« ElőzőTovább »
“When I was a boy,” said my uncle
“Coachman has come for orders, Sir,” said a servant, who had just entered the room.
Gentle reader,—I must inform you that I was my uncle's favourite nephew, and that he was fond of telling a long story. What uncles are not—and what nephews think not the same---favourites, or otherwise ? And sometimes, far be it from me to say often, of one“ decies repetita,” which, being interpreted for the benefit of the—the ladies—means a tale ten times told. When, therefore, he began, “When I was a boy,” and, as a preliminary (for he did so, gentle reader), took off his spectacles, and proceeded, with more than ordinary deliberation, to deposit them in a shagreen case, which he had informed me, on several occasions, had been in his possession for the last thirty years, and had belonged to his great-grandmother (of blessed memory, and
the reigning toast of her day), being morally certain that I knew the old gentleman's story word for word, I leaned back in my chair with apparent attention, and had already occupied myself with (as I supposed) an entirely different range of thought; but the question of the servant reaching me, in the clouds as I was, the deliverance was altogether so unexpected, not to say welcome, as to throw me completely off my guard, and I exclaimed, half aloud, though not very politely, “ Sic me servavit Apollo !” (Which, for the benefit of the individuals aforesaid, and those who have not been flogged for their inability to construe Horace, means, “ Thank Heaven !")
“ At two o'clock," said my uncle, and the servant left the room.
The good old man then turned to me with a smile, and, taking me kindly by the hand, “ Marmaduke,” said he, “it is my intention to send you to Oxford in a few weeks, when you will start into a new existence, as it were, inasmuch as the course of life you will then be compelled to adopt will be widely different from that to which you have been hitherto accustomed. I think it, therefore, my duty, previous to your departure, to give you an insight of the little world you are about to enter, and, by so doing, to warn you of the dangers of the greater world in which all our lots have been cast ; for though Oxford is, indeed, a world of itself, it is, in truth, but a miniature of that greater world in which, sooner or later, if life be granted, you must play your part. The same friendships, the same feuds, the same jealousies, the same rivalries, the same virtues, the same vices, are alike in both, and make or mar the character of all. I have not sent you to a public school, although your poor father and myself had, as some people call it, the benefit of a public education, simply because I do not approve of public schools as at present constituted, inasmuch as, no matter whether the fault lay in the system or in me, I do not consider that my public education was productive of advantage.
You are aware, doubtless, for I have often put writings on this subject before you, that the science of education has given rise to no little controversy. Many advantages are to be derived from a public and many from a private education; and there are evils, and not a few, in both the systems. You, my dear boy, have been educated at home, and I trust to some purpose ; but the nature of such an education has