Tag Archives: Latin Play

The War should not prevent the performance of the Latin Play

The House met on Thursday, October 21, to discuss the motion that ‘ In the opinion of this House the War should not prevent the performance of the Play.’

The Proposer (Mr. MEYER) said that the Play being one of the School’s most treasured institutions should certainly not be stopped. He saw no reason why we should not have some diversion, andit is good for us to be cheered up every now and then. Terence’s plays certainly were not frivolous. The working and acting of the Play would be very much more difficult when none of those taking part in it had ever seen a play.

The Opposer (the SECRETARY) said that the Play was stopped in the first year of the Crimea, which was far less important than this war. If the Play was not frivolous, the epilogue most certainly was. We could not possibly have a play without the epilogue. Other public schools had given up many of their most treasured institutions. If other schools give up theirs, why shouldn’t we give up ours ? If theatres were stopped owing to the war, numbers of people would be thrown out of work, whereas the Westminster Play, as Mr. Meyer had said, was entirely run by the School, and consequently no one would be thrown out of work if we did not have it.

The Seconder (The PRESIDENT) said that the Secretary was quite wrong, and that there was a play at the time of the Crimean war. The Play had not been stopped at all in the last century, not even in the Napoleonic wars, except out of compliment to the Royal Family when a prominent member of it had died. He quite agreed that it was not right for us to criticise at this time, and that consequently we could not have an epilogue, but could we not have some sort of commemorative address? There were certain details with regard to the Play that people could not have drummed into them.

Mr. ABRAHAMS said that the sentimental. side of the question could not possibly be neglected. One did not want uproarious laughter nowadays. He gave us a quotation from the Famulus, and said that that was not the sort of thing we wanted at this time. This terrible war, into which all Europe was now plunged, was a far greater calamity than the death of a king. If we stopped the Play for that, surely it was our duty to stop it now. If the actors found that there was only a small audience, it would have a very bad effect upon them.

Mr. HERBERT told us that the newspapers last year, discussing the fact that ‘Westminster was not having its Play, said that it was exceedingly good taste.

The SECRETARY pointed out that it would be no more of a blow to us not to have the Play than it was to Eton and Harrow not to have their usual match at Lord’s.

Mr. OLIVER said that the only reason why the Eton and Harrow match did not take place at Lord’s was that Lord’s was not open.

Mr. SIMPSON suggested that now that we were more settled and in less of a panic we might have the Play again.

The SECRETARY disputed that we were settled and knew where we were.

The PRESIDENT said that we must certainly find out whether various influential Old Westminsters approved or not.

The motion was then put to the vote and carried by 14 votes to 7.

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Royston Cecil Gamage du Plessis Le Blond

Royston Le Blond was born in 1887 in Norbiton, Kingston Upon Thames. In the 1901 census he is recorded as being a scholar at the Abbey School, Brackley Road, Beckenham, Kent. He was clearly very academically able and joined Westminster as a King’s Scholar in 1901. He left the school for Trinity College with the Triplett Scholarship in 1906.

Le Blond made the most of his time at school, taking part in Football, Cricket and Athletics as well as debating, taking part in the school’s Scientific Society and performing in the Latin Play. He became particularly exercised on the topic of speed limits, which was debated by the school society in 1906, and gave a speech with which many present day motorists would sympathise!:

‘Police-traps were a shameful abuse of justice ; they were often inaccurate and so unfair, and did no good to anyone except the policemen themselves, who were rewarded for every victim they caught—a temptation to neglect their proper duties for this lucrative method of business—and to the municipal councils, who reaped an excellent harvest from the fines’

He went on to add that he hoped:

‘the new Government would soon adopt the moderate and sensible system in vogue in France, where the speed limit was eighteen and a-half miles per hour and was strictly enforced in towns only’

19150517_LeBlond,RC_1905_LatinPlay_Adelphi
Le Blond staring as Syrus in The Adelphi, 1905

It is perhaps unsurprising that given his love of argument he opted for law as a profession, and was admitted to Inner Temple in 1909. He joined the 12th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade as 2nd Lieutenant in September 1914 and by January 1915 had been promoted to temporary Captain. He died in Camp at Salisbury on 17th May following an operation. He was buried at the Brompton Cemetery, London and there is also a brass memorial plaque for him at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Orton Waterville, Peterborough. The inscription reads as follows:

IN GLORIAM DEI MAIOREM
ET IN MEMORIUM
ROYSTON CECIL GAMAGE DU PLESSIS LE BLOND
NATI AD XXVI KAL APR MDCCCLXXXVII MORTUI AD XVII MAI MCMXV
SCHOLARIS WESTMONASTERIENSIS
COLL SANCT TRIN APUD CANTAB PENSIONARII
ARTIUM BACCALAUREI
INTER ADVOCATOS TEMPLI INTERIOSIS ADMISSI
A PUERO POETARUM
ET ARTIUM ERUDITORIUM STUDIOSISSIMUS
INGENIO BONO ET AMABILI INDOLE
OMNIUM ANIMOS SIBI CONCILIAVIT
BELLO INGENTI
A BRITANNIS CONTRA GERMANOS SUSCEPTO
HIC STATIM SE PATRIAE
LAETUS LIBENSQUE OBTULIT
ET ECENTURIONE CITO FACTUS TRIBUNIS
12TH BATTALION THE RIFLE BRIGADE
MORTE NIMIS IMMATURA OBIIT
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William Blencowe Wells Durrant

William Blencowe Wells Durrant was the only son ofFrederick Chester Wells Durrant the Attorney-General of the Bahamas, West Indies. Durrant was clearly very academically gifted – he joined the school as a King’s Scholar in 1908 and obtained a Classical Scholarship at Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1913.

19150508_Durrant,WBW

He was less gifted on the football pitch – indeed his first appearance in the annual football match between the scholars and the Town Boys was rather disastrous. Playing in goal, he managed to allow the opposition to score five times! One of the goals was particularly unfortunate, initially hitting the post but then rebounding off Durrant (who had fallen down trying to save it) and landing straight into the net.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given his father’s occupation, Durrant particularly excelled in public speaking. He was a stalwart of the school debating society and spoke in a style described as ‘fluent but rambling’. He also appeared in the Latin Play two years running, playing female parts both times. A reviewer commented that ‘his movements were far too masculineand strenuous, and he wielded his fan with morevigour than grace.’

On the outbreak of war Durrant left Cambridge and took a commission in the Rifle Brigade. He was killed in action near Ypres on 8th May 1915.

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