Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/32

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ahead. Mr. W. Elliott, who first gave him his taste for history at the Pupil Teachers' College, fully discerned his rare promise. "He was," writes Mr. Elliot, "undoubtedly the brightest, keenest, and most versatile pupil I have ever taught, and his fine critical mind seemed to delight in overcoming difficulties. He was a most serious student, but he possessed a quiet vein of humour we much appreciated. We all looked with confidence to his attaining a position of eminence." This opinion was confirmed by the remarkable papers with which in June 1906 he won the Hulme Scholarship at our University, which he joined in the following October. This scholarship gives full liberty to the holder to take up any course he likes in the University, and Hovell chose to proceed to his degree in the Honours School of History. During the three years of his undergraduate course he did exceedingly good work. After winning in 1908 the Bradford Scholarship, the highest undergraduate distinction in history, he graduated in 1909 with an extremely good first class and a graduate scholarship. In 1910 he took the Teachers' Diploma as a step towards redeeming his pledge to the Government, which had contributed towards the cost of his education.

The serious work of life was now to begin. It was the time when the Workers' Education Association was first operating on a large scale in Lancashire, and he was at once swept up into the movement, being appointed in 1910 assistant lecturer in history at the University with special charge of W.E.A. classes at Colne, Ashton, and Leigh, to which others were subsequently added. He threw himself into this work with the greatest energy. He took the greatest pains in presenting his material in an acceptable form. His youthful appearance excited the suspicions of some among his elderly auditors. They used, Mr. Paton tells me, "to lay traps for him. He seemed to know so much, and they wanted to see if it was all 'got up for the occasion.' But he was a 'live wire.' He used to heckle me fine after education lectures at College." This early acquired skill in debate soon rode triumphant over the critics. He did not content himself simply with giving