Eager to sample the recently unveiled Spectator archive, which is cheeringly welcoming to all (pro tem), not skulking behind the palings of some pay wall, I came across this chorus of Floreat Etona in an article published in the summer of 1875. Entitled Parliament and the Eton Boys, it speaks across the centuries, both for and against the present Eton cabal in the UK government.
“The conscience of public school-boys is rarely dangerously sensitive. The public life, the out-door healthy amusements, the contempt for cowardice, the high repute of physical courage and strength, the habituation to ridicule, the sharp collisions of wills, all tend to make a public schoolboy earlier fit for public life than almost any other kind of boy in the middle or upper classes of England.”
“One of the great advantages of our Public Schools is the manliness—we may say, in a good sense, the hardness—which they tend to produce. It may perhaps be admitted that Parliament and some of its leading members have been a trifle weak-minded.”
I particularly liked “the habituation to ridicule” bit. Nothing changes.
A massive huzzah to the Spectator for letting us in. Perhaps noblesse will oblige them not to “moneytise” the archive, despite blandishments from Wormtongue bean counters.
By the way, the title of this item, in case you did not recognise it, is not, as you might imagine, some breathy instruction in a second rate porno, but a line from the college’s unofficial school song.