LATELY — 10 July 2001

Cambridge: Then and Now

Coincidentally enough, the day after the newswires report that Cambridge University is testing their students’ Bee Gees knowledge, Dad finds a nicely bound volume of all the exam papers given at Cambridge University between Michaelmas Term 1899 and Easter Term 1900.

I’ve been flipping through it all day. (Yes, I’ve been reading exam papers for enjoyment.) This is the English Essay component of the “Previous Examination” (I can’t figure out what this is, exactly–is it the entrance exam?):

Thursday, March 22, 1900. 1–3½.


Write an English Essay on one of the following subjects:

  1. English country life in the 18th century.
  2. The battle of Blenheim.
  3. The character of Rachel Lady Castlewood.
  4. Duelling.

They want a two-and-a-half hour essay on “duelling”? (Rachel Lady Castlewood is apparently a character in The History of Henry Esmond, by Thackeray.)

This is from the “Law of Contract and Tort” exam:

5. Under what circumstances is a principal liable for torts which his agent has committed?

(a) Whilst a lady was paying her bill in a butcher’s shop, one of the assistants removed a leg of mutton from a high hook and threw it across the shop to another assistant. It struck the lady and spoilt her dress. The master had given strict orders that joints were never to be thrown. Can the lady sue (1) the assistant, (2) his master?

(b) A boy steals a ride behind Z’s carriage; and Z’s coachman, on finding out this, whips at him. To avoid the lash, the boy jumps off; and, as the carriage was going rapidly, he breaks his arm. (1) He and (2) his father sue (a) the coachman, (b) Z. Consider these four actions.

From “Elementary Anglo-Saxon”:

6. Turn into Old English:

  1. Sussex, Canterbury, London, men of Wight, York.
  2. A certain woman came to Christ, and prayed for her daughter.
  3. How many loaves have ye?
  4. Then answers the godfather and says: ‘I renounce the devil.’