Edward Thring, Teacher and Poet (London, 1889)
Edward Thring (1821-1887) was a great friend of Hardwicke’s father as well as god-father to Hardwicke himself. He was headmaster of Uppingham School during Hardwicke’s schooldays in the 1860s. There is no doubt that along with John Ruskin, William Wordsworth and Alfred Tennyson, he was one of the seminal influences in shaping Hardwicke’s development. It was Thring who introduced Hardwicke to the Lake District and the poetry of Wordsworth. Thring rented a house, Ben Place, in Grasmere, and invited Hardwicke to join him and his family during a school holiday in the late 1860s. Thring’s ideas had a major impact on shaping Hardwicke’s own thinking on the importance and practical aspects of education, which influenced the latter throughout his life as he strove to improve the educational systems of the country.
The genesis of this book was a request by the Birmingham Association of School Teachers for Hardwicke to give a paper on Edward Thring in the spring of 1888 in St. Edward’s School. He opened his address:
The subject of our meeting tonight is one which, you may be sure, was not self-chosen. One almost fears to speak in public of a man to whom one owes in secret such debts, as any one who came immediately under so heroic and characterful an influence, must confess he owes to Edward Thring.
Yet none the less gladly would one publicly testify as a pupil, of whatever one had found to be true in the teaching of him who, master and friend from first to last, has left such impression of goodness and greatness upon the minds he roused and the hearts he inspired amongst one’s contemporaries.
Hardwicke closes his chapter on Thring as a teacher:
He had his failings—who has not? He was an autocrat almost to a fault—if generals are not to be autocrats ex-officio—and sometimes he seemed to be unable to see the other side of a question. He occasionally took curious antipathies to boys who were worthy, and honoured those we thought less honourable; but he always acknowledged true work of any kind; always delighted in any true self-sacrifice; and I never yet met the Uppingham boy who did not, as he got into life, admire with deep admiration the heroic, unswerving character of the master, firm at his post, doing whatever of truth he knew unflinchingly; nor have I seen the Uppingham man who did not feel that, wherever he was, were he but doing his duty, he was assured, though all the world were against him, that he had his old Headmaster’s surest sympathy. Thring taught the bond of fellowship the wide world over, for work, for truth, for life, and righteousness. (pp. 56-57)
Edward Thring as Teacher (pp. 11-59)
Edward Thring as Poet (pp. 61-83)
Memorial Notice (pp. 85-93)
Commemorative Sonnets (pp. 95-117)
Works by Edward Thring (p. 119)
Biographical Note (p. 120)