A MEMORABLE GATHERING
Presentation to Miss Douglas.
The annual Commemoration, which took place at tin Godolphin School from 26th to 29th September, was an historic occasion this year, and that for two reasons. It was the first held since the War, and it was the last at which Miss Douglas would be present as Head Mistress. Either of these reasons would have sufficed to make the gathering of Old Girls an unusually large one, but with the two causes being united, such a record number had accepted the invitation as to render it impossible to find quarters for all, and a camp had to be pitched in the school grounds with bell tents holding 120 beds and also two large mess tents. Even so, the greater number of the visitors were, as ever, most hospitably housed by the many friends of the School resident in the city, the Close, and the neighbour¬hood. The guests began to arrive in time for tea on Friday and were all assembled by that evening, the few who had intended coming on Saturday being unfortunately prevented by the railway strike, though one member of the old staff, Miss Baird, Head Mistress of St. James’s, Malvern, motored all the way in order to be present. The programme of the three days was very full. It opened with an important and interesting meeting on the work of the United Girls’ Schools Settlement at Camberwell, with the object of reviving the interest and support of members, speeches being made by Old Godolphins in close touch with the work. Then came Miss Douglas’ address to her Old Girls, and after supper Mr. Plunket Greene enchanted a full hall for over an hour with one of his wonderful song recitals. The selection and rendering of the songs, to the perfect accompaniment of Mr. Liddle, gave the greatest delight.
Saturday morning struck a deeper note, beginning with a celebration of the Holy Communion at St. Martin’s Church, when special prayers and thanksgiving were offered for the School, and these were repeated at the service held later in the school hall, when every heart must have echoed the eloquent eulogy of Miss Douglas and her work, with which Canon Dimont concluded his fine address. The numbers proved too great, however, for all to meet at this service, and one was held and an address given for the present School in the great tent by the Rev. Ian G. Cameron, the same prayers and hymns being used at each service. After lunch an exhibition of artistic handicraft was on view, and friends from the city came up to enjoy both this and the selections, of music played in the garden by the excellent band of the Comrades of the Great War.
The central event of Commemoration took place, as always, on Saturday evening, when past and present School and staff, the Hon. Lady Hulse, Miss Hussey, and Miss Style, representing the Governors, and the Head Mistress, all assembled for tea and speeches. This year the school hall proved far too small to contain the large numbers, accommodation having to be provided for nearly 600 in the great marquee. At the “high table” sat Miss Douglas, the Governors, Miss Lucy Douglas, Miss Baird, and Miss Ash, the Head Mistress elect, while the guests were ranged at trestles placed at right angles to it, and running the whole length of the tent. After tea, the hymn, ” Now thank we all our God,” was sung as a Grace, then all stood in silence as a reverent tribute to the men who had fallen in the War, and this was followed by the National Anthem. Before the speeches began, Mrs. Leys, as the senior Old Girl present, handed to Miss Douglas, in the name of the Old Girls, a cheque and a book of signatures as a token of their affection and gratitude, begging her to spend it upon something for her personal use.
Miss Douglas, who was deeply touched, assured the donors that she would remember their wishes and would so expend the sum that it would serve her as a perpetual reminder, if any were needed, of the love and loyalty of the Old Girls. Throughout the day an immense number of telegrams had been received, and these Miss Douglas now read aloud. They came from all parts of the British Isles, several from India, and one very noticeable message from South Africa had no less than fifteen signatures, including those of Miss Edwards and Miss Jones. Another telegram which con¬gratulated the School on a “striking” Commemoration, evoked much laughter.
Miss Awdry then rose to propose the health of the Governors, which she did in a graceful little speech, showing ¬how every department of the School was dependent on the wisdom, forethought, and personal kindness of the Governing Body. She paid a tribute to the great services rendered to the country by the chairman, Lord Methuen, who had telegraphed his regret at not being able to be present on account of the strike, and who had attended several Governors’ meetings since his return from Malta. She made special mention of the mayor (Sir James Macklin), who had found time to attend the Governors’ meetings, in spite of his strenuous public duties through the War; and she referred to the very great kindness shown to the school by Lady Hulse, and their pride that a Governor of the Godolphin School should be the first woman to serve the city as Town Councillor.
Lady Hulse, after thanking Miss Awdry warmly on behalf of the Governors, said: “And now we come to the meaning of our great gathering here to-night. For me, as for many of you young people, it is our first Commemora¬tion; for our Head Mistress, it is her last official Com-memoration, though we know that Miss Douglas will not fail to answer the call of her ‘Old Girls’ to spend Commemoration among them, and we hope there are many such happy days in store for her. As for the debt we, the Governors, owe Miss Douglas, I should like to say this. Nearly thirty years ago the Governors handed to Miss Douglas a small school, though with an old and interesting foundation. Next December Miss Douglas will hand back to the Governors a great school, with a world-wide reputa¬tion, holding an important part in the life of our country, a school built upon the only foundation that endures, those of high ideals and of unsparing devotion to work and duty. For all these things the Governors thank Miss Douglas. And there is someone else to whom the Governors owe much, someone who has given years of her life to the school, years of inspiration, of unfailing cheerfulness, of great devotion to the highest and best interests of the School. In the name of the Governors, I thank Miss Lucy. And, in conclusion, one word to you Old Girls and Present Girls of the Godolphin School. You did your part well in the Great War. I ask you to remember that England needs you even more now in the difficult days of reconstruction, than in the strenuous days of war. For the honour of your great School, I know you will give of your best, whether in home-life, or in the married life I hope for for many of you, or in the public service, or in professional careers. Whatever there is in store for you, I beg of you not to spare yourselves in the service of your country.”
When the applause had subsided, Miss Douglas herself rose to propose the toast of “The whole body of Old Girls.” She found it difficult to find words in which to express her delight at so many being present, and her gratitude for all the messages of those who wished to be present but had been unable to come. It was wonderful to have them there in such numbers, with the extraordinary help and inspira¬tion that their coming brought, and the memory of this great Commemoration would be with them always. When she heard on Friday of the threatened railway strike her one thought had been “if only they can get here first!” As she looked down the long tables she felt as if she were looking down the ages, seeing vistas of countless generations of Godolphin School girls, and always with a great body of Old Girls behind them backing up all that was good in the School. It was delightful to have their younger sisters and their children coming to the School. Miss Douglas once more offered her good wishes for their happiness in their homes and their professions, and expressed an earnest hope that whatever their work in life it would be worthy of them and of their best powers. Miss Douglas said it was a great joy to her to have one present at Commemoration who was about to become the Head Mistress and leader of the School.
Marcia Matthews, Head Mistress of St. Mary’s School, Cahie, rose to propose “Miss Douglas.” “The toast of Miss Douglas had been committed to Kitty Zachary, an Old Girl Head Mistress of a famous school. In her absence, owing to the strike, it has fallen to me. This wonderful Commemoration expresses far more forcibly than mere words what Miss Douglas is. She was spoken of this morning as the master builder. This Commemoration is just the corner stone of her building. Though it is not easy to talk about it, we know that the spirit which has brought us here-the Commemoration spirit-is the spirit of Miss Douglas herself. Nothing could keep us away; we had to come as a tiny outward expression of our immense gratitude. We refuse to say good-bye, and we are here to assure her that as long as the School stands the spirit she has given us will be the life of the Godolphin.”
It took some time for the applause that greeted this speech to subside, and to allow Christabel Hughes to propose the toast of the mistresses, past and present. She spoke very warmly of all that she felt the school owed to their keenness and enthusiasm, “which were so very catching and so healthy when caught,” and ended by mentioning the names of Godolphin mistresses at the head of other schools : Miss Jones, Head Mistress of the Diocesan School, Grahamstown; Miss Edwards, Principal of Oriel House, Grahamstown; Miss Baird, of St. James’s, Malvern; Miss Rice, of St. Anne’s, Abbots Bromley; Miss Westlake, about to take over a large school at Eastbourne; and Miss Ash, who was succeeding Miss Douglas at the Godolphin School. (Prolonged applause.)
The last speech of the evening was made by Miss Lucy Douglas. She said: “It is a very great privilege to propose the health of the School. I only regret that I have so little eloquence to bring to the task. Perhaps, however, it is not an occasion for an abundant flow of words, or a ready wit, so much as for a heart overflowing with love for the School which has been so dear to me for more than half my life. When I dreamt young day-dreams of what I should best love to do in the future, the thing I never contemplated was a school life, and yet that fell to my lot when I was not so very aged, though I believe Nina Trounce, who is here to-day, was one of the girls who in our first term was so astonished that I could jump a very fair height and run a good deal faster than she could. Year by year I have learnt to love the school more and more, and though, naturally, my own house has the warmest place in my affections, there has never been a red hatband whose owner has not been a friend, because she is Godolphin. And now it is to those who still wear the red and the good old badge that I am to speak to-night. I was reading, these holidays, Dr. John Brown’s delightful lecture to his medical students about climbing the Hill Difficulty, and I am going to make so bold as to borrow his text, and a good deal more.
On Tintoc Tap
There is a Mist
And in the Mist
There is a Kist,
And in the Kist
There is a Cap.
Take the Cap
And drink the Drap,
And leave the Cap
On Tintoc Tap.
I can imagine, can’t you, that eager set of Scotch laddies listening whilst the dear, wise, humorous man turns from gay to grave, and from nonsense to the deepest truths that ever were spoken, and how, at the end he leaves them with a fresh and ardent determination to overcome and to do the best that in them lies.
Tintock, lie tells them, is a big hill in Lanarkshire.
A mist is the hardest thing to penetrate and to find one’s way in.
A kist is Scotch for a chest.
A cap is the same as a cup.
A drap is a drop.
First, climb the Hill Difficulty. Never say die. Never despair. Peg away at your work and games.
Secondly, make up your minds what is the object to be aimed at. What is the good of climbing it?
Thirdly, be content to make your own road up it. There is no easy path ; you have got to exert yourself to make one.
Fourthly, you will feel real exaltation in having a big, steady try to get to the top.
Fifthly, you will find that falls and stumbles are not all to the bad. You learn by losing your temper to keep it better next time. As you do get over the baffling stones you get more patient, and as you learn patience you most certainly learn to be more eager, too.
Sixthly, as you get nearer the top you see how the world below lessens and yet how much more clearly you see it as a whole. You see the proportion of things more justly. You grow more fair in judging things and people.
And now you are up in the cloudy mist and there, sure enough, is the treasure chest. And for each one of us there is the little cup inside with just the drop that is meant for us to drink. Nobody ever yet climbed Hill Difficulty without finding a precious treasure at the top, a big reward. Perhaps it is not just the drop we expected, but it is the one that has been gathering for you and nobody else, and it is the very best for you. And now you put the cup back in the chest and shut the lid, and leave the mist, and down again you come into the old familiar world, but it is somehow different. You are strong, and ready for anything. You know now how to face difficulties, and you are not a bit afraid. Get the spirit of valiant endurance into all your day’s work; learn the joy of faithful service-there is no joy like it. Despise all slackness; it is delicious to put our backs into things; it is delicious to win through. And don’t ever think your own hand has gotten you the victory; you have got an unseen and sometimes unfelt and unacknowledged Hand guiding you up the hill. That will save you from swollen head, or feet too big for your boots.
I wish for you, dear present members of the Godolphin School, that you may all climb to the top of Tintock, and when you want something to make you merry and wise, read dear John Brown.”
A special clap for Miss Lucy Douglas “all by herself” closed the speeches, after which every one adjourned to the school hall for dancing, followed by “Auld Lang Syne,” sung in great circles in the tent. Sunday was pre¬eminently the day for long talks on old times, for the renewing of old friendships, the re-telling of old experiences. Miss Douglas and Miss Lucy Douglas were “at home” all day, and in all the Houses there was an unbroken succession of callers. On Monday morning the school hall was packed once more at prayers with present School and Old Girls, and an offertory was given, to be divided between the School Mission, Miss Jones’ School in Grahamstown, and Nellie Kenyon’s work in Ahmadnagar, India. If anything more were needed to make this Commemoration one never to be forgotten, it was supplied by the unusual character of its dispersal. At eight a.m. on Monday morning two motor charabancs which Lady Hulse had been busy about on the School telephone drew up before the school gates to convey sixty of the guests to London. Fathers sent motor¬cars for their daughters, and husbands arrived also in cars to take away their wives, and many other parties were made up, and by Monday evening almost all had found some means of getting away.
E. PERRY, School House.
Tents at Commemoration.
The Commem. notice: “Your sleeping-place will be a tent” certainly came with a slight shock. Somehow, one does not associate Commem. and camping ; but it was quite a shock of pleasure, because camping days are among the most pleasant of one’s memories. The notice came on a fine warm day in June, and one did not think of the time to elapse before its fulfilment, until, on a drizzly, coldish morning one woke up to Commem. Friday-and, good gracious, a tent to-night!
Conversation on the way down turned on rather unusual subjects, such as hot-water bottles, slugs, the early dawn, the efficacy of peppermint, and so forth. I knew quite well that the friend of my school adventures would be with me in my tent, and by a later train she arrived, dragging a very large and very full kit-bag behind her. Arrived at the School, one of the School House girls offered to show us to our rooms (I mean tents) and great was our satisfaction when we found ourselves the sole occupants of No. 28, a tent on the fringe of the encampment, close to the wire netting near the San. With great superiority, because of the contents of the kit-bag, we made things ship-shape, hung up our surplus clothes on pegs round the tent poles, pinned up a looking-glass (in a most awkward position, I admit, as I continually caught my back hair on the entrance hooks whenever I tried to see if I looked “tenty” or not) and made our beds.
Really, it was most luxurious camping, the tents were so well set up and the Boy Scouts so attentive to guy ropes, etc., that none of the usual exciting collapses occurred. There were floor-boards, too, and proper beds, large enough to support the whole of our anatomy-a great point that! The weather was sympathetic. No pouring rain or pene¬trating mist, just clear, cold nights. How jolly it was to sniff the good air when one was awakened in the middle of the night by a tin thrust under one’s nose and a loud whisper “Have a mint?” On looking back, one realises what a lot of little extra meals we seemed to take in the tents; biscuits and chocolate, late cocoa and early tea (obtained from the large tent, and how good it was!). Most of the dressing operations went on in the school cloakroom. At nights laughing groups, arrayed in night attire, and laden with hot-water bottles, mugs of cocoa and lanterns, groped their way to the tents, joking over en¬counters with the guy ropes. The tents added a picturesque effect to Commem., and were certainly an obvious sign of our overwhelming numbers and of the great generosity and hospitality of Miss Douglas in welcoming and enter¬taining us all.
I do not think that those who were not present can quite imagine the great tent on Saturday evening ; the long, long white tables with Godolphin colours, the brilliant creeper and home-grown apples, the rows and rows of Old Girls, the solid block of past and present Staff, the high table at the end, the mass of Present Girls crowding the lower end of the tent and filling up the gangways, and over all the uneven lamp light. It was most impressive.
Altogether, the tents helped to make this most wonderful of Commems. an unique occasion, and our very best thanks are given to Miss Douglas and Miss Lucy, to Matron, who was at hand at all hours of the night to succour the needy, to whoever was responsible for setting up the tents, to the caterers, to the School House girls and Boy Scouts, all of whom contributed to our comfort during the week-end.