J. E. C. (James Edward Cowell) Welldon.

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Dean of Manchester


London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne


First published October 1915
Reprinted December 1915


IT is never worth while to publish writings which need
not have been given to the world, and then to offer
an apology for their publication. I do not seek, there-
fore, to excuse myself for writing this book. I will
only say that nearly at the same time two firms of
publishers applied to me for my memoirs, and soon
afterwards the head of a third firm expressed his
willingness to issue them. It has been a pleasure,
not wholly free from sadness, to revive so many old
associations. The experience of most people who have
lived some time in the world is, I suppose, that they
form, more or less unwittingly, certain conclusions
which they themselves hold strongly, perhaps too
strongly, and which they think may be of some use
to others. If among my own conclusions there are
any which may be felt to suggest or emphasise the true
course of public duty or wisdom, I cannot be sorry
that I have made them known. But when I had
finished the book, it was found to be a good deal longer
than I had promised or the publishers had expected,
and a part of the " Reflections " has, therefore, to
my regret, been omitted. It will perhaps appear some
day in another form.

I know how difficult it is to use frank language
without giving pain, especially in reference to con-




trasted and, in some sense, opposite, institutions ; and
I have been officially connected not only with the Far
Eastern as well as with the Western world, but with
the South and the North of England, and with Eton
and Harrow. Should the book, as it now stands, do
any injustice to any persons whom I have met in my
various offices at home and abroad, nobody, I hope,
could more deeply regret it than I. It is meant to
be a candid record, not unsympathetically expressed,
of such incidents and such inferences from them as have
been natural to a life not particularly distinguished,
but, owing to circumstances, a little more varied,
perhaps, than most educational or clerical lives can
easily be.


September, 1915.




2. FORMATIVE INFLUENCES (continued) . . 26

3. FORMATIVE INFLUENCES (continued) . . 47


5. ETON v. HARROW (continued) . . . . 100


7. EDUCATION (continued) ..... 152

8. EDUCATION (continued) ..... 175

9. INDIA 200

10. INDIA (continued) 223

11. INDIA (continued) ...... 258


13. WESTMINSTER ABBEY (continued) . . . 317


15. MANCHESTER (continued) .... 365

16. MANCHESTER (continued) .... 394
INDEX , . . 409




IT has always been a pleasure to me that I was born
on St. Mark's Day, April 25th. For the story of St.
Mark, as it is told in the New Testament and in eccle-
siastical legend, has strongly appealed to me. The
mystery, the vicissitude, the mingled light and shadow
which surround it, are pleasing to the imagination. I
cherish the thought that St. Mark was, as Irenaeus 1
says, the pupil and interpreter (^aO^r^ teat ep/^i/eimfc)
of St. Peter, and that his is, if not the original, at all
events the earliest extant Gospel. Nor do I honour his
memory the less because of the cloud which fell at one
time upon his relation to St. Paul. How it seems to
vanish that passing cloud as at sunrise, before those
touching words of the aged Apostle, " Take Mark, and
bring him with thee ; for he is profitable to me for the
ministry " : words which may not unfairly be said to
consecrate the friendship of St. Paul's two young fellow-
disciples, St. Timothy and St. Mark ! 2 Never, I think,
have I passed through Alexandria, often as I have been
there, without recalling how St. Mark, according to a
tradition recorded by Eusebius, 3 founded churches there,

1 Contr. Haeres, iii., i. i. * 2 Timothy iv. n. 8 Hist. Eccles. ii. c. 16.


2 Recollections and Reflections

and how, if Jerome's 1 authority is worthy of credence,
he died and was buried there. When I visited Venice
for the first time many years ago, I could not help looking
upon the lions of St. Mark as though I had a right to
claim a sort of proprietary interest in them.

But there are other associations than these attaching
to St. Mark's Day. April 25th is the birthday of Oliver
Cromwell and John Keble, and they have both been,
although in different ways, objects of admiration to me
all through my life. It has sometimes seemed to me
that a combination of their qualities would be the ideal
of Christian manhood. I am fond of observing the
association of special names, not only in history but in
literature, with special days. I have made what I may
perhaps call a hagiology, or at least an historical calendar,
of my own. Every morning I try to recall the memory
of some beloved and honoured person whose birthday
or whose death-day it is. It is natural for me, then,
to remember that April 25th was Amelia Sedley's first
wedding day ; for she is one of my favourite characters.

It has been my habit to ask people, and especially
very old people, what were the earliest events of which
they retain any clear, positive recollection. In the year
1898, I think, I paid a visit at Norwich to a distant
kinswoman, who, if her life had been spared two years
longer, would have been able to say that she had lived
in three centuries. She could remember, or she fancied
she could remember, something of the sensation caused
by the deaths of Pitt and Fox in 1806. Sir William
Drinkwater, when I had the pleasure of talking to him
in his old age at his beautiful residence in the Isle of
Man, told me he could recall the illuminations of London
after the battle of Waterloo. To have seen a man who
had seen the great Napoleon on the deck of the Bellero-

1 De Vir Illustr. Ch. 8.

Formative Influences 3

phon, as was once my experience, may almost be said
to lift for a moment the veil of ancient history. But I
have never felt the attraction of Napoleon, as so many
writers, and among them Lord Rosebery, have felt
it ; I have not been able to overcome a genuine moral
detestation of his career ; and more than once, when I
have noticed his portrait upon the wall of some classroom
in a Public or Elementary School, I have turned it to
the wall, as it was difficult to understand why English
boys and girls should be taught to venerate a man who
was, perhaps, in view of the late age in which he lived,
the worst of all human beings, as having been the author
of more widespread and lasting misery than any other
person, and who was certainly, at least until the out-
break of the war now raging, the most bitter and the
most dangerous of all the enemies of England.

A dear old friend of mine, Mrs. Rotch, who died at
Harrow, soon after I left it, at the age of 100 years and
six months, in the house to which she had come as a
bride 82 years before, could describe the anxious state
of English opinion during the Napoleonic wars. But
her favourite reminiscence, although it belonged to a
later date, was that she had been a passenger at the
opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in
1830 by the train in which Mr. Huskisson was killed.
Mr. Huskisson' s death was, I think, singularly tragic ;
for it was in order to speak to the Duke of Wellington,
with whom he had not been on good terms, that he got
out of his carriage on to the permanent way, and, while
he was standing there, an engine, the " Rocket," ran over
him. It was to the vicarage at Eccles that he was
carried, and there he died. Fanny Kemble, in her
" Record of a Girlhood," * tells the story of his death. I
could not help doubting, however, whether Mrs. Rotch

1 Frances Ann Kemble's " Record of a Girlhood," vol. ii., pp. 188-191.

4 Recollections and Reflections

did actually travel by that train. Old people are apt
to imagine that they have seen or done more than
really happened to them. Memory, as the Greeks so
wisely fabled, is the mother of the Muses. When I was
a headmaster, I used to say that all old Public School
men, after a certain time of life, thought they had
been, or might have been, in the cricket eleven of their
schools, as maiden ladies think they have refused offers
of marriage in their youth. Anyhow, it is an interesting
fact that Tennyson was a passenger by the first train on
the Liverpool and Manchester line. I have heard him
tell the story, almost in the words quoted in the annotated
edition of his poems by his son, the present Lord Tenny-
son, 1 how it was a black night when he travelled by the
railway ; the crowd around the train at the stations was
so dense that he could not see the wheels of the railway
carriages ; he thought they ran in grooves ; and that was
the origin of the metaphor which used to puzzle me as
a boy when I first read " Locksley Hall" :

" Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves
of change."

My own earliest vivid recollection is that I was
taken out of doors late at night, and set on the garden
steps outside my father's house at Tonbridge School, to
see the great comet of 1861. The death of the Prince
Consort at the end of that same year made a deep im-
pression upon my mind ; but of the assassination of
President Lincoln, although it occurred four years later,
and was a far more tragic event, I retain no memory.
I dare say it did not produce a marked effect in the some-
what narrow, humdrum social life of Tonbridge. It
will not, perhaps, be inappropriate to add, as an instance

1 "The Works of Tennyson, with Notes by the Author." Edited, with Memoir,
by Hallam Lord Tennyson, 1907.

Formative Influences 5

of the feeling which has always prompted me to value
early experiences, that, when I was a Canon of West-
minster Abbey, at the Coronation of King Edward VII.,
I gave one of my few seats in the gallery over the Muni-
ment Room to a little girl, who was, I thought, just
old enough to remember the stately ceremonial if she
saw it, and who, if she lived, as I trust she may, to a good
old age, would, I hoped, relate to her children and
grandchildren her unfading impression of that historical

The truth is that I have all my life through been
deeply solemnised by the thought of the unchanged
and unchangeable past. It has seemed to me that
men and women are as travellers journeying to an
invisible goal beneath an overshadowing precipice of
granite rock. Few lines of poetry have been, or are,
more constantly present to my mind than Dry den's :

" Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been has been, and I have had my hour." l

Although my memory of my home is still as fresh
as it is pleasant, yet, except during the first few years
of my life, I did not, in fact, spend much time there.
I was sent away to school at an early age ; and as my
holidays generally coincided with my father's, we used
often to go away from Tonbridge to places of interest in
England or abroad. I well remember how he took me
as quite a young boy to Boulogne. It was my first
experience of the foreign travel which has played so
large a part in the story of my life. One expedition of
lasting interest was made through various towns and
villages of Kent to Rochester. My father had himself
once been at school in Rochester ; he was familiar with

1 The Twenty- Ninth Ode of the First Book of Horace Paraphrased in Pindaric

6 Recollections and Reflections

its winding streets and ancient buildings ; he gave me
there my first insight into the quiet dignity of a Cathe-
dral Close. It was, I think, after a visit to Gadshill
that I began to read Shakespeare ; and from the same
journey I date in my own mind my interest, which has
never failed or faded, in the writings of Charles Dickens.
He is, in my eyes, the greatest, because he is the purest,
of English humorists. Moliere alone, I think, deserves
to stand beside him. It has been said that every-
one is born a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Not less
true is it, I think, that every Englishman is born a
Thackerayan or a Dickensite. If so, I must claim to be
an Aristotelian and a Dickensite ; for nobody has cast
such a girdle of innocent laughter around the world
as Dickens. At Ipswich, the White Horse Hotel has
long possessed a charm for me because of the adven-
tures which befell Mr. Pickwick there. When I was at
Dulwich College, I often pointed out to my visitors that
the picture-gallery of the College, that treasure-house
of art which is still so little known, in spite of its
romantic history for was it not in its original intention
the National Gallery of Poland? was the last place
where Mr. Pickwick was ever seen on earth. At
Harrow, I used to tell boys half seriously, when they
were ill, that, if they were not familiar with " The Old
Curiosity Shop," they could not be allowed to leave the
sick-room until they had read it. I offered a prize to
any boy who could discover in the writings of Dickens
a character educated at Harrow ; and the prize was
won by a boy who read all Dickens through in the
weeks when he was suffering and recovering from
scarlet fever. Since I have lived in Manchester it has
been a pleasure to me to reflect that I could in a
sense claim fellow-citizenship with the brothers Grant,
who were the prototypes of the Cheeryble brothers;

Formative Influences 7

but I have not been so successful as I could wish to
be in tracing the charities by which the two brothers
during their lifetime attracted the admiration of

But to come back to the holidays of my school life :
I remember spending some time with Edward Fitz-
Gerald, the translator of Omar Khayyam, on his yacht
in the waters of Aldeburgh. I am afraid I was not so
good a sailor as he was then, or as I hope I may claim
to be now. The Eastern Counties of England, and
especially parts of Suffolk, were my frequent resorts.
For my mother's family, the Cowells of Ipswich, lived
there. The late Professor Cowell of Cambridge, my
mother's first cousin, introduced me to the old book-shops
of Ipswich. He was always my kind and generous friend,
and for a short time my teacher, when I learnt a little
Sanscrit after taking my degree ; and to know him was,
I think, to know the beau ideal of a scholar so true
was his love of learning for its own sake, so free from
all desire or thought of public recognition. I was
greatly struck by the historical connection of Cardinal
Wolsey with the town of Ipswich, in which his father
is said to have been a butcher ; and as I wandered
among the relics of antiquity, which are still pretty
numerous there, it was difficult to help regretting that
of those " twins of learning/' as Shakespeare calls them,
which Wolsey raised, Ipswich and Oxford, the latter
has become so much more famous than the., former.
The world which reads the newspapers, laughed a short
time ago, when a militant suffragette, who was arrested
for attempting an outrage in London, gave, at the outset
of her voluble and noisy defence, her home address as
" Silent Street, Ipswich." But it was on the site of
Silent Street, according to local tradition, that Cardinal
Wolsey's father lived, and there he got into trouble for

8 Recollections and Reflections

letting his pigs run wild to the detriment of his neigh-
bour's estate. For the Eastern Counties of England I
still cherish a tender and grateful feeling. Many happy
days and weeks have I spent in them. During my head-
mastership at Harrow I went often to Southwold, where
the name of Agnes Strickland is still held in honour.
Places such as Walberswick and still more Dunwich are
rich in interesting memories ; and I am still so loyal to old
associations as to doubt whether the ocean-air is any-
where so invigorating as upon the coast-line of Suffolk
and Norfolk. It was no little satisfaction to me, when
I was headmaster of Harrow, that the late Sir Cuth-
bert Quilter, M.P., who brought his eldest son to school
there, told me laughingly he wished him to be
educated by a headmaster who was an Eastern Counties

Still, my home, if I did not see much of it, did not
fail to exercise an influence upon my whole life. It
may be permitted me to recall two or three of its
characteristic features.

I was brought up in an educational atmosphere.
If I can claim any special faculty or capacity as a school-
master, it must be the result of inheritance. For my
father was a schoolmaster. My uncle, with whom he
was so closely associated in his life-work, was a school-
master too. Looking back through the vista of long
years upon the early days of life, I seem always to hear,
as if in the far distance, the echo of familiar voices dis-
cussing educational topics, or at least such topics as
related to the great Public Schools and the ancient Uni-
versities. Elementary education had not then assumed
the national importance which has admittedly belonged
to it since the Education Act of 1870 ; nor had the
modern Universities in the large provincial cities of
England yet come into being. At the passing of Mr.

Formative Influences 9

Forster's famous Act I was already an Etonian. It was
only three years before my birth that Owens College,
Manchester, which may be regarded as the pioneer of
the modern Universities, was established ; and the
charter by which it was expanded and exalted into the
Victoria University of Manchester was not granted
until I had already taken my degree at Cambridge.

The educationists, if I must use that word, or the
schoolmasters among whom my boyhood was chiefly
spent, could they have imagined the idea of a modern
University, would, I think, have tacitly scouted it, as a
mere simulacrum of the reality. But Oxford and Cam-
bridge were the objects of their reverent admiration.
It was my fortune in after- days to hear the Master of
Trinity College, Cambridge, Dr. Thompson, utter his
caustic gibe at " our habitual instructors, the head-
masters of the Public Schools." I hope I did not do much,
when I was a headmaster, although I can hardly hope
that I did nothing, to deserve it. For I was taught as
a boy to look upon anybody who had won a first-class
in the Schools at Oxford or in the Mathematical or
Classical Tripos at Cambridge as a superior being. In
those old days he seemed to me to command the same
homage as a judge or a cabinet minister commands
now. The Cambridge University Calendar was a sort
of second Bible in my home. I can recall how a certain
poor relation of my family a brewer without any
tincture of academical learning, and without any special
social charm whose annual visits were felt to be in-
evitable but disagreeable trials, because of the expense
of entertaining him, and often of defraying after his
visit a good many small debts which it was his fashion
to incur, was thought to be invested with a certain in-
expressible respectability, inasmuch as he had schooled
himself by assiduous effort to repeat a number of the

io Recollections and Reflections

Tripos lists by heart. Even when he failed in the
brewery business and went bankrupt, still his know-
ledge of the Cambridge University Calendar gave him
the cachet of society at Tonbridge. There was a gentle
pity felt for him, as for one who would probably have
done more credit to the Trade if he had been for-
tunate enough to possess an academical degree of his
own, besides being able to tell the degrees of so many
other people.

My father lost no opportunity of impressing upon my
youthful imagination the value of degrees. He was, I
think, a little chagrined, or at least he was surprised,
whenever a man, who had not distinguished himself by
his degree at Oxford or Cambridge, won his way to a
high position in the world. He loved to recall and record
the success of Senior Wranglers and Senior Classics in
after-life. He urged me, when I was a boy at Eton, to
give up playing cricket and in the end I did give it up
at his desire as he was afraid that the demand which it
made upon a schoolboy's time would ultimately spoil
my degree. As life has advanced, I have come to think
less of academical degrees. I have seen so many re-
versals of the judgments passed upon young men at
college as well as upon boys at school. So often the first
have been last, and the last first. It is not, perhaps, so
much what a man was in his youth, but what he is, that
is the important question about him. It is a little difficult
for me now to understand the value attaching to degrees,
and, indeed, even to honorary degrees, which are too
often, I think, conferred, not when they would be chiefly
valuable, upon students in the early days of their con-
tributions to learning, but upon such men as have already
gained all possible honours. Degrees, in fact, are in
reality most highly valued by the persons who have been
least successful in gaining them. It has sometimes

Formative Influences n

amused me to read in the preface to " Crockford's
Clerical Directory " how curious and even tortuous are
the devices to which some of the clergy have resorted
in their pretensions to an academical status which is not,
and could not properly be, theirs ; and I can scarcely
resist a feeling of sympathy with the clergyman who,
after being driven from pillar to post by the editor's
pertinacious inquiries as to the origin of an alleged
degree, was at last reduced, however unwillingly, to
admitting that he had conferred the degree upon him-
self. Anyhow, my father set much store by academical
degrees. I am not sure that the influence of his judg-
ment does not occasionally affect me even now. At
least, it is a happiness to reflect that my own degree,
when I took it at Cambridge, gave him some pleasure.
He lived long enough to be present at my graduation
in the Senate House ; he died only two years after-

Another element in my early life, not less potent
than education, was religion. My father was not only a
schoolmaster but a clergyman. I was brought up in an
English clerical home. Such a home has been rather
cheaply criticised by some people who seem to find
pleasure in striking a blow at religion through its
ministers ; but Coleridge was, I believe, justified in
calling it " the one idyll of modern life," although he
was thinking rather of a clergyman's home in a rural
parish than of such a home as mine. But whether in town
or country, and whether under the conditions of parochial
or scholastic life, the main features of a clerical home its
simplicity, its regularity, its industry, its benevolence,
its unity of interest, and its habitual piety are every-
where the same. It is possible to regret that the clergy
of the Church of England since the Reformation have
practically with one consent abandoned not only the law,

i2 Recollections and Reflections

but as it seems even the thought, of clerical celibacy.
Yet if the celibacy of the clergy is one ideal, their domestic
life is another, not less sacred. I have always resented
the ignorant attacks made upon the families of the clergy.
There is no warrant for the common assumption that
clergymen's sons come to grief oftener than other youths.
If failures occur from time to time in clerical homes, they
are acutely realised, not as being more frequent than
elsewhere, but as being more tragic. It is the contrast
between the past and the present, between the expecta-
tion and the reality, which strikes the mind. Some
years ago I wrote an article in The Nineteenth Cen-
tury and After, 1 showing by incontrovertible evidence
that, according to the facts given in " The Dictionary
of National Biography," the sons of the clergy who
have rendered distinguished service, and often service
of the highest moment and value to their country, have
been more numerous than the men who have been born
in the families of any other profession. One sentence
of that article may be quoted here : " It is a remarkable
result of the statistics . . . that while the eminent
or prominent children of the clergy since the Reforma-
tion have been 1,270, the children of lawyers and of
doctors who have attained eminence or prominence in all
English history have, by a calculation as accurate as
it has proved possible to make, been respectively 510
and 350." It is indeed among the homes of the middle
class in society, and of the clergy and ministers of

Online LibraryJ. E. C. (James Edward Cowell) WelldonRecollections and reflections → online text (page 1 of 32)