The great glory of this county is its capital: the city of Oxford, containing the largest of the two English universities ; a seat of learning with the reputation of which the whole literary world is sufficiently acquainted. The system by which it is governed nearly resembles that of Cambridge, to which the reader is referred. It has in like manner its chancellor, high steward, and vice-chancellor, its proctors, and a number of inferior officers, of which some are the same, and others different, from those of Cambridge. There are in Oxford twenty-five colleges and halls, many of them buildings of great size and magnificence, are very richly endowed. The appearance of these edifices, and other public structures, some of ancient, and others of modern architecture, disposed in the spacious streets of a city of itself handsomely built, and finely situated, produces an effect singularly striking and majestic. The particular objects deserving attention, either as works of art, or as repositories of every thing curious and valuable in literature, are so numerous, that it would exceed the prescribed limits of this work to attempt an enumeration of them. A stranger needs only to be informed, that next to the metropolis, no town perhaps in England has so many claims to his attention.
The city, independently of the university, to which indeed it is indebted for all its consequence, maintains a respectable place among provincial capitals. It is divided into fourteen parishes; has a handsome town and county hail, and other edifices and institutions proper to a county town ; and though without any staple manufacture, has acquired some new sources of commerce in the communications opened by its canal. Its internal government is vested in a mayor, high steward, recorder, four aldermen, eight assistants, two bailiffs, a town clerk, two chamberlains, and twenty-four common council. Many of the mayors have received the honour of knighthood.
Oxford was a frequent place of residence for our kings, several of whom summoned hither their parliaments. The unfortunate Charles I here held his court during the whole civil wars, whence it became a sort of center in various military exploits in this and the surrounding counties. One of these, the skirmish at Chalgrave, in 1643, deserves to be commemorated, as having cost the life of the great patriot, John Hampden.
Text: England Described etc (1818) by John Aikin M.D.
Map: Section from Oxfordshire from Cary’s Traveller’s Companion or a Delineation of the Turnpike Roads of England and Wales etc.,(1812) by John Cary
Jane Austen References
Jane Austen’s father, the Reverend George Austen was educated at St John’s College, Oxford as were her brothers James and Henry Austen.
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 2nd June 1799
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 10th January 1809
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 30th April 1811
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 4th February 1813
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 21st october 1813
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 6th November 1813
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 26th November 1815
Letter to James-Edward Austen dated 9th July 1816
Letter to Caroline Austen dated 14th March 1817
Letter to James Edward Austen dated 27th May 1817
Sense and Sensibility: Chapters 19 and 38
Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 42
Mansfield Park : Chapters 2, 9, 38 and 46
Emma: Chapter 23
Northanger Abbey: Chapters 4, 7, 9, 14, 25, 27