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19. CHAPTER XIX.
OXFORD. - MONTMORENCY'S IDEA OF HEAVEN. - THE HIRED UP-RIVER BOAT, ITS BEAUTIES AND ADVANTAGES. - THE "PRIDE OF THE THAMES." - THE WEATHER CHANGES. - THE RIVER UNDER DIFFERENT ASPECTS. - NOT A CHEERFUL EVENING. - YEARNINGS FOR THE UNATTAINABLE. - THE CHEERY CHAT GOES ROUND. - GEORGE PERFORMS UPON THE BANJO. - A MOURNFUL MELODY. - ANOTHER WET DAY. - FLIGHT. - A LITTLE SUPPER AND A TOAST.
WE spent two very pleasant days at Oxford. There are plenty of dogs in the town of Oxford. Montmorency had eleven fights on the first day, and fourteen on the second, and evidently thought he had got to heaven.
Among folk too constitutionally weak, or too constitutionally lazy, whichever it may be, to relish up-stream work, it is a common practice to get a boat at Oxford, and row down. For the energetic, however, the up-stream journey is certainly to be preferred. It does not seem good to be always going with the current. There is more satisfaction in squaring one's back, and fighting against it, and winning one's way forward in spite of it - at least, so I feel, when Harris and George are sculling and I am steering.
To those who do contemplate making Oxford their starting-place, I would say, take your own boat - unless, of course, you can take someone else's without any possible danger of being found out. The boats that, as a rule, are let for hire on the Thames above Marlow, are very good boats. They are fairly water-tight; and so long as they are handled with care, they rarely come to pieces, or sink. There are places in them to sit down on, and they are complete with all the necessary arrangements - or nearly all - to enable you to row them and steer them.
But they are not ornamental. The boat you hire up the river above Marlow is not the sort of boat in which you can flash about and give yourself airs. The hired up-river boat very soon puts a stop to any nonsense of that sort on the part of its occupants. That is its chief - one may say, its only recommendation.
The man in the hired up-river boat is modest and retiring. He likes to keep on the shady side, underneath the trees, and to do most of his travelling early in the morning or late at night, when there are not many people about on the river to look at him.
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