Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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154                 Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. XII.
'chrysanthemum,' 'epaulette,' 'phonetic,' 'phlegmatic,' 'gurgoyles,' 'apocope,' ' gazetteer,' ' promissory,' ' vicissitude,' ' phthisis,' but all without effect. ' Millen­nium,' however, sent one gentleman to the rear rank, and in the next word, ' lachrymose,' one gentleman spelled it also ' lacrimose,' and as the dictionary did not support the latter way he was ruled out. The result was that Mr. Podmore, a university gentleman, won the first prize, £2; Mr. Thomas, the second, £1; and Mr. Welch the third, 15s. The other two prizes lay between Mr. Campbell and Mr. O. Mitchell. The word ' satellite' sufficed to decide their relative places. Mr. Campbell becoming entitled to the fourth prize, 10s., and Mr. Mitchell to the fifth, 5s. Instead of taking the money, both handed it over to the funds of the society, amid loud plaudits from the audience. The Chairman announced that in con­sequence of many people being unable to gain admittance it had been decided to hold another ' Bee.' "
It was not elicited till nearly the close of the contest that competitors were at liberty to spell a word in two ways when the word admitted of such a variation in spelling.
On February 10 a " Bee " was held in St. Saviour's School on behalf of the new class-room about to be added to the building. As might be expected, there was a large and fashionable attendance, and the entertainment afforded a great deal of fun.
" The interrogator was the Rev. J. H. Palmer, who was assisted by Mr. Easter, and the referees were the Rev. S. T. Wood and Dr. H. Colgate. The competitors numbered about 40, the sexes being pretty well balanced. Mr. F. W. H. Cavenish, J. P., presided, and expressed the hope that the ladies would beat the gentlemen. As a matter of fact this result was realised, the first and second prizes being carried off by ladies, and the third by a gentleman, thus giving a very exciting finish to the competition. The candidates were taken in two ' batches,' and the first word given was ' donkeys,' but this, though presumably selected with a malin intention, failed to serve as the pons asinorum for any of the competitors to pass. ' Oscillate ' destroyed the hopes of one young gentleman, and 'trousseaux ' overcame a lady ; another competitor came to grief at 'corduroy,' and 'euphemism ' sent a pair away. ' Philippic ' did dreadful havoc, clearing off no less than six, while ' reminiscence ' eliminated from the ranks two more, and ' purlieu ' one, leaving six out of the twenty to compete in the final heat. The next ' score ' then came forward, but were not able to stand fire long. The second word, ' separate,' sent a lady to the rear, and at the fifth word, ' scroyle,' all succumbed but one. It was decided to give them another chance, and they were re-instated, the successful candidate, however, not being called upon to compete again. ' Gondolier' and ' Giraffe ' were correctly spelled. ' Massacre ' proved fatal to one lady, 'etiquette' to one gentleman, and four competitors came to grief at 'seneschal.' The next word, 'finial,' was a finisher, clearing off all the remainder, and leaving only the candidate above mentioned to join the six others in the concluding contest. This created a good deal of excitement, as it was really a struggle between ladies and gentlemen. ' Inconceivable,' ' harangue,' and ' phlegmatic' proved harmless, but at the following word 'sibylline' one lady beat a retreat. 'Reconnoitre' and 'cereal' were easily mastered, but ' kaleidoscope ' did sad havoc, sending away a trio of competitors to the ranks of those who had failed. This left two ladies and one gentleman, and then took place the contest for ' places.' This was not long left in doubt; 'parachute' took off the gentleman, and of the two ladies who were thus mistresses of the situation, one stumbled at the word ' chrysalis,' and the issue was as follows:—Miss Colgate, 1st; Miss Livingstone, 2nd; Mr. Pidcock, 3rd. The prizes consisted of books, the first being Tennyson's poems. Everything went off very satisfactorily, if we exclude the mishap of one competitor, who had the misfortune, in stepping off the platform, to set his hair alight with the gas."
In my diary, under date of February 21, 1900, I find an entry of having gone to a " Book Tea " at Mr. F. W. Wright's. This is a guasi-intellectual amusement
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