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The John Buchan Society    

No 24 / Spring 2001


On England and America, 3 December 1934, by John Buchan

John Buchan andThe Northern Muse: the politics of an anthology,by Christopher Harvie

The Thirty-Nine Steps first edition dustwrapper, by Michael Ross

A musical biography of John Buchan, by Sylvia Nichols

Buchan and the Classics: School and university, by Michael and Isobel Haslett

You can judge a book by looking at its cover, by Tom Acton

Scudder's Code: competition results, by David Marsh and Alasdair Hutton

Current Research

Peter Henshaw MLA indexing

Book News

Talking Book Shop Titles from online search (Oct 2000) concerning JB New title from Christopher Harvie and Peter Jones JB Short Stories available online Addenda to John Buchan: A Bibliographical Database (John Leach)

Notes and Queries

Grey Weather: the reprint? Spitfire clarification The Dragon School Winter Solstice Simon Williams as Hannay More on the Christian Aid Watcher by the Threshold


The Thirty-Nine Steps first edition dustwrapper
Michael Ross

The unsolved mystery of which is the correct dustwrapper for the first edition of John Buchan's most famous novel was aired again when Avonworld Books recently acquired an almost unbelievably fine example of the second impression, complete with its original dustwrapper. The book is identical in every respect to the 1st edition save for the words 'Second Impression' on the title page.

According to Blanchard (A32) The Thirty-Nine Steps was first published in book form on 19 October 1915 (having previously been serialised in Blackwood's Magazine, written under the pseudonym 'H. de V.', in July, August and September 1915). Both the second and third impressions were also published in 1915, so were 'hot on the heels' of the first, the second probably only weeks (or possibly even days) afterwards. Janet Adam Smith tells us that 25,000 copies were sold by the end of the year.

The dustwrapper is particularly scarce as it is believed many, possibly most, copies of the first and early impressions were acquired and eagerly read by soldiers serving in France, and a fragile paper wrapper was likely to be an early casualty in those conditions.

In common with other known examples of the dustwrapper on the first edition of this title, this one has the coloured painting of the scene in the house in Queen Anne's Gate on the front and the list of Blackwood's Popular Shilling Novels (including The Thirty-Nine Steps) on the back, with boxed advertisements for other recently published Blackwood books on the front and rear flaps:

Front flap - Ian Hay's New Volume THE FIRST HUNDRED THOUSAND


Within the last two years a dustwrapper with different boxed advertisements on the front and rear flaps has come to light. These are quoted 'plaudits' for Blackwood's Magazine, the text of which, somewhat surprisingly, as one would expect publicity blurbs for a monthly magazine to use the very latest quotes available, has dated press extracts from 1911--12 and 1913 and is, word-for-word, the same as on the dustwrapper for the first edition of Buchan's The Power-House, published a year later in 1916. The 'newly- discovered' example of a Thirty-Nine Steps dustwrapper, very badly torn and with some missing pieces, was sold at auction for £3000 but was restored professionally and was subsequently re-sold to a collector (on a copy of the first edition of the book in its usual condition of browned pages, etc) reportedly for close on £7,000.

Not unnaturally, this version (with the Blackwood's Magazine flap advertisements) was then claimed to be the 'true' first edition dustwrapper. A great deal of 'detective work' has since been done in what has become a personal crusade for some collectors to get to the bottom of the mystery, but as yet to no avail. A useful clue would be to know the actual month of publication of either of the books advertised on the flaps (listed on the blurb as 'just' published), but enquiries at the British Library and other book publication reference sources have drawn a blank.

Thus, to date no one knows. Majority 'expert' opinion has for a long time held that the dustwrapper on the second impression acquired by Avonworld is exactly the same as the wrapper on the first, and close examination of that particular copy goes some way to proving the case. The only browning in the book is on the endpapers where, especially on the rear papers, the pattern is precisely consistent with the flap on the wrapper, indicating that this dustwrapper had been on the book since it was new. Further, it is unlikely that the publishers, eager to get out more copies quickly with a 'run-away best-seller' on their hands, would have bothered to change the advertisements on the flaps at that stage.

Unlike every other copy Avonworld has seen, there is no browning of the pages whatsoever. The blue boards and lettering are near pristine, again consistent with the dustwrapper having been on the book all its life. The only defects are minor bumping to the extremities and a slight 'bubbling' of the blue cloth about half way down on the back board. There is no sign of any staining so this is not due to water or damp. It is believed this is purely the effect of a breakdown in the glue used to secure the cloth to the board, probably due to temperature variations over the years. As to the dustwrapper itself, it is bright and complete, with only very minor chipping and rubbing at the extremities.

By coincidence, in early February 2001 the existence in a private collection of another copy of the first edition in dustwrapper was reported 'through the trade' and, what's more, so it is said, the book is inscribed by Buchan (to someone: details not known) as a presentation copy 'on publication'. Apparently, the dustwrapper on this copy has the Blackwood's Magazine advertisements. If this wrapper can be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt' to be 'original' to the book, then the whole argument is wide open again. Maybe Blackwood's used both flap versions on the first and early impressions. In view of the dated quotes in praise of the magazine, it is possible this was a 'stock' set of flap blurbs which were used when no current newly published book blurbs were available.

If any member has any more information which would help to solve the mystery once and for all, Avonworld, and a lot of JB collectors, would be extremely grateful!

Blanchard R G, 1981 The First Editions of John Buchan - A Collector's Bibliography. Archon Books, Hamden, Connecticut.
Adam Smith J, 1965 John Buchan. Rupert Hart-Davis, London.

Buchan and the Classics: school and university
Michael & Isobel Haslett

Early education

Buchan's love affair with ancient Greece and Rome began in an ordinary way. He had to learn the languages first. Until 1888 he had been educated successively in a dame's school for a few months, the Pathhead Board School, the Burgh School of Kirkcaldy and, finally, the High School, at none of which had he learnt any Latin or Greek (Adam Smith 1965, 16). In 1888 his family moved to Glasgow, where his father's stipend increased to £410.00. It was now possible for Buchan, aged twelve, to go to Hutchesons' Grammar School at the cost of £4.20 per annum. His father gave him some tuition in Latin but none in Greek, so that from the very beginning his grasp of Latin was always firmer and he never acquired the same mastery of Greek, in any case a much more difficult language. At the end of his first year he won a scholarship which entitled him to free tuition, but it is not known whether this was due to any particular aptitude for Latin.

During that year he acquired the rudiments of Latin grammar. During his second year he probably read some Caesar and embarked on Greek. During his third year he probably continued reading Caesar and began Cicero's De Amicitia and Virgil's Aeneid Book I, or something of comparable difficulty. In Greek he probably started on Xenophon's Anabasis and continued to learn Greek grammar. Unfortunately we have no details of the syllabus of his fourth year, when he would have begun to specialise in Classics. Mr D R Ward MA, Rector of Hutchesons' Grammar School, kindly sent the authors these details, emphasising that this was the sort of work that Buchan would have done at the school. One cannot be absolutely certain that Buchan studied any particular author, but from this probable curriculum one does get a clear idea of the progress he made as he passed through the school. Details were available for his final year, during which, however, Buchan left for Glasgow University in October. Had he stayed he would have read Horace's Epistles, Tacitus' Annals XI, XII, extracts from Ovid, Euripides' Hecuba, Homer's Odyssey 13, 18 and some Xenophon.

Much more important was the lasting effect of James Caddell, who taught him for one year, probably his third or fourth. From him Buchan acquired a real enthusiasm for classical literature, particularly Latin, which lasted until the day he died. Buchan wrote a very grateful appreciation of Caddell after his death, reprinted in this journal (Buchan 1999), thirty years later for the school magazine.

Glasgow University

Buchan left Hutchesons' shortly after his seventeenth birthday for Glasgow University, having won a university bursary of £30.00, as well as a leaving bursary from Hutchesons'. Glasgow University at this time had a superb reputation. Edward Caird1 held the Chair of Moral Philosophy, Ramsay that of Latin and Gilbert Murray that of Greek. Buchan spent his first year doing the traditional general course, comprising Latin, Greek, mathematics, philosophy, natural science and history. He had a 'brief dalliance with Mathematics' (Buchan 1940, 33), came second in the class over the whole year and passed a preliminary examination in Greek which allowed him to do Senior Greek in his second year. He also did some additional Greek privately. During this year he experienced Gilbert Murray's enthusiasm and insight into Greek tragedy, his lectures consisting in large part of his translations of Greek plays, later published and acted in the London theatre. Moreover, Buchan became his life-long friend. At the end of this year he obtained a second prize for general eminence. In his final year at Glasgow he continued the private Greek tuition and started philosophy and logic. Professor Caird had been elected Master of Balliol but his successor, Henry Jones, though a less eminent philosopher, was an even more eloquent and stimulating lecturer. Buchan was introduced to Kant, Sidgwick and Green and to Jones' own brand of Hegelian philosophy (Adam Smith 1965, 32). For a time, having been in succession an enthusiast for mathematics and classical studies, under the influence of Jones he thought of becoming a philosopher. However, 'Philosophy was to me always an intellectual exercise, like Mathematics, not the quest for a faith' (Buchan 1940, 36), and he reverted to Latin and Greek

Buchan entered Glasgow University as a schoolboy and left it a mature young man. He always had a feeling of financial insecurity, even as a child at a period of life when most of us give no thought to tomorrow. He wrote later: 'As a child I was always in terror of being compelled to earn my bread as a clerk should my father die …. This gloomy fear I associated with some kind of English domicile, probably a London suburb. The suburbs of the metropolis, of which I knew nothing, become for me a synonym for a dreadful life of commercial drudgery without daylight or hope' (Buchan 1940, 46). There were many reasons for his early awareness of 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'. Very few middle-class families at that time were as aware of grinding poverty and the consequences of the unexpected death of young parents as the Buchans had been. Very few young men had listened to their father's sermons about 'the fleeting world' for so long. Very few had a prosperous grandfather who had been ruined by the repayment of a large sum of money after a bank failure. He was therefore eager to be financially independent and during his time at Glasgow became an author. In 1894 he edited and wrote an introduction to Essays and Apothegms of Lord Francis Bacon, having already had his first article, 'Angling in Still Waters', published in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1893 (Adam Smith 1985, 37). In 1895 he published his first novel, Sir Quixote of the Moors, just before leaving Glasgow. Moreover his writing had another aim. He was beginning to have political ambitions in addition to ideas of becoming a philosophy professor or a classical scholar. All these aims pointed to Oxford.

Buchan's decision to try for an Oxford scholarship in Classics was a brave one, indeed, positively rash. Competition was intense. He had begun Latin at twelve and Greek at thirteen, four years later than the pupils in the schools that dominated the scholarship examinations at the time. He had specialised in Latin and Greek far later than his competitors, but, on the other hand, had had a far wider education. His hope lay in the Essay and General Paper. At the instigation of Murray, Professor Lodge, who held the Chair of History at Glasgow, suggested to the examiners that they might overlook his deficiencies as a classical scholar if they were impressed by his English and General Knowledge. Murray almost certainly discouraged him from applying for a Snell exhibition reserved for Glasgow graduates at Balliol, where very high standards of classical scholarship were demanded. Fortunately Buchan opted for Brasenose because of his admiration of Walter Pater, and Brasenose awarded him a Junior Hulme Scholarship.

Oxford University The Classics Course at Oxford consisted at first largely of extensive reading of classical authors, and translations into and out of Latin and Greek. Candidates for an Honours Degree took an examination known as Mods at the end of their fifth term, part-way through their second year. At the end of a further seven terms, ie after four academic years, they took an examination, known as Greats, in philosophy and ancient history. During the eighteenth century classical studies had slumbered in England, whereas in Scotland at the end of this period Professor Dalzell of Edinburgh maintained that Presbytery had killed classical scholarship altogether (Buchan 1932, 37). By the time of Buchan's arrival at Oxford Jowett's example at Balliol had greatly improved the teaching of undergraduates, and the college tutorial system that had evolved was ideal for imparting the finer stylistic points of Latin and Greek. Buchan was lucky to experience both the inspiring lectures of Glasgow and the one-to-one teaching at Oxford.

Until the nineteenth century classical research consisted only of textual criticism. The last great textual critic, Professor A E Housman, better known as a poet, had failed his Greats examination in 1881 due to his intellectual arrogance and the failure of his teachers to guide him (Graves 1979, 54). He had to work his way back into classical scholarship in London and finally, in 1911, became Professor of Latin at Cambridge.

Such was the state of British classical scholarship at that time that more than half the editions of classical authors recommended to Buchan for his Mods examination were the work of German scholars. In Germany the radical reform of the education system after the collapse of Prussia in the Napoleonic Wars had led to the golden age of German classical scholarship. German scholars were pre-eminent not only in textual scholarship, but also in ancient history and Roman law. Mommsen towered above them, but was one of many. He had been trained as a classical scholar, lawyer and historian. Initially he made a comprehensive collection of Latin inscriptions surviving from antiquity. Using these he wrote his Roman History (Römische Geschichte), omitting only the period of the empire. He then codified Roman constitutional law (Römische Staatsrecht) in three volumes, the last in 1888, something the Romans never did themselves. He then wrote the standard work on Roman criminal law (Römisches Strafrecht), published in 1899, the year of Buchan's Greats examination. Finally, at the age of eighty six, he completed his edition of the Theodosian Code just before his death. For this he needed the help of his friend Francis Haverfield, the Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Buchan's college from 1907 to 1919. Buchan had no recorded dealings with either Haverfield or Mommsen, but almost certainly got to know the former through the college when he became a Fellow. 2 Haverfield had been the first to study Roman Britain scientifically and systematically, and was the first Camden Professor to make an important, albeit peripheral, contribution to the study of Roman history.

Oxford's classical studies were beginning to be recognised abroad, while its teaching had become outstandingly good. British classical scholarship took many more years to recover fully. By 1930 Professor Housman was recognised by Professor Wilamovitz-Möllendorff, Mommsen's son-in-law, to be 'the leading living Latinist' (Graves 1979, 210) and only after the Holocaust and a world war did German scholarship decline so far that Sir Ronald Syme, a successor of Haverfield, became the Grand Old Man of European classical scholarship as Mommsen had been.

Oxford's undergraduates at first bewildered and disappointed Buchan. A high proportion of them, almost half in some colleges, were sitting for pass degrees, and no less than a fifth departed without even a pass degree. Classics still dominated academic life, and scientists were a rarity. For many Oxford was little more than a finishing school where the sons of the landed and wealthy could mature socially rather than intellectually after ten years of isolation in boarding schools. Buchan felt that he had been 'pitchforked into a kindergarten' (Buchan 1940, 48) and particularly disliked their alcoholic revels. In the Classics faculty many were continuing or repeating what they had been doing for ten years and were bored. Lectures therefore were not the exciting affairs of Glasgow.

Oxford's classical studies were beginning to be recognised abroad, while its teaching had become outstandingly good. British classical scholarship took many more years to recover fully. By 1930 Professor Housman was recognised by Professor Wilamovitz-Möllendorff, Mommsen's son-in-law, to be 'the leading living Latinist' (Graves 1979, 210) and only after the Holocaust and a world war did German scholarship decline so far that Sir Ronald Syme, a successor of Haverfield, became the Grand Old Man of European classical scholarship as Mommsen had been.

However the standards expected of the best undergraduates were very high. For instance, Buchan's friend Harold Baker had been a Scholar at Winchester. The scholarship examination had been highly competitive. One hundred and forty candidates had sat for ten scholarships and each was expected at the age of twelve or thirteen 'to be able to translate passages from Greek and Latin authors, to be familiar with all the niceties of grammatical form in both languages and to compose Ciceronian prose and Ovidian verse of his own with faultless accuracy and stylistic polish' (Sabben-Clare 1981, 56). Baker at Winchester would have done 14-20 hours of classics per week, including in-school preparation hours, and only 10-12 hours of all other subjects during his five years in the school. Moreover every boy in the sixth form had to take an examination for the Goddard scholarship, which Baker won in 1895. The syllabus of set books that year was The Epistles to the Corinthians in Greek, Thucydides II, Pindar's Olympian Odes, Odyssey 1-XII, Virgil's Eclogues and Georgics, and English history 1215-1327. The work for all this had to be done in Baker's own time. Moreover Baker would have sat the examination the previous one or two years before his success, with a similar but different syllabus. In addition he had to sit papers in Latin prose, Greek prose, Latin verse and Greek verse composition, and also papers in Latin and Greek unseen translation. The school also offered medals for Latin verse, Greek verse, Latin prose and Greek prose each year, of which Baker won five during his school career. For Baker, 'Mods would have been a doddle' (Sabben-Clare, personal communication).

The grammar schools were beginning to produce a series of scholars. For example, Sir Ernest Barker was the son of a farm worker who earned £46 16s 0d per annum, barely a ninth of Buchan's father's stipend (Barker 1948, 14). His family experienced a grinding poverty that never afflicted the Buchans. Quite by chance he sat for Manchester Grammar School to help a friend and unexpectedly won a scholarship. Only financial help from his grandfather enabled him to take it up. Like Buchan, he began Latin at twelve and Greek at thirteen, but studied little else for seven years, winning school prizes sufficient to cover the expenses of his last four years. He won the top scholarship at Balliol, and went to Oxford in 1893, two years before Buchan, having borrowed money from a local grocer. He had a distinguished career as an undergraduate, getting firsts in Mods, Greats and Modern History. By the end of his undergraduate career he had paid off all debts by winning a Craven Scholarship in classics and a college exhibition, and finally won a prize fellowship at Merton. Barker had found Mods to be 'partly a repetition and partly a continuation of work … done or begun … in the sixth form at the grammar school' (op cit 88)). The only new requirement was extensive reading of Cicero, Demosthenes, Homer and Virgil, study of Aristotle's Poetics and the general development of Greek drama.

Such was the ability of the likes of Barker and Baker that Buchan could not hope to win any of the university classical prizes to support himself as Gilbert Murray had done. He decided immediately to try for the Newdigate poetry prize and the Stanhope historical essay prize. Meanwhile, for immediate cash needs, he relied on journalism until his second novel, John Burnet of Barns, then almost finished, was published. Moreover he was negotiating about the publication of Musa Piscatrix, a fishing anthology, and Scholar Gypsies, a collection of essays. Most important of all, he started to read manuscripts for the publisher John Lane. In his first year he just scraped through with his Junior Hulme scholarship worth £75.00 p.a. and earnings of £75.00. In his second year he won the Stanhope prize, and Brasenose awarded him a Senior Hulme Scholarship of £130.00 p.a.. The latter required a lot of extra academic work in Ancient History and Philosophy before his Mods examination, at a time when he was very hard-pressed. These successes required a heroic and punishing work schedule. During his first term he worked on classics from 9am until 1pm, on his Stanhope entry from 3.00pm until 4.30pm, and on classics again from 5.00pm until 7.00pm and 7.30pm until 9.00pm. In the summer he allowed himself afternoons of pleasure, but spent the evenings reading manuscripts and completing John Burnet of Barns. He worked almost as hard during the vacations.

The Mods examination, a 'doddle' for Barker and Baker, was a formidable hurdle for Buchan. There were compulsory papers on the works, or most of them, of Demosthenes, Homer, Cicero and Virgil, as well as Latin prose, a general paper on classical topics and unseen translation. Candidates had to select three classical authors in addition, whose works were the subjects of three more examinations. A letter to Charles Dick dated 15th October 1895 tells that Buchan was attending lectures on Homer's Iliad, Demosthenes, described in another letter as 'a grind' (letter to Gilbert Murray 10th November 1895), and Theocritus, described in the same letter as 'delightful'. In a letter to Dick (3rd March 1896) he is studying Cicero's speeches against Verres, Tacitus' Annals and 'nearly all' of Virgil. In another letter to Dick (30th December 1896) he is reading Horace's Odes and is preparing for the papers on Latin poetry and Logic. It looks therefore as though he chose Tacitus, Horace and Theocritus, all of whom he quoted extensively in his subsequent writing. Finally, there was a group of papers, of which a candidate was only required to do one, whereas Buchan did two: Latin poetry and Logic (letter to Charles Dick 30th December 1896). The explanation is that by doing two he was excused from doing either Greek prose or Latin verse and Greek verse. In the letter to Gilbert Murray dated 10th November 1895 he wrote: 'I have risen from the region of unclassified in my proses to the exalted place of beta'. Given that there was to be a compulsory Greek prose paper in the Greats examination and that he makes no mention of his Greek verses to his old Greek teacher, one must conclude that he elected to do the Greek prose paper in the Mods examination and did not do either Latin verse or Greek verse. This conclusion may be confirmed by The Book of the Horace Club, to which Buchan contributed four poems in English, whereas his friends Raymond Asquith and Herbert Baker contributed poems in Latin, Greek and English.

In the examination he was unlucky. He submitted thirteen papers in all, and required seven alphas for a first. He fell short with six alphas and one alpha-beta, the latter being in the Latin poetry paper, in which he had confidently expected an alpha. There is a curious discrepancy here. Both biographers give Buchan a beta minus in the Latin Poetry paper (Adam Smith 1965, 59; Lownie 1995, 46). The alpha is very clearly written on the microfilm in the Scottish National Library of a letter to Dick (7th May 1897). Indeed, it looks as though someone has traced over what Buchan himself wrote. Perhaps Dick wrote over an alpha that had faded with time. At all events an alpha-beta accords much better than a beta minus with Buchan's comment that he had had 'a near shave' (ibid).

Disappointed, but undismayed, he began to work with excellent prospects for the first in Greats which he eventually obtained. He did not escape from Greek altogether. He still had to read Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Ethics, to translate some passages from both and to do one Greek prose. However, the examiners for the Senior Hulme Scholarship had been impressed by his knowledge: 'The examiners said that my papers would have got me a first in Greats' (letter to Charles Dick 29th January 1897), a verdict given three months before the Greats course even began. He had already covered a large part of the philosophy syllabus at Glasgow so that, whereas his rivals were confronting a new subject, he could judge what was taught in the light of what he already knew. He therefore had time both to master Greek and Roman history and also to explore the nooks and crannies of the classical languages and the classical world, acquiring knowledge that he put to good use in the years of writing to come. What with the Stanhope and Newdigate prizes, increasing numbers of manuscripts to assess and a £100.00 advance on John Burnet of Barns, his financial problems were over. Though he still had to allocate his time strictly, he could now begin to enjoy himself with his university friends.

During this period he acquired the knowledge and enthusiasm for Roman history which led to his biography of Augustus thirty eight years later. Although a Fellow of Hertford, the Ancient History lecturer at Brasenose was A H J Greenidge, a prolific and distinguished scholar. A short list of his more important books with their dates of publication gives an idea of his special interests and of what he taught Buchan during the Greats course: Infamia, Its Place in Roman Public and Private Law (1894), A Handbook of Greek Constitutional History (1896), The Student's Edition of Gibbon (1899), Legal Procedure in Cicero's Time (1901), Roman Public Life (1901), Sources for Roman History BC 133-70, with A M Clay (1903), A History of Rome during the Later Republic and Principate (1904). His book on Infamia is still cited by modern Roman Law scholars, eg Jane Gardner in her Women in Roman Law and Society (1986) and Sources for Roman History was revised by E W Grey and republished in 1960. Nevertheless, Greenidge was not a specialist in Roman Law, and Infamia was a very small legal topic. It defined the conduct which would result in expulsion from the senatorial order and had an incidental significance. Since members of the senatorial order were banned from fighting in the arena, a convenient way for them to become gladiators was first to be judged guilty of Infamia, not, one feels, an everyday occurrence at the centre of things, like making a contract or a will.

Buchan attributes his decision to go to the Bar to Greenidge (Buchan 1940, 90). This is only partially true. Buchan's family spawned many lawyers; his grandfather, his uncle and, later, his brother Walter. In a list of things to be done written on his twenty-first birthday in August 1896, he wrote that he intended to 'begin term at Inn of Court' and also to stand for 'Librarian of Union' (Adam Smith 1979, 28). Law and politics were therefore in his sights before he began to study Ancient History under Greenidge in April 1997. By this time Buchan was 'rather rich for an undergraduate' (Buchan 1940, 48) and he had started to enjoy the lifestyle of wealthy friends. When he wrote almost forty years later that Greenidge had affected his decision, his memory and his desire to pay a public compliment to a tutor, who died at only forty-one, probably misled him. At the most, when he had the opportunity to stay on at Oxford and teach philosophy, Greenidge convinced him that law was a subject worthy of academic study as well as a route to a high income.

Buchan's other tutor in Ancient History (and Philosophy) was Dr F W Bussell, whom Buchan describes as 'the nearest approach in my acquaintance to a medieval polymath' (op cit 49). In one term he lectured on Lucan, Outlines of Medieval Thought, the Epistle to the Romans, Frontiers of the Roman Empire AD 500-1000 and Fragments before Plato (Oxford University Gazette, October 1898). On the other hand he published little. He was, like Buchan, a lover of the recondite and introduced him to the idea of the survival of pre-Christian cults, an idea used both in Witch Wood and The Dancing Floor. His other tutor was F Wylie, of Balliol College, who found in him 'a brilliant and already mature mind' in contrast to other younger pupils (Adam Smith 1965, 70).

His success in Greats was followed by failure at All Souls, repeated the following year. Success would have given him a guaranteed income of £200.00 p.a., a little less than half his father's stipend, and free board and lodging at weekends for seven years. An All Souls fellowship allowed young barristers to face the early years at the Bar with confidence. However, Buchan's income was already over £200.00pa (Adam Smith 1965, 63), as compared with A E Housman's £100.00 pa in his first job after leaving Oxford. Buchan's failure therefore probably played no part in his decision to go the Bar. The real significance lay in a letter from Cosmo Lang who was already a Fellow and had access to the detailed results of the examination. He wrote: 'It was very plain that in the special History papers you had not done justice to your abilities … It only shows that you would have been wiser to have read more definitely and systematically for the examination. I am afraid literary and other work … have been allowed to take up too much of the time that ought to have been given to general historical reading' (Adam Smith 1965, 78). Buchan must have been aware of the cause of his failure before his second attempt and could have remedied his deficiency. One can only conclude that at twenty-five he was beginning to lose his enthusiasm for academic work, and that he had sufficient income to be relatively unconcerned about the result. The examiners cannot be criticised. Candidates who did not find time to do their background reading were unlikely to master their briefs at the Bar.


We are grateful to the British Library service who made this article possible and our local library in Poulton Le Fylde. We would also like to thank the Bodleian Library, the National Library of Scotland and the library of the Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, the librarians of Brasenose College and Hertford College for many details about former Fellows. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to Mr D R Wood MA, Rector of Hutchesons' Grammar School and Mr J Sabben-Clare MA, until recently Headmaster of Winchester College, for their help in assessing Buchan's classical education.


Adam Smith J, 1965 (1985) John Buchan - a Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Adam Smith J, 1979 John Buchan and His World, Thames and Hudson, London. Buchan J, 1908 Some Eighteenth Century Byways, Hodder and Stoughton, London. Buchan J, 1920 (1999) Mr Caddell: An appreciation, in The John Buchan Journal, 20, 2-3. Buchan J, 1932 Sir Walter Scott, Hodder & Stoughton, London. Buchan J, 1940 Memory Hold-the-Door, Hodder & Stoughton, London. Graves R P, 1979 A E Housman, the Scholar-Poet, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London. Harries J and Wood I (eds), 1993 The Theodosian Code, Duckworth, London. Sabben-Clare J, 1981 Winchester College, Paul Cave Publications, Winchester.


Edward Caird (1835-1908) was a Scottish philosopher, one of the school of British idealists, and published important studies of Hegel and Kant, and works on the evolution on religion. In 'The Wind in the Portico', a story collected in The Runagates Club (1928), the narrator is surprised to find that an eccentric enthusiast for Roman antiquities has never heard of Haverfield, rather a nice compliment by Buchan, which recalls an entertaining correspondence. As a brave young man, aged twenty three, Haverfield embarked on a lifetime's correspondence with Mommsen. It covered health and money as well as Roman inscriptions and the manuscript of the Lex Romana Visigothorum in the Bodleian, revealed the hectoring manner by which Mommsen persuaded other scholars to run around for him and is most entertainingly recounted by Croke in The Theodosian Code (Harries & Wood 1993). Perhaps the reference to Haverfield in 'The Wind in the Portico' shows gratitude for information about the Grand Old Man by his essayist (Buchan 1908, 315).

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