Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

tastes, the same opinions, the same feelings, and sense of right and wrong. In short, we made good the “idem velle et idem nolle," as forming the basis of a lasting friendship, and not unaptly we sometimes reminded one another of the brotherly love between Milton and Henry Lawes, so celebrated in the beautiful Lycidas, which Foljambe seemed to love as well as myself, though both so young.

One would have thought that the enjoyment of a pleasure so pure, so natural, so incapable of hurting any body, and might I not add, so enjoined by the revered author of our religion himself, as friendship, could have given offence to nobody. But not so. The distinction which Foljambe shewed me was deemed an affront by the other boys, and they disliked us both for it ; him, for preferring a mere equal to themselves; me, for being so preferred. I thought this very hard, but, as I have observed, I afterwards found it was the way of the world.

For some time we were regardless of this ill will, and continued our studies, our walks, and our plays together; for which, strange to say, we were sent to Coventry by our sulky schoolfellows. Even this we did not much mind, any more than their sneers of unkindness when thrown together with them ; though I own my little reasoning mind set busily to work to ascertain, if it could, from what spice of the devil all this could arise.

At length the ill-will of those who envied us the power of making ourselves happy without them (for this seemed the amount of our crime) broke out into open hostility. There was a lad of the name of Ramshorn, about fifteen years of age, the son of an inn

keeper in the neighbourhood, whose father piqued himself on his inn's being avoided by gentlemen, on account of his rudeness. This lad was dull enough at books, but had a swaggering air of vulgar insolence, very terrific to his juniors, whom he belaboured without mercy, and very hateful to his equals, whom he only did not bully from fear of their turning again. He was vulgar in his looks, vulgar in his mind, vulgar in his dress, in short, vulgar in every thing, and what Shakspeare calls a “ proud, shallow, filthy, worstedstocking knave.” Like his father, he was a great stickler for equality of all kinds, which he proved by soundly thrashing all the boys below him who would not do his bidding. This doctrine of equality, however, was so well relished by the school at large, that our lives (Foljambe's and mine) were made uncomfortable by it. For when we appeared together arm and arm, it was thought that we were too proud to associate with the rest; we were laughed at, and a cry of Pylades and Orestes set up in derision; and once, under Ramshorn's directions, we were hissed.

This was beyond bearing, and Foljambe's aristocratic spirit resolved to assert itself, by challenging the Tribune.

I saw the fight, and a desparate one it was. They were pretty equally paired. The Roundhead had the advantage in weight, but the Cavalier in activity. One was the most powerful in bone, the other in muscle. Each seemed resolved to conquer or die: the one to pull down what he hated as a superior, the other to preserve his own position. In short, it seemed almost an epitome of the notable struggles between the Radicals and Conservatives, which I have since lived to witness in

the world. The Tribune however had this advantage, that the great majority of those who looked on showed themselves all of his clique, cheering him as their champion at every successful blow, and encouraging him at every thing like a check; while Hastings had nothing but his own spirit, and a sense of his own good cause, on which to rely.

In the end this good cause, and the spirit and blood of Hastings, prevailed; the conquered Ramshorn was led off the ground by his sullen seconds, growling like Polyphemus, and the victor kept possession of the field.

CHAPTER II.

SCHOOL ADVENTURES.

What news, Lord Bardolfe ?
The times are wild : contention, like a horse
Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
And bears down all before him.

SHAKspeare.—Second Purt Henry IV. The next morning, Ramshorn being sufficiently recovered, and Hastings quite fresh, Mr. Crackenthorpe summoned us all to his presence. He was sitting with dignified gravity in his chair of state, highbacked, covered with dark brown leather, and splendid with brass nails, often admired by his younger disciples. On one side were two or three shelves, containing his Greek and Latin treasures, which he always eyed with complacency; on the other, a small window made on purpose, as a sort of telescope, through which at a glance, as a relaxation from study, he could survey the details of his farm-yard. He had summoned all his gravity to give effect to the oration he had meditated, on the great breach of the peace which had been committed. On his right hand, and in a lower chair, sat his assistant, Mr. Thornthwaite, as a sort of puisne judge on the important occasion. The culprits, and all the rest, stood mute and anxiously around; so that, notwithstanding my fright, it reminded me of my Ovid, which I had that very day to construe

Considere duces et vulgi
Stante corona.

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

« ПредишнаНапред »