An academy for non-academics

One of the great virtues of Oxford is that most of its members are not academics, nor ever supposed that they sould be. They come to Oxford for three or four years and then go on their way to other occupations in "the service of God in Church and State". It is not that they were not good enough to become dons: it is simply that they had other fish to fry, and would rather be a barrister, a Member of Parliament, a schoolmaster or a clergyman, and would not be tempted from their chosen vocation by any offer of a Fellowship or a life of ease and scholarship. The benefits of this are great. To have left Oxford of one's own accord and not on account of having failed to get an award or a post is to part from a friend with no sense of having been rejected. The Civil Servant who goes down with a first in Greats has no sense that he did not make it at Oxford, no need to shake its dust off his shoes because Oxford did not offer him a job, and in consequence he can easily look back on four golden years of widening horizons, untarnished by some final disappointment. And in general our alumni can feel warmly to their alma mater, because their going was of their choosing, and not because they were rudely pushed out of the nest.
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