Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

William Rolleston : a New Zealand statesman



Rolleston received his early education at Rossall School in Lancashire. Some vivid recollections of his life at Rossall were contributed to the School Magazine by Rolleston in his old age, and I cannot do better than make some brief extracts:

When I reached Rossall (says Rolleston), I had never before seen the Sea, and my first view of it made a great impression on me. That early seaside life is no doubt responsible for my having in later years finally fixed my abode on the coast of New Zealand. I used to watch the waves with delight from the old sea wall beyond the wreck-yard. On the one side was the long line of surf to the Blackpool Headland; on the other the beacon to the north and the breakwater from which we bathed. At times we saw the page 6blue outline of Blackcombe "lone sentinel", at times the Isle of Man at sundown. For the most part, the outlook was bleak and invigorating rather than beautiful. The sea was everything to me. There it was that my purpose was formed to "sail beyond the sunset and the paths of all the western stars".

An emigrant ship, "Ocean Monarch", outward bound from Liverpool, was burnt at sea. The beach near Rossall was strewn with the wreckage and the corpses of those who were seeking a better country. The sad sight haunts my dreams to this day.

The trees about the old Hall were all stunted and storm-bent by the prevalent winds. They grew little taller than the high wall of boulders which sheltered them running from the old pigeoncote (afterwards the first sanatorium) in the direction towards the lodge on the Poulton and Bispham Road. The whole had a wild and weird look to one who came from one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire.

He relates that "the playground of the future was full of hares, and we amused ourselves by trying to surround them". Elsewhere in the same article he says:

I have wandered for nearly forty years away from early friends and early associations, and in my seventh decade the truth of what the grand old poet who was present at our first prize-giving sang is more than ever borne in upon me—

"The child is father of the man
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety."

This can only mean that Wordsworth was present, and it is interesting to reflect that Rolleston should have seen the great poet in the flesh.

At this school Rolleston was taught by the Reverend Dr Woolley, who later became Principal of Sydney University. The Reverend J. C. Andrew was also on the staff. In later years, Andrew came to Canterbury, where Rolleston renewed their early friendship.

Rolleston rose to be Captain of the School. He left it in 1851.