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EDWIN BEAN, GREAT HEADMASTER :
Special Study of Life and Character by His Son, C. E. W. Bean
The Editor of the Sunday Times asked Mr. C. E. W. Bean to present to the public a study o£ the life-work of his father, the late Rev. Edwin Bean. ' Mr. Edwin Bean was a famous schoolmaster and a man of beauti ful character. 'Charlie' Bean, the son, is the most famous Aus tralian journalist. The whole world knew him as the special Com monwealth correspondent in Gallipoli and France.
There died last week in Tasmania one who, had he been ambitious for himself could have achieved fame. He achieved some great things, but since his ambit'on was solely for his country, his town, his school, and his sons, his name w.ll be little known, except to the compara tively few who, as pupils or friends, passed within the range of his influence. Edwin Bean, son of John Bean, sur geon in the East India Company's army, was sent as an Anglo-Indian child of six to a boarding school at Bath, in England. A gifted mother, whom he worshipped, kindled far more in him than those early pedagogues, and at Clifton College, for which he was one of the first boys (if not the first) to be en tered, he became a favorite pupil of a great English headmaster, John Percivil, afterwards Bishop of Hereford. Per cival gathered round him in the e'rly days of Clifton such a staff as has sel dom been concentrated in any school. The influence of T. W. Dunn, H. G. Dakyns, T. E. Brown, John Addington Symonds, and above all of John Perci val himself, left upon the sensitive, rther delicate boy the strongest impress he ever received. The fine quali'y of tbe boy's literary work led most of his masters to expect of him a future as one of the,
most brilliant literary and class'cal scholars, Clifton was likely to produce. For good or ill, the examination sys tem killed that hope. His intellect was keener, his capacity far greater than that of any of his sons, and his power of work tireless. During the errthqu ke of 1868 one of his small Clifton school fellows, running downstairs for com panionship's sake, saw a light in one of the studies, and found him working late. 'Did you feel the earthquake. Bean?' he asked. 'Yes.' without looking up. ' Go away; I wan't to finish these Lat.n verses.'* ? Found on the Map. But at the^end of his Oxford career a breakdown, caused .by attempting two great examinations almost simultan eously, resulted in a disappoi-t'ng degree. In disappointment he de:id:d to take the first work that offered. The bursar of his college, R. W.Raper, hrard that a tutor was required in Tasman'a. The two classics searched in va n the'r only available atlas, the only islmd near the inhabited parts of Austra'ia bore the name of Van Diemen's Land. But Bean accepted the post. Soon after his arrival in the colony he
bccame engaged to Lucy, daughter of Charles Butler, a Hobart solicitor. In consequence, lie sought the post of assis tant master, first at Geelong Grammar School, and after a year there with the late A. B. Weigall at Sydney Grammar. As second classical master to the old Chief he began a lifelong friendship, and to the new master the Chief generously attributed the early growth of the 'pub- lic school spirit' in the grammar school. Three years later Edwin Bean married and became headmaster of All Saints' College, Bathurst, carrying to the small school of some fifteen or twenty boys the enthusiasm which transformed it during his headmastership, into one of the great public schools of the State. He was the maker of another great school. When eleven years of incessant work at Bathurst brought him very near to another breakdown, he reluctantly left All Saints in order to travel through Europe with his family. Two years later a desire to be back at his old work caused him to apply for the vacant head mastership of an old English grammar school at Brentwood, in Essex. Here his father had been a pupil and his grandfather a warden, but the number of boys had fallen as low as forty. The school was governed by a locally elected board, whose members were, with two exceptions, suspicious of high literary attainments, and wholly set upon giving the boys of the village what was claimed to be a 'bread and butter education.' Making a School. Since this ideal was apparently pre cisely opposite to that of the new head master, the struggle before him was at the first harder than at All Saints'. But with the loyal support of the two school governors previously mentioned, the same methods slowly prevailed. The stream of manly, courteous, often cul tured boys which began to flow from Brentwood school gradually compe'l^d appreciation. The numbers slowly rose, the school never looked back. Once, when success was almost achieved, co educational faddists on the County Coun cil, making use of a financial difficulty, attempted to turn the growing school into a mixed one, for boys and girls. Edwin Bean, with parents, masters and old boys behind him in a campaign of public protest, staked his hearfm~ster ship on the issue. A great-hearted sup porter, Evelyn Hcseltine, came forward to render the school independent of the County Council's funds; the British Ministry of Education # agreed that the school had in it a spirit too valuable to be imperilled. The battle was won. The school governors were now his full supporters, and most of his early opponents now his firm friends. When, nine years ago, after twenty-two strenuous years, he left Brentwood, its numbers had increased six-fold and were growing rapidly. To-day, under his former second master, James Hou?h, it is one of the great secondary schools of England. Bean was not himself greatly skilled in games. Yet he insisted on them everywhere as a means — never as an end. He helper! to. coach the first four oar crew at Gcclong, and to start the games and rowing club at Sydney Gram mar School, presenting, together with another master, the first four-oared boat. He helped Weigall to found his cadet corn. He started the Sydneian. At Bathurst and Brentwood every one of his assistant masters was expected, as
a condition of his appointment, to take some part or interest in the boys play. Last Years in Tasmania. Ten years ago the veteran head master's health failed him. With the devoted partner of his life — one of those women who, wherever they go, attract to them a small court of good men and women — he retired to Tasmania and spent in such service as he could the last nini- years of his life. The quality which he most admired in Australian youngsters, was their out spoken directness and truthfulness. At Brentwood, in order to speak on Sun days to his boys in the school chapel, he became ordained. Those simple ten minutes addresses would have won him fame in a cathedral, but he cared noth ing for fame, and despised popularity. 'I think, poor chap, he tried to get himstlf liked,' he said of an unsuccessful assistant. Perhaps, because he spurned popularity, the love of his pupils and staff always came to him In the end. He was extraordinarily humble in his estimate of himself. Because he feared he would fail, he passed the best examination for the priesthood that was ever recorded in St. Alban's diocese ; he achieved the same result at Aldershot in an examination for officers of the volunteers. At the end of his headmastership he still at tended courses in teaching at Oxford University. Though a classic, he recog nised English as the main subject at Brentwood, and during his last years taueht it almost exclusively. Twelve days before his death, though the boys had to help him inch by inch to his chair, he was still training a class from the Hutchins School, in Hobart, to play Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Left: A thoughtful kookaburra. Right: A yellow-breasted robin on nest. Top: A white-shafted fantail on its neat. Below: a dottrel at her eggs. Nature Photos by R. T. Llttlejohns. V , )
'SAFETY FIRST','— COMPOSED BY KEITH W. JACKSON. PRIZE OF £5.