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Grave ais.ct







LIBRARY

OF THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Class



MEMORIES

GRAVE AND GAY



*f5x

OF TKf \

f UNIVERSITY I



MEMORIES

GRAVE AND GAY



FORTY YEARS OF
SCHOOL INSPECTION



BY



JOHN KERR, LL.D.



Of THE

UNIVERSITY

of



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MCMII



All Rights res



.7.



HAL






/ DEDICATE THIS BOOK

TO
THE RIGHT HON.

LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH,

K.T., P.O., LL.D.,

Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, and now
Secretary for Scotland,

Who, in addition to the admirable discharge of the
other duties of his high office, has left on Scottish
national education in its widest sense the impress
of his wise insight and patriotic statesmanship.



156158



CONTENTS.



INTRODUCTORY



CHAPTER I.



Bury St Edmunds A walking feat Unintentional injury
to a bishop in posse Appointed inspector Rev. Dr
Montagu Butler Professor Jack . . .5

CHAPTER II.

Educational awakening Government aims First experi-
ences A "pheesical" impossibility . . 9

CHAPTER III.

Wide range of travelling The devil like a roaring lion
Horseback and saddle-bags An involuntary swim on
horseback Unsatisfactory buildings Primitive rail-
way management . . . . 14

CHAPTER IV.

Five stages of Code development History repeating
itself Elasticity and higher general level Lord
Balfour of Burleigh and Sir Henry Craik The aim
a return to the ideal old parish school Dullards,
like the poor, always with us Early general reports
represent the principle of recent changes Dull and
clever alike provided for . . . .24



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER V.

Dr John Brown's estimate of a kindly joke One of an
inspector's first duties Cases in point Why one
should not go to Berlin "Glad to see your back"
"He disna ken there's twa Dees" A pilgrim
defined "A gutsy brute" "Are ye the Goaver-
ment?" Mistaken for some one else . . 35

CHAPTER VI.

Gratuitous visits and their results Inspection before the
Code Act of 1861 for increase of salaries of parish
teachers and removal of the incompetent An amus-
ing case " I jist fushed too mich " . . .46

CHAPTER VII.

The Revised Code an injury to Scottish education The
"beggarly elements" supreme Intelligence dis-
regarded Unfair to Scotland because based exclu-
sively on the character of English schools Educa-
tion levelled down, not up Many teachers and some
inspectors educationally demoralised by it A proof
that English officials did not know Scottish schools . 55

CHAPTER VIII.

Effects of kindly encouragement and words in season
Rev. Dr Mackenzie of Kingussie and education in
the north Sympathetic patience of teachers of the
blind and dumb Abnormal development of special
faculties . . . . . . .64

CHAPTER IX.

Old parish schools Candlemas Changed customs M.
Biot's estimate Parish schools' relation to the Uni-
versity First Scottish Code "No use pumping
when the well's dry" Scottish and English gradu-
ates compared "A stickit minister" . . 73



CONTENTS. ix



CHAPTER X.

James Beattie Lessons from a shoemaker's stool :
"Bairns maun like their books" "She has a
dreadfu' memory" "Read as weel's ye can do"
"What! are ye keekin'?" " Hoo could I charge
fees ?" " Eh ! man, Bell's deid " . . .90



CHAPTER XI.

Sheriff Nicolson J. F. Maclennan D'Arcy Thompson
Swearing in Latin A reading party Alexander
Smith 'Punch' to the rescue P. P. Alexander . 124



CHAPTER XII.

Changes in graduation and bursaries in Edinburgh and
Glasgow Aberdeen, why different Dick Bequest-
Graduation and bursaries fifty years ago and now
University no place for poverty of both purse and
intellect Bursaries, wherever possible, should be
open to free competition Crooked answers from
examination papers . . . . T 35



CHAPTER XIII.

Orkney Kirkwall cathedral" Picts' houses " and stand-
ing-stones Rents sixty years ago, " I sud pay a hen "
" The haithens ate Tarn " " I thocht I was needin'
a snuff" North Ronaldsay Shapinsay Colonel
Balfour Maeshowe and the antiquaries Professor
Aytoun Cologne cathedral . . . 151



CHAPTER XIV.

Shetland Fair Isle A purpose of marriage Foula
A running commentary on the last chapter of Ec-
clesiastes . . . . . .166



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XV.

General hospitality The minister's man Rev. Dr Hanna
"Rael coamfortable '* "She tak's a bit blaw
hersel' " "Ca* ye't naething to be forced to gang
to the kirk ilka Sunday?" "Ye hadna your purse
oot here "Pathetic contrast Three dinners . 175



CHAPTER XVI.

Amusing answers from Training Colleges and higher
grade schools "A while at every class" "Lash
him" Duck and hen "Naked and not ashamed"
Leeches French and German blunders . .187



CHAPTER XVII.

Before 1872 many parish schoolmasters in the North were
divinity students An occasional hitch One trouble-
some Prayed for four times in one day Religious
instruction Homely estimate of Mary and Martha
Minister and teacher generally good friends One
exception Relation of school board to teacher of
more business but less sympathetic type than before
Apparently less interest on the part of parents An
amateur Sutherland examiner . . . J 95



CHAPTER XVIII.

Farm-servants too often regarded simply as agricultural
implements Little encouragement or opportunity
for self-improvement Safeguards of a virtuous life
broken down Feeing markets Too few two-horse
farms as objects of ambition Too few cottages on
the farm for married men An example worthy of
imitation This slackening of kindly relationship not
confined to farmers and farm-servants . . 209



CONTENTS. xi



CHAPTER XIX.

The Academy of Old Deer Sir George Reid, Paul
Chalmers, Robertson Smith, Sir David Gill Large
dinner-parties a social mistake . . .221

CHAPTER XX.

" Watchie " Advice on marriage Parody of Tennyson's
"Brook" Brownlow North A long quotation
Spurgeon A trimming preacher An awkward
elder ....... 229

CHAPTER XXI.

Professor Blackie His versatility, vitality, and disregard
of convention Dinners at Blackie's and Calderwood's
The Hellenic Club presentation on his eightieth
birthday His ingenuousness Masson Maclagan
Christison Norman Macleod His breadth, force,
humanity, and humour The late Lord Inverclyde . 242

CHAPTER XXII.

Infant-teaching much improved When should it begin
"D n the cat!" Great improvement in reading-
books Reading the most valuable school product
Corporal punishment Dr Melvin Leather Thomas
Fraser of Golspie An equestrian incident . . 254

CHAPTER XXIII.

Not to be imposed upon Praying for Queen Caroline
Rounds of toasts Humorous certificates A
Nathaniel Yon Wattie Dunlop Advice based on
Biblical example Providence and limited liability
" A divinity that shapes our ends " . . . 268

CHAPTER XXIV.

Joint University and Normal School training Necessary
to maintain the tradition of the old parish school



xii CONTENTS.



Progress most satisfactory Training College curric-
ulum widened and raised Attitude of Edinburgh
Board towards practice in singing Visits to English
Training Colleges Students' dinner scheme
Secondary schools Organisation improved Edin-
burgh Merchant Company set the example of reform
Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Endowed School Com-
mission Splendid results .... 287

CHAPTER XXV.

The bitters latitude Give it a good name Sudden
meteorological change Bibulous Scotland "He
put too much water in his whisky " Its preservative
qualities Spontaneous combustion An awful risk
A Highland funeral Roman Catholic rag-gath-
erers The most dangerous form of drunkenness
Sabbath observance in the Highlands Men Super-
stitions ....... 303

CHAPTER XXVI.

Teachers with rare exceptions eminently faithful and
trustworthy No charity for cheating Amusing
mistakes "My kingdom for a horse" . . 325

CHAPTER XXVII.

The typical fisherman Inscriptions Sir George Grove
Crofters and domestic animals A ticklesome car-
driver Irish bulls and repartees Daniel Webster,
the American orator Sir John Macdonald Fire-
brigade drill . . . . . -333

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Intercourse with the Department pleasant My connec-
tion with it slackened, not broken Relations with
managers and teachers .... 349



ILLUSTRATIONS.



PAGE

PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR Frontispiece

"THE HOLE is DANGERFULLY DEEP, BUT NO JIST AWFUL

BROAD ;
AND EFTER THAT THERE'S NOTHING MORE BETWEEN THEM

AND THE ROAD" 21

"FEES! HOO COULD i CHARGE FEES?" . . . .112

A "SHAKEDOWN" 176

RECENT DEPOSIT, OF MARE-INE ORIGIN. " HUMAN-
REMAINS " 267

"ACH! AACH ! NO WAATER IN MY WHUSKY" . . . 308




MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY,



INTRODUCTORY.

SINCE my retirement from the public service five
years ago, suggestions have been frequently made
to me by a number of my friends about putting
into shape reminiscences of my official life, ex-
tending over more than thirty -six years. To
these suggestions I have till now turned a deaf
ear, from a feeling that my experience presents
few events of sufficiently outstanding interest to
warrant my adopting them. This feeling is not
materially changed, and I have grave doubts as
to whether I am acting wisely in at length agree-
ing to do what my friends advise. They urge
that my service has been the longest of all who
have been inspectors of schools in Scotland ; that
I am the only one now alive who has had a
share in the almost countless alterations and
improvements in the work of the Education De-

A



2 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

partment, from what may fairly be called its
infancy, when only embryo codes had as yet
existence, up to the present time ; that, in addi-
tion to strictly official work, I have examined
almost all the secondary schools in Scotland ;
that every county in Scotland has been more or
less immediately under my charge, as either a
district or chief inspector ; that I have been
classical examiner for degrees in Edinburgh and
Glasgow Universities, and have given evidence
before all the important Education Commis-
sions, the last being the recent one on Second-
ary Education in England. This is quite
true, but I am far from feeling certain that it
is sufficient to warrant my rushing into print
at a time when, more than ever before, it is
true that of making many books there is no
end.

It is possible that what I have to say may
be interesting to some, and not unprofitable to
others, but the consideration that has had
most weight with me in making me take up
my pen is, that I shall recall to memory many
incidents in themselves commonplace it may be,
and almost colourless, but around which cluster
many very pleasant recollections.

I may have occasion to refer to many old



SCOPE ONL Y INCIDENTALL Y TECHNICAL. 3

friends, but I shall endeavour to avoid such
references as may give offence.

A man could scarcely have wandered over
practically the whole of Scotland so long and
so often as I have, without seeing some things
and meeting some people with something note-
worthy about them. I should be pleased to
have the knack of presenting them in their
proper relations, with a correct sense of pro-
portion, and in happy phrase. My obser-
vations will not be confined to matters
scholastic, but may diverge on occasion into
lines social, clerical, and general. Illustration
by means of anecdote may often be resorted to
as the shortest, most graphic, and most memor-
able mode of exhibiting salient points of charac-
ter. There is perhaps no scarcer commodity than
a good new anecdote. To my intimate friends
a large proportion of mine will want the charm
of novelty, but there are probably others outside
of that circle to whom they will not seem so
hoary and weather-worn.

I do not propose to deal with technical topics
that have been discussed ad nauseam in educa-
tional magazines, nor, except incidentally, to go
outside of my own experience. I may have
occasion now and then to make remarks on



4 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

educational subjects that will appeal more to
the teacher than the general reader, but such
occasions will be comparatively few, both be-
cause I have not, so far as I know, any pet fads
to exploit, and because it would be very foolish
to make certain what, in spite of my best
efforts, is perhaps only too probable, that this
little volume should be consigned to the limbo
of unread or unreadable books. Educational
deliverances are notoriously dull. My aim will
be a plain common-sense narrative of some
things I have observed, approved, blamed, or
laughed at during the last forty years.



BURY ST EDMUNDS.



CHAPTER I.

BURY ST EDMUNDS A WALKING FEAT UNINTENTIONAL IN-
JURY TO A BISHOP "IN POSSE 5 ' APPOINTED INSPECTOR-
REV. DR MONTAGU BUTLER PROFESSOR JACK.

AFTER graduating at Cambridge I remained in
residence for a short time coaching, when I was
offered and accepted a classical mastership in
the grammar-school of Bury St Edmunds, where
Dr Donaldson, of ' New Cratylus ' fame, was once
headmaster. There I spent a most pleasant
year, joining the boys like the veriest boy among
them in all their games hockey, fives, football,
boxing, &c. In this connection one event stands
out in strong relief. Dick Shaw, a tall fellow,
one of the oldest boys, probably eighteen years
of age, on returning to school after the Easter
vacation, had said that during the holidays he
had walked a mile in eleven minutes. This was
not believed by some of his schoolfellows. Dick,
to make good his statement, made a small wager
that he would walk six miles in seventy minutes.



6 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

I happened to hear of this, and observed that he
was the object of a good deal of chaff because,
with a total disregard of training, he was taking
pudding and other sweets at dinner as freely as
if he had no gymnastic contest to face within
the next three weeks. I liked Dick, and believed
his statement about a mile in eleven minutes,
but I doubted his covering six miles in seventy
minutes unless he trained. I told him so, and
persuaded him to come out with me every second
morning before school, when I would put him
through his paces. The first morning we did a
mile in eleven minutes, but he could not face a
second mile. He saw his pudding must go, and
it did. By the end of the first week I felt satis-
fied that he would win his wager. The other
boys, hearing that I was training Dick, asked me
how he was getting on, but I refused to reveal
stable secrets. The momentous day arrived. A
level mile was chosen, and Dick and I started
amid a crowd of witnesses. We covered the
first three miles in 34 minutes, and, in sporting
phrase, Dick had not turned a hair. He then
said to those who had wagered against him,
" You offered three to one that I could not do
it. I'll lay three to one that I shall." No
takers. An objection was made to my walking



APPOINTED INSPECTOR.



side by side with him and thereby keeping him
up to the pace. I gave in to the objection, and
proposed that I should fall ten or twelve yards
behind him, to which they agreed. We finished
the six miles in 66^ minutes, and Dick won his
bet. It was rumoured that he betook himself
straightway to the confectioner's, and fully in-
demnified himself for his three weeks' abstinence
from all things saccharine.

Yet another incident recurs. I had on the
gloves one day for a friendly bout with another
of the older pupils, Chinnery - Haldane, then a
well-grown lad of eighteen years, and now the
Right Rev. Bishop of Argyle. In the course of
our bout I countered him more heavily than I
intended on his prominent feature, which bled
freely. No angry passions rose. In proof of
this, when meeting him lately I reminded him
of the occurrence, he laughed genially, and
asked me to visit him at Ballachulish. He is
the only prelate to whom I ever did bodily
injury.

I had been about a year in Bury St Edmunds
when I received my appointment as Inspector
of Schools, on the strength of my testimonials
generally, and of an especially hearty one from
the Rev. Dr Montagu Butler, afterwards Head-



8 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

master of Harrow, and now Master of Trinity
College, Cambridge. He was exceedingly kind
to me as an undergraduate, and his valued friend-
ship I am glad to say I still retain. Mr (now
Professor) Jack of Glasgow, one of my oldest
and closest friends as fellow-student in Glasgow
and Cambridge, was gazetted Inspector at the
same time he as junior colleague to Mr Gordon
in the west, I to Mr Middleton in the north of
Scotland. Mr Jack and I entered Glasgow Uni-
versity together, graduated in the same year,
entered Cambridge together, and there graduated
in the same year, and were appointed Inspectors
in the same Gazette. An old minister who knew
us both remarked to me that there was a great
parallelism between Mr Jack and me, and hoped
that we would not both fall in love with the same
sweetheart. This was a test to which we were
not subjected. I had not the pleasure of meeting
Mrs Jack till he had made her his own. Since
these lines were penned she has passed away
amid the tears of a sorrowing family and to the
regret of a wide circle of sympathising friends.
It is pleasant to record that the long and in-
timate friendship between Professor Jack and
myself remains to this day undisturbed by a
single ripple.



DR BUTLER.



CHAPTER II.



EDUCATIONAL AWAKENING GOVERNMENT AIMS FIRST
EXPERIENCES A " PHEESICAL " IMPOSSIBILITY.



A VERY rapid sketch of what immediately pre-
ceded, and led up through innumerable modifica-
tions and improvements, to the present attitude
of Government towards education is perhaps
not inappropriate to the purpose of these
reminiscences.

About the end of the eighteenth and beginning
of the nineteenth century there was a great edu-
cational awakening to the imperative necessity of
supplementing existing provision by Government
assistance. Lord Brougham's Committee of In-
quiry in 1818 revealed great deficiencies and des-
titution in the Highlands and Islands. This led
to the establishment in 1824 f the Education
Committee of the Church, which made vigorous
efforts to supply the defects, but with only partial
success. It was found that there was clamant



io MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

need for other and more powerful help than
private benevolence could furnish.

Meanwhile the friends of education Brougham
in the House of Lords, and a committee of the
House of Commons were not inactive, with the
result that in 1833 Government made its first
grant in aid of Scottish education in the form
of a subsidy to Training Schools, and that in
1839, a * the instance of the Marquess of Lans-
downe and Lord John Russell, a Committee of
Council on Education was established, with Sir
James Kay Shuttleworth for its first secretary.
This was the beginning of parliamentary grants
in aid of elementary education, and the appoint-
ment of inspectors. Successive minutes regu-
lated the proceedings of the Council till 1846,
when new minutes were issued. This was fol-
lowed by the Act of 1861, which increased the
salaries of parochial teachers, transferred their
appointment from the presbyteries to the univer-
sity, and opened the office to any member of
a Presbyterian Church. Close upon this came
the Revised Code in 1862, of which more will
be said in the sequel, and which continued for-
mally in operation in Scotland till the passing
of the Act of 1872. This Act was rendered
necessary by the parochial schools being found



GOVERNMENT AIMS. 11

inadequate to meet the demands of increased
population, and with important supplements and
improvements continues to the present time.

It is right to indicate here the aims the Gov-
ernment had in view when the seeds of the
present system were sown. Inspectors were told
that inspection was intended to be a means of
co-operation between the Government and the
ministers or other managers of schools for the
improvement and extension of education ; that it
was not intended as a means of exercising con-
trol, but of affording assistance ; not for the re-
straint but encouragement of local efforts. The
general duties of the inspector were arranged
under three distinct heads : (i) furnishing infor-
mation to enable the Committee of Council to
determine the propriety of granting funds in aid
of erecting new schools ; (2) reporting on the
matter and method of instruction in schools aided
by public grants ; and (3) furnishing information
respecting the state of education in particular
districts. I think it may be said that these
instructions, with such additions as the fuller
development of the system required, continue to
describe generally the relation between the De-
partment, inspectors, boards or other managers,
and teachers.



12 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.

When I joined the late Dr Middleton in 1860
there were only seven inspectors in Scotland
for all classes of schools except those in con-
nection with the Episcopal and Roman Catholic
Churches, which were under the charge of two
inspectors, who overtook all they had to do in
the course of two or three months. As a con-
cession to ecclesiastical feeling inspection was,
till the passing of the Act of 1872, strictly
denominational. Schools connected with the
Established and Free Churches were inspected
by officers who were appointed subject to the
approval of the Education Committees of the
respective Churches. There were few schools
connected with the United Presbyterian Church,
and these, as a rule, were placed on the list of
the Established Church inspector. There are
now thirty inspectors and thirty sub-inspectors,
and the whole sixty are kept as busy as the
seven were forty years ago. The number of in-
spectors was not then, and is not now, a measure
of the number of existing schools but of the
schools taught by certificated teachers. Besides
the parish and many other schools connected
with the two Churches, there were smaller ones
supported by the Society for Propagating Christian
Knowledge, the most of which were taught by



DENOMINATIONAL INSPECTION. 13

uncertificated teachers. The change in this re-
spect is very striking. Schools with a Church
connection have very largely disappeared ; board
schools have taken their place; in almost every
ordinary school the teachers are certificated, and
every class of school is visited by the same in-
spector irrespective of denomination.

Forty years ago the attainments of the teachers
of schools supported by the Society for Propagat-
ing Christian Knowledge were slender, as their
emoluments were small. A very worthy man
whom I knew was being examined by the Society's
committee for an appointment, and had his
reading tested on the New Testament. The
passage happened to be about the man sick
of the palsy who was borne of four. One of
the examiners, wishing to ascertain whether the
candidate fully understood the scope of what
he had read, asked how he would explain to a
class what was meant by the sick of the palsy
being borne of four, and got for a reply, that he
could not explain it, for it had always seemed to
him to be a "pheesical impossibility."



14 MEMORIES GRAVE AND GAY.



CHAPTER III.



WIDE RANGE OF TRAVELLING THE DEVIL LIKE A ROARING
LION HORSEBACK AND SADDLE-HAGS AN INVOLUNTARY
SWIM ON HORSEBACK UNSATISFACTORY BUILDINGS
PRIMITIVE RAILWAY MANAGEMENT.



DR MIDDLETON'S district included the whole of
the north of Scotland between Dundee and
Shetland, with the exception of Perthshire and
the Western Islands. The schools of which he
had charge were those connected with the Estab-
lished Church and such as were undenominational.
Free Church schools in the same district were
under the charge of Mr Scougal, father of the
present Chief Inspector in the Western district.
So thinly scattered were certificated teachers in
those days that we three overtook with greater
ease, but with much more travelling, the inspection
of that huge district, than the seventeen officers
who have it now in charge. But we were regular
vagabonds, months on end away from home.
Had we been asked, as was a certain personage



THE DEVIL LIKE A ROARING LION. 15

who shall be nameless, " Whence comest them ? "
we could have replied as he did, " From going
to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and
down in it." I must ask my readers in their
charity to believe that the analogy ends there,
and that we were not like that other personage
going about like roaring lions seeking whom we
might devour.

The definite function of this personage was
brought puzzlingly before me one Sunday evening
in a Banffshire manse. All the family were
sitting quietly reading in the drawing-room, when
the youngest boy, with a laudable thirst for know-


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Online LibraryJohn KerrMemories grave and gay; forty years of school inspection → online text (page 1 of 22)