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Places of Interest about Girvan
A Class of School Fellows


AS one gets up in life, it is interesting to recall the names of those who sat on the same benches with us at school, and trace their subsequent careers. We can look back on the scene as if it had been yesterday. We can summon up one by one the well-remembered faces of the class. We were all about the same age, and the same rank in life. Who could foretell the future of these lads?. Who could say which of them would pass away first? Who could declare which of them would succeed in life, and which would fail? We might attempt such prophecies among ourselves; but how widely different the actual results have proved from our anticipations!

As an ordinary specimen of what is happening in every country school, I have set down the names of thirty boys who, about the year 1844, might have been found forming the senior division in Girvan Parish School, then under the care of the Rev. Cathcart Kay, and have tried to trace their careers as accurately as I could.

Of these thirty, then, sixteen, or a little over the half, have now passed away from the earth. This of course is startling enough, and makes a big gap in the line to begin with; but when we consider that it is now about forty-eight years since we were assembled there, the wonder perhaps is not that there are so many dead, but that there are so many still alive.

The wandering propensity of the true Scotsman is well known, and our class did their best to display it. Of the thirty, only three found their life-work in Girvan, while fifteen scattered themselves over various parts of Scotland and England, eight went to Australia and New Zealand, three to America, and one to Africa. As to the occupations they chose, it is perhaps not a little creditable to our Class that nine of them contributed their services to the world in a literary way, of whom three were ministers, and six schoolmasters. I find, too, that six went into the legal and banking professions, nine became merchants, and three tradesmen; while this seaport town turned out only one sailor, this patriotic town furnished only one soldier, and this rich agricultural district produced only one solitary farmer.

On making inquiry as to how many of them may be considered to have prospered in the world—that is, bettered their position as compared with that of their parents—I find that twenty of them diet so; while ten of them (mostly through drink) did not. As to the interesting question of marriage, I am ashamed to say that only nineteen of them succeeded in getting wed, while the other eleven failed. As to Church connection, nineteen were members of the Established Church, eight of the Free Church, two of the United Presbyterian Church, and one Methodist. As to their political opinions, I have not data to warrant a correct conclusion; but I know enough to be sure that the two great principles of Order and Progress have both been efficiently represented.

Altogether, the results are at once curious and instructive. It is curious to find how that class of boys, who used to sit together at the same desks in our country town, scattered themselves over the wide world. It is instructive to notice how the crack scholars did not always succeed in the race of life as they did in the race for medals; some of the most conspicuous failures being among the prizemen. And it is surprising to see how some of those who had the best chances of rising fell the lowest; while others who had no worldly advantages at all pushed their way to respect and usefulness. Our old Teacher appeared to have an antipathy against certain who have since proved themselves worthy citizens in every way; while some of those whom he looked to as the hope of the school have done much to disgrace him. The only regret I have is, that none of us have hitherto risen to eminence of any sort; for it is a benefit to a town to have turned out at least one shining light, whom the young generation might look up to, and the people generally take a pride in. But the work of the world after all is carried on mainly by honesty and industry; and, when judged by that standard, perhaps our Thirty have contributed their own share to the good of mankind.

Although so scattered, our Class have still a centre of attraction in the old School we attended, the old Teacher who taught us, and the old Town that gave us birth. Shortly after our Teacher's death, we erected a handsome Monument over his grave, and subscribed for a Gold Medal, named after him, to be presented annually to the Dux of the whole school. These are, of course, small things compared with what we might have done; but they show at least that some of us have not been entirely unmindful of the benefits we received in the days of our youth.


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