Gwaith Alun/College Life
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gan John Blackwell (Alun)
TO THE REV. C. B. CLOUGH, MOLD
Jesus College, Oxford,
December 16th, 1824
Upon the whole, I find College life far less irksome than I had anticipated. The change, from the bosom of a family to a cloister, was certainly not very pleasant. Yet upon that account I have less to regret than many: my disposition or taste never quarrels with solitude. In one instance I was rather unfortunate.—Of the three undergraduates I knew upon my coming to College, one only was a 'reading man.' By means of the other two, as my acquaintances increased, my room became in a little time the daily resort of those most miserable and unprofitable of beings, technically called loungers. This, of course, retarded my studies; and I was often compelled to sit up, after the drones had gone away, till four o'clock in the morning, to prepare my Lectures for the following day. Hints were thrown away, upon my visitors, in vain. At last I saw that either politeness or my character must be hazarded: the first was sacrificed to preserve the last. I made a candid avowal of the low state of my acquirements, and, that having so much to do, it would be madness in me to trifle my days; but if they allowed me to fix a particular hour each day, for receiving their calls, I should be most happy in seeing them. They good-humouredly assented; and from seven o'clock in the morning till eight was mentioned. I have my room to myself ever since; and this has not made them less friendly. I have seen that an extensive acquaintance is the bane of College life. Of intimate friends, I have here only one; and he is a bosom friend, one whose intelligence, urbanity, abilities, and piety are alike conspicuous. He is a son of La Trobe, the celebrated African traveller. Unfortunately for me, he intends taking his final examination next Easter term, and will consequently leave Oxford. When he is gone, I will endeavour to replace him with another of the same stamp; and if I fail, I will turn an anchorite.
I have mixed with but very few parties; though, thanks to my fellow-collegians, I have been occasionally invited. I have adopted this course, partly from a wish of not incurring a debt, which it would be a crime in one of my station to discharge; but chiefly from a distaste of all nocturnal revels. The truth is, I never yet saw a drinking party, two hours old, that I could lay down even one of Elis y Cowper's songs, for the purpose of enjoying it.
The devotional exercises, morning and evening, are profitable and interesting; and I have an opportunity every Sunday of hearing some of the most eloquent and impressive sermons I have ever heard. Excellent opportunities are also afforded for reading. I 'sport my oak' and sit down, nothing disturbs or annoys me; and had it not been for the rumbling of carts along Ship-lane, and cries of 'muffins,' I should consider myself in a hermitage. As for temptation, it is all a bugbear. I have seen none here that would not vanish before a virtuous resolution.