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varied in almost every college; the object being, perhaps, to give a ready means to the academic officers for ascertaining, at a glance, not merely the general fact that such or such a delinquent is a gownsman, (which is all that can be ascertained at Oxford,) but also the particular college to which he belongs. Allowance being made for these two items of dress' and 'caution-money,' both of which apply only to the original outfit, I know of no others in which the expenditure of a Gentleman Commoner ought to exceed, or could with propriety exceed, those of a Commoner. He has, indeed, a privilege as regards the choice of rooms; he chooses first, and probably chooses those rooms which, being best, are dearest; that is, they are on a level with the best; but usually there are many sets almost equally good; and of these the majority will be occupied by Commoners. So far, there is little opening for a difference. More often, again, it will happen that a man of this aristocratic class keeps a private servant; yet this happens also to Commoners, and is, besides, no properly college expense. Tutorage is charged double to a Gentleman Commoner - viz., twenty guineas a year: this is done upon a fiction (as it sometimes turns out) of separate attention, or aid given in a private way to his scholastic pursuits. Finally, there arises naturally another and peculiar source of expense to the 'Gentleman Commoner,' from a fact implied in his Cambridge designation of Fellow Commoner,' commensalis — viz., that he associates at meals with the fellows' and other authorities of the college. Yet this again expresses rather the particular shape which his expenditure assumes than any absolute increase in its amount. He subscribes to a regular mess, and pays, therefore, whether present or not; but so, in a partial sense, does the Commoner, by his forfeits for absent commons.' He subscribes also to a
regular fund for wine; and, therefore, he does not enjoy that immunity from wine-drinking which is open to the Commoner. Yet, again, as the Commoner does but rarely avail himself of this immunity, as he drinks no less wine than the Gentleman Commoner, and, generally speaking, wine not worse in quality, it is difficult to see any ground for a regular assumption of higher expenditure in the one class than the other. However, the universal impression favors that assumption. All people believe that the rank of Gentleman Commoner imposes an expensive burden, though few people ever ask why. As a matter of fact, I believe it to be true, that Gentlemen Commoners spend more by a third, or a half, than any equal number of Commoners, taken without selection. And the reason is obvious: those who become Gentlemen Commoners are usually determined to that course by the accident of having very large funds; they are eldest sons, or only sons, or men already in possession of estates, or else (which is as common a case as all the rest put together) they are the heirs of newly acquired wealth sons of the nouveaux riches a class which often requires a generation or two to rub off the insolence of a too conscious superiority. I have called them an 'aristocratic' class; but, in strictness, they are not such; they form a privileged class indeed, but their privileges are few and trifling, not to add that these very privileges are connected with one or two burdens, more than outweighing them in the estimate of many; and, upon the whole, the chief distinction they enjoy is that of advertising themselves to the public as men of great wealth or great expectations; and, therefore, as subjects peculiarly adapted to fraudulent attempts. Accordingly, it is not found that the sons of the nobility are much inclined to enter this order: these, if they happen to be the eldest sons of Earls, or of any
Peers above the rank of Viscount, so as to enjoy a title themselves by the courtesy of England, have special privileges in both Universities as to length of residence, degrees, &c.; and their rank is ascertained by a special dress. These privileges it is not usual to forego; though sometimes that happens, as in my time, in the instance of Lord George Grenville, (now Lord Nugent ;) he neither entered at the aristocratic college, (Christ Church,) nor wore the dress of a nobleman. Generally, however, an elder son appears in his true character of nobleman; but the younger sons rarely enter the class of Gentlemen Commoners. They enter either as Commoners,' or under some of those various designations ('scholars,' demies,'' students,' 'junior fellows') which imply that they stand upon the foundation of the college to which they belong, and are aspirants for academic emoluments.
Upon the whole, I am disposed to regard this order of Gentlemen Commoners as a standing temptation held out by authority to expensive habits, and a very unbecoming proclamation of honor paid to the aristocracy of wealth. And I know that many thoughtful men regard it in the same light with myself, and regret deeply that any such distribution of ranks should be authorized, as a stain upon the simplicity and general manliness of the English academic laws. It is an open profession of homage and indulgence to wealth, as wealth to wealth disconnected from everything that might ally it to the ancestral honors and heraldries of the land. It is also an invitation, or rather a challenge, to profuse expenditure. Regularly, and by law, a Gentleman Commoner is liable to little heavier burdens than a Commoner; but to meet the expectations of those around him, and to act up to the part he has assumed, he must spend more, and he must be more careless in controlling his expenditure, than a mod
erate and prudent Commoner. In every light, therefore, I condemn the institution, and give it up to the censures of the judicious. So much in candor I concede. But, to show equal candor on the other side, it must be remembered that this institution descends to us from ancient times, when wealth was not so often divided from territorial or civic honors, conferring a real precedency.
THERE was one reason why I sought solitude at that early age, and sought it in a morbid excess, which must naturally have conferred upon my character some degree of that interest which belongs to all extremes. My eye had been couched into a secondary power of vision, by misery, by solitude, by sympathy with life in all its modes, by experience too early won, and by the sense of danger critically escaped. Suppose the case of a man suspended by some colossal arm over an unfathomed abyss- -suspended, but finally and slowly withdrawn-it is probable that he would not smile for years. That was my case: for I have not mentioned, in the Opium Confessions,' a thousandth part of the sufferings I underwent in London and in Wales; partly because the misery was too monotonous, and in that respect unfitted for description; but still more, because there is a mysterious sensibility connected with real suffering which recoils from circumstantial rehearsal or delineation, as from violation offered to something sacred, and which is, or should be dedicated to privacy. Grief does not parade its pangs, nor the anguish of despairing hunger willingly count again its groans or its humiliations. Hence it was that Ledyard, the traveller, speaking of his Russian experiences, used to say that some of his miseries were such, that he never would