W2726 SCHOOL ESSAY BY ISAAC BALDWIN MCQUESTEN
Sep 30 1866 [Estimated Date]1
From: Upper Canada College, Toronto, OntarioTHE DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND PRIVILEGES
OF A SENIOR FORM IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL
Upon every one, from the Queen seated on her throne to the lowliest peasant in the realm, devolve certain duties; nor is it to be questioned that boys, whose impetuous natures are most in need of restraint, have their part too to play. Will they not all at some future day, not far distant even to the youngest, enter upon the stern duties and responsibilities of manhood's career? The battle of life must be fought. Ought we not then prepare for this strife? By all means. And when can this better be effected than while attending a public school? There we meet with all classes of boys--the forerunners of the men. There we see repeated illustrations of the different traits of character. Nor is the monotony of school days wholly devoid of the chances & probabilities of human life.
But to come to our subject.--The duties of scholars and especially of the senior form:
The example of the senior form tends much to influence the whole school, especially if the members of it are respected. For they ought to be the leaders in every true manly sport; and should especially discourage every thing vicious and immoral. Their's [sic] it should be to give special observance to all the rules of the school, and by so doing to set an example of good conduct to all the rest of their fellows, remembering that those who would command must first learn to obey. Nor should these pertain to the school house alone. At all times and in all places should they shew by their gentlemanly conduct that they hold a position of high trust--the highest, indeed, enjoyed by the pupils--in the school, which they are attending.
Let us now consider their responsibilities. Nothing can be much more comtemptable [sic] than to see a man wholly depending upon the positions which he occupies, by birth or perchance by means, in society, without considering the many responsibilities which these same privileges cause to devolve upon him. Such should be the sentiment of every boy, and especially of him who holds the honoured title of "senior form boy." Each one holding that position may expect, and not unjustly, to be looked up to by all the rest of his fellows. To command respect it behooves him to maintain a bearing suitable to the position he occupies. Let us now dwell a short time on the nature of that bearing. Obedience is necessary, therefore let him obey every command of his superiors; should the command be unjust let him nevertheless obey, but afterwards [let him, crossed out] appeal to a higher authority for redress; but let him by no means resist; and though he be not a soldier, let him always bear in mind those words of Tennyson:
"Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why."
Nor let obedience be the only thing; let him strive to fulfil every little wish of his masters that a verbal command be not necessary at all times. Let his language be of the choicest kind; his morality of the highest tone; his very actions of such a nature as to call forth the highest encomiums; and by so doing his example will give weight to his precept. The senior form is in fact responsible for the conduct of the juniors. Every fault, which it is not able of itself to check, it is in duty bound to report to the principal, to be dealt with at his pleasure.
Bullying and fighting should at no time be allowed. Both tend to [increase, crossed out] nourish the brute passions and to knock out everything manly & ennobling. Need I mention any of the injurious effects of profane or immoral language or conduct? It would be useless to name the countless faults, common to nearly all boys. Suffice it to say that of whatever class or nature they may be, the senior form veto should unhesitatingly be placed upon them. And if this be done satisfactorily, and the censors are themselves uncensurable, [sic] their obligations will in a great measure be discharged. Their privilege will as a matter of course be increased or diminished according as their obligations are discharged.
Lastly comes the consideration of the privileges of the senior form in a public school:
The senior form should certainly have the power, if it would make proper use of that power, of correcting certain abuse. Bullying could better be discouraged by the senior boys sternly discountenancing it, than by a mere flogging, which, with boys of so coarse a grain as these must necessarily be, stings only for the moment and then is no more thought of. It should have the power of enacting certain rules, especially as regards the out door conduct of the whole school. Their privilege it should be as well as their duty to make all requests in behalf of the school. In fine the privileges of the senior form ought to be synonymous with its duties. It ought to take pleasure in performing those duties and thereby convert them into privileges.
Therefore let every senior form boy strive to his utmost to fulfil his duties, difficult thought they may be when properly performed, calmly yet resolutely; to discharge his obligations zealously yet considerately; and to make use of his privilege [mo, crossed out] firmly yet prudently. That when in some future day [he may, crossed out] he looks back upon that period so fraught with pleasure to the mind of every true man, he may have the satisfaction of feeling that he in every way conducted himself as became a senior boy.
Isaac B. McQuesten
80 [This number likely represents the grade mark for the essay.]
1 Isaac entered the Upper Canada College in 1864, so we have estimated that he would have been a senior in 1866 (Minnes 1).