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Old 04-08-20, 06:11 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default The Founder Warden Wood Warden Baly

The Founder Warden Wood Warden Baly

In November 1799, just three years after the Dutch surrendered the city of Colombo,
James Chapman was born at Wandsworth, the second son of Mr. J.Chapman, a
London schoolmaster. At the very early age that was then customary, he went to
Eton as a Foundationer and took his share in the rough and boisterous life of the
school. He seems to have been a thoroughly healthy and precocious boy, keen on
games, and full of youthful aspirations after learning. A story is told of James
Chapman standing on the crest of a bridge at the head of a party of boys, helping to
defend two of his school fellows from a gang of Thames bargees. The two boys had
tried a new penknife on a towing rope, or some such foolish prank, and were only
with difficulty rescued from the consequences by the personality of Chapman and
contributions from their friends? pocket money.
He was one of the founders of the "Etonian," and in a letter written at school he
describes with great zest the trials of an editor making his selection from a mass of
youthful essays, poems, love songs and political writings.
At the end of the same Eton letter he talks of his delight in cricket, and he played for
the school at least one year before he left.
At Eton, while still a young boy, he had already formed those deep and serious
religious convictions which were to be the guide of his whole life.
In 1819 he became a scholar of King?s College, Cambridge, and in 1821, before he
had taken his degree, he was appointed a master at Eton. While at Eton he was
admitted to Deacon?s Order by the Bishop of Ely, on his Cambridge Fellowship.
Among his pupils were Edward Thring afterwards the celebrated headmaster of
Uppingham, and George Selwyn with whom Chapman offered to go out to New
Zealand, when Selwyn was appointed Bishop of those islands. In 1844 Chapman
was asked to become a candidate for the Headmastership of Harrow, and ten days
later, another letter announced the offer of the Bishopric of Colombo. ?You know my
principles on such subjects,? he wrote to a friend. ?I need not therefore tell you that
God gave me strength yesterday to renew my dedication of myself to Him, all
unworthy as I am, kneeling at His own holy table.?
He immediately set to work to find men and funds for his new diocese. ?My first
object,? he wrote, ?would be a Cathedral Church and a school connected with it, so
planned as to admit of extension and enlargement at any future period, by myself or
my successors; the one to be a real Cathedral, and the other to be a College, worthy
of a prospering Colony.?
The journey to Ceylon took over three months, and on the 1st of November, 1845,
the first Bishop and future founder of St. Thomas? College landed at Colombo.
At the time of the Bishop?s arrival. Sir Colin Campbell was Governor of Ceylon. The
coffee industry was prospering and the road from Kandy to Colombo had been in
use for over twenty years. Mail coaches ran to Kandy, Galle and Negombo. The
schools already in existance were governed by a Board of Education which
administered government grants, and of this Board the Bishop was elected President
soon after his arrival. But it was nevertheless a troublous time and there had been
some public disorder the year before, and more was to follow.
Under such conditions the Bishop entered his new diocese where he was
everywhere met with the readiest hospitality and kindness. One of his earliest acts
was to call a public meeting to discuss the possibility of building a Cathedral in
Colombo and the idea of founding a school was constantly in his mind. In a letter
written soon after his arrival he says:
?Education must be the great work for me to look to, to lay the foundation if I can, and
leave others to build hereafter.?
In the light of after years it is interesting to find him going on to say, ?For this purpose
I have set my heart on Mount Lavinia, about seven miles away, on the point of the
only headland on the coast. It [the house built there some time before the Governor,
later part of the Mount Lavinia Hotel], is a massive and noble, but deserted building,
and is now in private hands. For ?2,500 I might secure it for a College already built,
and ?500 more would adapt it for all our needs?.
This project unfortunately never came to anything and the whole plan of the school
had to be set aside for a time, while the Bishop turned his attention to the great task
of visiting and organizing the new diocese. The story of his journeys gives a vivid
picture of Ceylon in the first part of the last century. In one of his letters he writes:
?Soon after I had swum my horse over the river a few miles north of Negombo, I was
met by your earnest missionery, Mr. Nicholas, and we passed the night in a solitary
resthouse in the jungle. We went on early to Chilaw, where I held a Confirmation and
administered Holy Communion. From Chilaw I came to this place [Puttalam]. We
started at four o?clock to avoid the sun and by torch light to scare the elephants,
whose tracks we saw repeatedly when dawn broke upon us.? Twice he crossed the
Bintenne jungles from Badulla to Batticaloa with the purpose of studying the Veddas
and founding a mission to them. He also journeyed to Ratnapura and went from
there on foot to Nuwara Eliya. When cholera broke out in Kandy towards the end of
1846, the Bishop with a courage very typical of his character hastened thither to tend
the sick and dying.
Of Ceylon he wrote to his sister in 1846 : ?Since I last wrote to you. I have been a
wanderer through an Eden of picturesque beauty and lovelines, far surpassing any
power of mine to describe.? His wanderings across the length and breadth of the
Island convinced him more than ever that a school was essential to the success of
his work. He had already acquired the property at Mutwal which was to be the site of
the Cathedral and the College, and in 1848 he began to take serious steps towards
the founding of the latter. He applied to the Governor, Lord Torrington for assistance
from Government. But the Colony was going through troublous times :what was the
last Kandyan rebellion took place in 1848, and wild speculation had brought the
coffee industry to a very low ebb of depression: Government could give no help.
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