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tion what the undergraduate may feel on such subjects. We have heard it stated that an eminent firm of contractors once declared that they would be willing to supply the ordinary hall dinners at less than one shilling per head, on the understanding that they were also to provide the college servants. We quite believe that they would make a fair profit out of the transaction. It is certain, at all events, that sundry of these kitchen farmers have made fortunes at the expense of the British parents who send their sons to the dearer colleges at Oxford.
It remains to make a few remarks on the subject of Oxford lodging-houses, which are nominally under the supervision of the University. Now, when we use the expression nominally under the supervision of the University,' we do not wish for an instant to imply that they are under anybody else's supervision. But we do plead guilty to a doubt as to their being really under any supervision at all. Certain delegates are appointed who, rumour says, sit for certain days in every week. And this statement we are quite willing to accept. In fact, so far as we know to the contrary, these gentlemen may sit every day and every hour of their lives; they certainly do not move much when their charge is concerned. Occasionally some new besom commences to sweep with some freedom at first. Raids have been made on lodgings, the story goes, where a servant girl, somewhat cleaner and better-looking than most of her class, was suspected of being likely to captivate the affections or undermine the morality of some over-susceptible youth. And the general result of these occasional fits of anxiety has been that the Oxford • slavey' is conspicuous beyond her fellows for slovenliness and generally unhealthy and unprepossessing exterior. But the really obnoxious character the lodging-house keeper himself—retains his vantage-ground unsuspected and triumphant. We are far from wishing to imply that there are no thoroughly honest and respectable lodging-house keepers in Oxford. We might even go so far as to say that, according to their own lights, they are honest as a class. As a class they are also unreasonably extortionate. Nor can we altogether blame them. Custom is a rigid master. It is too much the custom among the citizens of Oxford to imagine that the ordinary undergraduate has either the purse of Fortunatus, or is at any rate a bird who can stand being plucked. So long as the University or the individual colleges take no active steps to put the lodging-houses on a more satisfactory footing, so long will the undergraduates in lodgings be at the mercy of their landlords. Let us examine a little more closely the present system.
An authorised list is issued by the delegates of licensed lodgings, and the price of each lodging is duly registered. They range from 108. to 608. a week. But let not the confiding undergraduate, who, fresh from school, flies to neither extreme, but takes fairly good rooms at from 203. to 308.—let him not, we say, lay to his soul the flattering unction that the higher or lower sum represents anything like
the real cost of his apartments. The extras' he will find to be in an Oxford lodging a very important consideration. These extras vary not a little in amount at different houses. We will give an instance of what extras may amount to from personal experience. We took lodgings in Oxford not very long ago, not as a freshman but as having had some experience of lodgings in other towns. While we were actuated by motives of economy, we had our own private ideas of comfort, and we aspired to lodgings at 258. a week; comfortable rooms enough, but by no means luxuriously furnished. We were content with very plain food, and for some days imagined we were living weil within the margin of a modest income. At the end of the first week we wished to settle our account. Our landlord seemed to be quite hurt at the notion. Ready money was apparently no object to him. In fact he said so in almost as many words.
My gentlemen,' he was pleased to remark, "usually pay at the end of the term. We never care about being paid before.'
The extreme affability of the man awoke our suspicions, and we persisted in our request. In the course of the day our bill was brought. When we caught sight of the list of extras' we were no longer surprised that the production of the bill should have been delayed. We give the charges as we found them :
4 6 per week
These were the extras. The following was the scale of the ordinary charges :
Breakfast, consisting of tea, dry toast and
butter, with a couple of eggs
(our own cheese), with a pint of beer
38. 6d. to 5 A cup of tea (our own tea)
o per diem
In addition to this, a pound each of coffee, tea and sugar, had been purchased for our use.
In plain words, the Oxford lodging-house keeper considers himself justified in charging hotel prices for the meals which he supplies, and at the same time making his victims pay twice over for many separate items in the collective account. To live in lodgings at Oxford on the same footing as one would live in lodgings elsewhere, providing one's own food and paying one's own bills, is out of the question. The lodging-house keeper, like the kitchen farmer, enjoys a monopoly, and the demand for lodgings in the more central parts of the town is always at least equal to the supply.
'If you don't like the rooms, Sir, I've plenty of applications for them. Only, of course, you must pay for the term.' Such is the answer given to the undergraduate who may happen to discover at the end of his first week that he is expected to pay 508. for accommodation which he had contracted to receive at 258. In the majority of cases the discovery is made at the end of the first term. The Oxford freshman is of an unsuspicious turn of mind, and can see no reason why his own conduct in respect of looking at his weekly account should vary from "my other gentlemen,' who prefer to have their bill sent in at the end of term.
It has been urged in extenuation of these preposterous charges that lodging-house keepers at Oxford have only six months in the year during which to make their living. But the fact must not be lost sight of that the occupation of the lodgings at Oxford is during term-time almost a certainty, even under existing circumstances, and would be quite a certainty were some of the charges modified. Moreover the period of residence in Oxford constitutes a longer and a more certain season than that in London or sea-side places; and, after all, the cry of short seasons' is in every instance a mere excuse for extortionate prices. And we may remark that very few of the Oxford lodging-house keepers are entirely dependent on their lodgings for support. Most of them have some further definite occupation; many keep shops, and in some cases the production of the regular bill at the end of term is supplemented by an ingenious and unassailable shop account.'
Complaint to the delegates is generally ineffectual. The landlord is careful to keep within the letter, though he may violate the spirit, of the agreement signed at the beginning of each term. Yes, and there are cases where no complaint is made from prudential motives. What Jugurtha said of Rome holds good, we fear, of Oxford, Omnia sunt venalia,' and that especially in the matter of the lodging-house system. The boy-lodger is willing to overlook the landlord's excessive charges; the landlord-for there is a quid pro quo for everythingis equally ready to doctor the gate bill which is sent in every week to the college authorities. This is true of many lodging-houses, duly licensed by the University delegates, and therefore liable to be let to boys fresh from school.
That such a state of things should exist is as discreditable to University management as it is impossible that there should be no remedy for it. Neither the University as a body nor the individual colleges can be considered poor. The larger colleges, at any rate, with such a system of general accounts as we have given a specimen of, ought to be very rich, and these are the colleges which send most men into lodgings. What is there to prevent them from gradually getting into their own hands eligible lodging-houses, and putting in occupation as landlords superannuated servants, or other pensioners, whose charges should be fixed and payable through the college bursar. The new buildings which we see annually rising around us seem to be
the real cost of his apartments. an Oxford lodging a very in
pouch the University. It
žait those talked of Oxovary not a little in amour instance of what extras m
womes, for the purpose of took lodgings in Oxford
where the present type. First let
riil be time enough to invite as having had some we were actuated by ideas of comfort, a
a w even on the present system of fortable rooms er
by their present system of mawere content wi.
af money is spent in many colleges. were living we
ģere are informed in one quarter that of the first
er receives an annual fixed salary of seemed to be
ble percentage of the profits of the no object t
i atler resigned his situation in order to
ike on the ground that the latter was the end of t
d when, in addition to this, we see college treme:
een at Oxford rapidly acquiring fortunes,
Pl. Our own impression is that twenty years we ci that
angements of many of our colleges will have La pery sweeping reforms, or the majority of Oxford
ure in the calendar as non-ascripti, and will * stars of the licensed lodging-house keepers by fazeti u the principle of the present St. Catharine's
powers that be in Oxford to decide whether such
at all desirable.
Retirm is, as we have said said, breathing over the ioni, and amongst its partisans are to be found the
Bir Alma Mater's most distinguished sons. There is O FANTS hope that the changes in the matter of the Schools,
bring gradually introduced, will, under their guidance, clienges for the better. And if a University education * With it has, a beneficial effect on those who receive it, by mit the privilege be extended as widely as possible. But River the most essential step towards opening the universities Refer classes of society must consist in giving the means of
ng to such of the present class of undergraduates as have
and that can only be done by a considerable reduction of uvel expenses.
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POLITICAL LEADERS AND THE POLITICAL FUTURE.
HORT as has been our experience of the present Parliament, and
the character of its legislation, it may be possible to infer the political material of which it is made, and how far it contains elements of strength or hope for the political future.
No question can be so important for the United Kingdom as the quality of its forthcoming statesmanship; and it is impossible for anyone who takes a large and enlightened view of the prospects of the country to say that this prospect was, during the last Parliament, an encouraging one. It was not only that the statesmen then in charge of the Government could not, on the most flattering hypothesis, be regarded as approaching any ideal of greatness ; no men would be more astonished at being supposed to have any claims to such a title than some of the most sensible of the late Ministry; but it was that not a few members of the Ministry before them had become discredited, both by failure of political effort and lack of mutual understanding and sympathy. No Ministry ever fell more helplessly than the Ministry of Mr. Gladstone in 1874. The blow which displaced them literally knocked them to pieces, and they parted as the dissevered members of an ill-jointed column which not merely lies overthrown, but splintered into numerous fragments. How far the great leader may have been responsible for the result it is not our present purpose to inquire. No one, certainly—not even the most indiscriminate admirer of Mr. Gladstone--can maintain that he acted a great or heroic part in the emergency which ensued, and which, while it carried Mr. Disraeli to power with a Cabinet of respectable country gentlemen and business officials, shattered and dispersed, as if by. rout, the great Liberal party. In the moment of its recent. exaltation this dismal rout bas been forgotten, and it is perhaps well that it should be so. But it is the part of the journalist, who writes not merely for the hour, and who believes that politics form a great art as well as a clever game, to look both before and after, and to study political forces not merely as they emerge into sight, but as they live and grow with a past as well as a future before his eyes. No. 611 (NO. CXXXI. N. s.)