Page images

the formidable allurements of Limited dor's rights and vendor's shares and all Liability. Is it perhaps some private the other subtleties and devices of comperson who in ingenious despair tries pany-floating—the vendor, we say, who the effect of some hitherto unsuspected stood up at his booth and faced his substance on his rapidly falling hair, public, all of them with a greater or and by self-hypnotism persuades him- less solicitude for their hair, might, as self that the lamentable decay is ar a matter of fact, be offering for sale a rested? Straightway you receive by thing which would neither make hair post the prospectus of “ Brown's grow nor keep hair from falling off, but Knnitov, Limited,” capital so much he had to abide the direct trial to which in one-pound shares, Board of Direct the buyers would put it. However ors, So-and-So, brokers, bankers, and much he might induce a number of his all complete. Long before the first hearers by persuasive eloquence to purnew hairs on the vendor's head have chase each a bottle of KnAITOV once, he time to grow, the public are invited to had a lively consciousness that if no participate in the boon offered, not in hair resulted from its application he the form of a bottle of the composi- need never more appear at these same tion to amend their beauty, but as pro- fairs or markets unless he cared to run prietors, at the rate of one pound per the risk of having the empty bottles share. Does the public hesitate, and thrown at his head. He became thencedetermine to buy a bottle and try the forth a known impostor, shut out from effect of the stuff before subscribing to even the most incorrigible cases of hairits proprietorship? Never a bit of it. iessness. In what then does he differ The public is a strange collection of from his modern representative who whims, but it is a great buyer of shares. proceeds by way of limited liability Many of its members are bald, but company? In this—and it is much: more hasten to be shorn. Moreover that he was his own promoter, his own there is a promoter at them, who knows chairman, his own board of direction more of their ways than a collie dog and secretary, and his own shareholder. does about sheep. He knows, for ex- His prospectus was uttered by word of ample, that there is a large proportion mouth, and he stood the trial of his of them who are not proof against the statements in his person. ancient phrases of quackery of which Doubtless in a perfect state of society the modern company-prospectus has such a character as this would not be become the chief exemplar and conser possible, or if possible, would not be vator. Behold his old mastery there permitted. But we do not clamor for fore: “ This preparation is designed to an impossibly perfect state of society, meet an almost universal want” nor do we know of any practicable or which being hair, carries conviction conceivably practical moral code which where it was intended to reach. They would get rid of such assaults on the rush in to subscribe, with a haste begot gullibility of the public. Socialism, less of zeal for their locks than desire for example, would not discourage for dividends, or sale at a premium, mountebanks; appearances would seem and subscribe a sum which handsomely to show that it would do the precise rewards all concerned in the formation contrary. It might perhaps deal a of the company. But, look now: what blow at KnATITOV by establishing a State in pre-company times was the only hair-wash department, with a depot in method open to the discoverer of every parish. No: the world for many Kntitov to make money out of his centuries yet must lie open to the depreparation? This, surely; to buy a vices which the principle of a free escaravan and set out round the country ercise of individual endeavor and a free fairs and markets as peripatetic vendor reward for that endeavor must expose it of it at so much per bottle. In that to while its gullibility decreases by the way the vendor-alas! what a change spread of intelligence and reason. But has come over the signification of the ineanwhile, the distinction between word in recent years, what with ven- KnAiTOV as a company and knAITOY as an article directly vendible by its the thing was somewhat in his old line. discoverer, represents a retrograde They gaze in a kind of awe at the movement in morals and human effort. Board, listening ruefully to the chairIt represents a refinement and an elab- man, who is not strong in oratory, and oration of the basest form of personal relies upon the secretary for his figures. gain-gain without adequate or worthy That is the solicitor to the company endeavor. It is a subtle scheme devels in the corner, who has come to see that oped out of attempts, originally well his fees are passed with the accounts, meant, to make the public participators and the secretary is as busy with his in the benefits of honest enterprises— pen as if he were Comptroller of Exfor, of course, the company principle in cise: only the promoter is absent, and itself is not a thing of yesterday—and the inventor. There they sit, the sharehas ended by laying open to unscrupu- holders of KnAitov,and not one of them lous speculators, hastening to be rich has the courage to rise and point out without regard to means, the whole field to the chairman that he is very bald, of human cupidity and gullibility. In or to the secretary that he is fast: losa large number of cases the ostensible ing his hair. The fact is, not one of grounds of appeal to the public are not believes in the virtues of KnAiTOV, the truc grounds for inviting their co- but a good many have hopes of kinnitOV operation; and, most deadly evil of all, shares. The middle-aged maiden lady this may all be done in strict compli- could tell a sad tale of disillusion about ance with law. Against the whole KnAitov as a hair-producer; but that vicious system and the nefarious prac- she keeps to herself, lest she discourage tices which harbor within it, the only others, on whose credulity the fate of bulwark is the creation of a healthy her shares depends. The meeting moral sentiment in the minds of the crawls through its dreary business, and public. At present the evils are by-and-by a vote of thanks is bestowed winked at, not being properly shown in upon the chairman, who duly acknowltheir true light as evils. The success- edges it, expressing the hope that the ful company-promoter is envied, and next time they meet the undoubted virfrom envy to emulation is a short step, tues of their proprietary KnAitov will Reasoned convictions are a hard plano enable him to announce a satisfactory to raise, and imitative fashion an easy dividend. The director's fees have one. The public has to be warned been duly passed, and the last thing the against itself, and laws are not suffi- departing “proprietors” see is the cient. The whole structure of Limited gleam of City light on the chairman's Liability is so diabolically legal that it bald head—the aureole of Limited Liacauses at times a feeling of despair. bility. Observe, for instance, the demeanor of In all this it is a most undoubted the shareholders of this same KnAiTOV fact that the shareholders are greatly in general meeting assembled to hear the to blame. There have been successful chairman's survey of the first year's industrial companies, ham-companies, operations, and his regretful announce- bread-companies, milk-companies, why ment that the distribution of a divi- not a flourishing hair-wash company? dend is not yet possible. “The com- Is not the world managed by company, pany has been most economically man- or nearly so? If you follow the process aged, and its affairs have received the of dressing in the morning you will arduous and anxious attention of your find evidences of company all about directors. There are signs of an in- you, from the soap you use to the boots creasing sale of our proprietary article, you wear. The breakfast-table is and from many sources we receive en strewn with company things, and you couraging accounts of its efficacy.” light your company cigar with a comThere they sit in a stuffy room in the pany match. You go 10 town in a City—the widow, the clergyman, the company ’bus, and in case of overcharge small tradesman, and the retired chem- or incivility do you complain to the ist who put some money in it because man who perpetrated it, in the old

fashioned way? Not at all; you write quiring money. Those who continue to to a secretary—a printed announce hold and share the fortunes of the comment invites you to do so. If you pany form a body without cohesion or tread on a lady's dress in the street you governance, who do not possess in pracstill apologize in person, so much do tice the powers to control the operations some old customs linger; but for the of the business which their theoretic most part you are thoroughly be-com- proprietorship ought to carry with it. panied in life, and when you die you As representing the capital of the concan be buried by a company. It will cern, they are taken into account; as go hard with the ingenious promoter, a body of individuals, they neither bebut we shall yet be born by limited lia- get nor receive the respect of the true bility, as indeed we can at present be dictators of the company's policy. reared by a company incubator. Little If it be objected that the same conwonder, therefore, if the public are so demnations apply to huge enterprises easily lured to become shareholders. like railways, banks, discount and inOf old a man had to make money by surance companies, and others such, the his own labor and energy; now he is answer is plain: that by their very nataught or tempted to make it by the ture these are specially fitted for the purchase of limited liability shares, and deliberative methods of selected bodies he is the poorer in every circumstance of men, who are in a sense morally enthat goes to the making of a man. larged by the public responsibilities of

The public are principally to blame heir positions. The protest made in in this respect—that they are lured on the foregoing pages is against the mad to subscribe these numerous undertak- craze for turning into companies enterings by the passion of making money prises which, by their nature, are the easily. A very large number of them proper matter for personal labor and apply for shares as a speculation, hop- achievement; and this passion spreads ing to sell them at a profit. True, they daily, to the detriment of moral stamipay money down for this risk; but the na in the nation, and to the direct prejmotive is not so very far removed from udice to the great principle of indithat of the promoter and his sorry crew vidual endeavor on which it would apof conspirators as they would fain pear the greatness of England has been think. However sanctioned by use, it reared.-Blackwood's Magazine. is at best a derogatory method of ac



THE petals fell long since, and now the leaves

Follow the way of all the failing earth,
The destined way for everything that breathes,

The way of death, of darkness, and of dearth;
The way he wends to-morrow who now grieves

For his dead friend. Death's way? The way of birth!
Except the seed be shaken from the sheaves

To rot within the ground—'tis nothing worth.

Death seals our wishes with the stamp of power,

Each known behest Love hastens to obey.
Such as we were within the recent hour,

Such are our children of a later day.
In them we live again. O priceless dower

Of Life and Love that cannot pass away!




Passing in review the annals of Ox- The good work initiated by Robert ford during the many centuries in which d’Oilgi was carried on after his death that town has played an important part by his nephew and namesake. It was in the affairs of the nation, the point this second Robert d'Oilgi who built the most conspicuously seen will be that Priory of Osney, famed throughout the the chronicle contains not one narra- whole of monastic Europe for its luxtive, but two-the story of a City and ury and its magnificence. The story the story of a University. The early of the foundation of Osney furnishes days of Oxford as a City are lost in the a quaint illustration of human nature. obscurity of the past. In the eleventh Robert's wife, Edith, was walking one century, however, the town had ac- day by the river with her confessor, quired no slight prominence, as is Ralph, when she heard some magpies shown by the fact that the Danes chattering on a tree. She asked Ralph, thought it worth their while to journey who was supposed to understand the from London to attack it. In the language of birds, what the magpies

Domesday Survey” we find recorded were talking about. He told her that the existence of 243 houses paying they were souls in purgatory, and with geld,” besides 478 houses paying no wily arguments suggested that she “geld.” By the time of the Conquest, should found a monastery where intertherefore, the City of Oxford mav fair- cession might be made for them. Edith ly be said to have outgrown the throes thereupon persuaded her husband to of its infancy, and to have become a build Osney Priory. One feels no surdefinite centre of human activity. prise at learning that Ralph was ap

It is at this period that we first en pointed Prior. Under Henry VIII. counter the name of Robert d'Oilgi. the Priory became for a time the CaSettling in Oxford, he erected the Cas- thedral of a new diocese formed by a tle, and thus introduced into the life division of the See of Lincoln; but it of the neighborhood a strong military did not long enjoy this distinction, element. He seems to have been of a which was speedily transferred to the very acquisitive disposition, and on one present Cathedral. Alas, that of all occasion he seized a field belonging to the glories of Osney nothing now rea monastery, but this augmentation of mains save a few yards of ruined wall, his property being followed by a par- and the Christ Church bells! Great ticularly unpleasant dream, he decided Tom once sounded from the Western that a change in his course of action Tower of Osney; but Tom was “renawould be advisable. Accordingly, he tus," as his own inscription informs us, restored the field to the monastery, and in 1680. set to work to gain the goodwill of the Oxford has ever been a home favored Church. Among other noteworthy of the Goddess of Romance, and in 1141 works, he built (or, according to some we find an Empress playing a part in authorities, merely restored) the tower the drama-a drama that was almost. of St. Michael's Church. This tower a tragedy. King Stephen was then at is still standing, and is now one of the war with his cousin, the Empress Maud, oldest buildings in Oxford; it was cer- and, having driven her from London, tainly built before the beginning of the he besieged her in Oxford Castle. twelfth century. Although attached Stephen himself occupied Beaumont to a church, its purpose was military Palace, built by Henry II., just outrather than religious, and the arrows side the north wall of the city, and from shot from its windows must have been there he kept close watch on the Castle an excellent protection to the great for ten weeks in the depth of winter. North Gate of the city.

The food in the Castle failed, and the Empress and her garrison were reduced until the beginning of the thirteenth to a state bordering on starvation. The century, when, according to Matthew cold was intense, the river frozen, and Paris, there were 3000 scholars in Oxthe country covered with snow. Sur- ford. render at last seemed inevitable. But In the middle of the thirteenth centhe frost which had borne so hardly on tury we see traces of an attempt a: the beleaguered warriors stood the Em- systematic arrangement in the scholaspress in good stead. One night, clad tic life of Oxford. In School Street in white that she might attract no no- there were more than thirty lecturetice against the snow, she was lowered rooms, devoted to astronomy, theology, stealthily from the Castle walls, and, law, and other studies. The students accompanied by only three trusty cava- lived for the most part in private lodgliers, she crossed the frozen river. How ings, known as “hostels ” or “entries." easily imagination sees that midnight Sometimes a number of students would flight from Oxford—the four figures club together to rent a whole house, and creeping, gliding, hurrying across the would live in common, appointing the snowy fields, clinging closely to the senior student as responsible head of shadow of the hedges, startled by each the establishment. In the course of trivial noise, and with ears astrain to time these houses of students develcatch the first whisper of pursuit. But oped into licensed “halls," and the Oxford slept on, unconscious of the senior student assumed the title of night's adventure, and when, next day, “principal.” There was no examinathe Castle surrendered to Stephen, the tion for admission to the schools, the Empress had reached the comparative matriculation ceremony being merely safety of Wallingford. Such are a few an oath to keep the peace. The acquiof the incidents in the city's early his- sition of learning was no easy matter. tory.

Books existed only in the form of costConcerning the origin of the Uni- ly manuscripts, and even these were few versity numerous conjectures have been and difficult of access. Lectures afrife. A well-known legend is that forded almost the sole means of inwhich attributes its birth to the foun- struction. Most of the students were dation of University College by King poor, and some even had to beg each Alfred in the year 872. This theory mile of their road to Oxford. has been proved to be absolutely fic The most important event of this titious, despite the fact that University epoch was undoubtedly the rise of the College celebrated its “millenary” in college system. In 1249 William of 1872! The two earliest references to Durham bequeathed a sum of 310 the Alfred myth are to be found in the marks “ to the University of Oxford," “Proloconycon," written by Ralph, a for the support of ten Masters of Arts, monk of Chester, in 1357, and in a who were to be natives of Durham. It petition presented by the College to was not, however, until 1292 that the King Richard II. As a matter of fact, work sustained by this fund was conUniversity College cannot claim for it- solidated into “the Great Hall of the self any corporate existence prior to the University," afterward known as Unithirteenth century.

versity College. The present buildings One of the earliest known facts con- of the college date only from the sevennected with academic Oxford dates teenth century. from the year 1129, when Theobald of Balliol College owes its creation to a Etampes resided there, and exercised very different course. It seems that in control over sixty or more students. It 1260 John de Balliol committed some was still early in the twelfth century outrage against the churches at Tynewhen Robert Pullein came to Oxford mouth and Durham. As part of the to lecture on theology; and a few years penalty of his wrong-doing he was conlater he was followed by Vacarius, who demned to a public scourging. To estook as his subject Roman law. The cape this disgrace he founded Balliol student population steadily increased College, the work being carried on after

« PreviousContinue »