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Picturesque Dunedin: or Dunedin and its neighbourhood in 1890

The Otago high School For Boys

The Otago high School For Boys

First Steps Taken by the Provincial Council.

It has already been stated that a proposal was made by the late Mr. James Macandrew, in the first session of the Provincial Council, having for its object the establishment of a High School in Dunedin, in which "the higher branches of a liberal education" should be taught. During the second session of the Council (1854) the establishment of a High School formed part of the scheme of public school education adopted by resolution of the Council, and the Home Agents were directed to engage in Britain a gentleman qualified to perform the duties of rector. In the fourth session of the Provincial Council "The Education Ordinance, 1856," was passed; the ninth section of the Act is as follows: "There shall be established in Dunedin, under a Sector or Head Master of superior attainments, and well-qualified assistants, as they are required, a public school, to be called the 'High School of Dunedin,' which shall be conducted on the principles in the art of teaching most approved and adopted in the best schools of Great Britain, it being designed that it shall serve as a model to other public schools to be established within the Province; and at the aforesaid school not only the usual branches of a good elementary English education shall be taught, but also those higher branches of knowledge, the acquirement of which constitutes a page 154literal education; and the said school shall be open to both male and female scholars, and arrangements shall be made for the advanced male and female classes being taught separately."

It is evident that the late Mr. John McGrlashan, who drafted the measure, had in view the establishment of an institution in Dunedin similar in character to that of the Burgh Schools of Scotland, in which there are departments for both primary and secondary education, and in which pupils of both sexes are taught together. As already stated, Mr. Livingston, who had "been selected for the rectorship of the contemplated High School, was placed on his arrival in charge of the school that had met in the First Church building from the foundation of the settlement, but as might be expected the work had been altogether of an elementary character. At the outset of Mr. Livingston's six years' tenure of office, the school officially designated "The High School," was of necessity a primary one to a very considerable extent, scarcely any pupils being sufficiently advanced to enter on the study of the higher branches. But as time wore on, Mr. Livingston, who was an accomplished classical and mathematical scholar, and a most assiduous teacher, succeeded in imparting instruction in some of the more advanced subjects to several of his pupils who had attained the requisite proficiency. Some of his ex-pupils now occupy influential and responsible positions in the Colony, and they speak in terms of admiration of their old schoolmaster's character, and of gratitude for the benefits derived from his instructions.

As years passed on the opinion gained ground that in justice to Mr. Livingston, he should be placed in his right position as head of a High School proper, and that provision should be made for the establishment of one or more elementary schools in Dunedin. In the ninth session of the Provincial Council (1860), Mr Macandrew, who had been elected Superintendent on the decease of Captain Cargill, strongly urged the consideration of this question, and transmitted to the Council a copy of a resolution adopted by the Education Board largely through his own instrumentality. The resolution was to the effect that the time had now come for organising a High School in Dunedin for the benefit of the entire Province: that it should be under the direct management of the Board: that there should be boarding-houses page 155in connection with the school for the reception of pupils from the country: and that there should be two elementary schools in Dimedin, distinct from the High School, each under the management of a school committee. Accompanying the resolution was a letter from Mr. Livingston, in which he stated that although (yielding to circumstances) he had hitherto consented to perform, in a large measure, the work of a primary school teacher, he considered the time had now arrived when he should he placed in his right position as head of a High School. The Provincial Council, however, negatived the Government proposal, and resolved to vote no more moneys for school buildings until the Government should bring in a measure for the alteration of the Education Ordinance.

In the next session of the Provincial Council (Dec. 1860), Mr. Macandrew's Government introduced an Education Bill making full provision for a High School; but owing to the brief duration of the session, it failed to pass. The next session (June 1861) was opened by Major (afterwards Sir John) Richarclson, who had succeeded Mr. Macandrew as Superintendent of the Province. Mr. Macandrew's Bill was again introduced by the Provincial Solicitor, the late Mr. James Ho worth, and was passed. It contained the following provision:—" There shall be established in Dunedin a High School to be called 'The High School of Otago," under a Rector or Head Master, and such number of qualified masters and assistants as the Board shall from time to time consider necessary, in which shall be taught all the branches of a liberal education—the Erench and other modem languages, the Latin and Greek Classics, Mathematics, and such other branches of science as the advancement of the Colony and the increase of population may from time to time require; and the said High School shall be entirely under the superintendence and control of the Board, and shall be maintained and supported, and all salaries and expenses connected therewith paid, out of School Pees and moneys appropriated by the Superintendent and Provincial Council for that purpose, and any other available funds." The same provision was retained unaltered in the Education Ordinances of 1862 and 1864, and under them respectively the High School continued to be administered until page 156the passing by the General Assembly of"The Otago Boys' and Girls' High Schools' Act 1877."

High School Re-Constituted.

Notwithstanding the eagerness shown by the authorities for the institution of a separate school for the higher subjects, considerable doubt was felt by many as to the possibility of securing a sufficient attendance of properly qualified scholars, owing to the extremely small population of the Province; but all doubt on this point was removed by the extraordinary influx of people in the latter portion of 1861, and in the following years, consequent upon the discovery and opening up of the Otago gold-fields. Accordingly on Mr. Livingston's appointment to the office of Provincial Auditor in 1862, the Education Board and the Government decided to take immediate steps to establish a separate High School for Boys; the site in Dowling-street, now occupied by the Girls' High School was secured; and money was voted for the erection of a building. It was also resolved to authorise the Home Agents to engage three highly competent Masters for the school, the selection being placed in the hands of the Provost of Eton, the Eector of the Edinburgh High School, and the Pector of the Edinburgh Academy.

The following resolutions were adopted by the Board in connection with the organisation of the proposed school:—" (1.) One of the masters shall hold the appointment of Pector or Principal, and shall have the general oversight of all the classes within the institution, and shall be responsible for the good government, efficiency, and success of the same; but each master, as far as possible shall have the charge of a distinct department of instruction. (2.) Subject to such modifications as circumstances may from time to time render necessary and expedient, the departments of instruction shall be arranged somewhat as follows, viz.:—

1.Principal's for Classical Master's J Department.—To include Latin, Greek, French, &c.; Ancient History, Geography, &c.
2.EnglishDepartment.—To include Advanced English, Eeading, Grammar, Composition, and other collateral branches, Geography, History, &c.page 157
3.Arithmetic and Mathematical Department.— To include' Arithmetic, and Mathematics in theory and practice, Book-keeping, &c.

(3.) Writing, Drawing, Religious Instruction, &c. shall be taught by the several masters, agreeably to such arrangements as may be hereafter made; and care shall be taken, if possible, that one or more of the masters shall be qualified to impart instruction in Natural Science to the more advanced pupils by means of lectures, experiments, &c. (4.) Provision shall be made for the formation and maintenance of a well-selected library for the use of the pupils of the institution, and also for the supply of suitable apparatus, including diagrams, maps, globes, models, specimens, &c. (5.) No boy shall be admitted a pupil of the institution until he shall have passed an Entrance Examination of such nature and extent as may be fixed by the Education Board; and (6.) Every facility shall be afforded to-settlers at a distance to avail themselves of the advantages of the school."

In due time the Home agents reported that the following-named gentlemen had been appointed Masters of the High School, viz.:

Principal and Classical Master.—-The Rev. Thomas H. Campbell, M.A., late Head-master of the Wolverhampton Grammar School; Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford; and Assistant Master at the Charter House School.

English Master.—Mr. George P. Abram, M.A., late Senior Scholar and Prizeman of Clare College, Cambridge; and Second Master of Wolverhampton Grammar School.

Mathematical Master.—Mr. Daniel Brent, M.A., late Senior Scholar and Prizeman of Queen's College, Cambridge, and one of the Mathematical masters of Tonbriclge School.

Arrival of the First Masters From Home.

Those three gentlemen arrived at Port Chalmers by the "Matoaka" on July 14, 1863. On the same clay they proceeded to Dunedin, and Mr. Campbell made arrangements for the accommodation of his family. He then returned to Port Chalmers, and while proceeding to Dunedin the same evening on board the very small harbour steamer "Pride of the Yarra," with his wife, children, and servants, thevessel came info' page 158collision with the steamer "Favourite," and was instantaneously sunk, with the calamitous and appalling result that Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, their children and servants, Avere drowned, only the passengers, who happened to be on deck, being saved by getting on board the "Favourite." The Province of Otago was thus deprived of the services of a gentleman who appeared in many respects to be eminently qualified for the important position to which he had been appointed. It was resolved by the Board to request the three gentlemen formerly nominated, again to select a Rector for the High School, in the room of Mr. Campbell. Mr. Abram, at the request of the Board, readily undertook the duties of Head Master until the arrival of the Rector. The school was opened by Mr. Abram on August 3rd, 1863, and was conducted by him, Mr. Brent, and an assistant, with satisfactory results. The pupils numbered about 80; ten of these came from various parts of Otago and the neighbouring Provinces. The large central hall was the only portion of the building then completed, and was temporarily divided into three class-rooms.

Rev. F.O. Simmons, B.A,

In due course the Rev. F. C. Simmons, B.A. of Lincoln College, Oxford, and Head-master of the Dundee Proprietary School, was appointed Rector, and he entered on his duties in May, 1864. About the same time the teaching power of the school was greatly strengthened by the appointment of Mr. J. H. Pope as an additional master. The accommodation was increased by the addition of two wings to the original building, in one of which a residence was provided for the rector and his family, and for a few pupil boarders. The attendance at the school continued to increase for several years. Mr. Simmons conducted the school with much ability and success until June, 1868, when he resigned n his appointment to the Principalship of Nelson College. Mr. Simmons possessed considerable force of character, and was of a generous though somewhat impulsive disposition. His official relations with the Education Board were throughout of a friendly nature. He exercised great influence over the pupils of the school, especially those more immediately under his own tuition, by many of whom his memory is still held in affectionate remembrance. The dutiesofacting rector were page 159satisfactorily performed by Mr. J. II. Pope, pending the appointment of a successor to Mr. Simmons.

Mb. Stuarthawthorne, M.A.

The Education Board invited applications for the vacant rector ship from candidates in New Zealand and the neighbouring colonies, and the choice fell upon Mr. Stuart Hawthorne, M.A., of Sydney University, and Head-master of the Ipswich Grammar School, Queens land. He entered on his duties in February, 1869, when only 56 names were enrolled. The average attendance for the whole of 1869 was 70; in 1871 it had risen to 126.In the beginning of 1871 Mr. Hawthorne removed from the residence inthe south wing of the High School building to make room for the Girls' High School, which the Board had resolved, after Much consideration, to place under the same roof with the Boys' School.Witha view to provide suitable board and residence for boys from a distance attending the school, the Education Board erected the boarding institution known as the Rectory on a site adjoining the Town Belt, near the place where the present Boys' High School now stands.Mr. Hawthorne entered on the occupation of the Rectory in 1871, and in a short time a number of pupil boarders were placed with him. About the same time the teaching staff gained a valuable accession by the appointment of Mr. George M. Thomson, (now E.L.S.) who has since rendered good service to the school in several capacities, more especially as Science Master, and, for a number of years, as head of the Boys' Boarding Institution in conjunction with Mrs. Thomson.

In 1872-73 the school showed a falling off as regards attendance and the standard of work reached. In May, 1873, the Superintendent, in accordance with a resolution of the Provincial Council, appointed a Commission "to inquire into and report upon the present condition of the Boys' High School, and to make such general suggestions as to the advancement of the higher education of the Province, as may commend themselves to their consideration." The Commission consisted of the late Sir John Richardson, Professor Shand, Sir Robert Stout, and Dr. Hislop. In the course of his examination by the Commission, Mr. Hawthorne attributed the falling off in the attendance and the lower standard of study to a variety of causes page 160enumerated by Lira, over which, he could not possibly exercise-any control. In its report the Commission expressed the opinion that "the various circumstances referred to by the rector must have combined to exercise a Most dispiriting influence upon both masters and pupils, to keep back intending scholar's, and to injure the status of the school." In accordance with one of the-recommendations made by the Commission, the Government, in July, 1874, appointed Sir John Richardson, Sir Robert Stout, the Rev. Dr. Stuart, Professors Shand and Macgregor, and Messrs. E. B. Cargill and: James Fulton "to be a Board of Advice for-the High School, to recommend to the Education Board such measures in connection with the organisation and management of the school as might be deemed advisable." The result of a conference between the Board of Advice and the Education Board was the adoption by the latter of a number of Regulations-based almost wholly upon the recommendations made by the High School Commission of 1873. It is very much in accordance with these regulations that the school is now organised.

Mr. Hawthorne was of a gentle and sensitive nature, and the public criticism, usually of an adverse character, to which his administration of the High School was subjected for some length of time, at last produced the results that might have been expected. His health began to fail; he completely lost heart; and in September, 1874, he resigned his appointment as rector, intending to carry on the work until the end of the year. But his illness proved of so serious a character that he was compelled to retire from active duty some time before the close of the session. Mr. Hawthorne's health was never again completely re-established, and he died at his residence in the neighbourhood of Dunedin on June 8, 1875. He was a gentleman of high principle and of an amiable disposition, and his loss was much regretted by a large circle of friends. It is known to the writer that a number of generous acts, sometimes involving pecuniary outlay, were performed by him in cases that came under his notice in connection with his official work. The duties of acting rector of the school, from the date of Mr. Hawthorne's retirement until the arrival of his successor, were successfully performed by Mr. Brent. Mr. Petrie, Inspector of Schools, also-rendered good service as master of the classical department page 161About this time the staff of the school received a valuable accession to its strength by the appointment as English master, of Mr. Ales. "Wilson, M.A., now Principal of the Girls' High School.

Me Williamn Orrie, M.A.

The selection of a successor to Mr Hawthorne was entrusted to the late Mr John Auld, Home Agent of the Provincial Government, and his choice fell upon Mr William Norrie, M.A., Classical Master in Dr. A. H. Bryce's Edinburgh Collegiate School. Mr Norrie entered on his duties in April, 1875. A number of the changes that had been resolved upon by the Board were made during the first year of his term of office, and the staff was in •creased for the purpose of more thoroughly and satisfactorily working out these changes. The result was an increase of the school attendance; while the boarding institution, under Mr and Mrs Norrie's management, seemed for a time to be serving satisfactorily the purposes for which it was designed. But in the course of 1877, difficulties with regard to the boarding arrangements began to be experienced, and at Mr Norrie's own request the Board in June of the same year relieved him of the charge of the Rectory. It was then resolved that the boarding institution should be placed in charge of Mr Geo. M. Thomson, one of the masters of the school. Mr and Mrs Thomson entered on the occupation of the Bectory in the beginning of 1878.

Owing to several causes, which it is now unnecessary to specify, the relations of Mr Norrie with the Board and some of its officers became somewhat strained in the course.of 1877. These relations became more and more unsatisfactory, and the result was that in August of the same year Mr Norrie resigned the rectorship, giving six months' notice as required by the terms of his engagement. About the same time the Colonial Government, at the request of the Education Board, appointed a commission to inquire into the position of matters in regard to the two High Schools, and to investigate certain charges brought against the Board and its officers in connection with the schools. The commission consisted of the late Mr Tancred (of Christchurch), Mr W. H. Pearson (of Invercargill), and Mr W. Eraser (of Earnscleugh). In their report the commissioners made a number of recommendations regarding the organisation and management page 162of the High Schools. Except as regards one or two matters of trivial importance, the charges made against the Board and its officers were not sustained. Mr Norrie and his family returned to the Home Country in 1878. For several years past he has-been resident in South Africa. Information has quite recently reached Dunedin to the effect that Mr Norrie has been fulfilling for some time the duties of head master of the Kimberly Undenominational Schools with much acceptability and success.

Mr. William Macdonald, M.A., LL.D.

In the beginning of 1878, "The Otago Boys' and Girls' High Schools Act, 1877," came into operation, by virtue of which the administration of the two High Schools in Dunedin were transferred from the Otago Education Board to a Board of Governors, constituted as follows:—The Mayor of Dunedin, ex officio; two members annually appointed by the Governor; two members elected annually by the Otago University Council; and two members elected by the Otago Education Board. In anticipation of this change, the Education Board had deemed it unad-visable to take any steps for the appointment of a successor to Mr Norrie, and consequently one of the first duties of importance devolving upon the Board of Governors was the appointment of a rector. After full consideration, it was resolved that Mr Brent should be asked to undertake the duties of interim rector, and that the Agent General (Sir Julius Vogel), Dr. Abbott (head master of the City of London School), and Dr. Morrison (rector of the Glasgow Acadamy), should be requested to act as commissioners for the selection in the Home Country of a suitable rector. The choice of the commissioners fell upon Mr William Macdonald, M.A., classical master in the Edinburgh High School. Before leaving, Mr Macdonald, in recognition of his eminence in his profession, and of his distinguished services to the cause of education, received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Macdonald entered on his duties as Rector in Nov. 1878, and for several years, the Boys' High School prospered greatly. But in June, 1884, Dr. Macdonald was laid aside from duty, by a very serious illness; he obtained leave of absence for a time, and resumed work at the beginning of the session of 1885. During the interval, Mr A. Wilson, English Master, acted as Rector of page 163the school. But in the course of a few months Dr. Macdonald's strength again failed him. He continued nominally in charge of the school for some time longer; but at last it became painfully apparent to the governors, that there was little or no probability of his being again able to resume the duties of Rector, and with extreme regret they found themselves compelled to take steps to secure a successor. Dr. Macdonald's official connection with the school ceased on Sept. 30th, 1886. His retirement from the Rectorship, caused the profoundest grief and disappointment to the governors and the friends of the school, and indeed to all within the Otago district, who had the interests of the higher education at heart. He had, during his short career in Dunedin, given abundant proof of surpassing ability, as Head Master of the High School, as well as in various other capacities, while his personal qualities had endeared him to a large circle of friends.

Other Changes.

In February 1883, Mr. M. Watson, M.A., entered on his duties as classical assistant to the Rector. He was selected for the position by Dr. Morrison, of the Glasgow Academy. In March 1885, Mr. E. E. Morrison, M.A., who had been appointed by Sir F. D. Bell, and Dr. James Macdonald, of Glasgow, commenced his duties as English Master, in the room of Mr. A. Wilson, who had been appointed to the Rectorship of the Girl's High School, rendered vacant by the resignation of Mrs Burn. In the beginning of 1886, Mr E. E. Morrison and Mrs Dr W. Macdonald, were placed in charge of the Boarding-House, in the room of Mr. and Mrs. Thomson, who had asked to be relieved of the duty.

The Rev. Dr. Belcher M.A., LL.D.

The Board of Governors placed the selection of a successor to Dr. Macdonald in the hands of Sir F. D. Bell and Dr. James Macdonald, of Glasgow, and these gentlemen made choice of the Rev. Henry Belcher, M.A., LL.D., Fellow and late Chaplain and Classical Master in the school, King's College, London. That gentlemen entered on his duties in March, 1886, and his ability and indefatigable efforts, aided by a staff of well-qualified masters, have maintained the school in a high state of efficiency. The general tone of the school is undoubtedly most satisfactory, page 164while the distinguished success of late years of a considerable proportion of the pupils at the University classes and in the University and other public examinations,, bears ample testimony to the suitableness and the value of the instruction given in the several subjects comprised in the school course. There is every reason also to believe that at the present time the Boys' High School possesses in a very large measure, the confidence and good-will of the parents of the pupils, and the general public. During the year 1888, the total number of boys enrolled was 309. The highest number actually in attendance on a given day was 281. It is worthy of mention, that including scholarship holders, forty one pupils enjoyed the privilege of free education at the school in 1888. The following is an extract from the Inspector Greneral's report, dated Nov. 15, 1886:—"This is one of our best schools, and it appears to me to be improving in tone and discipline. The present administration is able and vigorous. The instruction given in some branches of physical science is very good." The Inspector Greneral's report for 1887 is as follows:—"September 21, This school has received a remarkably large accession of numbers this year. The organisation appears to be singularly complete and perfect." The report for 1888 has not yet been issued.

Mr D. Brent, M.A.

In bringing this brief historical sketch of the Otago Boys' High School to a close, the writer feels it incumbent on him to refer to the services rendered to the school by Mr Brent, who is the only one of the original masters now on the staff. During his uninterrupted connection with the school for the long period of twenty-six years, Mr Brent has invariably acquitted himself with singular judgment and prudence, and has ever maintained the most cordial relations with the Board and his colleagues, while in times of difficulty, he has rendered most valuable assistance to the school authorities, either by performing the duties of Acting Rector in a highly satisfactory manner, or by co-operating heartily with one or other of his colleagues, who had undertaken the duties.

Notwithstanding the changes that have taken place in connection with the rectorship during the past twenty-six years, it can confidently be claimed for the school that it has all along page break
Boy's High School and Dunedin From Queen's Drive.

Boy's High School and Dunedin From Queen's Drive.

page 165been doing very good work, and has sent out a very large number of youths, who, in their various walks of life have done, and are doing, infinite credit to themselves and to the school. This is owing in no small degree to the zeal and loyalty of Mr Brent, and the other able masters employed in the school.

Information Regarding the Present Arrangements of the Boys' High School.*

The Board of Governors consist of the Rev. Dr. Stuart, (chairman); Professor Shand, M.A., LL.D., (Hon. Treasurer); the Hon. W. H. Reynolds, M.L.C.; Rev. A. R. Fitehett, M.A.; James Fulton, Esq., M.H.R.; William Brown, Esq., M.B., and the Mayor of Dunedin, ex-officio. The secretary is Mr. Colin Macandrew.

The present buildings were opened by His Excellency Sir William Jervois, Governor of New Zealand, on February 11, 1885, and occupy a most suitable and commanding position adjoining the Town Belt. The plan of the building is that of a main central hall, round which are grouped the several classrooms. The central hall is 74 feet in length, by 43 feet in width, and is 30 feet in height, with a gallery carried round both sides and ends. The several class-rooms, both on the ground and upper floors, are very spacious, lofty, carefully ventilated, and fitted with all requisites and appliances to suit their various purposes. The drawing school has been constructed on the most approved system, and is fully furnished with models, plaster casts, and other materials of the art. The science room is supplied with requisites for the teaching of practical and theoretical Chemistry and Metallurgy. It also contains accessories to the teaching of Physiology. The mathematical school has been excellently constructed for its purpose, both as regards light and contrivances for demonstration. The gymnasium has been, furnished on the exact model of that at Aldershot, and ranks among the best equipped in the colony. The grounds on which the school buildings are erected cover an area of about 61/2 acres. A large space around the school has been asphalted, and is occupied by two fives courts, tennis courts, &c. There is also a large cricket field adjoining the school ground. The rector's residence page 166and the janitor's lodge are near the school. The public of Otago are indebted to the influence and untiring efforts of Sir Robert Stout for having secured to them so suitable and so valuable a site for the Boys' High School. The boarders' house, under the superintendence of Mr. Morrison, English Master, is situated about five minutes' walk from the school, and occupies one of the finest sites in Dunedin. It is surrounded with recreation grounds, covering an area of about seven acres, with commodious playsheds, an asphalt tennis court, &c. The building was designed expressly for the purpose of a boarding institution, for the High School boys, and the equipments are very complete, and in every way suitable. The domestic arrangements are very efficiently conducted by Mrs Dr. Macdonald.

The staff consists of the rector and the following masters:— D. Brent, M.A., Mathematics; E. E. Morrison, M.A., English; M. Watson, M.A., Latin; W. B. Williams, B.A., Modem Languages; A. Y. Smith, Commercial; J. McPherson, F.E.I.S., Arithmetic; J. E. Montgomery, M.A., and A. S. M. Poison, Assistant Masters; G. M. Thompson, F.L.S., Natural Science; D. C. Hutton, and D. Hutton, Drawing; and John Hanna, Gymnastics and Drill. There are an Upper and a Lower School. The Upper School prepares for the University, for the learned professions, and all public examinations. The course of instruction comprises Latin, French, German, English Language, Literature and History, Mathematics, Mechanics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Writing, Book-Keeping, Drawing and Gymnastics. While close adherence to this course is maintained, the rector does his best to meet, according to circumstances, the special requirements of boys whose school-time is drawing to a close. Any boy wishing to study Greek receives every assistance towards the attainment of his object. To meet special requirements, a liberal education is imparted without the study of Latin, on the basis of the Modern Languages, Mathematics, Science, and the customary details of English. Every encouragement is given to the study of Mechanics. Drawing is taught to all classes below the Upper Y. Class. Gymnastics, according to an approved course, form part of the regular school work. The course of instruction in the Lower School comprises Latin, French, English page 167in all its usual details, Arithmetic, Writing, Book-keeping, Drawing and Gymnastics.

* In writing this paragraph the Rector's report and prospectus have been freely made use of.