‘With your bodies between your knees’

“The conscience of public school-boys is rarely dangerously sensitive”

Actonbooks

Eager to sample the recently unveiled Spectator archive, which is cheeringly welcoming to all (pro tem), not skulking behind the palings of some pay wall, I came across this chorus of Floreat Etona in an article published in the summer of 1875. Entitled Parliament and the Eton Boys, it speaks across the centuries, both for and against the present Eton cabal in the UK government.

The conscience of public school-boys is rarely dangerously sensitive. The public life, the out-door healthy amusements, the contempt for cowardice, the high repute of physical courage and strength, the habituation to ridicule, the sharp collisions of wills, all tend to make a public schoolboy earlier fit for public life than almost any other kind of boy in the middle or upper classes of England.”

One of the great advantages of our Public Schools is the manliness—we may say, in a…

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