The Good and the Clever: Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth


If all the good people were clever,

And all clever people were good,

The world would be nicer than ever

We thought that it possibly could.

But somehow ’tis seldom or never

The two hit it off as they should,

The good are so harsh to the clever,

The clever, so rude to the good!

So friends, let it be our endeavour

To make each by each understood;

For few can be good, like the clever,

Or clever, so well as the good.

Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840-1932) was the great-niece of the poet William Wordsworth. She was the Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, from 1878-1909, when she founded St. Hugh’s Hall, a college for poor female undergraduates, in Norham Gardens, North Oxford. This was later established as St Hugh’s College, Oxford, which is today the largest college in Oxford University.

Elizabeth Wordsworth had a strong sense of the historical perspective in which her new foundation would take its place. Using money left to her by her father, a bishop of Lincoln, she named St. Hugh’s after both her father and St. Hugh of Avalon, who was canonized in 1220, and in whose diocese Oxford had been. Elizabeth Wordsworth was a champion of the cause of women’s education, and her foundation was intended to enable poorer women to gain an Oxford education.


About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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