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hopes she may be taught religion, and is much disconcerted when Dr. Denton remarks in a letter that his wife has been to see her, and finds that · Betty is Betty still.' A year's schooling, however, produced a marvellous change for the better, and the rebellious girl ended by settling down into a well-conducted woman, and marrying Charles Adams, clerk, of Great Baddow in Essex.
The one bright spot of Mary's visit to Claydon was her meeting with her little John, who had grown into a very gallant boy,' and never left her side, trotting about the house and singing as she drew up inventories with Mrs. Alcock or pored over Will Roades' accounts. He and little Ralph were left at Claydon when she returned to town in October to present her husband's petition to Parliament. Here a fresh trial awaited the poor mother, and within a week after her return to London she received the sad news of the baby's sudden death at Claydon, and almost at the same time heard that her dearly loved little daughter Peg had died at Blois of an attack of fever. Even then the brave wife's courage did not fail her, and while her own heart is ‘breaking with sorrow' we find her writing consoling words to poor Ralph, whose courage had utterly collapsed. His deep piety, however, proved his best support, and he and his wife consoled themselves by remembering the blessedness of their dear child's end and her eternal happiness. Once more Mary returned to her task, and at length on January 5, 1648, her efforts were crowned with success, and the sequestration was taken off. “God,' she wrote to Ralph, ‘is strongest when we have least hope.' She had done her work nobly, but she never recovered from the prolonged strain of the visit to England, and after her return to Blois her health failed rapidly. All through the following year she became gradually worse, and Ralph watched her with ever-growing anxiety.
Terrible news came from England. First that of the King's trial and execution. For some weeks we are told there was a general stoppage of all letters to France, and it was voted 'a capitall crime for any to speak, preach, or write against the present proceedings.' Well might honest Dr. Denton write, •We are in the maddest world that ever we mortals sawe.' Then, in November of the same year, came tidings of the massacre of Drogheda and of Sir Edmund's death, and deeply was that gallant young Cavalier lamented by the little household at Blois. On December 13 we find Sir Ralph writing to a neighbour : 'I was such a blockhead that I forgot to tell you that on Satterday next (my wife being ill) a friend will give
us a sermon and the Sacrament (after the honest old way at home), and if either yourselfe or son please to communicate with us, you shall bee very welcome' (ii. 413). As the spring days lengthened Mary became weaker, until on May 20 she passed quietly away at the early age of thirty-four. We find the following entries in Sir Ralph's calendar of letters :
15 May, 1650. I writ Dr (Denton) word I received his letter, but could write of no businesse, Wife beeing soe ill.'
22 May, 1650. Oh my.... my deare deare.' A few days later he adds the following words :
'Friday the 20 May (at 3 in ye morning) was the Fatall Day and Hower. The disease a consumption. ... I shall not need to relate with what a Religeous and a cheerful joy and courage this now happy and most glorious saint, left this unhappy and most wicked world' (ii. 414).
The body was embalmed, but there were many difficulties in the way before it could be removed to England. At length, however, a safe-conduct for the coffin was obtained, and Dr. Denton and a few other relatives and friends saw it reverently interred in Middle Claydon Church on Nov. 20, 1650. Ralph's grief proved as lasting as it was profound. "Since my deare Wife's death,' he wrote to his uncle, I have bid adieu to all that most men count theire happinesse. Ah! Di D", her company made every place a paradice unto me, but she being gonne, what good can bee expected by your most afflicted and unfortunate servant' (ii. 423). And long afterwards, in a letter advising his sister Margaret, Lady Elmes, to be reconciled to her husband, he paid a touching tribute to the memory of his beloved Mary.
'Give me leave,' he writes, 'to set before your eyes my owne deare wife that's now with God. You know she brought a farr better fortune than my Estate deserved, and for her guifts of Grace and nature I may justly say she was inferior to very few, soe that she might well expect all reasonable observance from mee, yet such was her goodnesse that when I was most Peevish, she would be most Patient, and as if she meant to aire my frowardnesse and frequent follies by the constancy of her forbearance, studdied nothing more then a sweet compliance. But perhaps you may thinke I was a better husband than your owne; alas, if that were soe, 'twas she that made me soe, and I may thanke her silence and discreation for your goode oppinion of me, for had she (like soe many other wifes) divulged my faults, or in a proud disdainfull way dispised me for my Pettish humours, 'tis tenn to one I had beene found more liable to censure than any other man' (ii. 424).
VOL. XXXVI. - NO. LXXI.
He proved the reality of his affection by the faithfulness with which he honoured the memory of his lamented wife during forty-six years of widowhood. At the end of a few years he came back to England, 'to keepe company with the ghostes' in the deserted halls of Claydon. He was still an object of suspicion to the Lord Protector, and was imprisoned in St. James's Tennis Court for seventeen weeks in 1655. After the Restoration his affairs improved, he rebuilt his house, adorned the gardens, and was again returned to Parliament, where he sat in 1680, among the very few Whigs, observes Lord Macaulay, 'who found their way there.' But he disapproved of Charles II.'s arbitrary measures, and in 1688 his name was struck off the roll of magistrates for Buckinghamshire by James II. just before the Revolution. After William III.'s accession he served again in Parliament, and was looked upon with more favour at Court, but he kept his country tastes to the end, and spent the greater part of his time at Claydon. There he died in 1696, loved and honoured' writes his niece, ‘by all the country round.' The letters at this period describe him as a very fine gentleman,' and one lady observes, “I cannot hope my son-in-law should have the manners of Sir Ralph Verney' (ii. 428).
So well has Lady Verney done her part, and so deep is the interest with which Sir Ralph and his family have inspired us, that when the end comes we are loth to part from him, and close the book with a sense of genuine regret. We long to hear more of these last years of the good knight's life, of his travels in Italy, and of his return to Claydon. We should like to read some more of those admirable letters of his, revealing, as they do, a singularly noble and faithful nature. There are plenty of them, we know, stored up among the treasures of the old Buckinghamshire house, and we may in due course of time hope to see the publication of some more of those interesting memorials. We are only sorry to think that they will not be given to the world by Lady Verney.
ART. VIII.—OXFORD AND OXFORD LIFE. Oxford and Oxford Life. Edited by J. WELLS, Fellow and
Tutor of Wadham College, Oxford. (London, 1892.) The conditions which go to make up Oxford life are so complex, and at the same time so variable, that it is, one may
almost say, impossible to produce any account which will give an accurate picture of it for more than a short time. The volume before us is indeed, practically, a new book, though the last edition, which it supersedes, was only published six years ago. Of the nine chapters of which it consists, five, we are told in the Preface, are absolutely new, and at the same time those chapters which had a more special interest, and dealt with the mode of preparation for the different schools,' have been removed, so that the bulk of the present edition is about half that of its predecessor.
There are comparatively few well-to-do families in the country which have not an interest of a more or less personal character in the life of the University, either from past, present, or possible future connexion with it. And to all these Mr. Wells's book will appeal on account of its vigour, its seriousness, and the true picture it gives of Oxford in the Present.' There are certainly a few minor points on which the present writer, as a resident tutor, would differ from some statements made in Mr. Wells's book, but they are, after all, unimportant, and he has no hesitation in saying that the book gives an excellent general account of Oxford life, much more likely to leave an accurate impression than the hasty visit of the traveller, or the often unfavourable contrast drawn by the old member who has gone down between the Oxford of his day and the Oxford of the present, a contrast which is based very often on somewhat shadowy reminiscences.
The purpose of the present writer is to traverse, to a large extent, the same ground as is traversed by Mr. Wells and his fellow-contributors, in the certainty that there are very many readers of this Review who will be glad to have a second opinion on ‘Oxford in the Present. Nothing will be said of 'Oxford in the Past,' the chapter with which the book opens, and very little will be said of the two concluding chapters, which deal with women's education at Oxford, and with the very important question of University Extension. The main portion of this paper will be concerned with the very numerous points of interest which are raised by the central chapters in the book.
The first thing to which reference may be made is the general ignorance of Oxford and Oxford life which is met with even where the subject is being discussed, as in the London newspapers, very much ex cathedra. A recent instance of this is the discussion of a short time back on Oxford expenses, when it was assumed as true that the revenues of the colleges went in maintaining the stock of common
room port, and the iniquity gravely censured. Less important, though sometimes amusing, and sometimes galling to personal ambition, are the mistakes of the fair sex on this subject. One lady of our acquaintance gravely assured us, wishing to enhance the reputation of a friend, that he was an M.A. and a B.A., as if the former degree were possible except through the latter, or meant anything more in respect of intellectual attainment—though why it should not mean something more is inexplicable. We can recall, too, the not unnatural indignation of a Hertford Scholar on being congratulated for having won a scholarship at Hertford. Rather more serious was the Cambridge man's assertion that a firstclass in Honour Moderations was not a greater honour than a first in the Previous examination at Cambridge-a mistake which will, however, perpetuate itself so long as the Times continues to devote a column to this Cambridge pass examination. A more serious form of ignorance is that shown by parents of their sons' life and progress during their university career. One knows how anxiously the school report is scanned, and how its arrival is dreaded by the youth conscious of a wasted term. And yet, as soon as this last and crowning stage of education is reached, parents seem utterly unmindful of what is happening in their sons' college career. It is only the consciousness that parents are ignorant of the difference in habits and ways between life at Oxford and life at home which allows that difference to be as marked as it often must be. One finds indeed, by experience, that few threats have such an immediate, though of course transient, effect as that of a letter home. Of course, school reports cannot be continued, even in a modified form, nor is it desirable that they should be ; but there are many cases, one cannot but think, in which a timely inquiry and a carefully worded answer would be an effective check on a career which threatened to tend downward.
A gloomy start this, it will be said, of a discussion on Oxford and Oxford life, and yet what one wants to prevent or—for that is impossible—to diminish, is the continuous waste of possibly useful careers that one sees around. When one sees, as one does see, such stress being laid, and rightly laid, on the advantages of an Oxford career, those who are on the spot cannot but ask, “What of those who have been ruined by it?' Fault has been found with Mr. Wells's book for its pessimistic tone, and to that criticisin the reply was made that if stress was laid on some of the defects of Oxford life it was merely with a view to their removal. A