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The Oxford Letter


This is the first of a series of Oxford letters which will run in The Crimson to replace The Cambridge letter of last year. They are being written by Chris Janus '36, who wrote the "Vagabond" for the Crimson last year and who is now attending Wadham College, Oxford.

Every time my fire plays out, or for satisfying certain personal necessities I must run across the meadow, I reminiscence most yearningly for my suite in Dunster House. It's the physical aspect of Oxford that impresses one first. Architecturally, Oxford is a mediaeval jewel; and there are enough dreamy Towers to support a colony of vagabonds. As for unspoiled country and sweet traditions: only yesterday I teased the bulls in Christ Church meadow and later fed the deer in Magdalen grove. At Wadham, where I am put, all animal life seems confined to the rooms, but of this I shall write later.

Conspicuous is the matter of discipline. Each morning my Scout comes in, pours hot water for me, and gently inquires if I am there. Perhaps last night I failed to make the wall, or missed the train from London, or simply decided to roam the countryside later than twelve: That all comes under the category of crime and the Scout--Who is sort of a cross between a Biddy and a Colonel Apted--immediately reports to the Warden. The King help the Freshmen in this crime! Thrice and you're out.

It is difficult for an American to reconcile Oxford's almost unlimited academic freedom with her motherly moral restraints. It would seem the young Englishman grows quickly in mind but leaves his morals for others to develop. (On the other hand I've seen some corking good wall scalers!) How much of this proctoral jurisdiction serves to continue a rich tradition and how much of it to encourage a stubborn hypocrisy is, I suppose, a matter of whether you prefer mutton or frankfurters!

My Scout though bearing the simple name of Walter is definitely of the former taste. He watches over me as if I were made of Shillings; and his service extends from even telling me how I should behave to fetching me a bicycle or champagne. Alas, that Harvard's Biddies could know him! Wadham College--Oxford

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