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how many of the men whose names stand highest on our roll of fame have proceeded! Men who have stood forth the wonder and admiration of the world—shining as stars in the firmament of heaven: who have spent the vast intellectual strength with which they have been endowed in freeing the bodies and souls of their fellow-men from the fetters of despotism—who have sought to raise them above what is material and temporal—to verify the truth, and enforce the doctrines, and bring men to the obedience of Christianity ;—who have achieved some of our greatest deeds, accomplished some of our proudest discoveries, and added some of the brightest pages to our literature. The list were long to read, but how brilliant are the recollections excited by the names that at once recur to our memories of Wiclif, Wolsey, Raleigh, Penn, Hampden, Locke, of Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, Butler, Johnson, Arnold, of Harvey, of Wren, Ben Jonson, Sidney, and many more, statesmen, patriots, divines, philosophers, poets, or "scholars, and ripe and good ones "—differing as one star differeth from another in glory, but all glorious. Obscured some of them were at times, but the clouds have rolled away, and only the splendour remains.
It will not be expected that anything like a complete account of Oxford can be given here. That would require some volumes of the size of this little one. Dr. Ingram's Memorials of Oxford, in which there is certainly no undue expansion, occupy three goodly quarto volumes, and other accounts have swelled to a far greater bulk. Here can only a few points connected with the history be mentioned, and a few of the buildings be rapidly glanced at. In such places as this there is the less need of any detailed account, inasmuch as local "guides " can be procured by the visitor, which will at any rate direct his attention to the more remarkable or interesting objects: in the smaller towns and villages somewhat more of fulness seems necessary.
The origin of both city and University is lost in the shade of antiquity. In Saxon times the name was written Oxnaford, in the Domesday Survey it is Oxeneforde; both of which seem to support the general opinion that the town owes its name to having been built by a ford for oxen. It has been attempted to carry the foundation of the town, in connexion with that of the University, back to the times of the fabulous King Brute. This and all other tales respecting its extreme antiquity are, of course, mere inventions; all that is known with certainty is, that at a very early period Oxford was a place of some importance, and that there were schools of learning in it.
Like all the other towns in these parts, Oxford suffered greatly from the ravages of the Danes. In the eleventh century it was frequently the residence of royalty. In November, 1016, Edmund Ironside died here—as some affirmed by unfair means. His successor Canute was often at Oxford, and on several occasions held the great council of the nation in it. After his death, when his sons Hardieanute and Harold Harefoot were competitors for his dominions, the council met at Oxford and elected Harold to be King of England, or of the chief part of it; he was crowned and died at Oxford. At the Norman invasion the city resolutely withstood the Conqueror. It was taken by storm, and suffered terribly; and William afterwards made the inhabitants pay dearly for their temerity. The Domesday Survey gives a gloomy idea of its condition: "In the town itself, as well within the walls as without, there are two hundred and forty-three houses paying the tax; and besides these there are five hundred houses, save twenty-two, so waste and decayed that they cannot pay the tax." And withal, while other places, on account of their poverty, were rated at lower sums than in the days of Edward the Confessor (the whole Survey being made so as to state the present value with that in the Confessor's days), Oxford was amerced at nearly three times as much: "In the time of King Edward, Oxeneforde paid for toll and gable and all other customs, yearly to the king, twenty pounds; and six sextaries of honey. . . . Now it pays sixty pounds by tale, of twenty pence in the ore." To prevent any attempt at a revolt on the part of the inhabitants, William gave some land to Eobert D'Oilli, one of his Norman followers, for the erection of a castle.
In the next reign Oxford regained much of its former prosperity. Henry I. built himself a residence in the town; and also gave a charter of incorporation to the inhabitants. This charter was confirmed and extended by succeeding monarchs down to the reign of James II. In 1139, while Stephen was holding his court at'Oxford, a tumult arose between the retainers of Roger, the powerful bishop of Salisbury, and those of the Earl of Brittany. Several persons were wounded and one knight was killed. Stephen ordered the arrest of Bishop Roger and his nephews the bishops of Lincoln and Ely. Ely escaped, but the others were seized, and treated with extreme harshness. The affair is by some suspected to have been contrived by Stephen as a pretext for obtaining possession of
Bishop Roger, whose power he feared. The effects of it were very influential on the fortunes of the king. Nearly the entire body of the prelates and clergy at once declared against him, and perhaps much of his future trouble may be traced to his conduct on this occasion. When the war between Stephen and Matilda fairly began, Oxford Castle was garrisoned for the empress queen; and hither it was that she fled when forced to make a hasty retreat from London: and at Oxford, a year or two later, she fixed her court. In 1142 Stephen marched in person against the city with all the forces he could bring together, avowing at the same time his determination not to quit the place till he had his rival in his hands. He soon took the city, but the queen escaped from him by one of those stratagems which she knew so well how to contrive and execute. The castle had held out till the queen was nearly starved, as well as the garrison. The season was winter, and the frost was of unusual severity. The ground was covered with snow, and the Thames was frozen over. In this it was she trusted. She clothed herself in white, and accompanied by three knights similarly clothed, about midnight, on the 20th of December, she quitted the castle by a postern, and gliding like a ghost over the frozen river and snow-clad fields, escaped the notice of the besiegers. She walked to Abingdon, and having procured horses there, proceeded safely to Wallingford.*
Richard I. was born at Oxford; and bestowed
|" * Of Oxford Castle, only a fragment remains by the county gaol, which occupies the site of the old pile. Its appearance shortly before being pulled down is shown in the opposite engraving.