Imatges de pàgina

autnority. When the boys came to a stiff Greek chorus, he always complained of a noise in school; and while he was shouting to the prefect to maintain silence, the passage was allowed to be shuffled over in any way that might relieve him from criticism. For the same reason he was fond of requiring from the boys written translations, in which difficulties could be loosely paraplırased, and which he could at least examine and correct at his leisure; and he is said to have liberally rewarded instead of rebuking, as he should have done, a boy, who, when called up to construe a passage in Horace, shut his book and recited Pope's "Imitation." His weak though popular administration paved the way for the most formidable rebellion on record in any public school, although the then warden, Dr. Huntingford, was the immediate object of the outbreak. It took place on the 3d of April, 1793. Strict orders had been issued by the war. den that the boys should not attend the parade of the Bucks Militia; that in the event of disobedience on the part of any individual boy, he should be individually punished; but that if any numbers were seen there, the whole school should have their “leave-out stopped for the following Easter Sunday, when many had invitations to dine with friends. One boy only—a prefect-was detected and reported by Mr. Goddard, the second master. The warden not only severely punished the individual, but stopped the leave of the whole school, accompanying this with a quotation more irritating than appropriate, “Quidquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi.” The boys resented this as a breach of faith; and after holding a meeting, in which they bound themselves by an oath (in which, however, the younger boys were not allowed to join) to stand by each other in their resistance to the last, they drew up a series of resolutions, of which they proceeded to put the first into execution at once. A Latin note was sent to the warden submitting to the present punishment, but expressing a hope that in future he would not punish all for the fault of one. To this note Dr. Huntingford returned no answer. After three days a second note was forwarded to him, very respectfully worded, but requesting a reply. It was returned with an indorsement charging the writers with “consummate arrogance" and forgetfulness of their position and their duties. Then the storm broke out. The keys of the college gate were seized. Warning was sent both to the head and second masters not to make their appearance in school. The warning to Dr. Warton was accompanied by professions of esteem; he was weak enough to comply, and kept away. Goddard (though aware of his unpopularity as the delator of the actual culprit) had a better appreciation of his duty. He was received, on entering the school, with groans and hisses, and with a shower of marbles from the younger boys—an act censured by the prefects. A summons issued by the warden and masters to the eighteen prefects to appear before them met with no attention; the communication between the warden's lodgings and the rest of the college was blocked up, and the college gates guarded night and day by patrols of the scholars. The cry of “Liberty and Equality" was raised, (so contagious were French revolutionary principles,) the “red cap” was assumed by all the boys who could procure or contrive one, the bakers' and butchers' shops ransacked for provisions, and bludgeons and swords provided in preparation for a siege. The warden, having gone out of his own house early next morning to convene a meeting of the fellows at Dr. Warton's house, (in commoners,) was not allowed readmission; and by confining one of the fellows within the college walls, the rebels effectually prevented a quorum of four being formed, which is required for any official act of their body. A message was then sent from the warden to the effect that all the boys might go home; but in that case they were well aware that expulsion of the ringleaders would follow. The warden then applied to the magistrates (who bappened to be then assembled to present an address to the king) to put him in possession of his house, from which he was still excluded by the insurgents, by tho aid of the civil power. The outer gates of the college had by this time been barricaded, the quadrangle unpaved, and the stones carried up to the top of the tower above, part of the parapet of which they also loosened to supply them with missiles to resist attack from without. When summoned to surrender by the sheriff in person, their reply was a threat to burn the colloge if any attempt was made to force an entrance. Sir Thomas Miller, Mr. Brereton, and Canon Poulter, severally did their best to negotiate; but there was such excitement in the town generally, and so much fear of the “roughs" taking part with the boys, that three companies of militia were drawn up under arms in College street. At last, Dr. Warton, with one or two of the above-named gentlemen, were admitted within the gates; and on their representations, the boys agreed to submit the whole question to the arbitration of the magistrates. The matter ended for the time in an entire amnesty, or even more; the warden conceding the original point of dispute, by an engagement pot in future to punish the community for the sake of an individual. But these terms-plainly far more favorable than ever should have been offered -appear not to have been strictly kept on either side. The authority which failed to assert itself against open violence sought to take advantage of quieter times, and the result was a most unhappy one. More than one parent at once received a private request to take his son away from the college, at least for a time; and a few days after one of the prefects was required by his father-it was supposed at the warden's instance--either to beg pardon of the latter, or resign his scholarship. He stoutly chose the latter; and his late companions (a portion of whose mutual engagement had been that no boy should take advantage of another's loss of college advantages in consequence of his share in these proceedings) thought themselves bound in honor to support him. All but one who had signed the oath sent up their resignations to the warden. Nineteen repented the next morning, and asked leave in another note to withdraw them. The only reply was:—“The warden and fellows can not return any answer.” A college meeting was held, and twenty-six boys were formally expelled, and others desired to leave. Possibly no other course was now left; no government is so bound to severities as a weak one; but the respect which every public schoolman must feel for school discipline can not prevent him from feeing some sympathy with the victims. It is not surprising that Dr. Warton resigned his head-mastership at the close of the half-year.

One of Warton's pupils was Sidney Smith, who, with his younger brother Courtenay, entered the college about 1781. If his evidence as to the internal discipline and morals were entirely to be trusted, it would leave on record a very black picture indeed of the Winchester of his day. Even in his old age, says his daughter and biographer, he "used to shudder at the recollection" of it, and speak with horror of the wretchedness of the years he spent there. "The whole system," he used to say, "was one of abuse, neglect, and vice. There never was enough provided even of the coarsest food, and the little boys were of course left to fare as they could." He declares that his brother Courtenay, who ran away twice, did so because he was unable to bear the hardship. But there are two or three little incidental passages in the biography which make one doubt whether the witty divine's record is altogether an honest one. Master Courtenay Smith, it appears, owed a little bill of £30 in the town the last time he ran away, so that one of his hardships might have been the difficulty of paying it. And when we hear Sidney's own testimony that both he and his brothers were, before they went to Winchester, “the most intolerable and overbearing set of boys that can well be imagined,” it is easy to conceive that they would not find a public school exactly a bed of roses. Sidney, too, must have enjoyed himself there occasionally after his own fashion; for Dr. Warton found him one day exercising that rough-and-ready mechanical genius which produced the celebrated "patent Tantalus” of his after-days, in constructing a catapult in chambers by lamp-light; and commended him highly for his ingenuity, little dreaming that it was intended to bring down a neighbor's turkey, on which the boys had fixed devouring eyes with a view to supper. Both brothers held their own there at any rate in point of ability; for the boys, it is said, at last signed a round-robin, refusing to compete for the college prizes if the Smiths were any longer allowed to enter the list, as they were always sure to win them; and Sidney left the school as captain.

On the other hand, William Lisle Bowles, who left Winchester just as the Smiths were entering, speaks with delight of his school-days, and has no morbid reminiscences of his hardships even as a junior; and yet Bowles' poetic and somewhat delicate temperament was at least as little fitted for the roughness of public-school life as the more vigorous nature of the Canon of St. Paul's. But, no doubt, a Winchester education in those days did imply a considerable amount of this rough training. Independently of very early hours and somewhat coarse fare, it was not pleasant to have to wash at the old “Moab, *** as it was called an open conduit in the quadrangle, where it was necessary, on severe winter mornings, for a junior to melt the ice on the stop-cock with a lighted fagot before any water could be got to flow at all; or for the same unfortunate junior to have to watch out in the cold quadrangle, before early lesson, (without a bat, for in that sacred inclosure no junior is allowed to wear one,) to give notice of the exact moment when the master went into school, that the seniors might waste none of their more precious time, but make their rush at the last available moment.

William Stanley Goddard succeeded Dr. Warton certainly under very difficult circumstances; but an abler or better ruler never was at Winchester. There was no rebellion in bis reign; yet his old pupils know that he governed at least as much by appeals to their better feelings as by fear of punishment. He acted constantly on that assumption of a boy's truthfulness and honor, which has always been found a successful principle of government in judicious hands, and which has been somewhat unfairly claimed as an entirely modern notion so far as public education is concerned. But he did not hold his office very long; he resigned in 1810, comparatively a young man, living thirty-seven years afterwards, and always retaining the strongest attachment to the college. He showed it by a remarkable act of munificence, ten years before his death, when he invested £25,000 of his private property in order to provide stipends for the under-masters in the college, on condition of their giving up their claim to “gratuities" from the boys, which had hitherto formed their chief remuneration. In fact, up to this time the expenses of a college boy at Winchester far from being gratuitous, as Wykeham had intended, amounted, including bills and extras of one kind and another, to something like £80 per annum. Now, it does not exceed $17 or £18. The "Goddard " scholarship for proficiency in classics, the blue ribbon of Winchester, was founded in honor of this liberal benefactor in 1846, the year before his death, superseding the prize which had for some years been given by Sir William Heathcote.

* The " wash-pot." Here all the college boys, within living memory, had to wash in the open air, except that there was originally a sort of penthouse over it, replaced afterwards by a wretched Tonic portico, of which a print appears in Ball's "Walks in Winchester," p. 154. In the same Winton tongue the shoe-cleaning place was known as Edom. Other local designations are classical; there is an Arcadia, an Upper and Lower Dalmatia, and a ditch on the way to "Hills " called Tempe.

The Rev. Henry Gabell, who had been appointed second master on Dr. Goddard's promotion, succeeded him again in the head-mastership. He insisted strongly upon accurate scholarship, for which Winchester has never lost its reputation. But his adıninistration was marked by a second rebellion, nearly as formidable as the first, of which it seems to have been a sort of copy. The boys, taking offense at some breach, or fancied breach, of their privileges, wrote up in the school as their adopted motto, "Maxima debetur pueris reverentia"scarcely a less inappropriate quotation of Horace than Warden Huntingford's on the former occasion. Again the keys of the college were seized, the court unpaved, and the stones carried up to the tower as ammunition for an expected siege; but this time the senior prefect and five of his fellow-officers, not choosing to risk the certain loss of their prospects at New College, refused to join in the insurrection. Nevertheless, matters proceeded so far that the Fusilier Guards, then quartered in the barracks, were called out to keep the peace in College street, where the mob had assembled in formidable numbers. The result was, of course, the discomfiture and punishment of the ringleaders; twelve college boys, most of them prefects, were expelled, many others degraded from their places in the school, and forty commoners were not allowed to return after the vacation.

It had become almost the rule at Winchester for the second master to succeed to the head-mastership, and Dr. Williams was so appointed in 1824. His reign was quiet, and on the whole successful. There was indeed a trifling digturbance amongst the junior commoners, owing to an alledged abuse of the privilege of fagging by the prefects, which caused some excitement at the time. It was the rule in those days, both in college and in commoners, that no janior should presume to get his own breakfast until the prefects had finished, which usually necessitated a very hurried affair of mere bread-and-butter and cold milk on the part of the former. In commoners they had to sit on a cross bench in hall to be in waiting during both the prefects' breakfast and supper; and certainly those young gentlemen must have been curious in the matter of toast, for each of them (there were only eight at that time) regularly employed two juniors as toasters. It is difficult at this date to discuss the important rights of the junior fifth, on which the whole question hinged; but they claimed, by custom, exemption from the duties of breakfast-waiters. However, as boys came to school better scholars, fourth-form fags grew scarce and the junior fifth were ordered, as the phrase was, to "go on hall.” One champion stood upon his rights and refused; the indignant prefect proposed to thrash him publicly; the juniors rose in a body and pinioned the prefects. Fond mammas and other declaimers against school tyranny will regret to hear that this spirited resistance was not appreciated by Dr. Williams; after a patient hearing of the pleas on both sides, he supported the prefects' authority, it may be concluded that they had not really exceeded it,) and six of the ringleaders were expelled. One of them was the brother of a baronet, himself a Wykehamist. Dr. Williams was much pressed to reconsider his decision, but steadily refused. He resigned in 1836, and was subsequently elected Warden of New College, Oxford. George Moberly, Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, (the present head-master) succeeded at Winchester.


Buildings, &c. It has been already said that the orginal plan of Wykeham's college has undergone little alteration. Almost a copy, on a smaller scale, of the elder sister in Oxford, it is still, in its arrangements, half a fortress. The visitor who enters the massive gateway feels that he has stepped back at once, as far as all surrounding objects go, into the fourteenth century. Even the college boy whom he meets with his hands thrust into the depths of modern pockets hardly interferes with the illusion; his gown, at least, is medieval. You pass through the small outer court, which, though now occupied in part by the warden's lodgings, contained formerly little more than the extensive offices required to make so large a society independent,—through the middle gate-tower (whence St. Mary of Winton herself, a very graceful figure, with the Angel of the Salutation and the Founder on either side, looks down upon you) into the main quadrangle of the college. Turn to the right up that flight of stone steps, and you reach the hall, a noble room near sixty-three feet long, with a dais at the upper end, which supposes the presence of the warden and his fellows, as under the original system, which neither Bancroft's nor Laud's injunctions were able to restore They only dine there now on special festivals. There are the old louvres still to be seen in the roof, whence the smoke used to escape from the charcoal fire in the middle. If you regret, for a passing moment, that it has been superseded by a stove, and that the smoke now finds its way underground, remember that for those who dine there such modern appliances are not altogether unsatisfactory. Look in at the ample kitchen at the foot of the steps as you return, and be sure that as good fare comes forth from its ranges now as when they cooked "a pair of porpoises" there (of all imaginable delicacies) to feast their visitor the Bishop in 1410. Taste the beer-the college still brews its own and you will find it excellent. You will not be allowed to pass without being called upon to note the picture on the wall by the kitchen entrance, which you know well enough already from wood-cuts and all kinds of illustrations, the “Trusty Servant"Probus Famulusin his blue-and-red livery; that strange figure, a compound of all the virtues such as these degenerate days have never seen. He has the pig's snout, to signify that he cares not what he eats; a padlock on his lips, for silence; ass' ears, for patience; hind's feet, for swiftness; a right hand open, for honesty; a left hand grasping all manner of implements, to show that he can turn his hand to any thing; and a sword and shield, to fight his master's battles. What wages would such a treasure expect? But in modern service you are as like to moct the literal monster as the paragon whom he symbolizes. The origin and date of the figure are obscure and (as may be seen from old prints) it

« AnteriorContinua »