« PreviousContinue »
him in his own image, dignified him with a noble port, and stamped upon him the high mark of genius, of intellect, and of distinguished pre-eminence?-But I grow warm, my heart-strings are torn asunder, and I am no more; if my own case is hopeless, at least you may be the cause of some reformation in an evil which is a stain and an insult on the majesty of the human mind.
“ Yours, &c.
I shou'ld, on no account, omit to mention that my worthy
preceptor laid it down as a maxim, that no boy could learn well, unless he was always kept hungry. And this doctrine he so accurately and unceasingly carried into practice, that I solemnly declare, I never had half enough food to satisfy my hunger, during the whole of my stay under his roof, ex
cepting when, at the peril of a severe castigation, I sneaked out into the town to purchase bread and butter ; or when, if I had no money, which was often the
I trived to steal, which I could very seldom do on account of the master's vigilance, some provision out of the pantry: an attempt replete with danger; for the severest punishments were annexed to passing over a certain gutter, far beyond which gutter was situate the pantry, which we were to invade, often without success, because it was locked, or some one was nigh, or there was no food in it, or some unlucky impediment or other prevented the execution of our intended depredation. To say this man was well fed and lowly taught, would be to speak very favourably of his trencher exploits, and very tenderly of his dullness and want of erudition. His various ways and means to raise money prove that he, at least, understood the advice of a certain .Roman, rem facies, rem, si possis, recte, si non, quocunque modo, rem.' He might well laugh, and say with his brother Autolycas, Ha, ha! what a fool Honesty is ! and Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman. But this is a bright view, indeed, of the picture, in comparison of his savage cruelty; for, not to mention his dragging little children along by the hair of the heads, and caning and flogging them without mercy, it is well known that a young gentleman, now residing in the eastern part of England, can shew the scar, remaining from a scalping which he underwent from the hands of this tyrant. The fact was this, the young gentleman, by some inadvertency, let his book slip out of his hands, and fall on the floor; his amiable preceptor immediately seized him, with his whole hand, dividing and extending his fingers, a mode of torture which he was very apt to inflict on us, as I have too frequently experienced in my own person, by the hair growing on his forehead, and absolutely tore away the scalp to a great extent; the young gentleman languished a considerable time under .the surgeon's care, and at length recovered.
A family, I believe, now residing in Eng· land, can bear witness to the loss of a son .by the barbarity of this man. The transaction was this; the young gentleman in ques.. tion, then about seventeen years of age, had transgressed by going beyond the very narrow limits assigned to the boys for a playground. On his return the master ordered him into the school, and, after much abusive language and vulgar epithets bestowed on him, struck, with a very large club, the unresisting youth, on the side. He fell, apparently lifeless; but even in that state of insensibility, the savage barbarian determined to have recourse to his favourite exercise and amusement; accordingly he flagellated with great vehemence the young gentleman, although it was impossible in his situation, so sunk were his vital powers, that he could feel any immediate effects from the lashing. The unhappy sufferer' was lifted off from the scene of action, and carried to bed, whence, in somewhat less than a fortnight, he was borne a corpse to the house appointed for all living: And yet this man has been allowed to amass an enormous fortune, in consequence of the amazing number of children committed to his care. 'And why has he attained such celebrity? Because, forsooth, he takes care of the boys' linen, whips them if they be on the ground, that they might not catch an ague, makes them hold up their head, and turn out their toes, and keeps them on a spare diet. From the guardianship and protection of this man I was transferred to the college, where, after hearing some Latin jargon mumbled over me, I was arrayed in a long-sleeved waistcoat, black gown, and devoutly streaming band : and an especial figure I cut; for, in addition to being naturally short, I had been stopped in my growth by the starvation system adopted in the school, and had gained not quite half an inch in height in three half years. A new world was open to my view; here I saw barbarity in a different forin, blended with a degree of honour and generosity, romantic, unsteady, capricious, chimerical. In the school I beheld nothing but petty cunning, slyness, meanness, cowardice, and abject fear, together with demure looks, formal manners, prim, sober conversation, no vehemence of expression under pain of being scourged, no avowed lie, but conceal