Tom Brown at Oxford, by Thomas Hughes

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Tom Brown at Oxford, by Thomas Hughes

Chapter 15
Tom recommends smoking to Hardy for an almost therapeutic purpose.
In Chapter 17 the author imagines a flying machine, though at the time of writing only balloons had ever carried men aloft. He imagines it something like a carriage equipped to carry passengers, with the most comfortable carriage type C-springs, steam powered, and faster than the latest trains, which at that time went 40 miles per hour, the fastest speed that anyone had ever achieved.
The author mentions Tractarians and Germanizers. The Tractarians were a group of Oxford dons who, in the 1840s, wrote a series of tracts, aimed at proposing some changes to the theological system of the Anglican Church. Germanizers proposed some changes more along the lines of the Lutheran theology, and these controversies occupied the Anglican theologians of the time. The author did not expand on these subjects, nor even indicate his support or opposition to them, as it was not necessary for the story.
At this time, as in many other times, the evangelical Christians were in the forefront of movements to help poor and downtrodden people, but other elements were attempting to become involved, promoting their own methods and beliefs. Karl Marx was not known in England, and the Russian Revolution was still in the distant future, but a few radical left-wing idealists know as Chartists and Swings were beginning to be heard on campus, and Tom gets briefly involved with them, speaking up for the poor, but realizes their destructive ideas cannot be reconciled with proper Christian behavior, thus voicing some of the author’s views on social reforms. The author later in life got involved with a communal living experiment.
Some words and expressions are used differently today than they were used in the nineteenth century. For example, when Tom says “There must always be some blackguards,” he means “Regrettably there will always be blackguards,” not “We ought to have some blackguards”. Katie and Tom discuss “profane” poetry, in the sense of being secular and not sacred or religious. Mary weighs “8 stone”, which is 112 pounds or 50 kilograms, and “famously” is used in the sense of being well done, not in the incorrect modern use of being well known. A “twelve-horse screw” is the propeller of a steam launch. To “give someone a character” is to speak or write about their moral character, either favorably or slanderously.
The book which I scanned using Optical Character Recognition was printed in the 1888-92 period by John W. Lovell of 150 Worth St. New York. Lovell has been described as a book pirate who tried to form a monopoly in the cheap uncopyrighted book trade. The US copyright laws were rather weak in the nineteenth century, and Charles Dickens was particularly hurt by pirates. There was even a book war, with rival publishers of the same book undercutting each other on price. Proof reading was done with another copy of the book published in 1888 by Porter & Coates of Philadelphia, which is in poorer condition with water damage, and would not scan well, but has fewer typesetting errors.
Nineteenth century punctuation made much more use of commas, hyphens and semicolons, and these have been retained as much as possible. British spellings of words such as colour, neighbour, odour, and flavour are retained, though in some cases the American publisher seems to have made his own corrections as he saw fit, and some words such as “connection” have retained the nineteenth century spelling “connexion”, but where a word was obviously spelled wrong by the typesetter, I have corrected it. The author used a few Greek words, which do not scan, and I have entered those manually using Symbol font for the rtf file, but substituted normal characters for the plain txt file and indicated [Greek text] where appropriate. The English pound symbol cannot be expressed in ASCII, so 25 pounds is rendered as 25L. Words printed in italics for emphasis are here rendered with underscores for the ASCII file.


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