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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Overlauded Duxes

Overlauded Duxes

Let us return to a consideration of the effect that Mr Wilson's expressed opinions might be expected to exercise on any pupil of the High School. Since the rector affirms it, the boy would take for granted what we as adults know to be absolutely untrue—viz., that the men (or, as Mr Wilson calls them, "facts") held up for our admiration in his two lists constitute respectively the cream and the creme de la creme of the community. . . . The names cover a period of some forty years, and yet it would, I am sure, never occur to any of us—least of all to the men themselves-that the roll contains an extremely distinguished or a peculiarly successful company. That they are above the average goes without saying. . . .

I am sorry to have been forced to refer to private persons, but Mr Wilson leaves me no alternative, since (for the best of reasons) he cites no authorities in favor of the system which he undertakes to defend, and contents himself with dogmatic assertions He avoids the main issues, falls back on his "solid facts," challenges anyone to say or ascertain anything about them, and then asks us to believe what we know already, without research, to be untrue. . . . . His duxes cannot fairly and reasonably be described as the creme de la creme of our community. .. . .

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. . . It would be easier to overlook the rector's peculiar tone if one could feel that he was actuated by a generous desire to champion his boys, but he shows no chivalry of this kind. He leaves no stone unturned to disparage those who have been unfortunate enough to fall victims to overpressure in the winning of honors which stand for ever recorded in print to the credit of the school. He need not think so badly of the pupils whose minds gave way after years of physical inactivity and excessive mental strain carried habitually into the morning hours of darkness. As Wendell Holmes says in effect: "Some people are too stupid to go insane. Given a sufficiently well-made and firely adjusted mechanism, it should break down under a certain excess of stress. Not to do so would show a lack of sensitiveness. D ne faut pas brutaliser la machine."

The question of the kudos of the High School seems to dwarf every other consideration. The rector is fulsome in his praise of those who have done the school credit by managing both to take honors and to keep sane.

The rector is so inconsistent that it is extremely difficult to arrive at precisely what he wishes us to infer. . . .

I will now refer to a series of other mistakes or fallacies found in Mr Wilson's communications to you.