By Norman

Norman web page offers us with an perception into Housman the poet, the student and the man.

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Their topics, in any case, indicate plainly enough the heavy bias towards ancient philosophy and history and the virtual neglect ofliterary and textual studies: the courses covered Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Cicero, Sallust, Tacitus, Political Philosophy, Logic, Greek and Roman history, as well as Bacon, Locke, Kant and the Utilitarians. A student could have attended all these lectures faithfully without ever suspecting that there are ancient poets and dramatists worth reading. Sir Charles Oman attended them and found them 'perfectly useless'.

Another contributor, A. H. Sayce, writing on 'Results of the Examination-system at Oxford', notes ironically that the undergraduate's 'chief business is to run from lecture to lecture, filling his note-books with scraps of knowledge to be poured out in a crude and undigested mass when the examination-day arrives'; he adds, revealingly, that Professor Max Miiller's lectures were poorly attended because they were unrelated to the topics of the examination: he 'offered in vain, term after term, to read the Rig- Veda with anyone of the 2,400 members of the University of Oxford'.

A Worcestershire Lad 19 A busy, contented, comfortable, companionable childhood: there is nothing in the record of these early years that foreshadows the self-sufficient solitariness of Housman's maturity. In some respects, though, the young Alfred was rather startlingly the father of the man. Edward Housman belonged to the Bromsgrove Volunteer Rifle Corps, and his son was fascinated by the military life. A charming photograph shows him, aged seven, with his brother Robert, both of them clutching homemade rifles; and the enthusiasm evidently persisted, since the much younger Laurence could remember battles fought in a corner of the garden and Alfred's experiments as an inventor of weaponry.

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