Speeches are an integral part of the Eton calendar, dating back to at least the Seventeenth Century, in which boys in Sixth Form Select (the school’s academic prefects) recite famous poems, speeches, extracts or skits. Although speeches take place several times during this year, this Fourth of June virtual ‘speeches’ was a selection of some of the best performances throughout the year.
The first speech, by Lucas Jacobelli, involved a declamation of the poem White Horses by Rudyard Kipling, written in 1897. Trevor Chow then delivered Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 address from the University of Kansas, in which the presidential candidate spoke about starvation, race relations and possibility of a positive future for America. Complex issues were further explored by Francesco Volpin’s speech in which he read George Orwell’s first-hand account of poverty, describing the difficulties of living on only 6 francs a day. The theme then turned towards South-East Asia, as Aakash Gupta recited an extract from Mahatma Gandhi’s speech on the eve of the Salt March, in which he outlined his thesis of non-violent protest. The only foreign language speech was then given by Phillip Balkan who performed Book 9 of The Odyssey in Ancient Greek. The text describes the effects of eating the lotus flower on the Odyssey’s men.
Laughter and light-heartedness were on the menu from Gus Howland-Jackson and Robbie Owen, as they performed the famous Fry and Laurie skit A Word, Timothy. This comedy was countered by the following speech by Thane Brueschke who read from Book 9 of Milton’s Paradise Lost, which describes the fall of mankind. Dowon Jung then performed Karawane, a nonsensical poem of the Dada movement, before Gustav Conradie read from Bentham’s seminal work An introduction to the Principles and Morals of Legislation, which sets out the principles of utilitarianism. Virtual speeches ended with Shaw Worth’s recitation from The Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
I would like to personally thank all the boys involved in Fourth of June’s speeches, as well as the many beaks who made such an event, with such a variety of speeches, possible.