This Eulogy to Horatio Childs, who passed to the Grand Lodge Above on 23rd March 1929, was compiled and delivered by “his grateful Pupil” Thomas W.W. Newman, B.Sc. (President of the St. Martin’s Northern Old Scholars’ Association, and a Past-Master of the Unity and Progress Lodge). Being an Address delivered at the Memorial Service held at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Thursday, 13th June, 1929
The arrangements for the memorial service were made solely by Mr. Edwin J. Cracknell, F.L.A.A (an “Old Boy” and member of the Lodge), on behalf of the St. Martin’s Northern Old Scholars’ Association, and the Unity and Progress Lodge.
The Lodge gladly bore the necessary expenses, and its secretary (Mr. Colin Farnie) most willingly co-operated with Mr. Cracknell. The Rev. Malcolm L. Griffith MA, Curate of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in the unavoidable absence of Canon “Pat” McCormick, DSO, MA, threw himself wholeheartedly into the project, and to him and the organist grateful thanks are due for their part in the Service.
I must apologise as a layman for my temerity in standing in this ancient Church and occupying the place of one whose name is a household word. My only excuse is that a refusal to step into the breach at the last moment would have sacrificed the confidence of the Old Boys of St. Martin’s Northern School, who have asked me to represent them. More than that, it would have shown disloyalty to our dear old friend and Headmaster, HORATIO CHILDS, whose memory we honour to-night.
It is probably as a Schoolmaster that we want in the few minutes allotted to the address to remember our friend. All his other activities were subordinate to, though possibly an outcome of, his work as Headmaster of St. Martins Northern School.
It would be presumptuous to have a “Text” this evening, but perhaps a quotation from scripture might be taken away with us. In Ecclesiastes 11.1 you will find. the words “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shall find it after many days.” A Schoolmaster’s outlook, particularly in a changing district where a goodly proportion of the pupils are not likely to reside permanently, must of necessity be one of optimism, of faith.
The result of Horatio Childs’ teaching, in many cases, could not be seen. Naturally he had to depend upon the fulfilment of Scripture – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Many of us old boys first became acquainted with Mr. Childs when we were in the Infants’ Department nearly 40 years ago. Periodically he would visit us to see his future pupils. I can well remember a young, keen-eyed fair man, surveying the Class, and later hearing from the Mistress that this was the Master who would prove a Prussian Drill Sergeant to us. Such a prospect was not alluring and, however well meant, rather had the effect of prejudicing our young minds against one who was to be the friend of us all.
At this time Horatio Childs had not long left College, and after a brief period in another School came to us as a very young Headmaster, imbued with the spirit of maintaining the high traditions of the School, as well as imparting the latest methods of education. To succeed men like Greenfield and Partridge was no easy task, but with the assistance of his colleagues Messrs. Northcott and Senior, he set about his work, his life work, shall I say? The full result of which we shall never know.
It is perfectly true that Mr. Childs was strict, at least to our infant minds his disciplinary methods came within that category, but on mature reflection I am sure that such methods, if not associated with temper, spite and malice, were the right ones, and no one could ever accuse our old friend of these failings.
His teaching was sound, and many of us have cause to be grateful to him for our early training at his hands. He laid a solid foundation of our education, thereby enabling some to proceed to more advanced Schools with ultimate academic successes. The three essentials – the ‘3 R’ s – he strongly believed in. I am grateful to him to this day for making me write well, spell decently, and solve arithmetical problems in my head.
The highest results in Government Examinations he strived for and always obtained. His personality during preparation for Examinations carried us through. We simply could not let him down. His lessons on history and geography in the higher classes invariably developed into a discourse on Imperialism or current events, and while we may have lost something about the characters of Kings and Russia Rivers, our young minds were being developed on lines of Empire. In short, he made those lessons live.
The fact that we always obtained the highest award for Scripture is merely to state the obvious. Behind the lessons was a man who was a devout Churchman, thoroughly loyal to the Establishment. His expositions of the Bible and Prayer Book were founded on a faith.
He taught us what he believed and not necessarily what the curriculum demanded. For about 40 years he laboured for the boys (and subsequently the boys and girls) of St. Martin’s Northern. Many opportunities presented themselves for transfers to more remunerative and spectacular Headmasterships. But often did he tell me “I can’t leave Castle Street Tom”. He loved that School, and I know that it was with breaking heart that at last he had to relinquish his work.
The School of which he was master became his master in a physical sense. Although the effect of his hard work was not apparent during his earlier days, it no doubt sowed the seeds of the illness which was to take him from the School. and subsequently from us.
One thing which did this more than all others in this respect was the dreadful air raid in which several children at the School were killed. His heroism at the time, and all through the war, was marvellous, and his self-denial during that terrible period undoubtedly hastened the end.
The war, as might be expected, gave his Old Boys the opportunity of applying the Imperialist principles he had taught. Never was he happier than when receiving the boys who were home on leave, and never was man more grieved than he when tragic news came through. The Roll of Honour – outside the School – unveiled through his influence by Earl Jellicoe – bears witness to the patriotism of his boys. He was justly proud of them.
In other directions his interest was keen; notably that of seeing his boys (and afterwards the girls also) were found progressive positions in business life. Some of us owe everything to him for our first start in life, and for the interest he always maintained in us. He was truly a father to us.
One outside activity I must mention. For many years he was connected with the educational side of Police work, and I have heard from prominent Police Officers that they owed their advancement in the Force to the training they received from him.
Horatio Childs never appeared a Pedagogue outside School, so it is not surprising that he should seek some recreation (if I may use the term) not connected with education. Freemasonry appealed to him, and it was quite natural that a man with his ideas of Religion, Brotherhood and Ritual should find in Masonry an outlet for his powers.
After becoming Master of his mother Lodge, the Carmarthen College, he conceived the idea of a Lodge for his old Boys of St. Martins; which with the help of friends, many of whom are present to-night, was duly formed, he becoming the first Master or “Father”. This was early in 1914.
The Old Boys’ colours and Badge became those of the Lodge, whilst the School motto “Unity and Progress” was used as the name of the Lodge. A goodly number of Old Boys were initiated, but before things got going the Great War broke out, and within a few weeks some of the Old Boy Founders and early members had made the Great Sacrifice, whilst others on the waiting list joined up and never returned.
During the absence of these Old Boys on Service other gentlemen came along, and so the original objects of the Lodge were for a time obscured, but even if every Old Boy had perished for his Country, and so denuded the Lodge of those of its members, Horatio Childs would not have moaned. Like a true Briton and Mason he would have put Country before everything else.
This was the first Lodge to be formed for Old Boys of an Elementary School, and Horatio Childs was justifiably proud of his achievement. Nothing delighted him more than to know that his Old Boys were successively becoming Master of the Lodge, and filling that office in a manner creditable to him and to the Old School, as well as emulating his example as the first Master.
High Masonic rank he obtained, and had his health not broken down it is very probable that even higher honours would have been conferred on him.
Of his work as Churchwarden of St. Johns Broad Court, much might be said. It will be sufficient, perhaps, to say that he put into his labours for the Church all that enthusiasm which characterised his other work. On leaving the District he was, I believe, a Churchwarden at Barnet, where his abilities could not fail to be recognised.
To the last has been left some reference to his home life, a slight reference purposely but not unkindly, so as not to awaken sorrow on the part of his dear ones. A man beloved of all his friends could not fail to be otherwise in the bosom of his family. Blessed with a good wife and daughter, happiness could not be absent, and the arrival of grandchildren were events of which he was extremely proud.
Whilst we may feel the loss of our old friend theirs is beyond comparison, and they know, I am sure, that the sympathy we have already expressed with them is not lessened as time goes on, but is still very real.
The time allotted for this address is all too short. To condense 40 years’ activities into ten minutes is, to say the, least, difficult. Much could be said of his generosity in many ways. Possibly this phase of his character can be summed up in the words:-
“That best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
To revert to our opening verse ” Cast thy bread upon the Waters” all the results of our old friend’s work are not yet apparent. The seed he sowed is bearing fruit and will continue to do so. Throughout the world are hundreds….aye, thousands of his old Scholars, and who shall say that the influence he imparted is not, in turn, being exerted by his pupils, and that the world is being made better through him.
Of the general attitude through life of our beloved master, Browning might well have been thinking of him when he wrote –
“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted,
wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better.
sleep to wake.”
This tribute to the life of our old friend has omitted one thing. We know it was his wish that the work he commenced, he could never actually say “finish” for that was not in his energetic nature, should be carried on. Those present will not, I think, wish to leave here tonight with nothing but a memory of the Service; or a memory of Horatio Childs only, but with a loyal resolve that his work must be perpetuated.
The School is prospering under Mr. Pring, and long may it so continue. The Old Scholars Association is being maintained, and must be made stronger. The Roll of Honour will be kept in order by its Trustees who will, however, gladly acknowledge any financial help. The “Unity and Progress” Lodge shall go on from strength to strength.
Some years ago, whilst sitting by the side of Bow River in the Rocky Mountains I witnessed a wonderful sunset. Gradually the sun sunk behind the snow-capped mountains, leaving black peaks standing out in the semi~darkness as it dropped behind what had just been the brilliant white summits. But the sun was not extinguished. It had gone to continue its functions in another place.
And it is thus that I would like us to think of Horatio Childs. The body we knew may be left behind, but the Soul has gone to his Maker. Of Whom he taught us in our early days, and Who we know, will receive us similarly when our time comes.
Horatio Childs, that with us trod
This planet, was a noble type,
(Appearing ‘ere the times were ripe)
That friend of ours who lives with God.
That God which ever lives and loves
One God one law one element
And one far off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves