Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Oxford Freshman 1825

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Loretta reports:
     Ascending a dark stone staircase till the oaken beams of the roof proclaimed we had reached the domiciliary abode of genius, I found myself in the centre of my future habitation, an attic on the third floor: I much doubt if poor Belzoni, when he discovered the Egyptian sepulchre, could have exhibited more astonishment. The old bed-maker, and the scout of my predecessor, had prepared the apartment for my reception by gutting it of every thing useful to the value of a cloak pin: the former was engaged in sweeping up the dust, which, from the clouds that surrounded us, would not appear to have been disturbed for six months before at least. I had nearly broken my shins, on my first entrance, over the fire-shovel and bucket, and I was now in more danger of being choked with filth.
     "Who inhabited this delightful place before, Mark?"
     "A mad wag, but a generous gentleman, Sir, take notice, one Charles Rattle, Esq., who was expelled college for smuggling, take notice: the proctor, with the town marshal and his bull dogs, detected him and two others one night drawing up some fresh provision in the college plate-basket. Mr. Rattle, in his fright, dropped the fair nun of St. Clement's plump upon the proctor, who could not understand the joke; but, having recovered his legs, entered the college, and found one of the fair sisters concealed in Mr. Rattle's room, take notice. In consequence he was next day pulled up before the big wigs, when, refusing to make a suitable apology, he received sentence of expulsion, take notice."
     "He must have been a genius," quoth I, "and a very eccentric one too, from the relics he has left behind of his favourite propensities."
      In one corner of the room lay deposited a heap of lumber, thrown together, as a printer would say, in pie, composed of broken tables, broken bottles, trunks, noseless bellows, books of all descriptions, a pair of muffles, and the cap of sacred academus with a hole through the crown (emblematical, I should think, of the pericranium it had once covered), and stuck upon the leg of a broken chair. The rats, those very agreeable visitors of ancient habitations, were seen scampering away upon our entrance, and the ceiling was elegantly decorated with the smoke of a candle in a great variety of ornamented designs, consisting of caricatures of dignitaries and the Christian names of favourite damsels.
The English Spy [Part 1.], 1825.
Illustrations from the book, courtesy Project Gutenberg


Isobel Carr said...

Wonderful! I've missed this somehow. Must go and download a copy (I love that we can do this).

nightsmusic said...

Do you suppose the phrase,'take notice,' was the precursor to 'you know?' ;o)

No wonder people were sick all the time, the rats were so rife!

Anonymous said...

jane silhouette

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