Revd William Archibald Spooner was a most unusual man. Consider the following details:
He was Warden of New College, Oxford, for over 20 years (1903-24), and as such, the portrait of this little albino man hangs to this day in the college dining hall.
He was the first famous person to suffer from the habit of 'spoonerism' (duly named after him) in his speech: typically an articulatory bungle in which two sounds are pronounced in each other's place, usually with a humorous result, e.g. 'You have hissed all my mystery lectures' (instead of 'missed / history').
These slips, even in an eminent brain, were not confined to pronunciation. There is a story of Spooner seeing his old mother off on a train from Oxford station, where he absent-mindedly kissed the porter goodbye and gave his mother a shilling for having carried the luggage; on another occasion, just after the Great War, he allegedly spotted a familiar face among the people on an Oxford street and said, 'Ah, yes, now, Carruthers: remind me, was it you or your brother that died in the trenches?'.
On the other hand, Spooner was firmly convinced that all members of the College who fought and fell should be commemorated on the wall of the Chapel. A separate memorial was installed for three German New College men who 'having entered into our heritage, returned to fight for their own country'; and letters of strong objection were sent to The Times by critics of such a gesture.
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