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appropriated to the sole benefit of the college by her Majesty's University
Commissioners. Strong representations on the subject were made to the Public
School Commissioners by all the Millington trustees except the master of
Magdalene, and, in compliance with their desire, the Commissioners recommended
that, as a matter of common fairness, Shrewsbury boys should be allowed to hold
the Millington scholarships at any college in Oxford or Cambridge. The
result of this recommendation, which was subsequently made effective by the
Public School Act, is that the Millington Trust Fund is now employed, half for the
exclusive benefit of the college, and the other half for that of the school.

2 Dr. Kennedy moved the sixth form into the upper school-room about the end
of the year 1848.


boys and carefully trained by an efficient organist, and
the Sunday services from that time became, as a rule, more
or less choral. Hitherto there had been no music at all
in chapel. Once before Dr. Kennedy had tried the experi-
ment of providing instruction in choral music on the Hullah
system, and this was taken up zealously by the boys for
a time. But their zeal soon died out, and the choral music
was given up after a year. Now, however, the establishment
of the chapel choir was lasting in its good effects. Not only
were the services made more interesting and attractive to the
boys, but the choir did much to cultivate a taste for music
throughout the school. Both in the Doctor's hall and in
Jee's hall the boys began to get up occasional concerts and
readings, to which, after a time, the masters and their
families were invited. And so matters progressed till, on
May ist in the following year, a most successful concert was
given in the Music Hall before a crowded audience. From
that time to the present the school concert has been an
annual and most popular institution.

In 1868 an Act of Parliament was passed, commonly
known as the Public Schools Act, which embodied most
of the recommendations of the Commissioners, and among
other enactments constituted new governing bodies of a
representative character, to which extensive powers of
framing new statutes for the management and government
of their respective schools were given. But before the
passing of this Act Dr. Kennedy had ceased to be Head
Master of Shrewsbury. Towards the end of 1865 he signified
his intention of resigning at the following Midsummer. Old
Salopian committees were immediately formed, both at
Shrewsbury and at Cambridge, to consider the steps which
should be taken to commemorate worthily Dr. Kennedy's
long and most remarkable career at Shrewsbury. Un-
fortunately, as it seemed at the time, much difference of
opinion manifested itself among his old pupils as to the
form the memorial should take, some advocating the founda-
tion of a professorship at Cambridge which should bear
Dr. Kennedy's name, and others holding strongly that the


memorial ought to be not only personal to Dr. Kennedy,
but directly connected with Shrewsbury, the place where
his work had been done and his reputation acquired.
Ultimately, though not till after considerable delay, both
views were carried out, and the Latin professorship at
Cambridge and the chancel of the present school chapel
at Shrewsbury are permanent memorials of the affection and
gratitude felt for their old master by successive generations
of Shrewsbury men. 1

Early in 1866 the Rectory of West Felton in Shropshire
became vacant by the death of the Rev. William Burbury,
Dr. Kennedy's son-in-law, who had been from 1847 to I ^ 1
the second master at Shrewsbury School, and Dr. Kennedy
was presented to the living. But he was not destined to
have any real experience of parochial work. A few months
after he had left Shrewsbury the Regius professorship of
Greek at Cambridge was vacated by the resignation of the
Rev. W. H. Thompson, who, on the death of Dr. Whewell in
1866, had been appointed master of Trinity College. At the
urgent request of some of the most distinguished of his old
pupils Dr. Kennedy consented to offer himself as a candidate
for the professorship. It is a remarkable fact that all the
other candidates for the vacant post, the Rev. Richard
Shilleto, the Rev. E. M. Cope, and the Rev. Arthur Holmes,
were, like himself, Shrewsbury men. When the day of
election came the votes of the members of the Council
of the Senate, in whom the appointment was vested, were
equally divided between Dr. Kennedy and Mr. Cope. From
the Council the right of election passed, as was provided by
the university statutes, to the Vice-Chancellor and the master
of Trinity College, and, when they also differed, to the Duke

1 The Latin professorship was founded in 1869. But it does not, as was
originally proposed, bear Dr. Kennedy's name. The idea was given up at
the special request of the Greek Professor, who added ^500 to the sum
already subscribed, on that understanding. The story of the origin of the
Latin professorship at Cambridge is rendered more interesting still to Salopians
by the fact that the two great scholars who have successively occupied the chair,
the Rev. H. A. J. Munro and the Rev. J. E. B. Mayor, were both educated at
Shrewsbury School.


of Devonshire, as Chancellor of the university, who appointed
Dr. Kennedy. Henceforth, until his death in 1889, Professor
Kennedy resided either at his Cambridge house, the Elms,
or in the Cathedral Close at Ely, where, as Regius Professor
of Greek, he held a canonry ex officio. As Canon of Ely
Dr. Kennedy represented for some time the Cathedral
Chapter in Convocation. He was greatly appreciated at Ely,
and did much, when in residence there, to break down the
social barriers which had long separated the Close from
the rest of the town. In 1870 the Professor was elected
on the Council of the Senate at Cambridge, and in 1873
he was appointed Lady Margaret's Preacher. 1

From the time of the foundation of Girton and Newnham
Colleges Dr. Kennedy took a warm interest in the efforts
which have been made during the last twenty-five years for
the improvement of women's education, and in February,

1 88 1, he made an impressive speech in favour of throwing
open the Cambridge Tripos examinations to students of
those colleges. From 1870 to 1880 he took part in the
deliberations of the Committee for revising the Authorised
Version of the New Testament, and was deeply interested in
the work. Some of his own personal views on the subject
may be found in his lectures on the Revised Version of the
New Testament, which were given at Ely, and published in

1882. Two years later Dr. Kennedy was elected an
honorary fellow of St. John's College, and by this compli-
ment, as well as by that paid him in 1885, when the Senate
of the university of Dublin conferred upon him the honorary
degree of LL.D., the Professor was greatly gratified. In
1885, under the operation of the new statutes relating to
professorships, he was elected once more, after an interval of
more than fifty years, an ordinary fellow of his old college.
During the last few years of his life Dr. Kennedy became
subject to rather frequent bronchial attacks, and from the
effects of one of these attacks he died on April 6th, 1889. To

1 This was not the first occasion on which Dr. Kennedy occupied the
university pulpit. He had been a Select Preacher in December, 1860, and
January, 1861.


the last he retained his mental vigour unimpaired, and only a
few hours before his death he was occupied in correcting
the proof sheets of a new edition of the Sabrina Corolla. But
his pen had never been allowed to grow rusty. In 1871 he
published the Public School Latin Grammar, which was
intended to supplement the Public School Latin Primer. In
1888 the Primer was thoroughly revised by Dr. Kennedy,
with the able assistance of Mr. G. H. Hallam, an assistant
master at Harrow, and Mr. T. E. Page, an assistant master
at the Charterhouse, both of whom had been at Shrewsbury
School, and had subsequently gained high classical distinctions
at Cambridge. Editions of the Agamemnon and the (Edipus
Tyrannus, with metrical versions and notes, and a translation
of The Birds of Aristophanes into English verse, with an
introduction and notes, were also published by Dr. Kennedy
while he was Greek Professor. In many respects the most
interesting and characteristic of his works is a collection
of verse translations, including some fugitive pieces of his
father's, which appeared in 1877 under the title of Between
Whiles, and of which a second edition, with some autobio-
graphical details, was published in 1882. A portrait of Dr.
Kennedy, painted by Mr. W. W. Ouless, R.A., hangs in the
hall of St. John's College, Cambridge. 1 To those who with
some justice regard Benjamin Hall Kennedy as the most
brilliant classical teacher of his time, it would seem a serious
omission to bring this record of his labours at Shrewsbury to
an end without some attempt to describe his methods of
instruction, and briefly to indicate the chief causes which, in
the opinion of his most distinguished pupils, made him so
successful. The leading idea which seems to have animated
Dr. Butler's whole plan of dealing with boys in intellectual as
well as in moral matters was his desire to make them self-
reliant. The praepostorial system, of which he was in all
essential respects the originator; his persistence in urging
the importance of private work as distinguished from work
prepared for school or done under his supervision, and the

1 A replica of this portrait, painted under the superintendence of Mr. Ouless,
is a cherished possession of the school authorities.


large amount of liberty which boys enjoyed out of school
hours, are all illustrations of Dr. Butler's anxiety to promote
self-reliance among them. But it is to be feared that in the
closing years of his mastership the principle of non-inter-
ference was carried much too far. Between locking-up and
bed time in Dr. Butler's houses the boys rarely saw a master.
In other respects too they were, as one of Butler's later
pupils phrases it, " left very much to themselves." Certainly
Dr. Kennedy entered in 1836 on a heritage of indiscipline,
which made his work very difficult for many years.

That the same exaggerated system of non-interference had
a bad effect on intellectual progress also Mr. Hugh A. J.
Munro has very emphatically stated. He declares that when
Dr. Kennedy began work in the autumn of 1836 Greek
scholarship had sunk to a very low ebb at Shrewsbury, and
he attributes the falling off to the fact that " boys were left
very much to their own lights." 1

Now, although Dr. Kennedy did undoubtedly entertain
different ideas from Dr. Butler as to the desirability of
leaving boys so much to themselves in moral and religious
matters, consciously or unconsciously he seems, like his
predecessor, to have aimed at making his pupils self-reliant
in intellectual matters. But his efforts in this latter respect
do not seem to have produced any ill effects. From the first
he was most successful as a teacher, although his school
lessons were almost always short, and the boys' exercises were
sometimes kept for three weeks, and when returned were, as
a rule, very slightly corrected. It was neither by long lessons
nor by laboured correction of their exercises that Dr. Kennedy
made Shrewsbury boys such excellent scholars and so skilful
in verse and prose composition. But although his translation
lessons were short, they were marvellously effective.

Bishop Fraser declared that in three months' time Kennedy
taught him to read for himself. 2 But Professor H. A. J.

1 See Professor Munro's Memoir of E. M. Cope in the posthumous edition of
his school-fellow's Rhetoric of Aristotle, edited in 1877 by Mr. J. E. Sandys.

3 See article by Professor J. E. B. Mayor on the late Professor B. H. Kennedy
in the Classical Re-view for May, 1889. One of Dr. Kennedy's favourite dicta


Munro's testimony is the strongest. He speaks of the
change effected by the new Head Master in 1836 in a few
months' time as marvellous. All of the boys under his
immediate instruction who were " able and willing to learn "
soon felt that he had given them " such an insight into the
Greek language, and such a hold of its true principles and
idiom, as to render further progress easy and agreeable."
And this great and immediate success the Professor ascribes
partly to " knowledge " and partly to " method united with
kindness and enthusiasm."

But it was not only in his Greek lessons that Kennedy's
teaching was so effective. To everything he taught he
managed to give "life and meaning and interest/' 1 His
"strues," as Shrewsbury boys call them, were always fasci-
nating, partly from the wealth of illustration which he drew
from local occurrences and passing events, or from the
profound historical knowledge with which his mind was
stored, 2 and partly from the effect due to dramatic instincts
which seemed absolutely to carry him away, when he was
translating, to the theatre, the law courts, or the battlefield.

One of his pupils, in recalling memories of the pleasure
sixth form boys used to take in Kennedy's translations,
writes that it is difficult to say which gave them the greatest
delight as the words poured forth from his lips, the Homeric
roll, the pathos of ^Eschylus, the music of the Odes of
Horace, or the fun of Aristophanes. 3

was that a boy who knows Thucydides and Sophocles may say he knows Greek.
Aristotle was never done in form, but the Head Master occasionally read it with
some of the abler boys as "extra work."

1 See the Dedication in Munro's edition of Lucretius.

2 Professor T. S. Evans, who was much Dr. Kennedy's junior as a Shrewsbury
boy, but was for six years an assistant master under him, says that he never knew
anyone who surpassed him in " width of knowledge and variety of information, or
in power of speech, or in tenacity and exactitude of memory." (See Memoir of
T. S. Evans, D.D., by JOSEPH WAITE.)

3 It was Dr. Kennedy's custom at the end of each translation lesson to construe
through the whole himself, giving " an extempore version of it, not elaborately
finished, but pointed and vigorous and sonorous." One of the most distinguished
among the pupils of his last five years at Shrewsbury has called it "an education
in itself to watch this version coming to the birth and gradually developing
itself." (Stt Journal of Education for May, 1889.)


First and foremost, however, among the causes of
Kennedy's success must be reckoned his intense love of
classical literature, a love which "communicated itself by
some mental magnetism to the souls of his pupils " ; for the
love of the work we have to do is undoubtedly, as the
eminent scholar whom we have just quoted has phrased it,
"the healthiest and most lasting stimulus to exertion." 1
And so " the love of classical learning " became, as another
distinguished Shrewsbury scholar has said, "the pervading
characteristic of the school." 2

How startling too it must seem at first to those who are
not familiar with the inner history of Shrewsbury School in
Kennedy's time, but know in a general kind of way what an
extraordinary number of university prizes his pupils carried
off, to learn how little apparent attention was paid by the
Head Master to the exercises of the sixth form, how rarely
he looked over an exercise in the presence of the boy who
had written it, and how few were his corrections ! Practically
the chief if not the only direct assistance Kennedy used to
give boys in the matter of composition took the form of
advice, " Study your Sabrince Corolla and read over some
original passage before you begin your composition." And
yet, somehow or other, Dr. Kennedy managed to imbue the
minds of the boys with the keenest desire that their com-
position exercises should gain his approbation. However long
might be the delay in the return of the exercises they were
most eagerly scanned, when they made their appearance, for
the marks of the Head Master's approval or disapproval.
Doubtless the extras which were gained for the whole form
by five excellent exercises in the same week were some
stimulus to exertion. Kennedy's "criticisms" too, when
given, were emphatic. An old pupil will not soon forget the
tone of ineffable scorn in which he was told that some verses
he had written on the subject of Tea were " ditch-water." 3
But the real explanation of what seems something like

1 See Mr. W. G. Clark's speech at the Tercentenary Festival of 1851.

2 The Rev. Robert Burn in a letter to the author.

3 See article by Mr. G. H. Hallam in the Journal of Education for May, 1889.


a phenomenal state of things must be sought in that
magnetic influence which, as Mr. W. G. Clark and others
have said, Kennedy appears to have exercised over the
minds of the elder boys in intellectual matters. One of
his old pupils calls him " a splendid master whom the sixth
form adored" '; and certainly much of the magnetic influence
in question was due to the affection which so many of his
pupils felt for him. And so it came about that the im-
pression Kennedy's manner often produced on the boys,
that it positively gave him physical pain when they wrote
bad or careless exercises, and his manifest pleasure in good
work, a pleasure which he often evidenced by striding up
and down the room, exercise in hand, exclaiming " Wonder-
ful, wonderful ! " had really much effect in stimulating his
pupils to greater efforts to please him. But their efforts,
we must not forget, could never have led to such results
had it not been for the exquisite models of verse compo-
sition which were always accessible to them in the Sabrincs
Corolla, many of the most striking of which, as Dr. Kennedy
would have been the first to remind us, came from the pens
of Butler's pupils, Marmaduke Lawson, James Hildyard,
Robert Scott, Richard Shilleto, Thomas Saunders Evans,
and B. H. Kennedy himself. So Butler's good work has
been always producing its effect at Shrewsbury, not only
through the system he established, but through the brilliant
compositions which were the result of his scholarly training.
Nor would it be fair to omit all mention in this connection
of the succession of able men by whom Dr. Kennedy was
assisted in carrying on the work of the school T. F. Henney,
J. I. Welldon, William Linwood, T. S. Evans, E. H. Gifford,
and others. Of Dr. Gifford one distinguished Old Salopian
has said, "My first love of classics was started in the fifth
form when Gifford came to be master. He first showed me
the beauty of classics when he translated Thucydides to the
form. . . . The classical lessons of Kennedy and Evans and
Gifford are things to be remembered with delight." The
same authority, 1 it should be added, attributes much im-

1 The Rev. Robert Burn.


portance to the Latin essay which was frequently required
from the sixth form and the daily repetition lessons from
the best Greek and Latin writers, both in verse and prose.

Dr. Kennedy had a singularly powerful voice, and was
often an object of terror to small boys until they discovered
what a tender-hearted man he really was. Old Salopians
who were in the lower forms in 1840-1842, at the time when
the Head Master surrendered the teaching of the sixth form
to his brilliant assistant, Mr. Linwood, and took sometimes
one and sometimes another of the remaining forms, still
remember the fear and trembling which seized them when
their form was summoned into Top Schools that the Head
Master might hear them their lesson. But, though im-
petuous in manner and impulsive in act, Kennedy had, as
we have said, a most tender heart, and little children found
him out at once. Sometimes, and perhaps it might be said
frequently, his impulsive temperament led him to inflict
punishments which, if not altogether undeserved, were out
of proportion to the offence. But such punishments were
practically never carried out.

The Head Master was the most generous of men, and
never allowed false pride to prevent him from acknowledging
himself to be in the wrong and apologising for his error.
In his manner he was uniformly courteous. He had a way
too, in his social intercourse with the elder boys, of treating
them as equals and asking their opinion or advice, which
not unnaturally exercised a great charm over them. As
one of them once said to the writer, " This probably went
to our hearts more than anything else." Certainly our
public schools have known few Head Masters who have
cast such a spell over their pupils as Kennedy. Everyone
has a score of amusing stories to tell about him, but all
speak of him in tones of the warmest affection. It is
impossible for anyone who has known him intimately ever to
forget him, he was so absolutely unlike anyone else. The
very uniqueness of his character was no doubt in some
measure the cause of his attractive influence. One of his
most distinguished colleagues and pupils has said of Kennedy,


" It is no easy task to describe the union of enthusiasm and
generosity, almost sublime, with a childlike simplicity, at
which it was impossible sometimes not to smile." 1

But it is this childlike simplicity of mind which was in

reality the keynote of his life, explaining, as it undoubtedly

does, much that would be otherwise inexplicable in a man of

such generous disposition and such marvellous intellectual

power. His inability to keep a secret, and the difficulty he

sometimes seemed to find in seeing that there may be two

sides to a question and that a man may be partly right and

partly wrong, his impulsive acts, his impetuosity, and his

impatience in literary controversy were all the direct outcome

of the childlike simple-mindedness that remained with him

to the end of his life. For household management Dr.

Kennedy had no taste. But, like Dr. Butler, he was happy in

having a wife who, throughout his long head-mastership,

admirably discharged the domestic duties connected with the

care of two large boarding-houses, and enabled him to show

to friends and colleagues and boys that genial hospitality

which it always delighted him to exercise. Mrs. Kennedy is

no longer with us, but there are many Old Salopians who

gratefully remember her "calm and gentle spirit" and the

" kind and affectionate sympathy " with which she was " ever

ready to soothe the troubles and share the joys of boyhood." 2

The warm interest too which Mrs. Kennedy, and indeed

every member of the Head Master's family, took in all the

school games and amusements did much to increase the

enjoyment they gave to the boys at the time, and to add

to the store of happy recollections which so many Salopians

of Kennedy's days are wont to associate with their school life

at Shrewsbury.

1 The Rev. E. H. Gifford, D.D.

2 See speeches of Mr. W. G. Clark and Dr. E. H. Gifford at the Tercentenary
Festival in 1851.



Henry Whitehead Moss, B.A., appointed Head Master in 1866 Public
Schools Act of 1868 New Governing Body elected in 1871 Removal
of the School to King-sland in 1882 School Life on Kingsland.

WHEN Dr. Kennedy resigned in 1866 the master and
fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, were again
able to find a Shrewsbury scholar of great distinction to
appoint to the head-mastership without going outside the
walls of their own college, although he did not bring to his
work at Shrewsbury the scholastic experience which his
predecessor had gained both at Shrewsbury and Harrow
before he succeeded Dr. Butler. Mr. Henry Whitehead
Moss, the new Head Master, had been educated during the
early years of his boyhood at Lincoln Grammar School, but
he subsequently migrated to Shrewsbury, where he had for
three years the benefit of Dr. Kennedy's brilliant and effective
teaching. In October, 1860, he proceeded in due course to
St. John's College. His university career fulfilled the promise
of his school-days. While an undergraduate he was awarded
the Person Prize for Greek verse on three separate occasions.
He also carried off a Browne Medal in 1863 for Greek
elegiacs. In 1862 Mr. Moss was elected Craven university
scholar, and in 1864 he graduated as Senior Classic. In the
course of the same year he became a fellow and lecturer of
his college.

Little need be said of the fifteen years which elapsed

Online LibraryGeorge William FisherAnnals of Shrewsbury School → online text (page 36 of 56)