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Louis Edmund Blaze and Kingswood- Part II

On 12th January 1898, Blaze moved the school to Brownrigg Street. The Principal and family lived in a part of the new premises. It was also during this year that the Boys’ High School became Kingswood College. It was also the era when School and Headmaster changed to College and Principal. Among the other ‘firsts’ that Mr.. Blaze achieved are:

(a) the appointment of a lady teacher for standards 1 and 2 and here is how Blaze describes it:

An experiment quite new to Ceylon, was made in January 1902, when Miss Annie Bartholomeusz was appointed to the charge of standards 1 and 2. Today, lady-teachers are found in nearly all boys’ schools and their work is not limited to lower standards; but the formal appointment we made to our regular staff in 1902 evoked much comments and some unfavourable criticism. Miss Bartholomeusz, continued with us for nearly seven years, and was followed by other ladies whose work also was of the highest character. There is no need now to justify the appointment of lady-teachers in boys’ schools.

(b) the recitation of a Prologue at Prizegivings:

The Prologue was new to Ceylon Prizegivings, and as some of the events of the year were recalled in it, it received acceptance. The Prologues were written with one object and one object alone - to relieve the sometimes dull routine of a School Prizegiving, and it is gratifying to think they have served their purpose. The idea of the Prologue was suggested by verses recited at the Harrow Speech Day of 1890, but it will not be expected that the imitations should, approach the original.

(c) The selection of a Ceylonese to preside as a Chief Guest at the Prizegiving of any Boys’ school in Ceylon:

Mr. Frederic Donhorst (in 1919) was the first Ceylonese who presided at the prizegiving of any Boys’ school in Ceylon. There was no public man of the time whose name was so well known or so highly honoured by every class and community; any it should also be said that there was no man who shrank more anxiously from public appearances outside his professional sphere.

Blaze’s credo and his educational philosophy are reflected in his choice of a quotation from Ruskin which has adorned the Kingswood College magazine Our Boys since the quotation first appeared in the first edition in 1895:

No. 25 for June 1895 was the first (first issue of Our Boys) to appear in book form. It was printed at the Clifton Press, Colombo, and on the cover was the quotation from Ruskin which has regularly appeared since, and kept like a crown.

Louis Edmund Blaze was a great man. We have it on the testimony of as great a man as Fraser of Trinity that - Blaze was not only one of Ceylon’s sgeeat men, but a man great by any real standard, one of th Earth’s great men.

Lord Soulbury, the chief Guest on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee prizegiving of Kingswood college in 1951, a few days prior to the passing of Blaze, spoke of our founder in glowing terms .

The founding of a school or college was like the founding of city, and in ancient times the founder was regarded in the same ways the first ancestor of a family, and honoured and revered as such. Mr. Blaze whom we are delighted to see here today, is the founder of the great family of Kingswood College, and that family is as proud of him, as I am sure, he is proud of it.

Hillaire Jansz in his appreciation of the life and work of Blaze has highlighted the modesty and graciousness of the man we honour today. "It is of melancholy interest" notes jansz, "that Mr. L. E. Blaze’s last letter to me, written four days before his death, began with these words".

Are you in a conspiracy to make me a legend? But I am still too much alive.....

The writer goes on to note that:

....old world-chivalry, grace and kindliness - at least within my experience - have died with Louis Edmund BlazeÉ The "Observer" had no better friend than "LEB".

On his eighty-fifth birthday, Mr. Blaze was asked by a Sunday newspaper what advice he would give to those who wished to live long as he and enjoy good health. Hisanswer was: live simply, naturally and reasonably. Read and paraphrase Sir henry Wotton’s Character of a Happy Life. These lines from the famous poem may aptly be quoted here:

How happy is he born and taught

That serveth not another’s will’

Whose armour is his honest thought

And simple truth his utmost skill:

Who God does late and early pray

More of his grace than gifts to lend;

And entertains the harmless day

With a well-chosen book or friend.

This man is freed from servile bands

Of hope to rise or fear to fall;

Lord of himself, though not of lands;

And having nothing yet bath all

Concluded

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