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me round again by the hideous pictures they gave me of democracy.*
But alas ! this was not all. Not only in the theatre, the university distinctions of rank convinced me of my own littleness, but the greater theatre of puplic opinion, the manners, looks, dress, exclusiveness, and airs of rank, wealth, and fashion, which I beheld in the streets, in the walks, and in the riding parties, all denoted separations of class, which brought my own inferiority, factitious as I felt it to be, more home to my indignant bosom.† And very sore it was
* These are not times to do away distinctions of rank; nevertheless the anomalies which appear in the state of English society and manners, where theoretically and in law all are equal, while practi. cally there never were such inequalities, is an absolute riddle. If ever equality in every thing except merit ought to prevail, it surely ought to be in schools and colleges, the common fields of learning, in which he who cultivates them best, will obtain the greatest distinction. The immensity of the difference occasioned by the mere extraneous circumstances of rank and fortune among those whose community of youth and inexperience, and community of pursuits, it should seem, would insure equality, if anywhere to be found, appears not more impolitic than ridiculous. Besides its origin is feudal, and feudality having been long abolished, its excrescencies ought to be abolished too: but such a reform is not the only one which the madness and wickedness of Chartism forbids,
t On this subject, see some able reflections by Sir E. L. Bulwer, in perhaps the best of his works, though not the most imaginative, · England and the English."
“ At no place are the demarcations of birth and fortune so faintly traced as at school--nowhere are they so broad and deep as at a university. The young noble is suddenly removed from the side of the young commoner. When he walks, he is indued in a distinguishing costume ; when he dines, he is placed at a higher table, along with the heads of his college. Punctuality in lectures and prayers is of no vital importance to a young man of such expect. ations, At Cambridge, the eldest son of one baronet assumes a peculiarity in costume, to distinguish him from the younger son of another, and is probably a greater man at college than he ever is
to the aspirations I had formed, and from which I could not part. I could have forgiven the coxcombry which made the wearer of a tufted gown with sleeves think himself far removed above my plain one without; but when in every look of superciliousness I met, I felt a demonstration of the impossibility of success in the mad wishes I indulged, I was ready to weep at what I felt to be the injustice of the world.
Hence, however, the increase and expansion of that independent spirit which in after years set me above “ the whips and scorns of the time.” This spirit alone made me a keen examiner into the motives and characters of men; the nature and power of the passions ; the operations of caprice, selfishness, or ambition ; while, on the other hand, it gave me all the anodynes which reason and common sense, when not borne down by passion, supply to counteract our discontent, the cause of which, after all, is nothing but an alldevouring vanity on our own parts.
Remember, reader, I do not pretend to have acquired this spirit at the time I am describing. God knows, I had as many heart-burnings as another, particularly those which belonged to the absorbing, tormenting, yet delightful passion which I have described as possessing me. I am only surmising, at the same time that I confess the mortifications, the
during the rest of his life. It is at college that an eldest son suddenly leaps into that consequence, that elevation above his brothers, which he afterwards retains through life. A marked distinction in dress, dinners, luxuries, and, in some colleges, discipline, shews by times the value attached to wealth, and wealth only. It is obvious that these distinctions, so sudden and so marked, must occasion an embarrassment and coldness in the continuance at college of friendships formed at schools.”—England and the English, p. 160-1.
remedies which made them harmless, and I found them all summed
in little sentence of the master of Nature, and charmer of our fancy,
" This above all-to thine own self be true.”
This maxim, given to the young Laertes on setting out in the world, was first set before me by one of whom I shall presently speak, and of whom I never can speak but with reverence, for his knowledge of men as well as of books, and his saving care in steering me through a course of danger. In time, it laid such hold of me, that it never was out of my mind, and scarcely ever off my tongue, and I found it of such support and comfort, that, much to the diversion of my fellow-collegians, I wrote it in capital letters on the wall opposite my bed, that I might begin the day with it on my waking in the morning.
At first I was laughed at, ridiculed, quizzed. No matter, I kept on my course, and often quoted my motto to those who laughed at it, but by departing from it, too often stood in need of its wisdom. My inflexibility, indeed, in this and other matters, amounting almost to an appearance of phlegm (though any thing but phlegmatic), got me in the end, a sort of reputation for firmness and self-possession, which made me independent of scoffers.
In narrating these things I have rather digressed from the order of time, led from it by the opinions generated by what I saw, and what I observed as to the character of the place upon a fuller acquaintance with it.
I ought, however, preliminarily to have stated that I was consigned to the care and inspection of the Rev. Mr. Fothergill, the principal tutor, a cousin of my mother's, and to whom I had been especially recom
mended by testimonials from the great Crackenthorpe, for whose abilities and principles, notwithstanding his uncouthness, all Queen's men had the highest respect. This and our relationship created an interest about me at once in the mind of my tutor, which afterwards developed itself to my advantage. For he was a man not only well skilled in all college lore, but of great observation, made keener by natural shrewdness, and perhaps a natural disposition to sarcasm.
These, and the opportunities which his situation gave him of estimating the characters of the youths he superintended, by probing their motives, and watching the career of all about him, in other colleges as well as his own, had had ample play during the sort of censorship which for ten years he had exercised over all the various ranks of men which Oxford contained. They had also been well exercised in other and more exciting scenes, in other and higher walks of life;—for he had not been always a mere barn yard academical bird, but had seen and acted, though with not too much pleasure, in far different societies than those into which he had now settled down. Of this I shal have occasion hereafter to speak.
Mr. Fothergill had withal a certain bonhommie and frankness of manner, approaching to goodnatured raillery, which, by disarming suspicion, laid people more open to his penetration. His exterior was not polished, and his dialect had the broad twang of his county, which, while it gave a seemingly additional force to his observations, seemed also to add to their sincerity. Not that there was any disguise about him, for he was as honourable as shrewd, and goodnatured as keen, untarnished by bad qualities, and
wishing well to his species, though alive to their defects.
My first communication with him discovered something of his disposition ; for my earliest desire, as may be supposed, was to find out Hastings, the friend of my childhood, the brother of my adored, on whom my all of happiness in the world just opening to me, both now and in future, seemed to depend. As Hastings had proceeded to college some time before me, I concluded, nor was I mistaken, that he was in Oxford as well as myself, and my first impulse was to see him. How delightful, I said to myself, to find this friend of my heart, still my fellow-labourer in the glorious vineyard of science, and to realize our fond anticipations of going through the world together,
The thought so pleased, that as soon as the ceremony of matriculation was over, I besought Mr. Fothergill, who was preparing to initiate me in my new way of life, to excuse me for half an hour, for that the dearest friend I had in the world was at Christ Church, and it would shock him and all the rights of friendship if I did not immediately seek him. “He will never forgive me," said I, “if I delay a minute.”
Mr. Fothergill smiled at this sally, a smile which I did not then understand.
“Cavalier enough," said he, “in a man just entered. You have all the feelings as well as the inexperience of a freshman. However, as you are so alive to friendship, and no doubt your friend is equally sensitive, and feels for you as if he were still at Sedbergh, go! search him out, and report to me as a good pupil ought to do, on your return.”
He said this good-humouredly, though sceptical as