steepholm: (Default)
Those of you who read extracts from my great-grandfather's memoir of his schooldays on this Livejournal, may be interested to know that I've now transcribed the whole book and published it through Lulu.com. The complete memoir is rather more than twice the length of the extracts I've already made available, and comes with notes and an introduction by me, and a handsome cover in full colour!

At £5.59 (or £3.99 for digital download), how can you resist?

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
steepholm: (Default)
Those of you who read extracts from my great-grandfather's memoir of his schooldays on this Livejournal, may be interested to know that I've now transcribed the whole book and published it through Lulu.com. The complete memoir is rather more than twice the length of the extracts I've already made available, and comes with notes and an introduction by me, and a handsome cover in full colour!

At £5.59 (or £3.99 for digital download), how can you resist?

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Puncat Day

May. 2nd, 2011 01:41 pm
steepholm: (Default)
According to my great-grandfather's memoir of his time at Christ's Hospital - soon to be available in its full form on Lulu.com - 2nd May is Puncat Day, when it is permitted to tell tales on other people without reproach.

If anyone gives you grief, tell them it's traditional.

Puncat Day

May. 2nd, 2011 01:41 pm
steepholm: (Default)
According to my great-grandfather's memoir of his time at Christ's Hospital - soon to be available in its full form on Lulu.com - 2nd May is Puncat Day, when it is permitted to tell tales on other people without reproach.

If anyone gives you grief, tell them it's traditional.
steepholm: (Default)
Time passed slowly, or seemed to do so. The year 1857, in which, according to Dr. Cumming's prophecy, the world was in all probability to come to an end, came and passed.* Nothing special happened. I was thinking about the prophecy when I was in the Cloister before the Hall door, having the Bluecoat School Cap on my head. Mr Brooks inspected us the certify that the cap was used. Two events happened in the years about this time. One was an eclipse of the sun which was invisible to us and disappointing, for a holiday was given to us and we all wasted our time waiting to see it, and spent a penny at Mr Fletcher's shop on a piece of red glass through which to behold it. The other event was the passage through the sky of a large comet with an immense tail, I think in the year 1861.** In this year I became of the 10th of June 15 years of age, which was the date for me to leave Christ's Hospital.

I left the Ancient and Royal Foundation four days before my time for no reason excepting that my Father at my request asked permission, and my desire was granted.

After leaving the School I went to other Schools, had private tutors, and, inspired by a book, "The Student's Guide", studied fervently many subjects.*** By this time, very fortunately for me, the oculist-profession had invented spectacles to suit my sight, and for a short time I went to a Bank. I kept up acquaintance with my Old Blue friends for a time. I saw Green at Boston where he was a Bank Clerk. Jeffery visited me in South Kensington at my Father's house. Sanders called upon me at my College, Highbury, where for three years I was trained in Holy Orders.**** I met him again at Bethnal Green. Afterwards my duties as a clergyman took me to various parts of the country, and in the long time that followed I gradually lost my knowledge of these Bluecoat boys altogether.

It is suggested by a friend that I should make a comparison between Christ's Hospital in my time and Christ's Hospital in the present days, but this I cannot do, as I cannot undertake to re-enter the world and school again in order to have experience of the present. Everything everywhere, I am told, has improved, and therefore at Christ's Hospital. I am quite ready to believe this, if told so by another for it is what I earnestly wish, but general hearsay I cannot state as a matter of my own knowledge. I asked for an instance of improvement, and was told that now Christ's Hospital boys are allowed to wear towny clothes in the Holidays. But I cannot decide that this is an improvement. Does the Christ's Hospital boy of the present generation dislike his dress? It is comfortable. We, Christ's Hospital scholars of the old time, had no objection to the humour of the City Arabs who called after us; it simply amused us. Do the girls of today want to dress like boys? If they do, would the change be an improvement? I must leave these questions for the present generation to decide. A more important question is:- is brutality and selfishness in the world giving place to gentleness and lovingkindness? In spite of exceptions I am glad to think that on the whole there is a gradual improvement which will continue to take place in the great mass of our British nation and those nations which have sprung from her, and that eventually it will be a model for imitation by the rest of the world.


END OF CHRIST'S HOSPITAL, LONDON.




* According to Wikipedia, Dr. John Cumming (1807-81) was less precise, predicting the Final Judgement for somewhere between 1848 and 1867. Either way, he lived to see his ideas disproved.
** Presumably the Great Comet Tebbut.
*** The Student's Guide, designed by Specific directions to aid in forming and strengthening the intellectual and moral character and habits of the student, by the Rev. John Todd with all the Latin quotations translated (1839). Later, abridged versions were published under the title Self-Improvement.
**** Highbury College only became a C of E theological college in 1866, so TRB's education and other work must have taken at least 5 years.


Christ's Hospital



So, there we are. I'm quite sad to have come to the end of TRB's account. But I've only transcribed about half of it, in fact. I plan to finish the job as and when I have a spare moment, and to publish it using Lulu or something similar in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space!
steepholm: (Default)
Time passed slowly, or seemed to do so. The year 1857, in which, according to Dr. Cumming's prophecy, the world was in all probability to come to an end, came and passed.* Nothing special happened. I was thinking about the prophecy when I was in the Cloister before the Hall door, having the Bluecoat School Cap on my head. Mr Brooks inspected us the certify that the cap was used. Two events happened in the years about this time. One was an eclipse of the sun which was invisible to us and disappointing, for a holiday was given to us and we all wasted our time waiting to see it, and spent a penny at Mr Fletcher's shop on a piece of red glass through which to behold it. The other event was the passage through the sky of a large comet with an immense tail, I think in the year 1861.** In this year I became of the 10th of June 15 years of age, which was the date for me to leave Christ's Hospital.

I left the Ancient and Royal Foundation four days before my time for no reason excepting that my Father at my request asked permission, and my desire was granted.

After leaving the School I went to other Schools, had private tutors, and, inspired by a book, "The Student's Guide", studied fervently many subjects.*** By this time, very fortunately for me, the oculist-profession had invented spectacles to suit my sight, and for a short time I went to a Bank. I kept up acquaintance with my Old Blue friends for a time. I saw Green at Boston where he was a Bank Clerk. Jeffery visited me in South Kensington at my Father's house. Sanders called upon me at my College, Highbury, where for three years I was trained in Holy Orders.**** I met him again at Bethnal Green. Afterwards my duties as a clergyman took me to various parts of the country, and in the long time that followed I gradually lost my knowledge of these Bluecoat boys altogether.

It is suggested by a friend that I should make a comparison between Christ's Hospital in my time and Christ's Hospital in the present days, but this I cannot do, as I cannot undertake to re-enter the world and school again in order to have experience of the present. Everything everywhere, I am told, has improved, and therefore at Christ's Hospital. I am quite ready to believe this, if told so by another for it is what I earnestly wish, but general hearsay I cannot state as a matter of my own knowledge. I asked for an instance of improvement, and was told that now Christ's Hospital boys are allowed to wear towny clothes in the Holidays. But I cannot decide that this is an improvement. Does the Christ's Hospital boy of the present generation dislike his dress? It is comfortable. We, Christ's Hospital scholars of the old time, had no objection to the humour of the City Arabs who called after us; it simply amused us. Do the girls of today want to dress like boys? If they do, would the change be an improvement? I must leave these questions for the present generation to decide. A more important question is:- is brutality and selfishness in the world giving place to gentleness and lovingkindness? In spite of exceptions I am glad to think that on the whole there is a gradual improvement which will continue to take place in the great mass of our British nation and those nations which have sprung from her, and that eventually it will be a model for imitation by the rest of the world.


END OF CHRIST'S HOSPITAL, LONDON.




* According to Wikipedia, Dr. John Cumming (1807-81) was less precise, predicting the Final Judgement for somewhere between 1848 and 1867. Either way, he lived to see his ideas disproved.
** Presumably the Great Comet Tebbut.
*** The Student's Guide, designed by Specific directions to aid in forming and strengthening the intellectual and moral character and habits of the student, by the Rev. John Todd with all the Latin quotations translated (1839). Later, abridged versions were published under the title Self-Improvement.
**** Highbury College only became a C of E theological college in 1866, so TRB's education and other work must have taken at least 5 years.


Christ's Hospital



So, there we are. I'm quite sad to have come to the end of TRB's account. But I've only transcribed about half of it, in fact. I plan to finish the job as and when I have a spare moment, and to publish it using Lulu or something similar in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space!
steepholm: (Default)
One a month at Christ's Hospital there was a Leave Day, that is, a day on which the scholars might go outside the walls of the Foundation for the whole day to see their relations and friends, or do what they liked. There was a time in the evening fixed for their return. A quarter of an hour's grace was allowed, but if a boy came back five minutes after this grace, he was entered by the Beadles at the Gate as twenty minutes late, and much time was deducted from his next Leaveday.

The Reader may ask, Did the Ancient, Worshipful and Royal Foundation provide any treat for its scholars. Yes, on one of the days after Easter we were all marched to the Mansion House with a paper pinned on our coat with the words "He is risen" and received from the Lord Mayor the gift of a new shilling, two buns and a glass of either port or sherry wine.

There was a provision for a bath once or twice in the summer outside Christ's Hospital at the Peerless Pool.* The water there was very cold, and we dreaded it when we passed through the entrance called "Funk Alley".

Christ's Hospital boys liked to pay diligent attention to their appearance. They kept the coat well brushed, the bands clean and firm as the starch had made them, pressed them between the leaves of a book, cleaned and polished the girdle, and rubbed the silver buckle with whiting. In London a broad girdle, indented with stars, and clasped by a silver buckle was seen not only on the Grecians and monitors but on most of the elder scholars. Before play they buttoned the coat over the bands and wore an old thin girdle (putting the respectable girdle away) and tucked into the old thin girdle the coat-skirt. This, in Bible language, would be girding up one's loins. After play, the white bands and bright red girdle and silver buckle reappeared. Then with well-brushed boots, coloured kid gloves and a beautiful white handkerchief showing from the pocket they looked on a holiday little swells. In the old-fashioned Victorian days, it was very important that a gentleman should not go out of a house into the gaze of the public without kid gloves, and as it was wrong to shake hands with a gloved hand, and one might meet a friend, it was well to carry the right-hand glove in the left hand so as not to keep him waiting for a handshake. The neat appearance of the Blue-Coat boy, and the glow of his face did not show, as some outsiders imagine, that he had plenty of food, was not hungry, and enjoyed good health. The boys soon spent the few pence they received from home, and if anyone gave them a tip, they never felt it to be infra dig to receive it. On the contrary, they were grateful to the donor, generally an Old Blue, and loved him for his kindness. When I was on my way to my home in South Kensington, I asked a gentleman the time of day. He gave me a shilling, and told me that he had been a Bluecoat boy. On another Leave Day at the Zoological Gardens with two other Blues, one of them an elder brother, an Old Blue gave us sixpence each. We were, however, unfortunate. We, all three, bought the same kind of meat pie which was unpalatable. We got rid of our pies by feeding a wild pig, saying to it, "Eat your poor brother."

On another Leave Day my brother and I went to the Crystal Palace. The Nurse of our Ward XV happened to go there too. We heard her say to a Bluecoat boy of the Ward. "Why! Is it you, M.? How you've grown! I hardly knew you. You have grown!" This puzzled us. It seemed strange that a boy should grow very much in so short a time, for the nurse had seen all of us that same day in the morning. We talked the matter over and came to the conclusion that she must have suddenly thought just for the moment that it was the holidays not a Leave Day.

Another place of amusement was the Tower. The boys C.H. could enter gratis. The charge to the public for entrance was a shilling. We took little interest in it, and I put off my visit to the last day possible for me to enjoy my privilege. I thought it a "mouldy" place.

I often spent part of my Leave Day in the Lambeth Baths. The water was pleasantly tepid, and in the midst of the swimming bath there was a fountain of delicious warm water. There we could take a rest when tired and prepare for another swim. Sanders, after a dive, could move like a fish close to the bottom a considerable part of the length of the Bath.

This place so delighted me that nine nights running I dreamt I was swimming.


* The Peerless Pool was London's first outdoor swimming pool. Originally it was called the "Perilous Pond", on account of so many people drowning there... According to this site it closed in 1850 and was built over, but that can't be quite right, since TRB only began to attend the London school in 1853. Also dubious, given the reference to Funk Alley, are the observations of William Hone in 1826: "Every fine Thursday and Saturday afternoon in the summer columns of Bluecoat boys, more than a score in each, headed by their respective beadles, arrive and some half strip themselves 'ere they reach their destination. The rapid plunges they make into the Pool and their hilarity in the bath testify their enjoyment of the tepid fluid."
steepholm: (Default)
One a month at Christ's Hospital there was a Leave Day, that is, a day on which the scholars might go outside the walls of the Foundation for the whole day to see their relations and friends, or do what they liked. There was a time in the evening fixed for their return. A quarter of an hour's grace was allowed, but if a boy came back five minutes after this grace, he was entered by the Beadles at the Gate as twenty minutes late, and much time was deducted from his next Leaveday.

The Reader may ask, Did the Ancient, Worshipful and Royal Foundation provide any treat for its scholars. Yes, on one of the days after Easter we were all marched to the Mansion House with a paper pinned on our coat with the words "He is risen" and received from the Lord Mayor the gift of a new shilling, two buns and a glass of either port or sherry wine.

There was a provision for a bath once or twice in the summer outside Christ's Hospital at the Peerless Pool.* The water there was very cold, and we dreaded it when we passed through the entrance called "Funk Alley".

Christ's Hospital boys liked to pay diligent attention to their appearance. They kept the coat well brushed, the bands clean and firm as the starch had made them, pressed them between the leaves of a book, cleaned and polished the girdle, and rubbed the silver buckle with whiting. In London a broad girdle, indented with stars, and clasped by a silver buckle was seen not only on the Grecians and monitors but on most of the elder scholars. Before play they buttoned the coat over the bands and wore an old thin girdle (putting the respectable girdle away) and tucked into the old thin girdle the coat-skirt. This, in Bible language, would be girding up one's loins. After play, the white bands and bright red girdle and silver buckle reappeared. Then with well-brushed boots, coloured kid gloves and a beautiful white handkerchief showing from the pocket they looked on a holiday little swells. In the old-fashioned Victorian days, it was very important that a gentleman should not go out of a house into the gaze of the public without kid gloves, and as it was wrong to shake hands with a gloved hand, and one might meet a friend, it was well to carry the right-hand glove in the left hand so as not to keep him waiting for a handshake. The neat appearance of the Blue-Coat boy, and the glow of his face did not show, as some outsiders imagine, that he had plenty of food, was not hungry, and enjoyed good health. The boys soon spent the few pence they received from home, and if anyone gave them a tip, they never felt it to be infra dig to receive it. On the contrary, they were grateful to the donor, generally an Old Blue, and loved him for his kindness. When I was on my way to my home in South Kensington, I asked a gentleman the time of day. He gave me a shilling, and told me that he had been a Bluecoat boy. On another Leave Day at the Zoological Gardens with two other Blues, one of them an elder brother, an Old Blue gave us sixpence each. We were, however, unfortunate. We, all three, bought the same kind of meat pie which was unpalatable. We got rid of our pies by feeding a wild pig, saying to it, "Eat your poor brother."

On another Leave Day my brother and I went to the Crystal Palace. The Nurse of our Ward XV happened to go there too. We heard her say to a Bluecoat boy of the Ward. "Why! Is it you, M.? How you've grown! I hardly knew you. You have grown!" This puzzled us. It seemed strange that a boy should grow very much in so short a time, for the nurse had seen all of us that same day in the morning. We talked the matter over and came to the conclusion that she must have suddenly thought just for the moment that it was the holidays not a Leave Day.

Another place of amusement was the Tower. The boys C.H. could enter gratis. The charge to the public for entrance was a shilling. We took little interest in it, and I put off my visit to the last day possible for me to enjoy my privilege. I thought it a "mouldy" place.

I often spent part of my Leave Day in the Lambeth Baths. The water was pleasantly tepid, and in the midst of the swimming bath there was a fountain of delicious warm water. There we could take a rest when tired and prepare for another swim. Sanders, after a dive, could move like a fish close to the bottom a considerable part of the length of the Bath.

This place so delighted me that nine nights running I dreamt I was swimming.


* The Peerless Pool was London's first outdoor swimming pool. Originally it was called the "Perilous Pond", on account of so many people drowning there... According to this site it closed in 1850 and was built over, but that can't be quite right, since TRB only began to attend the London school in 1853. Also dubious, given the reference to Funk Alley, are the observations of William Hone in 1826: "Every fine Thursday and Saturday afternoon in the summer columns of Bluecoat boys, more than a score in each, headed by their respective beadles, arrive and some half strip themselves 'ere they reach their destination. The rapid plunges they make into the Pool and their hilarity in the bath testify their enjoyment of the tepid fluid."
steepholm: (Default)
A weekly change from the inside walls was the Sunday Divine Service at the Church, and the Foundation provided every boy with a Bible and Prayer Book bound together. The Church adjoined the School. There was something dubious about this gratification. Everything in the service was conducted in a tedious manner. We knelt on hard wooden benches without any support before or behind, which was painful to the kiddies, especially during the Litany. I never fainted, but the fear that I should faint made me nervous and sometimes lads did faint owing to the severity. There was a Deputy Grecian Monitor, D., sitting in the Church in front of Ward XV, who used to say, "Kneel up" to any lad who showed a sign of fatigue. He told us that he was a High Churchman, and that those who showed signs of fatigue were like Dissenters. "Dissenters" he explained, "are fat persons who do not kneel at prayer." But this foolish youth forgot to observe that he himself did not kneel at all, but sat comfortably in Church in a seat with a back to it. The name of the Incumbent of the Church was the Rev. Michael Gibbs. He was a great authority on the subject of Queen Anne's Bounty. When I had ceased to be a Blue Coat boy, and had become a clergyman I heard him give a lecture at a Ruri-decanal meeting on this subject. Several of his hearers were clergymen of great learning, but after he had spoken, no one ventured to say a word or ask a question. ...

We went to Church also on other days in the week on important Holy Days, and for services of national importance. Among the latter was the 5th of November thanksgiving for the escape from the Gunpowder Treason and the arrival of King William and the 30th January, a Fast of the execution of "the Blessed King Charles the First", in the service for which there is a fabricated Psalm of various scripture texts. This Psalm, though extremely laughable, excites admiration for its ingenuity. It reminds me of an insect cleverly concocted out of the parts of several insects by some entomologists who wished to play a prank on a learned professor. They asked him to name it. He looked at it for a few seconds through a microscope, and said, without smiling, "The name of it is Humbug."
steepholm: (Default)
A weekly change from the inside walls was the Sunday Divine Service at the Church, and the Foundation provided every boy with a Bible and Prayer Book bound together. The Church adjoined the School. There was something dubious about this gratification. Everything in the service was conducted in a tedious manner. We knelt on hard wooden benches without any support before or behind, which was painful to the kiddies, especially during the Litany. I never fainted, but the fear that I should faint made me nervous and sometimes lads did faint owing to the severity. There was a Deputy Grecian Monitor, D., sitting in the Church in front of Ward XV, who used to say, "Kneel up" to any lad who showed a sign of fatigue. He told us that he was a High Churchman, and that those who showed signs of fatigue were like Dissenters. "Dissenters" he explained, "are fat persons who do not kneel at prayer." But this foolish youth forgot to observe that he himself did not kneel at all, but sat comfortably in Church in a seat with a back to it. The name of the Incumbent of the Church was the Rev. Michael Gibbs. He was a great authority on the subject of Queen Anne's Bounty. When I had ceased to be a Blue Coat boy, and had become a clergyman I heard him give a lecture at a Ruri-decanal meeting on this subject. Several of his hearers were clergymen of great learning, but after he had spoken, no one ventured to say a word or ask a question. ...

We went to Church also on other days in the week on important Holy Days, and for services of national importance. Among the latter was the 5th of November thanksgiving for the escape from the Gunpowder Treason and the arrival of King William and the 30th January, a Fast of the execution of "the Blessed King Charles the First", in the service for which there is a fabricated Psalm of various scripture texts. This Psalm, though extremely laughable, excites admiration for its ingenuity. It reminds me of an insect cleverly concocted out of the parts of several insects by some entomologists who wished to play a prank on a learned professor. They asked him to name it. He looked at it for a few seconds through a microscope, and said, without smiling, "The name of it is Humbug."
steepholm: (Default)
... Whether or not it arose from ill-feeling between the Grammar School Wards and the Latin School Wards, I cannot say, but so it was that they behaved like foolish dogs, which Dr Watts tells children not to imitate. They fight for no discoverable reason. First for some time the opposed Wards saved up all the orange peel they could get, and had a battle with that. I did not join in the folly for I never liked anything ill-bred or rough. However I did not grudge the encounter to those who could enjoy it, for although ill-mannered it was almost harmless. I thought that if the English, Russians and French fought with orange peel, no great harm would be done. This idea led to another. If gentlemen and ladies who love to be cruel to foxes and even breed them to hunt them to death with hounds would have a meet for the purpose of stamping on cockroaches, their time would be better employed. But I was wrong. Such insipid and questionable cruelty would not thoroughly satisfy them. They would wish to destroy things more charming and graceful than cockroaches, to say nothing of the pleasure of glutting their brutal appetite with the sight of blood and pain.*

The orange-peel battle was not satisfactory, because it was not mischievous. The only result was that the combatants returned to their Wards with yellow faces. What was to be done? They must have a real cruel battle although there was no cause for it, and no sense in it. For some time in No. X I saw lads making most dangerous weapons. I recollect that there were sticks with leaden buttons and bullets attached to the end of them. Happily, the fight never took place. I was informed that the authorities of Christ's Hospital heard about the affair, and caused several of the big lads to take their oath that they would not fight, and so the matter ended.

One of the lads of this Ward, D., had a vile temper. He opened a pocketknife, and stabbed in the back a boy who had offended him. The wounded one fell down insensible and was placed on a bed by those near and was thought by them to be dead. A lad went to the Matron at the other end of the Ward, and told her, "Please, Mum, D. has killed a boy." "D.", cried she. "Yes, Mum." "Come here. Do you know, D., what you have done? Do you know, D., that you have killed a boy?" "I don't care, he shouldn't have aggravated me." "D. you'll be 'anged. I shouldn't like to be you, D., you'll be 'anged." Fortunately, after a while, the boys were able to tell her, "Please, Mum, N. is not dead." Then she said, "And a very good thing it is for you, D., that N. is not dead, for you would 'ave been 'anged. As sure as you stand 'ere, you would 'ave been 'anged." ...

Sometimes the monotony of School life was interrupted by attempts to run away from Christ's Hospital. Three lads of this Ward, M., L., and D. agreed to do so. Some time before the day they fixed, they made rope ladders to climb forest trees, and they purposed to buy a half-crown pistol to shoot rabbits and also to provide themselves with a tin pot in which to make blackberry-jam over a fire of forest wood. But it was essential that they should have towny clothes and these they were busy making every day, D. excepted, who gave no help at all. The trousers and coats were cut out of white calico, and the sewing was such as is seen in tacking. I thought that forest life would immediately tear them to pieces. I could not imagine how L., whom I had always known as a cripple, could climb rope ladders. It was true he was stronger than he had been at Hertford, where he required the help of surgical apparatus and crutches, but he was still somewhat lame.

The Matron and Monitors did not see the preparations: when they approached, everything was instantly hidden. Well, the time arrived for M., L., and D.'s departure. Antony, the Beadle who guarded one of the entrances of the School, was informed by a lad they sent to him that the Treasurer was walking round the corner of a cloister close by, and wished to speak to him at once. Antony turned his back to the gate-portal, and the runaways made their escape. In the evening, D. came back to the School with his pockets and arms full of good things. He had brought them from his home, which was a confectioner's shop. D. had deceived his companions. From the first he did not intend to go with them. He had schemed an opportunity of getting a day's outing. This was evident because directly he got outside the Hospital he left them and went home. In those days the quick discovery of the whereabouts of a person missing was not provided by electrical invention; however, after M. and L. had stayed away for two or three days, they were found and brought back by the police. The two runaways were "brushed" (birched) but not in public. The doctor allowed the authorities to give the lad with weak limbs six strokes not too hard. D., I think, was not punished at all. He was probably regarded by the authorities as a penitent who set a good example to his companions which they refused to follow.

I asked L. to give me an account of his excursion. He treated me to a long yarn, over which we both laughed, but which I secretly regarded as mostly fiction. The first night, he said, was spent under a cart turned upside down. He and his companion slept all right, and afterwards they trespassed on a farmer's field and were chased. They narrowly escaped a pitchfork which was thrown after them. They made some blackberry jam in their tin pot. This I did not believe, but I did not tell him so. I enquired whether or not he thought the pleasures of the excursion made amends for the brushing. "As to the brushing," L. replied, "the good breakfast I had at the police station, the new towny bread, hot coffee, good butter, and as much of all as we wished, more than made up for the brushing. I would gladly, if I could, go away again for such another breakfast." ...


* It may be worth mentioning that TRB was a vegetarian, following in this as in Esperanto the example of his son, my grandfather, who became a vegetarian in 1895 at the age of 12, after visiting a slaughter house.
steepholm: (Default)
... Whether or not it arose from ill-feeling between the Grammar School Wards and the Latin School Wards, I cannot say, but so it was that they behaved like foolish dogs, which Dr Watts tells children not to imitate. They fight for no discoverable reason. First for some time the opposed Wards saved up all the orange peel they could get, and had a battle with that. I did not join in the folly for I never liked anything ill-bred or rough. However I did not grudge the encounter to those who could enjoy it, for although ill-mannered it was almost harmless. I thought that if the English, Russians and French fought with orange peel, no great harm would be done. This idea led to another. If gentlemen and ladies who love to be cruel to foxes and even breed them to hunt them to death with hounds would have a meet for the purpose of stamping on cockroaches, their time would be better employed. But I was wrong. Such insipid and questionable cruelty would not thoroughly satisfy them. They would wish to destroy things more charming and graceful than cockroaches, to say nothing of the pleasure of glutting their brutal appetite with the sight of blood and pain.*

The orange-peel battle was not satisfactory, because it was not mischievous. The only result was that the combatants returned to their Wards with yellow faces. What was to be done? They must have a real cruel battle although there was no cause for it, and no sense in it. For some time in No. X I saw lads making most dangerous weapons. I recollect that there were sticks with leaden buttons and bullets attached to the end of them. Happily, the fight never took place. I was informed that the authorities of Christ's Hospital heard about the affair, and caused several of the big lads to take their oath that they would not fight, and so the matter ended.

One of the lads of this Ward, D., had a vile temper. He opened a pocketknife, and stabbed in the back a boy who had offended him. The wounded one fell down insensible and was placed on a bed by those near and was thought by them to be dead. A lad went to the Matron at the other end of the Ward, and told her, "Please, Mum, D. has killed a boy." "D.", cried she. "Yes, Mum." "Come here. Do you know, D., what you have done? Do you know, D., that you have killed a boy?" "I don't care, he shouldn't have aggravated me." "D. you'll be 'anged. I shouldn't like to be you, D., you'll be 'anged." Fortunately, after a while, the boys were able to tell her, "Please, Mum, N. is not dead." Then she said, "And a very good thing it is for you, D., that N. is not dead, for you would 'ave been 'anged. As sure as you stand 'ere, you would 'ave been 'anged." ...

Sometimes the monotony of School life was interrupted by attempts to run away from Christ's Hospital. Three lads of this Ward, M., L., and D. agreed to do so. Some time before the day they fixed, they made rope ladders to climb forest trees, and they purposed to buy a half-crown pistol to shoot rabbits and also to provide themselves with a tin pot in which to make blackberry-jam over a fire of forest wood. But it was essential that they should have towny clothes and these they were busy making every day, D. excepted, who gave no help at all. The trousers and coats were cut out of white calico, and the sewing was such as is seen in tacking. I thought that forest life would immediately tear them to pieces. I could not imagine how L., whom I had always known as a cripple, could climb rope ladders. It was true he was stronger than he had been at Hertford, where he required the help of surgical apparatus and crutches, but he was still somewhat lame.

The Matron and Monitors did not see the preparations: when they approached, everything was instantly hidden. Well, the time arrived for M., L., and D.'s departure. Antony, the Beadle who guarded one of the entrances of the School, was informed by a lad they sent to him that the Treasurer was walking round the corner of a cloister close by, and wished to speak to him at once. Antony turned his back to the gate-portal, and the runaways made their escape. In the evening, D. came back to the School with his pockets and arms full of good things. He had brought them from his home, which was a confectioner's shop. D. had deceived his companions. From the first he did not intend to go with them. He had schemed an opportunity of getting a day's outing. This was evident because directly he got outside the Hospital he left them and went home. In those days the quick discovery of the whereabouts of a person missing was not provided by electrical invention; however, after M. and L. had stayed away for two or three days, they were found and brought back by the police. The two runaways were "brushed" (birched) but not in public. The doctor allowed the authorities to give the lad with weak limbs six strokes not too hard. D., I think, was not punished at all. He was probably regarded by the authorities as a penitent who set a good example to his companions which they refused to follow.

I asked L. to give me an account of his excursion. He treated me to a long yarn, over which we both laughed, but which I secretly regarded as mostly fiction. The first night, he said, was spent under a cart turned upside down. He and his companion slept all right, and afterwards they trespassed on a farmer's field and were chased. They narrowly escaped a pitchfork which was thrown after them. They made some blackberry jam in their tin pot. This I did not believe, but I did not tell him so. I enquired whether or not he thought the pleasures of the excursion made amends for the brushing. "As to the brushing," L. replied, "the good breakfast I had at the police station, the new towny bread, hot coffee, good butter, and as much of all as we wished, more than made up for the brushing. I would gladly, if I could, go away again for such another breakfast." ...


* It may be worth mentioning that TRB was a vegetarian, following in this as in Esperanto the example of his son, my grandfather, who became a vegetarian in 1895 at the age of 12, after visiting a slaughter house.
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... When Dr Jacobs, who, I believe, was not an Old Blue, became Head Master of the Grammar School, a new School, the Latin School, was formed for Mr White in Christ's Hospital, for it was felt that Mr White ought not to be under Dr Jacobs. Some of the Masters of the various Schools were Ward-visiting Managers. Mr White made it a crime to play at chess (why, I do not know) and threatened the birch for disobedience. Mr Bowker, his successor as Manager of Ward XV, turned the crime into a virtue, and gave the Ward several chess-boards.

After a time there was a general pigging, that is, removal from one Ward to another. Big lads were placed in separate Wards by themselves. The result of this pigging was that the bullying of little boys by big ceased. "Isn't it like heaven now?" said a little lad to me. "... Another good thing in the pigging was the appointment of Latin School monitors for the Latin School wards. The monitors of the Latin School wards were not so stuck-up as the Deputy Grecians, and did not consider it infra dig to speak in a friendly way to the lads they governed.

On entering the Latin School I was taught by Mr Wingfield. I remember nothing about him excepting that he used the cane a good deal. Then Mr White became my master, a venerable-looking old man with a strong likeness to Alexander Cruden, the author of a concordance to the Bible and Apocrypha. Mr White wore spectacles, and had long white hair waving over his shoulders. When he called us into his study, he was supposed to be hearing our lessons, but we were usually doing nothing for most or all of the time, sometimes a whole hour. A lad was placed in front of use with a slate to take down the names of any who made the slightest sound, while Mr White was composing a Dictionary or some other book for the study of Latin. If a boy through nervousness twitched his face or moved his tongue into his cheek, and was caught by the master's eye, Mr White roared at him, accused him of making grimaces at his master, and ordered him to keep on doing the same nervous action for half an hour. On one occasion I was roared at. After the dismissal of the class I returned to the study and said, "I did not mean to offend you." He said "All right," continued his notes, and I retired. Not long afterwards he roared again, and I mentioned the affair to my parents, and it got, through a friend, to the ears of Mr Whitbread, a Governor of Christ's Hospital. This was not what I had intended, but I was not sorry. The reason that schoolboys do not make complaints of ill treatment is not, as is sometimes supposed, a noble hatred of talebearing superior to that which is found in grown-up persons, but it is that they know that complaints will probably do them more harm than good, for it is impossible for boys to obtain a fair hearing. Mr Whitbread called for me on Speech Day, and said, "You are a little donkey." I replied, in my thoughts but not aloud, "And you are a big one, probably not trained to be civil as I have been, so I make allowance for you." I thought again that notwithstanding this rudeness, he might have done me a good turn, and, in that case, I would feel grateful to him. Well, so it turned out, for the next time I went to the Latin School, Mr White said before the class the henceforth he and I were going to be friends; and with a seeming contradiction, that he should not speak to me again. In future, when he heard the class, he should pass me over. He said this with a smiling face, and added that he supposed there was fraternity between the brewer, Mr Whitbread, and me, because my name, Butler, is associated with wine.

Occasionally Mr White was most affable to the boys. Once full of apparent friendliness, he asked a multitude of questions about the things in Mr Fletcher's Tuck-shop, which was in the "Garden". Unlike St Paul, who when he became a man "put away childish things", Mr White became more childish than the boys before him. He expressed a desire to learn from them the exact shape of the cornered tarts, the size and flavour of the High pies, the Low pies, the jumbles, packets of cocoa, sherbet and the rest. When all his questions were fully satisfied, he exclaimed to the class, who were half ashamed and half amused, but obliged to answer, "Well, boys, you certainly show great knowledge of these things. I am surprised at your information; if you took the same interest in your Latin, we should do well!" Sometime he broke the silence of the study by exclaiming over this composition, "There dear little notes! If a boy does not learn from them he ought to be flogged."

Once, when nearing the end of the afternoon school hours, he put down his pen, rubbed his hands together, and fell back in the chair laughing. With a face beaming with smiles he told us that he had finished his day's work, and now was going home to his dinner. And, as if to make all lash, that is, long for what we could not have, he described to us what the items of the dinner would be. "Roast beef and rich gravy. Delicious! Potatoes, either roasted crisp under the meat or if boiled, well done and floury. Very nice! Yorkshire pudding rich and brown. Ah! After that, fruit-pie with light flaky crust and plenty of delightful juice! custard and a glass of wine!" Here he gave us a merry roguish look, which seemed to say, What do you think of that, boys? Wouldn't you like the tuck-in that I'm going to have? When you are at your miserable housy meal, I shall be enjoying myself.
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... When Dr Jacobs, who, I believe, was not an Old Blue, became Head Master of the Grammar School, a new School, the Latin School, was formed for Mr White in Christ's Hospital, for it was felt that Mr White ought not to be under Dr Jacobs. Some of the Masters of the various Schools were Ward-visiting Managers. Mr White made it a crime to play at chess (why, I do not know) and threatened the birch for disobedience. Mr Bowker, his successor as Manager of Ward XV, turned the crime into a virtue, and gave the Ward several chess-boards.

After a time there was a general pigging, that is, removal from one Ward to another. Big lads were placed in separate Wards by themselves. The result of this pigging was that the bullying of little boys by big ceased. "Isn't it like heaven now?" said a little lad to me. "... Another good thing in the pigging was the appointment of Latin School monitors for the Latin School wards. The monitors of the Latin School wards were not so stuck-up as the Deputy Grecians, and did not consider it infra dig to speak in a friendly way to the lads they governed.

On entering the Latin School I was taught by Mr Wingfield. I remember nothing about him excepting that he used the cane a good deal. Then Mr White became my master, a venerable-looking old man with a strong likeness to Alexander Cruden, the author of a concordance to the Bible and Apocrypha. Mr White wore spectacles, and had long white hair waving over his shoulders. When he called us into his study, he was supposed to be hearing our lessons, but we were usually doing nothing for most or all of the time, sometimes a whole hour. A lad was placed in front of use with a slate to take down the names of any who made the slightest sound, while Mr White was composing a Dictionary or some other book for the study of Latin. If a boy through nervousness twitched his face or moved his tongue into his cheek, and was caught by the master's eye, Mr White roared at him, accused him of making grimaces at his master, and ordered him to keep on doing the same nervous action for half an hour. On one occasion I was roared at. After the dismissal of the class I returned to the study and said, "I did not mean to offend you." He said "All right," continued his notes, and I retired. Not long afterwards he roared again, and I mentioned the affair to my parents, and it got, through a friend, to the ears of Mr Whitbread, a Governor of Christ's Hospital. This was not what I had intended, but I was not sorry. The reason that schoolboys do not make complaints of ill treatment is not, as is sometimes supposed, a noble hatred of talebearing superior to that which is found in grown-up persons, but it is that they know that complaints will probably do them more harm than good, for it is impossible for boys to obtain a fair hearing. Mr Whitbread called for me on Speech Day, and said, "You are a little donkey." I replied, in my thoughts but not aloud, "And you are a big one, probably not trained to be civil as I have been, so I make allowance for you." I thought again that notwithstanding this rudeness, he might have done me a good turn, and, in that case, I would feel grateful to him. Well, so it turned out, for the next time I went to the Latin School, Mr White said before the class the henceforth he and I were going to be friends; and with a seeming contradiction, that he should not speak to me again. In future, when he heard the class, he should pass me over. He said this with a smiling face, and added that he supposed there was fraternity between the brewer, Mr Whitbread, and me, because my name, Butler, is associated with wine.

Occasionally Mr White was most affable to the boys. Once full of apparent friendliness, he asked a multitude of questions about the things in Mr Fletcher's Tuck-shop, which was in the "Garden". Unlike St Paul, who when he became a man "put away childish things", Mr White became more childish than the boys before him. He expressed a desire to learn from them the exact shape of the cornered tarts, the size and flavour of the High pies, the Low pies, the jumbles, packets of cocoa, sherbet and the rest. When all his questions were fully satisfied, he exclaimed to the class, who were half ashamed and half amused, but obliged to answer, "Well, boys, you certainly show great knowledge of these things. I am surprised at your information; if you took the same interest in your Latin, we should do well!" Sometime he broke the silence of the study by exclaiming over this composition, "There dear little notes! If a boy does not learn from them he ought to be flogged."

Once, when nearing the end of the afternoon school hours, he put down his pen, rubbed his hands together, and fell back in the chair laughing. With a face beaming with smiles he told us that he had finished his day's work, and now was going home to his dinner. And, as if to make all lash, that is, long for what we could not have, he described to us what the items of the dinner would be. "Roast beef and rich gravy. Delicious! Potatoes, either roasted crisp under the meat or if boiled, well done and floury. Very nice! Yorkshire pudding rich and brown. Ah! After that, fruit-pie with light flaky crust and plenty of delightful juice! custard and a glass of wine!" Here he gave us a merry roguish look, which seemed to say, What do you think of that, boys? Wouldn't you like the tuck-in that I'm going to have? When you are at your miserable housy meal, I shall be enjoying myself.
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There were several Playgrounds, one of which was called "the Ditch" and another "the Garden", but the Ditch was not a ditch, and the Garden was not a garden. In "the Garden" the nearest approach to a plant was our good friend in need, The Pump. It never allowed us to be thirsty, but we were often hungry and then it gave us water in plenty to make up for our want of food. One day, as hungry as a pack of wolves roaming over tracts of snow, the lads playing in the Garden saw trays of good things carried from the School Kitchen through the playgrounds to the Committee Room, where the Governors and Masters were about to dine. Mr Mackey, coming into the Garden some time before the hour for the dinner to commence, made some solemn remarks to the boys. Stopping the bearers of the trays to see what was under the lids, standing on tip toes, and raising every cover in turn, this master of the Writing School said, "Excuse me, boys, for not continuing what I was saying - Ah! cherry-pie! Very good! Ah! roast fowl! good! good! and that's roast beef! and that's baked potatoes!"

The bearers stood still while he did this. "Now boys," said Mr Mackey, "to return to what I was saying. I am now, as you see, wearing my hat, but before I mention the name of my Maker, I shall take it off. I am very particular to take off my hat before I am going to say the Divine Name. I do not want to take it in vain. I shall now take off my hat. Why do I do so? (A boy tells him.) What commandment am I now keeping? (No one cared to answer.) I am keeping the 3rd commandment. I refer to God who made you and me and all mankind. Now I may put my hat on again." Proceeding in his address, he again announced that he was going to take off his hat, and after that without any announcement he called attention to the action by a theatrical wave to the length of his outstretched arm. The boys could not imitate him now but they would be able to do so as soon as they left Christ's Hospital in towny clothes.

Out of school hours Mr Mackey superintended the library which was at one side of the Garden. It was a warm, comfortable room, made in my time. A deputy Grecian once spadged in, and having his ear boxed by Mr Mackey for omitting a salutation began to spadge out, but was detained in disgrace, and made to stand at a post.

In this playground there was a shop of which Mr Fletcher was the salesman. Packets of cocoa were bought here, also High pies and Low pies, and brandy snaps called jumbles. The cocoa was mixed with an equal amount of sugar and eaten in the solid state. High pies had a stiff crust, and contained cranberries, and, in their normal condition, plenty of juice. In appearance they looked like pork pies, and they had a hole in the top in the crust. Low pies were half an apple covered by a thin coating of sweet baked paste in a little saucer of well-sugared crust. The High and the Low were equally good, and each cost a penny, but I preferred to buy the Low for a very good reason. There were rascally-minded boys who would send a little lad for six High pies, suck out the juice from the holes at the top, and then return the High pies to be exchanged for low with the message to Mr Fletcher that the little lad or he had made a mistake. They had sent, they said, for Low pies. This happened so often that it could not be told whether or not the High pies were shams. Mr Fletcher was a well-meaning man but he had no means of knowing whether or not complainers were imposters, and therefore he suffered them to bear injustice. ...

Another lad, Sanders, whom I knew at Hertford and throughout my Christ's Hospital life, was an atheist. I tried to convert him, but was unsuccessful. The fellows were afraid to bully him, because he spent much of his spare time in fishing out knowledge of their secret faults. When they were about to molest him, he threatened to publish what he knew about them. He received an occasional blow, but did not return it, and he was fond of boasting to me about his morality, comparing it with the badness of others in the Ward. He watched between the arches of the cloisters to see where lads had their "fobs". "Fobs" were treasures hidden in the ground. He did not disturb these fobs but was contented with the satisfaction of knowing where they were.

In the playgrounds we saw Antony, the Beadle, marching by, or guarding some port or entrance. The boys remarked that he was fond of using spicy words. Probably he was only quoting Shakespeare or some other author. They used to tease him by reciting a rhyme about his nose. It was this:-

Antony's nose is long,
Antony's nose is strong,
'Twould be no disgrace
To Antony's face
If half his nose were gone.

He got angry or pretended to be.

Every now and then Mr Keymer came from Hertford to London on matters of business. Then his old scholars, meeting him in some playground, asked him questions. One lad, who had no brother at Hertford, said to him, "How is my brother at Hertford?" Mr Keymer replied, "Your brother as verry wal. Hay's a varry good boy: hay's first an the class; hay'll come toe London next time; I'm sure hay wal."
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There were several Playgrounds, one of which was called "the Ditch" and another "the Garden", but the Ditch was not a ditch, and the Garden was not a garden. In "the Garden" the nearest approach to a plant was our good friend in need, The Pump. It never allowed us to be thirsty, but we were often hungry and then it gave us water in plenty to make up for our want of food. One day, as hungry as a pack of wolves roaming over tracts of snow, the lads playing in the Garden saw trays of good things carried from the School Kitchen through the playgrounds to the Committee Room, where the Governors and Masters were about to dine. Mr Mackey, coming into the Garden some time before the hour for the dinner to commence, made some solemn remarks to the boys. Stopping the bearers of the trays to see what was under the lids, standing on tip toes, and raising every cover in turn, this master of the Writing School said, "Excuse me, boys, for not continuing what I was saying - Ah! cherry-pie! Very good! Ah! roast fowl! good! good! and that's roast beef! and that's baked potatoes!"

The bearers stood still while he did this. "Now boys," said Mr Mackey, "to return to what I was saying. I am now, as you see, wearing my hat, but before I mention the name of my Maker, I shall take it off. I am very particular to take off my hat before I am going to say the Divine Name. I do not want to take it in vain. I shall now take off my hat. Why do I do so? (A boy tells him.) What commandment am I now keeping? (No one cared to answer.) I am keeping the 3rd commandment. I refer to God who made you and me and all mankind. Now I may put my hat on again." Proceeding in his address, he again announced that he was going to take off his hat, and after that without any announcement he called attention to the action by a theatrical wave to the length of his outstretched arm. The boys could not imitate him now but they would be able to do so as soon as they left Christ's Hospital in towny clothes.

Out of school hours Mr Mackey superintended the library which was at one side of the Garden. It was a warm, comfortable room, made in my time. A deputy Grecian once spadged in, and having his ear boxed by Mr Mackey for omitting a salutation began to spadge out, but was detained in disgrace, and made to stand at a post.

In this playground there was a shop of which Mr Fletcher was the salesman. Packets of cocoa were bought here, also High pies and Low pies, and brandy snaps called jumbles. The cocoa was mixed with an equal amount of sugar and eaten in the solid state. High pies had a stiff crust, and contained cranberries, and, in their normal condition, plenty of juice. In appearance they looked like pork pies, and they had a hole in the top in the crust. Low pies were half an apple covered by a thin coating of sweet baked paste in a little saucer of well-sugared crust. The High and the Low were equally good, and each cost a penny, but I preferred to buy the Low for a very good reason. There were rascally-minded boys who would send a little lad for six High pies, suck out the juice from the holes at the top, and then return the High pies to be exchanged for low with the message to Mr Fletcher that the little lad or he had made a mistake. They had sent, they said, for Low pies. This happened so often that it could not be told whether or not the High pies were shams. Mr Fletcher was a well-meaning man but he had no means of knowing whether or not complainers were imposters, and therefore he suffered them to bear injustice. ...

Another lad, Sanders, whom I knew at Hertford and throughout my Christ's Hospital life, was an atheist. I tried to convert him, but was unsuccessful. The fellows were afraid to bully him, because he spent much of his spare time in fishing out knowledge of their secret faults. When they were about to molest him, he threatened to publish what he knew about them. He received an occasional blow, but did not return it, and he was fond of boasting to me about his morality, comparing it with the badness of others in the Ward. He watched between the arches of the cloisters to see where lads had their "fobs". "Fobs" were treasures hidden in the ground. He did not disturb these fobs but was contented with the satisfaction of knowing where they were.

In the playgrounds we saw Antony, the Beadle, marching by, or guarding some port or entrance. The boys remarked that he was fond of using spicy words. Probably he was only quoting Shakespeare or some other author. They used to tease him by reciting a rhyme about his nose. It was this:-

Antony's nose is long,
Antony's nose is strong,
'Twould be no disgrace
To Antony's face
If half his nose were gone.

He got angry or pretended to be.

Every now and then Mr Keymer came from Hertford to London on matters of business. Then his old scholars, meeting him in some playground, asked him questions. One lad, who had no brother at Hertford, said to him, "How is my brother at Hertford?" Mr Keymer replied, "Your brother as verry wal. Hay's a varry good boy: hay's first an the class; hay'll come toe London next time; I'm sure hay wal."
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The morality of the Christ's Hospital boys compared favourably with that of another school to which two of my brothers went and with that of a school to which I went when I quitted Christ's Hospital. There was, I confess, a great deal of bad language used at Christ's Hospital, and I underwent a little persecution for being religious, but not very long. I was quite willing to bear it for Christ's sake. On one occasion I took note from the clock of the length of time I was bullied by a crowd of lads in their efforts to make me swear. They would have been satisfied, they said, if I would repeat only one bad word. I found that the period was three quarters of an hour. They punched me, and finally gave me a mock crucifixion in the playground, strapping me up above the ground to some railings. As these efforts were in vain, my Ward, No. XV, got to respect me, and I gained an influence. Even wicked lads would appeal to me for my opinion as to the depravity of those with whom they quarrelled, and I had to be very careful what I said. One of the swearing lads suddenly announced that he was going to lead a new life, and he gave tracts to the boys of the Ward, a thing I had never felt it my duty to do. After a few days of ridicule from his swearing friends, he returned to his old life, and was heard swearing with them again.

Stealing was held in abomination and indeed was very uncommon. If a thief were discovered, their unwritten law against talebearing was broken and they reported him to the Steward, put him in Coventry, or called to him "You are a prig." A prig meant a thief. The word was used only in that sense in Christ's Hospital, it never had the meaning given to it in novels. Snob also meant cad or low-bred person, and nothing else. Even bullies did not steal. There was a lad in one of the Wards who was suspected by certain lads of prigging. They treacherously united in a plot to tempt him to prig cake from a settle, in the night when the fellows were the asleep. One of the plotters was employed to beguile and instruct him. Their trap was successful. The poor prig was caught in the act. Next morning the plotters went in a troop to the Steward, and informed against him. Mr Brooks, after enquiry, told them that they were as bad as the thief, and declined to punish him.

It was a perfectly honourable thing with the boys to shark (ask). There was nothing in common between the voracious animal, the shark, and the sharker. The sharker was, like a missionary collector, contented with what could be spared, however small, and admitted the right to refuse to give anything. The refused sharker merely said, "You are a scaf." (One who does not give to the asker.) "When I have a parcel," said the refused one, "you will shark of me, and I shall give you nothing." This answer seemed reasonable. As if he said, " You have a perfect right to be a scaf to me, but when my turn comes I have the same right to be a scaf to you." Thus the ownership of property was fully recognized. If the reader wants any more light on the subject, the following proverb of the boys of Christ's Hospital may help to give it. "He that asks shan't have, but he that doesn't ask doesn't want." It was not prudent to be a scaf, but on the other hand, there were too many hungry lads sharking for small pieces. A lad with a cake once proclaimed in the Ward, "I am going to see whether you will allow me to have anything myself. I shall give to everyone who asks." At last he said, "I have now only this one mouthful left." A lad replied, "Give us a piece." (Why us instead of me, I do not know.) The poor cakegiver now said, "You have left me nothing at all!" Occasionally, therefore, it was wise to "tuck on the sly" - to wait till everyone in bed was asleep, and then take it from under one's bolio (bolster) and eat it in bed. There might be some lad after all not asleep. It would be prudent to give to him, and to do so with a good grace. Another plan was to go to "Sly Corner", a little beyond "Giff's Cloister", previously hiring one or two lads to watch at convenient distances and signal an approach. When a signal was heard, he who tucked on the sly pocketed his grub, and walked out slowly and unconcernedly before the visitor arrived. When the latter had gone, a return could be made to Sly Corner to finish eating the grub.

Friendship was frequently made by daily contact, and especially by sleeping next to another. Leggate I knew at Hertford. At London he was also with me in Ward No. XV. My bed for a time was by the side of his. As we lay in bed, we read the book of Job by the help of a light at our end of the Ward - each of us a chapter aloud alternately, but in a subdued voice. When a monitor or matron was near, we were silent.

When I went to another bed I slept next to Green. We saved up our pence, and called to the nurse's servant-girl as she passed our beds on an errand to buy her mistress's beer, and the rest, "Please buy us a Coburg loaf and half a pound of cheese." She was very obliging, and when the loaf came Green threw it up two or three times to the ceiling and we had a delightful meal on towny food. A new loaf from outside the School we liked much better than any cake or other sweet food, but usually were not able to purchase it except in the above way.

It was not possible to say one's private evening prayers except in bed, for the same monitor whose function it was to give the word of command, "Kneel", when all instantly fell on their knees, thrashed the unfortunate boy who was last in bed. If one was in danger of being last, it was prudent to get into bed as one was, and finish undressing under the bed clothes. Sometimes it was dubious as to who was last, and then there was no thrashing. Once I heard a monitor say to a big last lad, who was useful to him, "I can't spare you, I must treat you as I do all the rest."

There was no water in the Ward fit to drink. What there was, stagnant rain-water, I was sometimes obliged to drink to ease my suffering. The poor food put my digestive organs out of order, producing what we called water-brash. In the day-time I was better off, for my kind friend the Pump supplied me with a wholesome tonic. After every meal I vomited a white pulp, and then drank plenty of water. Finally I had gastric fever and was doctored at home for a long time. After the holidays, for the first week, I abstained from housey food. I ate every day three halfpenny Abernethy biscuits, one for a meal accompanied by plenty of pump water, and as we all had, after coming from home, something to eat, which was in our school-boxes, we were able to help one another.
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The morality of the Christ's Hospital boys compared favourably with that of another school to which two of my brothers went and with that of a school to which I went when I quitted Christ's Hospital. There was, I confess, a great deal of bad language used at Christ's Hospital, and I underwent a little persecution for being religious, but not very long. I was quite willing to bear it for Christ's sake. On one occasion I took note from the clock of the length of time I was bullied by a crowd of lads in their efforts to make me swear. They would have been satisfied, they said, if I would repeat only one bad word. I found that the period was three quarters of an hour. They punched me, and finally gave me a mock crucifixion in the playground, strapping me up above the ground to some railings. As these efforts were in vain, my Ward, No. XV, got to respect me, and I gained an influence. Even wicked lads would appeal to me for my opinion as to the depravity of those with whom they quarrelled, and I had to be very careful what I said. One of the swearing lads suddenly announced that he was going to lead a new life, and he gave tracts to the boys of the Ward, a thing I had never felt it my duty to do. After a few days of ridicule from his swearing friends, he returned to his old life, and was heard swearing with them again.

Stealing was held in abomination and indeed was very uncommon. If a thief were discovered, their unwritten law against talebearing was broken and they reported him to the Steward, put him in Coventry, or called to him "You are a prig." A prig meant a thief. The word was used only in that sense in Christ's Hospital, it never had the meaning given to it in novels. Snob also meant cad or low-bred person, and nothing else. Even bullies did not steal. There was a lad in one of the Wards who was suspected by certain lads of prigging. They treacherously united in a plot to tempt him to prig cake from a settle, in the night when the fellows were the asleep. One of the plotters was employed to beguile and instruct him. Their trap was successful. The poor prig was caught in the act. Next morning the plotters went in a troop to the Steward, and informed against him. Mr Brooks, after enquiry, told them that they were as bad as the thief, and declined to punish him.

It was a perfectly honourable thing with the boys to shark (ask). There was nothing in common between the voracious animal, the shark, and the sharker. The sharker was, like a missionary collector, contented with what could be spared, however small, and admitted the right to refuse to give anything. The refused sharker merely said, "You are a scaf." (One who does not give to the asker.) "When I have a parcel," said the refused one, "you will shark of me, and I shall give you nothing." This answer seemed reasonable. As if he said, " You have a perfect right to be a scaf to me, but when my turn comes I have the same right to be a scaf to you." Thus the ownership of property was fully recognized. If the reader wants any more light on the subject, the following proverb of the boys of Christ's Hospital may help to give it. "He that asks shan't have, but he that doesn't ask doesn't want." It was not prudent to be a scaf, but on the other hand, there were too many hungry lads sharking for small pieces. A lad with a cake once proclaimed in the Ward, "I am going to see whether you will allow me to have anything myself. I shall give to everyone who asks." At last he said, "I have now only this one mouthful left." A lad replied, "Give us a piece." (Why us instead of me, I do not know.) The poor cakegiver now said, "You have left me nothing at all!" Occasionally, therefore, it was wise to "tuck on the sly" - to wait till everyone in bed was asleep, and then take it from under one's bolio (bolster) and eat it in bed. There might be some lad after all not asleep. It would be prudent to give to him, and to do so with a good grace. Another plan was to go to "Sly Corner", a little beyond "Giff's Cloister", previously hiring one or two lads to watch at convenient distances and signal an approach. When a signal was heard, he who tucked on the sly pocketed his grub, and walked out slowly and unconcernedly before the visitor arrived. When the latter had gone, a return could be made to Sly Corner to finish eating the grub.

Friendship was frequently made by daily contact, and especially by sleeping next to another. Leggate I knew at Hertford. At London he was also with me in Ward No. XV. My bed for a time was by the side of his. As we lay in bed, we read the book of Job by the help of a light at our end of the Ward - each of us a chapter aloud alternately, but in a subdued voice. When a monitor or matron was near, we were silent.

When I went to another bed I slept next to Green. We saved up our pence, and called to the nurse's servant-girl as she passed our beds on an errand to buy her mistress's beer, and the rest, "Please buy us a Coburg loaf and half a pound of cheese." She was very obliging, and when the loaf came Green threw it up two or three times to the ceiling and we had a delightful meal on towny food. A new loaf from outside the School we liked much better than any cake or other sweet food, but usually were not able to purchase it except in the above way.

It was not possible to say one's private evening prayers except in bed, for the same monitor whose function it was to give the word of command, "Kneel", when all instantly fell on their knees, thrashed the unfortunate boy who was last in bed. If one was in danger of being last, it was prudent to get into bed as one was, and finish undressing under the bed clothes. Sometimes it was dubious as to who was last, and then there was no thrashing. Once I heard a monitor say to a big last lad, who was useful to him, "I can't spare you, I must treat you as I do all the rest."

There was no water in the Ward fit to drink. What there was, stagnant rain-water, I was sometimes obliged to drink to ease my suffering. The poor food put my digestive organs out of order, producing what we called water-brash. In the day-time I was better off, for my kind friend the Pump supplied me with a wholesome tonic. After every meal I vomited a white pulp, and then drank plenty of water. Finally I had gastric fever and was doctored at home for a long time. After the holidays, for the first week, I abstained from housey food. I ate every day three halfpenny Abernethy biscuits, one for a meal accompanied by plenty of pump water, and as we all had, after coming from home, something to eat, which was in our school-boxes, we were able to help one another.
steepholm: (Default)
Let us now go in thought to the Drawing School. Mr Back was the Master there. He taught drawing well, but some of his scholars did not make fair progress in return for his pains. When he looked at a performance of any one of these, he lamented in a loud weeping tone as he cuffed them vigorously, "When will you learn, you fool? Look at the model, you fool." ...

I enjoyed Mr Back's instruction; it has been most useful to me ever since I was with him. One day when with others I was in the Latin School in Mr White's study, Mr Back came to see him. After prefatory cordial greetings, Mr Back said, "The object of my visit is to ask you to kindly give a name, perhaps a Latin name, to a small stick used to measure a drawing-model." Mr White, looking at it, replied, "It already has a name, it is a skewer." The drawing master admitted, "It certainly does look like a skewer, although it is not used as one." "But surely," replied the Latin master, "we cannot correctly say that a skewer is like a skewer." Mr Back was too polite to contend the point, and as he had come to Mr White for a name, he thanked him, and said that he would call the measuring stick by the name skewer. Henceforth in the Drawing School one heard these weeping lamentations over cuffed dull scholars, "Put the skewer to the model, you fool." "That's not the way to hold your skewer." "When will you learn how to use your skewer?"

The only modern foreign language taught at Christ's Hospital was French. For the study of this there was a French School, which had a Head Master, Mr Dolittle, and second master, Mr Geney, both Frenchmen. The latter was my instructor. ... He appeared to know English very imperfectly, and not to understand English boys, and he spoke and gesticulated like a foreigner. How it amused the class to watch his movements as he giggled over a book which he read to himself! They looked up with an enquiring smile. He told them that he was enjoying a play by Moliere, "The Miser", and he read aloud the passage that made him laugh where the principal character, the Miser, gets muddled in his repetition of a proverb, and renders it, "One must live to eat, and not eat to live." Then Mr Geney giggled again. The boys could not help laughing at the Master, and some of them, I am sorry to say, were so impolite as to imitate his giggles. But strange as it may seem their hilarity was quite misunderstood by the Master. He thought they were laughing at the joke, and so, in sympathy, he giggled still more. Soon the school was in a state of uproarious laugher, and Mr Geney ceased to be amused, and got waxy instead.

In the Mathematical School Dr Webster was the Head Master. I was not taught by him, but by Mr Gurney. Mr Gurney was a pious and just man. I much enjoyed his instruction in Euclid and Algebra, and got safely over Pons Asinorum. ... One day when we were learning algebra a member of the class had a boldness to say to him, "Please, Sir, your hair wants brushing." To our surprise Mr Gurney said nothing, but immediately walked out of the School, and after a while, returned with the fault rectified. I admired him for this way of responding to the lad. ... I have nothing more to say about this excellent man, excepting that in the holidays I once saw him at the seaside minding his children's clothes while they were bathing. He held ropes which were attached to their arms to keep them from going out of their depth. As it happened, they were afraid to venture further than about the depth of their ankles into the water, but it was prudent of him to make sure of their safety.
steepholm: (Default)
Let us now go in thought to the Drawing School. Mr Back was the Master there. He taught drawing well, but some of his scholars did not make fair progress in return for his pains. When he looked at a performance of any one of these, he lamented in a loud weeping tone as he cuffed them vigorously, "When will you learn, you fool? Look at the model, you fool." ...

I enjoyed Mr Back's instruction; it has been most useful to me ever since I was with him. One day when with others I was in the Latin School in Mr White's study, Mr Back came to see him. After prefatory cordial greetings, Mr Back said, "The object of my visit is to ask you to kindly give a name, perhaps a Latin name, to a small stick used to measure a drawing-model." Mr White, looking at it, replied, "It already has a name, it is a skewer." The drawing master admitted, "It certainly does look like a skewer, although it is not used as one." "But surely," replied the Latin master, "we cannot correctly say that a skewer is like a skewer." Mr Back was too polite to contend the point, and as he had come to Mr White for a name, he thanked him, and said that he would call the measuring stick by the name skewer. Henceforth in the Drawing School one heard these weeping lamentations over cuffed dull scholars, "Put the skewer to the model, you fool." "That's not the way to hold your skewer." "When will you learn how to use your skewer?"

The only modern foreign language taught at Christ's Hospital was French. For the study of this there was a French School, which had a Head Master, Mr Dolittle, and second master, Mr Geney, both Frenchmen. The latter was my instructor. ... He appeared to know English very imperfectly, and not to understand English boys, and he spoke and gesticulated like a foreigner. How it amused the class to watch his movements as he giggled over a book which he read to himself! They looked up with an enquiring smile. He told them that he was enjoying a play by Moliere, "The Miser", and he read aloud the passage that made him laugh where the principal character, the Miser, gets muddled in his repetition of a proverb, and renders it, "One must live to eat, and not eat to live." Then Mr Geney giggled again. The boys could not help laughing at the Master, and some of them, I am sorry to say, were so impolite as to imitate his giggles. But strange as it may seem their hilarity was quite misunderstood by the Master. He thought they were laughing at the joke, and so, in sympathy, he giggled still more. Soon the school was in a state of uproarious laugher, and Mr Geney ceased to be amused, and got waxy instead.

In the Mathematical School Dr Webster was the Head Master. I was not taught by him, but by Mr Gurney. Mr Gurney was a pious and just man. I much enjoyed his instruction in Euclid and Algebra, and got safely over Pons Asinorum. ... One day when we were learning algebra a member of the class had a boldness to say to him, "Please, Sir, your hair wants brushing." To our surprise Mr Gurney said nothing, but immediately walked out of the School, and after a while, returned with the fault rectified. I admired him for this way of responding to the lad. ... I have nothing more to say about this excellent man, excepting that in the holidays I once saw him at the seaside minding his children's clothes while they were bathing. He held ropes which were attached to their arms to keep them from going out of their depth. As it happened, they were afraid to venture further than about the depth of their ankles into the water, but it was prudent of him to make sure of their safety.

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