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   Chapter 8 HARDY'S HISTORY

Tom Brown at Oxford By Thomas Hughes Characters: 35571

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:05


"My father is an old commander in the Royal Navy. He was a second cousin of Nelson's Hardy, and that, believe, was what led him into the navy, for he had no interest whatever of his own. It was a visit which Nelson's Hardy, then a young lieutenant, paid to his relative, my grandfather, which decided my father, he has told me: but he always had a strong bent to the sea, though he was a boy of very studious habits.

"However, those were times when brave men who knew and loved their profession couldn't be overlooked, and my dear old father fought his way up step by step-not very fast certainly, but, still fast enough to keep him in heart about his chances in life. I can show you the accounts of some of the affairs he was in, in James's History, which you see up on my shelf there, or I could tell them you myself; but I hope some day, you will know him, and then you will hear them in perfection.

"My father was made commander towards the end of the war, and got a ship, which he sailed with a convoy of merchantmen from Bristol. It was the last voyage he ever made in active service; but the Admiralty was so well satisfied with his conduct in it that they kept his ship in commission two years after peace was declared. And well they might be; for in the Spanish main he fought an action which lasted, on and off, for two days, with a French sloop of war, and a privateer, which he always thought was an American, either of which ought to have been a match for him. But he had been with Vincent in the Arrow, and was not likely to think much of such small odds as that. At any rate he beat them off, and not a prize could either of them make out of his convoy, though I believe his ship was never fit for anything afterwards, and was broken up as soon as she was out of commission. We have got her compasses, and the old flag which flew at the peak through the whole voyage, at home now. It was my father's own flag, and his fancy to have it always flying. More than half the men were killed, or badly hit-the dear old father amongst the rest. A ball took off part of his knee cap, and he had to fight the last six hours of the action sitting in a chair on the quarter-deck; but he says it made the men fight better than when he was among them, seeing him sitting there sucking oranges.

"Well, he came home with a stiff leg. The Bristol merchants gave him the freedom of the city in a gold box, and a splendidly-mounted sword with an inscription on the blade, which hangs over the mantel-piece at home. When I first left home, I asked him to give me his old service sword, which used to hang by the other, and he gave it me at once, though I was only a lad of seventeen, as he would give me his right eye, dear old father, which is the only one he has now; the other he lost from a cutlass wound in a boarding-party. There it hangs, and those are his epaulettes in the tin case. They used to lie under my pillow before I had a room of my own, and many a cowardly down-hearted fit have they helped me to pull through, Brown; and many a mean act have they helped to keep me from doing. There they are always; and the sight of them brings home the dear old man to me as nothing else does, hardly even his letters. I must be a great scoundrel to go very wrong with such a father.

"Let's see-where was I? Oh, yes; I remember. Well, my father got his box and sword, and some very handsome letters from several great men. We have them all in a book at home, and I know them by heart. The ones he values most are from Collingwood, and his old captain, Vincent, and from his cousin Nelson's Hardy, who didn't come off very well himself after the war. But my poor old father never got another ship. For some time he went up every year to London, and was always, he says, very kindly received by the people in power, and often dined with one and another Lord of the Admiralty who had been an old messmate. But he was longing for employment; and it used to prey on him while he was in his prime to feel year after year slipping away and he still without a ship. But why should I abuse people, and think it hard, when he doesn't? 'You see, Jack,' he said to me the last time we spoke about it, 'after all I was a battered old hulk, lame and half blind. So was Nelson you'll say: but every man isn't a Nelson, my boy.

'And though I might think I could con or fight a ship as well as ever, I can't say other folk who didn't know me were wrong for not agreeing with me. Would you, now Jack, appoint a lame and blind man to command your ship, if you had one?' But he left off applying for work as soon as he was fifty, (I just remember the time), for he began to doubt then whether he was quite so fit to command a vessel as a younger man; and, though he had a much better chance after that of getting a ship (for William IV came to the throne, who knew all about him), he never went near the Admiralty again. 'God forbid,' he said, 'that his Majesty should take me if there's a better man to be had.'

"But I have forgotten to tell you how I came into the world, and am telling you my father's story instead of my own. You seem to like hearing about it though, and you can't understand one without the other. However, when my father was made commander, he married, and bought, with his prize-money and savings, a cottage and piece of land, in a village on the south coast, where he left his wife when he went on his last voyage. They had waited some years, for neither of them had any money; but there never were two people who wanted it less, or did more good without it to all who came near them. They had a hard time of it too, for my father had to go on half-pay; and a commander's half-pay isn't much to live upon and keep a family. For they had a family; three besides me; but they are all gone. And my mother, too; she died when I was quite a boy, and left him and me alone; and since then I have never known what a woman's love is, for I have no near relations; and a man with such prospects as mine had better keep down all-However, there's no need to go into any notion; I won't wander any more if I can help it.

"I know my father was very poor when my mother died, and I think (though he never told me so) that he had mortgaged our cottage, and was very near having to sell it at one time. The expenses of my mother's illness had been very heavy; I know a good deal of the best furniture was sold-all, indeed except a handsome arm chair and a little work table of my mother's. She used to sit in the chair, in her last illness, on our lawn, and watch the sunsets. And he sat by her, and watched her, and sometimes read the Bible to her; while I played about with a big black dog we had then, named Vincent, after my father's old captain; or with Burt, his old boatswain, who came with his wife to live with my father before I can recollect, and lives with us still. He did everything in the garden, and about the house; and in the house, too, when his wife was ill, for he can turn his hand to most anything, like most old salts. It was he who rigged up the mast and weather-cock on the lawn, and used to let me run up the old flag on Sundays, and on my father's wedding-day, and on the anniversary of his action, and of Vincent's action in the Arrow.

"After my mother's death my father sent away all the servants, for the boatswain and his wife are more like friends. I was wrong to say that no woman has loved me since my mother's death, for I believe dear old nanny loves me as if I were her own child. My father, after this, used to sit silent for hours together, doing nothing but look over the sea, but, except for that, was not much changed. After a short time he took to teaching me to read, and from that time I never was away from him for an hour, except when I was asleep, until I went out into the world.

"As I told you, my father was naturally fond of study. He had kept up the little Latin he had learnt as a boy, and had always been reading whatever he could lay his hands on; so that I couldn't have had a better tutor. They were no lessons to me, particularly the geographical ones; for there was no part of the world's sea-coast that he did not know, and could tell me what it and the people were like; and often when Burt happened to come in at such times, and heard what my father was talking about, he would give us some of his adventures and ideas of geography, which were very queer indeed.

"When I was nearly ten, a new vicar came. He was about my father's age and a widower, like him; only he had no child. Like him, too, he had no private fortune, and the living is a very poor one. He soon became very intimate with us, and made my father his churchwarden; and, after being present at some of our lessons, volunteered to teach me Greek, which, he said, it was time I should begin to learn.

"This was great relief to my father, who had bought a Greek grammar and dictionary, and a delectus, some time before; and I could see him often, dear old father, with his glass in his eye, puzzling away over them when I was playing, or reading Cook's Voyages, for it had grown to be the wish of his heart that I should be a scholar, and should go into orders. So he was going to teach me Greek himself, for there was no one in the parish except the Vicar who knew a word of anything but English-so that he could not have got me a tutor, and the thought of sending me to school had never crossed his mind, even if he could have afforded to do either. My father only sat by at Greek lessons, and took no part; but first he began to put in a word here and there, and then would repeat words and sentences himself, and look over my book while I construed, and very soon was just as regular a pupil of the Vicar's as I.

"The Vicar was for the most part very proud of his pupils, and the kindest of masters; but every now and then be used to be hard on my father, which made me furious, though he never seemed to mind it. I used to make mistakes on purpose at those times to show that I was worse than he at any rate. But this only happened after we had had a political discussion at dinner; for we dined at three, and took to our Greek afterwards, to suit the Vicar's time, who was generally a guest. My father is a Tory, of course, as you may guess, and the Vicar was a Liberal, of a very mild sort, as I have since thought; a Whig of '88,' he used to call himself. But he was in favor of the Reform Bill, which was enough for my father, who lectured him about loyalty, and opening the flood-gates to revolution; and used to call up old Burt from the kitchen, where he was smoking his pipe, and ask him what he used to think of the Radicals on board ship; and Burt's regular reply was-

"'Skulks, yer honor, regular skulks. I wouldn't give the twist of a fiddler's elbow for all the lot of 'em as ever pretended to handle a swab, or handle a topsail.'

"The Vicar always tried to argue, but, as Burt and I were the only audience, my father was always triumphant; only he took it out of us afterwards, at the Greek. Often I used to think, when they were reading history, and talking about the characters, that my father was much the more liberal of the two.

"About this time he bought a small half-decked boat of ten tons, for he and Burt agreed that I ought to learn to handle a boat, although I was not to go to sea; and when they got the Vicar in the boat on the summer evenings (for he was always ready for a sale though he was a very bad sailor), I believe they used to steer as near the wind as possible, and get into short chopping seas on purpose. But I don't think he was ever frightened, though he used sometimes to be very ill.

"And so I went on, learned all I could from my father, and the Vicar, and old Burt, till I was sixteen. By that time I had begun to think for myself; and I had made up my mind that it was time I should do something. No boy ever wanted to leave home less, I believe; but I saw that I must make a move if I was ever to be what my father wished me to be. So I spoke to the Vicar, and he quite agreed with me, and made inquiries amongst his acquaintance; and so, before I was seventeen, I was offered the place of under-master in a commercial school, about twenty miles from home. The Vicar brought the offer, and my father was very angry at first; but we talked him over, and so I took the situation.

"And I am very glad I did, although there were many drawbacks. The salary was 35L a year, and for that I had to drill all the boys in English, and arithmetic, and Latin, and to teach the Greek grammar to the five or six who paid extra to learn it. Out of the school I had always to be with them, and was responsible for the discipline. It was weary work very often, and what seemed the worst part of it to me, at the time, was the trade spirit which leavened the whole of the establishment. The master and owner of the school, who was a keen vulgar man, but always civil enough to me, thought of nothing but what would pay. And this seemed to be what filled the school. Fathers sent their boys, because the place was so practical, and nothing was taught (except as extras) which was not to be of so-called real use to the boys in the world. We had our work quite clearly laid down for us; and it was, not to put the boys in the way of getting real knowledge or understanding, or any of the things Solomon talks about, but to put them in the way of getting on.

"I spent three years at that school, and in that time I rounded myself pretty well in Latin and Greek-better, I believe, than I should have done if I had been at a first-rate school myself; and I hope I did the boys some good, and taught some of them that cunning was not the best quality to start in life with. And I was not often very unhappy, for I could always look forward to my holidays with my father.

"However, I own that I never was better pleased than one Christmas when the Vicar came over to our cottage, and brought with him a letter from the Principal of St. Ambrose College, Oxford, appointing me to a servitorship. My father was even more delighted than I, and that evening produced a bottle of old rum, which was part of his ship's stock, and had gone all through his action, and been in his cellar ever since. And we three in the parlor, and old Burt and his wife in the kitchen, finished it that night; the boatswain, I must own, taking the lion's share. The Vicar took occasion, in the course of the evening, to hint that it was only poor men who took these places at the University; and that I might find some inconvenience, and suffer some annoyance, by not being exactly in the same position as other men. But my dear old father would not hear of it; I was now going to be in amongst the very pick of English gentlemen-what could it matter whether I had money or not? That was the last thing which real gentlemen thought of. Besides, why was I to be so very poor? He should be able to allow me whatever would be necessary to make me comfortable. 'But, Jack,' he said suddenly, later in the evening, 'one meets low fellows everywhere. You have met them, I know, often at the confounded school, and will meet them again. Never you be ashamed of your poverty, my boy.' I promised readily enough, for I didn't think I could be more tried in that way than I had been already. I had lived for three years amongst people whose class notoriously measured all things by a money standard; now that was all over, I thought. It's easy making promises in the dark. The Vicar, however, would not let the matter rest; so we resolved ourselves into a Committee of Ways and Means, and my father engaged to lay before us an exact statement of his affairs next day. I went to the door with the Vicar, and he told me to come and see him in the morning.

"I half-guessed what he wanted to see me for. He knew all my father's affairs perfectly well, and wished to prepare me for what was to come in the evening. 'Your father,' he said, 'is one of the most liberal men I ever met; he is almost the only person who gives anything to the schools and other charities in this parish, and he gives to the utmost. You would not wish him, I know, to cut off these gifts, which bring the highest reward with them, when they are made in the spirit in which he makes them. Then he is getting old, and you would never like him to deny himself the comforts (and few enough they are) which he is used to. He has nothing but his half-pay to live on; and out of that he pays 50L a year for insurance; for he has insured his life, that you may have something besides the cottage and land when he dies. I only tell you this that you may know the facts beforehand. I am sure you would never take a penny from him if you could help it. But he won't be happy unless he makes you some allowance; and he can do it without crippling himself. He has been paying off an old mortgage on his property here for many years, by installments of 40L a year, and the last was paid last Michaelmas; so that it will not inconvenience him to make you that allowance. Now, you will not be able to live properly upon that at Oxford, even as a servitor. I speak to you now, my dear Jack, as your oldest friend (except Burt), and you must allow me the privilege of an old friend. I have more than I want, and I propose to make your allowance at Oxford to 80L a year, and upon that I think you may manage to get on. Now, it will not be quite candid, but I think, under the circumstances, we shall be justified in representing to your father that 40L a year will be ample for him to allow you. You see what I mean?

"I remember almost word for word what the Vicar said; for it is not often in one's life that one meets with this sort of friend. At first I th

anked him, but refused to take anything from him. I had saved enough, I said, to carry me through Oxford. But he would not be put off; and I found that his heart was as much set on making me an allowance himself as on saving my father. So I agreed to take 25L a year from him.

"When we met again in the evening, to hear my father's statement, it was as good as a play to see the dear old man, with his spectacles on and his papers before him, proving in some wonderful way that he could easily allow me at least 80L or 100L a year. I believe it cost the Vicar some twinges of conscience to persuade him that all I should want would be 40L a year; and it was very hard work; but at last we succeeded, and it was so settled. During the next three weeks the preparations for my start occupied us all. The Vicar looked out all the classics, which he insisted that I should take. There they stand on that middle shelf-all well bound, you see, and many of them old college prizes. My father made an expedition to the nearest town, and came back with a large new portmanteau and hat-box; and the next day the leading tailor came over to fit me out with new clothes. In fact, if I had not resisted stoutly, I should have come to college with half the contents of the cottage, and Burt as valet; for the old boatswain was as bad as the other two. But I compromised the matter with him by accepting his pocket compass and the picture of the brig which hangs there; the two things, next to his wife, which he values, I believe, most in the world.

"Well, it is now two years last October since I came to Oxford as a servitor; so you see I have pretty, nearly finished my time here. I was more than twenty then-much older as you know, than most freshmen. I daresay it was partly owing to the difference in age, and partly to the fact that I knew no one when I came up, but mostly to my own bad management and odd temper, that I did not get on better than I have done with the men here. Sometimes I think that our college is a bad specimen, for I have made several friends amongst out-college men. At any rate, the fact is, as you have no doubt found out-and I hope I haven't tried at all to conceal it-that I am out of the pale, as it were. In fact, with the exception of one of the tutors, and one man who was a freshman with me, I do not know a man in college except as a mere speaking acquaintance.

"I had been rather thrown off my balance, I think, at the change in my life, for at first I made a great fool of myself. I had believed too readily what my father had said, and thought that at Oxford I should see no more of what I had been used to. Here I thought that the last thing a man would be valued by would be the length of his purse, and that no one would look down upon me because I performed some services to the college in return for my keep, instead of paying for it in money.

"Yes, I made a great fool of myself, no doubt of that; and, what is worse, I broke my promise to my father-I often was ashamed of my poverty, and tried at first to hide it, for somehow the spirit of the place carried me along with it. I couldn't help wishing to be thought of and treated as an equal by the men. It's a very bitter thing for a proud, shy, sensitive fellow, as I am by nature, to have to bear the sort of assumption and insolence one meets with. I furnished my rooms well, and dressed well. Ah! you stare; but this is not the furniture I started with; I sold it all when I came to my senses, and put in this tumble-down second-hand stuff, and I have worn out my fine clothes. I know I'm not well dressed now. (Tom nodded ready acquiescence to this position.) Yes, though I still wince a little now and then-a great deal oftener than I like-I don't carry any false colors. I can't quite conquer the feeling of shame (for shame it is, I am afraid), but at any rate I don't try to hide my poverty any longer, I haven't for these eighteen months. I have a grim sort of pleasure in pushing it in everybody's face. (Tom assented with a smile, remembering how excessively uncomfortable Hardy had made him by this little peculiarity the first time he was in his rooms.) The first thing which opened my eyes a little was the conduct of the tradesmen. My bills all came in within a week of the delivery of the furniture and clothes; some of them wouldn't leave the things without payment. I was very angry and vexed, not at the bills, for I had my savings, which were more than enough to pay for everything. But I knew that these same tradesmen never thought of asking for payment under a year, oftener two, from other men. Well, it was a lesson. Credit for gentlemen-commoners, ready-money dealings with servitors! I owe the Oxford tradesmen much for that lesson. If they would only treat every man who comes up as a servitor, it would save a deal of misery.

"My cure was completed by much higher folk, though. I can't go through the whole treatment, but will give you a specimen or two of the doses, giving precedence (as is the way here) to those administered by the highest in rank. I got them from all sorts of people, but none did me more good than the lords' pills. Amongst other ways of getting on I took to sparring, which was then very much in vogue. I am a good hand at it, and very fond of it, so that it wasn't altogether flunkeyism, I'm glad to think. In my second term two or three fighting men came down from London, and gave a benefit at the Weirs. I was there, and set to with one of them. We were well matched, and both of us did our very best; and when we had had our turn we drew down the house, as they say. Several young tufts and others of the faster men came up to me afterwards and complimented me. They did the same by the professional, but it didn't occur to me at the time that they put us both in the same category.

"I am free to own that I was really pleased two days afterwards, when a most elaborate flunkey brought a card to my door inscribed 'The Viscount Philippine, Ch. Ch., at home to-night, eight o'clock-sparring.' Luckily, I made a light dinner, and went sharp to time into Christ Church. The porter directed me to the noble Viscount's rooms; they were most splendid, certainly-first floor rooms in Peckwater. I was shown into the large room, which was magnificently furnished and lighted. A good space was cleared in the centre; there were all sorts of bottles and glasses on the sideboard. There might have been twelve or thirteen men present, almost all in tufts or gentlemen commoners' caps. One or two of our college I recognized. The fighting man was also there, stripped for sparring, which none of the rest were. It was plain that the sport had not begun; I think he was doing some trick of strength as I came in. My noble host came forward with a nod and asked me if I would take anything, and when I declined, said, 'Then will you put on the gloves?' I looked at him rather surprised, and thought it an odd way to treat the only stranger in his rooms. However, I stripped, put on the gloves, and one of the others came forward to tie them for me. While he was doing it I heard my host say to the man, 'A five-pound note, mind, if you do it within the quarter-of-an-hour.' 'Only half-minute time, then, my lord,' he answered. The man who was tying my gloves said, 'Be steady; don't give him a chance to knock you down.' It flashed across me in a moment now why I was there; but it was too late to draw back; so we stood up and began sparring. I played very steadily and light at first to see whether my suspicions were well founded, and in two minutes I was satisfied. My opponent tried every dodge to bring on a rally, and when he was foiled I could see that he was shifting his glove. I stopped and insisted that his gloves should be tied, and then we went on again.

"I kept on the defensive. The man was in bad training, and luckily I had the advantage by an inch or so in length of arm. Before five minutes was over, I had caught enough of the bystander's remarks to know that my noble host had betted a pony that I should be knocked down in a quarter-of-an-hour. My one object now was to make him lose his money. My opponent did his utmost for his patron, and fairly winded himself in his efforts to get at me. He had to call time twice himself. I said not a word; my time would come I knew, if I could keep on my legs, and of this I had little fear. I held myself together, made no attack, and my length of arm gave me the advantage in every counter. It was all I could do, though, to keep clear of his rushes as the time drew on. On he came time after time, careless of guarding, and he was full as good a man as I. 'Time's up; it's past the quarter.' 'No, by Jove half a minute yet; now's your time, said my noble host to his man, who answered by a rush. I met him as before with a steady counter, but this time my blow got home under his chin, and he staggered, lost his footing, and went fairly over on his back.

"Most of the bystanders seemed delighted, and some of them hurried towards me. But I tore off the gloves, flung them on the ground, and turned to my host. I could hardly speak, but I made an effort, and said quietly, 'You have brought a stranger to your rooms, and have tried to make him fight for your amusement; now I tell you it is a blackguard act of yours-an act which no gentleman would have done.' My noble host made no remark. I threw on my waist-coat, and then turned to the rest and said 'Gentlemen would not have stood by and seen it done.' I went up to the side-board, uncorked a bottle of champagne, and half filled a tumbler, before a word was spoken. Then one of the visitors stepped forward and said, 'Mr. Hardy, I hope you won't go, there has been a mistake; we did not know of this. I am sure many of us are very sorry for what has occurred; stay and look on, we will all of us spar.' I looked at him, and then at my host, to see whether the latter joined in the apology. Not he, he was doing the dignified sulky, and most of the rest seemed to me to be with him. 'Will any of you spar with me?' I said, tauntingly, tossing off the champagne. 'Certainly, the new speaker said directly, 'If you wish it, and are not too tired, I will spar with you myself; you will, won't you, James?' and he turned to one of the other men. If any of them had backed him by a word I should probably have stayed; several of them, I learnt afterwards, would have liked to have done so, but it was an awkward scene to interfere in. I stopped a moment and then said, with a sneer, 'You're too small, and none of the other gentlemen seem inclined to offer.'

"I saw that I had hurt him, and felt pleased at the moment I had done so. I was now ready to start, and I could not think of anything more unpleasant to say at the moment; so I went up to my antagonist, who was standing with the gloves on still, not quite knowing what to be at, and held out my hand. 'I can shake hands with you at any rate,' I said; 'you only did what you were paid for in the regular way of business, and you did your best.' He looked rather sheepish, but held out his gloved hand, which I shook. 'Now, I have the honor to wish you all a very good evening;' and so I left the place and got home to my own rooms, and sat down there with several new ideas in my head. On the whole, the lesson was not a very bitter one, for I felt that I had had the best of the game. The only thing I really was sorry for was my own insolence to the man who had come forward as a peacemaker. I had remarked his face before. I don't know how it is with you, but I can never help looking at a tuft-the gold tassel draws one's eye somehow; and then it's an awful position, after all, for mere boys to be placed in. So I knew his face before that day, though I had only seen him two or three times in the street. Now it was much more clearly impressed on my mind; and I called it up and looked it over, half hoping that I should detect something to justify me to myself, but without success. However, I got the whole affair pretty well out of my head by bedtime.

"While I was at breakfast the next morning, my scout came in with a face of the most ludicrous importance, and quite a deferential manner. I declare I don't think he has ever got back since that day to his original free-and-easy swagger. He laid a card on my table, paused a moment, and then said, 'His ludship is houtside watin', sir.'

"I had had enough of lords' cards; and the scene of yesterday rose painfully before me as I threw the card into the fire without looking at it, and said, 'Tell him I am engaged.'

"My scout, with something like a shudder at my audacity, replied, 'His ludship told me to say, sir, as his bis'ness was very particular, so hif you was engaged he would call again in 'arf an hour.'

"Tell him to come in, then, if he won't take a civil hint.' I felt sure who it would be, but hardly knew whether to be pleased or annoyed, when in another minute the door opened, and in walked the peacemaker. I don't know which of us was the most embarrassed; he walked straight up to me without lifting his eyes, and held out his hand saying, 'I hope, Mr. Hardy, you will shake hands with me now.'

"'Certainly, my lord,' I said, taking his hand; 'I am sorry for what I said to you yesterday, when my blood was up.'

"'You said no more than we deserved,' he answered twirling his cap by the long gold tassel; 'I could not be comfortable without coming to assure you again myself, that neither I, nor, I believe, half the men in Philippine's rooms yesterday, knew anything of the bet. I really cannot tell you how annoyed I have been about it.'

"I assured him that he might make himself quite easy, and then remained standing, expecting him to go, and not knowing exactly what to say further. But he begged me to go on with my breakfast, and sat down, and then asked me to give him a cup of tea, as he had not breakfasted. So in a few minutes we were sitting opposite one another over tea and bread and butter, for he didn't ask for, and I didn't offer, anything else. It was rather a trying meal, for each of us was doing all he could to make out the other. I only hope I was as pleasant as he was. After breakfast he went and I thought the acquaintance was probably at an end; he had done all that a gentleman need have done, and had well-nigh healed a raw place in my mental skin.

"But I was mistaken. Without intruding himself on me, he managed somehow or another to keep on building up the acquaintance little by little. For some time I looked out very jealously for any patronizing airs, and even after I was convinced, that he had nothing of the sort in him, avoided him as much as I could, though he was the most pleasant and best-informed man I knew. However, we became intimate, and I saw a good deal of him in a quiet way, at his own rooms. I wouldn't go to his parties, and asked him not to come to me here, for my horror of being thought a tuft-hunter had become almost a disease. He was not so old as I, but he was just leaving the University, for he had come up early, and lord's sons are allowed to go out in two years;-I suppose because the authorities think they will do less harm here in two than three years; but it is sometimes hard on poor men, who have to earn their bread, to see such a privilege given to those who want it least. When he left, he made me promise to go and pay him a visit-which I did in the long vacation, at a splendid place up in the North, and enjoyed myself more than I care to own. His father, who is quite worthy of his son, and all his family, were as kind as people could be.

"Well, amongst other folks I met there a young sprig of nobility who was coming up here the next term. He had been brought up abroad, and, I suppose, knew very few men of his own age in England. He was not a bad style of boy, but rather too demonstrative, and not strong-headed. He took to me wonderfully, was delighted to hear that I was up at Oxford, and talked constantly of how much we should see of one another. As it happened, I was almost the first man he met when he got off the coach at the 'Angel,' at the beginning of his first term. He almost embraced me, and nothing would serve but I must dine with him at the inn, and we spent the evening together, and parted dear friends. Two days afterwards we met in the street; he was with two other youngsters, and gave me a polished and distant bow; in another week he passed me as if we had never met.

"I don't blame him, poor boy. My only wonder is, that any of them ever get through this place without being thoroughly spoilt. From Vice-Chancellor down to scout's boy, the whole of Oxford seems to be in league to turn their boys heads, even if they come up with them set on straight, which toadying servants at home take care shall never happen if they can hinder it. The only men who would do them good up here, both dons and undergraduates, keep out of their way, very naturally. Gentlemen-commoners have a little better chance, though not much, and seem to me to be worse than the tufts, and to furnish most of their toadies.

"Well, you are tired of my railing? I daresay I am rabid about it all. Only it does go to my heart to think what this place might be, and what it is. I see I needn't give you any more of my experience.

"You'll understand now some of the things that have puzzled you about me. Oh! I know they did; you needn't look apologetic. I don't wonder, or blame you. I am a very queer bird for the perch I have lit on; I know that as well as anybody. The only wonder is that you ever took the trouble to try to lime me. Now have another glass of toddy. Why! it is near twelve. I must have one pipe and turn in. No Aristophanes to-night."

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