Nelson House, November 19th, 1916.
DEAR OLD SCHOOL,
Here I am in it once more. It really feels as if all the three years had slipped out and faded away. I am even head of Nelson House once more. It was just right that Miss Hancock should have chickenpox (though she may not have thought so), and I should step into her shoes, as she had done all my work for a month when I returned from Africa eight years ago, and went straight to bed with bronchitis. And it was very odd that Miss Steer should be away too, and give me Upper VI. and Special VI. History to teach. I even had my own old Algebra book and taught exactly the same old things, and all the children who used to be IV.b when I left and are now Lower VI., make precisely the same mistakes that the Lower VI. of that day used to make, but they make far less, and oh they are so good at Riders ! I was rather taken aback, when on my second day I was requested to correct an essay on Buddhism (that’s Miss Steer). I never knew enough to teach Buddhism, so guessing they must be doing Eastern Religions, I found a lecture of Canon Bernard’s on Confucius, and we did that.
It is sheer joy to be here, children, to be in the Hall for prayer show beautiful and quiet and dignified it is ; to see the portraits-such a very life-like one of Lord Nelson ; to see the Carpentry shed, and the marvelous splints and crutches, and cupboards, made by the girls, and their tools and benches, and the beautiful toy furniture bliss Pinckney has made out of an orange box. My beloved Museum seems to be a regular class room now-I wonder if; anyone ever “does” Museum. Miss Hymans de Tiel has left it so beautifully labelled too. Then the little quiet Oratory is such a beautiful addition to the School, and the libraries and studio properties all seem to have grown; and so has the number of forms. But do you all realise how marvelously blessed you are? If you did you would give thanks every day of your lives. Well, I expect you do.
I have come back from such a thirsty land, not only thirsty for rain, but for all your advantages, for your books and pictures, and old buildings, and music, and Cathedrals, for all that makes tradition, for all you so carelessly inherit, for history of ancient days and deeds of chivalry, for long rolls of saints and patriots and heroes.
It is true I have a country where the enormous possibilities and opportunities nearly make your heart burst, where your own history stretches only a hundred years behind you, and all the boundless future is before you, where the great spaces, and the light, and sun, and the far horizon and the stillness seem to have room for God to come close to the earth, and you throb with all the vastness and greatness of it, and long and ache to use every power in you to make some little bit of goodness for the future. But oh ! it is so difficult, and therefore so inspiring. We want every bit of help you can give us. We are young and strong, and tingling with life, but we want your very best to come out and help to bring traditions, and to bring all your experience and training, and your love and knowledge of beautiful works of man. The works of God there are so beautiful, oh so glorious-Rudyard Kipling’s
“great spaces washed with sun
Opal, and ash of roses, Cinnamon, amber, and dun”
and the mountains, blue table mountains, or great and huge and rugged, as in the Hex River Pass, or covered with every variety of heath and gladiolus, and lilies, and orchids, besides the great South African flowers.
It is such an inspiring land because of the number of great things to be done. It is such a friendly land, where we are all one big family, we all write home every Thursday, and we all compare notes when mail comes in on Friday, and we all share joys and sorrows, because you are all so far away.
I have not touched on the war-it is too big and too full of horror. I daren’t say what it feels to be plunged into this atmosphere when everyone here has been in it three years. But it makes me glow with pride and gladness that Godolphin has been, in this tumult of grief and sacrifice, true to its high ideals, generous in giving all, and has shown to the country what it holds high as its motto:”Franac ha leal eto ge.”
ETHEL E. JONES.