[Leamington—Friday, 5 August 1859]
Friday 5th August. Came to Oxford at 9 a.m. Charles Reade or Dr Reade as he is called here had engaged rooms for us and arranged that we should live with him in Magdalen College. Rested a while then came Jamie with our good kind friend the Dr. to take us all about. We saw the College Gardens, the Bodleian library, the halls, chapels &c—then home to dress and dine at Magdalen at 5. The president is a warm friend of Dr Reade therefore we were introduced into his mansion. Two years ago when this president was elected he was asked if he would have a new house or several rooms in the old re-fitted. He chose the latter and nearly £3000 were expended in furnishing the rooms in medieval style. One room the state dining hall was particularly fine. It was all of light oak except the ceiling which was painted on the beams mostly in black with touches of red and blue & yellow with squares of the same colors and white between. There were oriel windows of Flemish glass of that period at each end, the furniture was stamped leather, the floor of encaustic tiles covered with turkey rugs, the very hinges of the doors and handles even of the old patterns and the effect was charming.
So we came to dine in the college at 5 in the queer old rooms (the place was built in 1485) with a cyder cup in the middle of the table quite as old as the college of silver heavily over-laden with gold and heard Charles Reade’s interesting talk. He is eager for strange facts out of which he weaves his strange pictures. Afterward we walked in the Botanic gardens and home to tea. He put me on a couch to be comfortable and then finished to us (or nearly) the new story, “A good Fight.”