life, whose statutes were to govern Oxford for more than two
centuries; but it is indisputable that Laud takes one of the highest
places on the roll of benefactors, both to the University as a whole
and to his own college.

It was fitting that one who did so much for St. John's should leave
his mark on its buildings; the inner quadrangle was largely built by
him, and it owes to him its most characteristic features, the two
classic colonnades on its east and west sides, and the lovely garden
front, one of the three most beautiful things in Oxford: the north-
east corner of this is shown in Plate XXI.

Laud's building work was done between 1631 and 1635, and in 1636
Charles I and his Queen visited Oxford and were entertained in the
newly-finished college. Much bad verse was written on this event, two
lines of which as a specimen may be quoted from the quaintly-named
poem, "Parnassus Biceps":

"Was I not blessed with Charles and Mary's name,
Names wherein dwells all music? 'Tis the same."

The part of the entertainment to royalty on which the Archbishop
specially prided himself was the play of The Hospital of Lovers,
which was performed entirely by St. John's men, without "borrowing
any one actor." Laud goes on to observe that, when the Queen borrowed
the dresses and the scenery, and had it played over again by her
players at Hampton Court, it was universally acknowledged that the
professionals did not come up to the amateurs--a truly surprising and
somewhat incredible verdict. St. John's, however, was always strong
in dramatic ability; Shirley, the last great representative of the
Elizabethan tradition, was a student there, and the library has the
rare distinction of having possessed longest the same copy of the
works of Shakespeare; it still has the second folio, presented in
1638, by one of the fellows. St. John's connection with the lighter
side of literature has lasted to our own day; the most famous of
Oxford parodies is still the Oxford Spectator, which has not been
surpassed by any of its many imitators in the last half century.

Other colleges, however, might challenge the supremacy of St. John's
in the humours of literature.. In the richness and beauty of its
garden it stands unrivalled, whether quantity or quality be the basis
of comparison. It is not only that before the east front, seen in
Plate XXI, stretches the largest garden in Oxford; thanks to the
skill and the care of the present garden-master, the Rev. H. J.
Bidder, this shows from month to month, as the pageant of summer goes
on, what wealth of colour and variety of bloom the English climate
can produce. It may be said to be laid out on Bacon's rule: "There
ought to be gardens for all months in the year, in which severally
things of beauty may be then in season"; only for "year" we naturally
must read "academic year." If Bacon is right, that a garden is the
"purest of human pleasures," then, indeed, St. John's should be the
Oxford paradise.


"Here did Wren make himself a student home,
Or e'er he made a name that England loves;
I wonder if this straying shadow moves,
Adown the wall, as then he saw it roam."

[Plate XXII. Wadham College : The Chapel from the Garden]

The buildings of Wadham College have been pronounced by some good
judges to be the most beautiful in Oxford. This is not, however, the
usual opinion, nor is it my own, though, perhaps, it might be
accepted if modified into the statement that Wadham is the most
complete and perfect example of the ordinary type of college. However
that may be, there are three points as to these buildings which are
indisputable, and which are also most interesting to any lover of
English architecture. They are:
(1) Wadham is less altered than any other college in Oxford.
(2) It is the finest illustration of the fact that the Gothic
style survived in Oxford when it was being rapidly superseded
(3) No building in Oxford (very few buildings anywhere) owe their
effect so completely to their simplicity and their absence of

These three points must be illustrated in detail.

Wadham is the youngest college in Oxford, for all those that have
been founded since are refoundations of older institutions (but, as
its first stone was laid in 1610, it has a respectable antiquity);
yet the Front Quad is completely unaltered in design, and of the
actual stonework, hardly any has had to be renewed. Could the
Foundress return to life, she would find the college, which was to
her as a son, completely familiar.

The second point is a more important one. In the reign of Elizabeth,
classical architecture was being rapidly introduced; Gothic was
giving way before the style of Palladio, even as the New Learning was
banishing the schoolmen from the schools. This change is markedly
seen in the Elizabethan buildings at Cambridge, especially in Dr.
Caius' work, so far as it has been allowed to survive in the college
that bears his name. But in Oxford the old style went on for half the
following century; in the great building period of the first two
Stuarts the old models were still faithfully copied. It was the
genius of Wren, which, by its magnificent success in the Sheldonian,
ultimately caused the new style to prevail over the late Gothic, of
which his own college, Wadham, is so striking an example.

In Wadham the conservative Oxford workmen were inspired by the
presence of Somerset masons, whom the Foundress brought up from her
own county, so rich in the splendid Gothic of the fifteenth century.
Hence the chapel of Wadham (shown in Plate XXII) is to all intents
and purposes the choir of a great Somerset church. So marked is the
old style in its windows that some of the best authorities on
architecture have maintained that the stonework of these could not
have been made in the seventeenth century, but must have survived
from some older building; Ferguson, the historian of architecture,
when confronted with the fact that the college has still the detailed
accounts showing how, week by week, the Jacobean masons worked, swept
this evidence aside with the dictum--"No amount of documents could
prove what was impossible." But here the "impossible" really

The permanence of Gothic in Oxford is a point for professional
students; the studied simplicity, which is the great secret of
Wadham's beauty, concerns everyone. The effect of the garden front is
produced simply by the long lines of the string-courses and by the
procession of the beautifully proportioned gables. Neither here nor
in any part of the college is there a piece of carved work, except in
the classical screen, which marks the entry to the hall. It may be
noted that at Wadham and at Clare, Cambridge, the same effect is
produced by the same means; different as the two colleges are, the
one Gothic, the other classical, they have a restful and complete
beauty which makes them specially attractive. And this is due more
than anything else to the unbroken lines of the stonework, to which
everything is kept in due subordination. Clare was building during
half a century; Wadham was finished in three years; but both have
been fortunate in being left alone; they have not been "improved" by
later additions.

The chapel at Wadham has another feature of great interest for those
who visit it; the glass in it (not that in the ante-chapel) is all
contemporary with the college, and is a first-rate example of the
taste of early Stuart times. The apostles and the prophets of the
side windows have few merits, except their age, and the fact that
they illustrate what local craftsmen could do in the reign of James
I; but the big east window is of a very different rank. The college
authorities quarrelled with the local workmen, and introduced a
foreign craftsman, Bernard van Ling from London. In our day he would
have been called a "blackleg," and mobbed: perhaps, even in the
seventeenth century, he needed protection, for the college built him
a furnace in their garden, and he there produced the finest specimen
of seventeenth century glass that Oxford can show. Even for those who
are not students of glass, the Wadham windows are attractive with
their two Jonahs and two whales, "The big one that swallowed Jonah,
and the little one that Jonah swallowed" (to quote an old college

The gardens at Wadham are famous; they have not the magnificence of
St. John's or the antiquarian charm of the old walls at New College
or Merton; but, for the variety and fine growth of their trees, they
are unsurpassed, though the glory of these is passing. Warden Wills
planted them in the days of the French Revolution, and trees have
their time to fall at last, even though they long survive their


"But these were merciful men, whose righteousness
hath not been forgotten. . . . Their bodies are buried
in peace; but their name liveth for evermore."
/Ecclesiasticus/, xliv. 10, 14.

The collection of pictures In Wadham Hall is probably the best of any
college in Oxford--always, of course, excepting Christ Church. It has
no single picture to be compared with the "Thomas Warton" at
Trinity, or the "Dr. Johnson" at Pembroke (both excellent works of
Reynolds), nor does it give so many fine examples of the work of
recent artists as do Trinity or Balliol; but it makes up for these
deficiencies by the number and the variety of its pictures.

Two only of the men they represent can be said to attain to the first
rank among England's worthies--Robert Blake, second as an admiral
only to Nelson and Oxford's greatest fighting man until the present
war, and Christopher Wren, "that prodigious young scholar" (as John
Evelyn calls him), who, as has been well said, would have been second
only to Newton among English mathematicians had he not chosen rather
to be indisputably the first of British architects. It is interesting
to note that Wadham shares with All Souls' two of the greatest names
in the Scientific Revival of the seventeenth century: both Wren and
Thomas Sydenham, the physician, migrated from Wadham to fellowships
at All Souls'.

Their connection with Wadham is part of what is probably the most
interesting single episode in the college history. When the
Parliament triumphed, and the King's partisans were turned out of
Oxford, the Lodgings at Wadham were given to the most distinguished
of her Wardens, John Wilkins, who, no doubt, owed his promotion to
the fact that he was the brother-in-law of Oliver Cromwell. In his
own day everyone knew him; he was a moderate man, who interceded for
Royalist scholars under the Commonwealth, and tempered the penal laws
to Non-Conformists, when later he was Bishop of Chester. He was even
better known to the "philosophers" as the inventor of a universal
language and as curious for every advance in Natural Science. But, in
our day, he is only remembered for his connection with the Royal
Society; that most illustrious body grew out of the meetings held
weekly at his Lodgings and the similar meetings held in London; when
later these two movements were united, Wilkins was secretary of the
committee which drew up the rules for their future organization, and
thus prepared the way for the Royal Charter, given to the Society in
1662. When the Royal Society celebrated its 250th anniversary in
1912, many of its members made a pilgrimage to "its cradle" (or what
was, at any rate, "/one/ of its cradles").

Wadham also produced, among other early members of the Royal Society,
its historian, Thomas Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, who somehow, as
"Pindaric Sprat" (he was the friend and also the editor of /Abraham
Cowley/), found his way into Johnson's /Lives of the Poets/; he is,
however, more likely to be remembered because his subserviency, when
he was Dean of Westminster to James II, has earned him an unenviable
place in Macaulay's gallery of Revolution worthies and unworthies.
Sprat, it should be added, was an exception to the prevailing Whig
tradition of Wadham, which found a worthy exponent in Arthur Onslow,
the greatest Speaker of the House of Commons, who ruled over that
august body for a record period, thirty-four years (1727-1761), and
formed its rules and traditions in the period when it was first
asserting its claim to govern.

[Plate XXIII. Wadham College : The Hall Interior]

Two centuries later than the Royal Society days at Wadham, another
group of philosophers was trained there, who thought that the views
of their master, Auguste Comte, were going to make as great a
revolution in human thought as the views of a Bacon or a Newton. All
the leading English Positivists were at Wadham--Congreve, Beesley,
Bridges, Frederic Harrison, of whom the last alone survives, to fight
with undiminished vigour for the causes which he championed in Mid-
Victorian days. Positivism had less influence than its adherents
expected, but it powerfully affected for a time the political and the
religious thought of England.

Forty years later another famous group of young men were at Wadham
together. As they are all alive, it is impossible, and would be
unbecoming, to estimate what their influence on English life and
thought will be; but it was a curious coincidence that sent to Wadham
together, in the 'nineties, Lord Birkenhead, who reached the Woolsack
at the earliest age on record; Sir John Simon, who, if he had wished,
could have lowered that record still further, and C. B. Fry, once a
household name as the greatest of British athletes.

Three groups of Wadham men have been spoken of; one other name must
be mentioned of one who stood alone at college, and for a long time
in the world outside, in his attitude to the social problems of our
day. Whatever may be the future of the Settlement movement, its
leader, Samuel Barnett, "Barnett of Whitechapel," is not to be
forgotten, for his name is associated as a pioneer and an inspiring
force with every movement of educational and social advance in the
latter half of the nineteenth century. M. Clemenceau, no friendly
judge of the ministers of any religious body, pronounced him one of
the three greatest men he had met in England. Certainly he was great,
if greatness means to anticipate the problems of the future before
the rest of the world sees their urgency, and to make real
contributions to their solution.

It has been a feature of the history of Oxford that every college
has, from time to time, come to the front as the special home and
source of some movement. There has never been the overshadowing
concentration of men and of wealth, which has given a more one-sided
direction to the history of Cambridge. Hence the strength of the
college system; every college has its traditions to live up to, its
great names to cherish, and Wadham is, certainly, by no means last or
least in these respects.


"Outspake the (Warden) roundly:
'The bridge must straight go down;
For if they once should get the bridge ...'"
MACAULAY, /Horatius/, adapted.

Academic bridges, over the Cam or elsewhere, are a great feature at
Cambridge. At Oxford they were unknown till this century, when
University first of all threw its modest little arch over Logic Lane;
later, in 1913. the "Bridge of Sighs," which forms the subject of
Plate XXIV, was completed. There was a hard struggle before leave
could be obtained from the City Council for thus bridging a public
thoroughfare; University only maintained their claim to a bridge by a
long lawsuit, in which the college rights were firmly established by
the production of charters, which went back to the reign of King
John. The great opposition to the Hertford Bridge was said to be due
to regard for the feelings of the old Warden of New College, who
considered that it would injure the view of his college bell-tower.
Whether this story be true or not, Hertford obtained its permission
at last, and Sir Thomas Jackson added a new attraction to Oxford's
buildings. His genius has been especially shown in triumphing over
the difficulties of the Hertford site, for it was no easy thing to
unite into a harmonious whole, buildings so various; his new chapel--
opened in 1908--is worthy to rank with the best classic architecture
in Oxford.

The variety of the Hertford buildings only reflects the chequered
history of the foundations that have occupied them. As early as the
thirteenth century Hart Hall stood on this site. In the eighteenth
century this old hall was turned into a college by an Oxford
reformer, Dr. Newton. But unfortunately Newton's endowments were not
equal to his ambition, and the first Hertford /College/ fell into
such decay that finally its buildings were transferred to an entirely
different foundation, Magdalen Hall. Almost immediately afterwards,
old Magdalen Hall, which stood close to Magdalen College, was burned
down, and the society sold their site, thus made empty, to their
wealthy namesake, and migrated, in 1822, to what had formerly been
Hertford College. Finally, in 1874, Magdalen Hall was re-endowed by
the head of the great financial house of Baring as "Hertford College"
once more.

This college then unites the traditions of two old halls, and of its
own predecessor, and from all of them it derives some famous names.
Hart Hall was the home of John Selden, one of the greatest of English
scholars; Hertford College had an undistinguished English prime
minister in Henry Pelham, and a most distinguished leader of
opposition in Charles James Foxe; while Magdalen Hall was even more
rich in traditions, as being the home of the translator of the Bible,
William Tyndale, as the centre of Puritan strength in the Laudian
days, when from its ranks were filled the vacancies all over Oxford
caused by the expulsions of Royalists, and finally as having trained
Lord Clarendon, famous as Charles II's minister, still more famous as
the historian, whose monumental work was one of the first endowments
of the Oxford Press.

All these traditions are now concentrated in the one college, and, as
has been said, the buildings have been greatly extended to meet the
needs of the new foundation. When Hertford College is completed
according to the plans already drawn by Sir Thomas Jackson, it will
reach from All Souls' to Holywell. This last northern part of its
front has been delayed by the European War.

The new--or, rather, the revived--college has, as yet, hardly had
time to make Oxford history, but the influence of its second
Principal. Dr. Boyd, whose long reign, happily not yet over, began in
1877, has had the result of finding for Oxford new benefactors in one
of the wealthiest of the London City Companies; the Drapers'
magnificent gifts of the new Science Library and of the Electrical
Laboratory are good instances to show that the days of the "pious
founder" are not yet over.

[Plate XXIV. Hertford College : The Bridge]


"Or wander down an ancient street
Where mingling ages quaintly meet,
Tower and battlement, dome and gable
Mellowed by time to a picture sweet."

The group of buildings, shown in Plate XXV, is not only picturesque--
it also illustrates Oxford history from more than one point of view.

The apse of the Chapel of Queen's on the left belongs to a building
already spoken of, which is the most perfect example of a small
basilican church in Oxford. The church tower in the centre, though
itself dating from the fourteenth century, is the most modern part of
one of the oldest churches in Oxford, St. Peter in the East. The
crypt and the chancel of this church go back to the time of the
Conquest, and are probably the work of Robert d'Oili, to whom William
the Conqueror gave the city of Oxford; he was first an oppressor and
then a benefactor; in the former character, he built the castle keep,
still standing near the station; in the latter, he was the builder,
besides St. Peter, of the churches of St. Michael and of the Holy
Cross; parts of his work survive in all three.

The churchyard, at all events, of St. Peter in the East, deserves a
visit, lying as it does between the beautiful garden of New College
and the picturesque buildings of St. Edmund Hall.

Before this last foundation is spoken of, a word must be said as to
the road round which these three buildings are grouped--Queen's Lane.
It survives, almost unaltered, from Pre-Reformation Oxford, and,
winding as it does its narrow way between high walls, it is an
interesting specimen of the "lanes" which threaded mediaeval Oxford,
a city in which the High Street and, to a smaller extent, Cornmarket
Street were the only real thoroughfares; the rest of the city was a
network of narrow ways.

But from the historic point of view, the most interesting part of the
picture is its right side, where stand the buildings of St. Edmund
Hall. This is the only survival of the system of residence in the
earliest University, of the Oxford which knew not the college system.

Before the days of "pious founders," the students had to provide
their own places of residence, and very early the custom grew up of
their living together in "halls," sometimes managed by a non-academic
owner, but often under the superintendence of some resident Master of
Arts, who was responsible, not for the teaching, but, at any rate in
part, for the discipline of the inmates of his hall. These halls had
at first no endowments and no permanent existence; they depended for
their continuity on the person of their head. Gradually they became
more organized; but when once the college system had been introduced,
it tended, by its superior wealth and efficiency, to render the
"halls" less and less important. They lost even the one element of
self-government which they had once had, the right of their members
to elect their own Principal; this right was usurped by the
Chancellor. Hence, though five of the halls were surviving at the
time of the University Commission (of 1850), all of them but St.
Edmund Hall have now disappeared.

In theory, "hall" and "college" have much in common; one Cambridge
college indeed has retained the name of "hall," and two of the
women's colleges in Oxford have preferred to keep the old style. In
practice, their difference lies in the two facts that colleges are
wealthier, with more endowments, and that they are self-governing,
with Fellows who co-opt to vacancies in their own body and elect
their head. St. Edmund Hall has its head appointed by the fellows of
Queen's, with which institution it has long been connected.

[Plate XXV. St. Peter-in-the-East Church and St. Edmund Hall]

The origin of this hall is an unsolved problem: it derives its name
according to one theory from Edmund Rich, the last Archbishop of
Canterbury to be canonized, and probably the first recorded Doctor of
Divinity at Oxford. But this theory is very doubtful, and Hearne,
most famous of Oxford antiquarians, and probably the best known
member of St. Edmund Hall, did not believe it. In any case, most of
the buildings of the hall date long after St. Edmund, and belong to
the middle of the seventeenth century. Hearne himself is sufficient
to give interest to any foundation. He was a great scholar and a
careful editor of the early English Chroniclers in days when learning
was decaying in Oxford; even now his work as an editor is not
altogether superseded. But it is not to this that he owes his fame;
it is rather to the fact that he has high rank among the diarists of
England, and the first place among those of Oxford. For thirty years
(1705-1735) in which latter year he died, he poured into his diary
everything that interested him--scholarly notes, political rumours,
personal scandal, remarks on manners and customs. The 150 volumes
came into the possession of his fellow Jacobite, Richard Rawlinson,
the greatest of the benefactors of the Bodleian, and only now are
they being fully edited; ten volumes have been issued by the Oxford
Historical Society, and still there are a few more years of his life
to cover. As a specimen of Hearne's style may be quoted his remarks,
when the sermon on Christmas Day, 1732, was postponed till 11 a.m.

"The true reason is that people might lie in bed the longer. . . .
The same reason hath made them, in almost all places in the
University, alter the times of prayer, and the hour of dinner (which
used to be 11 o'clock) in almost every place (Christ Church must be
excepted); which ancient discipline and learning and piety strangely
decay." Hearne was critical rather of past history than of present-
day rumour; he records complacently (in 1706) that at Whitchurch,
when the dissenters had prepared a great quantity of bricks "to erect
a capacious conventicle, a destroying angel came by night and spoyled
them all, and confounded their Babel." Hearne would by no means have
approved of the Methodist principles of six members of his hall in
the next generation, who were expelled for their religious views
(1768). A furious controversy, with many pamphlets, raged over them,
and the Public Orator of the University wrote a bulky indictment of
them, which was answered by another pamphlet with the picturesque
title of "Goliath Slain." Pamphleteers were more free in their
language in those days than they are now.

The hall has always been a strong religious centre, and plays a very
useful part in the University--by giving to poor men, seeking Holy
Orders, a real Oxford education, based on the true Oxford principle
of community of life.


"Thames, the best loved of all old Ocean's sons,
Of his old sire, to his embraces runs . . .
Though deep, yet clear, through gentle yet not dull,
Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full."

[Plate XXVI. Iffley : The Old Mill]

The subject of Plate XXVI is no longer in existence; it was burned
to the ground some years ago, and has never been rebuilt--for steam
has rendered unprofitable the old-fashioned water mills such as it
was. Yet the very fact that Iffley Mill is no more perhaps renders it
the more appropriate subject for a series of Oxford pictures. It
claims a place among them, not for its beauty, picturesque though it
was, but as a symbol of the open-air pursuits of Oxford, which play
so large a part in the lives of her sons. And as those pursuits are
so diverse, and cannot all be directly pictured, it is fitting that
they should be represented by a picture which is a symbol of them
all, by a picture of something no longer existing, not introduced for
itself, but suggesting whole fields of varied activity, different and
yet all akin.

This may be fanciful, but the part played by open-air sports in the
life of Oxford is a great reality. Yet, in their present organized
form, they are a feature of quite, modern times. Fifty years ago,
football as a college sport in Oxford was only beginning; the men are
still living, and not octogenarians, who introduced their "school
games"--"Rugby," "Eton Wall game," etc.--at Oxford. Golf was left to
Scotchmen, hockey to small boys, La Crosse had not yet come from
beyond the Atlantic. Cricket and rowing were the only organized
games, and even in these the inter-University contests are
comparative novelties; the first boat race against Cambridge was
rowed in 1829, and it has only been an annual fixture since 1856.

Several results followed from this. In the first place, the very
sense of the word "sportsman" was different. Now it means a man who
can play well some, one at least, of the games that all men play;
then, it had its old meaning of a man who could shoot, or ride, or
fish, or do all these.

Again, as cricket is always a game for the few, and as the rowing
authorities, by the time the summer term begins, had selected their
chosen followers and left the rest of the world free, there was far
more walking, and consequently more knowledge of the country round
the city, than is the rule now. The long rambles which play so
prominent a part in Oxford biographies, such as Stanley's /Life of
Arnold/, were still the fashion, while of those who could afford to
ride, certainly many more availed themselves of the privilege than do

So far as games themselves were concerned, their cost was far less.
College matches away from Oxford were almost unknown; college
grounds, which were still quite a new thing in the middle of last
century, were nearly all concentrated on Cowley Marsh, and the
somewhat heavy contribution from all undergraduates, now generally
collected by the college authorities in "battels" and become semi-
official, was not dreamed of. Those who played paid, and the rest of
the college got off easily. And games were much more games than they
are now, and less of institutions; the "professional amateur," who
comes up with a public school reputation to get his "blue," was
almost unknown, and certainly, so far as rowing was concerned, any
powerful man with broad shoulders and a sound heart was a likely
candidate for the University Boat. The days were not dreamed of when
the fortunes of Oxford and Cambridge on the river depended largely on
the choice of a University by members of the Eton Eight.

But there is of course another side to the development of Oxford
athletics. Perhaps the most important point is that play is the
greatest social leveller. It is easy to attend the same lectures as a
man, and even to sit at the same table with him in hall, and not to
know him well, because his clothes and his accent are not quite
correct. But in these days when so many games are played, and when
competition is so keen, any man who can do anything gets his chance;
and many are the instances every year of men who would never have
made friends in their colleges outside a small circle, had not their
quickness as half-backs, or their ability as slow bowlers, brought
their contemporaries to recognize their merits. You cannot play with
a man without knowing him, and young Oxford is democratic at heart,
and when once it knows a man, it does not trouble about the non-
essentials of wealth and fashion.

And again, though it may seem a paradox to say it, the amount of play
in Oxford has increased the amount of work. Organized games mean
physical fitness, and physical fitness means ability to get
intellectual work done. Perhaps it may be argued that the absorption
in athletics deadens all intellectual life, and that many Oxford men
read only and discuss only the sporting news in the papers; this no
doubt has a strange fascination, even for men who do not play; one of
the most distinguished of Oxford statesmen of the last generation,
himself so blind that he could not hit a ball, confessed to me that
he always, in the summer, read the cricket news in /The Times/ before
he read anything else. But he and many other Oxford men read
something else, too. And it may be maintained without question that
the hard exercise, which is the fashion in Oxford, tends to keep
men's bodies healthy and to raise the moral tone of the place. Oxford
and Cambridge may not be what they should be in morals, but they
compare very favourably in this respect with other towns.

All this seems a far cry from Iffley Mill; but Iffley means to an
Oxford man, not so much the picturesque village, nor even its gem of
a Norman Church that towers above the lock, but the place where
Eights and Torpids start for the races. And the boating, which is so
associated with the name of Iffley, is still--and long may it be so--
the queen of Oxford sports. To succeed as an oar, a man has to learn
to sacrifice the present to the future, to scorn delights and live
laborious days, to work together with others, and to sink his
individuality in the common cause. These are great qualities, and
therefore in any book on Oxford, the picture, which recalls them and
is their symbol, has a right to a place.

Printed in Great Britain.
Letterpress by Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh.
Plates engraved and printed by Henry Stone & Son, Ltd., Banbury.


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