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there at all. Their attitude was most compromising ; their visible confusion made matters worse. It was an awkward moment. But Ridding was not deceived by appearances : προβατογνώμων ίδρια, he knew his sheep, knew that neither of the prefects present would for one moment countenance a bully. With a laughing apology for his untimely presence, he walked straight up to them, ignoring the intruders, and entering lightly upon some indifferent topic at once put them at their ease.
All the while he was not nearly so blind as some of us fondly imagined. C's chief interest was in mathematics, and by special arrangement he used to spend several mornings a week with Mr. Richardson while the rest of us were with Ridding. Presuming on this, he took to shirking school on other mornings altogether, hoping not to be missed. But one day came the sharp question : 'C, where were you at school this morning ?' No answer. 'And where were you last Wednesday, and last Friday, and the Wednesday and the Friday before that?' careful inquiry, no doubt, had Ridding cared to pounce. To : colleague he once remarked, 'I know B-sits there drawing me, but I never can be sure when he is and when he isn't,' and accordingly he never risked it.
He could be firm enough when he thought proper. The tradition of the public schools' week at Lord's had not been forgotten, and we always felt aggrieved at the loss of our match with Harrof. Once when our captain and the Harrow captain of the previous year happened to be brothers they devised a scheme for its suireptitious revival. A London ground was engaged for a two days' match between Mr. A. J. Webbe's eleven and another captained by Mr. H. R. Webbe ; and under their names the two schools were to play. None but the players themselves were supposed to know but, of course, the secret leaked out. Waiting until the last nigh: of the half, when ‘Domum 'was almost over, Ridding came dont upon Webbe and told him that those who were leaving might, of course, play any match they pleased, but none who played neri day would come back again ; and he kept his word, brethren, who disregarded his warning, found to their cost.
Again, at a general election, under colour of a paper chase, me were to have made a grand political demonstration on the day of the poll. Needless to say, the School was overwhelmingly Tory
, and so much the more because Ridding himself and several other prominent : Dons? were known to be strong upon the other side.
as the twin
That secret leaked out, too. All Ridding said was, to his own Division at the end of school: 'Mind, no one is to go into the town this afternoon on any pretence, and no one thought of going. We saw at once that he knew what was in the wind, and the tone was enough.
We had great fun, though, over that election. Even the Founder was pressed into our service, and from his niche above school door held out an invitation to vote for the favoured candidate. There was a dinner at Fearon's, to which poor Webbe, brimming over as ever with harmless mischief, came armed with a large bundle of posters, having hired a neighbouring butcher boy to meet him afterwards with ladder and paste-pot. So on the way home we paid a nocturnal visit to the Liberal committee rooms, and they were found next morning completely plastered over with bills of the wrong colour. No doubt in the excitement some of us did go too far. There were rowdy scenes, and complaint was made. Ridding dealt with it by an appeal to Philip sober. “I am very glad to see you all take an interest in public affairs,' he said. 'I am very glad to see you are Conservatives, too. I was Conservative myself at your age. This was crushing. “In fact I don't think anyone ought to call himself Liberal until he has something to be liberal with. But I hope you will all remember that you are gentlemen.'
Would it have pleased him, I wonder, to know how well his words are remembered ? Let it be, at any rate, a testimony to the lasting impression he made. There are plenty of epigrammatic sayings I could quote. 'Informator, then, is the person who doesn't shape you?' to a blundering etymologist: “Tries to, though.' At à Sunday luncheon, after explaining the term ordinary' in the Prayer-book, he added : “The Warden is the Ordinary here, and I suppose I'm the Extra-ordinary.' To us, knowing both men and their quality as we did, the mot was irresistible. But for its six syllables “the Extra-ordinary might almost have supplanted “the Peg.'
But was it meant unkindly? The Warden and his relations to the Head Master just then were certainly rather an enigma.
We sometimes debated among ourselves how far he was really in sympathy with the new régime, whether he had deliberately adopted a policy of self-effacement, or whether his was an easy-going, indolent character of which Ridding took every advantage. Statute and tradition notwithstanding, there could be no question whose hands
held the reins. Whatever the true explanation, this fainéant attitude was a fortunate thing for Winchester and for Ridding. The determined opposition of a strong Warden, wedded to past traditions, might have increased his difficulties enormously.
No doubt, in any case, he could have counted on the support of the governing body. They were bound to recognise his ability and also his success. With some of them personally he was on a very intimate footing. A singular example of their relations happened to fall within my own knowledge. There was a statute to the effect that no one should remain in College after the end of the term in which he was nineteen. One Easter the chairman's vigilance discovered that one of us ought to have left, and he wrote to the Head Master. Now Ridding had seen that Easter was not usually a convenient time to leave; and the simplest solution, he thought, was to interpret the statute in accordance with ancient Wykehamical custom, and say there were only two terms in the year, 'long half' and 'short half.' He had waited for a case to suit him, and privately encouraged this particular scholar to stay on in order, as it appeared, either to raise the question or else create a precedent. The chairman's legal mind could not agree to such an interpretation, nor could Ridding get support for it from any of the other members before whom wofficially he laid the case. He then proposed to the chairman to convene a special meeting in order to deal with the question, and when the latter declined to do so, remarked that in that case, of course, the matter was left to the Head Master's discretion until the next ordinary meeting in July. “They may send me away, you know,' he explained cheerfully, “but I don't expect they will.' So he had his way; and at the July meeting, if I am not mistaken, it was agreed to amend the statute in the sense he desired.
From this and other anecdotes may be gathered, perhaps, Ridding's view of the ethics of obedience. In matters of discipline he was never rigid, very human, with a strong leaning to the side of mercy. Flogging, we soon found out, he simply loathed, even in the decent privacy of his study ; for the publicity of the daily 'scrubbings' and 'biblings' of old he had refused to tolerate. We used to look for that drop of the eyeglass and protruded lower lip which would betoken the unwelcome appearance of ‘Bible Clerk' at his door with some offender's 'name ordered' for punishment. There was one type of evil doer—the clever, amusing rascal -- with whom he never would proceed to extremities. Such tenderness had its dangers. "I recall an occasion when such an one bragged of very grave misdeeds which had been strangely condoned, a notion spread that ‘Ridding didn't care,' and the tone of the School distinctly suffered. The authorities of a certain college at Oxford had a kindred grievance against him. But if once or twice he did seem to some of us perhaps to show want of nerve or lack of moral courage, this is not the place to discuss the most painful and most difficult of a schoolmaster's many anxious duties.
There was a spice of boyish mischief in him all the time which helped to endear him to us. I have told how he hated flogging. One autumn afternoon, prefects being all away on a visit to the Silchester excavations, was spent by a number of juniors kicking a football in School, and damage was done. Next morning, after inquiry, Prefect of School (whose province this was) sent for half a dozen and thrashed them. One, however, whom we will call F_, appealed to Ridding ; so to Ridding's study the parties adjourned, where F—— raised a question, not of law, but of fact, and offered to prove his innocence. The offer was accepted. Unconscious of their doom, a train of witnesses duly appeared and deposed, one and all, that F— had not been kicking in School. “Yes, F--, you may go,' said the Head Master, who had all along been awake to the situation. Then, turning to the witnesses : 'You were all kicking yourselves, I suppose ?' They looked at one another, and their faces fell. Denial was useless. For once Ridding really enjoyed himself as he flogged them every one.
At 'private reading'in Junior Div.' (the lower Sixth) one first began to see more of him. On those winter evenings, in the long, dimly lighted dining-room, he first introduced us to Theocritus and the 'Odyssey.' The intrusions of his dog, Caps, would lead to whispers of that tragic first marriage, and of the current prophecy (happily to be fulfilled) that when Caps died he would marry again. Once in ‘Senior Div.' acquaintance quickly ripened. I know, to my grief, that there were those who lived in terror of him, cowed no doubt by his rapid incisiveness of manner and utterance ; others, somehow never en rapport with him, I have heard complain of his lack of sympathy. It is very difficult to be all things to all
To myself, and I believe to most of us, the daily encounter of wits was a fruitful stimulus, a positive enjoyment, adding zest to every incident of life. Of all I missed on leaving school I think I missed Ridding most.
For most of us all fear of him was quickly dissipated. He was
master still ; but his power rested no longer upon the small boy's vague awe for the supreme authority, still less upon the dread of punishment. No, he met us daily face to face, and made us feel he was the better man. No need to fence himself about with the trappings of artificial dignity. We might, and did, laugh at his idiosyncrasies even to his face, criticise him, play upon his foibles try malicious experiments upon his temper and his moods. Bu there was in reserve a force of will, a force of character, a force de intellect, for which none of us ever imagined himself a match. In frank daily intercourse we learned to admire and love this man nay, in our secret hearts the
oddities we never tired of laughing at were cherished as eccentricities of genius. There was perhape : dim meaning and purpose hardly discernible in them all the time, such as he loved to try and make us see in those verbal subtleties of Sophocles, which we had hitherto been content to record in du! notebooks as mere abnormal constructions.
There is a wicked story that he once began an address with the words, 'I feel a feeling which I feel you all feel.' Really I can almost believe it. That 'feeling' was constantly on Ridding's lipe,
Yes, what is the feeling of the genitive ?' 'What is the feeling e the aorist?' We would look up and smile, but we soon got to know what he was driving at. There were the normal forms of syntax and expression which Sophocles knew at least as well as we did, and it was not for nothing if he chose to vary them. What was it lurking at the back of the poet's mind ? What was the second though thrusting in to twist awry the grammar of the first? Till you grasped that, too, your interpretation could not be complete.
Very different was his treatment of Cicero's Letters, anothe? favourite medium of instruction. How he did revel in dissecting the artificial elaborations of that accomplished stylist. “Justitis
. abstinentia, clementia : justice, abstinence, and clemency.' 'Ye but is that what you would expect to read in the “Spectator" What would you understand by it
understand by it if you did ?' A discussion would ensue, and it would gradually be made clear to us, first, that ar English writer does not pile up abstract substantives like this te get rhetorical force ; secondly, that in the three words we mus expect to find one central idea and two subordinate to it. Which would that be ? To which does the context point? To which the order of words ? How best express the combination in English ? At last, 'scrupulous, self-denying forbearance. Yes, that is more like it; and we can all understand that. Then, perhaps, after three