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And other Works.
And other Works.
We have received a complaint that the · Young Folks' Paper
ART. I.--A History of Eton College, 1440-1884. By H. C.
Maxwell Lyte, C.B., Deputy-Keeper of the Records. With illustrations by P. H. Delamotte and others. A new edition, revised and enlarged. London, 1889. THE
Lady of Eton beside Windsor, founded on the 11th of October, 1440, by King Henry VI. The older foundation of Winchester precedes that of Eton by more than fifty years, and celebrated the conclusion of its fifth century in the year 1887. A continuous life of 450 years, during the whole of which it has held a conspicuous place among English schools, has preserved for Eton a distinction which was at first conferred upon it by its royal origin, its situation under the shadow of Windsor Castle, its great revenues and stately buildings. It is not our intention to catalogue the · Eminent Etonians' who have been luminaries in Church and State. The cynic would say that they would have been luminaries in any case, and must have been educated somewhere. The patriotic Etonian loves to trace the common features of his school in the portraits of his famous countrymen, and to believe that the Battle of Waterloo was won in the Playing Fields, and that · Pop' was the training ground of orators. At any rate, without affirming that public schoolmen owe all to the school at which they were brought up, or that they owe nothing at all, we may agree that there is something of an oos which distinguishes Eton men from those who have the characteristics of Harrow or Winchester, just as we can commonly discern, after half an hour spent in a man's company, whether he took his degree at Oxford or Cambridge.
Eton has gone through many phases, and it is not always easy to recognize her in all guises. But from early times we think
Vol. 171.–No. 341.
we may note as permanent characters that the scholarship of Eton stood as high as that of any other school, and that the boys had an unusual amount of liberty. It is—so say the lovers of Eton—the habit of trying experiments in life, instead of repeating the experience of others, which gives Etonians that easy grasp of life, that · flexibility,' as Matthew Arnold called it, the claim to which they do not always accord to others. The Eton system aims at avoiding, on the one hand, the cramping and formalizing effect of a too careful training and too rigid application of rules; on the other hand, it teaches by practical lessons that over-luxuriance is not healthy growth. The boys at Tiverton school used to be thrown, as Mr. Blackmore tells us, into • Blundell's Pool' to learn the art of swimming by experiencing the inconvenience of not being able to swim, and a like practice prevailed at Winchester. Nabis sine cortice has also been the rough doctrine of mother Eton; and though at the present day everything is made easy to everybody, Eton, in the changed conditions to which she, as well as other schools, is subjected, is still able to turn out her pupils with the old stamp upon them. Formerly the mass of the school spent their time in riot, were flogged often, and learnt little : now-a-days few escape competitive examination in one form or another; all the boys learn something, and some turn out as good scholars as ever; and when the Fourth of June calls Etonians together in all corners of the world to drink • Floreat Etona' and think themselves young again, they are justified in believing that the familiar features of the type • Eton boy grown heavy' are not different, allowing for the progress of the species, from what they were in the days when Goodall wore the wig of dignity and Keate the hat of dominion.
Books about schools are apt to be disappointing as containing too much anecdote and too little history. Men's recollections of their schooldays are more often gay than grave; they remember what and whom they laughed at more often than what impressed them seriously. It is quite natural. Boys are better judges of fun than of wisdom, and their early impressions of sermons and lectures are not always borne out by their maturer taste. Yet there have been schoolmasters whose moral influence was felt like Dr. Arnold's, and others whose stimulating power or art of imparting knowledge opened the way for those who could learn into new regions of thought, avia Pieridum loca. But of these the lettered Muse is too often silent; she prefers to talk about Keate's cough, Gabell's voice, and Busby's hat. And so men of genius, whose influence has been felt throughout a school, may be neglected, whilst characters' with salient oddities such as