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2 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

OLD STEPHENS-PLACE.

[By Senex]

Some months ago the Register informed its readers that those old buildings in Stephens place formerly occupied by Mr. J. L. Young, who there for many years carried on the school

known as the Adelaide Educational Institu- tion, were being demolished to mako room for new warehouses. Being an old scholar, my thoughts went back, on learning this, to the six years which I spent under Mr. Young's tuition, and I now put into writing some of those old-timo memories of that school, in which so many well-known citizens of to-day received their early training. My recollec- tions do not reach so far back as the inception of the school, for it was well estab- lished when I first went in January 1856. I can well remember the dread with which I, whose oniy teacher hitherto had been my mother, was thrust into the company of a couple of hundred or more strange boys, but happily any anticipations of evil that I had were not realized, for I soon settled down as one in the crowd, and made friendships, some of which have endured for the forty years which have since rolled by. The literary odour which always per- vaded Mr. Young's office, though doubtless common to all such places, has always seemed to me to have been sui generis. It was compounded, I imagine, of the emana- tions from lead pencils, indiarubbcr, blotting paper, and other school adjuncts. With me the sense of smell has always been very powerful in recalling old associations, and several years after I left school, whilst travel- ling with cattle on tho Murray, as we crossed a plain largely covered with 'pigface' I again     was sensible of the old bookish smell coming from these saline plants crushed beneath the feet of the cattle. When I entered the school there were as teachers, besides the Principal, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Harrison. To the two first mentioned and other later masters I will refer again. Mr. Harrison (invariably known amongst us as 'Cocky') was a pimply-faced young man, of whose qualifications I can remember nothing; but had they been at all special that indiscretion which led to his dismissal might have been pardoned. This was the manner of his going. At our distribution of prizes in June held in Neale's Exchange (now, I believe, Mr. Botting's auction mart), he was present, very much in liquor, and insisted on shaking hands fervently with every boy who passed him on the way out at the close of the proceedings. The cause of his effusive cordiality being plainly apparent to Mr. Young, his place in the school knew him no more. Between the boys attending St. Peter's College and Mr. Young's school, which were the most largely attended in the city, there was always a good deal of rivalry, and some times personal conflict, but at the annual competitive examinations (which were the pre cursors of the University exams of to-day) the best scholars from each school met in more friendly and entirely commendable strife. Robin primus (now the Rev. J. de Q. Robin, M.A., of Victoria) was one of our most notable, and successful champions in these literary   tournaments. Amongst my contemporaries in the school were the Gosses — the late W. C. (Deputy Surveyor - General), Harry, and Charlie, the last-named a specially courteous and gentle-mannered boy, whose career as a rising young doctor in after years was so lamentably cut short— four Davieses, four Whitbys, of whom Frank is now not unknown about Mount Remarkable, and Alfred (Dot) is very much .known about town — three Robertsons, known in later years in connection with Chowilla and Turretfield— a whole clan of Gileses, and the twin brothers John and James Frew (Jim-an:-I was John's punning mode of reference to themsolves). There were also Hacks, Babbages, Moorhouses, O'Hallorans, Finlaysons, Sholls, Robertses, Stephen King, the evergreen Pat Auld, and the two Kingstons. Only a few months back, in one of his tirades against the Register, Premier Kingston ' would like to know who John Harvey Finlayson was?' Is your memory really defective, Mr. Kingston? and will you be surprised to learn that he and you were school-mates? Some of tho first - class (highest) boys were such only in the Irish sense, which deems every man a 'bhoy' until he is married, for they were big fellows, and one at least (Jamie- son) was already cultivating whiskers. They held no intercourse with 'dem liddlo kiddies' in the lower classes, but, notwithstanding their mature years, did not disdain, during their dinner hour, to amuse themselves with card games usually played by children, such as that   of the families of the ducks, mousers, hares, and crows. The juniors usually spent their play-hours on North-terrace, particularly on that open ground whereon the Institute and Public Library now stand. Our school water supply was precarious and unsatisfac- tory. In common with all Adelaide, we had to drink water carted from the Torrens, unpleasant in appearance, odour, and taste, owing, I suppose to tho many cattle watering up stream. For somo time Mr. Young pro- vided the water, but it was so wasted by the boys that he levied a rate of one halfpenny per head per week, in default of payment no drink. The ratepayers themselves were the custodians of the water-butt, and defaulters caught drinking wero sometimes hoisted up, reversed, and dipped head and neck into the water.   This had good effect on tho criminal, and could not make the water much worse. At the corner of the lane leading up to Primrose's Brewery from Rundle-street, where now stands Charlick Brothers' shop, was a very small lolly- shop, kept by an old Jewish couple named Levy. Tho man was tall and gaunt, whilst his dame was short, but of ample lateral dimensions. Their stock-in-trade, though home-made, found great favour in the mouths of the boys, a particularly favourite delicacy being sticky black balls of coarse toffee, costing a halfpenny each. These were, if funds allowed, purchased in couples, and one stuffed into each cheek, where they lasted a long time, slowly melting, as they could not be broken by the teeth. The original Globe Hotel was an unpre- tentious building, but its seductions were too   potent for at any rate one of our masters. He was wont to slip out from his class and return in a few minutes sucking peppermints. Cloves, I believe, are now considered a more efficacious disguise. On his return one afternoon from his second trip he was so disinclined for his duties that he dismissed his class half an hour before the proper time. The jubilant boys made for North-terrace, whsnce they were speedily recoiled by special mandate from Mr. Young, their discomfiture on recap- ture baing highly satisfactory to their fellows, who had envied their exit. There were amongst us cliques, or sets of associated boys,   banded thus together, it now seems to me, not with a view to mutual proficiency in our studies, but rather for the attainment of skill to circumvent the masters in their efforts for the suppression of unlawful practices and the cap-   ture and confiscation of the implements, pea- shooters, et alia. used therein. I fancy we often imagined that we had attained great perfection in this art, whereas, in all proba- bility, the masters must often havo overlooked delinquencies which we thought were hidden from their eyes. Nicknames there were naturally, and plenty of them— some meaninless, but most of them conferred for some peculiarity of habit or ap- pearance. 'Shaver' doubtless remembers to this day that appellation which became his immediately on his return to school with a nearly bald head after an attack of fever. 'Master Charles' was the title bestowed on a boy, at his parents' suggestion, in lieu of one which referred in uncomplimentary terms to his visual peculiarity, and to which both he and they took strong exception. Another was known as 'Touts,' not borrowed from   Dickens, but as ahort for ' toot it,'' that being his pronunciation of 'foot it,'' one of our popular pastimes. A boy of very dark complexion was endowed with the appro- priate name of ' Buns,' which had the addi- tional recommendation of being an easy adap- tation of his real name. ' Lubin' is, I believe, still so greeted by his more intimate friends. The boys who bore these forgoing names, and others who answered to 'Puss,' Bally, Bantam, Skint, Shark, Gollock, and Corporal Bung shall be nameless, for most of them are now reputable citizens, and might resent any revelation of their identity. There was a boy who must have been another 'Tadpole,' for he had a large head with a lot of bushy black hair. He one day in class burst out in loud wailing, tho cause of which, in reply to the master's anxious enquiry, he sobbingly stated was that ' G.. said my head was as big as a forty shilling ?? Poor fellow, his wounded feel-

ings found no balm in the unsympathetic laughter of master and boys, and he only roared the louder. A German boy, B ...   came at the commencement of a new half with short sleeves, both coat and shirt being docked between elbow and shoulder, but got his arms so pinched by his class-mates that his mother speedily and mercifully sent him dressed in ordinary habiliments. He also it was who came one day with clean white trousers, along the thigh of which, during school, he printed with pen and ink, his long name m large capitals. Particulars of his reception at home that day wore anxiously desired by us, but could never be ascertained. Ono who is now a well-known, staid, and grey-headed citizen broke the ordinary class silence one day by the loud exclamation, ' Come hither, fat calf,' which, being apropos of nothing, failed to find appreciation from the master, although both exclamation and its ensuing punishment afforded amusement to us, his class-mates. This incident occurred in a small room, which had two windows looking into a right-of-way from Stephens-place to Freeman-street, and which was known as 'The Bastille.' We were, at the time it was so named, passing (in history) through the throes of the French Revolution, and this room received its designation because its windows had been then recently barred to prevent tho eseape of boys undergoing deten- tion after school. They would sometimes — incited thereto by the taunts and challenges of free boys outside — jump out and run away. In one of the only two instances of corporal punishment that I can remember the victim was one of these fugitives who thus suffered for breaking gaol. The other occasion was the 'gross violation of morum onorum' on the part of George H .., who in writing class   during the temporary absence of the master deliberately broke his pen on the desk, and rising from his seat proceeded to execute a pas seul to the great enjoyment of the class. Mr. Young was engaged with his class in the next room, and noticing many of his boys with their eyes turned towards a window in the partition wall, through which they could see the fun, himself peered through, and then, opening tho door, said, 'H..., I will     make an example of you next hour,' which ho surely did, and H ..:s vociferous   howls of anguish wero full of awful warning to those who heard them. As the end of each half-year drew near great was the excitement as to who would be the prizewinners, and this culminated on the last day of school, when the prize-lists were affixed to the doors. After school on this day there was much rooting up of the flooring, in places where knives, sixpences, and other valu ables had fallen through between the boards during tho half, and this very irregular pro ceeding was professedly not soen by tho masters, although they doubttess were well aware of it. I must not omit some reference to the masters, and first, of course, to Mr. John Lorenzo Young, our honoured principal, who was respected and liked, I believe by all tho boys. A many-sided man he was, and, whether his subject were mathematics, history, or any branch of science, he always gave the impression that he thoroughly knew what he was talking about. His strong and pronounced features were truly indicative of his firm character, and although he ruled us almost without use of the cane, no boy ever ventured to trifle with him. Kindly withal he was, and any boy who did his best never lacked words of praise and encouragement from him. Politically he was a Democrat, but I am certain that were he still here his honourable and impartial mind would be disgusted with the labour-cum-sociaiist regime which we have   to endure at the hands of his erstwhile pupil, Charles Cameron Kingston. Tyranny in any form he detested, and when in course of our history lessons such names as Leonidas, William Tell, Cromwell, Washington, Gari- baldi, Kossuth, &c, came up he would for a time abandon the ordinary course of the lesson, and, seated on the corner of his table, hold forth vehemently in praise of these patriots and in denunciation of tho op- pressions against which they fought. His excitement would rise high when describing such an incident as that of Marshal Haynan, tho Austrian General, who caused noble Hungarian patriot ladies to be flogged through the streets at the cart-tail, and who, afterwards, when visiting a great London brewery, was himself soundly flogged by the whole statf of brewery draymen. William of Wykeham's motto, ' Manners makyth man,' will concisely indicate Mr. Young's social opinions. With him the real aristocracy was that of worth and talent, and not that of more wealth, title, or fashion. Meanness, meretriciousness, cowardice, toadyism— these were things abhorrent to him, and he strove to imbue his pupils with a like detestation of them. I have, since my schooldays, heard him inveigh with emphatic contempt against people who, having amassed wealth, were ashamed of their humble beginnings, but who yet would morally lick the shoes of any globe-trotting lord who came along. What Mr. Young's religious opinions were I know not, but 'love to God and love to man' often formed the text for his lay sermons to us. The memory of 'Johnny,' as he was affectionately and with no atom of disrespect spoken of amongst us, will long live in the hearts of many of his old scholars. His brother, Mr. Oliver Young, was a man of dif- ferent cast, both physically and mentally. He came in for Mr. Harrison's title of ' Cooky'   but that adjective seeming to imply con- ceit and perkiness, I must say that I do not think its application to him was justifiable. The boys did not fear him as they did his brother, and fre- quently would make him very irritable, but when on their good behaviour he was kind and pleasant enough. The burly figure of our writing and arithmetic master, Mr. Thomas Bennett, is still very plainly before me. He was for many years at the A.E.I. and after   wards at St. Peter's College, and only died a year or two ago at an advanced age. Ho was usually good-natured and jocular with us, but occasionally a specially unruly class or indi- vidual would rouse him to a to a tempest of wrath. Ho would thon extract from his desk his cane, which was really the stump of a cart-whip, about 2½ ft. long, with brass ferules on it, and both ends much frayed out. Armed with this he would stalk up and down the room, a terror to evildoers, aud ready on the slightest further provocation to make it hot for some- body. Whilst the thundercloud was hanging over us none dared lift his eyes from slate or copybook, but when tho storm had cleared away we again had a period of fair weather. We had at different times two Latin masters named Needham, but not related to each o;lier. One, an elderly man, a graduate of Dublin University, was a splendid scholar, and would frequently enliven our drudgery with Hibernian humour. The other was a Lieu- tenant of tho R.N., spending his furlough in the colony, and turning an honest penny by endeavouring to lead us with him and Caesar through the Gallic wars. He was blunt and free of speech, more nautico, and ' Now you sir, what are you grinning at?'   was his very mildest form of rebuke. By the style of 'Gorilla' he frequently addressed one boy, whom I will not now particularly indi-   cate. The Rev. Edward Dewhirst taught us   Latin for a time, and we had also Mr. H. C. Palmer, a barrister, who of all our masters was the one most unsympathetic with boy nature. I think ho regarded us all as a horrid lot, and went through the lessons in a mechanical way ; a schoiar himself, but apparently indifferent whether we ever became scholars or not. He spoke always as if suffering from a severe cold in the head — would order offenders to ' stad up od the forb,'' and should the culprits plead innocence and delay the mount would then close the book over his thumb, shut his eyes, and say 'cub, cuh' — moaning 'come, come,'' and not necessarily that the delinquents were whelps, though I quite conceive that such was his opinion. But I must stop ; perhaps other old boys will, with your good leave, Mr. Editor, make known some of their recollections of the dear old Adelaide Educational Institution. Readers of these will, I dare say, remember Oliver Wendell Holmes's lines to 'The Boys,' with which I conclude :— Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its grey ! The Stars of its winter, the dews of its May And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,   Dear Father, take care of Thy children, the boys.

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