Saturday 20 April 2024

The Intoxicated Undergraduate

It is an undeniable fact that undergraduates occasionally get drunk. Moreover, as I have before observed, when they get drunk they do it with a will. But, as in other classes of society, intoxication is rapidly becoming rarer and less respectable. I can remember orgies, which would not now be tolerated, which rose to the pitch of hurling tumblers at each other's heads: one noisy gentleman was temporarily squelched by a friend, who used a large bowl-full of milk-punch in the guise of a helmet, pressing it well down over his head and shoulders ; and they (I will not say we) finished by hunting the soberest man of the party with wild shrieks over the college grounds with the expressed intention of putting him safely to bed. He obstinately declined the proffered assistance.


The intoxicated undergraduate is generally beset by this shadowy idea, that he either has insulted, or immediately ought to insult, the college authorities. It was beautifully illustrated by a pupil of his whom my friend Brown discovered clinging desperately to a tree and trying to drive a corkscrew into the bark. "What on earth are you about?" he inquired. "I'm screwing up that old fool, Brown, into his room," was the touching reply.
Leslie Stephen, Sketches from Cambridge by A Don (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009; 1865), p.77; p.79.