|When we think about the people who
gave us Wesley College over 100 years ago, we mustn’t forget
Walter Powell. Both these men planned the building of the
school but, strangely, neither of them was present at Opening Day, 11 January,
The Reverend James Swanton Waugh,
however, was. He was there because he was President of the College.
He wasn’t the Headmaster. That was Dr Corrigan. Dr Corrigan
looked after the teachers and boys during classes. The President,
however, was in charge of the whole school, day boys, boarders, maids,
kitchen staff and teachers, all of the time and he lived at the school.
He was a very important man. It was Waugh who gave the new school
great leadership and inspiration after it opened.
Like Draper, Rev Waugh was a minister
of the Methodist Church - it was called the Wesleyan Church in 1866 - and
an editorial in the Church’s magazine of December, 1865, expressed pleasure
when it was learnt that James S. Waugh would be the first President of
Wesley College, and described his abilities:-
"A Wesleyan minister will
reside at the College, and preside over all its interests. When we
mention that the unanimous choice of the Committee has fallen upon the
Rev James S. Waugh, our readers will feel that the selection is that of
'the right man in the right place'. Mr Waugh has consented to take
the office of President, and in him the requisite scholarship, gentlemanly
bearing, and Christian character, are united in no ordinary degree.
The domestic and other arrangements of the College, under the direction
of Mr Waugh, will be all that can be desired to make the pupils feel that
they are 'at home', and to train them in habits of Christian and gentlemanly
So, the pupils were to feel 'at home'
in their new school.
All the remaining readings that we
will hear this morning are James Waugh’s actual words. He used the
words you will hear in his speech to all those people who gathered to open
the school in 1866, on the day Daniel Draper was drowned as he was returning
As we have heard, it was expected
that the pupils would feel at home at Wesley. James Waugh made certain
that one of the main foundation stones on which he would build his school
was happiness and cheerfulness:-
"The morals of all rightly
conducted schools are carefully fenced and guarded. They are conformed
to the character of a happy, cheerful home as much as possible, so that
every boy may feel that his teachers are among his best friends, and that
the lines have fallen unto him in pleasant places."
Victoria had been inhabited by white
people for only 30 years when Wesley College opened. Men had been
keen to plough the new land, to work it and to mine it in those early years.
But, by 1866, there was something else that was becoming important.
It was not gold, though we all know something of the thousands of men who
arrived in Victoria in the 1850’s to seek their fortune at Bendigo and
Ballarat. Waugh had this to say:-
"No man is deemed respectable
now who is unacquainted with science and with books. The Ploughman,
the Artisan, and the Miner of our day, know something of learning.
The people of this new land of ours agree to cherish and promote it.
Gold is not the only thing that men prize here. There are two things
which Australia honours, and they are - Character and Education."
Character and education - these two
things were important. Waugh went on:-
"Everybody is saying, 'educate,
educate'. Now let us take care that education be of the right kind,
that it be conducted on right principles and that it shall tend to the
highest good . ... it is the means by which ... the better
to judge rightly between truth and error, good and evil."
Education which helped boys grow, happiness
and cheerfulness. These were the foundations on which to build.
The first years, however, would not be easy for there were some problems.
Waugh, though, was strong; he was sure that Wesley would thrive:-
"The institution which we
inaugurate this day may have initial difficulties to surmount; it
may not all at once be filled with pupils; .... the building
is yet incomplete, the preliminary outlay is considerable, and the working
expenses for some time may be in excess of income .... We have much to
do, but all is within our power."
"All is within our power." James
Waugh was a great leader of Wesley College in its earliest years.
He saw that the grey-cemented building, on the road to St Kilda, with its
two square, grey towers, had unbounded and wonderful potential.
Transfixed by a commanding eye, the
audience of 250, faithfully gathered in the mellow dusk of that balmy January
evening, rose to thunderously applaud Waugh when he issued his final passionate
challenge as he concluded the Inauguration Speech of Wesley College, 1866:-
"May our College be like
an angel standing in the sun, sending forth streams of light for many a
year throughout this land!"