3 FEBRUARY 1956, Page 14


SIR,—May I contribute a word or two of comment on Mr. Robert Blake's two articles concerning the well-worn topic of Oxford roads?

With much of Mr. Blake's exposition I have little quarrel, though his avowed (and per- fectly natural) partisanship makes it at times. I think, defective and misleading in a way which I am quite sure he does not intend. I could support this criticism by detailed refer- ences, but that would make my letter long and, to many of your readers, tedious. 1 feel, however, that I must draw attention to the account given by Mr. Blake of the way in which this controversy has been conducted in Oxford. He has used your columns to draw a vivid caricature of the Vice-Chancellor as a superannuated monomaniac, and of the Heb- domadal Council emerging from its discussions with lost tempers, 'fists clenched' and 'mortar- boards awry,' and to describe Congregation as a scene of 'much confusion' and Common Rooms as bodies racked with 'the fury of con- tending factions,' their members 'frequently' referring to each other as 'rats,' and in several cases reduced 'to a state bordering upon apoplexy.

Certainly life in Oxford would be more exciting if this picture were a true one. But the roads controversy has in fact been conducted (Mr. Blake's articles apart) with restraint and good manners. Colleagues, acquaintances, close friends, all can and do differ on the question of the roads without the slightest disturbance of their ordinary relations, and the atmospkere in which the question is discussed in Common Rooms is perfectly good-humoured. That, at least, has been my experience all over Oxford. though I cannot answer for Mr. Blake and the Common Room of his college. I am glad to add that he and I remain on friendly terms and that to me he has never been anything but courteous.

Is it not a pity that Mr. Blake should subject Oxford's linen to personal defilement in order that he may wash it in public?—Yours faith- fully, All Souls College, Oxf (;rd