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TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS.
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TOM B ROWN'SSCHOOL DAYSBy AN OLD BOYBfl I'LNEW EDITIONWith Illustrations by Arthur Hughes and Sydney Prior HallMACMILLAN & CO1872
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MRS. ARNOLD,OF FOX HOWE,THIS BOOK IS (WITHOUT HER PLRMISSIOyBY THE AUTHOR,WHO OWES MORE THAN HE CAN EVER ACKNOWLEDGE OR FORGETTO HER AND HERS.- --
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PREFACETO THE SIXTH EDITION.I RECEIVED the following letter from an oldfriend soon after the last edition of this bookwas published, and resolved, if ever anotheredition were called for, to print it. For it isclear from this and other like comments, thatsomething more should have been said ex-pressly on the subject of bullying, and how itis to be met." MY DEAR," I blame myself for not having earlier suggestedwhether you could not, in another edition of TomBrown, or another story, denounce more decidedly theevils of bullying at schools. You have indeed done so,.and in the best way, by making Flashman the bullythe most contemptible character; but in that scene ofthe tossing, and similar passages, you hardly suggest. ^__ _---- ^ -- -- -----*
viii PREFA CE.that such thifigs should be stopped-and do not suggestany means of putting an end to them."This subject has been on my mind for years. Itfills me with grief and misery to think what weak andnervous children go through at school-how their healthand character for life are destroyed by rough and brutaltreatment." It was some comfort to be under the old delusionthat fear and nervousness can be cured by violence, andthat knocking about will turn a timid boy into a boldone. But now we know well enough that is not true.Gradually training a timid child to do bold acts, wouldbe most desirable; but frightening him and ill-treatinghim will not make him courageous. Every medicalman knows the fatal effects of terror, or agitation, orexcitement, to nerves that are over-sensitive. Thereare different kinds of courage, as you have shown inyour character of Arthur." A boy may have moral courage, and a finely organ-ized brain and nervous system. Such a boy is calcu-lated, if judiciously educated, to be a great, wise, anduseful man; but he may not possess animal courage ;and one night's tossing, or bullying, may produce suchan injury to his brain and nerves that his usefulness isspoiled for life. I verily believe that hundreds ofnoble organizations are thus destroyed every year.Horse-jockeys have learnt to be wiser; they know thata highly nervous horse is utterly destroyed by harsh-ness. A groom who tried to cure a shying horse byroughness and violence, would be discharged as a brute
PREFA CE. ixand a fool. A man who would regulate his watch witha crowbar would be considered an ass. But the personwho thinks a child of delicate and nervous organizationcan be made bold by bullying is no better."He can be made bold by healthy exercise andgames and sports; but that is quite a different thing.And even these games and sports should bear someproportion to his strength and capacities." I very much doubt whether small children shouldplay with big ones-the rush of a set of great fellowsat football, or the speed of a cricket-ball sent by astrong hitter, must be very alarming to a mere child,to a child who might stand up boldly enough amongchildren of his own size and height." Look at half-a-dozen small children playingcricket by themselves; how feeble are their blows, howslowly they bowl. You can measure in that way theircapacity."Tom Brown and his eleven were bold enoughplaying against an eleven of about their own calibre;but I suspect they would have been in a precious funkif they had played against eleven giants, whose bowlingbore the same proportion to theirs that theirs does tothe small children's above." To return to the tossing. I must say I thinksome means might be devised to enable schoolboys togo to bed in quietness and peace-and that some meansought to be devised and enforced. No good, moral orphysical, to those who bully or those who are bullied,can ensue from such scenes as take place in the dormi-b
-ix PREFA CE.stories of schools. I suspect that British wisdom andingenuity are sufficient to discover a remedy for thisevil, if directed in the right direction." The fact is, that the condition of a small boy at alarge school is one of peculiar hardship and suffering.He is entirely at the mercy of proverbially the roughestthings in the universe-great schoolboys; and he isdeprived of the protection which the weak have incivilized society; for he may not complain; if he does,he is an outlaw-he has no protector but public opinion,and that a public opinion of the very lowest grade, theopinion of rude and ignorant boys." What do schoolboys know of those deep questionsof moral and physical philosophy, of the anatomy ofmind and body, by which the treatment of a childshould be regulated ?" Why should the laws of civilization be suspendedfor schools ? Why should boys be left to herd togetherwith no law but that of force or cunning? Whatwould become of society if it were constituted on thesame principles ? It would be plunged into anarchy ina week."One of our judges, not long ago, refused to extendthe protection of the law to a child who had been ill-treated at school. If a party of navvies had given hima licking, and he had brought the case before a magis-trate, what would he have thought if the magistratehad refused to protect him, on the ground that if suchcases were brought before him he might have fiftya-day from one town, only ?
PREPA CA xi"Now I agree with you that a constant supervisionof the master is not desirable or possible-and thattelling tales, or constantly referring to the master forprotection, would only produce ill-will and worsetreatment."If I rightly understand your book, it is an effort toimprove the condition of schools by improving the toneof morality and public opinion in them. But yourbook contains the most indubitable proofs that the con-dition of the younger boys at public schools, exceptunder the rare dictatorship of an Old Brooke, is one ofgreat hardship and suffering."c A timid and nervous boy is from morning till nightin a state of bodily fear. He is constantly tormentedwhen trying to learn his lessons. His play-hours areoccupied in fagging, in a horrid funk of cricket-ballsand foot-balls, and the violent sport of creatures who,to him, are giants. He goes to his bed in fear andtrembling,--worse than the reality of the rough treat-ment to which he is perhaps subjected."I believe there is only one complete remedy. It isnot in magisterial supervision; nor in telling tales;nor in raising the tofie of public opinion among school-"boys-but in the separation of boys of different agesinto different schools."T here -should be at least three different classes ofschools,-the first for boys from nine to twelve; thesecond for boys from twelve to fifteen; the third forthose above fifteen. And these schools should be indifferent localities.b6
xii PREFA CE."There ought to be a certain amount of supervisionby the master at those times when there are specialoccasions for bullying, e.g. in the long winter evenings,and when the boys are congregated together in the bed-rooms. Surely it cannot be an impossibility to keeporder, and protect the weak at such times. Whateverevils might arise from supervision, they could hardly begreater than those produced by a system which dividesboys into despots and slaves."Ever yours, very trulyF. D."The question of how to adapt English publicschool education to nervous and sensitive boys(often the highest and noblest subjects whichthat education has to deal with) ought to belooked at from every point of view.* I there-fore add a few extracts from the letter of anold friend and schoolfellow, than whom noman in England is better able to speak on thesubject.* For those who believe with me in public school education, the factstated in the following extract from a note of Mr. G. De Bunsen, will behailed with pleasure, especially now that our alliance with Prussia (themost natural and healthy European alliance for Protestant England)islikely to be so much stronger and deeper than heretofore. Speaking ofthis book, he says,-" The author is mistaken in saying that public" schools, in the English sense, are peculiar to England. Schul Pforte" (in the Prussian province of Saxony) is similar in antiquity and insti-" tutions. I like his book all the more for having been there for five" years."- ---;'- -- L~-LE-
PREFACE. xii"What's the use of sorting the boys by ages, unlessyou do so by strength; and who are often the realbullies ? The strong young dog of fourteen, while thevictim may be one year or two years older .I deny the fact about the bedrooms: there is trouble attimes, and ,always will be; but so there is in nurseries;-my little girl, who looks like an angel, was bullyingthe smallest twice to-day."Bullying must be fought with in other ways,-bygetting not only the Sixth to put it down, but thelower fellows to scorn it, and by eradicating mercilesslythe incorrigible; and a master who really cares for hisfellows is pretty sure to know instinctively who in hishouse are likely to be bullied, and, knowing a fellow tobe really victimized and harassed, I am sure that hecan stop it if he is resolved. There are many kindsof annoyance-sometimes of real cutting persecution forrighteousness' sake-that he can't stop; no more couldall the ushers in the world; but he can do very muchin many ways to make the shafts of the wickedpointless."But though, for quite other reasons, I don't like tosee very young boys launched at a public school, andthough I don't deny (I wish I could) the existence fromtime to time of bullying, I deny its being a constantcondition of school life, and still more, the possibility ofmeeting it by the means proposed.... ."" I don't wish to understate the amount of bullyingthat goes on, but my conviction is that it must befought, like all school evils, but it more than any, by
xiv PREFA CE.dynamics rather than mechanics, by getting the fellowsto respect themselves and one another, rather than bysitting by them with a thick stick."-And now, having broken my resolution neverto write a Preface, there are just two or threethings which I should like to say a word about.Several persons, for whose judgment I havethe highest respect, while saying very kindthings about this book, have added, that thegreat fault of it is, " too much preaching; " butthey hope I shall amend in this matter shouldI ever write again. Now this I most distinctlydecline to do. Why, my whole object in writingat all, was to get the chance of preaching!When a man comes to my time of life and hashis bread to make, and very little time to spare,is it likely that he will spend almost the wholeof his yearly vacation in writing a story just toamuse people? I think not. At any rate, Iwouldn't do so myself.The fact is, that I can scarcely ever call onone of my contemporaries now-a-days withoutrunning across a boy already at school, or justready to go there, whose bright looks and supplelimbs remind me of his father, and our first
PREFA CE. xvmeeting in old times. I can scarcely keep theLatin Grammar out of my own house anylonger; and the sight of sons, nephews, andgodsons, playing trap-bat-and-ball, and reading"Robinson Crusoe," makes one ask oneself,whether there isn't something one would like tosay to them before they take their first plungeinto the stream of life, away from their ownhomes, or while they are yet shivering after thefirst plunge. My sole object in writing was topreach to boys: if ever I write again, it will beto preach to some other age. I can't see thata man has any business to write at all unless hehas something which he thoroughly believes andwants to preach about. If he has this, and thechance of delivering himself of it, let him by allmeans put it in the shape in which it will bemost likely to get a hearing; but let him neverbe so carried away as to forget that preachingis his object.A black soldier, in a West Indian regiment,tied up to receive a couple of dozen, for drunken-ness, cried out to his captain, who was exhort-ing him to sobriety in future, " Cap'n, if youpreachee, preached; and if floggee, floggee; butno preachee and floggee tool" to which his
xvi PREFA CE.captain might have replied, " No, Pompey, Imust preach whenever I see a chance of beinglistened to, which I never did before; so now.you must have it altogether; and I hope youmay remember some of it."There is one point which has been made byseveral of the reviewers who have noticed thisbook, and it is one which, as I am writing aPreface, I cannot pass over. They have statedthat the Rugby undergraduates they rememberat the Universities were, " a solemn array,""boys turned into men before their time,""a semi-political, semi-sacerdotal fraternity,"&c., giving the idea that Arnold turned out aset of young square-toes, who wore long-fingeredblack gloves, and talked with a snuffle. I canonly say that their acquaintance must have beenlimited and exceptional. For I am sure thatevery one who has had anything like large orcontinuous knowledge of boys brought up atRugby, from the times of which this book treatsdown to this day, will bear me out in saying,that the mark by which you may know them,is, their genial and hearty freshness and youth-fulness of character. They lose nothing of theboy that is worth keeping, but build up the--------------I
PREFA CE, xviiman upon it. This is their differentia as Rugbyboys; and if they never had it, or have lost it,it must be not because they were at Rugby,but in spite of their having been there; thestronger it is in them the more deeply you maybe sure have they drunk of the spirit of theirschool.But this boyishness in the highest sense, isnot incompatible with seriousness,-or earnest-ness, if you like the word better.* Quite thecontrary. And I can well believe that casualobservers, who have never been intimate withRugby boys of the true stamp, but have metthem only in the every-day society of the Uni-versities, at wines, breakfast parties, and thelike, may have seen a good deal more of theserious or earnest side of their characters thanof any other. For the more the boy was alivein them the less will they have been able toconceal their thoughts, or their opinion of whatwas taking place under their noses; and if thegreater part of that didn't square with theirnotions of what was right, very likely theyshowed pretty clearly that it did not, at what-* "To him (Arnold) and his admirers we owe the substitution ofthe word earnest' for its predecessor 'serious.' "-Edinburgh Review,No. 217, p. 183.
xviii PREFA CE.ever risk of being taken for young prigs. Theymay be open to the charge of having old headson young shoulders; I think they are, andalways were, as long as I can remember; butso long as they have young hearts to keep headand shoulders in order, I, for one, must thinkthis only a gain.And what gave Rugby boys this character,and has enabled the School, I believe, to keepit to this day? I say fearlessly,-Arnold'steaching and example-above all, that part ofit which has been, I will not say sneeredat, but certainly not approved-his unweariedzeal in creating "moral thoughtfulness" inevery boy with whom he came into personalcontact.He certainly did teach us-thank God for it!-that we could not cut our life into slices andsay, " In this slice your actions are indifferent,and you needn't trouble your heads about themone way or another; but in this slice mind whatyou are about, for they are important "-a prettymuddle we should have been in had he done so.He taught us that in this wonderful world, noboy or man can tell which of his actions isindifferent and which not; that by a thought-- ----------------
PREFA CE.xixless word or look we may lead astray a brotherfor whom Christ died. He taught us that lifeis a whole, made up of actions and thoughtsand longings, great and small, noble and ig-noble; therefore the only true wisdom for boyor man is to bring the whole life into obedienceto Him whose world we live in, and who haspurchased us with His blood; and that whetherwe eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we are todo all in His name and to His glory; in suchteaching, faithfully, as it seems to me, followingthat of Paul of Tarsus, who was in the habitof meaning what he said, and who laid downthis standard for every man and boy in histime. I think it lies with those who say thatsuch teaching will not do for us now, to showwhy a teacher in the nineteenth century isto preach a lower standard than one in thefirst.However, I won't say that the Reviewershave not a certain plausible ground for theirdicta. For a short time after a boy has takenup such a life as Arnold would have urged uponhim, he has a hard time of it. He finds hisjudgment often at fault, his body and intellectrunning away with him into all sorts of pitfalls,4- 2. /
Fx PREFA CE.and himself coming down with a crash. Themore seriously he buckles to his work theoftener these mischances seem to happen; andin the dust of his tumbles and struggles, unlesshe is a very extraordinary boy, he may oftenbe too severe on his comrades, may think hesees evil in things innocent, may give offencewhen he never meant it. At this stage of hiscareer, I take it, our Reviewer comes acrosshim, and, not looking below the surface (as aReviewer ought to do), at once sets the poorboy down for a prig and a Pharisee, when inall likelihood he is one of the humblest andtruest and most childlike of the Reviewer'sacquaintance.But let our Reviewer come across him againin a year or two, when the "thoughtful life"has become habitual to him, and fits him aseasily as his skin; and, if he be honest, I thinkhe will see cause to reconsider his judgment.For he will find the boy, grown into a man,enjoying every-day life, as no man can who hasnot found out whence comes the capacity forenjoyment, and who is the Giver of the least ofthe good things of this world-humble, as noman can be who has not proved his own power-
PREFA CE. xxilessness to do right in the smallest act which heever had to do-tolerant, as no man can be whodoes not live daily and hourly in the knowledgeof how Perfect Love is for ever about his path,and bearing with and upholding him.
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CONTENTS.PART I.CHAPTER I.PAGETHE -BROWN FAMILY . . . 1CHAPTER II.THE VEAST. . 21CHAPTER III.SUNDRY WARS AND ALLIANCES. . 44CHAPTER IV.THE STAGE COACH .. . . 68CHAPTER V.RUGBY AND FOOT-BALL . ... 86CHAPTER VI.AFTER THE MATCH . .. . 11CHAPTER VII.SETTLING TO THE COLLAR . . 132CHAPTER VIII.THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE . 156CHAPTER IX.A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS . 181
xxiv CONTENTS.PART II.CHAPTER I.PAGEHOW THE TIDE TURNED . .. 209CHAPTER II.THE NEW BOY * 224CHAPTER III.ARTHUR MAKES A FRIEND . 240CHAPTER IV.THE BIRD-FANCIERS . . 257CHAPTER V.THE FIGHT . 273CHAPTER VI.THE FEVER .. .. .. .. 294CHAPTER VII.HARRY EAST'S DILEMMAS AND DELIVERANCE. 314CHAPTER VIII.TOM BROWN'S LAST MATCH . . 333CHAPTER IX.FINIS * * 359
TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS,BY AN OLD BOY.CHAPTER I." I'm the Poet of White Horse Vale, Sir,With liberal notions under my cap."Ballad.THE Browns have become illustrious by the pen ofThackeray and the pencil of Doyle, within the memoryof the young gentlemen who are now matriculating atthe Universities. Notwithstanding the well-merited butlate fame which has now fallen upon them, any one atall acquainted with the family must feel, that much hasyet to be written and said before the British nation willbe properly sensible of how much of its greatness itowes to the Browns. For centuries, in their quiet,dogged, homespun way, they have been subduing theearth in most English counties, and leaving their markin American forests and Australian uplands. Whereverthe fleets and armies of England have won renown, therestalwart sons of the Browns have done yeomen's work.With the yew bow and cloth-yard shaft at Cressy andAgincourt-with the brown bill and pike under thebrave' Lord Willoughby-with culverin and demi- cul-<LL ^
---------------2 THEIL BROWN FAMILL Y.verin against Spaniards and Dutchmen-with hand-grenade and sabre, and musket and bayonet, underRodney and St. Vincent, Wolfe and Moore, Nelson andWellington, they have carried their lives in their hands;getting hard knocks and hard work in plenty, whichwas on the whole what they looked for, and the bestthing for them; and little praise or pudding, which in-deed they, and most of us, are better without. Talbotsand Stanleys, St. Maurs, and such-like folk, have ledarmies and made laws time out of mind ; but thosenoble families would be somewhat astounded-if theaccounts ever came to be fairly taken-to find howsmall their work for England has been by the side ofthat of the Browns.These latter, indeed, have until the present genera-tion rarely been sung by poet, or chronicled by sage."They have wanted their " sacer vates," having beentoo solid to rise to the top by themselves, and nothaving been largely gifted with the talent of catchinghold of, and holding on tight to, whatever good thingshappened to be going,-the foundation of the fortunesof so many noble families. But the world goes on itsway, and the wheel turns, and the wrongs of the Browns,like other wrongs, seem in a fair way to get righted.And this present writer having for many years of hislife been a devout Brown -worshipper, and moreoverhaving the honour of being nearly connected with aneminently respectable branch of the great Brown family,is anxious, so far as in him lies, to help the wheel over,and throw his stone on to the pile.However, gentle reader, or simple reader, whicheveryou iay be, lest you should be led to waste your
THE BR WN CHA RA C TER. 3precious time upon these pages, I make so bold as atonce to tell you the sort of folk you'll have to meetand put up with, if you and I are to jog on comfortablytogether. You shall hear at once what sort of folk theBrowns are, at least my branch of them; and then ifyou don't like the sort, why cut the concern at once,and let you and I cry quits before either of us cangrumble at the other.In the first place, the Browns are a fighting family.One may question their wisdom, or wit, or beauty, butabout their fight there can be no question. Whereverhard knocks of any kind, visible or invisible, are going,there the Brown who is nearest must shove in his car-case. And these carcases for the most part answervery well to the characteristic propensity; they are asquare-headed and snake-necked generation, broad inthe shoulder, deep in the chest, and thin in the flank,carrying no lumber. Then for clanship, they are asbad as HIighlanders ; it is amazing the belief they havein one another. With them there is nothing like theBrowns, to the third and fourth generation. " Bloodis thicker than water," is one of their pet sayings.They can't be happy unless they are always meetingone another. Never were such people for familygatherings, wh:ch, were you a stranger, or sensitive,you might think had better not have been gatheredtogether. For during the whole time of their beingtogether they luxuriate in telling one another theirminds on whatever subject turns up; and their mindsare wonderfully antagonist, and all their opinions aredownright beliefs. T11 you've been among them sometime and understand them, you cant think but that theyB2______ ____ ___
4 THE BR 0 WN FA MIL Y CIIARA CTERISTICS.are quarrelling. Not a bit of it; they love and respectone another ten times the more after a good set familyarguing bout, and go back, one to his curacy, anotherto his chambers, and another to his regiment, freshenedfor work, and more than ever convinced that the Brownsare the height of company.This family training too, combined with their turnfor combativeness, makes them eminently quixotic.They can't let anything alone which they think goingwrong. They must speak their mind about it, annoyingall easy-going folk; and spend their time and moneyin having a tinker at it, however hopeless the job. Itis an impossibility to a Brown to leave the most dis-reputable lame dog on the other side of a stile. Mostother folk get tired of such work. The old Browns,with red faces, white whiskers, and bald heads, go onbelieving and fighting to a green old age. They havealways a crotchet going, till the old man with thescythe reaps and garners them away for troublesomeold boys as they are.And the most provoking thing is, that no failuresknock them up, or make them hold their hands, orthink you, or me, or other sane people in the right.Failures slide off them like July rain off a duck's backfeathers. Jem and his whole family turn out bad, andcheat them one week, and the next they are doing thesame thing for Jack; and when he goes to the tread-mil), and his wife and children to the workhouse, theywill be on the look-out for Bill to take his place.However, it is time for us to get from the general tothe particular; so, leaving the great army of Browns,who are scattered over the whole empire on which the--~--~`--- -~I^--------- -----
TOM BROWN'S BIRTH-PLACE. 5sun never sets, and whose general diffusion I take to bethe chief cause of that empire's stability, let us at oncefix our attention upon the small nest of Browns inwhich our hero was hatched, and which dwelt in thatportion of the Royal county of Berks which is calledthe Vale of White Horse.Most of you have probably travelled down the GreatWestern Railway as far as Swindon. Those of youwho did so with their eyes open, have been aware, soonafter leaving the Didcot station, of a fine range of chalkhills running parallel with the railway on the left-handside as you go down, and distant some two or threemiles, more or less, from the line. The highest pointin the range is the White Horse Hill, which you come infront of just before you stop at the Shrivenham station.If you love English scenery and have a few hours tospare, you can't do better, the next time you pass, thanstop at the Farringdon-road or Shrivenham station, andmake your way to that highest point. And those whocare for the vague old stories that haunt country sidesall about England, will not, if they are wise, be contentwith only a few hours' stay: for, glorious as the view is,the neighbourhood is yet more interesting for its relicsof bygone times. I only know two English neighbour-hoods thoroughly, and in each, within a circle of fivemiles, there is enough of interest and beauty to lastany reasonable man his life. I believe this to be thecase almost throughout the country, but each has aspecial attraction, and none can be richer than the oneI am speaking of and going to introduce you to very par-ticularly; for on this subject I must be prosy; so those thatdon't care for England in detail may skip the chapter.
6 THIE OLD BO Y MO URNE TIH----------- --Oh young England young England You who areborn into these racing railroad times, when there's aGreat Exhibition, or some monster sight, every year;and you can get over a couple of thousand miles ofground for three pound ten, in a five weeks' holiday;why don't you know more of your own birth-places ?You're all in the ends of the earth, it seems to me, assoon as you get your necks out of the educationalcollar, for Midsummer holidays, long vacations, orwhat not. Going round Ireland with a return ticket,in -a fortnight; dropping your copies of Tennyson onthe tops of Swiss mountains; or pulling down theDanube in Oxford racing-boats. And when you gethome for a quiet fortnight, you turn the steam off, andlie on your backs in the paternal garden, surrounded bythe last batch of books from Mudie's library, and halfbored to death. Well, well! I know it has its goodside. You all patter French more or less, and perhapsGerman; you have seen men and cities, no doubt, andhave your opinions, such as they are, about schools ofpainting, high art, and all that; have seen the picturesat Dresden and the Louvre, and know the taste of sourkrout. All I say is, you don't know your own lanesand woods and fields. Though you may be chock fullof science, not one in twenty of you knows where tofind the wood-sorrel, or bee-orchis, which grow in thenext wood, or on the down three miles off, or what thebog-bean and wood-sage are good for. And as for thecountry legends, the stories of the old gable-endedfarm-houses, the place where the last skirmish wasfought in the civil wars, where the parish butts stood,where the last highwayman turned to bay, where tho
0 VER YOUNG ENGLAND. 7last ghost was laid by the parson, they're gone out ofdate altogether.Now, in my time, when we got home by the old coachwhich put us down at the cross-roads with our boxes,the first day of the holidays, and had been driven off bythe family coachman, singing " Dulce domum" at thetop of our voices, there we were, fixtures, till blackMonday came round. We had to cut out our ownamusements within a walk or a ride of home. And sowe get to know all the country folk, and their waysand songs and stories, by heart; and went over thefields, and woods, and hills, again and again, till wemade friends of them all. We were Berkshire, orG loucestershire, or Yorkshire boys, and you're youngcosmopolites, bclongiing to all counties and no countries.No doubt it's all right, I dare say it is. This is the dayof large views and glorious humanity, and all that; butI wish back-sword play hadn't gone out in the Vale ofWhite Hlorse, and that that confounded Great Westernhadn't carried away Alfred's Hillto make an embankment.But to return to the said Vale of White Horse, thecountry in which the first scenes of this true and in-teresting story are laid. As I said, the Great Westernnow runs right through it, and it is a land of large richpastures, bounded by ox-fences, and covered with fine'hedgerow timber, with here and there a nice little gorseor spinney, where abideth poor Charley, having no othercover to which to betake himself for miles and miles, whenpushed out some fine November morning by the OldBerkshire. Those who have been there, and wellmounted, only know how he and the staunch little packwho dash after him-heads high and sterns low with
8 VALES IN GENERAL.a breast-high scent-can consume the ground at suchtimes. There being little plough-land, and few woods,the Vale is only an average sporting country, except.for hunting. The villages are straggling, queer, old-fashioned places, the houses being dropped down with-out the least regularity, in nooks and out-of-the-waycorners, by the sides of shadowy lanes and footpaths,each with its patch of garden. They are built chieflyof good grey stone and thatched; though I see thatwithin the last year or two the red-brick cottages aremultiplying, for the Vale is beginning to manufacturelargely both brick and tiles. There are lots of wasteground by the side of the roads in every village,amounting often to village greens, where feed the pigsand ganders of the people; and these roads are old-fashioned homely roads, very dirty and badly made, andhardly endurable in winter, but still pleasant jog-trotroads running through the great pasture lands, dottedhere and there with little clumps of thorns, where thesleek kine are feeding, with no fence on either side ofthem, and a gate at the end of each field, which makesyou get out of your gig (if you keep one), and givesyou a chance of looking about you every quarter of amile.One of the moralists whom we sat under in my youth,-was it the great Richard Swiveller, or Mr. Stiggins ?-says, " We are born in a vale, and must take the con-sequences of being found in such a situation." Theseconsequences, I for one am ready to encounter. I pitypeople who weren't born in a vale. I don't mean aflat country, but a vale : that is, a flat country boundedby hills. The having your hill always in view if you-- 4
WHIITIE HORSE HILL. 9choose to turn towards him, that's the essence of a vale.There he is for ever in the distance, your friend and com-panion; you never lose him as you do in hilly districts.And then what a hill is the White Horse Hill!There it stands right up above all the rest, nine hundredfeet above the sea, and the boldest bravest shape for achalk hill that you ever saw. Let us go up to the topof him, and see what is to be found there. Ay, youmay well wonder, and think it odd you* never heard ofthis before; but, wonder or not, as you please, thereare hundreds of such things lying about England, whichwiser folk than you know nothing of, and care nothingfor. Yes, it's a magnificent Roman camp, and nomistake, with gates, and ditch, and mounds, all as com-plete as it was twenty years after the strong old roguesleft it. Here, right up on the highest point, fromwhich they say you can see eleven counties, theytrenched round all the table-land, some twelve orfourteen acres, as was their custom, for they couldn'tbear anybody to overlook them, and made their eyrie.The ground falls away rapidly on all sides. Was thereever such turf in the whole world ? You sink up toyour ankles at every step, and yet the spring of it isdelicious. There is always a breeze in the " camp," asit is called, and here it lies, just us the Romans left it,except that cairn on the east side, left by Her Majesty'scorps of Sappers and Miners the other day, when theyand the Engineer officer had finished their sojourn-there, and their surveys for the Ordnance Map ofBerkshire. It is altogether a place that you won'tforget,-a place to open a man's soul and make himprophesy, as he looks down on that great Vale spread
10 BA T7ZE OF ASH-DOWN.out as the garden of the Lord before him, and wave onwave of the mysterious downs behind ; and to the rightand left the chalk hills running away into the distance,aloni which he can trace for miles the old Romanroad, "the Ridgeway" (" the Rudge" as the countryfolk call it), keeping straight along the highest back ofthe hills;-such a place as Balak brought Balaam to,and told him to prophesy against the people in thevalley beneath. And he could not, neither shall you,for they are a people of the Lord who abide there.And now we leave the camp, and descend towardsthe west, and are on the Ash-down. We are treadingon heroes. It is sacred ground for Englishmen, moresacred than all but one or two fields where their boneslie whitening. For this is the actual place where ourAlfred won his great battle, the battle of Ash-down(" 1Escendum" in the chroniclers) which broke theDanish power, and made England a Christian land.The Danes held the camp and the slope where we arestanding-the whole crown of the hill in fact. " Theheathen had beforehand seized the higher ground," asold Asser says, having wasted everything behind themfrom London, and being just ready to burst down onthe fair vale, Alfred's own birth-place and heritage.And up the heights came the Saxons, as they did atthe Alma. "The Christians led up their line from thelower ground. There stood also on that same spot asingle thorn-tree, marvellous stumpy (which we our-selves with our very own eyes have seen)." Bless theold chronicler does he think nobody ever saw the" single thorn-tree" but himself ? Why, there itstands to this very day, just on the edge of the slope,
BA TITLE OF ASH-DO WN. IIand I saw it not three weeks since; an old single thorn-tree, " marvellous stumpy." At least if it isn't thesame tree, it ought to have been, for it's just in theplace where the battle must have been won or lost-" around which, as I was saying, the two lines of foemencame together in battle with a huge shout. And inthis place, one of the two Kings of the heathen, andfive of his earls fell down and died, and many thou-sands of the heathen side in the same place." Afterwhich crowning mercy, the pious King, that theremight never be wanting a sign and a memorial to thecountry-side, carved out on the northern side of thechalk hill, under the camp, where it is almost precipi-tous, the great Saxon white horse, which he who will"may see from the railway, and which gives its name tothe vale, over which it has looked these thousand yearsand more.Right down below the White Horse, is a curiousdeep and broad gully called " the Manger," into oneside of which the hills fall with a series of the mostlovely sweeping curves, known as " the Giant's Stairs;"they are not a bit like stairs, but I never saw anythinglike them anywhere else, with their short green turf,and tender blue-bells, and gossamer and thistle-downgleaming in the sun, and the sheep-paths running alongtheir sides like ruled lines.."* "Pagani editiorem locum prmoccupaverant. Christiani ab inferioriloco aciem dirigebant. Erat quoque in eodem loco unica spinosa arbor,brevis admodum, (quam nos ipsi nostris propriis oculis vidimus).Circa quam ergo hostiles inter se acies cum ingenti clamore hostiliterconvenient. Quo in loco alter de duobus Paganorum regibus et quin-que comites occisi occubuerunt, et multa millia Paganae parties in eodemloco. Cecidit illic ergo Bcegsceg Rex, et Sidroc ille senex comes, etSidroc Junior comes, et Obsbern comes," &c.-Annales Rerum GestarumIElfredi Magni, Auctore Asseria. Recensuit Franciscus Wise. Oxford,1722, p. 23.i -- ..,.-----------------..-.___________---- I
12 DRAGON'S HILL.The other side of the Manger is formed by the Dra-gon's Hill, a curious little round self-confident fellow,thrown forward from the range, and utterly unlike every.thing round him. On this hill some deliverer ofmankind, St. George, the country folk used to tell me,killed a dragon. Whether it were St. George, I cannotsay; but surely a dragon was killed there, for you maysee the marks yet where his blood ran down, and moreby token the place where it ran down is the easiest wayup the hill-side.Passing along the Ridgeway to the west for about amile, we come to a little clump of young beech and firs,with a growth of thorn and privet underwood. Hereyou may find nests of the strong down partridge andpeewit, but take care that the keeper isn't down uponyou; and in the middle of it is an old cromlech, ahuge flat stone raised on seven or eight others, and ledup to by a path, with large single stones set up on eachside. This is Wayland Smith's cave, a place of classicfame now; but as Sir Walter has touched it, I may aswell let it alone, and refer you to Kenilworth for thelegend.The thick deep wood which you see in the hollow,about a mile off, surrounds Ashdown Park, built byInigo Jones. Four broad alleys are cut through thewood from circumference to centre, and each leads toone face of the house. The mystery of the downshangs about house and wood, as they stand there alone,so unlike all around, with the green slopes, studdedwith great stones just about this part, stretching awayon all sides. It was a wise Lord Craven, I think, wl,,pitched his tent there.
THE BLO IT7NG STONE. 13Passing along the Ridgeway to the east, we sooncome to cultivated land. The downs, strictly so called,are no more; Lincolnshire farmers have been imported,and the long fresh slopes are sheep-walks no more, butgrow famous turnips and barley. One of these im-provers lives over there at the " Seven Barrows" farm,another mystery of the great downs. There are thebarrows still, solemn and silent, like ships in the calmsea, the sepulchres of some sons of men. But ofwhom ? It is three miles from the White Horse, toofar for the slain of Ashdown to be buried there-whoshall say what heroes are waiting there ? But we mustget down into the vale again, and so away by the GreatWestern Railway to town, for time and the printer'sdevil press, and it is a terrible long and slippery descent,and a shocking bad road. At the bottom, however,there is a pleasant public, whereat we must really takea modest quencher, for the down air is provocative ofthirst. So we pull up under an old oak which standsbefore the door." What is the name of your hill, landlord ?"" Blawing STWUN Hill, sir, to be sure."[READER. " Sturm 7"AUTHOR. " Stone, stupid: the Blowing Stone."]" And of your house ? I can't make out the sign.""Blawing Stwun, sir," says the landlord, pouringout his old ale from a Toby Philpot jug, with amelodious crash, into the long-necked glass." What queer names !" say we, sighing at the end ofour draught, and holding out the glass to be replenished."" Be'ant queer at all, as I can see, sir," says minehost handing back our glass, " seeing as this here is theI _________________________ ________ __ __
14 KINGS TONE LISLE.Blawing Stwun his self," putting his hand on a squarelump of stone, some three feet and a half high, per-forated with two or three queer holes, like petrified ante-diluvian rat-holes, which lies there close under the oak,under our very nose. We are more than ever puzzled,and drink our second glass of ale, wondering what willcome next. " Like to hear un, Sir ?" says mine host,setting down Toby Philpot on the tray, and restingboth hands on the " Stwun." We are ready for any-thing; and he, without waiting for a reply, applies hismouth to one of the rat-holes. Something must comeof it, if he doesn't burst. Good heavens I hope hehas no apoplectic tendencies. Yes, here it comes, sureenough, a grcwsome sound between a moan and a roar,and spreads itself away over the valley, and up thehill-side, and into the woods at the back of the house,a ghost-like awful voice. " Um do say, Sir," saysmine host rising purple-faced, while the moan is stillcoming out of the Stwun, "as they used in old timesto warn the country-side, by blawing the Stwiml whenthe enemy was a cornin'-and as how folks coure makeun heercd then for seven mile round; leastways, so I'vecheered lawyer Smith say, and he knows a smart sightabout them old times." We can hardly swallowlawyer Smith's seven miles, but could the blowing ofthe stone have been a summons, a sort of sending thefiery cross round the neighbourhood in the old times?What old times ? Who knows ? We pay for ourbeer, and are thankful." And what's the name of the village just below,landlord ?"" Kingstone Lisle, sir."_ ._ _--I1IYU-lL- LIL IC ---L-l-^I
FAR RINGD ON AND PUSE Y. 15"Fine plantations you've got here?""Yes sir, the Squire's 'mazin fond of trees and suchlike.""No wonder. He's got some real beauties to befond of. Good day, landlord."" Good day, sir, and a pleasant ride to 'e."And now, my boys, you whom 1 want to get forreaders, have you had enough ? Will you give in atonce, and say you're convinced, and let me begin mystory: or will you have more of it ? Remember, I'veonly been over a little bit of the hill-side yet, what youcould ride round easily on your ponies in an hour.I'm only just come down into the vale, by BlowingStone Hill, and if I once begin about the vale, what'sto stop me ? You'll have to hear all about Wantage,the birth-place of Alfred, and Farringdon which heldout so long for Charles the First (the vale was nearOxford, and dreadfully malignant; full of Throg-mortons, Puseys, and Pyes, and such like, and theirbrawny retainers). Did you ever read Thomas In-goldsby's " Legend of Hamilton Tiglhe"? If youhaven't, you ought to have. Well, Farringdon is wherehe lived, before he went to sea; his real name wasHamden Pye, and the Pyes were the great folk atFarringdon. Then there's Pusey. You've heard ofthe Pusey horn, which King Canute gave to the Puseysof that day, and which the gallant old squire, latelygone to his rest (whom Berkshire freeholders turned.out of last Parliament, to their eternal disgrace, forvoting according to his conscience), used to bring outon high days, holidays, ahd bonfire nights. Andthe splendid old Cross church at Uffington, the UffingasII______________ _________________ ________________________________________
16 TOM BRO WN'S HOME.town;-how the whole country-side teems with Saxonnames and memories! And the old moated grange atCompton, nestled close under the hill side, wheretwenty Marianas may have lived, with its bright water-lilies in the moat, and its yew walk, " the Cloisterwalk," and its peerless terraced gardens. There theyall are, and twenty things besides, for those who careabout them, and have eyes. And these are the sort ofthings you may find, I believe, every one of you, inany common English country neighbourhood.Will you look for them under your own noses, orwill you not ? Well, well; I've done what I can tomake you, and if you will go gadding over half Europenow every holidays, I can't help it. I was born andbred a west-countryman, thank God a Wessex man,a citizen of the noblest Saxon kingdom of Wessex, aregular " Angular Saxon," the very soul of me " ad-scriptus gleba." There's nothing likethe old country-side for me, and no music like the twang of the real oldSaxon tongue, as one gets it fresh from the veritablechaw in the White Horse Vale: and I say with" Gaarge Ridler," the old west-country yeoman," Throo aall the waarld owld Gaarge would bwoastCommend me to merry owld England mwoast:While vools gwoes prating vur and nigh,We stwops at whum, my dog and I."Here at any rate lived and stopped at home, SquireBrown, J. P. for the county of Berks, in a villagenear the foot of the White Horse range. And herehe dealt out justice and mercy in a rough way, andbegat sons and daughters, and hunted the fox, andgrumbled at the badness of the roads and the timer~ ---------- ______________________ _______ ________ -~-_____
SQ UIRE BRO, WN AND HIS HOUSEHOLD. 17And his wife dealt out stockings, and calico shirts, andsmock frocks, and comforting drinks to the old folkswith the "rheumatiz," and good counsel to all; andkept the coal and clothes clubs going, for yule tide,when the bands of mummers came round, dressed outin ribbons and coloured paper caps, and stamped roundthe Squire's kitchen, repeating in true sing-song ver-nacular the legend of St. George and his fight, andthe ten-pound Doctor, who plays his part at healingthe Saint,-a relic, I believe, of the old middle-agemysteries. It was the first dramatic representationwhich greeted the eyes of little Tom, who was broughtdown into the kitchen by his nurse to witness it, at themature age of three years. Tom was the eldest childof his parents, and from his earliest babyhood exhibitedthe family characteristics in great strength. He wasa hearty strong boy from the first, given to fightingwith and escaping from his nurse, and fraternizing withall the village boys, with whom he made expeditions allround the neighbourhood. And here in the quiet old-fashioned country village, under the shadow of theeverlasting hills, Tom Brown was reared, and neverleft it till he went first to school when nearly eightyears of age,-for in those days change of air twicea-year was not thought absolutely necessary for thehealth of all her Majesty's lieges.I have been credibly informed, and am inclined tobelieve, that the various Boards of Directors of Rail-way Companies, those gigantic jobbers and bribers,while quarrelling about every thing else, agreed to-gether some ten years back to buy up the learned pro-fession of Medicine, body and soul. To this end theyC
i3 THE OLD BOY ABUSE TH MOVING ON.set apart several millions of money, which they con-tinually distribute judiciously amongst the Doctors,stipulating only this one thing, that they shall prescribechange of air to every patient who can pay, or borrowmoney to pay, a railway fare, and see their prescriptioncarried out. If it be not for this, why is it that noneof us can be well at home for a year together ? Itwasn't so twenty years ago,-not a bit of it. TheBrowns didn't go out of the county once in five years.A visit to Reading or Abingdon twice a-year, at Assizesor Quarter Sessions, which the Squire made on highorse with a pair of saddlebags containing his ward-robe-a stay of a day or two at some country neigh-bour's-or an expedition to a county ball, or theyeomanry review-made up the sum of the Brownlocomotion in most years. A stray Brown fromsome distant county dropped in every now and then;or from Oxford, on grave nag, an old don, con-temporary of the Squire; and were looked upon bythe Brown household and the villagers with the samesort of feeling with which we now regard a man whohas crossed the Rocky Mountains, or launched a boaton the Great Lake in Central Africa. The WhiteHorse Vale, remember, was traversed by no greatroad; nothing but country parish roads, and these verybad. Only one coach ran there, and this one only fromWantage to London, so that the western part of theVale was without regular means of moving on, andcertainly didn't seem to want them. There was thecanal, by the way, which supplied the country side withcoal, and up and down which continually went the longbarges, with the big black men lounging by the side ofI
TOM3 BROWN WISHE TH TO MO VE ON 19the horses along the towing-path, and the women inbright coloured handkerchiefs standing in the sternssteering. Standing I say, but you could never seewhether they were standing or sitting, all but theirheads and shoulders being out of sight in the cozylittle cabins which occupied some eight feet of the stern,and which Tom Brown pictured to himself as the mostdesirable of residences. His nurse told him that thosegood-natured-looking women were in the constant habitof enticing children into the barges and taking themup to London and selling them, which Tom wouldn'tbelieve, and which made him resolve as soon as possibleto accept the oft-proffered invitation of these sirens to"young Master," to come in and have a ride. But asyet the nurse was too much for Tom.Yet why should I after all abuse the gadabout pro-pensities of my countrymen? We are a vagabondnation now, that's certain, for better for worse. I ama vagabond; I have been away from home no less thanfive distinct times in the last year. The Queen setsus the example-we are moving on from top to bottom.Little dirty Jack, who abides in Clement's Inn gate-way, and blacks my boots for a penny, takes his month'shop-picking every year as a matter of course. Whyshouldn't he ? I'm delighted at it. I love vagabonds,only I prefer poor to rich ones;-couriers and ladies'maids, imperials and travelling carriages, are an abomi-Snation unto me-I cannot away with them. But fordirty Jack, and every good fellow who, in the words ofthe capital French song, moves about,"Comme le limagon,Portant tout son bagage,Ses meubles, sa masonn'c2__________________________________________________ ___________
20 THE OLD BOY APPROVETH MOVING 02.on his own back, why, good luck to them, and manya merry road-side adventure, and steaming supper inthe chimney corners of road-side inns, Swiss chalets,Hottentot kraals, or wherever else they like to go. Sohaving succeeded in contradicting myself in my firstchapter, (which gives me great hopes that you will allgo on, and think me a good fellow notwithstanding mycrotchets,) I shall here shut up for the present, andconsider my ways; having resolved to "sar' it out,"as we say in the Vale, "holus-bolus " just as it comes,and then you'll probably get the truth out of me.If
TOM BRO WIN'S EARL Y DA YS. 21CHAPTER II.THE EAST.' And the King commandeth and forbiddeth, that from henceforthneither fairs nor markets be kept in Church-yards, for the honour of theCLurch."-STATUTES: 13 Edw. I. Stat. II. cap. vI.As that venerable and learned poet (whose voluminousworks we all think it the correct thing to admire andtalk about, but don't read often), most truly says, " thechild is father to the man;" c fortiori, therefore, hemust be father to the boy. So, as we are going at anyrate to see Tom Brown through his boyhood, supposingwe never get any further, (which, if you show a propersense of the value of this history, there is no knowingbut what we may,) let us have a look at the life andenvironments of the child, in the quiet country villageto which we were introduced in the last chapter.Tom, as has been already said, was a robust andcombative urchin, and at the age of four began tostruggle against the yoke and authority of his nurse.That functionary was a good-hearted, tearful, scatter-brained girl, lately taken by Tom's mother, MadamBrown, as she was called, from the village school tobe trained as nurserymaid. Madam Brown was a raretrainer of servants, and spent herself freely in the pro-fession; for profession it was, and gave her moretrouble by half than many people take to earn a goodincome. Her servants were known and sought after________________________________________ __________________________ ____________________ ______________ _________________
22 TOM BRO UWN'S NURSE.for miles round. Almost all the girls who attaineda certain place in the village school were taken by her,one or two at a time, as housemaids, laundrymaids,nurserymaids, or kitchen-maids, and after a year ortwo's drilling, were started in life amongst the neigh-bouring families, with good principles and wardrobes.One of the results of this system was the perpetualdespair of Mrs. Brown's cook and own maid, who nosooner had a notable girl made to their hands, thanMissus was sure to find a good place for her and sendher off, taking in fresh importations from the school.Another was, that the house was always full of younggirls, with clean shining faces; who broke plates andscorched linen, but made an atmosphere of cheerfulhomely life about the place, good for every one whocame within its influence. Mrs. Brown loved youngpeople, and in fact human creatures in general, aboveplates and linen. They were more like a lot of elderchildren than servants, and felt to her more as a motheror aunt than as a mistress.Tom's murse was one who took in her instructionvery slowly,-she seemed to have two left hands andno head; and so Mrs. Brown kept her on longer thanusual, that she might expend her awkwardness and for-getfulness upon those who would not judge and punishher too strictly for them.Charity Lamb was her name. It had been the im-memorial habit of the village, to christen childreneither by Bible names, or by those of the cardinal andother virtues; so that one was for ever hearing in thevillage street, or on the green, shrill sounds of, " Pru-dence Prudence! thee cum' out o' the gutter;" or,_____r------,, 17-.. -=~P-~- I'--C -~CC-:~~-m-ITlr;
TOM BR 0 WIN'S FIRST REBELLION 23" Mercy! d'rat the girl, what bist .thee a doing' wi'little Faith ?" and there were Ruths, Rachels, Keziahs,in every corner. The same with the boys; they wereBenjamins, Jacobs, Noahs, Enochs. I suppose thecustom has come down from Puritan times-there it isat any rate, very strong still in the Vale.Well, from early morn till dewy eve, when she hadit out of him in the cold tub before putting him to bed,Charity and Tom were pitted against one another.Physical power was as yet on the side of Charity, butshe hadn't a chance with him wherever head-workwas wanted. This war of independence began everymorning before breakfast, when Charity escorted hercharge to a neighboring farm-house which suppliedthe Browns, and where, by his mother's wish, MasterTom went to drink whey, before breakfast. Tom hadno sort of objection to whey, but he had a decided likingfor curds, which were forbidden as unwholesome, andtheie was seldom a morning that he did not manage tosecure a handful of hard curds, in defiance of Charityand of the farmer's wife. The latter good soul wasa gaunt angular woman, who, with an old black bonneton the top of her head, the strings dangling about hershoulders, and her gown tucked through her pocket-holes, went clattering about the dairy, cheese-room,and yard, in high pattens. Charity was some sort ofniece of the old lady's, and was consequently free ofthe farm-house and garden, into which she could notresist going for the purposes of gossip and flirtationwith the heir-apparent, who was a dawdling fellow,never out at work as he ought to have been. Themoment Charity had found her cousin, or any otherI I
24 TOM' BR OWN'S CASTLE OF REFUGEoccupation, Tom would slip away; and in a minuteshrill cries would be heard from the daily, " Charity,Charity, thee lazy huzzy, where bist ?" and Tom. wouldbreak cover, hands and mouth full of curds, and takerefuge, on the shaky surface of the great muck reser-voir in the middle of the yard, disturbing the repose ofthe great pigs. Here he was in safety, as no grownperson could follow without getting over their knees;and the luckless Charity, while her aunt scolded herfrom the dairy-door, for being " allus hankering aboutcarter our Willum, instead of minding Master Tom,"would descend from threats to coaxing, to lure Tom outof the muck, which was rising over his shoes and wouldsoon tell a tale on his stockings, for which she would besure to catch it from missus's maid.Tom haid two abettors in the shape of a couple of oldboys, Noah and Benjamin by name, who defended himfrom Charity, and expended much time upon his educa-tion. They were both of them retired servants of formergenerations of the Browns. Noah Crooke was a keendry old man of almost ninety, but still able to totterabout. He talked to Tom quite as if he were one ofhis own family, and indeed had long completely iden-tified the Browns with himself. In some remote ao-ehe had been the attendant of a Miss Brown, and hadconveyed her about the country on a billion. He liada little round picture of the identical grey horse, capa-risoned with the identical billion, before which he used todo a sort of fetish worship, and abuse turnpike-roads andcarriages. He wore an old full-bottomed wig, the giftof some dandy old Brown whom he had valeted in themiddle of last century, which habiliment Master TorI -----
TOM BRO WIN'S ABE TTORS-NOAH. 25looked upon with considerable respect, not to say fear;and indeed his whole feeling towards Noah was stronglytainted with awe; and when the old gentleman wasgathered to his fathers. 1'om's lamentation over himwas not unaccompanied by a certain joy at having seenthe last of the wig: " Poor old Noah, dead and gone,"said he, " Tom Brown so sorry Put him in the coffin,wig and all."But old Benjy was young Master's real delight andrefuge. He was a youth by the side of Noah, scarceseventy years old. A cheery, humorous, kind-heartedold man, full of sixty years of Vale gossip, and of allsorts of helpful ways for young and old, but above allfor children. It was he who bent the first pin, withwhich Tom extracted his first stickleback out of"Pebbly Brook," the little stream which ran throughthe village. The first stickleback was a splendidfellow, with fabulous red and blue gills. Tom kepthim in a small basin till the day of his death, andbecame a fisherman from that day. Within a monthfrom the taking of the first stickleback, Benjy hadcarried off our hero to the canal, in defiance of Charity,and between them, after a whole afternoon's popjoying,they had caught three or four small coarse fish and aperch, averaging perhaps two and a half ounces each,which Tom bore home in rapture to his mother asa precious gift, and she received like a true mother withequal rapture, instructing the cook nevertheless, in aprivate interview, not to prepare the same for theSquire's dinner. Charity had appealed against oldBenjy in the mean time, representing the dangers ofthe canal banks; but Mrs. Brown, seeing the boy's_______________.___________-- -- i--
26 TOM BRO WIN'S ABE TTORS-BENY.inaptitude for female guidance, had decided in Benjy'sfavour, and from thenceforth the old man was Tom'sdry nurse. And as they sat by the canal watching.their little green and white float, Benjy would instructhim in the doings of deceased Browns. How hisgrandfather, in the early days of the great war, whenthere was much distress and crime in the Vale, and themagistrates nad been threatened by the mob, had riddenin with a big stick in his hand, and held the PettySessions by himself. How his great uncle, the Rector,had encountered and laid the last ghost, who hadfrightened the old women, male and female, of theparish out of their senses, and who turned out to bethe blacksmith's apprentice, disguised in drink anda white sheet. It was Benjy too who saddled Tom'sfirst pony, and instructed him in the mysteries ofhorsemanship, teaching him to throw his weight backand keep his hand low; and who stood chuckling out-side the door of the girls' school, when Tom rode hislittle Shetland into the cottage and round the table,where the old dame and her pupils were seated attheir work.Benjy himself was come of a family distinguishedin the Vale for their prowess in all athletic games.Some half-dozen of his brothers and kinsmen had goneto the wars, of whom only one had survived to comehome, with a small pension, and three bullets in dif-ferent parts of his body; he had shared Benjy's cottagetill his death, and had left him his old dragoon's swordand pistol, which hung over the mantel-piece, flankedby a pair of heavy single-sticks with which Benjyhimself had won renown long ago as an old gamester,
OUR VEAST. 27against the picked men of Wiltshire and Somersetshire,in many a good bout at the revels and pastimes of thecountry-side. For he had been a famous back-swordman in his young days, and a good wrestler at elbowand collar.Back-swording and wrestling were the most seriousholiday pursuits of the Vale-those by which men at-tained fame-and each village had its champion. Isuppose that on the whole, people were less workedthen than they are now; at any rate, they seemed tohave more time and energy for the old pastimes. Thegreat times for back-swording came round once a-yearin each village, at the feast. The Vale " veasts" werenot the common statute feasts, but much more ancientbusiness. They are literally, so far as one can as-certain, feasts of the dedication, i. e. they were firstestablished in the churchyard on the day on whichthe village church was opened for public worship, whichwas on the wake or festival of the patron Saint, andhave been held on the same day in every year sincethat time.There was no longer any remembrance of why the" east" had been instituted, but nevertheless it had apleasant and almost sacred character of its own. Forit was then that all the children of the village, whereverthey were scattered, tried to get home for a holiday tovisit their fathers and mothers and friends, bringingwith them their wages or some little gift from up thecountry for the old folk. Perhaps for a day or twobefore, but at any rate on eastt day" and the dayafter, m our village, you might see strapping healthyyoung men and women from all parts of the country
2i APPRFOA CH OF VEAST-DAY.going round from house to house in their best clothes,and finishing up with a 'call on Madam Brown, whomthey would consult as to putting out their earnings tothe best advantage, or how to expend the same best forthe benefit of the old folk. Every household, howeverpoor, managed to raise a "feast-cake" and bottle ofginger or raisin wine, which stood on the cottage tableready for all comers, and not unlikely to ,make themremember feast time,-for feast-cake is very solid, andfull of huge raisins. Moreover feast-time was the dayof reconciliation for the parish. If Job Higgins andNoah Freeman hadn't spoken for the last six months,their " old women" would be sure to get it patched upby that day. And though there was a good deal ofdrinking and low vice in the booths of an evening, itwas pretty well confined to those who would have beendoing the like, " veast or no eastt" and on the whole,the effect was humanizing. and Christian. In fact, theonly reason why this is not the case still, is that gentle-folk and farmers have taken to other amusements, andhave, as usual, forgotten the poor. They don't attendthe feasts themselves, and call them disreputable, where-upon the steadiest of the poor leave them also, and theybecome what they are called. Class amusements, bethey for dukes or plough-boys, always become nuisancesand curses to a country. The true charm of cricketand hunting is, that they are still more or less sociableand universal; there's a place for every man who willcome and take his part.No one in the village enjoyed the approach of easttday" more than Tom, in the year in which he wastaken under old Bcnjy's tutelage. The feast was held
E VE OF VEAS7T-DA Y 29in a large green field at the lower end of the village.The roadto Farringdon ran along one side of it, andthe brook by the side of the road; and above thebrook was another large gentle sloping pasture-land,with a foot-path running down it from the churchyard;and the old church, the originator of all the mirth,towered up with its grey walls and lancet windows,overlooking and sanctioning the whole, though its ownshare therein had been forgotten. At the point wherethe footpath crossed the brook and road, and entered onthe field where the feast was held, was a long low road-side inn, and on the opposite side of the field was alarge white thatched farm-house, where dwelt an oldsporting farmer, a great promoter of the revels.Past the old church, and down the footpath, potteredthe old man and the child hand in hand early on theafternoon of the day before the feast, and wandered allround the ground, which was already being occupied bythe " cheap Jacks," with their green covered carts andmarvellous assortment of wares, and the booths of morelegitimate small traders with their tempting arrays offairings and eatables! and penny peep-shows and othershows, containing pink-eyed ladies, and dwarfs, andboa-constrictors, and wild Indians. But the object ofmost interest to Benjy, and of course to his pupil also,was the stage of rough planks some four feet high,which was being put up by the village carpenter for theback-swording and wrestling; and after surveying thewhole tenderly, old Benjy led his charge away to theroad-side inn, where he ordered a glass of ale and along pipe for himself, and discussed these unwontedluxuries oxi the bench outside in the soft autumn evening..__._ ________ ^^- __i
3yP MORNING OF THE VEA ST.with mine host, another old servant of the Browns, andspeculated with him on the likelihood of a good show oiold gamesters to contend for the morrow's prizes, andtold tales of the gallant bouts of forty years back, towhich Tom listened with all his ears and eyes.But who shall tell the joy of the next morning, whenthe church bells were ringing a merry peal, and oldBenjy appeared in the servants' hall, resplendent in along blue coat and brass buttons, and a pair of oldyellow buckskins and top-boots, which he had cleanedfor and inherited from Tom's grandfather; a stoutthorn-stick in his hand, and a nosegay of pinks andlavender in his button-hole, and led away Tom in hisbest clothes, and two new shillings in his breeches-pockets ? Those two, at any rate, look like enjoyingthe day's revel.They quicken their pace when they get into thechurchyard, for already they see the field thronged withcountry folk, the men in clean white smocks or velveteenor fustian coats, with rough plush waistcoats of manycolours, and the women in the beautiful long scarletcloak, the usual out-door dress of west-country womenin those days, and which often descended in familiesfrom mother to daughter, or in new-fashioned stuffshawls, which, if they would bua believe it, don't becomethem half so well. The air resounds with the pipe andtabor, and the drums and trumpets of the showmenshouting at the doors of their caravans, over whichtremendous pictures of the wonders to be seen withinhang temptingly; while through all rises the shrill"root-too-too-too" of Mr. Punch, and the unceasingpan-pipe of his satellite.
GOSSIPING PRELIMINVAR Y, 31""Lawk a' massey, Mr. Benjamin," cries a stoutmotherly woman in a red cloak, as they enter the field," be that you ? Well I never! you do look purely.And how's the Squire, and Madam, and the family?"Benjy graciously shakes hands with the speaker, whohas left our village for some years, but has come overfor Veast-day on a visit to an old gossip-and gentlyindicates the heir apparent of the Browns."Bless his little heart! I must gi' un a kiss. Here,Susannah, Susannah !" cries she, raising herself fromthe embrace, "come and see Mr. Benjamin and youngMaster Tom. You minds our Sukey, Mr. Benjamin,she be growed a rare slip of a wench since you seenher, tho' her'll be sixteen come Martinmas. I do aimto take her to see Madam to get her a place."And Sukey comes bouncing away from a knot of oldschool-fellows, and drops a curtsey to Mr. Betijamin.And elders come up from all parts to salute Benjy, andgirls who have been Madam's pupils to kiss MasterTom. And they carry him off to load him withfairings; and he returns to Benjy, his hat and coatcovered with ribands, and his pockets crammed withwonderful boxes which open upon ever new boxes andboxes, and popguns and trumpets, and apples, and giltgingerbread from the stall of Angel Heavens, solevendor thereof, whose booth groans with kings andqueens, and elephants, and prancing steeds, all gleam-ing with gold. There was more gold on Angel's cakesthan there is ginger in those of this degenerate age.Skilled diggers might yet make a fortune in the church-yards of the Vale, by carefully washing the dust of theconsumers of Angel's gingerbread. Alas he is witLIL--C;~i~L-- --CI~LPL--- I --Y-LY ~ ~CI-^__------3L~ICDII-
32 TIHE JINGLING MA TCH.' bhis namesakes, and his receipts have, I fear, died witl:him.And then they inspect the penny peep-show, at leastTom does, while old Benjy stands outside and gossips,and walks up the steps, and enters the mysterious doors.f the pink-eyed lady, and the Irish Giant, who do notby any means come up to their pictures; and the boawill not swallow his rabbit, but there the rabbit iswaiting to be swallowed-and what can you expect fortuppence ? We are easily pleased in the Vale. Nowthere is a rush of the crowd, and a tinkling bell isheard, and shouts of laughter; and Master Tom mountson Benjy's shoulders and beholds a jingling match inall its glory. The games are begun, and this is theopening of them. It is a quaint game, immenselyamusing to look at, and as I don't know whether it isused in your counties, I had better describe it. A largeroped ring is made, into which are introduced a dozenor so of big boys and young men who mean to play;these are carefully blinded and turned loose into thering, and then a man is introduced not blindfolded, witha bell hung round his neck, and his two hands tiedbehind him. Of course every time he moves, the bellmust ring, as he has no hand to hold it, and so thedozen blindfolded men have to catch him. This theycannot always manage if he is a lively fellow, but halfof them always rush into the arms of the other half, ordrive their head together, or tumble over; and thenthe crowd laughs vehemently, and invents nicknamesfor them on the spur of the moment, and they, if theybe choleric, tear off the handkerchiefs which blind them,and not unfrequent]y pitch into one another, each
STAKES FOR THE BA CK-S WORDING. 33thinking that the other must have run against him onpurpose. It is great fun to look at a jingling matchcertainly, and Tom shouts and jumps on old Benjy'sshoulders at the sight, until the old man feels weary, andshifts him to the strong young shoulders of the groom,who has just got down to the fun.And now, while they are climbing the pole in anotherpart of the field, and muzzling in a flour-tub in another,the old farmer whose house, as has been said, overlooksthe field, and who is master of the revels, gets up thesteps on to the stage, and announces to all whom it mayconcern that a half-sovereign in money will be forth-coming for the old gamester who breaks most heads; towhich the Squire and he have added a new hat.The amount of the prize is sufficient to stimulate themen of the immediate neighbourhood, but not enoughto bring any very high talent from a distance; so, aftera glance or two round, a tall fellow, who is a downshepherd, chucks his hat on to the stage and climbsup the steps, looking rather sheepish. The crowd ofcourse first cheer, and then chaff as usual, as he picksup his hat and begins -handliiig the sticks to see whichwill suit him." Wooy, Willum Smith, thee canst play wi' he arradaay," says his companion to the blacksmith's appren-tice, a stout young fellow of nineteen or twenty. Wil-lum's sweetheart is in the easts" somewhere, and hasstrictly enjoined him not to get his head broke at back-swording, on pain of her highest displeasure; but asshe is not to be seen, (the women pretend not to like tosee the back-sword play, and keep away from the stage,)and as his hat is decidedly getting old, he chucks it on toD
34 THE PLA YEARS.the stage, and follows himself, hoping that he will onlyhave to break other people's heads, or that after allRachel won't really mind.Then follows the greasy cap lined with fur of a half-gipsey, poaching, loafing fellow, who travels the Valenot for much good, I fancy:" Full twenty times was Peter fearedFor once that Peter was respected"in fact. And then three or four other hats, includingthe glossy castor of Joe Willis, the self-elected andwould-be champion of the neighbourhood, a well-to-doyoung butcher of twenty-eight or thereabouts, and agreat strapping fellow, with his full allowance of bluster.This is a capital show of gamesters, considering theamount of the prize; so while they are picking theirsticks and drawing their lots, I think I must tell you, asshortly as I can, how the noble old game of back-swordis played; for it is sadly gone out of late, even in theVale, and may be you have never seen it.The weapon is a good stout ash-stick with a largebasket handle, heavier and somewhat shorter than acommon single-stick. The players are called "oldgamesters,"-why, I can't tell you,-and their object issimply to break one another's heads: for the momentthat blood runs an inch anywhere above the eyebrow,the old gamester to whom it belongs is beaten, and hasto stop. A very slight blow with the sticks will fetchblood, so that it is by no means a punishing pastime, ifthe men don't play on purpose, and savagely, at thebody and arms of their adversaries. The old gamestergoing into action only takes off his hat and coat, andarms himself with a stick: he then loops the fingers' of. - !- - '---------- *--- -...;~ t-- o-- -- ,-- --
ARMS AND A CCO UTREMENTS. 35his left-hand in a handkerchief or strap which he fastensround his left leg, measuring the length, so that whenhe draws it tight with his left elbow in the air, thatelbow shall just reach as high as his crown. Thus yousee, so long as he chooses to keep his left elbow up,regardless of cuts, he has a perfect guard for the leftside of his head. Then he advances his right handabove and in front of his head, holding his stick acrossso that its point projects an inch or two over his leftelbow, and thus his whole head is completely guarded,and he faces his man armed in like manner, and theystand some three feet apart, often nearer, and feint, andstrike, and return at one another's heads, until onecries " hold," or blood flows; in the first case they areallowed a minute's time, and go on again; in the latter,another pair of gamesters are called on. If good menare playing, the quickness of the returns is marvellous;you hear the rattle like that a boy makes drawinghis stick along palings, only heavier, and the closenessof the men in action to one another gives it a strangeinterest, and makes a spell at back-swording a very noblesight.They are all suited now with sticks, and Joe Willisand the gipsey man have drawn the first lot. So therest lean against the rails of the stage, and Joe and thedark man meet in the middle, the boards having beenstrewed with sawdust; Joe's white shirt and spotlessdrab breeches and boots contrasting with the gipsey'scoarse blue shirt and dirty green velveteen breeches andleather gaiters. Joe is evidently turning up his noseat the other, and half insulted at having to break hishead.) 2-------------- --~-"--- ~------
36 .OE AND THE GIPSY.The gipsey is a tough, active fellow, but not veryskilful with his weapon, so that Joe's weight andstrength tell in a minute; he is too heavy metal forhim: whack, whack, whack, come his blows, breakingdown the gipsey's guard, and threatening to reach hishead every moment. There it is at last-" Blood,blood !" shout the spectators, as a thin stream oozes outslowly from the roots of his hair, and the' umpire callsto them to stop. The gipsey scowls at Joe under hisbrows in no pleasant manner, while Master Joe swaggersabout, and makes attitudes, and thinks himself, andshows that he thinks himself, the greatest man in thefield.Then follow several stout sets-to between the othercandidates for the new hat, and at last come the shep-herd and Willum Smith. This is the crack set-to ofthe day. They are both in famous wind, and there isno crying "hold;" the shepherd is an old hand and upto all the dodges; he tries them one after another, andvery nearly gets at Willum's head by coming in near,and playing over his guard at the half-stick, but some-how Willum blunders through, catching the stick onhis shoulders, neck, sides, every now and then, any-where but on his head, and his returns are heavy andstraight, and he is the youngest gamester and a favouritein the parish, and his gallant stand brings downshouts and cheers, and the knowing ones think he'llwin if he keeps steady, and Tom on the groom's shoul-der holds his hands together, and can hardly breathefor excitement.Alas for Willum! his sweetheart getting tired offemale companionship has been hunting the booths toi,.,, ___, ____ i____ ~
JOE HAS ALL THE LUCK. .37see where he can have got to, and now catches sight ofhim on the stage in full combat. She flushes andturns pale; her old aunt catches hold of her, saying,"3less'ee, child, doan't'ee go a'nigst it;" but shebreaks away and runs towards the stage calling hisname. Willum keeps up his guard stoutly, but glancesfor a moment towards the voice. No guard will do it,"Willum, without the eye. The shepherd steps roundand strikes, and 4he point of his stick just grazesWillum's forehead, fetching off the skin, and the bloodflows, and the umpire cries "Hold," and poor Wil-lum's chance is up for the day. But he takes it verywell, and puts on his old hat and coat, and goes downto be scolded by his sweetheart, and led away out ofmischief. Tom hears him say coaxingly as he walksoff-" Now doan't'ee, Rachel! I wouldn't ha' done it,only I wanted summut to buy'ee a fairing wi', and I beas vlush o' money as a twod o' veathers."" Thee mind what I tells'ee," rejoins Rachel saucily," and doan't'ee kep blethering about fairings." Tomresolves in his heart to give Willum the remainder ofhis two shillings after the back-swording.Joe Willis has all the luck to-day. His next boutends in an easy victory, while the shepherd has a toughjob to break his second head; and when Joe and theshepherd meet, and the whole circle expect and hope tosee him get a broken crown, the shepherd slips in thefirst round and falls against the rails, hurting himself sothat the old farmer will not let him go on, much as hewishes to try; and that impostor Joe (for he is certainlynot the best man) struts and swaggers about the stage
38 A NEW " OLD GAMESTER."the conquering gamester, though he hasn't had fiveminutes' really trying play.Joe takes the new hat in his hand, and puts themoney into it, and then as if a thought strikes him,and he doesn't think his victory quite acknowledgeddown below, walks to each face of the stage, and looksdown, shaking the money, and chaffing, as how he'llstake hat and money and another half-sovereign " aginany gamester as hasn't played already." Cunning Joe !he thus gets rid of Willum and the shepherd, who isquite fresh again.No one seems to like the offer, and the umpire isjust coming down, when a queer old hat, somethinglike a Doctor of Divinity's shovel, is chucked on to thestage, and an elderly quiet man steps out, who hasbeen watching the play, saying he should like to crossa stick wi' the prodigalish young chap.The crowd cheer and begin to chaff Joe, who turns uphis nose and swaggers across to the sticks. " Imp'dentold wosbird !" says he, " I'll break the bald head onun to the truth."The old boy is very bald certainly, and the bloodwill show fast enough if you can touch him, Joe.He takes off his long flapped coat, and stands up ina long-flapped waistcoat, which Sir Roger de Coverleymight have worn when it was new, picks out a stick,and is ready for Master Joe, who loses no time, butbegins his old game, whack, whack, whack, trying tobreak down the old man's guard by sheer strength.But it won't do,-he catches every blow close by thebasket, and though he is rather stiff in his returns,after a minute walks Joe about the stage, and is clearly*1
JOE OUT OF LUCK. 39a staunch old gamester. Joe now comes in, and makingthe most of his height, tries to get over the old man'sguard at half-stick, by which he takes a smart blowin the ribs and another on the elbow and nothing more.And now he loses wind and begins to puff, and thecrowd laugh: "Cry 'hold,' Joe-thee'st met thymatch!" Instead of taking good advice and gettinghis wind, Joe loses his temper, and strikes at the oldman's body."Blood, blood!" shout the crowd, "Joe's head'sbroke !""/Who'd have thought it ? How did it come ? Thatbody-blow left Joe's head unguarded. for a moment,and with one turn of the wrist the old gentleman haspicked a neat little bit of skin off the middle of hisforehead, and though he won't believe it, and hammerson for three more blows despite of the shouts, is thenconvinced by the blood trickling into his eye. PoorJoe is sadly crestfallen, and fumbles in his pocket forthe other half-sovereign, but the old gamester won'thave it. "Keep thy money, man, and gi's thy hand,"says he, and they shake hands; but the old gamestergives the new hat to the shepherd, and, soon after, thehalf-sovereign to Willum, who thereout decorates hissweetheart with ribbons to his heart's content." Who can a be ?" " Wur do a cum from ?" ask thecrowd. And it soon flies about that the old west-country champion, who played a tie with Shaw theLife-guardsman at " Vizes" twenty years before, hasbroken Joe Willis's crown for him.How my country fair is spinning out! I see I mustskip the wrestling, and the boys jumping in sacks, and
40 THE REVELS ARE OVER.rolling whlclbarrows blindfolded; and the donkey-race, and the fight which arose thereout, marring theotherwise peaceful "veast;" and the frightened scurry-ing away of the female feast-goers, and descent of SquireBrown, summoned by the wife of one of the combatantsto stop it; which he wouldn't start to do till he hadgot on his top-boots. Tom is carried away by oldBenjy, dog-tired and surfeited with pleasure, as theevening comes on and the dancing begins in the booths;and though Willum and Rachel in her new ribbonsand many another good lad and lass don't come awayjust yet, but have a good step out, and enjoy it, andget no harm thereby, yet we, being sober folk, will juststroll away up through the churchyard, and by the oldyew-tree; and get a quiet dish of tea and a parle withour gossips, as the steady ones of our village do, and soto bed.That's the fair true sketch, as far as it goes, ofone of the larger village feasts in the Vale of Berks,when I was a little boy. They are much altered forthe worse, I am told. I haven't been at one thesetwenty years, but I have been at the statute fairs insome west-country towns, where servants are hired, andgreater abominations cannot be found. What villagefeasts have come to, I fear, in many cases, may be readin the pages of Yeast, (though I never saw one so bad-thank God!)Do you want, to know why ? It is because, as I saidbefore, gentlefolk and farmers have left off joining ortaking an interest in them. They don't either subscribeto the prizes, or go down and enjoy the fun.Is this a good or a bad sign ? I hardly know. Bad,
OLD BOY MORALISE TH ON VEASTS. 41sure enough, if it only arises from the further separationof classes consequent on twenty years of buying cheapand selling dear, and its accompanying over-work; orbecause our sons and daughters have their hearts inLondon Club-life, or so-called Society, instead of inthe old English home duties; because farmers' sonsare apeing fine gentlemen, and farmers' daughterscaring more to make bad foreign music than goodEnglish cheeses. Good, perhaps, if it be that thetime for the old easts" has gone by, that it is nolonger the healthy sound expression of English countryholiday-making; that, in fact, we as a nation have gotbeyond it, and are in a transition state, feeling for andsoon likely to find some better substitute.Only I have just got this to say before I quit thetext. Don't let reformers of any sort think that theyare going really to lay hold of the working boys andyoung men of England by any educational grapnelwhatever, which hasn't some bona fide equivalent forthe games of the old country" east " in it; somethingto put in the place of the back-swording and wrestlingand racing; something to try the muscles of men'sbodies, and the endurance of their hearts, and to makethem rejoice in their strength. In all the new-fangledcomprehensive plans which I see, this is all left out:and the consequence is, that your great Mechanics'Institutes end in intellectual priggism, and yourChristian Young Men's Societies in religious Pharisaism.Well, well, we must bide our time. Life isn't allbeer and skittles,-but beer and skittles, or somethingbetter of the same sort, must form a good part of everyEnglishman's education. If I could only drive this. -------------------_________
42 ADVICE TO YOUNG SWELLS.ito the heads. of you rising Parliamentary Lords, andyoung swells who " have your ways made for you," asthe saying is,-you, who frequent palaver houses andWest-end clubs, waiting always ready to strap your-selves on to the back of poor dear old John, as soon asthe present used-up lot (your fathers and uncles), whosit there on the great Parliamentary-majorities' pack-saddle, and make belief they're guiding him with theirred-tape bridle, tumble, or have to be lifted off!I don't think much of you yet-I wish I could;though you do go talking and lecturing up and downthe country to crowded audiences, and are busy withall sorts of philanthropic intellectualism, and circulatinglibraries and museums, and Heaven only knows whatbesides; and try to make us think, through newspaperreports, that you are, even as we, of the working classes.But, bless your hearts, we " ain't so green," though lotsof us of all sorts toady you enough certainly, and tryto make you think so.I'll tell you what to do now: instead of all thistrumpeting and fuss, which is only the old Parliamentary-majority dodge over again--just you go each of you(you've plenty of time for it, if you'll only give upt'other line,) and quietly make three or four friends,real friends, among us. You'll find a little trouble ingetting at the right sort, because such birds don't comelightly to your lure-but found they may be. Take,say, two out of the professions, lawyer, parson, doctor-which you will; one out of trade, and three or fourout of the working classes, tailors, engineers, carpenters,engravers,-there's plenty of choice. Let them be menof your own ages, mind, and ask them to your homes
SMALL HOPE OF SWELLS. 43introduce them to your wives, and sisters, and getintroduced to theirs: give them good dinners, and talkto them about what is really at the bottom of y,-urhearts, and box, and run, and row with them, when youhave a chance. Do all this honestly as man to man,and by the time you come to ride old John, you'll beable to do something more than sit on his back, andmay feel his mouth with some stronger bridle than ared-tape one..A.h, if you only would! But you have got too farout of the right rut, I fear. Too much over-civilization,and the deceitfulness of riches. It is easier for a camelto go through the eye of a needle. More's the pity.I never came across but two of you, who could valuea man wholly and solely for what was in him; whothought themselves verily and indeed of the same fleshand blood as John Jones the attorney's clerk, andBill Smith the costermonger, and could act as if theythought qo.
44 SUN7DR Y WARS AND ALLIANCES.CHAPTER III.SUNDRY WARS AND ALLIANCES.Poor old Benjy! the " rheumatiz" has much toanswer for all through English country sides, but itnever played a scurvier trick than in laying thee by theheels, when thou wast yet in a green old age. Theenemy, which had long been carrying on a soi t of borderwarfare, and trying his strength against Benjy's on thebattle-field of his hands and legs, now, mustering allhis forces, began laying siege to the citadel, and over-running the whole country. Benjy was seized in theback and loins; and though he made strong and bravefight, it was soon clear enough that all which could bebeaten of poor old Benjy, would have to give in beforelong.It was as much as he could do now, with the help ofhis big stick and frequent stops, to hobble down to thecanal with Master Tom, and bait his hook for him, andsit and watch his angling, telling him quaint old countrystories; and when Tom had no sport, and detecting arat some hundred yards or so off along the bank wouldrush off with Toby the turnspit terrier, his other faithfulcompanion, in bootless pursuit, he might have tumbledin and been drowned twenty times over before Benjycould have got near him.Cheery and utimindful of himself as Benjy was, this
BENTY'S DECLINE. 45loss of locomotive power bothered him greatly. He hadgot a new object in his old age, and was just beginningto think himself useful again in the world. He fearedmuch too lest Master Tom should fall back again intothe hands of Charity and the women. So he triedeverything he could think of to get set up. He evenwent an expedition to the dwelling of one of those queermortals, who-say what we will, and reason how wewill-do cure simple people of diseases of one kind oranother without the aid of physic; and so get to them-selves the reputation of using charms, and inspire forthemselves and their dwellings great respect, not to sayfear, amongst a simple folk such as the dwellers in theVale of White Horse. Where this power, or whateverelse it may be, descends upon the shoulders of a manwhose ways are not straight, he becomes a nuisance tothe neighbourhood; a receiver of stolen goods, giver oflove-potions, and deceiver of silly women; the avowedenemy of law and order, of justices of the peace, head-boroughs, and gamekeepers. Such a man in fact aswas recently caught tripping, and deservedly dealt withby the Leeds justices, for seducing a girl who had cometo him to get back a faithless lover, and has been con-victed of bigamy since then. Sometimes, however, theyare of quite a different stamp, men who pretend tonothing, and are with difficulty persuaded to exercisetheir occult arts in the simplest cases.Of this latter sort was old farmer Ives, as he wascalled, the " wise man" to whom Benjy resorted (takingTom with him as usual), in the early spring of the yearnext after the feast described in the last chapter. Whyhe was called "farmer " I cannot say, unless it be that
46 BENJY RESORTS TO A " WISE MAN."he was the owner of a cow, a pig or two, and somepoultry, which he maintained on about an acre of landenclosed from the middle of a wild common, on whichprobably his father had squatted before lords of manorslooked as keenly after their rights as they do now.Here he had lived no one knew how long, a solitaryman. It was often rumoured that he was to be turnedout and his cottage pulled down, but somehow it nevercame to pass; and his pigs and cow went grazingon the common, and his geese hissed at the passingchildren and at the heels of the horse of my lord'ssteward, who often rode by with a covetous eye on theenclosure, still unmolested. His dwelling was somemiles from our village; so Benjy, who was half ashamed| of his errand, and wholly unable to walk there, had toexercise much ingenuity to get the means of transport-ing himself and Tom thither without exciting suspicion.IHowever, one fine May morning he managed to borrowthe old blind pony of our friend the publican, and Tompersuaded Madam Brown to give him a holiday tospend with old Benjy, and to lend them the squire'slight cart, stored with bread and cold meat and a bottleof ale. And so the two in high glee started behindold Dobbin, and jogged along the deep-rutted plashyroads, which had not been mended after their winter'swear, towards the dwelling of the wizard. About noonthey passed the gate which opened on to the largecommon, and old Dobbin toiled slowly up the hill, whileBenjy pointed out a little deep dingle on the left, out ofwhich welled a tiny stream. As they crept up the hillthe tops of a few birch-trees came in sight, and bluesmoke curling up through their delicate light boughs;.~~I..-l------------------- -- --- ------- -------- --------I
FARMER IVES THE " WISE MAN." 47and then the little white thatched home and patch ofenclosed ground of farmer Ives, lying cradled in thedingle, with the gay gorse common rising behind and onboth sides; while in front, after traversing a gentleslope, the eye might travel for miles and miles over therich vale. They now left the main road and struckinto a green track over the common marked lightlywith wheel and horse-shoe, which led down into thedingle and stopped at the rough gate of farmer Ivcs.Here they found the farmer, an iron-grey old man, witha bushy eyebrow and strong aquiline nose, busied in oneof his vocations. He was a horse and cow doctor, andwas tending a sick beast which had been sent up to becured. Benjy hailed him as an old friend, and he re-turned the greeting cordially enough, looking howeverhard for a moment both at Benjy and Tom, to seewhether there was more in their visit than appeared atfirst sight. It was a work of some difficulty and dangerfor Benjy to reach the ground, which however hemanaged to do without mishap; and then he devotedhimself to unharnessing Dobbin, and turning him outfor a graze (" a run" one could not say of that virtuoussteed) on the common. This done, he extricated thecold provisions from the cart, and they entered thefarmer's wicket; and he, shutting up the knife withwhich he was taking maggots out of the cow's backand sides, accompanied them towards the cottage. A bigold lurcher got up slowly from the door-stone, stretchingfirst one hind leg and then the other, and taking Tom'scaresses and the presence of Toby, who kept howeverat a respectful distance, with equal indifference."Us be cum to pay'e a visit. I've a been longi_
48 THE " WISE MAN'S" SURROUNDINGS.minded to don't for old sake's sake, only I vinds I dwontget about now as I'd used to't. I be so plaguy bad wi'th' rumatiz in my back." Benjy paused in hopes ofdrawing the farmer at once on the subject of his ailmentswithout further direct application."Ah, I see as you bean't quite so lissom as youwas," replied the farmer with a grim smile, as he liftedthe latch of his door; " we bean't so young as we was,another on us, wuss luck."The farmer's cottage was very like those of the betterclass of peasantry in general. A snug chimney cornerwith two seats, and a small carpet on the hearth, an oldflint gun and a pair of spurs over the fireplace, a dresserwith shelves on which some bright pewter plates andcrockeryware were arranged, an old walnut table, a fewchairs and settles, some framed samplers, and an oldprint or two, and a bookcase with some dozen volumeson the walls, a rack with flitches of bacon, and otherstores fastened to the ceiling, and you have the bestpart of the furniture. No sign of occult art is to beseen, unless the bundles of dried herbs hanging to therack and in the ingle, and the row of labelled phials onone of the shelves, betoken it.Tom played about with some kittens who occupiedthe hearth, and with a goat who walked demurely in atthe open door, while their host and Benjy spread thetable for dinner-and was soon engaged in conflict withthe cold meat, to which he did much honour. The twoold men's talk was of old comrades and their deeds,mute inglorious Miltons of the Vale, and of the doingsthirty years back-which didn't interest him much,except when they spoke of the making of the canal,
WART-CHARMING & BIRD-CHARMING. 49and then indeed he began to listen with all his ears;and learned to his no small wonder that his dear andwonderful canal had not been there always-was not infact so old as Benjy or farmer Ives, which caused astrange commotion in his small brain.After dinner Benjy called attention to a wart whichTom had on the knuckles of his hand, and which thefamily doctor had been trying his skill on without suc-cess, and begged the farmer to charm it away. FarmerIves looked at it, muttered something or another overit, and cut some notches in a short stick, which hehanded to Benjy, giving him instructions for cutting itdown on certain days, and cautioning Tom not to meddlewith the wart for a fortnight. And then they strolledout and sat on a bench in the sun with their pipes, andthe pigs came up and grunted sociably and let Tomscratch them ; and the farmer, seeing how he likedanimals, stood up and held his arms in the air andgave a call, which brought a flock of pigeons wheelingand dashing through the birch-trees. They settleddown in clusters on the farmer's arms and shoulders,making love to him and scrambling over one another'sbacks to get to his face; and then he threw them alloff, and they fluttered about close by, and lighted onhim again and again when he held up his arms. Allthe creatures about the place were clean and fearless,quite unlike their relations elsewhere; and Tom beggedto be taught how to make all the pigs and cows andpoultry in our village tame, at which the farmer onlygave one of his grim chuckles.*It wasn't till they were just ready to go, and oldDobbin was harnessed, that Benjy broached the subjectE
50 TOM'S ALLIES.--_OB RUDKLf.of his rheumatism again, detailing his symptoms oneby one. Poor old boy! He hoped the farmer couldcharm it away as easily as he could Tom's wart, andwas ready with equal faith to put another notched stickinto his other pocket, for the cure of his own ailments.The physician shook his head, but nevertheless produceda bottle and handed it to Benjy with instructions foruse. "Not as 't'll do'e much good-leastways I beafeared not," shading his eyes with his hand and look-ing up at them in the cart; "there's only one thingas I knows on, as'll cure old folks like you and I o' th'rhumatis.""Wot be that then, farmer ?" inquired Benjy." Churchyard mould," said the old iron-grey manwith another chuckle. And so they said their good-byesand went their ways home. Tom's wart was gone in afortnight, but not so Benjy's rheumatism, which laidhim by the heels more and more. And though Tomstill spent many an hour with him, as he sat on abench in the sunshine, or by the chimney corner whenit was cold, he soon had to seek elsewhere for hisregular companions.Tom had been accustomed often to accompany hismother in her visits to the cottages, and had therebymade acquaintance with many of the village boys of hisown age. There was Job Rudkin, son of widowRudkin, the most bustling woman in the parish. Howshe could ever have had such a stolid boy as Job for achild, must always remain a mystery. The first timeTom went to their cottage with his mother, Job was notin-doors, but he entered soon after, and stood with bothhands in his pockets staring at Tom. Widow Rudkin,
JACOB DOODLE-CALF. 51i~~ ----- -------------who would have had to cross Madam to get at youngHopeful-a breach of good manners of which she waswholly incapable-began a series of pantomime signs,which only puzzled him, and at last, unable to containherself longer, burst out with, " Job Job where'sthy cap ?""What! beant'e on ma' head, mother?" repliedJob, slowly extricating one hand from a pocket andfeeling for the article in question; which he found onhis head sure enough, and left there, to his mother'shorror and Tom's great delight.Then there was poor Jacob Dodson the half-wittedboy, who ambled about cheerfully, undertaking mes-sages and little helpful odds and ends for every one,which, however, poor Jacob managed always hopelesslyto embrangle. Everything came to pieces in his hands,and nothing would stop in his head. They nicknamedhim Jacob Doodle-calf.But above all there was Harry Winburn, the quickestand best boy in the parish. He might be a year olderthan Tom, but was very little bigger, and he was theCrichton of our village boys. He could wrestle andclimb and run better than all the rest, and learned allthat the schoolmaster could teach him faster than thatworthy at all liked. He was a boy to be proud of,with his curly brown hair, keen grey eye, straightactive figure, and little ears and hands and feet, "asfine as a lord's," as Charity remarked to Tom one day,talking as usual great nonsense. Lords' hands andears and feet are just as ugly as other folks' when theyare children, as any one may convince themselves ifthey like to look. Tight boots and gloves, and doingE2
52 TOR YISMI OF SQUIRE BROWN.nothing with them, I allow make a difference by thetime they are twenty.Now that Benjy was laid on the shelf, and his youngbrothers were still under petticoat government, Tom, insearch of companions, began to cultivate the villageboys generally more and more. Squire Brown, beit said, was a true blue Tory ,to the backbone,and believed honestly that the powers which be wereordained of God, and that loyalty and steadfast obe-dience were men's first duties. Whether it were inconsequence or in spite of his political creed, I do notmean to give an opinion, though I have one; butcertain it is, that he held therewith divers social prin-ciples not generally supposed to be true blue in colour.Foremost of these, and the one which the Squire lovedto propound above all others, was the belief that a manis to be valued wholly and solely for that which he isin himself, for that which stands up in the four fleshlywalls of him, apart from clothes, rank, fortune, and allexternals whatsoever. Which belief I take to be awholesome corrective of all political opinions, and, ifheld sincerely, to make all opinions equally harmless,whether they be blue, red, or green. As a necessarycorollary to this belief, Squire Brown held further thatit didn't matter a straw whether his son associated withlords' sons or ploughmen's sons, provided they werebrave and honest. He himself had played foot-balland gone birds'-nesting with the farmers whom he metat vestry and the labourers who tilled their fields, andso had his father and grandfather with their pro-genitors. So he encouraged Tom in his intimacy withthe boys of the village, and forwarded it by all meansI
TOM'S WATCH-TOWER BY THE SCHOOL. 53hi his power, and gave them the run of a close for aplayground, and provided bats and balls and a foot-ballfor their sports.Our village was blessed amongst other things with awell-endowed school. The building stood by itself,apart from the master's house, on an angle of groundwhere three roads met; an old grey stone building witha steep roof and mullioned windows. On one of theopposite angles stood Squire Brown's stables andkennel, with their backs to the road, over whichtowered a great elm-tree; on the third stood thevillage carpenter and wheelwright's large open shop,and his house and the schoolmaster's, with long loweaves under which the swallows built by scores.The moment Tom's lessons were over, he would nowget him down to this corner by the stables, and watchtill the boys came out of school. He prevailed on thegroom to cut notches for him in the bark of the elm,so that he could climb into the lower branches, andthere he would sit watching the school door, and specu-lating on the possibility of turning the elm into adwelling-place for himself and friends after the manner:of the Swiss Family Robinson. But the school hourswere long and Tom's patience short, so that soon hebegan to descend into the street, and go and peep in atthe school door and the wheelwright's shop, and lookout for something to while away the time. Now thewheelwright was a choleric man, and, one fine after-noon, returning from a short absence, found Tom.occupied with one of his pet adzes, the edge of whichwas fast vanishing under our hero's care.' A speedyflight saved Tom from all but one sound cuff on thei ~
54 TOM'S FOES--THE WHEELWRIGHT, ETC.ears, but he resented this unjustifiable interruption ofhis first essays at carpentering, and still more thefurther proceedings of the wheelwright, who cut aswitch and hung it over the door of his workshop,threatening to use it upon Tom if he came withintwenty yards of his gate. So Tom, to retaliate, com-menced'a war upon the swallows who dwelt under thewheelwright's eaves, whom he harassed with sticks andstones, and being fleeter of foot than his enemy, es-caped all punishment, and kept him in perpetual anger.Moreover his presence about the school door began toincense the master, as the boys in that neighbourhoodneglected their lessons in consequence: and more thanonce he issued into the porch, rod in hand, just as Tombeat a hasty retreat. And he and the wheelwright,laying their heads together, resolved to acquaint theSquire with Tom's afternoon occupations; but in orderto do it with effect, determined to take him captive andlead him away to judgment fresh from his evil doings.This they would have found some difficulty in doing,had Tom continued the war single-handed, or rathe:single-footed, for he would have taken to the deepestpart of Pebbly Brook to escape them; but, like otheractive powers, he was ruined by his alliances. PoorJacob Doodle-calf could not go to school with theother boys, and one fine afternoon, about three o'clock(the school broke up at four), Tom found him amblingabout the street, and pressed him into a visit to theschool-porch. Jacob, always ready to do what he wasasked, consented, and the two stole down to the schooltogether. Tom first reconnoitred the wheelwright'sshop, and seeing no signs of activity, thought all safe
DEFEAT, CAPTURE, PEACE. 55in that quarter, and ordered at once an advance of allhis troops upon the school-porch. The door of theschool was ajar, and the boys seated on the nearestbench at once recognized and opened a correspondencewith the invaders. Tom waxing bold, kept puttinghis head into the school and making faces at the masterwhen his back was turned. Poor Jacob, not in theleast comprehending the situation, and in high glee atfinding himself so near the school, which he had neverbeen allowed to enter, suddenly, in a fit of enthusiasm,pushed by Tom, and ambling three steps into theschool, stood there, looking round him and noddingwith a self-approving smile. The master, who wasstooping over a boy's slate, with his back to the door,became aware of something unusual, and turnedquickly round. Tom rushed at Jacob, and begandragging him back by his smock-frock, and the mastermade at them, scattering forms and boys in his career.Even now they might have escaped, but that in theporch, barring retreat, appeared the crafty wheelwright,who had been watching all their proceedings. So theywere seized, the school dismissed, and Tom and Jacobled away to Squire Brown as lawful prize, the boysfollowing to the gate in groups, and speculating on theresult.The Squire was very angry at first, but the inter-view, by Tom's pleading, ended in a compromise.Tom was not to go near the school till three o'clock,and only then if he had done his own lessons well, inwhich case he was to be the bearer of a note to themaster from Squire Brown, and the master agreed insuch case to release ten or twelve of the best boys an
56 PLA-Y AND WORK.hour before the time of breaking up, to go off andplay in the close. The wheelwright's adzes andswallows were to be for ever respected; and that heroand the master withdrew to the servants' hall, to drinkthe Squire's health, well satisfied with their day'swork.The second act of Tom's life may now be said tohave begun. The war .of independence had been overfor some time: none of the women now, not even hismother's maid, dared offer to help him in dressing orwashing. Between ourselves, he had often at first torun to Benjy in an unfinished state of toilet; Charityand the rest of them seemed to take a delight inputting impossible buttons and ties in the middle ofhis back; but he would have gone without nether in-teguments altogether, sooner than have had recourseto female valeting. He had a room to himself, andhis father gave him sixpence a week pocket-money.All this he had achieved by Benjy's advice and assist-ance. But now he had conquered another step in life,the step which all real boys so long to make; he hadgot amongst his equals in age and strength, and couldmeasure himself with other boys; he lived with thosewhose pursuits and wishes and ways were the same inkind as his own.The little governess who had lately been installedin the house found her work grow wondrously easy, forTom slaved at his lessons in order to make sure of hisnote to the schoolmaster. So there were very few daysin the week in which Tom and the village boys werenot playing in their close by three o'clock. Prisoner'sbase, rounders, high-cock-a-lorum, cricket, football, he____ __________ _ ____ s
RIDING AND WRESTLING. 57was soon initiated into the delights of them all; andthough most of the boys were older than himself, hemanaged to hold his own very well. He was naturallyactive and strong, and quick of eye and hand, and hadthe advantage of light shoes and well-fitting dress, sothat in a short time he could run and jump and climbwith any of them.They generally finished their regular games half anhour or so before tea-time, and then began trials ofskill and strength in many ways. Some of themwould catch the Shetland pony who was turned out inthe field, and get two or three together on his back,and the little rogue, enjoying the fun, would gallop offfor fifty yards and then turn round, or stop short andshoot them on to the turf, and then graze quietly ontill he felt another load; others played peg-top ormarbles, while a few of the bigger ones stood up for about at wrestling. Tom at first only looked on at thispastime, but it had peculiar attractions for him, and hecould not long keep out of it. Elbow and collarwrestling as practised in the western counties was,next to backswording, the way to fame for the youth ofthe Vale; and all the boys knew the rules of it, andwere more or less expert. But Job Rudkin and HarryWinburn were the stars, the former stiff and sturdy,with legs like small towers, the latter pliant as india-rubber, and quick as lightning. Day after day theystood foot to foot, and offered first one hand and thenthe other, and grappled and closed and swayed andstrained, till a well-aimed crook of the heel or thrustof the loin took effect, and a fair back-fall ended thematter. And Tom watched with all his eyes, and first
58 EARLIEST PLA YMA TES.challenged one of the less scientific, and threw him;and so one by one wrestled his way up to the leaders.Then indeed for months he had a poor time of it;it was not long indeed before he could manage to keephis legs against Job, for that hero was slow of offence,and gained his victories chiefly by allowing others tothrow themselves against his immoveable legs andloins. But Harry Winburn was undeniably hismaster; from the first clutch of hands when they stoodup, down to the last trip which sent him on to his backon the turf, he felt that Harry knew more and coulddo more than he. Luckily, Harry's bright uncon-sciousness, and Tom's natural good temper, kept themfrom ever quarrelling; and so Tom worked on and on,and trod more and more nearly on Harry's heels, andat last mastered all the dodges and falls except one.This one was Harry's own particular invention andpet; he scarcely ever used it except when hard pressed,but then out it came, and as sure as it did, over wentpoor Tom. He thought about that fall at his meals,in his walks, when he lay awake in bed, in his dreams-but all to no purpose; until Harry one day in hisopen way suggested to him how he thought it shouldbe met, and in a week from that time the boys wereequal, save only the slight difference of strength inHarry's favour, which some extra ten months of agegave. Tom had often afterwards reason to be thankfulfor that early drilling, and above all for having mas-tered Harry Winburn's fall.Besides their home games, on Saturdays the boyswould wander all over the neighbourhood; sometimesto the downs, or up to the camp, where they cut theira __ _
EARLIER ST PLA YMA TES. 59miatiais out in the springy turf, and watched the hawkssoaring, and the " pecrt " bird, as Harry Winburn calledthe grey plover, gorgeous in his wedding feathers; andso home, racing down the Manger with many a rollamong the thistles, or through Uffington-wood to watchthe fox cubs playing in the green rides; sometimes toRosy Brook, to cut long whispering reeds which grewthere, to make pan-pipes of; sometimes to Moor Mills,where was a piece of old forest land, with short browsedturf and tufted brambly thickets stretching under theoaks, amongst which rumour declared that a raven, lastof his race, still lingered; or to the sand-hills, in vainquest of rabbits; and birds'-nesting, in the season,anywhere and everywhere.The few neighbours of the Squire's own rank everynow and then would shrug their shoulders as they droveor rode by a party of boys with Tom in the middle,carrying along bulrushes or whispering reeds, or greatbundles of cowslip and meadow-sweet, or young star-lings or magpies, or other spoil of wood, brook, ormeadow: and Lawyer Red-tape might mutter to SquireStraightback at the Board, that no good would come ofthe young Browns, if they were let run wild with allthe dirty village boys, whom the best farmers' sonseven would not play with. And the Squire might replywith a shake of his head, that his sons only mixed withtheir equals, and never went into the village withoutthe governess or a footman. But, luckily, SquireBrown was full as stiff-backed as his neighbours, andso went on his own way; and Tom and his youngerbrothers, as they grew up, went on playing with thevillage boys, without the idea of equality or inequality
60 FIRST SCHOOL.(except in wrestling, running, and climbing,) everentering their heads, as it doesn't till it's put there byJack Nastys or fine ladies' maids.I don't mean to say it would be the case in allvillages, but it certainly was so in this one; the villageboys were full as manly and honest, and certainly purerthan those in a higher rank; and Tom got more harmfrom his equals in his first fortnight at a private school.where he went when he was nine years old, than he hadfrom his village friends from the day he left Charity'sapron-strings.Great was the grief amongst the village school-boyswhen Tom drove off with the Squire, one August morn-ing, to meet the coach on his way to school. Each ofthem had given him some little present of the best thathe had, and his small private box was full of peg-tops,white marbles (called "alley-taws" in the Vale), screws,birds'-eggs, whip-cord, jews-harps, and other miscella-neous boys' wealth. Poor Jacob Doodle-calf, in floodsof tears, had pressed upon him with spluttering earnest-ness his lame pet hedgehog (he had always some poorbroken-down beast or bird by him); but this Tom hadbeen obliged to refuse by the Squire's order. He hadgiven them all a great tea under the big elm in theirplay-ground, for which Madam Brown had supplied thebiggest cake ever seen in our village; and Tom wasreally as sorry to leave them as they to lose him, buthis sorrow was not unmixed with the pride and excite-ment of making a new step in life.And this feeling carried him through his first partingwith his mother better than could have been expected.Their love was as fair and whole as human love can be,'__________________ ______^ _____^
OF PRIVA TE SCHOOLS. 61perfect self-sacrifice on the one side, meeting a youngand true heart on the other. It is not within the scopeof my book, however, to speak of family relations, orI should have much to say on the subject of Englishmothers,-aye, and of English fathers, and sisters, andbrothers too.Neither have I room to speak of our private schools:what I have to say is about public schools, those muchabused and much belauded institutions peculiar toEngland. So we must hurry through Master Tom'syear at a private school as fast as we can.It was a fair average specimen, kept by a gentleman,with another gentleman as second master; but it waslittle enough of the real work they did-merely cominginto school when lessons were prepared and all ready tobe heard. The whole discipline of the school out oflesson hours was in the hands of the two ushers, one ofwhom was always with the boys in their play-ground,in the school, at meals-in fact, at all times and every-where, till they were fairly in bed at night.Now the theory of private schools is (or was) con-stant supervision out of school; therein differing funda-mentally from that of public schools.It may be right or wrong; but if right, this super-vision surely ought to be the especial work of the head-master, the responsible person. The object of all schoolsis not to ram Latin and Greek into boys, but to makethem good English boys, good future citizens; and byfar the most important part of that work must be done,or not done, out of school hours. To leave it, therefore,in the hands of inferior men, is just giving up thehighest and hardest part of the work of education.,i
6a THE USHERS.Were I a private schoolmaster, I should say, let whowill hear the boys their lessons, but let me live withthem when they are at play and rest.The two ushers at Tom's first school were not gentle-men, and very poorly educated, and were only drivingtheir poor trade of usher to get such living as theycould out of it. They were not bad men, but had littleheart for their work, and of course were bent on makingit as easy as possible. One of the methods by whichthey endeavoured to accomplish this, was by encourag-ing tale-bearing, which had become a frightfully commonvice in the school in consequence, and had sapped allthe foundations of school morality. Another was, byfavouring grossly the biggest boys, who alone couldhave given them much trouble; whereby those younggentlemen became most abominable tyrants, oppressingthe little boys in all the small mean ways which prevailin private schools.Poor little Tom was made dreadfully unhappy in hisfirst week, by a catastrophe which happened to his firstletter home. With huge labour he had, on the veryevening of his arrival, managed to fill two sides of asheet of letter-paper with assurances of his love for dearmamma, his happiness at school, and his resolves to doall she would wish. This missive, with the help of theboy who sat at the desk next him, also a new arrival,he managed to fold successfully; but this done, theywere sadly put to it for means of scaling. Envelopeswere then unknown, they had no wax, and dared nosdisturb the stillness of the evening school-room bygetting up and going to ask the usher for some Atlength Tom's friend, being of an ingenious turn of mind,
" MIAMMY-SICK" AND ITS RESULTS. 63suggested sealing with ink, and the letter was accord-ingly stuck down with a blob of ink, and duly handedby Tom, on his way to bed, to the housekeeper to beposted. It was not till four days afterwards, that thatgood dame sent for him, and produced the preciousletter, and some wax, saying, " Oh Master Brown, Iforgot to tell you before, but your letter isn't sealed."Poor Tom took the wax in silence and scaled his letter,with a huge lump rising in his throat during the process,and then ran away to a quiet corner of the play-ground,and burst into an agony of tears. The idea of his motherwaiting day after day for the letter he had promised herat once, and perhaps thinking him forgetful of her, whenhe had done all in his power to make good his promise,was as bitter a grief as any which he had to undergofor many a long year. His wrath then was proportion-ately violent when he was aware of two boys, whostopped close by him, and one of whom, a fat gaby ofa fellow, pointed at him and called him "Youngmammy-sick !" Whereupon Tom arose, and givingvent thus to his grief and shame and rage, smote hisderider on the nose, and made it bleed-which sent thatyoung worthy howling to the usher, who reported Tomfor violent and unprovoked assault and battery. Hittingin the face was a felony punishable with flogging, otherhitting only a misdemeanour-a distinction not alto-gether clear in principle. Tom however escaped th6penalty by pleading " primum tempus;" and havingwritten a second letter to his mother, enclosing someforget-me-nots, which he picked on their first half-holiday walk, felt quite happy again, and began to enjoyvastly a good deal of his new life.-____, ,...>_,.-.. ---
64 THE AMiUSEMENTS.These half-holiday walks were the great events of theweek. The whole fifty boys started after dinner withone of the ushers for Hazeldown, which was distant.some mile or so from the school. Hazeldown measuredsome three miles round, and in the neighbourhood wereseveral woods full of all manner of birds and butterflies.The usher walked slowly round the down with suchboys as liked to accompany him ; the rest scattered inall directions, being only bound to appear again whenthe usher had completed his. round, and accompany himhome. They were forbidden, however, to go anywhereexcept on the down and into the woods, the villagebeing especially prohibited, where huge bulls'-eyes, andunctuous toffy might be procured in exchange for coinof the realm.Various were the amusements to which the boys thenbetook themselves. At the entrance of the down therewas a steep hillock, like the barrows of Tom's owndowns. This mound was the weekly scene of terrificcombats, at a game called by the queer name of "mud-patties." The boys who played divided into sides underdifferent leaders, and one side occupied the mound.Then, all parties having provided themselves with manysods of turf, cut with their bread-and-cheese knives, theside which remained at the bottom proceeded to assaultthe mound, advancing up on all sides under cover of aheavy fire of turfs, and then struggling for victory withthe occupants, which was theirs as soon as they could,even for a moment, clear the summit, when they in turnbecame the besieged. It was a good rough dirty game,and of great use in counteracting the sneaking tenden-cies of the school. Then others of the boys spreads
THE REPROBA TE. 65over the downs, looking for the holes of humble-beesand mice, which they dug up without mercy, often (Iregret to say) killing and skinning the unlucky mice,and (I do not regret to say) getting well stung by thehumble-bees. Others went after butterflies and birds'-eggs in their seasons; and Tom found on Hazeldown,for the first time, the beautiful little blue butterfly withgolden spots on his wings, which he had never seen onhis own downs, and dug out his first sand-martin's nest.This latter achievement resulted in a flogging, for thesand-martins built in a high bank close to the village,consequently out of bounds; but one of the bolderspirits of the school, who never could be happy unlesshe was doing something to which risk attached, easilypersuaded Tom to break bounds and visit the martin'sbank. From whence it being only a step to the toffyshop, what could be more simple than to go on thereand fill their pockets; or what more certain than thaton their return, a distribution of treasure having beenmade, the usher should shortly detect the forbiddensmell of bull's-eyes, and, a search ensuing, discover thestate of the breeches-pockets of Tom and his ally?This ally of Tom's was indeed a desperate hero inthe sight of the boys, and feared as one who dealtin magic, or something approaching thereto. Whichreputation came to him in this wise. The boys wentto bed at eight, and of course consequently lay awakein the dark for an hour or two, telling ghost-stories byturns. One night when it came to his turn, and hehad dried up their souls by his story, he suddenlydeclared that he would make a fiery hand appear onthe door; and to the astonishment and terror of theF
66 TOM LEA VES HIS FIRST SCHOOL,boys in his room, a hand, or something like it, in palelight, did then and there appear. The fame of thisexploit having spread to the other rooms, and beingdiscredited there, the young necromancer declared thatthe same wonder would appear in all the rooms in turn,which it accordingly did; and the whole circumstanceshaving been privately reported to one of the ushers asusual, that functionary, after listening about at thedoors of the rooms, by a sudden descent caught theperformer in his night-shirt, with a box of phosphorusin his guilty hand. Lucifer-matches and all the presentfacilities for getting acquainted with fire were then un-known; the very name of phosphorus had somethingdiabolic in it to the boy-mind; so Tom's ally, at thecost of a sound flogging, earned what many older folkcovet much-the very decided fear of most of hiscompanions.He was a remarkable boy, and by no means a badone. Tom stuck to him till he left, and got into manyscrapes by so doing. But he was the great opponentof the tale-bearing habits of the school, and the openenemy of the ushers; and so worthy of all support.Tom imbibed a fair amount of Latin and Greek atthe school, but somehow on the whole it didn't suithim, or he it, and in the holidays he was constantlyworking the Squire to send him at once to a publicschool. Great was his joy then, when in the middleof his third half-year, in October, 183-, a fever brokeout in the village, and the master having himself slightlysickened of it, the whole of the boys were sent off at aday's notice to their respective homes.The Squire was not quite so pleased as Master Tom
AND PREPARES FOR RUGBY. 67to see that young gentleman's brown merry face appearat home, some two months before the proper time, forChristmas holidays: and so after putting on his thinkingcap, he retired to his study and wrote several letters,the result of which was, that one morning at thebreakfast-table, about a fortnight after Tom's return, headdressed his wife with-" My dear, I have arrangedthat Tom shall go to Rugby at once, for the last sixweeks of this half-year, instead of wasting them, ridingand loitering about home. It is very kind of the Doctorto allow it. Will you see that his things are all readyby Friday, when I shall take him up to town, and sendhim down the next day by himself."Mrs. Brown was prepared for the announcement, andmerely suggested a doubt whether Tom were yet oldenough to travel by himself. However, finding bothfather and son against her on this point, she gave inlike a wise woman, and proceeded to prepare Tom's kitfor his launch into a public school.F2I___ _--_
68 TOM ARRIVES IN TOWMN.CHAPTER IV."Let the steam-pot hiss till it's hot,Give me the speed of the Tantivy trot."Coaching Song by R. E. E. Warburton, ,sq."' Now, sir, time to get up, if you please. Tally-hocoach for Leicester 'll be round in half-an-hour, anddon't wait for nobody." So spake the Boots of thePeacock Inn, Islington, at half-past two o'clock on themorning of a day in the early part of November, 183-,giving Tom at the same time a shake by the shoulder,and then putting down a candle and carrying off hisshoes to clean.Tom and his father had arrived in town from Berk-shire the day before, and finding, on inquiry, that theBirmingham coaches which ran from the city did notpass through Rugby, but deposited their passengers atDunchurch, a village three miles distant on the mainroad, where said passengers had to wait for the Oxfordand Leicester coach in the evening, or to take a post-chaise-had resolved that Tom should travel down bythe Tally-ho, which diverged from the main road andpassed through Rugby itself. And as the Tally-howas an early coach, they had driven out to the Peacockto be on the road.Tom had never been in London, and would have likedto have stopped at the Belle Savage, where they hadbeen put down by the Star, just at dusk, that he mighthave gone roving about those endless, mysterious, gas-lit strTts, which, with their glare and hurn and moving______________________________
THE PEA COCK, ISLINGTON. 69crowds, excited him so that he couldn't talk even. Butas soon as he found that the Peacock arrangementwould get him to Rugby by twelve o'clock in the day,whereas otherwise he wouldn't be there till the evening,all other plans melted away; his one absorbing aimbeing to become a public school-boy as fast as possible,and six hours sooner or later seeming to him of themost alarming importance.Tom and his father had alighted at the Peacock, atabout seven in the evening; and having heard with un-feigned joy the paternal order at the bar, of steaks andoyster sauce for supper in half an hour, and seen hisfather seated cozily by the bright fire in the coffee-roomwith the paper in his hand-Tom had run out to seeabout him, had wondered at all the vehicles passing andrepassing, and had fraternized with the boots and ostler,from whom he ascertained that the Tally-ho was atip-top goer, ten miles an hour including stoppages,and so punctual that all the road set their clocks byher.Then being summoned to supper, he had regaledhimself in one of the bright little boxes of the Peacockcoffee-room, on the beef-steak and unlimited oyster-sauce, and brown stout, (tasted then for the first time-a day to be marked for ever by Tom with a whitestone); had at first attended to the excellent advicewhich his father was bestowing on him from over hisglass of steaming brandy and water, and then begunnodding, from the united effects of the stout, the fire,and the lecture. Till the Squire observing Tom's state,and remembering that it was nearly nine o'clock, andthat the Tally-ho left at three, sent the little fellow off