August 7th 1920

As the summer edition of the ‘Draconian’ is assembled and I come to the examinations section, I recall that there may be a number of you interested in the the results of the English Literature Paper set by Frank Sidgwick towards the end of term.

He duly furnished us with the marks (out of 100) which ranged from 85-21. The joint winners were JM Huggins & Isabel Fausset-Farquhar (85%) with J Betjemann (75%) third.

For those of you who attempted the paper at home, here are some of the answers:

1 (a) Charles Kingsley (b) Erskine Childers (c) Rudyard Kipling (d) Alfred Lord Tennyson (e) Sir Walter Scott (f) Charles Dickens  (g) William Blake (h) John Masefield (i) Edward Fitzgerald (j) George Chapman.

2 (a) ‘The Pickwick Papers’ – Charles Dickens (b) ‘Kidnapped’ – Robert Louis Stevenson (c) ‘Peter Pan’ – JM Barrie (d) ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ – WS Gilbert (e) ‘Hiawatha’ – HW Longfellow.

6 (a) And never brought to mind,/Should auld acquaintance be forgot/For the sake of Auld Lang Syne? (Robert Burns, ‘Auld Lang Syne‘) (b) ‘All things both great and small,/For the dear God who loveth us,/He made and loveth all’. (S. T. Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’) (c) The captains and the kings depart:/Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,/An humble and a contrite heart. (Kipling, ‘Recessional) (d) A thing of shreds and patches,/Of ballads, songs and snatches,/And dreamy lullaby (W. S. Gilbert, ‘The Mikado’).

Frank Sidgwick also provided these comments regarding answers to the other more general questions:

“The paper was not so much a test of knowledge of the facts of English Literature as an attempt to probe general literary intelligence and thought: this was particularly the purpose of questions 3, 4, and 5 which gave scope for the display of literary history, and the comparison of ancient and modern literatures…

In question 3 most showed good sense, but this was often nullified by bad expression… Isabel, Betjemann and Vernon did particularly well.

Question 4 was rather a disappointment in the result. Nearly everyone proposed to ask Shakespeare whether he wrote his own plays, and which he thought his best play. Burton suggested asking him what he thought of the OPS performances, and others had original ideas; but on the whole the opportunity was missed. Somebody ought to note that that Elysian Fields do not mean the Champs-Élysées.”


July 1st 1920

It is at this time of year that we invite Old Dragons to set examination papers for us. The General Papers will be provided by Jack Haldane and his sister Naomi MItchison, together with Mr Vassall.

The English Literature paper for the top forms has been set by Frank Sidgwick and you are now invited to see how you would do!

English Literature Paper, July 1920.

1. Who wrote:
   (a) Westward Ho!
   (b) The Riddle of the Sands
   (c) Puck of Pook's Hill
   (d) In Memoriam
   (e) Old Mortality
   (f) Dombey and Son
   (g) a poem about a tiger
   (h) a long poem about fox-hunting
   (i) who translated Omar Khayyam into English verse
   (j) who translated Homer into English verse

2. In what work, by what author, do the following characters 
   (a) Sam Weller
   (b) David Balfour
   (c) Captain Hook
   (d) General Stanley
   (e) Minnehaha

3. Write not more than one page on either 
   (a) the difference between prose and verse, or 
   (b) the difference between poetry and verse.

4. What are the first six questions you would ask William 
   Shakespeare if you met him in the Elysian Fields?

5. Write a short essay on the Choruses in Henry V. Why do you 
   think Shakespeare put them in? Why were they called Choruses? 
   Mention any parallels you can think of.

6. Continue for not more than three lines, giving author and work:
   (a) Should auld acquaintance be forgot...
   (b) He prayeth best, who loveth best...
   (c) The tumult and the shouting dies...
   (d) A wandering minstrel I...

When Frank Sidgwick has marked the papers and submitted his report, you shall know the answers and can see if you did better than our young Dragons!



July 14th 1918

As we embark on the final week of the Summer Term (which ends on July 19th) and another school year draws to a close, there is much to record for the August edition of the ‘Draconian.’

The second half of the Summer Term, after the Scholarship Examinations are over, is very useful for work on English Literature and Composition. A good deal of poetry has been learnt – ‘The Lost Leader,’ part of ‘Locksley Hall,’ ‘On his blindness‘ and ‘The Massacre of Piedmont‘ by Milton, ‘If,’ ‘Amor Mundi,’ some passages and songs from Shakespeare, ‘Macaronics,’ etc., and we have done a good deal of English verse composition. Some of the ballads and sonnets and verses in various metres show promise and interest.

We will include some of them in the ‘Draconian,’ and to whet your appetite, here are two of them. Bobby Alford (one of our Winchester scholars) took the war as his theme:


"This is the fifth year of this blinkin' war,
And it will probably go on ten more,
  But I think all this country's simply daft.
  What is the use of goin' and gettin' strafed?

What does it help just to go out to France?
In those darned trenches you don't get a chance
  Of doin' anything, but like as not,
  Before you're out there a month, you're shot."

"Young Tommy you're a very foolish lad,
You needn't think that all this world's gone mad.
  Those fools of Germans have, I will allow,
  But that's the reason that you're fighting now.

Think what would happen if this murderous band
O'erran the earth and conquered every land!"
  "I never thought of it like that before,
  There must be some point then, in this darned war."

Cecil Salkeld (recently awarded a scholarship at Oundle), on the other hand, has constructed a capital sonnet, full of imagery:


Come! Come! Rejoice 'tis summer-time once more!
Once more, the burning sun doth parch the earth,
And nourisheth the flowers fresh from birth.
The alien swallow seeks his native shore:
Wise migrant! Learnéd in his bird-like lore.
Now is the hour of pleasure and of mirth:
Of juicy grape the vineyard hath no dearth:
The sunburnt land is better than before.
And Thou, who rulest all, alone, divine,
And sowest all Thy bounties here below,
Liken us now to this, Thy summer-time,
That we both fresh and fair in soul may grow,
And having lived our span, in perfect rhyme
From all our earthly woes may early go.

Below the VIth form, the boys have been learning Longfellow, and the recitations of Form II were exceedingly good.

The art of teaching boys to recite with directness and feeling is perhaps the most difficult and certainly one of the most important that the teacher has to aim at. Monotony, emphasis on wrong words, sing-song, indistinct utterance, slurring over syllables and connecting words, all these are common faults that a teacher must cure; then come the valuable additions of change of voice, variation in speed, signs of real feeling and (what one rarely gets) appropriate gesture.