hundred undergraduates or undergraduettesn(as distaff students were officiallynknown). It was far from elite. Therenwere at that time only three collegesnwith a majority of public school men innresidence; Christ Church, New College,nand Trinity. These colleges werenpreempted by scholarships establishednfor such schools years, centuries, ago,nand legally impossible to unlock. Winchesternvirtually owned New College,nand Eton Christ Church. There werenthus two basic levels of students, thenvery young grammar school boys (likenKenneth Tynan, with whom I acted),nand the rather surly service officersninterrupted in their careers by six yearsnin uniform and impatient with thendilatory, unpunctual, vague, sherrysippingndons who inhabited a rathernexotic world of their own.nOf these, since I was studyingn(“reading”) English, I came to recognizenthat neariy all had involved themselvesnin some form of fictional fantasynlife on the side, perhaps to compensatenfor the lack of reality allowed them innthe Holocaust. C.S. Lewis (improbablynenough. Ken Tynan’s lit teacher) hadnjust published Perelandra and ThenScrewtape Letters. Charies Williamsnand A.E. Dyson, the Wordsworth expert,nhad also written what would todaynbe called science fiction. Theren. was B.E.C. David lecturing on Spenser,nand of course there was Tolkien,nmy language (Anglo-Saxon) tutor.nThough apparently known to havencracked a smile at home, Tolkien wasnjust about the most boring man I havenever known, although the subject itselfnwasn’t exactly spellbinding (C.L.nWren was almost equally soporific).nApart from his lugubrious tutes,nTolkien perfected a technique of virtuallynwhispering in the lecture hall, withnthe result that by halfway through thenterm he talked to only about four ornfive students, Beowulf fanatics for thenmost part, sitting literally at his feet. Inmust say I indulged in similar selfprotectionnfrom the Yahoos later in lifenwhen teaching at City College in NewnYork; I found that if I scheduled mynclasses at a subway school like that at 7nor 8 A.M., half the students droppednout after a week or so. My Oxford litntutor, and later Richard Burton’s, wasnthe delightful Nevill Coghill, who hadnjust published his modernized CanterburynTales (to vituperative reviews); henspent much of the time I was with himndirecting Cielgud in London, but henused to josh me quite equably aboutnTolkien’s diminishing lecture audiences.nI was less amused. It wasn’t whatnI was paying for. Lord David Cecil,nwho flunked Kingsley Amis a B.Litt.ndespite the intervention of F.W. Bateson,na curmudgeonly cripple of anothernsocial order, was more of the same,nso light on his feet you scarcely sawnhim from term to term, yet a delight tonread on the printed page. C.S. Lewis, anbig, buriy, ruddy-cheeked man given tonflat jokes about cats, more or less readnto us his Allegory of Love for hisnMagdalen lecture stint. Such lecturesngot you almost nothing for your efforts,nbut college butteries had some enviablenvintages, and still do, so there werencompensations.nStill and all, exasperatingly dilettantenas I found most of my Oxford teachersnafter the war, I now realize that suchnmen were, in essence and effect, thenlast humane professors. Without traditionnyou have no values and simplynturn to public opinion. I lived throughnsome of the worst academic riots of then60’s in New York and realize now whatnirreparable damage they did to thenliberal arts which today, in America,npick their topics off the streets —nfeminism, homosexuality, race, exoticnreligions, etc. The curriculum of thennatural sciences, meanwhile, has remainednunscathed. Two plus two stillnequals four. In some of the socialnsciences also less harm was done, notablynin those with a dependency onnmath, physics, chemistry, statistics, andnso on. I used to feel that essentially thenpsychology department was saying: twonplus two equals four, but we hate itnDuring the City College riots thennatural science professoriat simplynwent home and read the newspapers.nIn fact, at one point our School ofnEngineering was kept forcibly open byna group of black students anxious tongraduate.nOf course, the nature of Oxbridgenin my years there involved a respect forntradition, for the majority of the collegesnwere ecclesiastical institutions, mynown founded by Cardinal Wolsey.nThanks to emoluments created in then16th century, Christ Church wasnheavy in bachelor divines whose dutiesndidn’t include much teaching or awarenessnof the world around them. Inremember my father telling me thatnwhen I went up I shouldn’t miss thenopportunity of listening to Canon Jenkins.nThis diminutive and venerablenbedesman was over 90 -when I got tonOxford, with two teeth in his head andnthe habits of a miserly crank; his roomsnwere indescribably filthy since henwouldn’t allow any scout (servant) tonenter to clean them. And he was asninaudible as Tolkien.nWhen Heidegger was made rectornof Freiburg University, the WeimarsupportednSocratic stance in Germannacademe came to an end and, as AllannBloom puts it, “[t]he most sinisternformula in his Rectoral Address ofn1933 was, with only the slightest ofnalterations, the slogan of the Americansnwho collaborated with the studentnmovements of the sixties.” Lookingnback, I realize that Atflee’s Englandnwas far from Nazi Cermany in thisnrespect. C.S. Lewis didn’t have tonteach a course on gay rights, or kowtownto feminism, to keep his job. EdwardnBoyle, Tony Wedgwood Benn, MarknBonham Carter, and other politicallyorientednex-servicemen all debated atnthe postwar Oxford Union withoutnasking for any reform of the curriculum,nor abandonment of Western culture.nWhat pressures in this directionnon Oxbridge have come, alas, fromnAmerica and its increasingly “open”nacademe, its ears alert to the shoutingnin the streets.nGeoffrey Wagner’s most recent book isnRed Calypso, reviewed in this issue.nM O V I N G ?nLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!nTo assure uninterrupted delivery ofnChronicles, please notify us in advance.nSend change of address onnthis form with the mailing label fromnyour latest issue of Chronicles to:nSubscription Department, Chronicles,nP.O. Box 800, Mount Morris, Illinoisn61054.nNamenAddressnCitynnnState ^ip_nAPRIL 1989/59n