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wind up with some choice Stilton, and a wine-glass of that very particular old ale upon which the cellars of St. Ambrose pride themselves, and in five minutes more we have taken our seats at the mahogany table in the centre of the common room, which we enter after having surmounted a long flight of stairs. The table in question is laid for dessert: the windows are open, and through them we gaze over the tops of graceful trees, past a beautiful lawn-the 'Fellows' garden'-upon the towers of All Souls. Obliquely the rays of the setting sun stream in upon us, reflecting themselves upon the glossy mahogany, and lighting up the claret jugs with a ruby lustre. Could anything be more attractive? As visitors, we are made the most of, and, with a placid sense of enjoyment, we sip our Lafitte-St. Ambrose is famed for its wine of this vintage-with a sense of tranquil enjoyment and with a conviction that of all lives in the world, that of the well-to-do Oxford fellow is the most purely pleasurable. And so, perhaps, it is, though after a time just a little monotonous: for there is much sameness in the society of most university common rooms. Ah, those common rooms! what different spectacles have they witnessed! For it is not to be supposed that they are wholly devoted to the agreeable conversation and the consumption of the excellent beverages which are this evening de rigueur. They are also the stern tribunals from which justice is meted out to peccant undergraduates, as well as decorous feasting halls to judicial dons. At the expiration of each term, an institution, known in the different colleges by the name of Collections,' is celebrated, a kind of examination at which the intellectual progress made by the student is tested, and his moral deportment criticized. Paper work is succeeded by viva voce, and very abominable to the majority of undergraduates this latter ordeal is. Mr. Sportoke, we will imagine, has just received a summons from the college porter before those grave and reverend seignors, who are going to pass
their judgment upon his conduct during the past term.
'Has Mr. Sportoke,' inquires the head of the college, whether he be entitled principal, master, or provost, of the dean, 'been tolerably regular in his attendance at chapel ?'
The question is of course merely formal, for the answer has been arranged already between the two dignitaries.
I regret to say,' replies the dean, 'that Mr. Sportoke has given me much dissatisfaction in this respect.'
The provost, if provost he be, shakes his head gloomily at this intelligence, and then appeals to the senior tutor.
'I hope,' is the sanguine tone in which his inquiry is propounded, 'that Mr. Sportoke has made satisfactory progress with his college lectures?'
But the answer here again is not exactly what the interrogator expressed himself as anticipating; and the unlucky Sportoke is informed that a continuance of such habits is not to be tolerated: that discipline will be upset, and that a repetition of such offences will be met with immediate and relentless rustication.-Exit Sportoke. Our friend Mr. Bulteel informs us that some such scene as this has occurred on this very spot that morning. We express our surprise, and sip our claret.
But the races are going on, and we determine to ramble down to the river's banks. En route thither we meet several groups bound in the same direction. But the surpassing loveliness of Christ Church meadows on this divine evening arrests us even more than our fellow-travellers. Where is there such a noble avenue to be found as that designated by the name of the Broad Walk ?' Can Kensington Gardens show anything to equal it? Where will you see trees of nobler girth, of more plentiful or more verdant umbrage? And then the evening air is heavy with odours, and louder even than the light laugh of the undergraduate is heard the opening note of the shrill musical nightingale. But here we are on the St. Ambrose barge, and the boats are just com
is-as indeed he looks-somewhat out of his element amid this merry and frivolous crowd; but he looks upon the discomfort as a duty to his family, and he congratulates himself upon the circumstance that a year more must pass before another June comes round. As for entertaining his nieces actually at Commemoration, nothing will induce him to do that: so he effects this kind of compromise with their tastes for academical dissipation, and gives them just a foretaste of these gaieties -a piece of diplomacy upon which we congratulate him, and for which the young ladies ought also to be thankful, for reasons mentioned above-sua si bona norint.
Other fellows of Colleges there are younger indeed by much, as well as certain more sapient undergraduates, who knowing well, from painful experience, the utter misery of entertaining friends at Commemoration, transfer their hospitality to the fortnight preceding it. So that altogether there is no lack of muslin dresses, of bright young faces, or of opportunity for ruining oneself in the matter of gloves: for what young lady ever witnessed a boat race without wishing to back her opinion in Houbigant's wares?
Well, the race is over now; we do not much care who has bumped whom, whether Trinity heads the river, or Corpus, or Queen's: and we are not going to attempt to relate the marvellous struggle between Brasenose and Exeter, which took place at the Gut, or at Sander's barge. It is quite enough to know that the contest is ended, and that we may stroll Mitre-wards, or, if you like it best, into College, where we shall doubtless find some hospitable undergraduate who will give us a cool draught of Moselle cup, or of the more homely bitter, for our fauces begin to grow arida. As
we re-enter the High Street we hear the echoing of a horn, we look down, and in the dusk of the evening see the St. Ambrose College Cricket drag driving towards us, while we ourselves have taken up our station on the St. Ambrose steps. And here the Eleven with their friends alight. They have won their match, have
dined on their ground, and are generally in high feather. Ah, there is another drag! Come from the
same haunt of cricketers, and as we stand here, yet another. The place is alive with them, and very pleasant indications of undergraduate animation they are-indications, moreover, which, had we deferred our visit till the time when Commemoration was in full swing, we should never have seen. It is almost dark now, but the air seems full of life for all that.
As we stand on the St. Ambrose steps we think we recognize a form of an old college friend-a very great intimate indeed in the days when Plancus was Consul. He comes nearer; it is, it is, old Jones; but he is not alone; on his arm there trips a neat, nattily-dressed, little form.
'Jones, old fellow,' we say, as we greet him, 'is that you?'
As Jones returns our salutation, he introduces us to the little figure we had already noticed, which belonged to no less a person than Mrs. Jones.
'You see,' he tells us, 'I have come up from Hocus-cum-Pocusby-the-by I have the living-to take my masters (i. e. the degree of M.A.), and as I never could stand Commemoration, I chose this, as I think, the pleasantest of all times, and I have brought my wife with me. Will you come and see me go through the formality at nine A.M. to-morrow?'
We promise, and Jones passes on. As we return to the Mitre we find a number of letters awaiting us from different townsmen who have known us years ago in our undergraduate days, and who also let lodgings, wanting to know whether we should like capital accommodation for Commemoration. On this point we have already enunciated our opinions, so that they need not be reiterated here.
We are in the schools quad, faithful to our appointment with Jones. We could not have timed our visit thither better, for not only shall we have the opportunity of witnessing the conferring of the degrees, but we see a host of youths who are at
present engaged in endeavouring to pass the ordeal which must inevitably be undergone before those degrees can be received. As we pass through the large quadrangle we meet on every side a variety of whitechokered youths just on the point of entering the schools: some are in for 'Greats,'-such in the slang of the place is the final examination for degree called-others for moderation. The expression of the different countenances which greet us is a genuine study. There is the languidly confident, or seemingly quite careless passman, who wanders up to the door, chats with a friend or two, and then walks in; there is the nervous candidate, who busies himself to the last moment with mastering, or endeavouring to master, some mysterious memoria technica, which contains in a few unintelligible words the chief points of the ethics, or the principal facts of the Testament history. But we take leave of these, and hurry to the building where degrees are to be given.
Making our way in through a troop of undergraduates, some to turn out full-fledged B.A.s, who stand round the door discussing the class list, the prospect of So-and-so getting his fellowship, and of the approaching Commemoration being gay, or the reverse, we discern Jones, in the midst of several other incipient M.A.s struggling into a bachelor's gown, hired by him, with the regulation rabbit-skin hood, for a modest consideration, of the obliging clerk of the schools, who stands close by. He beckons us to his side, and we walk out of the vestibule into Convocation House itself. We take up our position close by Mrs. Jones, who has come to see her lord and master achieve the last honours that the University can bestow upon him, unless, indeed, Jones, in days yet to come, receives the honorary degree of D.D., or D.C.L.-a contingency, which, looking back on our old chum's academical achievements, we mentally decide with ourselves is the reverse of probable. Convocation House itself is imposing, rather from the dignity of the ceremonies celebrated within its precincts, than for the aspect of the
mere edifice. Up and down either sides are ranged long oaken benches placed there for the benefit of those who may wish to witness the ordinance undergone. At the top of the room-for room it really is-on a species of throne slightly elevated above the remainder of the floor, is seated the Vice-Chancellor, supported on his left and right by the two Proctors. At the bottom stand the Deans of different Colleges, who introduce to the said Vice-Chancellor the undergraduates and graduates of their respective colleges, who are aspirants for the various degrees. We must suppose that all the fees have been paid in the above-mentioned ante-room to a certain academical dignitary who is ensconced in a little oaken box. being done nothing remains but to be formally presented to the virtual head of the University, and to be saluted a Bachelor, Master, Doctor of Divinity, or whatever other title may have been assumed. As it happens, there are a good many degrees to be conferred to-day. The first who go up to the Vice-Chancellor, and after a long beatification pronounced upon them by him, depart glorying in the appendage of D.D., are two country schoolmasters, and one or two old rectors. Next come the masters-a formidable batch. The Dean of Balliol' is the name called out by the University officer on the right hand of the Proctor, and the Dean of Balliol accordingly makes his appearance. Then ensues a slight Latin colloquy between himself and the Vice-Chancellor, finally he presents his different charges; they kneel down, after having gone through the formality of taking an oath to the effect that they will never conspire against the Church or Queen, and, rising up, depart. After a little waiting the Dean of St. Tristram brings forward our friend Jones, who, submitting to the same ceremony, takes upon himself the same obligations, has his head patted by the Vice-Chancellor, and is told that he has the academical sanction 'to dispute and to teach, and to do everything else in this University which properly appertains to the degree of Master of Arts'