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Топик Cambridge.

The story of the University begins, so far as I know, in 1209 when several hundred students and scholars arrived in the little town of Cambridge after having walked 60 miles from Oxford.
These students were all churchmen and had been studying in Oxford at that city’s well-known schools. It was a hard life at Oxford for there was constant trouble, even fighting, between the townsfolk and the students. Then one day a student accidentally killed a man of the town. The Mayor arrested three other students who were innocent, and by order of King John (who was quarrelling with the Church and knew that the death of three student clergymen would displease it) they were put to death by hanging. In protest, many students moved elsewhere, some coming to Cambridge; and so the new University began.

Of course there were no Colleges in those early days and student life was very different from what it is now. Students were of all ages and came from anywhere and everywhere. Those from the same part of the country tended to group themselves together and these groups, called “Nations”, often fought one another.

The students were armed; some even banded together to rob the people of the countryside. Gradually the idea of the College developed, and in 1284 Peterhouse, the oldest College in Cambridge, was founded.

Life in College was strict; students were forbidden to play games, to sing (except sacred music), to hunt or fish or even to dance. Books were very scarce and all the lessons were in the Latin language which students were supposed too speak even among themselves.
In 1440 King Henry VI founded King’s College, and other colleges followed. Erasmus, the great Dutch scholar, was at one of these, Queen’s College, from 1511 to 1513, and though he writes that the College beer was “weak and badly made” he also mentions a pleasant custom that unfortunately seems to have ceased.

“The English girls are extremely pretty,” Erasmus says, “soft, pleasant, gentle, and charming. When you go anywhere on a visit the girls all kiss you. They kiss you when you arrive. They kiss you when you go away and again when you return.”

Many other great men studied at Cambridge, amongst them Bacon, Milton, Cromwell, Newton, Wordsworth, Byron and Tennyson.

Practical jokes seem always to have been common, and there is an amusing tale of one played on the poet Gray by the students of Peterhouse College where he lived. Gray was a rather nervous man with a fear of fire, and every night he used to hang a rope-ladder from his window for use in case a fire broke out. One night there was a great noise and shouts of “Fire! Fire!” Dressed only in his nightgown Gray opened his window, climbed onto his ladder and slid down as fast as he could – into a barrel of cold water put there by a joking student!
(from C.E. Ekersley)

Список слов к топику Cambridge

so far as I know – насколько мне известно
churchmen – церковнослужитель
constant – постоянный
accidentally – случайно
strict – строгий
to be forbidden to play games – запрещать играть в игры
custom – обычай
fear of fire – боязнь огня

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