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CONCERNING FIRES IN ENGLISH COLLEGES.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"Oxoniensis" writes to the Pall Mall Gazette: "A fire is everywhere dangerous enough; but in the colleges of our older universities it has risks of its own. Twice within the last few months has a set of rooms at Oxford been burned. In the fire at Baliol College the occupant was, I believe, only saved from a terrible death by the fortunate fact that his bedroom had two doors to it. As you are doubtless aware, according to the general arrangement, the bedroom opens only into the sitting-room. Had he been sleeping in a room on this plan, he could not have escaped by the door, for when he was roused, his sitting-room was all in flames. But an active man, it may be said, can surely escape by the window. So he may, unless it should be the case that his window is almost as strongly barred as those of a goal. Before the gratings with which the lower rooms of our colleges are fortified had been broken-down from without, the poor fellow within might be in as miserable a plight as the sinners who are represented in the 'Calvary' at Antwerp, kept in by bars and amidst the flames of Purgatory.

The upper rooms are for the most part left free; yet I have seen attic windows so strongly barred that escape was impossible. They looked onto the roof, and no doubt they had been thus blocked up in order to keep the undergraduates from passing from one set of chambers to another. Even where there are no bars, there is some danger from mere height, coupled with the absence of a second staircase. In my Oxford days I lodged in the first story, counting the ground-floor as one. Just beneath me, a man lived who one evening begged me to take some wine with him, as the night before 'he had been forced to get drunk all alone.' I lived in terror lest this drunken fool might set his room on fire. If he had, for me, I knew, there was no escape. I must be content with pointing out the peculiar dangers from fire that thus threaten our colleges. I noticed them when I was myself an undergraduate, but my attention has been again aroused by the fact that one of my sons is a student at Oxford, and that some of his brothers are to follow in his steps. The remedies I must leave for those who rule the colleges to find."

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