23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 15

Especially noticeable are these tides or waves in matters of

sex. Oxford seems to undergo rhythmic variations between puritanisni and profligacy every ten years. The truly startling levity of the period between 1890 and 1900 was followed by the muscular asceticism which coincided, strangely enough, with the reign of Edward VII. The influx of rich and turbulent princes from Austria and Russia which occurred round about 1910 ushered in a period of grave laxity which might have attained serious dimensions but for the outbreak of the First German War. This epidemic was delayed rather than repressed. With the return of Oxford to its academic self in 192o there opened ten years of which I like to speak but hesitate to write. And then came the great puritan revival of the 'thirties. They were less pompous and more tolerant than the puritans of my own generation, yet they possessed the true Calvinist sneer for the weaknesses of lesser mortals. A fine genera- tion, finer perhaps than any Oxford has known. And today they swing out across the snow, hitching their heavy straps over their shoulders, a profoundly faithful generation with- out a faith. There are moments when the thought of them is an agony which I can hardly bear.