Obrazy na stronie

faction, they complained that, although they had been more than a year in small hand at their former school, the writing master insisted on their returning to large hand copies; that, in like manner, though they had made great progress in other branches of polite learning, and expected to take a prominent station in the upper classes, they were compelled again to go over the groundwork; which, they averred, was perfectly unnecessary; as well as exceedingly discouraging and mortifying to them to be placed on a level with little girls. Moreover, Mrs. required them daily to perform a certain portion of plain needlework, for which they had no taste whatever ; and restricted them as to the time bestowed on fancy performances, in which they would have excelled. And then, too, they were without any kind of stimulus or encouragement to take pains with their learning; for no prizes were given, no taking of places in classes allowed; in short, emulation had no place in Mrs. —'s system of tuition, and as emulation had been all in all at their former school, how was it possible for them to make progress without it?

The entrance of Mrs. attended by a servant with refreshments, prevented a direct reply to the appeal. A spirited conversation ensued, in which I could distinctly perceive that my uncle and cousin sided rather with the views of the governess than with those of her pupils; for though no direct reference was made by either party to the discontent of the young ladies, the general remarks on education were such as to bear upon the subject of their complaints. There were three points on which the views of the governess and

those of her visitors perfectly coincided, and which seemed to strike at the root of the several complaints. That docility in learners is essential to improvement; that conformableness to circumstances is essential to happiness; and that emulation stimulates to superficial rather than to solid attainments; and, moreover, that its ill effects of a moral kind, more than counterbalance even its supposed advantages. Whether or not the young ladies were led to reflect on the extreme folly and unsuitableness of pupils forming a scheme of their own for instruction and discipline, and resolving that they will not be taught or regulated in any other plan, did not appear at the time. But I should hope they were ; for I know that, in course of years, they became very valuable and welleducated women, and that they cherish, to the present day, very lively sentiments of gratitude and veneration for their excellent governess. These results I think could have been produced only by their exchanging a spirit of self-conceit, rebellion, and discontent, for one of subordination. My kind uncle, too, evinced his approbation of the principles and plans of Mrs. s establishment, by immediately placing there the orphan daughter of a friend, who had left him executor of his will, and guardian to his children ; and in her case the result fully justified his favourable judgment.

A very worthy and respectable man in my uncle's neighbourhood, having several sons to provide for, determined on placing them out to learn trades. In his selection of one for each, he was duly guided by the abilities and inclinations of the boy, and was also concerned so to dispose of each, as to prevent the probability of a future col

lision of interests between the brothers. Having it in his power to give premiums with his sons, he was particular in choosing masters who well understood their respective businesses, and situations in which he could feel confident as to the moral and religious welfare of his children, as well as to their domestic comfort.

During the period of probation, one of the lads wrote to his father a pitiful letter, full of complaints of the hardships he had to encounter. Things were very different from what he had expected ; not at all like what he had been used to at home; and altogether so disagreeable, that he was sure his parents would not think of binding him. He therefore requested permission to return home. The parents were disappointed and distressed at this communication, for they had received from judicious friends the most satisfactory testimony as to the eligibility of the situation ; and should they remove their son, they knew not where to place him so advantageously. My uncle was consulted. His counsel was, to waive a direct answer to the question of his remaining or his removal, and simply to desire a specification of the grievances, as not an unlikely method of getting rid of them. “ For,” said he, “if, as I suspect, they are but imaginary troubles, your son, who is not deficient in good sense, will find that—however it may be to poets——to matter-of-fact people, it is no easy task to 'give to airy nothings a local habitation and a name.'"

This suggestion was adopted; and in the reply, it appeared that the circle of grievances was considerably narrowed. There was little more to complain of, than that the apprentices were required

to clean their own shoes ; that the junior apprentice was obliged to take down the shop shutters, a task which of course fell upon the complainant; that he received his instructions from one of the journeymen, not from the master himself ; and that he was not put upon the more ingenious parts of the work, but was employed in doing what a mere porter or errand boy might do; and, by which, if he were kept to it for seven years, he should never learn his business.

This was a great relief to the anxious parents. The father, in reply, wrote a cheerful, encouraging letter, containing, among others, the following observations:—“I am obliged to your master for causing you to acquire so useful a piece of knowledge as how to clean shoes. I hope you will take pains to do it properly. You may not always have occasion to do it, but you will through life find it an agreeable piece of independence, never to be obliged to wear dirty shoes for want of a servant to clean them. As long as it is your duty to open the shutters, I hope you will make a point of having them down the first in the street. This will be to your credit, and your master's interest. Many a boy has opened and shut the shop of which he ultimately became the master. Your master engages, in seven years, to teach you the business. I believe he is a man of honour, integrity, and competent skill, or I should not have placed you with him. Having confidence in him in these respects, I apprehend he is likely to know, better than either you or I can do, what is the best method and order of teaching. It is probable, that though he has a general knowledge of the business, he may consider some of his journeymen better qualified to

teach some particular department. At any rate, his varied engagements would frequently interfere with his devoting much personal attention to a young apprentice. All this may be safely left in his hands, especially as he is so judicious and honourable as to let you see the worst of the engagement before you are bound to abide by it.” The youth had sense enough to perceive the justice of his father's observations. He made no farther objection to being bound. During his apprenticeship, he became affectionately attached to his master and all the family. At the expiration of his time, he remained in his master's service, and ultimately became master of the shop, where he carried on a prosperous business for forty years, and then retired on a comfortable competence. He is now an old man ; but, to the present day, he speaks with grateful pleasure of the happy years spent in the house of a good master ; and

especially, of the blessed effects produced on his own heart and character, by the habits, influence, and example of a consistently pious family.

The countenance of a young married woman wore an aspect of fretfulness and discontent, which awakened the anxiety of her friends, and led them to inquire particularly after her health. Her reply was, that she was pretty well—there was thing much the matter. Attempts were then made, with great delicacy and circumlocution, to find out whether her husband was kind to her. -Oh yes, he was very kind ; she was sure she had nothing to complain of.—And how was business prospering? Did it afford a prospect of comfortable maintenance ?—Yes, she believed so; she did not know any thing to the contrary.- What,


« PoprzedniaDalej »