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Reveries of a Schoolmaster by Francis B. Pearson

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animate at the very least. I'd rather be a sinner, even, than a
mummy or a statue. St. Paul wrote to Timothy: "I have fought a good
fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." There was
nothing of the mummy or the statue in him. He was just a
straight-away sinful man, and a glorious sinner he was.

I like to think of Titian and Michael Angelo. When their work was
done and they stood upon the summit of their achievements they were
up so high that all they had to do was to step right into heaven,
without any long journey. Tennyson did the same. In his poem,
"Crossing the Bar," he filled all the space, and so he had to cross
over into heaven to get more room. And Riley's "Old Aunt Mary" was
another one. She had been working out her salvation making jelly,
and jam, and marmalade, and just beaming goodness upon those boys so
that they had no more doubts about goodness than they had of the
peach preserves they were eating. Why, there just had to be a heaven
for old Aunt Mary. She gathered manna every day, and had some for
the boys, too, but never said a word about being busy.

When I was reading the _Georgics_ with my boys, we came upon the word
_bufo_ (toad), and I told them with much gusto that that was the only
place in the language where the word occurs. I had come upon this
statement in a book that they did not have. Their looks spoke their
admiration for the schoolmaster who could speak with authority.
After they had gone their ways, two to Porto Rico, one to Chili,
another to Brazil, and others elsewhere, I came upon the word _bufo_
again in Ovid. I am still wondering what a schoolmaster ought to do
in a case like that. Even if I had written to all those fellows
acknowledging my error, it would have been too late, for they would,
long before, have circulated the report all over South America and
the United States that there is but one toad in the Latin language.
If I hadn't believed everything I see in print, hadn't been so
cock-sure, and hadn't been so ready to parade borrowed plumage as my
own, all this linguistic coil would have been averted. I suppose Mr.
Henderson would send me to jail again for this. I certainly didn't
do my best, and therefore I am immoral, and therefore a sinner; _quad
erat demonstrandum_.

So, I suppose, if I'm to save my soul, I must gather manna every day,
and if I find the value of _x_ to-day, I must find the value of a
bigger _x_ to-morrow. Then, too, I suppose I'll have to choose
between Mrs. Wiggs and Emerson, between the Katzenjammers and
Shakespeare, and between ragtime and grand opera. I am very certain
growing corn gives forth a sound only I can't hear it. If my hearing
were only acute enough I'd hear it and rejoice in it. It is very
trying to miss the sound when I am so certain that it is there. The
birds in my trees understand one another, and yet I can't understand
what they are saying in the least. This simply proves my own
limitations. If I could but know their language, and all the
languages of the cows, the sheep, the horses, and the chickens, what
a good time I could have with them. If my powers of sight and
hearing were increased only tenfold, I'd surely find a different
world about me. Here, again, I can't find the value of _x_, try as I

The disquieting thing about all this is that I do not use to the
utmost the powers I have. I could see many more things than I do if
I'd only use my eyes, and hear things, too, if I'd try more. The
world of nature as it reveals itself to John Burroughs is a thousand
times larger than my world, no doubt, and this fact convicts me of
doing less than my best, and again the jail invites me.



As I was lying in the shade of the maple-tree down there by the
ravine, yesterday, I fell to thinking about my rights, and the longer
I lay there the more puzzled I became. Being a citizen in a
democracy, I have many rights that are guaranteed to me by the
Constitution, notably life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In my school I become expansive in extolling these rights to my
pupils. But under that maple-tree I found myself raising many
questions as to these rights, and many others. I have a right to
sing tenor, but I can't sing tenor at all, and when I try it I
disturb my neighbors. Right there I bump against a situation. I
have a right to use my knife at table instead of a fork, and who is
to gainsay my using my fingers? Queen Elizabeth did. I certainly
have a right to lie in the shade of the maple-tree for two hours
to-day instead of one hour, as I did yesterday. I wonder if
reclining on the grass under a maple-tree is not a part of the
pursuit of happiness that is specifically set out in the
Constitution? I hope so, for I'd like to have that wonderful
Constitution backing me up in the things I like to do. The sun is so
hot and hoeing potatoes is such a tiring task that I prefer to lounge
in the shade with my back against the Constitution.

In thinking of the pursuit of happiness I am inclined to personify
happiness and then watch the chase, wondering whether the pursuer
will ever overtake her, and what he'll do when he does. I note that
the Constitution does not guarantee that the pursuer will ever catch
her--but just gives him an open field and no favors. He may run just
as fast as he likes, and as long as his endurance holds out. I
suspect that's where the liberty comes in. I wonder if the makers of
the Constitution ever visualized that chase. If so, they must have
laughed, at least in their sleeves, solemn crowd that they were. If
I were certain that I could overtake happiness I'd gladly join in the
pursuit, even on such a warm day as this, but the dread uncertainty
makes me prefer to loll here in the shade. Besides, I'm not quite
certain that I could recognize her even if I could catch her. The
photographs that I have seen are so very different that I might
mistake happiness for some one else, and that would be embarrassing.

If I should conclude that I was happy, and then discover that I
wasn't, I scarcely see how I could explain myself to myself, much
less to others. So I shall go on hoeing my potatoes and not bother
my poor head about happiness. It is just possible that I shall find
it over there in the potato-patch, for its latitude and longitude
have never been definitely determined, so far as I am aware. I know
I shall find some satisfaction over there at work, and I am convinced
that satisfaction and happiness are kinsfolk. Possibly my potatoes
will prove the answer to some mother's prayer for food for her little
ones next winter. Who knows? As I loosen the soil about the vines I
can look down the vista of the months, and see some little one in his
high chair smiling through his tears as mother prepares one of my
beautiful potatoes for him, and I think I can detect some moisture in
mother's eyes, too. It is just possible that her tears are the
consecrated incense upon the altar of thanksgiving.

I like to see such pictures as I ply my hoe, for they give me respite
from weariness, and give fresh ardor to my hoeing. If each one of my
potatoes shall only assuage the hunger of some little one, and cause
the mother's eyes to distil tears of joy, I shall be in the
border-land of happiness, to say the least. I had fully intended to
exercise my inalienable rights and lie in the shade for two hours
to-day, but when I caught a glimpse of that little chap in the high
chair, and heard his pitiful plea for potatoes, I made for the
potato-patch post-haste, as if I were responding to a hurry call. I
suppose there is no more heart-breaking sound in nature than the
crying of a hungry child. I have been whistling all the afternoon
along with my hoeing, and now that I think of it, I must be whistling
because my potatoes are going to make that baby laugh.

Well, if they do, then I shall elevate the hoeing of potatoes to the
rank of a privilege. Oh, I've read my "Tom Sawyer," and know about
his enterprise in getting the fence whitewashed by making the task
seem a privilege. But Tom was indulging in fiction, and hoeing
potatoes is no fiction. Still those whitewash artists had something
of the feeling that I experience right now, only there was no baby in
their picture as there is in mine, and so I have the baby as an
additional privilege. I wish I knew how to make all the school tasks
rank as privileges to my boys and girls. If I could only do that,
they would have gone far toward a liberal education. If I could only
get a baby to crying somewhere out beyond cube root I'm sure they
would struggle through the mazes of that subject, somehow, so as to
get to the baby to change its crying into laughter. 'Tis worth

I wonder, after all, whether education is not the process of shifting
the emphasis from rights to privileges. I have a right, when I go
into the town, to keep my seat in the car and let the old lady use
the strap. If I insist upon that right I feel myself a boor, lacking
the sense and sensibilities of a gentleman. But when I relinquish my
seat I feel that I have exercised my privilege to be considerate and
courteous. I have a right to permit weeds and briers to overrun my
fences, and the fences themselves to go to rack, and so offend the
sight of my neighbors; but I esteem it a privilege to make the
premises clean and beautiful, so as to add so much to the sum total
of pleasure. I have a right to stay on my own side of the road and
keep to myself; but it is a great privilege to go up for a
half-hour's exchange of talk with my neighbor John. He always clears
the cobwebs from my eyes and from my soul, and I return to my work

I have a right, too, to pore over the colored supplement for an hour
or so, but when I am able to rise to my privileges and take the Book
of Job instead, I feel that I have made a gain in self-respect, and
can stand more nearly erect. I have a right, when I go to church, to
sit silent and look bored; but, when I avail myself of the privilege
of joining in the responses and the singing, I feel that I am
fertilizing my spirit for the truth that is proclaimed. As a citizen
I have certain rights, but when I come to think of my privileges my
rights seem puny in comparison. Then, too, my rights are such cold
things, but my privileges are full of sunshine and of joy. My rights
seem mathematical, while my privileges seem curves of beauty.

In his scientific laboratory at Princeton, on one occasion, the
celebrated Doctor Hodge, in preparing for an experiment said to some
students who were gathered about him: "Gentlemen, please remove your
hats; I am about to ask God a question." So it is with every one who
esteems his privileges. He is asking God questions about the glory
of the sunrise, the fragrance of the flowers, the colors of the
rainbow, the music of the brook, and the meaning of the stars. But I
hear a baby crying and must get back to my potatoes.



I have been reading, in this book, of a man who couldn't change his
mind because his intellectual wardrobe was not sufficient to warrant
a change. I was feeling downright sorry for the poor fellow till I
got to wondering how many people are feeling sorry for me for the
same reason. That reflection changed the situation greatly, and I
began to feel some resentment against the blunt statement in the book
as being rather too personal. Just as I begin to think that we have
standardized a lot of things, along comes some one in a book, or
elsewhere, and completely upsets my fine and comforting theories and
projects me into chaos again. No sooner do I get a lot of facts all
nicely settled, and begin to enjoy complacency, than some disturber
of the peace knocks all my facts topsy-turvy, and says they are not
facts at all, but the merest fiction. Then I cry aloud with my old
friend Cicero, _Ubinam gentium sumus_, which, being translated in the
language of the boys, means, "Where in the world (or nation) are we
at?" They are actually trying to reform my spelling. I do wish
these reformers had come around sooner, when I was learning to spell
_phthisic_, _syzygy_, _daguerreotype_, and _caoutchouc_. They might
have saved me a deal of trouble and helped me over some of the high
places at the old-fashioned spelling-bees.

I have a friend who is quite versed in science, and he tells me that
any book on science that is more than ten years old is obsolete.
Now, that puzzles me no little. If that is true, why don't they wait
till matters scientific are settled, and then write their books? Why
write a book at all when you know that day after tomorrow some one
will come along and refute all the theories and mangle the facts?
These science chaps must spend a great deal of their time changing
their intellectual clothing. It would be great fun to come back a
hundred years from now and read the books on science, psychology, and
pedagogy. I suppose the books we have now will seem like joke books
to our great-grandchildren, if people are compelled to change their
mental garments every day from now on. I wonder how long it will
take us human coral insects, to get our building up to the top of the

Whoever it was that said that consistency is a jewel would need to
take treatment for his eyes in these days. If I must change my
mental garb each day I don't see how I can be consistent. If I said
yesterday that some theory of science is the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth, and then find a revision of the statement
necessary to-day, I certainly am inconsistent. This jewel of
consistency certainly loses its lustre, if not its identity, in such
a process of shifting. I do hope these chameleon artists will leave
us the multiplication table, the yardstick, and the ablative
absolute. I'm not so particular about the wine-gallon, for
prohibition will probably do away with that anyhow. When I was in
school I could tell to a foot the equatorial and the polar diameter
of the earth, and what makes the difference. Why, I knew all about
that flattening at the poles, and how it came about. Then Mr. Peary
went up there and tramped all over the north pole, and never said a
word about the flattening when he came back. I was very much
disappointed in Mr. Peary.

I know, quite as well as I know my own name, that the length of the
year is three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight
minutes, and forty-eight seconds, and if I find any one trying to lop
off even one second of my hard-learned year, I shall look upon him as
a meddler. That is one of my settled facts, and I don't care to have
it disturbed. If any one comes along trying to change the length of
my year, I shall begin to tremble for the safety of the Ten
Commandments. If I believe that a grasshopper is a quadruped, what
satisfaction could I possibly take in discovering that he has six
legs? It would merely disturb one of my settled facts, and I am more
interested in my facts than I am in the grasshopper. The trouble is,
though, that my neighbor John keeps referring to the grasshopper's
six legs; so I suppose I shall, in the end, get me a grasshopper suit
of clothes so as to be in the fashion.

This discarding of my four-legged grasshopper and supplying myself
with one that has six legs may be what the poet means when he speaks
of our dead selves. He may refer to the new suit of mental clothing
that I am supposed to get each day, to the change of mind that I am
supposed to undergo as regularly as a daily bath. Possibly Mr.
Holmes meant something like that when he wrote his "Chambered
Nautilus." At each advance from one of these compartments to
another, I suppose I acquire a new suit of clothes, or, in other
words, change my mind. Let's see, wasn't it Theseus whose eternal
punishment in Hades was just to sit there forever? That seems
somewhat heavenly to me. But here on earth I suppose I must try to
keep up with the styles, and change my mental gear day by day.

I think I might come to enjoy a change of suits every day if only
some one would provide them for me; but, if I must earn them myself,
the case is different. I'd like to have some one bestow upon me a
beautiful Greek suit for Monday, with its elegance, grace, and
dignity, a Roman suit for Tuesday, a science suit for Wednesday, a
suit of poetry for Thursday, and so on, day after day. But when I
must read all of Homer before I can have the Greek suit, the price
seems a bit stiff, and I'm not so avid about changing my mind. We
had a township picnic back home, once, and it seemed to me that I was
attending a congress of nations, for there were people there who had
driven five or six miles from the utmost bounds of the township.
That was a real mental adventure, and it took some time for me to
adjust myself to my new suit. Then I went to the county fair, where
were gathered people from all the townships, and my poor mind had a
mighty struggle trying to grasp the immensity of the thing. I felt
much the same as when I was trying to understand the mathematical
sign of infinity. And when I came upon the statement, in my
geography, that there are eighty-eight counties in our State, the
mind balked absolutely and refused to go on. I felt as did the old
gentleman who saw an aeroplane for the first time. After watching
its gyrations for some time he finally exclaimed: "They ain't no sich

My college roommate, Mack, went over to London, once, on some errand,
and of course went to the British Museum. Near the entrance he came
upon the Rosetta Stone, and stood inthralled. He reflected that he
was standing in the presence of a monument that marks the beginning
of recorded history, that back of that all was dark, and that all the
books in all the libraries emanate from that beginning. The thought
was so big, so overmastering, that there was no room in his mind for
anything else, so he turned about and left without seeing anything
else in the Museum. Since then we have had many a big laugh together
as he recounts to me his wonderful visit to the Rosetta Stone. I see
clearly that in the presence of that modest stone he got all the
mental clothing he could possibly wear at the time. Changing the
mind sometimes seems to amount almost to surgery.

Sometime, if I can get my stub pen limbered up I shall try my hand at
writing a bit of a composition on the subject of "The Inequality of
Equals." I know that the Declaration tells us that all men are born
free and equal, and I shall explain in my essay that it means us to
understand that while they are born equal, they begin to become
unequal the day after they are born, and become more so as one
changes his mind and the other one does not. I try, all the while,
to make myself believe that I am the equal of my neighbor, the judge,
and then I feel foolish to think that I ever tried it. The neighbors
all know it isn't true, and so do I when I quit arguing with myself.
He has such a long start of me now that I wonder if I can ever
overtake him. One thing, though, I'm resolved upon, and that is to
change my mind as often as possible.



Just why a boy is averse to washing his neck and ears is one of the
deep problems of social psychology, and yet the psychologists have
veered away from the subject. There must be a reason, and these mind
experts ought to be able and willing to find it, so as to relieve the
anxiety of the rest of us. It is easy for me to say, with a full-arm
gesture, that a boy is of the earth earthy, but that only begs the
question, as full-arm gestures are wont to do. Many a boy has shed
copious tears as he sat on a bench outside the kitchen door removing,
under compulsion, the day's accumulations from his feet as a
prerequisite for retiring. He would much prefer to sleep on the
floor to escape the foot-washing ordeal. Why, pray, should he wash
his feet when he knows full well that tomorrow night will find them
in the same condition? Why all the bother and trouble about a little
thing like that? Why can't folks let a fellow alone, anyhow? And,
besides, he went in swimming this afternoon, and that surely ought to
meet all the exactions of capricious parents. He exhibits his feet
as an evidence of the virtue of going swimming, for he is arranging
the preliminaries for another swimming expedition to-morrow.

I recall very distinctly how strange it seemed that my father could
sit there and calmly talk about being a Democrat, or a Republican, or
a Baptist, or a Methodist, or about some one's discovering the north
pole, or about the President's message when the dog had a rat
cornered under the corn-crib and was barking like mad. But, then,
parents can't see things in their right relations and proportions.
And there sat mother, too, darning stockings, and the dog just stark
crazy about that rat. 'Tis enough to make a boy lose faith in
parents forevermore. A dog, a rat, and a boy--there's a combination
that recks not of the fall of empires or the tottering of thrones.
Even chicken-noodles must take second place in such a scheme of world
activities. And yet a mother would hold a boy back from the
forefront of such an enterprise to wash his neck. Oh, these mothers!

I have read "Adam's Diary," by Mark Twain, in which he tells what
events were forward in Eden on Monday, what on Tuesday, and so on
throughout the week till he came to Sunday, and his only comment on
that day was "Pulled through." In the New England Primer we gather
the solemn information that "In Adam's fall, we sinned all." I admit
the fact freely, but beg to be permitted to plead extenuating
circumstances. Adam could go to church just as he was, but I had to
be renovated and, at times, almost parboiled and, in addition to
these indignities, had to wear shoes and stockings; and the stockings
scratched my legs, and the shoes were too tight. If Adam could
barely manage to pull through, just think of me. Besides, Adam
didn't have to wear a paper collar that disintegrated and smeared his
neck. The more I think of Adam's situation, the more sorry I feel
for myself. Why, he could just reach out and pluck some fruit to
help him through the services, but I had to walk a mile after church,
in those tight shoes, and then wait an hour for dinner. And I was
supposed to feel and act religious while I was waiting, but I didn't.

If I could only have gone to church barefoot, with my shirt open at
the throat, and with a pocket full of cookies to munch _ad lib_
throughout the services, I am sure that the spiritual uplift would
have been greater. The soul of a boy doesn't expand violently when
encased in a starched shirt and a paper collar, and these surmounted
by a thick coat, with the mercury at ninety-seven in the shade. I
think I can trace my religious retardation back to those hungry
Sundays, those tight shoes, that warm coat, and those frequent jabs
in my ribs when I fain would have slept.

In my childhood there was such a host of people who were pushing and
pulling me about in an effort to make me good that, even yet, I shy
away from their style of goodness. The wonder is that I have any
standing at all in polite and upright society. So many folks said I
was bad and naughty, and applied so many other no less approbrious
epithets to me that, in time, I came to believe them, and tried
somewhat diligently to live up to the reputation they gave me. I
recall that one of my aunts came in one day and, seeing me out in the
yard most ingloriously tousled, asked my good mother: "Is that your
child?" Poor mother! I have often wondered how much travail of
spirit it must have cost her to acknowledge me as her very own. One
thumb, one great toe, and an ankle were decorated with greasy rags,
and I was far from being ornamental. I had been hulling walnuts,
too, and my stained hands served to accentuate the human scenery.

This same aunt had three boys of her own, later on, and a more
disreputable-looking crew it would be hard to find. I confess that I
took a deal of grim satisfaction in their dilapidated ensemble, just
for my aunt's benefit, of course. They were fine, wholesome, natural
boys in spite of their parentage, and I liked them even while I
gloried in their cuts, bruises, and dirt. At that time I was wearing
a necktie and had my shoes polished but, even so, I yearned to join
with them in their debauch of sand, mud, and general indifference to
convention. They are fine, upstanding young chaps now, and of course
their mother thinks that her scolding, nagging, and baiting made them
so. They know better, but are too kind and considerate to reveal the
truth to their mother.

Even yet I have something like admiration for the ingenuity of my
elders in conjuring up spooks, hob-goblins, and bugaboos with which
to scare me into submission. I conformed, of course, but I never
gave them a high grade in veracity. I yielded simply to gain time,
for I knew where there was a chipmunk in a hole, and was eager to get
to digging him out just as soon as my apparent submission for a brief
time had proved my complete regeneration. They used to tell me that
children should be seen but not heard, and I knew they wanted to do
the talking. I often wonder whether their notion of a good child
would have been satisfactorily met if I had suddenly become
paralyzed, or ossified, or petrified. In either of these cases I
could have been seen but not heard. One day, not long ago, when I
felt at peace with all the world and was comfortably free from care,
a small, thumb-sucking seven-year-old asked: "How long since the
world was born?" After I told him that it was about four thousand
years he worked vigorously at his thumb for a time, and then said:
"That isn't very long." Then I wished I had said four millions, so
as to reduce him to silence, for one doesn't enjoy being routed and
put to confusion by a seven-year-old.

After quite a silence he asked again: "What was there before the
world was born?" That was an easy one; so I said in a tone of
finality: "There wasn't anything." Then I went on with my
meditations, thinking I had used the soft pedal effectively. Silence
reigned supreme for some minutes, and then was rudely shattered. His
thumb flew from his mouth, and he laughed so lustily that he could be
heard throughout the house. When his laughter had spent itself
somewhat, I asked meekly: "What are you laughing at?" His answer
came on the instant, but still punctuated with laughter: "I was
laughing to see how funny it was when there wasn't anything." No
wonder that folks want children to be seen but not heard. And some
folks are scandalized because a chap like that doesn't like to wash
his neck and ears.



The code of table etiquette in the days of my boyhood, as I now
recall it, was expressed something like: "Eat what is set before you
and ask no questions." We heeded this injunction with religious
fidelity, but yearned to ask why they didn't set more before us.
About the only time that a real boy gets enough to eat is when he
goes to a picnic and, even there and then, the rounding out of the
programme is connected with clandestine visits to the baskets after
the formal ceremonies have been concluded. At a picnic there is no
such expression as "from soup to nuts," for there is no soup, and
perhaps no nuts, but there is everything else in tantalizing
abundance. If I find a plate of deviled eggs near me, I begin with
deviled eggs; or, if the cold tongue is nearer, I begin with that.
In this way I reveal, for the pleasure of the hostesses, my
unrestricted and democratic appetite. Or, in order to obviate any
possible embarrassment during the progress of the chicken toward me,
I may take a piece of pie or a slice of cake, thinking that they may
not return once they have been put in circulation. Certainly I take
jelly when it passes along, as well as pickles, olives, and cheese.
There is no incongruity, at such a time, in having a slice of baked
ham and a slice of angel-food cake on one's plate or in one's hands.
They harmonize beautifully both in the color scheme and in the
gastronomic scheme. At a picnic my boyhood training reaches its full
fruition: "Eat what is set before you and ask no questions." These
things I do.

That's a good rule for reading, too, just to read what is set before
you and ask no questions. I'm thinking now of the reader member of
my dual nature, not the student member. I like to cater somewhat to
both these members. When the reader member is having his inning, I
like to give him free rein and not hamper him by any lock-step or
stereotyped method or course. I like to lead him to a picnic table
and dismiss him with the mere statement that "Heaven helps those who
help themselves," and thus leave him to his own devices. If
Southey's, "The Curse of Kehama," happens to be nearest his plate, he
will naturally begin with that as I did with the deviled eggs. Or he
may nibble at "The House-Boat on the Styx" while some one is passing
the Shakespeare along. He may like Emerson, and ask for a second
helping, and that's all right, too, for that's a nourishing sort of
food. Having partaken of this generously, he will enjoy all the more
the jelly when it comes along in the form of "Nonsense Anthology."
The more I think of it the more I see that reading is very like a
picnic dinner. It is all good, and one takes the food which is
nearest him, whether pie or pickles.

When any one asks me what I am reading, I become much embarrassed. I
may be reading a catalogue of books at the time, or the book notices
in some magazine, but such reading may not seem orthodox at all to
the one who asks the question. My reading may be too desultory or
too personal to be paraded in public. I don't make it a practice to
tell all the neighbors what I ate for breakfast. I like to saunter
along through the book just as I ride in a gondola when in Venice.
I'm not going anywhere, but get my enjoyment from merely being on the
way. I pay the gondolier and then let him have his own way with me.
So with the book. I pay the money and then abandon myself to it. If
it can make me laugh, why, well and good, and I'll laugh. If it
causes me to shed tears, why, let the tears flow. They may do me
good. If I ever become conscious of the number of the page of the
book I am reading, I know there is something the matter with that
book or else with me. If I ever become conscious of the page number
in David Grayson's "Adventures in Contentment," or "The Friendly
Road," I shall certainly consult a physician. I do become
semiconscious at times that I am approaching the end of the feast,
and feel regret that the book is not larger.

I have spasms and enjoy them. Sometimes, I have a Dickens spasm, and
read some of his books for the _n_th time. I have frittered away
much time in my life trying to discover whether a book is worth a
second reading. If it isn't, it is hardly worth a first reading, I
don't get tired of my friend Brown, so why should I put Dickens off
with a mere society call? If I didn't enjoy Brown I'd not visit him
so frequently; but, liking him, I go again and again. So with
Dickens, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare. The story goes that a second
Uncle Remus was sitting on a stump in the depths of a forest sawing
away on an old discordant violin. A man, who chanced to come upon
him, asked what he was doing. With no interruption of his musical
activities, he answered: "Boss, I'se serenadin' m' soul." Book or
violin, 'tis all the same. Uncle Remus and I are serenading our
souls and the exercise is good for us.

I was laid by with typhoid fever for a few weeks once, and the doctor
came at eleven o'clock in the morning and at five o'clock in the
afternoon. If he happened to be a bit late I grew impatient, and my
fever increased. He discovered this fact, and was no more tardy. He
was reading "John Fiske" at the time, and Grant's "Memoirs," and at
each visit reviewed for me what he had read since the previous visit.
He must have been glad when I no longer needed to take my history by
proxy, for I kept him up to the mark, and bullied him into reciting
twice a day. I don't know what drugs he gave me, but I do know that
"Fiske" and "Grant" are good for typhoid, and heartily commend them
to the general public. I am rather glad now that I had typhoid fever.

I listen with amused tolerance to people who grow voluble on the
weather and their symptoms, and often wish they would ask me to
prescribe for them. I'd probably tell them to become readers of
William J. Locke. But, perhaps, their symptoms might seem preferable
to the remedy. A neighbor came in to borrow a book, and I gave her
"Les Miserables," which she returned in a day or so, saying that she
could not read it. I knew that I had overestimated her, and that I
didn't have a book around of her size. I had loaned my "Robin Hood,"
"Rudder Grange," "Uncle Remus," and "Sonny" to the children round

I like to browse around among my books, and am trying to have my boys
and girls acquire the same habit. Reading for pure enjoyment isn't a
formal affair any more than eating. Sometimes I feel in the mood for
a grapefruit for breakfast, sometimes for an orange, and sometimes
for neither. I'm glad not to board at a place where they have
standardized breakfasts and reading. If I feel in the mood for an
orange I want an orange, even if my neighbor has a casaba melon. So,
if I want my "Middlemarch," I'm quite eager for that book, and am
quite willing for my neighbor to have his "Henry Esmond." The
appetite for books is variable, the same as for food, and I'd rather
consult my appetite than my neighbor when choosing a book as a
companion through a lazy afternoon beneath the maple-tree, I refuse
to try to supervise the reading of my pupils. Why, I couldn't
supervise their eating. I'd have to find out whether the boy was
yearning for porterhouse steak or ice-cream, first; then I might help
him make a selection. The best I can do is to have plenty of steak,
potatoes, pie, and ice-cream around, and allow him to help himself.



The text may be found in "Over Bemerton's," by E. V. Lucas, and reads
as follows: "A gentle hypocrisy is not only the basis but the salt of
civilized life." This statement startled me a bit at first; but when
I got to thinking of my experience in having a photograph of myself
made I saw that Mr. Lucas has some warrant for his statement. There
has been only one Oliver Cromwell to say: "Paint me as I am." The
rest of us humans prefer to have the wart omitted. If my photograph
is true to life I don't want it. I'm going to send it away, and I
don't want the folks who get it to think I look like that. If I were
a woman and could wear a disguise of cosmetics when sitting for a
picture the case might not be quite so bad. The subtle flattery of
the photograph is very grateful to us mortals whether we admit it or
not. My friend Baxter introduced me once as a man who is not
two-faced, and went on to explain that if I had had two faces I'd
have brought the other instead of this one. And that's true. I
expect the photographer to evoke another face for me, and hence my
generous gift of money to him. I like that chap immensely. He takes
my money, gives me another face, bows me out with the grace of a
finished courtier, and never, by word or look, reveals his knowledge
of my hypocrisy.

As a boy I had a full suit of company manners which I wore only when
guests were present, and so was always sorry to have guests come. I
sat back on the chair instead of on its edge; I didn't swing my legs
unless I had a lapse of memory; I said, "Yes, ma'am," and, "No,
ma'am," like any other parrot, just as I did at rehearsal; and, in
short, I was a most exemplary child save for occasional reactions to
unlooked-for situations. The folks knew I was posing, and were on
nettles all the while from fear of a breakdown; the guests knew I was
posing, and I knew I was posing. But we all pretended to one another
that that was the regular order of procedure in our house. So we had
a very gratifying concert exercise in hypocrisy. We said our prayers
that night just as usual.

With such thorough training in my youth it is not at all strange that
I now consider myself rather an adept in the prevailing social
usages. At a musicale I applaud fit to blister my hands, even though
I feel positively pugnacious. But I know the singer has an encore
prepared, and I feel that it would be ungracious to disappoint her.
Besides, I argue with myself that I can stand it for five minutes
more if the others can. Professor James, I think it is, says that we
ought to do at least one disagreeable thing each day as an aid in the
development of character. Being rather keen on character
development, I decide on a double dose of the disagreeable while
opportunity favors. Hence my vigorous applauding. Then, too, I
realize that the time and place are not opportune for an expression
of my honest convictions; so I choose the line of least resistance
and well-nigh blister my hands to emphasize my hypocrisy.

At a formal dinner I have been known to sink so low into the depths
of hypocrisy as to eat shrimp salad. But when one is sitting next to
a lady who seems a confirmed celibate, and who seems to find nothing
better than to become voluble on the subject of her distinguished
ancestors, even shrimp salad has its uses. Now, under normal
conditions my perverted and plebeian taste regards shrimp salad as a
banality, but at that dinner I ate it with apparent relish, and tried
not to make a wry face. But, worst of all, I complimented the
hostess upon the excellence of the dinner, and extolled the salad
particularly, although we both knew that the salad was a failure, and
that the dinner itself convicted the cook of a lack of experience or
else of a superfluity of potations.

When the refreshments are served I take a thimbleful of ice-cream and
an attenuated wafer, and then solemnly declare to the maid that I
have been abundantly served. In the hallowed precincts that I call
my den I could absorb nine rations such as they served and never bat
an eye. And yet, in making my adieus to the hostess, I thank her
most effusively for a delightful evening, refreshments included, and
then hurry grumbling home to get something to eat. Such are some of
the manifestations of social hypocrisy. These all pass current at
their face value, and yet we all know that nobody is deceived. Still
it is great fun to play make-believe, and the world would have
convulsions if we did not indulge in these pleasing deceptions. In
the clever little book "Molly Make-Believe" the girl pretends at
first that she loves the man, and later on comes to love him to
distraction, and she lived happy ever after, too. When, in my fever,
I would ask about my temperature, the nurse would give a numeral
about two degrees below the real record to encourage me, and I can't
think that St. Peter will bar her out just for that.

The psychologists give mild assent to the theory that a physical
attitude may generate an emotion. If I assume a belligerent
attitude, they claim that, in time, I shall feel really belligerent;
that in a loafing attitude I shall presently be loafing; and that, if
I assume the attitude of a listener, I shall soon be listening most
intently. This seems to be justified by the experiences of Edwin
Booth on the stage. He could feign fighting for a time, and then it
became real fighting, and great care had to be taken to avert
disastrous consequences when his sword fully struck its gait. I
believe the psychologists have never fully agreed on the question
whether the man is running from the bear because he is scared or is
scared because he is running.

I dare say Mr. Shakespeare was trying to express this theory when he
said: "Assume a virtue, though you have it not." That's exactly what
I'm trying to have my pupils do all the while. I'm trying to have
them wear their company manners continually, so that, in good time,
they will become their regular working garb. I'm glad to have them
assume the attitudes of diligence and politeness, thinking that their
attitudes may generate the corresponding emotions. It is a severe
strain on a boy at times to seem polite when he feels like hurling
missiles. We both know that his politeness is mere make-believe, but
we pretend not to know, and so move along our ways of hypocrisy
hoping that good may come.

There is a telephone-girl over in the central station, wherever that
is, who certainly is beautiful if the voice is a true index. Her
tones are dulcet, and her voice is so mellow and well modulated that
I visualize her as another Venus. I suspect that, when she began her
work, some one told her that her tenure of position depended upon the
quality of her voice. So, I imagine, she assumed a tonal quality of
voice that was really a sublimated hypocrisy, and persisted in this
until now that quality of voice is entirely natural. I can't think
that Shakespeare had her specially in mind, but, if I ever have the
good fortune to meet her, I shall certainly ask her if she reads
Shakespeare. Now that I think of it, I shall try this treatment on
my own voice, for it sorely needs treatment. Possibly I ought to
take a course of training at the telephone-station.

I am now thoroughly persuaded that Mr. Lucas gave expression to a
great principle of pedagogy in what he said about hypocrisy, and I
shall try to be diligent in applying it. If I can get my boys to
assume an arithmetical attitude, they may come to have an
arithmetical feeling, and that would give me great joy. I don't care
to have them express their honest feelings either about me or the
work, but would rather have them look polite and interested, even if
it is hypocrisy. I'd like to have all my boys and girls act as if
they consider me absolutely fair, just, and upright, as well as the
most kind, courteous, generous, scholarly, skillful, and complaisant
schoolmaster that ever lived, no matter what they really think.



If I only knew how to teach English, I'd have far more confidence in
my schoolmastering. But I don't seem to get on. The system breaks
down too often to suit me. Just when I think I have some lad
inoculated with elegant English through the process of reading from
some classic, he says, "might of came," and I become obfuscated
again. I have a book here in which I read that it is the business of
the teacher so to organize the activities of the school that they
will function in behavior. Well, my boys' behavior in the use of
English indicates that I haven't organized the activities of my
English class very effectively. I seem to be more of a success in a
cherry-orchard than in an English class. My cherries are large and
round, a joy to the eye and delightful to the taste. The fruit
expert tells me they are perfect, and so I feel that I organized the
activities in that orchard efficiently. In fact, the behavior of my
cherry-trees is most gratifying. But when I hear my pupils talk or
read their essays, and find a deal of imperfect fruit in the way of
solecisms and misspelled words, I feel inclined to discredit my skill
in organizing the activities in this human orchard.

I think my trouble is (and it is trouble), that I proceed upon the
agreeable assumption that my pupils can "catch" English as they do
the measles if only they are exposed to it. So I expose them to the
objective complement and the compellative, and then stand aghast at
their behavior when they make all the mistakes that can possibly be
made in using a given number of words. I have occasion to wonder
whether I juggle these big words merely because I happen to see them
in a book, or whether I am trying to be impressive. I recall how
often I have felt a thrill of pride as I have ladled out deliberative
subjunctives, ethical datives, and hysteron proteron to my
(supposedly) admiring Latin pupils. If I were a soldier I should
want to wear one of those enormous three-story military hats to
render me tall and impressive. I have no desire to see a drum-major
minus his plumage. The disillusionment would probably be depressing.
Liking to wear my shako, I must continue to talk of objective
complements instead of using simple English.

I had watched men make a hundred barrels, but when I tried my skill I
didn't produce much of a barrel. Then I knew making barrels is not
violently infectious. But I suspect that it is quite the same as
English in this respect. My behavior in that cooper-shop, for a
time, was quite destructive of materials, until I had acquired skill
by much practice.

If I could only organize the activities in my English class so that
they would function in such behavior as Lincoln's "Letter to Mrs.
Bixby," I should feel that I might continue my teaching instead of
devoting all my time to my cherry-orchard. Or, if I could see that
my pupils were acquiring the habit of correct English as the result
of my work, I'd give myself a higher grade as a schoolmaster. My
neighbor over here teaches agriculture, and one of his boys produced
one hundred and fifty bushels of corn on an acre of ground. That's
what I call excellent behavior, and that schoolmaster certainly knows
how to organize the activities of his class. My boy's yield of
thirty-seven bushels, mostly nubbins, does not compare favorably with
the yield of his boy, and I feel that I ought to reform, or else wear
a mask. Here is my boy saying "might of came," and his boy is
raising a hundred and fifty bushels of corn per acre.

If I could only assemble all my boys and girls twenty years hence and
have them give an account of themselves for all the years after they
left school, I could grade them with greater accuracy than I can
possibly do now. Of course, I'd simply grade them on behavior, and
if I could muster up courage, I might ask them to grade mine. I
wonder how I'd feel if I'd find among them such folks as Edison,
Burbank, Goethals, Clara Barton, and Frances Willard. My neighbor
John says the most humiliating experience that a man can have is to
wear a pair of his son's trousers that have been cut down to fit him.
I might have some such feelings as that in the presence of pupils who
had made such notable achievements. But, should they tell me that
these achievements were due, in some good measure, to the work of the
school, well, that would be glory enough for me. One of my boys was
telling me only yesterday of a bit of work he did the day before in
the way of revealing a process in chemistry to a firm of jewellers
and hearing the superintendent say that that bit of information is
worth a thousand dollars to the establishment. If he keeps on doing
things like that I shall grade his behavior one of these days.

I suppose Mr. Goethals must have learned the multiplication table,
once upon a time, and used it, too, in constructing the Panama Canal.
He certainly made it effective, and the activities of that class in
arithmetic certainly did function. I tell my boys that this
multiplication table is the same one that Mr. Goethals has been using
all the while, and then ask them what use they expect to make of it.
One man made use of this table in tunnelling the Alps, and another in
building the Brooklyn Bridge, and it seems to be good for many more
bridges and tunnels if I can only organize the activities aright.

I was standing in front of St. Marks, there in Venice, one morning,
regaling myself with the beauty of the festive scene, and talking to
a friend, when four of my boys came strolling up, and they seemed
more my boys than ever before. What a reunion we had! The folks all
about us didn't understand it in the least, but we did, and that was
enough. I forgot my coarse clothes, my well-nigh empty pockets, my
inability to buy the many beautiful things that kept tantalizing me,
and the meagreness of my salary. These were all swallowed up in the
joy of seeing the boys, and I wanted to proclaim to all and sundry;
"These are my jewels." Those boys are noble, clean, upstanding
fellows, and no schoolmaster could help being proud of them. Such as
they nestle down in the heart of the schoolmaster and cause him to
know that life is good.

I was sorry not to be able to share my joy with my friend who stood
near, but that could not be. I might have used words to him, but he
would not have understood. He had never yearned over those fellows
and watched them, day by day, hoping that they might grow up to be an
honor to their school. He had never had the experience of watching
from the schoolhouse window, fervently wishing that no harm might
come to them, and that no shadows might come over their lives. He
had never known the joy of sitting up far into the night to prepare
for the coming of those boys the next day. He had never seen their
eyes sparkle in the classroom when, for them, truth became illumined.
Of course, he stood aloof, for he couldn't know. Only the
schoolmaster can ever know how those four boys became the focus of
all that wondrous beauty on that splendid morning. If I had had my
grade-book along I would have recorded their grades in behavior, for
as I looked upon those glorious chaps and heard them recount their
experiences I had a feeling of exaltation, knowing that the
activities of our school had functioned in right behavior.



This left forefinger of mine is certainly a curiosity. It looks like
a miniature totem-pole, and I wish I had before me its life history.
I'd like to know just how all these seventeen scars were acquired.
It seems to have come in contact with about all sorts and sizes of
cutlery. If only teachers or parents had been wise enough to make a
record of all my bloodletting mishaps, with occasions, causes, and
effects, that record would afford a fruitful study for students of
education. The pity of it is that we take no account of such matters
as phases or factors of education. We keep saying that experience is
the best teacher, and then ignore this eloquent forefinger. I call
that criminal neglect arising from crass ignorance. Why, these scars
that adorn many parts of my body are the foot-prints of evolution,
if, indeed, evolution makes tracks. The scars on the faces of those
students at Heidelberg are accounted badges of honor, but they cannot
compare with the big scar on my left knee that came to me as the free
gift of a corn-knife. Those students wanted their scars to take home
to show their mothers. I didn't want mine, and made every effort to
conceal it, as well as the hole in my trousers. I got my scar as a
warning. I profited by it, too, for never were there two cuts in
exactly the same place. In fact, they were widely, if not wisely,
distributed. They are the indices of the soaring sense of my
youthful audacity. And yet neither parents nor teachers ever graded
my scars.

I recall quite distinctly that, at one time, I proclaimed boldly over
one entire page of a copy-book, that knowledge is power, and became
so enthusiastic in these numerous proclamations that I wrote on the
bias, and zigzagged over the page with fine abandon. But no teacher
ever even hinted to me that the knowledge I acquired from my contest
with a nest of belligerent bumblebees had the slightest connection
with power. When I groped my way home with both eyes swollen shut I
was never lionized. Indeed, no! Anything but that! I couldn't milk
the cows that evening, and couldn't study my lesson, and therefore,
my newly acquired knowledge was called weakness instead of power.
They did not seem to realize that my swollen face was prominent in
the scheme of education, nor that bumblebees and yellow-jackets may
be a means of grace. They wanted me to be solving problems in common
(sometimes called vulgar) fractions. I don't fight bumblebees any
more, which proves that my knowledge generated power. The emotions
of my boyhood presented a scene of grand disorder, and those
bumblebees helped to organize them, and to clarify and define my
sense of values. I can philosophize about a bumblebee far more
judicially now than I could when my eyes were swollen shut.

I went to the town to attend a circus one day, and concluded I'd
celebrate the day with eclat by getting my hair cut. At the
conclusion of this ceremony the tonsorial Beau Brummel, in the most
seductive tones, suggested a shampoo. I just couldn't resist his
blandishments, and so consented. Then he suggested tonic, and grew
quite eloquent in recounting the benefits to the scalp, and I took
tonic. I felt quite a fellow, till I came to pay the bill, and then
discovered that I had but fifteen cents left from all my wealth.
That, of course, was not sufficient for a ticket to the circus, so I
bought a bag of peanuts and walked home, five miles, meditating, the
while, upon the problem of life. My scalp was all right, but just
under that scalp was a seething, soundless hubbub. I learned things
that day that are not set down in the books, even if I did get myself
laughed at. When I get to giving school credits for home work I
shall certainly excuse the boy who has had such an experience as that
from solving at least four problems in vulgar fractions, and I shall
include that experience in my definition of education, too.

I have tried to back-track Paul Laurence Dunbar, now and then, and
have found it good fun. Once I started with his expression, "the
whole sky overhead and the whole earth underneath," and tried to get
back to where that started. He must have been lying on his back on
some grass-plot, right in the centre of everything, with that whole
half-sphere of sky luring his spirit out toward the infinite, with a
pillow that was eight thousand miles thick. If I had been his
teacher I might have called him lazy and shiftless as he lay there,
because he was not finding how to place a decimal point, I'm glad, on
the whole, that I was not his teacher, for I'd have twinges of
conscience every time I read one of his big thoughts. I'd feel that,
while he was lying there growing big, I was doing my best to make him
little. When I was lying on my back there in the Pantheon in Rome,
looking up through that wide opening, and watching a moving-picture
show that has no rival, the fleecy clouds in their ever-changing
forms against that blue background of matchless Italian sky, those
gendarmes debated the question of arresting me for disorderly
conduct. My conduct was disorderly because they couldn't understand
it. But, if Raphael could have risen from his tomb only a few yards
away, he would have told those fellows not to disturb me while I was
being so liberally educated. Then, that other time, when my friend
Reuben and I stood on the very prow of the ship when the sea was
rolling high, swinging us up into the heights, and then down into the
depths, with the roar drowning out all possibility of talk--well,
somehow, I thought of that copy-book back yonder with its message
that "Knowledge is power." And I never think of power without
recalling that experience as I watched that battle royal between the
power of the sea and the power of the ship that could withstand the
angry buffeting of the waves, and laugh in glee as it rode them down.
I know that six times nine are fifty-four, but I confess that I
forgot this fact out there on the prow of that ship. Some folks
might say that Reuben and I were wasting our time, but I can't think
so. I like, even now, to stand out in the clear during a
thunder-storm. I want the head uncovered, too, that the wind may
toss my hair about while I look the lightning-flashes straight in the
eye and stand erect and unafraid as the thunder crashes and rolls and
reverberates about me. I like to watch the trees swaying to and fro,
keeping time to the majestic rhythm of the elements. To me such an
experience is what my neighbor John calls "growing weather," and at
such a time the bigness of the affair causes me to forget for the
time that there are such things as double datives.

One time I spent the greater part of a forenoon watching logs go over
a dam. It seems a simple thing to tell, and hardly worth the
telling, but it was a great morning in actual experience. In time
those huge logs became things of life, and when they arose from their
mighty plunge into the watery deeps they seemed to shake themselves
free and laugh in their freedom. And there were battles, too. They
struggled and fought and rode over one another, and their mighty
collisions produced a very thunder of sound. I tried to read the
book which I had with me, but could not. In the presence of such a
scene one cannot read a book unless it is one of Victor Hugo's. That
copy-book looms up again as I think of those logs, and I wonder
whether knowledge is power, and whether experience is the best
teacher. But, dear me! Here I've been frittering away all this good
time, and these papers not graded yet!



My boys like to have me tell them stories, and, if the stories are
true ones, they like them all the better. So I sometimes become
reminiscent when they gather about me and let them lead me along as
if I couldn't help myself when they are so interested. In this way I
become one of them. I like to whittle a nice pine stick while I
talk, for then the talk seems incidental to the whittling and so
takes hold of them all the more. In the midst of the talking a boy
will sometimes slip into my hand a fresh stick, when I have about
exhausted the whittling resources of the other. That's about the
finest encore I have ever received. A boy knows how to pay a
compliment in a delicate way when the mood for compliments is on him,
and if that mood of his is handled with equal delicacy great things
may be accomplished.

Well, the other day as I whittled the inevitable pine stick I let
them lure from me the story of Sant. Now, Sant was my seatmate in
the village school back yonder, and I now know that I loved him
whole-heartedly. I didn't know this at the time, for I took him as a
matter of course, just as I did my right hand. His name was Sanford,
but boys don't call one another by their right names. They soon find
affectionate nicknames. I have quite a collection of these nicknames
myself, but have only a hazy notion of how or where they were
acquired. When some one calls me by one of these names, I can
readily locate him in time and place, for I well know that he must
belong in a certain group or that name would not come to his lips.
These nicknames that we all have are really historical. Well, we
called him Sant, and that name conjures up before me one of the most
wholesome boys I have ever known. He was brimful of fun. A
heartier, more sincere laugh a boy never had, and my affection for
him was as natural as my breathing. He knew I liked him, though I
never told him so. Had I told him, the charm would have been broken.

In those days spelling was one of the high lights of school work, and
we were incited to excellence in this branch of learning by head
tickets, which were a promise of still greater honor, in the form of
a prize, to the winner. The one who stood at the head of the class
at the close of the lesson received a ticket, and the holder of the
greatest number of these tickets at the end of the school year bore
home in triumph the much-coveted prize in the shape of a book as a
visible token of superiority. I wanted that prize, and worked for
it. Tickets were accumulating in my little box with exhilarating
regularity, and I was nobly upholding the family name when I was
stricken with pneumonia, and my victorious career had a rude check.
My nearest competitor was Sam, who almost exulted in my illness
because of the opportunity it afforded him for a rich harvest of head
tickets. In the exuberance of his joy he made some remark to this
effect, which Sant overheard. Up to this time Sant had taken no
interest in the contests in spelling, but Sam's remark galvanized him
into vigorous life, and spelling became his overmastering passion.
Indeed, he became the wonder of the school, and in consequence poor
Sam's anticipations were not realized. Day after day Sant caught the
word that Sam missed, and thus added another ticket to his
collection. So it went until I took my place again, and then Sant
lapsed back into his indifference, leaving me to look after Sam
myself. When I tried to face him down with circumstantial evidence
he seemed pained to think that I could ever consider him capable of
such designing. The merry twinkle in his eye was the only confession
he ever made. Small wonder that I loved Sant. If I were writing a
testimonial for myself I should say that it was much to my credit
that I loved a boy like that.

As a boy my risibilities were easily excited, and I'm glad that, even
yet, I have not entirely overcome that weakness. If I couldn't have
a big laugh, now and then, I'd feel that I ought to consult a
physician. My boys and girls and I often laugh together, but never
at one another. Sant had a deal of fun with my propensity to laugh.
When we were conning our geography lesson, he would make puns upon
such names as Chattahoochee and Appalachicola, and I would promptly
explode. Then, enter the teacher. But I drop the mantle of charity
over the next scene, for his school-teaching was altogether personal,
and not pedagogical. He didn't know that puns and laughter were the
reactions on the part of us boys that caused us to know the facts of
the book. But he wanted us to learn those facts in his way, and not
in our own. Poor fellow! _Requiescat in pace_, if he can.

Sant was the first one of our crowd to go to college, and we were all
proud of him, and predicted great things for him. We all knew he was
brilliant and felt certain that the great ones in the college would
soon find it out. And they did; for ever and anon some news would
filter through to us that Sant was battening upon Latin, Greek,
mathematics, science, and history. Of course, we gave all the credit
to our little school, and seemed to forget that the Lord may have had
something to do with it. When we proved by Sant's achievements that
our school was _ne plus ultra_, I noticed that the irascible teacher
joined heartily in the chorus. I intend to get all the glory I can
from the achievements of my pupils, but I do hope that they may not
be my sole dependence at the distribution of glory. Yes, Sant
graduated, and his name was written high upon the scroll. But he
could not deliver his oration, for he was sick, and a friend read it
for him. And when he arose to receive his diploma he had to stand on
crutches. They took him home in a carriage, and within a week he was
dead. The fires of genius had burned brightly for a time and then
went out in darkness, because his father and mother were first

At the conclusion of this story, the boys were silent for a long
time, and I knew the story was having its effect. Then there was a
slight movement, and one of them put into my hand another pine stick.
I whittled in silence for a time, and then told them of a woman I
know who is well-known and highly esteemed in more than one State
because of her distinctive achievements. One day I saw her going
along the street leading by the hand a little four-year-old boy. He
was the picture of health, and rollicked along as only such a healthy
little chap can. He was eager to see all the things that were
displayed in the windows, but to me he and the proud mother were the
finest show on the street. She beamed upon him like another Madonna,
and it seemed to me that the Master must have been looking at some
such glorious child as that when he said; "Suffer the little children
to come unto me."

A few weeks later I was riding on the train with that mother, and she
was telling me that the little fellow had been ill, and told how
anxious she had been through several days and nights because the
physicians could not discover the cause of his illness. Then she
told how happy she was that he had about recovered, and how bright he
seemed when she kissed him good-by that morning. I saw her several
times that week and at each meeting she gave me good news of the
little boy at home.

Inside of another month that noble little fellow was dead.
Apparently he was his own healthy, happy little self, and then was
stricken as he had been before. The pastor of the church of which
the parents are members told me of the death scene. It occurred at
about one o'clock in the morning, and the mother was worn and haggard
from anxiety and days of watching. The members of the family, the
physician, and the pastor were standing around the bed, but the
mother was on her knees close beside the little one, who was writhing
in the most awful convulsions. Then the stricken mother looked
straight into heaven and made a personal appeal to God to come and
relieve the little fellow's sufferings. Again and again she prayed:
"Oh, God, do come and take my little boy." And the Angel of Death,
in answer to that prayer, came in and touched the baby, and he was

The mother of that child may or may not know that the grandfather of
that child came into that room that night, though he had been long in
his grave, and murdered her baby--murdered him with tainted blood.
That grandfather had not lived a clean life, and so broke a mother's
heart and forced her in agony to pray for the death of her own child.

When I had finished I walked quietly away, leaving the boys to their
own thoughts, and as I walked I breathed the wish that my boys may
live such clean, wholesome, upright, temperate lives that no child or
grandchild may ever have occasion to reproach them, or point the
finger of scorn at them, and that no mother may ever pray for death
to come to her baby because of a taint in their blood.



My grandmother was about the nicest grandmother that a boy ever had,
and in memory of her, I am quite partial to all the grandmothers. I
like Whistler's portrait of his mother there in the Luxembourg--the
serene face, the cap and strings, and the folded hands--because it
takes me back to the days and to the presence of my grandmother. She
got into my heart when I was a boy, and she is there yet; and there
she will stay. The bread and butter that she somehow contrived to
get to us boys between meals made us feel that she could read our
minds. I attended a banquet the other night, but they had no such
bread and butter as we boys had there in the shade of that
apple-tree. It was real bread and real butter, and the appetite was
real, too, and that helped to invest grandmother with a halo.
Sometimes she would add jelly, and that caused our cup of joy to run
over. She just could not bear a hungry look on the face of a boy,
and when such a look appeared she exorcised it in the way that a boy
likes. What I liked about her was that she never attached any
conditions to her bread and butter--no, not even when she added
jelly, but her gifts were as free as salvation. The more I think of
the matter, the more I am convinced that her gifts were salvation,
for I know, by experience, that a hungry boy is never a good boy, at
least, not to excess.

Whatever the vicissitudes of life might be to me, I knew that I had a
city of refuge beside grandmother's big armchair, and when trouble
came I instinctively sought that haven, often with rare celerity. In
that hallowed place there could be no hunger, nor thirst, nor
persecution. In that place there was peace and plenty, whatever
there might be elsewhere. I often used to wonder how she could know
a boy so well. I would be aching to go over to play with Tom, and
the first thing I knew grandmother was sending me over there on some
errand, telling me there was no special hurry about coming back. My
father might set his foot down upon some plan of mine ever so firmly,
but grandmother had only to smile at him and he was reduced to a
degree of limpness that contributed to my escape. I have often
wondered whether that smile on the face of grandmother did not remind
him, of some of his own boyish pranks.

We boys knew, somehow, what she expected of us, and her expectation
was the measuring rod with which we tested our conduct. Boy-like, we
often wandered away into a far country, but when we returned, she had
the fatted calf ready for us, with never a question as to our travels
abroad. In that way foreign travel lost something of its glamour,
and the home life made a stronger appeal. She made her own bill of
fare so appetizing that we lost all our relish for husks and the
table companions connected with them. She never asked how or where
we acquired the cherry-stains on our shirts, but we knew that she
recognized cherry-stains when she saw them. The next day our shirts
were innocent of foreign cherry-stains, and we experienced a feeling
of righteousness. She made us feel that we were equal partners with
her in the enterprise of life, and that hoeing the garden and eating
the cookies were our part of the compact.

When we went to stay with her for a week or two we carried with us a
book or so of the lurid sort, but returned home leaving them behind,
generally in the form of ashes. She found the book, of course,
beneath the pillow, and replaced it when she made the bed, but never
mentioned the matter to us. Then, in the afternoon, while we munched
cookies she would read to us from some book that made our own book
seem tame and unprofitable. She never completed the story, however,
but left the book on the table where we could find it easily. No
need to tell that we finished the story, without help, in the
evening, and the next day cremated the other book, having found
something more to our liking. One evening, as we sat together, she
said she wished she knew the name of Jephthah's daughter, and then
went on with her knitting as if she had forgotten her wish. At that
age we boys were not specially interested in daughters, no matter
whose they were; but that challenge to our curiosity was too much for
us, and before we went to bed we knew all that is known of that fine

That was the beginning of our intimate, personal knowledge of Bible
characters--Ruth, Esther, David, and the rest; but grandmother made
us feel that we had known about them all along. I know, even yet,
just how tall Ruth was, and what was the color of her eyes and hair;
and Esther is the standard by which I measure all the queens of
earth, whether they wear crowns or not.

One day when we went over to play with Tom we saw a peacock for the
first time, and at supper became enthusiastic over the discovery. In
the midst of our rhapsodizing grandmother asked us if we knew how
those beautiful spots came to be in the feathers of the peacock. We
confessed our ignorance, and like Ajax, prayed for light. But we
soon became aware that our prayer would not be answered until after
the supper dishes had been washed. Our alacrity in proffering our
services is conclusive evidence that grandmother knew about
motivation whether she knew the word or not. We suggested the
omission of the skillets and pans for that night only, but the
suggestion fell upon barren soil, and the regular order of business
was strictly observed.

Then came the story, and the narrator made the characters seem
lifelike to us as they passed in review. There were Jupiter and
Juno; there were Argus with his hundred eyes, the beautiful heifer
that was Io, and the crafty Mercury. In rapt attention we listened
until those eyes of Argus were transferred to the feathers of the
peacock. If Mercury's story of his musical pipe closed the eyes of
Argus, grandmother's story opened ours wide, and we clamored for
another, as boys will do. Nor did we ask in vain, and we were soon
learning of the Flying Mercury, and how light and airy Mercury was,
seeing that an infant's breath could support him. After telling of
the wild ride of Phaeton and his overthrow, she quoted from John G.

"Don't set it down in your table of forces
That any one man equals any four horses.
Don't swear by the Styx!
It is one of old Nick's
Diabolical tricks
To get people into a regular 'fix,'
And hold 'em there as fast as bricks!"

Be it said to our credit that after such an evening dish-washing was
no longer a task, but rather a delightful prelude to another
mythological feast. We wandered with Ulysses and shuddered at
Polyphemus; we went in quest of the Golden Fleece, and watched the
sack of Troy; we came to know Orpheus and Eurydice and Pyramus and
Thisbe; and we sowed dragon's teeth and saw armed men spring up
before us. Since those glorious evenings with grandmother the
classic myths have been among my keenest delights. I read again and
again Lowell's extravaganza upon the story of Daphne, and can hear
grandmother's laugh over his delicious puns. I can hear her voice as
she reads Shelley's musical Arethusa, and then turns to his Skylark
to compare their musical qualities. I feel downright sorry for the
boy who has no such grandmother to teach him these poems, but not
more sorry than I do for those boys who took that Diamond Dick book
with them when they went visiting. Even now, when people talk to me
of omniscience I always think of grandmother.



"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed out-worn--
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn."


I have heard many times that this is one of the best of Wordsworth's
many sonnets, and in the matter of sonnets, I find myself compelled
to depend upon others for my opinions. I'm sorry that such is the
case, for I'd rather not deal in second-hand judgments if I could
help it. About the most this sonnet can do for me is to make me
wonder what my world is. I suppose that the size of my world is the
measure of myself, and that in my schoolmastering I am simply trying
to enlarge the world of my pupils. I saw a gang-plough the other day
that is drawn by a motor, and that set me to thinking of ploughs in
general and their evolution; and, by tracing the plough backward, I
saw that the original one must have been the forefinger of some

When his forefinger got sore, he got a forked stick and used that
instead; then he got a larger one and used both hands; then a still
larger one, and used oxen as the motive power; and then he fitted
handles to it, and other parts till he finally produced a plough.
But the principle has not been changed, and the gang-plough is but a
multifold forefinger. It is great fun to loose the tether of the
mind and let it go racing along, in and out, till it runs to earth
the original plough. Whether the solution is the correct one makes
but little difference. If friend Brown cannot disprove my theory, I
am on safe ground, and have my fun whether he accepts or rejects my

This is one way of enlarging one's world, I take it, and if this sort
of thing is a part of the process of education, I am in favor of it,
and wish I knew how to set my boys and girls going on such
excursions. I wish I might have gone to school to Agassiz just to
get my eyes opened. If I had, I'd probably assign to my pupils such
subjects as the evolution of a snowflake, the travels of a sunbeam,
the mechanism of a bird's wing, the history of a dewdrop, the changes
in a blade of grass, and the evolution of a grain of sand. If I
could only take them away from books for a month or so, they'd
probably be able to read the books to better advantage when they came
back. I'd like to take them on a walking trip over the Alps and
through rural England and Scotland for a few weeks.

If they could only gather broom, heather, shamrock, and edelweiss,
they would be able to see clover, alfalfa, arbutus, and mignonette
when they came back home. If they could see black robins in Wales
and Germany, the robin redbreast here at home would surely be thought
worthy of notice. If they could see stalactites and stalagmites in
Luray Cave, their world would then include these formations. One of
my boys was a member of an exploring expedition in the Andes, and one
night they were encamped near a glacier. This glacier protruded into
a lake, and on that particular night the end of that river of ice
broke off and thus formed an iceberg. The glacier was nearly a mile
wide, and when the end broke off the sound was such as to make the
loudest thunder seem a whisper by comparison. It was a rare
experience for this young fellow to be around where icebergs are
made, and vicariously I shared his experience.

I want to know the price of eggs, bacon, and coffee, but I need not
go into camp on the price-list. Having purchased my bacon and eggs,
I like to move along to where my friend is sitting, and hear him tell
of his experiences with glaciers and icebergs, and so become
inoculated with the world-enlarging virus. Or, if he comes in to
share my bacon and eggs, these mundane delights lose none of their
flavor by being garnished with conversation on Andean themes. I'm
glad to have my friend push that greatest of monuments, "The Christ
of the Andes," over into my world. I arise from the table feeling
that I have had full value for the money I expended for eggs and

I'd like to have in my world a liberal sprinkling of stars, for when
I am looking at stars I get away from sordid things, for a time, and
get my soul renovated. I think St. Paul must have been associating
with starry space just before he wrote the last two verses of that
eighth chapter of Romans. I can't see how he could have written such
mighty thoughts if he had been dwelling upon clothes or symptoms.
The reading of a patent-medicine circular is not specially conducive
to thoughts of infinity. So I like, in my meditations, to take trips
from star to star, and from planet to planet. I like to wonder
whether these planets were rightly named--whether Venus is as
beautiful as the name implies, and whether the Martians are really
disciples of the warlike Mars. I like to drift along upon the canals
on the planet Mars, with heroic Martians plying the oars. I have
great fun on such spatial excursions, and am glad that I ever annexed
these planets to my world. I can take these stellar companions with
me to my potato-patch, and they help the day along.

I want pictures in my world, too, and statues; for they show me the
hearts of the artists, and that is a sort of baptism. Sometimes I
grow a bit impatient to see how slowly some work of mine proceeds.
Then I think of Ghiberti, who worked for forty-two years on the
bronze doors of the Baptistry there in Florence, which Michael Angelo
declared to be worthy of paradise. Then I reflect that it was worth
a lifetime of work to win the praise of such as Angelo. This
reflection calms me, and I plod on more serenely, glad of the fact
that I can count Ghiberti and the bronze doors as a part of my world.
When I can have Titian, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del
Sarto, Raphael, and Rosa Bonheur around, I feel that I have good
company and must be on my good behavior. If Corot, Reynolds,
Leighton, Watts, and Landseer should be banished from my world I'd
feel that I had suffered a great loss. I like to hobnob with such
folks as these, both for my own pleasure and also for the reputation
I gain through such associations.

I must have people in my world, also, or it wouldn't be much of a
world. And I must be careful in my selection of people, if I am to
achieve any distinction as a world builder. I just can't leave
Cordelia out, for she helps to make my world luminous. But she must
have companions; so I shall select Antigone, Evangeline, Miranda,
Mary, and Martha if she can spare the time. Among the male
contingent I shall want Job, Erasmus, Petrarch, Dante, Goethe,
Shakespeare, Milton, and Burns. I want men and women in whose
presence I must stand uncovered to preserve my self-respect. I want
big people, wise people, and dynamic people in my world, people who
will teach me how to work and how to live.

If I can get my world made and peopled to my liking, I shall refute
Mr. Wordsworth's statement that the world is too much with us. If I
can have the right sort of folks about me, they will see to it that I
do not waste my powers, for I shall be compelled to use my powers in
order to avert expulsion from their good company. If I get my world
built to suit me, I shall have no occasion to imitate the poet's
plaint. I suspect there is no better fun in life than in building a
world of one's own.



One day in London a friend told me that on the market in that city
they have eggs of five grades--new-laid eggs, fresh eggs, imported
fresh eggs, good eggs, and eggs. A few days later we were in the
Tate Gallery looking at the Turner collection when he told me a story
of Turner. It seems that a friend of the artist was in his studio
watching him at his work, when suddenly this friend said: "Really,
Mr. Turner, I can't see in nature the colors that you portray on
canvas." The artist looked at him steadily for a moment, and then
replied: "Don't you wish you could?" Life, even at its best,
certainly is a maze. I find myself in the labyrinth, all the while
groping about, but quite unable to find the exit. Theseus was most
fortunate in having an Ariadne to furnish him with the thread to
guide him. But there seems to be no second Ariadne for me, and I
must continue to grope with no thread to guide. There in the Tate
Gallery I was standing enthralled before pictures by Watts and
Leighton, and paying small heed to the Turners, when the story of my
friend held a mirror before me, and as I looked I asked myself the
question: "Don't you wish you could?"

Those Barbizon chaps, artists that they were, used to laugh at Corot
and tell him he was parodying nature, but he went right on painting
the foliage of his trees silver-gray until, finally, the other
artists discovered that he was the only one who was telling the truth
on canvas. Every one of my dilemmas seems to have at least a dozen
horns, and I stand helpless before them, fearful that I may lay hold
of the wrong one. I was reading in a book the other day the
statement of a man who says he'd rather have been Louis Agassiz than
the richest man in America. In another little book, "The Kingdom of
Light," the author, who is a lawyer, says that Concord,
Massachusetts, has influenced America to a greater degree than New
York and Chicago combined. I think I'll blot out the superlative
degree in my grammar, for the comparative gives me all the trouble I
can stand.

Everything seems to be better or worse than something else, and there
doesn't seem to be any best or worst. So I'll dispense with the
superlative degree. Whether I buy new-laid eggs, or just eggs, I
can't be certain that I have the best or the worst eggs that can be
found. If I go over to Paris I may find other grades of eggs. Our
Sunday-school teacher wanted a generous contribution of money one
day, and, by way of causing purse-strings to relax, told of a boy who
was putting aside choice bits of meat as he ate his dinner. Upon
being asked by his father why he was doing so, he replied that he was
saving the bits for Rover. He was reminded that Rover could do with
scraps and bones, and that he himself should eat the bits he had put
aside. When he went out to Rover with the plate of leavings, he
patted him affectionately and said:

"Poor doggie! I was going to bring you an offering to-day; but I
guess you'll have to put up with a collection."

I like Robert Burns and think his "To Mary in Heaven" is his finest
poem. But the critics seem to prefer his "Highland Mary." So I
suppose these critics will look at me, with something akin to pity in
the look, and say: "Don't you wish you could?" Years ago some one
planted trees about my house for shade, and selected poplar. Now the
roots of these trees invade the cellar and the cistern, and prove
themselves altogether a nuisance. Of course, I can cut out the
trees, but then I should have no shade. That man, whoever he was,
might just as well have planted elms or maples, but, by some sort of
perversity or ignorance, planted poplars, and here am I, years
afterward, in a state of perturbation about the safety of cellar and
cistern on account of those pesky roots. I do wish that man had
taken a course in arboriculture before he planted those trees. It
might have saved me a deal of bother, and been no worse for him.

Back home, after we had passed through the autograph-album stage of
development, we became interested in another sort of literary
composition. It was a book in which we recorded the names of our
favorite book, author, poem, statesman, flower, name, place, musical
instrument, and so on throughout an entire page. That experience was
really valuable and caused us to do some thinking. It would be well,
I think, to use such a book as that in the examination of teachers
and pupils. I wish I might come upon one of the books now in which I
set down the record of my favorites. It would afford me some
interesting if not valuable information.

If I were called upon to name my favorite flower now I'd scarcely
know what to say. In one mood I'd certainly say lily-of-the-valley,
but in another mood I might say the rose. I do wonder if, in those
books back yonder, I ever said sunflower, dandelion, dahlia, fuchsia,
or daisy. If I should find that I said heliotrope, I'd give my
adolescence a pretty high grade. If I were using one of these books
in my school, and some boy should name the sunflower as his favorite,
I'd find myself facing a big problem to get him converted to the
lily-of-the-valley, and I really do not know quite how I should
proceed. It might not help him much for me to ask him: "Don't you
wish you could?" If I should let him know that my favorite is the
lily-of-the-valley, he might name that flower as the line of least
resistance to my approval and a high grade, with the mental
reservation that the sunflower is the most beautiful plant that
grows. Such a course might gratify me, but it certainly would not
make for his progress toward the lily-of-the-valley, nor yet for the
salvation of his soul.

I have a boy of my own, but have never had the courage to ask him
what kind of father he thinks he has. He might tell me. Again I am
facing a dilemma. Dilemmas are quite plentiful hereabouts. I must
determine whether to regard him as an asset or a liability. But,
that is not the worst of my troubles. I plainly see that sooner or
later he is going to decide whether his father is an asset or a
liability. We must go over our books some day so as to find out
which of us is in debt to the other. I know that I owe him his
chance, but parents often seem backward about paying their debts to
their children, and I'm wondering whether I shall be able to cancel
that debt, to his present and ultimate satisfaction. I'd be
decidedly uncomfortable, years hence, to find him but "the runt of
something good" because I had failed to pay that debt. When I was a
lad they used to say that I was stubborn, but that may have been my
unsophisticated way of trying to collect a debt. I take some
comfort, in these later days, in knowing that the folks at home
credit me with the virtue of perseverance, and I wish they had used
the milder word when I was a boy.

There is a picture show just around the corner, and I'm in a
quandary, right now, whether to follow the crowd to that show or sit
here and read Ruskin's "Sesame and Lilies." If I go to see the
picture film I'll probably see an exhibition of cowboy equestrian
dexterity, with a "happy ever after" finale, and may also acquire the
reputation among the neighbors of being up to date. But, if I spend
the evening with Ruskin, I shall have something worth thinking over
as I go about my work to-morrow. So here is another dilemma, and
there is no one to decide the matter for me. This being a free moral
agent is not the fun that some folks try to make it appear. I don't
really see how I shall ever get on unless I subscribe to Sam Walter
Foss's lines:

"No other song has vital breath
Through endless time to fight with death,
Than that the singer sings apart
To please his solitary heart."



As I think back over my past life as a schoolmaster I keep wondering
how many inebriates I have produced in my career. I'd be glad to
think that I have not a single one to my discredit, but that seems
beyond the wildest hope, considering the character of my teaching. I
am a firm believer in temperance in all things; but, in the matter of
pedagogy, my practice cannot be made to square with my theory. In
fact, I find, upon reflection, that I have been teaching intemperance
all the while. I'm glad the officers of my church do not know of my
pedagogical practice. If they did, they would certainly take action
against me, and in that case I cannot see what adequate defense I
could offer. Being a schoolmaster, I could scarcely bring myself to
plead ignorance, for such a plea as that might abrogate my license.
So I shall just keep quiet and look as nearly wise as possible. It
is embarrassing to me to reflect how long it has taken me to see the
error of my practice. If I had asked one of my boys he could have
told me of the better way.

When we got the new desks in our school, back home, our teacher
seemed very anxious to have them kept in their virgin state, and
became quite animated as he walked up and down the aisle fulminating
against the possible offender. In the course of his sulphury remarks
he threatened condign punishment upon the base miscreant who should
dare use his penknife on one of those desks. His address was equal
to a course in "Paradise Lost," nor was it without its effect upon
the audience. Every boy in the room felt in his pocket to make sure
that it contained his knife, and every one began to wonder just where
he would find the whetstone when he went home. We were all eager for
school to close for the day that we might set about the important
matter of whetting our knives. Henceforth wood-carving was a part of
the regular order in our school, but it was done without special
supervision. Of course, each boy could prove an alibi when his own
desk was under investigation. It would not be seemly, in this
connection, to give a verbatim report of the conversations of us boys
when we assembled at our rendezvous after school. Suffice it to say
that the teacher's ears must have burned. The consensus of opinion
was that, if the teacher didn't want the desks carved, he should not
have told us to carve them. We seemed to think that he had said, in
substance, that he knew we were a gang of young rascallions, and
that, if he didn't intimidate us, we'd surely be guilty of some form
of vandalism. Then he proceeded to point out the way by suggesting
penknives; and the trick was done. We were ever open to suggestions.

We had another teacher whose pet aversion was match heads. Cicero
and Demosthenes would have apologized to him could they have come in
when he was delivering one of his eloquent orations upon this
engaging theme. His vituperative vocabulary seemed unlimited,
inexhaustible, and cumulative. He raved, and ranted, and exuded
epithets with the most lavish prodigality. It seemed to us that he
didn't care much what he said, if he could only say it rapidly and
forcibly. In the very midst of an eloquent period another match head
would explode under his foot, and that seemed to answer the purpose
of an encore. The class in arithmetic did not recite that afternoon.
There was no time for arithmetic when match heads were to the fore.
I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I was admitted to such a good show
on a free pass. The next day, of course, the Gatling guns resumed
their activity; the girls screeched as they walked toward the
water-pail to get a drink; we boys studied our geography lesson with
faces garbed in a look of innocence and wonder; our mothers at home
were wondering what had become of all the matches; and the
teacher--but the less said of him the better.

We boys needed only the merest suggestion to set us in motion, and
like Dame Rumor in the Aeneid, we gathered strength by the going.
One day the teacher became somewhat facetious and recounted a
red-pepper episode in the school of his boyhood. That was enough for
us; and the next day, in our school, was a day long to be remembered.
I recall in the school reader the story of "Meddlesome Matty." Her
name was really Matilda. One day her curiosity got the better of
her, and she removed the lid from her grandmother's snuff-box. The
story goes on to say:

"Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth, and chin
A dismal sight presented;
And as the snuff got further in
Sincerely she repented."

Barring the element of repentance, the red pepper was equally
provocative of results in our school.

I certainly cannot lay claim to any great degree of docility, for, in
spite of all the experiences of my boyhood, I fell into the evil ways
of my teachers when I began my schoolmastering, and suggested to my
pupils numberless short cuts to wrong-doing. I railed against
intoxicants, and thus made them curious. That's why I am led to
wonder if I have incited any of my boys to strong drink as my
teachers incited me to desk-carving, match heads, and red pepper.

I have come to think that a rabbit excels me in the matter of
pedagogy. The tar-baby story that Joel Chandler Harris has given us
abundantly proves my statement. The rabbit had so often outwitted
the fox that, in desperation, the latter fixed up a tar-baby and set
it up in the road for the benefit of the rabbit. In his efforts to
discipline the tar-baby for impoliteness, the rabbit became enmeshed
in the tar, to his great discomfort and chagrin. However, Brer
Rabbit's knowledge of pedagogy shines forth in the following dialogue:

W'en Brer Fox fine Brer Rabbit mixt up wid de Tar-Baby he feel mighty
good, en he roll on de groun' en laff. Bimeby he up'n say, sezee:

"Well, I speck I got you dis time, Brer Rabbit," sezee. "Maybe I
ain't, but I speck I is. You been runnin' roun' here sassin' atter
me a mighty long time, but I speck you done come ter de een' er de
row. You bin cuttin' up yo' capers en bouncin' 'roun' in dis
neighborhood ontwel you come ter b'leeve yo'se'f de boss er de whole
gang. En den youer allers some'rs whar you got no bizness," sez Brer
Fox, sezee. "Who ax you fer ter come en strike up a'quaintance wid
dish yer Tar-Baby? En who stuck you up dar whar you is? Nobody in
de roun' worril. You des tuck en jam yo'se'f on dat Tar-Baby widout
watin' fer enny invite," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en dar you is, en dar
you'll stay twel I fixes up a bresh-pile and fires her up, kaze I'm
gwineter bobby-cue you dis day, sho," sez Brer Fox, sezee.

Den Brer Rabbit talk mighty 'umble.

"I don't keer w'at you do wid me, Brer Fox," sezee, "so you don't
fling me in dat brier-patch. Roas' me, Brer Fox," sezee, "but don't
fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Hit's so much trouble fer ter kindle a fier," sez Brer Fox, sezee,
"dat I speck I'll hatter hang you," sezee.

"Hang me des ez high as you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit,
sezee, "but do fer de Lord's sake don't fling me in dat brier-patch,"

"I ain't got no string," sez Brer Fos, sezee, "en now I speck I'll
hatter drown you," sezee.

"Drown me des ez deep ez you please, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit,
sezee, "but do don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

"Dey ain't no water nigh," sez Brer Fox, sezee, "en now I speck I'll
hatter skin you," sezee.

"Skin me, Brer Fox," sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, "snatch out my eyeballs,
t'ar out my years by de roots, en cut off my legs," sezee, "but do
please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch," sezee.

Co'se Brer Fox wanter hurt Brer Rabbit bad ez he kin, so he cotch 'im
by de behime legs en slung 'im right in de middle er de brier-patch.
Dar wuz a considerbul flutter whar Brer Rabbit struck de bushes, en
Brer Fox sorter hang 'roun' fer ter see w'at wuz gwineter happen.
Bimeby he hear somebody call 'im, en way up de hill he see Brer
Rabbit settin' cross-legged on a chinkapin log koamin' de pitch outen
his har wid a chip. Den Brer Fox know dat he bin swop off mighty
bad. Brer Rabbit was bleedzed fer ter fling back some er his sass,
en he holler out:

"Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a
brier-patch!" en wid dat he skip out des ez lively ez a cricket in de



I wish I could ever get the question of majors and minors settled to
my complete satisfaction. I thought my college course would settle
the matter for all time, but it didn't. I suspect that those erudite
professors thought they were getting me fitted out with enduring
habits of majors and minors, but they seem to have made no allowance
for changes of styles nor for growth. When I received my diploma
they seemed to think I was finished, and would stay just as they had
fixed me. They used to talk no little about finished products, and,
on commencement day, appeared to look upon me as one of them. On the
whole, I'm glad that I didn't fulfil their apparent expectations. I
have never been able to make out whether their attentions, on
commencement day, were manifestations of pride or relief. I can see
now that I must have been a sore trial to them. In my callow days,
when they occupied pedestals, I bent the knee to them by way of
propitiating them, but I got bravely over that. At first, what they
taught and what they represented were my majors, but when I came to
shift and reconstruct values, some of them climbed down off their
pedestals, and my knee lost some of its flexibility.

We had one little professor who afforded us no end of amusement by
his taking himself so seriously. The boys used to say that he wrote
letters and sent flowers to himself. He would strut about the campus
as proudly as a pouter-pigeon, never realizing, apparently, that we
were laughing at him. At first, he impressed us greatly with his
grand air and his clothes, but after we discovered that, in his case
at least, clothes do not make the man, we refused to be impressed.
He could split hairs with infinite precision, and smoke a cigarette
in the most approved style, but I never heard any of the boys express
a wish to become that sort of man. Had there occurred a meeting, on
the campus, between him and Zeus he would have been offended, I am
sure, if Zeus had failed to set off a few thunderbolts in his honor.
We used to have at home a bantam rooster that could create no end of
flutter in the chicken yard, and could crow mightily; but when I
reflected that he could neither lay eggs nor occupy much space in a
frying-pan, I demoted him, in my thinking, from major rank to a low
minor, and awarded the palm to one of the less bumptious but more
useful fowls. Our little professor had degrees, of course, and has
them yet, I suspect; but no one ever discovered that he put them to
any good use. For that reason we boys lost interest in the man as
well as his garnishments.

Our professor of chemistry was different. He was never on
dress-parade; he did not pose; he was no snob. We loved him because
he was so genuine. He had degrees, too, but they were so obscured by
the man that we forgot them in our contemplation of him. We knew
that they do not make degrees big enough for him. I often wonder
what degrees the colleges would want to confer upon William
Shakespeare if he could come back. Then, too, I often think what a
wonderful letter Abraham Lincoln could and might have written to Mrs.
Bixby, if he had only had a degree. Agassiz may have had degrees,
but he didn't really need them. Like Browning, he was big enough,
even lacking degrees, to be known without the identification of his
other names. If people need degrees they ought to have them,
especially if they can live up to them. Possibly the time may come
when degrees will be given for things done, rather than for things
hoped for; given for at least one stage of the journey accomplished
rather than for merely packing a travelling-bag. If this time ever
comes Thomas A. Edison will bankrupt the alphabet.

In this coil of degrees and the absence of them, I become more and
more confused as to majors and minors. There in college were those
two professors both wearing degrees of the same size. Judged by that
criterion they should have been of equal size and influence. But
they weren't. In the one case you couldn't see the man for the
degree; in the other you couldn't see the degree for the man. Small
wonder that I find myself in such a hopeless muddle. I once thought,
in my innocence, that there was a sort of metric scale in
degrees--that an A.M. was ten times the size of an A.B.; that a Ph.D.
was equal to ten A.M.'s; and that the LL.D. degree could be had only
on the top of Mt. Olympus. But here I am, stumbling about among
folks, and can't tell a Ph.D. from an A.B. I do wish all these
degree chaps would wear tags so that we wayfaring folks could tell
them apart. It would simplify matters if the railway people would
arrange compartments on their trains for these various degrees. The
Ph.D. crowd would certainly feel more comfortable if they could herd
together, so that they need not demean themselves by associating with
mere A.M.'s or the more lowly A.B.'s. We might hope, too, that by
way of diversion they would put their heads together and compound
some prescription by the use of which the world might avert war,
reduce the high cost of living, banish a woman's tears, or save a
soul from perdition.

Be it said to my shame, that I do not know what even an A.B. means,
much less the other degree hieroglyphics. Sometimes I receive a
letter having the writer's name printed at the top with an A.B.
annex; but I do not know what the writer is trying to say to me by
means of the printing. He probably wants me to know that he is a
graduate of some sort, but he fails to make it clear to me whether
his degree was conferred by a high school, a normal school, a
college, or a university. I know of one high school that confers
this degree, as well as many normal schools and colleges. There are
still other institutions where this same degree may be had, that
freely admit that they are colleges, whether they can prove it or
not. I'll be glad to send a stamped envelope for reply, if some one
will only be good enough to tell me what A.B. does really mean.

I do hope that the earth may never be scourged with celibacy, but the
ever-increasing variety of bachelors, male and female, creates in me
a feeling of apprehension. Nor can I make out whether a bachelor of
arts is bigger and better than bachelors of science and pedagogy.
The arts folks claim that they are, and proceed to prove it by one
another. I often wonder what a bachelor of arts can do that the
other bachelors cannot do, or _vice versa_. They should all be
required to submit a list of their accomplishments, so that, when any
of the rest of us want a bit of work done, we may be able to select
wisely from among these differentiated bachelors. If we want a
bridge built, a beefsteak broiled, a mountain tunnelled, a loaf of
bread baked, a railroad constructed, a hat trimmed, or a book
written, we ought to know which class of bachelors will serve our
purpose best. Some one asked me just a few days ago to cite him to
some man or woman who can write a prize-winning short story, but I
couldn't decide whether to refer him to the bachelors of arts or the
bachelors of pedagogy. I might have turned to the Litt.D.'s, but I
didn't suppose they would care to bother with a little thing like

In college I studied Greek and, in fact, won a gold medal for my
agility in ramping through Mr. Xenophon's parasangs. That medal is
lost, so far as I know, and no one now has the remotest suspicion
that I ever even halted along through those parasangs, not to mention
ramping, or that I ever made the acquaintance of ox-eyed Juno. But I
need no medal to remind roe of those experiences in the Greek class.
Every bluebird I see does that for me. The good old doctor, one
morning in early spring, rhapsodized for five minutes on the singing
of a bluebird he had heard on his way to class, telling how the
little fellow was pouring forth a melody that made the world and all
life seem more beautiful and blessed. We loved him for that, because
it proved that he was a big-souled human being; and pupils like to
discover human qualities in their teachers. The little professor may
have heard the bluebird's singing, too; but if he did, he probably
thought it was serenading him. If colleges of education and normal
schools would select teachers who can delight in the song of a
bluebird their academic attainments would be ennobled and glorified,
and their students might come to love instead of fearing them. Only
a man or a woman with a big soul can socialize and vitalize the work
of the schools. The mere academician can never do it.

The more I think of all these degree decorations in my efforts to
determine what is major in life and what is minor, the more I think
of George. He was an earnest schoolmaster, and was happiest when his
boys and girls were around him, busy at their tasks. One year there
were fourteen boys in his school, fifteen including himself, for he
was one of them. The school day was not long enough, so they met in
groups in the evening, at the various homes, and continued the work
of the day. These boys absorbed his time, his strength, and his
heart. Their success in their work was his greatest joy. Of those
fourteen boys one is no more. Of the other thirteen one is a state
official of high rank, five are attorneys, two are ministers of the
Gospel, two are bankers, one is a successful business man, and two
are engineers of prominence. George is the ideal of those men. They
all say he gave them their start in the right direction, and always
speak his name with reverence. George has these thirteen stars in
his crown that I know of. He had no degrees, but I am thinking that
some time he will hear the plaudit: "Well done, good and faithful



It was a dark, cold, rainy night in November. The wind whistled
about the house, the rain beat a tattoo against the window-panes and
flooded the sills. The big base-burner, filled with anthracite coal,
was illuminating the room through its mica windows, on all sides, and
dispensing a warmth that smiled at the storm and cold outside. There
was a book in the picture, also; and a pair of slippers; and a
smoking-jacket; and an armchair. From the ceiling was suspended a
great lamp that joined gloriously in the chorus of light and cheer.
The man who sat in the armchair, reading the book, was a
schoolmaster--a college professor to be exact. Soft music floated up
from below stairs as a soothing accompaniment to his reading.
Subconsciously, as he turned the pages, he felt a pity for the poor
fellows on top of freight-trains who must endure the pitiless
buffeting of the storm. He could see them bracing themselves against
the blasts that tried to wrest them from their moorings. He felt a
pity for the belated traveller who tries, well-nigh in vain, to urge
his horses against the driving rain onward toward food and shelter.
But the leaves of the book continued to turn at intervals; for the
story was an engaging one, and the schoolmaster was ever responsive
to well-told stories.

It was nine o'clock or after, and the fury of the storm was
increasing. As if responding to the challenge outside, he opened the
draft of the stove and then settled back, thinking he would be able
to complete the story before retiring. In the midst of one of the
many compelling passages he heard a bell toll, or imagined he did.
Brought to check by this startling sensation, he looked back over the
page to discover a possible explanation. Finding none, he smiled at
his own fancy, and then proceeded with his reading. But, again, the
bell tolled, and he wondered whether anything he had eaten at dinner
could be held responsible for the hallucination. Scarcely had he
resumed his reading when the bell again tolled. He could stand it no
longer, and must come upon the solution of the mystery. Bells do not
toll at nine o'clock, and the weirdness of the affair disconcerted
him. The nearer he drew to the foot of the stair, in his quest for
information, the more foolish he felt his question would seem to the
members of the family. But the question had scarce been asked when
the boy of the house burst forth: "Yes, been tolling for half an
hour." Meekly he asked: "Why are they tolling the bell?" "Child
lost." "Whose child?" "Little girl belonging to the Norwegians who
live in the shack down there by the woods."

So, that was it! Well, it was some satisfaction to have the matter
cleared up, and now he could go back to his book. He had noticed the
shack in question, which was made of slabs set upright, with a
precarious roof of tarred paper; and had heard, vaguely, that a gang
of Norwegians were there to make a road through the woods to
Minnehaha Falls. Beyond these bare facts he had never thought to
inquire. These people and their doings were outside of his world.
Besides, the book and the cheery room were awaiting his return. But
the reading did not get on well. The tolling bell broke in upon it
and brought before his mind the picture of a little girl wandering
about in the storm and crying for her mother. He tried to argue with
himself that these Norwegians did not belong in his class, and that
they ought to look after their own children. He was under no
obligations to them--in fact, did not even know them. They had no
right, therefore, to break in upon the serenity of his evening.

But the bell tolled on. If he could have wrenched the clapper from
out that bell, the page of his book might not have blurred before his
eyes. As the wind moaned about the house he thought he heard a child
crying, and started to his feet. It was inconceivable, he argued,
that he, a grown man, should permit such incidental matters in life
to so disturb his composure. There were scores, perhaps hundreds, of
children lost somewhere in the world, for whom regiments of people
were searching, and bells were tolling, too. So why not be
philosophical and read the book? But the words would not keep their
places, and the page yielded forth no coherent thought. He could
endure the tension no longer. He became a whirlwind--slamming the
book upon the table, kicking off the slippers, throwing the
smoking-jacket at random, and rushing to the closet for his gear. At
ten o'clock he was ready--hip-boots, slouch-hat, rubber coat, and
lantern, and went forth into the storm.

Arriving at the scene, he took his place in the searching party of
about twenty men. They were to search the woods, first of all, each
man to be responsible for a space about two or three rods wide and
extending to the road a half-mile distant. Lantern in hand, he
scrutinized each stone and stump, hoping and fearing that it might
prove to be the little one. In the darkness he stumbled over logs
and vines, became entangled in briers and brambles, and often was
deluged with water from trees as he came in contact with overhanging
boughs. But his blood was up, for he was seeking a lost baby. When
he fell full-length in the swale, he got to his feet the best he
could and went on. Book and room were forgotten in the glow of a
larger purpose. So for two hours he splashed and struggled, but had
never a thought of abandoning the quest until the child should be

At twelve o'clock they had reached the road and were about to begin
the search in another section of the wood when the church-bell rang.
This was the signal that they should return to the starting-point to
hear any tidings that might have come in the meantime. Scarcely had
they heard that a message had come from police headquarters in the
city, and that information could be had there concerning a lost child
when the schoolmaster called out: "Come on, Craig!" And away went
these two toward the barn to arouse old "Blackie" out of her slumber
and hitch her to a buggy. Little did that old nag ever dream, even
in her palmiest days, that she could show such speed as she developed
in that four-mile drive. The schoolmaster was too much wrought up to
sit supinely by and see another do the driving; so he did it himself.
And he drove as to the manner born.

The information they obtained at the police station was meagre
enough, but it furnished them a clew. A little girl had been found
wandering about, and could be located on a certain street at such a
number. The name of the family was not known. With this slender
clew they began their search for the street and house. The map of
streets which they had hastily sketched seemed hopelessly inadequate
to guide them in and out of by-streets and around zigzag corners.
They had adventures a plenty in pounding upon doors of wrong houses
and thus arousing the fury of sleepy men and sleepless dogs. One of
the latter tore away a quarter-section of the schoolmaster's rubber
coat, and became so interested in this that the owner escaped with no
further damage. After an hour filled with such experiences they
finally came to the right house. Joy flooded their hearts as the man
inside called out: "Yes, wait a minute." Once inside, questions and
answers flew back and forth like a shuttle. Yes, a little
girl--about five years old--light hair--braided and hanging down her
back--check apron. "She's the one--and we want to take her home."
Then the lady appeared, and said it was too bad to take the little
one out into such a night. But the schoolmaster bore her argument

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