12 AUGUST 1865, Page 18


THESE Eton sketches were well worth republication from Black- wood, more especially as there had actually been no previous attempt to collect, even in the mast fragmentary form, the tradi- tions and history of the earlier days of Eton, and the anecdotes and personal sketches of its later ones. The work has been done in this case in the reverent and affectionate spirit of an old Etonian, and at the same time with the utmost moderation and good taste, and a due regard for those of his readers not previously conversant with the distinctive features of Eton schoolboy life.

The main facts of the foundation of Eton are pretty well known. "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor" received its charter from Henry VI. in 1441, and was founded in close imitation of William of Wykeham's College at Winchester, whence came the first master, accompanied by five fellows, four clerks, and thirty-five scholars. The new foundation was endowed from the lands which had recently come into the possession of the Crown by the confiscation of the alien priories, the large estates held in England by the great Abbey of Bee being transferred in great part to Eton and King's College. So strong was the natural alliance between Eton and Winchester that a formal document, known as the " Amiabilis Concordia," was drawn up between them shortly after the foundation of the former, in which " mut= et perpetua caritas" was enjoined. For once the affection commanded by parents and guardians continued, and to some extent exists even now. It would be interesting if some farther information as to the manners and customs of the schoolboy of the fifteenth century could be obtained. To judge from the provisions of the charter, one of his Insetting, sins, duly guarded against, would seem to have been a tendency to keep within the precincts not only dogs and ferrets, but bears, apes, and other "rare beasts of no profit." Modern utilitarianism has made its mark amongst schoolboys. The "groaning sow," which in Tennyson's time lived on the roof during her accouchement, and supplied the Long Chamber with roast pig for supper " till she was left, the Niobe of swine," was neither & "rare beast" nor of "no profit." If, however, as we more than suspect, the cruelty too natural to boys influenced Etonians in the fifteenth century more than any zeal for zoological inquiry, the rare beasts so strictly excluded from the College would have had a very bad time of it if they had been there, and would probably have found their lives of "no profit" to them. The three hecatombs of rams done to death with ram clubs in the three centuries between the foundation of the Col- lege and 1747 tell us what the rare beast might have ex- pected. The greater humanity of these days makes things better for rare beasts, though even now Frank Buckland's porpoise and Barnum's whale could scarcely have found their lines fallen unto them in pleasant places. The sumptuary laws of the charter touch upon the varieties of fashion of the day, prominent amongst which were the "white, red, or green" boots which were dear to the heart of the then representative of the buck, dandy, exquisite, or swell of modern days. At present the only glimpse into the school-boy nature of those days, besides that afforded negatively by the statutes, is the well-known letter of Master William Paston, dated 1467, in which he thanks his brother for an oppor- tune "tip," and announces his intention of marrying a young lady of eighteen, with money and plate "ready whensoever she were married," but in appearance "disposed to be thick," and gifted with hands of large size, as Master William candidly tells his brother "specially to behold her hands" before he pronounces on her attractions. About the "livelihood," however, he says, "I trow not till after the mother's decease." He also sends some Latin verses of a kind which, if the then head master had had any of the spirit of Keate or Hawtrey, would most assuredly have had a result not tending to place him in a more dignified light before the object of his youthful though pen- dent affections. We very much wish more letters from Eton boys of the day written in a spirit as frank as that which charac- terizes that of Master Paston were to be heard of. What sort of schoolboys were the sons of the men who fought in the Wars of the Roses? As for Master Poston himself, he was clearly very soft, very stupid, very conceited, and probably not a favourite with other boys, as he does not mention any friends. Was he ever a fag? He would have been far better employed as such than in sending home for smart slippers, falling in love, making execrable Latin verses, and writing home complacently to say "he lacked nothing but versifying."

• Bloniana, Ancient and Modern. Being Notes of the History end Traditions of the Collebe. 13Isekwood: Lnolon and Edinburgh. 1815. A century later, in Queen Elizabeth's time, we begin to detect more clearly a resemblance to the Eton of modern days. On her accession she was presented with specimens of Latin versification by the boys, forty-five of whom were equal to sending in more or less creditable verses—the penmanship, by the way, being far superior to the average of to-day—the great majority being con- ceived in the style of fulsome adulation incumbent in those days upon loyalty. The prayers chiefly offered up on her behalf by Etonians, both on this and other occasions, seem to have been for the "exoptatus maritus" and "proles imago sui," the fervency with which they were expressed naturally increasing at each successive visit. In 1561 we find on the books the name of the first of the long line of Etonian Cavendishes which culminates in the present Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Together with Latin verses and noblemen's sons, we begin to hear of the rod at Eton, "news coming to Mr. Secretary Cecil that divers scholars had run away from Eaton for fear of beating." They must have been of the William Paston type. Malim was then master, ruler who never spared the rod though he seems to have spoiled at least one child, for one John Greenhall, who left.Eton in his time, took to the road and was hanged.

Of course Eton took the Royal side in the Civil War, and had an evil time during the Commonwealth. At the Restoration Mr. Allestree was made provost. He had served Charles well and long, and—been forgotten. Rochester one day bet the King he could find an uglier man than Lauderdale, and produced Allestree. Charles remembered him, and made him provost. In 1662 the plague raged around the school, and the boys were ordered to smoke every morning as a prophylactic. One Tom Rogers records that he was never so much whipped in his life as he was one morning for not " smoaking" The briefest notice of the distinguished Etonians of the eighteenth century would be impossible. The author of Etoniana runs through the names of the most brilliant of a brilliant assemblage, telling with admirable taste some suggestive anecdote of each, or sketching their characters in a few delicate touches. There was Marquess Wellesley, the lines written by whom for his own epitaph embody, with the rarest graces of scholarship, the love he had borne to Eton throughout his eventful life, an instance of 1 depth of local affection which it required Eton to call forth and a Wellesley to cherish. There was Horace Walpole, whose regrets for the vanity of real life compared with the pleasures of Eton are almost touching. Charles James Fox was at Eton in 1788, travelling on the Continent occasionally, and returning "with all the fopperies and follies of a young man." Porson was an Etonian, but his prosody was inaccurate, and he never attained distinction. The only thing at Eton, he used to say, that he re- collected with pleasure was "the rat-hunting in the Long Chamber." The rivalry between Eton and Westminster at this time gave rise to an amusing scene in the House. Sir Robert Walpole quoted from Horace, "Nil conscire sibi, nulli pallescere culpa3."

Pulteney, afterwards Earl of Bath, corrected him, giving the trite reading, "sand pallescere culpa." A bet was made, and decided in the House. Walpole tossed the money across the table to his opponent, who remarked that it was "the first public money he had touched for a long time."

In 1809 began the mastership of Keate, five feet high, "with the pluck of ten battalions "—we quote from the author of Eothen —"with shaggy red eyebrows, so long that he used them as arms and hands for the purpose of pointing," horrible in temper, and clothed in the old masters' costume, which Mr. Kinglake describes as "a fancy dress, partly resembling the costume of Napoleon, and partly that of a widow woman." A clever plaster caricature of him by an Italian had an enormous sale. As the modeller said, "Yes sare, Eton gentlemen buy him many times—they have much pleasure to break his head." Many are the ludicrous stories told of him. He was greater than Malim at flogging. Once the masters had all to prepare lists of all the boys in their respective forms for confirmation. One of them did so on a paper of the exact shape of the usual "flogging bill," and sent it in to Keate. The latter asked no questions, but mercilessly flogged every candi- date oil the list. Perhaps Dr. Keate thought of practically enforcing the paragraph in the Catechism about "submitting themselves to all governors and masters." " Keate's time" forms a well-known era in modern Eton history. Whatever his faults may have been, his firmness and decision carried the school through many very critical periods. His merits as a classical head master are proved by the fact that from 1816 to 1826 more than one-thirdof the classical prizesopen to the world at Cambridge were taken by Eton men. The Musz

Etonienbes bear witness to the Latin scholarship of his time. Homer is well represented amongst his pupils. Lord Derby's translation and Mr. Gladstone's Homeric writings are two fair triumphs for the pupils of one master.

Of course Etoniana would be incomplete without an account of "Montem." The abolition of that mysterious festival by Dr. Hawtrey, much as it was deplored by Etonian; was unavoidable. Railways were the final blow. Cheap excursions from Paddington to Salt Hill would have degraded the affair beyond all hope. What the origin of Montem was seems still obscure. There are theories even afloat which connect the salt with traditions of Pagan mystic ceremonies. In earlier days there was a kind of burlesque Latin service on Salt Hill, after which the " parson " solemnly kicked the " clerk " down the hill. Queen Charlotte was very properly scandalized thereat, and the exhibition of priestly arrogance was stopped. We must refer our readers to the pages of Etoniana for a most amusing account of all the customs of Montem and its past glories, as well as for equally amusing accounts of other Eton traditionary ceremonies. Even to non- Etonians, thanks to the author's rare good feeling in personal matters and rare good taste in everything he touches, there is a faseination about the book which must call forth a regret that he does not at once commence a task he could accomplish so well— the full history of our greatest public school. As for Etonian; they will be ready enough to appreciate this—we hope we may say instalment—without a word from others.