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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, December 7, 1902

New College

Dec. 7th

Dear Mildred.

Please excuse my handwriting, but the cold is extreme. I find that the only edition of Jowett’s ThucydidesThucydides Translated into English; To Which is Prefixed an Essay on Inscriptions and a Note on the Geography of Thucydides, ed. Benjamin Jowett, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1900). to be had is quoted at a price quite prohibitive for me. So I must make my apologies, and send you one by quite another translator. I will enclose Sallust’s Jugurtha.Probably C. Sallusti Crispi Jugurtha, ed. Walter C. Summers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902). I find that the routine is very easy here. The only trying feature of it is the 30 mornings to be kept in each Term.Probably the required “four 8 AM chapels in every 6 days.” See letter of October 29, 1902.

To my disappointment, I find that Gaius on Roman LawGaius (active 130–180 CE), a Roman jurist; he is the author of Institutes, an exposition of the elements of Roman law. is only mathematics over again, and so I have to go on doing a subject, as multitudes do churches yearly in Italy. I had hoped that I had left that phase of education behind me at Harrow. I also must do divinity, and am supposed to go to a lecture once a week for it. I went once, and found that it was dogma with the lecturer’s variations. I now get a man to answer my name.

How do you like "Ramuntcho"?Ramuntcho (1897), by the French author Pierre Loti (1850–1923), is a novel about contraband runners in the Basque province of France. I suppose it is something to do with the climate that gives me a yearning for the Pyrenees at this time of year.In his Autobiography (2:29), Royall Tyler mentions visiting his mother’s friend, Mrs. Patrick Stuart-Menteath, at Ciboure, France, near Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the Pyrenees. You understand that the two unpleasant subjects end next summer, if I can pass the examination, and then History, and nothing else. I now have 6 lectures a week on Constitutional History which is delightful.

The Austrian's name is Von Sommaruga.See letter of October 29, 1902. He is captivated by England: as he has nice manners, and is very intelligent, everyone has been very nice to him, and he has become quite a social lion—and he dresses cleanly but abominably. Won’t this raise Oxford in your estimation?

My tutorProbably J. C. Moss. See Autobiography, 2:2. moved the abolition of Greek for ResponsionsResponsions was originally an examination in Greek, Latin, Logic, and Geometry that had to be passed before a student could sit for a baccalaureate degree at the University of Oxford. The examination was abolished in 1960. at the last Conference here.Officials debated whether both Latin and Greek should be required of candidates at the Responsions. The proposal to abolish Greek was rejected by a small majority. See “Greek or No Greek,” The School Journal, A Weekly Journal of Education 65, no. 21 (December 6, 1902): 602. British Conservative statesman George Nathaniel Curzon (1859–1925), as chancellor of Oxford in 1909, advocated the abolition of compulsory Greek for baccalaureate candidates because the existing practice excluded many of the best students from secondary schools and was unfair to those coming to read mathematics or science. See George Nathaniel Curzon, Principles and Methods of University Reform: Being a Letter Addressed to the University of Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909); and David Gilmour, Curzon, Imperial Statesman (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994), 366. Oxford abolished compulsory Greek in March 1920. See “Greek Optional at Oxford; Students Celebrate the Abolition of its Compulsory Study,” New York Times, March 31, 1920. It was very fortunately rejected. But I fear that is a lost cause. “Efficiency” has penetrated to Oxford at last. I feel that in 100 years the language will be as bad as Latin was in the time of Constantine,Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus) (ca. 272–337), a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. and for the same reasons. How can a language maintain its standing when men write words like bureaucracies (a mixture of Greek and French!) If they abolish Greek in the entrance here, it will change the public schools utterly. And the result will be a steady approach to the continental system, and public schools will be no more. The Education BillSee Eric Eaglesham, “Planning the Education Bill of 1902,” British Journal of Educational Studies 9, no. 1 (November 1960): 3–24. and its incidents is very depressing. I suppose you saw how the OppositionSee N. R. Gullifer, “Opposition to the 1902 Education Act,” Oxford Review of Education 8, no. 1 (1982): 83–98. was conducted. It is hard to think that Parliamentary government is doomed, but it seems to succeed nowhere, England excepted, and even there it seems to be weakening. My consolation for these ills is the weekly meeting of the Chatham Club, Chatham Club, founded at the University of Oxford in 1864, was a conservative political and social club with limited membership where members read papers on a regular basis. See Arthur Engel, “Political Education in Oxford 1823–1914,” History of Education Quarterly 20, no. 3 (Autumn 1980): 257–80. where we debate, smoke long Church-warden clay pipes, and drink "church and King" in mulled claret.

Yours ever sincerely

Royall Tyler

Associated Things: Autobiography