Te Deum patrem colimus.
My brother, however, was sure our rector could never have sung that hymn, since in cases of emergency he always appealed to him to start the singing in the Sunday school—for although a very worthy man in other respects, he was decidedly not musical.
Among the great Magdalen men of the past are the names of Cardinal Wolsey, Cardinal Reginald Pole, Addison, Gibbon, Collins, Wilson, John Hampden, and John Foxe, author of the Book of Martyrs. The ecclesiastical students included two cardinals, four archbishops, and about forty bishops; and my brother would have added to the Roll of Honour the name of our rector, the Rev. Thomas Greenall, as that of a man who conscientiously tried to do his duty and whom he held in lasting remembrance.
[Illustration: AN OXFORDSHIRE FARM.]
There was a kind of haze hanging over Oxford, which gave me the impression that the atmosphere of the neighbourhood was rather damp, though my brother tried to persuade me it was the mist of antiquity; but when I found the rivers Thames (or Isis) and the Cherwell encircled the city on three sides, and that its name was derived from a passage over which oxen could cross the water, and when I saw the stiff clay of the brickfields, I was confirmed in my opinion.
[Illustration: HINKSEY STREAM.]
As early as the year 726 a prince named Didan settled at Oxford, and his wife Saxfrida built a nunnery there for her daughter Frideswyde, so that she could “take the veil” in her own church. As she was considered the “flower of all these parts,” we could not understand why this was necessary, especially as she was sought in marriage by Algar, King of Leicester, described as “a young and spritely prince,” and who was so persistent that he would not accept her refusal, actually sending “ambassadors” to carry her away. These men, however, when they approached her were smitten with blindness; and when Frideswyde saw that she would not be safe in “her own church” nor able to remain in peace there, she fled into the woods and hid herself in a place that had been made as a shelter for the swine. King Algar was greatly enraged, and, breathing out fire and sword, set out for Oxford. As he still pursued her, he too was smitten with blindness; and she then returned, but did not live long, as she died in 739. St. Frideswide’s Chapel was said to have been built over her shrine, around which Oxford, the “City of the Spires,” had extended to its present proportions.
Oxford is also mentioned in A.D. 912 in the Saxon Chronicle, and Richard Coeur de Lion, the great Crusader, was born there in 1156, and often made it his home. The city was besieged on three different occasions—by Sweyne, the King of Denmark, in 1013, by William the Conqueror in 1067, and by Fairfax in 1646—for it was one of the King’s great strongholds.