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Title: John Bull, Junior - or French as She is Traduced
Author: O'Rell, Max, 1848-1903
Language: English
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John Bull, Junior


John Bull, Junior







_All rights reserved._


It must be that a too free association with American men of letters has
moved the author of this book to add to his fine Gallic wit a touch of
that preposterousness which is supposed to be characteristic of American

For proof of this, I cite the fact that he has asked me to introduce him
upon this occasion. Surely there could be no more grotesque idea than
that any word of mine can serve to make Max O'Rell better known than he
is to the great company of American readers.

Have not the pirate publishers already introduced him to all Americans
who care for literature? Have not their translators done their best, not
only to bring his writings to the attention of readers, but also to add
to the sparkle and vivacity of his books by translating into them many
things not to be found in the French originals? These generous folk, who
have thus liberally supplemented his wit with flashes of their own
stupidity, have treated his text after the manner of a celebrated
Kentuckian of whom it was written that his love of truth was so great
that he gave his entire time and attention to the task of ornamenting
and adding to it.

But with all their eagerness to render interested service to a
distinguished man of letters who was not then here to look after his own
affairs, the pirates missed this, the best of his books; and finding
that no surreptitious edition of it has appeared in this country, the
author has felt himself privileged to re-write it and make such changes
in it and additions to it as his own judgment has suggested without the
prompting of voluntary assistants, and even to negotiate with a
publisher for the issue of an edition on his own account.

I have called this work the best of Max O'Rell's books, and I think the
reader will approve the judgment. Here, as in all that this author has
written, there is a biting wit, which saturates the serious substance as
good, sharp vinegar pervades a pickle; but here, as elsewhere, the main
purpose is earnest, and the wit is but an aid to its accomplishment. A
very wise and distinguished educator has declared that "the whole theory
of education is to be extracted from these humorous sketches," and the
story goes--whether Max O'Rell will vouch for its accuracy or not, I do
not venture to say--that the head boy of St. Paul's School in London,
after hearing the sketches read in public, said: "We boys enjoyed the
lecture immensely, but _that fellow knows too much about us_."

With a tremor of apprehension, we reflect that Max O'Rell's period of
observation among ourselves will presently end, and that when he comes
to record the result in his peculiar fashion, we are likely to echo that
school-boy's plaint. But at any rate we shall know our own features
better after we have contemplated them in his mirror; and, meantime,
those of us who have enjoyed his acquaintance are disposed earnestly to
hope that a guest whom we have learned to esteem so warmly may not think
quite so ill of the American character as the barbaric condition of our
laws respecting literary property would warrant.


NEW YORK, February, 1888.


_A Word to the Reader and another to the Critic._

To write a book in a foreign tongue is risky, and I had better at once
ask for indulgence.

The many scenes and reminiscences belong to England, and, if translated
into French, the anecdotes and conversations would lose much of whatever
flavour and interest there may be in them.

This is my reason for not having written this book in French. Let my
reason be also my apology.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If any of my readers should feel inclined to think my review of British
school-boys somewhat critical, let them take it for granted that when I
was a boy I was everything that was good.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Now, gentle American Critic, whose magnanimity is proverbial, before
thou abusest this little book, reflect how thou wouldst feel if thy
Editor were to bid thee write thy criticism in French.






I am Born.--I am Deeply in Love.--I wish to be an Artist, but my
Father uses strong Argument against it.--I produce a dramatic
Chef-d'oeuvre.--Parisian Managers fail to appreciate it.--I put
on a beautiful Uniform.--The Consequence of it.--Two Episodes of
the Franco-Prussian War.--The Commune explained by a Communist.--A
"glorious" Career cut short.--I take a Resolution and a Ticket for
London,                                                             1



Arrival at Charing Cross.--I have Nothing to declare to the Exciseman
but Low Spirits.--Difficulty in finding a comfortable Residence.--Board
and Lodging.--A House with Creepers.--Things look Bad.--Things look
Worse.--Things look cheerful,                                      15


I make the acquaintance of Public School Boys.--"When I was a little
Boy."--An Awful Moment.--A Simple Theory.--I score a Success,      34


The _genus_ Boy.--The only one I object to.--What Boys work for,   38


Schoolboys I have met.--Promising Britons.--Sly Boots.--Too Good for
this World.--"No, thanks, we makes it."--French Dictionaries.--A
Naughty Boy.--Mothers' Pets.--Dirty, but Beautiful.--John Bully.--High
Collars and Brains.--Dictation and its Trials.--Not to be taken in.--
Unlucky Boys.--The Use of Two Ears.--A Boy with One Idea.--Master
Whirligig.--The Influence of Athletics.--A Good Situation.--A Shrewd
Boy of Business.--Master Algernon Cadwaladr Smyth and other Typical
Schoolboys,                                                        40


French as she is Traduced.--More Grumblings.--"La Critique" is not the
Critic's Wife.--Bossuet's Prose, and how it reads in English.--Nothing
improves by Translation except a Bishop.--A Few French "Howlers."--
Valuable Hints on translating Unseen Passages,                     72


English Boys on French Etymologies.--Why "Silence" is the only French
Noun ending in "ence" that is of the Masculine Gender.--A Valuable
Service rendered by the Author to his Land of Adoption.--Learned
Etymologies.--Return to old Philological Methods.--Remarkable
Questions.--Written and Oral Examinations.--A Kind Examiner.--How
long would it take the Moon to Fall to the Earth?--How many Yards
of Cloth it takes to cover an Ass,                                 80


English Boys on French Composition.--"Go ahead" is not in French
"Allez une Tête."--How Boys set about French Composition.--A
Written Proof of their Guilt.--How Large Advertisements can help
them.--A Stumbling-Block cleared away,                             90


Suggestions and Hints for the Class Room.--Boys on History and
Geography.--"Maxims" and "Wise Thoughts."--Advice to those about to
Teach.--"Sir," and not "Mossoo."--"Frauleins" and "Mademoiselles."--
Check your Love for Boys.--No Credit.--We are all liable to make
Mistakes.--I get an insight into "Stocks,"                         95


English Boys' Patriotism put to a Severe Test.--Their Opinion of
French Victories.--King Louis VI. of France and the English Soldier at
the Battle of Brenneville.--An English Boy on French Wrestling.--Young
Tory Democrats.--"Imperium et Libertas."--A Patriotic Answer.--Duck
and Drake,                                                        110


Cricket.--I have an Unsuccessful Try at it.--Boys' Opinion of my
Athletic Qualities.--French and English Athletes.--Feats of Skill and
Strength _versus_ Feats of Endurance and Brute Force.--A Case of
Eviction by Force of Arms,                                        116


Old Pupils.--Acquaintances renewed.--Lively Recollections revived.--It
is easier to Teach French than to Learn it.--A Testimonial refused to a
French Master.--"How de do?"--"That's What-d'ye-call-him, the French
Master,"                                                          121


Debating Societies.--A Discussion on the Pernicious Use of Tobacco.--
School Magazines in France and England.--A Business-like Little
Briton.--An Important Resolution passed unanimously.--I perform
an Englishman's Duty,                                             125


Home, sweet Home!--Boys' Opinion of the Seaside.--French and English
Beaches.--Who is he at Home? What was his Grandfather?--Remarks on
Swaggering.--"I thought he was a Gentleman,"                      128


He can not speak French, but he can read it, you know.--He has a try
at it in Paris.--Nasal Sounds and accented Syllables.--How I reduced
English Words to single Syllables, and was successful in the Object I
had in View.--A Remark on the Connection of Words,                133


Public School Scholarships and Exhibitions.--Grateful Parents.--
Inquiring Mothers.--A Dear Little Candidate.--Ladies' Testimonials.
--A Science Master well recommended,                              138


The Origin of Anglomania and Anglophobia in England.--A Typical
Frenchman.--Too much of an Englishman.--A remarkable French Master.
--John Bull made to go to Church by a Frenchman.--A Noble and
Thankless Career.--A Place of Learning.--Mons. and Esquire.--All
Ladies and Gentlemen.--One Exception.--Wonderful Addresses,       148


The Way to Learn Modern Languages,                                158


English and French Schoolboys.--Their Characteristics.--The Qualities of
the English Schoolboy.--What is required of a Master to Win,      165

Appendix,                                                         169

_John Bull, Jr._



I was born on the ----

But this is scarcely a "recollection" of mine.

                 *       *       *       *       *

At twelve I was deeply in love with a little girl of my own age. Our
servants were friends, and it was in occasional meetings of these girls
in the public gardens of my little native town that my chief chance of
making love to Marie lay. Looking back on this little episode in my
life, I am inclined to think that it afforded much amusement to our
attendants. My love was too deep for words; I never declared my flame
aloud. But, oh, what a fluttering went on under my small waistcoat
every time I had the ineffable pleasure of a nod from her, and what
volumes of love I put into my bow as I lifted my cap and returned her
salute! We made our first communion on the same day. I was a pupil of
the organist, and it was arranged that I should play a short piece
during the Offertory on that occasion. I had readily acquiesced in the
proposal. Here was my chance of declaring myself; through the medium of
the music I could tell her all my lips refused to utter. She must be
moved, she surely would understand.

Whether she did or not, I never had the bliss of knowing. Shortly after
that memorable day, my parents removed from the country to Paris. The
thought of seeing her no more nearly broke my heart, and when the
stage-coach reached the top of the last hill from which the town could
be seen, my pent-up feelings gave way and a flood of tears came to my

The last time I visited those haunts of my childhood, I heard that
"little Marie" was the mamma of eight children. God bless that mamma
and her dear little brood!

                 *       *       *       *       *

At fifteen I was passionately fond of music, and declared to my father
that I had made up my mind to be an artiste.

My father was a man of great common sense and few words: he
administered to me a sound thrashing, which had the desired effect of
restoring my attentions to Cicero and Thucydides.

It did not, however, altogether cure me of a certain yearning after
literary glory.

For many months I devoted the leisure, left me by Greek version and
Latin verse, to the production of a drama in five acts and twelve

For that matter I was no exception to the rule. Every French school-boy
has written, is writing, or will write a play.

                 *       *       *       *       *

My drama was a highly moral one of the sensational class.
Blood-curdling, horrible, terrible, savage, weird, human, fiendish,
fascinating, irresistible--it was all that. I showed how, even in this
world, crime, treachery, and falsehood, though triumphant for a time,
must in the long run have their day of reckoning. Never did a modern
Drury Lane audience see virtue more triumphant and vice more utterly
confounded than the Parisians would have in my play, if only the
theatrical directors had not been so stupid as to refuse my

For it was refused, inconceivable as it seemed to me at the time.

The directors of French theatres are accustomed to send criticisms of
the plays which "they regret to be unable to accept."

The criticism I received from the director of the Ambigu Theatre was, I
thought, highly encouraging.

"My play," it appeared, "showed no experience of the stage; but it was
full of well-conceived scenes and happy _mots_, and was written in
excellent French. Horrors, however, were too piled up, and I seemed to
have forgotten that spectators should be allowed time to take breath
and wipe away their tears."

I was finally advised not to kill all my _dramatis personæ_ in my next
dramatic production, as it was customary for one of them to come
forward and announce the name of the author at the end of the first

Although this little bit of advice appeared to me not altogether free
from satire, there was in the letter more praise than I had expected,
and I felt proud and happy. The letter was passed round in the
class-room, commented upon in the playground, and I was so excited that
I can perfectly well remember how I forgot to learn my repetition that
day, and how I got forty lines of the _Ars Poetica_ to write out five

What a take-down, this imposition upon a budding dramatic author!

                 *       *       *       *       *

Examinations to prepare compelled me for some time to postpone all idea
of astonishing the Paris playgoers with a "new and original" drama.

I took my B.A. at the end of that year, and my B.Sc. at the end of the
following one. Three years later I was leaving the military school with
the rank of sub-lieutenant.

My uniform was lovely; and if I had only had as much gold in my pockets
as on my shoulders, sleeves, and breast, I think I ought to have been
the happiest being on earth.

The proudest day of a young French officer's life is the day on which
he goes out in the street for the first time with all his ironmongery
on, his moustache curled up, his cap on his right ear, his sabre in his
left hand. The soldiers he meets salute him, the ladies seem to smile
approvingly upon him; he feels like the conquering hero of the day; all
is bright before him; battles only suggest to him victories and

On the first day, his mother generally asks to accompany him, and takes
his arm. Which is the prouder of the two? the young warrior, full of
confidence and hope, or the dear old lady who looks at the passers-by
with an air that says: "This is my son, ladies and gentlemen. As for
you, young ladies, he can't have all of you, you know."

Poor young officer! dear old mother! They little knew, in 1869, that in
a few months one would be lying in a military hospital on a bed of
torture, and the other would be wondering for five mortal months
whether her dear and only child was dead, or prisoner in some German

                 *       *       *       *       *

On the 19th of July, 1870, my regiment left Versailles for the Eastern

As in these pages I simply intend to say how I came to make the
acquaintance of English school-boys, it would be out of place, if not
somewhat pretentious, to make use of my recollections of the
Franco-Prussian War.

Yet I cannot pass over two episodes of those troublous times.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I was twelve years of age when I struck up a friendship with a young
Pole, named Gajeski, who was in the same class with me. We became
inseparable chums. Year after year we got promoted at the same time. We
took our degrees on the same days, entered the military school in the
same year, and received our commissions in the same regiment.

We took a small _appartement de garçon_ at Versailles, and I shall
never forget the delightful evenings we spent together while in
garrison there. He was a splendid violinist, and I was a little of a

Short, fair, and almost beardless, Gajeski was called the "Petit
Lieutenant" by the soldiers, who all idolized him.

At the battle of Wörth, after holding our ground from nine in the
morning till five in the evening, against masses of Prussian troops six
times as numerous as our own, we were ordered to charge the enemy, with
some other cavalry regiments, in order to protect the retreat of the
bulk of the army.

A glance at the hill opposite convinced us that we were ordered to go
to certain death.

My dear friend grasped my hand, as he said with a sad smile: "We shall
be lucky if we get our bones out of this, old fellow."

Down the hill we went like the wind, through a shower of bullets and
_mitraille_. Two minutes later, about two-thirds of the regiment
reached the opposite ascent. We were immediately engaged in a desperate
hand-to-hand fight. A scene of hellish confusion it was. But there,
amidst the awful din of battle, I heard Gajeski's death-cry, as he fell
from his horse three or four yards from me, and I saw a horrible gash
on his fair young head.

The poor boy had paid France for the hospitality she had extended to
his father.

I fought like a madman, seeing nothing but that dear mutilated face
before my eyes. I say "like a madman," for it was not through courage
or bravery. In a _mêlée_ you fight like a madman--like a savage.

I had no brother, but he had been more than a brother to me. I had had
no other companion or friend, but he was a friend of a thousand.

Poor fellow!

                 *       *       *       *       *

I had been in captivity in a stronghold on the Rhine for five months,
when the preliminaries of peace were signed between France and Germany
in January, 1871, and the French prisoners were sent back to their

About five hundred of us were embarked at Hamburg on board one of the
steamers of the Compagnie Transatlantique, and landed at Cherbourg.

Finding myself near home, I immediately asked the general in command of
the district for a few days' leave, to go and see my mother.

Since the day I had been taken prisoner at Sedan (2d of September,
1870), I had not received a single letter from her, as communications
were cut off between the east and the west of France; and I learned
later on that she had not received any of the numerous letters I had
written to her from Germany.

This part of Normandy had been fortunate enough to escape the horrors
of war, but, for months, the inhabitants had had to lodge soldiers and

At five o'clock on a cold February morning, clothed, or rather covered,
in my dirty, half-ragged uniform, I rang the bell at my mother's house.

Our old servant appeared at the attic window, and inquired what I

"Open the door," I cried; "I am dying of cold."

"We can't lodge you here," she replied; "we have as many soldiers as we
can accommodate--there is no room for you. Go to the Town Hall, they
will tell you we are full."

"_Sapristi_, my good Fanchette," I shouted, "don't you know me? How is

"Ah! It is Monsieur!" she screamed. And she rushed down, filling the
house with her cries: "Madame, madame, it is Monsieur; yes, I have seen
him, he has spoken to me, it is Monsieur."

A minute after I was in my mother's arms.

Was it a dream?

She looked at me wildly, touching my head to make sure I was at her
side, in reality, alive; when she realized the truth she burst into
tears, and remained speechless for some time. Such scenes are more
easily imagined than described, and I would rather leave it to the
reader to supply all the exclamations and interrogations that followed.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I could only spend two days at home, as my regiment was being organized
in Paris, and I had to join it.

On the 18th of March, 1871, the people of Paris, in possession of all
the armament that had been placed in their hands to defend the French
capital against the Prussians, proclaimed the Commune, and, probably
out of a habit just lately got into by the French army, we retreated to
Versailles, leaving Paris at the mercy of the Revolutionists.

This is not the place to account for this revolution.

An explanation of it, which always struck me as somewhat forcible, is
the one given by a Communist prisoner to a captain, a friend of mine,
who was at the time acting as _juge d'instruction_ to one of the
Versailles courts-martial.

"Why did you join the Commune?" he asked a young and
intelligent-looking fellow who had been taken prisoner behind some

"Well, captain, I can hardly tell you. We were very excited in Paris;
in fact, off our heads with rage at having been unable to save Paris.
We had a considerable number of cannon and ammunition, which we were
not allowed to use against the Prussians. We felt like a sportsman who,
after a whole day's wandering through the country, has not had an
opportunity of discharging his gun at any game, and who, out of spite,
shoots his dog, just to be able to say on returning home that he had
killed something."

                 *       *       *       *       *

On the 14th of April, 1871, my regiment received the order to attack
the Neuilly bridge, a formidable position held by the Communists.

What the Prussians had not done some compatriot of mine succeeded in
doing. I fell severely wounded.

After my spending five months in the Versailles military hospital, and
three more at home in convalescence, the army surgeons declared that I
should no longer be able to use my right arm for military purposes, and
I was granted a lieutenant's pension, which would have been just
sufficient to keep me in segars if I had been a smoker.

But of this I do not complain. Poor France! she had enough to pay!

                 *       *       *       *       *

At the end of the year of grace, 1871, my position was very much like
that of my beloved country: all seemed lost, _fors l'honneur_.

Through my friends, however, I was soon offered a choice between two
"social positions."

The first was a colonel's commission in the Egyptian army (it seemed
that the state of my right arm was no objection).

I was to draw a very good salary. My friends in Cairo, however, warned
me that salaries were not always paid very regularly, but sometimes
allowed to run on till cash came into the Treasury. It was during the
good times of Ismail Pacha. This made me a little suspicious that my
salary might run on so fast that I should not be able to catch it.

The other post offered me was that of London correspondent to an
important Parisian newspaper.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I had had enough of military "glory" by this time. Yet the prospect of
an adventurous life is always more or less fascinating at twenty-three
years of age.

Being the only child of a good widowed mother, I thought I would take
her valuable advice on the subject.

I am fortunate in having a mother full of common sense. With her French
provincial ideas, she was rather startled to hear that a disabled
lieutenant could all at once become an active colonel. She thought that
somehow the promotion was too rapid.

Alas! she, too, had had enough of military "glory."

Her advice was to be followed, for it was formulated thus: "You speak
English pretty well; we have a good many friends in England; accept the
humbler offer, and go to England to earn an honest living."

This is how I was not with Arabi Pacha on the wrong side at
Tel-el-Kebir, and how it became my lot to make one day the acquaintance
of the British school-boy of whom I shall have more to say by-and-by.

                 *       *       *       *       *

On the 8th of July, 1872, I took the London train at the _Gare du
Nord_, Paris.

Many relations and friends came to the station to see me off. Some had
been in England, some had read books on England, but all seemed to know
a great deal about it. Advice, cautions, suggestions, were poured into
my ears.

"Be sure you go and see Madame Tussaud's to-morrow," said one.

"Now," said another, "when you get to Charing Cross, don't fail to try
and catch hold of a fellow-passenger's coat, and hold fast till you get
to your hotel. The fog is so thick in the evening that the lamp-lights
are of no use, you know."

All information is valuable when you start for a foreign country. But I
could not listen to more. Time was up.

I shook hands with my friends and kissed my relations, including an
uncle and two cousins of the sterner sex. This will sound strange to
English or American ears. Well, it sounds just as strange to mine, now.

I do not know that a long residence in England has greatly improved me
(though my English friends say it has), but what I do know is, that I
could not now kiss a man, even if he were a bequeathing uncle ready to
leave me all his money.




_8th July, 1872._

8.30 P.M.--Landed at Folkestone. The London train is ready. The fog is
very thick. I expected as much. My English traveling companions remark
on it, and exclaim that "this is most unusual weather." This makes me

10.15 P.M.--The train crosses the Thames. We are in London. This is not
my station, however, I am told. The train restarts almost immediately,
and crosses the river again. Perhaps it takes me back to Paris. Hallo!
how strange! the train crosses another river.

"This is a town very much like Amsterdam," I say to my neighbor.

He explains to me the round taken by the South-Eastern trains from
Cannon Street to Charing Cross.

10.25 P.M.--Charing Cross! At last, here I am. The luggage is on the
platform. I recognize my trunk and portmanteau.

A tall official addresses me in a solemn tone:

"Have you any thing to declare?"

"Not any thing."

"No segars, tobacco, spirits?"

"No segars, no tobacco."

My spirits were so low that I thought it was useless to mention them.

In France, in spite of this declaration of mine, my luggage would have
been turned inside out. The sturdy Briton takes my word[1] and
dismisses my luggage with:

      [1] Things have changed in England since the dynamite scare.

"All right. Take it away."

11 P.M.--I alight at an hotel near the Strand. A porter comes to take
my belongings.

"I want a bedroom for the night," I say.

"_Très bien, monsieur._"

He speaks French. The hotel is French, too, I see.

After a wash and brush-up, I come down to the dining-room for a little

I do not like the look of the company.

They may be French, and this is a testimonial in their favor, but I am
afraid it is the only one.

Three facetious bagmen exercise their wit by puzzling the waiter with
low French slang.

I think I will remove from here to-morrow.

I go to my bedroom, and try to open the window and have a look at the
street. I discover the trick.

How like guillotines are these English windows!

I pull up the bottom part of mine, and look out. This threatening thing
about my neck makes me uncomfortable. I withdraw.

English windows are useful, no doubt, but it is evident that the people
of this country do not use them to look out in the street and have a
quiet chat _à la française_.

Probably the climate would not allow it.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_9th July, 1872._

A friend comes to see me. He shares my opinion of the French hotel,
and will look for a comfortable apartment in an English house for me.
We breakfast together, and I ask him a thousand questions.

He knows every thing, it seems, and I gather valuable information

He prepares a programme of sight-seeing which it will take me a good
many days to work through.

The weather is glorious.

My boxes are packed and ready to be removed--to-night, I hope.

Will pay my first visit to the British Museum.

I hail a cab in Regent Circus.

"Is the British Museum far from here?" I cry to the man seated on a box

"No, sir; I will take you there for a shilling," he replies.

"Oh! thank you; I think I will walk then."

Cabby retires muttering a few sentences unintelligible to me. Only one
word constantly occurring in his harangue can I remember.

I open my pocket-dictionary.

Good heavens! What have I said to the man? What has he taken me for?
Have I used words conveying to his mind any intention of mine to take
his precious life? Do I look ferocious? Why did he repeatedly call me
_sanguinaire_? Must have this mystery cleared up.

_10th July, 1872._

An English friend sets my mind at rest about the little event of
yesterday. He informs me that the adjective in question carries no
meaning. It is simply a word that the lower classes have to place
before each substantive they use in order to be able to understand each

                 *       *       *       *       *

_11th July, 1872._

Have taken apartments in the neighborhood of Baker Street. My landlady,
_qui frise ses cheveux et la cinquantaine_, enjoys the name of Tribble.
She is a plump, tidy, and active-looking little woman.

On the door there is a plate, with the inscription,

    "J. Tribble, General Agent."

Mr. Tribble, it seems, is not very much engaged in business.

At home he makes himself useful.

It was this gentleman, more or less typical in London, whom I had in my
mind's eye as I once wrote:

"The English social failure of the male sex not unfrequently entitles
himself _General Agent_: this is the last straw he clutches at; if it
should break, he sinks, and is heard of no more, unless his wife come
to the rescue, by setting up a lodging-house or a boarding-school for
young ladies. There, once more in smooth water, he wields the
blacking-brush, makes acquaintance with the knife-board, or gets in the
provisions. In allowing himself to be kept by his wife, he feels he
loses some dignity; but if she should adopt any airs of superiority
over him, he can always bring her to a sense of duty by beating her."

                 *       *       *       *       *

_12th July, 1872._

Mr. Tribble helps take up my trunks. On my way to bed my landlady
informs me that her room adjoins mine, and if I need any thing in the
night I have only to ask for it.

This landlady will be a mother to me, I can see.

The bed reminds me of a night I passed in a cemetery, during the
Commune, sleeping on a gravestone. I turn and toss, unable to get any

Presently I had the misfortune to hit my elbow against the mattress.

A knock at the door.

"Who is there?" I cry.

"Can I get you any thing, sir? I hope you are not ill," says a voice
which I recognize as that of my landlady.

"No, why?"

"I thought you knocked, sir."

"No. Oh! I knocked my elbow against the mattress."

"Ah! that's it. I beg your pardon."

I shall be well attended here, at all events.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_13th July, 1872._

The table here is not _recherché_; but twelve months' campaigning have
made me tolerably easy to please.

What would not the poor Parisians have given, during the Siege in 1870,
for some of Mrs. Tribble's obdurate poultry and steaks!

                 *       *       *       *       *

_19th July, 1872._

I ask Mrs. Tribble for my bill.

I received it immediately; it is a short and comprehensive one:

                          £    _s._    _d._
    Board and Lodging     5    5        0
    Sundries              1   13        6
    Total                £6   18        6

I can understand "lodging"; but "board" is a new word to me. I like to
know what it is I have to pay for, and I open my dictionary.

"Board (subst.), _planche_."

_Planche!_ Why does the woman charge me for a _planche_? Oh! I have
it--that's the bed, of course.

My dictionary does not enlighten me on the subject of "Sundries."

I make a few observations to Mrs. Tribble on the week's bill. This lady
explains to me that she has had great misfortunes, that Tribble hardly
does any work, and does not contribute a penny toward the household
expenses. When he has done a little stroke of business, he takes a
holiday, and only reappears when his purse is empty.

I really cannot undertake to keep Tribble in _dolce far niente_, and I
give Mrs. Tribble notice to leave.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_20th July, 1872._

9 A.M.--I read in this morning's paper the following advertisement:

    "Residence, with or without board, for a gentleman, in a healthy
    suburb of London. Charming house, with creepers, large garden;
    cheerful home. Use of piano, etc."

"Without board" is what I want. Must go and see the place.

6 P.M.--I have seen the house with creepers, and engaged a bedroom and
sitting-room. Will go there to-night. My bed is provided with a spring
mattress. Won't I sleep to-night, that's all!

                 *       *       *       *       *

_21st July, 1872._

I remove my goods and chattels from the charming house. I found the
creepers were inside.

It will take me a long time to understand English, I am afraid.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_8th August, 1872._

I examine my financial position. I came to England with fifty pounds;
have been here thirty days, and have lived at the rate of a pound a
day. My money will last me only twenty days longer. This seems to be a
simple application of the rule of three.

The thought that most Lord-Mayors have come to London with only
half-a-crown in their pockets comforts me. Still I grow reflective.

_25th September, 1872._

I can see that the fee I receive for the weekly letter I send to my
Parisian paper will not suffice to keep me. Good living is expensive in
London. Why should I not reduce my expenses, and at the same time
improve my English by teaching French in an English school as resident
master? This would enable me to wait and see what turn events will

I have used my letters of recommendation as a means of obtaining
introductions in society, and my pride will not let me make use of them
again for business.

I will disappear for a time. When my English is more reliable, perhaps
an examination will open the door of some good berth to me.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_3rd October, 1872._

Received this morning an invitation to be present at a meeting of the
Teachers' Association.

Came with a friend to the Society of Arts, where the meeting is held in
a beautiful hall, and presided over by Canon Barry.

What a graceful and witty speaker!

He addresses to private school-masters a few words on their duty.

"Yours," he says, "is not only a profession, it is a vocation, I had
almost said a ministry" (hear, hear), "and the last object of yours
should be to make money."

This last sentence is received with rapturous applause. The chairman
has evidently expressed the feeling of the audience.

The Canon seems to enjoy himself immensely.

Beautiful sentiments! I say to myself. Who will henceforth dare say
before me, in France, that England is not a disinterested nation? Yes,
I will be a school-master; it is a noble profession.

A discussion takes place on the merits of private schools. A good deal
of abuse is indulged in at the expense of the public schools.

I inquire of my friend the reason why.

My friend is a sceptic. He says that the public schools are overflowing
with boys, and that if they did not exist, many of these private
school-masters would make their fortune.

I bid him hold his wicked tongue. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

The meeting is over. The orators, with their speeches in their hands,
besiege the press reporters' table. I again apply to my friend for the
explanation of this.

He tells me that these gentlemen are trying to persuade the reporters
to insert their speeches in their notes, in the hope that they will be
reproduced in to-morrow's papers, and thus advertise their names and

My friend is incorrigible. I will ask him no more questions.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_4th October, 1872._

There will be some people disappointed this morning, if I am to believe
what my friend said yesterday. I have just read the papers. Under the
heading "Meeting of the Teachers' Association," I see a long report of
yesterday's proceedings at the Society of Arts. Canon Barry's speech
alone is reproduced.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_24th May, 1873._

For many months past, M. Thiers has carried the Government with his
resignation already signed in his frockcoat pocket.

"Gentlemen," he has been wont to say in the Houses of Parliament, "such
is my policy. If you do not approve it, you know that I do not cling to
power; my resignation is here in my pocket, and I am quite ready to lay
it on the table if you refuse me a vote of confidence."

I always thought that he would use this weapon once too often.

A letter, just received from Paris, brings me the news of his overthrow
and the proclamation of Marshal MacMahon as President of the Republic.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_28th May, 1873._

The editor of the French paper, of which I have been the London
correspondent for a few months, sends me a check, with the sad
intelligence that one of the first acts of the new Government has been
to suppress our paper.

Things are taking a gloomy aspect, and no mistake.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_12th June, 1873._

To return to France at once would be a retreat, a defeat. I will not
leave England, at any rate, before I can speak English correctly and
fluently. I could manage this when a child; it ought not to take me
very long to be able to do the same now.

I pore over the _Times_ educational advertisements every day.

Have left my name with two scholastic agents.

_25th June, 1873._

I have put my project into execution, and engaged myself in a school in

The post is not a brilliant one, but I am told that the country is
pretty, my duties light, and that I shall have plenty of time for

I buy a provision of English books, and mean to work hard.

In the mean time, I write to my friends in France that I am getting on

I have always been of the opinion that you should run the risk of
exciting the envy rather than the pity of your friends, when you have
made up your mind not to apply to them for a five-pound note.

                 *       *       *       *       *

(M----, Somerset.) _2d August, 1873._

Arrived here yesterday. Find I am the only master, and expected to make
myself generally useful. My object is to practice my English, and I am
prepared to overlook many annoyances.

Woke up this (Sunday) morning feeling pains all over. Compared to this,
my bed at Mrs. Tribble's was one of roses. I look round. In the corner
I see a small washstand. A chair, a looking-glass six inches square
hung on the wall, and my trunk, make up the furniture.

I open the window. It is raining a thick, drizzling rain. Not a soul in
the road. A most solemn, awful solitude. Horrible! I make haste to
dress. From a little cottage, on the other side of the road, the
plaintive sounds of a harmonium reach me. I sit on my bed and look at
my watch. Half an hour to wait for my breakfast. The desolate room,
this outlook from the window, the whole accompanied by the hymn on the
harmonium, are enough to drive me mad. Upon my word, I believe I feel
the corner of my eye wet. Cheer up, boy! No doubt this is awful, but
better times will come. Good heavens! You are not banished from France.
With what pleasure your friends will welcome you back in Paris! In nine
hours, for a few shillings, you can be on the Boulevards.

Breakfast is ready. It consists of tea and bread and butter, the whole
honored by the presence of Mr. and Mrs. R. I am told that I am to take
the boys to church. I should have much preferred to go alone.

On the way to church we met three young ladies--the Squire's daughters,
the boys tell me. They look at me with a kind of astonishment that
seems to me mixed with scorn. This is probably my fancy. Every body I
meet seems to be laughing at me.

_20th August, 1873._

Am still at M., teaching a little French and learning a good deal of

Mrs. R. expresses her admiration for my fine linen, and my wardrobe is
a wonder to her. From her remarks, I can see she has taken a peep
inside my trunk.

Received this morning a letter from a friend in Paris. The dear fellow
is very proud of his noble ancestors, and his notepaper and envelopes
are ornamented with his crest and crown. The letter is handed to me by
Mrs. R., who at the same time throws a significant glance at her
husband. I am a mysterious person in her eyes, that is evident. She
expresses her respect by discreetly placing a boiled egg on my plate at
breakfast. This is an improvement, and I return thanks _in petto_ to my
noble friend in Paris.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_22nd August, 1873._

Whatever may be Mr. R.'s shortcomings, he knows how to construct a
well-filled time-table.

I rise at six.

From half-past six to eight I am in the class-room seeing that the boys
prepare their lessons.

At eight I partake of a frugal breakfast.

From half-past eight till half-past nine I take the boys for a walk.

From half-past nine till one I teach more subjects than I feel
competent to do, but I give satisfaction.

At one I dine.

At five minutes to two I take a bell, and go in the fields, ringing as
hard as I can to call the boys in.

From two to four I teach more subjects than--(I said that before).

After tea I take the boys for a second walk.

My evenings are mine, and I devote them to study.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_23rd August, 1873._

Mr. R. proposes that I should teach two or three new subjects. I am
ready to comply with his wishes; but I sternly refuse to teach _la
valse à trois temps_.

He advises me to cane the boys. This also I refuse to do.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_15th September, 1873._

I cannot stand this life any longer. I will return to France if things
do not take a brighter turn.

I leave Mr. R. and his "Dotheboys Hall."

At the station I meet the clergyman. He had more than once spoken to me
a few kind words. He asks me where I am going.

"To London, and to Paris next, I hope," I reply.

"Are you in a hurry to go back?"

"Not particularly; but----"

"Well, will you do my wife and myself the pleasure of spending a few
days with us at the Vicarage? We shall be delighted if you will."

"With all my heart."

                 *       *       *       *       *

_25th September, 1873._

Have spent a charming week at the Vicarage--a lovely country-house,
where for the first time I have seen what real English life is.

I have spoken to my English friend of my prospects, and he expresses
his wonder that I do not make use of the letters of recommendation that
I possess, as they would be sure to secure a good position for me.

"Are not important posts given by examination in this country?" I

But he informs me that such is not the case; that these posts are
given, at elections, to the candidates who are bearers of the best

The information is most valuable, and I will act upon my friend's

My visit has been as pleasant as it has been useful.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_12th January, 1874._

A vacancy occurred lately in one of the great public schools. I sent in
my application, accompanied by my testimonials.

Have just received an official intimation that I am elected head-master
of the French school at St. Paul's.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_14th January, 1874._

One piece of good luck never comes alone.

I am again appointed London correspondent to one of the principal Paris

_Allons, me voilà sauvé!_



I am not quite sure that the best qualification for a school-master is
to have been a very good boy.

I never had great admiration for very good boys. I always suspected,
when they were too good, that there was something wrong.

When I was at school, and my master would go in for the recitation of
the litany of all the qualities and virtues he possessed when a
boy--how good, how dutiful, how obedient, how industrious he was--I
would stare at him, and think to myself: How glad that man must be he
is no longer a boy!

"No, my dear little fellows, your master was just like you when he was
mamma's little boy. He shirked his work whenever he could; he used to
romp and tear his clothes if he had a chance, and was far from being
too good for this world; and if he was not all that, well, I am only
sorry for him, that's all."

                 *       *       *       *       *

I believe that the man who thoroughly knows all the resources of the
mischievous little army he has to fight and rule is better qualified
and prepared for the struggle.

We have in French an old proverb that says: "It's no use trying to
teach an old monkey how to make faces."

The best testimonial in favor of a school-master is that the boys
should be able to say of him: "It's no use trying this or that with
him; he always knows what we are up to."

How is he to know what his pupils are "up to" if he has not himself
been "up to" the same tricks and games?

The base of all strategy is the perfect knowledge of all the roads of
the country in which you wage war.

To be well up in all the ways and tricks of boys is to be aware of all
the moves of the enemy.

                 *       *       *       *       *

It is an awful moment when, for the first time, you take your seat in
front of forty pairs of bright eyes that are fixed upon you, and seem
to say:

"Well, what shall it be? Do you think you can keep us in order, or are
we going to let you have a lively time of it?"

All depends on this terrible moment. Your life will be one of comfort,
and even happiness, or one of utter wretchedness.

Strike the first blow and win, or you will soon learn that if you do
not get the better of the lively crew they will surely get the better
of you.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I was prepared for the baptism of fire.

I even had a little theory that had once obtained for me the good
graces of a head-master.

This gentleman informed me that the poor fellow I was going to replace
had shot himself in despair of being ever able to keep his boys in
order, and he asked me what I thought of it.

"Well," I unhesitatingly answered, "I would have shot the boys."

"Right!" he exclaimed; "you are my man."

If, as I strongly suspected from certain early reminiscences, to have
been a mischievous boy was a qualification for being a good
school-master, I thought I ought to make a splendid one.

The result of my first interview with British boys was that we
understood each other perfectly. We were to make a happy family. That
was settled in a minute by a few glances at each other.



Boys lose their charm when they get fifteen or sixteen years of age.
The clever ones, no doubt, become more interesting to the teacher, but
they no longer belong to the _genus_ boy that you love for his very
defects as much as for his good qualities.

I call "boys" that delightful, lovable race of young scamps from eleven
to fourteen years old. At that age all have redeeming points, and all
are lovable. I never objected to any, except perhaps to those who aimed
at perfection, especially the ones who were successful in their

For my part, I like a boy with a redeeming fault or two.

By "boys" I mean little fellows who manage, after a game of football,
to get their right arm out of order, that they may be excused writing
their exercises for a week or so; who do not work because they have an
examination to prepare, but because you offer them an inducement to do
so, whether in the shape of rewards, or maybe something less pleasant
you may keep in your cupboard.



Master Johnny Bull is a good little boy who sometimes makes slips in
his exercises, but mistakes--never.

He occasionally forgets his lesson, but he always "knows" it.

"Do you know your lesson?" you will ask him.

"Yes, sir," he will reply.

"But you can't say it."

"Please, sir, I forget it now."

Memory is his weak point. He has done his best, whatever the result may
be. Last night he knew his lesson perfectly; the proof is that he said
it to his mother, and that the excellent lady told him he knew it very
well. Again this morning, as he was in the train coming to school, he
repeated it to himself, and he did not make one mistake. He knows he

                 *       *       *       *       *

If he has done but two sentences of his home work, "he is afraid" he
has not quite finished his exercise.

"But, my dear boy, you have written but two sentences."

"Is that all?" he will inquire.

"That is all."

"Please, sir, I thought I had done more than that." And he looks at it
on all sides, turns it to the right, to the left, upside down; he reads
it forwards, he reads it backwards. No use; he can't make it out.

All at once, however, he will remember that he had a bad headache last
night, or maybe a bilious attack.

The bilious attack is to the English schoolboy what the _migraine_ is
to the dear ladies of France: a good maid-of-all-work.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Sometimes my young hero brings no exercise at all. It has slipped, in
the train, from the book in which he had carefully placed it, or there
is a crack in his locker, and the paper slipped through. You order
excavations to be made, and the exercise has vanished like magic.
Johnny wonders.

"Perhaps the mice ate it!" you are wicked enough to suggest.

This makes him smile and blush. He generally collapses before a remark
like this.

                 *       *       *       *       *

But if he has a good excuse, behold him!

"I could not do my exercise last night," said to me one day a young
Briton. It was evident from his self-satisfied and confident assurance
that he had a good answer ready for my inquiry.

"You couldn't," I said; "why?"

"Please, sir, grandmamma died last night!"

"Oh! did she? Well, well--I hope this won't happen again."

This put me in mind of the boy who, being reproached for his many
mistakes in his translation, pleaded:

"Please, sir, it isn't my fault. Papa _will_ help me."

An English schoolboy never tells stories--never.

A mother once brought her little son to the head-master of a great
public school.

"I trust my son will do honor to the school," she said; "he is a good,
industrious, clever, and trustworthy boy. He never told a story in his

"Oh! madam, boys never do," replied the head-master.

The lady left, somewhat indignant. Did the remark amount to her
statement being disbelieved, or to an affirmation that her boy was no
better than other boys?

                 *       *       *       *       *

Of course every mother is apt to think that her Johnny or Jenny is
nature's highest utterance. But for blind, unreasoning adoration,
commend me to a fond grandmamma.

The first time I took my child on a visit to my mother in dear old
Brittany, grandmamma received compliments enough on the subject of the
"lovely petite blonde" to turn her head. But it did not want much
turning, I must say. One afternoon, my wife was sitting with Miss Baby
on her lap, and grandmamma, after devouring the child with her eyes for
a few moments, said to us:

"You are two very sensible parents. Some people are so absurd about
their babies! Take Madame T., for instance. She was here this morning,
and really, to hear her talk, one would think that child of hers was an
angel of beauty--that there never was such another."

"Well, but, grandmamma," said my wife, "you know yourself that you are
forever discoursing of the matchless charms of our baby to your

"Ah!" cried the dear old lady, as serious as a judge; "but that's quite
different; in our case it's all true."

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you ever hope to find the British schoolboy at fault, your life will
be a series of disappointments. Judge for yourself.

I (once): "Well, Brown, you bring no exercise this morning. How is

PROMISING BRITON: "Please, sir, you said yesterday that we were to do
the 17th exercise."

I (inquiringly): "Well?"

P. B. (looking sad): "Please, sir, Jones said to me, last night, that
it was the 18th exercise we were to do."

I (surprised): "But, my dear boy, you do not bring me any exercise at

P. B. (looking good): "Please, sir, I was afraid to do the wrong one."

Dear, dear child! the thought of doing wrong but once was too much for
him! I shall always have it heavy on my conscience to have rewarded
this boy's love of what is right by calling upon him to write out each
of those exercises five times.

                 *       *       *       *       *

That thick-necked boy, whom you see there on the front row aiming at
looking very good, and whom his schoolfellows are wicked and
disrespectful enough to surname "Potted Angel," is sad and sour. His
eyes are half open, his tongue seems to fill his mouth, and to speak,
or rather to jerk out the words, he has to let it hang out. His mouth
moves sideways like that of a ruminant; you would imagine he was
masticating a piece of tough steak. He blushes, and never looks at you,
except on the sly, with an uncomfortable grin, when your head is turned
away. It seems to give him pain to swallow, and you would think he was
suffering from some internal complaint.

This, perhaps, can be explained. The conscience lies just over the
stomach, if I am to trust boys when they say they put their hands on
their conscience. Let this conscience be heavily loaded, and there you
have the explanation of the grumbling ailment that disturbs the boy in
the lower regions of his anatomy.

To be good is all right, but you must not over-do it. This boy is
beyond competition, a standing reproach, an insult to the rest of the

You are sorry to hear, on asking him what he intends to be, that he
means to be a missionary. His face alone will be worth £500 a year in
the profession. Thinking that I have prepared this worthy for
missionary work, I feel, when asked what I think of missionaries, like
the jam-maker's little boy who is offered jam and declines, pleading:

"No, thanks--we makes it."

I have great respect for missionaries, but I have always strongly
objected to boys who make up their minds to be missionaries before they
are twelve years old.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Some good, straightforward boys are wholly destitute of humor. One of
them had once to put into French the following sentence of Charles
Dickens: "Mr. Squeers had but one eye, and the popular prejudice runs
in favor of two." He said he could not put this phrase into French,
because he did not know what it meant in English.

"Surely, sir," he said to me, "it is not a prejudice to prefer two eyes
to one."

This boy was wonderfully good at facts, and his want of humor did not
prevent him from coming out of Cambridge senior classic, after
successfully taking his B.A. and M.A. in the University of London.

This young man, I hear, is also going to be a missionary. The news goes
far to reconcile me to the noble army of John Bull's colonizing agents,
but I doubt whether the heathen will ever get much entertainment out of

                 *       *       *       *       *

Some boys can grasp grammatical facts and succeed in writing a decent
piece of French; but, through want of literary perception, they will
give you a sentence that will make you feel proud of them until you
reach the end, when, bang! the last word will have the effect of a
terrible bump on your nose.

A boy of this category had to translate this other sentence of
Dickens:[2] "She went back to her own room, and tried to prepare
herself for bed. But who could sleep? Sleep!"[3]

      [2] "The Old Curiosity Shop."

      [3] Here I have to make a painful confession. I have actually
      acceded to a request from my American publishers, men wholly
      destitute of humor, to supply the reader with a translation of
      the few French sentences used in this little volume. This
      monument of my weakness will be found at the end.

His translation ran thus: "Elle se retira dans sa chambre, et fit ses
préparatifs pour se coucher. Mais qui aurait pu dormir? _Sommeil!_"

I caught that boy napping one day.

"Vous dormez, mon ami?... _Sommeil_, eh?" I cried.

The remark was enjoyed. There is so much charity in the hearts of boys!

Another boy had to translate a piece of Carlyle's "French Revolution":
"'Their heads shall fall within a fortnight,' croaks the people's
friend (Marat), clutching his tablets to write----Charlotte Corday has
drawn her knife from the sheath; plunges it, with one sure stroke, into
the writer's heart."

The end of this powerful sentence ran thus in the translation:
"Charlotte Corday a tiré son poignard de la gaîne, et d'une main sûre,
elle le plonge dans le coeur de _celui qui écrivait_."

When I remonstrated with the dear fellow, he pulled his dictionary out
of his desk, and triumphantly pointed out to me:

"WRITER (substantive), _celui qui écrit_."

And all the time his look seemed to say:

"What do you think of that? You may be a very clever man; but surely
you do not mean to say that you know better than a dictionary!"

Oh, the French dictionary, that treacherous friend of boys!

The lazy ones take the first word of the list, sometimes the figurative
pronunciation given in the English-French part.

Result: "_I have a key_"--"_J'ai un ki_."

The shrewd ones take the last word, to make believe they went through
the whole list.

Result: "_A chest of drawers_"--"_Une poitrine de caleçons_."

The careless ones do not take the right part of speech they want.

Result: "_He felt_"--"_Il feutra_"; "_He left_"--"_Il gaucha_."

With my experience of certain French dictionaries published in England,
I do not wonder that English boys often trust in Providence for the
choice of words, although I cannot help thinking that as a rule they
are most unlucky.

Very few boys have good dictionaries at hand. I know that Smith and
Hamilton's dictionary (in two volumes) costs twenty shillings. But what
is twenty shillings to be helped all through one's coaching? About the
price of a good lawn-tennis racket.

I have seen boys show me, with a radiant air, a French dictionary they
had bought for six-pence.

They thought they had made a bargain.

Oh, free trade! Oh, the cheapest market!

Sixpence for that dictionary! That was not very expensive, I own--but
it was terribly dear.

                 *       *       *       *       *

When an English boy is about to write out his French exercise, he
invariably begins by heading the copy


written with his best hand, on the first line.

This is to avoid any misunderstanding about the language he is going to

I have often felt grateful for that title.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Children are very great at titles and inscriptions.

Give them a little penny pocket-book, and their keen sense of ownership
will make them go straightway and write their name and address on the
first page. When this is done, they will entitle the book, and write on
the top of each page: "Memorandum Book."

When I was at school, we French boys used to draw, on the back of the
cover of our books, a merry-Andrew and a gibbet, with the inscription:

    "Aspice Pierrot pendu,
    Quod librum n'a pas rendu.
    Si librum redidisset,
    Pierrot pendu non fuisset."

I came across the following lines on some English boys' books:

    "Don't steal this book for fear of shame,
    For here you see the owner's name;
    Or, when you die, the Lord will say:
    'Where is that book you stole away?'"

                 *       *       *       *       *

Boys' minds are like a certain place not mentioned in geographies: they
are paved with good intentions. Before they begin their work, they
choose their best nib (which always takes some time). This done, they
carefully write their name and the title of the exercise. FRENCH looks
magnificent. They evidently mean to do well. The first sentence is
generally right and well written. In the second you perceive signs of
flagging; it then gets worse and worse till the end, which is not
legible. Judge for yourself, here is a specimen. It collapses with a
blot half licked off.

Master H. W. S.'s flourish after his signature is not, as you see, a
masterpiece of calligraphy; but it is not intended to be so. It is
simply an overflow of relief and happiness at the thought that his
exercise is finished.

Translate the flourish by--


                 *       *       *       *       *

H. W. S. is not particularly lucky with his genders. Fortunately for
him, the French language possesses no neuter nouns, so that sometimes
he hits on the right gender. For this he asks no praise. Providence
alone is to be thanked for it.

Once he had to translate: "His conduct was good." He first put _sa
conduite_. After this effort in the right direction, his conscience was
satisfied, and he added, _était bon_. Why? Because an adjective is
longer in the feminine than in the masculine, and with him and his like
the former gender stands very little chance.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I remember two very strange boys. They were not typical, I am happy to

When the first of them was on, his ears would flap and go on flapping
like the gills of a fish, till he had either answered the question or
given up trying, when they would lie at rest flat against his head. If
I said to him sharply: "Well, my boy, speak up; I can't hear," his ears
would start flapping more vigorously than ever. Sometimes he would turn
his eyes right over, to see if he could not find the answer written
somewhere inside his head. This boy could set the whole of his scalp in
motion, bring his hair right down to his eyes, and send it back again
without the least difficulty. These performances were simply wonderful.
The boys used to watch him with an interest that never flagged, and
more than once I was near losing my countenance.

One day this poor lad fell in the playground, and cut his head open. We
were all anxious to ascertain what it was he had inside his head that
he always wanted to get at. The doctor found nothing remarkable in it.

The other boy was a fearful stammerer. The manner in which he managed
to get help for his speech is worth relating. Whenever he had to read a
piece of French aloud, he would utter the letter "F" before each French
word, and they would positively come out easily. The letter "F" being
the most difficult letter for stammerers to pronounce, I always
imagined that he thought he would be all right with any sound, if he
could only say "F" first.

He was successful.

A boy with whom you find it somewhat difficult to get on is the
diffident one who always believes that the question you ask him is a
"catch." He is constantly on guard, and surrounds the easiest question
with inextricable difficulties. It is his misfortune to know that rules
have exceptions, and he never suspects that it would enter your head to
ask him for the illustration of a general rule.

He knows, for instance, that nouns ending in _al_ form their plural
by changing _al_ into _aux_; but if you ask him for the plural of
_général_, he will hesitate a long while, and eventually answer you,

"Do you mean to say, my boy, that you do not know how to form the
plural of nouns in _al_?"

"Yes, sir, but I thought _général_ was an exception."

                 *       *       *       *       *

I pass over the wit who, being asked for the plural of _égal_,
answered, "two gals."

                 *       *       *       *       *

A diverting little boy in the class-room is the one who always thinks
"he has got it." It matters little to him what the question is, he has
not heard the end of it when he lifts his hand to let you know he is

"What is the future of _savoir_?"

"Please, sir, I know: _je savoirai_."

"Sit down, you ignoramus."

And he resumes his seat to sulk until you give him another chance. He
wonders how it is you don't like his answers. His manner is generally
affable; you see at once in him a mother's pet who is much admired at
home, and thinks he is not properly appreciated at school.

Mother's pets are to be recognized at a glance. They are always clean
and tidy in face and person. Unfortunately they often part their hair
in the middle.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Such is not the testimonial that can be given to young H. He spends an
hour and a pint of ink over every exercise.

He writes very badly.

To obtain a firm hold of his pen, he grasps the nib with the ends of
his five fingers. I sometimes think he must use his two hands at once.
He plunges the whole into the inkstand every second or two, and
withdraws it dripping. He is smeared with ink all over; he rubs his
hands in it, he licks it, he loves it, he sniffs it, he revels in it.
He wishes he could drink it, and the ink-stands were wide enough for
him to get his fist right into it.

This boy is a most clever little fellow. When you can see his eyes,
they are sparkling with mischief and intelligence. A beautiful, dirty
face; a lovely boy, though an "unwashed."

                 *       *       *       *       *

A somewhat objectionable boy, although he is not responsible for his
shortcomings, is the one who has been educated at home up to twelve or
fourteen years of age.

Before you can garnish his brain, you have to sweep it. You have to
replace the French of his nursery governess--who has acquired it on the
_Continong_--by a serious knowledge of _avoir_ and _être_.

He comes to school with a testimonial from his mother, who is a good
French scholar, to the effect that he speaks French fluently.

You ask him for the French of

    "_It is twelve o'clock_,"

and he answers with assurance:

    "_C'est douze heures_."

You ask him next for the French of

    "_How do you do?_"

and he tells you:

    "_Comment ça va-t-il?_"

You call upon him to spell it, and he has no hesitation about it:
"_Comment savaty_?"

You then test his knowledge of grammar by asking him the future of
_vouloir_, and you immediately obtain: "_Je voulerai_."

You tell him that his French is very shaky, and you decide on putting
him with the beginners.

The following day you find a letter awaiting you at school. It is from
his indignant mother. She informs you that she fears her little boy
will not learn much in the class you have put him in. He ought to be in
one of the advanced classes. He has read Voltaire[4] and can speak

      [4] Poor little chap!

She knows he can, she heard him at Boulogne, and he got on very well.
The natives there had no secrets for him; he could understand all they

You feel it to be your duty not to comply with the lady's wishes, and
you have made a bitter enemy to yourself and the school.

This boy never takes for granted the truth of the statements you make
in the class-room. What you say may be all right; but when he gets home
he will ask his mamma if it is all true.

He is fond of arguing, and has no sympathy with his teacher. He tries
to find him at fault.

A favorite remark of his is this:

"Please, sir, you said the other day that so-and-so was right. Why do
you mark a mistake in my exercise to-day?"

You explain to him why he is wrong, and he goes back to his seat
grumbling. He sees he is wrong; but he is not cured. He hopes to be
more lucky next time.

When you meet his mother, she asks you what you think of the boy.

"A very nice boy indeed," you say; "only I sometimes wish he had more
confidence in me; he is rather fond of arguing."

"Oh!" she exclaims, "I know that. Charley will never accept a statement
before he has discussed it and thoroughly investigated it."

                 *       *       *       *       *

As a set-off for Charley, there is the boy who has a blind confidence
in you. All you say is gospel to him, and if you were to tell him that
the French word _voisin_ is pronounced _kramshaka_, he would
unhesitatingly say _kramshaka_.

Nothing astonishes him; he has taken for his motto the _Nil admirari_
of Horace. He would see three circumflex accents on the top of a vowel
without lifting his eyebrows. He is none of the inquiring and
investigating sort.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Another specimen of the Charley type is the one who has been coached
for the public school in a Preparatory School for the Sons of
Gentlemen, kept by ladies.

This boy has always been well treated. He is fat, rubicund, and unruly.
His linen is irreproachable. The ladies told him he was good-looking,
and his hair, which he parts into two _ailes de pigeon_, is the subject
of his incessant care.

He does not become "a man" until his comrades have bullied him into a
good game of Rugby football.

                 *       *       *       *       *

On the last bench, right in the corner, you can see young Bully. He
does not seek after light, he is not an ambitious boy, and the less
notice you take of him the better he is pleased. His father says he is
a backward boy. Bully is older and taller than the rest of the class.
For form's sake you are obliged to request him to bring his work, but
you have long ago given up all hope of ever teaching him any thing. He
is quiet and unpretending in class, and too sleepy to be up to
mischief. He trusts that if he does not disturb your peace you will not
disturb his. When a little boy gives you a good answer, it arouses his
scorn, and he not uncommonly throws at him a little smile of
congratulation. If you were not a good disciplinarian, he would go and
give him a pat on the back, but this he dares not do.

When you bid him stand up and answer a question, he begins by leaning
on his desk. Then he gently lifts his hinder part, and by slow degrees
succeeds in getting up the whole mass. He hopes that by this time you
will have passed him and asked another boy to give you the answer. He
is not jealous, and will bear no ill-will to the boy who gives you a
satisfactory reply.

If you insist on his standing up and giving sign of life, he frowns,
loosens his collar, which seems to choke him, looks at the floor, then
at the ceiling, then at you. Being unable to utter a sound, he frowns
more, to make you believe that he is very dissatisfied with himself.

"I know the answer," he seems to say; "how funny, I can't recollect it
just now."

As you cannot waste any more time about him, you pass him; a ray of
satisfaction flashes over his face, and he resumes his corner hoping
for peace.

The little boys dare not laugh at him, for he is the terror of the
playground, where he takes his revenge of the class-room.

His favorite pastime in the playground is to teach little boys how to
play marbles. They bring the marbles, he brings his experience. When
the bell rings to call the boys to the class-rooms, he has got many
marbles, the boys a little experience.

                 *       *       *       *       *

One of my pet aversions is the young boy who arrays[5] himself in
stand-up collars and white merino cravats.

      [5] Being a little bit of a philologist, I assume this verb comes
      from the common (very common) noun, _'Arry_.

George Eliot, I believe, says somewhere that there never was brain
inside a red-haired head. I think she was mistaken. I have known very
clever boys with red hair.

But what I am positive about is that there is no brain on the top of
boys ornamented with stand-up collars.

Young Bully wears them. He comes to school with his stick, and whenever
you want a match to light the gas with he can always supply you, and
feels happy he is able for once to oblige you.

                 *       *       *       *       *

In some boys I have often deplored the presence of two ears. What you
impart through one immediately escapes through the other. Explain to
them a rule once a week, they will always enjoy hearing it again. It
will always be new to them. Their lives will ever be a series of
enchantments and surprises.

You must persevere, and repeat things to them a hundred times, if
ninety-nine will not do. Who knows there is not a John Wesley among

"I remember," once said this celebrated divine, "hearing my father say
to my mother: 'How could you have the patience to tell that blockhead
the same thing twenty times over?' 'Why,' said she, 'if I had told him
only nineteen times, I should have lost all my labor.'"

                 *       *       *       *       *

I am not sure that the boy with only one ear is not still more
tiresome. He always turns his deaf ear to you, and makes his little
infirmity pay. "He is afraid he did not quite hear you, when you set
the work yesterday." For my part, I met the difficulty by having desks
placed each side of my chair. On my left I had the boys who had good
right ears; on my right, those who had good left ones.

I can not say I ever saw many signs of gratitude in boys for this
solicitude of mine in their behalf.

                 *       *       *       *       *

At dictation time the two-eared boy is terrible, and you need all the
self-control you have acquired on the English shores to keep your head

Before beginning, you warn him that a mute _e_, or an _s_, placed at
the end of a vowel, gives a long sound to that vowel, that _ie_ is long
in _jolie_, and _i_ is short in _joli_; that _ais_ is long in _je
serais_, and _ai_ is short in _je serai_.

Satisfied that he is well prepared, you start with your best voice:

    "_Je serais...._"

The boy looks at you. Is he to write _je serais_ or _je serai_?

To settle his undecided mind, you repeat:

    "_Je serais_,"

and you may lay great emphasis on ais, bleating for thirty seconds like
a sheep in distress.

He writes something down at last. You go and see the result of your
efforts. He has written

    "_Je serai._"

_Drat_ the boy!

Next time you dictate a word ending in _ais_, he won't be caught

He leaves a blank or makes a blot.

                 *       *       *       *       *

You must never take it for granted that you have given this boy all the
explanations he requires to get on with his work. You will always find
that there is something you have omitted to tell him.

He is not hopelessly stupid, he personifies the _vis inertiæ_; he is
indifferent, and takes but one step at a time.

He will tell you he did not know that there were notes at the end of
his French text-books. When he knows that there are such notes, he will
inform you next time that you did not tell him he was to look at them.

He sees things, but at first he does not know what they are for unless
they are labelled, and he will ignore the use of a chair if you do not
point out the flat part of this piece of furniture, or better still,
touch it, saying, "Chair--to sit upon."

The following are bits of conversation you will have with him in the

"How is it you have no copy to give me?"

"I thought we only had to prepare the piece."

Of course you know what it means when a boy tells you he has "prepared"
his work, but has not written it down. So you tell him he is to bring a
copy next time. He does, for he is most anxious to do as he is told.

When you ask him to give you the translation of the piece _viva voce_,
he tells you:

"Please, sir, you did not tell us we were to learn the piece."

"But, my boy, don't you understand that you are doing a piece of French
twice a week in order to learn the language?"

He never thought of that. He had to write out the translation of a
piece of French, and he has done it. He did not know he had to draw
such bewildering conclusions as you have just mentioned.

He does as he is told, and he marvels you do not consider him a model
of a boy.

If he were placed at the door of the reading-room of the British
Museum, with orders to inform people that they must take their
umbrellas or sticks to the cloak-room, he would carry out the
intentions of the librarians with a vengeance.

"Take your stick or your umbrella to the cloak-room," he would say to
the first person presenting himself at the door.

"But I have not got either," might reply the visitor.

"That's no business of mine; go and fetch them," he would naturally

He can grasp but one idea at a time, and this one idea does not lead to
another in his mind. There it remains like the buried talent.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Master Whirligig is a light-headed boy. It requires very little to
entertain him. The falling of a book, a cough, a sneeze, an organ in
the street, will send him into fits of hilarity behind his
pocket-handkerchief, and when the school breaks up for the Midsummer
holidays, he will be able to tell you the exact number of flies that
passed through the class-room during the term.

He is never still for a moment. Always on the look-out for fresh
events, he is the nearest approach to perpetual motion yet discovered.

The cracks in this boy's cranium may be explained physiologically.
Matter subjected to constant motion gets heated, as we all know. Now
young Whirligig's skull is but scantily furnished with brain matter,
and it would be wise of him to keep it still. This he seems to be
incapable of doing. He is for ever jerking and shaking it, churning the
contents in fact. The churn heated, hot vapors are generated; they
expand, the pressure is too great, they must escape--they force an
outlet--hence the cracks.--Q.E.D.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you want to see the good average English schoolboy in all his glory,
make him write out a rule of French grammar, and tell him to illustrate
it with an example.

Nine times out of ten his example will illustrate the contrary to the

He has heard over and over again, for instance, that a French past
participle, conjugated with the auxiliary _avoir_, sometimes agrees
with its direct object and sometimes does not. This he thinks very hard
upon him. Funny temper these past participles have! You never know when
they will agree. It is not fair, now, is it? By consulting his grammar,
he would be enabled to satisfy his master. But he does not do that. He
trusts to his luck, and has a shot. After all, his chance is 50 per
cent. He generally fails to hit.

Is he not a most unlucky little creature?

Ask this boy to give you the French for "this woman is good," he will
answer you: "_Bonne est cette femme_." He has heard that _bon_ was one
of those few adjectives that have to be placed before the noun, and
that is very unfair to him, isn't it?

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you set an exercise to English boys, to be written out on the spot,
they all set off quickly, the question being, as they look at one

"Who shall have finished first?"

This I hold to be due to the influence of athletics.

"Please, sir, I've done!" will exclaim the winner triumphantly, as he
looks at the rest of the class still busy scratching their paper.

You generally like to know what boys intend to be, in order to direct
your attention more specially to the subjects they will require to be
grounded in for such or such an examination.

Most boys from twelve to fourteen years old will tell you "they do not
know," when you ask them what they will be. Many of them are undecided,
many indifferent; some are shy, and afraid you will think it conceited
of them to believe they are fit to be one day doctors, officers,
barristers, clergymen, etc.

A few answer "I don't know," on the tune of "What is that to you?"

As it is always impolitic to take more interest in people than they do
themselves, you do not insist.

Once I asked a nice and clever little boy what he wanted to be.

This little boy's papa was at the time enjoying the well-salaried
_far niente_ of a chaplaincy attached to an old philanthropical
institution that had not had any inmates for many years past.

"Please, sir, I want to be like papa," he answered, ingenuously.

                 *       *       *       *       *

My young friend T. had no taste for languages, except, perhaps, bad
language, if I am to believe certain rumors of a punishment inflicted
upon him by the head-master not long ago.

He prepares for the army, but I doubt whether he will succeed in
entering it, unless he enlists. I regret it for her Majesty's sake, for
he would make a capital soldier. He is a first-rate athlete, resolute,
strong, and fearless. He would never aim at becoming a field-marshal,
and I hold that his qualities ought to weigh in an examination for the
army as much as a little Latin and Greek.

I never heard of great generals being particularly good at Latin,
except Julius Cæsar, who wrote his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars in
that language, and without a dictionary, they say.

My young friend is the kind of boy who, in the army, would be sure to
render great service to his country; for, whether he killed England's
enemy or England's enemy killed him, it would eventually be for the
good of England.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Ah! now, who is that square-headed boy, sitting on the second form near
the window? He looks dull; he does not join in the games, and seldom
speaks to a school-fellow. He comes to school on business, to get as
much as he can for his money.

He is not brilliant, but steady-going; he is improving slowly but
surely. He goes on his jog-trot way, and always succeeds in being
placed among the first twelve boys of the class. He is what is called a
"respectable person."

He never smiles, and you would think he had on his shoulders the
responsibility of the management of the London and Westminster Bank.

His books are carefully covered in brown paper or American cloth. He
writes rough copies on the backs of old exercises, and wipes his pen
when he has finished his work. He buys his books second-hand in
Holywell Street,[6] and when he has finished with them they have the
same market value as when he bought them.

      [6] A street in London where Jews sell second-hand books.

He lends old nibs and half-sheets of paper, and requires the borrower
to give him back new nibs and foolscap sheets.

He studies French with all the energy he is capable of, because his
father has told him that, with a good knowledge of French, he will
command a good salary in the City.

You ask him what he will be, and he answers you:

"In business."

This boy will be a successful man--a lord-mayor, perhaps.

I can not take leave of the class-room without mentioning the boy who
is proud of his name.

"What is your name, my boy?"

"Algernon Cadwaladr Smyth."

"Oh! your name is Smith, is it?"

"No, sir; my name is Cadwaladr Smyth."

"You spell your name S-m-i-t-h, don't you?"

"No, sir; S-m-y-t-h," he answers, almost indignantly.

Dear boy! he is as proud of the y of his name as a Howard is of his
ancestors--although I am not quite sure the Howards ought to be very
proud of their name, seeing that it is but a corruption of _Hog-ward_.

I always thought it was somewhat hard on a boy to have to go through
life labeled Cadwaladr; but, as I have remarked elsewhere, in England
there is nothing to prevent parents from dubbing their offsprings
Bayard, Bertrand du Guesclin--or, for that matter, Nebuchadnezzar.



English boys have invented a special kind of English language for
French translation.

It is not the English they use with their classical and other masters;
it is not the English they use at home with their parents, or at school
with their comrades; it is a special article kept for the sole benefit
of their French masters.

The good _genus_ boy will translate _oui_, _mon père_, by "yes, my
father," as if it were possible for him to forget that he calls his
papa _father_, and not _my father_, when he addresses him.

He very seldom reads over his translation to ascertain that it reads
like English; but when he does, and is not perfectly satisfied with the
result, he lays the blame on the French original. After all, it is not
his fault if there is no sense in the French, and he brings a certain
number of English dictionary words placed one after the other, the
whole entitled FRENCH.

Of course he can not call it ENGLISH, and he dares not call it

He calls it French, and relieves his conscience.

                 *       *       *       *       *

It will take boys long to understand that _la trompette_, _la médecine_,
_la marine_, _la statuaire_, are not respectively the wives of _le
trompette_, _le médecin_, _le marin_, _le statuaire_.

An honest little boy once translated "_La critique doit être bonne
fille_" by "The critic's wife ought to be a good girl."

Poor little fellow! it is most probable that no dictionary within his
reach would have explained to him that the expression _bonne fille_
meant "good-humored."

                 *       *       *       *       *

O Bossuet, veil thy face!

The finest piece of French prose in existence is undoubtedly the
following sentence, taken from Bossuet's funeral oration on the Great

"_Restait cette redoutable infanterie de l'armée d'Espagne, dont les
gros bataillons serrés, semblables à autant de tours, mais à des tours
qui sauraient réparer leurs brèches, demeuraient inébranlables au
milieu de tout le reste en déroute, et lançaient des feux de toutes

This reads like a chant of Homer, does it not? It reads quite
differently in boys' translations, I assure you, when you come to
"towers that would be able to mend their breaches."

This confirms you in your belief that nothing improves by
translation--except a bishop.

                 *       *       *       *       *

From my little collection of what is called in the scholastic
profession "Howlers," I extract the following, with my apologies to
their perpetrators.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_La fille de feu ma bonne et estimée cousine est toujours la bienvenue_,
"My good and esteemed cousin, the daughter of fire, is always welcome."

                 *       *       *       *       *

_Mon frère a tort et ma soeur a raison_, "My brother has some tart and
my sister has some raisins."

                 *       *       *       *       *

_Elle partit dans la matinée du lendemain_, "She took part in the
morning performance of legerdemain."

This is a specimen of German _geist_ perpetrated by a candidate to
our scholarships, and a young subject of his Venerable Majesty Emperor

Honor to whom honor is due.

                 *       *       *       *       *

When I said that boys do not look at the notes given at the end of
their text-books, it was nothing short of a libel, as two cases
following will prove.

                 *       *       *       *       *

_Diable! c'est qu'il est capricieux, le bonhomme!_

A boy looked at a note on this phrase, and found: "_capricieux_, akin
to Latin _capra_ (a goat)." Next day, he brought his translation, which
ran thus:

"The good man is devilishly like a goat."

                 *       *       *       *       *

The next two "howlers" were indulged in by my boys, as we were reading
Jules Sandeau's _Mademoiselle de la Seiglière_.

The Baroness de Vaubert says to the Marquis de la Seiglière:

A boy having translated this by "Calm yourself," I observed to him:

"Couldn't you give me something more colloquial?"

Boy, after a moment's reflection:

"Keep your hair on, old man."

                 *       *       *       *       *

_Je laisse Renaud dans les jardins d'Armida_, "I leave this fox in the
gardens of Armida," and, between brackets, the following explanatory

("Jerusalem delivered Tasso in the hands of an enchantress named

      [7] I reproduce the note which had "helped" the boy:

          ["_Renaud dans les jardins d'Armida_," _the enchanted gardens
          of Armida_ ("_Jerusalem Delivered_," _Tasso_), _figuratively,
          in the hands of an enchantress._]

                 *       *       *       *       *

_Chaque âge a ses plaisirs_ was translated by a nice little boy, "Every
one grows old for his preserves."

(Evidently written after a surfeit of jam.)

                 *       *       *       *       *

The vagaries of my young friends are thrown into the shade by some
achievements of professional translators which I have come across in
America. A French master may occasionally enjoy the drolleries that a
magnificent disdain for dictionary trammels and a violent yearning
towards the playground will betray his pupil into; but I imagine that a
publisher, who pays in hard cash for the faithful translation of a
French book, can scarcely be pleased to find that the work has been
interlarded with mirth-provoking blunders thrown in gratis.

I extract the two following examples of "French as she is traduced"
from the translation of one of my books that the American pirates did
me the honor to publish:

_Les exploits d'Hercule sont de la Saint Jean auprès de_..., "The
exploits of Hercules are but of the St. John order compared to...."

_Monsieur, ne vous retournez pas_, "Sir, do not return yourself."

                 *       *       *       *       *

But to return to John Bull, junior.

I pass young worthies who translate "_I have never read any thing by
Molière_" by "_Je n'ai pas jamais lit quelque chose par Molière_," on
the ground that "it is so in English." This "French" sentence was,
by-the-bye, the first essay on Molière I received at the hands of the
English boys.

Some little fellows, trusting their sense of sight, have the
objectionable habit of writing the translation of a text before looking
at it, at all events before seeing it.

Result: "_Il raccommodait les vieux souliers_"--"_He recommended the
old soldiers._"

A clever boy, whilst reading a comedy at first sight, translated
"EGLANTINE (_baissant les yeux_)" by "EGLANTINE (_kissing his eyes_)."

You naughty boy!

                 *       *       *       *       *

I once read the following sound advice given in the preface of a French
Translation book:


    "1. Read the passage carefully through, at least twice."

    "2. Keep as closely as possible to the original in sense, but use
    English idiom boldly."

    "3. Never write down nonsense."

Now, and whilst I think of it, why _unseen_?

It may be that I do not perceive the niceties of the English language,
but this commonly used word, "unseen," never conveyed any meaning to my
mind. Would not "unforeseen" be a better word? I would timidly suggest.

If the book in question succeeded in making boys carry out the
foregoing suggestions, it would be worth its weight in gold.

As far as my experience goes, the only hint which I have known them
follow is the one that tells them to use English idiom boldly.

A drawback to these hints is that they are given in the preface. Now,
dear colleagues and _confrères_, which of you has ever known a
school-boy read the preface of his book?



French boys, and only of late, are made to go through a course of
French philology during their last two years at school; but English
school-boys, who are seldom taught to speak French, and who would find
it just as difficult to make themselves understood in Paris as they
would in Pekin, are made to study the "rudiments" of French philology,
that is to say, the origin of words they are unable to put together so
as to make French sentences of them.

I might take this opportunity for discussing whether English
school-boys should not leave alone all this nonsense, and devote the
little spare time they have to learning how to put French words
together with a decent pronunciation; but I have promised myself to
discuss nothing in this little volume of personal recollections, and I
will keep my word.

After all, what Englishmen want to be able to do is to write a letter
in French, and to ask for a steak or a mutton-chop in a French
restaurant, without having to low or bleat to make the waiter
understand that it is beef or mutton they want.

I did not go to England to make reforms; I accept things as I see them,
and I generally wait to give my advice until I am asked for it.

So French philology is taught. A hundred exercises, which I have under
my eyes, show me the results of the philological teaching of French in

                 *       *       *       *       *

For once--now for once only, let me make a boast.

Small as I am, I have rendered a valuable service to the land of my
adoption. Yes, a service to England, nothing short of that.

For over fifteen years, the French examiners in the University of
London invariably every year asked the candidates for Matriculation the
following question--I had almost said riddle:

"Which is the only French substantive ending in _ence_ that is of
the masculine gender, and why?"

You may picture to yourself the unhappy candidates, scratching their
heads, and going, in their minds, through the forty and some thousand
words which make up the French vocabulary.

Those only who were "in the know" could answer that the famous word was
_silence_, as it came from the Latin neuter noun _silentium_, the other
French nouns ending in _ence_ (from Latin feminine nouns in _entia_)
being feminine.

"Well," I said one day to the examiner, an eminent _confrère_ and
friend, "don't you think you make the candidates waste a good deal of
their valuable time, and that it would be better to ask them the
question (if you must ask it) in a straightforward manner?"

He thought I was right, and for two years more the question was asked
again, but in the following improved manner:

"Explain why _silence_ is the only French noun, ending in _ence_, that
is of the masculine gender."

This was sensible, and I hoped the examiner would for a long time to
come be in smooth water.

The gods willed it otherwise.

One morning he came to me in a great state of excitement.

"I am furious!" he said. "I believe one of the candidates has been
laughing at me."

"You don't say so!" I remarked.

"I believe so," he continued, whilst untying a bundle of papers. "Now
look at this," he cried, handing me a copy; "have you ever seen such

I looked, but could make nothing out of it.

"What's the matter?" I inquired.

"Well, I asked the candidates the question about the gender of

"I know, the famous question, eh?"

"Never mind that. See the answer one of them gives me," and he pointed
it out to me. It ran thus:

"_Silence_ is the only French noun, ending in _ence_, that is
masculine, because it is the only thing women can not keep."

Tears of sympathy for the boy trickled down my cheeks; I thought it was

"Well," I said, when I had recovered, "it serves you right."

"I will _plough_ that boy!" he ejaculated.

"No, you won't do that," I said. "How did he do the rest of the paper?"

"Very well, indeed; the impudent scamp is a clever fellow."

"And a wit," I added; "you must not _plough_ him."

I never knew the fate of that boy, although I believe I saved him.

But what I do know is that never, never since, has the question found
place in the Matriculation papers of the University of London.

                 *       *       *       *       *

A boy, having to give the etymology of the French word _dimanche_, and
explain why "book" and "pound" are expressed by the same French word
_livre_, perpetrated the following:

"_Dimanche_ is a compound word, formed from _di_ (twice), and _manche_
(to eat), because you take two meals on that day (Sunday)."[8]

      [8] _Dear boy! he probably was a weekly boarder, and the Sunday
      fare at home had left sweet recollections in his mind. This beats
      Swift's etymology of "cucumber," which he once gave at a dinner
      of the Philological Society: "King Jeremiah, Jeremiah King,
      Jerkin, Gherkin, Cucumber."_

"_Livre_ stands for 'book' as well as for 'pound,' because the accounts
of 'pounds' are kept in 'books.'"

It was the same boy who, being asked for the meaning of _cordon bleu_,
answered "a teetotaler."

                 *       *       *       *       *

A young Briton, having to derive the French word _tropique_,

"This word comes from _trop_ (too much), and _ique_ (from Latin _hic_
which means _here_), with the word _heat_ understood, that is to say:
_Tropique_, it is too hot here."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Another boy, with a great deal of imagination and power of deduction,
having to give the derivation of the French word _cheval_, wrote the
following essay:

"_Cheval_ comes from the Latin _equus_. The letter _u_ was written _v_,
which gave

    _equus_ = _eqvus_ = quevus.

"This word became _quevalus_, which finally gave _cheval_."

We might exclaim with d'Aceilly:

    "_Cheval_ vient d'_equus_, sans doute;
      Mais il faut convenir aussi
      Qu'à venir de là jusqu'ici,
    Il a bien changé sur la route."[9]

      [9] "_'Cheval' comes from 'equus' no doubt; but it must be
      confessed that, to come to us in that state, it has sadly altered
      on the way._"

                 *       *       *       *       *

This boy's method is, after all, a return to the old methods. If we
consult Ménage's Etymological Dictionary, we see that he easily derives
_rat_ from _mus_, and _haricot_ from _faba_, to take only two instances
of the method.

"The Latin _mus_," he says, "became _muratus_, and then _ratus_, which
gave us _rat_."

He deals no less successfully with _haricot_, viz:

"The Latin _faba_ became by corruption _fabaricus_, which altered into
_fabaricotus_, and finally into _aricotus_, which gave us _haricot_."

After this we may appreciate Voltaire's remark that "philologists take
no account of vowels, and very little notice of consonants."

Nor do boys.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If the answers given by candidates at examinations are often
remarkable, the questions asked by the examiners are often more
wonderful still. Here are a few which have been seriously asked,
and--_proh pudor!_--published:

"Define, with reference to passages in the _Lettres Provinciales_,
'grâce suffisante,' 'grâce efficace,' 'grâce actuelle,' '_casuisme_,'
'pouvoir prochain,' 'probabilisme.' Also explain what is meant by
'casuistry.' What can be said in its defence?"

"Give some account of Escobar."

"What are the principal differences between the Latin and the French

Well might an eminent _confrère_ exclaim one day:

"Is not all this printed and published to discourage the study of

                 *       *       *       *       *

I once heard an examiner ask a dear little fellow, aged eleven, the
following poser:

"Give me the derivations of all the words of the French sentence you
have just read aloud."

Poor little boy! He took the examiner for a wonderful man.

So he was.

                 *       *       *       *       *

English examinations consist of so many papers to be taken up; the
"viva voce" does not play an important part in England, as it does in

A "viva voce" examination very often gives the examiner a better idea
of the candidate's abilities and knowledge than a written one, but it
has many drawbacks. It favors babblers and the self-assured, and does
not enable the timid to show themselves at their best.

The more learned the examiner, the more kind and indulgent is he to the

Sainte-Claire Deville, the famous French chemist, had to be declined by
the authorities at the Sorbonne as an examiner, because he used to
answer his questions himself to save the candidates trouble.

"How do you prepare oxygen?" he would ask. "By heating chlorate of
potash, don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"You place the chlorate of potash in a thin glass flask, don't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now a small quantity of manganese bi-oxide, mixed with the chlorate of
potash, enables you to obtain the oxygen at a much lower temperature,
does it not?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very good--now, another question."

And so forth.

                 *       *       *       *       *

On the other hand, there are examiners who make it a rule to bully the
candidates, or, worse still, to snub them. They will ask preposterous
questions with the mere object of disconcerting them.

"How long would it take the moon to fall to the earth?" I once heard an
examiner ask a candidate to the _baccalauréat ès-sciences_.

A facetious examiner once got his due from a young Parisian candidate.

After asking him a few "catches," and obtaining no answers he suddenly
said to him:

"Do you know how much cloth would be required to cover an ass?"

"I do not, sir," replied the lad, "but if you are anxious to know, I
will ask your tailor."

The audience laughed heartily, and the examiner, seeing that this time
the laughter was not on his side, congratulated the boy on his wit, and
immediately asked him a few sensible questions, which were answered
respectfully, and proved that the candidate had his subjects as ready
as his wit.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I was once asked to examine the French and German classes of an
important English school.

I wrote to "my lords and gentlemen," saying that my knowledge of German
was not such as to enable me to find fault with other people's.

The governors answered that it did not matter, and I was directed to
proceed to the Examination.

I got over the difficulty by sharing the work and the fees with an able
German, who prepared the questions and corrected the copies.



You have achieved a great success when you have succeeded in getting
into young boys' heads that French is not English replaced by
equivalent words to be found in a dictionary.

This is the way boys generally set about writing a piece of English
into French.

They take the first English word, open their dictionary, and put down
the French word they have found for it (the wrong one, as a rule, if
more than one is given). Then they take the second English word, to
which they apply the same process, until they come to a stop, which
they carefully reproduce in the French (many don't). This done, they
take their blotting-paper, apply it on the copy, rub it hard for a
minute or two, and knock off to enjoy a well-deserved rest.

The amount of blotting-paper used by boys is prodigious. A word is no
sooner written down than it is fixed on the paper by a good hearty
rubbing down. They are afraid it will evaporate if not properly secured
on the paper at once.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Suppose your young pupils have to put into French "I give you."

They will first write _je_, then _donne_. After the English word "you,"
they are referred to a note. They look at this note (many don't), and
see that they must put the pronoun _vous_ before the verb. They do so
between the lines, and thus write down the proof of their iniquity:

    "_je_ ^ _donne_."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Although the boys use their eyes to look at things, there are few who
use them to see.

Young S. was an exception.

Having to put into French, "No sovereign ever was more worthy," he
brought me:

"_Jamais souverain ne fut plus digne._"

I congratulated him on his achievement, and as I was suspicious he had
been helped at home I asked him how he came to write this. He then said
to me that on his way home he had seen in the station a large
advertisement of a tooth-paste maker. The advertisement consisted of a
huge woman's head, showing two rows of beautiful teeth, with this

"_Avec de belles dents jamais femme ne fut laide._"

He had come to the conclusion that this French phrase could help him,
and he took it down at the station.

This young Briton has a great future before him.

                 *       *       *       *       *

A boy having to translate "I have gone out," begins by writing
"_j'ai_." That is understood. When afterwards he finds that the verb
_sortir_ is conjugated with the auxiliary _être_, he changes _j'ai_
into _je suis_. Nine times out of ten he trusts his memory, or rather
he leaves it to chance, and he keeps _j'ai_.

French books are loaded with facts, but few with explanations.

All the French grammars I know publish the list of the neuter verbs
that are conjugated with the auxiliary _être_, but none give boys the
reason _why_ these verbs are conjugated with _être_ and not with
_avoir_. Boys learn this list of verbs and forget it, and you know
little of boys' nature if you imagine that they will consult their
grammar at every turn. Some do, to be sure, but how many?

I do not know of one French grammar that tells students that neuter
verbs, which express a state as well as an action, or rather that
neuter verbs which express that a _state_ is enjoyed as soon as the
_action_ is over, are conjugated with _être_.

A boy will understand you, and remember what you say, if you tell him:

"As soon as you _have_ died, you _are_ dead. This is why the verb
_mourir_, expressing the _state of being_ dead, as soon as the _action_
of dying is over, has to be conjugated with _être_."

"As soon as you _have_ arrived, you _are_ arrived."

"As soon as you _have been_ born, you _are_ born."

"Therefore all these verbs _arriver_, _naître_, _venir_, _sortir_,
_partir_, etc., are conjugated with _être_."

"By this reasoning, with _courir_ (to run) you get an absurdity. 'As
soon as you _have_ run you _are_ run' is an absurdity. Therefore
_courir_, expressing only an action, not a state, takes _avoir_."

Yes, boys will understand all that, and nothing gives them more
pleasure than having their minds satisfied with a little explanatory
food. I have seen rays of happy satisfaction flashing over scores of
young faces as they got hold of these facts.

For the same reason, reflexive verbs are conjugated with _être_,
because they also express that a state is enjoyed as soon as the action
is over.

"As soon as you _have_ washed yourself you _are_ washed--if you have
done it properly, of course."

Tell the boys so, and they will laugh, and they will understand you,
and they will be grateful to you.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I could give hundreds of instances in which a few explanatory words
would settle grammatical facts in boys' minds; but, although I am
tempted at almost every page to turn this book into a class--book, I
must bear in mind that my aim is not to instruct, and pass on.



I know masters who spend their time looking at their books with their
heads downwards, and who only occasionally lift them up to say to a
boisterous class:

"Now then, now then!"

They might as well tell the boys: "Just take a minute's rest, my dears,
will you? In a moment I shall be looking at my desk again, then you
will be able to go on."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Face the boys, or you will be nowhere.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Always be lively. If you once let the boys go to sleep, you will never
wake them up again.

Always look the same in face and person. Your moustache curtailed, your
whiskers shaved, or the usual shape of your coat altered, will cause a
revolution in your class.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Never show your temper if you have one, and keep the changes of your
temperature for the benefit of your wife and family. If you once show
your boys that they have enough power to disturb your equilibrium and
interfere with your happiness, it is for them a victory, the results of
which they will always make you feel.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you are annoyed by a boy constantly chatting with his neighbors, see
if he has a brother in the class. If he has, place them side by side,
and peace will be restored. Brothers will sometimes quarrel in class,
but have a quiet chat together, never.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Never overpraise clever boys, or they will never do another stroke of
work. Never snub the dull ones; you don't know that it is not out of
modesty that they will not shine over their schoolfellows.

Never ask young English public schoolboys any questions on history that
may be suggested to you by the proper names you will come across in the
text. Their knowledge of history[10] does not go much beyond the
certainty that Shakespeare was not a great Roman warrior, although his
connection with Julius Cæsar, Antony, and Coriolanus keep a good many
still undecided as to the times he lived in.

      [10] _I mean "modern history," for although public school-boys
      know little or nothing of Marlborough and Wellington, they could
      write volumes about Pericles, Scipio, and Hannibal. Ask them
      something about the Reform Bill, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, or
      the causes which led to American Independence, and you will have
      little essays worth inserting in a comic paper._

Ask them under whose reign Ben Jonson flourished, and you will be
presented by them with a general survey of English history from the
Norman Conquest to the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen
Victoria. A good many will also take the opportunity of making a show
of their knowledge of literary history (the temptation is
irresistible), and add that he was a great man who wrote a good
dictionary, and was once kept waiting for a long time in Lord
Chesterfield's antechamber, "which he did not like." Boys are generally
good at historical anecdotes, a remnant of their early training.

We once had to put into French the following sentence:

"Frederick the Great of Prussia had the portrait of the young Emperor
in every room of his Sans-Souci Palace, and being asked the reason why
he thus honored the portrait of his greatest enemy, answered that the
Emperor was a busy, enterprising young monarch, and that he found it
necessary always to have an eye upon him."

I asked the class who this Emperor was that Frederick the Great seemed
to fear so much, and I obtained many answers, including Alexander the
Great and most well-known imperial rulers down to Napoleon the First;
but not one named Joseph II. of Austria.

Another time we were translating a piece of Massillon, taken from his
celebrated _Petit Carême_.

When we came to the following passage, in his sermon on _Flattery_:
"The Lord," once said the holy King, "shall cut off all flattering
lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things," I asked the boys,
who, by-the-bye, were referred in the notes to Psalm xii. 3, who was
this holy King mentioned by Massillon?

The first answer was "Charles I." The second was "Saint Louis," and I
should not probably have received the proper answer if I had not
expressed my astonishment at finding that nobody in the class seemed to
know who wrote the Psalms.

Even after this remark of mine, many boys remained silent; but at last
one timidly suggested "David."

He did not seem to be quite sure.

"This," I thought to myself at the time, "is hardly an encouragement to
make children read the Bible twice a day from the time they can spell."

                 *       *       *       *       *

The knowledge of geography is not more widespread than the knowledge of
history among these same boys. So, if you have no time to waste don't
ask them where places are.

They know where England is; they know more or less precisely the
position of India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape of Good
Hope, and such other spots of the earth as are marked in red on the
maps published in England.

France, Russia, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Turkey, they could
after a few hesitations find out on the map of Europe, but as they are
not marked in red, their patriotism prevents them from taking any more
interest in these countries.

France, however, is rather interesting to them as being a part of the
globe in which the French irregular verbs come by nature.

Never expect any thanks for all the trouble you have taken over your

When boys succeed in their examinations, it is owing to their
intelligence and industry; when they fail, it is owing to the bad
teaching of their masters. Boys can do no wrong; get this well engraven
on your minds.

                 *       *       *       *       *

When a boy laughs at a mistake made by a schoolfellow, do not believe
that he does so out of contempt, and that he knows better. Ask him for
the answer immediately, and he will be as quiet as you please.

If you observe him a little, you will see that he never begins to laugh
before you have declared the answer of his schoolfellow to be wrong; he
would never know himself.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I always carefully prepared the piece of French that my pupils had to
translate, in order to be ready with all the questions suggested to me
by the text; but I never prepared composition: I preferred working it
in class with them, so as to show them that scores of French sentences
properly rendered an English one. I think it is a mistake to impose one
rendering of an English sentence. Anybody can do this--with a key.

Be not solemn in class, nor aim at astonishing the boys with your

To look at their staring eyes and gaping mouths, you may perhaps
imagine that they are lost in ecstatic admiration. Look again, they are
all yawning.

                 *       *       *       *       *

When you have made the personal acquaintance of the boys who are to
make up a class during the term, you can easily assign to them seats
that will not perhaps please them, but which will insure peace. A quiet
boy placed between two noisy chatterboxes, or a chatterbox placed
between two solemn boys, will go a long way towards securing your
comfort and happiness. The easiest class-room to manage is the one
furnished with separate desks. Then you may easily carry the government
on the old principle of _Divide et regna_.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you see a boy put his hand before his mouth whilst he is talking,
snub him hard for it. Tell him that, when you were a boy and wanted to
have a quiet chat with a neighbor, you were not so silly as to thus
draw the master's attention and get your little conversation disturbed.

We are none of us infallible, not even the youngest of us, as the late
Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, once wittily remarked.

Never be tired of asking for advice; you will become a good
school-master only on condition that you will take constant advice from
the old stagers.

If, however, you should discover that, in the middle of your lesson,
your pupils are all sound asleep, don't go and tell the head-master,
and ask him how you should set about keeping them awake. This is beyond
his advice.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The General commanding a French military school had once decided upon
having a lecture on Hygiene given to the pupils on Monday afternoons.
The day was badly chosen. A French Sunday always means for a French boy
a little dissipation in the shape of a good dinner at home or with
friends, and on Monday afternoons we generally felt ready for a little
doze, if the lecture was in the least prosy.

The lecturer, tired of addressing sleeping audiences, lodged a
complaint with the General, and asked that his lecture should
henceforth take place on another day of the week.

This could not be arranged, but the General soon decided upon a plan to
set matters to rights.

"I will place a _basof_[11] in the room," he said; "he will take down
the names of all those who go to sleep, and I shall have them kept in
on the following Sunday."

      [11] Abbreviation of "bas-officier" (non-commissioned officer).

When the lecturer made his next appearance, followed by the _basof_,
we thought it would be prudent to listen, and the lesson passed off
without accident.

The following Monday, however, the poor lecturer had not proceeded very
far, when he discovered that we were all asleep--and that so was the

Of course the General inflicted a severe punishment upon us, and also
upon the offending Cerberus.

_Moral._--I believe that, if a lecturer or a master had gone to
complain to an English head-master that all his pupils went to sleep
whilst he lectured, the head-master would have answered him:

"My dear sir, if your lecture sends your audience to sleep, it is your
fault, not mine, and I don't see how I can help you."

And the sooner the man sent in his resignation, the better for the
comfort of all concerned.

If you are a Frenchman, never allow your boys to call you _Mossoo_,
_Myshoo_, _Mounzeer_, or any other British adaptation of _Monsieur_. If
you do, you may just as well allow them to pat you on the back and call
you "Old chappie." They should call you "Sir," otherwise you will lose
your footing and fail to be the colleague of the English masters. You
will only be the _Mossoo_ of the place, something, in the world, like
the _Mademoiselle_ (from Paris), or the _Fraulein_ (from Hanover), of
the Establishment for Young Ladies round the corner.

                 *       *       *       *       *

All the _Frauleins_ come from Hanover, as all the _Mademoiselles_ are
Parisian and Protestants, if I am to believe the column of scholastic
advertisements in the English newspapers.

This is wonderful, is it not?

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you set any value on your reputation and your time, never carry the
interest which you naturally take in your pupils the length of inviting
them to come to your house to receive extra teaching at your hands,
unless it be as a means of improving your revenue.

I once determined to devote all my Saturday evenings to two young
fellows whom I was anxious to pass through the Indian Civil Service
examination. I thus worked with them five months. Their fathers were
men of position. I never received so much as a post-card of thanks from
them. If I had charged them a guinea for each visit, I should have
received two checks with "many thanks for my valuable services," which
would have benefited my banking account and given satisfaction to my
professional vanity.

I have since "checked" my love for boys.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Shun interviews with parents, mothers especially, as you would the
plague. Leave this privilege to the head-master, who is paid handsomely
for these little drawbacks to his position. If they invite you to
dinner, do not fall into the snare, but remember that a previous
engagement prevents you from having the pleasure of accepting their
kind invitation. Never enter into correspondence with them on the
subject of "their dear boy." If, to inflict scruples on your
conscience, they should enclose a stamped envelope, give a penny to the
first beggar you meet on leaving school. Relieve the conscience, but,
whatever you do, don't answer.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Always pretend you have not seen a breach of discipline when you are
not quite sure about the offender, or, when sure, you can not bring a
clear charge against him. You have no time for investigations.

Wait for another chance. A boy never rests upon an unpunished offence.

Offence and punishment should be exchanged like shots.

No credit: cash.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you correct little boys' copies yourself, you will find that you
have undertaken a long and wearisome task that brings no result. When
you return these copies, they are received with thanks, folded up,
carefully pocketed, and never looked at again. Make the boys reserve a
good wide margin for the corrections. Underline all their mistakes,
and, under your eyes, make them correct the mistakes themselves.

                 *       *       *       *       *

However well up you may be in your subjects, you are sure to find
yourself occasionally tripping. The derivation of a certain word will
escape you for a moment, or the right translation of another will not
come to your mind quickly enough. With grown-up and intelligent young
fellows in advanced classes, no need to apologise. But with little boys
you must remember that you are an oracle. Never for a moment let them
doubt your infallibility; call up all the resources of your ingenuity,
and find a way out of the difficulty. So a good actor, whose memory
fails him for the time, calls upon his imagination to supply its place.
And must not any man, who would gain and keep the ear of a mixed
audience, be a bit of an actor, let his theatre be the hustings, the
church, or the class-room? Has not a master to appear perfectly cross
when he is perfectly cool, or perfectly cool when he is perfectly
cross? Is not this acting?

It once fell to my unhappy lot to be requested to take an arithmetic
class twice a week, during the temporary absence of a mathematical
master. In my youth I was a little of a mathematician, but figures I
was always bad at. As for English sums, with their bewildering
complications of pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings, which that
practical people still fondly cling to, it has always been a subject of
wonder to me how the English themselves do them. How I piloted those
dear boys through Bills of Parcels I don't know; but it is a fact that
we got on pretty well till we reached "Stocks." Here my path grew very

One morning the boys all came with the same sad story. None had been
able to do one of the sums I had given them from the book. They had all
tried; their brothers had tried; their fathers had tried; not one could
do it.

A short look at it convinced me that I should have no more chance of
success than all those Britons, young and old, but it would never do to
let my pupils know this. They must suppose that those few moments had
been sufficient for me to master the sum in. So, assuming my most
solemn voice, I said:

"Why, boys, do you mean to tell me you can not do such a simple sum as

"No, we can't, sir," was the general cry.

"Why, Robinson, not even you?" I said to the top boy. "I always
considered you a sharp lad. Jones, you cannot? Nor Brown? Well, well;
it's too bad."

And, putting on a look of pitying contempt--which must have been quite
a success, to judge by the dejection written on the faces before me--I
proceeded to give them a little lecture on their arithmetical
shortcomings. I felt saved. It was near the time for dismissing the

"Boys," said I, to finish up, "I must have been sadly mistaken in you;
the best thing we can do is to go back to addition and subtraction

Without being quite so hard as that upon them, I set them an easy task
for the next lesson; the bell rang, and the boys dispersed.

I immediately went to the head mathematical master, and had the
difficulty explained away in a few seconds.

How simple things are when they are explained, to be sure!

Armed with a new insight into Stocks, I was ready for my young friends
the following Friday. After the ordinary work had been got through:

"Now," I said, "have you had another try at that sum, any of you?"

"Yes, sir; but we can't do it," was the reply.

"Well," I said, in a relenting tone, as I went to the blackboard, "I
suppose we had better do it together."

I made the boys confess it was too stupid of them to have proved
unequal to this _simple_ sum; and thus they regained my good

Later in the day I received the glad tidings that the master I replaced
was better (goodness knows if I had prayed for the return of his
health!). He was to have his boys next time.

Thus was I enabled to retire from the field with flying colors.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you do not love boys, never be a school-master. If you love boys and
wish to become a school-master, see that you are a good disciplinarian,
or take _Punch's_ advice to those about to marry:




I am afraid I often put the patriotism of English boys to a severe

I generally liked to place in their hands such books as would relate to
them the glorious past of France, and teach them to respect her. Let
those who do not love their country throw the first stone at me.

Bossuet's "Funeral Orations," Voltaire's "Siècle de Louis XIV.,"
D'Aubigné's "History of Bayard," Bonnechose's "Lazare Hoche," were
among my favorite text-books.

I need not say that I always avoided recommending historical books
which, like Bonnechose's "Bertrand du Guesclin," for instance, referred
to struggles between France and England. For obvious reasons, I have
always preferred reading the accounts of the battles of Cressy,
Poictiers, and Agincourt in French histories to reading them in English
ones;[12] and I imagined that Bertrand du Guesclin would not inspire in
my pupils the same admiration as he did in us French boys.

      [12] _I have always been doubtful whether these battles are
      properly related in histories published in England._

                 *       *       *       *       *

But what fiery patriots these British lads are! Why, they would like to
monopolize all the victories mentioned in history.

Bossuet's panegyric of Louis XIV. drove them frantic, half mad. Dear
little fellows! they were wriggling with pain on their seats as we were
reading: "This king, the terror of his enemies, who holds the destinies
of Europe in the hollow of his hand and strikes with awe the whole
astonished world."

"The whole world struck with awe!" that could not be. Surely Bossuet
ought to have said "with the exception of England"--a sad omission on
his part.

"Who is it Bossuet is speaking of?" once remarked a good little
patriot, on hearing this sentence.

"Louis XIV."

"Louis XIV.?"

"Yes; never heard of him?"

I don't think he had.

Bayard they all liked. His personal deeds of valor appealed to their
young imaginations. His athletic powers especially stirred their hearts
with admiration.

Besides, his exploits took place such a long time ago that they felt
ready to be lenient towards him.

                 *       *       *       *       *

We once came across the name of Louis VI. of France in some French
text, and I was unfortunate enough to mention in class that, at the
battle of Brenneville, an English soldier came up to the French king,
and called upon him to surrender, when Louis VI. remarked: "Don't you
know that, at chess, the king cannot be taken prisoner?" and
immediately struck the English soldier dead on the spot.

The boys seemed displeased. They looked at one another; it was evident
that they thought there was something wrong. The dose was too strong
for them to swallow.

I inquired of a little lad, who appeared particularly distressed, what
was the matter.

"Please, sir," he said, "did not the English soldier try to kill the
French king?"

"Well, I suppose he did," I replied; "but King Louis VI. was very
strong, you know."

"He must have been!" he remarked, no doubt feeling more comfortable
after my explanation.

                 *       *       *       *       *

This historical anecdote of an Englishman allowing himself to be felled
to the ground by a Frenchman puts me in mind of a little conversation I
heard in my school-days.

Two young boys, one French, the other English, were talking athletics
in the playground, and the English boy asked his young friend to
explain to him the principles of French wrestling.

The little French lad proceeded, in a vivacious manner, to describe the
successive moves of the sport.

He used the first person singular to make his description more

"First," he said, "I would get a good grasp of your waist with my right
arm, whilst I would collar you with my left one; then, don't you see, I
would twist my right leg round one of yours; then----"

"Ah! but wait a minute," exclaimed the English boy, with a smile. "What
should I be doing all this time? Looking at you, I suppose?"

It was at the meetings of our French Debating Society that free play
was given to youthful patriotism. Good heavens! what a _tabula rasa_
of the map of the world! What fresh jewels added to the British crown!
I don't think there is a single little corner of the globe worth
mentioning that these boys did not lay their hands on. With what a
crushing majority the "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform" policy was
defeated! Was it not an insult to this glorious country to suggest
that a reform was needed?

"The Liberals," exclaimed a young member, with a movement of Homeric
indignation, "may be appreciated in Russia, but they are not

                 *       *       *       *       *

French _collégiens_ are red radicals, socialists, anarchists,
revolutionists--until they leave school. As I have said elsewhere,
leading the lives of prisoners, they dream wild dreams of liberty, they
gasp for freedom.

Young Britons, enjoying liberty from tender years, are perfectly
satisfied with their lot, and are mostly Conservatives. They identify
Conservatism with patriotism; and if the Franchise were extended to
them, the Liberal Party would have seen its best days.

The new political school inaugurated by Lord Randolph Churchill is
greatly in favor with English boys; we had many Tory Democrats among

"Imperium et Libertas" are two words which sound pleasantly in young
English ears: the possession of a mighty Empire, and the enjoyment of
that "thrice sweet and gracious goddess," Liberty.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I once asked a little English lad why his compatriots ate roast goose
on the 29th of September, the anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish

"Because," he answered proudly, "the King of Spain was such a goose as
to come and attack our navy!"

A colleague of mine asked the same question in a different manner, and
obtained an equally wonderful answer.

"What is it the English eat on the 29th of September to commemorate the
defeat of the Spanish Armada?" he asked.

"Roast duck, sir, because it was Drake who beat the Spanish!"



I never tried my hand at cricket but once, and did not get on very

I was entrusted with the bat. It was a heavy responsibility. When I saw
the ball come I hit hard at it, but missed it. The nasty thing struck
me a woful blow on the jaw.

I did not see much in the game, and I withdrew.

Yet I confess that, as I began to understand the rules of cricket, I
also began to conceive a certain amount of admiration for the game--at
a respectful distance.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I always suspected the boys did not entertain any great opinion of my
athletic powers. The following anecdote, related to me by some ladies,
friends of mine, set my mind at rest on the subject.

These ladies, it appears, were traveling one day on the London District
line. In the same compartment happened to be half-a-dozen boys, who
were going to our annual school sports. The boys soon began to discuss
the respective merits of the favorite runners, as well as their
chances, and I am not quite sure that a little betting was not indulged
in; but this the ladies did not tell me, and you must never run the
risk of bringing unfounded charges against boys.

Presently a little fellow suggested that much fun would be added to the
sport by the introduction of a master's race in the programme, and
naturally this led the conversation to the athletic merits of the

Said one of the merry company:

"What do you think of the French master?"

"Not much," said the chorus.

"Well, he is powerfully built," intimated one with a knowing look, who
was, perhaps, bringing some personal recollection to bear on the

"Yes," said another; "but he is too fat; he has no wind. He would be

"What would you take him at?" asked the one with a knowing look.

"Sixty to one," was the reply.

Some discussion took place, and I "closed" at fifty to one.

Thus was my case settled.

                 *       *       *       *       *

As to the matter of athletics, to which English boys are such devotees,
I cannot help thinking that they are overdone, made a hobby of, and,
like most hobbies in England, ridden to excess. No doubt it is a fine
thing for a boy to have plenty of outdoor amusements; it is good for
him to be an adept at running, leaping, climbing, swimming; but what in
the world does he learn at football, the great winter game of the
English schoolboy? Why do the English so neglect pastimes that would
develop dexterity of hand and limb, and devote themselves to a game
which seems to me to teach nothing except respect of brute force?

"Oh! but it cultivates their powers of endurance," says somebody.

That is true, I believe; although, from what I have seen of the two, I
never could discover that an Englishman was more patient under the
toothache than a Frenchman.

Now, to get bruised ribs and dislocated shoulders in practicing flights
out of second and third storey windows I should understand; an
accomplishment of that kind might be useful in case of fire; but to
what end does all the bruising of football tend?

The game of football itself seems to be the end, and "not a means to an
end," as, I believe, Mr. Matthew Arnold has remarked.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Yet, behold John Bull, junior, on the football ground! The hero of a
bad cause, but for all that a hero; a lusty little fellow, fearless,
hardy, strong-knit, iron-muscled, and mule-headed, who, rather than let
go a ball that he holds firmly in his arms, will perform feats of
valor; who, simply to pass this ball between two goals, will grovel in
the dust, reckless of lacerated shoulders, a broken rib or jaw-bone,
and will die on a bed of suffering with a smile upon his lips if he can
only hear, before closing his eyes, that his side has won the game.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Speaking from my experience, I should say that at gymnastic exercises,
and all pastimes requiring a little skill, French boys are more than
the equals of John Bull, junior. They are better at leaping, climbing,
and wrestling. As for swimming, nine out of ten French boys are good
swimmers. They do not want to emulate Captain Webb's feats when they
grow up, because the object or beauty of such feats as his has never
been revealed to them.

But that is the Englishman all through.

Can he swim well? Then he must straightway swim across the English
Channel; he must outswim his fellow-creatures; he must be the champion
of the world, and have the betting in his favor, until he turns his
gift into a hobby, sets off on it, and, to the entertainment of a few
Yankee excursionists, ends by being drowned in the Niagara Falls.

                 *       *       *       *       *

As for the _savate_, the _canne_, fencing, which all bring the
wits into play as well as the muscles, they, even the last-named, are
very little known or practiced in England. In these most young
Frenchmen are well up, and as for gymnastic exercises they are more
practiced in France than in England, although the English boy fondly
imagines he is at the top of the ladder in all matters athletic.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The craze for athletics has inculcated in English boys the admiration
for physical strength. This they like to find in their masters, as well
as firmness of mind.

It is not necessary that masters should use the former. Not by any
means; but there it is, and they might use it.

There is nothing to inspire people with peaceful dispositions like the
sight of a good display of war material.

An ex-colleague of mine became very popular by the following
occurrence, the tale of which spread through the school like wildfire.

This gentleman used to teach in a little class-room that led to the
playground. One day a big boy of seventeen opened the door from the
building, coolly crossed the room, and was about to open the door
opposite to let himself out, when my friend caught hold of him by the
collar, lifted him off the ground, and, to the stupefaction of the
boys, carried him back through the room, as he would have a dog by the
skin of his neck, and quietly dropped him outside the door he had
entered by. Not a word was uttered, not an _Oh!_ not an _Ah!_ The
performance, if I remember rightly, terminated somewhat comically. The
boy had on a paper-collar, which remained as a trophy in the master's

It was, as you see, a case of eviction _vi et armis_, by the force
of arms.



I like meeting old pupils, especially those who, I am vain enough to
think, owe to me a little part of their success in life.

Others have greatly improved since they left school. I used to consider
them hopelessly stupid, and now I see them able to speak on general
topics with a great amount of common sense. Though they were not fit
for school, they are fit for the world. They have good manners and are

Some you cannot recognize with their "chimney-pots"; some will take no
notice of you.

Some will come and shake hands with you, and make a tardy
acknowledgment of the debt they owe you; some will express their regret
that they do not owe you more.

Some will approach you diffidently, and with a grin:

"How do you do, sir? Don't you know me? I am So-and-So."

"To be sure I do."

"Don't you remember I once threw a paper ball in the room, and it fell
on your desk by accident?"

"To be sure. And don't you remember what you got for it?"

"Indeed I do. But that was an accident, you know, sir."

"I dare say it was. And how are you getting on?"

"Pretty well. I am in a bank."

"Adding pounds, shillings, and pence?"

"Yes--rather slow sport."

"Slow, yes, when the pounds, shillings, and pence don't belong to you."

"You are right, sir."

"Well, you might, perhaps, have done better for yourself; you were an
able boy."

"I don't know about that, but I often regret I did not avail myself of
the advantages that were offered to me."

A repentant boy is always a sad sight, and one to be shunned. You
comfort him, wish him success, and shake hands.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The interest you have taken in boys at school is put to a severe test
when you receive a letter like the following:

    "DEAR SIR:

    "I have decided on doing a little teaching while my father is
    trying to obtain a situation for me. I know the interest you have
    always taken in me and my welfare, and I write to ask if you will
    kindly give me a testimonial as to my ability to teach French. I am
    aware that I always was, and am still, a very poor French scholar,
    so that I can ask for a testimonial from you only as a great
    personal favor; but I hope you will not refuse me."

After thanking me for past, present, and future kindnesses, he
subscribes himself "My obedient and grateful pupil."

This boy, having heard me one day say in class that it was easier to be
examiner than to be examined, had probably come to the conclusion that
it was also easier to teach French than to learn it.

A testimonial from me could have but very little value; still, the poor
boy had to add to his experiences that it was easier to ask for one
than to obtain it.

Some old pupils approach you with a patronizing "How de do?"

When asked by a friend who it was they had spoken to, they replied:

"Oh! that's What-d'ye-call-him, the French master--a rather nice
fellow, you know."

This was an excuse for condescending to speak to him.

They were under him for ten years only, and they could hardly be
expected to remember his name.



Like their seniors in Great Britain, English boys have a little
weakness for airing their virtuous sentiments in public, and the school
debating societies offer them ample opportunity of giving them full

I was once present at a debate on "The Use of Tobacco." Forty young
fellows from seventeen to nineteen years of age took part in it. I
never was so edified in my life. The dear boys beat Alphonse Karr in
their diatribes against the use of tobacco.

"Of course," remarked one member, "it is somewhat pretentious of me to
speak of tobacco, as, I am happy to say, I have no experience of it.
But I have read a great deal on the subject, and all our scientific men
are unanimous in condemning the use of this baneful plant."

"The Use of Tobacco" was condemned by a show of hands, _nem. con._

It would be wicked to suppose that any member had a little book of
"Persian Rice" paper, and half an ounce of "Straight Cut" in his
pocket, wouldn't it?

                 *       *       *       *       *

Our school magazine, edited by the boys, is a well-conducted and
interesting record of school events. I can never look at it, printed as
it is on beautiful paper, without going back to my school-days in
France. We had a magazine of our own, too, but we had to write out two
copies of each issue ourselves, and keep them locked in our desks. If
we were caught reading them they were confiscated, and we were
punished. In English public schools the masters subscribe, and not
uncommonly write, for the magazine. The result is that, in England, the
periodical is made up of wholesome literary essays, poetry, school news
and anecdotes, reports of athletic and other meetings, etc., whereas,
in France, it mainly consists of satires against the college and
caricatures of the masters.

                 *       *       *       *       *

In a small private preparatory school where I attended for a short
time, the little boys (fourteen in number) one day resolved to start a
magazine. I was asked to preside at the meeting. Of course a printed
paper was out of the question, and it was decided at the meeting that
each of the boys would write it out in turn. Presently a true-born
little Briton proposed that an annual dinner, in connection with the
paper, should take place. As it was doubtful whether the magazine would
enjoy life very long, an amendment, moved by another business-like
member, was seized by the forelock, to the effect that the annual
dinner should take place at once, and was passed unanimously. The
discussion of the _menu_ was then entered into, strong preference
being manifested for tarts and cream and doughnuts. I most solemnly
signed the minute of the previous meeting, and retired with the feeling
that I had performed the work of a good British citizen.



I should like to echo the sentiments of many schoolboys on the subject
of the place chosen by their parents for their Midsummer holidays.

As a rule, parents think themselves in duty-bound to take their boys to
the seaside for these holidays.

In the case of people occupying "desirable" residences in London, this
is sensible enough.

But boys who live in the country generally regret to hear that they
will not be allowed to spend most of the holiday-time at home, in the
midst of all their own belongings. They would prefer building houses
for their rabbits, enjoying the favorite walks of their childhood;
rowing on the neighboring river with their friends, even if they have
to put up, in the evening, with the inconvenience of having to hear
their sisters play the piano--a kind of inconvenience to which we are
all subject nowadays.

But no; they are packed off to lodgings at the seaside; and they think
that the sight of the sea and a few fishing-boats do not make up for
rickety chairs, springless sofas, empty rooms, cheerless walls, beds
stuffed with pebbles from the beach, and the loss of all home comforts
and associations.

                 *       *       *       *       *

If, as is the case in France, these boys were allowed to mix with those
they meet on the beach, and get up parties with them, life might be
made supportable; but, obliged as they are to keep to themselves, or to
the company of their brothers and sisters (some have none), they think
it was not necessary to come so far in search of boredom.

                 *       *       *       *       *

French and English beaches illustrate best to my mind the way in which
the two nations take their pleasures.

The French seem to set out for their holiday with a thorough
determination to enjoy themselves. When they go to the seaside they go
there on pleasure bound.

On French beaches every body makes acquaintance; the children play
together under the eyes of happy papas and mammas, the grown-up ones go
out in large parties bathing, boating, and fishing; and in the evening
all meet at the Casino, where there are ball-rooms, concert-rooms,
reading and smoking rooms, etc. No doubt many of the people you mix
with there are not such as you would wish to invite to your house on a
visit, but, the season over, these friends of a day are forgotten, and
there remains the benefit to health and spirits from a thorough merry

In the English seaside resort, every bather looks askance at his

"Who is he at home?" or "What was his grandfather?" are questions that
he must get satisfactorily answered before he associates with him; and
rather than run the risk of frequenting the company of persons of
inferior blood he is often bored to death with the monotony of the
life, and is glad when it is time to take the children back to school
or his own occupations call him away from the sea.

Dear British parents, if you have a garden and fields near your house,
and you would like to make your boys happy, call them home for the

                 *       *       *       *       *

Apart from the aristocracy, it has always been a subject of wonder to
me that caste should be so strong among the middle classes, in a
country like England, who owes her greatness to her commercial and
adventurous spirit.

In France, what is required of a _gentleman_ is high education and
refined manners. A peasant's son possessing these is received in any

In England, boys begin swaggering about their social position as soon
as they leave the nursery, and if you would have some fun, you should
follow groups of public school-boys in the playground or on their way

Of course, in public schools, the occupation of parents cannot be an
objection to their sons' admission, and in your class-room you may have
dukes' and saloon-keepers' sons sitting on the same form. These are
treated on an equal footing; although I believe the head-master of a
working public school would prefer the hangman's son, if a clever lad,
to the son of a duke, if he were a fool.

Yes, those groups will afford you a great deal of amusement.

Here are the sons of professional men, of officers, clergymen,
barristers. See them pointing out other boys passing: "Sons of
merchants, don't you know!"

These are not without their revenge, as they look at a group close by:
"Sons of clerks, you know!"

But you should see the contemptuous glance of the latter as they pass
the sons of shopkeepers: "Tradespeople's sons, I believe!"

                 *       *       *       *       *

Here is a little sample conversation I caught as I passed two boys
watching a game of cricket in the playground.

"Clever chap, So-and-So!" said one.

"And a nice fellow too, isn't he?" said the other.

"By-the-bye, did you know his father was a chemist?"

"A chemist! No!" exclaimed the dear boy in a subdued tone, as if the
news had taken his breath away. "A chemist! you don't mean to say so.
What mistakes we are liable to make, to be sure! I always thought he
was a gentleman."



When you ask an Englishman whether he can speak French, he generally

"I can read it, you know."

"Aloud!" you inquire, with a significant smile.

"Well," he says, "I have never had much practice in reading French
aloud. I mean to say that I can understand what I read. Of course, now
and then I come across a word that I am not quite sure about, but I can
get on, you know."

"I suppose you manage to make yourself understood in France."

"Oh! very little French is required for that; I always go to the
English hotels."

He always does so on the Continent, because these hotels are the only
ones that can provide him with English comfort.

When he starts for Paris he gets on capitally till he reaches Calais.
There he assumes his insular stiffness, which we Continental people
take for arrogance, but is, in reality, only dignified timidity.

Arrived at the Gare du Nord, he takes a cab and goes to one of the
hotels in the Rue Saint Honoré or the Rue de Rivoli.

The first time he reached one of these establishments, he tripped on
getting out of his cab, and fell on the pavement. The porter helped him
up and asked him:

"_Avez-vous du mal, monsieur?_"

He thought the porter took him for a Frenchman, and he prepared to
answer in French. Believing he was asked if "he had two trunks," he

"No, only a portmanteau."

After this first success, he thought he would air his French.

"_Garçon!_" he calls; "_j'ai faim._"

He pronounces this quite perfectly, so perfectly that the waiter,
understanding that he is married, informs him that he can have
apartments ready for Madame.

"He is obstinate and will have another shot:

"_Je suis fameux, garçon!_"

The waiter bows respectfully.

This won't do, dear fellow; try again.

"_Je suis femme!_" he yells.

This staggers the waiter.

It is time to inquire of him if he speaks English.

"Can you speak English?"

"Oh yes, sir."

Our traveler is all right again, but he thinks that those confounded
French people have a queer manner of pronouncing their own language.

                 *       *       *       *       *

With the exception of our nasal sounds, which I know are
stumbling-blocks to Englishmen--who will always insist on calling our
great music composer and pianist Saint-Saëns, "Sang Songs"--I never
could understand that the difficulty of our pronunciation was
insuperable. Our vowels are bold, well-marked, always sounded the same,
and, except _u_, like the English vowels, or so nearly like them that
they can not prevent an Englishman from understanding French and
speaking it.

The greatest mistake he makes is in not bearing in mind that the accent
should always be laid on the last syllable, or on the last but one if
the word ends in _e_ mute. How much easier this is to remember than the
place of the English accented syllable, which varies constantly! In
_admirable_, you have it on the first; in _admire_, on the second; in
_admiration_, on the third. On the contrary, no difficulty about the
pronunciation of the three French words, _admirable_, _admirer_, and
_admiration_; the tonic accent falls on the last sound syllable in
every case.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The less educated a man is the more stress he lays on the accented
syllables; and you find the lower classes of a country lay such
emphasis on these syllables that they almost pronounce nothing else.
Being unable to make myself understood when pronouncing whole English
words, I have often tried to use only the accented syllables when
speaking to the lower class people of England; in every attempt I have
been successful.

I obtained a basket of strawberries in Covent Garden Market by asking
for a "_bask of strawbs_."

A lower class Yankee will understand few Frenchmen who speak to him of
_America_; but he will understand them if they speak to him of _Merk_.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The greatest defect in an Englishman's pronunciation of French is
generally in the wrong connection of words between which there is no

The final consonant of a word, followed by another beginning with a
vowel or _h_ mute, should be pronounced as if it belonged to the latter
word. An Englishman sounds _ses amis_ as if it was _seize amis_. He
should say: "se samis."

"Mon ami est à Paris" = "Mo nami è ta Paris."

Perhaps the following remark on the separation of syllables may fix the

The English say: _mag-nan-im-ity_.

The French say: ma-gna-ni-mi-té.

                 *       *       *       *       *

You see, dear reader, how difficult it is to refrain from talking
"shop," when one has been a school-master.



It seems strange that in a democratic country, overburdened with
school-rates, free education should be offered in the public schools to
the children of the well-to-do and even wealthy people. To give
opportunities to those who have clever children and cannot afford to
pay for their education, such was the spirit which dictated the
foundation of scholarships and exhibitions in the public schools, which
schools are under the supervision of the Charity Commissioners.

The Charity Commissioners! The organizers of that well-ordered British
charity which begins at home!

But all this again does not concern me. If it did, I should say to
gentlemen enjoying revenues of £700, £800, and £1,000 a year: "My dear
sirs, you can afford to pay school fees for your children; please to
leave these scholarships to your less fortunate countrymen."

My diary contains a few recollections about foundation scholars and
their parents which suggested the foregoing remarks to me. Pardon me
for having given them a place here.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I have always noticed that the parents of foundation scholars are much
more troublesome and exacting than those who pay their twenty or thirty
pounds a year to the school for their sons' tuition fees.

The school is their property, the masters their servants, and when
complaints are lodged with the authorities you may be sure they come
from them.

They imagine, for instance, that the school ought to provide the boys
with books, and think it very hard that they should be called upon to
pay for them. When their sons are ordered to get a new book, they
generally take a fortnight to obtain it.

"Where is your book?" you say to a scholar you see looking at his

"Please, sir, it has not come yet; I have ordered it at the stores."

Two weeks later the book makes its appearance.

When the boys raise subscriptions for their sports, which ought to be
supported especially by those who owe a debt of gratitude to the
school, or for a testimonial got up in favor of a retiring master, or
in memory of a celebrated old pupil, the few recalcitrants are
invariably to be found among the free scholars.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Our boys one day decided on founding a little literary society. As a
few periodicals were to be bought and other little expenses incurred,
their committee passed a resolution that an annual subscription of five
shillings should be demanded of the members.

A father immediately wrote to the young president of the new society,
asking if it was compulsory for his boy to join the society, as he did
not see the force of paying five shillings for what, he thought, his
boy was entitled to enjoy for nothing. The _pater_ received his due by
return of post. The president of the society answered:

    "DEAR SIR:

    "Your son is not at all compelled to join our society. The
    subscription of five shillings was decided upon simply to keep our
    meetings select."

                 *       *       *       *       *

The Englishman has a supreme contempt for what is cheap. It is in his
nature. He cannot understand that there is any value in what he has not
to pay for.

I cannot forget the time when a young lunatic hanged himself at
Christ's Hospital, and the plethora of letters that were sent to the
papers by parents who seemed to be anxious to seize the opportunity of
trying to bring discredit on that splendidly conducted school, one of
the most interesting philanthropic institutions in England.

A father, sheltering himself behind a pseudonym, went the length of
writing to the _Daily News_ to say that he had had three sons educated
at Christ's Hospital, but that he thanked God he had not any more to
send there.

The Governors of Christ's Hospital spend £60 a year upon each blue-coat
boy. The three sons of this "indignant" father therefore cost the
Hospital something like £2,000.

What respect this man would have felt for the school if the money had
been drawn out of his own pocket in the shape of capitation fees!

                 *       *       *       *       *

The following conversation once took place between a lady and the head
master of a great public school:

"I have a little boy eleven years old," said the lady, "whom my husband
is anxious to have educated here. He is a very clever little fellow. We
have heard that, on leaving the school to go to one of the two great
universities, some boys received exhibitions varying in value from £80
to £100 a year for four years. Do you think, sir, that our son would
get one, for the probability of his obtaining such an exhibition would
be a great inducement to us to trust the boy to your care?"

"Well," replied the head-master, with great command over his
countenance, "I am afraid I cannot commit myself to any such promise."

The lady retired. Her promising son was probably sent to a more
accommodating school.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The same head-master once received the visit of a man who asked him
point-blank if the scholarship examinations were conducted honestly,
or, in other words, if the scholarships were given according to merit.

From the answer he received he deemed it expedient to beat a speedy

                 *       *       *       *       *

When a school has to offer, say, six scholarships to the public, and
there are a hundred candidates applying for them, you may easily
imagine that it is difficult to persuade the parents of the ninety-four
boys who fail that the scholarships are given according to merit.

In distributing six scholarships among a hundred candidates you make
six ungrateful fathers and ninety-four discontented ones.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Whilst our school was being rebuilt in another part of the metropolis,
a loving mother called on the head-master in the City to intimate her
intention of placing her little boy in the school as soon as the new
building would be finished, and also to ask if she would be allowed to
see the room in which her dear child would be taught.

It was a great pity the building was not advanced enough at the time to
permit of her securing a corner for "her darling pet."

                 *       *       *       *       *

The mother to be most dreaded is the one whose husband has left her for
India, or some other warm climate. She is restless, inquisitive, and
never satisfied. Each remark you make to her son brings her on the
school premises for inquiries. She writes letter upon letter, pays
visit upon visit.

Once a week her son brings you a little note in the following style:

"Mrs. X. presents her compliments to Mr. So-and-so, and begs that her
son may be excused for not having prepared his lesson, as he had a bad
headache last night."

A husband may be a nuisance in a house, but when I was a school-master
I always thought he was a great improvement to it.

                 *       *       *       *       *

    (_In the Examination Room._)

Sometimes parents send up their sons for scholarship examinations with
very little luggage.

I remember a dear little boy, between ten and eleven, who was a
candidate for one of our vacant scholarships.

On reaching the seat that was assigned to him, he was provided with the
Latin paper by the school secretary, and presented with half a ream of
beautiful writing paper for his answers.

We thought he did not appear very busy, and presently, as I came up to
him, I spoke a few kind words and gave him a little pat on the back.

"Well, how are you getting on?" I said.

"Please, sir, I can't do this paper. I don't know what it is about," he
said, looking at me as if for help.

"Don't you know any Latin?" I inquired.

"Yes, sir; I know my first two declensions."

"Is that all the Latin you know?"

"Yes, sir."

"I suppose you won't take up Greek, will you?"

"I expect I had better not, sir, as I have never learned any," he
replied, with his eyes half out of their sockets. "Is it difficult,
sir?" he suggested, thinking I was not looking satisfied with his

"Not very," I replied; "but if I were you I would not have my first try
at it to-day."

"Thank you, sir," said my little friend.

"Do you know any French?" I then asked.

"Please, sir, mamma taught me a few sentences."

"Well, let me hear."

"Please, sir, I know _Quelle heure est-il?_ and _Comment vous

"Any grammar?"

"No, sir."

"Don't you know the French for _I shall have_?"

"No, sir, I don't think I do."

"Do you know any mathematics?"

"Do you mean arithmetic, sir?"

"Yes, I do."

"Please, sir, I can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and short

"I suppose you will try the English subjects. Do you know any English?"

"Yes, sir, I can speak English," he said, looking at me with surprise.

"Of course you can," I replied; "but you know some history, I suppose.
Have you ever read any English history?"

"Yes, sir, I have read 'Robinson Crusoe.'"

"Well, well, my poor boy, I am afraid you have not much chance of
getting a scholarship."

"Haven't I?" said the dear child, and he burst into tears. Then he
handed me a letter, which was addressed to the head-master.

It was a supplication from his mother. Her little boy was very clever,
she said, and she hoped he would not be judged by what he actually
knew, but by what she was sure he would be able to learn if admitted
into the school.

Poor child! we comforted him as well as we could, and sent him back to
his mamma. He was very miserable.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Ladies are sometimes great at testimonials, and they must think it very
ungentlemanly of men not to favor their candidates.

When our head science mastership was vacant, over a hundred
applications were lodged with the head-master for his consideration. I
remember that among the candidates there was one who was only provided
with a single testimonial, and this from a lady (an old lady, I
imagine). The testimonial was to the effect that "she had known Mr. P.
for many years. He was a good and steady young man, and she knew he was
very fond of science."

This testimonial failed to secure the appointment for its owner.



The French in England are of two sorts, those who, by their intelligence,
industry, and perseverance, have succeeded in building up an honorable
position for themselves, and those who, by the lack of these qualities,
vegetate there as they would be pretty sure to do anywhere.

The former do not all love the land of their adoption, but they all
respect it. The latter, unwilling to lay their poverty at their own
door, throw the blame upon England for not having understood them, and
they have not a good word to say for her. It never occurred to them
that it was theirs to study and understand England, and that England is
not to be blamed for not having studied them and changed her ways to
accommodate them.

They never part with a shilling without remarking that for a penny they
would be able to obtain the same value in France. You often wonder how
it is they stick to this country instead of honoring their own with
their presence.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I have always been an admirer of that worthy Frenchman who carries his
patriotism to the extent of buying all his clothing in France. He
declares it impossible to wear English garments, and almost impossible
to wear out French ones. Besides, he does not see why he should not
give his country the benefit of some of the guineas he has picked up
over here. Like every child of France, he has the love of good linen,
and according to him the article is only to be found in Paris.

So he goes about in his narrow-brimmed hat, and turned-down collar
fastened low in the neck, and finished off with a tiny black tie, a
large expanse of shirt-front, and boots with high heels and pointed
toes. As he goes along the street, he hears people whisper: "There's a
Frenchman!" But, far from objecting to that, he rather likes it, and he
is right.

He speaks bad English, and assures you that you require very few words
to make yourself understood of the people. He does not go so far as
Figaro, but his English vocabulary is of the most limited.

Without making any noise about it, he sends his guinea to all the
French Benevolent Societies in England, and wherever the tricolor
floats he is of the party.

He likes the English, and recognizes their solid qualities; but as he
possesses many of his own, he keeps to his native stock.

                 *       *       *       *       *

How this good Frenchman does shine by the side of another type, a type
which, I am happy to say, is rare--the one who drops his country.

The latter, when he speaks of England, says: "_We_ do this, _we_ do
that, in England," not "The English do this, the English do that." He
would like to say, "We English," but he hardly dares go that length.

He dresses _à l'anglaise_ with a vengeance, makes it a point to
frequent only English houses, and spends a good deal of his time in
running down his compatriots.

He does not belong to any of the French societies or clubs in England.
These establishments, however, do not miss him much more than his own

I once knew one of this category. His name ended with an _e_ mute
preceded by a double consonant. The _e_ mute was a real sore to him,
the grief of his life. Without it he might have passed for English. It
was too provoking to be thus balked, and, as he signed his name, he
would dissimulate the poor offending little vowel, so that his name
should appear to end at the double consonant.

He was not a genius.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Acting under the theory of Figaro, "_Qu'il n'est pas nécessaire de
tenir les choses pour en raisonner_," I have heard an Englishman,
engaged in teaching French, maintain that it was not necessary to be
able to speak the French language to teach it.

On the other hand, I once heard an eminent Frenchman hold that the less
English a French master knew the more fit he was to teach French.

Both gentlemen begged their audience to understand that they made their
statements on their own sole responsibility.

                 *       *       *       *       *

I never met a French master who had made his fortune, nor have you, I

I once met in England a French master who had not written a French

I was one day introduced to a Frenchman who keeps a successful school
in the Midland counties. He makes it a rule to sternly refuse to let
his boys go home in the neighboring town before one o'clock on Sundays.
When parents ask him as a special favor to allow their sons to come to
their house on Saturday night or early on Sunday morning, he answers:
"I am sorry I cannot comply with your request. It has come to my
knowledge that there are parents who do not insist on their children
going to church, and I cannot allow any of my pupils to go home before
they have attended divine service."

John Bull made to go to church by a Frenchman! The idea was novel, and
I thought extremely funny.

                 *       *       *       *       *

To teach "the art of speaking and writing the French language
correctly" is a noble but thankless career in England.

In France, the Government grants a pension to, and even confers the
Legion of Honor upon, an English master[13] after he has taught his
language in a _lycée_ for a certain number of years.

      [13] Among the nominations in the Legion of Honor, published on
      the 14th of July, 1884, I noticed the name of the English master
      (an Englishman) in the _lycée_ of Bordeaux.

The Frenchman who has taught French in England all his lifetime is
allowed, when he is done for, to apply at the French Benevolent Society
for a free passage to France, where he may go and die quietly out of

                 *       *       *       *       *

If you look at the advertisements published daily in the "educational"
columns of the papers, you may see that compatriots of mine give
private lessons in French at a shilling an hour, and teach the whole
language in 24 or 26 lessons. Why not 25? I always thought there must
be something cabalistic about the number 26. These gentlemen have to
wear black coats and chimney-pots. How can they do it if their wives do
not take in mangling?


                 *       *       *       *       *

In a southern suburb of London, I remember seeing a little house
covered, like a booth at a fair, with boards and announcements that
spoke to the passer-by of all the wonders to be found within.

On the front-door there was a plate with the inscription:

    "Mons. D., of the University of France."

Now Englishmen who address Frenchmen as "Mons."[14] should be forgiven.
They unsuccessfully aim at doing a correct thing. But a Frenchman
dubbing himself "Mons." publishes a certificate of his ignorance.

      [14] "_Mons._, a familiar and contemptuous abbreviation of
      Monsieur."--LITTRÉ, "Dictionnaire de la Langue Française."

The house was a double-fronted one.

On the right window there was the inscription:

    "French Classes for Ladies."

On the left one:

    "French Classes for Gentlemen."

The sexes were separated as at the Turkish Baths.

On a huge board, placed over the front door, I read the following:

    "_French Classes for Ladies and Gentlemen.
    Greek, Latin, and Mathematical Classes.
    Art and Science Department.
    Music, Singing, and Dancing taught.
    Private Lessons given, Families waited upon.
    Schools attended.
    For Terms and Curriculum, apply within._"

What a saving of trouble and expense it would have been to this living
encyclopædia if he had only mentioned what he did not teach!

Since I have called your attention to the expression _Mons._, and
reminded you of its proper meaning, never send a letter to a Frenchman
with the envelope addressed as _Mons._

I know, dear American reader, that _you_ never do. But you have
friends. Well, tell them to write _Monsieur_ in full; or, as cobblers
in their back parlors are now addressed as _Esquires_, rather confer
the same honor upon a Frenchman. He will take it as a compliment.

Democracy is making progress in England. Where is the time when only
land-owners, barristers, graduates of the Universities, were addressed
as Esquires?

All ladies and gentlemen in England now.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Not all, though.

A young lady friend, who visits the poor in her district, called one
day at a humble dwelling.

She knocked at the door, and on a woman opening it, asked to see Mrs.

"Oh! very well," said the woman, and, leaving the young lady in the
street, she went inside, and called out at the top of her voice:

"Ada, tell the _lady_ on the second floor that a _young person_ from
the district wants to see her."

_Apropos_ of "Esquire" I should like to take the opportunity of paying
a well-deserved compliment to the Postal Authorities in England.

Some eight years ago, I lived in the Herbert Road, Shooter's Hill, near

After three weeks of wonderful peregrinations, a letter, addressed in
the following manner, duly reached me from France:

    Angleterre Esquire


                Erbet Villa

                      près Londres.

My dear compatriot had heard that "Esquire" had to be put somewhere, or
else the letter would not reach me.

                 *       *       *       *       *

This is not the only letter addressed to me calculated to puzzle the

A letter was once brought to me with the following high-flown

    "Al gentilissimo cavaliere professore

But what is even this, compared to the one I received from a worthy
Bulgarian, and which was addressed to

          Métropolitain de Saint Paul."

I was at the time teaching under the shadow of London's great



I have always felt a great deal of sympathy, and even respect, for that
good, honest, straight-forward young British boy who does not easily
understand that in French "a musical friend" is not necessarily _un ami
à musique_, nor "to sit on the committee," _s'asseoir sur le comité_,
unless the context indicates that it is the painful operation which is
meant. Poor boy! For him a foreign language is only his own, with
another vocabulary; and so, when he does a piece of translation, he
carefully replaces on his paper each word of his English text by one of
the equivalents that he finds for it in his dictionary, rarely failing
to choose the wrong one, as I have already said. Now comes _que_. Shall
he put the subjunctive or the indicative? He has learnt his grammar:
he could, if occasion required, recite the rules that apply to the
employment of the terrible subjunctive mood. He has even, once or twice
in his life, written an exercise on the subject, and as it was headed
"Exercise on the Subjunctive Mood," he went through it with calm
confidence, putting all the verbs in the subjunctive, including those
that it would have been advisable to put in the indicative. This done,
he was not supposed to commit any more mistakes on this important point
of grammar. He might as well be expected to be an experienced swimmer
after once reading Captain Webb's "Art of Swimming," and going through
the various evolutions indicated in the pamphlet, _à sec_ on the floor
of his papa's parlor.

I admit that the French teacher of a public school ought to be a good
philologist to make his lessons attractive to the students of the upper
forms, and insure their success under examination; I admit that he
should know English thoroughly, to be able to explain to them the
delicacies of the French language, and maintain good discipline in his
classes; I admit that he should be able to teach grammar, philology,
history, literature; but I maintain that he ought never to lose sight
of the most important object of the study of a living language,--the
putting of it into practice; he should, above all things, and by all
means, aim at making his pupils speak French. It is not enough that he
should speak to them in French, even in the upper forms, where he would
be perfectly understood: understanding a language and speaking it are
two very different things. Neither will he attain his end by means of
dull manuals of imaginary conversations with the butcher, the baker,
and the candlestick-maker; these will, at most, be useful in helping a
foreigner to ask for what he wants at a _table d'hôte_. You will not
get grown-up, intelligent, and well-educated boys to come out of their
shells, unless you make it worth their while. Now, Englishmen, like
Americans, love argument, very often for argument's sake, and every
school-boy, in England as in America, is a member of some society or
committee, and at its meetings tries his wings, discusses, harangues,
and prepares himself for that great parliamentary life, which is the
strength of the nation.

Then, I ask, why not turn this love of discussion to account?

Start a French debating society in every school, and you will teach
your generation to speak French. Such a proposition may sound bold, but
it has been tried in several public schools, and has proved a complete

What cannot a teacher do that has succeeded in winning the esteem and
affection of his pupils? First, make them respect you, then gain their
hearts, and you will lead the young by a thread.

Take twenty or thirty boys, old enough to appreciate the interest you
feel in them, and say to them, "My young friends, let us arrange to
meet once a week, and see if we cannot speak French together. We will
chat about any thing you like: politics even. Do not be afraid to open
your lips, it is only _la première phrase qui coûte_. I am neither
a Pecksniff nor a pedant, a dotard nor a wet blanket; in your company,
I feel as young as the youngest among you. Do not imagine that I shall
bring you up for the slightest error of pronunciation you make. I
remember the time when I murdered your language, and I should be sorry
to cast the first stone at you. At first I shall only correct your
glaring mistakes; by degrees, you will make fewer and fewer, although,
alas! you will very likely always make some. What does it matter? I
guarantee that in a few months you will be able to understand all that
is said to you in French, and express intelligibly in the same language
any idea that may pass through your brain."

These little French parliaments work admirably; the earliest were
started in two or three English schools four or five years ago. Each
has its president--the head French teacher of the school, its honorary
and assistant secretaries, and, if you please, its treasurer, who
supplies the members with two or three good French papers, and, when
the finances of the society permit, provides the means of giving a
_soirée littéraire_. I have seen the minute-book of one of these
interesting associations. Since its formation, this particular debating
society has altered the whole map of Europe, greatly to the advantage
of the United Kingdom. The young debaters have upset any number of
governments, at home and abroad, done away with women's rights, and
declared, by a crushing majority, that ladies who can make good
puddings are far more useful members of society than those who can make
good speeches. Young British boys have very strong sentiments against
women's rights. In literature, the respective merits of the Classicists
and the Romanticists have been discussed, and the "three unities"
declared absurd and tyrannical by these young champions of freedom.

The speakers are not allowed to read their speeches, but may use notes
for reference, and I notice that speakers, who at first only ventured
short remarks, soon grew bold enough to hold forth for ten minutes at a
time. In many instances, the president has had to adjourn a debate to
the next meeting, on account of the number of orators wishing to take
part in it. These minutes, written in very good French indeed, do great
credit to the young secretary who enters them. I have myself been
present at meetings of these societies, and I assure you that if you
could see these young fellows rise from their seats, and, bowing
respectfully to the president, say to him: "_Monsieur le Président,
je demande la parole_," you would agree with me that, so far as good
order, perfect courtesy, and unlimited respect for opposite views are
concerned, these small gatherings would compare favorably with the
meetings of honorables and even right-honorables that are held at the
Capitol, the Westminster Palace, and the _Palais Bourbon_.

It is clear to my mind that, by such means, English boys can be made to
speak French in the most interesting manner, and the one best suited to
their taste. I firmly believe that if the great schools, public or
private, were to start similar societies, that if all the young men
knowing a little French were to form in their districts, such
associations under the leadership of able and cheerful Frenchmen,
England, or America for that matter, would in a few years, have a
generation of French-speaking men.

I have always been at a loss to understand how boys who have been
studying a language for nine or ten years should leave school perfectly
unable to converse intelligibly in that language for five minutes
together. It seems nothing short of scandalous.

Yet the reason is not far to be found. In England, at any rate, modern
languages are taught like dead languages: they are taught through the
eyes, whereas they should be taught through the ears and mouth.

The French debating society seems to me the best mode of solving the
difficulty. I have often given this piece of advice to John Bull, and I
myself founded a successful French debating society in England. Let
Jonathan forgive my presumption if I avail myself of his kind and
generous hospitality to give him the same advice.



I have often been asked the question, "Are English boys better or worse
than French ones?"

Well, I believe the _genus_ boy to be pretty much the same all the
world over. Their characteristics do not show in the same way, because
educational systems are different.

Both English and French boys are particularly keen in finding out the
peculiarities of a master, and taking his measure.

They are both inclined to bestow their affection and respect on the man
who is possessed of moral and intellectual power; it is in their nature
to love and respect what is powerful, lofty, and good.

Boys are what masters make them.

Both English and French boys are lazy if you give them a chance; both
are industrious if you give them inducements to work. They will not
come out of their shells unless you make it worth their while.

Both are as fond of holidays as any school-master alive.

                 *       *       *       *       *

French boys are more united among themselves, because their life would
be intolerable if close friendship did not spring up between them, and
help them to endure a secluded time of hardship and privations.

English boys are prouder, because they are freer. Their pride is born
of liberty itself.

The former work more, the latter play more.

But comparisons are odious, especially when made between characters
studied under such different circumstances.

                 *       *       *       *       *

What I can affirm is that a Frenchman need not fear that English boys
(such as I have known at any rate) will take advantage of his
shortcomings as regards his pronunciation of the English language to
make his life uncomfortable. I have always found English boys
charitable and generous.

A Frenchman will experience no difficulty in getting on with English
schoolboys if his character wins their respect, and his kindness their
affection; if he sympathizes with them in their difficulties; if he
deals with them firmly, but always in a spirit of fair play, truth, and
justice; if he is

    "To their faults a little blind,
    And to their virtues very kind."



"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a joke."--(MARK TWAIN.)


  7. _Appartement de garçon_, "bachelor's quarters," not "waiter's

 12. _Fors l'honneur_, "except honor" (a phrase used by Francis I.
of France, when he announced his defeat at Pavia to his mother).

 13. _Gare du Nord_, "Great Northern Railway Terminus," in Paris
(celebrated for its Cloak Room, where, on his arrival from England,
John Bull deposits his baggage of superfluous virtue).

 16. _Très bien, Monsieur_, "Very well, sir." (I owe to the reader
many apologies for translating such an _idiomatic_ phrase as

 19. _Qui frise ses cheveux et la cinquantaine_, literally, "Who
curls her hair and fifty summers." (The word _friser_ means both
"to curl" and "to border on." I hope the reader will see the joke.)

 21. _Recherché_, "refined."

 22. _Planche_, "a plank."

 33. _Allons me voila sauvé_, "Now I am saved."

 41. _Migraine_, "Sick headache," an indisposition to which French
ladies are subject, when they are reading a novel and do not wish to be
disturbed by callers.

 48. _Elle se retira...._ "She retired to her room and prepared for
bed. But who could sleep? Sleep!"

 48. _Celui qui écrit_, literally "He who writes."

 49. _Poitrine_, "chest" (part of the body). _Caleçons_

 49. _Il feutra, il gaucha_, formed from the nouns _feutre_ ("felt,"
 material) and _gauche_ ("left,"contrary of "right").

 51. "Look at Pierrot hanging
     Because he did not restore the book;
     If the book he had restored
     Pierrot wouldn't have been hanged."


     1. Europe is a part of the world.
     2. Asia is a part of the world.
     3. Africa is a part of the world.
     4. America is a part of the world.
     5. My father is in France.
     6. My cousin is in Germany.
     7. Your brother is in Dresden.
     8. Where is thy sister? She is in Paris.

 54. _Egal_, "Equal."

 55. _Savoir_, "to know." The future is _je saurai_.

 57. _Vouloir_, "to want." The future is _je voudrai_.

 63. _Je serai_, "I shall be."
     _Je serais_, "I should be."

 73. The feminine words respectively mean "trumpet," "medicine," "navy,"
"sculpture," whereas the masculine names respectively mean "trumpeter,"
"doctor," "sailor," "sculptor." This is an old examination question, a
time-honored chestnut of the University of London.

 73. _Restait cette redoutable infanterie...._ "There remained the
redoubtable infantry of the Spanish army, whose big close battalions,
like so many towers, but towers that could repair their own gaps, stood
unshaken in the awful din of battle and fired from all parts" (with my
apologies to the shade of Bossuet).

 74. _La fille de feu...._ "The daughter of my good and esteemed
deceased cousin is always welcome."

 74. _Mon frère...._ "My brother is wrong and my sister is right."

 74. _Elle partit...._ "She left the following morning."

 75. _Diable!..._ "Good heavens! the old man is capricious!"

 76. _Je laisse Renaud...._ "I leave Renaud in the gardens of Armida."
 (The worthy boy took _Renaud_ for _Renard_, a fox--that's near

 76. _Chaque âge a ses plaisirs._ "Each age has its pleasures."

 77. _Les exploits d'Hercule...._ "The exploits of Hercules are mere
 play compared to."

 77. _Monsieur, ne vous retournez pas._ "Sir, do not look round."

 78. _Il raccommodait...._ "He mended old shoes."

 78. _Baissant les yeux_, "Casting down her eyes."

 84. _Dimanche_, "Sunday."

 84. _Manche_, near enough to _manger_ (to eat) for Johnny.

 84. _Cordon bleu_, skilful cook. (Teetotalers in England wear blue
ribbons, hence the boy's confusion.)

 89. _Baccalauréat-ès-sciences_, degree of B.Sc.

 92. _Avec de belles dents...._ "With fine teeth never was a woman

 93. _Arriver, naître, venir, sortir, partir_, "to arrive," "to be
born," "to come," "to go out," "to set out."

120. _Savate_, boxing and kicking; _canne_, cane (fencing expression).

135. _Avez-vous du mal?_ "Are you hurt?" The Englishman understands
_Avez-vous deux malles?_ "Have you two trunks?"

135. _Garçon, j'ai faim_, "Waiter, I'm hungry."

138. _Ses amis_, "his friends." _Seize amis_, "sixteen friends."

146. _Quelle heure est-il?_ "What o'clock is it?" _Comment vous
portez-vous?_ "How do you do?"

152. _Qu'il n'est pas nécessaire...._ "That it is not necessary to
know any thing of a subject to speak on it."

153. _Lycee_, "French public school."

159. _Un ami à musique_ would mean a friend who could give off a tune
by being pressed _upon_.

163. _Monsieur le Président, je demande la parole_, "Mr. President, I
ask for the floor."


MARK TWAIN SAYS: "It is a darling literary curiosity."


Genuine answers to Examination Questions in our Public Schools.
Collected by one who has had many years' experience.

For glaring absurdities, for humorous errors, for the great
possibilities of the English language, see this book.

    Cloth, Gilt Top, Uncut Edges,       Price, $1.00

    Boards, Flexible, (new style),      Price,   .50


"Nothing could be more amusing than the unconscious humor of 'English
as She is Taught' yet where is the thoughtful reader whose laughter is
not followed by something like dismay? Here are examination papers
taken from many schools, evolved from many brains; yet are they so like
character that all might be the work of one puzzled school-boy
struggling with matters too deep for him."

"A side-splitting compilation."--_Pall Mall Gazette_, London.

"More to laugh over than any book of its size ever published."--_Boston




Of New and Original Novels.

By Popular American and Foreign Authors. In Large 12mo volumes of 192
pages each. Elegantly printed on good paper and bound in paper cover.


                 *       *       *       *       *






AS IT WAS WRITTEN.--A Jewish Musician's Story. By SIDNEY LUSKA.







WITNESS MY HAND. By the author of "Lady Gwendolen's Tryst."










102 and 104 Fourth Avenue, New York.

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