James Taylor

AN APPRECIATION BY A FORMER PUPIL

Dollar Institution and everyone connected with it have sustained an overwhelming loss in the death of its good old master, Mr Taylor. Former pupils, situated in all corners of the earth, regret deeply the loss of one who was ever a main factor in making their school life happier than it might have been otherwise. He had a way of making a friend in the briefest space of time, being one of the happy, good-natured, and kind-hearted type of men with whom people in all stations of life could get on. He was a great favourite with all with whom he came in contact, both in the scholastic and social life. Those who had the pleasure of helping him in any way would be sure to receive a double return for any kindness shown him. Though a giant among men, and this applies to stature as well as personality, he was as gentle as the proverbial lamb. Who, on meeting him, could resist that bright smile of greeting, or his merry remark of recognition?

I had good reason to feel grateful to him for the many services he rendered me, nay, the whole of his boarders. We always got on well together as master to boarder. He never failed to look after our interests in his good old happy fashion. As is naturally the case when the heart is young and the serious thought is lacking, we sometimes incurred his displeasure by our thoughtless mischief and breaking of the rules to the detriment of the household. In the morning (the adopted time of reckoning), when we reaped the well-merited rewards of our misconduct, he failed not to weigh our sins in the balance, and ever tried his hardest to acquit us without a stain on our respective characters; and, more important, without a pain on our respective hands. No, Mr Taylor never liked to punish one. He seemed as much put about at the idea as we did ourselves. If we did happen to get chastised, we, school-boy fashion, sometimes cherished the opinion (to ourselves, of course) that Mr Taylor had been exceedingly hard on us. This feeling, however, lasted about as long as the pain, and then Mr Taylor was the best master on earth. We often felt that we had got off too lightly.

I remember one morning - the morning before a dance - we were managing rather too well to break that rule which pertained to the making of noise in the house, when Mr Taylor, hearing the terrible medley of noises, naturally came to investigate its cause. "Who's making all the noise?" he said, with assumed sternness. The answer came back in tremulous accents, P-p-lease, Mr T-t-aylor, we were only p-p-ractising for the dance tonight." The good old man turned to hide a smile (which was playing havoc with his look of anger), and retired after notifying us all of the seemingly unknown fact that the dormitory is scarcely the proper place to practise dancing in, more especially when that bedroom happens to be situated on the top floor. Nobody deserved punishment more than we did at that time, but he treated the incident in truly lenient fashion.

Mr Taylor was full of life and humour. He would crack jokes with everybody, and would invariably have his audience in good humour as a result. He had a way of emphasising some remark with a humorous anecdote illustrating the force of it. Many of his honoured and time-worn class-room jokes will remain endeared and closely reminiscent of his happy personality to the bulk of Magazine readers.

In school no one was held in more esteem than Mr Taylor. Who can forget that awful stick - something like a small pine tree - with which he was wont to strike terror into the heart of the dilatory, as he stood at the "Math." class room door? Then was all remember his metre stick, with which he used to emphasise his black-board work (in more ways than one). But woe to the wretched fellow caught carving his initials on the desk or elsewhere. I had experience of the terrible risk the amateur wood-carver ran while amusing himself at this form of destructive work. Oh, yes, Mr Taylor was a strict disciplinarian, and lacking of too disagreeable a character generally met with a severe check.

I well remember when Mr Taylor taught chemistry in the old laboratory. How we looked forward to that period of wonderful experiments. At the time of which I write the junior classes were taught the rudiments of chemistry by means of experiments demonstrated by Mr Taylor. The gymnastics did not receive the distinction of being our most interesting period at that time, I can tell you. After all, it was Mr Taylor's personality which kept us so interested and bright all the time.

When I think of my benefactor's public and social life I cannot repress the idea that he always took a foremost place in the affairs of the community. At one time no one could have been more keen on the welfare of the School athletics than he. In the capacity of Secretary and Treasurer to the School Athletic Club, he gained the esteem of all the members for the able way in which he discharged his duties for many years. He travelled with the football and cricket teams, and rejoiced in their victories, or sympathised with them in their defeats.

Mr Taylor was a sportsman all the time, and we always had every facility for sport up at Rosemount. He rented a field, wherein we could play cricket or football, and in this respect, as in others, he looked after our interests to the letter. He was always pleased to hear of our successes on the field of sport, and encouraged us to do our utmost for the good of our School in this branch of the curriculum.

I am certain that he will be greatly missed in the burgh. He acted as Secretary to the Primrose League for many years, and lately, on the League being disbanded, he was made the recipient of a handsome recognition of his untiring services to that body during its existence. In various official capacities to other public bodies, he earned the esteem of the community.

Though Mr Taylor has gone from us his memory will never do so. The good deeds which he did during life will live in the minds of those who could claim any connection with a man who never had an enemy, and against whom no one ever said a harsh word.

This is the second part of the article Mr Taylor which appeared in The Dollar Magazine IX (33) (March 1910), 1-3.