Punch, January 14, 1903


[“Teach boys to cook. A man who cannot cook his own dinner is but half educated.”—Daily Mail.]

On arriving at Choppun Taters, a sweetly picturesque little village, we inquired of an intelligent inhabitant the way to St. Savory’s College. A walk of five minutes brought us to the headmaster’s door. St. Savory’s is a handsome stone building, resembling a pork-pie in shape, and decorated in the Gorgian style of architecture.

“Kindly step this way,” said the Butler, as he answered our knock. We followed him. He halted before a door, through the keyhole of which floated an appetising smell of cooking.

“Er—if the headmaster is at lunch——” we began.

“Not at all, Sir,” replied the official. “The chef is merely correcting the Sixth Form Irish Stew.”

“Come in,” said a curiously muffled voice in answer to his knock, and we went in. The chef was standing at a long table, on which were ranged some thirty dishes of Irish stew. He wore a white cap and apron. As we entered he appeared to swallow something, and, turning to a bright, handsome lad of seventeen, remarked, “H’m. Better than last week, but still far from perfect. A false quantity of onions, and the entire composition inclined to be somewhat heavy. You may go.”

“Perhaps, as you are engaged——” we began tentatively.

“No, no. Certainly not. Pray be seated. You wished, I believe, to hear something of our educational methods at St. Savory’s. Of what use hitherto has a public-school education been to a boy? Well, yes, as you say, he has possibly learned to play with a straight bat. But what else? Nothing, Sir, nothing. All the Greek and Latin he learned he used to forget as soon as he left school. Quite so. Now we, on the other hand, instil knowledge that is really useful, and which cannot be forgotten. We have a large and able staff of under-chefs, and, beginning with theoretical work, the boys rise by regular gradations until, by the time they reach the sixth form, they are capable of turning out a very decent dinner indeed.”

“You mentioned theoretical work?” we said. “What exactly——?”

“Ah, yes. Well, they read short histories, such as the history of the Stewit dynasty, for instance, and write occasional essays. ‘The relations of Church and Steak’ is a good stock subject. But it is our practical work on which we pride ourselves. You see, it pays them to do their best. A boy who systematically fails to satisfy the examiners has to stay in after school and eat his work. Very few boys need this corporal punishment twice.”

“And the results?” I ventured.

“Wonderful. Simply wonderful. This year, which is neither above nor below our usual standard, we have won no less than fourteen important trophies at the Universities. I will not recount them all. Suffice it to say that at Cambridge Jones (a ripe scholar, Jones, one of the finest clear soup composers we have ever had at the school) won the Porkson prize for mutton cutlets, and Smith the Gravy Scholarship.

“While in the Tripeos, as usual, the name of St. Savory’s was well to the fore. As for our other triumphs, we have done well on the range. We were second in the contest for the Hashburton shield, and obtained the first five places in the Fry competition.”

“Then,” we said, “you would describe the new system as——”

“A colossal success. Go to the study of any of my boys. Once you would have found the shelves littered with dry Bohns. What do you find now? Meat. Good afternoon.”



Unsigned story as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 124 of Punch.