Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

As to the beef, it's shameful. It's not beef. Regular beef isn't veins. You can chew regular beef. Besides which, there's gravy to regular beef, and you never see a drop to ours. Another of our fellows went home ill, and heard the family doctor tell his father that he couldn't account for his complaint unless it was the beer. Of course it was the beer, and well it might be!

However, beef and Old Cheeseman are two different things. So is beer. It was Old Cheeseman I meant to tell about; not the manner in which our fellows get their constitutions destroyed for the sake of profit.

Why, look at the pie crust alone. There's no flakiness in it. It's solid-like damp lead. Then our fellows get nightmares, and are bolstered for calling out and waking other fellows. Who can wonder!

Old Cheeseman one night walked in his sleep, put his hat on over his nightcap, got hold of a fishing rod and a cricket at, and went down into the parlour, where they naturally thought from his appearance he was a Ghost. Why, he never would have done that if his meals had been wholesome. When we all begin to walk in our sleeps, I suppose they'll be sorry for it.

At Doctor Blimber's school they used “to crib the boys' dinners." There is no more outrageous practice than that of depriving a child of food as a means of punishment.

Dickens ended his sketch entitled A Walk in a Workhouse with a plea on behalf of the inmates for “ a little more liberty—and a little more bread," and even in his last book, Edwin Drood, he was still directing attention to the poor food supplied in boarding schools.

Mrs. Billickin was very plain in her hints about the poor board supplied to Rosa at Miss Twinkleton's when she received the schoolmistress in her own home. Referring to Rosa, who was now residing with Mrs. Billickin, she said:

“I did think it well to mention to my cook, which I 'ope you will agree with, Miss Twinkleton, was a right precaution, that the young lady being used to what we should consider here but poor diet, had better be brought forward by degrees. For a rush from scanty feeding to generous feeding, and from what you may call messing to what you

may call method, do require a power of constitution, which is not often found in youth, particularly when undermined by boarding school! I was put in youth to a very genteel boarding school, the mistress being no less a lady than yourself, of about your own age, or, it may be some years younger, and a poorness of blood flowed from the table which has run through my life.”.

CHAPTER XV.

MINOR SCHOOLS.

one

The schools of Squeers, Doctor Blimber, Mr. Creakle, Doctor Strong, and Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. M'Choakumchild are the most celebrated schools of Dickens, and they contain the greater part of his pedagogical teaching. His other schools are, however, worthy of very careful study.

One of the first of the Sketches by Boz described a man who had passed through many vicissitudes, and at length was reduced to such poverty that he applied to the parish board for charity. This led to his appointment as a schoolmaster. Dickens clearly intended to teach the lesson, afterward emphasized in Nicholas Nickleby and other books, that poverty should not establish a claim to the position of a school teacher.

Minerva Hall, also in Sketches by Boz, reveals “ of those public nuisances, a spoiled child," spoiled because his papa was too busy with public duties and his mamma with society duties to train him properly. It also shows the reason Mrs. Cornelius Brook Dingwall had for sending her daughter to school. She said:

One of my principal reasons for parting with my daughter is that she has lately acquired some sentimental ideas, which it is most desirable to eradicate from her young mind.” Here the public nuisance fell out of a chair, and mamma and papa showed their usual mode of training him. Mamma called him “ a naughty boy,” and threatened “ to send for James to take him away”—both name and threat being wrong. Papa merely excused the cherub on the ground of “his great flow of spirits.” The school also shows the silly training of so-called “finishing schools,"

as chiefly intended to teach young ladies the small conventionalities of “ society."

In The Old Curiosity Shop there are four schools: Mr. Marton's two schools, Mrs. Wackles's school, and Miss Monflathers's school. Mr. Marton's first school was introduced to reveal all the good qualities that Mr. Squeers lacked, especially sympathy. Mr. Marton was the immediate successor of Mr. Squeers, and they possessed directly opposite traits of character in their relationship to childhood. Mr. Squeers was coarse, unsympathetic, and coercive. Mr. Marton was kind, considerate, and a perfect type of true sympathy with the child. It is reasonable to believe that Mr. Marton and Mr. Squeers were drawn as companion pictures to illustrate and enforce the same truth-that sympathy with the child is the fundamental element in the character of a true teacher.

The old bachelor emphasized this when he said to Mr. Marton, “You are none the worse teacher for having learned humanity."

There is a great deal of food for psychological and pedagogical study in the introduction of the boys he was to teach in his second school, given by the bachelor to Mr. Marton. The bachelor was as full of genuine boyish spirit as it is possible for any adult to be, and was in some respects a more perfect type for an ideal teacher than Mr. Marton. Mr. Marton had the tender, spiritual sympathy of a true woman, the motherhood spirit that constitutes the atmosphere in which all right elements of childhood find their richest development; the bachelor had the perfect manly sympathy that enabled him to enter heartily into boy life. He had especially the power of recognising in the things for which boys are often rebuked the best evidences of their strength, and he could remember his own boyhood so well as to fully sympathize with the boys. Mr. Marton and the bachelor reveal the whole range of sympathetic possibilities.

When nothing more was left to be done he charged the boy to run off and bring his schoolmates to be marshalled before their new master and solemnly reviewed.

As good a set of fellows, Marton, as you'd wish to

see,” he said, turning to the schoolmaster when the boy was gone; “but I don't let 'em know I think so. That wouldn't do at all.”

The messenger soon returned at the head of a long row of urchins, great and small, who, being confronted by the bachelor at the house door, fell into various convulsions of politeness; clutching their hats and caps, squeezing them into the smallest possible dimensions, and making all manner of bows and scrapes, which the little old gentleman contemplated with excessive satisfaction, and expressed his approval of by a great many nods and smiles. Indeed, his approbation of the boys was by no means so scrupulously disguised as he had led the schoolmaster to suppose, inasmuch as it broke out in sundry loud whispers and confidential remarks which were perfectly audible to them every one.

* This first boy, schoolmaster,” said the bachelor, “is John Owen; a lad of good parts, sir, and frank, honest temper; but too thoughtless, too playful, too light-headed by far. That boy, my good sir, would break his neck with pleasure, and deprive his parents of their chief comfort, and between ourselves, when you come to see him at hare and hounds, taking the fence and ditch by the finger post, and sliding down the face of the little quarry, you'll never forget it. It's beautiful! "

John Owen having been thus rebuked, and being in perfect possession of the speech aside, the bachelor singled out another boy.

• Now look at that lad, sir,” said the bachelor. see that follow ? Richard Evans his name is, sir. An amazing boy to learn, blessed with a good memory and a ready understanding, and moreover with a good voice and ear for psalm singing, in which he is the best among us. Yet, sir, that boy will come to a bad end; he'll never die in his bed; he's always falling asleep in sermon time—and to tell you the truth, Mr. Marton, I always did the same at his age, and feel quite certain that it was natural to my constitution, and I couldn't help it."

This hopeful pupil edified by the above terrible reproval, the bachelor turned to another.

“But if we talk of examples to be shunned,” said he, “ if we come to boys that should be a warning and a beacon to all their fellows, here's the one, and I hope you won't spare him. This is the lad, sir; this one with the blue

“ You

« EdellinenJatka »