Page images

We give below, mainly from Timbs' “School Days of Eminent Men,” brief accounts of the principal Endowed Grammar Schools, which enjoy more par, tic'larly the reputation of being the Public Schools of England.

WILLIAM OP WYKEHAM AND WINCHESTER COLLEGE. Winchester Grammar or Collegiate School, was founded by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, in 1373, as a preparatory school to the College which he, about the same time, began to build at Oxford, known as New College,—the two, embracing a perfect course of education from the elements of letters through the whole circle of the sciences. The generous founder was born in the village of Wykeham, in Hampshire, in 1324. By the liberality of Sir Nicholas Uvedale, governor of Winchester Castle, the boy Wykeham was sent to “the Great Grammar-school in Winchester," originally an institution for education founded before the Conquest. Uvedale next presented Wykeham to Edward III. for his skill in architecture. In the short space of four years be was promoted through civil and ecclesiastical grades, to be Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor. He had already commenced the building of New College at Oxford; and in the following year, with the view of taking the early education of youth out of the hands of the monks, “it was his admirable thought to raise a nursery school, preparatory to bis co-operating with a higher course in his college; and thus to raise the standard of education in the country, to that stamp and character which has ever since (through his institution and the copies which were drawn from it,) distinguished the English gentlemen amongst the families of Europe.” Thus arose Winchester College, the scholars of which are designated to this day Wykehamists. The novelty and merit of the plan were imitated by Chicheley,* at All Souls, Oxford: Henry VI. at Cam. bridge; and Waynflete at Magdalene. “Twenty years before his hives were built (1373), Wykeham had gathered his swarming bees under temporary roofs, with masters and statutes; which with parental solicitude he watched, altered, and amended from time to time, by his daily experience. So long before his colleges were built was his institution effective." Wykeham died in 1404, at the age of eighty years, with the respect and admiration and gratitude of all; and like the spirit which he had ever sought throughout his amiable life, "length of days were in his right hand, and in his left riches and honor." He is buried in Winchester Cathedral: “beneath the spot where the schoolboy prayed, the honoured prelate sleeps.”— Walcott.)

Wykeham's College buildings stand immediately adjoining the main street of Winchester, a city of kindred quiet. The Middle Gate Tower has under three canopied niches, the Angelic Salutation, and the Founder in prayer. This gateway leads to a truly noble quadrangle of Wykeham's architecture. On the left side is the dining-hall, with an oaken roof finely carved with the busts of kings and prelates; and in the centre is a louvre, through which the smoke ascended in old times, when the scholars gathered round the hearth to sing and listen to the tales of the chroniclers. Here also plays were acted in the days of the Tudors; the boy-bishop custom was observed as at Eton; and monarchs, prelates, and nobles have been feasted. On the south side of the quadrangle is the chapel, with an oaken roof of fan tracery; the large window, forty feet in height, is

* Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, was a Wykehamist : ns was apparently Waynflete, who certainly was master of Wykeham's school in 1429.


filled with painted glass, as are also the side windows. Next are the cloisters,
surrouuding an area, in the centre of which is the former chapel, now the libra-
ry. Beyond is the Public School; it was built in 1687 chiefly by subscription
among Wykehamists, and is the noblest structure of the kind in the kingdom.
Upon the walls are inscribed in Latin the admonitions and rules for the govern-
ment of the scholars; on the west wall are painted upon a large tablet, a mitre
and crozier, the rewards of clerical learning; a pen and inkhorn and a sword,
the ensigns of the civil and military professions; and a Winton rod, the dullard's
quickener: beneath each symbol is its apt legend: “Aut disce," " Aut discede,"
“Manet sors tertia cædi."-"Either learn;" "or depart;" “or in the third place
be flogged;” underneath is the flogging-place. On the east wall is a corres
ponding tablet, bearing the School laws, in Latin. The Chamber walls are
carved with the names of many an illustrious Wykehamist; but, the most inter-
esting memorial is the Seventh Chamber and the adjoining passage. This “
the ancient school wherein Waynflete taught, and was called by the founder,
Magna illa domus :' the stone -books' in the embayed windows still remain; it
could accommodate scarcely more than ninety boys." At present, the founda-
tion scholars at Winchester are limited to 70; and the commoners are in gen-
cral about 130. The College and its Grammar School differ little in management
from Eton. Among its characteristic customs is the chanting of the Latin song
"Dulce Domum,” to which justice can not be done in any English translation.
It is sung in College Hall on the six last Saturdays of the “long half” before
"evening bells ;” and at the July festival:

Nations, and thrones, and reverend laws, have melted like a dream,
Yet Wykeham's works are green and fresh beside the crystal stream;
Four hundred years and fifty their rolling course have sped,
Since the first serge-clad scholar to Wykeham's feet was led:
And still his seventy faithful boys, in these presumptuous days,
Learn the old truth; speak the old words, tread in the ancient ways:
Still for their daily orisons resounds the matin chime -
Still linked in bands of brotherhood, St. Catherine's steep they climb;
Still to their Sabbath worship they troop by Wykeham's tomb
Still in the summer twilight sing their sweet song of home.

Roundell Palmer's Anniversary Ballad. Another eminent Wykehamist, the Rev. Mackenzie Walcott, M. A., has commemorated in his William of Wykeham and his Colleges the glories of Winchester, with an earnest eloquence, and affection for this school of near five cen. turies, which accompanies the reader through every page of Mr. Walcott's volume. It is delightful to see with what pride the author contemplates "the suc. cess of a school, which in its earliest days produced Chicheley and Waynflete, the founders of the two grandest colleges in our ancient universities; the gentle Warham ; Grocyn, the reviver of the Greek language; the philosophic Shaftesbury and profound Harris; the moralist, Brownc; among poets — some of them distinguished ornaments of the Augustan age — Otway, Young, Collins, Somerville, Phillips, Crowe; the learned Bilson, Burgess, Lowth, and meck Ken; the graceful Wotton; among judges, Erle and Cranworth; among speakers, Onslow, Cornwall, Sidmouth, and Lefevre; among seamen, Keats and Warren; among soldiers, Lord Guildford, Seaton, Dalbiac, Myers, and their gallant companions in the hard-fought fields of the last war.

It has never failed in contributing its share of faithful weu to serve the country in Church and State; it

[ocr errors]

has well sustained the reputation which should attach to the only ancient institution not founded by a sovereign which boasts itself to be a royal college."


[ocr errors]

Henry VI. was born at Windsor, in 1821, and educated by his uncle, Cardinal Beaufort, in all the learning of the age. Hall, the chronicler, when speaking of the causes which led him to found Eton College, and King's College, Cambridge, says of him: "he was of a most liberal mind, and especially to such as loved good learning; and those whom he saw profiting in any virtuous science, he heartily forwarded and embraced.” An ingenious writer of our own time has, however, more correctly characterized the young King's motive: “still stronger in Henry's mind was the desire of marking his gratitude to God by founding and endowing some place of pious instruction and Christian worship." Henry seems principally to have followed the magnificent foundations of William of Wykeham at Winchester and Oxford; resolving that the school which he founded should be connected with a college in one of the Universities, whither the best of the foundation scholars of his school should proceed to complete their education, and where a permanent provision should be made for them. Standing upon the north terrace of Windsor Castle, near Wykeham's tower, and looking towards the village of Eton, upon the opposite bank of the silver-winding Thames, we can imagine the association to have first prompted the devout King's design - in the words of the Charter, “to found, erect, and establish, to endure in all future time, a College consisting of and of the number of one provost and ten priests, four clerks and six chorister boys, who are to serve daily there in the celebration of divine worship, and of twenty-five poor and indigent scholars who are to learn grammar; and also of twenty-five poor and infirm men, whose duty it shall be to pray there continually for our health and welfare so long as we live, and for our soul when we shall have departed this life, and for the souls of the illustrious Prince, Henry our father, late King of England and France; also of the Lady Katherine of most noble memory, late his wife, our mother; and for the souls of all our ancestors and of all the faithful who are dead: (consisting) also of one master or teacher in grammar, whose duty is shall be to instruct in the rudiments of grammar the said indigent scholars and all others whatsoever who may come together from any part of our Kingdom of England to the said College, gratuitously and without the exaction of money or any other thing."

The works were commenced in 1441, with the chapel of the College; and to expedite the building, workmen were “pressed” from every part of the realm. The freemasons received 38. a week each, the stonemasons and carpenters 38.; plumbers, sawyers, tilers, &c., 6d. a day, and common laborers 4d. The grant of arms expresses this right royal sentiment: “If men are ennobled on account of ancient hereditary wealth, much more is he to be preferred and styled truly noble, who is rich in the treasures of the sciences and wisdom, and is also found diligent in his duty towards God.” Henry appointed Waynficte first provost, who, with five fellows of Winchester, and thirty-five of the scholars of that College, became the primitive body of Etonians, in 1443. The works of the chapel were not completed for many years; and the other parts of the College were unfinished until the commencement of Henry the Eighth's reign.

Eton, in its founder's time, was resorted to as a place of cducation by the

[ocr errors]


youth of the higher orders, as well as by the class for whose immediate advantage the benefits of the foundation were primarily designed. Those students not on the foundation were lodged at their relations' expense in the town (oppi. dum) of Eton, and thence called Oppidans. The scholars on the foundation (since called Collegers) were lodged and boarded in the College-buildings, and at the College expense. There are two quadrangles, built chiefly of red brick : in one are the school and the chapel, with the lodgings for the scholars; the other contains the library, the provost's house, and apartments for the Fellows. The chapel is a stately stone structure, and externally very handsome. The architecture is Late Perpendicular, and a good specimen of the style of Henry the Seventh's reign. In the centre of the first quadrangle is a bronze statue of Henry VI. ; and in the chapel another statue, of marble, by John Bacon. The foundation scholars seem to have been first placed in two large chambers on the ground-floor, three of the upper boys in each; they had authority over the others, and were responsible for good conduct being maintained in the dormitory. Subsequently was added “the Long Chamber" as the common dormitory of all the scholars. Dinner and supper were provided daily for all the members of the College; and every scholar received yearly a stated quantity of coarse cloth, probably first made up into clothing, but it has long ceased to be so used.

The King's Scholars or Collegers are distinguished from oppidans by a black cloth gown. The boys dined at eleven, and supped at seven; there being only two usual meals.

King Henry is recorded to have expressed much anxiety for his young incipi. ent Alumni. One of his chaplains relates that “when King Henry met some of the students in Windsor Castle, whither they sometimes used to go to visit the King's servants, whom they knew, on ascertaining who they were, he admonished them to follow the path of virtue, and besides his words would give them money to win over their good-will, saying, ‘Be good boys; be gentle and docile, and servants of the Lord.' (Sitis boni pueri, mites et docibiles, et servi Domini.)"

The progress of the buildings was greatly checked by the troubles towards the close of the reign of Henry VI. ; and his successor, Edward IV., not only deprived Eton of large portions of its endowments, but obtained a bull from Pope Pius II. for disposing of the College, and merging it in the College of St. George at Windsor; but Provost Westbury publicly and solemnly protested against this injustice, the bull was revoked, and many of the endowments were restored, though the College suffered severely. The number on the foundation consisted of a provost and a vice-provost, 6 fellows, 2 chaplains, 10 choristers, the upper and lower master, and the 70 scholars. The buildings were continued during the reign of Henry VII., and the early years of Henry the Eighth, whose death saved Parliament from extinguishing Eton, which was then confirmed to Edward VI.

“Among the Paston Letters is one written in 1467, by 'Master William Paston at Eton, to bis Worshipful Brother, John Paston, acknowledging the receipt of 8d. in a letter, to buy a pair of slippers ; 138. 4d. to pay for his board, and thanking him for 12lb. of Figgs and 8lb. of Raisins, which he was expecting by the first barge: he then narrates how he had fallen in love with a young gentlewoman to whom he had been introduced by his hostess, or dame; and he concludes with a specimen of his skill in Latin versification."

[ocr errors]

A MS. document in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, shows the general system of the school, the discipline kept up, and the books read in the various forms, about the year 1560. The holidays and customs are also enumerated; great encouragement was then shown to Latin versification, (always the pride of Eton,) and occasionally to English, among the students; care was taken to teach the younger boys to write a good hand. The boys rose at five to the loud call of 'Surgite;' they repeated a prayer in alternate verses, as they dressed themselves, and then made their beds, and each swept the part of the chamber close to his bed. They then went in a row to wash, and then to the school, where the under

master read prayers at six; then the præpositor noted absentees, and one examined the students' faces and hands, and reported any boys that came unwashed. At seven, the tuition began: great attention was paid to Latin composition in prose and verse, and the boys conversed in Latin. Friday seems to have been flogging day. Among the books read by the boys in the two highest forms are mentioned Cæsar's Commentaries, Cicero De Officiis and De Amicitia, Virgil, Lucian, and, what is remarkable, the Greek Grammar; a knowledge of Greek at this period being a rare accomplishment even at our universities. Its study was, however, gaining ground in Elizabeth's reign; and in a book published in 1586, it is stated that at Eton, Winchester, and Westminster, boys were then 'well entered in the knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues and rules of versifying.' Throughout this MS. record is shown the antiquity of making the upper boys responsible for the good conduct of the lower, which has ever been the ruling principle at Eton - in the schools, at meal-times, in the chapel, in the playing-fields, and in the dormitory; and there was a præpositor to look after dirty and slovenly boys.

Of scholars' expenses at Eton early in the reign of Elizabeth, we find a record in the accounts of the sons of Sir William Cavendish, of Chatsworth. Among the items, a breast of mutton is charged tenpence; a small chicken, fourpence; a week's board five shillings each, besides the wood burned in their chamber; to an old woman for sweeping and cleaning the chamber, twopence; mending a shoe, one penny; three candles, ninepence; a book, Esop's Fables, fourpence; two pair of shoes, sixteenpence; two bunches of wax-lights, one penny; the sum total of the payments, including board paid to the bursars of Eton College, living expenses for the two boys and their man, clothes, books, washing, &c., amount to 12l. 123.7d. The expense of a scholar at the University in 1514 was but five pounds annually, affording as much accommodation as would now cost sixty pounds, though the accommodation would be far short of that now cus. toinary. At Eton, in 1857, the number of scholars exceeded 700.

The College buildings have been from time to time re-edified and enlarged. The Library, besides a curious and valuable collection of books, is rich in Oriental and Egyptian manuscripts, and beautifully illustrated missals. The Upper School Room in the principal court, with its stone arcade beneath, and the apartments attached to it, were built by Sir Christopher Wren, at the expense of Dr. Allstree, provost in the reign of Charles II. We have engraved this school-room from an original sketch; it is adorned with a series of busts of eminent Etoni


The College Hall interior has been almost entirely rebuilt through the munificence of the Rev. John Wilder, one of the Fellows, and was re-opened in October, 1857: these improvements include a new open-timber roof, a louvre, win

« PreviousContinue »