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We add brief notices of a few of the Great Public Schools, compiled from Timbs' School Days of Eminent Men,' and Staunton's 'Great Schools of England.'
HENRY THE SIXTH AND ETON COLLEGE, Henry VI. was born at Windsor, in 1921, and educated by his uncle, Cardinal Beaufort, in all the learning of the age. Hall, the chronicler, when speaking of the causes which led him to found Eton College, and King's College, Cambridge, says of him: “he was of a most liberal mind, and especially to such as loved good learning; and those whom he saw profiting in any virtuous science, he heartily forwarded and embraced.” An ingenious writer of our own time has, however, more correctly characterized the young King's motive: “still stronger in Henry's mind was the desire of marking his gratitude to God by founding and endowing some place of pious instruction and Christian worship.” Henry seems principally to have followed the magnificent foundations of William of Wykeham at Winchester and Oxford; resolving that the school which he founded should be connected with a college in one of the Universities, whither the best of the foundation scholars of his school should proceed to complete their education, and where a permanent provision should be made for them. Standing upon the north terrace of Windsor Castle, near Wykeham's tower, and looking towards the village of Eton, upon the opposite bank of the silver-winding Thames, we can imagine the association to have first prompted the devout King's design - in the words of the Charter, "to found, erect, and establish, to endure in all future time, a College consisting of and of the number of one provost and ten priests, four clerks and six chorister boys, who are to serve daily there in the celebration of divine worship, and of twenty-five poor and indigent scholars who are to learn grammar; and also of twenty-five poor and infirm men, whose duty it shall be to pray there continually for our health and welfare so long as we live, and for our soul when we shall have departed this life, and for the souls of the illustrious Prince, Henry our father, late King of England and France; also of the Lady Katherine of most noble memory, late his wife, our mother; and for the souls of all our ancestors and of all the faithful who are dead: (consisting) also of one master or teacher in grammar, whose duty it shall be to instruct in the rudiments of grammar the said indigent scholars and all others whatsoever who may come together from any part of our Kingdom of England to the said College, gratuitously and without the exaction of money or any other thing."
The works were commenced in 1441, with the chapel of the College; and to expedite the building, workmen were “pressed” from every part of the realm. The freemasons received 38. a week each, the stonemasons and carpenters 38.; plumbers, sawyers, tilers, &c., 6d. a day, and common laborers 4d. The grant of arms expresses this right royal sentiment: “If men are ennobled on account of ancient hereditary wealth, much more is he to be preferred and styled truly noble, who is rich in the treasures of the sciences and wisdom, and is also found diligent in his duty towards God.” Henry appointed Waynflete first provost, who, with five fellows of Winchester, and thirty-five of the scholars of that College, became the primitive body of Etonians, in 1443. The works of the chapel were not completed for many years; and the other parts of the College were unfinished until the commencement of Henry the Eighth's reign.
Eton, in its founder's time, was resorted to as a place of education by the youth of the higher orders, as well as by the class for whose immediate advantage the benefits of the foundation were primarily designed. Thosc students not on the foundation were lodged at their relations' expense in the town (oppidum) of Eton, and thence called Oppidans. The scholars on the foundation (since called Collegers) were lodged and boarded in the College-buildings, and at the College expense. There are two quadrangles, built chiefly of red brick : in one are the school and the chapel, with the lodgings for the scholars; the other contains the library, the provost's house, and apartments for the Fellows. The chapel is a stately stone structure, and externally very handsome. The architecture is Late Perpendicular, and a good specimen of the style of Henry the Seventh's reign. In the centre of the first quadrangle is a bronze statue of Henry VI.; and in the chapel another statue, of marble, by John Bacon. The foundation scholars seem to have been first placed in two large chambers on the ground-floor, three of the upper boys in each; they had authority over the others, and were responsible for good conduct being maintained in the dormitory. Subsequently was added “the Long Chamber” as the common dormitory of all the scholars. Dinner and supper were provided daily for all the members of the College ; and every scholar received yearly a stated quantity of coarse cloth, probably first made up into clothing, but it has long ceased to be so used.
The King's Scholars or Collegers are distinguished from oppidans by a black cloth gown. The boys dined at eleven, and supped at seven; there being only two usual meals.
King Henry is recorded to have expressed much anxiety for his young incipient Alumni. One of his chaplains relates that “when King Henry met some of the students in Windsor Castle, whither they sometimes used to go to visit the King's servants, whom they knew, on ascertaining who they were, he admonished them to follow the path of virtue, and besides his words would give them money to win over their good-will, saying, 'Be good boys; be gentle and docile, and servants of the Lord.' (Sitis boni pueri, mites et docibiles, et servi Domini.)"
The progress of the buildings was greatly checked by the troubles towards the close of the reign of Henry VI.; and his successor, Edward IV., not only deprived Eton of large portions of its endowments, but obtained a bull from Pope Pius II. for disposing of the College, and merging it in the College of St. George at Windsor; but Provost Westbury publicly and solemnly protested against this injustice, the bull was revoked, and many of the endowments were restored, though the College suffered severely. The number on the foundation consisted of a provost and a vice-provost, 6 fellows, 2 chaplains, 10 choristers, the upper and lower master, and the 70 scholars. The buildings were continued during the reign of Henı y VII., and the early years of Henry the Eighth, whose death saved Parliament from extinguishing Eton, which was then confirmed to Edward VI.
"Among the Paston Letters is one written in 1467, by ‘Master William Paston at Eton, to his Worshipful Brother, John Paston, acknowledging the receipt of 8d. in a letter, to buy a pair of slippers; 138. 4d. to pay for his board, and thanking him for 12lb. of Figgs and 8lb. of Raisins, which he was expecting by the first barge: he then narrates how he had fallen in love with a young gentlewoman to whom he had been introduced by his hostess, or dame; and he concludes with a specimen of his skill in Latin versification.”
A MS. document in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, shows the general system of the school, the discipline kept up, and the books read in the various forms, about the year 1560. The holidays and customs are also enumerated; great encouragement was then shown to Latin versification, (always the pride of Eton,) and occasionally to English, among the students; care was taken to teach the younger boys to write a good hand. The boys rose at five to the loud call of Surgite;' they repeated a prayer in alternate verses, as they dressed themselves, and then made their beds, and each swept the part of the chamber close to his bed. They then went in a row to wash, and then to the school, where the under-master read prayers at six; then the præpositor noted absentees, and one examined the students' faces and hands, and reported any boys that came unwashed. At seven, the tuition began: great attention was paid to Latin composition in prose and verse, and the boys conversed in Latin. Friday seems to have been flogging day. Among the books read by the boys in the two highest forms are mentioned Cæsar's Commentaries, Cicero De Officiis and De Amicitia, Virgil, Lucian, and, what is remarkable, the Greek Grammar; a knowledge of Greek at this period being a rare accomplishment even at our universities. Its study was, however, gaining ground in Elizabeth's reign; and in a book published in 1586, it is stated that at Eton, Winchester, and Westminster, boys were then 'well entered in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues and rules of versifying.' Throughout this MS. record is shown the antiquity of making the upper boys responsible for the good conduct of the lower, which has ever been the ruling principle at Eton -- in the schools, at meal-times, in the chapel, in the playing-fields, and in the dormitory; and there was a præpositor to look after dirty and slovenly boys.
Of scholars' expenses at Eton early in the reign of Elizabeth, we find a record in the accounts of the sons of Sir William Cavendish, of Chatsworth. Among the items, a breast of mutton is charged tenpence; a small chicken, fourpence; a week's board five shillings each, besides the wood burned in their chamber; to an old woman for sweeping and cleaning the chamber, twopence; mending a shoe, one penny; three candles, ninepence; a book, Esop's Fables, fourpence; two pair of shoes, sixteen pence; two bunches of wax-lights, one penny; the sum total of the payments, including board paid to the bursars of Eton College, living expenses for the two boys and their man, clothes, books, washing, &c., amount to 121. 128. 7d. The expense of a scholar at the University in 1514 was but five pounds annually, affording as much accommodation as would now cost sixty pounds, though the accommodation would be far short of that now customary. At Eton, in 1857, the number of scholars exceeded 700.
The College buildings have been from time to time re-edified and enlarged. The Library, besides a curious and valuable collection of books, is rich in Oriental and Egyptian manuscripts, and beautifully illustrated missals. The Upper School Room in the principal court, with its stone arcade beneath, and the apartments attached to it, were built by Sir Christopher Wren, at the expense of Dr. Allstree, provost in the reign of Charles II. We have engraved this school-room from an original sketch; it is adorned with a series of busts of eminent Etoni
The College Hall interior has been almost entirely rebuilt through the munificence of the Rev. John Wilder, one of the Fellows, and was re-opened in October, 1857: these improvements include a new open-timber roof, a louvre, win. dows east and west, a gothic oak canopy, and a carved oak gallery over the space dividing the hall from the buttery. The oak panelling around the room is cut all over with the names of Etonians of several generations.
Among the Eton festivals was, the Montem, formerly celebrated every third year on Whit-Tuesday, and believed to have been a corruption of the Popish ceremony of the Boy Bishop. It consisted of a theatrical procession of pupils wearing costumes of various periods, for the purpose of collecting money, or "salt,” for the captain of Eton, about to retire to King's College, Cambridge. To each contributor was given a small portion of salt, at an eminence named therefrom Salt-Hill; the ceremony concluding with the waving of a flag upon this hill or Montem.* Boating and cricket are the leading recreations at Eton : the College walks, or playing-fields, extended to the banks of the Thames, and the whole scene is celebrated by Gray, the accomplished Etonian, in his wellknown Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, commencing
“Ye distant spires, ye antique towers
That crown the watery glade." “Waynflete was the first Provost of Eton. Among the eminent scholars are Archbishop Rotherham, and Bishop West; Croke, the celebrated Hellenist, one of the first who taught the Greek language publicly in any university north of the Alps; Bishop Aldrich, the friend of Erasmus; Hall, the chronicler; Bishop Foxe; Thomas Sutton, founder of the Charterhouse ; Sir Thomas Smith, and Sir Henry Savile, provosts; Admiral Sir Humphrey Gilbert; Oughtred, the mathematician; Tusser, the useful old rhymer; Phineas and Giles Fletcher, the poets; the martyrs, Fuller, Glover, Saunders, and Hullier; Sir Henry Wotton, provost; Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex; Waller, the poet; Robert Boyle; Henry More, the Platonist; Bishops Pearson and Sherlock ; the evermemorable John Hales, 'the Walking Library;' Bishops Barrow and Fleetwood; Lord Camden ; the poets Gray, Broome, and West; Fielding, the novelist; Dr. Arne, the musical composer; Horace Walpole; the Marquis of Granby; Sir William Draper; Sir Joseph Banks; Marquis Cornwallis; Lord Howe; Richard Porson, the Greek Emperor; the poets Shelley, Praed and Milman; Hallam, the historian; and W. E. Gladstone, the statesman.
The Premiers of England, during the last century and a half, were mostly educated at Eton. Thus, Lord Bolingbroke, Sir William Wyndham, Sir Robert Walpole, Lord Townshend, Lord Lyttleton, Lord Chatham, the elder Fox, Lord North, Charles James Fox, Mr. Wyndham, the Marquis Wellesley, Lord Grenville, Canning, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Grey, and the Earl of Derby — were all Etonians.
Among the celebrities of the College should not be forgotten the periodical work entitled The Etonian, the contributors to which were Eton scholars, and the author-publisher was the Etonian Charles Knight - a name long to be remembered in the commonwealth of English literature.”
King's College, which Henry founded in 1441, at Cambridge, to be recruited from Eton, is the richest endowed collegiate foundation in that University.
* The last Montem was celebrated at Whitsuntide, 1844. The abolition of the custom had long been pressed upon the College authorities, and they at length yielded to the growing condemnation of the ceremony as an exhibition unworthy of the present enlightened age. A memorial of the last celebration is preserved in that picturesque chronicle of events, the Wustrated London News, June 1, 1844.
MERCHANT TAYLORS' GRAMMAR SCHOOL. The Grammar School of the Merchant Taylors' Company originated in an offer in 1560-1 by Mr. Richard Hills, a member of the fraternity, of the sum of 5001. to purchase for the purpose of a school a portion of the spacious mansion of the 'Rose' mentioned in Shakspeare's King Henry VIII.:
within the parish
St. Lawrence Poultney. The school was completely organized with a master, wardens, and assistants before the close of 1561. The statutes for the governmeut of the school were copied from those of Dean Colet for St. Paul's School—the scholars being the children of any nation resident in London. The first High Master-who, by the statutes, must be 'a man in body whole, sober, discrete, honest, virtuous, and learned in good and cleare Latine Literature, and also in Greeke, yf such may be gotten,' was Richard Mulcaster, M. A., of Christ Church, Oxford. Such was his reputation that pupils poured in from all quarters at once, and this immediate success was made permanent by the appropriation of forty-three Fel. lowships in St. John's College, Oxford, to the scholars of this school—the gift of Sir Thomas White, a member of the company.
System of Probation or E.camination—1606-7. 1. A probacon of the whole schoole shall bee made onely by the master of the schoole and the three ushers, and at these three tymes, viz., the first on the eleaventh day of March; the second on the eleaventh day of September; the third on the eleaventh day of December; not being Sundaies, And if anie of the said daies happen on the Sunday, then upon the next day following.
2. The mr of the schoole, eight or nine daies before the said probacon-day, shall admonish all the schollers of the schoole, as well them that bee absent, by messengers, as them that bee present, by himself: first, that they prepare all such necessaries as are required on the probacon-day; secondly, that they com to the schoole, on the said probacon-day, in the morning, at half an houre after six of the clock at the furthest, and so to continue till an eleaven; and in the afternoone, likewise, at half an hour after twelve, and to contynue till five.
3. The mr of the schoole, the day before the probacon-day, shall see that every scholler in the schoole bee furnished with paper, pennes, and ynck, for the next daies exercise; and also that every ones name, his age, the day, moneth, and yeare of his coming first to schoole, bee written with his own hand on the outside of his paper, or paper-book, or on the topp of his first page.
4. The mr of the schoole shall propound to every form in the schoole, for fowre howres in the forenoone, and as manie in the afternoone of the probationday, several exercises to bee done in writeing by every one of them within the sett-tyme hereafter mentioned.
5. The mr of the schoole, and the three ushers (while the schollers are doing their work, and dureing the prescribed time.) shall carefully, and with a watchfull eye, provide, that no scholler of anie forme do prompt or once lean towards his fellow for help, that the founders may the better know how they proceed, by doing of their own act and exercise, without any help.
6. The mr of the schoole and the three ushers at th' end of every howre (dureing the whole day), shall see that every empty space, and also the last line of every exercise, bee crossed, that afterwards there may bee no adding of anie thing, but that the work of every boy doe stand to be viewed hereafter as hee of himself did perform it in that sett-time; and that the forenoon's worke shall be alwaies taken from the scholars at their going away by the ushers, and delivered to the mr, wch at one a clock shall be delivered to them again to write the rest of their tasks.
7. The mr of the Schoole shall not propound to anie forme the same dialogue, epistle, theme, sentence, or verse, twice in one yeare.