Fourteen Months Abroad – Oxford, England

August 23.—After having bought pictures and souvenirs of Stratford-on-Avon we left the place at 5:20 yesterday and reached Oxford at 7:30. After searching for an abiding place while here we came to Mrs. Williams on St. Aldate street, No. 57. We are here to see what we can of Oxford and of the buildings of this great University. Oxford, like Peterborough, is the seat of a Bishop. We walked this morning to Christ Church College, which is the most popular and most fashionable college connected with the University. The Prince of Wales and many men of note graduated there. We passed through the handsome gateway called “Tom Gate” and heard the bell strike eleven while we waited to be admitted to the Cathedral which is used for the chapel of Christ Church. Every night at five minutes past nine this bell, “Great Tom,” weighing seven and a half tons, “peals a curfew of one hundred and one strokes.”

In five minutes the gates of the college are all closed. We admired the interior of the Cathedral—especially the celling, a beautiful rose window in the end of the choir, and the stained glass in the large windows. Afterwards we went into the hall which has numerous portraits on its walls. Then into the great Quadrangle or “Tom Quad.” This is the courtyard around which the College is built.

After this we took two tram rides. We passed the colleges on St. Giles street and on High street, which Hawthorne calls “the noblest street in England.” One of Words-worth’s sonnets is on High street. We passed also the Martyr Memorial which is near the spot where Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were burned at the stake during Bloody Mary’s reign. I have remained in our room this afternoon disabled by a cold, but L. has been to a museum where he saw King Alfred’s jewels.

The warm, debilitating weather has been very trying. It has been raining since L.’s return.

August 24.-Notwithstanding my severe cold we started out this morning in a cab to see more of Oxford. We drove through various streets and saw the exteriors of most of the colleges, frequently peeping through the front gates and catching glimpses of the courtyards or quadrangles. Over one front door was a brazen nose; this was Brasenose ‘College. In front of Balliol College we saw the exact spot, marked by a horizontal stone cross, where the three martyrs were burned. We drove by University Park but it was so hidden by shrubbery that we had only one good peep into it. We saw nothing to compare with the Cambridge College “Backs.”

We returned to our lodgings and rested and since that have taken a walk which proved to be the most delightful thing we have done in Oxford. Beginning with the Broad Walk, as it is called, back of Christ College, we went down a splendid avenue of elms called New Walk to the Thames river where we saw the University barges and many small rowing boats. Then following the bank of the river we walked all around Christ church meadow back to Broad Walk, a long and beautifully shaded path. This meadow is a great, broad pasture and cows were feeding there. It is very picturesque looking, with trees and bushes all around it. After leaving the Thames where the Cherwell river joins it, we walked along the banks of the latter. Foot-bridges crossed the rivers and large trees bent over them giving them a romantic look. I enjoyed all this more than if it had been a cultivated park. It was like a genuine bit of country close by the city and colleges. From Broad Walk we saw a remnant of the old city wall, some of it overgrown with ivy. Just beyond the wall was Merton College, with its immense square tower. This is the oldest chartered college of the University of Oxford. We walked on until we reached our restaurant where an excellent dinner awaited us. Since coming to Oxford our meals, except breakfasts, have been taken there.

After dinner we returned to our room to finish packing before leaving for London this afternoon. Oxford has twenty-three colleges independent in their foundations yet forming one great university.