1780
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A College Life.

Euphrosyne: or, Amusements on the Road of life. By the Author of The spiritual Quixote. Vol. II.

Rev. Richard Graves


A description of life and manners at Oxford university, composed in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro. The imitation is not intended to be close, and the poet introduces triplets not usually found in Milton imitations. Richard Graves had been a student at All Souls nearly half a century before Euphrosyne was published, and reports that he still misses his old institution: "And, banish'd now to mountain's rude, | I pine in joyless solitude" 2:65. But the poem is not dated (several in the volume are) and may have composed at a much earlier period.

"A College Life," like Milton's original, describes a characteristic day. At dawn the student repairs to chapel before turning to his studies. The morning is given to "moral lectures: "Each task has here its hour assign'd: | For, thus to stated hours confin'd, | Each duty lighter grows by use; | And forms substantial good produce" 2:58. The noon hour is given to conversation with friends. The student next meets with his tutor who "Points out the philosophic page, | Th' authentic works of every age: | Of those, whose art fit arms supplies | Against Wit's dangerous sophistries" 2:59. The topics consist of (we are informed in a note) Logic, Ethics, Physics, and Metaphysics. The readings include moderns as well as ancients: Milton, Locke, and Newton. After a short repast, the student returns to his books until sundown, after which social life resumes, indoors or out according to the season "Till, by the curfew call'd to rest, | They fly, (like larks into their nest) | With happy, peaceful slumbers blest" 2:62. The poem concludes with reflection on the founders' wisdom (William of Wckham of New College and Henry Chicheley of All Souls): "Yet, let not those our plan revile, | Whose lives the stains of vice defile: | Whose dissipated souls repine, | And spurn the gentlest discipline" 2:65.



Ye cloister'd domes, ye moss-grown tow'rs,
Ye awful groves and roseate bow'rs,
Where Isis laves her willow'd shore,
And Science opens all her store;
Her golden mines of truth and knowledge,
For ages ripening in a college;
Let me your sober joys rehearse,
Whilst Myra listens to my verse.

What time the holy matin bell
Has rous'd the student from his cell;
Soon as Aurora's beams appear,
With hearts devout, and spirits clear,
Within the sacred quire they pay
To Heaven the first-fruits of the day.
Th' historic windows' radiant hues
A sweet, celestial light diffuse:
While Music's charms conspire to raise
The soul to gratitude and praise.

From thence the moral lectures call
Each pupil to the public hall:
Whose dictates virtuous hints impart
T' improve the mind or mend the heart.

Tho' fools all serious truths despise,
The sober youth each hint applies,
And daily grows more learn'd, more wise.

Each task has here its hour assign'd:
For, thus to stated hours confin'd,
Each duty lighter grows by use;
And forms substantial good produce.

The morning thus so well begun,
And all its earlier business done,
He now with some selected friends
The hour of sweet refreshment spends;
Whose sallies, sprightly and sincere,
Like Hyson's streams, the spirits cheer:
Where candour and good sense unite,
And mutual confidence invite;
Their hearts with youthful ardour warm,
Embrace, and lasting friendships form.

Recruited thus, alert and gay,
They ply the studies of the day.
Sage Mentor now assists the youth,
And guides him in his search of truth;
Points out the philosophic page,
Th' authentic works of every age:
Of those, whose art fit arms supplies
Against Wit's dangerous sophistries:
Or who, with moral precepts fraught,
Th' oeconomy of life have taught:
Or dar'd, at awful distance, scan
Th' secrets of th' Almighty's plan:
Or who in verse or prose have told
Th' illustrious acts of heroes bold:
The glorious themes his bosom fire,
And love of honest fame inspire.

But whilst he gives their well-earn'd praise
To classic wits of ancient days,
He none superior finds to those,
Who in our feats of learning rose.
Again in Milton Homer lives;
The Stagyrite in Locke revives:
And see! in Newton's self alone
All ancient Sages met in one.
He first unfolded Nature's laws;
And, tracing to the First Great Cause,
Has one consistent system shewn,
To mortals hitherto unknown.

Amidst these pleasing toils, too soon
When now the sun has reach'd his noon,
By exercise and wholesome air,
They for their frugal meal prepare:
(Such meals, by Spartan laws ordain'd,
Her sons to health and vigor train'd)
And then, in spite of summer's heat,
Or winter's cold, their toils repeat;
Till spirits faint, or setting sun,
Remind them that their task is done.

Nor yet, amidst this studious leisure,
Debarr'd from every social pleasure;
In summer's eve, thro' fields and meads,
As chance directs, or fancy leads,
The youthful band or saunt'ring stray,
Or active spring in wanton play.

Or in more decent form appear,
Where nymphs the public gardens cheer:
Their radiant smiles, their charms divine,
The soul revive, the thoughts refine.

Or, if the surly winter's gloom
Invite to some warm chearful room;
Enliven'd by the temperate glass,
In sober glee the evenings pass.
Where pointed wit, or humorous tale,
Or joyous pun, by turns prevail:
Till, by the curfew call'd to rest,
They fly, (like larks into their nest)
With happy, peaceful slumbers blest.

Thus calmly glide the hours away,
Thus chearfully they pass the day,
In quest of truth and useful knowledge,
Within the precincts of a college.

Such was the pious founder's plan,
Who taught, that "Manners makyth man."
Such, Chichley, thine; beneath whose tow'rs
I spent my happiest, youthful hours,
On literary fame intent,
And conquering "Virtue's steep ascent;"
Till Venus, and the sportive Muse,
Deriding my ambitious views,
Seduc'd me to the flowery meads,
Where Pleasure her enchantments spreads.
Hence Learning's toils no longer please;
But indolence, and love of ease,
On all my brighter schemes intrude:
And, banish'd now to mountain's rude,
I pine in joyless solitude.

Yet, let not those our plan revile,
Whose lives the stains of vice defile:
Whose dissipated souls repine,
And spurn the gentlest discipline:
Who, in the cloister's hallow'd bound,
The laws of decency confound,
And universities abuse—
For not permitting public stews.

[2:57-64]