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fessor to that monarch; Sir Henry Wotton, upon whose monument is the following remarkable inscription :
This singular inscription gives evidence of the rooted aversion with which Sir Henry regarded controversial disputations, which, during a long life, must often have disturbed the meditative content in which he so much delighted
It would be unpardonable in connexion with this classic spot, where he passed, in his loved repose, the declining years of a well spent life, to omit his friend, Izaak Walton's mention of Sir Henry in the “Complete Angler,” as one of his justificatory examples for that "contemplative recreation.”
“My next and last example shall be that undervaluer of money, the late Provost of Eton College, (a man with whom I have often fished and conversed), a man whose foreign employments in the service of this nation, and whose experience, learning, wit, and cheerfulness, made his company to be esteemed
the delights of mankind. This man, whose very approbation of angling were sufficient to convince any modest censurer of it; this man was also a most dear lover, and frequent practiser, of the art of angling; of which he would say, “it was an employment for his idle time, which was not then idly spent; for angling was, after tedious study, a rest to his mind, a cheerer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentness,' and that it begat habits of
peace and patience in those that professed and practised it.' Sir, this was the saying of that learned man, and I do easily believe that peace and patience, and a calm content did cohabit in the cheerful heart of Sir Henry Wotton, because I know that when he was beyond seventy years of age he made this description of a part of the present pleasure that possessed him, as he sat quietly in a summer's evening, on a bank, a fishing."
Sir Henry was not only a contemplative man, and an angler, but a person of sound understanding, poignant wit, and great accomplishments, in whom the scholar and the man of the world were very happily blended.
The provostship of Eton was the reward of a long life, spent in several embassies, with great honour to himself and advantage to his country.
His acknowledged works are: “ The State of Christendom," composed at Florence, after the fall of the Earl of Essex, to whom Wotton was secretary; the “ Elements of Architecture," the first fruits of his leisure after his retirement to Eton. He planned a Life of Luther, and made a commencement of a History of England, at the suggestion of Charles the First.
A collection of Miscellanies, published after his death, entitled “ Reliquiæ Wottonianæ,” consisting of lives, letters, characters, and poems, of which we have one or two exquisite specimens in Walton's Complete Angler, has been several times reprinted.
Sir Henry died at Eton in December 1639, in his seventy-second year.
The second, or inner quadrangle, not so spacious as the outer, has a cloistered walk round the sides, with an open court in the centre. In this quadrangle is the Hall or refectory, where the scholars on the foundation take their daily commons; it is a curious ancient apartment. At the west end is a dais, or platform, where sit the dignitaries of the College. In the centre of the Hall is a circular hearth, the smoke escaping through an open lanthorn in the roof. On the south side of this quadrangle is the library, consisting of three well-proportioned apartments, divided by Corinthian columns. The apartments contain a very large and valuable collection of books and manuscripts, having received large accessions from the munificent bequests of Dr. Waddington, Bishop of Chester, Mr. Mann, Master of the Charter-Hlouse, Richard Topham, Esq., Keeper of the Records in the Tower, and Anthony Storer, Esq. The apartments of the library are surrounded with galleries, at once serving the purposes of ornament and convenience.
To Mr. Pote, the laborious historian of Windsor, this library is indebted for a valuable and extensive collection of Oriental manuscripts, collected by himself while residing at Patna. Of this collection, comprising no fewer than five hundred and fifty volumes, half was presented to King's College, Cambridge, the other half to Eton College.
The other literary curiosities of this library are valuable editions of Horace, Terence, and Virgil, of the latter part of the fifteenth century, illustrated with wood engravings: Rymer's Fædera, Tonson's edition ; a Refutation of the
Koran, printed at Pavia, under the authority of Pope Innocent XI., Chinese
of the city of Pekin, Egyptian manuscripts on papyrus, and some beautifully illuminated missals.
The entrance-hall of the library is adorned with two curious maps on canvas, one displaying the arms of all the cities and borough towns of England and Wales, with a brief account of their foundation and remarkable circumstances connected with them; the other emblazoning the armorial bearings of the several dioceses, and giving concise accounts of their several histories. The remaining portion of the inner quadrangle is devoted to the apartments of the Provost and Fellows.
The Provost’s apartments contain half-length portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Robert Walpole. There are also portraits of several of the more eminent among the Provost's predecessors in office, including Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Henry Saville, and Sir Henry Wotton. Here is also a female portrait on pannel, said to represent Jane Shore. The forehead is large, the hair auburn, but the features are small, and not remarkably prepossessing. The tradition is that this portrait was preserved by one of the Provosts of the College, who had been confessor to that unhappy woman.
Beneath a low ivy-mantled postern, we enter the Playing-fields, to the north-west of the College, an elm-shaded meadow of considerable extent, bordered to the south by the Thames, and watered by a pretty brook called Chalvey Brook, rising near the “little hamlet of Chalvey,” from a well called Queen Anne's Spring. These meads are equally calculated for study and recreation. Seated beneath trees, or lolling over the brink of the Thames, are seen, classic in hand, some of the hard-working boys—already almost men, anticipating even now the career of ambition, turbulent and insecure, into which they are about to plunge; already they seem to have lost the careless gaiety of the schoolboy, and to have assumed the cold sobriety of manhood.
We encountered in one of our rambles through the playing-fields, the senior boy, or, as he is commonly called, “ Captain ” of the school : he was about to depart, he said, for the University, where he was loth to go. “I have been an Eton boy ten years,” said the captain, “and I only wish I could be an Eton boy all my life; no, sir, I shall never again be so happy as I have been here."
While we conversed, the loud laugh of boisterous youth, engaged in various play, struck upon the ear ; hundreds of happy little fellows—as yet
by the world unbitted, unharnessed, gambolled over the green, joyous as if care and sorrow were dead: we could not help recalling the lines, in which, with exquisite fidelity, one of their quondam playfellows apostrophised the scene of his careless days :
“ Ab, happy hills ! ah, pleasing shade!
Ah, fields beloved in vain,
A stranger yet to pain !
A momentary bliss bestow,
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
To breathe a second spring."
And again, where he describes the happy temper of boyhood:
“Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possess'd ;
The routine of an Eton academic course is too generally known to require repetition in this place; but its fitness for the purpose of the instruction of youth has often been questioned, and its general effect and purport misunderstood.
If man were to remain a schoolboy until the day of his death, or if society were disciplined and governed like a regiment of soldiers, then we doubt not that the comparatively man-like boys of Eton would be rather difficult to deal with, and that an austere, conventual system of educating youth might be preferable: but since the world is in fact worldly, and since the struggles of life are only hand-to-hand combats, in which the weakest, as the proverb hath it, “goeth to the wall,” that system which recognises in the boy the “father of the man,” and which, while it represses tendencies to vice, keeps alive a certain freedom of thought and action, tending not to depress, but to invigorate the heart of youth, is surely the best school preparative for the busy struggles of after life, through which, the sooner we know them, the better able are we successfully to fight our way.
The seclusion of boyhood within four walls, remote from anything like society or life; the severe punishment that awaits their petty quarrels; the initiation into that sort of knowledge only, which makes not the accomplished man of the world, but the ripe scholar ; the inculcation of feelings of acute sensibility, which the business of future life tends greatly to suppress, and that philosophic contempt of money, the attainment whereof will be, for most boys, the future employment of life—may, certainly, be the best security for the maintenance of a high tone of moral feeling, but it questioned whether it is the best for giving that temper which active life requires, that which will make boys men.
The secret of the success of the system pursued at Eton and our great public schools is, that there we find a certain amount of interference and direction, and a certain amount of non-interference and letting alone; the characters of the future men, as regards their social system, are allowed to be developed by collision with their fellows, as they must be, at a later period of their lives; the moral influence of rivalry and emulation, the governing principle of after life, is not repressed, but rather encouraged: there are no desperate attempts here to bring the dunce in classics and mathematics, by dint of flogging, to the level of the forward boy; the presumption that every boy, in the same form, has the same capacity for the same thing, is not carried to excess; something is allowed for the unequal gifts of Nature, and the only object is to point those gifts in the best possible direction.
Nor are the minor morals and accomplishments, which form not the least useful and important of the studies of youth, neglected at our public schools; and the result is obvious.
There are no shamefaced clowns nor ungainly louts among Eton scholars; the boys here are not boys, they are young gentlemen, differing chiefly from gentlemen not of Eton in that they are usually short of stature, and instead of wearing coats with tails, wear coats without !
Sir,” concluded the captain, when we had finished a comparative review of the various modes of education of youth, “there is at Eton every encouragement, every approbation, every assistance for the hardworking boy; but if a boy cannot learn, or will not learn, after repeated trial, he is left pretty much to himself: if he can make nothing of the classics, he turns his attention to cricket : if the mathematics or algebra are too much for him, he excels at quoits or pulls the bow oar: if he refuses to