We used to breakfast at ten, after 동대문오피 morning school, on bread and butter and beer, having got up at{101} half-past five, gone to chapel at half-past six, and into school at half-past seven. At a quarter to one we again went up into hall. It was a specialty of college phraseology to suppress the definite article. We always said “to hall,” “to meads” (the playground), “to school,” “to chambers,” and the like. The visit to hall at that time was properly for dinner, though it had long ceased to be such. The middle of the day “hall” served in my day only for the purpose of luncheon (though no such modern word was ever used), and only those “juniors” attended whose office it was to bring away the portions of bread and cheese and “bobs” (i.e. huge jugs) of beer for consumption in the afternoon.

Sunday formed an exception to this practice. We all went up into “hall” in the middle of the day on Sunday, and dined on roast beef, the noontide dinner consisting of roast beef on that day, boiled beef on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and baked plum pudding on Friday and Saturday. But the boiled beef, with the exception of certain portions reserved for the next morning’s breakfast of the seniors of the messes, or companies into which the “inferiors” (i.e., non-prefects) were divided, was not eaten, but given away. During the war Winchester had been one of the depots of French prisoners, and the beef in question was then given to them. When there were no more Frenchmen it was given to twenty-four old women who were appointed to do the weeding of the college quad{102}rangles. It must be understood that this arrangement was entirely spontaneous on the part of the boys, though it would have been quite out of the question for any individual to say that he for his part would eat his own beef. How all this may be now I know not. Probably the college, under the enlightened guidance of Her Majesty’s Commissioners, have seen the propriety of providing the youthful Wykehamists with table napkins and caper sauce, while the old women go without their dole of beef. On the Friday and Saturday the pudding was carried down out of hall by the juniors for consumption during the afternoon.

At about a quarter-past six, at the conclusion of afternoon school, we went up into hall for dinner—originally, of course, supper. This consisted of mutton, roast or boiled, every evening of the year, with potatoes and beer. But it was such mutton as is not to be found in English butchers’ shops nowadays, scientific breeding having improved it from off the face of the land. It was small Southdown mutton, uncrossed by any of the coarser, rapidly-growing, and fat-making breeds. And that it should be such was insured by the curious rule, that, though only a given number of pounds of mutton were required and paid for to the contractor, the daily supply was always to be one sheep and a half. So that if large mutton was sent it was to the loss of the contractor.

Furthermore it was the duty of the “prefect of tub” to see that the mutton was in all ways satisfactory. {103}The “prefect of tub” was one of the five boys at the head of the school; another was the “prefect of hall”; a third “prefect of school”; and the fourth and fifth “prefects of chapel.” These offices were all positions of emolument. That of the “prefect of tub” was far the most so, and was usually held by the senior college “founder,” or boy of “founder’s kin,” during his last year before going to New College. The titles of the other offices explain themselves, but that of “prefect of tub” requires some elucidation.

In the hall, placed just inside the screen which divided the buttery hatches from the body of the hall, there was an ancient covered “tub.” In the course of my eight years’ stay at Winchester this venerable tub—damnosa quid non diminuit dies?—had to be renewed. It was replaced by a much handsomer one; but, as I remember, the change had rather the effect on the popular mind in college of diminishing our confidence in the permanency of human institutions generally. The original purpose of this tub was to receive fragments and remains of food, together with such portions—“dispers” we called them—of the evening mutton supper as were not duly claimed by the destined recipient of them at his place at the table, that they might be given to the poor; and the “prefect of tub” was so called because it was part of his office to see that this was duly done. It was also his duty to preside over the distribution of the aforesaid “dispers”—not quasi dispars, as might be supposed by those who can appreciate the difference between a prime cut{104} out of a leg of mutton and a bit of the breast of a sheep, but “dispers” from dispertio. Now the distribution in question was effected in this wise. The joints were cut 동대문오피 up in the kitchen always accurately in the same manner. The leg made eight “dispers,” the shoulder seven, and so on. The “dispers” thus prepared were put into four immense pewter dishes, and these were carried up into hall by four choristers under the superintendence of the “prefect of tub” and distributed among the fifty-two “inferiors”—i.e., non-prefects. The eighteen prefects dined at two tables by themselves. Their joints were not cut into “dispers,” but were dressed by the cook according to their own orders, paid for by themselves according to an established tariff drawn with reference to the extra expense of the mode of preparation ordered. The long narrow tables were six in number, ranged on either side of the noble hall, exactly as in a monastic refectory. The dais was left unoccupied, save at election time, when the “high table” was spread there. At the first two tables on the left hand side as one entered the hall, the eighteen prefects dined.

This bloated aristocracy was supplied with plates to eat their dinner from. The populace—mere mutton consumere nati—the fifty-two inferiors, had only “trenchers,” flat pieces of wood about nine inches square. These fifty-two “inferiors” were divided into eight companies, and occupied the remaining four tables. But this division was so arranged that one of the eight seniors of the{105} “inferiors” was at the head of each company, and one of the eight juniors at the bottom of each, the whole body being similarly distributed. And each of these companies occupied a different table every day, the party who sat at the lowest table on Monday occupying the highest on Tuesday, and so on. So that when the “prefect of tub” entered the hall at the head of the procession of four choristers, carrying the four “gomers” (such was the phrase) of dispers, he proceeded first to the table on the opposite side of the hall to that of the prefects, and saw that the senior of the mess occupying that table selected as many of the most eligible dispers as there were persons present. If any junior were absent by authority of, or on the business of, any prefect, his disper was allowed to be taken for him. This senior of the mess, it may be mentioned obiter was called, for some reason hidden in the obscurity of time, the “candlekeeper.” Assuredly neither he nor his office had any known connection with the keeping of candles. Any dispers remaining unclaimed at the end of his tour of the hall belonged to “the tub.”

In return for the performance of this important office, the “prefect of tub” was entitled to the heads, feet, and all such portions of the sheep as were not comprised in legs, shoulders, necks, loins, and breasts, as well as to the dispers of any individuals who might from any cause be absent from college. Of course he did not meddle personally with any of these perquisites, but had a contract{106} with the college manciple, the value of which was, I believe, about £80 a year. Such was the “prefect of tub.”

Orderly conduct in hall generally, which did not imply any degree of violence, was maintained by the “prefect of hall,” the dignity of whose office, though it was by no means so profitable as that of the “prefect of tub,” ranked above that of all the other “officers.” No master was ever present in hall.

But the most onerous and important duty of the prefect of hall consisted in superintending the excursion to “hills,”—i.e. to St. Catherine’s Hill, which took place twice on every holiday, once on every half-holiday during the year, and every evening during the summer months. On these occasions the “prefect of hall” had under his guidance and authority not only William of Wykeham’s seventy scholars, but the whole of the hundred and thirty pupils of the head master, who were called commoners. The scholars marched first, two and two (with the exception of the prefects who walked as they pleased), and then followed the commoners. And it was the duty of the prefect of hall to keep the column in good and compact order until the top of the hill was reached. Then all dispersed to amuse themselves as they pleased. But the prefect of hall still remained responsible for his flock keeping within bounds.

St. Catherine’s Hill is a notably isolated down in the immediate neighbourhood of Winchester, and{107} just above the charming little village of St. Cross. There is a clump of firs on the top, and the unusually well marked circumvallation of a Roman (or British?) camp around the circle of the hill. The ditch of this circumvallation formed our “bounds.” The straying beyond them, however, in the direction of the open downs away from the city, and from St. Cross, was deemed a very venial offence by either the prefect of hall or the masters. But not so in the direction of the town. It was the duty of the three “juniors” in college—one of whom I was during my first half-year—to “call domum.” When the time came for returning to college one of those three walked over the top of the hill from one side to the other, while the other two went round the circumvallation—each one half of it—calling perpetually “Domum ... domum” as loudly as they could. All the year round we went to “morning hills” before breakfast, and to afternoon hills about three. In the summer we went, as I have said, every evening after “hall,” but not to the 동대문오피 top of the hill, only to the water-meads at the foot of it, the object being to bathe in the Itchen.

Many of the Winchester recollections most indelibly fixed in my memory are connected with “hills.” It seems impossible that sixty years can have passed since I stood on the bank of the circumvallation facing towards Winchester, and gazed down on the white morning mist that entirely concealed the city and valley. How many mornings{108} in the late autumn have I stood and watched the moving, but scarcely moving masses of billowy white cloud! And what strange similitudes and contrasts suggested themselves to my mind as I recently looked down from the heights of Monte Gennaro on the Roman Campagna similarly cloud hidden! The phenomenon exhibited itself on an infinitely larger scale in the latter case, but it did not suggest to me such thick-coming fancies and fantastic imaginings as the water-mead-born mists of the Itchen!

There were two special amusements connected with our excursions to St. Catherine’s Hill—badger baiting and “mouse-digging,” the former patronised mainly by the bigger fellows, the latter by their juniors. There was a man in the town, a not very reputable fellow I fancy, who had constituted himself “badger keeper” to the college. It was his business to provide a badger and dogs, and to bring them to certain appointed trysting places at “hill times” for the sport. The places in question were not within our “bounds,” but at no great distance in some combe or chalk-pit of the neighbouring downs. Of course it was not permitted by the authorities; but I think it might easily have been prevented had any attempt to do so been made in earnest. It seems strange, considering my eight years’ residence in college, that I never once was present at a badger baiting. I am afraid that my absence was not caused by distinct disapproval of the cruelty of the sport, but simply by the fact that{109} my favourite “hill-times” occupations took me in other directions.

Nor, probably for the same reason, was I a great mouse-digger. Very many of us never went to “hills” unarmed with a “mouse-digger.” This was a sort of miniature pickaxe, which was used to dig the field-mice out of their holes. The skill and the amusement consisted in following the labyrinthine windings of these, which are exceedingly numerous on the chalk downs, in such sort as to capture the inmate and her brood without injuring her, and carry her home in triumph to be kept in cages provided ad hoc.

There was—and doubtless is—a clump of firs on the very centre and summit of St. Catherine’s Hill. They are very tall and spindly trees, with not a branch until the tuft at the top is reached. And my great delight when I was in my first or second year was to climb these. Of course I was fond of doing what few, if any, of my compeers could do as well. And this was the case as regarded “swarming up” those tall and slippery stems. I could reach the topmost top, and gloried much in doing so.

But during my later years the occupation of a hill morning which most commended itself to me was ranging as widely as possible over the neighbouring hills. Like the fox in the old song, I was “off to the downs O!” As I have said, the straying beyond bounds in this direction, away from the town, was considered a very light offence; but I was apt to make it a somewhat more serious one by not getting{110} back from my rambling, despite good running, till it was too late to return duly with the main body to college. It was very probable that this might pass without detection, if there were no roll-call on the way back. But it frequently happened that “Gaffer” (such was Dr. Williams’s sobriquet among us) on his white horse met us on our homeward march, and stopped the column, while the prefect of hall called names. As these escapades in my case occurred mainly during my last three years, I being a prefect myself owed no allegiance to the authority of the prefect of hall. But the roll-call revealing my absence would probably issue in my having to learn by heart one of the epistles of Horace. Prefects learned their “impositions” by heart, “inferiors” wrote them.

Every here and there the sides of these downs are scored by large chalk-pits. There is a very large one on St. Catherine’s Hill on the side looking towards St. Cross; and this was a favourite scene of exploits in which I may boast myself (’tis sixty years since!) to have been unrivalled. There was a very steep and rugged path by which it was possible to descend from the upper edge of this chalk-pit to the bottom of it. And it was a feat, in which I confess I took some pride, to take a fellow on my shoulders (not on my back), while he had a smaller boy on his shoulders, and thus with two living stories on my shoulders to descend the difficult path in question. And the boy in the middle—the first story—could not be a very small one, for it was{111} requisite that he also should hold and balance his burthen thoroughly well. I think I could carry one very little boy down now!

It was the “prefect of hall” who managed the whole business of our holidays—as they would be called elsewhere—which we called “remedies.” A “holiday” meant at Winchester a red-letter day; and was duly kept as such. But if no such day occurred in the week, the “prefect of hall” went on the Tuesday morning to the head master (Wiccamice “informator”) and asked for a “remedy,” which, unless there were any reason, such as very bad weather, or a holiday coming later in the week, was granted by handing to the prefect a ring, which remained in his keeping till the following morning. This symbol was inscribed “Commendat rarior usus.”

But in addition to these important duties the “prefect of hall” discharged another, of which I must say a few words, with reference to the considerable amount of interest which the outside world was good enough to take in the subject a few years ago, with all that accurate knowledge of facts, and that discrimination which people usually display when talking of what they know nothing about.