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I can take my walks unmolested, and fancy my- | walking amid their foliage; and the odour of their
old moth-scented coverings, is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.
Still less have I curiosity to disturb the elder repose of MSS. Those variæ lectiones, so tempting to the more erudite palates, do but disturb and unsettle my faith. I am no Herculanean raker. The
self of what degree or standing I please. I seem admitted ad eundum. I fetch up past opportunities. I can rise at the chapel-bell, and dream that it rings for me. In moods of humility I can be a Sizar, or a Servitor. When the peacock vein rises, I strut a Gentleman Commoner. In graver moments, I proceed Master of Arts. Indeed I do not think I am much unlike that respectable char-credit of the three witnesses might have slept unimpeached for me. I leave these curiosities to Porson, and to G. D.-whom, by the way, I found busy as a moth over some rotten archive, rummaged out of some seldom-explored press, in a nook at Oriel. With long poring, he is grown almost into a book. He stood as passive as one by the side of the old shelves. I longed to newcoat him in Russia, and assign him his place. He might have mustered for a tall Scapula.
D. is assiduous in his visits to these seats of learning. No inconsiderate portion of his moderate fortune, I apprehend, is consumed in journeys between them and Clifford's-Inn, where, like a dove on the asp's nest, he has long taken up his unconscious abode, amid an incongruous assembly of attorneys, attorneys' clerks, apparitors, promoters, vermin of the law, among whom he sits, "in calm and sinless peace." The fangs of the law pierce him not-the winds of litigation blow over his humble chambers-the hard sheriff's officer moves his hat as he passes-legal nor illegal discourtesy touches him-none thinks of offering violence or injustice to him-you would as soon "strike an abstract idea."
D. has been engaged, he tells me, through a course of laborious years, in an investigation into all curious matter connected with the two Universities; and has lately lit upon a manuscript collection of charters, relative to C, by which he hopes to settle some disputed points--particularly that long controversy between them as to priority of foundation. The ardour with which he engages in these liberal pursuits, I am afraid, has not met with all the encouragement it deserved, either here, or at C. Your caputs, and heads of colleges, care less than any body else about these questions. Contented to suck the milky fountains of their Alma Maters, without inquiring into the venerable gentlewomen's years, they rather hold such curiosities to be impertinent--unreverend. They have their good glebe lands in manu, and care not much to rake into the title-deeds. I gather at least so much from other sources, for D. is not a man to complain.
D. started like an unbroke heifer, when I interrupted him. A priori, it was not very probable that we should have met in Oriel. But D. would have done the same had I accosted him on the sudden in his own walks in Clifford's-Inn, or in the Temple. In addition to a provoking shortsightedness, (the effect of late studies and watchings at the midnight oil,) D. is the most absent of He made a call the other morning at our
acter. I have seen your dim-eyed vergers, and bedmakers in spectacles, drop a bow or curtsy as I pass, widely mistaking me for something of the sort. I go about in black, which favours the notion. Only in Christ Church reverend quadrangle, I can be content to pass for nothing short of a Seraphic Doctor.
The walks at these times are so much one's own, the tall trees of Christ's, the groves of Magdalen! The halls deserted, and with open doors inviting one to slip in unperceived, and pay a devoir to some founder, or noble or royal benefactress (that should have been ours) whose portrait seems to smile upon their overlooked beadsman, and to adopt me for their own. Then, to take a peep in by the way at the butteries and sculleries, redolent of antique hospitality: the immense caves of kitchens, kitchen fire-places, cordial recesses; ovens whose first pies were baked four centuries ago; and spits which have cooked for Chaucer! Not the meanest minister among the dishes but is hallowed to me through his imagination, and the cook goes forth a manciple.
Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that, being nothing, art every thing! When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity--then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern ! What mystery lurks in this retroversion? or what half Januses are we, that cannot look forward with the same idolatry with which we for ever revert! The mighty future is as nothing, being every thing! the past is every thing, being nothing!
What were thy dark ages? Surely the sun rose as brightly then as now, and man got him to his work in the morning. Why is it that we can never hear mention of them without an accompanying feeling, as though a palpable obscure had dimmed the face of things, and that our ancestors wandered to and fro groping!
Above all thy rarities, old Oxenford, what do most arride and solace me, are thy repositories of mouldering learning, thy shelves
What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers, that have bequeathed their labours to these Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning,
* Januses of one face.-SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
happens, very oddly, that my own standing at Christ's was nearly corresponding with his; and, with all gratitude to him for his enthusiasm for the cloisters, I think he has contrived to bring together whatever can be said in praise of them, dropping all the other side of the argument most ingenuously.
friend M's in Bedford-square; and, finding nobody at home, was ushered into the hall, where, asking for pen and ink, with great exactitude of purpose he enters me his name in the book-which ordinarily lies about in such places, to record the failures of the untimely or unfortunate visiter--and takes his leave with many ceremonies, and professions of regret. Some two or three hours after, his walking destinies returned him into the same neighbourhood again, and again the quiet image of the fireside circle at M.'s-Mrs. M. presiding at it like a Queen Lar, with pretty A. S. at her side -striking irresistibly on his fancy, he makes another call, (forgetting that they were "certainly not to return from the country before that day week,") | and disappointed a second time, inquires for pening, while we were battening upon our quarter of and paper as before: again the book is brought, and in the line just above that in which he is about to print his second name, (his rescript,) his first name (scarce dry) looks out upon him like another Sosia, or as if a man should suddenly encounter his own duplicate! The effect may be conceived. D. made many a good resolution against such lapses in future. I hope he will not keep them too rigorously.
I remember L. at school; and can well recollect that he had some peculiar advantages, which I and others of his schoolfellows had not. His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through some invidious distinction, which was denied to us. The present worthy subtreasurer to the Inner Temple can explain how that happened. He had his tea and hot rolls in a morn
For with G. D. to be absent from the body, is sometimes (not to speak it profanely) to be present with the Lord. At the very time when, personally encountering thee, he passes on with no recognition; or, being stopped, starts like a thing surprised at that moment, reader, he is on Mount Tabor, or Parnassus; or co-shepherd with Plato: or, with Harrington, forming "immortal commonwealths;" devising some plan of amclioration to thy country, or thy species; peradventure meditating some individual kindness or courtesy, to be done to thee thyself, the returning consciousness of which made him to start so guiltily at thy obtruded personal presence.
D. is delightful any where, but he is at the best in such places as these. He cares not much for Bath. He is out of his element at Buxton, at Scarborough, or Harrowgate. The Cam and the Isis are to him "better than all the waters of Damascus," On the Muses' hill he is happy, and good, as one of the shepherds on the Delectable Mountains; and when he goes about with you to show you the halls and colleges, you think you have with you the Interpreter at the House Beautiful.
In Mr. Lamb's "Works," published a year or two since, I find a magnificent eulogy on my old school, such as it was, or now appears to him to have been, between the years 1782 and 1789. It * Recollections of Christ's Hospital.
a penny loaf,-our crug,-moistened with attenuated small-beer, in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched leathern-jack it was poured from. Our Monday's milk-porridge, blue and tasteless, and the peas'-soup of Saturday coarse and choking, were enriched for him with a slice of "extraordinary bread and butter," from the hot-loaf of the Temple. The Wednesday's mess of millet, somewhat less repugnant-(we had three banyan to four meat days in the week)—was endeared to his palate with a lump of double refined, and a smack of ginger (to make it go down the more glibly) or the fragrant cinnamon. In lieu of our half-pickled Sundays, or quite fresh boiled beef on Thursdays, (strong as caro equina,) with detestable marigolds floating in the pail to poison the broth-our scanty muttoncrags on Fridays-and rather more savoury, but grudging, portions of the same flesh, rotten-roasted or rare, on the Tuesdays (the only dish which excited our appetites, and disappointed our stomachs, in almost equal proportion)—he had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting griskin (exotics unknown to our palates) cooked in the paternal kitchen (a great thing,) and brought him daily by his maid or aunt! I remember the good old relative (in whom love forbade pride) squatting down upon some odd stone in a by-nook of the cloisters, disclosing the viands, (of higher regale than those cates which the ravens ministered to the Tishbite,) and the contending passions of L. at the unfolding. There was love for the bringer; shame for the thing brought, and the manner of its bringing; sympathy for those who were too many to share in it; and, at top of all, hunger (eldest, strongest of the passions!) predominant, breaking down the stony fences of shame, and awkwardness, and a troubling over-consciousness.
I was a poor friendless boy. My parents, and those who should care for me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, which they could reckon upon being kind to me in the great
city, after a little forced notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my first arrival in town, soon grew tired of my holyday visits. They seemed to them to recur too often, though I thought them few enough; and, one after another, they all failed
me, and I felt myself alone among six hundred playmates.
Oh the cruelty of separating a poor lad from his early homestead! The yearnings which I used to have towards it in those unfledged years! How in my dreams would my native town (far in the west) come back, with its church, and trees, and faces! How I would wake weeping, and in the anguish of my heart exclaim upon sweet Calne in Wiltshire!
To this late hour of my life, I trace impressions left by the recollection of those friendless holydays. The long warm days of summer never return but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting memory of those whole-day-leaves when, by some strange arrangement, we were turned out, for the live-long day, upon our own hands, whether we had friends to go to, or none. I remember those bathing excursions to the New-River, which L. recalls with such relish, better, I think, than he can--for he was a home-seeking lad, and did not much care for such water-pastimes :-How merrily we would sally forth into the fields; and strip under the first warmth of the sun; and wanton like young dace in the streams; getting us appetites for noon, which those of us that were pennyless (our scanty morning-crust long since exhausted) had not the means of allaying-while the cattle, and the birds, and the fishes, were at feed about us, and we had nothing to satisfy our cravings—the very beauty of the day, and the exercise of the pastime, and the sense of liberty, setting a keener edge upon them! -How faint, and languid, finally, we would return, towards nightfall, to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant, that the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired!
It was worse in the days of winter, to go prowling about the streets objectless-shivering at cold windows of print-shops, to extract a little amusement; or haply, as a last resort, in the hope of a little novelty, to pay a fifty-times repeated visit (where our individual faces should be as well known to the warden as those of his own charges) to the Lions in the Tower-to whose levee, by courtesy immemorial, we had a prescriptive title to admission.
children of us slept, answerable for an offence they neither dared to commit, nor had the power to hinder. The same execrable tyranny drove the younger part of us from the fires, when our feet were perishing with snow; and, under the cruellest penalties, forbade the indulgence of a drink of water, when we lay in sleepless summer nights, fevered with the season, and the day's sports.
There was one H, who, I learned, in after days, was seen expiating some maturer offence in the hulks. (Do I flatter myself in fancying that this might be the planter of that name, who suf fered-at Nevis, I think, or St. Kitts-some few years since? My friend Tobin was the benevolent instrument of bringing him to the gallows.) This petty Nero actually branded a boy who had offended him, with a red hot iron; and nearly starved forty of us, with exacting contributions, to the one half of our bread, to pamper a young ass, which, incredible as it may seem, with the connivance of the nurse's daughter (a young flame of his) he had contrived to smuggle in, and keep upon the leads of the ward, as they called our dormitories. This game went on for better than a week, till the foolish beast, not able to fare well but he must cry roast meat-happier than Caligula's minion, could he have kept his own counsel-but foolisher, alas! than any of his species in the fables-waxing fat, and kicking, in the falness of bread, one unlucky minute would needs proclaim his good fortune to the world below; and, laying out his simple throat, blew such a ram's-horn blast, as (toppling down the walls of his own Jericho) set concealment any longer at defiance. The client was dismissed, with certain attentions, to Smithfield; but I never understood that the patron underwent any censure on the occasion. This was in the stewardship of L.'s admired Perry.
Under the same facile administration, can L. have forgotten the cool impunity with which the nurses used to carry away openly, in open platters, for their own tables, one out of two of every hot joint, which the careful matron had been seeing scrupulously weighed out for our dinners? These were daily practised in that magnificent apartment, which L. (grown connoisseur since, we presume) praises so highly for the grand paintings, "by Verrio, and others," with which it is "hung round and adorned." But the sight of sleek well-fed bluecoat boys in pictures was, at that time, I believe, little consolatory to him, or us, the living ones, who saw the better part of our provisions carried away before our faces by harpies; and ourselves reduced (with the Trojan in the hall of Dido)
To feed our minds with idle portraiture.
L.'s governor (so we called the patron who presented us to the foundation) lived in a manner under his paternal roof. Any complaint which he had to make was sure of being attended to. This was understood at Christ's, and was an effectual screen to him against the severity of masters, or worse tyranny of the monitors. The oppressions of these young brutes are heart-sickening to call to recollection. I have been called out of my bed, and waked for the purpose, in the coldest winter nights --and this not once, but night after night-in my shirt, to receive the discipline of a leathern thong, with eleven other sufferers, because it pleased my callow overscer, when there has been any talking heard after we were gone to bed, to make the six last beds in the dormitory, where the youngest
L. has recorded the repugnance of the school to gags, or the fat of fresh beef boiled; and sets it down to some superstition. But these unctuous morsels are never grateful to young palates, (children are universally fat-haters,) and in strong, coarse, boiled meats, unsalted, are detestable. A
gag-eater in our time was equivalent to a goul, and held in equal detestation. suffered under the imputation.
'Twas said, He ate strange flesh.
He was observed, after dinner, carefully to gather up the remnants left at his table, (not many, nor very choice fragments, you may credit me) and, in an especial manner, these disreputable morsels, which he would convey away, and secretly stow in the settle that stood at his bedside. None saw when he ate them. It was rumoured that he privately devoured them in the night. He was watched, but no traces of such midnight practices were discoverable. Some reported, that, on leavedays, he had been seen to carry out of the bounds a large blue check handkerchief, full of something. This then must be the accursed thing. Conjecture next was at work to imagine how he could dispose of it. Some said he sold it to the beggars. This belief generally prevailed. He went about moping. None spake to him. No one would play with him. He was excommunicated; put out of the pale of the school. He was too powerful a boy to be beaten, but he underwent every mode of that negative punishment, which is more grievous than many stripes. Still he persevered. At length he was observed by two of his school-fellows, who were determined to get at the secret, and had traced him one leave-day, for that purpose, to enter a large worn-out building, such as there exist specimens of in Chancery-lane, which are let out to various scales of pauperism, with open door and a common staircase. After him they silently slunk in, and followed by stealth up four flights, and saw him tap at a poor wicket, which was opened by an aged woman, meanly clad. Suspicion was now ripened into certainty. The informers had secured their victim. They had him in their toils. Accusation was formally preferred, and retribution most signal was looked for. Mr. Hathaway, the then steward, (for this happened a little after my time,) with that patient sagacity which tempered all his conduct, determined to investigate the matter, before he proceeded to sentence. The result was, that the supposed mendicants, the receivers or purchasers of the mysterious scraps, turned out to be the parents of, an honest couple come to decay, whom this seasonable supply had, in all probability, saved from mendicancy; and that this young stork, at the expense of his own good name, had all this while been only feeding the old birds! The governors on this occasion, much to their honour, voted a present relief to the family of - and presented him with a silver medal. The lesson which the steward read upon RASH JUDGMENT, on the occasion of publicly delivering the medal to
-, I believe, would not be lost upon his auditory. I had left school then, but I well remember He was a tall, shambling youth, with a cast in his eye, not at all calculated to conciliate hostile
prejudices. I have since seen him carrying a baker's basket. I think I heard he did not do quite so well by himself, as he had done by the old folks.
I was a hypochondriac lad; and the sight of a boy in fetters, upon the day of my first putting on the blue clothes, was not exactly fitted to assuage the natural terrors of initiation. I was of tender
years, barely turned of seven; and had only read of such things in books, or seen them but in dreams. I was told he had run away. This was the punishment for the first offence. As a novice I was soon after taken to see the dungeons. These were little, at his length upon straw and a blanket—a matsquare, Bedlam cells, where a boy could just lie tress, I think, was afterwards substituted-with a peep of light, let in askance, from a prison-orifice boy was locked in by himself all day, without at top, barely enough to read by. Here the poor sight of any but the porter who brought him his bread and water-who might not speak to him ;— him out to receive his periodical chastisement, or of the beadle, who came twice a week to call which was almost welcome, because it separated him for a brief interval from solitude:-and here he was shut up by himself of nights, out of the reach of any sound, to suffer whatever horrors the weak nerves, and superstition incident to his time alty for the second offence. Wouldst thou like, of life, might subject him to.* This was the penreader, to see what became of him in the next degree?
The culprit, who had been a third time an offender, and whose expulsion was at this time deemed irreversible, was brought forth, as at some appalling attire-all trace of his late "watchet solemn auto da fe, arrayed in uncouth and most jacket, resembling those which London lamplightweeds" carefully effaced, he was exposed in a The effect of this divestiture was such as the iners formerly delighted in, with a cap of the same. genious devisers of it could have anticipated. With his pale and frighted features, it was as if some of those disfigurements in Dante had seized upon him. In this disguisement he was brought into the hall, (L.'s favourite state-room,) where awaited him the whole number of his school-fellows, whose joint lessons and sports he was thenceforth to share no more; the awful presence of the steward, to be clad in his state-robe for the occasion; and of two seen for the last time; of the executioner beadle, faces more, of direr import, because never but in these extremities visible. These were governors; two of whom, by choice, or charter, were always accustomed to officiate at these Ultima Supplicia; not to mitigate, (so at least we understood it,) but
* One or two instances of lunacy, or attempted suicide, accordingly, at length convinced the governors of the impolicy of this part of the sentence, and the midnight torture to the spirits was dispensed with. This fancy of dungeons for children was a sprout of Howard's Paul,) methinks, I could willingly spit upon his statue. brain; for which, (saving the reverence due to Holy
to enforce the uttermost stripe. Old Bamber Gas- | cradles; or making dry peas to dance upon the end coigne, and Peter Aubert, I remember, were col- of a tin pipe; or studying the art military over that leagues on one occasion, when the beadle turning | laudable game “French and English," and a hunrather pale, a glass of brandy was ordered to pre-dred other such devices to pass away the timepare him for the mysteries. The scourging was, mixing the useful with the agreeable—as would after the old Roman fashion, long and stately. have made the souls of Rousseau and John Locke The lictor accompanied the criminal quite round chuckle to have seen us. the hall. We were generally too faint with attending to the previous disgusting circumstances, to make accurate report with our eyes of the degree of corporal suffering inflicted. Report, of course, gave out the back knotty and livid. After scourging, he was made over, in his San Benito, to his friends, if he had any, (but commonly such poor runagates were friendless,) or to his parish officer, who, to enhance the effect of the scene, had his station allotted to him on the outside of the hall gate.
These solemn pageantries were not played off so often as to spoil the general mirth of the community. We had plenty of exercise and recreation after school hours; and, for myself, I must confess, that I was never happier, than in them. The Up. per and the Lower Grammar Schools were held in the same room, and an imaginary line only divided their bounds. Their character was as different as that of the inhabitants on the two sides of the Pyrennees. The Rev. James Boyer was the Upper Master; but the Rev. Matthew Field presided over that portion of the apartment of which I had the good fortune to be a member. We lived a life as careless as birds. We talked and did just what we pleased, and nobody molested us. We carried an accidence, or a grammar, for form; but, for any trouble it gave us, we might take two years in getting through the verbs deponent, and another two in forgetting all that we had learned about them. There was now and then the formality of saying a lesson, but if you had not learned it, a brush across the shoulders (just enough to disturb a fly) was the sole remonstrance. Field never used the rod; and in truth he wielded the cane with no great good willholding it "like a dancer." It looked in his hands rather like an emblem than an instrument of authority; and an emblem, too, he was ashamed of. He was a good easy man, that did not care to ruffle his own peace, nor perhaps set any great consideration upon the value of juvenile time. He came among us, now and then, but often staid away whole days from us; and when he came, it made no difference to us he had his private room to retire to, the short time he staid, to be out of the sound of our noise. Our mirth and uproar went on. We had classics of our own, without being beholden to "insolent Greece or haughty Rome," that passed current among us-Peter Wilkinsthe Adventures of the Hon. Capt. Robert Boylethe Fortunate Blue-Coat Boy-and the like. Or we cultivated a turn for mechanic or scientific operations; making little sun-dials of paper; or weaving those ingenious parentheses, called cat
Matthew Field belonged to that class of modest divines who affect to mix in equal proportion the gentleman, the scholar, and the Christian; but, I know not how, the first ingredient is generally found to be the predominating dose in the composition. He was engaged in gay parties, or with his courtly bow at some episcopal levée, when he should have been attending upon us. He had for many years the classical charge of a hundred children, during the four or five first years of their education; and his very highest form seldom proceeded further than two or three of the introductory fables of Phædrus. How things were suffered to go on thus, I cannot guess. Boyer, who was the proper person to have remedied these abuses, always affected, perhaps felt, a delicacy in interfering in a province not strictly his own. I have not been without my suspicions, that he was not altogether displeased at the contrast we presented to his end of the school. We were a sort of Helots to his young Spartans. He would sometimes, with ironic deference, send to borrow a rod of the Under Master, and then, with sardonic grin, observe to one of his upper boys, "how neat and fresh the twigs looked." While his pale students were battering their brains over Xenophon and Plato, with a silence as deep as that enjoined by the Samite, we were enjoying ourselves at our ease in our little Goshen. We saw a little into the secrets of his discipline, and the prospect did but the more reconcile us to our lot. His thunders rolled innocuous for us; his storms came near, but never touched us; contrary to Gideon's miracle, while all around were drenched, our fleece was dry.* His boys turned out the better scholars; we, I suspect, have the advantage in temper. His pupils cannot speak of him without something of terror allaying their gratitude; the remembrance of Field comes back with all the soothing images of indolence, and summer slumbers, and work like play, and innocent idleness, and Elysian exemptions, and life itself "a playing holyday.”
Though sufficiently removed from the jurisdiction of Boyer, we were near enough (as I have said) to understand a little of his system. We occasionally heard sounds of the Ulxlantes, and caught glances of Tartarus. B. was a rabid pedant. His English style was cramped to barbarism. His Easter anthems (for his duty obliged him to those periodical flights) were grating as scrannel pipes.† He would laugh, ay, and heartily, but then it must be at Flaccus's quibble about Rex-or at the
In this and every thing B. was the antipodes of his coadjutor. While the former was digging his brains