Wednesday, June 29, 2011



Walter Raleigh (1861-1922), Some Thoughts on Examinations, from Laughter from a Cloud (London: Constable and Company Limited, 1923), pp. 119-121:
God gave Faculties, and the Devil sent Examiners.

We are as near to Heaven in the Fourth Class as in the First.

No one was ever injured by missing a First: all who deserve a First read for fun, and have their reward.

Tutors believe in Predestination: Examiners in Works.

The World was made in a week, and its Maker pronounced it good. At that time there were no Examiners.

A Fourth Class Honours degree is a degree with Honours. Examiners often forget this.

A Second Class Honours degree is a degree with Honours. Candidates often forget this.

The Oxford Final Schools and the Day of Judgement are two examinations, not one.

Doctor Johnson said that questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen. Doctor Johnson left Oxford without a degree.

Not all Firsts are geniuses.

There goes more to a First than hearsay.

The fastest runner lost the obstacle race.

No race was ever won except on the race-course.

A headache lost the battle of Waterloo.

Candidates write their opinions in manuscript books: Examiners on class lists. Both are often wrong.

The brilliant man who did not know, and the learned man who did not think, met in the Second Class and disliked each other. The poet sat in the Third and laughed.

Knowledge cries out for recognition: Wisdom that asks for recognition is Folly.

The nightingale got no prize at the poultry show.

No instrument smaller than the World is fit to measure men and women: Examinations measure Examinees.

When three Examiners differ, the odd man is the Holy Ghost.

When three Examiners agree, then is the time to study the psychology of middle-aged pedagogues.

The King who made all his subjects Dukes was an anarchist.

In Examinations those who do not wish to know ask questions of those who cannot tell.

The apprentice spent three years hammering at leather. Then said the shoemaker, "This shoe is badly cobbled." " Who talks of cobbling?" said the apprentice; " I am a man of genius."

If preferment and merit always went together, there would be no escape from the pit.

"Why do you condemn that man? " said the Philanthropist. "Because," said the Judge, "the jury and I think him guilty." "That is merely an opinion," said the Philanthropist, "as a matter of fact he is the best man I ever knew." " I daresay," said the Judge.

The Idealist took a giraffe to the cattle market. "An intelligent lot of farmers you have there," he said, when he came home; "my beast was the tallest in the place, and there was no bid for it."

Shakespeare did not write so much in all his life as is written in a single room during one week of examination. Yet some dotards deny progress.

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