July 30, 1916
Mine Own People,
I went to church parade this morning and afterwards to service in the New Road Baptist Church. Since lunch I written a note to Louie (who is visiting her cousin Sir William Cramp at Walton-on-Thames), and had a nap. When I woke I found our room rather uncomfortably warm - it faces west and is under the eaves - so have brought my writing material to the tables in the now empty "common room" where it is delightfully cool. To-morrow, owing to a slight rearrangement of sections we are to move down one flight and to the eastern side of the building, which will I think be more comfortable during the warm weather.
So now we are settled for our chat. Since my last the Graduation number of the Monthly has come to hand and a letter from Marjorie (July 9). The Chancellor, I think, rather outdid himself in his message - it struck me as really fine. As for Marjorie, she, of course, is full of surprises. She calls her letter freakish. I call it kittenish - and await developments.
It is good to hear of the dear lake taking on its summer gaiety, giving and taking tea and beans, and brown-bread and other delectables. Frances' arrival heralds the family reunion, which by this time, or at least by the time this reaches you, will doubtless be a fact. I can't really visualize any of you at Kendal Ave., but I can see you all at Valhalla.
The weather all week has been on the warm side. We had a route-march (great-coats and packs) Tuesday afternoon and dripped copiously. Wednesday we marched out again with haversack rations for map-reading. The roads about Oxford are beautiful, and we enjoyed ourselves in spite of the heat; but we appreciated our showers when we got back.
I don't know whether I mentioned that we were having a series of lectures by Professor Morgan on the causes of war. He was very good indeed. (This is an interjection.)
Thursday we had battalion inspection - another juicy performance, and Friday a general inspection by the G.O.C. the southern Command.
Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours at the Bodleian Library examining the Shakespeare exhibition in honour of the Tercentenary. I took a look also through the picture gallery - all sorts of old worthies and other objects of interest such as a chair made form oak taken from the "Golden Hind', two hairs from the head of John Hampden, locks from the heads of Keats and R.L.S., and the guitar given by Shelley to Mrs. Jane Williams, and the subject of his poem "Ariel to Miranda: - Lake etc." Very interesting!
After leaving the library I hitched up with Bird - a nice youngster, scholar at Merton, just up one term, and now transferred from O.T.C. He conducted me around a number of the college "quads", Addison's walk at Magdeline, etc. Of most interest to me was the beautiful Shelley memorial at University College - a little shrine emblazoned around the walls with lines from the Adonais, and in the centre a wonderful piece of marble statuary representing the body of the poet floating on the waves. A more touching reparation could hardly have been made for the harsh treatment he received while alive.
One of the most amusing things to us Canadians is the diabolical arrangement of spikes and broken glass that one sees everywhere, to prevent the students from scaling the walls and breaking into College. And the funniest part of it is the way the young Oxonians like Bird, take it as a matter of course, and seem rather bewildered to learn that in American colleges, as long as a man behaves himself with moderate decency, he comes and goes as he pleases. I am enclosing a document which we found in one of the rooms along with various high-church tracts on the confessional, and the invocation of the saints, etc. - evidently left by some budding divine. I can imagine the howl of derision from American undergrads at some of the provisions.
Love to you all,
P.S. I enclose also, what I had meant to do before this, a few verses which I perpetrated during later days at Shorncliffe.