by Professor Revilo P. Oliver
When I was a youth, before the Suicide of Europe in 1939-45, Oxford tacitly regarded itself as the greatest university in the world. Of course, no Oxonian ever said as much: that would have been a shocking violation of the gentlemanly tradition of modest self-depreciation, and besides, why should one talk about what was obvious?
It was not easy to refute that claim. The professors of the University and the dons and fellows of the several colleges formed an aggregate of learning and intellect unsurpassed in the world. Scholastic honors (as distinct from mere residence in a college) conveyed a distinction universally recognized, and justly. A man (or woman) who took a First in Greats had received an education far superior to anything available in the United States below the post-graduate level and rarely equalled even there. Graduation from Oxford bestowed a real prestige, especially in the United States. The late Willmoore Kendall, for example, who had four American degrees, was wont to list his academic degrees, not in chronological order as is usual, but in what he (and others) regarded as the ascending order of dignity: A.B., A.M., A.M., Ph.D., A.B.(Oxon.).
Oxford was old, even immemorially old, for its beginnings antedate the earliest extant mention of it in 1133. It was venerable and nobly cherished its multisecular traditions, striving to protect them from erosion. It had, of course, been created and endowed by the Church and pious Christians, and it faithfully maintained the formal ceremonies and sometimes impressive pageantry of an obsolete religion, but from the time of Roger Bacon, who had been viciously but futilely persecuted by a crass and vulgar pope, Oxford, within the limits of what was feasible, prized intellect above faith and became what some of its admirers called a "Kingdom of the Mind." Since the various colleges were independent foundations, many of them quite wealthy, only loosely connected by the University, and each was administered, even financially, by its own faculty, Oxford was institutionally and academically complex beyond anything that is even conceivable in the United States. That was part of the reason why it was commonly said when a man had been a fellow or tutor in one of the colleges for ten years, he could then begin to understand Oxford. It was always thought an impertinence for an outsider to pretend that he could, but nevertheless I shall venture to offer a few observations.
Students who held scholarships (and thereby ranked far above 'commoners,' who had been admitted to residence, paid high fees, and normally aspired to nothing more than a Pass) came from the great Public Schools with an intellectual equipment that was probably equalled in this country only by a few who were privately educated, but that was not the same as intellectual maturity. Americans were often puzzled by the difference. The average undergraduate, even a 'commoner,' had read widely for his age and was socially accomplished, but emotionally he was still boyish, given to "ideals" and madcap enthusiasms. A few cultivated Christian mysticism or aetheticism of the High Church variety or went on to emulate Newman, but most of the undergraduates regarded the religion as a social convention that one observed, just as one wore a gown when outside the walls of one's college; unknowingly, however, many of them retained in their minds the poisonous residue of the primitively egalitarian cult, and, coming from prosperous families and having had no contact with the proletariat, were susceptible to a perverse and illusory sense of guilt for the imperfection of the world.
In the 1930s, among undergraduates, the Liberalism of the Nineteenth Century had withered to a petulant discontent with present reality. They sensed, rather than understood, how much Britain and her Empire had lost in a terrible war that had been fought, not for the rational purpose of conquest, but as a spurious Crusade for claptrap "ideals" and for the glory and profit of contemptible politicians and the predators of finance. The dominant sentiment was pacifistic, and quite a few hot-headed young men took oaths never to fight for King and Country. Many of them, possibly most of them, soon fought, killed, and died for the Jews, but, of course, their oaths had not covered belligerency to content the Holy Race.
Undergraduates in the 1930s were susceptible to the fanaticism of Marx's Reformation of Christianity, an ostensibly irreligious religion. I do not know to what extent the faculty was responsible for the undergraduates' tropism toward the new gospel. Mature scholars at Oxford seemed generally to regard the radicalism of the undergraduates as a harmless ebullience of juvenile energies, comparable to the "rags" that were often amusing, if annoying to the burgess of the town. (Some are remembered. Oxford youths, carrying pickaxes and shovels and dressed as workmen, excavated a trench in the middle of High Street, a crowded thoroughfare, and then retired to count the days until motorists, exasperated by the traffic jams on what was then a trunk highway as well as the city's principal street, would make the municipal council explain why they had torn up the street. But no later escapade matched the elaborate hoax in 1912, when undergraduates impersonated the heir of an Indian rajah and his suite, forged credentials, and were received with honor by Admirals who proudly exhibited to the future monarch the power of Britain's latest dreadnoughts.)
There was precedent for dismissing the subversive ideas as innocuous. Within the limits of its statutes and for a margin beyond them, Oxford has always been tolerant of the eccentricities of youngsters trying to assert individuality or intoxicated with "ideals." I have commented "obiter" on some aspects of that tendency in "'Populism' and 'Elitism' " and in "The Uses of Religion" and I hope sometime to discuss the influence of Professor R. G. Collingwood and the involuted metaphysics of Immanuel Kant. (You remember Edgar Allen Poe's remark that he did not understand why the name was spelled with a K). What I have said here is only a kind of background for the observation that before the catastrophe of 1939-45, Oxford was able to maintain, with no great deterioration, its venerable traditions, and above all its tradition of gentility, moderation, and decorous devotion to intellectual values. Although it welcomed anyone who evinced real mental ability, it was unashamedly the Athens of the upper classes.
After the Suicide of the West, Oxford strove to maintain her traditions as best she could in a ruined nation and in despite of the increasingly hostile pressures of a debased proletariat and the moral and political corruption by which the Jews intend to liquidate the Aryans who helped them destroy the Aryans of Germany. It is a vast irony, for example, that in 1948 Oxford bestowed an honorary degree (J.C.D., i.e., Iuris Civilis Doctor) on "La Bocca Grande," the disgusting wife of the monster who had contrived the ruin of Britain and her Empire. The don upon whom the duty devolved presented the Roosevelt female with urbane elegance as "quae inter summates Americanorum matronas principem locum obtinuit ... cuius coniunx inaudita honoris continuatione in summo dignitatis gradu quater est collocatus." I suspect that when the orator alluded to the four times the creature was elected to the White House, he knew that the American Republic had ended, like so many others, in a tyranny, and by a revolution of which the befuddled Americans had not even been aware. Formal courtesy may mask keen perceptions.
I have not had a glimpse of Oxford in recent decades. Certainly in the fields of learning in which I may claim some competence, Oxford has maintained the high tradition of scholarship that has been her glory, and I assumed that she was enduring adversity with fortitude and some hope for the future. I was shocked when I learned that a crazed don had pulled a nigger from the cesspool at Brixton and taken him to Oxford to pollute its atmosphere, and I reflected that if there were life after death and the ghosts of Oxonians were not utterly powerless, some wall or even Tom Tower would fall on the ape when he was led past it. But I assumed that was no more than a specially disgusting instance of insignificant crackpottery.
I was not in the least prepared to see on the first page of the "Daily Mail" (London), 16 February 1986, a report that a mob of some two hundred vermin, identified as undergraduates and most of them members of the Communist organization that calls itself the Socialist Workers' Party, broke into Oriel College, smashing locks and windows, and prevented a Member of Parliament, John Carlisle, from addressing a private club of rational students. It was even more shocking that the police of Oxford, instead of clubbing the rabid animals and hauling them away, merely escorted Mr. Carlisle from the city.(1) He went to a restaurant outside town, but forty of the crazed animals trailed him and broke into the restaurant; Carlisle, however, escaped before they could murder him. At least he was not beaten up by the thugs, as he was when he tried to speak at one of the "red brick" universities. The crazed creatures were incensed because Mr. Carlisle had not voted in Parliament to hasten the massacre of White men and women in South Africa, as the two biggest Jewish colonies, the Soviet Union and the United States, are doing. The item in the "Mail" gave no indication that the authorities of the university intended to hire a Pied Piper or even a rat-catcher to clean up their buildings and grounds.
The same issue of the newspaper carried two other items that are of some significance. A confidence man swindled a half-dozen feeble-minded Englishmen, including the Earl of March, Viscount Hampden, a prosperous Anglican rector, and the wife of a wealthy Member of Parliament, of more than two hundred thousand pounds by telling the Christian idiots that he needed the money to overcome the Devil, who had power over him because in his youth he had been initiated into a Satanist cult, from which he now wanted to escape so that he could "give himself to Jesus."
On another page was a photograph of a broad-faced goon, white but probably not Aryan and with a name that could be Slavic or Levantine, in the act of hugging a full-grown nigger (complete with a rudimentary moustache!) that he had adopted as a son in South Africa; he brought his darling with him to England, where he is to compete for a championship in boxing. He told the press that he was inspired to adopt the nigger when he was in the United States and saw niggers married to white people. He was permitted to enter England with his beloved "son."
So far as I know, kuru has not appeared in England, but some disease which, like kuru, eats away the cells of the brain must have been endemic in that country for a long time.
(1) The intervention of the city police (who, I assume, were invited by the provost and fellows of Oriel, for they otherwise would have had no legal right or power to enter upon its grounds, unless things have sadly changed since I last heard) was sufficiently shocking in itself. Oxford always prided itself on the maintenance of discipline within the ambit of the university by the proctors and their biped 'bulldogs,' while the executive officer of each college had authority to maintain discipline within its precincts. Infraction of the rules or the social code was punished by penalties, chiefly fines and "gating" (confinement to the grounds of the college), and expulsion was freely used to eliminate undesirable or contumacious individuals or cliques. Youths who would profit from admonishment were "sent down," i.e., expelled for a term or a year, after which they might resume their studies. That these methods no longer suffice to maintain order and decorum is dismaying: gentlemen have been replaced by hoodlums even in very heart of British civilization!