« EelmineJätka »
Our author's introduction into Cheltenham seems a strange one-arriving at Gloucester he meets a batch of Rugbieans, and plunges at once into a conflict of words, he calls it ‘chaff' with them. What a ‘batch of Rugbieans' were doing at Gloucester, in February, we do not understand, but we suppose they were there. Arriving at Cheltenham, apparently for the first time, Paul Ward's instinct displayed itself. He takes a straight path to a confectioner's -George's shop. This stroke of generalship obtained him 'great credit'-although 'far too anxious and ill at ease for making a substantial repast,' he yet has 'a tuck of a most superior description.' His grief at leaving home thus consoled, he entered Cheltenham College brimful of tarts, and seems to have continued in that condition the greater portion of the time he spent there.
It seems to be admitted by the author that this work has been written rather to censure than to praise, for he says
'It is hardly possible to proceed with my story without frequently mentioning things worthy of condemnation rather than praise.' (Page 9.)
He keeps his word-few escape condemnation-few receive praise. Directors, Masters in the College, Boarding-house Master and his wife, assistants
, college servants, former magazines-are all subject to this Collegian's censure. An exception is made in favour of Tyler, the confectioner, and in him Paul Ward finds a really good conscientious man, one after his own heart.
His attack upon the Head-master of the Military Department is entirely without foundation. The gist of that charge seems to be that Mr. Southwood favoured his own boarders, and that in consequence of that favoritism a rule was passed preventing him from holding a boarding-house. We believe no master was ever freer from the charge of favoritism than Mr. Southwood. To the regret of the College authorities in 1862, he gave up his boarding-house solely that he might enjoy some little leisure--a portion of which, however, he has voluntarily sacrificed to his pupils' benefit. No law ever was passed, or even discussed, to prevent his or any future Head-master of the Military Department from being the head of a Boarding-house. It is because Mr. Southwood needs no defender • that we do not write more strongly on the impropriety of making such an accusation against him.
What object can there be in stating that the Masters too anxiously regarded the clock, and evaded their duties? What answer ought Paul Ward to receive to this question :—' And I would ask the drivers themselves how they could hope to command any shadow of respect from the boys with the meagre intellectual qualifications they themselves possessed ?'
Who is there that can defend the following passage?- Billiards proved the Véte noire of the Board. And no wonder seeing that not a few of its members were wont to play in company
with their own sons, who were in statu pupilllari.”
And this is from the pen of a gentleman who claims merit for 'having carefully eschewed everything bordering on the fictitious.' For ourselves we have no observation to make on this statement save that it is untrue.
What, too, will our Cricketers think of the statement that the desire to obtain credit from the confectioner gives a stimulus to cricket, and makes fellows ambitious to get into the Eleven.' (page 50.)
We have thus noticed some of the instances of bad taste and unfounded censure existing in this work; we will now point out a few of the author's inaccuracies. At page i he attributes the original foundation of Cheltenham College to the Rev. Francis Close. Mr. G. S. Harcourt, and Captain Iredell were the gentlemen who first suggested the founding of the College, and Mr. Close took no share in the proceedings until some weeks after the first meeting had been held, in November, 1840, at the house of Mr. Harcourt. It is next asserted (pages 4 and 5) that the success attending Marlborough College suggested the idea of the formation of Cheltenham College, for we find it stated with a logic we do not appreciatę :
• As the success of Marlborough had originated the idea of Cheltenham College, it was to be expected that the clerical elements of the two schools should be dissimilar.'
Cheltenham College opened in 1841, Marlborough in 1843.
We read (page 6) that the First Eleven ground had not, at the time of our author joining the College, been rendered renowned by the cricketing exploits of Mathew Kempson. Kempson left the College in October, 1850, and it is quite evident from the following error that Paul Ward had not joined the College at that time. At page 6o it is said:
Our Eleven was beginning to become formidable, no doubt mainly by the exertions of the Filgates, Coddingtons, and Botts. But their glories one and all were destined to be totally eclipsed by the performances of Matthew Kempson.'
Now, William Filgate played in the Eleven in 1853, and Alexander in 1855. John Coddington left the College, if we recollect rightly, in 1846, whilst F. W. Bott was placed in the Eleven by Kempson, and succeeded him as Captain, leaving the College a year after Kempson had done so. Now Kempson himself was present on the first day of the opening of the College in 1841, entered the Eleven in 1845, and from that time until 1850 was
facile the best cricketer in the College, and yet the author so writes that any one would suppose that Filgate, Coddington, and Bott had made a reputation for the Eleven, and that after they had done so Kempson outshone them.
As we have passed to this cricketing subject, let us inquire how does the author support his statement?
It is customary enough at most schools for Old Elevens to be beaten by the present, and at Cheltenham the rule is hardly ever broken.' (page 6.)
The fact is, that the Old have won 6 matches, the present 3, and 9 have been drawn. At page 67 we find
'I recollect well that when Cheltenham first challenged Rugby a very laconic reply was returned, and it was agreed by all our fellows that we would never trouble them again.'
The first challenge to Rugby was sent in 1858; the reply returned was most courteous and in no way laconic, and, instead of an agreement being made not to challenge Rugby again, such a challenge was sent in 1859, and another courteous answer received. In relation to this challenge it is said — We had an unusually strong Eleven at the time, and a bowler who was second to no amateur in the Kingdom. It would be uncharitable and unfair, perhaps, to suggest that a knowledge of these facts influenced the Rugby Captain's refusal to play; but I protest that I for one could not help thinking so at the time. We quite agree that the idea is both uncharitable and unfair, still we do not doubt that Paul Ward could not help entertaining it. If the passage we have quoted should be read by any Rugbiean we trust it will be understood that the writer of this book is the only person who has so thought or expressed himself.
We are also informed (page 68) 'that Cheltenham now makes her annual appearance at Lord's in a match against the Marylebone Club.' We have played two matches against the M.C.C., one in 1861, the other in 1867. No such match will be played in 1868.
We are told (page 75) that Mr. Joseph M'Cormick, the Cambridge slow bowler, was a Cheltenham Collegian. He never was
So strong does anti-Cheltenham feeling exist in Paul Ward that he takes trouble to prove that Mr. James Round excels R. T. Reid as a wicket-keeper. Few independent judges agree in this opinion, and certainly the Pavilion at Lord's could be polled against it.
The chapter on Football tells us of an association which has been formed with the avowed intention of forming one uniform code, which, being shorn of the barbarities, might yet combine the
excellencies of the principal.' We had heard of the excellencies but never of the barbarities of Mr. Dobson and Dr. Barry. Again we read (page 96)
'It has not unfrequently happened that the ball has been estreated in consequence of rough play, and football prohibited for the remainder of the season.' We were not aware of this fact before.
On the same page we find :
Games with duly chosen sides and experienced leaders are very rarely played, and the spirit manifested is only occasionally noticeable, and in fits and starts.'-(What does this mean?)— Football never has been, and I imagine never will be, a popular game at Cheltenham for that very reason.
The few matches played are unfortunately so eminently calculated to arouse an objectionable animosity, that, perhaps, it is better that it should be so.'
Our readers will know how much truth there is in this assertion. Turning to page 115 we are informed:
*It will vex the righteous soul of many a quondam director to be informed that often on half-holidays a well-appointed four-in-hand drag might be seen on the Tewkesbury-road conveying gentlemen bedight in costume quite unfitted for the road, and highly suggestive of cricket or aquatics. The team of not badly caprisoned but very steady-going roadsters were tooled by a Collegian, and the same da ring hand has been seen tooling the same team towards Cirencester on an occasion of a Cricket Match with the Agricultural College.' * True, there was a little difficulty about turning corners occasionally, for the leaders you see did not always allow sweep enough; but of corners there were very few, and you had to slacken speed a bit when turning into the High-street out of the Promenade, for that was the dangerous place, and you were as right as a trivet.'
Of course this conveys the impression to the reader that often Collegians were in the habit of driving and riding upon a fourin-hand drag in the most public streets of Cheltenham. It is difficult to prove a negative, but after making every inquiry of former active members of the Boating Club, of Masters, and of others who must have heard of such a circumstance, we cannot find that such an event ever happened, and we do most positively assert that it never systematically occurred, and certainly never was permitted by the authorities.
What can be in worse taste than the chapter containing a description of A Break-up Supper'? How the memory of our author lingers over the viands !
•The choice of wines was very extensive, no less than eight different sorts being on the table.'
We have tried by this clue to trace the Boarding-house at which Paul Ward resided. We have failed, and we hope he has equally exaggerated the proceedings of an evening, which, according to his account, was a noisy, uninteresting gathering of halfdrunken boys. He concludes the chapter by saying— But let us drop the curtain on scenes of this kind.' If the statements in this chapter are true the curtain should never have been raised.
We have a graver complaint than a want of good taste to make in reference to the author's 3rd chapter. It contains an account of two very discreditable transactions. We read first of Cheltenham College boys having pertinaciously trespassed, although forbidden, over the land of a farmer at Shurdington; of their going there armed; of their attacking the owner of the land ; and of their having ‘riddled nearly all the windows in the village." Secondly, we are told of the most wanton destruction of a building used as a shop, because pancakes sold therein were of an inferior quality. Our author is explicit on the point — We had put up with a good deal; stale tarts and objectionable twopennies we had suffered long, with, at any rate, nothing more than a murmur, but the pancakes we could not, and would not, stand. It—(we are confident pancakes were plural with Paul Ward)—was our pet diet.
We could bear it no longer, and forthwith sallied forth against the establishment when the things were sold, and utterly demolished it.'
Surely nothing can be said in defence of such acts as these, and the only apology for them is that they were committed by thoughtless boys; every one should wish them forgotten, and yet, one who is now a man, delights to record them, and adds—Their recital here may prove to you present fellows that all the privileges and comforts you enjoy were not brought about without some effort and some sacrifice on the part of your predecessors. I beg earnestly to urge the consideration of this fact before we pass on to more pleasant matters.'
For shame! For shame! Paul Ward.
With the statement, “I feel the full force of the observation that 'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,'” and in this we have no doubt he is correct, our author commences a long chap
' A Coxy Beast.' Throughout the whole of it there is not the slightest reference to Cheltenham College, nor is any suggestion made how the one subject is connected with the other. It is simply a badly written essay upon an animal with which Paul Ward seems very familiar. It reminds us, from its want of connection with the