with its score of colleges scattered all over the city, constituting the world renowned University of the same name, was “done” the next day, but done in a hurry. It is a depressing business to pass by so much, giving but a glance here and there, and not be able to see so many things more at leisure, Magnificent libraries and museums, grand churches and chapels, and extensive buildings and botanical gardens, were rushed through and passed by, as if the charm and beauty of Oxford’s scenes consisted rather in making the images of them flit in quick succession across the retina of the eye, than in examining, studying and contemplating them.
Merton College, founded 1264, contains a library 600 years old. Many of its large and rare books are chained to their respective shelves, like dogs to their kennels; and with chains too, of sufficient strength to check any canine’s wanderings. Christ Church I entered by the Tower-Gate, so named after the great bell contained in the cupola of the tower over it. This bell weighs about 17,000 pounds. The quadrangle inclosed by the buildings of this college, is “the largest and the most noble in Oxford.” Its dimensions are 264 by 200 feet, or nearly an acre and a half in extent. The “Hall” is 113 feet by forty, and fifty feet in height. “The roof is of carved oak, with very elegant pendants, profusely decorated with the armorial bearings and badges of King Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey, and has the date 1529.” Its bay window at the end of the dais with its rich grained vault of fan-tracery, is admired by every one.
Christ Church Meadow, with its “Broad Walk” one and a quarter mile in circuit, and Addison walk, near St. Mary Magdalen College, are among the most bewitching promenades that can be found anywhere, while “the manner in which High street opens upon the view, in walking from the Botanic Garden, is probably one of the finest things of the kind in Europe.”
Oxford is all history and poetry. There is a tradition that upon the top of the elegant tower St. Mary Magdalen, formerly on every May-day morning, at four o’clock, was sung a requiem for the soul of Henry VII., the reigning monarch at the time of its erection. The custom of chanting a hymn beginning with
“Te Deum Patrem colimus,
Te laudibus prosequimur,”
In the same place is still preserved, on the same morning of each year, at five o’clock.
The dark lantern which Guy Fawks used in the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, and a picture of the conspirators are contained in the New Museum.
From Oxford I went directly to London by a fast line, which occupied less than two hours in making the journey. From the cars, we saw Windsor Castle, with its colors raised, meaning that the Queen was there.
We also passed some large patches of flowers in the fields, which were cultivated for the London flower-market.