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acter will have been accumulating through the centuries until now the sum of it must be prodigious. But that is a kind of thing which if one has any direct knowledge of it one feels to be a kind of confidence, and which one lets one's conjecture play about, in the absence of knowledge, very guardedly. For my part I prefer to leave quite to the reader's imagination the charming traits of the acquaintance I would fain have made my friends. Sometimes they were of difficult conversation, but not more so than certain Old Cambridge men, whom I remembered from my youth; the studious life is nowhere favorable to the cultivation of the smaller talk; but now that so many of the Fellows are married the silence is less unbroken, and the teas, if not the dinners, recur in a music which is not the less agreeable for the prevalence of the soprano or the contralto note. It seemed to me that there were a good many teas, out-doors when it shone and in-doors when it rained, but there were never enough, and now I feel there were all too few. They had the entourage which the like social dramas cannot have for yet some centuries in our centres of learning; between the tinkle of the silver and the light clash of the china one caught the muted voices of the past speaking from the storied architecture, or the immemorial trees, or even the secular sward underfoot. But one must not suppose that the lawns which are velvet to one's tread are quite voluntarily velvet. I was once sighing enviously to a momentary host and saying of his turf that nothing but the incessant play of the garden-hose could keep the grass in such vernal green with us, when he promptly answered that the garden-hose had also its useful part in the miracle of his own lawn. I dared not ask if the lawnmower likewise lent its magic; that would have been
going too far. Or at least I thought so; and in the midst of the surrounding reticences I always felt it was better not to push the bounds of knowledge.
There is so much passive erudition, hived from the flowers of a thousand summers in such a place of learning, that I felt the chances were that if the stranger came there conscious of some of his own little treasure of honey, he would find it a few thin drops beside the rich stores of any first apiarist to whom he opened it. In that long, long quiet, that illimitable opportunity, that generously defended leisure, the scholarship is not only deep, but it is so wide that it may well include the special learning of the comer, and he may hear that this or that different don who is known for a master in a certain kind has made it his recreation to surpass in provinces where the comer's field shrinks to parochial measure. How many things they keep to themselves at Oxford, it must remain part of one's general ignorance not to know, and it is more comfortable not to inquire. But out of the sense of their guarded, their hidden, lore may spring the habit of referring everything to the university, which represents them as far as they can manage not to represent it. They may have imaginably outlived our raw passion of doing, and have become serenely content with being. This is a way of saying an illanguagible thing, and, of course, oversaying it.
The finer impressions of such a place-there is no other such in the world unless it is Cambridge, England, or Old Cambridge, Massachusetts,-escape the will to impart them. The coarser ones are what I have been giving the reader, and trying to pass off upon him in their fragility for something subtile. If one could have stayed the witchery of an instant of twilight in a college
quadrangle, or of morning sunshine in a college garden, or of a glimpse of the High Street with the academic walls and towers and spires richly foreshortened in its perspective, or of the beauty of some meadow widening to the level Isis, or the tender solemnity of a longdrawn aisle of trees leading to the stream under the pale English noon, and could now transfer the spell to another, something worth while might be done. But short of this endeavor is vain. There was a walk, which I should like to distinguish from others, all delightful, where we passed in a grassy field over an old battle-ground of the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, and saw traces of the old lager-beads, the earthworks in which the hostile camps pushed closer and closer to each other, and left the word "loggerheads" to their language. But I do not now find this very typical, and I am rather glad that the details of my sojourn are so inextricably interwoven that I need not try to unravel the threads which glow so rich a pattern in my memory.
THE CHARM OF CHESTER
ECAUSE Chester is the handiest piece of English antiquity for new Americans to try their infant teeth on, I had fancied myself avoiding it as unworthy my greater maturity. I had not now landed in Liverpool, and as often as I had hitherto landed there, I had promptly, proudly disobeyed the charge of more imperfectly travelled friends to be sure and break the run to London at Chester, for there was nothing like it in all England. Having indulged my haughty spirit for nearly half a century, one of the sudden caprices which undermine the firmest resolutions determined me to pass at Chester the day which must intervene before the steamer I was going to meet at Liverpool was due. Naturally I did everything I could to difference myself from the swarm of my crude countrymen whom I found there, and I was rewarded at the delightful restaurant in the Rows, where I asked for tea in my most carefully guarded chest-notes, with a pot of the odious oolong which observation has taught the English is most acceptable to the palate of our average compatriots, when they cannot get green tea or Japan tea. Perhaps it was my mortifying failure in this matter which fixed me in my wish never to be taken for an Englishman, except by other Americans whom it was easy to deceive.
The Americans abounded in Chester, not only on the
present occasion but in my three successive chance visits to the place; and if they were by an immense majority nearly all of the same sex, they were none the worse for that. By pretty twos, by pretty threes, by yet larger lovely groups, and, in serious, middle-aged instances, singly, they wandered in and out of the plain old cathedral; they strayed through the Rows or arcades by which Chester distinguishes herself from other cities in having two-storied sidewalks; they clustered in the shops where the prices were adjusted to their ignorance of English values and they could pay as much for a pair of gloves as in New York or Chicago; they crowded the narrow promenade which tops the city wall; they haunted the historic houses, where they strayed whispering about with their Baedekers shut on their thumbs, attentive to the instruction of the custodians; they rode on the tops of the municipal tram-cars with apparently no apprehension from their violation of the sacred American principle of corporational enterprise in transportation; they followed on foot the wanderings of the desultory streets; at the corners and before the quainter façades the sun caught the slant of their lifted eyeglasses and flashed them into an involuntary conspicuity. In all his round I doubt if his ray could have visited countenances of a more diffused intelligence, expressive of a more generous and truly poetic interest in those new things of the old English world on which they were now feeding full the longing, and realizing rapturously the dreaming, of the years and years of vague hopes. I could read from my own past the pathos of some lives, restricted and remote, to which the present opportunity was like a glad delirium, a glory of unimagined chance, in which they trod the stones of Old Chester as if they were the golden streets of the New Jerusalem. These