Little Black Notebook

We have plenty of flashy things in the archives. We have portraits and microfilm-viewing machines; we have magazines and books, trophies and brass plaques. Among those showy things there is a very modest-looking black notebook. There is no illustrations or pictures, no famous people had it in their possession or put a signature to it. Yet it is the sweetest and one of the most interesting things I have seen so far. Picture this: it is a New Year of 1889, a young man named Swann, a fresh graduate from St Mark College, sends this black notebook to Mr Duthie who was his tutor for the past two years. What is the notebook? Just a compilation of stories, the memories of over forty young men, the class that crossed the gates of the college in 1887. Each of those men wrote a short story about one particular memory from his time in the school. There are stories about poaching vegetables from the West Garden (‘…a garden of cabbages intersected and bounded by gravely path…’), about being a new students and ‘…giving vent to their feelings by whistling Georgian chants.’, about studying Horace’s odes at 7AM. I’ve read how all of St Mark celebrated the Jubilee Day, June 21 1887, and how they had a day off- an event unheard of except for major holidays. The notebook even gave me a reason for further research: They called their principal ‘The Dad’, just as Coleridge was called when he was a principal and in 1887 it was somebody that was stomping around. His footsteps were like ‘…the clang of a war-horse hoof…’. Now I’m tempted to check who that was.:-)

Can somebody tell me what it means? It's all Greek to me:-)

Can somebody tell me what it means? It’s all Greek to me:-)

I have read some of the memories that the past students wrote and even published in the Year Books or elsewhere. But those are not the memories that were written after many years, tinted with nostalgia of passed youth. It is not St Mark College years on; it is the school as it was right then. Those guy just graduated and then produced these accounts. And they did it in just a few short months, remarkable considering they were from all over the UK with Swann compiling and coordinating the whole thing, And for the love of all that is holy, can somebody tell me what it is written on the front page? I can’t read Greek and the curiosity is killing me!:-)

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