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Think not that, because you receive these mercies daily, they should be forgotten. Rather, that thought should make you more grateful; for it adds daily to your debt of obligation to the beneficent Father of mankind.”
It was thus our preceptor used to discourse to his pupils in their recreations.
There is one circumstance, however, connected with these rambles, which ought not to be forgotten. There were times when our tutor would not only bid us run about and enjoy ourselves, but join in our frolics, and childish conversations. With us he would skim the smooth stone over the surface of the water, leap the broad ditch, and hunt the bantering peewit. And this added greatly to our pleasures, and increased our respect for our kind tutor. For, although he unbent to please us, he never lost sight of his dignity, or forfeited our respect. He seemed to act upon the well-known caution contained in this adage: “If you give them an inch they will take an ell,” and he
never, therefore, mingled among us with undue familiarity. He would smile, and sometimes laugh heartily, at our remarks, but behind that smile or laugh there was a gravity that awed us into due obedience.
I remember one remark that greatly pleased him. Charles Murphy, who was of a lively fancy, minutely eyeing one of the little islands that abounded in the stream, on the margin of which we were walking, expressed a wonder who first discovered the said island. The thought
a new one to our master, and while he laughed heartily at it, he bade us set our wits
together to discover the traveller, and the question became one of the gravest we ever had to discuss. Our conjectures were manifold on the subject ; but we could not come to any other conclusion than that it was a second Columbus, but who that second Columbus was must remain a mystery Nor could our tutor satisfy our inquisitive spirits on the subject.
On being asked if he could tell, he confessed that it was the hardest question we had ever put to him, and that he could not give us any satisfactory reply. In our simplicity we were right pleased with this confession; and we often boasted that we had put a question to our preceptor which he could not answer. As Charles Murphy used to observe, we fairly puzzled him ;” and whenever we passed by the island, every finger was pointed to it, and every lip repeated the question in triumph. So simple is the mind in childhood. Would that our after years reflected its genuine simplicity.
BREAKING UP-CHARLES MURPHY AND HIS BOOKS-OUR HOLIDAY
TREAT THE SQUIRE-RECITATION-HOLIDAY PRESENTS-LES-
- BREAKING up
!” What a charm is there in that sentence for school-boys. I well recollect the feelings it called forth in our little circle, every time the season of holidays came round. All was joy and anxious expectation. For a full month before the day appointed for breaking up, we counted not only the days, but the hours and the minutes, before our departure. And then, on the preceding day, what scenes took place ! At one time we would collect in a group, and, at the top of our voices, shout the well-known ditty of “ Breaking up, and going away ;” while our hats and caps were sent up into the air with all
the vigour our youthful arms possessed. At another time, we used to act the hour of departure. Four of us would represent the coachhorses, another the coachman, and linking our hands together, would then start off, as we used to say, “in prime style.” As for Charles Murphy, his cup of joy appeared to be full to the brim on these casions. A hundred times, the course of the day, he would congratulate us on having once again arrived at the glorious season of holidays ; when we should have done with lessons for a time, and see our friends once more. His conduct with his books was truly amusing. He would not, like some boys I have known, tear them up; but he would stand over them, and apostrophise them in some such language as this: “ And now, my dear old books, you may rest for a time on the shelf at your ease. I shall not want you, at least for one month. No, not for one month, my classic Valpy, my arithmetical Bonnycastle, and my grammatical Murray, shall you become wet with my tears ! For you well know that I have wept over you, and I am not ashamed to own it; for you contain many things very hard to understand. But that is over ; and I will now rejoice over you.
Hurrah ! my brave books ; pray rest in quiet, while I am enjoying myself.”
I wish no boy had acted worse than the witty Charles Murphy. Kind, however, as our master was, and watchful over our conduct as he might be, much mischief was done on these occasions. The trio, especially, delighted in mischief, if they could do it unobserved; though, at our school,
there was not so much done as at many schools I have heard of. Mr. White had been so successful in forming the characters of some amongst us, that there were many who scorned to commit such actions, and who would inform him if they saw others commit them. I recollect once being in the school-room with our preceptor, putting away my books, when, on a sudden, a stone was sent through the window ; and, almost immediately, the door burst open, and Charles Murphy appeared, dragging after him the boy who had coinmitted the act. “ The sly fellow,” said Charles, as he panted again for breath ; "he little thought that I was near him. A mean creature ! Sir, this is the boy who broke the window."
Charles Murphy and Martin—for it was one of the trio who committed this wanton act-were followed by all the boys, many of whom clamourously demanded that Mr. White should punish him ; declaring it, as their opinion, that he richly deserved it. “ That he deserves the cane," replied our preceptor, “there can be no question. However, perhaps there are more effectual methods of punishing the culprit. Have you any pocket-money left, Master Martin ?”
Master Martin mumbled “ Yes.”
Then, if you please,” returned our preceptor, "give the whole of it into my hands. It will just pay for the mischief you have done."
Master Martin reluctantly obeyed this command of Mr. White ; and, while he wept, a