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their wigs and gowns, and a good choke in the thick atmosphere of chancery itself, we stepped in at once, one day not long ago, among a multitude of children in pinafores and jackets. There they were, one or two hundred strong, taking their time from a teacher, clapping their hands, and singing “ Winter is coming,” and a great many more songs.
2. They suggested much better ideas of harmony than the argument of our learnëd brother, whom we had left speaking on the question, whether money bequeathed to be distributed in equal shares to John and Mary Wilson and James Brown
John and Mary being man and wife was to be divided into two parts or into three.
3. The children, when we went among them, were just passing from one class into another, and met in the great lecture-room to sing together while they were about it. Some filed in, and some filed out; some were on the floor, some in the gallery; all seemed to be happy enough, except one urchin at the extreme corner of a gallery. He displayed an open copy-book before him to the public gaze, by way of penance for transgressions in the writing lesson, but he looked by no means hopelessly dejected.
4. There are three hundred and fifty children in attendance on this school, which is conducted by five teachers. The children here, we were informed, are classed in the first instance according to their ages, in three divisions, the first taking in those under eight years old ; the second, those between eight and eleven; the third, children older than eleven.
5. In each of these three divisions, the children are subdivided for the purpose of instruction into two classes, — the quick and the slow,- which receive lessons suited to their respective capacities. It is obvious that, without punishment, five teachers could not preserve discipline among three hundred and fifty boys;
and therefore, though it is but seldom used, a cane is kept in the establishment.
6. The children having clapped hands and sung together, sang their way out of the great room, in file, while others began streaming in. We were invited to an Object Lesson, and marched off (not venturing to sing our way into a class room), where we took our seat among the pupils, whose age varied between eight years and eleven. The teacher was before us. We were all attention. • Hands down." We did it. “ Hands on knees.” Beautifully simultaneous. Very good. The lesson began.
7. “I have something in my pocket,” said our teacher, “which I am always glad to have there.” We were old enough and worldly enough to know what he meant; but boys aspire to fill their pockets with so many things that, according to their minds, the something in the teacher's pocket might be string, apple, knife, brass button, top, hardbake, wood for boat, crumbs, squirt, gunpowder, marbles, slate pencil, peashooter, brad-awl, or perhaps small cannon.
8. They attempted no rash guess, therefore, at that stage of the problem. “Boys also," our teacher continued, “ like to have it, though when it gěts into a boy's pocket, I believe that it is often said to burn a hole there.” Instantly twenty outstretched hands indicated an idea demanding utterance in twenty heads. “ If you please, sir, I know what it is." -" What is it?” -“A piece of coal.”
9. You draw your reasoning, my boy, from a part only of the information given to you, founding your view of things on the last words that sounded in your
We laughed at you, cheerfully; but when we see the same thing done in the world daily by your elders, we do not always find it a laughing matter.
10. “ This little thing in my pocket,” the teacher continued, “has not much power by itself, but when
many of the same kind come together, they can do great deeds. A number of them have assembled lately to build handsome monuments to a great man, whose name you all ought to know, for he made the penny loaf bigger than it used to be;- do you know what great man that was?”
11. Hands were out, answers were ready, but they ran pretty exclusively in favor of Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington. “I am sure,” says the teacher, “ you must have heard who made all the loaves larger without altering the price; think again, — who was it?” A confident voice hazarded the suggestion that it was “Guy Fawkes," and half a dozen voices cried “Guy Fawkes.” There are always some to follow the absurdest lead, if it be taken confidently, in the great as in the little world.
12. “Guy Fawkes ! nonsense! Is he to be carried about in your heads all through November and Decem. ber?" More inquiry at length elicited, after a little uncertain hovering about Louis Napoleon, the decisive opinion that the man who made bread cheaper was Sir Robert Peel. “If you please, sir," said an argumentative little fellow, “he did not make the penny loaf bigger.”
13. “Why not?” .“ He did not make the loaf: he made the baker make it.” The difficulty thus started having been properly gone into, and further statement of the riddle having been given, it was at length fairly guessed that the teacher's object upon which he meant to talk with us that day was a Penny.
14. We ascertained that it was round, that it was hard, that it was brown, that it was heavy, — by which we meant, as some of us explained, that it was heavier than the same quantity of water, - that it was stamped on both sides and so forth; also that it was made of copper. Pence being next regarded purely in the light of coppers, the name of the metal, “ Copper," was.
written at the top of a blackboard, and a line was drawn, along which we were to place a regiment of qualities.
15. We began easily by asserting copper to be hard ; and showed our penetration by discovering that, since a penny would not do for framing as a spy-glass, it must be opaque. Can you spell opaque ? O dear, yes! Twenty hands were out; but we were not all so wise as we imagined. No matter; there are folks of bigger size elsewhere who undertake what they are not able to do. O-p-a-k-e ought to be right; but, like not a few things of which we could argue that they must be right, it happened to be wrong; so what was the use of talking ?
16. We heard a little boy in the corner whispering the truth, afraid as yet to utter it too boldly. not the only truth that has appeared first in a whisper. Yet as truth is great and shall prevail, it was but fit that we all finally determined upon o-p-a-q-u-e; and so we did ; and we all uttered those letters from all corners of the room with the more perfect confidence as they grew, by each repetition, more familiar to our minds.
17. A young student in a pinafore, eight years old and short for his age, square and solid, who had been sitting on the front row, nearly opposite the teacher, was upon his legs. He had advanced one or two steps on the floor holding out his hand; he had thought of another quality, and waited to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. But our eyes wandered among the outstretched hands, and other lips cried, “ It is malleable”; so malleable was written on the board.
18. It was not the word that still lurked in the mind of Master Square, who in a solid mood kept his position in advance, ready to put forth his suggestion at the earliest opportunity. What malleable meant, was the question over which we were now called upon to ham
mer, but we soon beat the answer out among ourselves; and then we spelt the word, and malleability * into the bargain.
19. Master Square uplifted his hand the moment we had finished; but there rose other hands again, and the young philosopher, biding his time in sturdy silence, listened through the discussion raised as to whether or not copper might be called odorous. This debate over, Square was again ready; but an eager little fellow cried that copper is tenacious, upon which there was a new quality submitted to our notice, which we must discuss, explain, and of which the name had to be spelt.
20. But Master Square's idea had not yet been forestalled, and he, like copper, ranked tenacity among his qualities. At length he caught Mr. Chairman's eye, and said with a small voice, “ Please, sir, I know a quality." — “And what is that?” the teacher asked. Little Square replied, as he resumed his seat, “It's INORGANIC.”
21. Here was a bombshell of a word thrown among us by this little fellow, but we did not flinch. Inorganic of course meant “ got no organs,” and we all knew what an organ was, and what a function was, and what were the grand marks of distinction between living and dead matter, and between animal and vegetable life. So we went on, with a little information about mining, and display of copper ore; a talk about pyrites, and such matters. Three quarters of an hour had slipped away.
* The Latin word for hammer is malleus, and from this our English words mall, malleable, malleability are derived; hence the significance of the author's use of the word hammer. The study of etymology, or the derivation of words, cannot be too strongly urged on those who would use language with strict accuracy.