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Mr. Crackenthorpe having first, as a just man, asked the cause of the quarrel, and been answered by Ramshorn, that Foljambe had insulted him, the pedagogue replied, in his broad Cumberland dialect, “ Yoong lad, take care what thou say’st; Mr. Fooljamb Hastings is a gentleman, and a gentleman never insoolts any one. But I thought,” continued the pedagogue," and I had hoped, that where all were so coomfortable as ye are with me, ye would all be civil to one another, and live in peace, and it is my duty to poonish those who will not.”
At this he brandished a rod, which, like the fasces of a Roman consul, lay before him on the table, adding much to his dignity in adding to his power. He went on thus:
“ Before I proceed to the ratio ultima, which you all know means, Anglice, condign punshment, and vulgarly, a good flogging, I must know the particulars, and require to be told wherein the insult, which Ramshorn says he received from Fooljambe, consisted.”
Ramshorn (rather, what is called in common language, dumb-founded) could allege no insult on the part of his adversary, except that he was so proud that he would not associate with the boys in general, but chose to keep aloof, with one or two favourites, myself for one.
“ Take care again, lad,” said Mr. Crackenthorpe: “for thou convictest thyself. Noscitur a socio is a true proverb. His choice of a friend shews he is no ways proud at all ; and at any rate, it is no insult.”
To this Mr. Thornthwaite gave a grave assent, and the principal, still requiring to know more of the story, and finding that the challenge given by Foljambe was the consequence of the gratuitous annoyance of Rams
horn by hissing, he determined that the Tribune had been guilty of a gross abuse of the liberty he advocated, and deserved poonishment, which should certainly be inflicted, unless he confessed himself in the wrong, made an apology, and promised to keep the peace in future.
This the gallant Ramshorn positively refused, which called forth all the energies, as well as ire, of the judge, who was proceeding to corporal chastisement, which the Tribune even made a show of resisting ; for he retired among the other boys, calling upon them to join in defending him.
He however mistook his man, in supposing this would intimidate the monarch. Crackenthorpe was a man of nerve, and though remarkable for affability, and even a jollity of manner when unopposed, was a determined supporter of all lawful authority, more especially his own.
Ramshorn's punishment, therefore, was only the more severe on account of this additional crime, of an . attempt at rebellion against legitimate power. The insulted master seized him with a strong hand; and while his usher, Thornthwaite, acted as a corps of observation in regard to the rest of the school, inflicted a powerful castigation in blows and stripes, from which the culprit in vain endeavoured to escape.
Bursting with spleen, he was then confined to his room, and we were all dismissed, appalled with what we had witnessed, and awfully impressed with the veneration due to lawful authority, and particularly to that of the schoolmaster of Sedbergh.
My reasoning powers were much busied by this scene, and especially with what followed; for Ramshorn, having contrived to break prison, went home to
his father, the innkeeper, who came the next day with his attorney, Mr. Capias, to call the tyrant, as he termed him, to account; threatened the vengeance of the law, and insisted upon taking his boy from the school.
The attorney, not to be wanting on his part, began questioning (or, as Crackenthorpe afterwards said, “poomping” him), to know whether he admitted, what he called, the gross assault which had been perpetrated on the innocent boy ?
“ I deny the perpetrating, and particularly deny the innocence,” said the master of birch and etymology, “ but I admit flogging the young rebel, as I would both of you if you were my scholars, and offended against the rules of my school."
Mr. Crackenthorpe uttered this with what we thought astonishing firmness, particularly when he added, “as for law, two can play at that; for if the law does not support schoolmasters, it will soon not support the king, and then there will be no law at all. Then as to removing the boy, I am sorry to tell thee, it is not in thy power, for I have myself already, not removed, but expelled him. Mr. Thornthwaite, reach me down the book of entries.”
At this he opened the ponderous record of the transactions, civil and criminal, of the free school of Sedbergh, and showed, to the indignation of the democratic Boniface, the following note, in ink scarcely dry, against his son's name in the list of scholars :
Propter contumaciam, et rebellionam contra scholæ disciplinam-Expulsus.”
At first the innkeeper stared, and not understanding Latin, wondered how a few unintelligible words, like
magic, could prevent him, as Crackenthorpe had said, from using the power of removing his own boy from such thraldom ; but, upon being informed that he was expelled by the master's own act, and for rebellion against his authority, he said it was a damned country, and not worth living in, where any man, or body of men, had such power. He was consoled, however, by Mr. Capias telling him that such palpable tyranny, added to such a cruel assault, would greatly enhance the damages in an action at law. This he ordered the said Capias forthwith to commence, and they sullenly took their leave.
The result was, a verdict for the defendant at the next assizes, the plaintiff being condemned to pay the costs, and another action by Capias against his principal for not paying them.
MORE OF SCHOOL DAYS. -MY FRIENDSHIPS,
SHAKSPEARE. - Merch. of Venice.
The preceding incident was by far the most important hitherto of my life, and set my thoughts at work in greater activity than ever.
I began to speculate on the nature of right and wrong; of government and rebellion; of friendship, jealousy, envy, and hatred; in short, I became as great a moral philosopher as any young gentleman of fifteen could be.
In this I was joined con amore by Hastings. The friendship which had united us from taste had been drawn closer by this adventure, and this in itself formed another object of inquiry for our inquisitive minds, involving no less a question than the principles of human nature, and the equality of mankind. For this Hastings was a great stickler, notwithstanding his high lot, and his burst against Ramshorn; and when I observed upon the indignation he had shown against that rebel, as incompatible with his principle, he justified himself by saying that he fought him for his