Adieu to School

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Notwithstanding all their glory and splendour which fill the heart of the beholder with noble inspiration, the crimson rays of the setting sun are sorrow-laden, for the price of their bright glory is the solemn gloom of the approaching night.

The same observation may be transferred to the evening of my school-life, which though by this time it has reach its zenith of felicity has yet something in it of deep-seated sorrow, for it means departure. The comparison stops here, for while the lovely phenomenon is sure to reappear at the close of the next day, my departure from School-life is on the contrary once and complete!

Adieu for ever, for the best life! My power of articulation has completely failed me in the endeavour to express my emotions, while wringing you by the hand. The vast, boundless and mysterious domain, through which I have to fight my way independently, is I am fully aware, crossed longitudinally and latitudinally by unfathomable gorges and ravines to fall into which is hell upon earth. Yet I take my departure from this transitory sphere of life with tangled sorrow and animation, seeking consolation in the fullest expectation of realising dreams, attaining objects and performing duties in the future.

Farewell, Eton of Malaya! -but not forever. You are not a cold and lifeless building, but a kind and sympathetic mother, who breathes into the very soul of your children the spirit of true citizenship, of loyalty and of honour.

Farewell, beloved contemporaries! Our school jests will shortly meet with their premature termination. Alas! There will be no more joking whispers in class, or in dormitories after the extinction of light, nor laughter, shouts and physical activities oon the playground in the afternoon; nor rambles with no definite aim on the green in the cool evening air when the bright moon smiles like a white flower in the starlit vault of heaven, nor any excursion up or down the Perak River, or away into the interior of the country into the very heart of nature itself.

Oh, how I do envy you, future boys. The days before you are still long, and your opportunity to gain admission into the palace of invaluable treasures of modern arts and sciences, that are easily approachable through the various open avenues, can still be seized. A Labarotary has been specially constructed for you, a carpentry class, to train you in the utilisation of your physical powers in after life is open to you, and a Scientist will shortly arrive to illuminate your path and guide you in the exploration of the realms of Zoology and Botany. It rests with you whether you will soar up high into the lofty regions of clear knowledge, or sink in the slough of ignorance.

With what a heavy heart I take my departure from you, solemn sanctuary of wisdom, without my Alma Mater is a body without a soul! I can never tread your floor without being conscious of the surrounding atmosphere of sanctity. Nor am I unscrupulous or conscientious enough to disturb the peaceful slumbers of the great in their respective chambers, where tranquility and peace they enjoy in preference to the tumults of society. The debt I owe you solemn sanctuary, is beyond human calculation. under your guidance I have gained admission into the palace of truth; through your noble aid I have been capable of filling my mind able to convert the day of mental gloom into one of splendour and brilliancy.

Farewell, invaluable Encyclopedia Britannica! Most precious hoard of treasures, very embodiment of eternal truth. It is in you that I from time to time seek refuge from the troubles and anxieties of life, and it is to you again I owe a debt of gratitude, which I can never repay, for your extension in the limited boundaries of my knowledge, and for your assistance, freely given to me, in the exploration of the domain of mental activities.

Farewell, for the time being, father of the English Moralists! After hand study of your sweet ‘Prayers and meditation’ , ‘Lives’ and your Biography of your reverent worshipper, you moral precepts and noble saying have taken root in my mind, and the impression they have made and left is indelible.

Adieu, Darwin, Marco Polo and Kingsley, after our circumnavigation of the world, investigating and researches in distant lands and unfathomable oceans! And you, Herschell and Humbolt, by whose magical power I have been conveyed into the mysterious space beyond. And you Caesar and Xenophon whose campaigns I have witnessed with the greatest vividness, and with whom I have shared the sunshine and unclement weather of distant regions.

Wish me Godspeed! Plato and Socrates, Ruskin and Carlyle, Milton and Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly and Tennyson. Noble Gray! Our wanderings into the solitudes are now nearly over. I am to go into busy world where all are noise and follies. And you humorous Dickens, terse and weighty Bacon- I am to grieved at heart to say how much I love you, Noble Souls!

At last and greatest, you I thank, Sweet Swan of Avon, that you have made me free of your realm of gold. It will be pleasant to return after years, and revisit the old School, the dormitories, the masters, and perhaps young friends who will by then have reached positions of influence. My love will be undiminished as was Johnson’s for his old College.

Farewell!

Dato’ Abdullah Dahan (Undang of Rembau)
Pages 21-23, The Malay College Magazine, No. 1. Vol. 1. (December 1921)

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