IN 1827 the headmastership of Rugby School fell vacant, and it became necessary for the twelve trustees, noblemen and gentlemen of Warwickshire, to appoint a successor to the post. Reform was in the air--political, social, religious; there was even a feeling abroad that our great public schools were not quite all that they should be, and that some change or other--no one precisely knew what--but some change in the system of their management, was highly desirable. Thus it was natural that when the twelve noblemen and gentlemen, who had determined to be guided entirely by the merits of the candidates, found among the testimonials pouring in upon them a letter from Dr. Hawkins, the Provost of Oriel, predicting that if they elected Mr. Thomas Arnold he would 'change the face of education all through the public schools of England', they hesitated no longer; obviously, Mr. Thomas Arnold was their man. He was elected therefore; received, as was fitting, priest's orders; became, as was no less fitting, a Doctor of Divinity; and in August, 1828, took up the duties of his office.
All that was known of the previous life of Dr. Arnold seemed to justify the prediction of the Provost of Oriel, and the choice of the Trustees. The son of a respectable Collector of Customs, he had been educated at Winchester and at Oxford, where his industry and piety had given him a conspicuous place among his fellow students. It is true that, as a schoolboy, a certain pompousness in the style of his letters home suggested to the more clear- sighted among his relatives the possibility that young Thomas might grow up into a prig; but, after all, what else could be expected from a child who, at the age of three, had been presented by his father, as a reward for proficiency in his studies, with the twenty-four volumes of Smollett's History of England?
His career at Oxford had been a distinguished one, winding up with an Oriel fellowship. It was at about this time... [continues]
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