Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/390

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



his daughter to the house of a lady who has been inquiring for a housemaid. She wears an imitation fur jacket, imitation gold earrings, and an imitation chignon, or plait, made of cotton or hemp by some new patent process of this imitation age, with a curious bunch of gauze, feathers, ribbons, grapes, and flowers, hung on behind by way of a bonnet; her hands are encased in lavender-colored kid gloves, and she carries a light parasol in her hand, though the day is overcast, and an umbrella would be much more to the purpose. She makes an imitation bow when the mistress of the house enters the room; and her father, who is proud of her appearance and manners, introduces her with the appropriate words, "This is the young lady, ma'am, as is open to an engagement for your situation." The owner of the house, who has no intention of resigning her situation, but only wants a housemaid, declines the application. There are pretensions of a worse kind than this. A well-educated youth, for instance, leaves school and is placed in an office or under articles, with a view to his future profession. His fellow-clerks or fellow-students appear to him by their costumes and conversation to be "great swells."

He does not wish to be thought inferior to them, and very soon learns to imitate their style and adopt their manners. He hears them talking largely of their parentage, of their exploits and their extravagances; and he wishes to be thought as rich, as gay, and as reckless as the best (or worst) of them. If they smoke, he must do the same; if they drink, he will drink with them; if they behave like heathens and talk disgracefully and vilely, he affects to admire their conduct and to enjoy their conversation. All this may at first be very much against his better instincts, but he fears to be ridiculed; and, in a word, would rather be accepted for what he is not, and ought not to be, than be esteemed for what he is. Every kind of pretence is bad: to pretend to be better than we are, is hypocrisy; to pretend to be greater than we are, is vanity and folly; but to pretend to be worse than we are, for the sake of winning favor with those whose favor is not worth having, is at once the worst and silliest pretence of all. Whatever a man's position or calling may be, if it be a thing to be ashamed of, let him abandon it; but if it be not wrong or disgraceful in itself, let him never be ashamed of it.

Remains of an Ancient Village in Oxford. — A discovery of a most remarkable nature has been made during the last few days in the course of preparing the ground for the new University Schools in High Street, Oxford. The site chosen for the schools was occupied by the Angel Hotel, and lies between High Street, Merton Street, University College, and King Street, embracing an area of about two acres. The excavations have now been made to a depth of about fifteen feet, and the earth having been cleared away has left standing a number of mounds of gravel, which, on closer examination, are seen to be the walls which divided circular pits. In some cases the wall is not more than six inches thick, while in others the division is of greater thickness, but all the spaces are of the same shape, namely, circular, although they differ in size. One very perfect specimen, situated on the west side, is of a remarkable character. It is much larger than the others, and being on the extreme edge of the site only one-half has been exposed. The appearance presented is that of a semicircular excavation in the gravel, the base of the semicircle being formed by the earth and foundations of the adjoining building. This large pit has adjoining it a much smaller one, which probably served as the entrance, and at the point of junction between the two there is a bench or narrow platform. In two of the pits have been found concrete floors (these being the only two that have been at present carefully examined) of such tenacity that it was possible to remove the half of one of them without fracture. At the bottom of another were found some pieces of decayed wood. In removing the rubbish and earth several objects of great interest have been found, including a portion of a Runic cross, a Saxon knife and arrow-head, etc., and also a very large number of bones, principally of domestic animals. The discovery has caused considerable interest in university circles.