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[30] The bells sound for prayer; and you hear all varieties of peals, from the imperious notes of ‘Great Tom,’ to the softer strains of Magdalen and Merton,—

Answering temples with obedient sound
Peal to the night, and moan sad music round.

But your own imagination will supply you with the natural emotions incident to this place. While here I have seen most of the heads of houses and the tutors, and have derived much knowledge with regard to the system of study and the points of police.1 Some of the tutors have been so kind as to write out abstracts of the studies, and particularly of the system of examination for degrees: I hope I may be able to do some good with this information on my return. The minutes of the expenses I have been furnished with; and I have established relations here which will enable me at any time to command any information on the subject, which our friends may desire. I have been charmed to find that there is a bona fide system of examination for degrees, so that an idler and a dunce cannot get the academic laurel. I was much struck by the gentlemanly appearance of all the students; they were not rough, but all seemed, if I may so say, of gentle blood: these things, however, I will explain at home.

Athenaeum Club, Dec. 14, 1838.

I came up from Oxford, after a most delightful residence, to dine with Serjeant Wilde, and go down to Cambridge to-day, starting in a few minutes. I already have engagements which will absorb the four days I purpose devoting to this place. From Cambridge I shall pass to Milton Park, to spend Christmas or some of its holidays with Lord Fitzwilliam.

It is now a year since I left America. How much I have seen in that time, and what ample stores I have laid by of delightful reminiscence and of liberal instruction! Thankful am I that I was able to conceive my present plan of travel, and, though contrary to the advice of dear friends, to put it in execution before I had grown indifferent to these things; and while, with the freshness of comparative youth, I could enter into the spirit of all that I see. But now I begin to turn my thoughts to the future. Tell me how I shall find myself on my return; what I can do in my profession; what will be expected of me; what difficulties I shall encounter; and what aids enjoy. Write me of these things; and if you write immediately on receipt of this (if it goes by the steamer), I shall get the answer before I leave London. I have seen some Boston papers, and how petty, inconceivably petty, did that tempest strife at your last election seem! I saw the various summonses to party meetings, and the split in the ranks of the Whigs, occasioned by Mr. Bond.2 I could hardly believe that honest men, of elevated views, could have taken the smallest interest in such affairs.

1 The warden of Merton College, and Lady Carmichael, invited him for dinner on Dec. 10.

2 Reference to a controversy in the nomination of members of the Legislature, which grew out of legislation on the liquor question.

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Richard Henry Wilde (2)
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