22 NOVEMBER 1969, Page 12


On saints and sinners, etc.



I thank you heartily for your long letter of the lath inst. Such news from your swirling e,tuarylis always refreshing to us poor water- rats upstream. But in one matter, where you touch upon our domestick affairs. I Arndt beg leave to correct you. For you ask when your good friend Master • Prebendary John Collins, canon of Paul's Church, is to be sollemitly installed as dean of Christ-church here, so that you may honour him by your attendance on the occasio. From which I can only infer that you sO nersevece, gofer oonira mundunt, in reading that silly Lon- don gazette the Times; which, having indecently exposed the poor canon (whom no one had yet named) as the likely new dean, took good care thereafter never to acknowledge its error by publishing the truth in this particular. Know then that all this is sneer fantasy, an ignis Mows imagined by some idle speculator in the Empty Quarter of All-souls coll., or some such Desart of the Mind, who would have been better imployfrd reading Aristotle in Codrington's 1.44sravy than blindly guessing about other men's affairs.

For in fact. though the publisher of the 'times know it not. Christ-church already has a new dean, her Majesty having long since nominated to that place our local Chrysos- tens, Dr Henry Chadwick (brother of the peat Cambridge pluralist), whom the Obrist-ehurch men, smit voce, had desired as their head ; and he has been duly installed in his cathedral church, in the presence of her Majesty's lord lieutenant, the lord bishop of Oxon. Master dice-chancellour, the city fathers. and the canons and students of that college which he has since ruled, with universtr14 applause of his shapely legs, grace- ful -manners, and golden tongue.

The ceremony of his installation was on

ttlth ; which being also the day eon- &aerated to the blessed St Frideswide (the moron saint of that cathedral) did supply an occasion too good to be missed by our High-spikes, always- itching to disturb I decency of divine service with their pop) anticks. For in the midst of the sollemnity they started.up-and must needs lead all rho grandees in a giddy procession, cavorti In and oat bet' een the church-pillars, an waving aloft an embroidered 'tavern-sign o their saint ; and what idolatrous genuflexio and prostrations they enacted, writhing a unboning their clergy limbs at the suppo ossuary of this pretious virgin, I know not but one who was there assures me that distinctly smelt a strong puff of incense which however we may all piously hope a but an accidental fart, released by SO incontinent chorister. and mingled perha with the civet and other seductive unguen with which some of our own sex now eh to anoint their bodies, for what good pai pose I forbear to enquire.

This St Frideswide (they tell us) aas Saxon princess of great virtue: for hem her chastity, she mortified herself strange' sleeping on the pavement, excoriating knees with prayer, and feeding only barley-bread, roots and water: an exam more commended than followed by modern canons of her foundation. She ca to this city anno 730 or thereabouts. flee' the lust of one Algar, King of Leicestershi who for his sin in thus pursuing a pre-c tracted bride of Christ, was struck blind. the site of the honourable and galkint tarn Maxwell's Perganson bookshop al closed for repairs); but later, on relen he was cured by her intercession and doubt turned saint or hermit too. had monkish chronicler known how to end edifying a story.

'Tis pity so robust and loyal] a co should chuse this whining piece of she PI for its patron, when it could have had other neighbour St Aidate, a jolly, orthodd old British bishop of Gloucester (a of his gaiters is stilt venerated is eethedral), who laid about Sim and Hengist, King of the SOVE01111. iw who is doubtless no less authentick than she; for although some think that the bishop is but the Old Gate canoniz'd, the lady's vouchers, when closely scrutiniz'd, are little better. I have heard the late reverend-Regius Professor of Ecclesiastick History prove, in the pulpit, and with a most melodious voice, that she too is a meer figment.

Tis hoped by all that in this new reign se shall have fewer of these popish fooleries. for Dr Chadwick is held by all to he a man of sense and learning, and being good birth and education, has no need o exalt himself above his lay brethren by itch frills and frolicks ; as also an excellent preacher, able to put together an English sentence, with subject, verb and syntax, which is rare enough in these illiterate days, and would doubtless do much good to the Jung. were they not artfully discouraged from hearing him.

For the rest, I have little news for you, his university being as yet, I thank God, arvellous quiet, and the new young men except in Balliol coll.) all loyal!, docile and bedient ; for as yet (lacking those busy ,iauriers who each year tell the silly girls ow to cut their skirts differently, to keep e dress-shops a-work) they have not dis- oxered what the new fashion in folly shall Indeed, so unstable are they that I fully xpect to see them taking as furiously to ortification and virginity, with St Fride- Aide, as heretofore, with prince Algar, to olence and fornication. For that former age has now, as it seems, almost blown tself out, except among some silly young utors, who, being stuck fast in their late riapean postures, must needs sustain their agging pupills at the same tension and angle t elevation-,- and some yet sillier seniors horn we shall doubtless find tomorrow still hndly tumbling over themselves to appease e forgotten fanatiques of yesterday.

And indeed 'tis a pretty sight to see those ndy, port-soaked dons, like great over-

• den galleasses, still bearing onward under 1111 spread of sail, while the nimble, lightly- mmed undergraduates, in whose wake ev had been puffing and creaking, have ng since veered round and are now scud- ing merrily in the opposite direction. As as happened in the matter of Master Hart's reat Report, of which I advertiz'd you last mmer. For whereas our trembling senatours re saying portentously that this is to be e year of Hart, and pushing out long cant- g rigmaroles of appeasement, and whereas e Hebdomadall Council has set up a com- ittee to propose such measures as Master art has commended, putting them into like ave Wykehamicall language, behold, in nwersity College (Master Hart's own col- e) the undergraduates have voted that ey will altogether disown that Student ouncil which was to be built up into the ntre-piece of his edifice, but which is now, ants to the better sense of the young men. ntly dissolving in ruin, unlamented by all

men and especially by Your loving brother to serve you MERCURIUS OXONIENSIS

Good brother, fail not to read the late Swift's fifth book of Gulliver's Travels. ich Master Hodgart has newly discovered Dublin, and has printed in 8vo. 'Tis a tty piece, marvellous prescient, and uestionably authentick, describing a ther visit to the Houyhnhnms and the hops. Messrs Duckworth have published at 25s.