The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Memories of Arnold and Rugby Sixty Years Ago, Parts 1 and 2
by A Member of the School in 1835, '36 and '37
Chiefly Chats with my Youngest Children
In The Sixth-Arnold's-Form (Aug. 1836 to June 1837.)
The Autumn Term is the time when great changes occur in every public school. I lost among my friends Male, Wheatley and Wratislaw, the last of whom was removed through a political disagreement of his father, a solicitor in the town, Dr. Arnold. Yet now and then we managed to arrange for walks together. However, in compensation, "most," as I wrote home in September, "of the brutes had left," [This opinion was not unfounded. In letter 142, "Stanley's Life, &c.," Vol. II., p. 51, Arnold writes:--"Sept. 23rd, I think that the School is again in a very hopeful state; the set which rather weighed us down during the last year is now broken and dispersed, and the tide is again at flood and will, I hope, go on so."] and my own highest desire was attained. To hear daily from Arnold's lips his rich and wise teaching, to feel that I was one of the body by whom he exercised a supervision throughout the school, committing to them all the minor details of management and discipline, and that I should partake of the trust and confidence he was held to place in all their relations towards him--than this I could wish no more.
But,--"Sunt lacrymae perum: et mentem mortalia tangunt." (Virgil, Aen. I., 466). Nay, there is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. On taking my place in the Sixth, where all the old members were strangers to me, I found myself looked at coldly and frowned upon. What could be the reason? Was there a malign influence upon me turning my fairy gold to dead leaves? At times there had been in the Fifth a little good-humoured banter as to dress, but, as there might be a dozen others in the two Fifths habited in like manner, this did not occur to me as the cause. Now, one day or another a sneering remark would be thrown out; then, at length, a letter was delivered me by post, evidently a joint concoction, very ill-tempered and with a mixture of what was meant for irony. This opened my eyes to what was my offence and its enormity. I had been guilty, against its unwritten law, of taking my place in the Sixth Form wearing--tell it not in Gath--a Byron collar!
Alack! To pay due honour to my new position, I had been rigged out with a fresh set, with mother, aunt and sister fondly admiring. So when I speeded a letter home to inform them of the tension of the situation, the gravity of the matter was not apprehended. Delays occurred; a letter (one sheet in those days was eightpence) of enquiry; then, to my remonstrances, a promise that the shirts should be altered at Christmas. How I achieved the momentous alteration, whether by the kindly intervention of Mr. Bird, has escaped me; but as a month, perhaps, elapsed, I am afraid I was thought to have yielded with a very ill grace, compromising all the while the dignity of the Sixth.
In my House, too, an alteration struck me as peculiar. The four fellows at the head of the Sixth were Charles Arnold, Arthur Hugh Clough, Charles Gell, and Richard Congreve. The last was removed into Bird's House and had the double study at the furthest end of the staircase, on the side of the Quadrangle opposite to my own. It seemed strange, I say, that when no praeposter was in the House when I came, nor had been since, that one should be moved from another House now, when H--and I had passed into the Sixth.
Of Congreve I saw very little. He was a tall, fair, strong young man, with an intellectual forehead and well chiseled nose. His manner was cold and reserved, and he kept so aloof that, except occasionally in the Hall, I rarely exchanged a word with him, and never so much as thought of looking to him for advice. If I kept my own staircase and dormitory in fair order that was enough, but in doing this I depended on myself alone.
The introduction of three praepostors into Bird's House brought in also, as a matter of course, the novelty of House fagging: a very distasteful consequence, since it had not existed when there were none. All below the Lower Fifth were liable to House fagging. Six fags, I believe, were allotted to Congreve and four each to H--and myself. With my biggest fag, M--, who resented his new duties, I had a good deal of trouble. When his turn came round my study was left untended and undusted. After various scoldings, which brought nothing but an impertinent reply, I was obliged to appeal to the cane, and therewith bring him under subjection; but he was not at all a bad fellow, only had a dislike of giving up his former freedom. Of a second I hardly recollect anything: he did what he had to do, and there was an end of it. The next two would come to me to help them in their work. The youngest, a little dark fellow named Martindale, seemed as if he had been a mother's pet before he was thrown into a public school. He took to me as though I were an elder brother, and used to come to me at any time, or sit in my study to be lifted over little difficulties in his work.
At the other end of my staircase a new boy, Brereton, placed in the Middle Fifth, was given E. Wheatley's study: he was a tall lad who had overgrown his strength and stooped from weakness. As scarcely any of the big fellows in the house had even risen to the Lower Fifth, he was looked upon as fair game to be kept back by any amount of interruption and rough bullying. After some time he appealed to me to protect him.
By arrangement with him, the next time he was bullied he was to call out, and I would come in. I did so, and found five or six fellows with things all topsy-turvy. I ordered them to leave the study. No one stirred. I then took out my watch and said, "To anyone who is here at the end of three minutes I will set an imposition." All lingered, but some left before time was up; to the others I gave 100 lines each to be done in a week. One did not bring it up, so I doubled it, and said that "if I did not receive it at the end of next week I would send him up, when he would most likely get a flogging." My staircase grew quiet and myself unpopular.
It was early in the autumn half that my theories as to the trust placed in the Sixth were brought to what seemed to me at the time, a rude test. Edward Wheatley came to pay a visit to Rugby and invited H--and myself to come and dine with him where he was staying, at "The Eagle."
There was plenty of time on a half-holiday to do so and return before locking up. We did not think then that it was necessary for us, being of the Sixth, to ask permission. We went, dined, and chatted of the past and future,--I will hardly say over our walnuts and wine, for though there was sherry brought in at dinner and port afterwards, I do not think that we took more than a glass of each apiece. We then had tea, and were just thinking of leaving, when the waiter came in to say that there was to be an excellent lecture on the microscope, with the limelight, in the large meeting room, and asked up if we would like to attend it.
The temptation was seductive enough: at the instance of our host we hastily and unthinkingly agreed. The lecture was able; the audience, though rather mixed, interested and attentive. A proof of it from the ridiculous side painted itself on my memory. A young woman, some distance off, clinging to the arm of her swain, suddenly broke the silence of the darkened room with an exclamation in which terror was uppermost. "Oh! Jem, if they should get out at us!" Her eyes were rivetted on the shadows of the monstrous creatures moving about on the illumined sheet, but of their real nature and size her dense ignorance gave no idea. Having enjoyed the lecture, H--and I quietly walked up to our house and reported ourselves just before ten.
A day or two after, Bird sent for me, though I was junior in Form to H--, and asked me what I had to say as to being in so late? I told him frankly the whole. To my astonishment he said, "I cannot pass it over: I must report you to Dr. Arnold."
Rather huffed, "Oh, very well," I answered, off-handedly; for I thought a few words with him would set everything right. A day or two after Arnold summoned us both independently.
What passed with H--I never knew, for I had as little intercourse with him as I could. When my turn came, I told Arnold as frankly as I had done with Bird how it fell out; especially saying how we had spent our evening at the lecture without forethought.
Of course the freedom which I had had at home with my father and private tutor, and my exaggerated notions of the trust placed in the Sixth misled me. "But what!" he said, "you went and dined with a boy of your own standing, who only left last half?" of whom, however, he did not know that he was virtually his own master, and a thorough gentleman in thought and manners. "Yes," I said, with some surprise, and added, or implied, that I did not see that I had done anything wrong. "Well, but," he said, "such circumstances might easily have led you into excess." Then I gazed at him and spoke outright. "I took no more than I would have done at my father's table."
He could not measure the strength of my words, for he could not know the example of moderation and honour my father had always set me, or the reverence with which I regarded him.
After a pause the words fell from his lips, "Abstinence is easier than moderation." I thought he impugned my truthfulness: my face flushed with anger, I threw back my head, compressed my lips, and spoke no word more. A few remarks he added in the same strain, and then said he would see me again. Early next week, he signed to me to remain after lesson.
"He was grieved," he said, "at our conduct, but there was a way of showing the sincereness of our regret. The next Sunday, according to the notice, the Lord's Supper would be administered, and I could come to it as a sign of that regret." Now, though I had been confirmed long before, I had never attended it. He was not aware of the anxious difficulty in which he had placed me. I had been brought up amongst those who deemed that the Holy Table was a place round which none should gather but those who lived lives devoted to God; that the Lord's Supper was a Sacrament to be partaken of rather as a preparation for death, than as a means of strength during the struggles of life.
In the church my father attended, the administration was the three times a year. As the moral character of the clergyman was not regarded with respect, the numbers of those who even then partook of it were very scanty.
Again, in the way in which Dr. Arnold put it, it occurred to me that I should be confessing that I had done something morally wrong, and in coming therefore should be acting one thing, while I felt the opposite. Sunday came; H--remained and received the Communion; I did not. A few days (on one of which as I passed behind H--in crossing the quad, to my disgust I head him talking filthily to another below him in the school) intervened. Then Arnold again spoke to me only and said, " as I had not shown, by meeting his suggestion, any sorrow for my conduct, he must set me an imposition to mark his disapproval of it." It was far from being a heavy one. He did it gravely, and seemed to impose it reluctantly, with pain to himself. I gave up every atom of spare time till I had completed it, then after lesson offered it silently. He looked with his brows a little uplifted, took it, but said nothing. Perhaps his Sermon X. in "Christian Life, etc.," preached 13th November, 1836, was intended with reference to this very case, to explain the relation which must exist in school-life to the law, and the necessity of subjection to it; but it did not seem to meet my case, since I held that, if I had erred in judgment, I had done nothing wrong. Oh! how many and many a time after I left Rugby I longed to have seen him for half-an-hour, to remove his misconception about me.
To finish with this point: after the interval of half a life-time I met with H--'s brother, holding a position of esteem and value in his profession. I noticed that he evaded my enquiries at the moment; afterwards he let me know privately, that poor H--had gone to the dogs, and that his name was never mentioned, and indeed was only known by a few of his family.
Congreve afterwards spoke to me about the duty of attending, but it was in a cold lecturing way, which repelled, not drew me. In his after-life he became one of the leaders of the Positivists, following the faithfulness, I am confident, his own convictions, however startling to others the result.
I would, however, I had had resolution to go afterwards to the Lord's Table in the School Chapel! It would have given me strength I needed, and formed another link in the love which I bore to him whose teaching, under sternness of manner, was so earnest, truthful and holy.
Early during this autumn I asked my mother in a letter what part of the Scriptures they were reading at home. She at once divined the purport of my enquiry, that my daily reading in my study should be the same as in their family prayers, and gave me a sketch of the sequence in which they were taking the Prophets. This, however, proved the source of much mental doubt and struggle. Towards the close of my time at Bishop's Waltham, the head boys read with the master "Keith's Evidences of Prophecy" for the Scripture lesson. The narrative style, its quotations from travel, and the greatness of the subject powerfully attracted me. I drank in the author's statements readily and unquestioning; but, in my Rugby musings, I soon became aware of, and was over and again struck with, the unfair way in which texts were misapplied and distorted in meaning: metaphors taken as facts: literal fulfillments deduced beyond reasonable proof. The effect was to unhinge my former trust, so that, while I still retained all my profound admiration for the grandeur of their ideas, I was led to regard the Prophets' language in the light of the outpourings of high poetic dreams. It was years afterwards when Arnold's "Sermons on the Interpretation of Prophecy" (published in 1839), read amid the work and stress of a heavy parish of 10,000 people (my first and virtually sole charge), enabled my mind to regain its balance and restored a truer and healthier tone.
To anticipate here what, perhaps, did not actually happen till the spring of '37, Arnold, with a few serious remarks to us, introduced the plan that we should learn by heart and bring him up before morning service a short psalm. Going to school and back made it like an extra lesson thrust into the Sundays. The alteration vexed me much, as it took away from me the quiet hour which I was used to employ for searching out in the Scriptures points of interest, and for reading when the house was all quiet around me, as most of the boys were out for an hour's walk. [The system of filling up the Sunday nearly all the day, so as hardly to leave any unengaged time to the fellows, is now carried out still further; whether with good effect on their moral character and religious training I more than doubt.]
To recur to school incidents. A boy from the next house beyond, Grenfell's, "checked" me in the road. I had laid hold of him, when Charles Arnold came by and enquired "What was up?" as an open struggle between a boy and a praeposter was not the correct thing. I was speaking when suddenly the boy swung himself round to get loose, and his elbow, with no intention on his part, hit me under the right eye. Charles Arnold, like Neptune, composed the winds and waters, but I carried a black eye next day into Arnold's form. He turned and gave me a look of rebuke--which was quite enough, though he said not a word.
Soon afterwards came the football match of the Sixth against the School. Thirty against all who could be brought up to attend of 270. It was a recognised time for paying off old scores. As in the previous year, I was again, through my ignorance of the game, put to keep goal with two or three others of the weakest Sixth Form fellows. A rush of a dense mass towards our goal, kicking the ball before them. I sprang out and was fortunate enough to kick back the ball, but my charge carried me among them and I was straightway encompassed by the crowd. I head the cry, "We've got him, had him well," and they formed a ring about me and hacked away. Lest I should be thrown down I stood with my feet apart. They succeeded well in hacking each other instead of me, for, after the scrimmage, I found I had only a scraze or two of no consequence. How long I so stood I don't know, it seemed an age; I daresay it was only a few moments. Then I saw Ingram, one of the tallest and heaviest fellows in the Sixth, come plunging into and breaking up the mass. So I was rescued; the crowd scattered before Ajax Oileus, and the ball was driven towards School quarters. The game continued on the next half holiday, when the ball was driven into the Island ditch on which the right of our goal rested. I jumped down to secure it, when a biggish and vengeful fellow from Bird's, one of those to whom I had set the imposition in Brereton's study, S--(who was, a twelvemonth later on, expelled for stabbing a schoolfellow with a penknife), aimed a kick at my head, which was on a level with the ground. He missed my temple but "yet came all too nigh," as his boot's tip took me right across the left cheek. I was in a dreadful fright at the thought of Arnold seeing me with another black eye, so, as soon as I got to my study, I bathed it over and over again with eau de Cologne. This reduced the swelling indeed, but left me next day with a fiery cheek that looked as though it had been branded with a hot iron. Arnold's eye was again upon me, looking steadfastly. He then turned away, and, before the lesson was ended, made a few remarks and said that members of the Sixth were expected to exercise tact, and not to get into collision with boys of the school. As he did not address me personally, of course I could not explain.
(To be continued.)
Pt 2 Pgs 127-135
By A Member of the School in 1835, '36 and '37
In The Sixth--Arnold's--Form (Aug. 1836 to June '37.)
My memories of life in Class must needs take the form of disjointed jottings, disjecta membra. I cannot be sure of their sequence, and they would hardly fall into heads.
The themes which Arnold set us proved my severest tasks. I used often to read on the subject three or four hours before settling down to write. If he approved, it was ample reward. One such subject I recollect was the "Life of old Parr." I carefully collected in a long Latin theme all the main social and political movements of the century and a half over which he lived, and to do this I had given up eight hours. His general remark to the Form was, that "most of the themes showed an utter absence of the dramatic sense: that he did not want a history of the times, but of things that would have struck such a man as Parr,--his having seen, for instance, the car laden with sheaves of arrows going to Flodden Field, or the new bibles in the churches chained to the desks, and the crowds gathering round to hear them read." Not long after, he gave as a subject "The meeting of Alexander, Julius Caesar and Napoleon in Hades." So I sought to dramatise. I can just recall that I attempted to draw Julius Caesar as a cynical censor of both Alexander and Napoleon, and made him use in reference to the death of the Due d'Enghien, Fouchè's comment, " 'Twas worse than a crime, 'twas a blunder," Contrary to my expectation, instead of a pleasant comment he looked grave and displeased, as though he thought I must have a moral screw loose to have adopted and used such a remark.
I was more successful in a Greek prose theme, "A Periplus from London to Athens." His words in mentioning my exercise with a few others in Form, and his kind sweet smile, seemed worth to me more than all my trouble.
In Latin and English verse I was also named more than once. In one copy, which as usual he looked over with me, sitting, as we used to do, alone beside him at his desk, he marked a word as a mistake in quantity. I said, "Lucretius so used it," and quoted the line. He looked quite pleased at my knowing the passage, but then added with his winning smile, "I would not advise you to take Lucretius for your authority in scansion: you had better confine yourself to Virgil, Horace and Ovid."
Upon every "construe" which a fellow made when called up, he set distinctly its own separate value. For many years I preserved the book in which I had recorded carefully every experience of my own, but with the notes of Prince Lee's Lectures in the Upper Fifth, and the seven numbers of the Rugby Magazine, it disappeared in some of those removals in after life to which I have adverted above.
The most fatal word in a stern, but unfrequent voice was, "Sit down." The next expression was, "That will do," expressed in three cadences, the one implying barely moderate, the next fair, and the other good. Then came "Thank you, that will do"; "Thank you," ; or, "Thank you, very good." When pleased with an explanation in answer to a question he had put, his favourite expression was "Clearly," pronounced distinctly as a tri-syllable. It was like the light of a lamp thrown on the answer.
In such lectures as Thucydides, or Eyre Evans Crowe's French History, his wealth of illustrations were listened to with eager interest and filled us with marvel at their appositeness and variety, culled from the history of one nation after another. A few brief words and we had brought before us a coincidence, a parallelism, or an antagonism from ancient or modern history.
On another occasion he dwelt upon the necessity of having some system for connecting chronology with history: he did not set much store by the "Memoriæ Technicæ" then commonly in vogue.
As a wider mode he advised us first of all to connect the commencement of each century with some event in a nation's history; and then mentally reckoning backwards and forwards approximate to the dates of events in the interval. He instanced to us how readily English History lent itself to this method. Thus:--
Egbert's accession marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800 A.D.
or, he said, we might even go so far as to take the
Defeat of Edward by Bruce, at Bannockburn, in . . . 1314
In like manner, towards more accurate knowledge, we might choose events coinciding, as nearly as may be, with the half centuries; and still further pursuing the method with more exactness, select events coincident with the quarters of the centuries. Thus we should be enabled to synchronise intermediate events with very close correctness. But, he added, there are times in the histories of nations which require a knowledge of chronology year by year: thus, in Greek History, in the 100 years from the Ionian Revolt, 500 B.C., to the conquest of Athens by Lysander, and the return of the Ten Thousand 400 B.C., we should discriminate between the events of each year; at least for the first twenty-one years to the battles of Platæa and Mycale, and for the twenty-eight years of the Peloponnesian war.
That again at some particular crisis a more minute exactness than even this should be sought; as in Roman History, from the Consularship of Cicero B.C. 63 to the death of Julius Cæsar B.C. 44, we should endeavour to synchronise events by months or even by days.
The depth of his tones, and the pathos of his voice when he read out for turning into Greek iambics Wordsworth's piece commencing--
"Great Jove, Laodamia, doth not leave
still linger in the chambers of memory like far off echoes. What did not attract me was his fondness for Aristotle's Rhetoric: he appeared to consider it the easiest of Greek books. His sermons oftentimes in their love of analysis and definition, though so far forth hardly adapted to attract young listeners, bore the marked impress of this partiality. To me the Rhetoric presented a dry terminology. I often wished he would call me up in Cicero's De Naturà Deorum, with which perhaps I was as conversant as almost any in the Form, but this he reserved for the highest; or in Aristophanes, which my familiarity with Shakespeare helped me to appreciate.
Herewith the remembrance of a little device of mine can still provoke a smile. Finding he never called me up in Aristophanes, I bethought me that I would lead him into doing so. My scheme might have had every chance of "drawing" Bonamy Price or Prince Lee. As one little witticism after another came up in the Greek, I paralleled it in a low whisper to the fellow sitting next to me, William Lea, with some expression from Shakespeare which had occurred to me while getting up the lesson. I was hoping to hear a sudden, "--, go on." Lea nudged me, I turned to his face and saw his eyes directed with a look of terror towards Arnold's desk; thither then I turned mine. I cannot forget the lightnings that flashed from his eyes and the wrath which sat upon his brow as his tall form stood before me. No word was spoken. Alack! I was not called upon; neither then, nor ever in Aristophanes.
The early morning lesson was in Septuagint. Under his vivid teaching the rolling eloquence and grand prophetic inspiration of Deuteronomy grew into one's whole soul, spite of struggling through it in the crabbed Greek. Nearly at the close of my year we had reached the last part of Judges. I was construing when I came to the passage c. xviii. 30: "Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh," and was speaking with some hesitation, for we had found in getting up the chapter that there was a different reading of "Moses," instead of "Manasseh." Many eyes were turned to Dr. Arnold, enquiringly. Noting our interest in the point he threw a smile round. "Yes," he said, "this is one of the instances which shows the advantage we derive from possessing independent versions. Both our authorised version from the Hebrew and the Septuagint from the Vatican MS. read 'Manasseh'; only Jerome's Vulgate preserves what was undoubtedly the ancient reading, 'Moses.'" He then explained to us how the Jews came to alter it, from repugnance to the thought of their great Lawgiver's grandson lapsing into idolatry, and the easy process by which the alteration was made. We were taught also to look to the Vulgate, and more especially the Septuagint, as co-ordinate authorities with our own version: a view which fuller experience has only deepened.
It befell me, on what must have been December 4th, 1836, to read in my turn in Chapel the second evening lesson,--the 10th chapter of Hebrews. I knew it well, but I suppose through constitutional excitement and nervousness in beginning--perhaps confused between the two different readings--I left out the interrogation in v. 2: "Would they not have ceased to be offered?" and so made nonsense of the clause.
The next day came severely the remark, that when any member of the Sixth was reading before the school, he should take care not to make mistakes which destroyed the sense. Arnold had no belief in or sympathy with nervousness. He did not know what modern science had indicated,--the different effect produced by what may be called a dactylic, instead of the usual spondaic rhythm of the heart; or the different nervous temperament in one whose pulse was tardy like his own, and in one whom very slight excitement would make it spring up from a normal 75 to 100. He might perhaps have lived a longer life, but of less concentration and usefulness, had his pulse been more elastic.
Throughout '36 I had hopes of being able to sit for a scholarship, limited to my native county, at Corp. Chris. Coll., Oxon: it was confined to candidates between 14 and 19. The previous one had fallen vacant just after I was 14. The expectation of this one hung on from month to month. I went for my Christmas vacation, even then hoping to be called up from home any week, but the resignation of the Fellowship, and consequently the vacancy of the Scholarship below it, was not declared till a few weeks after I was 19, and so superannuated.
At the Christmas Examination in Extras I endeavoured a rather ambitious programme. I can recall only two of the subjects I presented: one, the "Tenth Satire" of Juvenal to translate and say by heart; a second, "The Dorian Migration," from Thirlwall, a tough subject. Repetition did not come easily to me, so I thought that the Juvenal would help to increased fluency for every-day work; but in the vivá vere, being put on at one place by Arnold, then suddenly stopped and put on at another, confused me, and I did not do myself justice, though my answers showed that I had mastered the contents of the Satire.
In the questioning on the Dorian migration I was getting on swimmingly, till in a reply I mentioned the "sorrowful signs" Bellerophon bore with him. "And what are the Greek words?" was Arnold's rejoinder. I had, alas, contented myself with Thirlwall's text! "In reading up a subject," was the rebuke, "you should never content yourself with the author's statements, but verify his references." So I had no prize adjudged, and the passage in Iliad vi. 166, when I afterwards looked it out, left an abiding remembrance, but were (2 foreign words) to me.
Another extra I attempted for Easter, '37; sending in a poem for the prize, the subject set being "Pilgrimage." In this I gave a sketch of the Crusades, and then dwelt more fully on a few chosen incidents in the usual heroic measure. The prize was assigned to Richard Congreve for one in Spenserian stanza. When I read his philosophical treatment of the subject, I felt how far his reach was above my narrative style, and how justly the prize was allotted to him, and for years afterwards I often read his poem, keeping it amongst my Rugby papers till, as I have said, they disappeared.
In those days there was not, as now, cocoa and biscuits before going in to prayers and lesson before breakfast. Sitting up for work to the limit allowed over night resulted in hurrying down and generally running the 300 yards to big-school to prayers; since for these Arnold never expected a Sixth Form fellow to be late. Then there was the hour's lesson, and when I reached the house again, chilled and "leer," appetite for breakfast was pretty well gone. Then by mid-day, hunger almost ravenous came on, with no resort but the "Tuck Shop." To meet Arnold in coming out of this was to incur a frown and look of vexation. Of course the effect of the "Tuck Shop" was again to spoil dinner; especially as, according to the even still too common fraud in public schools, the food was sometimes in a state to be repulsive. Hence it issued that one was living on the capital of the constitution, with strength slowly running down in that long winter half.
Now and again I had to betake myself to the sick room towards the close of the week's work. But old Bucknill's idea was that all boys had two ailments only, overfeeding or shamming; so purgative pills were dealt out to do more mischief, when the system was crying out to be braced by a tonic. [A touch of the ludicrous mingles with this recollection. The dull sick room, with its north aspect, was now and then cheered by Fuller's joining me out of sheer idleness. He was careful to take no harm from the doctor. In spite of the watchfulness of the she-dragon was acted as matron, he contrived, making all sorts of wry faces and contortions, before her very face to secret his dose of pills. Then, when she was safely gone, would produce them with a chuckle.] Hence I felt that I was not making headway as before. An incident in the Sixth did not make things more pleasant. A levée of the Form was called by Ch. Arnold, the Head, at which he reported that K--had struck Charles Gell, and proposed a vote of censure upon him for such a breach of good fellowship between one member of the Sixth and another. In this he was supported by Arthur Clough. [I cannot refrain from dwelling for a moment on my reminiscences of Clough. I do not think I ever spoke with him while we were in the Sixth, but the features of his beautiful face seem as clear now as though I had seen him but a month ago. He sat next but one on Arnold's right; my seat was on the opposite side with my back to the south window of the Library, the full light from which streamed upon Clough's face when he raised his head. There stand out distinctly the features which I loved to look on, for they seemed to realize to me a portrait such as I had seen by some great Italian Master, touched into life. The dark hair drawn across the white broad brow; beneath, the dark deep eyes, the long black lashes and the thoughtful countenance; and above all the almost feminine expression of trust and affection with which he looked up at Arnold in answering his questions or hanging on his words.] How K--came to strike Gell I could never imagine; he was a tall, wiry, athletic, high-spirited fellow, very popular; Gell was retiring and inoffensive, physically weak, who died afterwards before his degree. When put to the vote, out of the thirty on the side of the room nearest Arnold's seat four head fellows held up their hands in favour of the censure, then, with a break, one or two; then, on the second side, three, or perhaps, four, including Fred. Gell and Lewthwaite; and, on the third side of the room, myself alone. The negative was not put, the censure fell through, and the levée broke up, re infectá. K--came across me afterwards at the School gates, rated and sneered at me for my vote on what I thought his cowardly act. He went so far that I expected every moment a slap in the face, so I clenched my fist by my side ready to dash in a return blow. The row would have been a short and sharp one. I might have struck him hard once or twice, and then his superior height and strength would have told against me. However, he thought better of publicly incurring a second quarrel, which could hardly have failed to reach Arnold's knowledge, and went away. The occurrence did not tend to friendly feelings from those who supported him. It perhaps disclosed, also, how liable at any time the Sixth Form System was to disruption, even during the height of Arnold's influence.
Matthew Arnold joined the School in '37 and was placed next me. I found him very reserved, and he seemed to have a singular constraint towards his father. Henry Bunsen was on my other side and we were friendly till he left, when I became next to William Lea; with both of these I fell in during after life. The companion with whom I was most intimate was Octavius Carey. We kept up mutual visits in our vacations while he was at Oxford and I at Cambridge, corresponding afterwards till the bloody day when, through his own chivalrous sense of honour, he fell at Moodkee. [December 18th, 1845.]
Geology I dabbled in, having met with "Lyell's Principles" in the School Library. A piece of spar still remains which I obtained from the lowest Lias at the deep cutting, then being made, on the London and Birmingham Railway; I loved to gaze from the top of its banks on the three spires of Coventry. The slight knowledge acquired of what was then a new science was like a seed thrown into the ground, which did not germinate till long years after. I still eagerly pursued Entomology, chiefly with Wratislaw.
Among the most cherished reminiscences of the Sixth are the dinners to which Arnold invited us, in small detachments, once each half year. There were always some guests of note, public men, or old pupils who had done well at the Universities. His conversation was frank and unconstrained, and he threw himself, with all the eagerness of his nature, into any topic discussed. At the first dinner in the Autumn half, the question of the admission of Jews into Parliament came up. His strong views on the identity of the Church and State led him to speak as he was wont to do, most determinately against it, holding the opinion that, by so doing, we should relinquish the Christian character of the nation and the hopes that Christianity would become its moving force. Stanley's Life of him has since shown that, closely allied thereto, the question of his position as a Fellow in the new University of London was weighing deeply upon his mind and that he had, as yet, not lost hope that an examination in books of the Greek Testament as part of the subjects for a Degree might be upheld, as giving to the University a character distinctly Christian without Sectarianism.
At dinner in the first half of '37, I think it was Lake who started an observation in laudation of the efforts which were begun to be made to resuscitate the Welsh tongue. The suddenness and force with which Arnold, his eyes flashing, threw himself on the opposite side quite startled me, sitting close by him and hanging on his every word. He dwelt upon the evil that would result from encouraging in the Welsh a feeling of national isolation from England; that the statesman's aim should be to blend the two peoples together into one nation, and that he could only regard anyone who encouraged such revival of the Cymric as no less than an enemy of England.
Then, when we moved into the drawing-room, there was the chat with dear, sweet Mrs. Arnold, making enquiries of, and showing interest in, each one of us separately; or some intellectual conversation with Miss Arnold (Jane); or games with some of the little children, the youngest not long out of the nursery. Those short hours were like a green oasis and running waters in a sandy waste.
At the end of the half I hoped to be allowed to sit in the Exhibition examination, not, of course, with the slightest idea of getting one, for I knew both that I was over age, and that I was in attainment below those to whom they would fall; but with the idea that the examiners would place in their order of merit, and state the marks of any of the Sixth who chose to sit. This I was informed could not be allowed, and so my time at Rugby came to an end with disappointment. No loss, may be, since I was so used up, that I did not even care to accept the friendly invitation of Tom Hughes to come and stay with him for two or three days at his father's house on my way home.
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