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Wandering from one college to another, from quadrangle to quadrangle nearly everything seems on the same scale as the river so far as size goes.
In many a " Quad " thirty steps would easily carry a man from one side to the other. Yet the quiet beauty that hangs about them more than compensated us for this disappointment --if indeed it were one-while beside the air of culture and learning handed down from old times, they have a cozy homelike look that gives the visitor a feeling as if of long acquaintance very different from that which our buildings, though far more imposing, inspire in a stranger. At one side of the “ Quad” is always a big gateway with the coat-of-arms of the founder of the college above it, and rows of long nasty looking iron spikes disposed around wherever it is thought some intrepid student might attempt to leave or enter the college after the gates are closed at eight in the evening. The remaining sides of the court are taken up by the fine old college building, with its long sloping roof surmounting two stories of disintegrating stone, or brick aged to a rich plum color. The more we lingered the more at home we felt, till seeing something we wished to examine more closely at the other end of one quadrangle we started without hesitation to cross the plot of perfect sod in the center. But hardly had we set foot upon it when we were brought to a stand by a shout from the porter's lodge, and that worthy came out to inform us that we had not only transgressed a rule, but that had we been students of the college we should have been fined a penny. Smoking drew from him a similar reproof. Then pitying our ignorance and pleased by our interest he took us in charge, and pointed out the rooms which the celebrated Alumni of the college had occupied, and among others that of Gray. It seems that the poet had a great terror of fire. Accordingly as his room was on the second floor he had an iron bar, which is still in place, fixed in his window in order that he might have something firm to which to fasten his rope in time of need. One dark winter's night he was awakened by the long expected cry of “ Fire." But his escape was provided for, and in a moment he had slid down the rope -into a tub of water placed to receive him. Next our guide showed us the college chapel and the dining room, and told us that attendance at each was equally compulsory. Yet in one at least it seemed to us that it would not be hard to fulfill the requirements, for we ended our stroll with the kitchen, a lofty hall with mighty fireplaces many feet in width and the height of a man, before which twenty-eight legs of mutton may turn on their spits and roast together. Nor should it be forgotten that the good cheer is washed down by a daily allowance of ale, which the college has from time immemorial had the right to brew free from so modern a nuisance as a license. All is just as it was centuries ago.
Later in talking with an Englishman who had graduated from the University, the ways of his own Alma Mater were to him so much a matter of course that our questions generally extracted very little information. Occasionally we were more fortunate. Then he described the colleges as having little more to do with teaching than one of our domitories, and the functions of the university as confined to conferring degrees, giving examinations and providing courses of lectures. Yet these lectures are with the exception of one or two branches of science wholly apart from the student's work. When I asked if he had to attend recitations, there came the counter-question whether by “recitations" I meant getting up on a stage and repeating poetry or something of that kind. He was amazed at the system of instruction we practice. He said that when preparing for one of the examinations he got a tutor and “read.” He repeated that a man must attend chapel in his own college "unless he has conscientious scruples,” and when it was suggested that one's conscience must soon become tender under such conditions he was unable to see it. Hearing of a system under which the honors conferred by the University are slighted for those to be gained at the hands of fellow students, he said that in England a man's success in life too often depends on what he has done at the University, for one of any ambition to be satisfied with merely getting his degree, while the really immense number of ecclesiastical livings and the fellowships in the gift of the colleges are an added inducement to study. Indeed it does not seem surprising that men study when we remember that Travelyan has defined a fellowship as “three hundred pounds a year, a stable for my horse, six dozen of audit ale every Christmas, a loaf and two pats of butter every morning, and a good dinner for nothing, with as many almonds and raisins as I could eat at dessert."
Finally when we told him of some of our ways, among others the division into classes each denoted by a numeral, he opened his eyes as if the customs and rites of some isle in the Eastern seas were exposed to them.
PICTURE was exhibited, not long ago, by a com
paratively unknown artist, a picture of a Dutch tea-party. Each figure was in itself a study, and the group, as a whole, was life-like and animated. The subject, the obscurity of the artist, and the skill with which it was executed, recalls the work of a young Dutch writer, Maarten Maartens, who puts into his stories the same qualities that this artist has displayed upon the canvas.
As it was Thackeray's ambition to write a novel in French, it has been Maarten's achievement to write in English, and why he has adopted a foreign language, he explains when he dedicates one of his books to “all my fellow Koopstaders in the four vast quarters of our mean little globe.” Evidently he has no wish to limit his readers to the select few of Holland.
Out of sympathy with the so-called French Realists and the German writers of the day, he belongs to no school. His great admiration for Thackeray has led him to adopt, unconsciously, perhaps, some of the spirit of that novelist. Like him, he makes his thrusts at society -the money-loving Dutchman is a splendid target-and society, strange to say, receives him. Thackeray did not fare so well. No doubt the Dutchmen are more goodnatured than their cousins across the North Sea. Maartens is not a prolific writer; his income does not depend on the number of pages he produces—the misfortune of many a good author—and the few books he has given us are scarcely more than an indication of future possibilities. “Joost Avelingh,” “An Old Maid's Love,” “God's Fool,”
” and “The Greater Glory," a story now appearing in the Outlook, are all we have. The first two need but passing mention and the last is incomplete. “Joost Avelingh” is the story of a sensitive, praise-loving man, who has committed a great crime and come into a large fortune. We agree with “the men at the Club” who pronounce Joost “ zeer knap”—very clever—but “queer, very queer.” As for the "Old Maid's Love," the title tells the story.
If Maarten Maartens had never written anything but “ God's Fool,” he would none the less be entitled to an enviable place among English authors, for the book is a strong one, with a good healthy moral. The plot is not particularly interesting, but the charm, as in many another story, lies in the telling. How cleverly he has contrasted that selfish, conceited, little Hendrik Lossell, with his simple-minded step-brother, Elias, “the fool,” as people call him ; who is blind and deaf, but very rich. Persons of a critical turn of mind, complain that Elias is an altogether impossible character. Perhaps he is; but so is many another man who lives in fiction and whom people like none the less. It is a book that can be read with pleasure at any page that opens, for the author has surrounded the narrative with so much spirit, so much pathos. Take the part where “the fool,” who has lost his hearing and his eye-sight and has been cut off from all knowledge of the outside world for many weeks, discovers that he can understand when they form the letters on his cheek. Only a single word, but he felt its meaning and "one great cloud rolled away from his darkness and the stars came out again in the night;” or again where “the fool," the sole proprietor of the great house of Valderdoes Zonen, learns, that there are people in the world who are in need of food and shelter. It comes as a revelation to the man whose every want has been supplied, and whose greatest grief has been the loss of a little dog. These scenes are full of pathos; but the next chapter is wonderfully spirited and introduces a domestic quarrel ; and so it goes from the pathetic to the humorous, as naturally as in real life.
Maarten Maartens' books have been well received ; people have enjoyed their local color, quiet humor, and quaint phraseology. To say that the road to the devil is easy, is a decidedly commonplace expression, but when Maartens says, “the devil takes care to keep his roads in excellent order; the best surveyor in all creation is the old gentleman who limps himself,” there is a unique turn to the old truth which we enjoy. It is unfortunate that