Page images
PDF
EPUB

underwent afterwards certain alterations, of which, in the proper place, due notice will be taken.

The college thus appointed and endowed, letters patent were granted for collecting workmen from divers parts to Eton; and the Founder issued his orders for erecting the college, whose first stone was laid in the foundation of the chapel on or about the 3d day of July, 1441. With what care he also provided for the due and effectual construction of the buildings, will appear from the language of the letters patent respecting the materials to be used in them.“Laying aparte superfluity of too curious works of entayle and busie mouldings, I will that both mi sayde colleges be edified of the most substantial and best abyding stutie, of stone, ledd, glass, and iron, that may goodlie be had and provided thereto; and that the walls of the sayde college of Eton, of the outer courte, and of the walls of the gardens about the precincte, be made of hard stone of Kent.

About this time, it appears that the king extended his collegiate arrangements from twentyfive to seventy Scholars, an Usher for the school, a Clerk for the parish, and two additional Choristers, with a reduction of the twentyfive Alms or Beadsmen to thirteen.

The several grants, made at sundry times by the king's letters patent to the college, were, for their better confirmation, passed into an act of Parliament at Westminster, May 4, A. D. 1444, being the twentysecond year of his reign. The letters patent subsequent to this period, granting further endowments to the college, with the gifts of certain benefactors, were afterwards condensed into another and similar act of Parliament, in the thirtyeighth year of his reign.

The statutes being completed, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the 20th of July, 1446, acknowledged his acceptance of them, as well for himself as his successors. At the same time, the Bishop, Dean, and Chapter of Lincoln, declared similar acceptation. This formality arose from the spiritual power of these high ecclesiastical characters; the college being subject to them in their metropolitan and triennial visitations, as well as in the necessary and local exercise of their functions, whenever they might be called to employ them within the walls of the foundation.

About this time Henry made a final settlement of the college at Eton, and upon a more enlarged scale than he appears first to have contemplated. He was now pleased to add ten Chaplains, five Clerks, and eight Choristers, forming a constituent body, consisting of ten Fellows, a Master of the school, ten Chaplains, an Usher of the school, ten Clerks, seventy Scholars, sixteen Choristers, and thirteen Alms or Beadsinen, whose particular duty it was to pray for the health and prosperity of the Founder; in all, one hundred and thirtytwo persons.

Certain changes have since taken place in the order of the college, terminating in the present establishment, which now consists of a Provost, seven Fellows, two Priests or Chaplains, eight Clerks, ten Choristers, two Masters, and seventy Scholars, with inferior officers and servants. The Assistants are merely attached to the school discipline and instruction, and are selected from the Fellows of King's College, at the discretion of the two Masters.

William Waynfleet was Schoolmaster of Winchester College when the king made his first visit ; had been in that capacity about eleven years, and had executed the important trust with such diligence, ability, judgment, and success, that Henry, to give his new institution the greatest possible advantage, by obtaining such an excellent and improved instructor, removed him in the following year to the same honorable charge at Eton. He afterwards made him Provost; and, by his royal recommendation and strenuous patronage, he was subsequently elevated to the see of Winchester, in which high situation he was enabled to become a beneficent imitator of his predecessor William of Wykeham, as well as of his patron sovereign, in his noble foundation of Magdalen College.

The Bishop of Winchester entertained a grateful sense of his original obligations to Eton College, even when he was engaged in the erection of his own. According to Leland, “a good part of the buildings of Eton College accrued by means and at the expense of Waynflete, for he was a very great favorer of the work begun by King Henry VI. but left very imperfect and rauly.”

Eton College, however, found an oppressor in Edward IV. who, for some time, appeared to threaten it with annibilation. That monarch is related to have been unkindly disposed, not only to Waynflete and other attached frien, of Henry VI. but is said to have looked with an evil 1 jealous eye upon the establishments formed by the pious munificence of his royal predecessor, and in whose objects the latter had manifested and expressed such a fond and zealous interest. Thus it appears, that Edward, counselled as he might originally have been by the Earl of Warwick, not only, in the first instance, curtailed the estates ef Henry's foundations of King's College, Cambridge, and Eion, but plundered them also of moveables of great value.

On the union of the houses of York and Lancaster under Henry VII, the sovereign power appeared to regard this college with a more favorable aspect; as by an act of Parliament in the fourth year of his reign, the king confirmed this foundation in its charters and privileges. He also restored some of the estates of which it had been despoiled, and granted licences to divers persons, to enable them to give or bequeath their lands to the college, notwithstanding the act of mortmain.

After all the depredations which Eton College had suffered, the following return is made to its survey in the thirtyseventh year of Henry VIII. :-“ The College of Eton, founded by King Henry VI. Robert Aldridge, Bishop of Carlisle, Provost there. The said college is a parish church : it is of the yearly value of 10661. 16s. 9 d.In Tanner's Notitia it was valued, in spirituals and temporals, in the thirtyfourth year of Henry Vill. at 11011. 13s. 7d.; but clear, after all deductions, at no more than 8861. 12s.

The collegiate edifice of Eton consists of two quadrangles. The first occupies a considerable space, and presents an imposing appearance, with a central statue of the Founder in bronze, the grateful gift, among others, of Dr Godolphin, who was elected Fellow in 1677, and elevated to the dignity of Provost in 1695. This square, or the school yard, as it is more generally denominated, is inclosed by the chapel, schools, dormitories, Master's chambers, and the eastern line of buildings, which contains part of the Provost's lodge, with other apartments, and a tower in the centre, whose gateway forms the principal entrance to the cloisters. The lesser quadrangle consists of the cloisters containing the residences of the Provost and Fellows, and the library, beneath which is a flight of steps, forming the ascent to the hall, and leading to the principal college offices connected with it. Beyond the cloisters are the college gardens and the playing fields, containing a large open space for active recreation, with shady walks, whose academic scenery is heightened by the Thames, which flows beside them, and the brow of Windsor, with its splendid castle, rising in the more distant prospect.

The Chapel occupies the south side of the larger quadrangle; and though in no point of view can it be assumed to rival the sacred edifice of the sister foundation at Cambridge, which, in its style of architecture, is of unparalleled beauty, it is, nevertheless, a stately structure. The building of it commenced July 3, 1441. In the year 1700 this chapel underwent considerable repairs, towards the expense of which Dr Godolphin was an ample contributor. The alterations were conducted under the direction of that great architect Sir Christopher Wren, who, as he did in other places, as well as Inigo Jones before him, thought proper to introduce the unappropriate designs of Grecian architecture, though upon what principle of propriety, taste, or local effect, cannot well be conceived. His altar-piece, which is in that style, and beautifully composed, covers the ancient one of Gothic character, with its niches and other characteristic decorations.

The Upper School was erected at the expense of 15001. by Dr Alstree, Provost of the college. It forms the western face of the larger quadrangle, and is supported by an arcade with double columns of the Doric order, the whole structure presenting an elevation worthy of Sir Christopher Wren, who designed it. The school room is spacious, and of fine proportions, but fitted up in a plain manner with wainscot, having a handsome elevated seat for the Head Master at the north end, and others for the Assistants, with forms for the Scholars, in uniform arrangement. At the south end is a large stair case, which ascends both to the chapel and the school. At the other end is the school library, communicating with the chambers of the Upper Master, for whose attendants there are adjoining rooms below, with a school for writing and its accompaniments.

The Lower School is in the building on the north side of this quadrangle, and beneath a part of the principal dormitory, or long chamber, as it is generally denominated. It is a room of considerable length, but not of proportionate height, with a range of ancient oak arches on either side, and the seats of the Scholars behind them. There is a tradition, that it has been the splendid college stable of former times; but the better account is, that Sir Henry Wotton fitted it up with pillars, on which might be painted pictures of Greek and Roman authors, for the instruction of the boys. А lower dormitory, with the chambers of the Under Master, &c. complete this feature of the college.

The Hall, where the Scholars on the foundation take their meals, is on the south side of the cloisters. This refectory is of large dimensions, but without those ornaments which have been sometimes lavished on rooms of this description. Two large ancient pieces of tapestry are indeed occasionally hung at the upper end of it. Hugget mentions, that, at some former period, the following memorial was rudely engraved on the wainscot of the hall, on the north side, near the west end :-"Queen Elizabeth ad nos gave, October 10, two loaves in a mess, 1596.” At that time the Queen paid a visit to Eton, and was complimented with a profusion of verscs, as appears from those of Dr Rawlison in the Museum, entitled, Schola Eton. Annal. Poetic. R. Eliz. decorated with the arms of England, and dated 1596. It was written in a very fair hand, consists of 238 pages, and contains no less than four thousand hexameter verses.

The Library is an apartment of large dimensions, fitted up in a superior style of elegance, and furnished with a very extensive and valuable collection of books.

The annual election of Scholars to King's College, Cambridge, takes place about the end of July, or the beginning of August, when twelve of the head boys are put on the roll to succeed at King's when vacancies occur there, which arise from the ecclesiastical preferment, marriage, resignation, or death of its Fellows. These, on the average calculation, from the foundation to the present day, have been about nine in two years.

At nineteen years of age, the boys are superannuated, and leave the college.

At an early hour on the afternoon of the Saturday previous to the election week, the Provost of King's College, with the two Posers or Examiners appointed from its Fellows, arrive at Eton, where they are received by the Vice-Provost, Fellows, and Masters. They are then conducted to the vestibule beneath the tower, at the entrance of the cloisters, where they are received in form by the Provost of Eton, and

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »