Posted by Cassia on July 05, 1997 at 13:01:48:
In reply to Cambridge- Darcy Info Sought posted by Genette on June 28, 1997 at 09:19:27
] I'm thinking about doing a fanfic which would take place when Darcy and Wickham were at Cambridge. Does anyone know how old they would have been? Is it like college age in the US now? Also, wasn't Wickhame actually a bit older than Darcy? Also, when in P&P2 Darcy walked in on Wickham with a girl, would that have been in quarters they shared? Any answers/input greatly appreciated...
Since I found your question so very interesting I decided to do some research at the library. First of all, it was rather difficult to find information abaout Cambridge, Oxford seem to have writers amoung its students. Actually if you do this story you have a major decision: do you set it before or after the founding of the honours college. Here's why:
Before the honours program was instituted in 1800 at Oxford,(it was somewhat later at Cambridge but none of the books I looked into told the exact date but I got the impression it was 1805-07) student could be as academically idle as they wished as long as they weren't sent down for sheer beastliness. There were lectures but as many colleges were underfunded, they weren't always of good quality. In fact, the universities were so flexible as to their requirements that many parents sent their sons to public schools like Eton, Rugby, ect. instead of university or to univerities on the Continent or the University of Edinborogh. Also, with pluralism, the holding of two or more livings by one clergyman, the cost of university didn't necessarily insure that after finishing would yeild more than a curacy 40-50 pounds per annum (think of Patrick Bronte).
It is a residential college system, meaning that the various colleges operated freely of one another. So a Christ's Church man wouldn't necessary know a St. Cat's man.
There was no set age for matriculation, student could range from as young as twelve to mid twenties. You could go as soon as you pass the entrance exam. Exams before honours were oral and could be of highly eccentric composition. Asking the books of the Bible and explainations of Euclidian geometry, or the names of the last three king of England were examples used in one of the books I used. Most (about 70-80%) students left without taking degrees, keeping in the same vein as the general disorgansation of the universities at the time. The colleges controlled the University, not the other way around, diffierent colleges had different standards for degrees and many students didn't do much work.
There were four classes of students: noblemen-commoners, gentlemen-commoners, commoners, and servitors or sizars. the first two classes of students had different accomadations at the colleges and paid about 100 pounds to attend the colleges. They spent about 400-1,000 pounds a year on university life with their carriages, dress and drinking. You might want to watch the first episode of Brideshead Revisited to get an idea of what it was like for them. Others students lived in lodgings inns or residence halls. Servitors, were basically work-study students, about one sizar to every 6-8 commoners. They were responsible for "knocking up" the other students in the morning for lectures, serving students in the dining halls. However, sizars were not responsible for carrying out most of the care of the their fellows. Every "staircase (six sets of room)" had a porter who laid the fire, put out hot water for shaving and bathing, set out the breakfast and lunch, and gave a general wipe 'round. If the the student didn't have his own manservant, the porter would earn tips by settind out clothes.
The tutorial system with its emphasis on one-on one interactions between student and tutors was in place at Oxford. At cambridge it was optional.
What did students do if they were idle fellows? The same things they do today: drink, carouse, get girls into trouble, ect.
I always found the scene you were talking about unconvincing because of the residential college system. Even if Wickham and Darcy were at Cambridge together, it would follow not necessarily that they were at the same college and would have shared lodgings, instructors, ect. They could go weeks without seeing one another. Also, might not old Mr. Darcy have sent his son to one university and his godson to another? It would seem more politic. The only reason I can think of them encountering one another considering Darcy's dislike would be if old Mr. Wickham sent word to his son enclosed in a letter to Darcy. They need some plausible reason to meet, especially if they are to meet in Wickham's rooms.
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