Eton and Harrow

In 1980 I was in Form 3 (approx Year 8, aged 12) at Natabua school in Lautoka, Fiji. In an English lesson we were told about an exchange of letters between Eton and Harrow. Even though I am a native English speaker, I did not get the joke. I recently did a search for what I remembered on the internet, but the only link I got was a bad scan of a newspaper. From that I found a link to many scanned newspapers. I was able to extract the exchange from multiple newspapers (e.g. Eastern State Journal, Saturday, 16 November, 1912) and try to present a clean version. Here is the clean version:

Eton and Harrow.

One of the Eton and Harrow school cricket matches recalls an amusing incident. Eton had a monotonous series of wins for some years, and one day the Harrow captain received the following:

O ye boys of Harrow school. Of cricket ye have no knowledge! It is not cricket, but the fool. You play against Eton college.

The Harrow school poet was hunted out and commanded to send a fitting reply. This clever response made him famous:

If, as you say, we play the fool. No wonder we were beaten. For at that game no other school Could e'er compete with Eton.

For those who don't get the joke, here it is. The Harrow school poet has literally interpreted the Eton message as saying "you were playing the fool". So when he says "that game", he means "the fool" instead of "cricket". So in a game of "the fool" between Eton and Harrow, Eton won. ie Eton won the competition of "who is the true fool". I hope you can understand the explanation. :-)

And apologies for diverging from war for a moment. :-)


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?