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Title: Floreat Etona - Anecdotes and Memories of Eton College
Author: Nevill, Ralph
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Sidenotes are identified as: [SN: text of sidenote].

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

FLOREAT ETONA

[Illustration]

  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
  LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MELBOURNE

  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

  THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
  TORONTO

[Illustration: The Great Court of Eton College. _Engraved by J. Black
after W. Westall, 1816._]



FLOREAT ETONA


  ANECDOTES AND MEMORIES OF ETON COLLEGE

  BY RALPH NEVILL

  MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
  ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON

  1911

       *       *       *       *       *

IN MEMORY OF MY DEAR OLD ETON FRIEND S. S. S.

  Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales awake;
  For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Author wishes to acknowledge the great debt of gratitude which he
owes to those who have assisted him by the loan of books, photographs,
and prints.

First and foremost stands the Right Honourable Lewis Harcourt, M.P.,
who has most kindly afforded him access to his unique collection of
Eton books--eventually destined, it is understood, for the school
library.

The Earl of Rosebery, K.G., has also shown great good-nature in lending
a number of interesting prints, reproductions of which will be found
amongst the illustrations.

Especial thanks are due to Mr. Robert John Graham Simmonds, resident
agent of the Hawkesyard estate, who took considerable trouble to
furnish valuable information concerning the old Eton organ case, a
photograph of which, by the courteous permission of the Dominican
fathers, was taken in their chapel at Rugeley. The photographs of
the old oak panelling formerly in the Eton Chapel were obligingly
contributed by Mrs. Sheridan, in whose entrance hall at Frampton
Court, Dorset, this panelling now is.

The author also wishes to thank a number of old Etonians who have
furnished him with anecdotes and notes which have proved of much
assistance. Chief among these must be mentioned his cousin, the
Right Hon. Sir Algernon West, one of the few survivors of “Montem,”
Mr. Douglas Ainslie, and Mr. Vivian Bulkeley Johnson--some other
obligations are acknowledged in the text. His debt to previous books
dealing with Eton will be evident; and a number of the coloured plates
are reproduced from the scarce work on Public Schools published by
Ackermann a little short of a hundred years ago.



CONTENTS


                                      PAGE

   1. EARLY DAYS                         1

   2. OLD CUSTOMS AND WAYS              30

   3. DR. KEATE--FLOGGING AND FIGHTING  68

   4. “CADS,” AND THE “CHRISTOPHER”     99

   5. MONTEM                           129

   6. THE COLLEGE BUILDINGS            157

   7. COLLEGE                          196

   8. SCHOOL WORK                      227

   9. ROWING AND GAMES                 252

  10. YESTERDAY AND TO-DAY             286

      INDEX                            331



ILLUSTRATIONS


IN COLOUR

                                        FACE PAGE

  The Great Court of Eton College    _Frontispiece_

  The Oppidan’s Museum or Eton Court of
      Claims at the Christopher                 116

  Ad Montem, 1838                               144

  The Cloisters of Eton College                 158

  The College Hall before Restoration           164

  The Chapel before Restoration                 184

  A Colleger, 1816                              196

  Eton College from the River                   328

IN BLACK AND WHITE

  Eton in the Seventeenth Century                16

  Eton College from Crown Corner                 32

  Headmaster’s Room, showing Swishing
  Block and Birches                              82

  Jack Hall, Fisherman of Eton                  102

  Herbert Stockhore, the “Montem Poet,”
  going to Salt Hill in 1823                    129

  The Montem of 1823                            130

  The Montem of 1841--The March round the
  School-Yard                                   140

  Old Oak Panelling formerly in Eton Chapel     174

  Carved and Decorated Organ Case formerly
  in Eton Chapel                                176

  James Culliford, the last Chief Butler of
  College to wear the livery of Eton blue       202

  Old College Servants                          206

  Sixth-Form Bench                              226

  Say Father Thames, for thou hast seen
    Full many a sprightly race,
  Disporting on thy margent green.
    The paths of pleasure trace.--_Gray’s Ode_  242



I EARLY DAYS


Amongst public schools Eton admittedly occupies a unique position.
Every one admires the beauty of its surroundings, whilst to those
possessed of imagination--more especially, of course, if they are
Etonians--the school and its traditions cannot fail to appeal.

In addition to many of its associations being connected with glorious
chapters of English history, the old quadrangle, chapel, and playing
fields possess a peculiar charm of their own, due to a feeling that the
spirit of past ages still hovers around them. There is, indeed, a real
sentimental pleasure in the thought that many of England’s greatest men
laid the foundations of brilliant and successful careers amidst these
venerable and picturesque surroundings. No other school can claim to
have sent forth such a cohort of distinguished figures to make their
mark in the world; and of this fine pageant of boyhood not a few,
without doubt, owed their success to the spirit of manly independence
and splendid unconscious happiness which the genius of the place seems
to have the gift of bestowing.

No other school exercises such an attraction over its old boys as Eton,
with many of whom the traditions of the place become almost a second
religion. “I hate Eton,” the writer once heard an individual who had
been educated elsewhere frankly say, “for whenever I come across two
or three old Etonians, and the subject is mentioned, they can talk of
nothing else.”

The affection felt for the school is the greatest justification for
its existence; an educational institution which can inspire those sent
there with a profound and lasting pride and belief in its superiority
over all other schools, must of necessity possess some special and
fine qualities not to be found elsewhere. The vast majority of boys
experience a vague feeling of sentimental regret when the time for
leaving arrives--they have a keen sense of the break with a number of
old and pleasant associations, soon to become things of the past--the
school yard and the venerable old buildings, so lovingly touched by the
hand of Time, never seem so attractive as then, whilst the incomparable
playing fields, in their summer loveliness, acquire a peculiar and
unique charm. As a gifted son of Eton, the late Mr. Mowbray Morris,
has so well said, “shaded by their immemorial brotherhood of elms,
and kissed by the silver winding river, they will stand undimmed
and unforgotten when the memory of many a more famous, many a more
splendid scene has passed away.”

[SN: FOUNDATION]

For the true Etonian there is no such thing as a final parting from
these surroundings, the indefinable charm of which remains in his mind
up to the last day of his life. Fitly enough, this love for Eton,
handed on from generation to generation, and affecting every kind of
disposition and character, has been most happily expressed by a poet
who was himself an Etonian--John Moultrie. May his lines continue to be
applicable to the old school for many ages to come!

    And through thy spacious courts, and o’er thy green
    Irriguous meadows, swarming as of old,
    A youthful generation still is seen,
    Of birth, of mind, of humour manifold:
    The grave, the gay, the timid, and the bold,
    The noble nursling of the palace hall,
    The merchant’s offspring, heir to wealth untold,
    The pale-eyed youth, whom learning’s spells enthrall,
  Within thy cloisters meet, and love thee, one and all.

The history of the College has been so ably written by Sir Henry
Maxwell Lyte, that it would here be superfluous to do more than touch
upon a few incidents of special interest.

Henry VI., unlike the warlike Plantagenets from whom he sprang,
was essentially of studious disposition, and the foundation of a
college--one of his favourite schemes, almost from boyhood--was a
project which he at once gratified on reaching years of discretion. In
1441, when nineteen, he granted the original charter to “The King’s
College of our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor.”

This ancient constitution remained in force till the year 1869, when a
new governing body was introduced, which drew up new statutes two years
later. The last Fellow representing the old foundation, as instituted
by Henry VI., was the late Bursar, the Rev. W. A. Carter, who died in
1892.

On the completion of the arrangements for the institution of the
College, the old parish church, standing in what is now the graveyard
of the chapel, was pulled down, and a new edifice of “the hard stone of
Kent--the most substantial and the best abiding,” begun. Roger Keyes,
before Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, was appointed master of
the works, receiving a patent of nobility and a grant of arms for his
services. At the same time the newly founded College was assigned a
coat of arms, three white lilies (typical of the Virgin and of the
bright flowers of science) upon a field of sable being combined with
the fleur-de-lys of France and the leopard passant of England, to form
the design with which Etonians have been familiar for more than four
hundred and fifty years.

In 1442 came the first Provost, William of Waynflete, from Winchester,
bringing with him, no doubt, some scholars who formed the nucleus of
the new foundation. So much on the lines of the College on the banks of
the Itchen was Eton founded, though from the first various differences
prevailed--the number of commoners in college (_commensales in
collegio_), for instance, was doubled, it being stipulated that they
must belong to families entitled to bear arms.

The connection between the two schools was close. An alliance, known as
the “Amicabilis Concordia,” pledging Eton and Winchester to a mutual
defence of each other’s rights and privileges, was instituted--a bond
of friendship and amity which has never been broken up to the present
day.

[SN: ORIGINAL DESIGN]

The original design of Henry VI. had contemplated a huge nave for the
chapel, which would have stretched right down what is now known as
Keate’s Lane. This, however, was never completed, William of Waynflete
eventually finishing the building with the present ante-chapel, built
of Headington stone, for which, it should be added, Bath stone was
substituted some thirty-four years ago.

There exists a legend that in the reign of Edward IV. Eton only escaped
suppression owing to the intercession of Jane Shore. Though the story
seems to rest upon no solid historical foundation, it is curious to
note that two portraits of this Royal favourite are preserved in the
Provost’s Lodge.

When Henry VII. escorted Philip of Castile “toward the seaside” on his
return home in 1505, the two kings passed through Windsor--“all the
children of Eaton standing along the barres of the Church yeard.”

Henry VIII. paid a visit to the school in July 1510, and made a
monetary donation, as was customary in his day.

The College curriculum at that time seems to have been of a somewhat
elementary kind: as late as 1530 no Greek was taught. Great stress was
laid upon prayers and devotion, as the following description left to us
by William Malim, Headmaster in 1561, shows:--

  “They come to schole at vj. of the clok in the mornyng. They say
  Deus misereatur, with a colecte; at ix, they say De profundis and go
  to brekefaste. Within a quarter of an howere cum ageyne, and tary
  (till) xj. and then to dyner; at v. to soper, afore an antheme and De
  profundis.

  Two prepositores in every forme, whiche dothe give in a schrowe the
  absentes namys at any lecture, and shewith when and at what tyme both
  in the fore none for the tyme past and at v.

  Also ij. prepositores in the body of the chirche, ij. in the gwere
  for spekyng of Laten in the third forme and all other, every one a
  custos, and in every howse a monytor.

  When they goe home, ij. and ij. in order, a monitor to se that they
  do soe tyll they come at there hostise dore. Also prevy monytores how
  many the master wylle. Prepositores in the field whan they play, for
  fyghtyng, rent clothes, blew eyes, or siche like.

  Prepositores for yll kept hedys, unwasshid facys, fowle clothes,
  and sich other. Yff there be iiij. or v. in a howse, monytores for
  chydyng and for Laten spekyng.

  When any dothe come newe, the master dothe inquire fro whens he
  comyth, what frendys he hathe, whether there be any plage. No man
  gothe owte off the schole nother home to his frendes without the
  masteres lycence. Yff there be any dullard, the master gyvith his
  frends warnyng, and puttyth hym away, that he sclander not the
  schole.“

Latin plays were acted during the long winter evenings. Several of
these were written by Nicholas Udall (Headmaster, 1534-1541), the
author of _Ralph Roister Doister_, the first English comedy.

For almost two hundred years, from 1563, when William Malim resigned
(owing, it is said, to his severity having caused some boys to run
away), comparatively obscure men held the office of Headmaster, and
were overshadowed by Provosts who left their mark upon the school.

Henry VIII. was one day much astonished when informed by Sir Thomas
Wyatt that he had discovered a living of a hundred a year which would
be more than enough for him. “We have no such thing in England,” said
the King. “Yes, Sir,” replied Sir Thomas, “the Provostship of Eton,
where a man has his diet, his lodging, his horse-meat, his servants’
wages, his riding charges, and £100 per annum.”

[SN: ETONIAN MARTYRS]

During the troublous days of the Reformation Eton appears to have
undergone little change; but a number of old Etonians and Fellows went
to the stake for Protestantism under Queen Mary.

The names of the Etonians who underwent martyrdom for the reformed
faith were JOHN FULLER, who became a scholar of King’s in 1527, and
was burnt to death on Jesus Green in Cambridge, April 2, 1556; ROBERT
GLOVER, scholar of King’s in 1533, burnt to death at Coventry on
September 20, 1555; LAWRENCE SAUNDERS, scholar of King’s in 1538, burnt
to death at Coventry on February 8, 1556; JOHN HULLIER, scholar of
King’s also, in 1588, burnt to death on Jesus Green, Cambridge, on
April 2, 1556. “Their faith was strong unto death and they sealed their
belief with their blood.”

On the other hand, Dr. Henry Cole, appointed Provost in 1554, behaved
in a disgraceful manner. Having advocated the Reformation, he became
in Queen Mary’s reign a rigid Romanist, and was appointed by her to
preach, before the execution of Cranmer, in St. Mary’s Church at
Oxford. He became Dean of St. Paul’s in 1556, and Vicar-General under
Cardinal Pole in 1557. Soon after the accession of Elizabeth he was
deprived of his Deanery, fined 500 marks, and imprisoned. Whether he
was formally deprived of the Provostship, or withdrew silently, does
not appear. He died in the Fleet in 1561.

In 1563 and 1570 Queen Elizabeth paid visits to the College, and a
memorial of her beneficence is still to be seen on a panel of the
College hall.[1]

At that time the school seems to have been divided into seven forms;
of these the first three were under the Lower Master--an arrangement
which was only altered in 1868, when First and Second Forms ceased to
exist and a Fourth Form was included as part of what now corresponds
to Lower School. It is a curious coincidence that even in those early
days Fourth Form during part of the school hours were under the Lower
Master’s control.

[SN: “FLOGGING DAY”]

Their two meals were dinner at eleven and supper at seven, bedtime
being at eight. Friday, it is interesting to learn, was set aside as
“flogging day.”

At a comparatively early period in the history of the school the
tendency which within the last forty years abolished the First and
Second Forms seems to have been in existence, no First Form figuring in
the school list of 1678, in which its place is taken by the Bibler’s
seat--the Bibler being a boy deputed to read a portion of Scripture in
the Hall during dinner.

In Queen Elizabeth’s day the praepostors or “prepositores,” as they
were then called, played a great part in the daily round of school
life. There were then two of them in every form who noted down
absentees and performed other duties such as the praepostors of the
writer’s own day (1879-83) were wont to perform.

Up to quite recent years, it may be added, there was a praepostor to
every division of the school, the office being taken by each boy in
turn, who marked the boys in at school and chapel, collected work from
boys staying out, and the like. Now, however, the only division which
retains a praepostor is the Headmaster’s.

Eton was also connected with the Virgin Queen by its Provost, Sir Henry
Savile, who had instructed her in Greek. Sir Henry is said to have
been stern in his theory and practice of discipline respecting the
scholars. He preferred boys of steady habits and resolute industry to
the more showy but more flighty students. He looked on the sprightly
wits, as they were termed, with dislike and distrust. According to
his judgment, irregularity in study was sure to be accompanied by
irregularity in other things. He used to say, “Give me the plodding
student. If I would look for wits, I would go to Newgate: there be the
wits.”

It would seem that at this time the custom of inscribing the names of
noblemen at the head of their division--whether they deserved it or
not--still flourished. Youthful scions of aristocracy enjoyed many
privileges--young Lord Wriothesley, for instance, who was at Eton in
1615, had a page to wait upon him at meals.

Sir Henry Savile died at Eton on February 19, 1621, and was buried in
the College Chapel. He was married, but left no family. An amusing
anecdote is told of Lady Savile, who, like the wives of other
hard-reading men, was jealous of her husband’s books. The date of the
anecdote is the time when Savile was preparing his great edition of
Chrysostom. “This work,” we are told, “required such long and close
application that Sir Henry’s lady thought herself neglected, and coming
to him one day into his study, she said, ‘Sir Henry, I would I were a
book too, and then you would a little more respect me.’ To which one
standing by replied, ‘You must then be an almanack, madam, that he
might change you every year,’ which answer, it is added, displeased
her, as it is easy to believe.”

[SN: SIR HENRY WOTTON]

The next man of note who became Provost was Sir Henry Wotton, who
obtained the appointment in place of Lord Bacon, it being feared that
the debts of the latter might bring discredit upon the College. Wotton
it was who built the still existing Lower School with its quaint
pillars.

Izaak Walton speaks of this in the _Compleat Angler_:--“He (Wotton)
was a constant of all those youths in that school, in whom he found
either a constant diligence or a genius that prompted them to learning;
for whose encouragement he was (besides many other things of necessity
and beauty) at the charge of setting up in it two rows of pillars, on
which he caused to be choicely drawn the pictures of divers of the
most famous Greek and Latin historians, poets and orators; persuading
them not to neglect rhetoric, because ‘Almighty God hath left mankind
affections to be wrought upon.’”

Izaak Walton and Sir Henry loved to fish together, and the spot where
the two friends indulged their love of angling is well known. It was
about a quarter of a mile below the College at a picturesque bend of
the river which, once an ancient fishery, is still known as Black Potts.

Here the late Dr. Hornby had a riverside villa where he spent a good
deal of his time.

Sir Henry was a great observer of boyhood, as certain quaint
observations of his show:--

  “When I mark in children much solitude and silence I like it not, nor
  anything born before its time, as this must needs be in that sociable
  and exposed life as they are for the most part. When either alone or
  in company they sit still without doing of anything, I like it worse.
  For surely all disposition to idleness and vacancie, even before they
  grow habits, are dangerous; and there is commonly but little distance
  in time between doing of nothing and doing of ill.”

He was besides a philosopher sagely writing:--

  “The seeing that very place where I sate when a boy, occasioned me
  to remember those very thoughts of my youth, which then possessed
  me; sweet thoughts indeed, that promised my growing years numerous
  pleasures without mixture of cares, and those to be enjoyed when
  time (which I therefore thought slow-paced) had changed my youth
  into manhood. But age and experience have taught me that those were
  but empty hopes. And though my days have been many, and those mixed
  with more pleasures than the sons of men do usually enjoy, yet I have
  always found it true, as my Saviour did foretell, ‘_Sufficient for
  the day is the evil thereof_.’ Nevertheless I saw there a succession
  of boys using the same recreations, and questionless possessed with
  the same thoughts. Thus one generation succeeds another, both in
  their lives, recreations, hopes, fears, and deaths.”

During the Provostship of Wotton the tranquillity of Eton life was
disturbed by troops being quartered in the town, whilst a number
of French hostages had such a bad effect upon the boys, with whom
they mingled, and upon the Fellows, whom they introduced to improper
characters, that De Foix, the French Ambassador, was entreated to
interfere.

[SN: PROVOST ROUSE]

Sir Henry Wotton’s successor as Provost, Stewart by name, took up
arms for King Charles I. at Oxford, his example being followed by a
number of loyal Etonians. With the triumph of the Commonwealth came a
Roundhead Provost, Francis Rouse by name, who was afterwards Speaker
of the Barebones Parliament and one of Cromwell’s peers. Eton did not
fare badly under the Protector, but the spirit of loyalty to the king
nevertheless seems to have continued dominant, and the “Restoration”
was welcomed with joy.

Francis Lord Rouse had been buried with great pomp in Lupton’s Chapel,
banners and escutcheons being set up to commemorate his memory, which
is still kept green by the old elms he planted in the playing fields.
All such insignia, however, were destroyed when the king had come
into his own, and were torn down and thrown away as tokens of “damned
baseness and rebellion” by the Royalist Provost and Fellows. In 1767
the irons which had kept these picturesque memorials in place were
still to be seen, but all traces of them are now gone; probably they
were torn out at the “restoration” of 1846. To us of a later and more
impartial age, the insults heaped upon the memory of Provost Rouse seem
to have been undeserved, and there certainly appears no justification
for his having been called an “illiterate old Jew.” On the other
hand, the imagination cannot be otherwise than stirred by the name of
Provost Allestree, who had fought for King Charles in the students’
troop at Oxford and at the risk of his life conducted a correspondence
for Charles II. His services to the Royalist cause would, nevertheless,
in all probability not have been repaid had not Rochester introduced
him to the frivolous king. Rochester had made a bet that he would
find an uglier man than Lauderdale, and having come across Allestree,
who was exceedingly unattractive in face, introduced him to Charles
in order to win the wager. Charles then recalled the devotion of the
individual with whom he was confronted, and with justice and good
judgment made him Provost of Eton.

Allestree, though he resided a good deal at Oxford, did his best to set
Eton in order, and, amongst other wise and useful acts, built Upper
School. Owing, however, to defective construction, or to a fire, this
had to be entirely rebuilt by subscription a few years later, when it
assumed the form which it still retains.

Provost Allestree found the College in debt and difficulty, and the
reputation of the school greatly decayed. He left an unencumbered
and flourishing revenue, and restored the fame of Eton as a place of
learning to its natural eminence. Besides building Upper School at his
own private expense, he also erected the apartments and cloister under
it, occupying the whole western side of the great quadrangle. It was at
the instance of this Provost, it should be added, that the King passed
a grant under the broad seal that, for the future, five of the seven
Fellows should be such as had been educated at Eton School and were
Fellows of King’s College.

[SN: A VISIT FROM PEPYS]

In February 1666, in a coach with four horses--“mighty fine”--Pepys and
his wife paid a visit to Windsor. After seeing the Castle, described
by the famous diarist as “the most romantique castle that is in the
world,” they went on to Eton. Here Mrs. Pepys--rather ungallantly,
perhaps--was left in the coach, whilst her husband, accompanied by
Headmaster Montague, explored the College and drank the College beer,
both of which he set down in his diary as being “very good.”

By this time the Oppidans had increased to such an extent that they
greatly outnumbered the Collegers. In 1614 there seem to have been only
forty “Commensalls,” as the Oppidans were then called, although the
more familiar term had also long been in use; but after the Civil War
they ceased to board and lodge with the Collegers (the whole school
dined in the College Hall as late as the beginning of the seventeenth
century), and gradually grew in number to such an extent that in the
school list of 1678, out of 207 boys, no fewer than 129 were Oppidans.

Zachary Cradock, Provost in 1680, it is said, owed his appointment to
a sermon on Providence, preached before Charles II., to whom he was
chaplain.

The first Headmaster of Eton of whom any satisfactory account has
survived, was John Newborough, described as “versed in men as well
as in books, and admired and respected by old and young.” Newborough
numbered many who afterwards became celebrated amongst his pupils: Sir
Robert Walpole and his brother Lord Walpole of Wolterton--ancestors
of the present writer--Horace St. John, Townshend, and many other
well-known public men, profited by his tuition. Of Sir Robert,
Newborough was specially fond, being rightly convinced that he would
rise to eminence.

Sir Robert loved Eton, and probably one of the proudest moments of his
career was a certain Thursday in Election Week, 1735, when, with a
number of other old Etonians, he went with the Duke of Cumberland to
hear the speeches in the College Hall, and heard a number of verses
recited, the great majority of which were in praise of himself. With
Dr. Bland, his old friend, who was then Provost, he appears to have
dominated the whole ceremony. So much so was this the case that a
dissatisfied Fellow wrote:--

  ’Tis to be wished that these performances may be lost and forgott
  that posterity may not see how abandoned this place was to flattery
  when Dr. B---- was Provost, and when Sir Robert was First Minister.

The Eton authorities, no doubt, were very proud of Sir Robert, the
first Etonian Prime Minister, and the first of a long series of
eminent Etonians who were to shed lustre upon the school.

[SN: “SMOAKING”]

School life in the seventeenth century was a totally different thing
from what it is to-day; all sorts of queer usages and ideas prevailed.
In 1662, for instance, smoking was actually made compulsory for Eton
boys. This was during the plague, when, according to one Tom Rogers,
all the boys were obliged to “smoak” in the school every morning, and
he himself was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning
for not “smoaking.”

[Illustration: Eton in the Seventeenth Century, by Loggan. _Print lent
by the Earl of Rosebery, K.G._]

As showing the school life of the period the following bill for
“extras” is interesting. It was for a boy named Patrick, from April
1687 to March 1688, and bears Newborough’s receipt as Headmaster.

  Carriage of letters, etc.            £0   2  4
  For a bat and ram club                0   0  9
  Four pairs of gloves                  0   2  0
  Eight pairs of shoes                  0  16  0
  Bookseller’s bill                     0  14  2
  Cutting his hair eight times          0   2  0
  Wormseed, treacle and manna           0   2  8
  Mending his clothes                   0   2  8
  Pair of garters                       0   0  3
  School fire                           0   3  0
  Given to the servants                 0  12  6
  A new frock                           0   5  8
                                       ---------
                                       £3   4  0
  Paid the writing-master half a year,
      due next April 21, ’89            1   0  0
                                       ---------

The “bat and ram club” was used in connection with an extremely
barbarous custom of hunting and killing a ram at election-tide, the
poor animal being provided by the College butcher. So popular was this
brutal sport, that boys summoned home before the last day of the half
wrote beseeching their parents to allow them to remain and see “ye ram”
die according to custom.

This ram-baiting appears to have taken its origin from a usage
connected with the Manor of Wrotham in Norfolk, given to the College
by the founder. At Wrotham Manor during the harvest-home a ram was let
loose and given to the tenants if they could catch him.

For many years later the brutal sport continued to flourish, a ram
hunt in the playing fields being attended by the Duke of Cumberland on
Election Saturday 1730, when he was nine years old. He struck the first
blow, and is said to have returned to Windsor “very well pleased.”

Our ancestors held curious views as to the education of the young,
and seem to have seen no harm in children being familiarised with the
grossest forms of cruelty. Nevertheless the ram-hunting, after being
modified, disappeared before the close of the eighteenth century.
For some years, however, its recollection was maintained by a ram
pasty served at election time in the College hall. We may regard the
indigestion which must almost certainly have followed upon indulgence
in such a dish as a mild form of retribution for the tortures which
some of those present had formerly inflicted upon the poor rams.

In the early seventeenth century Shrove Tuesday was also marked by a
barbarous usage. On that day no work was done after 8 a.m., and, as
in other parts of England, some live bird was tormented. The usual
practice was for the College cook to get hold of a young crow and
fasten it with a pancake to a door, when the boys would then worry it
to death.

[SN: THE FIRST DAME]

Newborough, owing to failing health, resigned his headmastership in
1711 and died the following year. He was succeeded by Dr. Snape, a
self-made man, whose mother and afterwards his sister kept the earliest
recorded “Dames’” houses at Eton. On his resignation in 1720 the school
had reached a total of 400 boys, though some alleged that one of these
was a town boy whose name Snape had added to form a round sum.

Under his successor, Dr. Henry Bland, the numbers further increased to
425, one of whom was a boy, always playing upon a cracked flute, who
was to be known to posterity as Dr. Arne.

After the South Sea Bubble had wrought widespread ruin the school
shrank again to 325. Bland only remained at Eton eight years. Sir
Robert Walpole, who never forgot an Etonian schoolfellow, presented him
with the Deanery of Durham, besides offering him a bishopric, which was
declined.

Dr. William George then became Headmaster. He was a very good classical
scholar, and some iambics of his so charmed Pope Benedict XIV. that he
declared that had the writer been a Catholic he would have made him a
cardinal; as it was he had a cardinal’s cap placed upon the manuscript.
Dr. George’s reign at Eton came to an end in 1743, when he was elected
Provost of King’s.

At this period a very curious state of affairs prevailed at Eton
in regard to the appointment of the teaching staff. The Headmaster
was free to choose his own assistants, whom he paid himself; but he
received numerous fees and presents from each boy under him. On the
other hand, the Lower Master--who maintained a sort of preparatory
school, to which came boys of very tender age--was able to sell his
assistant masterships, like waiterships at a restaurant, as he left the
fees and presents to his assistants.

This is shown by a quaint advertisement which appeared in the _London
Evening Post_ of November 9, 1731:--

  Whereas Mr. Franc. Goode, under-master of Eaton, does hereby signify
  that there will be at Christmas next, or soon after, two vacancies in
  his school--viz., as assistants to him and tutors to the young gents:
  if any two gentlemen of either University (who have commenced the
  degree of B.A. at least) shall think themselves duly qualified, and
  are desirous of such an employment, let them enquire of John Potts,
  Pickleman in Gracious Street, or at Mr. G.’s own house in Eaton
  College, where they may purchase the same at a reasonable rate, and
  on conditions fully to their own satisfaction.--F. GOODE. _N.B._--It
  was erroneously reported that the last place was disposed of under
  40s.

An assistant master, Dr. Cooke, succeeded Dr. George as Headmaster, but
managed the school so badly that his tenure of office only lasted two
years, during which time the number of boys decreased, and Eton fell
into some disrepute. Cooke was a very unpopular man, dowered with a
“gossip’s ear and a tatler’s pen,” and he seems to have possessed most
of the worst faults of a schoolmaster and to have made many mistakes;
this, however, did not prevent him being given a fellowship when Dr.
Sumner, an able and active teacher, was put in his place. The efforts
of the latter, however, were able to restore only a modified degree
of prosperity to the school, which had fallen out of general favour
owing to the misrule of his predecessor. A paragraph in the _Daily
Advertiser_ of August 11, 1747, shows this:--

  King George II. visited the College and School of Eton, when on
  short notice Master Slater of Bedford, Master Masham of Reading and
  Master Williams of London spoke each a Latin speech (most probably
  made by their masters) with which His Majesty seemed exceedingly
  well pleased, and obtained for them a week’s holidays. To the young
  orators five guineas each had been more acceptable.

[SN: DR. BARNARD]

In 1754, however, the ancient fame of Eton began to revive owing to
the appointment of Dr. Barnard--_magnum et memorabile nomen_! He was
made Headmaster through the Townshend and Walpole interests, which were
active on his behalf. Under his vigorous rule the school flourished;
522 boys, the highest number known up to that time, being on the list
on his promotion to the Provostship in 1756. Barnard had no patience
with fopperies in boys, and had occasional “difficulties” with the
Eton “swells” of his day on the point of dress.

Charles James Fox gave him a good deal of trouble. His absence at
Spa for a year sent him back to Eton a regular fop, and a very sound
flogging appears to have done him but very little good.

Dr. Barnard also seems rather to have despised any tendency towards
fine ways in his pupils. His old pupil, Christopher Anstey, alludes
to this in his _Bath Guide_, in a portion of which a critical mother,
“Mrs. Danglecub,” who has a son at school,

  Wonders that parents to Eton should send
  Five hundred great boobies their manners to mend,
  When the master that’s left it (though no one objects
  To his care of the boys in all other respects)
  Was extremely remiss, for a sensible man,
  In never contriving some elegant plan
  For improving their persons, and showing them how
  To hold up their heads, and to make a good bow,
  When they’ve got such a charming long room for a ball,
  Where the scholars might practise, and masters and all;
  But, what is much worse, what no parent would chuse--
  He burnt all their ruffles and cut off their queues;
  So he quitted the school in the utmost disgrace,
  And just such another’s come into his place.

[SN: A REVOLT]

The “just such another” was Dr. Foster, who proved to be the very
opposite of Barnard, and became highly unpopular, in great part owing
to the considerable social disadvantage of his being the son of a
Windsor tradesman. He was tactless and unfitted for his position,
and the school did anything but prosper under his rule; indeed, the
numbers dropped to 250. Meanwhile, the boys got quite out of hand, and
several rebellions occurred, amongst them the famous secession of more
than half the school--160 boys--to Maidenhead.

One of the ringleaders of the outbreak was Lord Harrington, a boy of
much natural spirit. He was foremost amongst those who threw their
books into the Thames and marched away. Like the rest of the rebels he
took an oath, or rather swore, he would be d----d if ever he returned
to school again. When, therefore, he came to London to the old Lord
Harrington’s and sent up his name, his father would only speak to him
at the door, insisting on his immediate return to Eton. “Sir,” said
the son, “consider I shall be d----d if I do!” “And I,” answered the
father, “will be d----d if you don’t!” “Yes, my Lord,” replied the son,
“but you will be d----d whether I do or no!”

The revolt seems to have completely broken the Headmaster’s spirit; the
school fell in numbers to 230, and in 1775 he made way for Dr. Davies,
who ruled Eton for twenty years. Unlike his predecessor, Davies was
not unpopular with the boys, but unfortunately he could not manage
his assistants, with whom he quarrelled, and then attempted to manage
the school alone. At that time Eton was largely composed of turbulent
spirits, quick to see what glorious opportunities for riot lay at hand,
and before long the unfortunate Davies was driven out of Upper School,
pelted with books, and reduced to such a condition of despair that he
was obliged to make terms with the other masters, who eventually did
succeed in establishing something like order. His subsequent period of
rule was more peaceful.

During the middle portion of the eighteenth century a number of still
existing Eton institutions flourished, though generally accompanied by
quaint usages now obsolete. Referring, for instance, to “Tryals,” in
1766, Thomas James, describing the school curriculum, says:--

  If Boys gain their Removes with honour, we have a good custom of
  rewarding each with a _Shilling_ (if higher in the school, 2/6d.),
  which is given them by the Dames and placed to the Father’s account.

This custom, though in 1879 it had fallen into complete abeyance,
was still more or less extant twenty years earlier; for Mr. Brinsley
Richards, in his most interesting recollections of his Eton days,
mentions that, having gained promotion in Third Form by handing in
three consecutive copies of nonsense verses, in which there was no
mistake, the Captain of Lower School claimed an old privilege, and
asked that the Lower School might have a “play at four,” the question
also arising whether the writer of the verses was not entitled to
receive 2s. 6d., which he eventually got. As a matter of fact, had the
precedents been strictly followed, one shilling would have been the
reward.

In the late eighteenth century, the holidays consisted of a month at
Christmas, a fortnight at Easter, and the month of August. Then, as
now, the Eton boys enjoyed more half-holidays than were granted at
other schools. In 1776, however, the usual curriculum was interrupted
by a day of “fasting and penitence” on account of British disasters in
America, the colony beyond the seas, which, grown into a great country,
has since sent many of her sons to be educated at the old school.

The last Headmaster of the eighteenth century was Dr. Heath. During the
early part of his reign he raised the school to 489, but in the last
year the numbers had sunk to 357. It was a very lax time, and the boys
were allowed to do, and did do, many things which could hardly have
been to the taste of a fond parent.

[SN: SCHOOL MAGAZINES]

In 1786 seems to have been started the first school magazine--the
_Microcosm_, the successors of which have been the _Miniature_ (1804),
the _Linger_ (edited by G. B. Maturin and W. G. Cookesley, for
collegers only, 1818), the _College Magazine_ (John Moultrie, 1818),
the _Etonian_ (Praed, 1820), the _Salt Bearer_ (1820), the _Eton
Miscellany_ (1827), the _Oppidan_ (1828), the _Eton College Magazine_
(1832), the _Kaleidoscope_ (1833), the _Eton Bureau_ (1842), the _Eton
School Magazine_ (1848), the _Porticus Etonensis_ (1859), the _Eton
Observer_ (1860), the _Phœnix_ (1861), and the still flourishing _Eton
College Chronicle_ (1863).

At various periods since the last date ephemeral publications have
intermittently appeared. These, however, are scarcely of sufficient
importance to require mention, the majority having enjoyed but a very
brief existence. The most recent of these journalistic efforts was the
_Eton Illustrated Magazine_, two numbers of which made their appearance
at the beginning of the present year (1911). Though a third was
announced, the magazine came to a premature end, owing, it was said, to
the censorship exercised by the authorities. According to an unwritten
law, no reference must be made to the Eton Officers’ Training Corps,
and owing to this and the suppression of skits and humorous paragraphs,
it was decided to suspend publication.

Towards the close of the eighteenth century one of the most prominent
Etonians was William Windham, in after-life a powerful politician, and
“the darling of Norfolk.” At school he achieved distinction as a fine
scholar, besides being “the best cricketer, the best leaper, swimmer,
rower, and skater, the best fencer, the best boxer, the best runner,
and the best horseman of his time.”

The owner of a splendid estate--Felbrigg Hall--Windham was the
beau-ideal of an English gentleman, whose merits were recognised alike
by friend and foe.

Heath was succeeded in the headmastership by Dr. Goodall, under whose
mild and easy-going rule discipline continued to be lax. Owing,
however, to the warm affection and patronage of George III., the
school continued to prosper, its numbers rising under Goodall to 511.
Of fine appearance and courteous bearing, he is said to have looked
every inch an Eton Headmaster. Devoted to the school where, as a
scholar and assistant master, he had passed most of his life, he was
an ultra-Conservative in everything which appertained to it; under his
rule no changes took place.

[SN: DR. GOODALL]

Probably this Headmaster never appeared to better advantage when, after
the glorious battle of Trafalgar, he publicly called up Horace Nelson,
nephew of the immortal admiral, and in a kind and delicate manner
informed him of his heroic uncle’s death. Though the tears were visible
in the boy’s eyes, Dr. Goodall’s well-chosen words soothed his grief,
and there lurked on his countenance a smile of delight at the greatest
victory ever gained by this country in any naval engagement over a
gallant foe.

“There was a pleasant joyousness in Dr. Goodall,” said one of his
pupils, “which beamed and overflowed in his face; and it seemed an odd
caprice of fortune by which such a jovial spirit was invested with the
solemn dignity of a schoolmaster.” The blandness and good-nature which
made him universally popular both as Headmaster and as Provost, were
an element of weakness when he had to cope with the turbulent spirits;
and Eton discipline did not improve under his rule. His rich fund of
anecdote, sprightly wit, and genial spirit made his society very much
sought in days when those pleasant qualifications were highly valued,
and he was a great personal favourite with the king. It was not so much
the fault of the individual as of the age, if he had a profound respect
for the peerage, and could see few defects of scholarship in his more
aristocratic pupils. Those were the days, it must be remembered,
when the young peers, sons of peers, and baronets sat in the stalls
in the College chapel, visibly elevated above their fellows. Then,
too, it was not an uncommon thing for an Eton boy, whose friends were
connected with the Court, to hold a commission in the Guards and draw
the regular pay. Sometimes, if he obtained an appointment as one of the
royal pages, he was gazetted while yet a mere child. “I had the honour
this morning,” Goodall is reported to have said on one occasion, “of
flogging a major in His Majesty’s service.”

With the death of this courteous pedagogue in 1840 old Eton may be said
to have passed away; whilst he lived many alterations and reforms were
delayed, no change whatever being made during his term of office as
Provost.

[SN: A LAST FAREWELL]

Though he has been blamed for not having made some improvement in the
lot of the collegers, he appears to have enjoyed great popularity at
Eton, and to have been hospitable and benevolent. Glancing through a
copy of _Alumni Etonenses_, enriched with a number of manuscript notes,
appended by the late Reverend George John Dupuis, Vice-Provost, the
writer came upon an enthusiastic tribute to the memory of Dr. Goodall,
who is described as eminent for his talents, his benevolence, and
charity. A somewhat touching eulogy, after a description of the old
Provost’s funeral in the College chapel, concludes, “Farewell, kind and
good old man.”

FOOTNOTE:

[1] See Chapter VI.



II OLD CUSTOMS AND WAYS


During George the Third’s reign Eton enjoyed a special share of royal
favour. Dr. Goodall, if he had been an easy-going Headmaster, was in
many respects an ideal Provost, who notoriously possessed many of the
qualifications of a courtier; whilst Dr. Langford, Lower Master for
many years, was such a favourite with the King that the latter used
to send for him to come down to Weymouth and preach. The sunshine of
royalty in which Etonians basked not unnaturally aroused some jealousy;
and one critic--an old Westminster boy--declared that the vicinity of
Windsor Castle was of no benefit to the discipline and good order of
Eton School.

[SN: GEORGE III. AND THE BOYS]

A constant patron of boys and masters, George III. hardly ever passed
the College without stopping to chat with some of them. He was very
fond of stag-hunting, and as one of the favourite places for the deer
to be thrown off was between Slough and Langley Broom, he very often
came through Eton; the appearance of the green-tilted cart about nine
o’clock was certain evidence that the King would pass some time before
eleven. It became a custom for the boys to wait for him seated on the
wall in front of the school. He generally arrived, escorted by his
attendants, the master of the hounds, and some of the neighbouring
gentry, old Davis, the huntsman, with the stag-hounds, going on before.
Occasionally the King’s beloved daughter, the Princess Amelia, whose
early death he so deeply deplored, came too.

Near the wall, hat in hand, the Eton boys greeted their monarch, who
almost invariably stopped to ask various questions of those who had
the good fortune to attract his attention. These were mostly some of
the young nobility, with whose parents His Majesty was acquainted, and
whom, if once introduced to him, his peculiarly retentive memory never
allowed him to forget.

Picking out some boy he would jokingly say:

“Well, well, when were you flogged last, eh--eh? Your master is very
kind to you all, is he not? Have you had any rebellions lately, eh--eh?
Naughty boys, you know, sometimes. Should you not like to have a
holiday, if I hear a good character of you, eh--eh? Well, well, we will
see about it, but be good boys. Who is to have the Montem this year?”

On being told he would remark:

“Lucky fellow, lucky fellow.”

The royal visit was a general topic of conversation during the day, and
though one of such frequent occurrence--nay, almost every week during
the hunting season--still was it always attended with delight, and the
anticipation of something good to follow. It was highly amusing to hear
the various remarks made by some of the boys who happened not to have
been present at the time of the royal cavalcade passing, and who, of
course, were anxious to hear what had occurred.

“Well, what did old George say? Did he say that he would ask for a
holiday for us? By Jove, I hope that he will, for I want to ride
Steven’s new chestnut to Egham.”

“You be hanged,” a companion would retort; “I want to go to Langley to
see my aunt, who has promised to give me syllabubs, the first ‘_after
four_’ that I can go.”

Another perhaps wanted to have a drive to Virginia Water, a favourite
excursion with the boys. Such and the like expectations of holiday
happiness were as often anticipated, and frequently realised, by the
ride of kindly old George III. through the town of Eton.

[Illustration: _Eton College from Crown Corner._ _From an
eighteenth-century print lent by Walter Burns, Esq._]

In a regulation costume of knee-breeches and black silk stockings (any
holes in the latter being concealed by ink) the Eton boys going up to
the Castle would stroll about the terrace, which, like the river, was
“in bounds” though the approaches to it were not. There the King mixed
freely with them, asking any one he did not know by sight, “What’s
your name? Who’s your tutor? Who’s your dame?” And on receiving the
answer he would generally remark: “_Very_ good tutor, _very_ good dame.”

[SN: MONTEM PARADE]

On the evening of the picturesque “Montem,” the terrace was the scene
of what was called “Montem parade,” in which the fantastic costumes of
the boys were conspicuous features. On one occasion George III. kept
all the boys to supper at the Castle, taking care, however, to forget
all about the masters, who were consequently annoyed. The old king more
than once interfered to prevent Eton boys from being punished, and
actually gave one offender who had been expelled for poaching in the
Home Park a commission in the Guards.

William the Fourth also took a great interest in Eton, as did Queen
Victoria, who sometimes sent for privileged boys. On one occasion
she attended speeches, and all the school considered it a compliment
when she invited Dr. Hawtrey to tea. In the earlier portion of her
reign, whenever she passed through Eton she was loudly cheered by
the Etonians, and would check the speed of her carriage out of
consideration for those who ran beside it.

The memory of George III., as every one knows, is still preserved at
Eton by the celebration of his birthday--June 4th. What, however, every
one does not know is that the present costume of the Eton boys--black
jackets and tail coats--is in reality but a sort of perpetual mourning
for the old king.

At the end of the eighteenth century the costume of an Etonian
consisted of a blue coat, knee breeches, white waistcoat and ruffled
shirt, but a few years later white ducks and pantaloons began to be
worn by Oppidans, though the Collegers were compelled to adhere to the
older dress for some time longer.

After 1820 the smaller boys wore jackets and black slip-knot
ties (handkerchiefs they were called at first), the bigger ones
swallow-tailed dress-coats and spotless white ties. For a considerable
period the latter had no collars, but stiff neckcloths about a yard
long, tied twice round. The first boy who started a single tie and
collar was one of the master’s sons, and at first the innovation was
regarded with disfavour as much too free-and-easy. The masters kept a
sharp eye upon the boys’ tails, any one attempting something like a
“morning” coat being at once called to account and told by his tutor
not to “dress himself like a bargeman.” No objection, however, was made
to an indulgence in studs, bunches of charms, and other jewellery; and
many boys decorated their coats with summer flowers, in the arrangement
of which they showed some taste.

Towards the middle of the nineteenth century morning coats took the
place of the swallow-tails. Since then, with the exception of a
diminution in the height of the top hat, which in the late fifties of
the last century was preposterous, the dress of an Etonian has remained
pretty well unchanged, though, of course, from time to time there
have been varying fashions as regards waistcoats. Thirty years ago the
most popular of these were those made of a sort of corduroy relieved
by coloured silk. At present, I understand, some perturbation has been
caused amongst the upper boys by a report that the Headmaster proposes
to prohibit every sort of fancy waistcoat; but it is to be hoped that
such an interference with Etonian liberty will not be carried into
effect.

[SN: FADS]

The custom of swells wearing stick-up collars, instead of the turn-down
ones worn by their undistinguished schoolfellows, is now of some
antiquity and appears likely to last.

Up to about fifty or sixty years ago Eton boys never wore greatcoats
at all. The famous Headmaster, Dr. Keate, was a warm supporter of this
Spartan habit, which underwent only gradual modification as time went
on; for, even after greatcoats were allowed the boys very seldom wore
them, and never by any chance put them on unless they were sure that
some of the swells of the school had given them a lead. So strong is
the force of custom in this matter, that when a few years ago the
Headmaster issued a circular that every boy, no matter his place in the
school, was to wear a greatcoat whenever he liked, no notice whatever
was taken of it, the old state of affairs continuing to exist. Another
curious usage is that which ordains that no boy except a swell may
carry his umbrella rolled up, akin to which was the idea, prevalent
thirty years ago, and very likely prevalent to-day, that turning up the
bottom of the trousers must not be attempted by any but those occupying
a distinguished position in the school.

Before the era of steam, wonderful costumes were worn by Eton boys as
they started away for the holidays. On Election Monday the whole road
from Barnes Pool Bridge to Weston’s Yard would be filled with a crowd
of vehicles, whilst round the corner of the Slough Road, where the new
schools now stand, just beyond Spier’s sock shop, a number of youths,
gorgeously dressed in green coats with brass buttons, white breeches,
top-boots and spurs, would take horse and ride away to town, much to
the admiration of a crowd of lower boys. At Spier’s, at the corner
opposite the entrance to Weston’s Yard, Collegers were in the habit of
leaving their gowns when going out of bounds towards Slough. Shelley
as an Eton boy was a great frequenter of this sock shop, where the
excellent brown bread and butter and a pretty girl, Martha--the Hebe of
Spier’s--as he called her, made a great impression upon his youthful
mind.

Farther away down Datchet Lane on breaking-up day, sporting spirits
would find traps of various sorts waiting for them--tandems were
occasionally driven by Eton boys during the school-time, fags being
taken out to act as tigers on surreptitious drives to Salt Hill or
to Marsh’s Inn at Maidenhead, once a favourite place of resort on
account of the cock-pit there. On one of these outings in a curricle,
a horse bolted, and the driver, brutalized by terror, ordered his fag
to jump on the horse’s back and saw at his bit. The foolhardy feat
was accomplished, and the horse stopped, but the small boy’s arms
were almost pulled out of their sockets, and one of them got badly
dislocated. According to one account it was Mr. Gladstone, then an Eton
boy, who tried to rectify the injury before a doctor arrived.

[SN: TRADITIONS]

The old Eton traditions were essentially aristocratic in their nature,
as was only natural considering that the vast majority of the boys
sent to the school were of good birth. Whilst amongst themselves the
boys were highly intolerant of all assumptions of superiority not
based upon the distinctions of good fellowship and physical prowess,
they were rather prone to regard the rest of the world with easy and
good-natured contempt; indeed they thought themselves the finest
fellows in the world, and little was done by the authorities to dispel
such an idea. According to a certain standpoint, this, no doubt, was
mere snobbishness, the main object of a favourite form of modern
altruism being to assume that the lowest is better than the highest,
and give way to everybody no matter who. It is, however, to be hoped
that the latter spirit--the spirit of defeat, not of victory--will not
be allowed to annihilate that individualism and independence which has
ever been held dear by those educated amidst Eton’s classic shades.
In former days, no doubt, somewhat extravagant respect was paid to
rank; but it must be remembered that the aristocracy were at that time
the real leaders of the country, and titles not merely honorary labels
purchased by “plebeian money bags,” through contributions to their
party war chests. For the most part they then carried with them real
territorial power.

In its main features, the Eton of our forefathers was a true democracy,
though one enclosed in an aristocratic frame. In spite of Socialists
and sentimentalists “all men are born unequal,” and our ancestors were
fully alive to the odious affectation of ignoring social distinctions
which always have existed, and always must exist in every society.

[SN: BADGE GIVING]

The position of noblemen, as they were called (this included the
eldest sons of Peers), at Eton, then, somewhat resembled that of the
gentlemen commoners at the University. Like the latter, they had to pay
for their privileges, double fees being exacted from their parents’
pockets. The privileges in question, it should be added, hurt nobody.
On the festivals of St. Andrew, St. Patrick, St. David, and, if in the
school-time, St. George, the Headmaster entertained Scotch, Irish,
Welsh or English boys of high birth at breakfast, and on such days he
and the Lower Master wore an appropriate “badge,” presented to them by
the boy who was highest in rank of the nation which was celebrating its
patron saint. Not infrequently the boy’s tutor was presented with one
of these badges, sometimes quite valuable gifts, costing five or six
pounds apiece. There was no fixed pattern, the design being always left
to the boy’s own taste, or to that of his parents; care, however, was
taken to introduce the shamrock, thistle, or leek, according to the day
which was to be celebrated.

The quaint old usage was formerly quite a feature of the school-time
during which it took place. As late as 1862 a London newspaper gave
an account of its observance. In that year, on St. Patrick’s day,
Lord Langford, as the highest Irish nobleman who was an Eton boy at
the time, presented badges of St. Patrick, beautifully embroidered
in silver, to the Headmaster, the Reverend E. Balston, and to the
Lower Master, the Reverend W. Carter, both of whom wore these badges
throughout the day. On the same date, according to ancient custom,
twenty-four noblemen and gentlemen, as they were termed--that is to
say, Eton boys--attended a great breakfast given by the Headmaster.

Why such an inoffensive and pretty custom was ever allowed to become
obsolete it is difficult to understand.

According to one account, the individual responsible for the
discontinuance was the late Duke of Sutherland, who, when it came
to the turn of his son, Lord Stafford, to present the badge,
discouraged him from carrying out the old usage, which he branded
as mere nonsense. Probably the cost of the badges contributed to the
discontinuance of their presentation. It seems a pity that a fixed
pattern worth some trifling sum was not adopted in order to prevent
extravagance.

Though the badges seem still to have been given up to the middle
sixties of the last century, by 1879--amongst the boys at least--all
tradition of anything of the sort had died away. One who had been at
Eton about 1866 told the writer that he had a vague remembrance of
hearing of the custom, but it had then ceased to be observed.

It should be added that Dr. Hawtrey, in his monument in the College
Chapel, is represented wearing the badge of Scotland and the motto
_Nemo me impune lacessit_.

[SN: PRIVATE TUTORS]

Till about 1835, noblemen who came to Eton usually brought private
tutors with them, and boarded at dames: they were not obliged to have
school tutors. The most distinguished of these private tutors would
appear to have been John Moultrie, who in 1822 acted in this capacity
to Lord Craven, who three years later presented him with the living of
Rugby. As a youthful Colleger Moultrie had shown considerable poetic
power, and had he died at an early age speculation might have been busy
as to the great poems which English literature had lost through his
death. His early reputation rested chiefly on “My Brother’s Grave,” in
the style of Byron’s “Prisoner of Chillon,” first published in the
College Magazine and then in the _Etonian_. Often reprinted since,
it is probably the most widely read of his writings. He was a warm
lover of Eton, and paid a fine tribute of affection to his old school
in an introduction to an edition of Gray. Bringing private tutors to
Eton seems to have entailed considerably great cost, for the Duke of
Atholl told William Evans that his expenses under this system were
£1000 a year! Dr. Hawtrey, it was, who made the rule that every boy
should have a school tutor, after which the custom of bringing private
tutors practically ceased. Even in the sixties, however, it survived
in a modified way. Lord Blandford, Lord Lorne, his brother, Lord
Archibald Campbell, and his cousin, Lord Ronald Leveson Gower, all had
private tutors--the last three, indeed, lived with one in a house by
themselves. George Monckton, afterwards Lord Galway, who was at Eton
about the same time, also enjoyed the same dubious advantage.

[SN: CHAPEL]

As has already been mentioned at page 28, up to about 1845, boys who
were noblemen, sons of peers or baronets, sat in the stalls (ruthlessly
torn down during the so-called “restoration” of 1845-47) at the west
end of the chapel, near the Provost and Headmaster; and, according
to custom, a newcomer distributed packets of almonds and raisins to
his companions in the other seats of honour. Originally, it would
seem, this curious usage was limited to the Sixth Form boys, who also
followed it when for the first time they took their places as such.
Considerable obscurity, however, surrounds the whole subject of “chapel
sock,” as it was called; probably it was the continuance of some
medieval custom, the meaning of which had disappeared ages before. The
eating of almonds and raisins during divine worship seems very strange
to those of a later generation; in former times, however, it must be
remembered the chapel was sometimes used for other purposes besides
the celebration of services. The election of the College Fellows, for
instance, took place there, and sometimes some of the electors tucked
themselves up as well as they could and went to sleep. The general tone
of the school up to about seventy years ago was not very religious, or,
it is to be feared, very reverent; there was, indeed, too much chapel
and too little devotion.

Two long collegiate services on Sundays and whole holidays, and one on
every half-holiday, made the boys tired of the whole thing. New boys
sometimes did take prayer-books in with them the first Sunday, but
never ventured to defy public opinion to that extent a second time.
Some of the Upper School were nearly nineteen years old, but amongst
them taking the sacrament was almost unheard of. The chaplain (or
“Conduct” as he was called) often misconducted himself by gabbling and
skipping--whilst the masters, perched in desks aloft, kept themselves
just awake by watching boys whom they “spited.” The boys themselves
had their own resources wherewith “to palliate dullness, and give time
a shove.” Kneeling with head down, as if in deep devotion, many a one
of them contrived to carve his initials on his seat without being
observed, and very few took the least interest in the service. As for
the interminable sermons, those they frankly disliked and despised, the
preachers being generally prosy and sometimes incoherent. As a fellow
of some originality said in one of his quaint discourses, the hearts
of the boys were like gooseberry tarts without sugar, and the vast
majority took little trouble to conceal their dislike for chapel during
the “restoration,” when the school attended service in a temporary
building. The forms on which they sat there being somewhat flimsy,
every effort was made to smash as many as possible, in order that boys
might have an excuse for absenting themselves owing to lack of seats.

Most of the congregation looked upon the enormously lengthy services
as so much extra school and took no interest in the responses, for
years uttered by an old clerk named Gray, who was an Eton institution
dating from 1809. With the lapse of years he had become somewhat
deaf, and consequently made occasional blunders which were a constant
source of amusement. Especially did his hearers delight in old Gray’s
performances on certain festivals, such as the service for the queen’s
accession, when he generally canonized her twice in the same verse of
the Psalm. “And blessed be the name of Her Majesty for ever, and all
the earth shall be full of Her Majesty.”

On the whole, the service was not conducted in a very reverent or
attractive manner, and the impression which it would have seemed to
convey was that every one, including the “Conduct,” was anxious to
get through it as quickly as possible. A great day, however, was
Oak Apple day, when the picturesque old service in memory of the
Restoration of Charles II. was duly gone through, all the boys sporting
oak leaves as a memento of the Merry Monarch of joyous memory. On
all other occasions, however, the services proceeded with monotonous
and unvarying regularity, which more or less still prevailed in the
writer’s Eton days thirty years ago, though at that time they had been
considerably brightened and no irreverence prevailed.

The chapel bell always stopped five minutes before the hour, but the
Provost and Fellows never made their appearance till just as the
clock struck; it seemed to be the object of all the bigger boys in
the school to come in as nearly as possible at the same time as the
College authorities did, yet without running it so fine as to cause
a disagreeable rush at the last moment. These loiterers, always the
“swells” of the school, took their places just before the entry upon
their heels of the Sixth Form boys, who always headed the procession,
which was closed by the Provost. His entry was the signal for the
commencement of the service, and the “Conduct” or chaplain whose turn
it was at once began. Everything was got through at a pretty good pace,
though after about 1840 no slovenliness was to be observed.

[SN: A FATAL SQUIB]

From time to time, of course, even in the days when irreverence was
common, the boys were moved by some extraordinary service which
impressed the most unthinking minds. One of these occasions was the
funeral service of a boy named Grieve, son of the English physician to
the Czar of Russia, at the commencement of the nineteenth century. On
the 5th of November, then a day of much riot at Eton, poor Grieve had
filled his pockets with what proved to him the instruments of death,
in order to enjoy the frolics of the evening, which were suddenly
ended when a young nobleman unluckily “squibbed,” as it was called,
his unfortunate friend. Some of the fireworks which were in his pocket
immediately ignited, which, communicating to the rest their deadly
errand, exploded, and literally tore off a portion of flesh from his
bones. The poor fellow’s screams were dreadful, and he died in four
days’ time.

This sad affair threw a gloom over the school for a long time, and
games and sports were almost forgotten. When the day came for Grieve’s
burial, its awe was strongly augmented by the solemnity with which the
funeral service (that most beautiful and sublime selection of prayers)
was read by the headmaster, Dr. Goodall; indeed, among the whole body
of upwards of five hundred boys, not a dry eye was to be seen. One of
these has left on record how to his dying day he could never forget
the impression made on his mind, when, with a trembling anticipation
of the approaching procession, he heard the first words, “I am the
resurrection and the life,” and his poignant emotion as the funeral
procession slowly wound into the chapel and the sky-blue coffin[2]
broke upon his sight.

An old Eton Sunday institution was “prose,” held in Upper School, where
the Headmaster would read a few pithy moral sentences. As a rule it is
to be feared these were pearls thrown before swine, and the swine-herd
seemed to feel disgusted as he threw them. He then gave out the
subjects of exercises for the ensuing week, and informed the boys what
would be the amount of holidays in it.

In the old days a number of the Eton masters were not the earnest
men who are to be found in the school to-day. At a time when the
aristocracy possessed great power, it was not extraordinary that young
noblemen should have been treated with a great measure of leniency. A
certain tutor, for instance, behaved with great philosophy when one of
his pupils, belonging to a great family, rolled him down the hundred
steps, and reaped the reward by afterwards rising to a position of high
eminence in the Church. Not a few masters were shackled by hide-bound
conservatism, whilst a certain type of eighteenth century pedagogue was
quite unfitted to inculcate learning.

  Lo! on a pile of dusty folios thron’d,
  Her Janus brows with dog’s-ear’d fool’s-cap crown’d,
  Fenc’d with a footstool, that no step should go
  Too rashly near, nor crush her gouty toe,
  Obese Tuition sits, and ever drips
  An inky slaver from her bloated lips!
  Unwholesome vapours round her presence shed,
  Dim ev’ry eye, and muddle ev’ry head,
  Stunt the young shoots, which smil’d with promise once,
  And breathe a deeper dulness on the dunce.

It is not fair to criticise the old Eton masters too severely, but
undoubtedly some were incompetent. They were quite content that matters
should proceed as they understood they had proceeded in the past,
and thought it no part of their duty to attempt improvement in the
time-honoured curriculum which for generations had been in vogue at
“Eton School.”

[SN: A BABY OPPIDAN]

In the early twenties of the nineteenth century, boys who were mere
children, hardly out of petticoats, were sent to Eton in order that
they might gradually work their way up and get to King’s. Oppidans also
were then very young, a child aged four and a half being admitted in
1820. At that time a boy could rise to the top of the school merely
by seniority, due importance not being attached to hard work and
sound scholarship. The “trials” were then more or less nominal, but
the curious thing is, that in spite of all this Eton produced some
very fine classical scholars, while the vast majority of the boys
were better acquainted with Latin and Greek than their successors who
went to Eton when a more exacting curriculum came into force. In 1827
there were no examinations after the Fifth Form was reached, nor any
distinction attainable except that of being sent up “for good,” the
reward for which then was a sovereign, and every third time, a book.

When a master came across some peculiarly good set of verses he would
send them up to the Headmaster “for good”; in due course the writer
would be called up by the Head, who would compliment him and read
out the lines to the assembled boys in Upper School. A guinea was
afterwards given to the boy by his dame. Sending up “for good” seems
now on the increase, but in my own school-days one seldom heard of
any one achieving such a distinction, whilst sending up “for play”
was rarer still. In the past, getting into Sixth Form did not change
an Eton boy’s life nearly so much as it does to-day. True, he had his
seat in the stalls in chapel, and came into church later than any one
else except the Provost and Fellows; in Upper School on certain public
occasions, he had also the honour of making speeches. Beyond this,
however, and the release from shirking the masters, his position was in
no wise altered or improved.

Fifty years ago Eton in respect to school work somewhat resembled
an oriental state in which the first symptoms of modernisation are
beginning to appear. In the main the old classical traditions
commanded a rigid adherence, boys with a totally insufficient knowledge
of Greek being by a polite fiction supposed to be able to construe
Homer with ease, whilst dunces who could not write a sentence in
correct English were every week obliged to show up a copy of Latin
verses. The wonder is how all this was ever done at all, but done it
was; and, considering the vast ignorance of the majority, who frankly
regarded the whole thing with a sort of good-humoured contempt, done
fairly well. Perhaps this was in no small degree owing to the fact that
in almost every house there was some easy-going clever boy who, having
received a good grounding at a private school, was able and ready to
help his less gifted schoolfellows.

[SN: MAP MAKING]

One of the great features of school work was the execution of a map
once every week, illustrating various countries as they were in
classical times. Occasionally boys with a turn for drawing would
decorate the margins of their maps with some fanciful device. As a
rule, the masters extended a good-humoured toleration to this practice,
which often bore some reference to current events. At the time when a
coming prize-fight was exciting great interest in sporting circles,
a boy decorated the top of his map with portraits of the two fistic
heroes of the day. This, however, was little appreciated by his master.
A more clever form of decoration was the picture of an eight-oar
manned by masters and steered by Dr. Keate which a clever pupil of the
Doctor drew in the middle of the Mediterranean with _Gens inimica mihi
Tyrrhenum navigat aequor_ inscribed beneath the boat. All the maps were
shown up on the same day, when “Map Morning,” as it was called, filled
the school yard.

The old system of sending mere children to Eton lasted up to about
half a century ago. In 1857 boys went still there as young as nine
or ten, nor was it uncommon to see children of seven or eight in the
Lower School. Many stayed at Eton till they were eighteen, after
having worked their way up from the First Form to Doctor’s Division,
at the rate of two removes a year--a process which, including three
years’ inevitable stoppage in Upper Fifth, required more than ten
years to accomplish. In the school list for Election, 1834, Lower
School has shrunk to a very small number. The first part of it, Third
Form, contains but three boys; the second division, seven. “Sense” and
“Nonsense,” which come next, have but six between them; there is no one
in Second Form, and in First Form only two.

Up to the early ’sixties of the last century, certain divisions of
Third Form retained some quaint old titles--the first sections being
called Upper Greek, Lower Greek, “Sense” and “Nonsense.” Lower Remove,
Upper and Lower Remove in the Second Form and First Form completed the
tail-end of the school. “Sense” and “Nonsense,” it should be added,
received their quaint titles because boys in the latter were doomed to
a sort of “poetical purgatory,” and only wrote “nonsense” verses; that
is, Latin compositions which scanned as verse, but contained no ideas;
in which respect the effusions in question resembled the productions of
some living bards.

[SN: LOWER SCHOOL]

When Mr. John Hawtrey was an Eton master, Lower School, somewhat
altering its constitution, became larger again; the boys in it, mostly
very young, being all together in his house at the corner of Keate’s
Lane, where he kept what was practically a private school apart. His
boys were not allowed the same amount of liberty as those in other
houses: they took breakfast and tea in common, and generally played
their games in Mr. Hawtrey’s private field. On reaching the Upper
School they usually went to other houses.

The curriculum of Lower School was entirely different from that
followed by the Upper Forms. In “Nonsense” the boys, besides being
taught to write nonsense verses, grappled with intricacies of the old
“Eton Latin Grammar.” After this they were promoted to “Sense,” when
the nonsense verses were discarded; Lower Greek and Upper Greek did
very elementary work.

After Mr. John Hawtrey had left Eton to set up a preparatory school
at Aldin House, Slough, Lower School once more became small. In 1868,
just previous to its abolition, it contained 69 boys. The school
list had then ceased to give the old terms, Upper Greek, “Sense,” and
“Nonsense.” Shortly after First and Second Forms were abolished and
Fourth Form placed under control of the Lower Master, the Reverend
Francis Edward Durnford, so well known as “Judy” to several generations
of Etonians. Third Form still continued to exist in the writer’s day
(1879 to 1883); but it then seldom contained more than two or three
boys. Since that time it has varied in number, sometimes amounting to
ten or a dozen, or, as at present (1911), eight. It is interesting to
note that there are now more than sixty assistant masters, as compared
with ten in 1834. In the same time the number of boys at Eton has more
than doubled.

[SN: SHIRKING]

Up to the end of the nineteenth century there was a glaring
inconsistency in various unwritten regulations which ruled the Eton
boy out of school. Certain ordinances were seemingly moulded upon an
Hibernian model, many things being forbidden in theory though allowed
in practice. Up to 1860 everything beyond Barnes Pool Bridge was
considered out of bounds, though the river and terrace of Windsor
Castle were not. The boys, of course, went up town freely, most of
the shops they used being in the High Street beyond the bridge, and
so the ridiculous custom of “shirking” grew up. When an Eton boy up
town perceived a master he would get behind a lamp-post or rush into a
shop, the merest pretext of concealment from view being, as a rule,
sufficient to prevent the “beak” from taking any notice of him, for
it was not etiquette for masters to see boys, provided “shirking” was
observed. A number of extraordinary usages prevailed in connection with
the somewhat senseless custom. For instance, it was not the thing for a
master to turn round to look out for a boy following behind--the whole
system was ludicrous. One boy, seeing a master enter a confectioner’s
shop, where he was eating an ice, escaped notice by shutting one eye
and holding up the spoon in front of the other!

At one time Sixth Form boys had to be “shirked” like the masters, but
this seems to have been very laxly observed, “liberties,” that is to
say exemptions, being often granted.

Another great inconsistency was that though by the laws of the school,
no Eton boy might enter the Christopher, there were very few Etonians
who were not thoroughly acquainted with the interior of the old town,
where at one time Upper boys had regular dinners which were known to
the whole school.

[SN: WINDSOR FAIR]

Though “shirking” as a general rule ensured a boy’s immunity from
punishment when out of bounds, it ceased to exercise its charm at
Windsor Fair (abolished about 1871), which was strictly prohibited.
Nevertheless, the boys attended it in flocks, part of their amusement
consisting in dodging the masters.

It was highly characteristic of the old-fashioned Eton system, that
though the Fair was strictly forbidden, no efforts at all were made to
prevent boys from going there, though they were often severely punished
if caught. Not a few of the masters, however, almost openly tolerated
such transgressions, and a few even made a point of giving their
pupils double pocket-money in Fair week. It must be remembered that
at that time all the masters were old Etonians, having passed their
lives between the school and King’s. Consequently they were generally
imbued with the old traditions, and had never come across any external
influences likely to alter a point of view adopted when they themselves
were being trained by masters of an old-fashioned Conservative type.

At the Fair a large quantity of pocket-money was expended at the
various booths, the keepers of which, of course, at once recognised an
Eton boy, whom all the professional tricksters of the place looked upon
as their surest game. Every device was put before him, and all sorts of
temptations held out to induce him to stop and have a trial, as they
called it, of his luck. Cards, rings, coins, everything in fact was
made into an instrument for gaining a little money during this harvest
of inexperience.

The rifle gallery, where they gave two shots for a penny, was a
favourite resort, and every stall which the boys passed, whatever
was the sort of trumpery with which it was filled, formed an excuse
for loitering to examine what there was. Dolls and knives and penny
trumpets and rattles, all required attention; boxes and brooches were
haggled over, and rings, and even rags, minutely inspected.

The Fair consisted of a number of booths stretching from the Town Hall
to Castle Yard. There were the usual shows, and in the eighteenth
century a bull bait on Bachelors’ Acre, the place of which, in
latter years, was taken by roulette. This game, of course, run by
doubtful characters, was highly attractive to certain venturesome
Etonians--there was real danger in it, for a boy caught playing was
turned down to a lower form as well as whipped.

Though many boys were flogged for going to this October festival, it
was always a source of great delight to the school, for it gave rise to
many jokes.

It was a common practice for boys to purchase all sorts of mechanical
toys--jumping frogs and the like--there, and surreptitiously introduce
them upon some master’s desk. On one occasion, a perfect menagerie was
successfully planted on the table before Dr. Hawtrey’s very nose, and
all the punishment the culprits received for their tomfoolery was his
withering remark, “Babies!”

As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century the old Windsor
Theatre was often visited by Etonians. The gallery, indeed, seems
to have been more or less reserved for their use. By the middle of
the century, however, the boys had long ceased to indulge in this
amusement, but up to the late seventies a considerable number
frequented Windsor races, at that time an open meeting.

In 1879, the writer’s first year at Eton, an idea prevailed that if
we could run there and back without missing Absence, such a visit
was not forbidden. Be this as it may, the writer, with a friend,
did run there and back, the only unpleasant consequence being the
loss of some pocket-money. In the following year, besides the notice
prohibiting boys from being on the Windsor bank of the river during
the races (which, nevertheless, did not prevent a considerable number
from crossing over), drastic measures were taken by the authorities
to prevent Etonians from going there on foot, which, owing to the
vigilance of masters in Windsor, had to be abandoned altogether. It
was no unheard-of thing for a boy in those days to run to Ascot races
and get back in time for Absence--then at six. This, of course, was
contrived by getting lifts on the way, and though some were caught
and punished, quite a number indulged in what was to them an exciting
adventure. Two or three got to the races by assuming a disguise, whilst
others were picked up and hidden in carriages and traps by obliging
elder brothers or old Etonians. One boy--Bathurst by name--according to
current report, so tickled young Lady Savernake by his impersonation of
a nigger-minstrel that she gave him a £5 piece.

[SN: PIG FAIR]

In Eton itself up to the ’thirties of the last century, every Ash
Wednesday there was held a Pig Fair, just outside Upper School; this,
of course, led to great disorder--the boys delighting in letting the
pigs loose, and chasing them in all directions. At the last of these
Fairs in Keate’s time, a boy actually rode a pig from the gate of
Weston’s Yard to the Christopher, at the identical moment when Keate
came out of Keate’s Lane on the way to chapel, his gown flying in the
wind. Keate took little notice of this at the time, merely remarking,
“Pigs will squeak, and boys will laugh; don’t do it again.”

When Gladstone was a boy at Eton, considerable brutality existed in
connection with the Fair. The boys, according to old custom, hustling
the drovers and then cutting off the tails of the pigs. Gladstone
boldly denounced such cruelty, and gave considerable offence by
declaring that the boys who were foremost in this kind of butchery were
the first to quake at the consequences of detection. He dared them, if
they were proud of their work, to sport the trophies of it in their
hats. On the following Ash Wednesday he found three newly amputated
pig-tails hung in a bunch on his door, with a paper inscribed:

  “Quisquis amat porcos, porcis amabitur illis;
    Cauda sit exemplum ter repetita tibi.”

Underneath these lines the future Prime Minister wrote a challenge to
the pig-torturers, inviting them to come forward and take a receipt
for their offering, which he would mark “in good round hand upon your
faces.” The pig-baiting, however, continued till Dr. Hawtrey did away
with the Fair.

Even in the rough old times the life of the Oppidans was pleasant
enough; a totally different state of affairs prevailing amongst them
from that which flourished in Long Chamber, where small collegers were
so roughly treated that many of them preferred to be Oppidans till such
time as they had attained a place in the school which would guarantee
them against being bullied.

Amongst the Oppidans, indeed, there would seem never to have been any
bullying at all, whilst their health and comfort was looked after
pretty much as it is to-day. Nevertheless, in old days, they had a
far greater knowledge of the stern facts of life than is at present
the case. Their rambles round the slums of Windsor--visits to the
Fair and contact with the rough and undesirable characters of the
vicinity--taught them what human nature really is, while the fighting,
which was then recognised, precluded all trace of namby-pambyism. In
those days Eton sent forth few sentimentalists into the great world,
but it undoubtedly furnished England with the very best type of officer
to meet the enemy in the Peninsular and at Waterloo. It was an era when
the sickening cant of humanitarianism, born of luxury and weakness, had
not yet arisen to emasculate and enfeeble the British race.

[SN: FAGGING]

Fagging at Eton seems never to have degenerated into brutality. In
former times, however, fags had to perform many services which sound
strange to modern ears. An Etonian, for instance, who had been fag
to the future Wellington, it is said, used to declare that the chief
service he had to perform was that of bed-warmer, for the Fifth Form
then made the Lower boys lie for a time in their beds to take off the
chill. This story, however, is probably legendary, fagging amongst
the Oppidans having generally been limited to getting breakfasts from
sock shops, taking messages, and cooking. Fag-masters have seldom been
anything but considerate, and the old joke of sending a green newcomer
(after his first fortnight of immunity from fagging) to Layton’s, the
confectioner on Windsor Hill, for a pennyworth of pigeon milk, has
probably never been put into practice.

As long as a hundred years ago cases of bullying out of College
were sternly repressed by the boys themselves. At that time a great
sensation was caused because a boy high in the Fifth Form flicked with
a wet towel the bare back of his fag, who complained after Absence
to the captain of the school. The circumstances soon got wind, and
nearly the whole school followed the captain to the bully’s dame’s,
which was Raguineau’s. He was pulled out of his room, and most soundly
horsewhipped close by one of the large elms, to the delight of all.

Though the accommodation was not uncomfortable, the boys’ rooms were
then, as a rule, smaller and less luxurious than is the case to-day,
the windows being often barred like those of a prison or a lunatic
asylum. The furniture was all of the commonest wood, and consisted of a
table, two chairs (well carved by preceding generations), a bureau--a
sort of _multum in parvo_ for books, clothes, and everything else--and
a large press which turned into a bed; this, small boys always regarded
with misgiving, it being a practice for raiding parties to shut the
occupier up in it.

In 1825 some of the rooms were as small as five feet by six, some were
not carpeted, and a few of those on the ground floor were unpleasant
owing to the contents of pails descending from the upper windows.

On the fifth of November the Lower boys revenged their wrongs by making
a bonfire of their Greek grammars in the school-yard; and later in the
year, when the snow came, they would industriously collect it in the
house, in order that in the evening they might overwhelm some little
fellow and his books with a pile of it.

Very early rising was then the rule, and in winter boys got up by
candle-light. The Fourth Form had an infliction called “Long-morning.”
They had to be in school by half-past seven, but when the masters
overslept themselves there was a “run”--_i.e._ no school. At the
beginning of the eighteenth century there was an earlier school still,
at six o’clock.

[SN: NICKNAMES]

Nicknames have always been popular at Eton, many of them enduring in
after-life. Thomas James, who in 1766 wrote an account of the school,
was nicknamed Mordecai and Pasteboard, whilst the three brothers Pott
were called Quart, Pint, and Gill.

About the middle of the eighteenth century nicknames both for masters
and boys were very common. Certain masters were then called Pernypopax
Dampier, Gronkey Graham, Pogy Roberts, Buck Ekins, Bantam Sumner,
and Wigblock Prior. The following are some boys’ nicknames:--Bacchus
Browning (Earl Powis), Square Buckeridge, Tiger Clive, King Cole,
Mother and Hoppy Cotes, Damme Duer, Dapper Dubery, Baboon FitzHugh,
Chob and Chuff Hunter, Toby Liddell, Squashey Pollard, Codger Praed,
Hog Weston, Gobbo Young, and Woglog Calley.

In old days many Eton nicknames were superior, and often elegantly
classical. At one time a boy named M’Guire was well known in the
school, because, if prizes had been given for knock-knees he would have
carried off the first prize anywhere. Homer has a stock of phrases
with which he is apt to fill up his verse, just as lawyers use “common
forms” for their prose. One of these, frequently occurring in the
description of a hero, is _phaidima guia_ (beautiful limbs), and Paddy
M’Guire bore the appropriate name of “Phaidima Guia.”

A peculiarly happy nickname was Lapis Lazuli or Cornelius a lapide,
applied to a boy (Newcastle scholar), in after-life well known to
Etonians as the Rev. E. D. Stone. He recently contributed some most
interesting recollections of Eton to an attractive book written by Mr.
Christopher Stone, his son.

One of the most apt nicknames ever bestowed on any boy was Verd
Antique, applied to the eldest of five brothers Green, who were at Eton
at the same time--the other four being known as Maximus, Major, Minor,
and Minimus.

Slang, though fairly prevalent then, in later years was of a different
kind. It would appear that Eton boys did not then say “burry” for
“bureau,” nor “brolly” for “umbrella,” whilst “footer” for “football”
was unknown. A favourite old Eton colloquialism, “con,” a word
equivalent in its meaning to chum and pal, has now long died out,
whilst “pec” used for money was about obsolete thirty years ago.
“Scug,” an untidy boy, and “scuggish,” bad form, words which were
constantly in the mouths of Etonians of two or three generations back,
are now, I believe, much less used by Upper boys. “Sock,” a term
denoting all kinds of dainties, still exists, but masters are called
“ushers” instead of “beaks.” “Gig,” an old piece of Eton slang which
comprehended all that was ridiculous, all that was to be laughed at and
plagued, has long ceased to be used.

[SN: DAMES AND TUTORS]

A curious and old-fashioned word once in constant use amongst Eton
boys, but now quite obsolete, was “brozier”--this indicated a boy who
had spent his pocket-money, and was without means of obtaining “sock.”
Brozier was also used in connection with a disconcerting manœuvre
sometimes executed by boys at the expense of a dame. When one of these
ladies had gained the reputation of not providing sufficient food at
the usual meals, and of keeping an ill-stocked larder, an organised
attempt would be made to eat her “out of house and home”--as the supply
of provisions became exhausted, more would be demanded in the most
pointed manner--this was known as “Brozier my dame.”

One of these ladies, possessed of great strength of mind and resource,
being exposed to a determined attempt of this kind, turned the tide
just as her boys--though nearly choked in the moment of victory--were
winning the battle. Whispering two words to her maid, the latter
disappeared only to return with an enormous cheese, as strong as it
was big. This the dame cut away liberally, saying with a smile, that
it must not be spared, for there was another bigger one handy. The
boys never tried a brozier with her again. This lady had a happy knack
of managing her boys, and after getting them flogged relentlessly on
slight provocation, would, in spite of themselves, laugh them out of
all ill-humour.

The earliest “Tutor’s” house on record seems to have been kept by W. H.
Roberts, a master who took a few pupils in 1760. When the eighteenth
century had got fairly under way, the Oppidans were in all probability
distributed amongst “dames” and tutors in much the same way as has
prevailed in recent times.

Of late, however, a dame has come to be merely the technical name of a
house-master who has no regular “division” or class in the school. They
are often mathematical masters, or teachers of special subjects. In old
days many ladies used to keep boarding-houses for the boys, which of
course gave rise to the name of “dame.” Miss Evans, who died in 1906,
was the last of these. She was universally respected and beloved, and
occupied a unique position in Eton life,--her name will long survive.

One of the most celebrated dames of other days was Miss Angelo, a
pretty woman who, it is said, was made an Eton dame owing to the
good offices of George the Fourth when Prince of Wales. This lady’s
pony chaise and fur tippet were familiar to several generations of
Etonians, among whom she bore the nickname of the Duchess of Eton.
She belonged to the famous family which furnished four generations of
fencing-masters to the school.

[SN: LEAVING BOOKS]

Old Eton was full of peculiar customs--bad, good, and indifferent.
Amongst the latter was the giving of Leaving-Books. Often a popular
boy would go away from Eton with quite a fine little library of these,
and towards the end of each school-time there was some rivalry and
excitement about these collections. Williams’ (the bookseller) shop
became resplendent at such times, the books being all handsomely
bound and mostly gilt, and varying in price from a guinea upwards.
Eventually, however, the gifts became absurdly numerous, and in 1868
the custom was abolished by Dr. Hornby--mainly, I believe, on the
score of economy. It might have been better, perhaps, to have limited
the price of the books, for these gifts were productive of kindly
feelings. The receiver always shook hands with the donor and requested
him to write his name in the book, and the collection formed a pleasant
remembrance of Eton in after years, and a memorial of friendship with
schoolfellows.

Every boy who gave a leaving-book had to be thanked and shaken hands
with. And in the last week of the Half boys came and wrote their names
in their respective books “after two,” when those leaving Eton were
expected to be in their rooms, where various dainties were provided.
After the names had been signed there was more shaking of hands.

Another old usage, now very rightly abolished, was “Leaving-Money.” In
former days an Oppidan, as he said good-bye to the Headmaster, would
leave, in an envelope, a sum, the amount of which depended upon the
generosity of his parents.

The recognised method for a boy to present this donation was to hold
the envelope inside his hat, which he would place for a moment on the
table, and so unostentatiously deposit his offering.

The position of a Headmaster receiving such gifts was rather awkward,
and Dr. Hawtrey, a man of great delicacy and refinement of manner,
used to ignore them as far as was possible. At the end of the Summer
Half, he would observe, “It’s rather warm, I think I’ll open the
window,” and as he did so, the envelope was furtively laid upon the
table. When the next boy who was leaving was ushered in, the same
process was gone through, except that the Doctor would observe, “Don’t
you think it’s rather cold? I think I’d better shut the window.”

[SN: THE LONG GLASS]

A distinctly bad old custom, which prevailed up to quite recent
times, was the draining of the “Long Glass” at Tap--that curious Eton
institution where the Upper part of the school are still allowed to
obtain chops, steaks, bread and cheese, beer and cider. Though the long
glass is still preserved, I believe it has not been used for many a
long year, a circumstance which can arouse nothing but gratification
amongst all sensible people.

At one time there was “Long-Glass” drinking once or twice a week during
the Summer Half. Nearly a yard long, and holding a quart, the glass
in question somewhat resembles a coach-horn with a bulb instead of
an opening at the large end. Aspirants to the honour of draining it
attended in an upper room of Tap after two, each with a napkin tied
round his neck. The object was to drain the glass without removing it
from the lips, and without spilling any of its contents, which was
extremely hard, for when the contents of the tubular portion of the
glass had been sucked down, the beer in the globe would remain for a
moment as if congealed there; and if the glass was tilted up a little,
and shaken, the beer would give a gurgle and suddenly splutter all over
his face and clothes. Only by holding the Long Glass at a certain angle
could a catastrophe be avoided.

The results of this rather disgusting practice were often to be clearly
discerned on the coats and waistcoats of boys emerging from Tap, and it
is to be hoped that, unlike some other old Eton customs which deserve
revival, it will remain merely a memory of a more intemperate age.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] It seems to have been an old custom for boys who died at Eton to be
buried thus.



III DR. KEATE--FLOGGING AND FIGHTING


At the end of the eighteenth century the Eton boys had become somewhat
difficult to control. Heath and Goodall had both been Headmasters fond
of comfort and ease, and in order to keep things from drifting into
a state of open disorder, ignored many infractions of discipline.
In consequence of this they both enjoyed a fair measure of personal
popularity--the parents would seem to have known little about what was
going on, for, in spite of the continued deterioration in discipline,
the numbers of the school continued to rise.

[SN: DR. KEATE]

When Keate became Headmaster in 1809, he found himself confronted by a
somewhat difficult situation. A man of unflinching character, he had at
first to suffer for the weakness of his predecessors and, owing to his
stern methods, incurred unpopularity which it took some time to efface.

No one who had ever come in contact with Keate ever forgot him, for his
appearance was exceedingly striking. He was a small man, little more
than five feet high, short-necked, short-legged, thick-set, powerful,
and very active, whilst within his small frame was concentrated the
pluck of ten battalions. His countenance resembled that of a bull-dog,
and he also had something of that animal’s mouth. Indeed, it was
said in the school that old Keate could pin and hold a bull with his
teeth. His iron sway was to many a very unpleasant change, after the
long, mild reign of Dr. Goodall, whose temper, character, and conduct
corresponded precisely with his name, and under whom Keate had been
master of the Lower School. He was at first, there can be little doubt,
too severe; discipline, wholesome and necessary in moderation, being
carried by him to an excess; on one morning alone he is said to have
flogged eighty boys. Flogging, indeed, may be said to have been the
head and front, or rather the head and tail, of his system. Like Dr.
Busby, the famous Headmaster of Westminster School, he never spoilt the
child by sparing the rod. According to Dr. Johnson, Busby used to call
that instrument of correction his sieve, and declare that whoever did
not pass through it was no boy for him. Keate, although rigid, rough,
and despotical, was on the whole not unjust, nor devoid of kindness,
a proof of which is that, after twenty-five years, he retired fairly
triumphant, applauded and respected by the vast majority of those with
whom he had come in contact. During one of the frequent visits which he
paid to Eton after his retirement, his grim old face was seen looking
down on the boats in Boveney Lock, whereupon the crews stood up and
cheered their old master with a will.

Much has been written of the curious appearance of the famous
Headmaster, who has been said to have worn a fancy dress partly
resembling the costume of Napoleon and partly that of a widow woman.
This was a great exaggeration. It is true he wore a huge cocked hat;
this was not from eccentricity, but because he was a Conservative and
respected tradition--it had long been the custom for the Head- and
Lower-Masters at Eton to wear such a head-dress, and Keate merely
retained it after it had become obsolete with the rest of the world.

[SN: THE ROUGH OLD DAYS]

As a rule the famous Headmaster wore an angry look, whilst ever ready
to explode into a rage, though occasionally flashes of unexpected
good-nature would temper his attitude of unwavering severity. This,
however, was seldom, his command over his good temper being so complete
that he scarcely ever allowed it to appear. On the other hand he could
not be put out of humour, being always in the ill-humour which he
thought fitting for a Headmaster. He had a fine voice, which he could
modulate with great skill; but he had also the power of quacking like
an angry duck, and the latter was his almost invariable way of speaking
to boys to inspire respect. His red shaggy eyebrows were so prominent
that he habitually used them as arms and hands for the purpose of
pointing out any object towards which he wished to direct attention.
The rest of his features were equally striking in their way, and highly
characteristic of the man.

Dr. Keate was not devoid of sense of humour. On one occasion when he
had set a certain form an essay on “_Temere nil facias_,” one boy
named Rashleigh failed to send in any work at all. The Doctor, who of
all men was the last to be trifled with in such matters, sent for the
delinquent, and, glowering with ferocity, demanded the meaning of such
conduct. The culprit, however, was quite undismayed and replied, “Sir,
you told me yourself not to do it.”

“What do you mean?” retorted Keate in tones of thunder.

“Why, sir,” replied the boy, “in setting the theme you said, ‘Do
nothing rashly,’ and I have obeyed you.” This display of ready wit, it
is said, secured the offender’s pardon.

When Keate assumed the Headmastership the whole public-school system
had remained behind the age, and many of the manners and customs of
barbarous times still continued at schools long after home life and
manners had become civilised. There is no reason to suppose that Dr.
Keate was in any way of a brutal disposition or wanting in natural
affections. He had to deal with a very difficult situation, and it is
greatly to his credit that he maintained the prestige and increased the
numbers of Eton in spite of almost insurmountable difficulties.

When, for instance, it became clear to the boys that the easy-going
state of affairs which had prevailed under Dr. Goodall had come to an
end, the school was thrown into a state of latent rebellion. One of
the first innovations imposed by Keate was to impose an “absence” the
evening after what was then known as “long church.”

The first time this was put into force the whole school booed the
Headmaster as he opened his mouth, and it took him two hours to get
through calling the “absence,” though various tutors did all they could
to help him detect the boys who were the ringleaders of the disorder.
After trying to discover the principal culprits and failing, Keate
finally determined to punish the last remove of the Upper Fifth and
the whole of the Lower Fifth (there was then no Middle Division), whom
he considered responsible for the outbreak, by making them attend a
five-o’clock “absence.” Some ninety boys absented themselves, or rather
hid behind the trees in the playing fields where this “absence” was
called, and purposely did not answer their names. The situation was
grave, and at first it seemed likely that all of these rebels would be
expelled; eventually, however, Keate determined to be more lenient and
merely announced that he would “flog the lot.”

[SN: SWISHING WHOLESALE]

When the first batch came up for punishment in the library a scene
of riot took place, and as the first boy knelt down on the block a
shower of eggs smashed round Keate; in fact, after three victims had
suffered, the Headmaster’s clothes had got into such a state owing
to the unsavoury missiles hurled at him, that he had to go home and
change. On his return, however, he was seen to be accompanied by a
number of assistant masters, and owing to their aid in keeping order
he had finished swishing the whole of the ninety boys by eight o’clock
that evening.

The masters must have had their work cut out to subdue the
insubordination of such turbulent boys. Though the number of these
boys was close on 500--later, from 1821 to 1827, it varied between 528
and 612--at no time were there more than nine assistants, including
the Lower Master. While some of the forms in the Lower School only had
twenty or thirty boys, certain divisions in the Upper School were of
quite unwieldy size. In 1820 Dr. Keate’s own division had swelled to
198. He then relieved himself by creating the Middle Division of the
Fifth, but he continued to keep about 100 boys under his own charge at
the end of Upper School, where much disorder prevailed.

All sorts of jokes and tricks were indulged in, and about 1810 it
became a regular practice during the Winter Half to try and put out
the candles in the two great chandeliers. There had originally been
three of these, but according to tradition the third had been broken in
the great rebellion some thirty years before. On one occasion a huge
stone that was shied at the chandelier went within an inch of Keate’s
head and cracked the panel behind him. Having somehow got to know the
culprit, Keate let it be known that it was a boy at a certain dame’s,
at the same time declaring that the only chance the boy had was to give
himself up and trust to his leniency; otherwise he would be expelled.
The boy was George Dallas, a straightforward fellow. He immediately
went to Keate, confessed, and solemnly assured the Doctor that he had
never intended to hurt him. Keate said he believed him, but of course
Dallas must know that the lightest punishment he deserved was a good
flogging, and that flogging he got.

A large part of the boys’ time seems to have been spent devising
ingenious forms of annoying Keate, who sat enthroned in a spacious
elevated desk, enclosed on all sides, like a pew, with two doors, one
on each side. One fine morning he entered Upper School, and, going to
his desk, tried to open one door, and found it was fastened. He went
round, grinning, growling, and snarling, to the other side; the door
there had been screwed up too. The desk was up to the breast of a tall
man and as high as Keate’s head; nevertheless, laying his hand on the
top of it, he lightly vaulted in, the feat being saluted with loud
cheers and a hearty laugh. This made the Doctor more angry than ever.
“I will make some of you suffer,” he said, and he did; for the next
day, to the general astonishment, he called up all the boys who had
been concerned in the screwing up and soundly flogged them. The secret
of this was that Cartland, Keate’s servant, suspecting that mischief
was afoot, secreting himself between the ceiling and roof of Upper
School, had witnessed the whole screwing-up process through the rose
from which hung a chandelier, and carefully noted down the names of the
boys concerned.

Another time a huge mastiff was put under Keate’s seat, but the Doctor
was fiercer than the dog, which ran away, frightened at his angry gaze.

[SN: THIS ISN’T A GIRLS’ SCHOOL]

One of the old school, Keate had no sympathy with innovations. Though
he himself is said to have always carried an umbrella in sunshine as
well as rain, he could not bear to see a boy with one. “Wet, sir? Don’t
talk to me of weather, sir,” he would say; “you must make the best of
it. This isn’t a girls’ school.” By way of paying their Headmaster
out for such a remark, a party of boys once made an expedition to the
neighbouring village of Upton, took down a large board inscribed in
smart gilt letters “Seminary for Young Ladies,” and fixed it up over
the great west entrance into the school-yard, where it met the Doctor’s
angry eyes in the morning.

In spite of his stern disposition and rough ways Keate was highly
sensitive as to ridicule, and especially disliked attempts to
caricature his appearance.

When the informer in the celebrated case of the Cato Street
conspirators--an Italian image-man by trade, and a very clever
one--made his appearance at Eton one day with a tray full of plaster
busts of the well-known Doctor, cocked hat and all, Keate was very much
annoyed to find that his likeness was selling like wildfire amongst
the boys. There seemed to be only one way of preventing the wholesale
popularisation of his dumpy figure, so, buying up what was left of the
Italian’s stock, he had the figures taken to his backyard and broken up.

One or two boys had the temerity to personate Keate. Lord Douro, son of
the Iron Duke, dressed in an exact copy of the Doctor’s robes and hat,
actually painted the Headmaster’s door red one night, to the amazement
of a few persons who saw him.

In some verse commemorating this feat, the watchmen were supposed to be
summoned before a conclave of masters the next morning to describe what
they had seen:--

                  “We both last night
  Saw him--the Doctor--in his own cocked-hat,
  His bands, his breeches, and his bombasine,
  Paint his own door-post red.” Then great the wrath,
  And great the marvel of that conclave; all
  Turned their cold eyes on him, their dreaded chief,
  Convicted on such damning evidence
  Of this irreverend deed.

Keate never discovered the culprit till years after when, as a Canon of
Windsor, he was entertaining Lord Douro at dinner. The latter, speaking
of Eton days, alluded to the door-painting incident, and was about to
make a full confession when Keate became so red in the face that he
thought it wiser to desist.

[SN: AMATEUR FLOGGING]

Lord Abingdon was another Eton boy noted for his mimicry of Keate;
indeed, dressed up in a cocked hat and gown made expressly for him,
his disguise was so perfect that he actually went round one night and
called “Absence” at the different dames’ houses without being detected.
Years later, after a dinner-party at his home in Oxfordshire, his
Lordship would dress up as Keate, and, birch in hand, enact a scene
in the “library” for the edification of visitors. On one of these
occasions he persuaded one of them to “go down” on a block, made in
exact imitation of that at Eton, which stood in the room, whilst two
others “held him down,” and the story goes that the noble host pitched
into his guest with such hearty goodwill that, when allowed to get up,
the latter was so sore in more ways than one that he called for his
carriage and drove off in a great rage.

Though boys mimicked and laughed at Keate behind his back, very few had
the courage to stand up to him face to face. One of the few, however,
who did so was Charles Fox Townshend, the founder of “Pop,” who,
“staying out” on account of indisposition, refused to write out and
translate the lessons of the day, in consequence of which he was in due
course summoned to the awful presence of the redoubtable Headmaster. In
the well-known tones of thunder which made four generations of Etonians
tremble, Keate demanded the meaning of such conduct. “Don’t speak so
loud, Dr. Keate,” replied Townshend, “or you will make my head ache.
If I had felt fit to write out and translate the lesson I should have
gone into school, but I did not feel well enough, so I stayed out.” The
famous Headmaster, it is said, was so dumbfoundered by the readiness of
the delinquent’s reply that he let him go without any punishment.

On the whole, Keate does not seem to have been an ill-natured man,
for, in spite of his occasional fits of ferocity, he was held in
considerable esteem by a large number of the boys. They bore him no
ill-will for the floggings he had caused them to undergo, and, when
he left Eton in 1834, presented him with a gift testifying their
appreciation of his merits. This consisted of a silver reproduction of
the Warwick Vase, on the pedestal of which was inscribed--

  PRESENTED
  BY THE EXISTING MEMBERS OF ETON SCHOOL
  TO THE REVD. JOHN KEATE, D.D.
  ON HIS RETIREMENT FROM THE HEADMASTERSHIP
  JULY 30, 1834,
  AS A TESTIMONY OF THE HIGH SENSE THEY ENTERTAIN
  OF HIS EXQUISITE TASTE AND ACCURATE SCHOLARSHIP
  SO LONG AND SO SUCCESSFULLY DEVOTED
  TO THEIR IMPROVEMENT
  AND OF THE FIRM YET PARENTAL EXERCISE
  OF HIS AUTHORITY
  WHICH HAS CONCILIATED THE AFFECTION
  WHILE IT HAS COMMANDED THE RESPECT OF
  HIS SCHOLARS.

[SN: AN AMUSING DINNER]

Keate was in Paris soon after Waterloo, and there he met a number
of old pupils to whom he had administered castigations. The latter
determined to give their former pedagogue a dinner, which in due
course took place at the Restaurant Beauvilliers, then one of the
best dining-places in Paris, the hosts being Lord Sunderland, Lord
James Stuart, and other scions of the aristocracy. The banquet was
a most jovial one, and Keate did full justice to its excellence,
drinking every kind of toast, and making a most suitable speech, which
appropriately ended with “Floreat Etona.” After dinner a good deal of
chaff began to fly around the table, and the guest of the evening was
told of many Eton happenings which he had never heard before. For the
first time he learnt of how two of his masters had secretly contrived
to go up to London every Saturday in order to dine with Arnold and
Kean at Drury Lane, surreptitious suppers at the “Christopher” were
described, whilst tales of tandem expeditions, fights with bargees, and
poaching excursions in Windsor Park reached his somewhat astonished
ears. The old man, however, took everything in excellent part, merely
remarking that all he had heard but inspired him with regrets that
he had not flogged the assembled company as much as they appeared to
have deserved. On leaving, he thanked his hosts in a few well-turned
phrases, and, parting from them on excellent terms, went home amidst
loud cheers.

No doubt he owed a good part of the popularity which, in spite of his
sternness, he eventually obtained to the attractions of Mrs. Keate, who
was a very fascinating woman. In the year 1814, during a match with
Epsom, the Eton champion, John Harding, scored 74--an extraordinary
number in those days, when the bowling generally beat the bat. It
called forth a poem from a clever Colleger (“Marshal” Stone), in which
were the following lines. The Doctor saw them and was vastly amused:--

  No vulgar wood was the bat of might
  That swung in the grasp of Harding wight;
  No vulgar maker’s name it wore,
  Nor vulgar was the name it bore.
  It was a bat full fair to see,
  And it drove the balls right lustily;
  Without a flaw, without a speck,
  Smoothe as fair Hebe’s ivory neck--
  It was withal so light, so neat,
  The Harding called it--Mrs. Keate.

When the allied sovereigns were present at a fête in the gardens at
Frogmore in 1815, the King of Prussia is said to have gone up and
kissed Mrs. Keate, making the excuse of her remarkable likeness to his
Queen.

All sorts of stories have been told of Keate’s fondness for wielding
the birch. “Remember, boys,” he is once supposed to have said, “you are
to be pure in heart, or I’ll flog you till you are.”

He certainly did castigate an enormous number of Etonians, amongst
them, it is said, half the Ministers, Secretaries, Bishops, Generals,
and Dukes of the earlier portion of the nineteenth century; but,
nevertheless, the boys in his own division were usually punished by
having to write out impositions, and were not flogged except for some
very flagrant offence, such as intoxication.

Keate, as Headmaster of Eton, it must be remembered, was chief
executioner, and had to do justice when a boy was complained of by any
assistant master.

The school had drifted into very slack ways, and Keate, who possessed
a very intimate knowledge of Eton, realised that leniency would merely
make matters worse. Consequently he rather favoured drastic measures,
and in spite of adverse criticism his system had a good effect. It has
often been urged that it failed because the boys at times openly defied
his authority. In the earlier days of his rule this was occasionally
the case, and gross insubordination prevailed, though it never reached
such a point as it had attained in the days of Keate’s predecessors.
On the other hand, when the stern old Headmaster handed over the reins
of power to Dr. Hawtrey, the school had become quite orderly and
controlled.

[SN: NAPOLEONIC METHODS]

Though, as has already been said, not much given to flogging boys
under his immediate control, he was a firm believer in the efficacy
of the birch for almost every kind of offence, and was quite ready
to be a ruthless executioner in order to facilitate the work of his
subordinates.

His methods were entirely Napoleonic, and when flogging boys who
had committed some unusually heinous offence, by way of making
an impression on their minds as well as their bodies, he used to
accompany his infliction of punishment with a number of cutting remarks
punctuated by strokes of the birch: “A disgrace to your friends”
(swish, swish), “Ruin to your parents” (swish, swish, swish, swish),
“You’ll come to the gallows at last!” and so forth.

Flogging at Eton was once described by the _Edinburgh Review_ as “an
operation performed on the naked back by the Headmaster himself, who is
always a gentleman, and sometimes a high dignitary of the Church.”

The Eton boys of the past took their floggings very lightly. One of
them having, it is said, been flogged by the Headmaster by mistake for
another boy, though he knew that he had done nothing to deserve his
castigation, made no attempt whatever to escape it. When, however,
the real culprit was discovered an investigation took place, and
the flogged one’s tutor then asked, “Why did you not explain to the
Headmaster that you had never been complained of?”

“Well, sir,” was the reply, “I have been complained of so often that
once more or less didn’t seem to matter much; besides, I thought that
very likely some master I had forgotten about might have complained of
me after all.”

[Illustration: Headmaster’s Room, showing Swishing Block and Birches.]

Like many others, Fielding, a typical Englishman of a long-past age,
was in after life proud of having been flogged. Alluding to Eton in his
introduction to the thirteenth book of _Tom Jones_ he says, “Thee in
thy favourite fields, where the limpid, gently rolling Thames washes
thy Etonian banks, in early youth I have worshipped. To thee, at thy
birchen altar, with true Spartan devotion, I have sacrificed my blood.”

[SN: REFUSING TO GO DOWN]

In later times, however, a certain number of boys have shown an
invincible dislike of being birched, and some have actually preferred
to undergo expulsion rather than kneel at the block. The 4th Marquis
of Ailesbury (notorious for his follies) when a boy at Eton, having
been complained of, ran away in order to avoid a punishment to which
he declared he would never submit. This, I believe, happened twice,
after which he was at last obliged to confront the Lower Master, who
administered a certain number of strokes. On rising from the block,
however, the irrepressible culprit made use of such language that his
sojourn at Eton was at once cut short. In most cases, however, fear
of expulsion has generally made those summoned to the block submit. A
peculiar case was that of a boy high up in the school, and a well-known
swell at athletics, who, going up to Oxford in order to matriculate,
instead of returning to Eton directly the examination was over,
outstayed his leave and remained for some days amusing himself with a
Christchurch friend. As a consequent result, when he did return the
voice of a praepostor was heard inquiring “Is ---- in this division?
He is to stay.” The culprit, who considered himself a grown man, at
first stoutly declared that nothing would induce him to undergo a
flogging, and it required a good deal of persuasion to make him realise
that continued resistance would entail his going away from Eton without
a leaving book; that is to say, practical expulsion, which is liable
to injure a boy’s prospects in after life. Eventually, concluding
that it would be best to submit, he duly paid the required visit to
the library, where Dr. Balston officiated in a most sympathetic but
efficient manner.

In rougher days, scapegraces used to make a flogging the occasion
for all sorts of jokes. One boy, for instance, got a friend who had
some knowledge of art to paint a rough portrait of the Headmaster on
that portion of his body which has always been associated with the
punishment of youth. When the Head was about to deliver his blows he
was at first considerably taken aback by being confronted by his own
likeness upon such an unconventional background. However, he rose to
the occasion, and, with the aid of a couple of birches, completely
obliterated all trace of any portrait.

In the case of big boys there is some humiliation in being flogged. A
certain captain of the boats, who had indulged too freely in champagne,
a very tall and powerful young man, about to be flogged by Dr. Hawtrey,
begged hard that he should receive his punishment in private, and thus
escape the degradation of being observed on the block by a large crowd
of boys looking through the open door. The Headmaster, however, would
not hear of this for a moment, declaring that publicity was the chief
part of the punishment.

[SN: SABBATH CASTIGATION]

When Election Saturday was in full swing, a certain number of boys made
a point of indulging in insubordination, thinking that so close to the
end of the half they would escape punishment. Some of the masters,
however, made a point of punishing irregularities at such a time with
ruthless determination, and never failed to complain of any boy whom
they found to be intoxicated on Election Saturday, with the result that
floggings on the Sunday (the boys then went home on the Monday) were
not infrequent.

In order to castigate such offenders. Dr. Goodford would be ready in
his room on Sunday, where he would sometimes attend at 10.30 at night,
in order to flog boys going by an early train next day. Even those
leaving Eton altogether had to submit, for otherwise they would have
been ranked as being expelled. Mr. Brinsley Richards tells of a boy,
nearly six feet high, and with a moustache, who debated in agony of
mind whether he would take a swishing on the night before leaving the
school. He had actually got a commission in the cavalry; his uniforms
were ordered, and he was to join his regiment in ten days; but on
Election Saturday night he got uproariously drunk, was seen by a strict
master, and put in the bill. He duly surrendered to his fate, received
twelve cuts with “two birches,” and the following day took leave of
Dr. Goodford on the pleasantest terms possible.

Dr. Goodford seems to have taken a genial view of flogging; on the
morning of one St. Andrew’s Day he swished a Scotch boy who was coming
to breakfast with him, and greeted him later on at that meal with a
cheery “Here we are again!”

An amusing story used to be told of a boy just about to leave Eton
who, having refused to be flogged, on his arrival at home discovered,
to his horror, that his refusal to bow to constituted authority would
prevent him from being allowed to enter the career upon which he had
set his heart. Hoping to put matters right, he at once set out for
Eton, only to find on his arrival there that the Headmaster had gone
to Switzerland. The ingenious youth, determined to get flogged, then
somehow procured two birches and hurried off to Geneva, only to find
that the Head had gone on to Lucerne. To that city he too followed,
but, missing the pedagogue whom he sought, again had to continue his
pursuit, which eventually ended in the refectory of the Monastery
of Mont St. Bernard, where he eventually persuaded the Doctor to
administer the sought-for flogging amidst a circle of edified monks.
The ordeal over, the Headmaster was presented with the leaving fee,
which was then customary, in return handing the relieved youth a
leaving book in the shape of a _Guide_ to the Alps, which happened to
be the only volume procurable.

[SN: A SWISHING TRADITION]

During the writer’s school days at Eton, though flogging was in full
swing, the castigations administered by Dr. Hornby--and he speaks from
personal experience--were not severe. On the other hand the Lower
Master, the Rev. J. L. Joynes, tempered the severity of his floggings
according to the offence which they were intended to correct. On one
occasion the writer remembers him laying with a will into a boy who is
now a distinguished officer. The latter, however, although he received
some thirty-two strokes, administered with two birches (the first one
after a time became useless owing to the force with which it was used),
never flinched in the least, though this “real flogging” must have
occasioned considerable pain, very different from the mild sensation
produced by the usual ones--often little more than a disagreeable form.
At that time the tradition still prevailed that the wielder of the rod
whilst “swishing” was not allowed to lift his hand above his shoulder.
Though, as far as the writer can remember, this rule was adhered to by
the executioner, he has since heard that the sole foundation for the
idea was a curious underhand motion of the right arm peculiar to Dr.
Hawtrey which his successors seem to have copied.

From time to time more or less public protests have been made against
the use of the birch, which has always been an object of detestation in
the eyes of sentimentalists and professional humanitarians.

In 1856 a long correspondence appeared in the _Times_ dealing with the
question of flogging. This arose out of the case of a boy named Morgan
Thomas, whose father upheld him in not submitting to be flogged.

A report that in future no Upper boys will be flogged, recently called
forth some controversy in the newspapers, most old Etonians being,
it would appear, of opinion that the abolition of the birch and the
substitution of other punishments, including, I believe, caning, are
to be deplored. The inevitable sentimentalist, however, was of course
well to the front, declaring that “birching, or even caning, is out
of date, it being much better to bring boys up to do the right thing
and to avoid doing the wrong thing from a sense of honour and pledge.”
Apparently this gentleman was under the impression that such a method
of education was a new and entire innovation!

In future it appears that amongst Upper boys, flogging is to be
supplanted by something resembling the painful process once known
as a “College hiding.” At the time when Oppidan Fourth Form boys
used to delight in jeering at Tugs, a good many, being captured by
Collegers, were dragged off and given a number of cuts with a cane--a
far more painful ordeal, it was said, than an ordinary swishing by the
Headmaster.

[SN: ABDUCTING THE BLOCK]

On the evening of the 12th May 1836 three old Etonians--Lord Waterford,
Lord Alford, and Mr. J. H. Jesse, who had been entertaining some boys
to dinner at the Christopher after a boat race against Westminster,
being in particularly high spirits, determined to have some fun before
driving back to town. Not being able to get into Upper School (where
the block was then kept) by the door, Mr. Jesse and Lord Waterford,
at considerable risk, crept along the narrow stone ledge over the
colonnade, and, entering Upper School by an open window, forced the
lock of the door from within, and carried their prize off in triumph,
in spite of an attempt to stop them on the part of the College
watchman. The trophy, I believe, was never returned, and is still in
existence at Curraghmore.

Though the abduction of the block was considered a capital joke, a more
serious view was taken of another exploit afterwards perpetrated by Mr.
Jesse. During Ascot week of the following year he contrived to wrench
the sceptre from the hand of the statue of the founder in School Yard
and get away with it. This aroused a very strong feeling of indignation
amongst boys as well as masters, and the emblem of sovereignty was, in
consequence, soon restored with an apology. This is the only time that
the bronze effigy of Henry VI., erected by Provost Godolphin in the
early years of the eighteenth century, has ever been molested.

The block in Lower School has also had its adventures. In or about 1863
a King’s scholar, Lewis by name, during some disturbance abstracted
it--according to tradition to save it from being destroyed during
some disorder. Whatever may have been the truth of the matter, he kept
it, and when, a short time later, he obtained a Postmastership at
Merton, took it away to Oxford with the rest of his belongings. On his
death this block passed into the possession of Dr. Lewis, who lived
in Glamorganshire; and when this gentleman died, Mr. F. T. Bircham,
obtaining it from his widow, handed it back to the Headmaster of Eton
on May 3, 1890.

The venerable, though somewhat gruesome relic in question is of some
historical interest, for on it are carved a number of names, amongst
them Milman, Lonsdale, Routh, Wellesley, and H. Hall (1773). It is to
be hoped that, should Lower boys ever cease to need the discipline of
the birch, this relic of sterner days will be kept in Lower School,
with the old-world appearance of which it so well accords.

The present block, the one used in the library, was, I believe,
abducted some three or four years ago, two boys having carried out
the extraordinary feat of climbing into Upper School through a window
and smuggling out the awesome relic of torture, which they eventually
sent to the authorities of the British Museum, who returned it to the
authorities of the school.

[SN: THE OFFICIAL BIRCHMAKER]

An important functionary in connection with Eton castigations has
always been the Headmaster’s servant, rod-making being one of his
traditional functions. Under Keate the office was held by Cartland,
opprobriously nicknamed “Sly” by Collegers, who abhorred him. In Dr.
Hawtrey’s day came Finmore, who, after the former’s death, continued in
office as servant to Dr. Goodford. Part of the duties of the office lay
in seeing that there were always at least half a dozen new rods in the
cupboard of the “library,” Dr. Goodford being apt to get very angry if
an execution had to be adjourned for want of birches. A dozen new rods
were supposed to be at hand in the cupboard every morning, for there
was no calculating the number of floggings that might be inflicted in a
day. Finmore used to make the rods at his own house, with the help of
his wife, and brought them to the library quietly after Lock Up, or in
the morning before early school. Sometimes, however, when the supply of
rods ran short Finmore had to bring in fresh birches in the middle of
the day, which, for several reasons, was a somewhat hazardous task.

One afternoon, after three o’clock school, when there were only three
birches available, six boys were up to be flogged. The Head flogged
three of the culprits and adjourned the others till six o’clock, at
the same time ordering the Sixth Form praepostor to be sure and tell
Finmore that the cupboard must be replenished before six. Some Lower
boys, however, getting wind of this, and hearing that Finmore was bound
to come to the library between four and five, lay in wait for him,
and in due course espied him hovering near the top of Keate’s Lane,
empty-handed, but walking suspiciously near to a grocer’s cart making
its way towards Weston’s Yard. Suddenly a shout was raised, and the
crowd of boys, scampering off, stopped the cart just as it was turning
into the yard, surrounded it yelling, and extracted from it six new
birches wrapped in a cloth. Finmore, breathless and almost choking with
emotion, vainly tried to save his rods. Half a dozen boys, however,
soon ran off with one apiece, the unfortunate official being left to
bewail his evil fate. In Dr. Hornby’s day the custodian of the birches
was White, a spruce, neatly-dressed figure whom many old Etonians will
still remember.

He it was who, in consideration of a fee of a guinea, saw that
the names of boys leaving Eton were cut in Upper School. For a
consideration he would also supply birches tied up with blue ribbon to
any one desirous of carrying away such grim mementoes.

Whilst the block, for Lower boys at least, remains one of the features
of Eton, fighting, once a characteristic institution of the school, has
long disappeared, having seemingly fallen out of favour in the late
fifties of the last century.

In the period preceding Waterloo the combats were fierce and frequent;
there was one nearly every day, and so determined were the Etonians of
that era that there is a case on record of two boys rising at six in
the morning to begin the conflict, and sparring away for three hours!

[SN: “SIXPENNY CORNER”]

Whilst the Oppidans, according to immemorial custom, settled their
differences in “Sixpenny Corner,” the Collegers fought their battles
in Long Chamber. An unwritten code decreed that when a King’s scholar
wished to fight he must ask permission of the Captain of the school to
be allowed to do so after Lock Up, and this, as may be imagined, was
never refused. About nine o’clock a fairly spacious ring was formed
just below the second fireplace, boys standing on bedsteads placed
around, holding candles, which enabled the combatants to see one
another. It would appear that in the old fighting days the Collegers
fought fewer battles than the Oppidans,--the fights of the former were
usually short and sharp, the boys being so well acquainted with each
other’s strength and powers, that after a round or two the fight was
discontinued and the quarrel made up.

The old-fashioned encounters in “Sixpenny Corner,” which seem to have
been conducted in a more or less formal style, were, of course, most
frequent in the days when the Prize Ring occupied a prominent place
amongst sports patronised by men of fashion.

Young Corinthians who had only just left school no doubt indoctrinated
friends still at Eton with enthusiasm for the knights of the fist, and
caused them to regard pugilism as a science worthy of attention.

A curious piece of etiquette in connection with fighting was, that if a
Lower boy wanted to fight one in the Upper School, he could do so only
after having obtained leave from the Captain of the school.

At one time Eton battles were fought with hats on, which caused the
Westminster boys to declare that, owing to the damage inflicted upon
knuckles by the hat brims, most Etonian encounters were not of a
serious kind.

The Sixth Form and Upper boys were expected to see that fair-play was
enforced, and that when one combatant was clearly overmatched and
plainly worsted, a reconciliation took place. Both were made to shake
hands, and having vented their ill-feeling in a manly and honourable
way, they were afterwards often found to be the best of friends.

A great battle at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the fight
between Calthorp and Forster.

“Sixpenny Corner,” at the angle where the wall game now takes place,
was the traditional scene of battle, and here the great Duke of
Wellington, as little Arthur Wellesley, fought Bobus Smith, brother of
Sydney Smith, the fight, according to all accounts, ending in a draw.

A redoubtable pugilist was Stratford de Redcliffe, who emerged victor
from many a tough contest. Less successful was Shelley, who is said to
have received a severe thrashing from little Sir Thomas Styles. During
another fight the youthful poet attracted a good deal of attention
by refusing to rest on the knee of his second, preferring to stride
round the ring quoting Homer! No wonder the boys used to call him “mad
Shelley”! It must be remembered, however, that he was a constant butt
for a large portion of the school. “My belief,” said Dr. Hawtrey, “is
that what Shelley had to endure at Eton made him a perfect devil.”

[SN: THRASHING A LIFEGUARDSMAN]

In the early days of the nineteenth century a gigantic boy named Wyvill
became celebrated for his fistic powers. He once gave a Lifeguardsman
a severe thrashing in Windsor, and the soldier was so much upset that
he went to the Headmaster, Dr. Goodall, to complain of his mauling.
The latter, who hated to have to take notice of any Eton escapade,
said, “My good fellow, how can you expect me to know what boy it was?”
“Boy!” he answered with a country accent; “he is the biggest mun in the
tuttens,” or two towns. And so Wyvill ever after went by the name of
“the biggest mun in the tuttens.”

When a challenge had been given and accepted, the details of the
forthcoming fight were arranged by friends, after which the combatants
just walked into the playing fields with their seconds, stripped off
their jackets, and went to work, the boys forming a ring, no other
formalities being observed--hardly even a sponge or a watch. When a
minute was supposed to have elapsed, one got up from his second’s
knee and said, “Come on.” A little hot blood flowed, and as soon as
either felt he had enough he had only to say so. Drawn battles were
not common or popular, boys preferring to have matters brought to an
issue. There was the most perfect fair-play, and if things were carried
at all too far, interference was pretty sure to be at hand, though
not otherwise. When, during a fight, Keate just showed himself at the
corner of the playing fields, the hint was immediately taken.

Fights between Lower boys, it should be added, were deemed of small
account, but a battle between two well-known Uppers always attracted a
large crowd.

The most tragic fight which ever took place at Eton was a fierce
battle between a small boy named Ashley Cooper and a big one named
Wood (afterwards Sir A. Wood). For three hours the unequal combat was
carried on, till, in the last round before Lock Up, the former fell
senseless and had to be carried to his tutor’s house, where, half an
hour later, he expired. His death, however, seems to have been caused
by a quantity of brandy given him by his elder brother, rather than by
the effects of the fight. Also, had medical attendance been procured,
Cooper’s life would probably have been saved. After, however, he had
been carried senseless to his house, every effort was made to conceal
the state in which he was in, gloves being placed upon his hands so
that their dreadful condition might not be visible. The boy died the
same night.

The sequel of the encounter was a trial at Aylesbury, where, on March
9, 1825, Charles Alexander Wood, seventeen years old, was charged
before Mr. Justice Gazelee with the manslaughter of the Hon. Francis
Ashley Cooper, after a quarrel in the Eton playing fields. The fight,
it was proved, had been conducted in the strictest accordance with the
rules of the Prize Ring, which at that time still flourished. No less
than sixty rounds were shown to have been fought with the fiercest
determination--the time occupied, two hours. Cooper, who was two years
younger than his antagonist, had been given nearly a pint of brandy to
enable him to continue the struggle against a more powerful opponent.
Wood was, of course, acquitted; besides which, Cooper’s brother
entirely exonerated him, taking all the blame on himself for having
administered the brandy.

[SN: AN ILLEGIBLE INSCRIPTION]

This battle--the most serious schoolboy fight which ever took
place--probably had some effect in decreasing the popularity of fistic
encounters. It certainly created a great sensation, being, according
to some, commemorated by an inscription (now illegible) upon the white
stone let into the wall at Sixpenny Corner. The late Mr. Brownlow
North, Lord Kintore tells me, declared that he had been a second at the
fight, and remembered the insertion of the stone as a memorial.

The Gasworks eventually superseded “Sixpenny” as a fistic arena, though
the time-honoured phrase, “Will you fight me in ‘Sixpenny’?” still
remained the recognised form of challenge.

In 1858 fighting was already beginning to go out of fashion. In 1865,
while the Public Schools Commissioners were sitting, they examined
a Lower boy touching fights, and asked him if he had any theory to
explain why regular stand-up fights had become so rare? The boy
answered, “Oh! I suppose it’s because the fellows funk each other.”

The real reason of the disappearance of fighting was that it came to
be thought bad form, and consequently no longer received any patronage
from boys who were the swells of the school. Once it began to be
considered “scuggish,” the fate of Eton pugilism was sealed, and though
informal encounters occasionally occur--there was a determined battle
near the railway arches in 1893--within the last forty years fighting
has become a thing of the past.



IV “CADS,” AND THE “CHRISTOPHER”


Though a century or so ago fights and floggings were ordinary incidents
of school life, a large number of boys contrived to make time pass
very pleasantly indeed. At that time the sporting Etonian was quite a
recognised type.

The following sketch, from the _Sporting Magazine_, of Etonian ways
in 1799, whilst, of course, a somewhat exaggerated caricature, was
evidently based upon a very solid substratum of truth:--

  _Sunday._--Not well--church a bore--headache increased by bell--sent
  an excuse--up at ten--dressed by eleven--sipped tea in a back
  room--read half a page of _Sporting Magazine_--d--d good--much
  pleased with the Oxonian’s diary--walked to Castle--prayers with
  Bluster--rowed the cut of Bluster’s coat--bad taylor--smoked a
  Cockney, and his blue silks--kicked his wig in the kennel--teach the
  dog good manners--came down to dinner--no appetite--Dame’s hash,
  like shoe-leather--drank wine at the Christopher--bad port--waiter,
  jawed--shoved him out--during evening church, finished Oxonian
  diary--tight cock--wish I knew him--drank tea at Coker’s--bad
  company--Spanker and self adjourned to Cloisters--good fun--returned
  to Dame’s--sat with Pink--bad supper--four beer--rowed the
  maids--picked teeth--went to bed.

  _Monday._--Waked at eight--keep up pretence of headache--up
  at ten--dressed by eleven--Smith’s burgamot, not so good as
  usual--breakfast--at one, walked to billiards--no one there--beat the
  marker.--Mem. Not go to Huddlestone’s again--came down--dinner better
  than usual--new cook--dull evening--went to bed early.

  _Tuesday._--Sham leave--hunted with King’s hounds--Steven’s blood
  lame--d--d bore--forced to ride the grey--new boots--bad leather--cut
  Webb for the future, and employ Atkins--Alderman S----y, wretched
  quiz--his chesnut horse broke down--let him fall into a ditch--hat
  and wig, both lost--looked like a bumble bee in a tar pot--good
  hunt--hard riding--go along--keep moving.--Mem. Always row the
  Alderman and not forget to cram Pink--came home tired--sandwiches and
  wine at the White Hart--merry evening--got drunk--Dame jawed.

  _Wednesday._--Whole school day--very dull--walked to Steven’s--Grey,
  knocked up--pain in my side--evening, cards, etc.--much
  better--betting in my favour--beat Dashall at cribbage--won nine
  shillings--lucky dog--went to bed in good spirits.

Elaborate hoaxes were common at the commencement of the nineteenth
century. A young Etonian acquired a good deal of notoriety by sending
the town-crier, whom he had fee’d for the purpose, to announce a
general illumination in honour of the battle of Vittoria. It created
quite a sensation in both Windsor and Eton; and although no one knew
from whence the orders came, G. R.’s and coloured lamps in abundance
were displayed in the windows of many of the houses. A meeting of the
magistrates was hastily summoned, and the hoax was discovered. The
writing gave a clue to the culprit, who in due course underwent the
punishment usual in such cases.

[SN: SPORTING BOYS]

License which would be inconceivable at the present day
prevailed--bull-baiting on Batchelor’s Acre and cock-fighting in
Bedford’s Yard being quite ordinary amusements. Small wonder that at
one time strong complaint was made as to the habits of the school.
Ascot Races were regularly attended by many of the older boys. Hunting
and tandem-driving were not uncommon. Henry Matthews, author of the
_Diary of an Invalid_, a very clever and eccentric boy, drove a tandem
right through Eton and Windsor; a later rival, however, of Keate’s
day, when James Clegg of Windsor provided sporting boys with horses
and traps, drove one through the school-yard. Billiards continued to
be very popular, not only with the boys but with their Masters, who
claimed “first turn” at the tables.

Copying the London bucks, Upper boys would sally out on dark nights
and wrench bell-pulls and knockers from the dames’ houses, or make
hay in the poultry-yard of old Pocock, the farmer at the corner of
“Cut-throat” Lane, as Datchet Lane was then sometimes called.

Poaching expeditions in Windsor Park were quite common. On one occasion
young Lord Baltimore and a companion, when out after game, were pursued
by a Master. The young Peer, however, escaped, but eventually gave
himself up in order to save his friend (who had refused to divulge his
associate’s name) from expulsion.

Guns could then be hired for the purpose of shooting swallows and
swifts on the Brocas bank, where a number of sporting “cads,” then
known as “Private Tutors,” assisted in all sorts of sprees, providing
dogs, fishing-tackle, badgers, ferrets, rats, fighting dogs, horses,
and even, it is said, bulls for baiting.

Eighty or ninety years ago a dozen or more of such men were constantly
to be seen loitering in front of the College every morning, making
their arrangements with their pupils, the Oppidans, for a day’s sport,
to commence the moment school was over. At one time they used actually
to occupy a seat on the low wall in front of the College, but Dr. Keate
interfered to expel the assemblage; nevertheless, they continued to
carry on their intercourse with the boys, and walked about watching
their opportunity for communication.

A number supplied cats for hunts upon the Brocas, while a number
organised duck hunts, a duck being put into the river and hunted with
considerable brutality. A few, however, escaped by diving and tiring
the dogs out.

Some of these men were strange characters, who showed great
recklessness when times were bad, and would be ready to let boys have a
shot at them at a distance of seventy-five yards or so, three shillings
a shot being the accepted price.

[SN: “PICKY POWELL”]

Others would jump from the middle of Windsor Bridge for a
consideration. The stake-holder on such occasions was usually Jem
Powell, known as “Picky” Powell, who about 1824 was celebrated in
Eton for his “quart of sovereigns,” it being his invariable practice
when elated--for Jem, needless to say, was no teetotaller--to march up
and down in front of his house with a silver-gilt tankard filled with
his savings, all in gold.

This Picky Powell would appear to be identical with the individual
who, years later, enjoyed a considerable reputation as having been
professional bowler to the school. During the annual matches with
Harrow at Lord’s, Picky usually made a point of having an informal
sparring match with a well-known Harrow “cad,” Billy Warner by name,
who, like his bigger antagonist, was supposed to have been a notable
cricketer in his youth. A favourite taunt of Picky’s which usually
inaugurated hostilities was, “All the good I sees in ‘Arrow’ is that
you can see Eton from it if ye go up into the churchyard.”

The last appearance of Powell at Lord’s appears to have been in 1858,
when, as usual, he croaked defiance at his hereditary foe. On this
occasion, however, no sparring was permitted, but Picky reaped a rich
harvest of silver, bestowed upon him by old Etonians.

[Illustration: Jack Hall, Fisherman of Eton. _Print lent by G.
Culliford, Esq._]

A well-known character of the past on the Brocas was Jack Hall,
nicknamed “Foxy Hall,” by all accounts the most worthy of Eton
“cads,” and celebrated as an expert angler. His portrait, taken from
an old print, is here reproduced. Others were Joe Cannon, Fish,
“Shampo Carter” (who taught swimming in 1824 with the Headmaster’s
permission), Jack Garraway, and the Anti-Catholic Jim Miller,
the patriarch of “cads,” who signed a petition against Catholic
Emancipation “upon principle.” “For,” he said, “when the d----d rogues
burnt Cranmer and Ridley, they never paid for the fagots--unprincipled
varmints!” A great deal of license was accorded to these wall loungers,
most of whom were ready to abet the boys in every kind of mischief.

One of the most noted sporting “cads” was old Jimmy Flowers, whose
speciality was badger-baiting on the Brocas, his stock-in-trade
consisting of a badger in a sack and an old tub with one end knocked
out. Dogs used to be put into the tub to fetch the badger out, the
charge being sixpence, unless the fight with the badger lasted very
long, when Old Jimmy used to exact a further fee. When the fun, if it
can be called fun, had lasted long enough, the badger, whose opinion
of the proceedings it would have been interesting to have heard, was
replaced in the sack, and with a cheery “Good day, gentlemen, your dogs
have had good sport,” Jimmy would walk away.

Another well-known character in the beginning of the nineteenth century
was Old Matty Groves, who was much teased by the boys on account of
his rooted antipathy to clergymen, whom he used to denounce as the
“black slugs” of the country. He it was who led the procession which
every seven years went round to beat the Eton boundary, and nailed up
a cross of old iron hoops on a venerable willow near the grounds of
Black Potts, where in after years Dr. Hornby had a retreat. Old Matty
was very unconventional in his ways, and had been known in flood-time,
when the stream was running strong, to plunge into it in his clothes at
Barnes Pool Bridge and swim across to his cottage.

[SN: FLOODS]

Floods have always been liable to occur at Eton, though, for the most
part, they have generally subsided before becoming serious. In 1809,
however, there was a tremendous one, which carried away six of the
central arches of the old “Fifteen Arch” Bridge on the Slough Road that
spans the stream which feeds Fellows’ Pond. For five days the only
communication with some of the boarding-houses was by boats and carts,
and the school had practically a week’s holiday. The boys lay in bed
till a late hour, and when they got up it was to play cards and get
into other mischief. Driving down Eton Street in carts, with the risk
of getting spilt into the water, was one of their favourite amusements.

Two subsequent floods have been almost, if not quite, as serious--one
in 1852, the year that the Duke of Wellington died, and one in 1894,
when all the boys had to be sent home. Many of the Masters, however,
remained behind, and spent their time in rescuing people in the
surrounding country and supplying them with food.

[SN: SPANKIE]

Though in 1829, owing to the adoption of stern measures, the “Private
Tutors” under whose auspices many a boy had shot his first moor-hen
and laid his first eel-pot were expelled from the College precincts,
the “sock cads” continued to haunt the “wall” for many years later.
The most celebrated of these, of course, was the famous Spankie, who
flourished about half a century ago. Spankie never failed to appear in
the playing fields during summer, whilst in winter he was more or less
of a fixture at the wall. Of him was written, one summer’s day when the
cricket was getting slow in Upper Club, the line, “Totaque tartiferis
Spancheia fervet ahenis.” A ridiculous and unfounded school tradition
declared that he was a son of a General le Marchant, and he was often
playfully apostrophised by that name.

The principal characteristics of this worthy, besides a rubicund
countenance, a long blue frock coat, and an old top hat (invariably
worn on one side of his head), were extreme oiliness of manner,
combined with an unlimited amount of cheek. His wares, chiefly tartlets
of all sorts, were contained in a sort of huge tin can supported on
legs. At the proper season he also sold pots of flowers.

Spankie was imbued with a tremendous veneration for the aristocracy,
and prided himself upon his acquaintance with the history of every
noble family in England. Rumour, indeed, declared that most of his
time out of sock-selling hours was devoted to studying the _Peerage_
and the _Landed Gentry_, both of which works he was supposed to know
pretty well by heart. This, no doubt, was a schoolboy exaggeration,
but certain it was that Spankie had a curious and not inaccurate
knowledge of the noble houses whose youthful scions furnished him
with a comfortable income. It was a way of his to address the sons of
distinguished people by their fathers’ names, whilst, it should be
added, often fleecing them in a merciless manner, for, sad to tell,
his methods were not above suspicion. A favourite trick was carefully
to array a few very fine strawberries or cherries at the top of a
pottle after filling up the lower portion with very inferior fruit; as,
however, he made a practice of giving liberal tick, little was ever
said about this. He made quite a comfortable fortune out of the Eton
boys, as was realised when it became known that he had contributed no
less than £50 to the fund for building a new parish church in the High
Street.

By the lower members of the school Spankie was looked up to as a
perfect oracle, for he seemed to know everything, could predict who
would be members of the Eleven or Eight, and tell the name and history
of the latest comer, stringing on to it, if necessary, a list of all
his relations, with their various achievements. One of this celebrated
sock cad’s chief peculiarities was that he could scarcely utter three
consecutive words without a “sir” coming at the end of them; and it was
marvellous how he could change them as easily as he did into “my lord”
when any of the young aristocracy came up to him.

In addition to entertaining an unlimited respect for the British
aristocracy, Spankie nurtured a deep contempt for trade, as the small
sons of rich manufacturers, especially when they had failed to meet
their liabilities, frequently had reason to know. “Good morning,
sar,” Spankie would say to a scion of some house not unconnected
with “cotton,” who might be rather backward in settling his debts.
“Glad to see you back, sar. Bought some pocket-handkerchiefs at your
establishment in the vacation, sar; cheap enough, only six shillings a
dozen; but I don’t find them wash well, sar.”

According to some, Spankie made quite a comfortable little sum by
supplying the names of visitors to Eton to the London papers, whilst
rumour also declared that on occasion the College authorities employed
him to trace and recapture runaways.

[SN: SOCK CADS]

One of Spankie’s best-known predecessors was a sock cad named Charley
Pass, who was to be seen daily stationed at the wall near the gateway
with a curious tin apparatus containing pies, kept hot by a charcoal
brazier. He had a peculiar cry, somewhat resembling that of the long
obsolete pieman. “Ham and Veal; Mutton Eel,” he would call out as the
boys were emerging from school. Young Collegers who knew his ways would
drive him to fury by shouting “and dog--that’s what I want.” Trotman
with his barrow was also a familiar figure in the “forties.”

Another sock cad who had some pretensions to being a rival to Spankie
was a hook-nosed little man known as Levi, the Jew. Spankie and he
constantly indulged in verbal sparring, in which the Hebrew, who was a
man of few words, as a rule got much the worst of it. On one occasion
this so infuriated Levi that a battle royal ensued. Goaded to frenzy
by some taunt of Spankie’s, Levi challenged him to come on, and an
animated tussle ensued, speedily ended only by the appearance of one of
the Masters, who, separating the combatants, thoroughly frightened both
by declaring that he had a good mind to see that the two of them should
be prevented from frequenting the neighbourhood of the wall. The idea
of this thoroughly cowed even the irrepressible Spankie, and henceforth
Levi and he lived at peace.

A less assertive character than either of the two worthies mentioned
above was old Brion or Bryant, a white-headed sock cad whose invariable
costume was a grey coat. According to current report he had no less
than twenty-one children. His speciality lay in purveying small glasses
of cherry jam dashed with cream at fourpence, which must have yielded
him a good profit.

Bryant outdid the other sock cads in owning a huge barrow, which every
day was wheeled to the wall. A portly, good-natured man, he was not
as astute as Spankie, and consequently was frequently imposed upon by
his young customers. Sometimes, however, he showed a keen aptitude for
business. When, for instance, a little boy complained that he had
given him but a small pennyworth of preserve in his jam-bun, he would
evince the amiability of his intentions by saying, “I was afraid it
might disagree with you, sir.”

Another well-known character in the sixties of the last century was an
old lady known as “Missis,” who sat by the entrance to the school-yard
selling apples, nuts, bullfinches, and dormice.

During more recent years there have been no sock cads of such
marked individuality as those mentioned above, nor do they enjoy
the privileges which were accorded to their predecessors of a more
easy-going age, their appearance at the wall being discouraged. Some,
however, still ply their trade in the playing fields and at the
bathing-places. The most original of the modern school was “Hoppie.”
Every portion of this worthy’s costume, according to his own account,
had belonged to some prominent old Etonian. During the summer half
he was a constant frequenter of “Upper Hope,” where perhaps he still
parades “the Duke of Wellington’s coat” and “Lord Roberts’ trousers” as
of yore.

Thirty years ago there were several individuals known as “Jobey”--a
name taken from almost the last of the old Eton characters, “Jobey
Joel,” who died not very long ago. He remembered the school when far
more latitude was allowed the boys, and had many a queer tale to tell
of that vanished institution, the Christopher, now but a fading memory
in the minds of a few.

[SN: THE CHRISTOPHER]

The ancient hostelry in question would seem to have flourished as
long ago as the sixteenth century. The mention of a certain Nicholas
Williams lodging “ad signum Christoferi” occurs in the Eton Audit Book
for 1523. The old inn served as a refuge to the “ever memorable” Eton
Fellow, John Hales, who for his unwavering allegiance to the King was
deprived of his fellowship.

In later days the Christopher became a great social centre of local
life. All the coaches stopped at its door, and before Dr. Hawtrey
abolished the Eton Market there was a weekly ordinary for farmers, and
occasionally a hunt dinner, with noise enough to have driven the Muses
back to Greece. Its rooms were in great request with parents come down
to see their promising or unpromising offspring, whilst old Etonians
revisiting Eton made the old place their headquarters as a matter of
course.

“Lord! how great I used to think anybody just landed at the
Christopher!” wrote Horace Walpole when he returned to his old school
in 1746. The place recalled many memories of boyhood to his mind, and
he declared that he felt “just like Noah, with all sorts of queer feels
about him.”

Horace Walpole had passed some happy days at Eton, where one of his
greatest friends was the studious and quiet Gray, who read Virgil for
amusement out of school. The writer of the famous letters had a great
affection for Eton, and Cambridge, as he said, seemed a wilderness to
him as compared with the “dear scene” he had left. In after life the
recollection of his school-days was ever keen. When, for instance, he
first saw a balloon he declared that he was at once reminded of an Eton
football. Though fond of reading, like many other Eton boys, the writer
of the famous letters showed little enthusiasm for the school work.

  “I remember,” says he, “when I was at Eton, and Mr. Bland had set me
  on an extraordinary task, I used sometimes to pique myself upon not
  getting it, because it was not immediately my school business. What!
  learn more than I was absolutely forced to learn! I felt the weight
  of learning that, for I was a blockhead, and pushed above my parts.”

Spending much of his time in the playing fields musing, he retained the
recollection all his life.

  “No old maid’s gown,” said he, “though it had been tormented into all
  the fashions from King James to King George, ever underwent so many
  transformations as these poor plains have in my idea. At first I was
  contented with tending a visionary flock and sighing some pastoral
  name to the echo of the cascade under the bridge. As I got further
  into Virgil and Clelia, I found myself transported from Arcadia to
  the garden of Italy; and saw Windsor Castle in no other view than the
  Capitoli immobile saxum.”

In Horace Walpole’s day Kendall, himself an old Etonian, presided over
the Christopher. Later came Garraway and Jack Knight.

The rattling of coach wheels over the cobblestones outside the old inn
was a never-failing source of excitement and interest to the boys. Most
of them knew the drivers, whom they delighted to hail with volleys of
chaff.

[SN: STAGE COACHMEN]

A famous Eton stage coachman was Jack Bowes of the “Original,” which
started from the Bolt in Tun, Fleet Street, and called at Hatchett’s
in Piccadilly. Often on his arrival at the Christopher, Bowes would be
welcomed with a brisk fusillade fired by boys from pea-shooters. He had
been a soldier and seen a good deal of service, and was a most popular
character with all sorts of people, and especially with the relatives
and fathers of Eton boys; for, like Moody, another Eton coachman, Bowes
knew all that there was to be known about the College and its ways.
He was a kindly man, and reassured many a small boy fresh from home
and nervous as to the ordeal awaiting him when he reached the great
public school. One idea which not a few new boys had firmly implanted
upon their minds was that by way of initiation into the privilege of
becoming an Etonian they would be pitched off Windsor Bridge and made
to struggle for their life. There was, of course, not the slightest
foundation for such an idea, which no doubt arose because in former
days it was no very uncommon thing for Etonians, anxious to show their
powers as swimmers, to take a header from the Bridge into the Thames
beneath. Many indeed were experts at such feats.

Less kindly than Bowes were some of the hangers-on who gained a
livelihood by lounging about the White Horse Cellar in Piccadilly,
which was always a great rendezvous for all sorts of queer characters,
itinerant orange-vendors and others, who flocked round the coaches
hoping to make a more or less honest penny. Amongst these was one
well-known individual who gained a livelihood by doing odd jobs in the
way of carrying parcels and helping with luggage. He was especially
active on days when the Eton boys were returning to school, and as
he took some little fellow’s trunk to hoist it on to the coach would
cheerfully impart the information that “he had never seen such a fine
load of birch as had gone down the day before.”

“Bishop”--a particular kind of punch--and Bulstrode ale were the two
beverages for which the Christopher was famous. Garraway brought the
latter into fashion, and a huge amount of it was drunk, and though
Garraway had only purchased a small stock of this famous old ale at the
sale at Bulstrode, by some miraculous process it continued to be served
out in plentiful quantities ever after. This became a standing joke
against mine host of the Christopher, who afterwards made a speciality
of an excellent tap, which he called the Queen’s, from some he had
purchased at Windsor. This was sold in small quarts, at a shilling per
jug.

[SN: THE OPPIDANS’ CLUB]

The old place was often quite full of undergraduates, young officers,
and bucks come down to take a look at the school they had so recently
left, and some of these young men, especially those from Oxford (where
formerly so many Etonians went on account of its being the headquarters
of classical learning) formed what was known as the “Oppidans’ Club.”
The main object of this convivial association, which met in one of the
cellars, next to consuming large quantities of port, was to sally out
after nightfall and abduct the shops’ signs--barbers’ poles and other
insignia of trade--from the houses in the High Street, afterwards
bearing them back to the Christopher in triumph. The tradesmen bore
these eccentricities with considerable fortitude, for in the end they
were pretty sure not to suffer.

Representations to the masters and authorities were scarcely necessary
to redress such whimsical grievances, the injured parties being well
aware that they would receive due compensation. The next day the
spoils and trophies were arranged in due form in the cellar at the
old inn, which became well known by the name of “Oppidan’s Museum.”
Here the merry wags were to be found in council, holding a court of
claims, to which all the shopkeepers who had suffered any loss were
successively summoned; and after pointing out from among the motley
collection the article they claimed, and the price it originally cost,
they were handsomely remunerated or the sign replaced. The good people
of Eton generally chose the former, as it not only enabled them to
sport a new sign, but to put a little profit upon the cost price of
the old one. The trophies thus acquired were then packed up in hampers
and despatched to Oxford, where they were on similar occasions not
infrequently displayed or hung up in lieu of some well-known sign,
such as the Mitre, etc., which had been removed during the night.

Some Collegers once played a joke of this sort on Dr. Keate. A
Windsor hatter, Jones by name, had outside his shop an immense tin
three-cornered cocked hat as a sign, the exact counterpart, except much
larger, of the one Keate wore. This was stolen one winter’s evening
by a detachment of Collegers; they managed to send it to London, and
thence, carefully packed, it was forwarded to Keate. Meanwhile, a
letter was sent to Jones saying that the writer could give him some
inkling of who was the thief, for that Dr. Keate had long been observed
to eye this magnificent cocked hat with longing envy, and there was no
doubt if a search warrant was procured, it would be found in the house
of the Headmaster.

The cellar in which met the so-called “Oppidans’ Club” was known
as “the Estaminet.” The usual fare here was bread and cheese, beer
and porter, and in its general features it seems to have been the
precursor of the present Tap. Lower boys had no share in its amenities.
On occasion, however, stronger potations were indulged in, and of
course this was more especially the case when old Etonians from the
Universities were paying a visit to their old school.

[Illustration: THE OPPIDAN’S MUSEUM _or Eton Court of Claims at the
Christopher_. _From a coloured print in the possession of the Rt.
Honble. Lewis Harcourt, M.P._]

No doubt, these visitors had rather a demoralising effect upon the
boys who stood by in admiration, envying the bucks who lounged over
the rails of the gallery and indulged in chaff with those below,
whilst they ogled any pretty girl who might chance to meet their roving
glance, or chaffed any mischievous Etonians who hung about the old
yard, occasionally pulling the bungs out of the casks which were ranged
there.

In the old Christopher the assistant masters at one time had a room
reserved for them in which they were wont to meet, whilst regular
convivial assemblies were sometimes organised there by Eton boys, one
of the chief being on St. Andrew’s Day, when Colleger had met Oppidan
at the wall.

[SN: A RAID]

In its last years, when the famous hostelry began to be regarded as a
great moral danger by the authorities, they began to make determined
efforts to prevent boys from being within its doors, and one St.
Andrew’s Day a raid was suddenly made. Just as the revelry had reached
its height, Smut, otherwise known as Beelzebub, the head waiter,
announced the appearance of a party of masters. Great confusion ensued,
and as an ominous creaking of boots was heard on the staircase, the
landlord’s daughter turned off the gas, and all was left in darkness.
A stentorian voice was heard crying, “I require the landlord of this
house to provide me with a light.” Meanwhile, one of the masters groped
his way to the door of the banqueting-room and held it so that no one
could pass. One of the raiding party, a master named Goodford, who
afterwards became “Head,” greatly distinguished himself by embracing
Smut, whom in the darkness he mistook for a boy trying to make his
escape. However, he was rudely undeceived by a gruff voice grunting
out, “Come, none of this nonsense!” At length a light was procured, and
as the boys filed out, one by one, their names were entered in a “black
list.”

The curious thing is that little organised effort seems ever to have
been made to prevent boys from being allowed to enter the old inn;
raiding them when within its walls naturally did little good; in fact,
it merely stimulated the spirit of adventure and made them go there
more. A cousin of the writer--well-known as master of the West Kent
foxhounds--describing Eton life under Hawtrey, could not help speaking
with glee of how he and a companion were the only boys out of twenty
who managed to escape during one of these raids, the perilous method
adopted having been to climb down a waterpipe and then drop into the
yard at the back.

The Christopher finally ended its career as a hostelry in 1842, owing
to the Crown giving up the lease to the College. Its abolition had
been constantly urged ever since Dr. Hawtrey had become Headmaster.
A violent foe to the old inn and its enemy, he branded it as the
greatest evil in Eton life, and after it had been numbered with things
of the past he was so pleased that, as a sort of thank-offering, he
wanted it to be pulled down and a chapel of ease erected on the site.
This scheme, however, was not carried out, St. John’s Church being
built in the High Street instead and the Christopher turned into a
boarding-house, the tap-room becoming a court of justice, where petty
sessions were held.

Another part of the building was appropriated to the use of the Eton
Debating Society, commonly called “Pop” (it is said, from “popina,”
an eating-house), which celebrated its centenary in the present year.
Its original domicile was over the small shop of Mrs. Hatton, the
confectioner, quarters very useful for gratifying a love of “sock.” It
is said that at the Saturday four-o’clock meetings the proceedings were
often delayed by the consumption of ices and cakes and the drinking of
cherry brandy.

[SN: WILLIAM JOHNSON]

The vestibule, where so many wild young bucks had kicked their heels,
was turned into a pupil room, in which for a time presided one of the
most gifted, if eccentric, Eton masters who ever existed, William
Johnson (who afterwards changed his name to Cory), the author of
_Ionica_ and of the Eton boating song. Highly unconventional in his
ways, he could never remain unmoved when he heard the sound of drums
outside in the street, indicating that some regiment was passing
through the College. Eton has given many a gallant officer to England,
and, as the large number of memorials in the Chapel shows, the roll of
Etonian soldiers is associated with numberless glorious memories. These
stirred the imaginative mind of the clever master, and, keenly desirous
that the rising generation should imbibe a due portion of that martial
ardour which was the heritage of their school, he would lead his pupils
out to the archway, and, pointing to the passing regiment, proudly
exclaim, “Boys, the British army!”

Mr. Johnson was an Eton master from 1845 to 1872, during which
period he showed all the qualifications of a gifted teacher, though
at times betraying considerable eccentricity. He was much given to
introspection, and amused boys would often regale themselves with the
sight of Billy Johnson, as they irreverently called him, standing wrapt
in profound meditation all alone in the school-yard, totally oblivious
of everything about him. He was very short-sighted, which gave rise to
the story that he had been seen furiously rushing down Windsor Hill,
making futile grabs at a fleeing hen, which he believed to be his hat,
blown off by the wind. In school, owing to this infirmity, he was
unable to perceive what boys were doing, and the carving of names and
cutting into desks and forms was carried on in perfect safety beneath
his very nose. Against positive disorder, however, he could well defend
himself, and his paradoxical utterances and epigrammatic sayings kept
even the most turbulent spirits in check.

His powers of satire were generally recognised as being highly
formidable, and masters as well as boys sometimes felt the keen thrust
of his rapier. In a school book, _Nuces_, written by him for the use of
the lower forms, was to be found a sentence which Etonians universally
agreed was a hit at a somewhat unpopular master, conspicuous for the
length of his flowing beard. This ran: “Formerly wise men used to grow
beards. Now other persons do so.”

[SN: THE BOATING SONG]

Though the poetical masterpiece of Mr. Johnson is the small volume
entitled _Ionica_, which contains some beautiful verse, a more
generally known composition of his is the Eton boating song, which
has been carried by old Etonians practically all over the world. An
interesting account of how this song came to be written is given by
the Reverend A. C. Ainger in his admirable work on _Eton in Prose and
Verse_. It would seem to have been composed in the winter of 1863
for the 4th of June of that year. Some little time later the words
were printed in the third number of a periodical called the _Eton
Scrap-book_, of which Everard Primrose was one of the joint-editors.
A copy of the words were sent in 1865 to a subaltern in the Rifle
Brigade, Algernon Drummond by name, who was then with his battalion at
Nowshera, in India. This young officer, who, four or five years before,
had been one of Johnson’s pupils, was haunted by the words till the
tune came to them, and eventually, owing to him, a number of officers
who had been at Eton made a practice of singing it nightly after mess.
Gradually guests learnt it, with the result that old Etonians in other
regiments took to singing the song which recalled to them their old
school in distant England.

The composition of this boating song, it should be added, cost William
Johnson much trouble and some sleepless nights; nevertheless, its
final form contains some lines which are scarcely worthy of an author
who, in _Ionica_, has shown himself a true poet. It must, however, be
remembered that the song, as we have it, was never intended for the
wide publicity which it so speedily attained. No doubt its popularity
has been in a great measure caused by the charming tune to which it was
set, whilst the whole-hearted and somewhat touching devotion to Eton
expressed in the words makes an irresistible appeal to all true sons of
the school, particularly to those who remember the days when, free from
care, they passed many a happy hour

  Skirting past the rushes,
    Ruffling o’er the weeds,
  Where the lock stream gushes,
    Where the cygnet feeds.

The fact that “the rushes” are now no more, having been entirely swept
away by the great flood of 1894, will not cause Etonians of a later
date to sing the words less heartily, and many a generation yet to come
will probably continue to accord this boating song the appreciation
which it first obtained nearly half a century ago.

No man, perhaps, ever expressed better the true Eton spirit than Mr.
Johnson in some words he uttered a few months before his death. He was
a sufferer from heart disease, and realised that his end might at any
time occur. Declining a friend’s invitation, he said, “I think it
unmannerly to drop down dead in another man’s grounds.”

The pupil room in which he sat has now ceased to serve that purpose;
the old structure of the Christopher, having undergone further changes,
is now used merely to accommodate masters, and has ceased to be an
Eton house. The only external trace of the inn yard as it was, are
some of the old balustrades of the ancient gallery facing the site of
the livery stables which were swept away in 1901. Many will remember
Charley Wise, the proprietor, who used to be such a familiar figure
standing under the archway thirty years ago.

[SN: SHELLEY]

The original sign of the Christopher, it should be added, hangs at
the modern Christopher in the High Street. Shelley, when an Eton boy,
one night stole the great gilded bunch of grapes from this, and hung
it in front of the Headmaster’s door, so that the astounded pedagogue
ran into it as he was hurrying into school in the morning. The whole
character of Shelley was a mass of contradictions, and he seems to have
been far from happy at school, where he seldom joined in any sports;
according to some he never went on the river, but this is doubtful.
The young poet’s favourite ramble was Stoke Park and the picturesque
churchyard close by, rendered famous for all time by Gray’s _Elegy_, of
which Shelley is said to have been very fond.

As was shown by the incident of the Christopher’s grapes, Shelley,
though as a rule of a meditative disposition, was on occasion given to
playing pranks. He once bought a large brass cannon at an auction in
Windsor, and harnessed many Lower boys to draw it down into College.
It was captured by one of the tutors and kept till the holidays at
Hexter’s. He was fond of experimenting in science, and set fire to a
tree in south meadow by laying a train of gunpowder to it; another
time, by means of an electrical machine, he flung his tutor against the
wall.

This tutor’s name was Bethell, and, according to all accounts, he was
a somewhat unattractive character. Amongst the boys he was known as
“Vox et praeterea nihil” and “Botch” Bethell, because he was supposed
always to be making errors or botches in altering their verses. His
favourite phrase, which he used to alter as it might be for a long or
a short verse, was for the former “sibi vindicat ipse,” for the latter
“vindicat ipse sibi,” in consequence of which an impudent boy in his
house, being one day asked at meal-time what he would take, said, “Sir,
I vindicate to myself a slice of mutton.” Towards the boys under his
charge Bethell was harsh, and sometimes even brutal. Meeting a Lower
boy one day coming in with a bowl full of sausages covered by his hat
to keep them warm, Bethell sternly inquired, “What have you got there?”
The boy, fearing trouble, whimpered, “Nothing, sir,” upon which Bethell
jerked up the bowl with his hand and sent hat and sausages flying into
the road.

In Shelley’s day, life at Eton had changed a good deal, compared with
that led some twenty years before, when Arthur Wellesley was a shy,
retiring Lower boy, in whom neither masters nor schoolfellows saw any
germs of future greatness.

[SN: THE GREAT DUKE]

He was about twelve years old when he went to Miss Naylor’s, and
in spite of his shyness he is supposed to have taken part with his
companions in several escapades. Traditions used to be current at Eton
about his shooting expeditions up the river at unpermitted seasons and
hours; and during the middle of the last century a tree standing near
the site of his dame’s was known as “the Duke’s Tree,” because it was
said that as a boy the old duke had been fond of climbing it. Arthur
Wellesley was not very long at Eton, but nevertheless in after life he
cherished a great love for the school to which in due course he sent
his sons. One of his first acts on going down to visit them there was
to take them to see the door at his old house where, when a boy, he had
cut his own name. Though no great athlete himself, he fully appreciated
the manly character induced by games and sport, and Creasy declares
that not many years before his death he was passing by the playing
fields, where numerous groups were happily busied at their games of
cricket. Pointing to them, the old Field-Marshal said, “There grows the
stuff that won Waterloo.”

The great Duke’s elder brother, Lord Mornington, afterwards Marquis of
Wellesley, had, as is well known, a fanatical love for Eton, where,
by his express wish, he was buried, his own beautiful Latin lines[3]
recording the satisfaction with which he looked forward to resting
there. According to a request which he left behind him, six weeping
willows were planted in different parts of the playing fields, and a
bench fixed at a particular spot which commanded his favourite view.

As an Eton boy he was a particularly fine elocutionist, as was shown
by two recitations of his at Speeches on Election Monday 1778, before
a large number of royal visitors; in Strafford’s dying speech he drew
tears from the audience. David Garrick, hearing of it, complimented the
youthful speaker on having done what he had never achieved, namely,
made the King weep. To which the clever Etonian returned the graceful
answer, “That is because you never spoke to him in the character of a
fallen favourite.”

In many ways this brother of the Iron Duke may be considered the
type of the perfect Etonian, and, as far as classical learning went,
scarcely any boy educated at the school ever equalled him. When Dr.
Goodall, a contemporary at Eton of Lord Wellesley, was examined in 1818
before the Education Committee of the House of Commons respecting the
alleged passing over of Porson in giving promotions to King’s College,
he at once declared that the celebrated Greek scholar was not by any
means at the head of the Etonians of his day; and on being asked by
Lord Brougham, the Chairman, to name his superior, he at once said,
“Lord Wellesley.”

[SN: A SUGGESTION]

Curiously enough, there appears to be no record of where the young
nobleman boarded. Presumably it was at Miss Naylor’s, where later came
his illustrious brother. A commemorative tablet should surely be set up
near the spot where those two great Etonians lived when Eton boys. The
houses where a number of other prominent men spent their school days
are for the most part known, and several others might be honoured in
a similar manner, arousing a spirit of noble emulation and pride in a
splendid record of those who have deserved well of their country.

A somewhat remarkable coincidence is that George Canning, Gladstone,
and the late Lord Salisbury in turn boarded at the same house. In
Canning’s time the dame was Mrs. Harrington, in Gladstone’s Mrs.
Shurey, whilst in Lord Robert Cecil’s day the Rev. G. Cookesley was in
control. Amongst modern politicians Lord Rosebery boarded at Vidal’s,
Mr. Balfour at Miss Evans’s, Lord Curzon at Mr. Oscar Browning’s, and
Mr. Lewis Harcourt at the Rev. A. C. Ainger’s. The room of the present
Colonial Secretary was celebrated as being the best decorated in Eton.
The writer has a vivid recollection of being impressed by the number of
well-arranged pictures which he saw when, as a small boy, he enjoyed
the honour of being asked to breakfast there. The whole place was full
of evidences of the artistic taste which admittedly distinguished Mr.
Harcourt as First Commissioner of Public Works.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] See Chapter VI.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Herbert Stockhore, the “Montem Poet,” going to Salt Hill
in 1823.]



V MONTEM


Though even to-day a few old Etonians survive who took part in the last
Eton Montem, the memory and the recollection of the quaint glories of
this ancient and unique festival will soon have become totally obscured
by the sordid dust of modern life.

Whilst the lover of old customs may lament that the merry voices of
Montem are drowned for ever, it is absolutely certain that even had
the famous triennial pageant been allowed to continue after 1844, its
celebration could never have been prolonged up to the present day in
its ancient form; for, besides being utterly out of accord with modern
ideas and ways, the ceremony would have brought such crowds to Eton as
to have rendered any procession to Salt Hill more or less impossible.
To some, however, it may be a matter for regret that no attempt was
made to perpetuate the memory of Montem by holding a modified festival
in the playing fields.

It is all very well to denounce old customs as merely useless relics
of a bygone age. The individual who carries such a view to an
extreme is in reality even more unreasonable than he who delights in
contemplating the past alone. Both in their different ways are in the
wrong: the fanatical worshipper of ancient ways being apt to lose
sight of the improvements wrought by progress, whilst he who despises
antiquity forgets that the state of society in which we live, and the
institutions of the country itself, are all derived from preceding
ages. Do or think what we will, our ancestors are far more necessary to
us than posterity.

The tumulus or mound, to which the whole school formerly marched in
procession at Whitsuntide once in every three years, stands in a field
just off the Bath road in the hamlet known as Salt Hill. Supposed by
some to be an ancient barrow, it appears to have never been opened,
though a portion was sliced off in 1893 when some cottages were built
close by. It seems a pity that this hillock--the scene of so many
picturesque gatherings in the past--should not have been preserved
intact, and some memorial, inscribed with a brief account of the
ceremony of Montem, placed upon its summit.

[Illustration: The Montem of 1823. _From an old print._]

[SN: THE PARSON AND HIS CLERK]

The exact origin of “Montem” is involved in considerable obscurity.
Perhaps the most plausible explanation is that it arose in a similar
manner as the old Winchester custom of “going on Hills.” Another theory
is that the festival was of feudal origin, the tenure of the College
estates having been held by the payment of “salt-silver”--an ancient
legal term signifying money paid by tenants in certain manors in lieu
of service of bringing their lord’s salt from the market. It may have
also been originally connected with the curious ceremony of electing
a “Boy-Bishop.” In a number of old Montem Lists, which the writer has
been fortunate enough to acquire, the parson occupies a prominent place
in the procession, coming immediately after the Captain and being
followed by the clerk. Both ecclesiastical characters, it should be
added, were always personated by Collegers, and it was the custom for
them to indulge in gross buffoonery, the parson delivering a burlesque
sermon on Salt Hill, down which he afterwards kicked the clerk. In 1778
this proceeding so scandalised Queen Charlotte, who was present, that
she begged it might never occur again, and henceforth both parson and
clerk ceased to figure in the ceremony.

According to some, the original date for celebrating Montem was
December 6th, the very day dedicated to St. Nicholas, and usually
chosen for the election of the “Boy-Bishop” in ancient times. Be
this as it may, in Elizabeth’s reign the procession took place
about the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Granted that it was
ever celebrated on St. Nicholas’ Day, those who derive it from the
“Boy-Bishop” have a coincidence of time in their favour, whence it
is not unreasonable to suppose a connection between the triennial
festival at Eton and the ancient ecclesiastical mimicry of an episcopal
election. Another circumstance favourable to the same supposition is
found in a singular custom which formerly made part of the Montem
festival. The parson at one period, receiving a Prayer-book, used to
read part of the Service to the crowd; which usage bore an obvious
resemblance to the mimic services performed by the “Boy-Bishop” in the
distant past. Till 1759, when the date was changed to Whit-Tuesday,
Montem was annual; it then became biennial, and finally after 1775
triennial.

In those days it had already assimilated some striking features of that
curious alliance of licensed mendicity, brigandage, and gaiety--the
modern charity bazaar. Of its ancient character as a semi-religious
festival nothing remained, and it had become a collection for the
benefit of the Captain of the Collegers who might have been fortunate
enough to obtain a vacancy at King’s College, Cambridge.

[SN: “MONTEM-SURE”]

The proceedings in College which heralded the approach of Montem were
characteristic and peculiar. In former days it was the custom that
any vacancy at King’s should be immediately announced at Eton by
the “resignation man,” generally the coachman of the Provost of that
College, a delay of three weeks all but a day being allowed to the
Captain of the school in which he might make his preparations for
leaving. If, however, this period of grace should chance to expire on
the very eve of Whitsun-Tuesday Montem-day, the right of being Captain
would lapse to the Colleger who was next on the list, so that the
twentieth day before Whitsun-Tuesday in that year was a very critical
day for the Captain and second Colleger. Till midnight it could not
be known for certain who would be Captain. The boys called that night
“Montem-Sure Night,” when wild excitement prevailed amongst the
Collegers in Long Chamber, and as the last stroke of midnight sounded
from the clock in Lupton’s Tower, some fifty-two stout oaken beds
would be let fall on to the floor with a thundering crash, numberless
shutters would be slammed with furious energy, and “Montem-Sure,”
shouted by many powerful young throats, would ring out all over Eton.

Whoever was Captain of the school on the Whitsun-Tuesday in a Montem
year became _ipso facto_ Captain of Montem. But, as has before been
said, the Captain of the school could not be known for certain till
within twenty days of the eventful Whitsun-Tuesday.

A King’s scholar could, if he succeeded in passing his “election
trials” every year at the end of July, remain at Eton a twelvemonth
after passing the last examination, provided he was not yet nineteen.
If by that time he had not gone to King’s College, Cambridge, he was
superannuated, and had to leave Eton. At the examination at the end
of every July those boys who had passed their eighteenth birthday
were placed in school order of merit, and were called from thence to
Cambridge at any time of the year, whenever, through death, marriage,
or any cause, a vacancy occurred in the number of the seventy members
of King’s College, in order to supply which King Henry VI. founded his
school at Eton of seventy scholars. Montem only happened every third
year, for which reason it was only possible that a boy who was born
in such a year that he would have passed his eighteenth birthday on
the July previous to a Montem could ever become captain of Montem, and
obtain the financial benefits accruing from the collection made at that
festival.

[SN: “SALT! SALT”]

William Malim, the Headmaster, who wrote an account of Eton for the
Royal Commission who visited the school in 1561, thus described the
Montem of his day:--

  About the festival of the Conversion of Saint Paul, at nine o’clock
  on a day chosen by the Master, in the accustomed manner in which they
  go to collect nuts in September, the boys go ad montem. The hill is
  a sacred spot according to the boyish religion of the Etonians; on
  account of the beauty of the countryside, the delicious grass, the
  cool shade of bowers, and the melodious chorus of birds, they make it
  a holy shrine for Apollo and the Muses, celebrate it in songs, call
  it Tempe, and extol it above Helicon. Here the novices or new boys,
  who have not yet submitted to blows in the Eton ranks, manfully and
  stoutly, for a whole year, are first seasoned with salt and then
  separately described in little poems which must be as salted and
  graceful as possible. Next, they make epigrams against the new boys,
  one vying with another to surpass in all elegance of speech and in
  witticisms. Whatever comes to the lips may be uttered freely so long
  as it is in Latin, courteous, and free from scurrility. Finally they
  wet their faces and cheeks with salt tears, and then at last they are
  initiated in the rites of the veterans. Ovations follow, and little
  triumphs, and they rejoice in good earnest, because their labours are
  past, and because they are admitted to the society of such pleasant
  comrades. These things finished they turn home at five o’clock and
  after dinner play till eight.

In the days of Elizabeth, and during the turbulent time of the Civil
War, Montem seems to have assumed a more regular and ceremonious
form. Only, however, at the beginning of the eighteenth century did
it acquire those military characteristics which it retained with
little modification till its abolition in 1847. Till the middle of the
eighteenth century (1759) it was held in the last week in January,
but at that date Whitsun-Tuesday was appointed as the great day. Dr.
Barnard it was who altered the dresses and formed the boys into a
regular collegiate regiment.

In ancient times the collectors, that is to say the boys who scoured
the roads for miles round Eton to collect contributions, carried
large bags which actually contained salt, a pinch of which they gave
to every contributor as a receipt. In the rough old times, when any
boorish-looking countryman after having contributed a trifle asked for
salt, it used to be a favourite pleasantry to fill his mouth with it.
The last Montem at which salt was actually used seems to have been
that of 1793. The cry of “Salt! Salt!” lasted long after tickets had
taken the place of the condiment, and, indeed, endured to the end,
embroidered bags being proffered to travellers along the roads, who, in
return for contributions which varied from fifty pounds to sixpence,
were presented with little blue tickets inscribed with one of the Latin
Montem mottoes. In the years preceding the abolition of the ceremony,
_Mos pro Lege_ and _Pro More et Monte_ were used in alternate years.
Not infrequently people who had never heard of the ancient custom were
very much astonished at being asked for salt. William the Third, it
is said, soon after his accession, had his carriage stopped by Montem
runners on the Bath road, and his Dutch guards, being not unnaturally
indignant at their monarch being waylaid in such unceremonious fashion,
were only prevented from cutting down the boys, whom they took for some
kind of highwaymen, by the King himself, who good-naturedly gave the
salt-bearers a liberal contribution.

In 1706 Montem would seem to have evolved into something of the same
form which it retained till its abolition, the organisation being of
a military kind. In that year Stephen Poyntz was captain, Berkeley
Seymour lieutenant, Theophilus Thompson ensign, and Anthony Allen
marshal, or, as the Montem List always termed it, “mareschal.”

[SN: THE MARCH TO SALT HILL]

In connection with the ceremony, Poyntz composed the following lines:--

  Allen pandit iter, Poyntz instruit agmen,
  Cogit iter Seymour Thompsonque insignia vibrat.

I think I am right in saying that it has hitherto escaped notice that
the great Duke of Wellington took part in an “ad Montem.” An old list
in my possession shows that at the Montem of June 5th, 1781, Mr.
Wesley, as he is termed, marched to Salt Hill as one of the attendants
of an Upper boy named Lomax. An appended note adds, “His Grace’s first
appearance in arms.” His sons, Lord Douro and Lord Charles Wellesley,
marched in the processions of 1820 and 1823.

At the Montem of 1826 Gladstone, in order evidently to express that
sympathy for downtrodden nations for which he was so celebrated in
after life, went to Salt Hill in Greek costume wearing the fustanella
and embroidered cap. This was Pickering’s Montem, and owing to
Gladstone and others repressing a good deal of wanton damage, the sum
obtained for him was one of the largest on record.

The march to Salt Hill was, of course, always somewhat tumultuous, and
much licence prevailed. As time went on efforts were made to purge the
fête of its disorderly features, but up to the very end there was a
good deal of horseplay and rowdiness amongst the boys; indeed, at the
last Montem but one, in 1841, they did great damage to the inns at
Salt Hill, whilst it was rare that the gardens of these hostelries
came unscathed through the eventful day, owing to the boys slashing
the plants and bushes with their swords. If the Captain of Montem
happened to be unpopular, much damage was often done, the boys being
well aware that on him would fall the burden of compensation, which
had to be paid out of the Montem money; and it is said that on one
occasion an unfortunate Captain was actually out of pocket owing to the
compensation he had to pay.

Montem commenced by a number of the senior boys taking post upon the
bridges or other leading places of all the avenues around Windsor and
Eton soon after the dawn of day. These runners (or “servitors,” as
the Montem List calls them) were indefatigable in collecting salt or
money from every one whom they came across, and for seven or eight
miles around Eton travellers were liable to be accosted. The runners
who worked in outlying districts generally drove in a gig, being
accompanied by an attendant dressed in white--well able to protect the
runners against violence or robbery. The total of the sums collected
was afterwards given to the two salt-bearers--one Colleger and one
Oppidan--Upper boys who marched in the rear of the procession. In the
earlier part of the day these functionaries remained in the precincts
of College. The twelve runners were gorgeously attired in fancy dresses
of various kinds, bright colours predominating; they wore plumed hats
and buff boots, and carried silken bags strengthened with netting to
hold the “salt”--that is the money which they obtained. Their peculiar
badges of office were painted staves emblazoned with mottoes at the
top, which in most cases consisted of short quotations from Virgil
or Horace. “Quando ita majores” was a favourite one. Occasionally,
however, the motto was modern, “Nullum jus sine sale,” for instance.
Contributors of “salt” received in return a small dated ticket
inscribed _Pro More et Monte_ or _Mos pro Lege_. This, placed in a hat
or pinned on to a coat, would pass any one free with all runners for
the rest of the day.

[SN: MONTEM MORNING]

Nothing could have been prettier or more animated than the old
school-yard the morning of a Montem, filled as it was with the boys in
their military uniforms of blue and red, or in fancy dresses, for the
most part of a rich and tasteful kind. Fantastically attired Turks,
Albanians, and Highlanders mingled with courtiers and pages of every
age, an additional note of colour being furnished by the bright dresses
of numerous female relatives and friends who had come down to Eton
to see the show. In addition to the boys in uniform and fancy dress,
a considerable number of Lower School who followed at the end of the
procession wore the old Eton costume of blue jacket and white trousers,
only abandoned after the death of George III. Such boys carried long
thin wands about five feet long, which after the ceremonial were,
according to immemorial usage, cut in two by the corporals with their
swords. Occasionally, however, some of the “polemen,” as they were
called, contrived to keep their wands intact to the end of the day--a
rare and difficult feat.

At the close of the eighteenth century Montem was often attended
by Royalty. The College flag, of rich crimson silk emblazoned with
the Eton arms and the motto _Mos pro Lege_ within a wreath of oak
and laurel, would on the great day be displayed at one of the Long
Chamber windows early in the morning, and at eleven o’clock George
III. would generally appear with his family, and be received by the
boys with a long-continued roar of huzzas. The King would then be met
by the Headmaster at the entrance to the school-yard and conducted to
an elaborate breakfast, after which the Royal party would move with
the procession towards Salt Hill, the principal scene of the day’s
display. A breakfast given by the Captain of Montem in the College Hall
continued to be one of the features of the day right up to the last
celebration in 1844. In the _Illustrated London News_ of that year can
be seen, amongst other interesting pictures of the last Montem, a cut
of this banquet. The unrestored Hall is filled with guests, the College
flag being suspended above the High Table. After the feast general
exhilaration prevailed. My cousin, Sir Algernon West--a survivor of the
last Montem, which he attended as a “poleman”--tells me that he has an
unpleasant memory of a schoolfellow, who had partaken of the pleasures
of the table too freely, prodding him with a sword.

[Illustration: The Montem of 1841--The March round the School-Yard.
_Engraved by C. G. Lewis after a drawing by W. Evans._ _Print lent by
D. Jay, Esq._]

The procession always commenced in the Great Quadrangle at Eton, and
proceeded through Eton to Slough, and round to Salt Hill, where the
boys all passed before the King or Queen and ascended the Montem; here
an oration was delivered, and the Grand Standard was displayed with
much grace and activity by the Standard-bearer, selected from among the
senior boys.

There were two extraordinary salt-bearers appointed to attend the
Royalties; these salt-bearers were always attired in fanciful habits,
generally costly and sometimes superb, and each carried an embroidered
bag, which not only received the royal salt, but also whatever was
collected by the out-stationed runners.

The donation of the King or Queen, or, as it was called, “the royal
salt,” was always fifty guineas each; the Prince of Wales thirty
guineas; all the other Princes and Princesses twenty guineas each.

[SN: THE WINDMILL]

As soon as the ceremony “ad Montem” was over the Royal Family returned
to Windsor. The boys then dined in detachments--seniors separated
from juniors--in the taverns at Salt Hill, the gardens at that place
being laid out for such ladies and gentlemen as chose to take any
refreshment, whilst several bands of music played. The “Windmill
Inn,” the garden of which was on the other side of the road, was then
often the scene of much riotous festivity, as was a rival house--the
“Castle.” The abolition of Montem was, of course, a severe blow to both
hostelries. About twenty-five years ago the “Windmill” was about to
be converted into a school when a fire broke out and the old building
was destroyed. A noticeable feature of the exterior had been some
magnificent wistaria, the stems of which were twisted into agonised
shapes by the flames. The “Castle” actually did become a school. A
large part of the original house was pulled down in 1887 and the rest
of the place converted into a compact country residence. The “Windmill”
was known to many as “Botham’s,” from the name of its proprietor, who
in the palmy days of Montem during the last century divided what was a
profitable monopoly with the host of the “Castle,” Partridge by name.
The latter’s charges were so high that Foote, after partaking of some
refreshment in his hostelry, once told him that he ought to change his
name to Woodcock--“on account of the length of his bill.”

[Illustration: Ad Montem, 1838. _From a scarce coloured print in the
possession of Messrs. & Robson Co., Coventry Street, W._]

[SN: FINANCIAL RESULTS]

After having dined at these inns all the boys returned in the same
order of procession as in the morning, and, marching round the Great
Quadrangle in Eton School, were dismissed. In the eighteenth century
the Captain would then go and pay his respects to the Royal Family
at the Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, previous to his departure for King’s
College, Cambridge; to defray which expense the produce of the Montem
was presented to him. Upon Whit-Tuesday in the year 1796 it amounted
to over one thousand guineas. The sum, however, varied considerably
in amount, its magnitude being in a great manner determined by his
popularity or unpopularity in the school. In the latter case, as has
been said, the result of the collection would sometimes be a good deal
diminished by damage done in the gardens of the inns at Salt Hill,
where ill-disposed boys would destroy the shrubs and flowers with their
swords in order to run up the bill. All the other expenses of the day
were paid for out of the Salt, and in the latter years of Montem the
total collected generally amounted to something between a thousand and
eight hundred pounds; but when all disbursements had been made the
Captain was very lucky if he got three or four hundred pounds. A proof
of this is that when Montem was discontinued in 1847, Dr. Hawtrey gave
the boy who would have been Captain two hundred pounds contributed by
himself and a few friends out of their own pockets as compensation.
This sum the Headmaster had ascertained was a fair equivalent for the
net amount usually pocketed by the Captain after all expenses had been
paid. These outgoings, it must be remembered, were large, including as
they did a breakfast to the whole of the Fifth and Sixth Forms and a
dinner to personal friends in the evening, in addition to which there
were numerous other disbursements which amounted to a considerable sum.

In an early account of Montem _circa_ 1560 there is a reference to the
new boys, termed “recentes,” being seasoned with salt, meaning probably
that they had to make some small monetary contribution; for up to the
last Montem celebration, by reason of a curious usage, the origin of
which was unknown, boys who had come to Eton within the preceding year
were expected to pay the Captain a small sum called “recent-money.”

At the last celebrations of Montem the order of procession differed
somewhat from that observed in olden days. It was then headed by
the marshal, followed by six attendants; band; captain, followed by
eight attendants; sergeant-major, followed by two attendants; twelve
sergeants, two and two, each followed by an attendant; colonel,
followed by six attendants and four polemen; corporals, two and two,
followed by two polemen apiece; second band; ensign with flag, followed
by six attendants and four polemen; corporals, two and two, followed
by one or two polemen apiece; lieutenant, followed by four attendants;
salt-bearers, runners, and stewards; and a poleman brought up the rear
of the procession.

The flag was always solemnly waved in the school-yard before the
procession started, and on arriving at Salt Hill it was waved a second
time at the top of the mount, the boys all clustering round like a
swarm of bees and cheering with great vigour. Great importance was
always attached to the waving of the College standard in a proper
manner, and for a long time previous to Montem day the Ensign practised
for hours in Long Chamber. The old traditional way of manipulating
the banner was as far as possible followed, the custom being to wave
it round in every direction and conclude by one triumphant final
flourish which was the grand climax of the whole celebration.

[SN: AN ETON REGIMENT]

A complete military organisation with regular uniforms was adopted
by the school on Montem day, and Eton became a collegiate regiment.
The senior Colleger ranked as captain, the second salt-bearer as
marshal, the other Sixth-Form Collegers becoming ensign, lieutenant,
sergeant-major, and steward; any other Sixth-Form Collegers not
acting as runners were sergeants. The captain of the Oppidans was
always a salt-bearer by right, whilst the next to him on the school
list was colonel; the other Sixth-Form Oppidans ranked as sergeants.
All the Fifth-Form Oppidans were corporals and wore red tail-coats
with gilt buttons and white trousers. They had also crimson sashes
round their waists, black leather sword-belts, and swords hanging by
their sides. A cocked hat and plume of feathers exactly like that
worn by field-officers completed this martial attire. The Fifth-Form
Collegers’ dress was like that of the Fifth-Form Oppidans, insomuch
as they donned sash, sword, cocked hat, and plume; but their coats
were blue instead of red, so that they resembled naval officers more
than military men. The coats of the Sixth Form, both Collegers and
Oppidans, had distinctive details of uniform denoting rank, which could
be at once distinguished from the various forms of epaulet and great
or little prevalence of gilt. The steward wore the ordinary full dress
of the period. The Lower boys who acted as polemen wore the old Eton
costume--blue coats with gilt buttons, white waistcoats and trousers,
silk stockings and pumps. The pages of the Sixth Form and others were
attired in fancy dresses, often of a rich description. A feature of
the last Montem uniforms were the buttons. These bore the Eton arms,
Royal crown, and motto, _Mos pro Lege_, together with the date of the
foundation of the College.

Montem coats were allowed to be worn after the great day was over, but
the boys suffered for this privilege, most masters generally selecting
them to construe in preference to their more soberly clad schoolmates.
One master, indeed, became so notorious for this that eventually his
whole division appeared in red coats, so as to prevent any particular
boys from being singled out. The last Montem coat worn at Eton is said
to have been observed in 1847.

As a general rule pretty good order seems to have been preserved
in connection with Montem, and this is the more wonderful when one
remembers that a large number of the boys wore real swords and indulged
in liberal potations at the inns at Salt Hill. In 1796, it is true,
some disorder did occur near the historic mount, a large crowd surging
around the carriage in which sat the Queen and the Princesses. George
III., however, soon put matters to rights by calling out to some of the
worst offenders, “Surely you are not Etonians?” adding that he did not
remember their faces, and felt sure Eton boys would be better behaved.
Three years later, at the Montem of 1799, an Eton boy made a mistake
of which he was afterwards much ashamed. As the procession was moving
along, a visitor on a spirited and fiery horse kept pressing closer to
it than was pleasant, and one of the sergeants, a youth named Beckett,
putting one hand significantly upon his sword-hilt and the other on
the rider’s knee, exclaimed in a bold manner, “I should recommend
you, my friend, not to let your horse tread upon Me.” In reply to
this the horseman merely smiled, bowed, and drew his horse away. It
was afterwards discovered that the stranger was the King of Hanover.
Altogether Montem was a day of great enjoyment for those who were
present at it, much jollity and fun of the old English sort being one
of its chief characteristics. Most of the visitors were well acquainted
with its traditions and entered thoroughly into its spirit. A favourite
joke was to make a pretence of refusing to contribute whilst concealing
the little blue paper receipt previously received as quittance for salt
paid.

[SN: THE PLEASURES OF MONTEM]

“I will not attempt to reason with you about the pleasures of
Montem,” said an old Etonian, who was defending the old festival
against the attacks of one of those hawk-eyed commercial gamblers
who, calling themselves “business men,” dominate the modern world;
“but to an Etonian it is enough that it brought pure and ennobling
recollections--evoked associations of hope and happiness--and made
even the wise feel that there was something better than wisdom, and
the rich something nobler than wealth. I like to think of the faces
I saw round the old mount, recalling school friendships and generous
rivalries. At the last Montem I attended, it is true I saw fifty
fellows of whom I remember only the nicknames--not a few degenerated
into scheming M.P.’s, cunning lawyers, or speculators--but at Montem
one forgot all that. Leaving the plodding world of reality for one day,
such men regained the dignity of Sixth-Form Etonians.”

The last celebration of Montem took place on Whitsun-Tuesday in
1844, on which occasion some of its ancient features were altered.
The dinner, for instance, took place on Fellow’s Eyot, within the
College precincts, instead of at Salt Hill, the boys having also
to answer to their names in the playing fields. An ominous sign,
which seemed to forebode that the ancient ceremony was soon to be
discontinued for ever, was that in the last year of Montem the famous
cry of “Montem Sure” was not heard to ring out of the Long Chamber
windows, no bedsteads crashed, and no shutters banged. Montem, it is
true, still lived, but it seemed to be felt that its end was near.
Nevertheless, the procession took place according to immemorial usage,
and the fancifully attired throng of boys, accompanied by a crowd of
carriages, foot and horse, wended its way to the classic mount where
the ceremonial which countless generations of Etonians had gone through
was duly performed. Prince Albert, for instance, was stopped on
Windsor Bridge, and in compliance with a request for salt, gave £100.
At Salt Hill the bands played merrily, and the crowd of boys and old
Etonians cheered as of yore when, for the last time on the summit of
the mount the Ensign waved the historic College banner, inscribed with
the quaint old motto, _Pro More et Monte_. Not a few, however, amongst
the throng gathered there had a presentiment that they were assisting
at the obsequies of the time-honoured ceremony, and as they wended
their way back to town felt that Montem was now to be numbered with the
many other old-world festivals which so-called progress was sweeping
away.

These gloomy forebodings proved to be only too well founded. Montem,
indeed, had become somewhat incongruous with the changed spirit which
was producing a purely utilitarian age. The facilities afforded by the
then newly constructed railway also flooded Eton and Slough with hordes
of visitors, many of them highly undesirable, besides which the Press
was none too tender in the attitude which it adopted towards the old
festival.

[SN: THE “HOLBORN MONTEM”]

In June 1844, for instance, _Punch_ published an amusing, if rather
malicious, illustrated attack upon the Eton festival, entitled “The
Holborn Montem,” in which it pictured the effect which would be
produced were a number of London ragamuffins permitted to hold up
foot-passengers and omnibuses whilst making demands for salt. Dr.
Hawtrey, the Headmaster, was bitterly opposed to the continuance of
the old ceremony, and to him and to the Provost it owed its abolition.
The remainder of the College authorities were about equally divided in
their opinions. When Provost Hodgson put the matter before them they
voted as follows:--

  _For abolishing Montem._  _For preserving Montem._

    Hodgson, Provost.               Plumtre.
    Grover, Vice-Provost.           Carter.
    Bethell.                        Dupuis.
    Green.                          Wilder.

Queen Victoria personally is known to have been opposed to the
abolition; nevertheless she did not care to interfere, and in 1847
it was announced that no celebration of Montem would take place, and
though many earnest representations were made by old Etonians to Dr.
Hawtrey, the decision to abolish Montem was maintained. Had the Provost
been of the same type as Dr. Goodall, some semblance at least of the
ancient ceremony would have been preserved, but the post happened to
be held by Provost Hodgson, the friend of Byron, who, though a man
of poetical turn of mind, was a great reformer. He made many changes
in College, and abolished the horrors of Long Chamber, which is much
to his credit. On the other hand, he was perhaps too thorough-going
in doing away with the ancient festival of Montem, which might have
been preserved in an altered form. _Per se_ it was, in many respects,
indefensible, being full of absurdities; nevertheless it might have
been continued in some reformed and improved shape.

The abolition was keenly resented by the boys, and on the Whit-Tuesday,
when the ceremony should have taken place, the old red flag, which
had figured at many Montems, was hung out of one of the windows of
Upper School as a signal of revolt, and something like a riot ensued.
This was, however, in the main confined to the Lower boys, who,
after smashing a few windows (for the repair of which their parents
afterwards grumblingly paid), were soon reduced to order.

Numbers of old Etonians sadly shook their heads when they heard
that Montem had become a thing of the past, but, as has been said,
remonstrance and protest were alike unavailing to make the Eton
authorities realise that entire abolition was too drastic a measure.

[SN: THE BONE FOR THE MARROW]

The truth is that at that period all over England old-fashioned
merrymaking was beginning to be checked by the chilling force of that
utilitarian commercialism which has since dominated the country.
The modern spirit, ever prone to exchange happiness for success,
was already making its influence felt, whilst many, under the false
impression that romance, tradition, and fancy counted for nothing, were
straining every nerve to secure the bone whilst entirely failing to
obtain its marrow.

The passing of Montem, besides causing some severe pangs of grief to
many an old Etonian, greatly perturbed a number of humbler folk, and
its abolition was bitterly lamented by a host of tradesmen, cabmen,
omnibus drivers, innkeepers, and the like. Numbers of people derived
either pleasure or profit from the triennial celebration. The most
sincere mourners were the cab and omnibus drivers, who bitterly
regretted their lost harvest, and on the anniversary of the great
festival wore black crape upon their arms.

An interesting and curious exhibition of Montem relics and costumes,
it may be mentioned, was shown at Eton in the Upper School during the
celebration of the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the College.
Of the three great Eton festivals, Montem, Election Saturday, and the
4th of June, the last and most modern of the three alone survives. The
proceedings on Election Saturday, it should be added, were of a similar
kind to those which still take place on the birthday of King George the
Third--that is to say, the boats’ crews wore gala dresses and dined at
Surly, after which there were fireworks, whilst the bells of Windsor
pealed and the crews cheered.

[SN: MONTEM ODES]

Before leaving the subject of Montem a few words may not be out of
place as to a quaint character who was known to many generations of
Etonians as the Montem poet. This was Herbert Stockhore, who, dressed
in quaint attire in a donkey-cart, was a prominent feature at all
Montem celebrations from 1784 to 1835, when he was ninety. Before
being chosen Montem poet Stockhore was a Windsor bricklayer living in
a little house built by himself, which he called Mount Pleasant, in a
lane leading from Windsor to the meadows.

On the 4th of June good old George III. always presented Stockhore
with a present of gold, and George IV. continued the kindly practice.
At other times Stockhore subsisted entirely upon the bounty of the
Etonians and the inhabitants of Windsor and Eton, who never failed
to administer to his wants and liberally supply him with many little
comforts in return for his harmless pleasantries.

Stockhore had a time-honoured method of composing his odes well
calculated to ensure their favourable reception. The quality of his
versification was, of course, very moderate. It may be judged from the
following, culled from the Montem Ode of 1826 (Pickering’s year):--

    I, Herbert Stockhore, once more,
    In spite of age and pains rheumatic,
    Hop down to “Montem” with verses Attic,
    To make the Muse as have done before.
  For why should I lie a-bed groaning and bickering
  When I ought to be up to sing Captain Pickering.

A happier effort, perhaps, was his greeting to George III.:--

  And now we’ll sing
  God save the king,
    And send him long to reign,
  That he may come
  To have some fun
    At Montem once again.

It is not, however, on account of his rhymes that Stockhore deserves to
be remembered, but on account of the fact that he was one of the last
of those lowly-born characters who by their native wit, good-humour,
and kindly eccentricity secured a unique place in the affections of
many far above them in rank, intellect, and wealth. The Board School
has now rendered all such humble types extinct.

[SN: HERBERT STOCKHORE]

Stockhore had originally been a sailor, and some said also a soldier.
At any rate on “Montem” day he wore a fancy robe of various colours
thrown over his old military coat, with trimmings of divers cotton
ribbons. An extemporised coronet, encircled with bay and crowned with
feathers, completed a costume which astounded visitors unaware of the
bard’s identity. His eccentric though harmless habits rendered him a
popular character with the Eton boys, and his recitation of a Montem
Ode was always warmly applauded, and owing to the sale of his doggerel
and the contributions he received the old man led a fairly comfortable
existence. His way was first of all to set down upon paper the names of
those about to take part in “Montem” and other details furnished to him
by some one in a position to know, after which he would compose a rough
jumble of rhyming lines. This was then submitted to some Colleger, who
undertook its revision, and was printed for the author to vend, which
he did at a very remunerative price; it also formed an excuse for the
extraction of coins from old friends and visitors to Eton. Stockhore,
though in his latter years, like his rhymes, much given to limping, was
able to attend the Montem of 1835, at which time he had reached the
great age of ninety.

At the next one, held in 1838, though still alive, being too feeble
to go, he was represented at the great festival by a man named Ryder.
Three years later, in 1841, Stockhore passed away, aged ninety-six
years. The boys then chose Edward Irvine by vote, but though he or
some other claimant was still hanging about Eton half a century ago,
the office really died with Stockhore, for his successors had no trace
of the quaint and simple individuality which had been known to many
generations of Etonians, one of whom, a few years before the famous
Montem poet’s death, composed the following lines:--

  Be Herbert Stockhore all my theme,
    The laureate’s praises I indite;
  He erst who sung in Montem’s praise,
    And Thespis like, from out his cart
  Recited his extempore lays
    On Eton’s sons, in costume smart,
  Who told of captains bold and grand,
    Lieutenants, marshals, seeking salt;
  Of colonels, majors, cap in hand,
    Who bade e’en majesty to halt;
  Told how the ensign nobly waved
    The colours on the famous hill;
  And names from dull oblivion saved,
    Who ne’er the niche of fame can fill;
  Who, like to Campbell, lends his name
    To many a whim he ne’er did write;
  When witty scholars, to their shame,
    ’Gainst masters hurl a satire trite.
  But fare thee well, Ad Montem’s bard,
    Farewell, my mem’ry’s early friend;
  May misery never press thee hard,
    Ne’er may disease thy steps attend;
  Be all thy wants by those supply’d,
    Whom charity ne’er fail’d to move;
  Etona’s motto, crest, and pride,
    Is feeling, courage, friendship, love.
  Poor harmless soul, thy merry stave
    Shall live when nobler poets bend;
  And when Atropos to the grave
    Thy silvery locks of grey shall send,
  Etona’s sons shall sing thy fame,
    Ad Montem still thy verse resound,
  Still live an ever-cherished name,
    As long as salt and sock abound.

The “famous hill” alluded to in these verses now presents a most
melancholy appearance, its summit being vulgarised by a _châlet_ of
miserable design, whilst, as has been said, the glory of the Inns
close by has long departed. For some time after Montem days, however,
the Windmill (Botham’s) seems to have been an occasional resort of
Etonians, for an interesting oak table (saved from the fire), which
is now in the possession of the popular Master--Mr. Edward Littleton
Vaughan--has carved upon it the names of some seventy well-known
Etonians, besides initials, and dates, mostly ranging from 1845
to 1857. It would therefore seem that, contrary to tradition, the
names were not carved after Montem, but are rather those of boys who
frequented Botham’s, as their predecessors had frequented the old
Christopher.



VI THE COLLEGE BUILDINGS


In the course of the various changes which Eton has undergone, the old
Quadrangle (till 1706 not paved but grass), which in old Montem days
was gay with a riot of high-spirited youth, has, on the whole, escaped
disfiguring alteration. The original intention of the founder was to
have a cloister in the Quadrangle; and a line of lead running beneath
the windows, together with some foundations discovered in 1876, lead
one to suppose that such a scheme was actually begun. On the whole, the
general aspect of the school-yard, which enthusiastic Etonians regard
as a sort of “rose-red city half as old as time,” remains unaltered.
New, however, are the pinnacles of the Chapel and the Gothic window of
the Hall.

Within the last hundred years almost the only drastic changes have
been those in its exterior, the western end of which was remodelled
at the restoration of 1858, and the construction of a bow window for
the master residing in College, whose rooms are on the left-hand side
of the Quadrangle, at the end of what was formerly the ancient Long
Chamber. Otherwise there is small evidence of change. The brickwork
retains its old mellowed colouring, and the founder’s statue remains
as grimy as ever, though perhaps a trifle less black than in the days
when its sable hue convinced the small child of one of the College
officials that Henry VI. had been a black man. The infant in question,
as a loyal son of Eton, had been taught to salute this statue (which,
according to old custom, should always be passed on the right-hand
side) whenever he went through the school-yard. Out for an airing with
its nurse in Windsor one day, the child, perceiving a private of one of
the West India Regiments, became convinced that it was Henry VI. in the
flesh. Solemnly rising in its perambulator and reverently exclaiming
“Founder,” the astounded soldier was accorded a salute which filled him
with amazement.

The feature of the Quadrangle, of course, is the fine tower of Provost
Lupton, under which at Election time, up to 1871, the Provost of Eton
was wont to greet the Provost of King’s with a kiss of peace, and the
Captain of the school to deliver his Latin Cloister Speech. The gates
here are closed on the death of a Provost, and not opened till his
successor is appointed. Carved above the window of Election Chamber,
over the gateway, is a representation of the Assumption of the Virgin,
to which in pre-Reformation days Collegers reverently raised their hats.

[SN: THE GREEN YARD]

Passing through this arch one reaches the cloisters, about which
linger so many old-world memories. Once known as the “tower cloister,”
this appellation seems in the eighteenth century to have been discarded
for that of “the Green Yard.” The railings here, of Sussex iron, were
put up in 1724-25.

[Illustration: The Cloisters of Eton College. _From a coloured print
dated 1816._]

[SN: CHANGES IN CLOISTERS]

A good many alterations have recently been carried out in this part
of the College, some of which have of necessity rather impaired its
old-world charm.

On the cloister side of Lupton’s Tower a strengthening arch and support
have been built to guard against possible subsidence, some signs of
which had begun to appear. In the cloisters also certain expedient
changes and renovations have also been made.

During the middle of the eighteenth century an additional storey
was added to the cloister buildings, and, owing to the narrowness
of the structure, communication between the new storey and the old
was eventually effected by affixing a staircase to the outside wall,
in which a hole was made to give entrance to the staircase. This
staircase has now been entirely removed, and a new staircase between
the first and second floors fitted in two flights, each stretching the
whole breadth of the building. Election Hall now occupies practically
the whole of the space between Lupton’s Tower and the north side of
school-yard. Formerly there was a small room at the tower end, and a
passage past this room communicating with Election Chamber on the
lowest floor of the tower. This room is now part of Election Hall, most
of the passage having disappeared, whilst the beautiful oak panelling
has been removed to the new staircase. The roof of Election Hall is
now higher than of yore, the increased size of the room and the bad
state of the roof having called for such an alteration. The room over
Election Chamber has been converted into a sitting-room, and the
partitions in it have been removed, so that it is now the same size as
Election Chamber and looks out both ways. The clock remains unchanged.
In the remoter part of the house the passage has been widened, and the
walls have been stripped of the plaster and now show the old timber.
A new door has also been made under the tower, giving access to a
staircase which leads straight up to the first floor.

The Provost’s Lodge has also undergone some change. The dining-room
here--the Magna Parlura--which contains portraits of various kings
and provosts and occupies the centre of the Lodge, has undergone
considerable renovation at certain periods, especially in the middle of
the last century, when it was decorated with considerable care by Dr.
Hawtrey. The ceiling was then painted and the panelling, reaching to
the top of the room, finished with a dado of deal, which has now been
removed, and the oak, which before was grained, scraped. The panelling
has also been lowered and now rests on the floor, the old timbers
above being visible. Two stone windows have been opened up in this
room, which had formerly been blocked by the Georgian staircase. At
the other end of the room an interesting discovery was made of another
Tudor door opening into the gallery just opposite the stairs. On each
side of the door are Tudor windows with wooden frames. Most of the
doors opening into the gallery are of Tudor workmanship, but these are
the only two Tudor windows that have been discovered in the College.
The woodwork half-way down the staircase is of good Gothic workmanship,
whereas the staircase is of much later date. The servants’ hall, on the
ground floor, was formerly divided by partitions, but these have been
removed. The panelling here is of the seventeenth century, the panels
large and tall in design. At one end of the room there is an alcove
faced with the original mirrors and containing a basin set in beautiful
inlaid work of black and white marble. This, however, is covered up
with a wooden plate, which conceals the marble.

At the time of these alterations there was some talk of removing the
railings in the cloisters, which are of Sussex iron, and reviving an
inner walk, traces of which have been discovered round the edge of the
grass. On the tower side the railings have already gone--the remainder,
let us hope, will be left untouched. A great feature of the cloisters
is the old Cloister Pump, which, as in the days when a less luxurious
race of Collegers washed at its spout, continues to yield the best
water in Eton. This old pump is associated with the cry of “Cloister
P!” at which the lowest boy present had to fetch a canful of the sacred
water, the cry which sent every fag in Long Chamber tearing down
Sixth-Form passage. Not very far away is the well-worn stone staircase
up which so many generations of Collegers have made their way into the
Hall, which, in spite of renovation, still retains a certain amount of
interest for those fond of relics of another age.

A considerable portion of the existing structure dates from about 1450,
and to some extent follows the design favoured by King Henry VI. The
founder’s original idea, however, was that a northern bay window should
face the southern one. He also contemplated a porch with a tower over
it. One must be thankful that at the restoration of 1858 the College
authorities did not attempt to carry out these plans.

The early architectural history of the Hall is somewhat puzzling.
For some undiscovered reason it was begun in stone and finished in
brick, whilst three large fireplaces were constructed but never used,
being covered with panelling till the so-called restoration of the
last century. In 1721 some alterations were carried out according
to the plan of a Mr. Rowland, but from that time till 1858 the Hall
remained as it is shown in the illustration facing page 164. At that
date, however, the Rev. Mr. Wilder, the Fellow who had contributed so
liberally to the modernisation of the interior of the College Chapel,
turned his attention to the old building, which was restored at his
expense. It is to be regretted that a good deal of Renaissance work of
historical interest then disappeared, retaining some features of the
original design constructed in its place.

For some unexplained reason (apparently it was in fair repair) the old
roof was destroyed, and a new one substituted. The simple three-light
Renaissance west window, with a curious ornamented ledge beneath,
gave way to an elaborate Gothic window, filled with stained glass
representing the very “apocryphal” story of Henry VII.’s Eton days.
Beneath this was erected an elaborate screen of panelling, decorated
with the arms of successive provosts. The rest of the old panelling
was allowed to remain, though, owing to a very thorough process of
renovation, a great proportion of the present woodwork is modern. Along
the top of the panelling may still be seen a number of old nails. From
these, according to an old Eton custom, Collegers at Shrovetide used
to hang scrolls of Bacchus verses which were suspended by coloured
ribbons. These Bacchus verses, written in praise or abuse of the jovial
deity, continued to be written in the earlier portion of the last
century, though by that time their character had changed.

[SN: BACCHUS VERSES]

The art of verse-writing was held in the highest esteem at Eton, and
was, together with accurate prosody, the road to distinction. False
quantities were considered crimes. In the _Etonian_ Praed had some
clever lines as to this in his poem, “The Eve of Battle”:--

  And still in spite of all thy care,
  False quantities will haunt thee there,
  For thou wilt make amidst the throng
  Or ζωή short or κλέος long.

A copy of Bacchus verses composed by Porson on the subject of Cyrus
exulting over captive Babylon is preserved in the library. Pepys noted
these Bacchus verses in 1666:--

  To the Hall, and there find the boys’ verses, “De Peste,” it being
  their custom to make verses at Shrovetide. I read several, and very
  good they were, better, I think, than ever I made when I was a boy,
  and in rolls as long, or longer, than the whole Hall by much. Here is
  a picture of Venice hung up, and a monument made by Sir H. Wotton’s
  giving it to the College.

This picture was moved many years ago, and now hangs in Election Hall.
Beneath it is the following inscription:--

  Henricus Wottonius post tres apud Venetos Legationes ordinarias in
  Etonensis Collegii beato sinu senescens, eiusque cum suavissima inter
  Se Sociosque concordia annos iam XII. Praefectus Hanc miram Vrbis
  quasi natantis effigiem in aliquam sui memoriam iuxta Socialem Mensam
  affixit, 1636.

On the picture itself may be seen the words, “Opus Odoardus Fialettus,
1611.”

Near the oriel window there still stands the iron reading-desk from
which in old times a scholar used to read out passages of Holy Writ. In
early days he appears to have been known as “the Bibler.”

[SN: BURNT TAPESTRY]

Before the restoration of the Hall two pieces of tapestry given by a
Fellow--Adam Robyns--in 1613 used to be hung beneath the west window
at Election time. They represented the flight into Egypt and Christ
teaching in the Temple. When the Hall had been restored and the
ornate modern panelling or screen set up where this tapestry used to
hang, it was relegated to the bake-house. This was burnt in 1875, and
the tapestry, together with the green rugs given to the Collegers
by the Duke of Cumberland in 1735, were utterly destroyed in the
conflagration. These rugs or coverlets were edged with gold braid and
embroidered with the College arms.

[Illustration: The College Hall before Restoration. _From an old
print._]

Up to the period of the modern alterations the Hall was warmed by a
circular charcoal brazier standing beneath the louvre or opening in the
roof. In 1858, however, the three large fireplaces discovered behind
the panelling were taken into use; they had never had chimneys before.
Hot-water pipes now also assist to warm the Hall.

On the walls hang some eighteen portraits, all of Collegers except two,
representing George III. and Sir Thomas Smith. The Rev. John Wilder,
the well-meaning Fellow who spent such large sums of money in altering
and restoring Hall and Chapel, is commemorated by a brass in the
south-west corner.

On the right in the Hall is a small table called the “Servitor’s Desk.”
The duty attached to the old office of Servitor consists in noting
down in a book the commons allowed for each day’s dinner according
to the number actually dining in Hall. He counts by “messes” and
“half-messes,” a mess consisting of four boys. It is the practice of
most Servitors to carve their name on the desk, and among the names
carved are those of A. C. Benson, author and poet, and J. K. Stephen.

A few of the old customs are retained, the authorities still sitting at
the high table at the west end. The Sixth Form sit at the first table
on the left side, carving their own joint; one of them says Grace,
shouting “Surgite! Benedicat Deus” at the beginning of the meal, and
“Surgite! Benedicatur Deo” at the end, when the others reply, “Deo
Gratias.” On Sundays a Latin Grace is chanted. The fare of Collegers
formerly consisted almost[4] exclusively of mutton, from which arose
the term “Tug-mutton,” and “Tug” applied to a King’s scholar.

[SN: “HARPY-PIES”]

Within the last three decades three ancient usages have been abandoned.
The first of these was “Bever,” which was abolished in 1890. “Bever”
consisted in a modest collation of bread and salt and beer in “after
fours” in the summer; Collegers might partake of this if they wished,
and were allowed to invite guests. A second old usage which disappeared
about the same time was that of certain boys receiving a double
allowance of bread. Though most of the old oak panelling of Hall was
replaced by new in 1858, amongst the old panels was one which for
more than three hundred years had proclaimed the privilege of the mess
of four boys which dined nearest to the door on the north side of the
Hall, “Queen Elizabethe ad nos gave October x 2 loves in a mes 1596,”
being roughly inscribed upon it. Commemorating the munificence of the
virgin Queen for more than three hundred years, two loaves, instead
of the customary one loaf, were set before the four boys sitting near
the panel. This practice has now been ended. The third old custom was
of a far less pleasant character, and its disappearance is not to be
deplored. Formerly, after the Collegers had dined, a number of old
almswomen were allowed to collect the remains, and in consequence the
Hall was at certain times thronged with a mass of old women thrusting
chunks of bread and scraps of broken meat into bags. The whole thing
was a somewhat unseemly scramble. The boys were often not very well
disposed to the harpies, as they called the old ladies, and would
wickedly make them what were known as “hag-traps” and “harpy-pies.”
The composition of these was a masterpiece of diabolical ingenuity.
A large square piece of bread or quarter loaf having had its centre
hollowed out by means of a hole in the side, the interior was cunningly
filled with an unsavoury mixture of mustard, pepper, cayenne, and
whatever else came to hand, after which the opening was cleverly closed
so that the bread might present a totally unsuspicious appearance and
then left lying about amongst genuine loaves. Though the old ladies
had considerable experience of various disagreeable forms of College
humour, this wicked device always secured a certain amount of success.
At the present time the female pensioners are given a small monetary
allowance in place of being allowed to enter the Hall.

[SN: AN UNAPPRECIATED POET]

The Upper School occupies the whole of the west side of the
school-yard, with the exception of the space covered by the
headmaster’s room at the north end. It was originally built by
Provost Allestree, but so faultily that it had to be rebuilt under
his successor, Provost Cradock, in 1694. Though by some attributed
to him, the architect was probably not Sir Christopher Wren; yet the
style adopted, very different from that of the other buildings in the
school-yard, is that associated with his name. Though now only rarely
used, Upper School was formerly the principal class-room of Eton, and
at the beginning of the nineteenth century no less than 400 boys were
taught there at the same time. The ground floor beneath is now occupied
by rooms which in the last century were considered quite good enough to
accommodate large “divisions,” but have now been turned into a “school
office,” a porter’s lodge, and store-rooms of various kinds. On the
floor above is the “Upper School” itself, approached at the south end
by a fine staircase--a well-proportioned room, lined with oak panelling
which has served for the recording of many Eton names, and adorned
with the busts of Etonians who have served their country. The first of
these busts was put up in 1840, when the Marquess Wellesley presented
his to the school--his brother, the Duke of Wellington, shortly
afterwards following his example. Most of the great Etonians are here,
including Shelley. It is said that when the idea of erecting the poet’s
bust was first mooted, Dr. Hornby objected, saying that Shelley was a
bad man, and he only wished he had been educated at Harrow. The memory
of this poet--in former days, at least--was not held in any particular
respect by the vast majority of Etonians, most of whom held much the
same views about him as have been attributed to Dr. Hornby.

Some thirty years ago, when the subject of the amenities of Eton was
being discussed by a House Debating Society, an Upper boy--now a
well-known Peer--brought the debate to a close with a breezy speech.
Eton, he said, was in his opinion a very good place; all boys were
happy there, or ought to be. As far as he could make out, all boys
always had been happy there, and he had only heard of one who wasn’t,
and that was “a boy called Shelley, who was a mad fool.” He then sat
down amidst applause.

An immense quantity of names are cut on the woodwork of Upper School.
Most of these are those of boys who became famous in after life. The
name of Charles James Fox, for instance, is to be seen beneath his
bust. Gladstone’s may easily be recognised among a number of other
names of the same family by the fact that there was not sufficient room
left for the whole name, and consequently the last three letters are
cut much smaller than the rest. Lord Roberts’s name is on the large
south door, and Shelley’s under Lord Wellesley’s bust, to the right,
and again high up, to the left, beneath his own bust. Gladstone’s name,
it should be added, is on the upper right-hand panel of the door which
stands to the left as you face the Headmaster’s desk in the Upper
School. His sons have their names cut on the same door close by. This
carving was not done by Gladstone himself, but by Dr. Keate’s servant
in requital for a fee. Originally boys, before leaving, cut their
names where they liked in Upper School. Later on, as in the writer’s
time, it was the custom on leaving to present the Headmaster’s servant
with a guinea to have this done. The present practice seems to be that
for half a guinea a specially appointed official cuts a boy’s name.
Close to Upper School, on the top of the staircase leading to the
Headmaster’s room, may be seen the name Lord Dalmeny cut twice on the
left, opposite the door; the older is that of Lord Rosebery, the newer
that of his son.

[SN: LOWER SCHOOL]

The original Eton schoolroom was the present Lower School, which
happily remains practically in its original state. The exact date of
its erection is uncertain, but it would appear to have been built
somewhere about the end of the fourteenth century. According to an old
tradition Lower School was once the College stables, and it was Sir
Henry Wotton who, when Provost, fitted it up with pillars, on which he
is supposed to have painted pictures of Greek and Roman authors for
the instruction of the boys. This quaint old room was formerly open
for its full length, and looked very picturesque with its double row
of oaken pillars supporting the floor of the chamber above, and deeply
recessed windows, the oaken shutters, as well as the pillars, graven
with the names of former Etonians. For two centuries it was the only
schoolroom. In recent times, for convenience of teaching, it has been
turned into three rooms by means of deal partitions. These, however,
being merely temporary erections, have not injured the ancient fabric
of the room. Many generations of boys have amused themselves by poking
pens and knives into the deep chinks of the pillars and spearing out
bits of paper that had been thrust in there by boys of bygone times.
Mr. Brinsley Richards has described how, as a boy at Eton, he extracted
the fragment of a play-bill, issued by a strolling troupe who performed
at Windsor Fair in 1769. In the writer’s day many a boy, unconsciously
imbued with that love of sending messages to posterity which is such a
characteristic of youth, would write his name upon a scrap of paper and
poke it deep into a hole or cranny.

Numerous names carved on the shutters and pillars of this room are
striking links with the remote past. The names in question, it would
appear, are in the vast majority of instances those of Collegers
elected from Eton to King’s. They begin on the westernmost window on
the north side, the earliest name discoverable being that of Kemp,
1577, somewhere about the middle of the shutter. On the first shutter
on the left-hand side of the third room is the mark of a name which
has been erased. This is supposed to have been that of Greenhall, who,
leaving King’s College, became a highwayman and was captured, hanged,
and dissected.

Samuel Pepys, who visited Eton in 1666, was very pleased with Lower
School. This favourable impression is recorded in his diary:--

  All mighty fine. The School good, and the custom pretty of boys
  cutting their names in the shuts of the window when they go to
  Cambridge, by which many a one hath lived to see himself a Provost
  and Fellow, that hath his name in the window standing.

Over Lower School was the ancient “Long Chamber,” now turned into
the junior Collegers’ dormitory. It once extended the whole length
of the school-yard, with the exception of the space occupied by the
Headmaster’s chamber at the west end, and that of the Lower Master at
the east. Its length was considerably lessened in 1844, and since that
time it has been divided by partitions into “stalls” or “cubicles,” so
that little of the original appearance of the interior remains.

When Long Chamber was broken up into cubicles, old Plumtre, one of the
Fellows, preached a sermon on the text, “And Elisha said, Let every man
take unto himself a beam, for the place we have made is too strait for
us.” Plumtre was a staunch old Tory, who hated the Reform Bill. For one
whole night he walked round and round the Eton cloisters, praying and
waiting for the expected news of its defeat.

[SN: THE CHAPEL]

The Eton College Chapel was built in 1441, the foundation-stone being
laid by King Henry VI. in person on Passion Sunday of that year. It
was finished by Waynflete, who was Eton’s benefactor till his death
in 1484. Owing no doubt to lack of means, the latter curtailed the
original design, which provided for a nave 168 feet long stretching
down what is now Keate’s Lane and finished the building with the
Ante-Chapel, which still remains. A wooden rood-loft was erected over
the chancel arch, with a crucifix between wooden figures of St. Mary
and St. John, whilst stalls and frescoes, ordered to be wiped out
in 1560, completed an interior which must have been beautiful and
picturesque. Lupton’s Chapel, in which is Provost Lupton’s brass, was
built by him in 1515. Here is now the tablet giving the names of those
who fell in the South African War.

At the time of the Reformation there was naturally a good deal of
iconoclastic destruction, and at the end of the seventeenth century
the Chapel had suffered severely from dilapidation and neglect. In
1699-1700, under Provost Godolphin, however, a general remodelling
of the Chapel had been undertaken, it would seem probable, under the
direction of Wren. In the course of the alterations the floor would
appear to have been raised, whilst the walls were covered nearly up to
the windows with panelling of simple though good design. A classical
organ-loft with fine decorative carving was at that time placed across
the choir near the second window from the west end.

During the eighteenth century the interior of the Eton Chapel
evoked nothing but praise, but with the mania for restoration which
characterised the Victorian era, some desire for drastic alterations
began to make itself felt. Whilst the general appearance of the
Chapel was dignified and stately, there were undoubtedly certain
disfigurements, the chief amongst them two great box-like pews at the
east end, specially allotted to the male and female College servants.
An elaborate altar-piece of inlaid wood, entirely concealing the east
end, though good of its kind, was somewhat heavy and out of place. Good
or bad, however, all the woodwork was soon to disappear.

[Illustration: Old Oak Panelling formerly in Eton Chapel, now in
Entrance Hall of Frampton Court, Dorset.]

[SN: “NOBS”]

In 1842, when the so-called Gothic revival first began to sweep
over England, destroying much worthy to be preserved and creating
comparatively little of artistic merit, it was determined to restore
the Chapel. At first this was limited to tearing down the classical
altar-piece, pews, and panelling at the east end and erecting
ponderous so-called Gothic altar rails, pulpit, and the like, all
of stone. These, however, were discarded a few years later, when, in
1847, a regular scheme of destruction and innovation was undertaken
by Deeson, one of whose chief artistic crimes was tearing down the
noblemen’s stalls, then standing against the walls at the western end.
Up to the so-called restoration of 1847, boys who were noblemen or
baronets used to occupy special seats of honour ranged along the Chapel
walls. When one of these privileged youths--known as “Nobs”--first
took his seat in one of these stalls he would, according to immemorial
custom, distribute amongst his neighbours small packets of almonds and
raisins, called “Chapel sock,” which were eaten in the Chapel itself.
These seats, finely designed with carving at the top, were ruthlessly
torn down, whilst no exact record of their appearance was preserved. A
considerable portion of the panelling, which formerly covered the east
end, adorns the hall at Frampton Park, Dorchester, but the writer has
been unable to trace the noblemen’s seats which were swept away to make
room for the present stalls.

The behaviour of the College authorities in having discarded work
of high artistic interest, probably designed by Wren, is much to be
deplored. The evidence as to Wren having designed the panelling is
not absolutely conclusive, but much leads one to think that he was
concerned in its design. The Mr. Banks, “surveyor,” whose name has
been preserved as the designer of the costly woodwork, is probably
identical with Matthew Bankes, “master carpenter,” who, under Wren’s
direction, carried out the interior decoration and fitting of
Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, and other historical buildings.

[Illustration: Carved and Decorated Organ Case formerly in Eton Chapel.
_Specially photographed for this work with the kind permission of the
Very Rev. Felix Couturier, Prior of the Dominican Monastery of St.
Thomas, Rugeley._]

[SN: THE OLD ORGAN CASE]

The huge organ-loft, about twenty-five feet in depth, was approached
by a flight of steps, which Provost Godolphin placed across the church
within the choir. This loft or screen was a very fine piece of work,
with fluted columns of oak, two of which are preserved in the Victoria
and Albert Museum, and elaborate carving, by Grinling Gibbons, much
resembling the one which still remains at Trinity College, Cambridge.
The organ-case, which, curiously enough, has hitherto escaped all
detailed notice in books about Eton, was of oak, and consisted of four
towers and three flats of pipes--the pipe shades, lower frieze scrolls,
side brackets and centre shield of arms being beautifully carved and
well designed, while characteristically English in style. Above was a
scroll ending in a point, for the carving of which Bird (who executed
much fine woodwork under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren) was
paid £24 in 1703. The organ itself, built by either William Smith or
Father Smith, was erected in 1700, and cost a large sum of money for
that day. This organ and its beautiful case is specially mentioned
in _Organ-Cases and Organs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance_, the
erudite and artistic work written and illustrated by the greatest
English authority on the subject, Mr. A. G. Hill, who speaks of the
old Eton College organ as being perhaps the best of all similar organs
still remaining in England. It may be mentioned that the example
formerly at Whitehall, and now in St. Peter’s Church at the Tower
of London, much resembles it. After the Eton Chapel restoration of
1844-1847 this old organ, with its beautiful case, was discarded in
order to make way for a new one which was placed half-way up the choir
on the south side. No one seems to have thought the old organ worth
preserving, and the case was eventually found by a member of the famous
organ-building firm of Hill, lying about in bits in the yard of those
who had taken it down. Mr. Hill at once recognised the high artistic
value of the magnificent woodwork, and, after the various portions of
the case had been fitted together, adapted it to a new organ, which
passed into the possession of the late Mr. Josiah Spode, of Hawkesyard
Park, Rugeley, who put it up in his hall. Mr. Spode left his property
to his niece, with a proviso that at her death a certain portion should
be applied to founding a monastery. This lady, however, preferred to
carry out this wish during her own lifetime, and, expending a far
larger sum than was stipulated by the will, founded at Rugeley the
Dominican Monastery of St. Thomas, in the beautiful chapel of which
the old Eton organ-case was put up. In connection with its history it
is curious to recall that this splendid specimen of Jacobean woodwork
was thrown out of the Eton Chapel because it was supposed to be “out
of place” in a Gothic building. The Chapel at Rugeley is a singularly
successful example of modern Gothic at its best, and the organ-case
accords perfectly with its surroundings. A feature of the old case,
adorned with scrolls and carvings lovingly wrought by the hand of a
master craftsman of a past age, is its heraldic embellishment, the
ornamentation including three shields bearing coats of arms. The large
central one at the top shows the Royal arms of England, enriched by the
legend “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” The smaller left-hand shield in the
hands of an angel at the bottom of the case bears the familiar arms of
Eton, whilst another on the right-hand side shows those of the sister
foundation of King’s.

After the Eton authorities had cleared their Chapel of all the old
Jacobean woodwork, they turned their attention to the roof, it being
at first proposed to construct a new one of stone. Happily, however,
fear of the Chapel collapsing checked such a scheme, and the architect,
Deeson, merely stripped the paint and plaster from the roof, whilst
adding some pseudo-Gothic cusping.

[SN: A RUTHLESS RESTORATION]

The interior of the Chapel as it appeared before 1700 in no wise
resembled that which we at present see. Mural monuments abounded about
the chancel; these, after being concealed by the wainscoting put up in
1700, were ruthlessly torn from their places by those responsible for
the restoration of 1847. Some of them are in the Ante-Chapel, others
were totally swept away. In the original Chapel there were probably
only benches at the east end, whilst low wooden stalls with miserere
seats occupied the place of the present seats crowned by canopies. The
only remnants of the ancient woodwork appear to be some old wooden
forms in the Ante-Chapel, on which boys now leave their hats. It is
recorded that in 1625 Thomas Weaver, a “Fellow,” gave “four strong
forms to stand in the aisles of the Church for the townsmen to sit on.”
The seats in question, it should be added, seem originally to have been
intended for the townspeople of Eton, who then attended the Chapel as
their parish church.

[Illustration: The Chapel before Restoration. _Engraved by D. Havell
after E. Mackenzie._]

Above the low stalls were paintings, and these in 1560 the College
barber was ordered to wash out; his account for the work (6s. 8d.) is
still extant. The barber, however, merely covered up the designs with
white paint or whitewash, and when the fine old stalls were removed the
paintings could be clearly seen upon the wall behind. In 1847, however,
in order to produce a surface capable of showing up the canopies of
the new stalls then in course of erection, the workmen proceeded to
scrape out all trace of the ancient designs, and they had already
finished this work of destruction at the top of the walls beneath the
string-courses when a Fellow of the College, chancing to stroll in to
inspect the work, saved the rest, some of which still remains behind
the modern panelling, of which the Eton authorities have certainly
very little reason to be proud. After the discovery there was for a
time some idea of leaving the paintings exposed to view, or at least
contriving an arrangement of sliding panels. Provost Hodgson, however,
objected to them as being “superstitious,” and they were consequently
permanently covered by the present panelling. The designs, which were
fortunately sketched before being covered up, have been described
as the finest of the kind ever discovered in England. They were in
all probability the work of some Florentine artist of the fifteenth
century. Each row of paintings was divided longitudinally into
seventeen compartments, alternately wide and narrow. Concerning these
Sir Maxwell Lyte, in his excellent history of the College, writes:--

  The former contained historical compositions, the latter single
  figures of Saints represented as standing in canopied niches. Most
  of these Saints may be identified by their emblems. Under each of
  the large compartments there was a Latin inscription, explaining the
  subject of the picture, and giving a reference to the book whence its
  story was derived. The works most frequently quoted were the _Legenda
  Sanctorum_ and Vincent of Beauvais’ _Speculum Historiale_, one of the
  earliest productions of the printing-press, which had already gone
  through three editions before 1479. According to a practice which
  prevailed extensively in the fifteenth century, successive incidents
  of a story were often represented as forming only one scene, the
  same figure appearing two or three times in different combinations.
  The whole series was intended to exemplify the gracious protection
  afforded by the Blessed Virgin, the Patroness of the College, to
  her votaries in all ages and countries. No less than six of the
  compartments were occupied by scenes from the life of a mythical
  Roman Empress.

[SN: GROSS VANDALISM]

From first to last the so-called restoration cost over £20,000,
£5000 of which was contributed by Mr. Wilder. In reality it was no
restoration at all--merely a terrible act of vandalism, only exceeded
in lack of taste by the alterations carried out at the sister college
of Winchester some thirty years later, when all the priceless woodwork
was removed from the chapel. Within recent years this was sold for an
enormous sum, and is now at Hursley Park, not many miles away from the
College which it once adorned.

Besides the tearing down of the fine old panelling and the partial
destruction of ancient frescoes, in all probability a quantity of other
interesting old work was destroyed at the orgy of iconoclasm in 1847.
The only object of those in power at Eton at that time seems to have
been to destroy everything which recalled the past. They gloried in the
havoc they wrought within the Chapel, and in their “restoring fervour”
actually went so far as to tear up the black and white marble pavement.
It is to be hoped that some day this may be replaced. Would that some
portion of the fine old woodwork might be recovered and once again find
a place in the sacred edifice where for close upon a hundred and fifty
years it met the eyes of generations of Etonians!

In place of the stately old noblemen’s seats put up in 1700, Deeson
designed seventy oak stalls with carved canopies of modern Gothic
design. Each canopy seems to have cost £42, which, considering that the
artistic value of the stalls is exactly nil, is a large sum. It would
be interesting to know what the value of the noblemen’s stalls which
Deeson tore down would be at the present time!

Entering the Chapel through the screen, the first of the canopied
stalls on the right is that occupied by the Provost, that on the
left by the Vice-Provost. The second stall on the right was given by
the Fellows of King’s College, the third by Winchester College, and
the fourth by the President and Fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford,
like Eton connected with the memory of Waynflete. The Headmaster’s
stall is the seventeenth on the right, distinguished by the words
_Magister Informator_. Exactly opposite is the seat of the Lower master
(_Ostiarius_), who, however, usually attends Lower Chapel. A number
of the stalls given by Etonians or Etonian families have tablets with
inscriptions. Next but two to the Lower master, for instance, is a
stall given by the Cust family, of whom some eight generations have
been educated at Eton. Beneath the seat is to be found the genealogy
of all the Custs who have been at the school. The twenty-sixth stall
on either side are those of the chaplains (_Capellani Conductitii_),
known as “Conducts” at Eton. The last stall but one on the left was
given by James Rattee, the contractor for the stalls, and the one
opposite by Deeson, the architect, who no doubt thought that his
imitation Gothic was vastly superior to the stately work which he
treated with such contempt.

[SN: MACHINE-MADE GOTHIC]

Most of the alterations in the Eton Chapel were lamentable in the
extreme. Nevertheless they excited great admiration amongst many who
had sat there in its unrestored days. Apparently they were quite
satisfied that the fine old panelling, in all probability designed by
Wren, should be removed. One of these lovers of novelty wrote: “Those
who only know the Chapel in its present nobly restored state could
with difficulty go back to the simply glazed windows, bare walls,
and cold cheerless aspect of the whole interior in former times.”[5]
How such a “noble restoration” (consisting in the destruction of
every vestige of ancient woodwork in order to substitute a quantity
of machine-made-looking Gothic stalls and some poor cusping to the
roof) can have moved any one to enthusiasm it is almost impossible to
understand. Nor can the crudely coloured stained-glass windows be said
to be a great improvement upon the old plain glass, which at least
caused no pain to the eye.

The true and artistic restoration would have been to have retained the
old stalls against the western walls, while contriving a method by
which portions of it could be temporarily removed in order to afford a
view of the frescoes. The high box-like pews might have been modified,
the old woodwork being utilised to the utmost extent, or at least
preserved for use in other parts of the College. If the position of
the stately old organ-loft opposite the second window of the west end
was found to be absolutely unsuited to modern requirements, together
with its wooden pilasters of admirable design, it might have been
re-erected at the junction of the choir with the Ante-Chapel, the
stalls being continued farther back. As for the magnificent organ-case,
there would have been no difficulty, as has been proved at Rugeley,
about furnishing it with a modern interior and new pipes. The roof
should have merely been freed from paint, etc., and not been adorned
with the meaningless cusping, which, never contemplated by its original
designer, is so obviously out of place.

The present organ-screen, erected in 1882 by Mr. G. E. Street in memory
of Etonians who fell in the Zulu, Afghan, and Boer wars of 1879, 1880,
and 1881, cannot be called a masterpiece of architectural design,
but in certain other respects the interior of the Chapel has been
somewhat improved within recent years. An elaborately designed floor
of black and white marble has been laid down at the east end. This,
together with a handsome if not altogether appropriate altar, forms
part of the memorial to the Etonians who fell in the South African War
(1899-1902). As stated before, the names of those who died for their
country in this deplorable contest are inscribed upon a roll of honour
in Lupton Chapel.

The fine tapestry behind the altar, executed by the firm of William
Morris from the designs of the late Sir Edward Burne-Jones, was
presented by an art-loving Eton Master, Mr. H. E. Luxmoore, in 1895,
whilst the picture of Sir Galahad, hanging on the western wall, was
presented by its painter, Watts.

The great stained-glass east window--a source of grumbling and
discontent to several generations of Etonians, who were obliged to
contribute what was known as “window-money”--was executed by Willement
between 1844 and 1849, being set up in bits as the contributions wrung
from the boys increased. Within recent years the crude and violent
tints of this costly example of the work of a bad period have been
softened. The irregular curve of the external arch-mould over this
window is said to be due to the circumstance that when the College
Chapel was built the stones of the Parish Church (which stood in the
present graveyard and was built in 1441) were used over again.

[SN: A TRANSPARENT FAILURE]

If the great east window is now somewhat less of a “transparent
failure” than of yore, the other windows on the north and south sides
of the Chapel remain specimens of bad design and colour. Those in
the Ante-Chapel, however, are less glaring. The two large windows by
Hardman on the north and south form the memorial to Etonians who fell
in the Crimea; those at the west end are personal memorials. Below
these windows are a number of tablets commemorating Etonians of note.
On the floor of the Ante-Chapel is a fine slab to the memory of the
late Bishop Abraham. There is also a marble statue of the Founder, by
Durham, and another of Provost Goodall, who in all probability would
have been appalled by the changes of 1847.

The Rev. John Wilder, whose munificence served to modernise the College
Chapel he had known all his life, is also here commemorated by a
tablet. Besides giving £5000 to the restoration fund, he presented
fourteen stained-glass windows in the choir, and decorated the reredos
and east end as well as the new organ and case. Though his benefactions
were animated by a generous and unselfish spirit, it is much to be
regretted that he did not devote his money to some better purpose.

[SN: THE LOST FONT]

In the Ante-Chapel, behind a railing, is a font, placed there at
the time of the renovations sixty years ago. It was presented by
some Collegers as a memorial to C. J. Abraham. The last baptism for
which it was used took place two or three years ago, when an Eton
boy of fourteen or fifteen was christened in the Chapel. About to be
confirmed, it was discovered that he had never been baptized. In all
probability he was a foreigner. There stood previously at the same
place an older font, of which there is mention as early as 1479.
Lipscomb describes the earlier one as “a beautiful ancient font of
white marble, of an octagon shape, elegantly carved in relief and
supported by a pedestal on a square plinth.” It would be interesting to
know what has become of this font. If not broken up, it has probably
been sent away to some village church.

In the Ante-Chapel, before the Reformation, there existed four altars,
the chief of which, still marked by a row of niches, was in the
south-eastern corner behind where now stands the statue of Provost
Goodall. This was called the Altar of St. Catherine, or sometimes the
Altar of Thomas Jourdelay, after a certain inhabitant of Eton who lies
buried near it. Provost Bost (1477-1504) left a sum of money for an
extra chaplain who should say Mass at this altar at least three times a
week for him and his relations. The altar in the north-eastern corner
of the Ante-Chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The remaining
two were on either side of the entrance to the choir and were dedicated
to St. Nicholas and St. Peter.

One of the few relics which the spirit of change has left intact in
this old Chapel is the lectern, which within recent years has once
more been taken into use. It dates from the fifteenth century, and
escaped destruction by the Puritans in 1651, when the College paid
sixpence for its removal. A considerable number of Etonians are
fittingly commemorated in the Chapel, but the Marquis Wellesley, in
all probability the greatest lover of Eton who ever lived, has his
memorial in the North Porch, where may be seen the Latin elegiacs which
he wrote as his own epitaph. The tablet on which they are inscribed was
erected by his brother, the great Duke. A good rendering in English
verse was made by Lord Derby:--

  Long tost on Fortune’s waves, I come to rest,
  Eton, once more on thy maternal breast.
  On loftiest deeds to fix the aspiring gaze,
  To seek the purer lights of ancient days,
  To love the simple paths of manly truth,--
  These were the lessons of my opening youth.
  If on my later life some glory shine,
  Some honours grace my name, the meed is thine.
  My boyhood’s nurse, my aged dust receive,
  And one last tear of kind remembrance give!

Lord Wellesley was deeply attached to his old school, and some of
the last productions of his pen were dedicated to Eton. Consequently
it was only fitting that when he died, in testimony of the strong
affection which he entertained towards the place where he received his
first impressions of literary taste, and in accordance with his desire
expressed before his death, his body should be laid to rest beneath the
College Chapel of Eton--that spot of earth which, through a long and
arduous life in many lands, was ever the nearest and dearest to his
heart. The new Lower Chapel, built 1889-1891, also contains a memorial
to Lord Wellesley in a stained-glass window, the gift of the late Mr.
A. Montgomery, who was once his private secretary.

Two Eton Headmasters are commemorated by monuments on the right
towards the eastern end of the Chapel. These are Dr. Balston and Dr.
Hawtrey, the last person to be buried within the Chapel walls. On his
breast is a badge with the arms of Scotland and the motto _Nemo me
impune lacessit_ just showing. This badge recalls an old Eton usage[6]
now extinct. The most modern monument is a statue of Henry VI., put up
over the north door to the memory of the late Mr. J. P. Carter, for
many years one of the Assistant Masters.

[SN: PINNACLES--OLD AND NEW]

In 1876, owing to much of the Headington stone used by Waynflete
having become decayed, the whole of the exterior of the Ante-Chapel
was entirely refaced.[7] This, with other restorations, of necessity
impaired a good deal of its ancient charm. On the whole the renovation
was carried out with care, but it is to be regretted that the old
pinnacles were then entirely removed and new ones (designed in a highly
ornate style of Gothic for which there is no authority[8]) erected
under the direction of Mr. Woodyer. The old pinnacles had last been
repaired in 1698-1699. A curious circumstance connected with them is
that during their removal fragments of the ancient reredos--destroyed
in 1546-1548--were discovered to have been built into their fabric.
Whatever may have been the demerits of the old pinnacles, one or two
of them which had suffered least from the hands of time should have
been allowed to remain in place, so that future generations might
realise the original design which modern taste, or lack of taste, has
chosen to discard.

One of the most interesting architectural features of the College
Chapel is the ancient holy water stoup on the right-hand side of the
door of the south porch. As may be seen in old prints, the service
bell was formerly in a sort of dovecot (irreverently called by some a
larder) placed on the roof of the porch. Here also hung the knell bell,
which, as long as the College Chapel remained the Eton Parish Church,
was tolled for all funerals. The service bell still in use, hanging in
the turret at the south-western angle, bears the inscription “Prayes Ye
Lord, 1637.”

In a niche on the west wall of the Ante-Chapel, facing the street, a
statue of William Waynflete was placed in 1893. This was subscribed for
by some old Etonians connected with Sussex. The task of designing it
was entrusted to Sir Arthur Blomfield, who produced one of the very few
bits of commendable modern work in Eton. Indeed, this little statue,
beneath an elaborate canopy, may be called the only real artistic
improvement carried out within the last seventy years, during which
time so much labour and money have been devoted to what in some cases
amounts to mere wanton destruction. Of the new quadrangle and Lower
Chapel, built by Sir Arthur Blomfield 1889-1891, little need here
be said. On the whole, the architect has done his work well, and no
doubt, under the mellowing influence of time, the Queen’s schools will
assume something of that picturesque aspect which in some slight degree
already pertains to the New Schools completed by Mr. Woodyer in 1863.

[SN: LOWER CHAPEL]

A full account of the new Lower Chapel, its memorials and stained-glass
windows, is to be found in the admirable _Illustrated Guide to Eton
College_ written by Mr. R. A. Austen Leigh, who in this and other
works has done much which should gain for him the thanks of all
Etonians. Since the construction of the New Schools, Upper School,
which tradition has connected with the name of Wren, is only used as a
schoolroom for one division for the purposes of examination. Speeches,
I believe, are now to take place in the new Memorial Hall, and the
busts of celebrated Etonians will no longer look down upon the visitors
who flock to Eton on the 4th of June. The old staircase, from the
colonnade to Upper School, is one of the most picturesque portions of
the College. Here it was that in old days boys promoted from Lower to
Upper School were subjected to the ordeal of “booking,” being hit on
the head with books as they passed up the staircase.

Within the last fifty years the town of Eton has suffered severely from
a picturesque point of view owing to the demolition and alteration
of many quaint old houses which formerly gave the place a charming
old-world appearance. The “Old Sun,” which was pulled down not very
long ago, contained some fine arched oaken beams, and the laths were
perpendicular and fastened with willow twigs. On the front wall used to
be a Sun Insurance plate of the eighteenth century, one of the earliest
issued by that Company.

In that part of Eton given up to houses for boys, alterations have of
necessity been made in order to afford accommodation for increased
numbers. Some of the older houses have had extra stories added, whilst
entirely new ones have also been built. Of these latter somewhat
“barracky” erections it is perhaps best not to speak.

With regard to the Eton Memorial, however, built for some unknown
reason in the Renaissance style, the writer can only say that in his
opinion a building less in keeping with the spirit of Eton it would
have been impossible to erect. Why the authorities should have selected
a design of this sort is difficult to understand. Surely some architect
might have been found to produce a building which would have harmonised
with the fine old brickwork which in the quadrangle and elsewhere
produces such a charming effect? To intrude a purely personal opinion,
those responsible for the maintenance of Eton School have within the
last seventy years committed three great artistic mistakes--the first,
the indiscriminating restoration of the College Chapel, entailing the
destruction of much admirable woodwork; the second, the renovation
of the College Hall, in which it is admitted a number of interesting
features were obliterated; the third, the erection of the huge
Memorial, the whole aspect and style of which is utterly out of keeping
with its surroundings.

Closely associated with Eton is the adjoining Royal Borough of Windsor,
in which past generations of Etonians played so many wild pranks.
The houses which formerly fringed the walls of the Castle have long
disappeared, and on the other side of the road few ancient buildings
remain. The queer old theatre and gabled buildings near “Damnation
Corner” have been demolished within comparatively recent years.
“Damnation Corner,” it is curious to recall, received its name from the
fact that in the old “shirking” days it was extremely difficult for an
Eton boy to avoid a master coming quickly round the corner.

[SN: A MONSTROUS ROOF]

During the last fifty years the whole appearance of Windsor Hill has
been transformed, the hand of the restorer having not even spared the
venerable curfew tower--now for some forty-eight years disfigured by a
roof so monstrous in its ugliness that it stands forth as a surpassing
and convincing proof of our national lack of artistic taste.

[SN: FUTILE PRATTLE]

The hideous top, totally inappropriate in style, was put up by Salvin
in 1863, when the ancient bell tower of picturesque and suitable
appearance was demolished. The operations carried out at that date
were, of course, dignified by the name of “restoration”; as a matter
of fact the unwieldy addition to the tower had not a vestige of
archæological authority. It is much to be hoped that some day the
ancient appearance of the tower will be restored, for the huge, ugly,
and inappropriate slated roof constitutes an eyesore from almost every
point of vantage from which the Castle can be viewed. Within quite
recent years there could be seen, looming through an embrasure, the
muzzle of an old cannon, which, according to a local legend, had been
placed there by Cromwell in order to guard against any hostile move
from the direction of Eton. During a recent visit to Windsor the writer
was quite unable to locate either cannon or embrasure; presumably both
have gone. This old curfew tower--the oldest part of the Castle, and
said to have been built in the days of the Conqueror himself--has been
peculiarly unfortunate. When Salvin constructed his abominable top he
had the decency to leave the rest of the external structure alone,
and in the writer’s Eton days, thirty years ago, almost all the old
stonework and quaint little windows, cunningly contrived for bowmen to
shoot through, remained as they had been built. Since then there have
been two or three reparations; no doubt the decay of the stone made
some renovations necessary. In the last of these, however, during
which the whole of the exterior was refaced with an entirely different
kind of stone, the original design of the tower, which, like all the
work of the Normans, was very simple, has been tampered with, the
result being that its ancient charm has been completely impaired. So is
it that in this country, in spite of much meaningless gush and prattle
of education and appreciation of art, almost every fine monument is
by degrees vulgarised and destroyed. The curfew tower, it should be
added, was one of the few parts of the Castle left untouched by George
IV. in the very comprehensive remodelling of the whole stately pile by
Wyattville.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] See page 204.

[5] Mr. Tucker in _Eton of Old_.

[6] See pages 38-40.

[7] See page 5.

[8] See _The Architectural History of the University of Cambridge and
of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton_, by the late Robert Willis,
M.A., F.R.S., edited and brought up to date by the late John Willis
Clark, M.A., Cambridge, at the University Press, 1886.



VII COLLEGE


Till the carrying out of the reforms initiated by Provost Hodgson in
1844 the treatment of the King’s scholars constituted little short of
a public scandal, rendered the more iniquitous because College was
the original Eton, and the lack of consideration and comfort shown
to boys on the Foundation was directly contrary to the wishes of the
Founder. No wonder was it that the number of those in College often
fell far short of the appointed seventy, sometimes sinking as low as
thirty-eight. In one year there were but six candidates for forty
vacancies. The prospective advantages which a Colleger might reasonably
expect at King’s College, Cambridge, were not enough to counterbalance
the discomfort and degradation of existence in the great dormitory
known as “Long Chamber,” besides which the expenses of a King’s scholar
were little less than those of the well-fed and comfortably housed
Oppidan, the cost of education on the Eton Foundation often falling
not very far short of a hundred a year--a most extravagant outlay
considering that a Colleger was cared for no better than a charity boy.

[Illustration: A Colleger, 1816.]

[SN: “THESE POOR BOYS”]

Glancing over the records of the treatment meted out to those whom
Provost Hodgson rightly termed “these poor boys,” one wonders that the
masters, who were perfectly acquainted with the state of affairs in
College, made practically no protest. It must be remembered, however,
that at that time all of them without exception had been Collegers
themselves, and having come through the ordeal with comparative
immunity from harm, probably had some sort of idea that the hardships
and discomforts of life in College produced hardy and successful men.
What these hardships and discomforts were may be realised from the view
taken by an Insurance Company as to chances of life of any one who
had undergone them. In 1826 Dr. Okes, when applying for an insurance
policy, in reply to one of the questions put to him stated that “he had
slept in Long Chamber for eight years,” on hearing which the chairman
of the Board said, “We needn’t ask Mr. Okes any more questions.”
Existence in the ill-kept and insanitary dormitory in question was
calculated to promote only the survival of the fittest, and those who
grew up to be healthy men might well be accounted “good lives.”

Whilst, as has been said, little protest was ever raised at Eton itself
against the deliberate misinterpretation of the statutes with respect
to the scholars, public opinion gradually became aroused, and many
old Etonians, notwithstanding the intense _esprit de corps_ which
has always been a characteristic of the school, joined in the chorus
of unanimous reprobation which demanded reform. About 1834 the Eton
authorities were violating not only the spirit but the letter of the
ancient statutes.

[SN: BROKEN STATUTES]

The statutes required that the fines and land-tax should be applied to
the common use (“ad communem utilitatem”), instead of which they were
appropriated by the Provost and Fellows to their own use.

The statutes entitled the Fellows to £10 a year stipend, and 2s. a
week, or £5, 4s. a year, for commons, whereas they had increased their
stipend to £50 a year, and received in lieu of commons on an average
£550 a year each, or £10, 11s. 6d. per week instead of 2s.

The statutes entitled the Provost and seven Fellows to allowances
amounting in all to £200 per annum, but in practice they received
nearly £7000.

The statutes required that the scholars should be supplied with dress
and bedding; with all, in fact, “quae ad vestitum et lectisternia
eorundem aliaque iis necessaria pertinent.” Nevertheless, with the
exception of a coarse gown, the scholars received nothing appertaining
to dress from the funds of the College.

The statutes provided ample allowances for breakfast, dinner, and
supper, with the use of certain fisheries. In practice breakfast was
omitted altogether, and for dinner the only kind of meat provided for
the scholars throughout the year was mutton, which even if good in
quality was not sufficient in quantity.

According to the statutes thirteen servitors were to wait upon the
Provost, Fellows, and scholars in Hall, which arrangement had further
developed into the Lower boys waiting upon the Upper, who in their turn
performed the same menial offices for the Provost and his company on
the occasions of their dining in the College Hall.

The statutes required that each scholar should be instructed free under
the most strict oath to be taken by the Head and Lower Masters. In
direct defiance of this each scholar was charged £6, 6s., the amount
having been gradually increased to that sum.

The statutes allowed each Fellow a separate apartment, but such
accommodation had long ceased to be sufficient for them, and instead
they resided in spacious houses, free from taxes and the expense of
repair, with stables and coach-houses attached.

The statutes enjoined that one room should be provided for every three
boys, free from any expense. In 1834 upwards of forty boys slept in
Long Chamber, whilst those who were lodged in the two adjoining rooms
paid a sum of money annually to the second master.

The statute that any scholar during a short illness should be
maintained at the College expense (if longer than a month, to receive
a sum of money) was entirely ignored.

Finally, the statutes were required to be read to the scholars
assembled in a body three times a year. This was never done; the
scholars, moreover, were not allowed access to them.

It should also be added that the statute which forbade Fellows of the
College to hold benefices had long been treated with utter contempt,
they holding them to any amount.

If, however, the Eton authorities had contented themselves with merely
breaking the statutes in the way of malversation of funds and the
like, no particular outcry would in all probability have arisen. It
was Long Chamber, and the state of affairs within its walls, which
excited such indignation amongst those who, denouncing it as a sort of
Bastille, clamoured for reform. Originally all the seventy scholars
seem to have slept in the long dormitory above Lower School, but after
1716 the number became limited to about fifty-two. In that year the
Lower Master, Thomas Carter, having given up his two rooms at the east
end, eighteen Collegers were located in the rooms in question, being
henceforth known as Carter’s Chamber and Lower Chamber.

[SN: LONG CHAMBER]

Long Chamber, about 172 feet long and 15 feet high, was in winter
warmed, or rather not warmed, by two fire-places which were put in in
1784; before that there were no fires at all. Along each wall was a
range of old oaken bedsteads which had been there for centuries, and
between every bedstead a high desk, with a cupboard beneath, for each
boy. The desk and cupboard, painted lead colour, contained all their
belongings. There was no system of lighting except candles, to hold
which no provision was made. The leaf of a book torn off, doubled,
and a hole cut in the centre, formed the only candlestick which the
Colleger had. If he wished to read in bed, the candle was removed
from the pasteboard candlestick and stuck against the back of the old
bedstead. Even if sleep overcame a boy reading in bed, and his candle
burnt down to the wood, no harm came of it, the bedstead being well
striped with charcoal, an evidence of the incombustible nature of the
old oak. [After Long Chamber had been done away with, some little
models of these ancient bedsteads were made out of wood black with age.
The Rt. Hon. Lewis Harcourt’s Eton collection contains one.] All that
happened was that it would not be long before he would be awakened by
the unpleasant smell of the wood, or by a good tweak of the nose from
his next-door neighbour, who would be angry at the annoyance. In winter
the boys shivered with cold, most of the glass in the windows being
usually broken.

There were but a very few chairs for the Sixth Form, and the barrack
or prison (boys were locked into it at 6.30 in the evening), with the
exception of a table with a basin for the highest boys, was totally
devoid of washstands, Collegers having to perform such ablutions
as they might deem necessary at the old pump in the cloisters. The
walls and ceiling were full of the grime of ages, whilst the whole
place as a general rule was in a state of intolerable filth. Once a
year, however, some attempt was made to give Long Chamber a habitable
appearance, and the time-honoured processes to which it was then
subjected were generally sufficiently successful in making visitors who
saw it believe that all was well enough. For a week before Election
Saturday, which took place at the end of July, “rug-riding” was in full
force. A number of Lower boys were tied up in big rugs and dragged
with a rope by other fags up and down Long Chamber till the floor
shone like a mirror; the spaces between the beds were also scrubbed
to a corresponding glossiness. On the Thursday, waggon-loads of beech
boughs, cut in the College woods at Hedgerley and Burnham, were brought
in and the whole of Long Chamber decorated; the green rugs, edged
with gold and embroidered with the College arms, given by the Duke of
Cumberland in 1735, were then spread on the beds. A huge flag was hung
from the Captain’s bed and the whole aspect of the room transformed.
Nevertheless the dirt remained beneath.

Except at Election time Long Chamber was not accessible to visitors,
and the King of Prussia himself was refused admission in 1842, on the
plea that that portion of the College was never shown.

[SN: CARTER’S CHAMBER]

Things in the two other rooms appropriated to the use of the King’s
scholars were not much better, and an extraordinary state of affairs
prevailed in Carter’s Chamber. Whenever the chimney there became at all
foul, the boys used to set fire to it, and, being very large, the roar
it made when blazing was tremendous, generally much to the annoyance of
the Provost, part of whose lodge was close by. The fires in question
were made with large beechen logs, placed upon iron dogs, and the
Collegers used to roast potatoes among the ashes. One of these logs
every Lower boy was compelled to saw up before he went to bed, with a
saw that had no edge. This was one of the most unpleasant features of a
Lower Colleger’s existence, for the thinnest logs were always chosen by
the biggest boys, leaving the heaviest for poor little fellows hardly
strong enough to lift them. Not infrequently would the latter dock
themselves of part of their rolls for breakfast in order to be able to
bribe another stronger boy to saw up their portion for them.

As regards food, the old-time Colleger was disgracefully treated, no
breakfast at all being provided for him in College. Dinner in Hall
consisted entirely of mutton until about 1840, when Provost Hodgson
added roast and boiled beef, each one day in the week. Though the
mutton is said to have been of excellent quality, the manner in which
it was served made it often impossible for a young boy who had not
a robust appetite to get any dinner at all that he could eat. The
joints were served in messes, a leg or a shoulder serving for eight
boys, a loin or neck for six, the best joints going to the elder boys.
They were put upon the table, and the boys carved for themselves. The
captain of the joint cut his own portion liberally from the best part,
and passed it on to the next in seniority, who slashed away at it after
his own taste. A junior fared badly if the joint happened to be a loin
or a shoulder and he had not appetite enough for the fat and bones. The
knives and forks often ran short, and boys were occasionally obliged to
be content with the reversion of such adjuncts. On Sundays plum-pudding
of a peculiar construction, by some considered very palatable, made of
unchopped suet and unstoned raisins, made its appearance. Indifferent
beer was drunk by the Collegers out of painted tin mugs. On Founder’s
Day and Election Saturday half a chicken and pressed greens was
served to every boy. Beyond this the fare provided, as has been said,
consisted entirely and solely of mutton. In connection with this,
however, it is but fair to remember that not a few boys objected to the
beef which, at a yet earlier period, figured on the College menu. One
of these, according to Sir Dudley Carleton, was the “dainty-mouthed”
young Phil Lytton, son of Sir Rowland Lytton of Knebworth. Collegers
whose purses permitted were allowed to purchase more or less savoury
messes from the cook, one of whose most famed dishes was, for some
unknown reason, known as “blue-pill.”

[SN: COLLEGE SERVANTS]

Three of the Lower boys waited upon Sixth Form in Hall, handing them
their plates and pouring out their beer, one being specially detailed
to hold back the long sleeves of the gown on the Upper boy who carved
the joint. This custom of “servitors,” as they were called, perhaps of
a too menial kind, was not unwisely abolished some thirty years ago,
the staff of College servants having been increased.

Many of the old College servants were characters like the original
Webber, who seems to have inaugurated the sock shop, which is now
Rowland’s, near Barnes Pool Bridge. Webber was College cook in the
early portion of the last century, in addition to which he manufactured
the birches then in much request. Owing probably to this, he incurred
a sort of curious unpopularity, a legend being started that he had run
away from the battle of Waterloo, therefore the usual taunt of the
Collegers, for whom he carved in the Hall, was, “Pass up to old Webber
that we want to see his Waterloo medal.” The story appears to have been
purely mythical.

[Illustration: James Culliford, the last Chief Butler of College to
wear the livery of Eton blue, standing by the College Pump. _Reproduced
by permission of the Earl of Rosebery, K.G._]

A great College functionary was the chief butler. The last man to
hold this office was Mr. James Culliford, who died in 1901, aged
eighty-nine. The illustration facing page 202 shows him in the
traditional uniform of Eton blue which is now no longer worn, its use
having been discontinued for no particular reason seemingly. The
veteran in question also appears in the group of College servants, of
whom the sole survivor is the little boy, Mr. Culliford’s son, who for
so many years has been known to Etonians as the manager of the famous
Eton tailor, Tom Brown. In this group (reproduced by the courtesy of
Mr. Culliford from a scarce old photograph in his possession) can also
be seen the last College constable, honest old Bott, who was such a
well-known figure in the days when, with a colleague (one of the same
group), he was responsible for the due maintenance of law and order.
In his long coat of Eton blue, with the College arms embroidered upon
his sleeve, and glazed top-hat, Bott was a sight which inspired tramps
and petty evil-doers of every sort with genuine awe, and the vast
majority of such folk took care to give him a wide berth. Bott had
done good service as a soldier, having, it was said, fought at Albuera
and Waterloo, though according to some his military service had been
confined to serving during the American War. In any case, the fine old
fellow was a typical Englishman of a robust age.

[Illustration:

  Mr. J. Long (College Porter)
  C. Westbrook (Cook)
  J. Wagstaffe (Scullion)
  H. Atkin (Brewer)
  W. Runicles (Photographer)
  Bott (Policeman)
  W. Perkins (Policeman)
  J. Culliford (Butler)
  G. Culliford (Son)

Old College Servants. _Photo lent by G. Culliford, Esq._]

[SN: THREEPENNY DAY]

On certain days, owing to the observance of ancient custom, the
Colleger’s lot sustained some amelioration. On February 27th, for
instance, the Provost or his Deputy presented every Colleger, beginning
with the lowest, with a threepenny piece. The origin of this custom was
that Provost Bost (1477-1504) left a sum which gave each Colleger
twopence, and Provost Lupton (1504-1535) left them the extra penny.
A doubtful tradition declared that a Colleger was entitled to half
a sheep, and that the College was merely giving him what was its
equivalent in money during the Middle Ages. An impudent young Colleger
who had heard of this tradition, being offered his threepence by the
Bursar, Mr. Bethell, a man of very uncertain temper, once calmly
said, “No, thank you, sir; I want my half sheep.” Bethell flew into
a passion, and exclaimed, “I’ll mention this matter to Dr. Hawtrey,
and have you flogged,” and in due course Branwell--so the “Tug” was
named--expiated his temerity at the block. Threepenny Day, I believe,
is one of the very few old Eton customs which is still maintained.

Occasionally protests would be made in order to secure some slight
improvement in the dinner. The execrable quality of the beer in
particular was several times brought to the notice of the Fellows, but
beyond one of their number coming into Hall and looking at the cans
nothing was done.

In comparatively remote times a discussion took place amongst the
authorities on the question whether it was necessary for the Collegers
to have their potatoes peeled or sent up in their skins. Two of the
Fellows, as it happened, though not related, bore the same name. One
was an advocate for the peeling system, declaring that the boys had
been treated “like hogs”; the other opposed it as an unnecessary piece
of refinement. In consequence they were afterwards distinguished by
the Collegers as “Hog R----” and “Peeli-po R----,” and the descendants
of both families, who were at Eton for many generations, always bore
the hereditary nicknames of “Hogs” and “Peelipos.”

[SN: “PUT INTO PLAY”]

Besides the squalor and discomfort amidst which the Collegers lived
there was much horse-play and bullying, and for the most part small
boys led a wretched life. Besides having to undergo various unpleasant
initiatory ceremonies, one of which consisted in swallowing an
unsavoury mixture of salt and water, their life was rendered wretched
by rough jokes. A bolster shaken down hard at one end could do a
lot of damage, knocking over candles and ink-pots, or bringing the
unsuspicious to the ground with a well-directed blow on the ankles from
behind. A “Jew,” as a new boy was called, was also apt to wake up in
the night to find a rope tied to his big toe, by which he was dragged
from his bed. The only chance to escape such nocturnal visitations was
to keep awake for some time, and, if he heard whispering, to creep out
of bed and under that of a neighbour till he was safe from danger.
Sometimes he would be “put into play” till he was sore all over. This
most disagreeable ordeal was as follows. Around one of the large
fire-places in Long Chamber two bedsteads were placed close together
on each side, and two at the end, forming an enclosure. The boy “put
into play” was placed in one corner, next to the captain, a certain
number of the Upper boys being seated on the bedsteads. At a given
signal the captain started him with a hearty kick, which generally was
sufficiently hard to propel him to the opposite side; from thence he
would be flung back quite as expeditiously. Bandied about like a human
shuttlecock, bruises would soon begin to make him sore all over, but
only when it was evident that he was in severe pain would the boy be
released and some shivering little spectator seized and made to take
his place.

Another cruel and brutal College practice which prevailed throughout
the fortnight before Election was tossing boys in a blanket. Sometimes
an unpopular boy would be put in the blanket with a quantity of books,
when he was certain to be most severely bruised. The custom was, after
forcing the boy on to one of the small blankets, which was held all
round by the bigger boys, to repeat this line:

  Ibis ab excus_so_ missus ad astra Sa-_go_.

At the end of the syllable _so_ a little shake was given, but at the
last _go_ he was sent quivering to the ceiling. A boy named Rowland
Williams was severely injured in one of these tossings. Hurled up to
the ceiling, in his descent he fell sideways on to a bedpost and was
completely scalped. Only by a most fortunate chance did he escape
death, sustaining concussion of the brain. His scalp, which hung down
his neck, was sewn on again, and by great good fortune he completely
recovered.

A less dangerous though highly unpleasant ordeal to which new Collegers
were subjected was the ceremony known as “Pricking for Sheriff.” The
boy was laid across the lap of the chief executioner, face downwards,
and into a very tightened and thin surface of small-clothes the
assistant executioners ran pins, warning the victim that if he screamed
louder than his predecessor he would be elected Sheriff and fined a bag
of walnuts.

At this time the relations between Collegers and Oppidans were not
very cordial, the Lower boys amongst the latter in particular often
rendering themselves peculiarly objectionable to the King’s scholars,
at whom they were wont to jeer. Sometimes some especially aggressive
little Oppidan would be caught and taken into Long Chamber, and either
soundly thrashed or caned, or else subjected to the blanket-tossing
process which has just been mentioned. When this was the case the
victim for some time after had good reason to remember his half an
hour passed amidst the “Tugs”--which term in those days was far more
opprobrious than is at present the case.

[SN: THE GOWN]

The exact origin of the word “Tug” has never been cleared up. The most
popular explanation has always been that it is derived from the Latin
word _toga_, a gown, and referred to the black gowns they wore, and
still wear, in school. It should here be added that up to 1864 this
indispensable appurtenance of a King’s scholar was made of cloth and
very heavy. In that year, however, the light material at present in
use was introduced, while the length of the gown was somewhat reduced.
The old-fashioned gowns contained pockets, which were often receptacles
for viands and dainties to be smuggled into Long Chamber. A parody of
Gray’s _Ode on Eton College_, written by a King’s scholar in 1798,
alludes to this:--

  I know my gown when first it flowed
  An awkward majesty bestowed,
    When waving fresh each woolly wing
  That worn-out elbows serve to hide,
  Or else to hold unknown, unspied,
    A loaf or pudding in.

As far as the writer has been able to ascertain, the top-hat, or
in earlier times its predecessor, the cocked or three-cornered
one, has always been the head-dress worn by Collegers, though in
an illustration[9] representing the Iron Duke being cheered in the
quadrangle in the middle of the forties of the last century, the King’s
scholars are shown wearing or waving mortar-boards. These, it would
appear, existed only in the imagination of the artist.

The allusion to worn-out elbows in the ditty given above is significant
as to the poverty-stricken appearance of the Collegers, most of whom
were then very sorrily dressed. Almost without exception they were boys
whose parents had but small means. As a matter of fact College was
never intended to be an educational refuge for rich or high-born boys,
and, as a highly competent critic has remarked, “A young aristocrat
in a serge gown is an anomaly not contemplated by the statutes of the
royal founder.”

Before the reforms made in College in 1845 most of the King’s scholars,
it must be confessed, were more of the class intended by Henry VI. than
has since been the case. In latter years many Collegers have belonged
to well-to-do or even rich families, whereas the Foundation was
specially intended for poor boys. In the early part of the nineteenth
century a certain proportion of those in College were the sons of
Eton or Windsor doctors or solicitors, royal servants, or successful
tradesmen. Besides these there were sons of Eton masters and boys of
impoverished country squires. The former class of boys, however, were
in some way made to feel that they were not the equals of the sons
of gentlemen, and subjected to petty humiliations which did their
schoolfellows small honour.

Besides being exposed to physical violence, small boys, especially if
they were clever, were sometimes made to do work for stupid big ones.
A certain lazy lout, however, was once well served out by his victim.
In difficulties as to the composition of a set of verses, the bully one
day got hold of a smaller schoolmate, and under the threat of a severe
licking got him to do the verses for him. When, however, the bully came
to showing up the lines which he had not done, and which he had not
even troubled to read, they were found to be so grossly indecent and
outrageous in tone that the master who looked at them at once declared
the writer should be flogged. At first the bully did not dare admit
that they were not of his own making, but eventually at the block he
admitted the fraud, with the result that the boy who had played him the
trick was also punished. It is to be hoped, however, that the bully
received the more severe thrashing of the two.

When the celebrated Porson was a Colleger, one of his contemporaries
was Charles Simeon, known as “Snowball” Simeon, the ugliest boy in
College, who afterwards became an earnest Evangelical preacher. In
after life he looked back upon the doings in Long Chamber and its
lawless rowdyism with horror, and once told a friend that he would be
tempted even to murder his own son sooner than let him see in College
the sights he had seen.

[SN: A RUNAWAY]

Under such circumstances it is not surprising that small Collegers,
if they were sensitive boys, occasionally made determined attempts
to run away. One did so more than thirteen times, and became so
well known on the road that he was almost sure to be stopped before
he got far. Nevertheless he once got up to town in a very curious
manner. He slunk early, before morning school, into the yard of the
Christopher; the London coach was standing outside, and no one by, so
he was able unobserved to creep into the boot, trusting to luck, which
befriended him, for there chanced to be that morning no passengers, and
consequently no luggage to be stowed away. The runaway was therefore
driven without disturbance in his uneasy berth, which he only vacated
on the arrival of the coach at the White Horse cellars in Piccadilly.

The general tone in College was somewhat rough and irreverent, as may
be judged from the following. Every Sunday morning at nine o’clock the
Collegers assembled in Lower School for prayers, the headmaster sitting
in the desk, and a praepostor standing up repeating the Confession
and a prayer or two out of the Winchester Prayer-Book. All joined in
the 100th Psalm, which sometimes, more especially towards the end of
the Half, was made the occasion of a not very seemly demonstration.
During the last Sunday the order went round that every one was to
sing his loudest, and on one occasion the noise was so terrific that
it could almost be heard in the playing fields. Keate, who was at
that time in the desk, did not, however, take any notice of this
irreverent outburst. He had been a youthful Colleger himself, and
probably considered that the whole thing was merely a too enthusiastic
performance of an old Eton tradition, which in his eyes excused a good
deal.

In school work the Collegers then, as now, easily maintained an almost
unchallenged supremacy. Almost without exception the sons of poor
parents, accurately grounded and imbued with the idea that education
was a real preparation for life, they knew that they would have to make
their way in the world by their own exertions, for which reason to be
“a sap” in College was quite an ordinary thing. Besides this, sixty or
seventy years ago the very traditional customs which excluded a King’s
scholar from comparatively expensive amusements, such as the boats, and
made him a member of a separate football and cricket club, served to
protect a boy from drifting into various forms of fashionable idleness.

At one time few boys went into College who had not previously been
Oppidans, and, till Provost Hodgson’s reforms made it possible for
every boy to have a separate cubicle room, Collegers used to have rooms
down town or in their tutor’s houses, where they could escape from fag
masters and the disorder of Long Chamber. In such rooms they could
work, wash, and eat in peace.

[SN: TRONE’S]

Up to 1864 King’s scholars had to wear their gowns out of school,
though they abandoned them before passing over Barnes Pool Bridge. A
sock shop in the High Street called Trone’s was almost exclusively
frequented by King’s scholars because they were allowed to leave their
gowns there when going into Windsor. Oppidans never frequented it, and,
curiously enough, as showing the persistence of traditional usage,
years later, when the shop had changed owners, though no one could give
any particular reason, it was supposed to be “scuggish” to pass its
doors.

Whilst Long Chamber could never have been called an abode of bliss, it
had its pleasures, one of the chief of which was the rat-hunting, in
which Porson is said to have taken so much delight. If the Colleges
lacked food they never lacked game in the shape of rats, which fairly
swarmed about the ancient dormitory. Some of these animals which defied
capture became well known to the boys, who in a sort of way felt a
respect for one veteran--an immense, perfectly gray old rat, which was
supposed to be the ghost of King Henry VI., or at any rate to have been
in being from the very first foundation of the College.

All sorts of food was constantly being smuggled in. According to
tradition, a sow was once captured and stowed away on the leads till
she had farrowed and provided roast sucking-pig in abundance. Hares
and other game surreptitiously caught in Windsor Park furnished many a
hearty feast. The Collegers were anything but particular, and on one
occasion, it is said, actually roasted and ate an unfortunate swan
which they had lured to its doom.

A great College institution was Fire-place--a supper held before a
roaring blaze, carefully set going by Lower boys in one of the two huge
grates in Long Chamber, under the eyes of the captain of the room, who
enjoyed the privilege of granting an extension of revelling time (known
as a half-holiday) beyond the hour of ten, when boys were expected to
be in bed. Five bedsteads were run out in two parallel rows around
the Upper Fire-place, one facing the cheerful glow, and an impromptu
supper took place, the boys consuming such provisions as they had been
able to smuggle in. A certain amount of these were obtained from the
Christopher “on tick,” whilst a common dish was a grill made of scrag
ends of mutton and bones purloined from Hall. Songs followed this
supper, the proceedings, which terminated at eleven, being enlivened by
College songs roared in chorus. These were chiefly of a Bacchanalian
or nautical order; some also dealt with poaching. A favourite song was
“The fine old Eton Colleger--one of the Olden Time.” The last verse of
this ran:--

  Now times are changed, and we are changed, and Keate has passed away,
  Still College hearts and College hands maintain old Eton’s sway;
  And though our chamber is not filled as it was filled of yore,
  We still will beat the Oppidans at bat and foot and oar,
            Like the fine old Eton Collegers,
            Those of the olden time.

[SN: JOHNNY BEAR]

Not infrequently very palatable viands were obtained by the Upper boys
and real banquets held, the pleasures of which were enhanced by the
potations which “Johnny Bear” brought from the Christopher and pushed
through the bars of Lower Chamber, the usual receiving-room of all
smuggled goods, on the ground floor and adjoining the school-yard. The
Lower boy whose turn it was to watch for Johnny’s arrival had pretty
good cause to remember such visits on cold nights.

The Headmaster’s servant, it should be added, was entrusted with the
duty of seeing that no Colleger got out at night. Strict fidelity
to this duty made him highly unpopular, for he would never consent
to be bribed. Principal and only locker-up and gaoler to the boys,
birch collector, and rod distributor, he was generally known by the
mythological appellation of Cerberus.

Life in Long Chamber, like most unpleasant ordeals, had its
alleviations. Once a year, for instance, there was an impromptu
masquerade, concluded by a march round, for which Jobey Joel, an Eton
character who survived till a few years ago, supplied the music, and,
extraordinary as it may seem, theatricals flourished unchecked. Such
performances dated back to the early eighteenth century, since which
time they had been given with the full knowledge of the authorities.
In 1762, it is true, Dr. Barnard, who was then Headmaster, had tried
to stop them, bursting in upon a representation of _Cato_, and, much
to his disgust, finding that a long wig which he tore from one of the
actor’s heads belonged to the Vice-Provost; but no drastic measures
were taken, and theatricals continued to take place as before. Out
of Long Chamber, however, the drama was tabooed. Both Drs. Keate and
Hawtrey connived at the performances in Long Chamber, the latter
especially ignoring all theatrical preparations even when they were
right under his nose. Favourite pieces were _A Midsummer Night’s
Dream_, _High Life below Stairs_, and _Orlando Furioso_. For the
purposes of this last play, Anson--a powerful Colleger--once actually
smuggled a donkey into College, where it was stabled and fed till
brought out to carry Bombastes. The last play ever given in Long
Chamber was _A Night in China_, written by a Colleger named King, and
played in 1845. After this, however, some Collegers, amongst whom was
Frank Tarver, afterwards well known to several generations of Etonians
as French Master, indulged in theatricals at the back of Turnock’s
tailor’s shop in the town.

[SN: MR. BOURCHIER’S ETON DAYS]

Eton has furnished some capital recruits to the London stage--Charles
Kean, the brothers Hawtrey, Mr. Willie Elliot, and others, including
that excellent actor, Mr. Arthur Bourchier, who even as an Eton boy
was celebrated for his dramatic zeal. About 1882, with Bogle Smith,
Collet, Gilmor, and a few more, he organised the “Eton Strollers,” the
prologue for whose first play was written by the Hon. Arthur Bligh, a
boy of considerable literary and poetic taste, who, in collaboration
with Bourchier, wrote a drama which was sent to Irving for production.
“Do these boys play cricket?” inquired the great actor when he received
the manuscript; as a matter of fact both were very fair cricketers,
Bourchier being a good wicket-keep.

Mr. Bourchier’s first theatrical _entrepreneur_ was Lord Kenyon, in
whose room at Cameron’s he made his _début_ in _Uncle’s Will_, in which
he acted with Johnson and Berkeley-Levett. When Mr. Cameron, who was
not sympathetic to theatricals, left Eton, Bourchier went to the Rev.
T. Dalton’s, where his aspirations received far greater encouragement;
indeed his Housemaster became imbued with such enthusiasm for
theatricals that a colleague once chaffingly inquired of him, “Is it
true that young Bourchier is going to bring you out on the Music Hall
stage?” Regular performances were now given in Pupil Room, for which a
small charge--generally a penny a seat--was made, the proceeds going to
the Eton Mission, for the benefit of which the whole company, including
Mr. Dalton (who gave a humorous recitation), gave an entertainment at
Hackney Wick.

The exigences of the drama, however, occasionally clashed with
discipline. When, for instance, in _Still Waters Run Deep_, after the
lines, “Do you smoke?” “Yes, I’ll have a cigar,” two of the actors lit
up, Mr. Dalton from his place amongst the audience shouted out, “No,
you don’t,” and was only appeased by an examination of the cigars,
which proved to be dummies. On another occasion when a careless or
mischievous Lower boy had manufactured snow for the duel scene in the
_Corsican Brothers_ by tearing up a pile of “extra-works” which had
been lying on Mr. Dalton’s desk for correction, the latter became so
scandalised at seeing the duellists enveloped in a “cloud of equations”
that, after ejaculating, “One minute! This performance now ceases,” he
set actors and audience to the uncongenial task of putting the pieces
together. The most ambitious effort of the company was an elaborate
performance of _The Merchant of Venice_, in which Reggie Lucas (see
Chapter X.) took part.

Bourchier was celebrated for his imitations of Masters, about the
most amusing of which was an impersonation of a certain squeaky-voiced
tutor after he had been cut over by an imaginary cricket ball. As luck
would have it, the latter, whilst playing in an eleven of Masters
against boys, one of whom was Bourchier, did happen to sustain a
painful injury, with the result that he proceeded to give an almost
exact reproduction of himself as portrayed by his imitator, who could
not help being convulsed with laughter as he led the sufferer off the
ground. Later on, the victim, who, of course, had no idea of the real
cause of this merriment, said to a colleague, “What hurt me more than
the pain was the brutality of the boy Bourchier.”

[SN: “UNDER THE CLOCK”]

In course of time Bourchier formed his imitations into a sketch,
entitled _Under the Clock_, which depicted a number of Eton Masters
at Lord’s, and before he left the late Mr. R. A. H. Mitchell arranged
that this should be heard by the individuals concerned, whom he posted
behind trees in Poet’s Walk whilst the author gave his performance
close by. They were all very much amused, and when it was over came
forward to congratulate the youthful aspirant to dramatic fame, whom
they shook warmly by the hand and wished him all success in his future
career.

To return to the story of College--the pleasures as well as the trials
of Long Chamber came to an end in 1845, for in September of that year
the new buildings were opened and the old days of College became mere
memories of an obsolete age. The discomforts and hardships of Long
Chamber were then forgotten by most of the boys who had slept there. In
spite of the far better conditions they chafed at the lack of freedom
and the end of “Fire-place” with its suppers and choruses. The Chamber
itself, though not pulled down, was entirely remodelled, cubicles for
a limited number of boys being constructed and the whole place made
habitable and clean.

Election Saturday, the glories of which have now departed for ever, was
a great day not only for those in College, whom it more immediately
concerned, but for the whole school. At two o’clock the Provost of
King’s College, Cambridge, attended by two examiners called “Posers,”
drove into Weston’s Yard. The arrival of his yellow coach, drawn by
four smoking horses, always produced great excitement. Meeting the
Provost of Eton, a kiss of peace was exchanged (abandoned in Dr.
Hawtrey’s days for a handshake). A speech was then made in Latin by
the captain of the school under the archway of Lupton’s Tower, its
main purport being the offering of congratulations to the Provost
on his arrival at the College. The rest of the programme was much
the same as that still gone through on the 4th of June--speeches in
the Upper School at eleven, banquet of dons in the College Hall at
two, processions of the boats in the evening to Surly Hall, with
fireworks off the Eyot on the return, and finally, sock suppers in
all the houses. The fun on Election Saturday, however, was always
more fast and furious than on the 4th of June, because the school was
to break up on the following Monday, and the boys who were going to
leave looked upon themselves as already emancipated. For this reason
turbulent spirits did not scruple to commit all sorts of extravagances,
being pretty sure that just preceding the holidays they would escape
unpunished.

[SN: THE POSERS]

On the Tuesday and Wednesday following, candidates for College were
examined, as well as scholars seeking election to King’s. The “Posers,”
or examining chaplains, were terrific gentlemen in the eyes of the
boys; whilst examination took place, Election-chamber was to most an
awful room, then rendered somewhat weird and uncanny by the light
filtering through an immense red curtain, let down at the large oriel
window, which imparted a sort of devilish appearance to the “Posers.”

A very quaint old usage existed in connection with these “Posers,”
each of them being attended by a Colleger, who waited upon him in Hall
and elsewhere if required, for which the boy--quaintly called the
“Poser’s child”--received a fee of a guinea, selection for the office
by the Headmaster being regarded as being a sort of minor honour.
The existence of this curious custom, which of course died a natural
death with the “Posers” themselves, has generally, I think, escaped
mention in books dealing with Eton. It was brought to my notice by my
old tutor, Mr. H. W. Mozley (Newcastle Scholar, 1860), who in this and
other ways has given me valuable information which I here acknowledge;
he himself had been “Poser’s child” in 1859.

The days following Election Saturday were always particularly
depressing and gloomy, and the poor King’s scholars had a melancholy
time. The gentlemen, as the tradespeople had the impertinence to call
the Oppidans, went home on the Monday, whilst Collegers had to wait
until the Thursday. All the shops were shut up, and scarcely any one
about.

Collegers, like Oppidans, then remained at Eton longer than at
present--as late as 1874 there was a King’s Scholar, Tuck by name,
who was said to have been nine years at the school. In the days when
such a close connection existed between Eton and King’s, a Colleger
leaving to go to Cambridge used to go through the old form known as
“Ripping.” This was performed at the Provost’s Lodge. The two folds of
the Colleger’s serge gown were sewn together in front, and the Provost
“ripped” them asunder, pronouncing some Latin formula, after which he
congratulated the embryo scholar of King’s, and gave him good advice
as to his future career. The gown, it must be remembered, was then an
essential part of the Colleger’s equipment out of as well as in school.
Although the rule was not strictly adhered to, they were even supposed
to wear their gowns whilst playing games.

[SN: ETON’S DIVORCE FROM KINGS]

All the picturesque features of Election disappeared in the sixties,
when new statutes were substituted for those of the Founder, and
the relations between King’s College, Cambridge, and Eton entirely
changed. In 1861 William Austen Leigh and Felix Cobbold were elected to
King’s. With them ended the ancient succession of Eton scholars after
it had continued, with few if any interruptions, under the statutes of
Henry VI., for the period of four hundred and nineteen years, William
Hatecliffe (1443), afterwards Secretary to King Edward IV., and Felix
Thornley Cobbold (1862) being the first and last scholars. The right
of the latter to a scholarship at King’s was, it should be added,
disputed, as was that of William Austen Leigh, the Provost and Fellows
of the Cambridge College urging that the new statutes were already
in operation. This question, which never ought to have been raised,
inasmuch as the names of these boys were on the indenture before the
existence of the new statutes, was submitted to legal opinion and then
to the “Visitor.” It was eventually justly decided that the two Eton
scholars were entitled to scholarships at King’s College, with all
their rights, emoluments, and consequences, and with this terminated
the ancient and sisterly connection between the two Foundations.

The new statutes provided that four scholarships at King’s should be
annually offered for competition to the scholars of Eton, tenable for
six years, value £80 per annum, with tuition, rooms, and commons free.
The injury done to the interests of Eton by the new arrangements was
very great, for four scholarships per annum did not amount to the
average of the old succession, which ranged from four and a half to
five, while the difference between a scholarship of six years’ tenure
and one which led to a Fellowship that might be held for life was so
great as to be difficult to calculate. The remarkable features in these
iniquitous changes were the earnestness with which they were pressed
by King’s, which seemingly was anxious to rid itself of its connection
with Eton--that is, as far as it could--and the weakness of Eton and
its dereliction of duty to itself and its scholars in acquiescing in
them without any attempt to obtain any mitigation or revision which
might certainly have been effected. Henry Norris Churton, the first
Colleger to be affected by the new state of affairs, declined to accept
the scholarship at King’s to which he was elected in July, but Richard
Durnford, elected in the same month, did accept, and thus became the
first Eton scholar who went to King’s under the new statutes.

A few years later--in 1871--the repeal of the entire code of statutes
which had regulated Eton since the 21st December, 1443, did a good
deal more towards nullifying the wishes of Henry VI. The old statutes
laid down that there should be seventy _poor_ scholars--an important
clause which the new ones abolished. At present, directly contrary
to the Founder’s intention, there is nothing to prevent the son of a
multi-millionaire from competing for an Eton scholarship.

[Illustration: Sixth-Form Bench. _Lithograph lent by the Earl of
Rosebery, K.G._]

FOOTNOTE:

[9] This appeared in the _Illustrated London News_ during the forties
of the last century.



VIII SCHOOL WORK


Whilst Eton has occasionally produced some very fine scholars--the
Marquis Wellesley was a case in point--it cannot be said that the
traditions of the school are very favourable to learning, which to a
large proportion of Etonians has seemed of less importance than the
acquisition of worldly wisdom. More than a hundred years ago De Quincey
noted the peculiar tone which prevailed amongst Eton boys, who showed
a premature knowledge of the world far exceeding that possessed by the
scholars at any other school. The graceful self-possession of the boys
attracted his attention, but he thought them lacking in self-restraint.
Such an accusation, however, could not justly be made in more modern
days, when a sort of genial unconcern has come to be regarded as one of
the principal characteristics of the typical Etonian, who, preferring
anecdote to argument, is profoundly convinced that amongst human
institutions his school stands easily first.

With respect to most modern criticisms which have been levelled against
the system of education, it must be remembered that in their efforts
to teach, the masters are handicapped by one or two fundamental
difficulties not easy to surmount.

Eton, in a much larger proportion than any other school, has contained,
and does contain, the children of rich parents, boys of good birth
and large expectations, most of whom realise very early in life that
there is no absolute necessity for them to work; consequently something
like a leaven of indolence permeates the school, the tone of which
it is, perhaps unjustly, said has of late years been impaired by an
increasing number of sons of millionaire parvenus, who are allowed
extravagant sums by parents anxious to forward the social success
of their offspring by any kind of means. Such parents for the most
part have no real wish that their boys should be educated at all,
and send them to Eton simply to form friendships and to be turned
into gentlemen; or perhaps merely because Eton enjoys the reputation
of being a fashionable school. Be this as it may, the number of
rich boys sprung from the commercial, or rather financial, classes
has undoubtedly increased, whilst foreigners now flock to Eton in
ever-swelling numbers. As a result tales, probably untrue, have been
circulated of wealthy boys achieving a spurious popularity owing to
their pockets being constantly replenished from home, whilst, according
to one incredible rumour, the sons of certain rich speculators, imbued
with an hereditary faculty for money-making, have, on occasions, not
hesitated to loan portions of their abundant funds at an extravagant
rate of interest. The writer, be it understood, does not for a moment
say that such a state of affairs really exists, but the fact remains
that such things have been whispered, of course with no increase to
the prestige of the school. It is not healthy for boys to be allowed
unlimited pocket-money, and men of moderate means--belonging to what
may be called “old Eton families”--do not care to expose their sons
to the contamination of mingling with schoolmates of alien blood
whose sole claim to consideration lies in their parent’s enormous
wealth. In addition to this, quite a number of foreign boys are sent
to be educated at Eton, which has occasionally not proved altogether
advantageous to the best interests of the school.

[SN: MODERN ETON]

Modern Eton as it is to-day may be said to have originated from the
recommendations of the Public School Commission, which began its work
in 1861, at which time a wind of change was blowing about old places
in England, with the result that many a weather-worn relic went down
before it. As a result of the labours of this body, the charm of the
school’s celestial quiet was broken, some of the evidence taken having
revealed an unsatisfactory state of affairs which seemed to call for
drastic change. It was, for instance, conclusively shown that the
masters had more on their hands than they could do, and some did not
make any scruple about complaining. “We are enormously overworked,”
said one. “There is no time,” said another, “for society, for meeting
each other, for relaxation, and no time, I may say, for private
reading, and I consider that prejudicial to the school.” In fact, as
Mr. Commissioner Vaughan put it, it seemed a characteristic of the
Eton system that “the masters did too much for the boys, and the boys
did too little for themselves.” The real state of affairs at Eton at
that time was that an immense deal of work was got out of the masters,
and little out of the boys. Since those days the number of masters has
swelled to the very adequate number of sixty-five or more, exclusive
of the Head and Lower Master, but the tutorial system, which has
at various times aroused a good deal of adverse criticism, remains
unchanged, and in all probability will continue to flourish as long as
Eton lasts.

[SN: DEAD AND LIVING TONGUES]

Half a century ago it was urged that the main mistake in the Eton
system lay in the retention of the dead languages as the staple of
school work, whilst the panacea put forward for the admitted ignorance
of Young England was the adoption by the majority of boys of what is
known as a “special education.” With some justice it was urged that as
a boy when he goes out into the great world is unlikely to read much
Greek, and even less likely to write much Latin verse, his school days
had much better be occupied in learning something which is practical
and useful. Whilst the classics are still the main feature of the
school curriculum, a boy may now, on having reached a certain standard
(usually attained about the age of 16-1/2), learn modern languages,
science, history, mathematics, or continue to study Greek and Latin,
according as he, or rather his parents, may decide. In addition to
this, the Army class provides an alternative course of study for those
about to enter upon a military career.

An entirely new feature is that a number of boys going to Eton now
enter for the foundation examination, though without any idea of
becoming King’s scholars should they pass. In July 1910 three of the
nineteen scholars who passed into Eton entered as “Oppidan scholars.”

With regard to the modern languages mentioned above, it is to be
hoped that the old Eton method of teaching has been discarded. In the
past the time set apart for French was too often merely a farcical
interlude, during which boys devoted all their energies to teasing the
master! The old classical system would be preferable if anything of the
sort survives, for, after all, even a slight knowledge of the classics
is better than an imperfectly assimilated smattering of a modern
tongue. In old days very thorough methods were adopted in connection
with Latin and Greek. One luckless lad in Keate’s division construed
_Exegi_, I have eaten; _monumentum_, a monument; _perennius_, harder;
_aere_, than brass. “Oh, you have, have you?” said the Doctor; “then
you’ll stay afterwards, and I’ll give you something to help digest
it,” and he did. On the whole, educational authorities are still
loth to exclude Latin and Greek. The Commission of fifty years ago,
after hearing much evidence, were of this opinion. The Commissioners
reported:--

  We believe that for the instruction of boys, especially when
  collected in a large school, it is material that there should be
  some one principal branch of study, invested with a recognised and,
  if possible, a traditional importance, to which the principal weight
  should be assigned and the largest share of time and attention given.
  We believe that this is necessary in order to concentrate attention,
  to stimulate industry, to supply to the whole school a common ground
  of literary interest, and a common path of promotion.... We are of
  opinion that the classical languages and literature should continue
  to hold, as they do now, the principal place in public school
  education.

There is certainly much to be said for Latin as an aid to the
acquirement of “exact expression,” but Greek is another matter
altogether. According to the writer’s own experience, the majority of
boys never obtained any real grip upon that defunct tongue, besides
which, for all but an infinitesimal number, in after life Greek, as Mr.
Andrew Carnegie has somewhat bluntly put it, “is of no more use than
Choctaw.”

The old Eton system was largely composed of paradoxical omissions,
and by an extraordinary fiction boys were supposed to be thoroughly
acquainted with subjects such as modern geography and arithmetic, of
which, in reality, they knew nothing at all.

[SN: MATHEMATICS]

Within comparatively recent years mathematics had no regular place in
the curriculum of the school. It is true that there was an “extra”
master or two who was allowed to take those who liked to be taught and
charged, but he had no means of enforcing discipline, and, however
irritated he might be, had no right to complain to the Headmaster. In
Mr. Gladstone’s Eton days Major Hexter, who kept a boarding-house,
and was styled the writing-master, taught mathematics. Only the Lower
boys, however, went to him, and when they were certified as proficient
in long division the Major troubled them no more. When in 1836 the
Rev. Stephen Hawtrey came to the school as mathematical master he was
only allowed to give his lessons as “extras,” and to the first thirty
boys in the school, because Major Hexter was supposed to have a vested
interest in the ignorance of the remainder. The whole thing ended in
Mr. Hawtrey paying the Major a pension of £200 a year, so that the
latter’s opposition to the teaching of Euclid and algebra might be
withdrawn.

Even after he had obtained a more or less regular position, Mr. Stephen
Hawtrey’s lot was none too happy, and this most kindly man passed many
irritating half-hours in the round theatrical-looking building which
some called the “Station House.” Those boys whose parents desired it
were entered on the books of this establishment, but the time spent
there was one rather of recreation than of study. Mischievous boys were
constantly turning off the gas or letting off squibs and crackers,
especially in November, which was a particularly merry season.
Besides this, the unfortunate master did not receive much sympathy or
commiseration from his classical superiors, being in a measure regarded
as an interloper and an enemy to versification.

The last writing-master as provided for by the ancient statutes was a
Mr. Harris, who always resented not being allowed to wear a cap and
gown like the other masters. Highly tenacious of such privileges as
he could contrive to obtain, he was always well pleased when small
boys touched their hats to him in the street, punctiliously returning
such salutations with a grand sweep of the arm. A hater of steel pens,
one of his principal occupations was mending quills and trying their
nibs on his thumb-nail. He had always a quill behind one of his ears,
occasionally behind both; and, being a little absent-minded, would
sometimes, to the general delight, sally forth from school with his
hat on and a pair of fresh-mended quills sticking out underneath. Mr.
Harris taught only Lower boys, but big ones, whose bad hand-writing had
attracted attention, were sometimes sent to him to learn how to write
properly; this, needless to say, was looked upon as a great humiliation.

The old Eton system could not, of course, fit a boy for a commercial
or business career--as a matter of fact it was never intended to do
so. The modern system, on the other hand, makes something more than a
pretence of equipping Etonians for any profession they may select,
though, considering the traditions of the school, this is no easy task.
The old idea was that, exclusive of the Collegers, a number of whom
were always fine scholars, it did not much matter if the boys were
taught Sanscrit or Chinese, the main purpose of an Eton education being
not so much to inculcate what was vulgarly called “book-learning,” as
to fit Etonians to take their place in the great world outside.

[SN: “TARDY-BOOK”]

Of late years, however, the authorities have made real progress in
their efforts to convert “an Eton education” into more of a reality.
The facilities for study at Eton have always been good, and within
recent years much has been done to improve them, with, it would seem,
satisfactory results. White tickets have been invented as a final
supreme punishment when yellow tickets have failed to make a culprit
realise his own shortcomings, whilst the quaintly named “Tardy-book,”
an institution of entirely modern origin, has been devised to strike
terror into those who make a practice of being late for school.

The old haphazard methods which formerly prevailed have been discarded
in favour of more business-like ways, the school office, which
undertakes the distribution of much connected with the work of the
school, being a thoroughly workmanlike and efficient institution. In
its early days, however, a few things somehow got mislaid, which,
of course, furnished unscrupulous boys who had failed to do any
punishment with the plausible excuse that their lines had got lost
there.

Much less idleness seems now to prevail, the boys being certainly
forced to work more than was the case in the writer’s day, when so many
of them, it must be admitted, learnt very little indeed, contriving to
go through the school with a really surprising lack of mental effort.
To such as these the only real time of danger was Trials, when they
were absolutely obliged to make some attempt at working. Most idlers,
however, took such an ordeal very lightly, occasionally supplementing
their defective memories by various ingenious contrivances. An expert
once, it is said, equipped himself as follows: Right waistcoat pocket,
Greek verbs; left waistcoat pocket, Latin verbs; breast pocket, crib to
Horace; right tail pocket, crib to Virgil; left tail pocket, crib to
Homer; finger-nails, important dates. His ingenuity, however, was all
wasted, for he was plucked. The amount of application and intelligence
needful to take a good place in such examinations was formerly quite
moderate.

Cunning boys had all sorts of ways of avoiding work. Some could
calculate to a nicety when they were likely to be put on to construe,
and learnt only a particular bit. One master for a long time made it a
practice to call upon each boy in turn right through his division, with
the result that they confined themselves to learning only about a dozen
lines or so apiece. At last, however, the trick was discovered, and one
fatal morning the master caused consternation by putting on the first
boy at the end instead of the beginning. A general collapse ensued, boy
after boy standing dumbfoundered and speechless, instead of rattling
off his portion with glib proficiency.

[SN: SUNDAY QUESTIONS]

Thirty or forty years ago, it may safely be affirmed, any boy of
ordinary intelligence who had received a good grounding at a private
school could manage to make his way up to the higher forms without
once “muffing Trials,” and yet not increase his stock of learning in
the very slightest degree. He lived, as it were, upon a capital of
knowledge imbibed in the very different atmosphere of some hard-working
preparatory school. The enthusiasm for learning which inspired many
a boy fresh from such modest seminaries was too often quickly cooled
by the banks of the Thames. It was, indeed, admitted by not a few
that the longer a boy remained at Eton the more lazy he became. One
cheeky lad, indeed, being lectured for idleness by his tutor, who at
the same time eulogised the industry of a comparatively new comer, was
met by the answer, “Well, sir, I have been here three years and he
only one.” The tone, at least amongst the majority of the Oppidans,
was not encouraging to enthusiasm of any kind, besides which the frank
absurdity of certain portions of the Eton curriculum was calculated
merely to depress a boy gifted with even average intelligence. Sunday
questions, for instance, instituted by Dr. Goodford about 1854, usually
resembled nothing so much as a page of acrostics, the correct solution
of which, whilst involving a vast amount of trouble, conduced to
anything but a love of the Bible. As an aid to holy living, for which
purpose, I believe, they were supposed to be devised, no more pitiful
failure ever existed, the sole effects produced being unmitigated
boredom and much bad language. In modern days they may have been
improved, but in their original form these questions, a number of which
dealt with the genealogies of Hebrew kings, were a most unstimulating
exercise for the youthful brain.

In many other respects the school-work was idiotically useless and bad,
a great part of it having seemingly been devised to entail a maximum
of drudgery with a minimum of useful information. Above all, it lacked
elasticity, little or no effort being made to encourage a boy in any
particular subject for which he exhibited aptitude.

Some features of the curriculum might have been modelled upon the
ancient Chinese system. What could have been more ridiculous than to
make boys who could scarcely construe a simple sentence attempt to
turn out Latin verse? It would have been far better to teach greater
Eton--that is, the mass of more or less ignorant dunces--how to write
a good letter in their own language, or driven into their brains
some knowledge of modern geography, yet nothing of the sort was ever
attempted.

The writing of Latin verse was one of the most time-honoured Eton
traditions which had to be undertaken by every boy who emerged from
the Lower Forms of the school, and every week a copy of verses was set
by the masters who took the divisions of the Fifth Form. These verses
had to be done by the boys as best they could, being submitted for
correction to the tutors, who got the verses into shape, eliminating
“false quantities” and all other mistakes, in the course of which
operation they themselves often composed a good deal of Latin poetry.
The revised copy was then returned to the boy, who wrote a “fair copy”
out of school, and afterwards showed up both copies to the Division
Master. The strain on the tutors was at times great, and unscrupulous
boys, with the additional help of a clever friend, would sometimes
go through the whole of their Eton career without in the least
understanding anything at all about verse-writing.

[SN: “TUGS” AND “SAPS”]

Such a state of affairs exerted a demoralising effect upon the minds
of earnest, well-meaning boys, who gradually came to see that certain
features of their education were entirely futile. Besides this, owing
to the general tone of the school, a large part of which regarded
school-work as being merely a sort of useless way of wasting time,
their estimation of the value of effort of all kind lessened, whilst
the conviction was forced upon them that no particular _kudos_ was to
be gained by conscientious study, which they came to look upon as the
peculiar appanage of “Tugs” and “Saps.”

No feat of learning on the part of a King’s scholar ever aroused the
slightest surprise, it being generally assumed that “Tugs,” unlike
the rest of the school, having been born “Saps,” or always made to
work, could master every kind of learning with the greatest ease. The
Newcastle Scholar, always a boy of high intellectual attainments,
excited no interest amongst the mass of the school--the majority
indeed scarcely knew who had won it, and, if asked, would generally
reply, “Oh, some Colleger or other.” No aspirations to gain Balliol
scholarships or places in the class-lists disturbed the serenity of
the Oppidan’s mind. Such petty ambitions might excite the miserable
rivalry of boys at other schools, vain mortals toiling in the lower
world of scholarship, “vying with and outrunning and outwitting one
another.” In such contests Eton could afford to look calmly on, secure
in that “repose of character” which has for so many generations marked
her students. There existed, indeed, a sort of tacit understanding that
it was the business of the Collegers to do the intellectual work and
to win the school and University honours, whilst the Oppidans were to
prove victorious at Henley and, if possible, beat Harrow and Winchester
at cricket. A great portion of the school, assuming a natural licence
to be idle, had a deeply implanted conviction that reading was not in
their line, and at heart believed it was rather a slow thing to do.

The general result of this unsatisfactory standard of course yielded
bad results. Calmly secure in the conviction that to be in the eight
or eleven was to have reached the highest pinnacle of boyish ambition,
those who excelled in athletics became naturally prone to undervalue
intellectual effort and attainments.

[SN: GAMES, NOT WORK]

To excel at games, not at work, was the ideal set before their
youthful eyes; no wonder that for one who persevered in conscientious
preparation of his school-work ten succumbed and became content to sink
lower and lower in Trials, till at last they just scraped through a few
places from the bottom. Admiration for athletics indeed was carried to
an almost absurd extreme. Whilst there can be no doubt that exercise
and an indulgence in manly games and healthful forms of relaxation
are excellent for schoolboys, they should be regarded from a sane
and proper point of view, and not held up as the sole end and aim of
human existence. Curiously enough, scarcely any great men have been
keen athletes during their youthful days, whilst a large proportion
of those who have excelled in the cricket field or on the river have
been utterly unheard of in after life, where capacity to propel a boat
through the water at high speed or drive a cricket ball to the boundary
counts scarcely at all. An entire absorption in games to the exclusion
of practically all other interests cannot be called a healthy feature
of education. Loafing, every one agrees, is a slovenly and demoralising
habit, but fanatical interest in cricket, football, or the river is bad
in another way, for though it may produce muscle, it may also, when
carried to an extreme, produce atrophy of the brain.

In the rough old days, though sporting pursuits, like fighting, were in
high repute, games do not appear to have been taken very seriously at
Eton, where there was nothing approaching the modern spirit which makes
heroes of the eight and the eleven. In the eighteenth century, though
games were played, not a few of the more clever boys would appear to
have viewed them with something of good-humoured contempt.

  “I can’t say I’m sorry that I was never quite a schoolboy,” wrote
  Horace Walpole; “an expedition against Bargemen, or a match at
  cricket may be very pretty things to recollect; but, thank my stars,
  I can remember things that are very near as pretty.”

[SN: HOOPS]

His friend Gray, though in his famous ode he touched upon the school
games, expressed no particular enthusiasm for athletics:--

  What idle progeny succeed
  To chase the rolling circle’s speed.
    Or urge the flying ball?

Gray, it should be added, originally wrote

  To chase the hoop’s elusive speed,

for, extraordinary as it may appear to the modern Etonian, the hoop was
formerly in high favour with Eton boys. Trundling a hoop has long been
recognised as one of the best forms of exercise; indeed, the writer has
been told that the present Headmaster of Eton, in his day an athlete of
high distinction, being once abroad where no games could be played,
in order to keep himself fit purchased a hoop and took to trundling it
with great zest.

As late as the early part of the nineteenth century, during the October
half, the majority of Lower School used to indulge in the somewhat
infantile delights of trundling a hoop with a stout stick. The Eton
hoop was made differently from the ones still used by children, being
formed out of a strong ash lathe with a remnant of bark upon its
surface. The inevitable collisions of hoops and their trundlers not
infrequently led to hostilities, and on several occasions regular
pitched battles occurred between Collegers and Oppidans. A famous
encounter once took place at the end of the wall near the Chapel door,
about twenty boys being on each side, one Saturday after four, big
boys in front, little ones behind. Thanks to their gowns, which they
adroitly twisted round one arm, the Collegers had the best of the
encounter, though the Oppidans were able to draw off without having
been definitely beaten. The contest excited great interest, a crowd of
people watching the battle, and though the masters were fully aware of
what was going on, no attempt was made to interfere. For some reason
or other, however, there was no more hoop-trundling till the following
year.

[Illustration:

  _“Say Father Thames, for thou hast seen
   Full many a sprightly race.
   Disporting on thy margent green.
   The paths of pleasure trace.”
     GRAY’S ODE._

_From a scarce print in the possession of the Earl of Rosebery, K.G._]

In long-past days another form of amusement, generally associated
with childhood--marbles--enjoyed an occasional popularity amongst
Lower boys, many of whom prided themselves on the variegated colours
contained in their collections, whilst for a time “Bandalore”--which,
as “Diabolo,” quite recently enjoyed a great vogue all over
England--quite captivated the school.

Peg-tops were once in great favour, Weight, who kept a grocer’s shop
and was known as “Old Tallow Weight,” doing a brisk business in such
tops and the whip-cord necessary to spin them. The Rev. E. D. Stone
(see page 61) says that in his day, under Hawtrey, backgammon and
knuckle bones were popular in College.

About 1770 the games[10] popular at Eton were “Cricket, Fives, Shirking
Walls, Scrambling Walls, Bally-cally, Battledores, Pegtop, Peg in the
ring, Goals, Hopscotch, Heading, Conquering Lobs, Hoops, Marbles,
Trap-ball, Steal-baggage, Puss in the corner, Cat-gallows, Kites,
Cloyster and Flyer gigs, Tops, Humming-Tops, Hunt the Hare, Hunt the
dark lanthorn, Chuck, Sinks, Store-Caps, Hustle-cap.” Of football, it
will be observed, there is no mention; nevertheless it was played,
though not in very good repute. Fives, of course, was then played
between the buttresses of the Chapel, the favourite time being before
eleven-o’clock school, when a ring of spectators would assemble to
watch good players. As every one knows, the pepper-box of the modern
fives court takes its origin from the stone termination of the steps
leading up to the Chapel door, which was copied in the first regular
fives court built at Eton in 1847.

It would seem that the old Eton authorities, whilst not disapproving
of games, did not attach any very considerable importance to them. In
theory, indeed, boating on the Thames was forbidden, but in practice
even Keate tolerated the joys of the river, though he made violent
efforts to prevent any rowing before Easter, in order to prevent the
boys from catching chills.

[SN: HOCKEY]

In the ’forties of the last century foot races and the three-mile
steeplechase, with its almost impossible jumps and immersions, were a
source of considerable interest just before Easter. The winter games
were then football and hockey, the latter of which, however, only held
its ground for a time, during which it was patronised by many of the
swells. There was then a tradition, which still seems to exist, that
it had been from time to time forbidden as dangerous; nevertheless it
was played for years without either injury or any reprimand. The sticks
were not rough, but smoothed and artificially bent, with blades about
a foot long. There were two clubs, called upper and lower hockey; but
football gradually superseded it, and the game entirely disappeared
about the year 1853. With regard to the prohibition, a writer mentions
(in 1832) hockey and football as the chief winter games at Eton, and
says that more came away “hobbling” from the latter than from the
former, but speaks further on of a boy having in his room “an illegal
hockey-stick.” He observes that this fine old game had died out in
England, except at Eton and Sandhurst, and adds quaintly: “It is one of
the most elegant and gentlemanly exercises, being susceptible of very
graceful attitudes, and requiring great speed of foot.”

As time went on, athletics began to exercise more and more influence,
till in the ’sixties they attained to much the same preponderant
position as they hold at Eton to-day. A few, however, viewed the
growing worship of skilfully trained brute force with unconcealed
dislike. In the early ’seventies of the last century a little magazine,
called the _Adventurer_, contained an article signed E. G. R. called
“Eton as it is,” which scathingly attacked the growing deification of
muscle rather than brain:--

  “While in the world around us, for which we are here preparing
  ourselves, a vast worship of intellect universally prevails, at Eton
  it is the worship of the body which enslaves the whole community.
  What, in our estimation, is mind, intellect, hard and successful
  cultivation of the faculties? Nothing. What is cricket, rowing,
  athletics, football? Everything. And our School is meanwhile being
  degraded almost to the level of an Athletic Club.... Idleness holds
  sway everywhere, and _such_ idleness! As a man who has never had
  dealings with the Chinese can have but a faint idea of what swindling
  is, so a man who has never been at Eton has but a poor conception of
  what idleness is.”

[SN: “POP”]

This protest was not, however, well received by the school, the
_Adventurer_ being expelled from the rooms of “Pop,” which, curiously
enough, on its foundation in 1811 by Charles Fox Townshend as a
political and literary society, had only elected the captain of the
boats in order to show that the members _had no prejudice_ against
athletics.

Its tone was distinctly Conservative. Fourteen years later, in Mr.
Gladstone’s day, only one member, a Colleger, was suspected of having
Liberal tendencies. Originally “Pop” was located in the upper room of
Mother Hatton’s “sock shop.” In 1846, when the house, together with
another, was formed into Drury’s, “Pop” migrated to the yard of the old
Christopher. The site of Drury’s is now covered by part of that huge
and incongruous building--the “Memorial Hall.”

The early members of “Pop,” it is curious to find, were originally
known as the Literati, their first debate, held on February 9, 1811,
dealing with the question of whether the passage of the Andes by
Pizarro or the passage of the Alps by Hannibal was the greater exploit.
No political event within fifty years was permitted as a subject for
debate. Mr. Gladstone, who was elected a member in 1825, made his
maiden speech before this Society, the subject being “Is the Education
of the Poor on the whole Beneficial?”

The future Prime Minister took great pains to improve himself as an
orator, going, it is said, to rehearse his “Pop” speeches in Trotman’s
gardens, on the site of which the old fives courts were afterwards
built. To the end of his days he continued to take great interest in
the “Eton Society.” His correspondence as to its records, in which
every speaker has written his speech, has been amusingly described by
Lord Rosebery, who on succeeding the great statesman in office one
day received a letter in which the Grand Old Man expressed himself
much distressed because during a recent visit to the rooms of “Pop” he
had seen a picture of a recent Derby winner over the chimney-piece. A
generation, wrote Mr. Gladstone, which had such depraved tastes could
not, in his opinion, be fitted to have the custody of the invaluable
records of the Eton Society, and he therefore begged Lord Rosebery to
address the authorities at Eton on the subject. The state of affairs
of which Mr. Gladstone complained, did not cause the recipient of his
appeal so much disquiet, for the Derby winner which hung over the “Pop”
mantelpiece was Lord Rosebery’s own horse, Ladas, which won the great
classic race in 1894.

Lord Rosebery, who, even in his Eton days, was a most effective
debater, is another member of “Pop” who has risen to high distinction.
Retaining a singularly keen interest in everything connected with his
old school, he it was who made the most eloquent and witty speech at
the dinner in the Memorial Hall, where, on July 14, 1911, 400 Etonians,
the vast majority old members of “Pop,” met to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the Society’s foundation. In the aforesaid speech he
very happily described “Pop” as being a noble companionship like the
Garter, not always given for merit, but a high companionship with
illustrious tradition to which anybody might be proud to belong.

[SN: ETON VICEROYS]

Though athleticism has now in a great measure dominated the “Eton
Society,” it must be confessed, as another distinguished old Etonian,
Lord Curzon, said at the same dinner, that neither title, means, nor
athletic distinction _per se_ ever enabled a man to get inside the
walls of “Pop.” There must be something else--he must be what the world
calls “a good sort,” and it is well that this happy state of affairs
still remains unchanged. On the same occasion Lord Curzon pointed out
that Eton had laid a vigorous hand on India, six out of the last seven
Viceroys having been old Eton boys, whilst that illustrious veteran
Lord Roberts was also an old Etonian.

In the course of the nineteenth century the importance of the
captain of the boats has gradually grown, and at the present day his
personality dominates Eton. He occupies a unique position, being envied
and admired by the Upper part of the school and regarded as a sort of
superior being by Lower boys.

When, about half a century ago, a Royal Commission was taking evidence
as to the state of affairs prevailing at Eton, it was elicited in
evidence that “the captains of the boats and the eleven were scarcely
ever distinguished in scholarship or mathematics.” One master indeed
declared that he had “not observed any boys, during a short experience,
distinguished both in intellect and athletic pursuits.” Young Lord
Boringdon, himself one of the “eight” for two years, was “afraid
that the crews of the boats were generally distinguished for want of
industrious habits.” Cricket the Commission pronounced to have been
found “hardly compatible with high scholarship.” Although the Collegers
formed the larger proportion of the oldest boys in the school, they
were seldom in the eleven, because they were unwilling to spare so much
time from the school work as was considered necessary for practice.

In my own Eton days, thirty years ago, the captain of the school--head
of Sixth Form--was nobody at all in the eyes of the Oppidans. Few of
them indeed knew him by sight, and fewer still felt any curiosity to
do so. As far as I remember he enjoyed no particular privileges except
the right of presenting a new Headmaster with a birch tied up with
ribbon of Eton blue. The captain of the Oppidans held a slightly better
position, a sort of idea prevailing that there must have been something
extraordinary about him or he would not have risen so high in the
school, Oppidans as a rule not being generally considered very clever
or apt to work.

[SN: “SWAGGERS”]

Next to the captain of the boats in popular estimation came the
captain of the eleven, who in his own circle commanded a good deal
of attention, and of course stood infinitely higher than any boy
distinguished only for intellectual attainments. The members of the
eight and eleven followed after, together with a few other “swaggers,”
who on account of their prowess at football, rackets, running, fives,
and sometimes even rifle shooting, were regarded with a certain degree
of reverential awe.

Of late years, however, a more satisfactory state of affairs has
prevailed, not a few prominent athletes and oarsmen having shown
considerable mental capacity.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] This list is the one given in _Nugae Etonenses_.



IX ROWING AND GAMES


The early history of Eton rowing is somewhat obscure, but it is
perfectly clear that the Oppidans have always had control of all rowing
arrangements. In former times, indeed, Collegers only boated below
Bridge, and were rarely seen above; indeed if they did go up stream
they were more than likely to be molested by Oppidans, who claimed that
part of the river as their own watery domain.

[SN: THE BOATS]

Though boating must have gone on at Eton ever since the foundation of
the College, there would appear to have been no attempt at a regular
organisation till the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1762 there
were three long boats, the “Snake,” the “Piper’s Green,” and “My
Guineas Lion.” Then, as now, a captain of the boats presided over the
crews. In the early days of Keate’s reign (1811-1814), however, there
seem to have been six boats--one 10-oar (the “Monarch,” as now), three
8-oars, and two 6-oars, later on changed to four 8-oars and one 6-oar.
At that time, as has been the case in later years, the “Monarch,”
though it stood first on the list, and took precedence of all the other
boats, was by no means the best manned, being, as has been the case
in later years, something of a refuge for swagger boys who might not
be exceptionally fine oars. For this reason, though it was scarcely
regarded with contempt, yet it could never either be looked up to as
affording a pattern for the other crews. A place in it, however, was a
good thing to be secured.

In 1829[11] the Upper boats were the “Monarch,” “Britannia,” and
“Etonian”; the Lower, “Victory,” “Thetis,” “Defiance,” “St. George,”
and “Dreadnought.” The “Thetis,” it should be added, replaced the
“Hibernia,” which disappeared as the “Trafalgar” had done. In 1830,
however, one of the Lower boats was called the “Nelson.” At that time,
it should be added, the Lower boats were made up of Lower boys and
Fifth Form indiscriminately. The revival of the “Nelson” in 1830 was
due to a revolt of the Lower boys in a dame’s house against the Fifth
Form, which ended in the former putting a boat on the river in order
to escape compulsory cricket. The boats used were clinker built, and
either gig or wherry fashion, the eights mostly of the former. They
had rowlocks, but not outriggers, and must have been heavy as compared
with modern clinker-built eights. The oars were of the old type, square
loomed, with a button nailed on.

The original practice in the Lower boats was to employ watermen (known
as “cads”) as strokes and steerers. Jack Haverley, for instance, who
in 1861 became the head waterman employed by the school, steered the
“Defiance” as late as 1830. Another old custom practised on great
occasions was for each boat to have in it some visitor to Eton. When,
as sometimes happened, the honoured guest chanced to be a demure
gentleman in black, he looked singularly out of place amidst the gay
costumes of the crew. In old-fashioned times this “sitter,” as he
was called, sat in the centre of the boat to keep it steady, but in
later years he reclined in the stern, usually with a large hamper of
champagne in front of him, it being the custom for a sitter to make the
boys a present of wine. In those far-distant days little check would
seem to have been placed upon the boys indulging freely in alcohol.
The writer’s uncle, who as Lord Walpole steered the “Etonian” in 1830,
often told of the glorious bowls of punch which he and his friends used
to consume. From the account he gave, the Upper boys at least were then
allowed in most respects to do pretty much as they liked.

[SN: A TRICK]

The authorities did not in any way interfere with anything connected
with boating, of the very existence of which, however, according to
a curious convention, they were supposed to be unaware. Dr. Keate
indeed carried the practice of ignoring rowing to such an extent
that when Eton beat Westminster at Maidenhead in 1831, he only heard
of it because the news of the victory was forced upon him. Dr.
Hawtrey, however, did recognise boating as an authorised institution;
nevertheless he did nothing to remove the absurd custom of regarding
boys going to the river as being out of bounds. In Keate’s day, as has
elsewhere been said, the river was really forbidden before Easter,
owing to an idea that the cold, chilly weather would produce illness
amongst the boys. Some mischievous “wet bobs,” taking advantage of
this prohibition, in 1829 played an amusing trick on the masters. The
weather just before Easter happened to be very bad, and “the water”
in consequence was forbidden. Nevertheless, the boats went up until a
grand capture of rebellious spirits was meditated by the authorities.
By some means this purpose became known, and the wags masked and
dressed up eight “cads” to represent Upper boys. They had not reached
Upper Hope before the scheme began to take effect. “Foolish boys! I
know you all. Come ashore,” sounded from one bank. “Come here, or you
all will be expelled,” re-echoed from the other. At last, after a great
deal of shouting and galloping, the masks were dropped and the joke
explained.

[SN: SURLY HALL]

In old days, on certain evenings chosen by the captain of the boats,
the Upper crews had regular feasts at Surly, known as “Duck and
Green Pea” nights, where there was much conviviality, the crews being
usually elated on the return journey, on which it was the custom to
pull leisurely at first. As, however, they passed Boveney Church
(there was then no lock) they drew in their oars, and the watermen who
pulled stroke were called on for songs, which they sang solo, the boys
joining in the chorus. After the watermen were dispensed with, the same
customs continued. This entertainment was kept up from Boveney to the
Rushes, and then the pulling was “Hard all!” for fear of being late for
Absence, or, as it was then called, for fear of being “out afresh.”
It was on the voyage up, however, that the rivalry between the boats
mostly took place; but whenever they rowed “Hard all!” silence was
kept, and each boat tried to make a race of it with the one in front or
behind. After the feast at Surly, songs were sung till the time when
“Oars” was called, when the crews rushed off to their boats in order to
get back before Lock-Up. The Lower boats, which only escorted the Upper
ones up to Easy Bridge above the Rushes, met them on their return and
took part in the procession down to the Bridge.

These “Duck and Green Pea” nights afterwards developed into the “Check”
nights (supposed to be so called from the shirts of the rowers) which
Dr. Goodford abolished in 1860. “Check” nights took place on every
alternate Saturday after the 4th of June, at the end of the summer
half, and to the last the crews of the Upper boats maintained the
traditional fare of duck and green peas for which Surly Hall was
celebrated. The old place, which saw so many generations of Etonians
swallow copious libations of champagne, though it long survived the
abolition of “Check” nights, is now itself but a memory of the past,
having been pulled down in 1902.

In former days, on such evenings as boat-racing had taken place,
Eton was very lively indeed, the crews on their way home stopping to
drink the winners’ healths at the Christopher, and then walking down
arm-in-arm until they reached the school, where a crowd had collected.
As in later times, the winners were “hoisted” and carried along by
the wall amidst cheers. Windsor Bridge was then the winning-post
of all races, the starting-point as a rule, it would appear, the
Firework Eyot, which in old maps figures as Cooper’s Ait. The races,
it should be added, were always for money, a good part of which in all
probability was spent in drink.

The 4th of June and Election Saturday were celebrated by the Procession
of Boats in gala dress and by fireworks from the Eyot. Previous to 1814
all the rowers in each boat had a fancy dress appropriate to the boat.
In after years the crews wore blue jackets with anchors embroidered on
the outside arm, clad in which they pulled all the way up to Surly. In
1828 checked shirts were introduced, and this fashion has continued
ever since. On special days the boats had tillers fashioned as
serpents, and garlanded with oak leaves, instead of the ordinary wooden
tiller or the rudder lines and yokes which they used in the races. On
the 4th of June and on Election Saturday the crews donned a special
costume, the main features of which were a dark-blue jacket with brass
buttons, hanging loose in front in order to show the distinctive
pattern of the shirt, over which the silken handkerchief worn round the
neck hung. Up to about 1828 the coxswains of boats on such great days
wore fancy costumes, but after that date every coxswain was dressed
as a naval officer, increasing in rank according to the precedence to
which his boat was entitled, and this custom is still followed on the
4th of June. A somewhat curious coincidence in connection with the
boats is that Lord Rosebery, Lord St. Aldwyn, and Lord Coventry in
their Eton days all rowed bow in the _Monarch_--the ten-oar which seems
always to have been one of the boats.

The great event for Eton oarsmen was formerly the annual race against
Westminster, which in the early part of the nineteenth century excited
the greatest interest. The proceedings in connection with the selection
of the eight which was to try conclusions with the London school
provoked much the same interest and enthusiasm as that now evoked with
regard to the Eton crew to be sent to Henley. The series of contests
with Westminster seems to have commenced in 1829 with a race for £100
a side. A regular course of training was always undergone, and for a
number of years the match was the great event of the summer half. As
time went on, however, it was discontinued, though revived in 1860 as
part of certain concessions made by the then headmaster, Dr. Goodford,
in consideration of the abolition of “Check” nights and “Oppidan
Dinner.”

[SN: “OPPIDAN DINNER”]

“Oppidan Dinner” was a survival of the eighteenth century, and
seemingly originated at the old Christopher. In later days, however, it
was held at the White Hart at Windsor, the number of boys sitting down
being usually about fifty, each of whom paid something like eighteen
shillings a head, which charge included wine. The time for this dinner
was at the end of the summer half, and those who took part in it were
members of the Upper boats’ eleven and Sixth Form and a few other Upper
boys. The captain of the boats managed everything, and sat at the head
of the long table in a room which stretched right through the inn,
one end looking out upon the castle. The dinner began at four in the
afternoon, an adjournment to Eton taking place for six o’clock Absence,
after which, about 6.30, the boys returned to the White Hart for
what was called “dessert,” though every one expected to drink rather
than to eat. The chief show on the table consisted of decanters and
glasses, all of a very cheap sort, it being well understood that few
would survive the wholesale breakage which almost invariably followed
the annual feast. Toasts were then given, the captain of the boats
rising first of all to propose “The Queen.” This was drunk standing,
amidst an accompaniment of cheers. “The Prince of Wales and the rest
of the Royal Family” followed, after which the boys waited eagerly for
the toasts which had more immediate reference to their own particular
interests and the songs which formed part of the evening’s programme.
The proceedings invariably closed with “Floreat Etona,” the drinking of
which was the signal for breaking up. This toast not unnaturally evoked
wild enthusiasm, and at one time it was the custom for every one to
fling their glasses down and dash them to pieces on the table. About
half-past eight the diners returned to Eton in very hilarious mood,
the captain of the boats and other popular athletes being generally
subjected to a very enthusiastic “hoisting.”

[SN: CHANGES]

The Eton authorities, though perfectly aware of this somewhat
Bacchanalian feast, never took any notice of it till it was abolished
in 1860. As, however, old drinking customs decreased, it became clear
that Oppidan Dinner was destined to disappear, and its existence was
threatened years before it was done away with. It was notorious that
as a result of this banquet a number of boys came to Absence in a very
fuddled condition, and the headmaster, when calling over the names, had
to keep his eyes well fixed on the list for fear of seeing behaviour of
which he would have been obliged to take notice. At Lock-Up time things
were worse still, and of the reeling crowd who surged down the High
Street some occasionally became so violent that it took six or seven
boys to get them to bed.

The last Oppidan Dinner of 1859, however, was by all accounts the most
sober on record. Indeed an aged waiter at the White Hart was moved
almost to tears at the small amount which had been drunk. Those who
took part in it were of more serious disposition and mind than their
rollicking predecessors of former days, and most people agreed that the
dinner had become an anachronism. When, however, in the following year
R. H. Blake-Humfrey, captain of the boats, in unison with the present
Provost, Mr. Warre (who had then just come to Eton as a master),
concurred in its suppression, not a few were taken by surprise, whilst
many an old Etonian of the old school shook his head and murmured that
Eton was going to the dogs.

In return for the abolition of “Oppidan Dinner” and “Check” nights, it
was agreed that the eight should be allowed annually to row at Henley,
whilst “boating bills” were instituted so as to put aquatics on the
same footing as cricket with respect to exemptions from six o’clock
Absence. It was also laid down that, on days in the summer half when
there was no five o’clock school, the crews of two eight oars should
be excused from “Absence” on condition of their undertaking to row to
within sight of Cookham Lock. The “strokes” of the two boats were made
responsible, on their words of honour, to see that the conditions
were fulfilled. In addition to this, the whole of the High Street, as
far as Windsor Bridge, was placed within bounds, so that boys going to
the “Brocas” or returning from it were no longer obliged to “shirk”
when they met masters. Finally the annual boat race with Westminster
was to be revived. That very year a race was duly rowed between Eton
and Westminster at Putney, in which Eton won very easily. There was,
however, nothing extraordinary about this, for since the old days when
Eton and Westminster had been rival schools the former had greatly
increased in size. Westminster had in reality barely a chance, for it
had been only with considerable difficulty that an eight had been got
together at all. Though some of the Westminster oars were good men,
the crews that rowed against Eton from 1860 to 1864 were entirely
outmatched in weight and strength. In addition to which, in 1861 and
1862 the Eton eight possessed a tower of strength in their captain
and stroke, Mr. R. H. Blake-Humfrey, who, it should be added, has, in
his introduction to the _Eton Boating Book_, given such a clear and
excellent account of the early history of Eton rowing. The race between
the two schools did not take place in 1863; instead, the Westminster
boys came down to Eton on Election Saturday and had supper with the
Eton crews in the meadow opposite Surly Hall. Rowing back to Windsor,
the visitors very nearly became involved in what might have been a
serious catastrophe, for the cox of the Westminster eight, not being
used to the river, steered the wrong side of the posts above Boveney
Lock, and but for the warning shout of the steerer of the Eton eight,
the Westminster boat would probably have gone over the Weir. The match
of 1864, in which Eton won by 27 seconds, was the last occasion upon
which the two eights met. Since then the schools have developed in
different directions, with the result that the old cordial relations
are now in all probability for ever at an end.

Modern Eton has produced several famous oarsmen--notably Mr. S. D.
Muttlebury, whose first triumph was winning the “Lower boy pulling”
with S. S. Sharpe in 1881. The present boating colours are the Eight,
Upper Boat Choices, Upper Boats, Lower Boat Choices, Lower Boats,
the latter of which all adopted the old Defiance colour in 1885. For
this and other information I have to thank Mr. F. F. V. Scrulton, the
present captain of the boats.

[SN: SWIMMING]

Swimming has always been in great favour with Eton boys, but in old
days the authorities paid no attention to it, and no effort was made
to check boys who could not swim from risking their lives. There
appears, however, to have been some regular bathing-place as long ago
as 1529, for it is chronicled that in that year a boy was drowned at
“le watering place,” the site of which, however, is unknown. The first
teacher apparently was a Frenchman named Champeau, nicknamed by the
boys Slipgibbet, who about 1829 taught swimming with corks, which
state of affairs continued till all unauthorised teachers of natation
were swept away. Champeau, also playfully known as Shampoo, gave his
lessons at the spot opposite to “Athens.” The old Frenchman must have
been a competent teacher, for three miles was often accomplished by
some of his pupils, and headers off Windsor Bridge were not uncommon.
Nevertheless, fatal accidents intermittently occurred. In the early
part of the nineteenth century a boy was drowned close to Boveney
Meads, in the presence of many big schoolfellows, of whom not one could
dive to bring up the body, though it could be plainly seen by those who
stooped over the sides of the boats--fortunately at that time broad
of beam, otherwise more boys would probably have perished. Sixty or
seventy years earlier young Barnard (afterwards Dr. Barnard, Headmaster
and Provost) had only escaped a watery grave owing to the successful
efforts of his schoolfellow, Jacob Bryant, a delicate boy but a good
swimmer. In later years Bryant became a scholar and philologist well in
advance of his age. The average of deaths from drowning was once, it is
said, about one boy in three years. This bad state of affairs was ended
in 1840 when George Augustus Selwyn, with William Evans, organised
swimming and instituted the “passing” at “Cuckoo Weir,” which has now
become one of the regular features of a “wet bob’s” career.

The Upper Collegers at one time bathed at the oak in the playing
fields, the Lower at a spot not far away, which bore the significant
name of “Deadman’s Hole.” Near by was the old wharf, done away with
in 1840, where the Collegers used to keep their boats. In those days,
however, they went but little on the river, preferring to concentrate
their energies in preparing for the annual matches at cricket and
football with the Oppidans. The rivalry was then very keen, and in
winter was even shown by fierce snowball fights, in which both sides
often suffered severely. It may seem strange that seventy boys could
face six hundred, but some of the biggest boys in the school were
Collegers, as they were not superannuated until they were nineteen.

About 1828 the annual matches, both at cricket and football, between
the Oppidans and Collegers were done away with. They were always the
most stoutly contested games of the year, and put both parties on their
mettle far beyond the excitement of any other match. A good deal of
bitterness was sometimes displayed, and now and then a smack on the
head or a designed “shin” were given and received; but, on the whole,
these matches did something to draw Oppidans and Collegers together,
and their abolition is to be deplored, though, in the present age, the
great excess of Oppidans would, it must be confessed, have rendered
their continuance difficult.

[SN: ST. ANDREW’S DAY]

Of all the various contests which formerly took place between Collegers
and Oppidans the annual match at the wall on St. Andrew’s Day alone
survives, and has lost none of its interest, though the two elevens are
chosen from seventy Collegers and from close on a thousand Oppidans. In
reality the chances of victory are in a great degree equalised owing to
the fact that whilst the Collegers have every opportunity of playing
the game during the whole of the time--usually about six years--during
which they remain at Eton, only a small number of Oppidans play at
all till within two years of their leaving school. It would here be
superfluous to enter upon any detailed description of the game. [SN:
THE “WALL”] Suffice it to say that it is played within a narrow strip
of ground some twenty feet wide and close up against the old wall built
in 1717, the goals being the tree with a white mark at the end towards
Slough, and the door of Weston’s Yard at the Eton end. The origin of
this peculiar form of football is very obscure. Mr. E. C. Benthall,
K.S., Keeper of the Wall in the present year, 1911, who has most
obligingly furnished me with some interesting information, believes
that it originated from “passage football,” and doubts if it was ever
played very seriously till about one hundred years ago, at which time
it was an entirely different game from what it is now. In spite of its
quaint terms, it would seem to be of no great antiquity, at least in
anything like its present form. The wall itself dates from 1717, but
about the earliest record of any regular game there dates from the
first decade of the nineteenth century, at which time any one who
chose seems to have been allowed to play, with the result that there
were usually eighteen or twenty a side. It was then practically the
only form of football popular at Eton, though occasionally something
approaching to the modern “Field Game” was played in the open. Till
1841, however, such forms of relaxation were discouraged by the
masters. Nevertheless, on the piece of grass between the path and the
river in Lower Club the Collegers, up till about 1863, played a variety
known as “Lower College.” This was probably a link between the field
and wall games, for it had “shies” and “goals.” In early days the wall
game was played on a much wider strip of ground than is at present the
case. The bully was not its essential feature, and the ball was often
run down the whole length of the wall. Sixty years or so ago matches of
Dames _v._ Tutors were occasionally played, and during one of these the
ball somehow was pitched right on the top of the wall, along which it
ran for some eight yards before coming to a dead standstill on the top.

The rules were then, of course, more elastic than those now in use, and
since they were drawn up in 1849 the game has undergone various minor
changes, including the curtailment of the space at the wall to its
present limits and the toleration (about 1851) of “furking” the ball
back in calx.

At one time considerable savagery seems to have been displayed by the
rival teams, in consequence of which Dr. Hawtrey once suspended all
play for three weeks, and in 1851 it was actually proposed to abolish
the annual match on St. Andrew’s Day on account of the ill-feeling
which was said to be engendered between Oppidans and Collegers. Of late
years, however, the historic contest is remarkable for the good-humour
shown by both sides. A quaint figure at the annual match from 1847
up to 1888, the year before he fell ill, was old Powell, whose
old-fashioned velveteen coat and high top-hat were survivals of another
age. During his long superintendence of the wall he had seen many
generations of Collegers and Oppidans contending for goals and shies.
After ten years of confinement and suffering he died in 1899.

The wall game is as different from any other form of football as it is
possible to imagine. To one unacquainted with its intricacies, nothing
can be more curious than the bully close up against the wall, and the
efforts of those forming it to prevent kicks sending the ball out--that
is to say, beyond the line marked as the limit within which play takes
place. The rules really amount to a sort of complicated creed, which
has been handed on from one generation of Collegers to another. A
good deal of the game is mystifying to a spectator unacquainted with
its intricacies. A “calx bully,” for instance, is highly difficult to
explain, whilst the necessary preliminaries for a “shy” at goals are
often, owing to the confusion of the struggle, visible only to the
umpire. The summit of a wall-player’s ambition is to throw a “goal,”
which feat, in the annual St. Andrew’s Day match, has only been
accomplished three times within the last hundred years--in every case
by a Colleger. W. Marcon threw one in 1842, when College won by a goal
and 19 shies, 17 of which were got by H. Phillott in rapid succession.
H. J. Mordaunt, captain of the eleven in 1886, threw another in 1885,
when he hit the door just at the bottom. [SN: A HISTORIC GOAL] The name
of this fine athlete, the writer (who knew him at Eton) is informed, is
still a household word in College, where his goal is held in greater
reverence than that scored in 1909. Mordaunt’s was an unaided effort,
whilst the latter seems to have been rather lucky. Nevertheless, Finlay
and Creasy deserved the greatest credit for their presence of mind. In
1858, it should be added, a throw by Hollingworth was disputed.

Though of all pastimes the wall game is least adapted for summer,
time-honoured usage prescribed--and after a discontinuance for four
years now once again prescribes--that at six o’clock on the morning of
Ascension Day a mixed team of Collegers and Oppidans should meet at the
“Wall.” The origin of this custom I have been unable to ascertain. Like
the game played on the last evening of last summer half, it probably
took its rise from boyish enthusiasm.

In connection with the wall game, the name of James Kenneth
Stephen--the gifted J. K. S., who in his prime was so unfortunately
snatched away by death--will never be forgotten. Captain of the College
team in 1876-1877, he was a great supporter of “noster ludus muralis,”
as he has left on record in his “Quo Musa Tendis,” one stanza of which
runs--

  There’s another wall with a field beside it,
    A wall not wholly unknown to fame,
  For a game’s played there which most who’ve tried it
    Declare is a truly noble game.

College, it is pleasant to know, seems unlikely ever to forget this
true son of Eton, for on the evening of St. Andrew’s Day each of the
wall team in turn drinks “In piam memoriam, J. K. S.,” every raising of
the cup as it is passed around being followed by a cheer.

A brilliant young contemporary of J. K. S. who played at the wall in
1880 is happily still left to us. This is Mr. A. C. Benson, whose fine
intellect and delightful achievements in the fields of literature have
rendered his name well known to that greater public which joins with
Etonians in admiration of his work.

College may well be proud of having produced two such men as these.

Till the middle of the fifties in the last century the wall game was
also played at the red brick wall in front of the boys’ entrance to the
house which about 1790 was built overlooking the Timbralls. For nearly
a quarter of a century after play had ceased to take place there, the
calces marked in chalk could still be discerned. The field game is a
rather modern institution. As has before been said, ordinary football
does not seem to have been very popular amongst Etonians of a hundred
years ago, though in the last century it gradually rose in favour. A
curious character of other days was old Strugnal, who was celebrated
for tightening the bladder of a football by means of blowing through a
piece of tobacco pipe placed in his mouth. On the whole, the annals of
Eton football, a primitive form of which in the eighteenth century was
known as “goals,” with the exception of some exciting house matches, do
not possess any great interest.

[SN: CRICKET]

Cricket, unlike football, was popular at Eton over two hundred years
ago, having been played as early as 1706, and in high favour in
Horace Walpole’s day. About the first great Etonian cricketer was the
eighth Lord Winchilsea, who afterwards became chief patron of the
famous Hambledon Club. At one time he made an attempt to introduce an
innovation by increasing the stumps to four, but the change was never
popular, though in the match between the Gentlemen and Players in 1837,
in order to equalise the contest, the latter undertook to defend four
stumps instead of three. In 1751 three matches for £1500 were played
between the Gentlemen of England and Eton College, Past and Present;
the former won the stakes, winning two out of the three matches. The
players were dressed in silk jackets, trousers, and velvet caps. In
1791 Lord Winchilsea made 54 runs in a contest between Old Etonians
_versus_ the Gentlemen of England. This was played at old “Lord’s,”
where Dorset Square now stands. In the same year the school beat the
Maidenhead Club by four wickets. Keate was one of the seven Collegers
playing, and scored 0 and 4, while in the second innings Way “nipped
himself out” for 11. Five years later a match seems to have taken place
against Westminster on Hounslow Heath, in defiance of the Headmaster’s
strict orders; it resulted in the defeat of Eton and the flogging of
all the Eleven!

In those days there was a good deal of jollity in connection with the
cricket in the playing fields, and the boys were allowed to do many
things which would be thought very reprehensible to-day. Up to about
1827, for instance, a beer tent used to be allowed when cricket matches
were played. Two or three years later Eton cricket for some reason or
other admittedly deteriorated, a disastrous state of affairs which
was thus explained by one of the “cads” who used to hover about the
shooting fields: “Lord, sir, they never has won a match since the beer
tent got the sack, and never will no more.” This tent, where “beer
and baccy” were the order of the day before it gave offence to the
higher powers, was kept, at every match, by the veteran Jem Miller
for the accommodation of the “cads,” Broconalian Club, and other
loungers, and loudly and lustily did they cheer the boys with their
stentorian lungs. It was from this tent that one of the best bowlers
and batters Eton ever produced--in after years a prominent divine at
King’s--was encouraged by the deafening shouts of “Goo it, my dear
Harding; goo it, my dear boy,” when he scored 86 runs off his own bat
against Messrs. Ward, Vigne, Tanner, and others of the Epsom Club. It
was on this memorable day, too, that he made a tremendous hit over the
shooting-field trees, high in the air, of course, when a bargeman from
the tent, lost in amazement at the hit, thundered out, “There she goes
for Chessy [Chertsey] Church, by Jingo!” it being a prominent mark on
the river for the bargees.

[SN: “WATER BOILS,” “MAKE TEA”]

According to all accounts, cricket in those less strenuous days was
not taken any too seriously. Boys did not change their clothing to
play it, though they did so for football. Once during a match in Upper
Club a fight was reported to be going on in the playing fields, and
in a few minutes gentlemen, spectators, and cricketers not actually
playing scampered over Sheep’s Bridge, eager to witness the contest.
Formerly tea in Upper Club was made by fags. The well-known cries of
“Water boils!” “Make tea!” originated during this now obsolete state of
affairs.

Though all Bacchanalian gaiety had disappeared from the playing fields
by the middle of the last century, a somewhat free-and-easy spirit
still prevailed, and on the occasion of school matches there was
usually a good deal of fun, especially when Billy Boland--a celebrated
character and _bon vivant_ of the past, who was supposed to have been
the original of Fred Bayham in Thackeray’s novel of _The Newcomes_--was
present. He it was who once, after lunch during a cricket match between
the school and I Zingari, presented Dr. Hawtrey, the then headmaster,
with the Freedom of the Club in a deal box, and wound up a mock speech
with the toast: “Floreat Etona et vivat ‘Nitidissimus’ Hawtrey!” This
was peculiarly appropriate, for with his velvet-collared coat the
Doctor was the smartest of men and wore the best-varnished boots in the
world.

[SN: THE FIRST MATCH AT LORD’S]

The first regular match played by Eton against a public school appears
to have taken place in 1799, when an Eton eleven met Westminster at
old Lord’s. On this occasion Eton in their innings made only 47 runs.
Westminster then went in and scored 13, when the stumps were drawn,
with five wickets to fall. The match was said to be “postponed,” but
there is no account to be found of its ever having been resumed. Next
year Eton had an easy victory, making a score of 213 in one innings,
against Westminster’s 54 and 31. Curiously enough, the Collegers
at that time constituted the strength of the eleven and made the
biggest scores. Benjamin Drury, afterwards an assistant master, Joseph
Thackeray, and Thomas Lloyd, elder brother of the bishop, were the
bowlers. Poor Lloyd, who beat the Westminster innings off his own bat,
died after the holidays from the effects of a chill which he caught
during the match. This would seem to have been the last match with
Westminster.

The first Eton and Harrow contest took place in 1805 at Lord’s, when
Eton won in a single innings. On this occasion Byron made 7 and 2 for
the beaten school. Eight of the winning eleven (among whom was Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe) were King’s scholars. After this no authentic
record exists of any match till 1818, when Harrow beat Eton. Apparently
the whole thing was rather a fiasco; only two of the best Eton men
were present at Lord’s, the rest of the eleven being made up of such
Etonians as could be collected on the ground. In the following year,
however, Eton beat Harrow in one innings; in 1822 Harrow beat Eton. In
1832 Eton scored a great triumph, beating Harrow and Winchester each
in one innings. The match of 1841 was remarkable for the great innings
of Emilius Bayley, who made 153, up to then the highest score ever
achieved by any player in a public school match. Oddly enough, however,
that same year Eton was beaten hollow by Winchester. In 1846 Eton
repeated the great performance of 1832 and again vanquished Harrow and
Winchester each in a single innings. One of the eleven on this occasion
was J. W. Chitty (in after life the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Chitty), who
played four years for Eton, in the last of which--1847--he was captain
of the eleven.

A great character well known to Eton cricketers of the forties was
M’Niven minor, who, Mr. Coleridge declares, in his interesting
recollections, was in Sixth Form, the football team, and the eight,
as well as in the eleven. Commonly called “Snivey,” this fine athlete
seems to have been very notorious for his wild eccentricities and
oddities of dress, which, however, in nowise impaired a universal
popularity.

During the fifties of the last century Eton cricket was not in a
very flourishing state. The smart thing was to be in the boats, and
“dry-bobs” were rather looked down upon till 1860, when a strenuous
effort began to be made to end the long series of reverses which
the school had sustained in its annual matches against Harrow. The
engagement of a professional cricketer and improvements in Upper Club
aroused great interest, and so much excitement was the result that
when in that year Eton made rather a good fight at Lord’s, all sorts
of absurd rumours were born of the indignation provoked by defeat. It
was said, for instance, that Daniel, the Harrow captain, was really a
professional in disguise--this was because he wore whiskers and a straw
hat!

[SN: “POCKETS”]

In 1861, when the late Mr. R. A. H. Mitchell, who afterwards as a
master did so much for Eton cricket, was captain, the match was
unfinished, and only in the next year did Eton score its first victory
against Harrow since 1850. The finish (like that of 1910) gave rise to
much excitement, and feeling ran very high, both sides indulging in
merciless chaff. The report that the Harrow headmaster--Dr. Butler--had
shortly before issued an order that all side-pockets were to be sewn
up, with a view to prevent slouching, gave the Eton boys an opportunity
of which they were not slow to take advantage, and accordingly the
ground resounded with yells of “Pockets” throughout the day. The hero
of the day was A. S. Teape, whose bowling did so much to win the match,
at the close of which he was accorded an enthusiastic ovation. A large
proportion of the spectators were quite carried away by excitement, and
several fights took place between members of the rival schools, whilst
two well-known Eton and Harrow “cads,” both pretty well “sprung,”
started a little mill on their own account, much to the amusement of
the onlookers. Probably the encounter was a prearranged affair, for
the old rascals took good care not to hurt each other, and reaped a
considerable harvest by sending the hat round afterwards. One of the
winning team that year was Mr. Alfred Lubbock, the great Eton cricketer
who became captain in 1863, in which year he made the magnificent score
of 174, not out, against Winchester. Every old Etonian should read
the book written by him some little time ago, one chapter of which
was contributed by his son, Mr. Robin Lubbock, K.S., a member of the
eleven of 1896-1897. A young man of high promise, he most unfortunately
met with an early death through a sad accident in the hunting-field.
The names of Lubbock, Lyttelton, and Studd will always be associated
with the history of Eton cricket. For six successive years--1861 to
1866--there was always a Lubbock in the eleven, whilst three Lytteltons
(one of whom was the present Headmaster) played at Lord’s in 1872, and
three Studds in 1877.

[SN: A CURIOUS “RAG”]

In former days there was often much rowdiness after an Eton and Harrow
match, which, for some unknown reason, seemed to send a certain amount
of hot-blooded youngsters almost mad. In the early eighties of the last
century the present writer witnessed a curious development of this
spirit. Returning to Eton in the evening after the match was over,
he found himself in a railway carriage filled with a number of boys
he did not know, together with one old Etonian, apparently a newly
joined subaltern of some cavalry regiment. For a little time after
the train had started the party more or less calmly discussed the
match, but all of a sudden the old Etonian, who was in a most excited
state, began to smash up the carriage, tearing down the hat-racks and
breaking the windows, in which work of destruction he was cheerfully
seconded by his companions, who eventually, when the train came to the
bridge over the river near Windsor, threw most of the cushions and
all the advertisement placards, which they had wrenched off, into
the river. The writer was the more struck by this scene on account of
the party not in any way suggesting that he should join in it; and as
a matter of fact, reading a paper and smoking (nearly every boy then
smoked when going to or leaving Eton), he sat undisturbed upon the
only cushion not thrown out of window. He was a very small boy at the
time, and the wreckers, who were big ones, treated him throughout with
great courtesy. The damage, owing to the great crowd of boys returning
to Eton, was apparently not discovered by the station officials on
the arrival of the train at Windsor, nor was anything heard of it
afterwards by the school, though the writer has reason to believe
that some other carriages were also wrecked on the same train. In all
probability the authorities, aware of the impossibility of detecting
the offenders, preferred to let the whole matter rest. It was a curious
instance of the passion for destruction which occasionally takes
possession of youth.

The first match between Eton and Winchester seems to have been played
in 1826, when Winchester won. Afterwards, up to 1854, it was played
at Lord’s. Success was pretty evenly divided till 1845, when a tie
produced great interest and excitement. In that year the late Provost,
Dr. Hornby, was a member of the Eton team. In old days the Winchester
boys played in tall white beaver hats, but the Etonians wore straw. In
1856 the match was played at Winchester, neither school being allowed
to come to town, and since then the elevens have met on the Eton and
Winchester ground alternately.

Sixpenny, which appears to have taken its name from the Sixpenny Club,
founded for Lower boys by G. J. Boudier, 1832-1838, captain of the
eleven, an Etonian who is said to once have thrashed a bargee three
times his own size, was formerly a much-coveted Lower boy colour. It
was, however, done away with in 1898, but Upper Sixpenny is still an
important cricket colour for Uppers who are also Juniors, as it is now
the first colour a young cricketer can obtain at Eton, where, if you
once get a name as a promising bat, bowler, or field, it is difficult
to lose it, whereas if a boy does not start well, little attention is
afterwards paid to him.

A curious modern Eton cricket institution is “Second Upper Club,”
nominally the second game in the school, but in reality consisting of
Upper boys who are distinguished in the school, mostly in some other
line than cricket, though a number of quite good players also belong. A
few years ago some of the games played by Second Upper Club degenerated
into huge “rags,” ending with an early adjournment to little Brown’s,
whence, after a huge tea had been partaken of, every one went off to
bathe.

[SN: AGAR’S PLOUGH]

A feature of modern Eton is “Agar’s Plough,” just across Datchet Lane,
well laid out for the purposes of the school games. This large tract
of land was saved from the speculative builder by purchase in 1895, and
here, eight years later, for the first time was played the Eton and
Winchester match. As a cricket ground Agar’s Plough possesses several
advantages over the historic Upper Club, known in the distant past as
the Upper Shooting Fields. One of the chief gains is, of course, the
absence of big trees to confuse the light. Whether, however, Upper
Club is discarded for school matches or not, it will always remain a
hallowed spot in the recollection of old Etonians who as boys knew it
in its summer glory. Full of picturesque associations and shaded by
stately elms planted in the days of the Commonwealth, the beautiful old
ground has seen many a generation of Eton boys pass o’er its pleasant
sward of green. Besides Agar’s Plough modern Eton possesses other
facilities for games undreamt of in less luxurious days. Amongst these
are the new racquets courts near the gasworks which in 1902-3 took the
place of those down Keate’s Lane.

At the present day there is no tennis at Eton, but a tennis court
appears to have existed between 1600 and 1603, though, curiously
enough, its site has never been ascertained. Near the new racquets
courts thirty-eight new fives courts have been built since 1870.

The excellent game of fives, which has now attained a comparatively
widespread popularity, originated in the spaces between the Chapel
buttresses being utilised for play. The one next the flight of steps,
with its so-called pepper-box, is the model from which all modern
fives courts are built. The first of these were constructed at Eton
in Trotman’s gardens in 1847, and enjoyed great popularity in their
early days. Since, however, the number of fives courts has been largely
augmented, the old courts seem to have fallen into great disrepute. In
the writer’s day, although such new courts as existed were naturally
the most in request, boys still ran to obtain one of the old ones. It
was a rule that no court could be considered taken unless there was
some one actually upon it, to claim it by the right of occupancy. The
consequence was that they always became the reward of the swift, or of
those who were let out of school earlier than the rest; keen struggles
ensued, and the stream of runners flying down Keate’s Lane day after
day testified to the eagerness of spirit which could prompt boys to
exhaust themselves merely to obtain the chance of getting a game. It
was then the custom for the boy first in a court to mark his right of
possession by putting down his hat in it. The original fives court
between the buttresses of the Chapel had been long unused, though there
was sometimes a knock-up between Lower boys waiting to go into school.

[SN: COLOURS]

Colours at Eton, except those of the eleven and of the eight, which
in some form or other probably existed as far back as the eighteenth
century, are of modern origin. The parti-coloured scarlet and Eton blue
shirt of the field only dates from 1860, and the dark blue and red of
the wall from 1861. A year later saw the birth of house colours. About
the same time a great craze for wearing colours on every possible
occasion made itself felt. In old days boys had been supposed to shirk
masters when in change clothes, but now a tendency to run into an
opposite extreme produced an agitation in favour of greater laxity
regarding dress. The authorities, however, rightly deeming that Eton
should retain its old traditions as to tall hats and the like, stood
firm, every reasonable concession having long before that date been
granted. Only quite recently indeed have boys been allowed to answer
their names at Absence in change clothes, an innovation which many an
old Etonian, mindful of the ancient traditions of the school, must
surely deplore.

This chapter cannot be concluded without some reference to the Eton
Hunt, as the beagles have sometimes been facetiously called. The
pack in question would appear to have first been started about 1840
under the auspices of Anstruther-Thompson, in after life one of the
best-known and most popular Masters of Hounds in England. For some
years later its existence was rather precarious, at times resembling
that of a contemporary College pack which was once declared to consist
of a single long-backed Scotch terrier. From the earliest days of the
hunt, however, there appears to have been some attempt at a regular
organisation. The whips, for instance, had E.C.H. on the buttons of
their coats, which Dr. Hawtrey (Edward Craven), who of course knew of
the existence of the hunt, though he did not recognise it, interpreted
as a delicate compliment to himself. At one time the Collegers and
Oppidans each had a separate pack of their own, but these were
amalgamated in 1866.

[SN: HYSTERICAL SENTIMENT]

Drag hunts were formerly rather popular with the followers of the
Eton beagles, and sometimes very good runs were enjoyed. One of the
“cads” about the wall, known as Polly Green, an active fellow who used
to go across country uncommonly well, afforded very good sport. At
that time the beagles had not been recognised by the authorities, and
were kept more or less secretly a good way out of bounds, in a small
kennel at the corner of the Brocas near the river. Eventually, however,
the pack became known to every one, including the masters, who, with
great good sense, far from discouraging it, gave it encouragement
and approval, and thereby raised the character of the sport whilst
increasing its popularity in the school. In 1884 the mastership of Lord
Newtown-Butler--now Major the Earl of Lanesborough--was particularly
successful, this gallant and popular Guardsman having ever been the
incarnation of geniality and good-natured fun. There is no need to deal
here with the absurd agitation of so-called humanitarians for the
pack’s suppression. Suffice it to say that the greatest credit is due
to the present Headmaster for having refused to listen to the voice of
hysterical sentimentalism. May his successors be equally firm!

FOOTNOTE:

[11] Those interested in this period should not fail to read _Eton in
1829-1830_, a translation of a boating diary written in Greek by Thomas
Selwyn. The translator and editor, the present Provost of Eton, Dr.
Warre, D.D., M.V.O., well known to several generations of Etonians as
Assistant and Headmaster, did more than any one else to improve Eton
rowing.



X YESTERDAY AND TO-DAY


The old type of Eton Masters and Fellows is now practically extinct,
but thirty or forty years ago quite a number of them were still
flourishing. Not a few were quaint and eccentric figures both in their
appearance and their ways. About the quaintest of all was the Rev. F.
E. Durnford, universally known as “Judy,” who was Lower master from
1864 to 1877. He has been aptly described as “a sort of Ancient Mariner
in academic garb,” for he had a strange weather-beaten aspect, the
result, no doubt, of having for many years battled with successive
hordes of impish Lower boys--“nahty, nahty boys,” as he called
them--much of whose time was occupied in giving the good old man all
the trouble they could. Mr. Durnford, though he could never master the
pronunciation of French, was somewhat fond of interlarding Gallicisms
in his discourse, which, of course, never failed to arouse unbridled
merriment. He himself was perfectly aware of his imperfections as a
linguist, and would at times attempt to allay such outbursts by the
somewhat pathetic remark, “Ah, boys, it’s my misfortune, not my
fault.” He was a very good-natured old man, whose main failing perhaps
was being inclined towards an excess of leniency, in which respect his
successor, the Rev. J. L. Joynes, erred far less.

[SN: “OLD JIMMY”]

This pedagogue, though the most kindly of men, would stand no
nonsense. Many will remember him in Lower School, with the picturesque
interior of which, full of old woodwork cut with the names of vanished
generations, his personality accorded so well. He had rather a peculiar
voice, and pronounced words like “tutor” and “nuisance,” “tootor” and
“noosance.” Rather a better preacher than most of his colleagues,
his sermons in “old Lower Chapel” were sometimes marked by a certain
originality which caused them to be listened to with interest and
attention. In his school days “Jimmy Joynes,” or “old Jimmy,” as he was
affectionately called, had been captain of the College team at the wall
and a fine fives player, and as a master he continued to take great
interest in the latter game, giving a cup to be played for by the house
over which he presided before becoming Lower Master. In the latter
capacity, though an extremely kind-hearted man, he could, as was well
known to the boys under his charge, be severe enough upon occasion, and
the writer well remembers seeing him administer what was considered a
tremendous flogging to a delinquent, who afterwards had a distinguished
military career. This consisted of some thirty-two cuts laid on with
two birches, to the great astonishment of a number of Lower boys
present at the execution. The victim, a boy of great pluck, was little
disturbed by this castigation, though it was very much more serious
than most of the many floggings he had suffered before. As a matter of
fact, it was only the swishings of the Lower master which inflicted
any real physical pain, the few strokes which the Head, Dr. Hornby,
administered being generally more in the nature of a formal reproof
than anything else--at least that was the experience of the present
writer, who well remembers that on retiring from the torture-chamber
next Upper School he reflected that if one was to be flogged at all,
the thing could not be conducted in a more pleasant and dignified way.

[SN: DR. HORNBY]

In his relations with the boys Dr. Hornby was ever a great gentleman,
as the following incident, which occurred during the writer’s Eton
days, will show. Two of the sons of a celebrated potentate were then
at the school, and Queen Victoria took the warmest interest in them;
the eldest, in particular, was a great favourite of hers. One day,
owing to some untruthfulness in connection with work, this young
Prince was complained of, and though he might have got off by claiming
“first fault” owing to forgetfulness, was soundly swished. At the
same time he received a severe, though kindly lecture, in which the
“Head” pointed out how such behaviour would pain his parents and the
Queen, were it ever to reach her ears. Curiously enough, that very
evening Dr. Hornby happened to be dining at Windsor, and as usual his
Royal hostess did not fail to make particular inquiry as to how her
protégé was getting on. What was the surprise of the young Prince
during the following morning to find himself once again summoned to the
“library,” and as he wended his way to the grim scene of correction,
he wondered what he could have done to be whipped again so soon. All
unpleasant anticipations were, however, quickly dispelled. In those
gently modulated tones which so many old Etonians will remember, Dr.
Hornby described how, on the previous evening, a certain great lady had
asked after her favourite Eton boy, and desired to be informed as to
how he had been getting on in the school. “I told you yesterday,” Dr.
Hornby went on to say, “that one lie always leads to another, and I am
sorry to say in the present instance this adage has not failed to hold
good, for,” added he, “I am ashamed to say that, instead of telling Her
Majesty of the disgraceful behaviour for which but a few hours before
I had been obliged to punish you, I said that you were getting on very
well. Under these circumstances I feel sure that you will do all you
can to give no further trouble, and so, by causing my words to come
true, make amends for the falsehoods which we have both of us uttered.”
The kindly admonition made a considerable impression upon the culprit’s
mind. Nevertheless, he could not help being amused when the next
Sunday, in Chapel, he heard the Doctor take as his text, “All men are
liars.”

In appearance Dr. Hornby was the absolutely perfect type of an Eton
Headmaster. Immaculately dressed, and of fine presence, he possessed a
natural dignity which even impressed boys totally lacking in reverence
for all other institutions of the school. His voice, low and not
unpleasant even when delivering a stem admonition, was essentially the
voice of an English gentleman of the fine old school. It was a real
pleasure to hear him call “Absence,” owing to the dignity which he
imparted to this tedious duty. Curiously enough, this Headmaster, who
in his latter years, at least, might have been called the incarnation
of the best kind of Eton Conservatism, had on his appointment been
regarded as a Radical. The first Oppidan, I believe, ever chosen
Headmaster, he had succeeded Dr. Balston in 1868, when the latter had
relinquished the post from disapproval of the various innovations and
changes which resulted from the recommendations of the Public School
Commission, the labours of which extended over seven years.

The growing worship of athleticism was in some measure responsible
for the appointment of the new Headmaster, though Dr. Hornby, besides
having been in the eleven, was also a fine scholar. When he first came
to Eton the school, used to the patriarchal sway of his predecessor,
who had strictly followed the traditions of the past, were rather
inclined to regard him as a dangerous reformer, but before long it was
realised that such Radical proclivities as the new Headmaster possessed
were not very likely seriously to impair the traditional round of Eton
life, and the school gradually subsided into a tranquil consciousness
that nothing outrageous would be perpetrated under the new “Head,” who
long before his retirement grew to be far more Conservative than some
of his subordinates; indeed, during his tenure of the Headmastership,
which lasted sixteen years, four Assistant Masters are said to have
left Eton owing to Dr. Hornby disapproving of some of their ideas. One
of these exiles was young Mr. Joynes, whose socialistic tendencies
obviously unfitted him for the post of an Eton master; another, Mr.
Oscar Browning, whose clever and genial personality is so well known to
numbers of old Etonians.

[SN: DR. BALSTON]

Dr. Balston remained at Eton as Vice-Provost, and I remember that
we regarded him with a good deal of sympathy as having preferred to
resign rather than to yield to meddling on the part of the governing
body, then still looked upon as rather a new-fangled affair. During
his short term of office he had refused to sanction any alterations
at all. Possessed of an unlimited respect for old traditions and
ways, his conception of a Headmaster was that he should exercise a
sort of dignified and patriarchal sway, whilst carrying out a solemn
trust to maintain things as they had always been. Whilst Head he had
borne himself with unbending dignity, being almost never seen out of
academic dress, in which, it was said, he even went to bed. The same
story, I believe, had been current in the days when Dr. Goodford,
familiarly known as “Old Goody,” ruled the school. Some indeed declared
that a gown and cassock were all he wore. As Provost, however, the
latter was seen about Eton in ordinary costume and invariably carrying
an umbrella. A quaint, queer figure this survivor of a past era looked
with his hat at the back of his head and hands covered with unbuttoned
black gloves much too big for him.

At that time the old Fellows who were still alive used to preach the
most lengthy and incomprehensible sermons in Chapel, but in that line
Dr. Goodford easily held his own against all. Owing to a peculiar
intonation, his mouth always seemed to be full of pebbles, and it was
practically impossible to make out one sentence of the vast number
which trickled from his lips. Nevertheless we rather liked the good old
man, whose curious sing-song induced sleep rather than irritation. Dr.
Goodford’s entry into Chapel with the aged verger, who on account of
the silver wand he bore was called the “Holy Poker,” was a thing which
many Etonians will recall to mind.

Amongst the Assistant Masters of some thirty years ago, about the
most conspicuous figure, owing to a long flowing beard, was the Rev.
C. C. James, for some reason or other known as “Stiggins.” He enjoyed
no great measure of popularity out of his house, where, it should be
added, he fed his boys better than almost any other tutor or dame. At
one period of his career he had narrowly escaped being thrown over
Barnes Pool Bridge by a riotous party of boys, and though no one seemed
to know the exact reason of this, with later generations it undoubtedly
led to his being regarded with a certain rather unjust suspicion.

[SN: “BADGER HALE”]

A far more sympathetic figure was the Rev. E. Hale, known to the boys
as “Badger Hale,” probably on account of his hair bearing some remote
resemblance to the coat of that animal. Besides being a cleric, Mr.
Hale was an officer of the Eton Volunteers. He was of great girth, and
when in uniform presented a really stupendous appearance, in which the
boys took great delight. At that time the Volunteers were perhaps not
taken so seriously as is the present Officers’ Training Corps, with its
more workman-like appearance and ways. Though there were occasional
field-days, the principal evolution of the 2nd Bucks was to march,
headed by its band, to the playing-fields. Founded in 1860, by the late
’seventies it had abandoned a good deal of its splendours, blue worsted
cord having taken the place of the original silver lace, whilst the
colours presented by Mrs. Goodford had ceased to be carried, the Eton
Volunteers being at that time a rifle corps. Now, however, that it has
become the Officers’ Training Corps, they have once more been taken
into use. The silver bugle given by Lady Carrington is presumably still
carried.

[SN: DR. WARRE]

The chief support of the Corps has always been its present Honorary
Colonel, the Rev. E. Warre, now Provost of Eton, who for many years
took a most active part in striving to maintain its well-being
and efficiency. Few have done so much for Eton as he; his whole
life, indeed, has been devoted to furthering the best interests of
the school. As an Assistant Master he was the avowed champion of
strenuousness and efficiency, whilst opposed to old ways and traditions
tending towards a slack state of affairs. A strong and dominating
personality, he was intensely popular with the boys in his own house,
but a good part of the school regarded him with a certain amount of
suspicion as entertaining revolutionary ideas, which it was said were
only kept in check by the firmness of Dr. Hornby, who in the last days
of his Headmastership was looked upon as the staunch defender and
champion of old Eton ways. In the minds of ultra-conservative Etonians
Dr. Hornby stood for Conservatism, as Dr. Warre did for change. Such
an estimate was not altogether without foundation, for after Dr.
Warre had succeeded to the supreme control of the school, a number
of alterations, some of them, no doubt, quite necessary, were made.
The general feeling amongst Eton boys at that time was Tory in the
extreme, and though we knew scarcely anything about him except that he
had flogged a good deal, I am sure that a great many of us would have
been delighted to hear that Dr. Keate, having returned to life, had
been entrusted with the task of reorganising the school with a view to
getting it back into the condition of the good old days.

On the whole the reforms made by Dr. Warre during his Headmastership
seem to have produced satisfactory results. Most of them dealt with
alterations in the scholastic curriculum of the school, all the old
customs open to criticism, such as “Oppidan Dinner,” having long
disappeared. Without doubt, under his rule the boys were made to work
harder than before, whilst its tone gained in manliness and vigour. At
the same time the traditional spirit of Eton remained unimpaired, and
before his retirement Dr. Warre, like his predecessors, had come to be
considered a bulwark of Eton Conservatism.

The Headmastership of the school would appear to have a sobering
tendency upon even the most advanced reformer, who at the end of
his term of office has generally lost his enthusiasm for innovation
and change. The present Headmaster is a case in point. When he came
to Eton a few years ago many were full of gloomy forebodings as to
the reforms he was about to make. Mr. Lyttelton was known to hold a
number of advanced views--rumour indeed declared that he would try
and force vegetarianism upon the boys and would make them wear Jaeger
underclothing, for which material he was declared to have a marked
partiality. On assuming office, however, he somewhat allayed these
fears by giving an address in which he announced that he was not
going to stop tap, interfere with clothing, or abolish the beagles,
to which he had been declared hostile. As a matter of fact, nothing
could have been more loyal than his behaviour in this latter respect,
for, far from discouraging the Eton Hunt, he has defended it against
the ridiculous attacks of various faddists and cranks. It is, however,
to be regretted that an agitator was two years ago allowed to address
the school on the subject of unemployment from the Chapel steps in the
school-yard. The vast majority of the parents of Eton boys do not wish
their sons to be taught Socialism, and the school-yard, so closely
connected with the old traditions of Eton, is the very last place where
any theories of this kind should be permitted to be aired. As a matter
of fact, the address, which under no circumstances could have done
good, merely provoked giggling. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that
in permitting such an innovation the Headmaster was merely animated by
that new spirit of philanthropy and altruism which seems to have found
a more useful form of expression in the Eton Mission, now, according to
all accounts, doing excellent work in Hackney Wick.

[SN: INCREASE OF INTERFERENCE]

All things considered, Mr. Lyttelton has been a more successful
Headmaster than many old Etonians expected, and has not made any
violent effort to interfere with the traditions of the school. Life
at Eton, however, without doubt is now more strenuous than of yore.
Leave has been greatly curtailed, having to be taken at an appointed
time. Besides this, of late a tendency seems to have arisen to exercise
more control over the boys in minor matters, as to which in former days
the authorities never thought of interfering. From time immemorial it
has been the privilege of members of “Pop” to sit on the low wall by
the trees, planted in 1753, especially on Sunday; a recent regulation
forbids any boy, whether belonging to “Pop” or not, from sitting on the
wall on Sunday. The reason for such a vexatious interference with an
old Eton custom is difficult to divine. A more reasonable exercise of
influence by the Headmaster has been his attempt to get the boys when
in Chapel to abstain from keeping their hands in their pockets when
standing up during the service. Such a practice is not forbidden, but
an address on the subject by Mr. Lyttelton is said to have produced a
great effect.

On the whole the masters of to-day would appear to possess more
influence with the boys than was the case in the past. Now, as then,
the most popular are those who are gentlemen--that is, using the
word in its best and proper sense. At the present time, owing to the
increased worship of athletics, proficiency at games is a powerful
factor in a master’s popularity, and genial eccentricity is also apt to
cause him to be liked; but fads, on the other hand, are not attractive
to boys, which makes it all the more remarkable that the present
Headmaster--a professed vegetarian--should have attained a fair measure
of success in presiding over the school. No doubt his fine record as an
athlete has had a good deal to do with this.

In the ’seventies of the last century the attitude of Eton boys towards
the “Beaks” (they are, I understand, called Ushers now), whilst not
actively hostile, was for the most part one of tolerant indifference. A
few of the masters, however, were on fairly intimate terms with certain
of the Upper boys, but the majority of the school knew and cared little
about those responsible for its education. Respect for constituted
authority has never been a salient characteristic of Eton boys, and
amongst the junior members of the school at least “drawing the beaks”
was then considered quite a legitimate form of amusement. A previous
generation, according to all accounts, found a never-failing source
of delight in lawless doings of this sort, whilst even Sixth Form
occasionally took advantage of the good-nature of Dr. Hawtrey, the most
urbane Headmaster, it is said, who ever wielded a birch.

Like his subordinates, he seems to have been not infrequently exposed
to attempts at “drawing” by his division. These, however, he generally
treated with good-humoured contempt. During one eleven-o’clock school
they once all became suddenly absorbed in the contemplation of the rose
from which was suspended one of the chandeliers of Upper School, and,
nudging one another, indulged in mysterious whispers, which eventually
caused Hawtrey to look up and ask, “Why, whatever is the matter?”
“First of April, sir,” was the reply, but the Headmaster remained
unmoved, and merely murmuring, “Silly boys,” bade one of them proceed
with their construing.

[SN: “SOMEONE MUST BE LAST”]

Dr. Hawtrey did not believe in forcing learning upon boys, and was
never unduly severe with laggards. “Somebody must be last,” was a
favourite consolatory remark of his when any derisive titter at the
last name in an examination met his ears. During his tenure of the
Headmastership there was much ease and freedom, for it was not in his
nature to be a martinet.

Full of good intentions and over-politeness to the boys, it was no
wonder that this pedagogue, a veritable prince amongst schoolmasters,
was very popular in the school. Whatever a boy said he professed, if
possible, to believe, and although his confidence was often misplaced,
this course had a salutary effect in fostering and cultivating a
gentlemanly spirit. At the same time his very figure was a caution to
evildoers, for he had a droop in his right shoulder which was supposed
to have come from a frequent and vigorous use of the birch. Among the
Lower boys he was generally called “Plug,” from some peculiarity in
his countenance, but the swells, by way of refinement, reversed the
name and used “Gulp” instead. The same kind of satirical humour led
to their ungallantly christening his two old sisters “Elephantina” and
“Rhinocerina.” These ladies had a sedan-chair in which they went to
parties--one of the last sedan-chairs probably used. Dr. Hawtrey had
a great liking for velvet collars, fine clothes, perfumes, and gold
chains; one of the school beliefs was that “Hawtrey stood up in £700,”
the stiff figure at which his boys assessed his studs, sleeve-links,
watch and chains, gold pencil and rings.

Boys are wonderfully astute judges of whether a master will stand
nonsense or not, and having discovered that a man cannot keep order,
are apt to bring the art of ingenious torment to a high pitch of
perfection. Old Etonians will recall the self-control and good-temper
shown by certain masters who had not the knack of making their
authority felt. Their divisions indulged in every kind of disorder,
such as breaking out into applause at some casual comment, and at a
prearranged moment commencing to stamp and sometimes even to sing.
The keyholes of their class-rooms were filled with small pebbles or
india-rubber, whilst various substances were put amongst the papers
upon their desk. The writer well remembers the astonished look on the
face of a certain master when, crawling laboriously towards him upon
his desk, there appeared a poor ink-soaked tortoise, which, to the
intense delight of the division, had at last accomplished the feat
of climbing out of the ink-pot, where it had surreptitiously been
deposited just as school commenced.

[SN: “NASCITUR NON FIT”]

Another master, who was very short sighted, was always having jokes
played upon him just under his nose. On one occasion it was declared
he had continued to dip his pen in the open mouth of a particularly
torpid toad, substituted for his inkpot, till the reptile, irritated
and aroused, jumped right in the middle of his face. Yet other masters,
without being particularly severe, kept order without any difficulty
at all, the boys instinctively realising that they would stand no
nonsense. Of the perfect schoolmaster, indeed, as of the perfect poet,
it may be said, “Nascitur non fit.”

To those men who by nature and disposition were unable to make their
authority felt, school hours must have often been a time of veritable
torment. Generally well-meaning men of gentle nature, when they did
punish they almost invariably punished wrong or in an ineffectual
manner, their usual practice being either to set some tremendous
“poena,” which they afterwards revoked, or settle upon the wrong boy,
to whom in the end they were obliged to accord something very like
an apology. In a few rare instances the perfectly legitimate loss of
temper by a master led to very grave consequences. Goaded to fury by a
long course of deliberate insubordination, some tortured tutor would
at last turn upon a pupil and box his ears. Physical chastisement
by a master in any form whatever was then strictly forbidden, the
infliction of corporal punishment being reserved for the Head and Lower
Masters alone. The boys were perfectly aware of this, and instances
occurred of grave consequences attending a well-deserved blow. One
master, I believe, was more or less compelled to leave the school
because he had hit a particularly impertinent boy with a book, and
several instances of masters receiving reprimands occurred from time
to time. By the irony of fate, the most unsuccessful masters were
sometimes the cleverest men, who, however, had begun badly and obtained
a reputation which caused them to be tortured by successive generations
of boys. Of one of these unfortunate pedagogues it was said that
during school hours the first rank of his division talked, the second
whistled, and the third sang.

[SN: AN UNFORTUNATE MASTER]

One of the most ludicrous jokes ever perpetrated upon any Eton master
was played some ten years ago. At that time several new masters, not
all of whom were Etonians, had been appointed, more or less, I believe,
upon probation. One of these, who taught modern languages, though a
clever man, was of too confiding and gentle a disposition to cope with
the boys, and during school hours a scene of great disorder became
the almost invariable rule. Paper darts flew all over the class-room,
and every kind of queer noise was heard, though the poor man was
always unable to bring the offenders to book. Finally, on the 5th of
November a regular pandemonium prevailed, fireworks being exploded
in all directions, even under his very nose, with the result that he
was driven into a state of rage merging upon despair and determined
to adopt stringent measures. On the next occasion, however, when the
same set of boys came to take their lesson in the language of Molière,
what was his surprise to observe that, contrary to all his former
Eton experiences, the greatest decorum prevailed, his remarks and
comments being listened to in respectful silence, whilst occasionally
subdued murmurs of admiration greeted the expounding of some difficult
sentence. At the end of that school it had been his intention to
address a few words to the boys referring to the scandalous scene of
the previous week, but in face of their changed attitude he felt that
it would be churlish to show any undue severity, and merely spoke in a
tone of surprised regret, adding that he was much pleased to observe
such improved behaviour. Upon this a boy, who on previous occasions had
been one of the worst offenders, stepping forward, enquired, “Sir, may
I say a few words?” Permission being accorded, the youth made a stately
little speech, in which he said that any outbursts of indiscipline were
deeply deplored by the whole division, for whom he had been deputed
to speak. “They were merely,” added he, “playful ebullitions--proofs,
he might add, of the great popularity of a master whom they all
respected and loved. The fact was, his friends had been carried away by
enthusiasm, which in future would be kept within due bounds, and now
he hoped the whole incident might be forgiven and forgotten. Meanwhile
he had been requested to crave a favour, the granting of which he felt
sure no one acquainted with Eton tradition would care to refuse. It
was,” he continued, “an ancient custom of the school, when a master
attained to an unusual degree of popularity, for his division to be
allowed the honour of hoisting him, and that honour he and his friends
now sought from their beloved pedagogue.” The master, though rather
surprised, felt very much flattered and pleased at having, as he said
in a neat little speech of reply, so quickly gained the confidence and
love of his young friends, and at the end of school was carried round
the new schools, finally being deposited upon the cannon which all
Etonians know so well. As his delighted boys went off to their houses
they gave him a final cheer, which filled him with joy. On his way home
he met one of the older masters and told him of the demonstration,
adding, “Oh, I do so adore your quaint customs!” The astounded old
Etonian held his peace, but at the end of that half the newcomer had to
betake himself elsewhere, it being clear that the Eton boys were too
much for him.

[SN: ESCAPADES]

The old lawless spirit which had prompted so many poaching expeditions
and illicit rambles in the eighteenth century still lingered in the
writer’s day, when six or seven boys established a regular club, where
they could smoke and play nap, in a room over a Windsor toy-shop. One
of the chief organisers--now a Peer who has filled several important
public appointments--always took care to provide a rope-ladder by
which the party might escape in the event of a raid. Some of the
Windsor billiard-rooms were also occasionally frequented by a few
older boys, some of whom had a regular arrangement which ensured them
the exclusive use of the table on certain days of the week. As far as
the present writer’s experience went, no serious harm resulted from
these sternly prohibited escapades. Nevertheless, afternoons passed
in the consumption of much tobacco and some alcohol did no good to
health. The authorities, whenever any rumour of such breaches of the
school discipline reached their ears, did everything in their power
to set matters right. The wonder was, considering how alert were some
of the masters, that more of the culprits were not caught. The writer
remembers three--one of whom was his friend Mr. Douglas Ainslie, now
a well-known poet and critic--who had a very narrow escape indeed. On
such afternoons as they indulged in surreptitious visits to a certain
hostelry, these boys used to get into their house after Lock-Up through
the room of a small fag, who received careful instructions to look out
for their return behind the drawn blind of his window, by which access
could be contrived from the street. The signal agreed upon was a pebble
thrown gently at the glass. For a time this arrangement worked well
enough, but one winter’s evening the party, on reaching their house,
were dismayed at obtaining no response. One of them--in after life a
gallant officer of Highlanders who fell fighting at the head of his men
in South Africa--by climbing up and breaking a pane of glass, managed
to effect an entrance; his companions followed, and what was their
surprise on relighting the light, which had fallen over in the scuffle,
to find, cowering in the corner of the room, a beautiful little girl,
who was fairly frightened to death! When at last reassured, this
child explained that she was the sister of the owner of the room, who
had gone out to borrow some tea-things from a friend. Needless to
say, under such circumstances, the Lower boy got no hiding for his
delinquency.

In addition to his traditional duties, a master, it seems, now has
to mark in the boys in his class-room. Formerly this was done by a
praepostor, one being attached to every division. His office dated
from the foundation of the school, when he appears to have possessed
considerable authority, being indeed a sort of monitor. In modern
times, however, praepostors merely had to mark in all the boys in
the division to which they were attached under three heads, “Leave,”
“Staying out,” and “ab horâ” or “Late.” After every school all the
praepostors assembled in the colonnade and handed in their bills to
the Headmaster. As a rule the office of praepostor, undertaken by
every boy in turn, was popular, for such an official escaped most of
the school hours, was never put on to construe, and passed a good deal
of his time chatting to boys reported sick, whom he had to go and
see. Some boys disliked it, however, and by arrangement passed the
praepostor’s book on. The whole institution was a curious survival
of a past age. Well does the present writer remember standing as
praepostor by the side of Dr. Hornby calling Absence in the school-yard
and thinking that the ancient office would not last very much longer.
Within recent years his forebodings have been justified, for at present
but one praepostor (of the Headmaster’s division) exists, the work of
marking in being undertaken by masters in school and the boys at the
end of the benches in Chapel.

[SN: ROOMS]

Thirty or forty years ago life in an Eton house remained much as it
had been in the eighteenth century, the boys, provided they did their
work, being left pretty much to themselves, though some housemasters
interfered to prevent boisterous sports, such as football in the
passages. The rooms, though often very small, were, it must be said,
not uncomfortable, and quite a number of boys prided themselves upon
their taste in decoration. Some even had pianos in their rooms, a
privilege which was highly valued and seldom abused. The furniture of
the rooms generally varied but little. For the most part it consisted
of a shut-up bed, a “burry” (bureau) washstand, which also closed
up, and sock cupboard. In this the owner kept his tea-things and such
delicacies as he could afford. A favourite form of decoration was a
mantel-board covered, according to Victorian taste, with stamped plush
and brass-headed nails. In the summer term there was some competition
in the matter of fire-ornaments and flower-boxes. The former were
generally appalling in their vulgarity, their main feature being a
profusion of extremely garish ornament, mostly tinsel and sham gold.
Almost every boy had a few pictures, generally of a sporting kind,
even though he himself had never taken part in sport. The Eton print
shops must have done a fine trade in oleographs and poorly reproduced
representations of famous runs and steeplechases. Some few brought
comparatively good pictures with them from home. The writer remembers
a set of Eton prints in a boy’s room which at the present day it would
be extremely difficult to procure at all. The books were, of course,
mostly connected with work, a crib or two being generally hidden away
in case of a raid. On the whole an Eton boy was extremely comfortable,
for he could have pretty well anything he or his parents could afford
to pay for, while there was scarcely one who did not boast an arm-chair.

On the whole, the long-suffering boys’ maids, as they were called,
did their work very well. As a rule, it should be added, they were
middle-aged women, not remarkable for beauty. One housemaster,
indeed--Mr. Walter Durnford, formerly a popular figure at Eton, and now
Vice-Provost of King’s--according to current report, used, with perfect
justice, to pride himself upon the extreme ugliness of his maids. Be
this as it may, the boys of his house, which was next to the writer’s,
were often to be seen peering through their windows in order to catch a
glimpse of one of our maids, of whose good looks we were quite justly
proud.

[SN: FAGGING]

Fagging, though probably more arduous than to-day, entailed little
hardships on the smaller boys. Thirty years ago a fag’s duties
consisted in laying his fagmaster’s breakfast, procuring chops, steaks,
kidneys, or sausages from a sock shop, making toast, and poaching eggs.
He had to attend at tea-time again, but then as a rule was not called
upon to do anything in particular, his appearance at that hour being
more or less a matter of form. Besides this, a fag had to carry notes
and render other similar services when required to do so, while obliged
to answer to the call of “Lower boy” shouted by any one in Upper
Division. It should be added that the qualification as to place in the
school entitling boys to fag has gradually been heightened. Formerly
the whole of the Fifth Form could fag; but about three decades ago that
privilege was withdrawn from the Lower Division, and I believe the
number of fagmasters has been further lessened since then. This was not
on account of the privilege of fagging having been abused, but merely
because the number of Upper boys had grown too large in proportion
with those of the Lower. With the institution of breakfasts provided
by housemasters and eaten by the boys all together, fagging has shrunk
to a mere nothing. The most irksome part formerly was being obliged to
answer the call of “Lower boy,” when every one “fagable” was obliged
to rush at headlong speed to the caller, the last to arrive being the
one who had to perform the particular service required. In College, I
believe, “Here” was called instead of “Lower boy.” Also, at one time,
it would appear that any boy able to call out “Finge” before the rest
could claim exemption from taking notice of the call. I must, however,
add that I never heard anything about this when I was at Eton. Another
College shout was “Cloister P!” on hearing which the lowest boy within
call had to fetch a canful of excellent drinking water from the famous
old pump in the Cloisters, at the spout of which, in a rougher age,
many generations of Collegers had performed their ablutions. Owing
to the dearth of Lower boys in College for a long time past, it has
been the custom that every newcomer, irrespective of his place in the
school, should fag for a year.

In the distant past cricket fagging existed, and must have pressed
very heavily upon small boys, who were liable to be waylaid by Fifth
Form boys coming out of school. Cricket fagging then included bowling,
and was an irksome infliction which was just as well done away with.
Another disagreeable form of fagging which has now long been extinct
was crib fagging, which consisted in a small boy being obliged to read
out a crib to an assemblage of big ones. As a rule, on these occasions
another fag would be posted in the passage outside in order to give
time for the crib to be secreted should there be any chance of the
tutor making his unwelcome appearance. Towing boats up to Surly was the
most severe form of fagging. This was abolished by Keate some eighty
years ago.

[SN: NO BULLYING]

It is much to the credit of the Eton system that amongst the Oppidans
(the state of affairs in old Long Chamber was different) there seems
never to have existed any bullying. During the investigations of the
Commission in 1861 all the evidence tended to show that small boys
underwent no ill-treatment or persecution whatever. In the writer’s
opinion this in a great measure accounts for the independent and
buoyant spirit which has ever been a characteristic of Etonians in
after life. Many sensitive boys educated at schools where bullying
has prevailed have felt the results of it in a tamed and often broken
spirit.

[SN: “ORDERS”]

One of the peculiarities of Eton in old days was that unless a boy
supplemented his dietary by the purchase of provisions from the shops
in the town he would often have to go hungry, and even thirty years ago
in most of the houses the old Eton traditions as regards feeding were
in full force. All the boys received was a loaf, pat of butter, and
pot of tea for breakfast. Luncheon they all had together with their
dame in the large dining-room; this was a fairly substantial meal. Tea
taken in their own rooms exactly resembled breakfast, besides which
there was a very light supper in the dining-room, at which attendance
was optional. Almost without exception, of course, this somewhat meagre
fare was supplemented by the boys themselves, who purchased appetising
dishes from the sock shops at a reasonable price. An Eton custom at
that day, which probably still exists, was for the boys to have what
were called “orders” at one of these shops. This “order” consisted in
an agreement with a shopkeeper to supply a boy with provisions to a
certain amount every day, the boy’s father or mother having previously
paid a sum in advance. The arrangement was, of course, intended to
prevent the boy from finding himself bereft of all luxuries after the
pocket-money given him when he left home had been exhausted; but, as
a matter of fact, in the case of the more extravagant boys it almost
invariably missed its mark, for, getting round the shopkeeper, they
would persuade him to allow the anticipation of their “order,” with the
result that whilst during the first fortnight of the half they revelled
in every sort of delicacy, their breakfasts and teas during the
remainder of the school time were unenlivened by any toothsome dishes.
The most popular sock shops were then Harry Webber’s (now Rowland’s)
and “little Brown’s,” the door of which the writer, on a recent visit
to Eton, found shut.

The system of “orders” extended to other things besides sock shops,
a dame or housemaster having the power of giving them for clothes or
any other necessary. A boy applying for one of these signed permits
was supposed to be able to prove that he was really in want of the
article he wished to procure, and, the order being handed to him, was
recognised by a tradesman as a valid voucher that the sum for which it
stood would be included in the boy’s bill at the end of the half. On
the whole this arrangement worked well, but occasionally unscrupulous
boys, by arrangement with some not over particular tradesman, would
obtain some other article which was really anything but a necessary.

Dames were sometimes easy about granting “orders,” and not a few boys
prided themselves upon their adroitness in obtaining anything they
liked, and some of them managed to run up comparatively large accounts
with their housemaster’s or dame’s permission. An even more extravagant
and reckless kind of boy would contrive to persuade some tradesman
(generally a London one who knew something about the circumstances of
his parents) to allow him to run up bills without any “order” at all,
the understanding being that these should be paid when the boy had left
school or came of age. One such case the writer well remembers, the
perpetrator being a very dissipated youth celebrated throughout the
school for always being in trouble with the authorities. This boy was
a great dandy as regards dress, and it was currently reported that
he never wore the same pair of trousers twice. This, of course, was
an exaggeration, but he certainly had a wonderful stock of clothes.
On leaving Eton he had accumulated debts to a considerable figure,
and his after career was anything but a success, for after attempting
various forms of occupation, including amateur newspaper reporting, he
was last heard of keeping a little store in South Africa. An account
of the curious professions adopted by Eton boys would fill a volume.
On the whole, however, the majority do well, as, after all, is only to
be expected, considering that in the first instance their parents must
have been possessed of considerable funds in order to send them to Eton
at all.

[SN: IMPISH MISCHIEF]

Some tutors, unable to keep order in their houses, were the victims
of all sorts of unpleasant jokes. One of the most mischievous and
dangerous of these was to stretch a string across a passage and then
set to work to create such a noise as would be sure to attract the
tutor’s attention, with the result that when he arrived upon the scene
he would be tripped up. Another diversion of a somewhat similar sort
was to pile a number of iron coal-scuttles just at the top of a flight
of stairs, and, after creating a great din, kick them down upon the
ascending tutor, who would seldom be able to discover the organiser
of the outrage. A more amusing trick was the following. A small Lower
boy, having, with his own consent, been tied up in one of the huge
dirty linen bags, was placed in the middle of a passage and told to
keep perfectly motionless till he felt a slight kick, when he was to
rise at his assailant and hold on to his legs, calling out the name
of some big boy well known to all. This being done, all the occupants
of the passage would set to work to make sufficient noise to produce
their tutor’s appearance, upon which complete silence would prevail.
Nine times out of ten the tutor, walking down the passage to ascertain
the reason of the disturbance, seeing the dirty linen bag, would try
and kick it on one side, with the result that, rising at him, it
would clutch him by the leg and cause him to execute a multitude of
undignified gyrations, to the delight of boys peeping through doors
just ajar. When, finally, the small boy had been extricated from the
bag, it was very difficult to punish him, for he would invariably
plead that he had been tied up against his will, and in pinching his
assailant’s legs had been merely acting in self-defence against some
one whom he had good reason to suspect was a persecuting schoolfellow.

Throwing bits of coal out of the window at passers-by or shooting with
a catapult used to be favourite pastimes with boys of a past age.
Fierce battles were sometimes waged in the winter evenings between
the boys in adjacent houses, when they would bombard each other with
pea-shooters or squirts charged with ink or water. Occasionally this
warfare involved onlookers in the street below. The writer remembers a
great disturbance caused by an angry policeman whose helmet and uniform
had been liberally bespattered with ink.

Some of the houses contained broad and lengthy passages, on each
side of which were ranged boys’ rooms, a favourite amusement for the
occupants of which was standing by the open doors and awaiting the cry
of “Slough; change here for Staines, Windsor, Datchet,” when every boy
would slam his door in turn down the passage with a view to produce the
effect of a train about to start. Immediately after the completion of
this manœuvre the boys would at once fly to their “burries” (bureaus),
at which they would be found hard at work when the infuriated tutor or
housemaster arrived to discover the cause of the disturbance. In some
cases the unfortunate man would ignore the first performance of this
ingenious form of torture, but a second and louder slamming seldom
failed to bring him in hot haste from his private quarters. To punish
for this kind of thing was exceedingly difficult, for the boys were, of
course, at liberty to shut their doors, and collusion was not easy to
prove.

A number of boys spent their time experimenting with electricity and
chemicals, and the writer well remembers a friend having his face
severely injured by the explosion of some dangerous compound mixed
together in a flower-box. On another occasion the same boy (now a
well-known sporting peer) occasioned a serious panic. Having inserted
some detonating composition amongst the bricks of the railway arches
over which trains run into Windsor, he contrived to make it explode
just before the Royal train bearing Queen Victoria passed. It was a
time when Ireland was in a very disturbed state, and there was much
dread of some outrage. Consequently the Windsor and Eton police were
convinced that the explosion had a political origin, and every effort
was made by means of detectives to find the perpetrator. It was,
however, never discovered that he was an Eton boy.

[SN: HOAXING THE PRESS]

About thirty years ago, Eton boys were seized with a craze for hoaxing
the London Press, and some extraordinary letters appeared in various
papers. The most extraordinary of all was one bearing the signature
of an Eton master which described the writer’s remarkable experiences
in the country, where he had witnessed a conflict between a cow and a
partridge, in which the cow, after a prolonged chase, had eventually
captured and devoured the bird. The master eventually wrote an
indignant denial, but he was never able to discover who had taken his
name in vain.

The greatest practical joke ever played at Eton was the colossal
hoax perpetrated in the early eighties of the last century upon the
somewhat ingenuous editor of a newly-started London magazine, who had
been struck with the idea of increasing its attractions by publishing
authentic news of public-school life. Not unnaturally he began with
Eton, and, setting to work to secure contributors at that school,
obtained some really astounding information, which afterwards went to
the making of an extremely scarce little book called _Eton as She is
not_. More recently an amusing account of the whole affair appeared in
the _Cornhill Magazine_ at the end of an excellent article on “College
at Eton.” At first the editor’s correspondents merely furnished him
with accounts of local events, all of them pure invention; but,
emboldened by success, they soon went on to describe some interesting
old customs. The first was chronicled thus:--

  A curious custom takes place here on certain days in College Dining
  Hall, called “Passing the Green Stuff.” The second fellow at the big
  fellows’ table suddenly says, “Pass me that Green Stuff,” referring
  to a dish of mint placed on the table; then the fellow opposite him
  stands up, and says “Surgite” (arise), on which all the other fellows
  get up from their places and run the fellow who “broached” (_i.e._
  asked for) the green stuff round the School Paddocks, shouting out
  such military commands as “Quick march! Right turn!” etc. They then
  return to dinner, when a “grace-cup” is partaken by all except him
  who “broached” the green stuff.

[SN: “SLUNCHING” THE PADDOCKS]

In the next number readers were informed that at Eton Prisoner’s Base
is a great success, and the Paddock is almost always deserted for the
Cloisters. The following then appeared:--

  Another curious custom at Eton is “Slunching the Paddocks.” On a
  certain day all the Collegians and Oppidans are provided with a
  coarse sort of pudding, which is put to the following use. After
  dinner is over they all go to Weston’s and School Paddocks and throw
  their pudding all over them. This is “Slunching the Paddocks,” the
  pudding being called “Slunch.” It is supposed to be derived from the
  fact that when Queen Elizabeth visited Eton College “she lunched”
  (s’lunched) in College Hall, and the students sprinkled the paddocks
  with dry rice in her honour.

In the number published on March 5, 1884, a purely imaginary list of
the officials of the various school departments was given. There were
the Captains of the “Broach” and the “Slunch,” the two College boats;
the Captain of Cricket Tassels, R. J. Lucas;[12] Captain of Fives
Tassels, Havager Boroughdale; Captain of the Musical Department, R.
A. S. Berry-Young; Captain of the Curling Club, T. T. Vator; Captain
of the Spelican Team, Tute Goodhart; Captain of Ushers, J. Goodwin;
Steward of the Paddocks, H. Beecham Wolley; Choragus, C. Wofflington.
This was followed in the next number by the news that the Spelican team
had played their first match of the season on March 11 against the
Dorney Dubes. The Collegian Brigade, an admirable corps, which marched
out as far as Brocas Hedges, was later on described as having met
with a catastrophe, for “a bull loose in Weston’s Paddock, which they
passed through on the way, attacked the line, and a boy named Swage was
knocked over and slightly bruised.”

This went on for six months, when the Editor wrote and expressed
a desire to come down to Eton and see the place for himself. He
was duly shown a hockey match between B. Wolley’s “Field Mice” and
Flenderbatch’s “Jolly Boys,” the match being played with tassels on the
caps and all, which so impressed him that he returned to London and
wrote an account of what he had seen, giving at the same time a new and
original version of the School Song, addressed to “Pulcra Etona” and
praying among other things that:

  Slunna fluat,
  Semper ruat
     Capti fundamentum.

“Slunna” is slunch, “capti fundamentum” is sound Latin for prisoner’s
base. In high good temper he added that “our Eton correspondence is
supplied by a gentleman who is a universal favourite in College, and
the Editor is pleased to state that he has received letters from
Etonians all over the world, signifying their approval of his reports.”
He was disillusioned soon after, and no more space was devoted to Eton
and the strange doings of its students.

Though at that time something of the old-world spirit still lingered,
there survived few of the quaint “characters” who had once been fairly
numerous at Eton. The ever-gentle, suave, and urbane Giles of Williams’
(afterwards Ingalton Drake’s, and now Spottiswoode’s) will, however,
be remembered by many. How this good-natured man managed to book the
orders at the beginning of a school-time and keep his temper is a
mystery which will never be solved. He had, I remember, a red-headed
assistant, who, though a shade more inclined to frivolity than Giles
(who was scholastic gravity itself), seemed to have been born to serve
out broad rule and derivation paper without being ever in the least
perturbed by the chatter of crowds of Lower boys.

[SN: SOLOMON]

Another grave-looking character of this period was Solomon, who all
day long stood in a minute room at the back of Brown’s, the hosier,
ironing hats. Solomon’s appearance and demeanour did not accord ill
with his appellation. He was a white-headed old man who always wore a
paper cap somewhat resembling the traditional head-dress of a French
cook. Standing in his shirt-sleeves gently working his iron over
the nap of ill-used “toppers,” his favourite topic was the Turf, of
which surely no more ardent votary ever lived. All day long he would
discuss with the various boys who streamed into his little workroom the
chances of the horses entered for the next classic race. Solomon was
essentially an old-fashioned turfite in his ideas, and knew nothing of
starting-price jobs or other new-fangled manœuvres. He was, however,
acquainted with the form of all the more prominent race-horses, and in
his conversation laid gentle stress upon the value of a judgment which
no one wished to dispute. In spite of the old man’s ardent affection
for racing, I cannot help thinking that during his long life he had
seldom seen any races run. On this subject, however, it was best
to hold one’s peace. Though Solomon’s sanctum was the scene of such
eternal confabulations as to the great question of first, second,
and third, I cannot remember that much betting arose from it. As far
as my memory serves me, the majority of Solomon’s visitors remained
purely academic in their patronage of racing. Perhaps this was owing
to the fact that the Lower boys, of whom his ever-changing audience
was for the most part composed, had very little money, and preferred
to spend what they had in substantial dainties rather than risk it in
speculations of a visionary kind. I do not recollect Solomon doing any
serious betting for boys, but have a vague idea he occasionally put
shillings on. I was therefore surprised when told some years ago that
the old man had been driven out of his place owing to the action of the
College authorities, who objected to him as demoralising the boys by
assisting them to bet. I can only hope that this report was untrue, for
in my day, at least, his influence was quite harmless.

[SN: BETTING]

In the sixties, I believe, there used to be a school Derby lottery
every year, the winner of which generally got about £25. The
arrangements for this seem to have been placed in the hands of a
well-known character about the “wall” named “Snip,” but he had died or
disappeared long before my day, and the only lottery I remember was a
tiny private affair, the tickets of which cost sixpence or a shilling.
In connection with this subject it is said that of late years betting
amongst the boys has become a serious evil. If this is the case, the
school must have undergone a considerable change in its ideas within
the last quarter of a century. In the late seventies and early eighties
there was practically no betting at all amongst the boys, chiefly for
the reason just given, but also because there existed a widespread
idea that any attempt at speculation would eventually lead to loss of
money. A good many boys, no doubt, who had a love for the Turf looked
forward to gratifying a taste for speculation in time to come, whilst
others told extravagant tales of Turf triumphs during the holidays, but
few took racing seriously, their interest being limited to flocking to
the post-office to hear the first news as to the winner of any great
race. A salient proof that at that date no real betting existed was
the sensation caused amongst us by the rumour, based on truth, that
a new boy (the son of the Maharajah Duleep Singh, whose arrival at
Eton created some sensation), on being spoken to by a member of the
eight in the school-yard, had offered to bet him a fiver against a
certain horse, which wager had been accepted. This was the largest
wager we ever heard of as being made at Eton, and it was looked upon as
extraordinary.

On the other side of the High Street, opposite to the establishment
where Solomon ironed hats and gave forth his wisdom, a younger rival
also doctored battered “toppers.” As far as I can remember, he was a
far rougher individual than the racing sage, and possessed a tendency
towards familiarity which was not universally popular. He and Solomon
both resembled each other in one respect, which was their taste for
plastering every available inch of their walls with cuts and paragraphs
from cheap papers of a comic order.

A curious character amongst the sock shopkeepers of that period was an
old Italian confectioner, who owned rather a spacious shop with very
little in it up the High Street, on the right-hand side going from Eton
towards Windsor Bridge. This worthy, who was always attired in a cook’s
dress--white cap, apron, and all--made and sold most excellent ices,
which procured him a fair amount of custom from the Eton boys in spite
of the fact that his shop was considered rather “scuggish.” According
to common report, the proprietor had once been employed at Windsor
Castle, where his skill as an ice-maker had won the favour of Queen
Victoria, with whom for a time he had become a particular favourite.
One day, however, the Queen had caught him administering a thundering
thrashing to his wife, in consequence of which she had very rightly at
once turned him out of his post. This story, though resting upon no
credible evidence, was generally believed by Lower boys, and some of
them made a practice of infuriating the old man by hurling taunts at
him as they were going out of his shop. “What a pity, ‘Cally,’ you got
kicked out of the Queen’s kitchen!” they would call out, and the little
Italian never failed to fly into a great rage at their chaff. Indeed,
on more than one occasion he was said to have pursued boys into the
street with a knife in his hand, but this in all probability was mere
exaggeration. Nevertheless he had a violent temper, and for this reason
was constantly being drawn by mischievous boys.

[SN: A POPULAR INSTITUTION]

A more improving occupation than chaffing tradesmen was reading
books and papers at Ingalton Drake’s, the bookseller, who afterwards
took over Williams’, where all the school books were sold. This
establishment, owing to the good nature of the proprietor, was
constantly thronged with a crowd of boys, who, seldom making any
purchase, spent a good deal of time turning over the leaves of new
books just fresh from London. The _Times_ could also be read there.
As a matter of fact, the boys were very careful not to hurt or dirty
the books they took up or touched, and I do not think the owner of
the establishment had reason to regret his kindliness, which was the
means of many Etonians acquiring an insight into branches of knowledge
which the school curriculum made no attempt to include. Many a pleasant
and not uninstructive half-hour was passed here by boys to whom
cut-and-dried lessons made no appeal.

[SN: HOISTING]

The Eton traditions of three decades ago were not very many in number,
most of them being concerned with minor points of dress, things which
were to be done and were not to be done, and the like. Except hoisting,
few old usages survived, though, no doubt, the opinions of many
long-past generations still influenced the boys in their unwritten code
of what was “scuggish” and what was not. Hoisting, I believe, still
survives, though a very few years ago undue exuberance on the part of
the boys nearly caused its abolition. At that time (1904-1905) the
whole school would assemble along the wall on the evening of the School
Pulling, which always takes place after Lord’s, and await the arrival
of the members of “Pop,” who from Tap would walk arm-in-arm across the
whole street to opposite their Club Room in the building of the old
Christopher. They would then seize the winners of the School Pulling,
and, according to traditional custom, run up and down along the wall
with them, the whole school shouting at the top of their voices. If the
eleven had won at Lord’s, or the eight at Henley, its members were also
hoisted one by one. In the case of the School Pulling, the winners,
after being hoisted, were taken to some prominent upper window in one
of the houses which all could see, and water solemnly poured over their
heads, the jugs and crockery being eventually thrown out into the
street. This latter generally occurred just before Lock-up, all the
boys being still out in the street. The end was that “Pop” canes were
produced, arms linked, and everybody systematically driven into his
tutor’s house. The ceremony of hoisting was not very popular with the
public, for, in consequence of the noise, passing carts and carriages
generally went by a good deal quicker than the drivers wished, and
horses became alarmed, whilst no bicyclist was allowed to remain on
his bicycle, every one who passed being booed or cheered. Thirty years
ago the ceremony proceeded much in the same way, though there was more
consideration shown to the drivers of horses which looked likely to
become alarmed by noise; also the crockery-smashing ceremonial did
not exist, and would have been resented had any attempt been made to
institute it.

Like another custom of modern origin, “Lock-up Parade,” this very
undesirable addition to hoisting has now been forbidden. Lock-up
Parade, which did not exist in the writer’s Eton days, took place in
the Summer Half, just before the hour of Lock-up, when the boys walked
backwards and forwards within very narrow limits to the strains of
musicians stationed outside “Tap.”

[Illustration: Eton College from the River. _From an old coloured
print._]

Tap is, if possible, more flourishing than ever, being, as of old,
crowded on summer evenings. At such a time whilst the wet bobs on their
way home from the Brocas fill it to overflowing, a number of swagger
dry bobs also put in an appearance. In addition to the traditional
refreshments procurable at Tap, chops, steaks, bread and cheese, beer
and cider, coffee, chocolate, cakes, fruit, and other good things of
the same kind may now be got there, with the result that it is also
much frequented after twelve, though, of course, not by Lower boys,
who are still excluded as of old. A modern Eton fashion is the giving
of a breakfast under a tent in the garden of Tap during the summer
term. This is a very “swagger” affair, most of “Pop” putting in an
appearance. A few years ago, when some of the members of the Eton
Society were more than usually vivacious in disposition, the return
from Tap in the evening just before Lock-up was occasionally very
noisy, top-hats flying about in all directions, and passers-by finding
it difficult to proceed on their way without being playfully held up.
At present, however, the summer evenings are once again peaceful as of
yore--a happy state of affairs which should delight every true lover
of Eton, for it is beneath the rays of a setting sun that the tranquil
charm of the old red-brick walls and weather-beaten buildings makes
itself especially felt. [SN: SWINBURNE’S LINES] At this time of year
is it, more than any other, that the crowning glory of the place--the
playing fields fringed by the silver winding Thames--present such a
superb scene of placid beauty, whilst College close by whispers from
its towers “the last enchantment of the Middle Age.” No wonder that, in
spite of altered ways and habits, the spirit fostered by such stately
surroundings still remains alive--

  Still the reaches of the river, still the light on field and hill,
  Still the memories held aloft as lamps for hope’s young fire to fill,
  Shine, and while the light of England lives shall shine for
    England still.

It is to be hoped that these lines, written by the last great Etonian
poet to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the foundation, will be as
applicable to the school five hundred years hence as they are to-day.
May those yet to come continue to bear the torch of Eton, handed down
from distant generations, bravely aloft, whilst never ceasing to keep
before their eyes the duty of delivering it to their successors, its
flame bright and brilliant as of old.

FOOTNOTE:

[12] Captain of the eleven 1883-1884, Unionist member for Portsmouth
1900-1906. In more recent years Mr. Lucas has become known to many as a
writer with a particularly pleasant style, who is also possessed of a
gift for delicate versification.



INDEX


  Abingdon, Lord, 77

  Absence, 77, 259, 261, 283

  _Adventurer_, the, 246

  Agar’s Plough, 280, 281

  Ainger, the Rev. A. C., 121, 127

  Ainslie, Mr. Douglas, viii, 305

  Albert, Prince, 148

  Alford, Lord, 88

  Allen, Anthony, 136

  Allestree, Provost, 14

  Angelo, Miss, 64

  Ante-Chapel, 5, 187

  Army class, 231

  Athletics, modern admiration for, 241, 242

  Atholl, Duke of, 41

  Austen Leigh, Mr. R. A., 191

  Austen Leigh, William, 225


  “Bacchus verses,” 163, 164

  Badge-giving, 38-40

  Balston, Dr., 189, 290-292

  Barnard, Dr., 21, 22, 218, 264

  Barnes Pool Bridge, 52, 205, 293

  Bayley, Emilius, 275

  Beagles, the, 283-285, 296

  “Beaks,” 298

  Bear, Johnny, 217

  Benson, Mr. A. C., 166, 270

  Benthall, E. C., K.S. (Keeper of the Wall, 1911), 266

  Bethell, Mr., 150, 207

  Betting, 323

  “Bever,” 166

  Bircham, Mr. F. T., 90

  “Bishop,” 114

  Blake-Humfrey, Mr. R. H., 261

  Blandford, Lord, 41

  Bligh, the Hon. Arthur, 219

  Block, the, anecdotes concerning, 89, 90, 92

  Blomfield, Sir Arthur, 190

  Boating song, the Eton, its history, 121, 122

  Bogle Smith, 219

  Boland, Billy, 274

  Bott, College constable, 206

  Boudier, G. J., 280

  Bourchier, Mr. Arthur, organises theatricals at Eton,
    anecdotes, 219-221

  Brinsley Richards, Mr., 24, 85

  Brocas, 104, 262, 284, 327

  Brown, Tom, Eton tailor, 206

  Brown’s, little, 312

  Browning, Mr. Oscar, 291

  Brownlow North, Mr., 97

  “Brozier,” 62, 63

  Bryant, Jacob, 264

  Bryant or Brion (sock cad), 109

  Bulkeley-Johnson, Mr. Vivian, viii

  Bullying, anecdote of, 59

  “Burry,” 62

  Butler, Dr., 277

  Byron, 75


  “Cally,” 325

  Campbell, Lord Archibald, 41

  Captain of the boats, 249, 250, 261, 263

  Carnegie, Mr. Andrew, his opinions concerning Greek, 232

  Carrington, Lady, 293

  Carter, the Rev. W. A., 4, 39

  Carter’s Chamber, 200, 203

  Carvings, elaborate, upon old organ case of Eton Chapel, 178

  Castle (inn), 142

  Champeau, French swimming instructor, 263, 264

  Chapel, 5;
    its architectural history, 173-175;
    so-called restoration, 181, 182;
    old woodwork and organ loft, 175, 176;
    new stalls, 182;
    present condition, 184-186

  Chapel sock, 41, 42, 175

  “Check nights,” 256, 257

  Chitty, Right Hon. Lord Justice, 275

  Christopher, the, 53, 57;
    anecdotes concerning, 110, 119, 257

  Christopher yard, 213

  Churton, Henry Norris, declines scholarship at King’s, 226

  Cloister Pump, 162

  Cloisters, 159, 161

  Cobbold, Felix Thornley, last Eton scholar under old statutes, 225

  College buildings, account of alterations and restorations in, 156-191

  College, horse-play in, 208-210

  College in past days, 196-218

  Collegers, their food in old days, 203-205

  Collet, 219

  “Colours,” 282, 283

  Colours of “boats” at present day, 263

  Costume, old Eton, 34-36

  Coventry, Lord, 258

  Cradock, Zachary, 15

  Craven, Lord, 40

  Creasy (the historian), 125

  Creasy, 269

  Culliford, James (chief butler), 205;
    his son, 206

  Cumberland, Duke of, 16, 18

  Curfew tower, vulgarisation of, 193, 194

  Curraghmore, 89

  Curzon, Lord, 127, 249

  Cust, family of, 182


  Dalmeny, Lord, 170

  Dalton, the Rev. T., favourable to theatricals, 219, 220

  Daniel (captain of Harrow eleven), 276

  “Deadman’s Hole,” 265

  Deeson, architect and “restorer” of Chapel, 182, 183

  De Foix, 12

  De Quincey, 227

  Douro, Lord, 76, 137

  Drury’s, 247

  Duleep Singh, the Maharajah, 323

  Dupuis, the Rev. G., a Vice-Provost, 28, 29, 150

  Durnford, the Rev. F. E. (Judy), 286

  Durnford, Richard, first Eton scholar to go to King’s under
      new statutes, 226

  Durnford, Mr. Walter, 309


  East window, 185

  Educational system at Eton, reflections upon, 227-242

  Election Chamber, 159, 160, 223

  Election Saturday, 84, 202, 222-224, 257, 258

  Elizabeth, Queen, relics of her visit to Eton, 8, 167, 319

  Elliot, Mr. Willie, 221

  “Estaminet,” the, 116

  Eton and Harrow match, 275-279;
    incident after, 278, 279

  Eton Mission, 296

  Evans, Miss, 64

  Evans, Mr. William, 41


  Fagging, 59, 309-311

  Fight, a fatal, 96, 97

  Fighting, anecdotes concerning, 92-98

  Finlay, 269

  Finmore (Dr. Hawtrey’s servant), 91

  “Fire-place,” 216, 217

  Fives, 244;
    first regular court, 245, 281, 282

  Floods, 105

  Flowers, Jimmy, 104

  Font, new, 186;
    old, 187

  Football, 244, 245

  Foote, his remark at the Castle Inn, 142

  Fourth of June, 222

  Fox, Charles James, 22, 169

  Frampton Court, viii, 175

  Frescoes in Chapel, 179, 180, 181

  “Furking,” 267


  Games popular in 1770, 240

  George the Third, 30-33

  Giles, 320, 321

  Gilmer, 219

  Gladstone, 57, 127, 169, 170, 233, 247, 248;
    as an Eton boy at Montem, 137

  Godolphin, Provost, 89, 173, 176

  Goodall, Dr., 26-29, 68, 72, 95, 187

  Goodford, Dr., 85, 86, 91, 117, 237, 256, 292

  Gown, changes concerning, 210, 211, 215

  Gray, 242

  Green, “Polly,” 284

  Grieve, an Eton boy burnt to death, 45

  Groves, Barney, 104


  Hale, the Rev. E., 293

  Hall, Jack, 103

  Hall, the College, 15, 140;
    remodelling of western end, architectural history, 162;
    drastic restoration in 1858, 163;
    present condition, 165

  Harcourt, the Rt. Hon. Lewis, vii, 127, 128, 201

  Harding, 80, 273

  Harris, Mr., 234

  Harrow, 240

  Hatecliffe, William, first Eton scholar (1443), 225

  Hatton, Mrs., her “sock shop,” 247

  Haverley, Jack, 254

  Hawtrey, Dr., 40, 41, 58, 65, 66, 81, 84, 87, 95, 111, 118,
      143, 149, 150, 160, 255, 267, 274, 288-290;
    his monument in Chapel, 189

  Hawtrey brothers, 219

  Hawtrey, Mr. John, 51

  Hawtrey, Mr. Stephen, 233

  Heath, Dr., 25

  Henley, 240, 263

  Henry VI., 3, 5, 212, 225, 226

  Henry VIII., 6, 7

  Hexter, Major, 233

  Hill, Mr., saves old Eton organ case, 177

  Hoaxes, 100, 317;
    an elaborate modern one, 317-320

  Hockey, 245, 246

  Hodgson, Provost, 150, 196, 197, 203;
    his reforms in College, 215

  Hoisting, 326, 327

  Hoop, its former popularity at Eton, 242, 243

  Hoppie (sock cad), 110

  Hornby, Dr., 11, 65, 87, 92, 105, 169, 279, 288-290, 291, 294, 307


  _Illustrated London News_, 140, 211 (_note_)

  Ingalton Drake’s, 320, 325


  James, the Rev. C. C., 292

  Jesse, Mr. J. H., 88, 89

  Jobey Joel, 110, 219

  Johnson, William (afterwards William Cory), anecdotes of, 119-123

  Joynes, the Rev. J. L., 87, 287, 288

  Joynes, young Mr., 291


  Keate, Dr., 35, 50, 57;
    anecdotes of, 68-82, 102, 116, 214, 219, 231, 252, 255,
      281, 282, 294

  Keate’s Lane, 281, 282

  Kenyon, Lord, 219

  King’s, 132, 134;
    arms of, on old Eton organ case, 178, 223;
    dissolution of ancient bond with Eton, 225, 226

  Kintore, Lord, 97


  Ladas, 248

  Lanesborough, Lord, 284

  Langford, Lord, 39

  Layton’s, 59

  Leaving Books, 64, 65;
    Money, 65, 66

  Lectern, ancient, 187

  Leveson-Gower, Lord Ronald, 41

  Levett, Berkeley, 219

  Levi (sock cad), 109

  Lewis, Dr., 90

  Lock-up, 93, 305, 327

  Lock-up Parade, 327

  Lomax, 137

  Long Chamber, 158, 172, 197;
    description of, 200-202;
    remodelling of, 221-222

  Long Glass, 66, 67

  Long-morning, 60

  Lord’s, 276, 279, 326

  Lord’s (old), 274

  Lorne, Lord, 41

  Lotteries, 322, 323

  “Lower College” (obsolete form of football), 267

  Lower School, 8, 170-172

  Lubbock, Mr. Alfred, 277

  Lubbock, Mr. Robin, 278

  Lubbock family, 278

  Lucas, Mr. Reginald, 220, 319 (_note_)

  Lupton’s Chapel, 13, 185

  Luxmoore, Mr. H. E., 185

  Lyte, Sir Henry Maxwell, 3, 180

  Lyttelton, the Hon. and Rev E. (Headmaster), 295-297

  Lyttelton family, 278

  Lytton, Phil, 204


  M’Niven minor, 276

  Malim, William, 6, 7, 134

  Map-making, 49

  Marcon, W., 269

  Memorial Hall, 191, 192, 247, 248

  Miller, Jem, 272

  “Missis” (sock seller), 110

  Mitchell, Mr. R. A. H., 221, 276

  Monckton, George (afterwards Lord Galway), 41

  Montem, 33;
    description of and anecdotes, 129-156;
    waving the flag at, 144, 149;
    costumes worn at, 145, 146;
    last celebration, 148, 149;
    abolition, 150;
    relics of, 152, 156

  Montem poet, 152-156;
    odes, 153

  Mordaunt, H. J., 269

  Moultrie, John, 3, 40, 41

  Mowbray Morris, the late Mr., 2

  Mozley, Mr. H. W., 223

  Muttlebury, S. D., 263


  Naylor’s, Miss, 125, 127

  Newcastle scholar, 223, 240

  Nicknames, 60-62

  Noblemen, 38, 41

  Noblemen’s stalls (torn down at restoration of Chapel), 175, 182


  Officers’ Training Corps, 293

  Okes, Dr., 197

  Oppidan Dinner, 259-261

  “Oppidan scholars,” 231

  “Oppidans’ Museum,” 115

  “Orders,” 313, 314

  Organ case, description of old, 176;
    its history after being discarded by Eton authorities, 177, 178

  Organ screen, modern, 184


  Pass, Charley (sock cad), 108

  Pepys, 15, 164, 172

  Phillott, 269

  Pinnacles, rebuilding of old, 189, 190

  Plumtre, Mr., 150, 173

  Poaching, 101

  Pop, 77, 119, 247-249, 297, 328

  Porson, 213, 216

  “Poser’s child,” quaint usage, 223

  “Posers,” 222, 223

  Powell, Jem, 102, 103

  Powell, well-known character at the Wall, 268

  Poyntz, Stephen, captain of Montem in 1706, lines by, 136

  Praepostors, 6, 9, 306, 307

  “Private Tutors,” 41;
    nickname for “cads,” 102

  Private Tutors, 105

  Prose, 46

  Protestant Etonian martyrs, 7, 8

  Provost’s Lodge, 160

  _Punch_, 149


  Rackets, 281

  Rattee, contractor for “restoration” of Chapel, 183

  “Ripping,” quaint usage, 224

  Roberts, Lord, 170

  Rosebery, Lord, vii, 127, 171, 248, 258

  Rouse, Provost, 13

  Rowing, notes upon history of, at Eton, 252-263

  Rowland’s (sock shop), 205

  Rugeley, chapel at, 178

  Rushes, the, 122, 256


  St. Aldwyn, Lord, 258

  St. Andrew’s Day, 38, 265, 268, 269

  St. Thomas, Dominican Monastery of, 177

  Salt Hill, 130 _et seq._;
    present condition of, 156

  Salvin, architect, 194

  “Saps,” 239

  Savernake, Lord, 83

  Savile, Sir Henry, 9, 10

  School Magazines, 25, 26, 41

  School Pulling, 326

  Scrulton, F. F. V. captain of the boats, 1911, 263

  “Scug,” 62

  Second Upper Club, 280

  Selwyn, George Augustus, 264

  Selwyn, Thomas, diary of, 253

  Seymour, Berkeley, 136

  Sharpe, S. S., 263

  Sheep’s Bridge, 273

  Shelley, 94, 95, 123, 169

  Sheridan, Mrs., viii

  Shirking, 52, 53

  Shore, Jane, 5

  Simmonds, Mr. Robert, viii

  Sir Galahad, picture in Chapel, 185

  Sixpenny, 97, 280

  Sixpenny Corner, 97

  Slang, 62

  Smoking, 17, 305

  “Smut,” 117

  Snape, Mrs., 63

  “Snip,” 322

  Sock, 62

  Sock cads, 106-110

  Solomon, 321, 322

  Spankie (the celebrated sock cad), 106-109

  Spode, Mr. Josiah, 177

  _Sporting Magazine_, account of Etonian in 1799, 99-100

  Spottiswoode’s, 320

  Stafford, Lord, 39

  Stage coachmen, 113

  Statutes, their violation about 1834, 198-200

  Statutes, new, 225, 226

  Stephen, J. K., 166, 270

  “Stiggins” (see Rev. C. C. James), 292

  Stockhore, Herbert, the Montem poet, account of, 153-156

  Stone, Mr. Christopher, 62

  Stone, the Rev. E. D., 61, 244

  Stratford de Redcliffe, Lord, 94, 275

  Street, Mr. G. E., architect, 184

  Strugnal, 271

  Studd family, 278

  Sunday questions, 237

  Surly, 222, 256, 257

  Sutherland, Duke of, 39

  Swimming, 263, 264

  Swishing, 9, 82-88


  Tap, 66, 326-328

  Tapestry formerly in College Hall, 165

  Tarver, Mr. F., 219

  Teape, A. S., 277

  Theatricals at Eton, 218-221

  Thompson, Theophilus, 136

  Threepenny day, 206, 207

  Timbralls, the, 270

  Townshend, Charles Fox, 77, 78, 247

  Training Corps, Officers’, 26, 293, 294

  Trials, 24, 47, 236, 241

  Trotman (sock cad), 109

  Trotman’s gardens, 247, 282

  Tuck, a Colleger, 224

  “Tug,” supposed origin of term, 210

  Tutorial system, 229, 230

  Tutors, private, 41


  Udall, Nicholas, 7

  _Under the Clock_, dramatic sketch given by Mr. Bourchier
      when at Eton, 221

  Upper Club, 273, 276, 281

  Upper School, 168

  “Upper Sixpenny,” 280

  “Ushers,” 298


  Vaughan, Mr. E. L., 156

  Verses, Latin, 49, 238, 239

  Victoria, Queen, 33, 150, 324

  Volunteers, 293


  Wall game, notes upon, 265-270

  Walpole, Horace, 111, 112, 242;
    Sir Robert, 16, 19;
    Lord Walpole of Walterton, 16;
    Lord Walpole, 254

  Warre, Dr. (Provost), 253 (_note_), 294, 295

  “Water boils,” “Make tea,” 273

  Waterford, Lord, 88, 89

  Watts, 185

  Waynflete, William of, 4, 190

  Webber, College servant, 205

  Webber’s, Harry, 312

  Wellesley, the Marquess, 126, 127, 169, 227;
    his memorials in old and new chapels, 187, 188

  Wellington, the great Duke of, 59, 94, 105, 125, 169, 211;
    as a boy at Montem in 1781, 136, 137

  West, Rt. Hon. Sir Algernon, a survivor of the last Montem, viii;
    his experiences, 144

  Westminster, 258;
    boat races with Eton, 262, 263;
    cricket matches, 274

  White (Dr. Hornby’s servant), 92

  White Hart (inn), 259

  Wilder, the Rev. John, 162, 165, 181, 186

  Williams’, 325

  Winchilsea, Lord, 271, 272

  Winchester, 5, 181, 240, 275, 277, 279, 280

  Windham, William, 26

  Windmill (inn), Botham’s, 142, 156

  Windsor Fair, 53-55

  Windsor races, 56

  Woodyer, Mr. (architect), 189, 191

  Wotton, Sir Henry, 10-13

  Wren, Sir Christopher, 175, 176

THE END

_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Footnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter and relabeled
consecutively through the document.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are
mentioned.

Changing headers on odd numbered pages in the original publication have
been formatted as sidenotes and moved to near the topics they reference.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

p. 164: ζωή transliterates into English as zôê and κλέος transliterates
as kleos (Or ζωή short or κλέος long.)





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