Essays and Reviews

by Archibald Lampman

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley


College Days Among Ourselves



Most men before they have passed the meridian of life retain a pretty distinct recollection of College days, and all the social enjoyments, duties, disappointments—and perhaps irregularities—connected with them—memories which are for the most part infinitely pleasant to a man— saving here and there a shadow or two, representing no doubt a fine or other deserved punishment for the irregular portions of his career. For indeed the delights of them must depend much upon the manner in which he has spent these three short collegiate years—in fact whether he has chosen to labour diligently over the narrow and rugged path of classical and mathematical learning, or has preferred an easier grade—social enjoyment inside of College and out, yet mingled with not a little rambling and desultory reading, perhaps the more beneficial course of the two, or lastly has occupied himself solely in sowing the traditional "wild oats"—sometimes a rank and luxuriant crop, when sown on fertile soil—taking many a year of bitter digging and hoeing in after days to root them out. To any but one of the latter class, these College reminiscences must be very interesting as representing the thoughts and habits of days when life was fresh upon him—before the stream had grown dark with the mud of restraining banks—and the faculties were free to wander as they would. Oftentimes the echo of some well remembered chorus—barbarous enough no doubt and causing the musical expert to grind his teeth vindictively, but infinitely sweet to the reflective graduate, for whom so much pleasure is bound up in it—will rouse a host of fleeting visions—for old songs, which is one of the chief delights of music, always come hand in hand with a train of memories—he will recollect the fear and trembling with which he sat for the first time before the green baize covered tables at matriculation, dreading the revelation of the bulletin board, that harmless bulletin board that never brought anything but good news in those days—the silent awe with which he gazed as a new fledged freshman upon the head of the College and other haughty functionaries, to say nothing of the whole august body of the seniors—dark shadows that floated day and night grimly before his imagination—certain rankling snubs received from the same on occasions, when his youthful spirit dared to uplift itself beyond the bound of due respect, and which in the depth of his soul he determined to measure out to the last extremity upon the succeeding batch of tyros—songs shouted at unseemly hours of the night and accompanied upon instruments not found within the category of a brass-band, bringing down the deserved wrath of the sleepless Dean—wordy wranglings in the institute, that first battle ground of future declaimers from pulpit and stump, furnishing in its altered and re-altered, contradictory, incomprehensible constitution a fertile field for the subtle debater—the St. Simon and St. Jude’s dinner, grand yearly blow out of the students and their graduate friends, with its glimmering of sherry, clattering (sometimes breaking) of glasses, unnatural guzzling of oysters, uproarious choruses, grandiloquent speeches, solemn toasts, and more or less silly answers—Saturday morning, therapy day for all the misdemeanors of the week, the old Provost grim and rebukeful, the cloudy browed Dean with his fatally accurate lists of chapels and lectures missed, gatings and reprimands—Convocation day, with gaudy robed chancellor and hooded dignataries [sic], barbarous choruses and ribald jokes, eliciting dark looks from the Provost yet a smile sometimes in spite of himself— Episcopon, the College Punch, transcribed and illustrated by pen, how well he will recollect sitting some cold winter night in a crowded gathering before one of those delightful old grate fires which a few of our larger rooms yet boast; a pipe, carefully treasured from his freshman term between his contented lips and his pewter by his side, listening to the jingling rhymes of unknown authors, and drawing his pipe from his mouth now and then to join in a boisterous outbreak of cheers and laughter at the expense of some blushing delinquent, who doubtless enjoys the thrust as well as the rest of the audience—and it will be perhaps with a grim smile that he will look back out of the bitterness of the realities of life, stretching in shadow behind and before, upon the wonderful castles in the air which he built in those strange days, hardly to be realized, when he sat contentedly upon his coal-box, sucking the sweet fragrance from a new bought pipe and with no worldly care upon him save the morrow’s lecture to be read and the dim shadow of the examination looming afar like some dark and monstrous Cape Horn, which the mariner needs must round but upon which he is very likely to split in the attempt.

In our time some of these old subjects of recollection have passed away altogether from the region of reality, and are now indeed naught but memories. To the old graduate returning from a far country at this day, the key stone in his picture of the place is gone, viz: the late Provost—a grim old man to those whose acquaintance with him extended no further than the narrow round of college discipline and to whose minds he only presented himself as in some way intimately connected with the huge, uninviting old volumes of Theology, which range themselves upon the lower shelves in his own lecture room—yet a man, whom all respected, and some, viz: those who really knew him, loved—an able, deeply learned and above all a heart[y][,] honest, steadfast man, knowing no rule but duty, and whom many cease not to look to still with deep feelings of admiration and affection. That well-known figure with its fine gray massive head, slightly bent in latter years—a central point around which all other recollections cluster—has passed out from the daily walk of Trinity life and another reigns in its stead.

We have innovations too in our time—such as the piano for instance, the sweetest and most worldly of all instruments, whose ringing notes fraught with reminiscences from the outside multitude intrude harshly upon the reflections of the hermit student who fondly imagines that he has completely caged himself within the four dingy wall of his chamber—breaking the bright fabric of solitary castle-building which he has woven around himself—even as a breath of air from a half open door will destroy the fair integrity of the cloud of smoke rings which ascends from his lips; ah, poor piano, long suffering instrument—daily shrieking beneath the inexorable battering of the muscular musician, whose only criterion of excellence would seem to be volume of sound; or mournfully accompanying the revolutions of a party of dancers, who waddle, hop, or skim, according as they happen to be in the various progressive stages of the delicate art—we pity thee, and some few wish thee gone.

But the deepest reason why college reminiscences must linger always very pleasantly somewhere in the heart of every man, who has not grown to be a mere money-making automaton, is that friendships, as lasting and genuine as any can be, were formed there—friendships which grew together strangely and unaccountably, founded variously, some few upon similarity [of] disposition, many upon similarity of tastes and pursuits, most of all upon some mysterious sympathy which he did not understand and never shall. So that in these after years he may look about him and feel that he is not utterly alone in this measureless waste, that there are still one or two that would be very glad to meet him again, who would cheerfully help him if he were in need, nay would perhaps sacrifice much in his behalf—a reflection infinitely bright and consoling to him—leading his mind back in the train of association to the place where such friendships were formed—suggesting memories of books read and discussed together, evening talks often prolonged into the small hours before a blazing grate in winter or by an open casement in the warm months of summer, long walks beyond the Humber for botanizing and geologizing purposes, a practice which has died out of late in College—and investing Trinity’s gray walls with a significance, which they had not, while he lived within them.


The portion of college life within these walls, which produces the most lasting and pleasant memories, seems to be that of freshmanhood, uninitiated tyroism—the spring time, in fact, when our hearts were as green as the May grass in the Ravine. What a time it was with us, and has been with most men! The transition from strict school discipline—the rude tyranny of master, cane and imposition hanging depressingly over the head of the simple, marble-playing urchin, to the sudden and dazzling glory of college freedom and embryo manhood. How cloudlessly happy we were in those days, when the broad wing of paternal protection still hung soothingly over us, shutting out with its obvious shadow all the realities of future existence, when the ancestral coin still jingled safely in our capacious pockets— before the ominous Little-go had brought the first darkening shadow, sobering us a little, and the final gloomy approach of bachelorhood—grand consummation of all things—had reminded us of the inexorable stride of time, bringing sad glintings of coming labor and care, mingled with depressing doubts of a future sufficiency of most necessary bread and butter. How solemn an expression rests upon the countenance of the new-hooded bachelor, half strutting in a kind of mild exultation, a Nestor in his own opinion, far removed from the poor, ragged-gown under-graduate, who looks at him admiringly and fearfully at the same time—yet half sad at heart to feel that the old-time security of these grey walls has passed from him forever, fading out of sight in the growing gloom of independent manhood—once longed for but now dreaded. How green we seem to our reflective selves to have been in those freshman times, quite old now by comparison: methinks we feel half inclined to examine ourselves in a looking-glass, whether or not our hair be grey or there be wrinkles on our aged faces. What a buoyancy of spirit we had, and what an exemplary regularity we displayed during our first term, gradually falling off, however, as we observed and humbly imitated the blase habits of our seniors. How inimitably regular we were in our attendance at lectures—not yet having acquired the senior’s facility for neglecting them—and how comparatively unblemished were our translations, venturing even an occasional deviation from Bohn, and sundry bold excursions into the unexplored region of Liddell and Scott. How astonishing was the integrity of our forces in chapel, where we sat and shivered on dreary November mornings, gazing yearningly at the empty pews on the senior side and questioning within ourselves whether we had courage to do as those bold spirits did. How we delighted in the general meetings of the College—vast expense of wind and words about nothing—wherein the orators of the place, much admired by us, ventilated their ideas with all the verbose formality of a parliamentary debate: we liked them for their novelty. How loyal we were upon the foot-ball ground, even turning out, of our own free will, and needing not the earnest exhortations of one or two Rugbyite fanatics who were wont to scour the College in our time, flinty-hearted to all excuses, and making day hideous with the clangor of the dinner-bell, until senior and freshman were compelled to turn out for peace of minds’ sake. How desperately we fought in the scrimmages, repentance coming afterwards in the shape of black eyes, lame legs and general debility. How proud the feebler of us felt when once we succeed[ed] in getting hold of that precious ball, only to be dislocated, flayed and pounded to a pulp for our pains.

How above all we enjoyed those occasional students revels—hardly to be termed Bacchanalian, being rather presided over by the milder Collegiate deities of Labatt and O’Keefe—when senior and freshman met together in some large vacant room and drowned care in truly Gothic style—ceremony nil, capacity immense, bread and cheese and beer in noble abundance, the whole soothed and sweetened by the vigorous and appropriate efforts of a couple of Italian minstrels hired for the occasion. Who will forget the genuine ring of the old college choru[s]es at such times, vast volume of sound, strong-lunged, roaring—rolling, with all its multiplicity of keys, through hall and corridor afar even to the wondering ears of the drowsy Dean. Who will forget the cheery speeches made then, and the hearty outflow of genial good fellowship over the last disappearing morsels of bread and cheese and the last sweet drops of ever flattening beer; or the uncertain waltzes and fragmentary quadrilles, which usually succeeded in the main hall, to the music of the minstrels.

Will the grave senior, in his third year, or still graver graduate, in his law office, ever forget the long, protracted conversations over old times, which he listened to with such reverence, in the long evenings of his first term, perhaps when some condescendingly urbane senior would grant him the honor of sitting in his room and consuming his beer and tobacco, deigning to discourse at great length to a group of awe-stricken tyros gathered about him upon the marvelous and incredible adventures of his previous college career, adding also still more wonderful legends of the dim-remembered past which had preceded him, strange doings in the city, daring freaks in the College, contentions with the authorities, mysterious and intricate devices for smoothing the difficulty of passing examinations—all stirring the spirit of emulation in the listener to its inmost core, and inspiring him to the commission of certain lawless deeds which in time, perhaps, brought down upon him the wrath of aforesaid authorities and convinced him that a quiet course of milder recreation was, after all, most conducive to his peace of mind.

There has been a great change in the last few years in the relation of the years to one another. The line between senior and freshman was strongly drawn in our time. We were seldom invited to a senior’s room, and when we were we found it best to be extremely respectful. Any unseemly behavior on our part was sternly repressed by this aristocratic class, who reserved to themselves the sole right of all riotous conduct. In those days strange pranks were played on innocent, unsuspecting freshmen. Can the members of a certain year ever forget that memorable scene at Convocation three years ago, when under solemn direction from the grave-faced head of the College, they marched up to the top of the new hall and coolly established themselves in the chief seats, destined for the honoured fathers of the University, amid the astonished stare of the graduates, the wondering gaze of fair faces in the body of the Hall and the intense and uproarious glee of the demons in the gallery—taking it all in [  ] course as a mark of admiration for themselves. Ah! crimson were the blushes and meek the bended heads when the smiling lips of the Dean showed them the never-to-be-forgotten error they had fallen into.

Jokes there were too of a rather more practical nature—the gauntlet for instance—resorted to when the unfortunate freshman year happened to be guilty of some offense distasteful to the moral sense of the judicial senior. You will perhaps remember some cold winter night, when you were pulled from your midnight dreams and led, blindfold, to the entrance hall—a dark vista opening on your restored vision of two parallel rows of stalwart executioners armed with pillows—how a tall senior, after recounting grimly to you your crimes and misdeeds and solemnly warning you against the commission of such in future, consigned you calmly to that glimmering fanning-mill of pillows, through which you plunged and waded helplessly to the safe resting ground beyond, where, under guard, you gaze back with unspeakable delight upon your successors, dancing and hopping in the same muscular chaldron.

There was one senior prank, however, in the olden time, more reprehensible than either of these, and which has, we are glad to say, long since been discontinued: that was what was known as "routing," a rather serious and disagreeable jest. For instance: scene—dark winter night in a silent freshman’s bedroom—freshman sleeping placidly—enter stealthily two dark, prowling figures on tiptoe—one takes one end of the bed, the other the other—bed turns neatly upside down, freshman buried beneath, right in the middle; a good solid mound of bed mattresses, blankets, etc., resting on top of him—exit prowlers rapidly—freshman, now fully awake to the difficulties of his position, proceeds with some pain, to excavate himself, which, in the course of the night, he does—proceeds to smooth down his bruises, whispering all the while softly to himself, and searching round for some convenient things to throw up and down the corridor, outside; but finding this of no avail, gathers up the scattered ruin of his bed furniture and settles himself down to a couple of hours of ardent reflection, revolving a dozen or two of etherial schemes of vengeance to be consummated, if possible, in his second year. Such was "routing," a thing which has now, fortunately, become no more than a legend of the forgotten past, the authorities having some years ago wisely suppressed it by requiring every senior of that time to sign an agreement to have nothing to do with it.

We always took great interest in the institute in that pleasant freshman time. Seldom did any of us miss a meeting. The novelty of the thing was vastly attractive, the strange formality—almost ridiculous, considering the smallness of its numbers; the elaborate constitution, bearing the impress of all the embryo wisdoms of the place for thirty years, work of many careful hands that have passed away to the four corners of the earth and forgotten it and its abode long ago; carefully worded clauses, to be ever flung in the teeth of the contumacious member by those sturdy conservative Scribes and Pharisees learned in the law, the members of the Institute Council. Wilt thou ever forget the tremendous ebullitions of party spirit that would now and then result from the ghastly proposition of some mischief-making heretic to add a new clause to said constitution, the desperate contentions, the wrathful harangues, sometimes degenerating into promiscuous shouting of all hands on their legs together, requiring an iron-willed chairman to reduce order out of chaos—thou wouldst have thought the liberties of the Fatherland were at stake.

Shall time ever wipe away from our memories the vision of the first night of our admission to the Institute, how we were escorted ceremoniously to the august presence by two ushers publicly appointed for that purpose—how, after the performance of various evolutions about the room to the intense amusement of the spectators, we shook warmly the extended hands of the smiling chairman and still more widely grinning secretary, and finally attempted a speech, subject to extremely candid criticisms shouted from the body of the hall. Some few of us, too, have reason to look back pityingly upon the first dread time when we sat among the six debaters on the dais and endeavored to address that terrible array of whiskered auditors—seeming the very embodiment of criticism—who sat listening below—the careful preparation of hours dissolving itself into a few stammered words, accompanied by the melancholy shivering of our knees, a brief jumble of disconnected thoughts about as correctly arranged as the geographical specimens in the College Museum.

With how strange, half-bitter a reflection must the sensitive man, who has become case-hardened by life experiences—convincing him of the fact that men are but small things after all—look back upon that young age when imagination seemed to govern him in all things, when everything practical had a terrible magnitude for him, every human being seemed a vast intelligence, before which his own was as nothing, every pair of eyes a mysterious witchery that burrowed to the bottom of his soul and laid it bare to his discomfiture. He has discovered, since, that his sensitive fancies were wrong; but yet perhaps he regrets that much simple sincerity and tender hearted sympathy have passed away with them.


Commend me the man who can thoroughly enjoy a college life; who can sit with his friends before a college grate fire, imbibe his beer without heeding its flatness, consume his bread and cheese without regarding the corruption that has marred the same, talk with flashing eyes and eager lips over old times and many another well-worn theme that forms a bond of union between the fleeting hearts that beat one moment side by side, the next are parted like dissevered leaves, and feel that he is passing through an era of his existence that will haunt his memory with its life and light for many a dreary year. The man who cannot be touched with these associations, whose lips are not loosened when these memories are brought back to him is not worth knowing.

The St. Simon and St. Jude’s dinner has come again to give a new lease of old life and renew the vigor of the past once more. We turn in through the time honored gate that graces (?) the college front, and the lights are gleaming over the gravel of the walk and the October wind fluttering the dead leaves across the lawn. Perhaps we note with strange feelings the light that shines from a certain room—ours once, years ago, and wonder who is laughing out his hot-blooded days there now; it seems as if we had nothing to do but to laugh then; how seldom the free smile comes to our lips now; yet, away with such thoughts, are we not within very smell of the dinner we have eaten so many times with increasing comfort. The old porch, haunted with recollections of many an evening’s chat in old days and the forbidden pipe rapidly descending into the pocket on the appearance of a don, is silvered by the clear moonlight, and we halt for a moment to gaze at the gray turrets, weird looking and fantastic in the strong light and shade. The clinging creepers climbing over the rough stones are grown rusty now, and worn with chill winds and hanging shadows. The din and fever of the great city creep discordantly into this moonlight scene of quaint rest and silent memory. Surely we have turned into some strange enchanted place fast barred forever against the horror of life, where the rude struggle of rough shoulders for bread is never known, where the fierce word is never spoken and the ring of laughter never dies. Methinks we could stand here forever pondering over the clear, white light gleaming along the walks and skipping from turret to turret unutterably still, the wind-shaken creepers hanging from about the stone windows, the dead, withered flowers drooping beside the walk, and the rugged trees, leaf-reft and gray, springing like resolute souls from the great shadow of the ravine, and never think once of the confusing maze of strife beyond the toil for life and the ceaseless tramp of hurrying feet that knows not rest and peace. But enough of moralizing: we stir the large-limbed porter—important official—from his evening drouse and tramp the echoing corridors again—halls that have echoed often to our skipping feet and joyous song; and now they echo to a well-known refrain, some one is carrolling forth with bursting lungs—can we ever forget it? [.] Oh, how often have our hearts gone forth like reaching hands to the old days and the old faces when the breath [of] that memoried song hath struck like sudden poetry across the dull heart. They claim for the sense of smell the strangest power of awakening memory. We feel like contesting the question[;] who fails on hearing an air ever heard before to call back with a rush of reollection the long forgotten circumstances connected with it? A vivid thing of visions, clearer than any other power could produce. Aye, it is the old St. Simon and St. Jude song, sacred to the memory of many a panting youth, skimming with light legs along the sere grass of the dun-shadowed ravine, struggling over the high fence, dropping from thence on his feet, hands or head, no matter which, pounding through the wet and mud up the steep hillside and sprawling over the mark amid cheers and congratulations. We stand for a while in the dim-lit hall giving sway to the fleeting glimpses of fireside evenings, companionable pipes and common tobacco, old stories and eager talks over favorite authors, wasting away the long hours like moments, which the ever-living notes of that sweet chorus call up. We are roused at last by the sight of the members of the wine committee speeding round the corners with two vast jugs, very amphoræ, filled with no Massic or Falernian, but what suits our rude but appreciative stomachs just as well. Anon, we pursue those fleeting shadows to a small, neat room in the Lower Western Corridor, where they have taken covert, there we find them engaged in pouring out the bright red liquor into,—hum— decanters? alas, no, into lager-beer bottles. Then the bell rings, far through the dusty corridors its well-known, cheery call, and dons, smiling and rubbing their hands, guests and gowned students of high and low degree, all eager and hungry-eyed are gathering fast and thick into the hall above the dining room   *   *   *   and here we are again—graduates smiling from the dais, waiters flying, tongues rattling, tables glittering with this world’s delights, the placid oyster skipping from plate to mouth, red wine gleaming to the brim of three dozen glasses. Ah, well, to-morrow will bring its dead hopes and weary thought again; now let us surrender ourselves to the past and all that is bright and glorious in it; wine to loosen the soul from the limbs, so that we scarce feel that the imagination, is hampered by them, and swift talk and ringing laughter to fill the imagination with their wondrous light. Sure these new walls of the dining hall are but ordinary things, many finer and grander in the world, yet they seem to us now something out the world, woven with marvelous beauties never seen before, filled with visions borrowed from the ends of the earth and the ends of time. So let it be, ‘twill be something to remember when the gloom returns. Toasts come and go—sweetest speeches we think we ever heard, for who can venture to his old home of old years, years of quickening blood, and not say something warm and kindly. Every one has his word of simple wisdom that goes home to the heart. Let us listen and draw close to him.

Now the prizes are delivered for the steeple-chase; each big-legged winner stalking up proudly after his meed, which is generally something valuable and useful. All stand reverently to sing  [.] The youngest freshman pipes from his silvery lips the weighty praises of the ladies, the hands are joined for "Auld Lang Syne," grand old-memory song, that will last as long as memory lasts. It is the solemn expression of that clinging to days gone by which draws hope for the future. When we go out from the college halls at term’s end we join hands in the vestibule and inspire ourselves with its lingering notes.

The hall is cleared save for the scampering of the wine committee, who secure the remnants of drinkables; the grad, the undergrad, the freshman and the tug, anomalous being, stroll forth with smiling faces, the latter none the worse for wine but surely replete with a goodly store of oysters and cold turkey, his placid face beaming with innermost contentment. And here I may be pardoned for a digression upon tugs, who are now, happily, a thing of the past. The tug, readers, ye who have never been within the sacred walls of Trinity, was of yore, one of that interesting but rather wearying class who entered college merely for a two years’ divinity course without degree, and generally not over-burdened with information in general, who acquired during residence such scanty gleanings of theological lore, such small insight into the hidden depths of the Greek testament, and the secret mysteries of the Hebrew alphabet, as led them to suppose themselves invincible on all matters of religious dispute, and induced them on all occasions when rubric or vestment could be in the slightest degree concerned, to discourse with widening eyes, flowing tongues and spreading fingers, much to the disgust of the more worldly minded among their auditors, and to the delight and edification of the ministerially inclined. But, sooth to tell, the tugs were always a brave and valiant race, and persistent in the struggle against their spiritual enemies, and though sometimes enticed into lawless hubbubs and worldly rows, levelled at the ears of the sleeping Dean, yet on the whole were irreproachable by dons or men. The one great spiritual enemy, however, which caused them fiercest struggle and deepest anxiety, was to be found in the daily reading of the lessons in chapel. The long words in the scripture were an unending strife to them. Many a time might you hear in the dull afternoons the sonorous voice of the unwearied tug sounding from the chapel in battle with his shadowy foes in tireless preparation for the desperate encounter of evening and morning. What an inspirating sight it was to see him mount the platform before the lectern, his firm lips pressed and eyes gleaming for the fray. How desperate was his look when he beheld his enemy glaring like a clawed thing from the sacred page; how he smote, now a thrust, now a back stroke, cleaving him asunder, here a head, there a leg scattering his dissevered syllables among the admiring spectators. How his face flushed with triumph and his large hands trembled with excitement when the contest was over and he had slaughtered all his enemies. The tugs were always great eaters, making up in beef and pudding for what they resisted in other forms of enjoyment—indeed they are reputed to have taken their name from the merciless manner in which they would "tug" at the steward’s beef. However this may be, the genuine tug has now passed from us, and the times shall know him no more; he is now required to burden his disputatious intellect with a little of the worldly dross of a common arts course.


Sociability is the enemy of grinding. Let us start out with this axiom. The college undergraduate who indulges himself in a superfluity of "going out" to evening parties, and the necessary subsequent afternoon calling, is not likely to devote himself very ardently to his Algebra or his Liddell and Scott. But in all probability the worst species of conviviality as regards grinding is that which assails the good-humoured student within doors. There always is, always was, and always will be some particular room or rooms in college where the dreary Dagon of grinding is cast flat upon his knees, and the bright-eyed, tobacco-lipped angel of beer and cheese eternally enthroned triumphant in his stead—and these ever- incense-breathing shrines are the perpetual bane and sweet ruin of the plodding prizeman. Alas for the broad-humoured undergrad. whose smiles are so sweet and whose word of welcome so hearty that they bring every tender soul to him as a candle lures the moths. And alas, still more for the allured. Yet how could they help it. Behold your well-fed second-year man, calm and comfortable in the sufficiency of a good solid tea, slowly ascending the stairs after a short romp in the music room; how steadily he enters his room, closes the door and slips the lock, places his book before him, lights his fire, shoves away the tobacco jar into a remote, obscure, corner behind his lexicon, shoves his stout fingers through his hair, knits his brows, compresses his determined lips—surely he is lost for good and all in the dream of dead poets, and the lingering music of that soft, strong, sonorous old dead tongue that men shall never forget. What vision of this little monotonous College world shall now charm away from his soul the entrancing agony of Oedipus, the deep, wise, god-like voice of Antigone, and the vast poetry, the sweet and stormy imagery of the Sophoclean chorus—surely none. But anon, the eyes begin to wander, first toward the fire, then slowly, hesitatingly, longingly to the tobacco jar; great cavern of dreams, surging with immaterial mist, through which the gentle genii of kindly good fellowship are always a-grin, and apparently never frowning. The empty, dead ale bottles by his table side, discreetly ranged in their rows behind his sofa, cast up a newly suggestive, boundlessly insinuating savour of old evening chats. The great, blind, passionate face of Oedipus is dying fast, and up between him and the reader rises like a morning mist the swift vision of laughing lips, veiled about with a pathless cloud of dream-inwoven, fragrant incense, light foam and froth of clear amber lymph, and the savour of tale and song. He rises, seats himself in his arm-chair in front of the fire, wheels the book-holder round before his face, makes a desperate effort to banish the living temptations. But alas, he has lit his pipe! The thin, white-blue jets carry his eyes to the coal heap in the grate, that fascinating fire-world cut into every form of mountain, glen and palace turret, fashioned for the very enchaining of the restless fancies of men. Oedipus wanes again, dying away into indistinguishable shade, only gleaming out occasionally to startle him. The wandering hand involuntarily moves the book-rack away to give the dreamer a wider view of the fire. A sound of cheery voices calling invitations to each other out in the corridor thrills him, and a moment after he hears a clattering of active heels down the stairs, down, down to clanking stones of the buttery—it is as the sound of some merry, irresistible cheese-god rapping at the very threshold of his stomach—then a silence, and the voice of Mr. J. calls, "I say, S., come down and carry up the jug, like a good fellow." That is the death-blow to Oedipus. He is so uncommonly thirsty to-night; he feels the very froth and flavour of the beer between his teeth; in silent struggle he sucks his lips. Alas! a knock and he opens the door—a head, just a black curly head and an irresistible gleam of full laughing lips appears: "You miserable old grinder, come round and have a glass of beer." Oedipus is dead; the clouds are hurled away from his tomb, and everything is sweet and serene.

I have known a man to nail up on his door a placard something to this purpose: "Office hours in the evening from 9:30 till 11, at all other times engaged." But it was no manner of use. At any hour of the night you might enter and most probably find the proprietor seated at his table in a prettily furnished, soft carpeted, well pictured and carded room before a delicious fire—with his books in front of him, to be sure, but then—a fragrant cup of cocoa in one hand and a glorious, thin, crumbling, iced and chocolated slab of Greek-routing cake in the other; no more of the grave wisdom of learning in his eyes than there is in the face of the funny-man of a Yankee newspaper in the midst of the composition of his most mirthful article. Around him you will find his friends basking in the wide sunlight of chocolate cake, or cooled by the enticing shade of the steaming cocoa. Through the cocoa fragrance oozes that other omnipotent steam, streaming from a yard of clay in a distant corner supported by one hand, while the other grasps a pewter brim-filled from the never-failing casks of the regions haunted by the gods below. Here are cooling draughts, delicious morsels, old yarns, everlasting songs—Oedipus will do very well for to-morrow morning after breakfast.

But months go by; the snow vanishes like the smoke dreams that had no touch of reality, the hot months come with swarm of teasing insects from the cool, moonlit ravine and the drunken, crazy pinch-bug butting the window-pane or flinging himself recklessly round the gas-lit room. Still for a while these ever-gushing, genial, too-lovable mortals do little, spending the long, golden afternoons chatting under the shades of the wide oaks, dotting the grounds, or rambling through the jingling summer town, or up the ravine walks, shaded from heat and sound, or westward to the lake, the park and the Humber. The evenings go by much as before, minus the coal heaps; but the face of Oedipus grows very little clearer—till at length the day of trial comes, and wet towels turban the careless heads, and the drink now is strong tea to keep your poor Greek-weary eyes wide open, you know, and give you a slight chance of giving some barely acceptable account of Oedipus in the day of examinations. The day is past; a slim, shrivelled list is pasted up and down the fatal board, telling a grand total tale of vanished plugs and dead beer-bottles, and so on to the end. Mr. Z. scans the board with an unchanging face, and smiles in deathless imperturbable good humour, makes a joke and says something about doing better next time. I believe he hardly cares, great-hearted soul; his humour is too wide and sweet to let him disturb himself with a paltry pluck in some trifling subject; and yet, during some of those glorious summer evenings, when the streets are jingling with the calmed flow of life, and the music and sound of the dance are stealing through his windows, old age-worn Oedipus will be before him still, blank and frowning like fate, it seems to him for ever and ever. Moral—When you grind light no fire or little, a meagre smoky one perhaps that shall not tempt you; sit with your back to it; keep the tobacco jar fast locked in the cupboard, have no odorous beer bottles about, answer no knocks, but keep tight hold of your hair with both hands.