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KEN A COLLEGE-BOY, AT WINCHESTER school — CATHERINE HILL — ELECTION - CHAMBER - REFLECTIONS ON PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possess'd;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
WE have now placed our young scholar, “pauper scholaris,” on that ancient foundation which has sent so many illustrious scholars into society, and so many who, like Warham, Chicheley, Ken, and Lowth, have adorned the highest stations in the Church, and, by their learning, virtue, and piety, given the noblest lustre—often from the humblest origin—to the mitre.
The more interesting career of life is now begun, every stage of which, in its first progress, is watched by affectionate parents with intense anxiety, lest “peradventure evil should befall a beloved child.” The parents, however, have chosen that mode of education in which it is least likely that “evil will befall him.”
At the age of thirteen, the scholastic noviciate at Winchester is probably placed in the form called
* See observations in “Vindicia, Wycehamica,” on this word in the Statutes, in answer to Mr. Brougham—by the Author.
Junior part of Fifth ; and is become, with a band, and black dangling gown, a Junior of Fifth or Sixth Chamber. As junior, he is up before the other boys of the same chamber. In the glimmering and cold wintry mornings, he could not turn, at this time, to “Ken's Manual ;” but he would perhaps repeat to himself— watching the slow morning through the grated window—one of the beautiful ancient hymns composed for the scholars on the foundation. - Jam lucis orto sydere Deum precemur supplices,
Ut in diurnis actibus,
Now the star of morning-light
I have little doubt but such repetitions, in after life, led Ken to the composition of those hymns which form the greatest portion of his poems, and particularly his well-known Morning and Evening Hymns, of which I have spoken.
Rising before the others, he had little to do except to apply a candle to a large faggot, in winter, which had been already laid. Nothing servile did I ever see or experience, though it has been as falsely as basely alleged that the juniors of a public school clean shoes, &c. Such degrading offices, or any thing degrading, I do not believe is, or was ever permitted; and as to lighting a faggot, or obeying the seniors, Ken, in a prison, or in his highest elevation, might have found the advantage. What he had to undergo would not have prevented him from sending a favourite son to learn the same virtues at the same expense. On the fifth or sixth day, our junior, “the tear forgot as soon as shed,” if it has ever for a moment been on his youthful cheek, is at ease among his companions of the same age; he is found, for the first time, attempting to wield a cricket bat; and, when his hour of play is over, he plies, at his scob,” the labours of his silent lesson, or sits scanning his “nonsense” verses, which, nonsense as they have been called, have led the way to form the most accurate and elegant scholars, however such rudiments may be derided. These cares are soon at an end. The holidays are approaching; and who more blithely than Ken, with his musical voice, can sing that pleasing verse of the old Wykehamical canticle—
Ridet annus, prata rident,
* An oaken box, which contains his few books. On each side are places for pens and ink. The outer cover is placed open. The depository of books has another cover, on which the young scholar writes his task, or reads his lesson. VOL. I. C
Daulias advena, - * *
Now every boy pants for Whitsuntide, when is sung, in choral glee—
Musa, libros mitte, fessa,
Till that day arrives, after the “pensa dura” of four days, the whole train of youthful scholars is
seen streaming, twice a week, by the side of the .
Itchin, towards Catharine Hill, a large, round, conical hill, fronting the Downs ; a scene, since the foundation of the school, dedicated to youthful recreation and short oblivion of school cares.
This holiday scene, alive and fervent with stripling animation from age to age, Tom Warton has beautifully described, with the airy occupants at their pastimes.
Aério Catharina jugo, qua vertice summo,
Et circumducti servat vestigia valli, *
Wykehamicae mos est pubi celebrare palestras Multiplices, passimdue levi contendere lusu, Festa dies quoties rediit. He then describes the juniors, as seen in knots and groups upon the turf :
Quin lusu incerto cermas gestire MINOREs,
* Dulce Domum, the old Wykehamical song, from its style, may be judged to have been written before the Reformation.
Innocuasque edunt pugmas, aut gramine molli
Among these juniors, on the different knolls, throw back the years that have passed away since,
—we think we see young Ken, familiar and playful.
That an anxious mother, instead of listening to the hobgoblin stories of public-school tyranny, might think she saw, on a summer's holiday, the
child of her affections thus seated, I shall endeavour to translate for her :
Where on its airy summit, CATHARINE HILL *
Many years have passed since I played among them ; in the language of the classical writer,
“Where first my Muse to lisp her notes began
* It is well known, that Pope Gregory gave directions to his Missionaries not to change the places of assembly where Pagan
*: rites were celebrated, but to dedicate them afresh to Christian - saints, and turn the Pagan into Christian rites. (See Bede.) c 2 Hence