MY COLLEGE FRIENDS.

HORACE LEICESTER.

 

[MAGA. August 1845.]

 

Oxford! Alma Mater! not to love thee were indeed the ingratitude of a degenerate son. Let the whiners of the Conventicle rail at thee for a mother of heretics, and the Joseph Humes of domestic economy propose to adapt the scale of thy expenses to their own narrow notions—I uphold thee to be the queen of all human institutions—the incarnated union of Church and State—royal in thy revenues as in thy expenditure—thy doctrine as orthodox as thy dinners, thy politics as sound as thy port.

Oxford! who are they that rail at her? who dare to lift their voice against that seat of high and holy memories? The man who boasts a private education (so private, that his most intimate friends have never found it out), who, innocent himself of all academic experiences and associations, grudges to others that superiority which they never boast indeed, but to which his secret soul bears envious witness. Or the rich nonconformist, risen perhaps from obscurity to a rank in society which gives him the choice of indulging either his spleen or his pride—either to send his eldest son as a gentleman-commoner to Christ-Church, to swallow the Thirty-nine Articles with his champagne; or to have his fling at the Church through her universities—accusing Churchmen of bigotry, and exclusiveness, and illiberality, because Dissenters do not found colleges of their own. Or, worse than all, the unworthy disciple who (like the noxious plant that has grown up beneath the shade of some goodly tree) has drawn no nobility of soul from the associations which surrounded his ungrateful youth: for whom all the reality and romance of academic education were alike in vain: sneering at the honours which he could not obtain, denying the existence of opportunities which he neglected; the basest of approvers, he quotes to his own eternal infamy the scenes of riot and dissipation, the alternations of idleness and extravagance, which make up his sole recollections of university life: and looking, without one glance of affection, upon the face of his fair and graceful mother, makes the chance mole, or the early wrinkle, which he traces there, the subject of his irreverent jest, forgets the kindness of which he was unworthy, and remembers for evil the wholesome discipline which was irksome only to such as him.

"Non hæc jocosæ conveniunt lyræ;"

I admit mine is not the tongue or pen for such a subject; and Oxford has, I hope, no lack of abler champions. But it was geese, you know, who once saved the Capitol; and I must have my hiss at the iniquitous quackeries which people seek to perpetrate under the taking title of University Reform. And when I, loving Oxford as I do, see some of her own sons arrayed against her, I can only remember this much of my philosophy—that there are cases when to be angry becomes a duty. Men who, knowing nothing of the universities from experience, think proper to run them down, succeed at all events in exposing one crying evil—the absurdity of meddling with what one does not understand. We who know better may afford to smile at once at their spite and their ignorance. But he who lifts his voice against the mother that bore him, can fix no darker blot upon her fame than the disgrace of having given birth to him.

Show me the man who did not like Oxford, and I will show you either a sulky misanthrope or an affected ass. Many, many indeed, are the unpleasant recollections which, in the case of nearly all of us, will mingle with the joy with which we recall our college days. More than the ghosts of duns departed, perhaps unpaid; more than the heart-burnings of that visionary fellowship, for which we were beaten (we verily believe, unfairly) by a neck; more than that loved and lost ideal of a first class, which we deserved, but did not get (the opinions of our examiners not coinciding in that point with our own); yes, more than all these, comes forcibly to many minds, the self-accusing silent voice that whispers of time wasted and talents misapplied—kind advice, which the heat of youth misconstrued or neglected—jewels of price that once lay strewed upon the golden sands of life, then wantonly disregarded, or picked up but to be flung away, and which the tide of advancing years has covered from our view for ever—blessed opportunities of acquiring wisdom, human and divine, which never can return.

Yet in spite of all this, if there be any man who can say that Oxford is not to him a land of pleasant memories, "Μήτ' ἐμοὶ παρέστιος γένοιτο"—which is, being freely translated, "May he never put his legs under my mahogany"—that's all. I never knew him yet, and have no wish to make his acquaintance. He may have carried off every possible university honour for what I care; he is more hopelessly stupid, in my view of things, than if he had been plucked fifteen times. If he was fond of reading, or of talking about reading; fond of hunting, or talking about hunting; fond of walking, riding, rowing, leaping, or any possible exercise besides dancing; if he loved pleasant gardens or solemn cloisters; learned retirement or unlearned jollification—in a word, if he had any imaginable human sympathies, and cared for anything besides himself, he would have liked Oxford. Men's tastes differ, no doubt; but to have spent four years of the spring of one's life in one of the most magnificent cities and best societies in the world, and not to have enjoyed it—this is not a variety of taste, but its privation.

I fancy there is a mistaken opinion very prevalent, that young and foolish, older and wiser, are synonymous terms. Stout gentlemen of a certain age, brimful of proprieties, shake their heads alarmingly, and talk of the folly of boys; as if they were the only fools. And if at any time, in the fulness of their hearts, they refer to some freak of their own youth, they appear to do it with a sort of apology to themselves, that such wise individuals as they are now should ever have done such things! And as the world stands at present, it is the old story of the Lion and the Painter; the elderly gentlemen are likely to have it their own way; they say what they like, while the young ones are content to do what they like. And the more absurdity a man displays in his teens (and some, it must be confessed, are absurd enough), the more insupportable an air of wisdom does he put on when he gets settled. As there is no hope of these sedate gentry being sent to College again to teach the rising generation of under-graduates the art of precocious gravity, and still less hope of their arriving at it of themselves, perhaps there is no harm in mooting the question on neutral ground, whether such a consummation as that of putting old heads upon young shoulders is altogether desirable.

Wherefore, I, Frank Hawthorne—being of the age of nine-and-twenty, or thereabouts, and of sound mind, and about to renounce for ever all claim and title to be considered a young man; having married a wife, and left sack and all other bad habits; having no longer any fellowship with under-graduates, or army subs, or medical students, or young men about town, or any other class of the heterogeneous irregulars who make up "Young England"—being a perfectly disinterested party in the question, inasmuch as having lost my reputation for youth, I have never acquired one for wisdom—hereby raise my voice against the intolerable cant, which assumes every man to be a harebrained scapegrace at twenty, and a Solomon at forty-five. Youth sows wild oats, it may be; too many men in more advanced life seem to me to sow no crop of any kind. There are empty fools at all ages; but "an old fool"——(musty as the proverb is, it is rather from neglect than over-application). I have known men by the dozen, who in their youth were either empty-headed coxcombs or noisy sots; does my reader think that any given number of additional years has made them able statesmen, sound lawyers, or erudite divines? that because they have become honourable by a seat in Parliament, learned by courtesy, reverend by office, they are therefore really more useful members of society than when they lounged the High Street, or woke the midnight echoes of the quadrangle? Nay, life is too short for the leopard to change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin; one can but pare the claws of the first, and put a suit of the last European fashion upon the other.

Let any man run over in his own mind the list of those school and college companions with whom, after the lapse of ten years or so, he has still an opportunity of occasionally renewing his acquaintance, and judging of the effect which time has had upon their habits and characters. In how many cases can he trace any material alteration, beyond what results from the mere accidents of time and place? He finds, it is to be hoped, good principles developed, warm impulses ripened into active habits, exaggerations softened down (for I am giving him credit for not choosing his companions, even in youth, among the vicious in heart and principle); but if he finds in any what he can call a change at all, then I ask, in how many instances is it a change for the better? or does he not find it rather where there was no sterling value in the metal, which, as the gloss of youth wears off, loses its only charm?

Thirty is the turning-point of a man's life; when marrying becomes a now-or-never sort of business, and dinners begin to delight him more than dancing. As I said just now, then, I stand just at the corner; and, looking round before I turn it, I own somewhat of a shyness for the company of those "grave and reverend seniors" who are to be my fellow-travellers hereafter through life. There are certain points on which I fear we are scarce prepared to agree. I must have one window open for the first few miles of the journey at all events—that I may look behind me. Life's a fast train, and one can't expect to be allowed to get out at the stations; still less to ask the engineer to put back, because we have left our youth behind us. Yet there are some things in which I hope always to be a boy; I hope ever to prefer thoughtlessness to heartlessness, imprudence to selfishness, impulse to calculation. It is hard enough to part with all the fiery spirits, the glowing imaginations, the elasticity of mind and body which we lose as age creeps on; but if, with the bright summer weather and cloudless skies of youth, to which we are content to bid farewell, we must lose, too, the "sunshine of the breast"—the "bloom of heart"—then well might the poet count him happy who died in early spring—who knew nothing of life but its fair promises, and passed away in happy scepticism of the winter which was to come.

Talk of putting old heads upon young shoulders! Heaven forbid! It would but be making them stoop prematurely. If indeed we could put young hearts into old bodies occasionally, we might do some good; or if there could ever be combined in some fortunate individual, throughout his life, the good qualities peculiar to each successive climacteric; if we could mix just enough of the acid and the bitter, which are apt to predominate so unhappily after a long rubbing through the world, to qualify the fiery spirit of youth, and prevent its sweetness from cloying, the compound would undoubtedly be a very pleasant one. But this, it is to be feared, like many other desiderata, is too good to be attainable; and the experience which we undoubtedly want in early life, we acquire too often at the cost of that freshness of heart, which nature intended as a gift still more valuable.

Nowhere does the old Stagyrite display a more consummate knowledge of what men are made of, than in his contrasted characters of youth and age. I wonder how many of the old gentlemen who call themselves philosophers in this degenerate age, ever read or remember what he says on the subject. It is a great comfort, when one is arguing against so much collective wisdom, to feel that one has such authority to fall back upon; and I have the less hesitation in bringing my old friend Aristotle forward to help me, because I can assure my unlearned readers, ladies and others, that I am not going to quote any thing nearly so grave and sensible as modern philosophy. "Stingy, illnatured, suspicious, selfish, narrow-minded"—these, with scarce a redeeming quality, are some of the choice epithets which he strings together as the characteristics of the respectable old governors and dowagers of his day; while the young, although, as he confesses, somewhat too much the creatures of impulse, and indebted to it for some of their virtues as well as vices, are trustful towards others, honest in themselves, open-handed and open-hearted, warm friends and brave enemies. It is true, he observes, they have, in a large degree, the fault common to all honest men, they are "easily humbugged;" an admitted failing which perhaps may let us into the secret of their sitting down so quietly under the imputation of a hundred others. He urges, too, elsewhere, a fact I am not disposed to battle about, that young men do not make good philosophers; but this is in a book which he wrote for the use of his own son, wherein he probably thought it his duty to take the conceit out of his heir-apparent; but if he ever allowed the young philosopher to get a sight of the other book containing the two characters aforesaid, it may be doubted whether he found him as "easily humbugged" afterwards.

Remember, reader, as I said before, I claim to occupy neutral ground. If I essay to defend youth from some injustice which it suffers at the hands of partial judges, it is as an amateur advocate rather than an accredited champion—for I am young no longer. If I am rash enough to couch a lance against that venerable phantom, which, under the name of Wisdom, hovers round grey hairs, I am but preparing a rod for my own back—for I feel myself growing old. I admit it with a sigh; but the sigh is not for the past only, but even more for the present. I mourn not so much for that which Time has taken away, as for the insufficiency of that which it brings instead. I would rejoice to be relieved from the dominion of the hot follies of youth, if I could escape at the same time the degrading yoke of the cooler vices of maturity. I do not find men grow better as they grow older; wiser they may grow, but it is the wisdom of the serpent. We scarce grow less sensual, less vain, less eager after what we think pleasure; I would we continued as generous and as warm. We gain the cunning to veil our passions, to regulate even our vices according to the scale (and that no parsimonious one) which what we call "society" allows; we lose the enthusiasm which in some degree excused our follies, with the light-heartedness which made them delightful. Few men among us are they who can look back upon the years gone by, and not feel that, if these may justly be charged with folly, the writing of the accusation that stands against their riper age is of a graver sort.

It is melancholy, rather than amusing, to hear men of a certain age rail against the faults and extravagance of their juniors. Angry that they themselves are no longer young, they visit with a rod of iron such an intolerable offence in others. Even newspapers are always eloquent against the disgusting immoralities of breaking knockers and bonneting policemen. The Times turns censor upon such an "ungentlemanly outrage;" the Weekly Despatch has its propriety shocked by such "freaks of the aristocracy;" and both, in their zeal to reprobate offences so dangerous to the best interests of society, sacrifice somewhat of that "valuable space" which should have been devoted to the bulletin of the health, or the history of the travels, of the "gallant officer" who last deliberately shot his friend in a duel; or the piquant details of the last crim. con., with the extraordinary disclosures expected to be made by the "noble defendant." Society has no sympathy with vices to which it has no temptation; it might have done foolish things in its day, but has long ago seen the folly of them. So we make a graceful acknowledgment of having been wrong once, for the sake of congratulating ourselves upon being so very right now.

Let me then, for some few moments, recall those scenes which, on the stage of life, have passed away for ever; and forgetting, as memory loves to do, the evil that was in them, let it be not idle repining to lament the good.

Oh! dark yet pleasant quadrangle, round whose wide area I might wander now, a stranger among strangers, where are they who once gave life and mirth to cheer those ancient walls? There were full a score of rooms, congenial lares, in which no hour of day or night would have found me other than a welcome guest. I had friends, yea, friends, within those prison-like windows—warm hearts walled in by thy cold grey stones—friends that had thoughts, and feelings, and pursuits in common—who were not hospitable in words alone, suffering each other's presence with well-concealed ennui—but friends in something more than in the name. In vain, among the cold conventionalities of life, shall I look for the warm and kindly welcome, the sympathy of feeling, the unrestrained yet courteous familiarity of intercourse, which was part and parcel of a college life; and if for this only I should say of Oxford, that I shall not look upon its like again—if for this only, I doubt whether the years of my youthful pilgrimage were altogether evil, who shall gainsay me? Where, or in what society of wise, and orderly, and respectable "grown-up children," shall I find the sincerity and warm-heartedness that once were the atmosphere of my daily life? Where is the friend of my maturer choosing, into whose house I can walk at any time, and feel sure I am no intruder? Where is the man, among those with whom I am by hard fate compelled to associate, who does not measure his regard, his hospitality, his very smiles, by my income, my station in society—anything but by myself? Older and wiser!—oh yes!—youthful friendship is very foolish in such matters.

But I suppose I must put up, as I best may, with the accumulating weight of years and wisdom. It won't do to give up one's degree, and begin again at the university, even if they leave us a university worth going to. At all events, one could not go back and find there those "old familiar faces" that made it what it was; and it is more pleasant to look upon it all—the place and its old occupants—as still existing in some dream-land or other, than to return to find an old acquaintance in every stick and stone, while every human face and voice is strange to us.

Yet one does meet friends in old scenes, sometimes, when the meeting is as unexpected as delightful. And just so, in my last visit to Oxford, did I stumble upon Horace Leicester. We met in the quadrangle where we had parted some six years back, just as we might if we had supped together the night before; whereas we had been all the time hundreds of miles asunder: and we met as unrestrainedly, only far more cordially. Neither of us had much time to spare in Oxford, but we dined together of course; talked over old friends, and told old stories. As to the first, it was strange enough to moralise upon the after-fortunes of some of our contemporaries. One—of whom, for habitual absence from lectures, and other misdemeanours many and various, the tutors had prophesied all manner of evil, and who had been dismissed by the Principal at his final leave-taking, with the remark that he was the luckiest man he had ever known, inasmuch as he had been perseveringly idle without being plucked, and mixed up in every row without being rusticated—was now working hard day and night as a barrister, engaged as a junior on committee business the whole Session, and never taking a holiday except on the Derby day. The ugliest little rascal of our acquaintance, and as stupid as a post, was married to a pretty girl with a fortune of thirty thousand. Another, and one of the best of us—Charley White—who united the business-habits of a man with the frolic of a schoolboy, and who ought to have been added to the roll of the College benefactors, as having been the founder of the Cricket and the Whist Club, and having restored to its old place on the river, at much cost and pains, the boat which had been withdrawn for the last five years, and reduced the sundry desultory idlenesses of the under-graduates into something like method and order—Charley White was now rector of a poor and populous parish in Yorkshire, busily engaged in building a new church and schools, opening Provident Societies, and shutting up beer-shops, and instructing the rising generation of his parishioners in catechism and cricket alternately. While the steadiest (I was very near saying the only steady man) among our mutual acquaintance, who looked at every sixpence before he spent it, checked his own washing-lists, went to bed at ten o'clock, and was, in short, an exemplary character (he was held out to me, on my first entrance, as a valuable acquaintance for any young man, but I soon despaired of successfully imitating so bright a model)—well, this gentleman having been taken into partnership, somewhat prematurely perhaps on the strength of the aforesaid reputation, by his father's firm—they were Liverpool merchants of high standing—had thought proper, disgusted probably with the dissipations and immoralities of trade, to retire to America in search of purity and independence, without going through the form of closing his accounts with the house. The Liverpudleians, indeed, according to Horace's account, gave a somewhat ugly name to the transaction; he had been cashier to the firm, they said, who were minus some tens of thousands thereby; but as the senior partner was known to have smoked cigars at a preparatory school (thereby showing what he would have done had he been sent to Oxford), whereas our friend was always "a steady man," I leave the reader to judge which party is entitled to the most credit.

It was after we had separated that a friend of mine, not an Oxford man, who had dined with us, and appeared much amused by some of Horace's reminiscences, asked me the very puzzling question, "Was your friend Leicester what they call a 'rowing man' at College?" Now, I protest altogether against the division of under-graduates into reading men and rowing men, as arbitrary and most illogical; there being a great many who have no claim to be reckoned either in one class or the other, and a great many who hover between both. And this imaginary distinction, existing as it notoriously does at Oxford, and fostered and impressed upon men by the tutors (often unintentionally, or with the very best intentions), is productive in many cases of a great deal of harm. A man (or boy if you please) is taught to believe, upon his very first entrance, that one of these characters will infallibly cling to him, and that he has only to choose between the two. For the imaginary division creates a real one; in many colleges, a man who joins a boat's crew, or a cricket club, or goes out now and then with the harriers, is looked upon with suspicion by the authorities at once; and by a very natural consequence, a man who wants to read his five or six hours a-day quietly, finds that some of his pleasantest companions look upon him as a slow coach. So, probably before the end of his first term, he is hopelessly committed, at nineteen, to a consistency of character rarely met with at fifty. If he lays claim to the reputation of a reading man, and has an eye to the loaves and fishes in the way of scholarships and fellowships, he is compelled, by the laws of his caste, to renounce some of the most sensible and healthful amusements which a university life offers. He must lead a very humdrum sort of life indeed. It is not enough that he should be free from the stains of vice and immorality; that his principles and habits should be those of a gentleman; that he should avoid excesses, and be observant of discipline; this the university would have a right to expect from all who are candidates for her honours and emoluments. But there is a conventional character which he must put on besides this. I say "put on;" because, however natural it may be to some men, it cannot possibly be so to all. His exercise must be taken at stated times and places: it must consist principally of walking, whether he be fond of it or not, varied occasionally by a solitary skiffing expedition down the river, or a game of billiards with some very steady friend on the sly. His dress must exhibit either the negligence of a sloven (in case he be an aspirant for very high honours indeed), or the grave precision of a respectable gentleman of forty. He must eschew all such vanities as white trousers and well-cut boots. He must be profoundly ignorant of all university intelligence that does not bear in some way on the schools; must be utterly indifferent what boat is at the head of the river, or whether Drake's hounds are fox or harriers. He must never be seen out of his rooms, except at lecture, before two o'clock, and never return to a wine-party after chapel. His judgment of the merits of port and sherry must be confined principally to the fact of one being red and the other white, and the compounding of punch must be to him a mystery unfathomable. Now, if he can be, or assume to be, all this, then he will be admitted into the most orthodox and steady set in his college; and if he have, besides, an ordinary amount of scholarship, and tact enough to talk judiciously about his books and his reading, he may get up a very fair reputation indeed. And when at his final examination he makes, as nine-tenths of such men do make, a grand crash, and his name comes out in the third or fourth class, or he gets "gulfed" altogether—it is two to one but his friends and his tutor look upon him, and talk of him, as rather an ill-used individual. He was "unlucky in his examination"—"the essay did not suit him"—they were "quite surprised at his failure"—"his health was not good the last term or two"—"he was too nervous." These are cases which have occurred in every man's experience: men read ten hours a-day, with a watch by their side, cramming in stuff that they do not understand, are talked about as "sure firsts" till one gets sick of their very names, assume all the airs which really able men seldom do assume, and take at last an equal degree with others who have been acquiring the same amount of knowledge with infinitely less pretension, and who, without moping the best part of their lives in an artificial existence, will make more useful members of society in the end. "How was it," said an old lady in the country to me one day, "that young Mr C—— did not get a first class? I understand he read very hard, and I know he refused every invitation to dinner when he was down here in the summer vacation?" "That was the very reason, my dear madam," said I; "you may depend upon it." She stared, of course; but I believe I was not far out.

Let men read as much as they will, and as hard as they will, on any subjects for which they have the ability and inclination; but never let them suppose they are to lay down one code of practice to suit all tempers and constitutions. Cannot a man be a scholar, and a gentleman, and a good fellow at the same time?

And, after all, where is the broad moral distinction between these soi-disant steady men, and those whom they are pleased to consider as "rowing" characters? it has always seemed to me rather apocryphal. If a man thinks proper to amuse himself with a chorus in his own rooms at one o'clock in the morning, it seems hardly material whether it be Greek or English—Sophocles or Tom Moore. It's a matter of taste, and tastes differ. Nor do I think the morality of Horace or Aristophanes, or the theology of Lucretius, so peculiarly admirable, as to render them, per se, fitter subjects for the exclusive exercise of a young man's faculties than "the Pickwick Papers," or "The Rod and the Gun." I have heard—(I never saw, nor will I believe it)—of the profanity of certain sporting under-graduates, who took into chapel the racing calendar, bound in red morocco, instead of a prayer-book; I hold it to have been the malicious fiction of some would-be university reformer; but, even if true, I am not sure that I much prefer that provident piety which I have noticed getting up its Greek within the same walls by means of a Septuagint and Greek liturgy. Religion is one thing, classical learning another, and sporting information another; all totally distinct, and totally different; the first immeasurably above the other two, but standing equidistant from both. It does not make a man one whit the better to know that Coræbus won the cup at Olympia B.C. 776, than it does to know that Priam did not win the St Leger at Doncaster A.D. 1830; from all I can make out, the Greeks on the turf at present are not much worse than their old namesakes; I dare say there was a fair amount of black-legism on both occasions. Men injure their moral and physical health by reading as much as by other things; it takes quite as much out of a man, and puts as little in him to any good purpose, to get up his logic as to pull in an eight-oar.

Besides, if one is to read and enter into the spirit of a dozen different authors, one dull monotonous round of physical existence seems ill-fitted to call out the requisite variety of mental powers. I hold that there are divers and sundry fit times, and places, and states of mind, suited to different lines of reading. If a man is at work upon history, by all means let him sport oak rigidly against all visitors; let him pile up his authorities and references on every vacant chair all round him, and get a clear notion of it by five or six hours' uninterrupted and careful study. Or, if he has a system of philosophy to get up, let him sit down with his head cool, his window open (not the one looking into quad.), let him banish from his mind all minor matters, and not break off in the chain of argument so long as he can keep his brain clear and his eyes open. Even then, a good gallop afterwards, or a cigar and a glass of punch, with some lively fellow who is no philosopher, will do him far more good than a fagging walk of so many measured miles, with the studious companion whose head is stuffed as full of such matter as his own, and whose talk will be of disputed passages, and dispiriting anticipations of a "dead floorer" in the schools. But if a man wants to make acquaintance with such books as Juvenal, or Horace, or Aristophanes, he may surely do it to quite as good purpose, and with far more relish, basking under a tree in summer, or with a friend over a bottle in winter.

The false tone of society of which I have been speaking had its influence upon Horace Leicester. Coming up to the university from a public school, with a high character, a fair amount of scholarship, and a host of acquaintances, he won the good-will at once of dons and of under-graduates, and bid fair to be as universal a favourite at college as he had been at Harrow. Never did a man enter upon an academic life under happier auspices, nor, I believe, with a more thorough determination to enjoy it in every way. He did not look upon his emancipation from school discipline as a license for idleness, nor intend to read the less because he could now read what he pleased, and when he pleased. For, not to mention that Horace was ambitious, and had at one time an eye to the class list—he had a taste for reading, and a strong natural talent to appreciate what he read. But if he had a taste for reading, he had other tastes as well, and, as he thought, not incompatible; much as he admired his Roman namesake, he could not devote his evenings exclusively to his society, but preferred carrying his precepts into practice occasionally with more modern companions; and he had no notion that during the next four years of his life he was to take an interest in no sports but those of the old Greeks and Romans, and mount no horse but Pegasus. For a term or two, Leicester got on very well; attended lectures, read steadily till one or two o'clock, when there was nothing particular going on, kept a horse, hired an alarm, and seldom cut morning chapel, or missed a meet if within reasonable distance. It was a course of life which, in after days, he often referred to with a sigh as having been most exemplary; and I doubt whether he was far wrong. But it did not last. For a time his gentlemanly manners, good humour, and good taste, carried it off with all parties; but it was against the ordinary routine, and could not hold up against the popular prejudice. The reading men eyed his top-boots with suspicion; the rowing men complained he was growing a regular sap, always sporting oak when they wanted him. Then his wine-parties were a source of endless tribulation to him. First of all, he asked all those with whom he was most intimate among his old schoolfellows to meet each other, adding one or two of his new acquaintances: and a pretty mess he made of it. Men who had sat on the same form with him and with each other at Harrow, and had betrayed no such marked differences in their tastes as to prevent their associating very pleasantly there, at Oxford, he found, had been separated wide as the poles by this invisible, but impassable, line of demarcation: to such a degree, indeed, that although all had called upon Horace, as they had upon each other, before it seemed decided on which side they were to settle, yet when they now met at his rooms, they had become strangers beyond a mere civil recognition, and had not a single subject to converse upon in common. In fact, they were rather surprised than pleased to meet at all; and it was in vain their host tried to get them to amalgamate. Many seemed to take a pleasure in showing how decidedly they belonged to one set or the other. One would talk of nothing on earth besides hunting, and sat silent and sulky when Horace turned the conversation; another affected an utter ignorance of all that was going on in the University that was not connected with class-lists, scholarships, &c. What provoked him most was, that some of those who gave themselves the most pedantic airs, and would have been double first-class men undeniably, if talking could have done it, were those whose heads he well knew were as empty as the last bottle, and which made him think that some men must take to reading at Oxford, simply because they had faculties for nothing else.

At all events, Horace found the mixed system would not answer for entertaining his friends. So the next time he asked a few of the reading men, some of whom he knew used to be good fellows, together; and as he really had a kindred taste with them on many subjects, he found an hour or so pass away very pleasantly: when just as he was passing the wine about the third round, and his own brilliancy and good-humour were beginning to infect some of his guests—so that one grave genius of twenty had actually so far forgotten himself as to fill a bumper by mistake—up jumped the senior man of the party, and declaring that he had an engagement to walk with a friend at seven, politely took his leave. This was the signal for a general dispersion; in vain did Horace assure them they should have some coffee in the course of an hour, and entreat some one or two to return. Off they all went, with sundry smiles and shakes of the head, and left their unfortunate host sitting alone in his glory over the first glass of a newly opened bottle of claret.

I happened to be crossing the quadrangle from chapel in company with Savile, at the moment when Leicester put his head out of his window as if to inquire of the world in general what on earth he was to do with himself for the next hour or two. Savile he hailed at once, and begged him to come up; and though I knew but little of him, and had never been in his rooms before, still, as I was one or two terms his senior, there was nothing contrary even to Oxford etiquette in my accompanying Savile. We laughed heartily when he explained his disappointment. Savile tried to comfort him by the assurance that, as he had an hour to spare, he would sit down and help him to finish a bottle or two of claret with a great deal of pleasure; and was inclined to attribute the failure of the evening, in a great measure, to his name not having been included in the list of invitations—an omission by which he declared all parties had been the losers; Horace's reading friends standing very much in need of some one to put a little life into them, and himself, as a candidate for a degree, having missed a fair opportunity of meeting, among so many choice fellows, some one to "put him up to the examiners' dodges." But Leicester was irrecoverably disgusted. Nothing, he declared, would ever induce him to ask a party of reading men to his rooms again; and from that hour he seemed to eschew fellowship with the whole fraternity. Not that he became idle all at once; on the contrary, I believe, for some time he worked on steadily, or at least tried to work; but he was naturally fond of society, and having failed to find what he wanted, was reduced to make the best of such as he could find. So he gradually became acquainted with a set of men who, whatever their good qualities might be, had certainly no claim whatever to be considered hard readers, and who would have considered a symposium which broke up at seven o'clock as unsatisfactory as a tale without a conclusion. Amongst these, his gentlemanly manners and kindness of heart made him beloved, while his talents gave him a kind of influence; and, though he must have felt occasionally that he was not altogether in his right place, and that, besides his popular qualities, he had higher tastes and endowments with which the majority of his companions could hardly sympathise, he was too light-hearted to philosophise much on the subject, and contented himself with enjoying his popularity, occasionally falling back upon his own resources, and keeping up, in a desultory kind of way, his acquaintance with scholarship and literature. The reading men of course looked upon him as a lost sheep; the tutors shook their heads about him; if he did well, it was set down as the result of accident; while all his misdoings were labouring in his vocation. For, agreeably to the grand division aforesaid, Horace was now set down as a "rowing-man;" and he soon made the discovery, and did more thereupon to deserve the character than he ever would have done otherwise. He was very willing to go on in his own way, if all parties would but let him alone; he was not going to be made a proselyte to long walks, and toast and water, nor had he any conscientious abhorrence of supper-parties; and, as his prospects in life were in no way dependent upon a class or a scholarship, and he seemed to be tacitly repudiated by the literati of his college, young and old, on account of some of his aforesaid heterodox notions on the subject of study, he accustomed himself gradually to set their opinions at defiance; while the moderate reading, which encouragement and emulation had made easy at school, became every day more and more distasteful.

Horace's tottering reputation was at last completely overset in the eyes of the authorities by a little affair which was absurd enough, but in which he himself was as innocent as they were. It happened that a youthful cousin of his, whose sole occupation for the last twelve months of his life had been the not over-profitable one of waiting for a commission, had come up to Oxford for two or three days, pursuant to invitation, to see a little of the manners and customs of the inhabitants. I think he had some slight acquaintance with our then vice-principal—a good-natured, easy man—and Horace had got leave for him to occupy a set of very small, dark rooms, which, as the college was not very full, had been suffered to remain vacant for the last two or three terms; they were so very unattractive a domicile that the last Freshman to whom they were offered as a Hobson's choice, was currently reported, in the plenitude of his disgust, to have taken his name off the books instanter. It is not usual to allow strangers to sleep within college walls at all; but our discipline was somewhat lax in those days. So Mr Carey had a bed put up for him in the aforesaid quarters. He was, of course, duly fêted, and made much of by Horace and his friends; and a dozen of us sat down to a capital dinner in the rooms of the former, on the strength of having to entertain a "stranger from the country;" the hospitality of Oxford relaxing its rules even in favour of under-graduates upon such occasions. It must have been somewhere towards the next morning, when two or three of us accompanied young Carey down to No. 8; and, after chatting with him till he was half undressed, left him, as we thought, safe and quiet. However, soon after we had retired, some noisy individual in the same staircase thought proper to give a view-hollo out of his window, for the purpose of wishing the public good-night. Now there was one of the Fellows, a choleric little old gentleman, always in residence, holding some office, in which there was as little to do, and as much to get as might be, and who seldom troubled himself much about college discipline, and looked upon under-graduates with a sort of silent contempt; never interfering with them, as he declared himself, so long as they did not interfere with him. But one point there was, in which they did interfere with his personal comfort occasionally, and whereby his peace of mind and rest of body were equally disturbed. Mr Perkins always took a tumbler of negus at ten precisely, and turned in as the college clock struck the quarter past; by the half-hour he was generally asleep, for his digestion was good and his cares few. But his slumbers were not heavy, and anything like a row in the quadrangle infallibly awoke him, and then he was like a lion roused. He was wont to jump up, throw up his window, thrust out a red face and a white nightcap, and after listening a few seconds for the chance of the odious sounds being repeated, would put the very pertinent question usual in such circumstances, to which one so seldom gets an equally pertinent reply—"Who's that?" In case this intimation of Mr Perkins being wide awake proved sufficient, as it often did, to restore quiet, then after the lapse of a few more seconds the head and the nightcap disappeared, and the window was shut down again. But if the noise was continued, as occasionally it was out of pure mischief, then in a minute or two the said nightcap would be seen to emerge hastily from the staircase below, in company with a dressing-gown and slippers, and Mr Perkins in this disguise would proceed to the scene of disturbance as fast as his short legs could carry him. He seldom succeeded in effecting a capture; but if he had that luck, or if he could distinguish the tone of any individual voice so as to be able to identify the performer, he had him up before the "seniority" next morning, where his influence as one of the senior fellows insured a heavy sentence. But he had been engaged in so many unsuccessful chases of the kind, and his short orations from his window so often elicited only a laugh, though including sometimes brief but explicit threats of rustication against the noisy unknown, strengthened by little expletives which, when quoted by under-graduates, were made to sound somewhat doubtfully—that at last he altered his tactics, and began to act in silence. And so he did, when upon opening his window he saw a light in the ground-floor rooms of the staircase whence the sounds proceeded on the evening in question. Carey, by his own account, was proceeding quietly in his preparations for bed, singing to himself an occasional stanza of some classical ditty which he had picked up in the course of the evening, and admiring the power of the man's lungs in the room above him, when he heard a short quick step, and then a double rap at his door. He was quite sufficiently acquainted, by this time, with the ways of the place, not to be much surprised at the late visit, and at the same time to consider it prudent to learn the name and status of his visitor before admitting him; so he retorted upon Mr Perkins, quite unconsciously, his own favourite query—"Who's that?" his first and obvious impression being that it was one of the party he had just quitted, coming probably in the plenitude of good fellowship, to bring him an invitation to wine or breakfast next day.

"It's me, sir—open the door," was the reply from a deep baritone, which the initiated would never have mistaken.

"Who are you?" said Carey again.

"My name is Perkins, sir: have the goodness to let me in." He was getting more angry, and consequently more polite.

"Perkins," said Carey, pausing in his operations, in the vain endeavour to recall the name among the score or two to whom he had been introduced. "I'm just in bed—were you up at Leicester's?"

"Open the door, sir, if you please, immediately," and then came what our friend took for a smothered laugh, but was really a sort of shiver, for there was a draft in the passage playing all manner of pranks with the dressing-gown, and Mr Perkins was getting cold.

An indistinct notion came into Carey's mind, that some one who had met him in College might have taken him for a Freshman, and had some practical joke in view; so he contented himself with repeating that he was going to bed, and could let no one in.

"I tell you, sir, I'm Mr Perkins; don't you know me?"

"I wish you a very good night, Mr Perkins."

"What's your name, sir? eh? You impudent young puppy, what's your infernal name? I'll have you rusticated, you dog—do you hear me, sir?"

On a sudden it struck Carey that this might possibly be a domiciliary visit from one of the authorities, and that his best plan was to open the door at once, though what had procured him such an honour he was at a loss to imagine. He drew back the spring lock, therefore, and the next moment stood face to face with the irate Mr Perkins.

His first impulse was to laugh at the curious figure before him; but when demands for his name, and threats of unknown penalties, were thundered forth upon him with no pause for a reply, then he began to think that he had made a mistake in opening the door at all—that he might get Leicester into a scrape if not himself—and as his person was as unknown to Mr Perkins as that gentleman's to him, it struck him that if he could give him the slip at once it would be all right. In a moment he blew out his solitary candle, bolted through the open door, all but upsetting his new acquaintance, whom he left storming in the most unconnected manner, alone, and in total darkness. Up to Leicester's rooms he rushed, related his adventure, and was rather surprised that his cousin did not applaud it as a very clever thing.

What Mr Perkins thought or said to himself, what degree of patience he exhibited in such trying circumstances, or in what terms he apostrophised his flying enemy, must ever remain a secret with himself. Five minutes after, Solomon the porter, summoned from his bed just as he had made himself snug once more after letting out Horace's out-college friends, confronted Mr Perkins in about as sweet a temper as that worthy individual himself, with this difference, that one was sulky and the other furious.

"Who lives in the ground-floor on the left in No. 8?"

"What, in 'Coventry?' Why, nobody, sir."

"Nobody! you stupid old sinner, you're asleep."

"No, sir, I ain't," and Solomon flashed his lantern in Mr Perkins's face as if to ascertain whether his eyes were open. Mr Perkins started back, and Solomon turned half round as if to disappear again.

"Who lives there, Solomon, I ask you? Do you mean to tell me you don't know? You are not fit——"

"I knows every gentleman's rooms well enough: nobody hasn't lived in them as you means not these four terms. Mr Pears kept his fox in 'em one time, till the vice-principal got wind of him. There may be some varmint in 'em now for all I knows—they a'n't fit for much else."

"There's some confounded puppy of a Freshman in them now—at least there was—and he lives there too."

"I know there be'n't," said the persevering Solomon. And, without deigning a word more, he set off with his lantern towards the place in dispute, followed by Mr Perkins, who contented himself with an angry "Now you'll see."

"Ay, now we shall see," replied Solomon, as, somewhat to Mr Perkins's astonishment, they found the oak sported. Having made a selection from a huge bunch of keys, the porter succeeded, after some fumbling, in getting the door open. The room bore no traces of recent occupation. Three or four broken chairs and a rickety table were the only furniture: as far as the light of Solomon's lantern could penetrate, it looked the very picture of desolation. Solomon chuckled.

"There is a man living here. I'll swear there is. He was undressing when I came. Look in the bedroom."

They opened the door, and saw a bare feather-bed and bolster, the usual matériel in an unoccupied college chamber. "Seeing's believing," said the porter.

But, with Mr Perkins, seeing was not believing. He saw Solomon, and he saw the empty room, but he did not believe either. But he had evidently the worst side of the argument as it stood, so he wished the porter a sulky good-night, and retreated.

The fact was, that the noisy gentleman in the rooms above, as soon as he caught the tones of Mr Perkins's voice at Carey's door, had entered into the joke with exceeding gusto, well aware that the visit was really intended as a compliment to his own vocal powers. Carey's sudden bolt puzzled him rather; but as soon as he heard Mr Perkins's foot-steps take the direction of the porter's lodge, he walked softly down-stairs to the field of action, and, anticipating in some degree what would follow, bundled up together sheets, blankets, pillow, dressing apparatus, and all other signs and tokens of occupation, and made off with them to his own rooms, sporting the oak behind him, and thus completing the mystification.

As the facts of the case were pretty sure to transpire in course of time, Horace took the safe course of getting his cousin out of college next morning, and calling on Mr Perkins with a full explanation of the circumstances, and apologies for Carey as a stranger unacquainted with the police regulations of their learned body, and the respect due thereto. Of course the man in authority was obliged to be gracious, as Leicester could not well be answerable for all the faults of his family; but there never from that time forth happened a row of any kind with which he did not in his own mind, probably unconsciously, associate poor Horace.

Whether my readers will set down Horace Leicester as a rowing man or not, is a point which I leave to their merciful consideration: a reading man was a title which he never aspired to. He took a very creditable degree in due season, and was placed in the fourth class with a man who took up a very long list of books, and was supposed to have read himself stupid.

"He ought to have done a good deal more," said one of the tutors; "he had it in him." "I think he was lucky not to have been plucked, myself," said Mr Perkins; "he was a very noisy man."