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(3.) “ Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn secured are,
To save from fingers wet the letters fair." A HORNBOOK was the earliest form of the Primer-or first book to teach children to read-being a card or table, set in a frame, on which the letters were inscribed, and covered with a thin plate of horn to prevent the paper being soiled, and thumbed to pieces by rough and frequent use.
A writer in “ Notes and Queries," Vol. III. p. 151, describes a Hornbook in the British Museum, as follows: “It contains on one side the Old English Alphabet '—the capi tals in two lines, the small letters in one. The fourth line contains the vowels twice repeated, (perhaps to doubly impress upon the pupil the necessity of learning them.) Next follow in two columns, our ancient companions, 'ab, eb, ib,' &c., and .ba, be, bi,' &c. After the formula of exorcism comes the Lord's Prayer,' (which is given somewhat differently to our present version,) winding up with .i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii viii ix. x.' On the other side is the following whimsical piece of composition :
“What more could be wished for, even by a literary gourmand under the Tudors, than to be able to Read and Spell; To repeat that holy charm before which fled all unholy Ghosts, Goblins, or even the old Gentleman himself to the very bottom of the Red Sea, and to say that immortal prayer, which secures heaven to all who exanimo use it, and those mathematical powers, by knowing units, from which spring countless myriads."'.
Shakspeare, in “ Love's Labor's Lost,” introduces the schoolmaster, (Holofernes) as being " lettered” because "he teaches boys the hornbook.”
It appears from a stanza of Prior, that children were sometimes served with a horn. book, far more palatable and easily digested than that described by Shenstone.
To master John the English maid
As he can name, he eats the letter. Locke was one of the earliest English writers on Education to recommend the abandonment of hornbooks, or any arrangement of the letters in horizontal or perpendicular columns, as in the old fashioned Primers, to be learned by the direst repetitions at school, for some game, in which the letters should be pasted on the sides of the dice, or on blocks, and that the shape and name of each should be acquired by familiarity at home.
(4.) “ To loose the brogues,” &c.
The word brogue is used in Scotland to mean a coarse kind of shoe, stitched together by thongs of leather. Shenstone adopts some provincial use of the word for breeches. But be the origin of the word what it may, the schoolmistress was not the first or last to act on the maxim
“ Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Samuel Butler who is the author of this line makes the hero of his satirica, poem say
• Whipping, that's virtue's governess,
And all the heroes of the gown.”
“Oh ye! who teach the ingenious yonth of nations,
It mends their morals, never mind the pain."
(5.) 'A little bench of heedless bishops here,
And there a chancellor in embryo,
As Milton, Shakspeare--names that ne'er shall die,” &c.
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood, &c. Chambers thinks the conception of Shenstone—that in the undeveloped minds of these young children there may slumber the powers of poet or statesman far more natural, than that of Gray, that the peasant should have grown up to be a man, and to have gone to his grave, without having given indications of the existence of these powers.
(6.) Embowered in trees, and hardly known to fame,
There dwells in lowly shed,” gc. For the illustration of Sarah Lloyd's thatched cottage, near Hales-Owen, Shropshire, we are indebted to J. P. Jewett & Co., Boston, the publishers of Rural Poetry," a royal octavo volume of 544 pages of the best poetry which has been inspired by the charms of nature, the occupations of the garden and the field, and the genius of domestic life. The cut is copied from one introduced by Shenstone in the original edition of his poem-which was printed in red letter, and illustrated by designs of his own. The last edition published by Shenstone contains seven stanzas more than the first, with several omissions and verbal alterations. To the first edition was appended a "ludicrous index," so styled by Shenstone himself, in one of his letters, “purely to
publish this Index, from Mr. D’Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, second series." Stanza.
Stanza. Introduction, ..... 1l structure, decoration, and fortificaThe subject proposed, ...... 2 tions of an HORN-BIBLE, .... 18 A circumstance in the situation of the A surprising picture of sisterly affection MANSION OF EARLY DISCIPLINE, by way of episode,
20,21 discovering the surprising influence A short list of the methods now in use
of the connections of ideas, ... 3 to avoid a whipping-wbich nevertheA simile; introducing a deprecation of less follows, i . . . . . . . 22
the joyless effects of BIGOTRY and | The force of example, : : : 23 SUPERSTITION,. ..
4 |A sketch of the particular symptorns of Some peculiarities indicative of a COUN obstinacy as they discover themselves
TRY SCHOOL, with a short sketch of in a child, with a simile illustrating a
the SOVEREIGN presiding over it, . 51 blubbered face, ..... 24, 25, 26 Some account of her NIGHT CAP, 1 A hint of great importance, .... 27
APRON, and a tremendous description The piety of the poet in relation to that of her BIRCHEN SCEPTRE, .
6 school-dame's memory, who had the A parallel instance of the advantages of first formation of a CERTAIN patriot,
LEGAL GOVERNMENT with regard to [This stanza has been left out in the la
children and the wind, · · · · · 7 ter editions ; it refers to the Duke of Her gown, ...
Argyle.] Her Titles, and punctilious nicety in The secret connection between WHIP
the ceremonious assertion of them, 9 | PING and RISING IN THE WORLD, A digression concerning her hen's pre with a view as it were, through a per
sumptuous behavior, with a circum spective, or the same LITTLE FOLK stance tending to give the cautious in the highest posts and reputation, 28 reader a more accurate idea of the An account of the nature of an EMBRYO officious diligence and economy of an FOX-HUNTER, . . . . . . . .
old woman, ........ 10 [Another stanza omitted.] A view of this RURAL POTENTATE as LÀ deviation to an huckster's shop, . 32
seated in her chair of state, conser Which being continued for the space of ring HONORS, distributing BOUNTIES, three stanzas, gives the author an op
and dispersing PROCLAMATIONS, - 16 portunity of paying his compliments Her POLICIES, .... 17 to a particular county, which he glad. The action of the poem commences ly seizes ; concluding his piece with with a general summons, follows a respectful mention of the ancient and particular description of the artful | loyal city of SHREWSBURY....
THE SCHOOL AND TEACHER IN LITERATURE.
THOMAS GRAY. 1716—1771. Thomas Gray, of all English poets the most finished artist, was born in London, in 1716, and was the only one of twelve children who survived the period of infancy. His father was a money-scrivener, and of harsh and violent disposition, whose wife was forced to separate from him; and to the exertions of this excellent woman, as partner with her sister in a millinery business, the poet owed the advantages of a learned education, toward which his father had refused all assistance.' He was sent to be educated at Eton, where a maternal uncle, named Antrobus, was one of the assistant-masters. He remained here six years, and made himself a good classic; he was an intimate associate of the accomplished Richard West, this being one of the most interesting school-friendships on record. West went to Oxford, whence he thus wrote to Gray :
“You use me very cruelly: you have sent me but one letter since I have been at Oxford, and that too agreeable not to make me sensible how great my loss is in not having more. Next to seeing you is the pleasure of seeing your handwriting; next to hearing you is the pleasure of hearing from you. Really and sincerely, I wonder at you, that you thought it not worth while to answer my last letter. I hope this will have better success in behalf of your quondam school-fellow; in behalf of one who has walked hand in hand with you, like the two children in the wood,
Thro' many a flow'ry path and shelly grot,
Where learning lull'ed her in her private maze. The very thought, you see, tips my pen with poetry, and brings Eton to my view."
Another of Gray's associates at Eton was Horace Walpole; they removed together to Cambridge; Gray resided at Peterhouse from 1735 to 1738, when he left without a degree. The spirit of Jacobitisin and its concomitant hard-drinking, which then prevailed at Cambridge, ill-suited the taste of Gray ; nor did the uncommon proficiency he had made at Eton hold first rank, for he complains of college impertinences, and the endurance of lectures, daily and hourly. “Must I pore into metaphysics ?” asks Gray. “Alas, I can not see in the dark; nature has not furnished me with the optics of a cat. Must I pore upon mathematics ? Alas, I can not see in too much light; I am no eagle. It is very possible that two and two inake four, but I would not give four farthings to demonstrate this ever so clearly; and if these be the profits of life, give me the amusements of it.” Yet Gray subsequently much regretted that he had never applied his mind to the study of inathematics; and once, rather late in life, had an intention to undertake it. His time at Cambridge was devoted to classics, modern languages, and poetry; and a few Latin poems and English translations were made by him at this period. In “the agonies of leaving college,” he complains of "the dust, the old boxes, the bedsteads, and tutors,” that were about his ears. “I am coming away,” he says, “all so fast, and leaving behind me, without the least remorse, all the beauties of Stourbridge Fair. Its white bears may roar, its apes, may wring their hands, and crocodiles cry their eyes out, all's one for that; I shall not once visit them, nor so much as take my leave."
In a letter to Mr. West, he says: “I learn Italian like any dragon, and in two months am got through the 16th Book of Tasso, whom I hold in great admiration; I want you to learn too, that I may know your opinion of him; nothing can be easier than that language to any one who knows Latin and French already, and there are few so copious and expressive."
In 1739, Gray accompanied Horace Walpole on a tour through France and Italy; but, as they could not agree, Gray being, as Walpole has it, “too serious a companion," the former returned to England in 1741. He next went to Cambridge, to take his degree in Civil Law. He now devoted himself to the classics, and at the same time cultivated his muse. At Cambridge he was considered an unduly fastidious man, and the practical jokes and “incivilities" played off upon him by his fellow-inmates at Peterhouse-one of which was a false alarm of fire, through which he descended from his window to the ground by a rope—was the cause of his migrating to Pembroke Hall. He subsequently obtained the professorship of Modern History in the University. He usually passed the summer with his mother, at Stoke, near Eton, in which picturesque locality he composed his two most celebrated poems—the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College, and his Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
Gray continued to reside at Cambridge, and prosecuted his studies in natural history, as well as in almost every department of learning, until 1771, when he died, and was buried, according to his desire, by the side of his mother, at Stoke.
There scattered oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found.
ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE,
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the wat'ry glade,
Her Henry's holy shade;
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along His silver winding way!
Ah happy hills ! ah pleasing shade!
Ah fields beloved in vain,
A stranger yet to pain !
And, redolent of joy and youth,
Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
The paths of pleasure trace,
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
While some on earnest business bent
Their murmuring labors ply
To sweeten liberty:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind, And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest; The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast: Theirs buxom health of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever-new, And lively cheer of vigor born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light, That fly th' approach of morn.