Imatges de pàgina

many of them looked upon as nests of monkery. The very name of the “Col. • lege of St. Mary” was odious to their ears. In the year following King Ed. ward's visit, Queen Mary was married in the cathedral to Philip of Spain, and the bride and bridegroom attended service in the college chapel; but only twenty-five of the scholars were able to produce congratulatory verses on the occasion.

Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to the college in 1570. Her scholarly tastes were well known, and the Wykehamists, of course, improved the occasion. George Coryatt and William Rainolds, fellows of New College, met her at the gates with an oration; and she had to listen to no less than forty complimentary effusions, in Latin and Greek verse, by the scholars. There is a copy of thene all to be seen amongst Ashmole's manuscripts at Oxford; all are in the prevalent vein of flattery, and few have any merit besides brevity. But, if the traditionary story be true, there was one young scholar whose wit and readiness deserved a purse of gold better than Master Coryatt's oration. Her Majesty pleasantly asked him whether he had ever made acquaintance with that celebrated rod whose fame had reached even her royal ears. Both the question and the questioner would have embarrassed most school-boys; but he replied by an admirable quotation from Virgil-a familiar line, which the Queen was like enough to have understood :

Infandum, Regina, jubes renovare dolorem.* It is very ungrateful of the Wykehamists not to have preserved his name. It was possibly the same youthful genius, or at least a very worthy successor, who depicted upon the wall of "sixth chamber "--where it may still be traced—a representation of that same renowned implement of discipline, with the grimly facetious motto underneath—"Animum pictura pascit inani." The Winton rod, in fact, deserves a more special notice than might be thought appropriate in the case of the ordinary birch, whose modest worth (though undeniable) is usually held to be best veiled in obscurity, especially since Mr. Tupper's proverbs have superseded Solomon's. It is not a birch at all; it is four slender apple-twigs set into a wooden handle; immemorial custom rules that the twigs should be provided by two juniors, who hold the responsible office of rod-maker, under the orders of the prefect of hall. It is by no means a severe-looking implement; but possibly it must be felt to be fully appreciated. It need hardly be said that it is applied in the ordinary fashion ; six cuts forming what is technically called a "bibling"-on which occasion the Bible clerk (prefect of school) introduces the victim; and four being the sum of a less terrible operation called a "scrubbing." The invention of this very peculiar instrument is ascribed to Dr. John Baker, who was thirty-three years warden, (1454–87,) but of whose acts and deeds little more is on record than the Latin distich in which this contribution to college discipline is immortalized :

Si laus est, inventa quidem Custode Bakero

Ex quadripartito vimine flagra ferunt. If we wish to know something of the internal economy and general working of the college at the time of Queen Elizabeth's visit, it so happens that there ex.

• Virg. Æn. ii. 3:

"Greut Queen, what you command me to relate
Renews the sad remembrance of our fate."-DRYDEN.

ists a record of it, drawn up by the very best authority, and which enters pretty fully into detail. The head-master at that time was one Christopher Johnsona man of very elegant scholarship, of varied accomplishments, who wrote a life of the founder, and a long poem in hexameters describing the arrangement of the several chambers, the hours of work and recreation, and the peculiar customs of the college as they then existed.

The scholars at this time were expected to rise at the sound of "first peal” at five o'clock, and were recommended to say privately a short Latin selection from the Psalms as soon as they were dressed. They then swept out their chanibers and made their beds, (consisting in those days of nothing better than bundles of straw* with a coverlet,) and “second peal,” at half-past five, summoned them to chapel. But these early hours appear to have been as distasteful to some of the young Wykehamists of that day as they are to modern schoolboys; for in a copy of verses, either of Mr. Johnson's composition or correction, Melpomene is represented as going round the scholars' beds in the morning, and finding some of them snoring at unlawful hours, to that indefatigable virgin's extreme disgust. At six they went into school, and came out at nine to a breakfast of bread and beer, for which they must by that time have had a pretty vigorous appetite. At eleven they went into school again, and at twelve came dinner. Under the superintendence of the præfectus olice, (prefect of tub,) portions of beef, called dispars, t were served out to the boys in messes of four, with a sufficiency of bread, and beer in large black jacks; the Bible clerk mean. while reading aloud a chapter from the Old Testament. The choristers waited at table. An antiphonal grace and psalm were sung, after which the choristers and college servants took their dinner. Between the two doors inside the ball stood, as it stands now, the olla or tub—a strong chest bound with iron hoopsinto which all the fragments of the meal were put, and afterwards distributed amongst the poor. Until the last few years the “prefect of tub" (whose duty it was to examine the quality of the meat sent in by the college butcher, and after dinner, to see to the proper collection and distribution of the remains) retained his title, though the office had become almost nominal. School opened again at two o'clock; at half-past three came an interval called “ bever-time,” when the boys had again bread and beer allowed them. At five the school was dismissed, and the whole resident society-warden, fellows, masters, and scholars-went in procession round the cloisters and the whole interior circuit of the college, which was called going circum. Thus they passed into the hall, where a supper of mutton was served-one dispar to every three boys. Even-song in chapel was at eight, after which, in those primitive days, the young Wykebamists thought it full time to go to bed.

The school-room was still "seventh chamber "- Magna illa domus, as the founder's directions call it—though, as some of the commoners must have been taught together with the scholars, it is difficult to understand how so many could have found room there without great confusion. Johnson remarks, indeed, that they had no fire in this room, for that the warm sunbeams and the warm breaths $ were quite sufficient; and certainly, if any thing like a hundred

• Hence, in college, to this day, clean sheets are spoken of as clean straw.
ti. e., portions, (dispertio.)
1 “Nec schola nostra focum complectitur, attamen omnes

Phæbeis radiis, halituque calescimus oris."--CHR. JOHNSON

boys were there collected, that sort of natural heating apparatus must bave been very powerful. But the younger commoners, probably, seldom came into school, and in summer-time the whole of the scholars usually adjourned for lessons into the adjacent cloisters; a delightful arrangement, from which the latter portion of the "long half” is still called "cloister-time.” The tiers of stone seats, which may still be noticed in the deep recesses of the windows, were the places in which the prefects sat when the boys were arranged in their respective books the term still used at Winchester for what in other schools would be called "forms" or "classes." There was then, as now, four books only, though the highest was and is numbered as the "sixth.” Then followed the fifth, fourth, and second-fourth. The work of the sixth book comprised Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, Cicero, Martial, and Robinson's Rhetoric. There were twelve college prefects "in full power," of whom one was of " hall," one of "cloisters," one of “school," (called also ostiarius, whose duties seem to have been, in fact, those of a porter to open the door for the masters,) two of " chapel,” and one of “ tub;" there were also six of lower authority. Tuesdays and Thursdays were partial holidays, on which the boys went out to “hills” twice; once in the morning, returning at nine to breakfast, and again in the afternoon, coming off at three. Friday was the day of doom, when all arrears of flogging incurred during the week were punctually cleared off.

The upper rooms in the buildings were occupied by the fellows, three in each. The warden had his private lodging "above the inner northern gate," with some rooms east and west of it: the present election chamber was probably his hall; and from this there is a continuous communication by doors and passages throughout the whole upper story, which would enable him at any time to visit and overlook the members of his collegiate body. The head-master and his subordinate were lodged together, and the three chaplains bad a room in common near the kitchen. Of the chambers below the scholars occupied six and the choristers one; and it was considerately enjoined, that no occupant of the rooms above was to throw any thing down upon their heads to the detriment of themselves or their goods and chattels. In each of the scholars' rooms were to be three of the eighteen prefects, as enjoined by the founder's statutes; boys "more advanced than the rest in years, discretion, and learning," who were to exercise a supervision over their fellows; so ancient is the system, which, adopted by Eton from Winchester, has long become a recognized feature in all our public schools—the intrusting more or less of the discipline to an aristocracy of the scholars themselves, whether under the name of prefects, monitors, or prepostors. One part of their duty was to instruct the juniors; and this early employment of the monitorial system must have been a very necessary part of the constitution of the school, if, as seems likely, the head-master had only one regular assistant. It is still continued in the college under a modified form; each of the junior boys has still his tutor amongst the prefects, the ten seniors naving six or seven pupils each allotted to them, whom they are expected to assist in school difficulties generally, and especially in preparation for "standingup" time, as the junior examinations at the end of the summer half are called. In earlier times it would appear that this kind of deputy teaching was extended to the younger commoners as well, and led to some degree of abuse and neglect. In 1655, during the head-mastership of Dr. Burte, a little boy of six years old was placed at Winchester as a “commoner in college," with other young boys

under the care of one of the fellows named May. These appear to have had nc kind of teaching except from the college prefects in turn, who attended at certain hours, and made a periodical report to the master as to how their little pupils conducted themselves, and what progress they were making in their studies. At eight years old this boy was admitted into college. Probably many boys were thus sent as commoners at a very early age, with a view to their subsequent election on the foundation; for, in 1660, one Thomas Middleton petitions King Charles, on his restoration, to grant his royal letters to the Winchester electors in favor of his son's admittance, "as a child in Winchester College, where he has now spent three years as fellow-commoner." of these fellowcommoners, or “commoners " as they are now termed, who have come to form a supplementary body of scholars doubling in number the college boys themselves, it will be necessary to give some account.

Provision bad been made in the original statutes for the reception and instruction of independent students to the number of ten, sons of noblemen or of "special friends ” of the college, who, though not claiming the other advantages of the foundation, might yet wish to avail themselves of its sound teaching; with a proviso that these should not be in any way burdensome to the revenues. Some of these earlier "commoners” were lodged within the walls, and some in a separate establishment, the old College of St. Elizabeth of Huugary, standing in St. Stephen's Mead. This building, after serving for some years as a kind of hostel to Wykeham's college, was surrendered by the last of its provosts in 1544, and pulled down. The present boundary wall at the bottom of "Meads" was built partly out of the materials; and corbel-heads and carved stones have been worked in here and there, standing out from the rest of the stone-work in a fashion somewhat puzzling to a curious stranger.

On the suppression of St. Elizabeth's, and probably also before, some of these commoners were lodged with the warden, some in other parts of the college, probably under the immediate charge of one of the fellows, and some in houses in the city. Those who lodged with the warden were usually of higher rank; and during some years, in the rolls which have been preserved, there is a distinction between ordinary commensales or commoners, and generosi commensales, such as is still admitted between commoners and gentleman-commoners at Oxford. In the roll of 1688 the warden's boarders appear as “Nob: Com:" Lord Guildford, Hon. Nathanael Fiennes, Lord Ashley, Sir Thos. Putt, and Sir Thos. Wroth. But this distinction soon disappears, though some of the commoners still continue to be lodged within the walls. The last entry of a "commensalis in collegio" occurs in the roll for 1747, during Dr. Burton's head-mastership. In his time the college rose rapidly as a place of education for many of the young nobility, and the accommodations were found insufficient. He built what is now remembered by the Wykehamists of the past generation as Commoners," a very much more picturesque-looking building, though probably not so convenient as the present, containing hall, dormitories, tutors' rooms, and prefects' studies. The number of commoners gradually increased, though with some fluctuations, until in 1820 they reached 135. "Old Commoners" was pulled down in 1839-41 to make way for the present building, which was the result of a general Wykehamist subscription; and of which, architecturally and æsthetically, the less that is said the better, as also of certain other modern improvements which successive wardens have made in the college buildings themselves.

6 Old

The commoners are, in point of fact, little more than the private boarders of the bead-master, attending the regular lessons of the school in company with the boys on the foundation, and amalgainated with them so far as school classification and school work are concerned. At other times they are necessarily a good deal separated, partly by locality, and partly also by a distinct esprit de corps. From the time that they began to rival the college boys in numbers, a certain amount of jealousy has always existed between the two bodies, though both proud of their common designation as Wykehamists. There is, of course, some little assumption of superiority in rank on the part of the commoners, who look upon “College" as in some sort an eleemosynary foundation. The college boys still wear the gown of black cloth, with a full sleeve looped up at the el. bow, and a sort of cassock waistcoat; but the square academic cap so much affected by provincial "colleges” has been discontinued. This costume, in older times, was worn by the commoners as well—at all events, by those who were lodged within the college walls; and the nobiles amongst Dr. Burton's old pupils appear to have consulted their own fancy as to the color; some of them, as represented in the series of half-length portraits which he left as a legacy to his successors, appearing in blue and others in red silk gowns. At present the commoners wear no gown at all. They have also somewhat more liberty with respect to bounds, have their own separate ground for football, and in some other respects are not closely associated with the college out of school hours. These things necessarily prevent, in some degree, that thorough amalgamatiou into one body which is so desirable in members of the same school; but the line of distinction is gradually wearing out, and the recent changes, which have made election into college entirely a matter of competitive scholarship, will do very much to dissipate any foolish notions of the foundationers' position being the inferior one.

The election of boys into college, however it might have been managed in Wykeham's own days, had, from time immemorial until the late reforms, been a mere matter of patronage on the part of the electors. These were, according to the statutes, the warden and two of the fellows of New College, Oxford, and the warden, sub-warden, and head-master of St. Mary's, Winchester. They were charged to elect, in the first place, those of the founder's kindred who should be eligible; and, after all such claims should have been satisfied, they were to fill the vacancies with such as were "poor and in need of help, of good character and condition, towardly in learning, of honest conversation, and competently instructed in reading, plain-song, and in Donatus "—the Eton Grammar of Wykeham's day.

Much stress has been laid in past days upon the diversion of Wykeham's provision for "poor" scholars to the benefit of the rich. But the best and fairest reading of any man's intentions is what can be gathered from his own practice; and the next best, perhaps, is that in which they were understood and carried out by his immediate successors. Chichele (the Archbishop) was one of Wykeham's earliest "poor” scholars on St. Giles' Hill; and he was the son of a Lord Mayor of London, certainly not poor in the common acceptation of the word. William of Wayneflete, again, was nominated into the college during the founder's life; and he came of a good family whatever his pecuniary resources might be. Archbishop Warham-"a gentleman of an ancient house in Hampshire "—was a scholar some fifty years after. But it is plain that the kind

« AnteriorContinua »