Oxford from South Parks
Oxford from South Parks


But rumours hang about the country-side,
That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray,
Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied,
In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey,
The same the Gipsies wore.
(from The Scholar-Gipsy)


I was a modest, good-humoured boy. It is Oxford that has made me insufferable.
(from Going Back to School)

I am a Tory Anarchist. I should like every one to go about doing just as he pleased
— short of altering any of the things to which I have grown accustomed.
(from Servants)

Only the insane take themselves quite seriously.

All fantasy should have a solid base in reality.

Oxford walls have a way of belittling us
(from Zuleika Dobson)

JOHN DAVIES (1565-1618)

OXFORD, Oh, I praise thy situation
Passing Parnassus, Muses' habitation!


Read in order to live


Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers.
We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all to feed everybody, clothe everybody, and give every human on Earth a chance.
We know now what we could never have known before -- that we now have the option for all humanity to make it
successfully on this planet in this lifetime.
Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment.
Critical Path


There is nothing really beautiful except what cannot be used for anything; everything which is really useful is ugly...
The most useful place in a house is the latrines.
(preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin)


I arrived at Oxford with a stock of erudition that might have puzzled a doctor, and a degree of ignorance of which a schoolboy would have been ashamed.


There is nothing absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

The best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

We'll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.


Oxford is in the centre of England, but it's not really a rock'n'roll town.


There is nothing like dream to create the future.Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow.


It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.

I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.


We want our Utopia now.


An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia

I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read.


...the rest of the college rowed,hunted, ate and drank largely, and often sank at Oxford into a coarseness of manners and morals distasteful and distressing in the highest degree to a boy whose instinctive delicacy and purity of mind were untouched by any of the flaws of youth.
(from The Life of William Morris)


Capitalism's real power is to make unthinkable the alternatives.


Give me love and work - these two only

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

It must be remembered that civilization has reduced the workman to such a skinny and pitiful existence, that he scarcely knows how to frame a desire for any life much better than that which he now endures...
(from How I Became A Socialist)

If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful House; and if I were further asked to name the production next in importance and the thing next to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful Book. To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle.

Fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell; fellowship is life, and lack of fellowship is death; and the deeds that ye do upon the earth, it is for fellowship's sake that ye do them.

Oxford in those days still kept a great deal of its earlier loveliness: and the memory of its grey streets as they were then has been an abiding influence and pleasure in my life, and would be greater still if I could only forget what they are now.

[of Oxford and Cambridge]
They (and especially Oxford) were the breeding places of a peculiar class of parasites, who called themselves cultivated people; they were indeed cynical enough, as the so-called educated classes of the day generally were; but they affected an exaggeration of cynicism in order that they might be thought knowing and worldly-wise. The rich middle classes (they had no relation with the working-classes) treated them with the kind of contemptuous toleration with which a mediaeval baron treated his jester; though it must be said that they were by no means so pleasant as the old jesters were, being, in fact, the bores of society. They were laughed at, despised—and paid. Which last was what they aimed at.
(from The News from Nowhere)

When I remember the contrast between the Oxford of to-day and the Oxford which I first saw thirty years ago, I wonder I can face the misery (there is no other word for it) of visiting it...
(from Art Under Plutocracy
Given at the Russell Club, University College Hall, Oxford 11 November 1883)

It is not easy to imagine the beauty of a town all of whose houses are beautiful, at least unless you have seen (say) Rouen or Oxford thirty years ago.
(from Art, Wealth and Riches
Given at Manchester Royal Institution 6 March 1883)

At that time I was an undergraduate of Oxford. Though not so astounding, so romantic, or at first sight so mediæval as the Norman city, Oxford in those days still kept a great deal of its earlier loveliness: and the memory of its grey streets as they then were has been an abiding influence and pleasure in my life, and would be greater still if I could only forget what they are now...
(from The Aims of Art
Delivered before the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League 14 March 1886)

A kind of terror always falls upon me as I near [Oxford]; indignation at wanton or rash changes mingles curiously in me with all that I remember that I have lost since I was a lad and dwelling there; not the least of losses the recognition that I didn’t know in those days what a gain it was to be there.
(from The Life of William Morris by J.W.MACKAIL)


Nearly all creators of Utopia have resembled the man who has toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having toothache.... Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.


There is no wealth but life

A book worth reading is worth buying.

Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books.

Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.

Judge what the delight of travelling would be, for nice travellers,...if at every village there were a Blue Boar, or a Green Dragon, or Silver Swan - with Mark Tapley of the Dragon for Ostler - and Boots of the Swan for Boots - and Mrs Lirriper for Hostess-only trained at Girton in all that becomes a hostess in the nineteenth century! Gentle girl-readers mine, is it any excess of Christianity in you, do you think, that makes you shrink from the notion of being such an one, instead of the Curate's wife?

You must read, for the nourishment of your mind, precisely under the moral laws which regulate your eating for the nourishment of the mind...Gluttonous reading is a worse vice than gluttunous eating; filthy and foul reading, a much more loathsome habit than filthy eating.
(Fors Clavigera)

What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses?


Oxford, the paradise of dead philosophies.


People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading

When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, Idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter.


Tea's never over.


Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.


A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. (The Soul of Man Under Socialism)


Oxford is the most dangerous place to which a young man can be sent.


The truth is that Oxford is simply a very beautiful city in which it is convenient to segregate a certain number of the young of the nation while they are growing up.


The air of liberty, the light of truth;
Much have ye suffered from Time's gnawing tooth;
Yet o ye spires of Oxford! domes and towers!
Gardens and groves! your presence overpowers
The soberness of reason;


On Oxford's towers the tranquil stars look down:
The sleeping city sighs with gentle breath..
Closed are the eyes, relaxed the careful frown
This wearied brain of England slumbereth.


I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful.
One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.