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Michigan Ahead Of Oxford

Michigan Ahead Of Oxford image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
November
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The first lecture in the Unity Club course given Sunday in the Unitarian church by Judge W. D. Harriman, was a most delightful intellectual treat. His subject was "Oxford and its Colleges. ' He gave a view of this ancient town in a most pleasing marnier. It was a lecture that everyone at all interested ia England would enjoy. He said in part : "Oxford is certainly unique among all the cities of the world. lts like has never existed in ancient or modern times. The history of those great continental seats of learning like Bologna and Paris which shone like stars in the night of the middle ages, has a fascinating interest for the student and the scholar ; but, if we consider the length of time during which they flourished in their greatest vigor, or the number of great men they sent f orth to influence the thought or shape the course of civilization, or if we merely consider the buildings in which they were houstd or the historical associations connected with thern, they all sink into insigniflcance when compared to Oxford. ' ' Judge Harriman, in describing the feelirigs of a man treading the streets of Oxford, said : "He will remember that venerable teachers and iñgenious youth were studying astronomy there centuries before Copernicus had discovered the true order of our solar system. Hé will remember how Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley heroically died at the stake in those streets for their devotion to the principies of the English refoimation and he will remember the great religious movements which have originated there since the days of Wickliffe, and as the memories of the vanished past crowd upon his , mind, he will not forget that little , band of praying scholars led by , ley and Whitefield - the butt and cule of their fellow students, but who in spite of contumely and ganized the modest society which in a , century and a half has grown to become one of the greatest religious farces of the Christian world. ' ' Once within the city, the first and strongest impression the visitor receives is of its autiquity and apparent decay. No building material yet discovered can withstand the climate of Oxford. There are statnes of kings ■ here whose crowns have disappeared and whose features are no longer distinguishable. There are statues of queens here whose noses and ears are all gone and whose eyeballs have been washed out by rains of centuries. There are statues of angels whose wings have vanished and whose upturned faces are as characterless as vacancy itself. Yet, with all these signs of antiquity and decay, High st., Oxford, is by the conimon judgrnent of of all travelers, one of the most striking and interesting in the world. Nearly every style of architecture is represented, and the varying tastes of 700 years. "The 24 colleges which constitute the University of Oxford each own more or less land, surrounded by high walls within which buildings, quadrangles and gardens of the college are situated, completely cut off from the noise of the streets and the conditions of the ontside world. Each college has its sea-ate endowrnent and isgoverned by the mies and regulations laid down by its founder, except so far as those. fules and regulations have been changed by act of parliament. Each college has its own deau or warden, or master or president, as the case may be ; elects and pays its own fellows, appoints its own tutors,matriculates its own students, fixes its own standard of admission, and regulates its own lines of stndy. "No individual college appoints or maintains any professors (they are chosen by the university as a whole), or grants any degrees. Each college is sirnply one of a federation of schools which together eonstitute the university. Formerly any person desiring to study at and obtaiu auy of the privileges of the university was obliged to matricúlate in some of the colleges or halls ; now, by virtue of an act of parliament, a person may become a member of the university by complying with certain conditions and subjecting himself to its discipline without connecting himself with any college. He thns becomes what is called a non-collegiate. As a noncollegiate, he acquires no right to instruction or the use of the college buildings ; he may get that wherever he can, usually from a private tutor, and must pay for it. VThat he gains is a right to be examined for a degree by rlie offlcial examiners of the university. "The real governing body of the university are two - oongregation a id conv e xtioii. The congregation consists of the professors official exaruhieis. resident masters and all the great officers of the university. This body elects a committee of 14, of which the vice chancellor is ex-offlcio chairman, Trhich meets once a week and is called the Hebdominal committee, which performs substantially the dxities of the weekly faculíy meeting of the University of Michigan except that its conclusions do not become law nntil approverl by convocation. Oonrocation is a body wbich consists of all the masters of arts of the university, the vice chancellor presiding; this body of graduates, resident and non-resident, elect the chancelor and vice chancellor and two members of parliament to represent the university of Westminster. ■ "For eentnries there lias been antagonisin between the studente and townspeople, often resulting in riot, bloodshed and death. The university authority overshadows and belittles the authority of the town, álthough parliament very lately has increased the town 's powers, nntil a few years ago the mayor of the city, before he could assume the duties of his office, was compelled to take the humiliating oath that he would in no marnier, while in office, interfere with the sacred rights and privileges. "As we have said, the colleges of Oxford were designed by their respective founders for the accommodation and support of a select few fellows or instructora and students who were expected to devote their lives to stndy or to the services of the church, and the opening of their doors since the reformation to the general public, has causee! the student population to exce ' fhe number which the college buildings are able to accommodate and to overflow into the city, and Oxford has become like Aun Arbor - a city of lodging houses. You can see everywhere, in the windows and upon the walls of dwellings, the sign. 'Rooms to Let,' and the soul-inspiring legend, ' Cheap Board Here.' Oxford 's students' rooms have a wonderfully familiar look. Their walls are decorated with pipes, eider mugs, beer signs and the apparatus of football, golf and cricket. ' ' The Oxford student has a curious taste, for pictures, portraits, serious and comic, of tutors and clrams and of famous and infamous men and women hang upon the walls everywhere. There may be seen portraits of the sölemn Jewett and the serious Gladstone. and suspended between them a picture of Fannie Essler, a famous dancer of 60 years ago, dressed in clothing, unsuitable except in the very warmest of climates. The average Oxford students' bump of reverence is small. "So we see that the student at Oxford is very like the student in Aim Arbor. Few of them injure their eyes by stndy. Few of them injure their health at college, except by such indiseretions and imprudences as are equally liable to occur in any sphere of life. The professor at Oxford is not a greater man than the, professor here. As a general fcfaiag he reeeives ;nr ! about as much worship from the ] dent popnlation there as here. ' ' Studying in Europe has become a f ashion or f ad in this country ; which really edueates nobody abroad and which no longer fools anybody at home. At any rate, whatever tremendous advantages there may be for 'studying' in Germany, there is no single branch of study that can be pursued at Oxford to greater advantage than at Ann Arbor except, possibly, philology and early English,for which the Bodlean library furnishes especial advantages. For the study of the practical sciences, they have at Oxford in no case better, and in some cases poorer, facilities than we have in Ami Arbor. The study of medicine cannot be pursued there as efficiently as here. Of course, they have no law school comparable to ours. " The only advantage Judge Harriman could see. of Oxford over Ann Arbor was, possilby, the inspiration from the antiquity of the former place. The jtidge gave a beautiful description of historie points and aneient customs. This lectiire would well bear repeating.