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fostering-mother, but I cannot expect was the original transgressor, and that Turk, Jap or Russian to endorse mythe House-master acts in self-defence. own conviction that England is the The same gentleman who, fairly bubfinest country in the world.
bles over with indignation because bis You will do well to weigh the cir- boy is either "called up" in May, or cumstances of the case, Cornelia, and “postponed" till January, “when I've to take the advice of unprejudiced as got the confounded fellow's own letter well as reliable counsellors before you to say that he will take him in Sepdefinitely make up your mind as to tember," is careful to suppress the fact the destination of your fledgling, al- that two or three other "confounded ways keeping in mind the fact that fellows" have for four years past been whether for good or for evil, the plunge counting with more or less confidence into Public School life must in ninety- on Boy's presence in their respective nine cases out of a hundred be re- houses in this identical September. garded as final. It is not likely that How far the original interchange of Eton will accept Harrow's failures, or letters between House-master and Rugby readily open her doors to a boy Parent constitutes a legal contract, I who has been found wanting at Mari- do not pretend to say. But we Angloborough. You may quite possibly have Saxons are so jealous of our supposed bad your own way in the matter of the rights, and so ready to invoke the proPreparatory School, Cornelia, and re- tection of the Law Courts, that probmoved your boy from one to another, ably nothing but a guilty conscienceon the ground that the first school was or shall I call it a knowledge that bis either too large or too small, the cli- own house is made of glass ?-prevents mate too bracing or too relaxing, the Paterfamilias from assailing Housediscipline lax or severe. But your master, or, vice versa, House-master atexercise of the power of selection has tacking Paterfamilias with legal come to an end when Boy has once stones. entered the portals, be they gloomy or You might put it before your husbe they cheery, of his Public School. band, Cornelia, that, inasmuch as four True, you still have the old power of years hence he will have to make up his saying, “I shall take him away at the mind definitely one way or another, end of next term." But, pray, what it will be to his advantage--for doubtis to follow?
ing Thomas is never entirely happyIt is for this reason, perhaps, that to do so at once, and to enter Boy's Paterfamilias, more wise than strictly name for one house or one dormitory honest in his generation, has a play at one school. Just this much rope we ful habit of entering Boy's name for may concede bim, liberty to alter his years in advance at three or four Pub- determination if either scandal or grave lic Schools, reserving to himself, sub loss of reputation on the one hand, rosâ of course, the power of making or serious health considerations on the the fiual decision at the eleventh hour. other, can be cited to justify the
Per contra the House-master, equally change. Both he and you may take wise and not less honest in his genera- it for granted, Cornelia, that for Boy, tion, will commonly be found to have if he really means to work, the teachon his list the names of more boys ing power of every Public School, so than his house can possibly accommo- far as Classics and Mathematics go, is date. It is a clear case of diamond good enough for all practical purposes. cut diamond; but I am inclined to be- Accident or design may render the inlieve that my old friend Paterfamilias struction in a special subject better at one given School than at another, "and they cane bullies, and they aling but specialization is a matter to be puppies into the water." dealt with later on. I have purposely "Faith, then, there's some escapes left to the last a third ground which drowning,” says the Captain. may not only justify Paterfamilias in But I fear, Cornelia, that you must changing his mind, but should even not expect your own particular puppy, compel him to do so.
if he chance to be the worst of the It is to be hoped, Cornelia, that both new entry, to escape superannuation. you and your good man paid due at- .
Prendite præcipitem, post est occasio tention to the Preparatory School
calva. master's “Reports” of Boy's progress. I am not alluding to those silly little Grasp your nettle, then, and even at printed forms, which are seldom worth the eleventh hour, if you have not the paper on which the headings are done so before, ask the House-master, printed, but rather to the occasional telling him your reason, to strike his letter intended for your private in pen through Boy's name, and try to spection, wherein the Schoolmaster send the latter to some school where really unburdens his soul. Remember there is no hard-and-fast rule of supering always that no man really enjoys annuation. May I put it before you the task of "crabbing" Boy to his that it is to the interest of the Preparents, believe him if he lays stress paratory Schoolmaster to prophesy upon the fact that the little fellow is smooth things about Boy rather than very backward for his age. For you the reverse ? So-called liome-truths are will find that the House-master in the often unpalatable; but it is better to Public School will rather thank than listen to them now than to have them blame a parent who at the seventh, forced upon your convictions later on. ninth, or even eleventh hour asks him You will find it difficult perbaps thus to strike Boy's name off his list, where late in the day to find a vacancy for there are really strong grounds for Boy at a good house in another school: believing that the young gentleman a year hence, when having been will be superannuated at an early date. weighed in the balance at Eton shall In the crowded state of the more popu- I say, or at Winchester, he has been lar Public Schools, the survival of the pronounced wanting in capacity, the fittest is the natural order of the day, difficulty in making the change of and the House-master has little or no venue will be multiplied fourfold. option in the matter.
The revolt of an individual against
a system seldom leads to much Aut disce aut discede manet sors tertia practical result. But on the surface it cædi.
would seem that Paterfamilias, and
you too, Cornelia, have some ground The last alternative, if not exactly as for grumbling when you find that, by get a dead letter, is in these more en- passing the Entrance Examination into Lghtened days commonly reserved for a Public School, Boy, however irrethe vicious and idle rather than for the proachable his moral character, has incompetent. Even a Keate, though by no means established a permanent by a course of flogging he might stimu- claim for maintenance there. Some late brain-power, could not create it. schools insist upon the Entrance Ex
"Do they birch at College?" says amination at a period when Boy the Captain in "Esmond.”
is presumably at his best-i.e., in the "They birch fools,” says Harry, latter days of the term immediately
preceding that for which his name is This is the polite rendering of the entered; others defer the ordeal to a Schoolmaster's private opinion that time when the young gentleman is Boy is an idle little beast, and in some probably at his worst-i.e., on the ter- such formula the unwelcome news of mination of a long holiday. Under the incapacity may be conveyed to you. former conditions Boy, more especially The Schoolmaster, however, is not in"crammed” Boy, may to a certain ex- fallible, nor is his range of view extent be able to pass muster as a sharp- tensive. Now and again the supposed er fellow than he really is; but in the incapable has proved himself a better latter case his ultimate rejection after man than the teacher who has sat he has once satisfied the examiners is in judgment upon him. almost unaccountable. It would seem "Concentrating his attention” upon to be the possibility of initial rather what? Latin and Greek presumably. than of subsequent disaster, however, There have been great men before that prompts Paterfamilias to have now, Cornelia, who can hardly be pictwo or more strings to his bow, therein tured at any time of their existence as following the precedent of the sport concentrating their attention on any. ing prophet, who “picks the winner" thing half so lifeless as these two dead of a race by giving the names of the languages. two leading favorites and one or more “D-n your eyes, sir!" I once heard promising outsiders.
an ex-captain in the navy say to a Apart, however, from useless criti- man-a schoolmaster, by the way-who cisms of methods and vain specula- had ventured to smile at the old seations as to whys and wherefores, the dog's ignorance of a stock quotation; uncomfortable fact remains, Cornelia, "I was serving my country when things that ability to enter a Public School like you were grubbing away in your does not necessarily imply ability to Latin grammars." carry a Public School career to its One seems to picture Nelson the legitimate conclusion. Without ven- schoolboy dreaming of hunting the turing into statistics, it is safe to say French fleet from pillar to post when that a small percentage of boys are he ought by rights to have had his ateach year superannuated at several of tention concentrated upon the conjugaour great schools. Nor is the Prepara- tion of “amo,” ill-starred verb for him. tory Schoolmaster likely to sound a in the years to come. Unfortunately note of warning unless he is convinced for Boy of to-day he cannot, like Nel. in his heart of hearts that there are son, enter the Royal Navy "without breakers ahead. Mortifying as it must the formality of an examination." Un. be to you, Cornelia, to have to change fortunately, too, it is required by our your plans, doubly mortifying where Public Schools that Boy should conBoy's presumed incapacity is the rea- centrate his thoughts, to some extent son for the change, remember the fate at all events, on a dead language. Posof the king who, in defiance of the sibly there is room for yet one more prophet's warning, went up to battle Public School in England, a baven of at Ramoth-gilead.
refuge for the destitute, and yet not a But it does not necessarily follow paradise of fools to which "wasters” that you need either tear your hair and "slackers" might congregate. in despair or rush to the conclusion Rather should it be an institution that you are the mother of an idiot. where boys who show inability to
"He seems to lack the power of con- grapple with the classics might enjoy centrating his attention.”
the advantages of Public School dis
cipline, coupled with skilled instruction tively modern form of insanity among in those branches of technical educa- small boys, and by no means confined tion which the Public School of thirty to the active exponents of a game. years ago entirely ignored, and of When among adults so much fuss is which the Public School of to-day made and so much nonsense written merely scratches the surface. It is about the visits of the Australian futile work, however, to discuss an cricketers or the benefit matches of Utopia, and so let us hark back, Cor- popular professionals, the youthful nelia, to the arena of practical politics, mind is apt to take the infection in a and examine the possible reasons for serious form. Again, I am sorry for Boy's failure to concentrate his atten- you, Cornelia. For it is only here and tion on those subjects which the Public there that the cricket-journalist or the School of yesterday, to-day, and to- journalist-cricketer is a money-making morrow usually exacts of him. What individual, and the very few who do is it that is preoccupying Boy's mind succeed have a good deal beyond a to the exclusion of these subjects? If knowledge of statistics to recommend by any weird chance, Cornelia, your them. It may be an unfortunate fact precious child is the victim of a that in some Preparatory Schools overgormandizing mania, and, like the Fat much stress is laid on the importance Boy in Pickwick, indulges in dreams of successful game-playing. But is it of plump partridges and toothsome not also true that in many home-cirpies, then I fear that his case is hope- cles game-playing and game-players are less. Modern society offers no prizes the one and only topic of conversato a Gargantua, and unless Boy tion? chances to be by right of inheritance "Mind you learn to play with a a member of some rich City company, straight bat, and to let them alone on his dreams may never be fully realized. the off-side, my boy,” may have been I am afraid, my dear lady, that home. the last injunction laid upon Boy betraining was at fault, and that you fore he was packed off to school, must not attempt to shift the burden But let us give Boy credit for better of the responsibility for this malady things than these, Cornelia, and hope on to the shoulders of the Preparatory that neither the gormandizing mania School. Boy is better fed there than nor yet the game-playing fever is sapbe might have been at Dotheboys Hall, ping his intellectual powers. It is but he is certainly not encouraged to quite on the cards that he has allowed centre his attention on the pleasures of his attention to be overmuch occupied the table.
with dreams of better things than mere is be by any chance infected with animal enjoyment. He may be an obthe game-playing fever? Is his mind servant or even, on a small scale, an full of cricket averages and bowling experimental philosopher, or he may analyses, or of the weights and meas- be a budding naturalist. Tom Brown's tres of the rival teams in the football friend Martin was anything but a fool, League competition? Has he been even though he did use cribs for his spending hours of playtime, and of Latin translation and Vulgus for his school-time too when he has got the verses. Of his own subjects, if he did chance, in playing imaginary cricket- occasionally stink the passage out, he matches on paper, or football matches possibly knew more than any master on his school-desk, with paper pellets at Rugby could teach him. One of the for the ball and inkpots to represent most artistic boys that I ever met, who the goal-posts? This is a compara- could play the piano like an angel and
draw figures perhaps better than some may be in such outside subjects as members of the Royal Academy, had natural history and so forth, you may about as much idea of doing a copy be courting disaster if you persist in of Latin verses as he might have had your original intention of sending him of flying over the moon, probably less to Eton, to Winchester, where you are --for he had some turn for mechanics. distinctly told that "the course of study
Friar Bungey in the "Last of the is principally Classical," or, in short Barons," with his "Porkey Verbey,” to any Public School where there is his "hungerabo et perspirabo,” was no a hard-and-fast rule of superannuagreat Latinist, but a little knowledge tion. of Alchemy brought him to no small "But,” you may say, "we want him honor in the Court of Edward IV. to have a classical education, though
"Thick? what do you mean?" ex- he is so backward: we want to send claimed an Eton Master-a man who him to Oxford, and then into the looked beneath the surface, when Church.” speaking of a boy in his house who One year, my dear lady, at Eton or was anything but a Classical scholar, one year at Winchester will not do and, furthermore, spelt the King's much for him in the way of a classiEnglish after a method only “to be cal education, and you most certainly understanded" of himself; "I call him cannot send him to Oxford until he has one of the cleverest fellows in my arrived at years of comparative discrehouse."
tion and knows something more than Subsequent events proved that the a smattering of Latin and Greek. master was right, though the boy's Heaven forbid that at fifteen, a most cleverness lay in quite different lines susceptible age, he should be deprived from those that commonly pass muster of the salutary discipline of the Public at Eton, and it was an open question School, and be packed off to one of at one time whether he would escape those excellent and well-meaning gensuperannuation. For in the Third and tlemen who advertise their ability to Fourth forms of our greatest Public deal with backward boys and refractory Schools cleverness in matters extrane- pupils. My Utopian Public School is ous to the teaching of the Pupil Room unfortunately as yet in Utopia. There is apt to pass unnoticed. In the Pub are, nevertheless, in our own country lic Schools' Year Book, a fairly relia- several excellent Public Schools where, ble guide, it may be read that at Eton even though the course of study is as for Block F-the lowest Block—26 at Winchester principally classical, hours in school per week are thus Boy, provided that he be not really divided: Classics 17, Mathematics 4, idle or vicious, may finish the natural French 5; also that “In order to rise course of his school-life. The classical from one Block to another, a Boy will teaching at every Public School in Eng. be required to pass in Latin Prose, land is pretty good: of course, there are Grammar, and Mathematics severally, degrees of excellence, and in some it as well as in the Classical and General will be better than in others, but it is Totals"; finally, that "No Oppidan shall good enough everywhere for Boy's remain in the School who has not been modest requirements. While it is imadmitted to the Fourth Form before possible to guarantee that Boy will in the completion of his 14th year.” due course become that which is re
I trust that I have made it clear to quired for him, a university candidate you, Cornelia, that if his Classics be for ordination, a little forethought will really very bad, however clever Boy ensure for you the satisfaction of feel.