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Title: A Dominie's Log
Author: Neill, Alexander Sutherland
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A DOMINIE'S LOG



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT.


"A Dominie's Log" was directly due to the Scottish code of Education, by
which it is forbidden to enter general reflections or opinions in the
official log-book.

Requiring a safety-valve, a young Dominie decides to keep a private
log-book. In it he jots down the troubles and comedies of the day's
work. Sometimes he startles even his own bairns by his
unconventionality.

There is a lot in Education that he does not understand. The one thing,
however, that he does comprehend is the Child Mind, and he possesses the
saving quality of humour.


_BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

     A DOMINIE ABROAD         7s. 6d. net.
     A DOMINIE DISMISSED      2s. 6d. net.
     A DOMINIE IN DOUBT       2s. 6d. net.
     THE BOOMING OF BUNKIE    2s. 6d. net.
     CARROTY BROON            2s. 6d. net.



A DOMINIE'S LOG

BY
A. S. NEILL

HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED
YORK STREET ST. JAMES'S S.W.1.


[Illustration: A HERBERT JENKINS' BOOK]

_Printed in Great Britain at the Athenæum Printing Works, Redhill._


     AS A BOY I ATTENDED A VILLAGE SCHOOL WHERE THE BAIRNS CHATTERED
     AND WERE HAPPY. I TRACE MY LOVE OF FREEDOM TO MY FREE LIFE THERE,
     AND I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO MY FORMER DOMINIE, MY FATHER.



PREFACE.


The first four installments of this Log were published in the
_Educational News_, under the acting editorship of Mr. Alexander
Sivewright, who was very anxious to publish the Log in full, but
apparently public opinion on the subject of the indiscriminate kissing
of girls forced him to hold up the remainder.

Then teachers began to write me letters. Some of them were very
complimentary; others weren't. These letters worried me, for I couldn't
quite determine whether I was a lunatic or a genius. Then an unknown
lady sent me a tract.

The title of the tract was: "The Sin That Found Him Out." The hero was a
boy called Willie. He never told a lie, and when other boys smote him he
turned the other cheek and prayed for them. "Life to him was one long
prayer," said the tract. Then troubles came. He grew up and his father
took to drink. His elder brother had a disagreement with the local
police about his whereabouts on the night of a certain robbery, and was
decidedly unconvincing. Willie stepped in and took all the blame.

The next chapter takes Willie as a private to the fields of Flanders,
and the penultimate chapter sees him a major-general. The last chapter
contains the moral, but what the moral is I cannot well make out. In
fact I don't know whether the title refers to Willie or his
transgressing brother, but I feel that somewhere in that pamphlet there
is a lesson for me.

Before the tract arrived I thought of publishing the Log as a brilliant
treatise on education. Its arrival altered all my values. I then knew
that I was the educational equivalent of the "awful example" who sits on
the platform at temperance meetings, and with great humility I besought
Mr. Herbert Jenkins to publish my Log as a terrible warning to my fellow
sinners.

A. S. N.

1915.



A DOMINIE'S LOG



I.


"No reflections or opinions of a general character are to be entered in
the log-book."--Thus the Scotch Code.

I have resolved to keep a private log of my own. In the regulation
volume I shall write down all the futile never-to-be-seen piffle about
Mary Brown's being laid up with the measles, and about my anxiety lest
it should spread. (Incidentally, my anxiety is real; I do not want the
school to be closed; I want a summer holiday undocked of any days.) In
my private log I shall write down my thoughts on education. I think they
will be mostly original; there has been no real authority on education,
and I do not know of any book from which I can crib.

To-night after my bairns had gone away, I sat down on a desk and
thought. What does it all mean? What am I trying to do? These boys are
going out to the fields to plough; these girls are going to farms as
servants. If I live long enough the new generation will be bringing
notes of the plese-excuss-james-as-I-was-washing type ... and the
parents who will write them went out at that door five minutes ago. I
can teach them to read, and they will read serials in the drivelling
weeklies; I can teach them to write, and they will write pathetic notes
to me by and bye; I can teach them to count, and they will never count
more than the miserable sum they receive as a weekly wage. The "Three
R's" spell futility.

But what of the rest? Can I teach them drawing? I cannot. I can help a
boy with a natural talent to improve his work, but of what avail is it?
In their future homes they will hang up the same old prints--vile things
given away with a pound of tea. I can teach them to sing, but what will
they sing?... the _Tipperary_ of their day.

My work is hopeless, for education should aim at bringing up a new
generation that will be better than the old. The present system is to
produce the same kind of man as we see to-day. And how hopeless he is.
When first I saw Houndsditch, I said aloud: "We have had education for
generations ... and yet we have this." Yes, my work is hopeless. What is
the use of the Three R's, of Woodwork, of Drawing, of Geography, if
Houndsditch is to remain? What is the use of anything?

                           *       *       *

I smile as I re-read the words I wrote yesterday, for to-day I feel that
hope has not left me. But I am not any more hopeful about the three R's
and the others. I am hopeful because I have found a solution. I shall
henceforth try to make my bairns realise. Yes, realise is the word.
Realise what? To tell the truth, I have some difficulty in saying. I
think I want to make them realise what life means. Yes, I want to give
them, or rather help them to find an attitude. Most of the stuff I teach
them will be forgotten in a year or two, but an attitude remains with
one throughout life. I want these boys and girls to acquire the habit of
looking honestly at life.

Ah! I wonder if I look honestly at life myself! Am I not a very
one-sided man? Am I not a Socialist, a doubter, a heretic? Am I not
biassed when I judge men like the Cecils and the Harmsworths? I admit
it. I am a partisan, and yet I try to look at life honestly. I try ...
and that is the main point. I do not think that I have any of the
current superstitions about morality and religion and art. I try to
forget names; I try to get at essentials, at truth. The fathers of my
bairns are, I think, interested in names. I wonder how many of them have
sat down saying: "I must examine myself, so that I may find out what
manner of man I am." I hold that self-knowledge must come before all
things. When one has stripped off all the conventions, and
superstitions, and hypocrisies, then one is educated.

                           *       *       *

These bairns of mine will never know how to find truth; they will merely
read the newspapers when they grow up. They will wave their hats to the
King, but kingship will be but a word to them; they will shout when a
lawyer from the south wins the local seat, but they will not understand
the meaning of economics; they will dust their old silk hats and march
to the sacrament, but they will not realise what religion means.

I find that I am becoming pessimistic again, and I did feel hopeful
when I began to write. I _should_ feel hopeful, for I am resolved to
find another meaning in education. What was it?... Ah, yes, I am to help
them to find an attitude.

                           *       *       *

I have been thinking about discipline overnight. I have seen a
headmaster who insisted on what he called perfect discipline. His bairns
sat still all day. A movement foreshadowed the strap. Every child jumped
up at the word of command. He had a very quiet life.

I must confess that I am an atrociously bad disciplinarian. To-day
Violet Brown began to sing _Tipperary_ to herself when I was marking the
registers. I looked up and said: "Why the happiness this morning,
Violet?" and she blushed and grinned. I am a poor disciplinarian.

I find that normally I am very, very slack; I don't mind if they talk or
not. Indeed, if the hum of conversation stops, I feel that something has
happened and I invariably look towards the door to see whether an
Inspector has arrived.

I find that I am almost a good disciplinarian when my liver is bad; I
demand silence then ... but I fear I do not get it, and I generally
laugh. The only discipline I ask for usually is the discipline that
interest draws. If a boy whets his pencil while I am describing the
events that led to the Great Rebellion, I sidetrack him on the topic of
rabbits ... and I generally make him sit up. I know that I am teaching
badly if the class is loafing, and I am honest enough in my saner
moments not to blame the bairns.

I do not like strict discipline, for I do believe that a child should
have as much freedom as possible. I want a bairn to be human, and I try
to be human myself. I walk to school each morning with my briar between
my lips, and if the fill is not smoked, I stand and watch the boys play.
I would kiss my wife in my classroom, but ... I do not have a wife. A
wee lassie stopped me on the way to school this morning, and she pushed
a very sticky sweetie into my hand. I took my pipe from my mouth and ate
the sweetie--and I asked for another; she was highly delighted.

Discipline, to me, means a pose on the part of the teacher. It makes
him very remote; it lends him dignity. Dignity is a thing I abominate. I
suppose the bishop is dignified because he wants to show that there is a
real difference between his salaried self and the underpaid curate. Why
should I be dignified before my bairns? Will they scorn me if I slide
with them? (There was a dandy slide on the road to-day. I gave them
half-an-hour's extra play this morning, and I slid all the time. My
assistants are adepts at the game.)

But discipline is necessary; there are men known as Inspectors. And
Johnny must be flogged if he does not attend to the lesson. He must know
the rivers of Russia. After all, why should he? I don't know them, and I
don't miss the knowledge. I couldn't tell you the capital of New Zealand
... is it Wellington? or Auckland? I don't know; all I know is that I
could find out if I wanted to.

I do not blame Inspectors. Some of them are men with what I would call a
vision. I had the Chief Inspector of the district in the other day, and
I enjoyed his visit. He has a fine taste in poetry, and a sense of
humour.

The Scotch Education Department is iniquitous because it is a
department; a department cannot have a sense of humour. And it is humour
that makes a man decent and kind and human.

If the Scotch Education Department were to die suddenly I should
suddenly become a worse disciplinarian than I am now. If Willie did not
like Woodwork, I should say to him: "All right, Willie. Go and do what
you do like, but take my advice and do some work; you will enjoy your
football all the better for it."

I believe in discipline, but it is self-discipline that I believe in. I
think I can say that I never learned anything by being forced to learn
it, but I may be wrong. I was forced to learn the Shorter Catechism, and
to-day I hate the sight of it. I read the other day in Barrie's
_Sentimental Tommy_ that its meaning comes to one long afterwards and at
a time when one is most in need of it. I confess that the time has not
come for me; it will never come, for I don't remember two lines of the
Catechism.

It is a fallacy that the nastiest medicines are the most efficacious;
Epsom Salts are not more beneficial than Syrup of Figs.

A thought!... If I believe in self-discipline, why not persuade Willie
that Woodwork is good for him as a self-discipline? Because it isn't my
job. If Willie dislikes chisels he will always dislike them. What I
might do is this: tell him to persevere with his chisels so that he
might cut himself badly. Then he might discover that his true vocation
is bandaging, and straightway go in for medicine.

Would Willie run away and play at horses if I told him to do what he
liked best? I do not think so. He likes school, and I think he likes me.
I think he would try to please me if he could.

                           *       *       *

When I speak kindly to a bairn I sometimes ask myself what I mean (for I
try to find out my motives). Do I want the child to think kindly of me?
Do I try to be popular? Am I after the delightful joy of being loved? Am
I merely being humanly brotherly and kind?

I have tried to analyse my motives, and I really think that there is
little of each motive. I want to be loved; I want the bairn to think
kindly of me. But in the main I think that my chief desire is to make
the bairn happy. No man, no woman, has the right to make the skies
cloudy for a bairn; it is the sin against the Holy Ghost.

I once had an experience in teaching. A boy was dour and unlovable and
rebellious and disobedient. I tried all ways--I regret to say I tried
the tawse. I was inexperienced at the time yet I hit upon the right way.
One day I found he had a decided talent for drawing. I brought down some
of my pen-and-ink sketches and showed him them. I gave him pictures to
copy, and his interest in art grew. I won him over by interesting myself
in him. He discovered that I was only human after all.

Only human!... when our scholars discover that we are only human, then
they like us, and then they listen to us.

I see the fingers of my tawse hanging out of my desk. They seem to be
two accusing fingers. My ideals are all right, but.... I whacked Tom
Wilkie to-night. At three o'clock he bled Dave Tosh's nose, and because
Dave was the smaller, I whacked Tom. Yet I did not feel angry; I regret
to say that I whacked Tom because I could see that Dave expected me to
do it, and I hate to disappoint a bairn. If Dave had been his size, I
know that I should have ignored their battle.

                           *       *       *

I have not used the strap all this week, and if my liver keeps well, I
hope to abolish it altogether.

To-day I have been thinking about punishment. What is the idea of
punishment? A few months ago a poor devil of an engine-driver ran his
express into a goods, and half-a-dozen people were killed. He got nine
months. Why? Is his punishment meant to act as a deterrent? Will another
driver say to himself: "By Jove, I'll better not wreck my train or I'll
get nine months." Nine months is not punishment, but the lifelong
thought: "I did it," is hell.

I am trying to think why I punished Lizzie Smith for talking last
Friday. Bad habit, I expect. Yet it acted as a deterrent; it showed that
I was in earnest about what I was saying--I was reading the war news
from the _Scotsman_.

I am sorry that I punished her; it was weakness on my part, weakness
and irritation. If she had no interest in the war, why should she
pretend that she had? But no, I cannot have this. I must inculcate the
idea of a community; the bairn must be told that others have rights. I
often want to rise up and contradict the minister in kirk, but I don't;
the people have rights; they do not come out to listen to me. If I
offend against the community, the community will punish me with
ostracism or bitterness. We have all a right to live our own lives, but
in living them we must live in harmony with the community. Lizzie must
be told that all the others like the war news, and that in talking she
is annoying them. Yes, I must remember to emphasise continually the idea
of a corporate life.

                           *       *       *

I see that it is only the weak man who requires a strap. Lord Kitchener
could rule my school without a strap, but I am not Kitchener. Moreover,
I am glad I'm not. I do not want to be what is called a strong man. John
Gourlay, in _The House with the Green Shutters_ was strong enough to
rule every school in Scotland with Sir John Struthers superadded; yet I
do not want to be Gourlay. His son would have been a better teacher, for
he was more human. Possibly Kitchener is very human; I do not know.



II.


I heard a blackie this morning as I went to school, and when I came near
to the playground I heard the girls singing. And I realised that Lenten
was come with love to Town.

The game was a jingaring, and Violet Brown was in the centre.


     The wind and the wind and the wind blows high,
     The rain comes pattering from the sky.
     Violet Brown says she'll die
     For the lad with the rolling eye.
     She is handsome, she is pretty,
     She is the girl of the golden city;
     She is counted one, two, three,
     Oh! I wonder who he'll be.
     Willie Craig says he loves her....


My own early experiences told me that Willie wasn't far off. Yes, there
he was at the same old game. When Vi entered the ring Willie began to
hammer Geordie Steel with his bonnet. But I could see Violet watch him
with a corner of her eye, and I am quite sure that she was aware that
the exertion of hammering Geordie did not account for Willie's burning
cheeks.

Then Katie Farmer entered the ring ... and Tom Dixon at once became the
hammerer of Geordie.

Poor wee Geordie! I know that he loves Katie himself, and I know that
between blows he is listening for the fatal "Tom Dixon says he loves
her."

I re-arranged seats this morning, and Willie is now sitting behind his
Vi, but Tom Dixon is not behind Katie. Poor despised Geordie is there,
but I shall shift him to-morrow if he does not make the most of his
chances.

                           *       *       *

This morning Geordie passed a note over to Katie, then he sat all in a
tremble. I saw Katie read it ... and I saw her blush. I blew my nose
violently, for I knew what was written on that sacred sheet; at least I
thought I knew.... "Dear Katie, will you be my lass? I will have you if
you will have me--Geordie."

At minutes I listened for the name when Katie went into the ring. It was
"Tom Dixon" again. I blew my whistle and stopped the game.

At dinner-time I looked out at the window, and rejoiced to see poor
Geordie hammering Tom Dixon. I opened the window and listened. Katie
was in the ring again, and I almost shouted "Hurrah!" when I heard the
words, "Geordie Steel says he loves her." But I placed Tom Dixon behind
Katie in the afternoon; I felt that I had treated poor Tom with
injustice.

To-night I tried to tackle Form 9b, but I could not concentrate. But it
wasn't Violet and Katie that I was thinking of; I was thinking of the
Violets and Katies I wrote "noties" to many years ago. I fear I am a bit
of a sentimentalist, yet ... why the devil shouldn't I be?

                           *       *       *

I have discovered a girl with a sense of humour. I asked my Qualifying
Class to draw a graph of the attendance at a village kirk. "And you must
explain away any rise or fall," I said.

Margaret Steel had a huge drop one Sunday, and her explanation was
"Special Collection for Missions." Next Sunday the congregation was
abnormally large; Margaret wrote "Change of Minister."

Few bairns have a sense of humour; their's is a sense of fun. Make a
noise like a duck and they will scream, but tell them your best joke
and they will be bored to tears.

I try hard to cultivate their sense of humour and their imagination. In
their composition I give them many autobiographies ... a tile hat, a
penny, an old boot, a nose, a tooth. To-day I asked them to describe in
the first person a snail's journey to the end of the road. Margaret
Steel talked of her hundred mile crawl, and she noted the tall forests
on each side of the road. "The grass would be trees to a snail," she
explained.

Poor Margaret! When she is fourteen she will go out to the fields, and
in three years she will be an ignorant country bumpkin. Our education
system is futile because it does not go far enough. The State should see
to it that each child has the best of chances. Margaret should be sent
to a Secondary School and to a University free of charge. Her food and
clothes and books and train fares should be free by right. The lassie
has brains ... and that is argument enough.

Our rulers do realize to a slight extent the responsibility of the
community to the child. It sends a doctor round to look at Margaret's
teeth; it may feed her at school if she is starving; it compels her to
go to school till she is fourteen. At the age of fourteen she is free to
go to the devil--the factory or the herding.

But suppose she did go to a Secondary School. What then? Possibly she
would become a Junior Student or a University Student. She would learn
much, but would she think? I found that thinking was not encouraged at
the university.

                           *       *       *

To-day I asked Senior I. to write up "A hen in the Kirk," and one or two
attempts showed imagination.

Is it possible that I am overdoing the imagination business? Shall I
produce men and women with more imagination than intellect? No, I do not
think there is danger. The nation suffers from lack of imagination; few
of us can imagine a better state of society, a fuller life.

Who are the men with great imagination?... Shelley, Blake, Browning,
Nietzsche, Ibsen, Tolstoy. These men were not content with life as it
was; they had ideals, and ideals are creatures of the imagination.

I once saw a book by, I think, Arnold Forster; a book that was meant to
teach children the meaning of citizenship. If I remember aright it dealt
with parliament and law, and local government.

Who was Arnold Forster? Why cannot our bairns have the best? Why tell
them all the stale lies about democracy, the freedom of the individual,
the justice of our laws? Are Forster's ideas of citizenship as great as
the ideas of Plato, of More, of Morris, of Wells? I intend to make an
abridgement of Plato's _Republic_, More's _Utopia_, William Morris's
_News from Nowhere_, Bacon's _A New Atlantis_, H. G. Wells' _A Modern
Utopia_, and _New Worlds for Old_.

Arnold Forster was with the majority. Nearly every day I quote to my
bairns Ibsen's words from _An Enemy of the People_.... "The Majority
_never_ has right on its side. _Never_ I say." Every lesson book shouts
aloud the words: "The majority is always right."

Do I teach my bairns Socialism? I do not think so. Socialism means the
owning of a State by the people of that State, and this State is not fit
to own anything. For at present the State means the majority in
Parliament, and that is composed of mediocre men. A State that takes up
Home Rule while the slums of the East End exist is a State run by office
boys for office boys ... to adapt Salisbury's description of a London
daily. We could not have Socialism to-day; the nation is not ripe for
it.

The Germans used to drink to "The Day"; every teacher in Britain should
drink daily to "The Day" when there shall be no poor, when factory
lasses will not rise at five and work till six. I know that I shall
never see the day, but I shall tell my bairns that it is coming. I know
that most of the seed will fall on stony ground, but a sower can but
sow.

                           *       *       *

I have been image-breaking to-day, and I feel happy. It began with
patent medicines, but how I got to them I cannot recollect. I remember
commencing a lesson on George Washington. The word hatchet led naturally
to Women's Suffrage; then ducks came up.... Heaven only knows how, and
the word quack brought me to Beans for Bibulous Britons. I told how most
of these medicines cost half a farthing to make, and I explained that
the manufacturer was spending a good part of the shilling profit in
advertising. Then I told of the utter waste of material and energy in
advertising, and went on to thunder against the hideous yellow tyre
signs on the roadside.

At dinner-time I read in my paper that some knight had received his
knighthood because of his interest in the Territorial Movement. "Much
more likely that he gave a few thousands to the party funds," I said to
my wondering bairns. Then I cursed the cash values that attach to almost
everything.

I am determined to tear all the rags of hypocrisy from the facts of
life; I shall lead my bairns to doubt everything. Yet I want them to
believe in Peter Pan, or is it that I want them to believe in the beauty
of beautiful stories? I want them to love the alluring lady Romance, but
I think I want them to love her in the knowledge that she is only a
Dream Child. Romance means more to the realist than to the romancist.

                           *       *       *

I wish I were a musician. If I could play the piano I should spend each
Friday afternoon playing to my bairns. I should give them Alexander's
Ragtime Band and Hitchy Coo; then I should play them a Liszt Rhapsody
and a Chopin waltz.

Would they understand and appreciate? Who knows what raptures great
music might bring to a country child?

The village blacksmith was fiddling at a dance in the Hall last night.
"Aw learnt the fiddle in a week," he told me. I believed him.

What effect would Ysaye have on a village audience? The divine melody
would make them sit up startled at first, and, I think, some of them
might begin to see pictures. If only I could bring Ysaye and Pachmann to
this village! What an experiment! I think that if I were a Melba or a
Ysaye I should say to myself:--"I have had enough of money and
admiration; I shall go round the villages on an errand of mercy."

The great, they say, begin in the village hall and end in the Albert
Hall. The really great would begin and end in the village hall.



III.


A very young calf had managed to get into the playground this morning,
and when I arrived I found Peter Smith hitting it viciously over the
nose with a stick. I said nothing. I read the war news as usual. Then I
addressed the bairns.

"What would you do to the Germans who committed atrocities in Belgium?"
I asked. Peter's hand went up with the others.

"Well, Peter?"

"Please sir, shoot them."

"Cruelty should be punished, eh?" I said.

"Yes, sir."

"Then come here, you dirty dog!" I cried, and I whacked Peter with a
fierce joy.

I have often wondered at the strain of cruelty that is so often found in
boys. The evolutionists must be right: the young always tend to resemble
their remote ancestors. In a boy there is much of the brute. I have
seen a boy cut off the heads of a nest of young sparrows; I wanted to
hit him ... but he was bigger than I. This morning I was bigger than
Peter; hence I do not take any credit to myself for welting him.

I can see that cruelty does not disappear with youth. I confess to a
feeling of unholy joy in leathering Peter, but I think that it was
caused by a real indignation.

What made Peter hurt the poor wee thing I cannot tell. I am inclined to
think that he acted subconsciously; he was being the elemental hunter,
and he did not realise that he was giving pain. I ought to have talked
to him, to have made him realise. But I became elemental also; I
punished with no definite motive ... and I would do it again.

                           *       *       *

We have had a return of wintry weather, and the bairns had a glorious
slide made on the road this morning. At dinner-time I found them loafing
round the door.

"Why aren't you sliding," I asked. They explained that the village
policeman had salted the slide. After marking the registers I took up
the theme.

"Why did he salt the slide?" I asked.

"Because the farmers do not want their horses to fall," said one.

Then I took them to laws and their makers. "Children have no votes," I
said, "farmers have; hence the law is with the farmers. Women have no
votes and the law gives them half the salary of a man."

"But," said Margaret Steel, "would you have horses break their legs?" I
smiled.

"No," I said, "and I would not object to the policeman's salting the
slide if the law was thinking of animals' pain. The law and the farmers
are thinking of property.

"Property in Britain comes before everything. I may steal the life and
soul from a woman if I employ her at a penny an hour, and I may get a
title for doing so. But if I steal Mr. Thomson's turnips I merely get
ten days' hard."

"You bairns should draw up a Declaration of Rights," I added, and I
think that a few understood my meaning.

                           *       *       *

I find that my bairns have a genuine love for poetry. To-day I read them
Tennyson's _Lady of Shalott_; then I read them _The May Queen_. I asked
them which was the better, and most of them preferred, _The Lady of
Shalott_. I asked for reasons, and Margaret Steel said that the one was
strange and mysterious, while the other told of an ordinary death-bed.
The whole class seemed to be delighted when I called _The May Queen_ a
silly mawkish piece of sentimentality.

I have made them learn many pieces from Stevenson's _A Child's Garden of
Verses_, and they love the rhythm of such pieces as _The Shadow March_.

Another poem that they love is _Helen of Kirkconnell_; I asked which
stanza was the best, and they all agreed on this beautifully simple
one:--


     O Helen fair, beyond compare,
       I'll mak a garland o' thy hair;
     Shall bind my heart for evermair,
       Until the day I dee,


I believe in reading out a long poem and then asking them to memorise a
few verses. I did this with _The Ancient Mariner_. Long poems are an
abomination to children; to ask them to commit to memory a piece like
Gray's _Elegy_ is unkind.

I have given them the first verse of Francis Thompson's _The Hound of
Heaven_. I did not expect them to understand a word of it; my idea was
to test their power of appreciating sound. Great music might convey
something to rustics, but great poetry cannot convey much. Still, I try
to lead them to the greater poetry. I wrote on the board a verse of
_Little Jim_ and a verse of _La Belle Dame sans Merci_, and I think I
managed to give them an inkling of what is good and what is bad verse.

I begin to think that country children should learn ballads. There is a
beauty about the old ballads that even children can catch; it is the
beauty of a sweet simplicity. When I think of the orchestration of
Swinburne, I think of the music of the ballads as of a flute playing.
And I know that orchestration would be lost on country folk.

I hate the poems that crowd the average school-book ... _Little Jim_,
_We are Seven_, _Lucy Gray_, _The Wreck of the Hesperus_, _The Boy stood
on the Burning Deck_, and all the rest of them. I want to select the
best of the Cavalier lyrists' works, the songs from the old collections
like Davison's _Poetical Rhapsody_ and England's _Helicon_, the lyrics
from the Elizabethan dramatists. I want to look through moderns like
William Watson, Robert Bridges, George Meredith, Thomas Hardy, Henley,
Dowson, Abercrombie, William Wilfred Gibson ... there must be many
charming pieces that bairns would enjoy.

I read out the old _Tale of Gamelyn_ the other day, and the queer rhythm
and language seemed to interest the class.

                           *       *       *

I think that the teaching of history in schools is all wrong. I look
through a school-history, and I find that emphasis is laid on incident.
Of what earthly use is the information given about Henry VIII.'s
matrimonial vagaries? Does it matter a rap to anyone whether Henry
I.--or was it Henry II.?--ever smiled again or not? By all means let us
tell the younger children tales of wicked dukes, but older children
ought to be led to think out the meaning of history. The usual
school-history is a piece of snobbery; it can't keep away from the topic
of kings and queens. They don't matter; history should tell the story of
the people and their gradual progress from serfdom to ... sweating.

I believe that a boy of eleven can grasp cause and effect. With a little
effort he can understand the non-sentimental side of the Mary
Stewart-Elizabeth story, the result to Scotland of the Franco-Scottish
alliance. He can understand why Philip of Spain, a Roman Catholic,
preferred that the Protestant Elizabeth should be Queen of England
rather than the Catholic Mary Stewart.

The histories never make bairns think. I have not seen one that
mentioned that Magna Charta was signed because all classes in the
country happened to be united for the moment. I have not seen one that
points out that the main feature in Scots history is the lack of a
strong central government.

Hume Brown's school _History of Scotland_ is undoubtedly a very good
book, but I want to see a history that will leave out all the detail
that Brown gives. All that stuff about the Ruthven Raid and the Black
Dinner of the Douglases might be left out of the books that the upper
classes read. My history would tell the story of how the different parts
were united to form the present Scotland, without mentioning more than
half-a-dozen names of men and dates. Then it would go on to tell of the
struggles to form a central government. Possibly Hume Brown does this.
I don't know; I am met with so much detail about Perth Articles and
murders that I lose the thread of the story.

Again, the school-histories almost always give a wrong impression of men
and events. Every Scots schoolboy thinks that Edward I. of England was a
sort of thief and bully rolled into one, and that the carpet-bagger,
Robert Bruce, was a saint from heaven. Edward's greatness as a lawgiver
is ignored; at least we ought to give him credit for his statesmanship
in making an attempt to unite England, Scotland, and Wales. And
Cromwell's Drogheda and Wexford affair is generally mentioned with due
emphasis, while Charles I.'s proverbial reputation as "a bad king but a
good father" is seldom omitted.

I expect that the school-histories of the future will talk of the "scrap
of paper" aspect of the present war, and they will anathematise the
Kaiser. But the real historians will be searching for deeper causes;
they will be analysing the national characteristics, the economical
needs, the diplomatic methods, of the nations.

The school-histories will say: "The war came about because the Kaiser
wanted to be master of Europe, and the German people had no say in the
matter at all."

The historians will say ... well, I'm afraid I don't know; but I think
they will relegate the Kaiser to a foot-note.

                           *       *       *

The theorist is a lazy man. MacMurray down the road at Markiton School
is a hard worker; he never theorises about education. He grinds away at
his history and geography, and I don't suppose he likes geography any
more than I do. I expect that he gives a thorough lesson on Canada, its
exports and so on. I do not; I am too lazy to read up the subject. My
theory says to me: "You are able to think fairly well, and a knowledge
of the amount of square miles in Manitoba would not help you to think as
brightly as H. G. Wells. So, why learn up stuff that you can get in a
dictionary any day?" And I teach on this principle.

At the same time I am aware that facts must precede theories in
education. You cannot have a theory on, say, the Marriage Laws, unless
you know what these laws are. However, I do try to distinguish between
facts and facts. To a child (as to me), the fact that Canada grows wheat
is of less importance than the fact that if you walk down the street in
Winnipeg in mid winter, you may have your ears frost-bitten.

The only information I know about Japan consists of a few interesting
facts I got from a lecture by Arthur Diosy. I don't know what things are
manufactured in Tokio, but I know that a Jap almost boils himself when
he takes a bath in the morning.

I find that I am much more interested in humanity than in materials, and
I know that the bairns are like me in this.

A West African came to the school the other day, and asked me to allow
him to tell (for a consideration) the story of his home life. When I
discovered that he did not mean his own private home life I gladly gave
him permission. He talked for half-an-hour about the habits of his home,
the native schools, the dress of the children (I almost blushed at this
part, but I was relieved to find that they do dress after all); then he
sang the native version of 'Mary had a little Lamb' (great applause).

The lecture was first-rate; and, in my lazy--I mean my theoretical
moments, I squint down the road in hopes that an itinerant Chinaman will
come along. I would have a coloured band of geographers employed by the
Department.

                           *       *       *

I am chuckling at myself to-night. A day or two ago I lectured about the
policeman's action in salting the slide, and I certainly did not think
of the farmer's position. To-day I wore a new pair of very light spats
... and Lizzie Adam has a horrid habit of shaking her pen after dipping.

"Look what you've done!" I cried in vexation, "can't you stop that silly
habit of chucking ink all over the school?" Then I laughed.

"Lizzie," I said sadly, "you won't understand, but I am the farmer who
wants the slide salted. The farmer does not want to have his horse
ruined, and I do object to having my new spats ruined."

The truth is that the interests of the young and of the old are directly
antagonistical. I can argue with delightful sophistry that I am better
than the farmer. I can say that throwing ink is a silly habit, with no
benefit to Lizzie, while sliding brings joy to a schoolful of bairns;
hence the joy of these bairns is of greater importance than the loss of
a horse. But I know what I should think if it were my horse, yes, I
know.

I find it the most difficult thing in the world to be a theorist ... and
an honest man at the same time.



IV.


A Junior Inspector called to-day. His subject was handwriting, and he
had theories on the subject. So have I. We had an interesting talk.

His view is that handwriting is a practical science; hence we must teach
a child to write in such a way as to carry off the job he applies for
when he is fourteen.

My view is that handwriting is an art, like sketching. My view is the
better, for it includes his. I am a superior penman to him, and in a
contest I could easily beat him. I really failed to see what he was
worrying his head about. What does the style matter. It is the art that
one puts into a style that makes writing good. I can teach the average
bairn to write well in two hours; it is simply a matter of writing
slowly. I like the old-schoolmaster hand, the round easy writing with
its thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes. I like to see the m's with the
joinings in the middle. The _Times_ copy-book is the ideal one--to me.
But why write down any more. The topic isn't worth the ink wasted.

                           *       *       *

I picked up a copy of a Popular Educator to-day. Much of the stuff seems
to be well written, but I cannot help thinking that the words "low
ideals" are written over the whole set of volumes. Its aim is evidently
to enable boys and girls to gain success ... as the world considers
success. "Study hard," it blares forth, "and you will become a Whiteley
or a Gamage. Study if you want wealth and position." What an ideal!

Let us have our Shorthand Classes, our Cookery Classes, our Typewriting
Classes, but for any sake don't let us call them education. Education is
thinking; it should deal with great thoughts, with the æsthetic things
in life, with life itself. Commerce is the profiteer's god, but it is
not mine. I want to teach my bairns how to live; the Popular Educator
wants to teach them how to make a living. There is a distinction between
the two ideals.

The Scotch Education Department would seem to have some of the
Educator's aspirations. It demands Gardening, Woodwork, Cookery; in
short, it is aiming at turning out practical men and women.

My objection to men and women is that they are too practical. I used to
see a notice in Edinburgh: "John Brown, Practical Chimney Sweep." I
often used to wonder what a theoretical chimney sweep might be, and I
often wished I could meet one. My view is that a teacher should turn out
theoretical sweeps, railwaymen, ploughmen, servants. Heaven knows they
will get the practical part knocked into them soon enough.

                           *       *       *

I have been experimenting with Drawing. I have been a passable
black-and-white artist for many years, and the subject fascinates me. I
see that drawing is of less importance than taste, and I find that I can
get infants who cannot draw a line to make artistic pictures.

I commence with far-away objects--a clump of trees on the horizon. The
child takes a BB pencil and blocks in the mass of trees. The result is a
better picture than the calendar prints the bairns see at home.

Gradually I take nearer objects, and at length I reach what is called
drawing. I ignore all vases and cubes and ellipses; my model is a
school-bag or a cloak. The drawing does not matter very much; but I want
to see the shadows stand out.

I find that only a few in a class ever improve in sketching; one is born
with the gift.

Designing fascinates many bairns. I asked them to design a kirk window
on squared paper to-day. Some of the attempts were good. I got the boys
to finish off with red ink, and then I pasted up the designs on the
wall.

I seem to recollect an Inspector who told me to give up design a good
few years ago. I wouldn't give it up now for anyone. It is a delightful
study, and it will bring out an inherent good taste better than any
branch of drawing I know. Drawing (or rather, Sketching) to me means an
art, not a means to cultivating observation. It belongs solely to
Aesthetics. Sketching, Music, and Poetry are surely intended to make a
bairn realise the fuller life that must have beauty always with it.

I showed my bairns two sketches of my own to-day ... the Tolbooth and
the Whitehorse Close in Edinburgh. A few claimed that the Whitehorse
Close was the better, because it left more out. "It leaves something to
the imagination," said Tom Dixon.

                           *       *       *

When will some original publisher give us a decent school Reader? I have
not seen one that is worth using. Some of them give excerpts from
Dickens and Fielding and Borrow (that horrid bore) and Hawthorne
(another). I cannot find any interest in these excerpts; they have no
beginning and no end. Moreover, a bairn does like the dramatic;
prosiness deadens its wee soul at once.

I want to see a Reader especially written for bairns. I want to see many
complete stories, filled with bright dialogue. Every yarn should
commence with dialogue. I always think kindly of the late Guy Boothby,
because he usually began with, "Hands up, or I fire!" or a kindred
sentence.

I wish I could lay hands on a Century Reader I used as a boy. It was
full of the dramatic. The first story was one about the Burning of
Moscow, then came the tale of Captain Dodds and the pirate (from
Reade's novel, _Hard Cash_, I admit. An excerpt need not be
uninteresting), then a long passage from _The Deerslayer_ ... with a
picture of Indians throwing tomahawks at the hero. I loved that book.

I think that dramatic reading should precede prosy reading. It is life
that a child wants, not prosy descriptions of sunsets and travels; life,
and romance.

I have scrapped my Readers; I don't use them even for Spelling. I do not
teach Spelling; the teaching of it does not fit into my scheme of
education.

Teaching depends on logic. Now Spelling throws logic to the winds. I
tell a child that "cough" is "coff," and logic leads him to suppose that
rough is "roff" and "through" is "throff." If I tell him that spelling
is important because it shows whence a word is derived, I am bound in
honesty to tell him that a matinee is not a "morning performance," that
manufactured goods are not "made by hand." Hence I leave Spelling alone.

At school I "learned" Spelling, and I could not spell a word until I
commenced to read much. Spelling is of the eye mainly. Every boy can
spell "truly" and "obliged" when he leaves school, but ten years later
he will probably write "truely" and "oblidged." Why? I think that the
explanation lies in the fact that he does not read as a growing youth.
Anyway, dictionaries are cheap.

                           *       *       *

To-night I sat down on a desk and lit my pipe. Margaret Steel and Lizzie
Buchan were tidying up the room. Margaret looked at me thoughtfully for
a second.

"Please, sir, why do you smoke?" she said.

"I really don't know, Margaret," I said. "Bad habit, I suppose ... just
like writing notes to boys."

She suddenly became feverishly anxious to pick up the stray papers.

"I wonder," I mused, "whether they do it in the same old way. How do
they do it, Margaret?" She dived after a piece of paper.

"I used to write them myself," I said. Margaret looked up quickly.

"You!" she gasped.

"I am not so old," I said hastily.

"Please, sir, I didn't mean that," she explained in confusion.

"You did, you wee bissom," I chuckled.

"Please, sir," she said awkwardly, "why--why are you
not--not-m-married?" I rose and took up my hat.

"I once kissed a girl behind the school door, Margaret," I said
absently. She did not understand ... and when I come to think of it I am
not surprised.

                           *       *       *

To-day was prize-giving day. Old Mr. Simpson made a speech.

"Boys," he said, "study hard and you'll maybe be a minister like Mr.
Gordon there." He paused. "Or," he continued, "if you don't manage that,
you may become a teacher like Mr. Neill here."

Otherwise the affair was very pathetic: the medallist, a girl, had
already left school and was hired as a servant on a farm. And old Mr.
Simpson did not know it; I thought it better not to tell the kindly
soul. He spoke earnestly on success in life.

I hate prizes. To-day, Violet Brown and Margaret Steel, usually the best
of friends, are looking daggers at each other. To-morrow I shall read
them the story of the Judgment of Paris. And what rubbish these books
are! There isn't a decent piece of literature in the bunch--_Matty's
Present_, _The Girl Who Came to School_. Jerusalem!



V.


The more I see of it the more I admire the co-education system. To me it
is delightful to see boys and girls playing together. Segregate boys and
you destroy their perspective. I used to find at the university that it
was generally the English Public School Boy who set up one standard of
morals for his sisters and another for the shop-girls.

Co-education is the greatest thing in our State educational system. The
bairns early learn the interdependence of the sexes; boys and girls
early begin to understand each other. All danger of putting women on a
pedestal is taken away; the boys find that the girls are ordinary humans
with many failings ("Aw'll tell the mester!"), and many virtues. The
girls find that boys ... well, I don't exactly know what the girls find.

Seldom is there any over-familiarity. The girls have a natural
protective aloofness that awes the boys; the boys generally have
strenuous interests that lead them to ignore the girls for long periods.
At present the sexes are very friendly, for love-making (always a holy
thing with bairns), has come with spring; but in a few weeks the boys
will be playing football or "bools," and they will not be seen in the
girls' playground.

I can detect no striving after what is called chivalry (thank heaven!)
If Maggie and Willie both lay hands on a ruler, they fight it out, but
Maggie generally gets it; she can say more. Mr. Henpeck begins life as a
chick. I hate the popular idea of chivalry, and I want my boys to hate
it. Chivalry to me means rising in the Tube to offer a typist your seat,
and then going off to the city to boss a score of waitresses who are
paid 6s. a week. As a nation we have no chivalry; we have only
etiquette. We hold doors open for nice women, and we tamely suffer or
forget about a society that condemns poor women to slave for sixteen
hours a day sewing shirts at a penny an hour. We say "Thank you" when
the lady of the house stops playing, and we banish the prostitutes of
Piccadilly from our minds. Chivalry has been dead for a long time now.

I want to substitute kindness for the word chivalry. I want to tell my
bairns that the only sin in the world is cruelty. I do not preach
morality for I hardly know what morality is. I have no morals, I am an
a-moralist, or should it be a non-moralist? I judge not, and I mean to
school my bairns into judging not. Yet I am not being quite consistent.
I do judge cruelty and uncharitableness; but I judge not those who do
not act up to the accustomed code of morals. A code is always a
temptation to a healthy person; it is like a window by a railway siding:
it cries out: "Chuck a chunk of coal through me." Codes never make
people moral; they merely make them hypocritical. I include the Scotch
code.

                           *       *       *

Until lately I thought that drill was unnecessary for rural bairns. It
was the chief inspector of the district who converted me. He pointed out
that country children are clumsy and slack. "A countryman can heave a
sack of potatoes on his back," he said, "but he has no agility, no grace
of movement."

I agree with him now. I find that drill makes my bairns more graceful.
But I am far from being pleased with any system that I know. I don't
really care tuppence whether they are physically alert or not, but I
want them to be graceful, if only from an artistic point of view. The
system I really want to know is Eurhythmics. I recently read an
illustrated article by (or on?) Jacques Dalcroze, the inventor of the
method, and the founder of the Eurhythmics School near Dresden. The
system is drill combined with music. The pupils walk and dance, and I
expect, sit to music. The photographs were beautiful studies in grace;
the school appears to be full of Pavlovas. I think I shall try to found
a Eurhythmics system on the photographs. I cannot surely invent anything
more graceless than "'Shun!"

Grace is almost totally absent from rural dances. The ploughman takes
off his jacket, and sweats his roaring way through "The Flowers o'
Edinburgh"; but the waltz has no attraction for him. Waltzing is a
necessity in a rural scheme of education ... and, incidentally, in a
Mayfair scheme of education, now that the "Bunny Hug" and the "Turkey
Trot" and the "Tango" have come to these isles.

                           *       *       *

Robert Campbell left the school to-day. He had reached the age limit. He
begins work tomorrow morning as a ploughman. And yesterday I wrote about
introducing Eurhythmics! Robert's leaving brings me to earth with a
flop. I am forced to look a grim fact in the face. Truly it is like a
death; I stand by a new made grave, and I have no hope of a
resurrection. Robert is dead.

Pessimism has hold of me to-night. I have tried to point the way to what
I think best in life, tried to give Robert an ideal. Tomorrow he will be
gathered to his fathers. He will take up the attitude of his neighbours:
he will go to church, he will vote Radical or Tory, he will elect a
farmer to the School Board, he will marry and live in a hovel. His
master said to me recently: "Bairns are gettin' ower muckle eddication
noo-a-days. What eddication does a laddie need to herd kye?"

Yes, I am as pessimistic as any Schopenhauer to-night, I cannot see the
sun.

                           *       *       *

My pessimism has remained with me all day. I feel that I am merely
pouring water into a sieve. I almost feel that to meddle with education
is to begin at the wrong end. I may have an ideal, but I cannot carry it
out because I am up against all the forces of society. Robert Campbell
is damned, not because education is so very wrong, but because education
is trying to adapt itself to commerce and economics and convention. I
think I am right in holding that our Individualist, as opposed to a
Socialist, system is to blame. "Every man for himself" is the most
cursed saying that was ever said. If we are to allow an idle rich to
waste millions yearly, if we are to allow profiteers to amass thousands
at the expense of the slaving majority, what chance has poor Robert
Campbell? I complete the saying--"and the Deil tak the henmost." Robert
is the henmost.

O! the people are poor things. Democracy is the last futility. Yet I
should not blame the people; they never get a chance. Our rulers are on
the side of the profiteers, and the latter take very good care that
Robert Campbell shall leave school when he is fourteen. It isn't that
they want more cheap labour; they are afraid that if he is educated
until he is nineteen he will be wise enough to say: "Why should I, a man
made in the image of God, be forced to slave for gains that you will
steal?"

Yet, the only way is to labour on, to strive to convey some idea of my
ideal to my bairns. If every teacher in Scotland had the same ideal as I
have I think that the fight would not be a long one. But how do I know
that my ideal is the right one? I cannot say; I just _know_. Which, I
admit, is a woman's reason.

                           *       *       *

I was re-reading _An Enemy of the People_ last night, and the thought
suddenly came to me: "Would my bairns understand it?" This morning I cut
out Bible instruction and read them the first act. I then questioned
them, and found to my delight that they had grasped the theme. It was
peculiarly satisfying to me to find that they recognized Dr. Stockmann
as a better man than his grovelling brother Peter. If my bairns could
realise the full significance of Ibsen's play, "The Day" would not be
so far off as I am in the habit of thinking it is.

I must re-read Shaw's _Widowers' Houses_; I fancy that children might
find much thought in it. It is one of his "Unpleasant Plays," but I see
no reason for keeping the unlovely things from bairns. I do not believe
in frightening them with tales of murder and ghosts. Every human being
has something of the gruesome in his composition; the murder cases are
the most popular readings in our press. I want to direct this innate
desire for gruesome things to the realising of the most gruesome things
in the world--the grinding of soul and body in order to gain profits,
the misery of poverty and cold, the weariness of toil. If our press
really wants to make its readers shudder, why does it not publish long
accounts of infant mortality in the slums, of gin fed bairns, of
back-doors used as fuel, of phthisical girls straining their eyes over
seams? I know why the press ignores these things, the public does not
want to think of them. If the public wanted such stories every
capitalist owner of a newspaper would supply them, grudgingly, but with
a stern resolve to get dividends. To-day the papers are mostly run for
the rich and their parasites. The only way in which 'Enery Smith can get
his photograph into the papers is by jumping on Mrs. 'Enery Smith until
she expires. I wonder that no criminologist has tried to prove that
publicity is the greatest incentive to crime.

When I read the daily papers to my bairns I try to tell them what is
left out. "Humour at Bow Street," a heading will run. Ye Gods! Humour! I
have as much humour as most men, but if anyone can find humour in the
stupid remarks of a law-giver he must be a W. W. Jacobs, a Mark Twain, a
George A. Birmingham, and a Stephen Leacock rolled into one ... with the
Devil thrown in. Humour at Bow Street. I have been there. I have seen
the poor Magdalenes and the pitiable Lazaruses shuffle in with terror in
their eyes. I have seen the inflexible mighty law condemn them to the
cells, I have heard their piteous cries for mercy. And the newspapers
talk of the humour of the courts.

I once read that law's primary object is to protect the rich from the
poor. The appalling truth of that saying dawned on me in Bow Street.
Humour! Yes, there is humour in Bow Street. The grimmest, ugliest joke
in the world is this.... Covent Garden Opera House stands across the
street from the court.

                           *       *       *

To-day I told Senior II. to write up the following story, I advised them
to add graces to it if they could.

"A farmer went to Edinburgh for the day. He was walking down the High
Street with open mouth when the fire engine came swinging round the
corner. The farmer gave chase down the North Bridge and Leith Street,
and owing to the heavy traffic the engine's rate was so slow that he
could easily keep up with it. But it turned down London Road, and in the
long silent street soon outdistanced him. He ran until he saw that it
was hopeless. Then he stopped and held up a clenched fist.

"Ye can keep yer dawmed tattie-chips," he cried, "Aw'll get them some
other place."

Mary Peters began thus:--

"Mr. Peter Mitchell went to Edinburgh for the day...."

Mr. Peter Mitchell is Chairman of the School Board.

                           *       *       *

Why did I substitute "auld" for "dawmed" tattie-chips when I told the
bairns the story. Art demands the "dawmed." I think I substituted the
"auld" because I like a quiet life. I have no time to persuade indignant
parents that "damn" is not a sin. But it was weakness on my part; I
compromised, and compromise is always a lie.



VI.


This morning I had a note from a farmer in the neighbourhood.


     "DEAR SIR,--I send my son Andrew to get education at the school not
     Radical politics.

     I am,
     Yours respectfully,
     Andrew Smith."


I called Andrew out.

"Andrew," I said, with a smile, "when you go home to-night tell your
father that I hate Radicalism possibly more than he does."

The father came down to-night to apologise. "Aw thocht ye was ane o'
they wheezin' Radicals," he explained. Then he added, "And what micht
yer politics be?"

"I am a Utopian," I said modestly.

He scratched his head for a moment, then he gave it up and asked my
opinion of the weather. We discussed turnips for half-an-hour, at the
end of which time I am sure he was wondering how an M.A. could be such
an ignoramus. We parted on friendly terms.

                           *       *       *

I do not think that I have any definite views on the teaching of
religion to bairns; indeed, I have the vaguest notion of what religion
means. I am just enough of a Nietzschean to protest against teaching
children to be meek and lowly. I once shocked a dear old lady by saying
that the part of the Bible that appealed to me most was that in which
the Pharisee said: "I thank God that I am not as other men." I was young
then, I have not the courage to say it now.

I do, however, hold strongly that teaching religion is not my job. The
parish minister and the U.F. minister get good stipends for tending
their flocks, and I do not see any reason in the world why I should have
to look after the lambs. For one thing I am not capable. All I aim at is
teaching bairns how to live ... possibly that is the true religion; my
early training prevents my getting rid of the idea that religion is
intended to teach people how to die.

To-day I was talking about the probable formation of the earth, how it
was a ball of flaming gas like the sun, how it cooled gradually, how
life came. A girl looked up and said: "Please, sir, what about the
Bible?" I explained that in my opinion the creation story was a story
told to children, to a people who were children in understanding. I
pointed out a strange feature, discovered to me by the parish minister,
that the first chapter of Genesis follows the order of scientific
evolution ... the earth is without form, life rises from the sea, then
come the birds, then the mammals.

But I am forced to give religious instruction. I confine my efforts to
the four gospels; the bairns read them aloud. I seldom make any comment
on the passages.

In geography lessons I often take occasion to emphasise the fact that
Muhammudans and Buddhists are not necessarily stupid folk who know no
better. I cannot lead bairns to a religion, but I can prevent their
being stupidly narrow.

No, I fear I have no definite opinions on religion.

I set out to enter the church, but I think that I could not have stayed
in it. I fancy that one fine Sunday morning I would have stood up in
the pulpit and said: "Friends, I am no follower of Christ. I like fine
linen and tobacco, books and comfort. I should be in the slums, but I am
not Christlike enough to go there. Goodbye."

I wonder! Why then do I not stand up and say to the School Board: "I do
not believe in this system of education at all. I am a hypocrite when I
teach subjects that I abominate. Give me my month's screw. Goodbye." I
sigh ... yet I like to fancy that I could not have stayed in the kirk.
One thing I am sure of: a big stipend would not have tempted me to stay.
I have no wish for money; at least, I wouldn't go out of my way to get
it. I wouldn't edit a popular newspaper for ten thousand a year. Of that
I am sure. Quite sure. Quite.

Yet I once applied for a job on a Tory daily. I was hungry then. What if
I were hungry now? The flesh is weak ... but, I could always go out on
tramp. I more than half long for the temptation. Then I should discover
whether I am an idealist or a talker. Possibly I am a little of both.

I began to write about religion, and I find myself talking about
myself. Can it be that my god is my ego?

                           *       *       *

I began these log-notes in order to discover my philosophy of education,
and I find that I am discovering myself. This discovery of self must
come first. Personality goes far in teaching. May it go too far? Is it
possible that I am a danger to these bairns? May I not be influencing
them too much? I do not think so. Anything I may say will surely be
negatived at home; my word, unfortunately, is not so weighty as
father's.

In what is called Spelling Reform we cannot have a revolution; all we
can hope for is a reform within Spelling, a reform that will abolish
existing anomalies. So in education we cannot have a revolution. All we
can hope for is a reform wrought within education by the teacher. If
every teacher were a sort of Wellsian-Shavian-Nietzschean-Webbian
fellow, the children would be directly under two potent influences--the
parents and teachers.

"What is Truth?" millions of Pilates have asked. It is because we have
no standard of Truth that our education is a failure. Each of us gets
hold of a corner of the page of Truth, but the trouble is that so many
grasp the same corner. It is a corner dirty with thumb-marks ... "Humour
in Bow Street," "Knighthood for Tooting Philanthropist," "Dastardly Act
by Leeds Strikers," "Special Service of Praise in the Parish Kirk" ...
marks do not obliterate the page. My corner is free from thumbmarks, and
anyone can read the clear type of "Christlessness in Bow Street,"
"Jobbery in the Sale of Honours," "Murder of Starving Strikers,"
"Thanksgiving Service for the Blessing of Whitechapel" ... but few will
read this corner's story; the majority likes the filthy corner with the
beautiful news.

I have discovered my mission. I am the apostle of the clean corner with
the dirty news written on it.

                           *       *       *

I began to read the second act of _An Enemy of the People_ this morning,
but I had to give it up; the bairns had lost interest. I closed the
book. "Suppose," I said, "suppose that this village suddenly became
famous as a health-resort. People would build houses and hotels, your
fathers would grow richer; and suppose that the doctor discovered that
the water supply was poisonous, that the pipes lay through a swamp where
fever germs were. What would the men who had built hotels and houses say
about the doctor? What would they do about the water supply?"

The unanimous opinion was that the water-pipes would be relaid; the
people would not want visitors to come and take fever.

This opinion leads me to conclude that bairns are idealists; childhood
takes the Christian view. Barrie says that genius is the power of being
a boy again at will; I agree, but Barrie and I are possibly thinking of
different aspects. Ibsen was a genius because he became as a little
child. Dr. Stockmann (Ibsen) is a simple child; he cannot realise that
self-interest can make his own brother a criminal to society.

I told my bairns what the men in the play did.

"But," said one in amazement, "they would not do that in real life?"

"They are doing it every day," I said. "This school is old, badly
ventilated, overcrowded. It is a danger to your health and mine. Yet,
if I asked for a new school, the whole village would rise up against me.
'More money on the rates!' they would cry, and they would treat me very
much as the people in the play treated Dr. Stockmann."

                           *       *       *

I find it difficult to discuss the causes of the war with the bairns. I
refuse to accept the usual tags about going to the assistance of a weak
neighbour whom we agreed to protect. We all want to think that we are
fighting for Belgium but are we?

I look to Mexico and I find it has been bathed in blood because the
American Oil Kings and the British Oil Kings were at war. President Diaz
was pro-English, Madero was pro-American, Huerta was pro-English ... and
the United States supported the notorious Villa. Villa's rival,
Carranzo, was pro-English. It is an accepted belief that the American
Oil Kings financed the first risings in order to drive the British oil
interests out of the country. Hence, widows and orphans in Mexico are
the victims of a dollar massacre.

Can we trace the present war to the financiers? It is said that the
Triple Entente is the result of Russia's receiving loans from France
and Britain.

I cannot find a solution. I am inclined to attach little value to what
is called national feeling. The workers are the masses, and I cannot
imagine a German navvy's having any hatred of a British navvy. A world
of workers would not fight, but at present the workers are so badly
organised that they fight at the bidding of kings and diplomatists and
financiers. War comes from the classes above, and by means of their
press the upper classes convert the proletariat to their way of
thinking.

A more important subject is that of the ending of wars. The idealistic
vapourings of the I.L.P. with its silly talk of internationalism will do
nothing to stop war. Norman Angell's cry that war doesn't pay will not
stop war. But a true democracy in each country will stop it. I think of
Russia with all its darkness and cruelty, and I am appalled; a true
democracy there will be centuries in coming. For Germany I do not fear;
out of her militarism will surely arise a great democratic nation. And
out of our own great trial a true democracy is arising. Capitalism has
failed; the State now sees that it must control the railways and
engineering shops in a crisis. The men who struck work on the Clyde are
of the same class as the men who are dying in Flanders. Why should one
lot be heroes and the other lot be cursed as traitors? The answer is
simple. The soldiers are fighting for the nation; the engineers are
working primarily for the profiteers, and only secondarily for the
nation. Profiteering has not stood the test, and the workers are
beginning to realise the significance of its failure.



VII.


To-day I have scrapped somebody's Rural Arithmetic. It is full of sums
of the How-much-will-it-take-to-paper a-room? type. This cursed
utilitarianism in education riles me. Who wants to know what it will
take to paper a room? Personally I should call in the painter, and take
my meals on the parlour piano for a day or two. Anyway, why this
suspicion of the poor painter? Is he worse than other tradesmen? If we
must have a utilitarian arithmetic then I want to see a book that will
tell me if the watchmaker is a liar when he tells me that the mainspring
of my watch is broken. I want to see sums like this:--How long will a
plumber take to lay a ten foot pipe if father can do it at the rate of a
yard in three minutes? (Ans., three days).

To me Arithmetic is an art not a science. I do not know a single rule; I
must always go back to first principles. I love catch questions,
questions that will make a bairn think all the time. Inspectors' Tests
give but little scope for the Art of Arithmetic; they are usually poor
peddling things that smell strongly of materialism. In other words, they
appeal to the mechanical part of a bairn's brain instead of to the
imagination. I want to see a test that will include a sum like
this:--23.4 × .065 × 54.678 × 0. The cram will start in to multiply out;
the imaginative bairn will glance along and see the nought, and will at
once spot that the answer is zero.

                           *       *       *

I have just discovered an excellent song-book--Curwen's _Approved
Songs_. It includes all the lovely songs of Cavalier and Puritan times,
tunes like _Polly Oliver_ and _Golden Slumbers_. At present my bairns
are singing a Christmas Carol by Bridge, _Sweeter than Songs of Summer_.
They sing treble, alto, and tenor, while I supply the bass. The time is
long past Christmas, but details like that don't worry me. This carol is
the sweetest piece of harmonising I have heard for a long time.

                           *       *       *

I have been re-reading Shaw's remarks on Sex in Education. I cannot see
that he has anything very illuminating to say on the subject; for that
matter no one has. Most of us realise that something is wrong with our
views on sex. The present attitude of education is to ignore sex, and
the result is that sex remains a conspiracy of silence. The ideal some
of us have is to raise sex to its proper position as a wondrous
beautiful thing. To-day we try to convey to bairns that birth is a
disgrace to humanity.

The problem before me comes to this: How can I bring my bairns to take a
rational elemental view of sex instead of a conventional hypocritical
one? How can I convey to them the realisation that our virtue is mostly
cowardice, that our sex morality is founded on mere respectability? (It
is the easiest thing in the world to be virtuous in Padanarum; it is not
so easy to be a saint in Oxford Street. Not because Oxford Street has
more temptation, but because nobody knows you there.)

In reality I can do nothing. If I mentioned sex in school I should be
dismissed at once. But if a philanthropist would come along and offer
me a private school to run as I pleased, then I should introduce sex
into my scheme of education. Bairns would be encouraged to believe in
the stork theory of birth until they reached the age of nine. At that
age they would get the naked truth.

A friend of mine, one of the cleverest men I know, and his wife, a wise
woman, resolved to tell their children anything they asked. The eldest,
a girl of four, asked one day where she came from. They told her, and
she showed no surprise. But I would begin at nine chiefly because the
stork story is so delightful that it would be cruel to deprive a bairn
of it altogether. Yet, after all, the stork story is all the more
charming when you know the bald truth.

Well, at the age of nine my bairns would be taken in hand by a doctor.
They would learn that modesty is mainly an accidental result of the
invention of clothes. They would gradually come to look upon sex as a
normal fact of life; in short, they would recognise it as a healthy
thing.

Shaw is right in saying that children must get the truth from a teacher,
because parents find a natural shyness in mentioning sex to their
children. But I think that the next generation of parents will have a
better perspective; shyness will almost disappear. The bairns must be
told; of that there is no doubt. The present evasion and deceit lead to
the dirtiness which constitutes the sex education of boys and girls.

The great drawback to a frank education on sex matters is the disgusting
fact that most grown-up people persist in associating sex with sin. The
phrase "born in sin" is still applied to an illegitimate child. When I
think of the damnable cruelty of virtuous married women to a girl who
has had a child I want to change the phrase into "born into sin."

                           *       *       *

I have just discovered a section of the Code that deals with the subject
of Temperance. I smile sadly when I think that my bairns will never have
more than a pound a week to be intemperate on. I suspect that if I had
to slave for a week for a pound I should trek for the nearest pub on pay
night; I should seek oblivion in some way.

Temperance! Why waste time telling poor bairns to be temperate? When
they are fourteen they will learn that to be intemperate means the sack.
If we must teach temperance let us begin at Oxford and Cambridge; at
Westminster (I really forget how much wine and beer was consumed there
last year; the amount raised a thirst in me at any rate).

Temperance! The profiteers see to it that the poor cannot afford to be
intemperate. Coals are up now, the men who draw a royalty on each ton as
it leaves the pit do not know the meaning of temperance.

I want to cry to my bairns: "Be intemperate! Demand more of the fine
things of life. Don't waste time in the beershops, spend your leisure
hours persuading your neighbour to help you to impose temperance on your
masters."

The Code talks about food. But it does not do so honestly. I would
insert the following in the Code:--

"Teachers in slum districts should point out to the children that most
of their food is adulterated. Most of their boots are made of paper.
Most of their clothes are made of shoddy."

                           *       *       *

The best thing I have found in the Code is the section on the teaching
of English. I fancy it is the work of J. C. Smith, the Editor of the
Oxford _Spenser_. I used to have him round at my classes; he was a
first-rate examiner. If a class had any originality in it he drew it
out. But I never forgave J. C. Smith for editing _Much Ado About
Nothing_. He made no effort to remark on the absurdity of the plot and
motives. To me the play is as silly as _Diplomacy_ or _Our Boys_.

"No grammar," says the Code, "should be taught until written composition
begins." I like that, but I should re-write it thus: "No grammar should
be taught this side the Styx."

Grammar is always changing, and the grammar of yesterday is scrapped
to-day. A child requires to know how to speak and how to write
correctly. I can write passably well, and when I write I do not need to
know whether a word is an adjective or an adverb, whether a clause is a
noun clause or an adverbial clause of time modifying a certain verb ...
or is it a noun? Society ladies speak grammatically (I am told), and
I'm quite sure that not three people in the Row could tell me whether a
word is a verb or an adverb (I shouldn't care to ask). The fact that I
really could tell what each word is makes absolutely no difference to
me. A middle-class boy of five will know that the sentence "I and nurse
is going to the Pictures" is wrong.

But I must confess that grammar has influenced me in one way. I know I
should say "Whom did you see?" but I always say "Who did you see?" And I
used to try not to split my infinitives until I found out that you can't
split an infinitive; "to" has nothing to do with the infinitive anyway.

I want to abolish the terms Subject, Predicate, Object, Extension, Noun,
Verb, &c. I fancy we could get along very well without them.
Difficulties might arise in learning a foreign tongue. I don't know
anything about foreign tongues; all I know is the Greek alphabet and a
line of Homer, and the fact that all Gaul is divided into three parts.
Yet I imagine that one could learn French or German as a child learns a
language.

Good speaking and writing mean the correct use of idiom, and idiom is
the best phrasing of the best people--best according to our standards at
the present time.

I have heard Parsing and Analysis defended on the ground of their being
an exercise in reasoning. I admit that they do require reasoning, but I
hold that the time would be better spent in Mathematics. I hope to take
my senior pupils through the first and third books of Euclid this
summer. Personally, I can find much pleasure in a stiff deduction, but I
find nothing but intense weariness in an analysis of sentences. My
theories on education are purely personal; if _I_ don't like a thing I
presume that my bairns dislike it. And the strange thing is that my
presumptions are nearly always right.

                           *       *       *

Folklore fascinates me. I find that the children of Forfarshire and
Dumfriesshire have the same ring song, _The Wind and the Wind and the
Wind Blows High_. I once discovered in the British Museum a book on
English Folksongs, and in it I found the same song obtaining in
Staffordshire. Naturally, variations occur. Did these songs all spring
from a common stock? Or did incomers bring them to a district?

When I am sacked ... and I half expect to be some day soon ... I shall
wander round the schools of Scotland collecting the folk-songs. I shall
take a Punch and Judy show with me, for I know that this is a long felt
want in the country. That reminds me:--a broken-down fellow came to me
to-day and told pathetically how he had lost his school ... "wrongous
dismissal" he called it. I wept and gave him sixpence. To-night I
visited the minister. "I had a sad case in to-day," he began, "a poor
fellow who had a kirk in Ross-shire. Poor chap, his wife took to drink,
and he lost his kirk."

"Chap with a reddish moustache?" I asked.

"Yes, did you see him?"

I ignored the question.

"Charity," I said, "is foolish. I don't believe in charity of that kind.
You gave him something?"

"Er--a shilling."

"You have too much heart," I said, and I took my departure.

If I have to go on tramp I shall try to live by selling sermons after
school-hours.



VIII.


To-day I discussed the Women's Movement with my class. They were all
agreed that women should not have votes. I asked for reasons.

"They can't fight like men," said a boy.

I pointed out that they risk their lives more than men do. A woman risks
her life so that life may come into the world; a soldier risks his life
so that death may come into the world.

"Women speak too much," said Margaret Steel.

"Read the Parliamentary debates," said I.

"Women have not the brains," said a boy.

I made no reply, I lifted his last exam. paper, and showed the class his
21 per cent, then I showed him Violet Brown's 93 per cent. But I was
careful to add that the illustration was not conclusive.

I went on to tell them that the vote was of little use to men, and that
I did not consider it worth striving for. But I tried to show them that
the Women's Movement was a much bigger thing than a fight for political
power. It was a protest against the system that made sons doctors and
ministers, and daughters typists and shopgirls, that made girls black
their idle brothers' boots, that offered £60 to a lady teacher who was
doing as good work as the man in the next room with his £130. I did not
take them to the deeper topics of Marriage, Inheritance, the economic
dependence of women on men that makes so many marry for a home. But I
tried to show that owing to woman's being voteless the laws are on the
man's side, and I instanced the Corporation Baths in the neighbouring
city. There only one day a week is set aside for women. Then it struck
me that perhaps the women of the city have municipal votes, and I
suggested that if this were the case, women are less interested in cold
water than men, a circumstance that goes to show that women have a
greater need of freedom than I thought they had.

On the whole it was a disappointing discussion.

                           *       *       *

I went up to see Lawson of Rinsley School to-night. I talked away gaily
about having scrapped my Readers and Rural Arithmetic. He was amused; I
know that he considers me a cheerful idiot. But he grew serious when I
talked about my Socialism.

"You blooming Socialists," he said, with a dry laugh, "are the most
cocky people I have yet struck. You think you are the salt of the earth
and that all the others are fatheads."

"Quite right, Lawson," I said with a laugh. And I added seriously: "You
see, my boy, that if you have a theory, you've simply _got_ to think the
other fellow an idiot. I believe in Socialism--the Guild Socialism of
_The New Age_, and naturally I think that Lloyd George and Bonar Law and
the Cecils, and all that lot are hopelessly wrong."

"Do you mean to tell me that you are a greater thinker than Arthur James
Balfour?" Lawson sat back in his chair and watched the effect of this
shot.

I considered for a minute.

"It's like this," I said slowly, "you really cannot compare a duck with
a rabbit. You can't say that Shakespeare is greater than Napoleon or
Burns than Titian. Balfour is a good man in his own line, and--"

"And you?"

"I sometimes think of great things," I replied modestly. "Balfour has an
ideal; he believes, as Lord Roberts believed, in the Public Schools, in
Oxford and Cambridge, in the type of Englishman who becomes an
Imperialist Cromer. He believes in the aristocracy, in land, in heredity
of succession. His ideal, so far as I can make out, is to have an
aristocracy that behaves kindly and charitably to a deserving
working-class--which, after all, is Nietzsche's ideal.

I believe in few of these things. I detest charity of that kind; I hate
the type of youth that our Public Schools and Oxfords turn out. I want
to see the land belong to the people, I want to see every unit of the
State working for the delight that work, as opposed to toil, can bring.
The aristocracy has merits that I appreciate. Along with the poor they
cheerfully die for their country ... it is the profiteering class with
its "Business as Usual" cant that I want to slay. I want to see all the
excellent material that exists in our aristocracy turned to nobler uses
than bossing niggers in India so that millionaires at home may be
multi-millionaires, than wasting time and wealth in the social rounds of
London."

"Are you a greater thinker than Balfour?"

I sighed.

"I think I have a greater ideal," I said. "And," I added, "I am sure
that if Balfour were asked about it he would reply: 'I wish I could have
got out of my aristocratic environment at your age.'"

"Lawson," I continued, "I gathered tatties behind the digger once. That
is the chief difference between me and Balfour. When first I went
through Eton on a motor-bus and saw the boys on the playing grounds, I
said to myself, 'Thank God I wasn't sent to Eton!'"

"Class prejudice and jealousy," said Lawson. "Will the Rangers get into
the Final?"

                           *       *       *

I met Wilkie the mason, on the road to-night. He cannot write his name,
and he is the richest man in the village.

"What's this Aw hear aboot you bein' are o' they Socialists?" he
demanded. "Aw didna ken that when Aw voted for ye."

"If you had?"

"Not a vote wud ye hae gotten frae me. Ye'll be layin' yer bombs a' ower
the place," he said half jocularly.

"Ye manna put ony o' they ideas in the bairns' heids," he continued
anxiously. "Politics have no place in a schule."

I did not pursue the subject; I sidetracked him on to turnips, and by
using what I had picked up from Andrew Smith I made a fairly good
effort. When we parted Wilkie grasped my hand.

"Ye're no dozzent," he said kindly, "but, tak ma advice, and leave they
politics alone. It's a dangerous game for a schulemester to play."

                           *       *       *

I find that I am becoming obsessed by my creed. I see that I place
politics before everything else in education. But I feel that I am doing
the best I can for true education. After all it isn't Socialism I am
teaching, it is heresy. I am trying to form minds that will question
and destroy and rebuild.

Morris's _News from Nowhere_ appeals to me most as a Utopia. Like him I
want to see an artistic world.

I travelled to Newcastle on Saturday, and the brick squalor that
stretches for miles out Elswick and Blaydon way sickened me. Dirty
bairns were playing on muddy patches, dirty women were gossiping at
doors, miners were wandering off in twos and threes with whippets at
their heels. And smoke was over all. Britain is the workshop of the
world. Good old Merrie England!

These are strange entries for a Dominie's Log. I must bring my mind back
to Vulgar Fractions and Composition.

                           *       *       *

There was a Cinema Show in the village hall to-night. My bairns turned
out in force. Most of the pictures were drivel ... the typist wrongly
accused, the seducing employer; the weeping parents at home. The average
cinema plot is of the same brand as the plots in a washerwoman's weekly.
Then we had the inevitable Indian chase on horseback, and the hero
pardoned after the rope was round his neck.

I enjoyed the comic films. To see the comic go down in diver's dress to
wreck a German submarine was delightfully ludicrous. He took off his
helmet under water and wiped the sweat from his brow. Excellent fun!

I have often thought about the cinema as an aid to education. At the
present time it is a drag on education, for its chief attraction is its
piffling melodrama. Yet I have seen good plays and playlets filmed ...
that is good melodramatic and incident plays.

I have seen _Hamlet_ filmed, and then I understood what Tolstoi (or was
it Shaw?) meant when he said that Shakespeare without his word music is
nowhere. Yet I must be just; philosophy had to go along with music when
the cinema took up _Hamlet_.

The cinema may have a future as an educational force, but it will deal
with what I consider the subsidiary part of education--the facts of
life. Pictures of foreign countries are undoubtedly of great use. The
cinema can never give us theories and philosophy. So with its lighter
side. _Charley's Aunt_ might make a good film; _The Importance of Being
Earnest_ could not. The cinema can give us humour but not wit. What will
happen when the cinema and the phonograph are made to work together
perfectly I do not know. I may yet be able to take my bairns to a
performance of _Nan_ or _The Wild Duck_ or _The Doctor's Dilemma_.

                           *       *       *

"Please, sir, Willie Smith was swearing." Thus little Maggie Shepherd to
me to-day.

I always fear this complaint, for what can I do? I can't very well ask
Maggie what he said, and if he says he wasn't swearing ... well, his
word is as good as Maggie's. I can summon witnesses, but bairns have but
the haziest notion of what swearing is. (For that matter so do I.) If a
boy shoves his fingers to his nose.... "Please, sir, he swore!"

I try to be a just man, and ... well, I was bunkered at the ninth hole
on Saturday, and I dismissed Willie Smith--without an admonition. But I
am worried to-night, for I can't recollect whether Willie has ever
caddied for me; I have a shrewd suspicion that he has.



IX.


The word "republican" came up to-day in a lesson, and I asked what it
meant. Four girls told me that their fathers were republicans, but they
had no idea of the meaning of the word. One lassie thought that it meant
"a man who is always quarrelling with the Tories" ... a fairly
penetrating definition.

I explained the meaning of the word, and said that a republican in this
country was wasting his time and energy. I pointed to America with its
Oil Kings, Steel Kings, Meat Kings, and called it a country worse than
Russia. I told of the corruption of politics in France.

Then I rambled on to Kings and Kingship. It is a difficult subject to
tackle even with children, but I tried to walk warily. I said that the
notion of a king was for people in an elementary stage of development.
Intellectual folk have no use for all the pomp and pageantry of
kingship. Royalty as it exists to-day is bad for us and for the royal
family. The poor princes and princesses are reared in an atmosphere of
make-believe. Their individuality and their loves are crushed by a
system. And it is really a system of lies. "In the King's name!" Why
make all this pretence when everyone knows that it is "In the Cabinet's
name"? It is not fair to the king.

I am no republican; I do not want to see monarchy abolished in this
land. I recognise that monarchy is necessary to the masses. But I want
to bring my bairns to see monarchy stripped of its robes, its pageantry,
its remoteness, its circumstance. Loyalty is a name to most of us.
People sing the National Anthem in very much the same way as they say
Grace before Meat. The Grace-sayer is thinking of his dinner; the singer
is wondering if he'll manage to get out in time to collar a taxi.

I do not blame the kings; I blame their advisers. We are kept in the
dark by them. We hear of a monarch's good deeds, but we never hear the
truth about him. The unwritten law demands that the truth shall be kept
secret until a few generations have passed. I know nothing about the
king. I don't know what he thinks of Republicanism (in his shoes I
should be a red-hot Republican), Socialism, Religion, Morals; and I want
to know whether he likes Locke's novels or Galsworthy's drama. In short,
I want to know the man that must of necessity be greater than the king.
I am tired of processions and functions.

I became a loyalist when first I went to Windsor Castle. Three massed
bands were playing in the quadrangle; thousands of visitors wandered
around. The King came to the window and bowed. I wanted to go up and
take him by the arm and say: "Poor King, you are not allowed to enjoy
the sensation of being in a crowd, you are an abstraction, you are
behind a barrier of nobility through which no commoner can pass. Come
down and have a smoke with me amongst all these typists and clerks." And
I expect that every man and woman in that crowd was thinking: "How nice
it must be to be a king!"

Yet if a king were to come down from the pedestal on which the courtiers
have placed him, I fear that the people would scorn him. They would
cry: "He is only a man!" I am forced to the conclusion that pomp and
circumstance are necessary after all. The people are to blame. The King
is all right; he looks a decent, kindly soul with a good heart. But the
people are not interested in good hearts; the fools want gilt coaches
and crimson carpets and all the rubbish of show.

                           *       *       *

A lady asked me to-day whether I taught my children manners. I told her
that I did not. She asked why. I replied that manners were sham, and my
chief duty was to get rid of sham. Then she asked me why I lifted my hat
to her ... and naturally I collapsed incontinently. Once again I write
the words, "It is a difficult thing to be a theorist ... and an honest
man at the same time."

On reflection I think that it is a case of personality _versus_ the
whole community. No man can be consistent. Were I to carry my
convictions to their natural conclusion I should be an outcast ... and
an outcast is of no value to the community. I lift my hat to a lady not
because I respect her (I occasionally do. I always doff my hat to the
school charwoman, but I am rather afraid of her), but because it is not
worth while to protest against the little things of life. Incidentally,
the whole case against hat-lifting is this:--In the lower and lower
middle classes the son does not lift his hat to his mother though he
does to the minister's wife.

No, I do not teach manners. If a boy "Sirs" me, he does it of his own
free will. I believe that you cannot teach manners; taught manners are
always forced, always overdone. My model of a true gentleman is a man
with an innate good taste and artistry. My idea of a lady ... well, one
of the truest ladies I have yet known kept a dairy in the Canongate of
Edinburgh.

I try to get my bairns to do to others as they would like others to do
to them. Shaw says "No: their tastes may not be the same as yours." Good
old G. B. S.!

I once was in a school where manners were taught religiously. I whacked
a boy one day. He said, "Thank you, sir."

                           *       *       *

I wonder how much influence on observation the so-called Nature Study
has. At one time I attended a Saturday class. We went botanising. I
learned nothing about Botany, but that was because Margaret was there. I
observed much ... her eyes were grey and her eyelashes long. We
generally managed to lose the class in less than no time. Yet we did
pretend. She was pretending to show me the something or other marks on a
horse-chestnut twig when I first kissed her. She is married now. I don't
believe in Saturday excursions.

I got up my scanty Nature Study from Grant Allen's little shilling book
on plants. It was a delightful book full of an almost Yankee
imagination. It theorised all the way ... grass developed a long narrow
blade so that it might edge its way to the sun; wild tobacco has a broad
blade because it doesn't need to care tuppence for the competition of
other plants, it can grow on wet clay of railway bankings. I think now
that Grant Allen was a romancer not a scientist.

I do not see the point in asking bairns to count the stamens of a
buttercup (Dr. Johnson hated the poets who "count the streaks of the
tulip"). But I do want to make them Grant Allens; I want them to make a
theory. Nature Study has but little result unless bairns get a lead. No
boy will guess that the lines on a petal are intended to lead bees to
the honey; at least, I know I would never have guessed it. I should
never have guessed that flowers are beautiful or perfumed in order to
attract insects. But I am really no criterion. I could not tell at this
moment the colour of my bedroom wallpaper; I can't tell whether my
father wears a moustache or side-whiskers. Until I began to teach
Woodwork I never observed a mortise, or if I did, I never wondered how
it was made. I never noticed that the tops of houses sloped downward
until I took up Perspective.

Anyway, observation is a poor attainment unless it is combined with
genius as in Darwin's case. Sherlock Holmes is a nobody. Observation
should follow fancy. The average youth has successive hobbies. He takes
up photography, and is led (sometimes) to enquire into the action of
silver salts; he takes up wood-carving, and begins to find untold
discoveries in the easy-chair.

I would advocate the keeping of animals at school. I would have a
rabbit run, a pigeon loft, one or two dogs, and a few cats for the
girls. Let a boy keep homers and fly them, and he will observe much.
Apart from the observation side of the question I would advocate a live
stock school-farm on humanitarian grounds; every child would acquire a
sense of duty to animals. I am sure all my bairns would turn out on a
Sunday to feed their pets. And what a delightful reward for kindness ...
make a boy or girl "Feeder-in-Chief" for the week! Incidentally, the
study of pigeons and rabbits would conduce to a frank realisation of
sex.

                           *       *       *

I have just bought the new shilling edition of H. G. Wells's _New Worlds
for Old_, and I have come upon this passage ... " ... Socialists turn to
the most creative profession of all, to that great calling which, with
each generation, renews the world's 'circle of ideas,' the Teachers!"

But why he puts the mark of exclamation at the end I do not know.

On the same page he says: "The constructive Socialist logically declares
the teacher master of the situation."

If the Teachers are masters of the situation I wish every teacher in
Scotland would get _The New Age_ each week. Orage's _Notes of the Week_
are easily the best commentary on the war I have seen. _The New Age_ is
so very amusing, too; its band of "warm young men" are the kind who
"can't stand Nietzsche because of his damnable philanthropy" as a
journalist friend of mine once phrased it. They despise Shaw and Wells
and Webb ... the old back-numbers. The magazine is pulsating with life
and youth. Every contributor is so cock-sure of himself. It is the only
fearless journal I know; it has no advertisements, and with
advertisements a journal is muzzled.

                           *       *       *

One or two bairns are going to try the bursary competition of the
neighbouring Secondary School, and I have just got hold of the last
year's papers.

"Name an important event in British History for each of any eight of the
following years:--1314, 1688, 1759, &c." ... and Wells says that
teaching is the most creative profession of all!

"Write an essay of twenty lines or so on any one of these
subjects:--School, Holidays, Examinations, Bursaries, Books." The
examiners might have added a few other bright interesting topics such as
Truth, Morals, Faith, Courage.

"Name the poem to which each of the following lines belongs, and add, if
you can, the next line in each case, &c." There are ten lines, and I can
only spot six of them. And I am, theoretically, an English scholar; I
took an Honours English Degree under Saintsbury. But my degree is only a
second class one; that no doubt accounts for my lack of knowledge.

That the compilers of the paper are not fools is shown by the fact that
they ask a question like this:--"A man loses a dog, you find it; write
and tell him that you have found it."

The Arithmetic paper is quite good. My bairns are to fail; I simply
cannot teach them to answer papers like these.



X.


I tried an experiment to-day. I gave an exam. in History, and each pupil
was allowed to use a text-book. The best one was first, she knew what to
select. I deprecate the usual exam. system of allotting a prescribed
time to each paper. Blyth Webster, the racy young lecturer in English in
Edinburgh University, used to allow us an indefinite time for our Old
English papers. I generally required a half hour to give him all I knew
about Old English, but I believe that some students sat for five hours.
Students write and think at different rates, and the time limit is
always unjust.

I wish the Department would allow me to set the Higher Grade Leavings
English papers for once. My paper would certainly include the
following:--

"If Shakespeare came back to earth what do you think would be his
opinion of Women's Suffrage (refer to _The Taming of the Shrew_) Home
Rule, Sweated Labour, the Kaiser?"

"Have you read any Utopia? If not, it doesn't matter; write one of your
own. (Note ... a Utopia is an ideal country--this side the grave.)"

"Discuss Spenser's idea of chivalry, and state what you think would be
his opinion on table manners, Soho, or any slum you know, "the Present
State of Ireland."

"What would Burns have thought of the prevalence of the kilt among the
Semitic inhabitants of Scotland? Is Burns greater than Harry Lauder?
Tell me why you think he isn't or is."

"Discuss the following humorists and alleged humorists:--Dickens,
Jacobs, Lauder, Jerome, Leacock, Storer Clouston, Wells (in _Kipps_, and
_Mr. Polly_), Locke (in _Septimus_), Bennett (in _The Card_), Mark
Twain, your class teacher, the average magistrate."

"If you have not read any humour at all, write a humorous dialogue
between a brick and the mongrel dog it came in contact with."

I hold that my exam. paper would discover any genius knocking about in
ignorance of his or her powers. I intend to offer it to the Department
... when I am out of the profession.

                           *       *       *

It is extremely difficult for any teacher to keep from getting into a
rut. The continual effort to make things simple and elementary for
children is apt to deaden the intellect.

To-night I felt dull; I simply couldn't think. So I took up a volume of
Nietzsche, and I now know the remedy for dullness. Nietzsche is a
genius; he dazzles one ... and he almost persuades. To-night I am
doubting. Is my belief in a great democracy all wrong? Is it true that
there is a slave class that can never be anything else? Is our Christian
morality a slave morality which is evolving the wrong type of human?

I think of the pity and kindness which is making us keep alive the
lunatic and the incurable; I am persuaded to believe that our hospitals
are in the long run conducing to an unfit race. Unfit physically; but
unfit mentally? Is Sandow the Superman? Will Nietzsche's type of Master
man with his physical energy and warlikeness prove to be the best?

I think that the journalists who are anathematising Nietzsche are
wrong; I don't believe the Kaiser ever read a line of his. But I think
that every German is subconsciously a believer in energy and "Master
Morality"; Nietzsche was merely one who realised his nature. The German
religion is undoubtedly the religion of the Old Testament; to them
"good" is all that pertains to power; their God is the tyrant of the Old
Testament. Nietzsche holds that the New Testament code of morals was
invented by a conquered race; the poor were meek and servile, and they
looked forward to a time when they would be in glory while the rich man
frizzled down below.

No man can scorn Nietzsche; you are forced to listen to him. Only fools
can dismiss him with the epithet "Madman!"

But I cannot follow him; I believe that if pity and kindness are wrong,
then wrong is right. Yet I see that Nietzsche is wise in saying that
there must always be one stone at the top of the pyramid. The question
is this:--Will a democracy always be sure to choose the right man? I
wonder.

I found one arresting statement in the book:--"If we have a degenerate
mean environment, the fittest will be the man who is best adapted to
degeneracy and meanness; he will survive." That is what is happening
now. I believe that the people will one day be capable of altering this
basis of society; Nietzsche believed that the people are mostly of the
slave variety, and that a better state of affairs could only come about
through the breeding of Supermen ... masters. "The best shall rule,"
says he. Who are the best? I ask, and I really cannot answer myself.

                           *       *       *

As I go forward with these notes I find that I become more and more
impelled to write down thoughts that can only have a remote connection
with the education of children. I think the explanation lies in the fact
that every day I realise more and more the futility of my school-work.
Indeed, I find myself losing interest sometimes; I go through a lesson
on Geography mechanically; in short, I drudge occasionally. But I always
awake at Composition time.

I find it useless to do home correction; a bairn won't read the blue
pencil marks. I must sit down beside him while I correct; and this
takes too much time ... from a timetable point of view.

But the mistakes in spelling and grammar are minor matters, what I look
for are ideas. I never set a dull subject of the How-I-spent-my-holidays
type; every essay must appeal to the imagination. "Suppose you go to
sleep for a thousand years," I said, "and tell the story of your
awaking." I asked my Qualifying to become invisible; most of them took
to thieving and spying. I gave them Wells's _The Invisible Man_ and
_When the Sleeper Wakes_ to read later.

"Go to Mrs. Rabbit's Garden Party, and describe it." One boy went as a
wolf, and returned with the party inside. A girl went as a weasel and
left early because she could not eat the lettuce and cabbage on the
table. One boy went as an elephant and could not get in.

"Write a child of seven's account of washing day," I said to my
Qualifying, and I got some delightful baby-talk from Margaret Steel and
Violet Brown.

"Imagine that you are the last man left alive on earth." This essay
produced some good work; most of the girls were concerned about the
fact that there was no one to bury them when they died.

The best results of all came from this subject:--"Die at the age of
ninety, and write the paragraph about yourself to the local paper." Most
of them made the present minister make a few pious remarks from the
pulpit; one girl was clever enough to name a strange minister.

A newspaper correspondence interests a class. "Make a Mr. James Smith
write a letter to _The Scotsman_ saying that he saw a cow smoking a
cigar one night; then write the replies." One boy made a William Thomson
suggest that a man must have been standing beside the cow in the
darkness. Smith replied that this was impossible, for any man standing
beside a cow would be a farmer or a cattleman, and "neither of them can
afford to smoke cigars."

                           *       *       *

I notice that many School Boards insist on having Trained Teachers. Is
it possible to "train" a teacher? Are teachers not born like poets? I
think they are. I have seen untrained teachers at work, and I have seen
trained teachers; I never observed a scrap of difference. All I would
say to a young teacher is: "Ask questions. Ask why there is a fence
round the field, ask why there is a fence round that tree in the field,
then ask whether any plant or tree has a natural fence of its own."

And I think I should say this: "A good teacher will begin a lesson on
Cromwell, touch, in passing, Jack Johnson, Charlie Chaplin, Votes for
Women, guinea pigs, ghosts, and finish up with an enquiry into
Protective Coloration of Animals."

The Code seems to be founded on the assumption that the teachers of
Scotland don't know their business. Why specify that Nature Study will
be taught? Any good teacher will refer to Nature every five minutes of
the day. To me teaching is a ramble through every subject the teacher
knows.

No, I don't think a teacher can be trained, but I am prejudiced; I took
the Acting Teachers' Certificate Exam ... and passed Third Class. In the
King's Scholarship I was ninety-ninth in the list of a hundred and one.
Luckily, the Acting Teachers' list was given in alphabetical order.

I had a friend at the university, Anderson was his name, a medical. He
had passed in Physics, and naturally his name was near the beginning of
the list. His local paper had it "A Brilliant Student." Anderson got
through at the ninth shot.

                           *       *       *

To-day I talked about crime and punishment. I told my bairns that a
criminal cannot help himself; heredity and environment make a man good
or bad. I spoke of the environment that makes millions of children
diseased morally and physically, and of the law that punishes a man for
the sins of the community. I told them that there should be no prisons;
if a man is a murderer he is not responsible for his actions, and he
must be confined ... but not in prison.

Our present system is not justice; it is vengeance. I once saw a poor
waif sent to prison for stealing a pair of boots, sent to the care of
warders, sent to acquire a hatred of his fellowmen. Justice would have
asked: "Why did he steal? Why had he no boots? What sort of life has he
been forced to lead?" and I know that the waif would have been
acquitted.

I told my bairns that to cure any evil you must get at the root of it,
and I incidentally pointed to the Insurance Act, and said that it was
like treating a man with a suppurating appendix for the headache that
was one of the symptoms. I told them that their fathers have not tried
to get at the root of evil, that their prisons and cats and oakum are
cowardly expedients. The evil is that the great majority of people are
poor slaves, while the minority live on their earnings. That isn't
politics; it is truth. I told them that if I had been born in the
Cowgate of Edinburgh I should have been a thief and a drunkard ... and
society would have added to my curse of heredity and environment the
pains and brutishness of a prison. And yet men accuse me of attaching
too much importance to material reforms.

                           *       *       *

I have not used the strap for many weeks now. I hope that I shall never
use it again. I found a boy smoking a cigarette to-day. Four years ago I
should have run him into the school and welted him. To-day I spoke to
him. "Joseph," I said, "I smoke myself, and at your age I smoked an
occasional Woodbine. But it isn't really good for a boy, and I hope you
won't get into the habit of buying cigs. with your pocket money." He
smiled and told me that he didn't really like it; he just smoked for
fun. And he tossed the cigarette over a wall.

A very clever friend of mine talks about the "Hamlet cramp." I've got
it. Other men have a definite standard of right and wrong; I have none.
The only original sin that I believe in is the cruelty that has come to
man from the remote tree-dweller.



XI.


A villager stopped me on my way to school this morning. "Look at that,"
he cried, pointing to a broken branch on a tree in his garden, "that's
what comes o' yer nae discipline ideas. That's ane o' yer laddies that
put his kite into ma gairden. Dawm it, A'll no stand that! Ye'll jest go
doon to the school and gie that boy the biggest leathering that he's
ever had in his life."

I explained patiently that I was not the village constable, and I told
him that the broken branch had nothing to do with me. He became angry,
but he became speechless when I said, "I sympathise with you. Had it
been my garden I should have sworn possibly harder than you have done.
On the other hand, had it been twenty years ago and my kite, well, I
should have done exactly what the boy did. Good morning."

Although it was no concern of mine I called the boy out, and advised him
to try to think of other people. Then I addressed the bairns. "You
might convey to your parents," I said, "that I am not the policeman in
this village; I'm a schoolmaster."

I think that many parents are annoyed at my giving up punishment. They
feel that I am not doing their work for them; they think that the
dominie should do the training of children ... other people's children,
not their own. I find that I am trying to do a very difficult thing. The
home influence is bad in many cases; the children hear their parents
slight the teacher, and they do not know what to think. The average
parent looks upon the teacher as an enemy. If I hit a boy the parents
side with him, if I don't hit the boy who hit their boy, they
indignantly ask what education is coming to. Many a night I feel
disheartened. I find that I am on the side of the bairns. I am against
law and discipline; I am all for freedom of action.

                           *       *       *

At last I have attained my ambition. As a boy my great ambition was to
possess a cavalry trumpet and bugle. I have just bought both. I call
the bairns to school with "Stables" or the "Fall In," and I gleefully
look forward to playtime so that I may have another tootle. The bairns
love to hear the calls, but I think I enjoy them most.

I try hard to share the bairns' joys. At present I am out with them
every day flying kites, and I never tire of this. The boys bring me
their comic papers, but I find that I cannot laugh at them as I used to
do. Yet, I like to see _Chips_; Weary Willie and Tired Tim are still
figuring on the front page, but their pristine glory is gone. When I
first knew them they were the creation of Tom Browne, and no artist can
follow Tom in his own line.

I miss the old "bloods"; I used to glory in the exploits of Frank Reade
and Deadwood Dick. I have sat on a Sunday with _Deadwood Dick_ in the
covers of a family Bible, and my old grandmother patted my head and told
me I was a promising lad.

Then there was Buffalo Bill--tuppence coloured; I never see his name
now. I wonder why so many parents and teachers cuff boys' heads when
they find them reading comic papers and "bloods." I see no harm in
either. I wish that people would get out of the absurd habit of taking
it for granted that whatever a boy does is wrong. I hold that a boy is
nearly always right.

I see in to-day's _Scotsman_ that a Sheriff substitute in Edinburgh has
sentenced two brothers of nine and ten to twelve stripes with the birch
rod for stealing tuppence ha'penny. The account remarked that the
brothers had previously had a few stripes for a similar theft. That
punishment is no prevention is proved in this case.

The Sheriff Substitute must have a very definite idea of righteousness;
I envy him his conscience free from all remembrance of shortcomings in
the past. For my part had I been sitting in judgment on the poor laddies
I should have recollected the various times I have travelled first with
a third ticket, sneaked into circuses by lifting the tent cover, laid
farthings on the railway so that they might become ha'pennies, or, with
a special piece of luck--a goods train--pennies. Then I should have
invited the boys to tea, and sent them home with _Comic Cuts_, two
oranges, and a considerable bit of chewing gum. Anyhow, my method would
have brought out any good in the boys. The method of the judge will
bring out no good; it may make the boys feel that they are enemies of
society. And I should like to ask the gentleman what he would do if his
young son stole the jam. I'm sure he would not send for the birch rod.
The damnable thing about the whole affair is that he is probably a very
nice kindly man who would not whip a dog with his own hand. His
misfortune is his being part of a system.

                           *       *       *

I have just added a few volumes to my school library. I tried to
recollect the books that I liked as a youth; then I wrote for catalogues
of "sevenpennies." The new books include these:--_The Prisoner of Zenda_
and its sequel, _Rupert of Hentzau_, _King Solomon's Mines_,
_Montezuma's Daughter_, _The Four Feathers_, _A Gentleman of France_,
_White Fang_, _The Call of the Wild_, _The Invisible Man_, _The War of
the Worlds_, _The War in the Air_, _Dr. Nikola_, _A Bid for Fortune_,
_Micah Clarke_. I find that the average bairn of thirteen cannot
appreciate these stories. Margaret Steel was the only one who read _The
Scarlet Pimpernel_ and asked for the sequel. Most of them stuck half way
with _Zenda_. Guy Boothby's novels, the worst of the lot possibly,
appealed to them strongly. The love element bores the boys, but the
girls rather like it. One boy sat and yawned over _King Solomon's
Mines_; then he took out a coloured comic and turned to the serial. I
took the book away and told him to read the serial. Violet Brown prefers
a book about giants from the infant room to all the romantic stories
extant. After all, they are but children.

                           *       *       *

I am delighted with my sketching results. We go out every Wednesday and
Friday afternoon, and many bairns are giving me good work. We usually
end up with races or wading in the sea. There was much wonder when first
they saw my bare feet, but now they take my feet for granted.

Modesty is strong here. The other day the big girls came to me and asked
if they could come to school slipshod.

"You can come in your nighties for all I care," I said, and they gasped.

We sit outside all day now. My classes take books and wander away down
the road and lie on the banks. When I want them I call with the bugle.
Each class has a "regimental call," and they come promptly. They most
of them sit down separately, but the chatterers like to sit together.

I force no bairn to learn in my school. The few who dislike books and
lessons sit up when I talk to the class. The slackers are not always the
most ignorant.

I am beginning to compliment myself on having a good temper. For the
past six weeks I have left the manual room open at playtime and the boys
have made many toys. But they have made a woeful mess of the cutting
tools. It is trying to find that your favourite plane has been cracked
by a boy who has extreme theories on the fixing of plane irons. But it
is very comforting to know that the School Board will have to pay for
the damage. Yes, my temper is excellent.

                           *       *       *

On Saturday I went to a Bazaar, and various members of the aristocracy
talked to me. They talked very much in the manner they talk to their
gardeners, and I was led to muse upon the social status of a dominie.
What struck me most was the fact that they imitate royalty in the
broaching of topics of conversation; I knew that I presumed when I
entered new ground of conversation. The ladies were very polite and very
regal, and very well pleased with themselves. One of them said: "I hope
that you do your best to make these children realise that there are
classes in society; so many of their parents refuse to see the good in
other classes!"

"For my part," I answered, "I acknowledge one aristocracy--the
aristocracy of intellect. I teach my children to have respect for
thinking." She stared at me, and went away.

I am not prejudiced against the county people, but any superiority of
manner annoys me. I simply have no use for ladies who live drifting
lives. The lady-bountifuls, or should it be the ladies-bountiful? of
Britain would be much better as typists; in these days of alleged
scarcity of labour they might come down and mix with the lower orders.
Their grace and breeding would do much to improve us, and we might be
able to help them in some ways. I am not being cynical, I have a genuine
admiration for the breeding and beauty of some society women.

The doctor and the minister are seldom patronised. I cannot for the life
of me see why it is more lowly to cure a child of ignorance than
measles.

I have heard it said that the real reason of the teacher's low social
status is the fact that very often he is the son of a humble labourer.
There is some truth in this. At the Training College and the University
the student meets men of his own class only; he never learns the little
tricks of deportment that make up society's criterion of a gentleman.
But for my part I blame the circumstances under which a dominie works.
In Scotland he is the servant of a School Board, and a School Board is
generally composed of men who have but the haziest notion of the meaning
of education. That is bad enough, but very often there is a feud between
one or two members and the teacher. Perhaps the teacher does not get his
coals from Mr. Brown the Chairman, perhaps Mr. Brown voted for another
man when the appointment was made. It is difficult for a man who is
ruled by a few low-idealed semi-illiterate farmers and pig-dealers to
emphasise his social position.

Larger areas have been spoken of by politicians. Personally, I don't
want larger areas; I want to see the profession run by the members,
just as Law and Medicine are. It is significant that the medical
profession has dropped considerably in the social scale since it allowed
itself to work under the Insurance Act.

My ideal is an Education Guild which will replace the Scotch Education
Department. It will draw up its own scheme of instruction, fix the
salaries of its members, appoint its own inspectors, build its own
schools. It will be directly responsible to the State which will remain
the supreme authority.

I blame the teachers for their low social status. To-day they have no
idea of corporate action. They pay their subscriptions to their
Institute, and for the most part talk of stopping them on the ground
that it is money wasted. The authorities of the Institute try to work
for a better union, but they try clumsily and stodgily. They never write
or talk forcibly; they resemble the Labour Members of Parliament in
their having an eager desire to be respectable at any price. I don't
know why it is, but when a professional man tries to put his thoughts on
paper he almost always succeeds in saving nothing in many fine phrases.

What is really wrong with the Educational Institute of Scotland is
hoary-headedness. It is run by old men and old wives. A big man in the
Institute is usually a teacher with thirty years' experience as a
headmaster. Well ... if a man can teach under the present system for
thirty years and retain any originality or imagination at the end of
that time he must be a genius.

I object to age and experience; I am all for youth and empiricism. After
all, what is the use of experience in teaching? I could bet my boots
that ninety-nine out of a hundred teachers use the methods they learned
as pupil-teachers. Experience! I have heard dominies expatiate on
innovations like Kindergarten and Blackboard Drawing. I still have to
meet a dominie of experience who has any name but "fad" for anything in
education later than 1880.

I have never tried to define the word "fad." I should put it thus:--A
fad is a half-formed idea that a sub-inspector has borrowed from a bad
translation of a distinguished foreigner's treatise on Education, and
handed on to a deferential dominie.

                           *       *       *

An inspector called to-day; a middle-aged kindly gentleman with a sharp
eye. His chief interest in life was tables.

"How many pence in fifty-seven farthings?" he fired at my highest class.
When he found that they had to divide mentally by four, he became
annoyed.

"They ought to know their tables," he said to me.

"What tables?" I asked.

"O, they should learn up that; why I can tell you at once what
sixty-nine farthings are."

I explained humbly that I couldn't, and should never acquire the skill.

I did not like his manner of talking _at_ the teacher through the class.
When an inspector says, "You ought to know this," the scholars glance at
the teacher, for they are shrewd enough to see that the teacher is being
condemned.

He fired his parting shot as he went out.

"You must learn not to talk in school," he said.

I am a peaceful man, and I hate a scene. I said nothing, but I shall do
nothing. If he returns he will find no difference in the school.

The bairns did talk to each other when the inspector talked to me, but
when he asked for attention he got it.

I am surprised to find that his visit does not worry me; I have at last
lost my fear of the terror of teaching--H.M.I.S.



XII.


I went "drumming" last night. I like the American word "drummer," it is
so much more expressive than our "commercial traveller."

I made a series of postcards, and I went round the shops trying to place
them. One man refused to take them up because the profits would not be
large enough. As the profits work out at 41½ per cent I begin to wonder
what he usually makes.

To-day I talked to the bairns about commerce, and I pointed out that
much in commerce was thieving.

"This is commerce," I said: "Suppose I am a pig-dealer. I hear one day
from a friend that pigs will rise in price in a few days. I at once set
out on a tour of neighbouring farms, and by nightfall I have bought
twenty pigs at the market price. Next morning pigs have doubled in
price, and these farmers naturally want to shoot me. Why don't they
shoot me?"

"They would be hanged," said Violet Brown.

"Because they would buy pigs in the same way if they had the chance,"
said Margaret Steel.

I went on to say that buying pigs like that is stealing, and I said that
the successful business man is usually the man who is most unscrupulous.

I told them of the murderous system that allows a big firm to place a
shop next door to a small merchant and undersell him till his business
dies. It is all done under the name of competition, but of course there
is no more competition about the affair than there is about the
relationship between a wolf and a lamb.

I try very very hard to keep my bairns from low ideals. Some one, Oscar
Wilde or Shaw, I think, says that love of money is the root of all good.
That is the sort of paradox that isn't true, and not even funny. I see
farmers growing rich on child labour: fifteen pence a day for spreading
manure. I meet the poor little boys of thirteen and fourteen on the
road, and the smile has gone from their faces; their bodies are bent
and racked.

When I was thirteen I went to the potato-gathering at a farm. Even now,
when I pass a field where potatoes are being lifted, the peculiar smell
of potato earth brings back to me those ten days of misery. I seldom had
time to straighten my back. I had but one thought all day: When will
that sun get down to the west? My neighbour, Jock Tamson, always seemed
fresh and cheerful, but, unfortunately, I did not discover the cause of
his optimism until the last day.

"Foo are you feenished so quick, Jock?" I asked.

Jock winked and nodded his head in the direction of the farmer.

"Look!" he said, and he skilfully tramped a big potato into the earth
with his right foot; then he surreptitiously happed it over with his
left.

I have never forgiven Jock for being so tardy in spreading his gospel.

                           *       *       *

To-day I received from the Clerk the Report on my school.

"Discipline," it says, "which is kindly, might be firmer, especially in
the Senior Division, so as to prevent a tendency to talk on the part of
the pupils whenever opportunity occurs."

An earlier part runs thus: "The pupils in the Senior Division are
intelligent and bright under oral examination, and make an exceedingly
good appearance in the class subjects."

I scratch my head thoughtfully. If the inspector finds the bairns
intelligent and bright, why does he want them to be silent in school? I
cannot tell; I suspect that talking children annoy him. I fancy that
stern disciplinarians are men who hate to be irritated.

"More attention, however, should be paid to neatness of method and
penmanship in copybooks and jotters."

I wonder. I freely admit to myself that the jotters are not neat, but I
want to know why they should be. I can beat most men at marring a page
with hasty figures; on the other hand I can make a page look like
copperplate if I want to. I find that my bairns do neat work on an
examination paper.

The truth is that I am incapable of teaching neatness. My desk is a
jumble; my sitting-room is generally littered with books and papers.
Some men are born tidy: some have tidiness thrust upon them. I am of the
latter crowd. Between the school charwoman and my landlady I live
strenuously.

I object to my report. I hate to be the victim of a man I can't reply
to, even when he says nice things. But the main objection I have to the
report is this: the School Board gets not a single word of criticism. If
I were not almost proud of my lack of neatness, I might argue that no
man could be neat in an ugly school. It is always filthy because the
ashed playground is undrained. Broken windows stand for months; the
plaster of the ceiling came down months ago, and the lathes are still
showing. The School Board does not worry; its avowed object is to keep
down the rates at any price in meanness (some members are big
ratepayers). The sanitary arrangements are a disgrace to a
long-suffering nation. Nothing is done.

                           *       *       *

It would be a good plan to make teachers forward reports of inspectors'
visits to the Scotch Education Department. I should love to write one.

"Mr. Silas K. Beans, H.M.I.S., paid a visit to this school to-day, and
he made quite a passable appearance before the pupils.

"It was perhaps unfortunate that Mr. Beans laboured under the delusion
that Mrs. Hemans wrote _Come into the Garden, Maud_, but on the whole
the subject was adequately treated.

"The geography lesson showed Mr. Beans at his best, but it might be
advisable for him to consider whether the precise whereabouts of Seville
possesses the importance in the scheme of things that he attributes to
it. And it might be suggested that children of twelve find some
difficulty in spelling Prsym--Prysem--Pryems----anyway, the name of the
town that has kept the alleged comic weeklies alive during a trying
period.

"The school staff would have liked Mr. Beans to have stayed long enough
to discover that a few of the scholars possessed imagination, and it
hoped that he will be able to make his visit longer than four hours next
time.

"Mr. Beans's knowledge of dates is wonderful, and his parsing has all
the glory of Early Victorian furniture."



XIII.


To-night MacMurray invited me down to meet his former head, Simpson, a
big man in the Educational Institute, and a likely President next year.
Mac introduced me as "a chap with theories on education; doesn't care a
rap for inspectors and abominates discipline."

Simpson looked me over; then he grunted.

"You'll grow out of that, young man," he said sagely.

I laughed.

"That's what I'm afraid of," I said, "I fear that the continual holding
of my nose to the grindstone will destroy my perspective."

"You'll find that experience doesn't destroy perspective."

"Experience," I cried, "is, or at least, should be one of Oscar Wilde's
Seven Deadly Virtues. The experienced man is the chap who funks doing a
thing because he's had his fingers burnt. 'Tis experience that makes
cowards of us all."

"Of course," said Simpson, "you're joking. It stands to reason that I,
for instance, with a thirty-four years' experience of teaching know more
about education than you do, if you don't mind my saying so."

"Man, I was teaching laddies before your father and mother met," he
added.

"If you saw a lad and a lass making love would you arrange that he
should sit near her?"

"Good gracious, no!" he cried. "What has that got to do with the
subject."

"But why not give them chances to spoon?" I asked.

"Why not? If a teacher encouraged that sort of thing, why, it might lead
to anything!"

"Exactly," I said, "experience tells you that you have to do all you can
to preserve the morals of the bairns?"

"I could give you instances--"

"I don't want them particularly," I interrupted. "My main point is that
experience has made you a funk. Pass the baccy, Mac."

"Mean to tell me that's how you teach?" cried Simpson. "How in all the
world do you do for discipline?"

"I do without it."

"My goodness! that's the limit! May I ask why you do without it?"

"It is a purely personal matter," I answered. "I don't want anyone to
lay down definite rules for me, and I refuse to lay down definite rules
of conduct for my bairns."

"But how in all the earth do you get any work done?"

"Work," I said, "is an over-rated thing, just as knowledge is
overrated."

"Nonsense," said Simpson.

"All right," I remarked mildly, "if knowledge is so important, why is a
university professor usually a talker of platitudes? Why is the average
medallist at a university a man of tenth-rate ideas?"

"Then our Scotch education is all in vain?"

"Speaking generally, it is."

I think it was at this stage that Simpson began to doubt my sanity.

"Young man," he said severely, "one day you will realise that work and
knowledge and discipline are of supreme importance. Look at the
Germans!"

He waved his hand in the direction of the sideboard, and I looked round
hastily.

"Look what Germany has done with work and knowledge and discipline!"

"Then why all this bother to crush a State that has all the virtues?" I
asked diffidently.

"It isn't the discipline we are trying to crush; it is the militarism."

"Good!" I cried, "I'm glad to hear it. That's what I want to do in
Scotland; I want to crush the militarism in our schools, and, as most
teachers call their militarism discipline, I curse discipline."

"That's all rubbish, you know," he said shortly.

"No it isn't. If I leather a boy for making a mistake in a sum, I am no
better than the Prussian officer who shoots a Belgian civilian for
crossing the street. I am equally stupid and a bully."

"Then you allow carelessness to go unpunished?" he sneered.

"I do. You see I am a very careless devil myself. I'll swear that I left
your garden gate open when I came in, Mac, and your hens will be all
over the road."

Mac looked out at the window.

"They are!" he chuckled, and I laughed.

"You seem to think that slovenliness is a virtue," said Simpson with a
faint smile.

"I don't, really, but I hold that it is a natural human quality."

"Are your pupils slovenly?" he asked.

"Lots of 'em are. You're born tidy or you aren't."

"When these boys go out to the workshop, what then? Will a joiner keep
an apprentice who makes a slovenly job?"

"Ah!" I said, "you're talking about trade now. You evidently want our
schools to turn out practical workmen. I don't. Mind you I'm quite
willing to admit that a shoemaker who theorises about leather is a
public nuisance. Neatness and skill are necessary in practical
manufacture, but I refuse to reduce education to the level of cobbling
or coffin-making. I don't care how slovenly a boy is if he thinks."

"If he is slovenly he won't think," said Simpson.

I smiled.

"I think you are wrong. Personally, I am a very lazy man; I have my
library all over the floor as a rule. Yet, though I am lazy physically I
am not lazy mentally. I hold that the really lazy teacher is your "ring
the bell at nine sharp" man; he hustles so much that he hasn't time to
think. If you work hard all day you never have time to think."

Simpson laughed.

"Man, I'd like to see your school!"

"Why not? Come up tomorrow morning," I said.

"First rate!" he cried, "I'll be there at nine."

"Better not," I said with a smile, "or you'll have to wait for ten
minutes."

                           *       *       *

He arrived as I blew the "Fall in" on my bugle.

"You don't line them up and march them in?" he said.

"I used to, but I've given it up," I confessed. "To tell the truth I'm
not enamoured of straight lines."

We entered my classroom. Simpson stood looking sternly at my chattering
family while I marked the registers.

"I couldn't tolerate this row," he said.

"It isn't so noisy as your golf club on a Saturday night, is it?" He
smiled slightly.

Jim Burnett came out to my desk and lifted _The Glasgow Herald_, then
he went out to the playground humming _On the Mississippi_.

"What's the idea?" asked Simpson.

"He's the only boy who is keen on the war news," I explained.

Then Margaret Steel came out.

"Please, sir, I took _The Four Feathers_ home and my mother began to
read them; she thinks she'll finish them by Sunday. Is anybody reading
_The Invisible Man_?"

I gave her the book and she went out.

Then Tom Macintosh came out and asked for the Manual Room key; he wanted
to finish a boat he was making.

"Do you let them do as they like?" asked Simpson.

"In the upper classes," I replied.

Soon all the Supplementary and Qualifying pupils had found a novel and
had gone out to the roadside. I turned to give the other classes
arithmetic.

Mary Wilson in the front seat held out a bag of sweets to me. I took
one.

"Please, sir, would the gentleman like one, too?"

Simpson took one with the air of a man on holiday who doesn't care what
sins he commits.

"I say," he whispered, "do you let them eat in school? There's a boy in
the back seat eating nuts."

I fixed Ralph Ritchie with my eye.

"Ralph! If you throw any nutshells on that floor Mrs. Findlay will eat
you."

"I'm putting them in my pooch," he said.

"Good! Write down this sum."

"What are the others doing?" asked Simpson after a time.

"Margaret Steel and Violet Brown are reading," I said promptly. "Annie
Dixon is playing fivies on the sand, Jack White and Bob Tosh are most
likely arguing about horses, but the other boys are reading, we'll go
and see." And together we walked down the road.

Annie was playing fivies all right, but Jack and Bob weren't discussing
horses; they were reading _Chips_.

"And the scamps haven't the decency to hide it when you appear!" cried
Simpson.

"Haven't the fear," I corrected.

On the way back to the school he said: "It's all very pleasant and
picnicy, but eating nuts and sweets in class!"

"Makes your right arm itch?" I suggested pleasantly.

"It does," he said with a short laugh, "Man, do you never get
irritated?"

"Sometimes."

"Ah!" He looked relieved. "So the system isn't perfect?"

"Good heavens!" I cried, "What do you think I am? A saint from heaven?
You surely don't imagine that a man with nerves and a temperament is
always able to enter into the moods of bairns! I get ratty occasionally,
but I generally blame myself." I sent a girl for my bugle and sounded
the "Dismiss."

"What do you do now?"

I pulled out my pipe and baccy.

"Have a fill," I said, "it's John Cotton."

                           *       *       *

To-night I have been thinking about Simpson. He is really a kindly man;
in the golf-house he is voted a good fellow. Yet MacMurray tells me that
he is a very strict disciplinarian; he saw him give a boy six scuds with
the tawse one day for drawing a man's face on the inside cover of his
drawing book. I suppose that Simpson considers that he is an eminently
just man.

I think that the foundation of true justice is self-analysis. It is
mental laziness that is at the root of the militarism in our schools.
Simpson is as lazy mentally as the proverbial mother who cried: "See
what Willie's doing and tell him he musn't." I wonder what he would have
replied if the boy had said: "Why is it wrong to draw a man's face in a
drawing book?" Very likely he would have given him another six for
impertinence.

It is strange that our boasted democracy uses its power to set up
bullies. The law bullies the poor and gives them the cat if they
trespass; the police bully everyone who hasn't a clean collar; the
dominie bullies the young; and the School Board bullies the dominie.
Yet, in theory, the judge, the constable, the dominie, and the School
Board are the servants of democracy. Heaven protect us from the
bureaucratic Socialism of people like the Webbs! It is significant that
Germany, the country of the super-official is the country of the
super-bully.

Paradoxically, I, as a Socialist, believe that the one thing that will
save the people is individualism. No democracy can control a stupid
teacher or a stupid judge. If our universities produce teachers who
leather a boy for drawing a face, and judges who give boys the cat for
stealing tuppence ha'penny, then our universities are all wrong. Or
human nature is all wrong. If I admit the latter I must fall back on
pessimism. But I don't admit it. Our cruel teachers and magistrates are
good fellows in their clubs and homes; they are bad fellows in their
schools and courts because they have never come to think, to examine
themselves. In my Utopia self-examination will be the only examination
that will matter.

H. G. Wells in _The New Machiavelli_ talks of "Love and Fine Thinking"
as the salvation of the world. I like the phrase, but I prefer the word
Realisation. I want men like Simpson to realise that their arbitrary
rules are unjust and cowardly and inhuman.

                           *       *       *

I saw a good fight to-night. At four o'clock I noticed a general move
towards Murray's Corner, and I knew that blood was about to be shed.
Moreover I knew that Jim Steel was to tackle the new boy Welsh, for I
had seen Jim put his fist to his nose significantly in the afternoon.

I followed the crowd.

"I want to see fair play," I said.

Welsh kept shouting that he could "fecht the hale schule wi' wan hand
tied ahent 'is back."

In this district school fights have an etiquette of their own. One boy
touches the other on the arm saying: "There's the dunt!" The other
returns the touch with the same remark. If he fails to return it he
receives a harder dunt on the arm with the words, "And there's the
coordly!" If he fails to return that also he is accounted the loser, and
the small boys throw divots at him.

Steel began in the usual way with his: "There's the dunt!" Welsh
promptly hit him in the teeth and knocked him down. The boys appealed to
me.

"No," I said, "Welsh didn't know the rules. After this you should shake
hands as you do in boxing."

Welsh never had a chance. He had no science; he came on with his arms
swinging in windmill fashion. Jim stepped aside and drove a straight
left to the jaw, and before Welsh knew what was happening Jim landed him
on the nose with his right. Welsh began to weep, and I stopped the
fight. I told him that Steel had the advantage because I had taught my
boys the value of a straight left, but that I would give him a few
lessons with the gloves later on. Then I asked how the quarrel had
arisen. As I had conjectured Steel and Welsh had no real quarrel. Welsh
had cuffed little Geordie Burnett's ears, and Geordie had cried, "Ye
wudna hit Jim Steel!" Welsh had no alternative but to reply: "Wud Aw
no!" Straightway Geordie had run off to Steel saying: "Hi! Jim! Peter
Welsh says he'll fecht ye!"

So far as I can remember all my own battles at school were arranged by
disobliging little boys in this manner. If Jock Tamson said to me: "Bob
Young cud aisy fecht ye and ca' yer nose up among yer hair!" I, as a man
of honour, had to reply: "Aw'll try Bob Young ony day he likes!" And
even if Bob were my bosom friend, I would have to face him at the brig
at four o'clock.

I noticed that the girls were all on Steel's side before the fight
began, and obviously on Welsh's side when he was beaten, the bissoms!



XIV.


I gave a lecture in the village hall on Friday night, and many parents
came out to hear what I had to say on the subject of _Children and their
Parents_. After the lecture I invited questions.

"What wud ye hae a man do if his laddie wudna do what he was bidden?"
asked Brown the joiner.

"I would have the man think very seriously whether he had any right to
give the order that was disobeyed. For instance, if you ordered your Jim
to stop singing while you were reading, you would be taking an unfair
advantage of your years and size. From what I know of Jim he would
certainly stop singing if you asked him to do so as a favour."

"Aw dinna believe in askin' favours o' ma laddies," he said.

I smiled.

"Yet you ask them of other laddies. You don't collar Fred Thomson and
shout: 'Post that letter at once!' You say very nicely: 'You might post
that letter like a good laddie,' and Fred enjoys posting your letter
more than posting a ton of letters for his own father."

The audience laughed, and Fred's father cried: "Goad! Ye're quite richt,
dominie!"

"As a boy," I continued, "I hated being set to weed the garden, though I
spent hours helping to weed the garden next door. A boy likes to grant
favours."

"Aye," said Brown, "when there's a penny at the tail end o' them!"

"Yes," I said after the laughter had died, "but your Jim would rather
have Mr. Thomson's penny than your sixpence. The real reason is that you
boss your son, and nobody likes to be bossed."

"Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, I think that the father is the curse
of the home. (Laughter.) The father never talks to his son as man to
man. As a result a boy suppresses much of his nature, and if he is left
alone with his father for five minutes he feels awkward, though not
quite so awkward as the father does. You find among the lower animals
that the father is of no importance; indeed, he is looked on as a
danger. Have you ever seen a bitch flare up when the father comes too
near her puppies? Female spiders, I am told, solve the problem of the
father by eating him." (Great laughter.)

"What aboot the mothers?" said a voice, and the men cackled.

"Mothers are worse," I said. "Fathers usually imagine that they have a
sense of justice, but mothers have absolutely no sense of justice. It is
the mother who cries, 'Liz, ye lazy slut, run and clean your brother's
boots, the poor laddie! Lod, I dinna ken what would happen to you, my
poor laddie, if your mother wasna here to look after you.' You mothers
make your girls work at nights and on Saturdays, and you allow your boys
to play outside. That is most unjust. Your boys should clean their own
boots and mend their own clothes. They should help in the washing of
dishes and the sweeping of floors."

"Wud ye say that the mother is the curse o' the hame, too?" asked Brown.

"No," I said, "she is a necessity, and in spite of her lack of justice,
she is nearer to the children than the father is. She is less aloof and
less stern. You'll find that a boy will tell his mother much more than
he will tell his father. Speaking generally, a stupid mother is more
dangerous than a stupid father, but a mother of average intelligence is
better for a child than a father of average intelligence.

"This is a problem that cannot be solved. The mother must remain with
her children, and I cannot see how we are to chuck the father out of the
house. As a matter of fact he is usually so henpecked that he is
prevented from being too much of an evil to the bairns.

"The truth is that the parents of to-day are not fit to be parents, and
the parents of the next generation will be no better. The mothers of the
next generation are now in my school. They will leave at the age of
fourteen--some of them will be exempted and leave at thirteen--and they
will slave in the fields or the factory for five or six years. Then
society will accept them as legitimate guardians of the morals and
spiritual welfare of children. I say that this is a damnable system. A
mother who has never learned to think has absolute control of a growing
young mind, and an almost absolute control of a growing young body. She
can beat her child; she can starve it. She can poison its mind with
malice, just as she can poison its body with gin and bitters.

"What can we do? The home is the Englishman's castle! Anyway, in these
days of high explosives, castles are out of date, and it is high time
that the castle called home had some airing."

                           *       *       *

I cannot flatter myself that I made a single parent think on Friday
night. Most of the villagers treated the affair as a huge joke.

I have just decided to hold an Evening School next winter. I see that
the Code offers _The Life and Duties of a Citizen_ as a subject. I shall
have the lads and lasses of sixteen to nineteen in my classroom twice a
week, and I guess I'll tell them things about citizenship they won't
forget.

It occurs to me that married people are not easily persuaded to think.
The village girl considers marriage the end of all things. She dons the
bridal white, and at once she rises meteorically in the social scale.
Yesterday she was Mag Broon, an outworker at Millside; to-day she is
Mrs. Smith with a house of her own.

Her mental horizon is widened. She can talk about anything now; the
topic of childbirth can now be discussed openly with other married
wives. Aggressiveness and mental arrogance follow naturally, and with
these come a respect for church-going and an abhorrence of Atheism.

I refuse to believe those who prate about marriage as an emancipation
for a woman. Marriage is a prison. It shuts a woman up within her four
walls, and she hugs all her prejudices and hypocrisies to her bosom. The
men who shout "Women's place is the home!" at Suffragette meetings are
fools. The home isn't good enough for women.

A girl once said to me: "I always think that marriage makes a girl a
'has been.'"

What she meant was that marriage ended flirtation, poor innocent that
she was! Yet her remark is true in a wider sense. The average married
woman is a "has been" in thought, while not a few are "never wasers."
Hence I have more hope of my evening school lasses than of their
mothers. They have not become smug, nor have they concluded that they
are past enlightenment. They are not too omniscient to resent the
offering of new ideas.

A man's marriage makes no great change in his life. His wife replaces
his mother in such matters as cooking and washing and "feeding the
brute." He finds that he is allowed to spend less, and he has to keep
elders' hours. But in essentials his life is unchanged. He still has his
pint on a Saturday night, and his evening crack at the Brig. He has
gained no additional authority, and he is extremely blessed of the gods
if he has not lost part of the authority he had.

The revolution in his mental outfit comes later when he becomes a
father. He thinks that his education is complete when the midwife
whispers: "Hi, Jock, it's a lassie!" He immediately realises that he is
a man of importance, a guide and preacher rolled into one; and he talks
dictatorially to the dominie about education. Then he discovers that
precept must be accompanied by example, and he aspires to be a deacon or
an elder.

Now I want to get at Jock before the midwife gets at him. I don't care
tuppence whether he is married or not ... but he mustn't be a father.

                           *       *       *

To-day I began to read Mary Johnston's _By Order of the Company_ to my
bairns. I love the story, and I love the style. It reminds me of
Malory's style; she has his trick of running on in a breathless string
of "ands." When I think of style I am forced to recollect the stylists I
had to read at the university. There was Sir Thomas Browne and his _Urn
Burial_. What the devil is the use of people like Browne I don't know.
He gives us word music and imagery I admit, but I don't want word music
and imagery from prose, I want ideas or a story. I can't think of one
idea I got from Browne or Fisher or Ruskin, or any of the stylists, yet
I have found many ideas in translations of Nietzsche and Ibsen. Style is
the curse of English literature.

When I read Mary Johnston I forget all about words. I vaguely realise
that she is using the right words all the time, but the story is the
thing. When I read Browne I fail to scrape together the faintest
interest in burials; the organ music of his _Dead March_ drowns
everything else.

When a man writes too musically and ornately I always suspect him of
having a paucity of ideas. If you have anything important to say you use
plain language. The man who writes to the local paper complaining of
"those itinerant denizens of the underworld yclept hawkers, who make the
day hideous with raucous cries," is a pompous ass. Yet he is no worse
than the average stylist in writing. I think it was G. K. Chesterton who
said that a certain popular authoress said nothing because she believed
in words. He might have applied the phrase to 90 per cent of English
writers.

Poetry cannot be changed. Substitute a word for "felicity" in the line:
"Absent thee from felicity awhile" and you destroy the poetry. But I
hold that prose should be able to stand translation. The prose that
cannot stand it is the empty stuff produced by our Ruskins and our
Brownes. Empty barrels always have made the most sound.

                           *       *       *

There must be something in style after all. I had this note from a
mother this morning.


     "DEAR SIR,

     Please change Jane's seat for she brings home more than belongs to
     her."


I refuse to comment on this work of art.

                           *       *       *

I must get a cornet. Eurhythmics with an artillery bugle is too much for
my wind and my dignity. Just when the graceful bend is coming forward my
wind gives out, and I make a vain attempt to whistle the rest. Perhaps a
concertina would be better than a cornet. I tried Willie Hunter with his
mouth-organ, but the attempt was stale and unprofitable, and
incidentally flat. Then Tom Macintosh brought a comb to the school and
offered to perform on it. After that I gave Eurhythmics a rest.

When the war is over I hope that the Government will retain Lloyd George
as Minister of Munitions ... for Schools. I haven't got a tenth of the
munitions I should have; I want a player-piano, a gramophone, a
cinematograph with comic films, a library with magazines and pictures. I
want swings and see-saws in the playground, I want rabbits and white
mice; I want instruments for a school brass and wood band.

I like building castles in Spain. The truth is that if the School Board
would yield to my importunities and lay a few loads of gravel on the
muddy patch commonly known as the playground I should almost die of
surprise and joy. One learns to be content with small mercies when one
is serving those ratepayers who control the rates.



XV.


Margaret Steel has left school, and to-morrow morning she goes off at
five o'clock to the factory.

To-day Margaret is a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked lassie; in three years
she will be hollow-eyed and pale-faced. Never again will she know what
it is to waken naturally after sleep; the factory syren will haunt her
dreams always. She will rise at half-past four summer and winter; she
will tramp the two mile road to the factory, and when six comes at night
she will wearily tramp home again. Possibly she will marry a factory
worker and continue working in the factory, for his wage will not keep
up a home. In the neighbouring town hundreds of homes are locked all day
... and Bruce the manufacturer's daughters are in county society. Heigh
ho! It is a queer thing civilisation!

I wonder when the people will begin to realise what wagery means. When
they do begin to realise they will commence the revolution by driving
women out of industry. To-day the women are used by the profiteer as
instruments to exploit the men. Surely a factory worker has the right to
earn enough to support a family on. The profiteer says "No! You must
marry one of my hands, and then your combined wages will set up a home
for you."

I spoke of this to the manager of Bruce's factory once.

"But," he said, "if we did away with female labour we'd have to close
down. We couldn't compete with other firms."

"Not if they abolished female labour too?"

"I was thinking of the Calcutta mills where labour is dirt cheap," he
said.

"I see," I said, "so the Scotch lassie is to compete with the native?"

"It comes to that," he admitted.

I think I see a very pretty problem awaiting Labour in the near future.
As the Trade Unions become more powerful and show their determination to
take the mines and factories into their own hands, capitalists will
turn to Asia and Africa. The exploitation of the native is just
beginning. At a time when Britain is a Socialistic State all the evils
of capitalism will be reproduced with ten-fold intensity in India and
China and Africa. I see an Asia ruled by lash and revolver; the
profiteer has a short way with the striker in Eastern climes. The recent
history of South Africa is sinister. A few years ago our brothers died
presumably that white men should have the rights of citizenship in the
Transvaal. What they seemed to have died for was the right of profiteers
to shoot white strikers from the windows of the Rand Club. If white men
are treated thus I tremble for the fate of the black man who strikes.

Yes, the present profiteering system is a preparation for an exploited
East. Margaret Steel and her fellows are slaving so that a Persia may be
"opened up," a Mexico robbed of its oil wells.

                           *       *       *

To-day I gave a lesson on Capital.

"If," I said, "I have a factory I have to pay out wages and money for
machinery and raw material. When I sell my cloth I get more money than
I paid out. This money is called profit, and with this money I can set
up a new factory.

"Now what I want you to understand is this:--Unless work is done by
someone there is no wealth. If I make a fortune out of linen I make it
by using the labour of your fathers, and the machinery that was invented
by clever men. Of course, I have to work hard myself, but I am repaid
for my work fully. Margaret Steel at this moment standing at a loom, is
working hard too, but she is getting a wage that is miserable.

"Note that the owner of the factory is getting an income of, say, ten
thousand pounds a year. Now, what does he do with the money?"

"Spends it on motor cars," said a boy.

"Buys cigarettes," said a girl.

"Please, sir, Mr. Bruce gives money to the infirmary," said another
girl.

"He keeps it in a box beneath the bed," said another, and I found that
the majority in the room favoured this theory. This suggestion reminded
me of the limitations of childhood, and I tried to talk more simply. I
told them of banks and stocks, I talked of luxuries, and pointed out
that a man who lived by selling expensive dresses to women was doing
unnecessary labour.

Tom Macintosh showed signs of thinking deeply.

"Please, sir, what would all the dressmakers and footmen do if there was
no money to pay them?"

"They would do useful work, Tom," I said. "Your father works from six to
six every day, but if all the footmen and chauffeurs and grooms and
gamekeepers were doing useful work, your father would only need to work
maybe seven hours a day. See? In Britain there are forty millions of
people, and the annual income of the country is twenty-four hundred
million pounds. One million of people take half this sum, and the other
thirty-nine millions have to take the other half."

"Please, sir," said Tom, "what half are you in?"

"Tom," I said, "I am with the majority. For once the majority has right
on its side."

                           *       *       *

Bruce the manufacturer had an advertisement in to-day's local paper. "No
encumbrances," says the ad. Bruce has a family of at least a dozen, and
he possibly thinks that he has earned the right to talk of
"encumbrances." I sympathise with the old chap.

But I want to know why gardeners and chauffeurs must have no
encumbrances. If the manorial system spreads, a day will come when the
only children at this school will be the offspring of the parish
minister. Then, I suppose, dominies and ministers will be compelled to
be polygamists by Act of Parliament.

I like the Lord of the Manor's damned impudence. He breeds cattle for
showing, he breeds pheasants for slaughtering, he breeds children to
heir his estates. Then he sits down and pens an advertisement for a
slave without "encumbrances." Why he doesn't import a few harem
attendants from Turkey I don't know; possibly he is waiting till the
Dardanelles are opened up.

                           *       *       *

I have just been reading a few schoolboy howlers. I fancy that most of
these howlers are manufactured. I cannot be persuaded that any boy ever
defined a lie as "An abomination unto the Lord but a very present help
in time of trouble." Howlers bore me; so do most school yarns. The only
one worth remembering is the one about the inspector who was ratty.

"Here, boy," he fired at a sleepy youth, "who wrote _Hamlet_?"

The boy started violently.

"P--please, sir, it wasna me," he stammered.

That evening the inspector was dining with the local squire.

"Very funny thing happened to-day," he said, as they lit their cigars.

"I was a little bit irritated, and I shouted at a boy, 'Who wrote
_Hamlet_?' The little chap was flustered. 'P--please, sir, it wasna me!'
he stuttered."

The squire guffawed loudly.

"And I suppose the little devil had done it after all!" he roared.

                           *       *       *

Lawson came down to see me to-night, and as usual we talked shop.

"It's all very well," he said, "for you to talk about education being
all wrong. Any idiot can burn down a house that took many men to build.
Have you got a definite scheme to put in its place?"

The question was familiar to me. I had had it fired at me scores of
times in the days when I talked Socialism from a soap-box in Hyde Park.

"I think I have a scheme," I said modestly.

Lawson lay back in his chair.

"Good! Cough it up, my son!"

I smoked hard for a minute.

"Well, Lawson, it's like this, my scheme could only be a success if the
economic basis of society were altered. So long as one million people
take half the national yearly income you can't have any decent scheme of
education."

"Right O!" said Lawson cheerfully, "for the sake of argument, or rather
peace, we'll give you a Utopia where there are no idle rich. Fire away!"

"Good! I'll talk about the present day education first.

"Twenty years ago education had one aim--to abolish illiteracy. In
consequence the Three R.'s were of supreme importance. Nowadays they are
held to be quite as important, but a dozen other things have been
placed beside them on the pedestal. Gradually education has come to aim
at turning out a man or a woman capable of earning a living. Cookery,
Woodwork, Typing, Bookkeeping, Shorthand ... all these were introduced
so that we should have better wives and joiners and clerks.

"Lawson, I would chuck the whole blamed lot out of the elementary
school. I don't want children to be trained to make pea-soup and picture
frames, I want them to be trained to think. I would cut out History and
Geography as subjects."

"Eh?" said Lawson.

"They'd come in incidentally. For instance, I could teach for a week on
the text of a newspaper report of a fire in New York."

"The fire would light up the whole world, so to speak," said Lawson with
a smile.

"Under the present system the teacher never gets under way. He is just
getting to the interesting part of his subject when Maggie Brown ups and
says, 'Please, sir, it's Cookery now.' The chap who makes a religion of
his teaching says 'Damn!' very forcibly, and the girls troop out.

"I would keep Composition and Reading and Arithmetic in the curriculum.
Drill and Music would come into the play hours, and Sketching would be
an outside hobby for warm days."

"Where would you bring in the technical subjects?"

"Each school would have a workshop where boys could repair their bikes
or make kites and arrows, but there would not be any formal instruction
in woodwork or engineering. Technical education would begin at the age
of sixteen."

"Six what?"

"Sixteen. You see my pupils are to stay at school till they are twenty.
You are providing the cash you know. Well, at sixteen the child would be
allowed to select any subject he liked. Suppose he is keen on mechanics.
He spends a good part of the day in the engineering shop and the drawing
room--mechanical drawing I mean. But the thinking side of his education
is still going on. He is studying political economy, eugenics,
evolution, philosophy. By the time he is eighteen he has read Nietzsche,
Ibsen, Bjornson, Shaw, Galsworthy, Wells, Strindberg, Tolstoi, that is
if ideas appeal to him."

"Ah!"

"Of course, I don't say that one man in a hundred will read Ibsen. You
will always have the majority who are averse to thinking if they can get
out of it. These will be good mechanics and typists and joiners in many
cases. My point is that every boy or girl has the chance to absorb ideas
during their teens."

"Would you make it compulsory? For instance, that boy Willie Smith in
your school; do you think that he would learn much more if he had to
stay at school till he was twenty?"

"No," I said, "I wouldn't force anyone to stay at school, but to-day
boys quite as stupid naturally as Smith stay at the university and love
it. A few years' rubbing shoulders with other men is bound to make a man
more alert. Take away, as you have done for argument's sake, the
necessity of a boy's leaving school at fourteen to earn a living and you
simply make every school a university."

"And it isn't three weeks since I heard you curse universities!" said
Lawson with a grin.

"I'm thinking of the social side of a university," I explained. "That
is good. The educational side of our universities is bad because it is
mostly cram. I crammed Botany and Zoo for my degree and I know nothing
about either; I was too busy trying to remember words like
Caryophylacia, or whatever it is, to ask why flowers droop their heads
at night. So in English I had to cram up what Hazlitt and Coleridge said
about Shakespeare when I should have been reading _Othello_. The
university fails because it refuses to connect education with
contemporary life. You go there and you learn a lot of rot about
syllogisms and pentameters, and nothing is done to explain to you the
meaning of the life in the streets outside. No wonder that Oxford and
Cambridge dons write to the papers saying that life has no opening for a
university man."

"But I thought that you didn't want education to produce a practical
man. You wanted a theoretical chimney-sweep, didn't you?" said Lawson
smiling.

"The present university turns out men who are neither practical nor
theoretical. I want a university that will turn out thinkers. The men
who have done most to stimulate thought these past few years are men
like Wells and Shaw and Chesterton; and I don't think that one of them
is a 'varsity man.'"

"You can't run a world on thought," said he.

"I don't know," I said, "we seem to run this old State of ours _without_
thought. The truth is that there will always be more workers than
thinkers. While one chap is planning a new heaven on earth, the other
ninety-nine are working hard at motors and benches.

"H. G. Wells is always asking for better technical schools, more
research, more invention. All these are absolutely necessary, but I want
more than that; along with science and art I want the thinking part of
education to go on."

"It goes on now."

"No," I said, "it doesn't. Your so-called educated man is often a stupid
fellow. Doctors have a good specialist education, yet I know a score of
doctors who think that Socialism means 'The Great Divide.' When
Osteopathy came over from America a few years ago thousands of medical
men pronounced it 'damned quackery' at once; only a few were wide
enough to study the thing to see what it was worth. So with inoculation;
the doctors follow the antitoxin authority like sheep. At the university
I once saw a raid on an Anti-Vivisection shop, and I'm sure that not one
medical student in the crowd had ever thought about vivisection. Mention
Women's Freedom to the average lawyer, and he will think you a madman.

"Don't you see what I am driving at? I want first-class doctors and
engineers and chemists, but I want them to think also, to think about
things outside their immediate interests. This is the age of the
specialist. That's what's wrong with it. Somebody, Matthew Arnold, I
think, wanted a man who knew everything of something and something of
everything. It's a jolly good definition of education."

"That is the idea of the Scotch Code," said Lawson.

"Yes, perhaps it is. They want our bairns to learn tons of somethings
about everything that doesn't matter a damn in life."

                           *       *       *

My talk with Lawson last night makes me realise again how hopeless it is
to plan a system of education when the economic system is all out of
joint. I believe that this nation has the wealth to educate its children
properly. I wonder what the Conscriptionists would say if I hinted to
them that if a State can afford to take its youth away from industry to
do unprofitable labour in the army and navy it can afford to educate its
youth till the age of twenty is reached.

The stuff we teach in school leads nowhere; the Code subjects simply
lull a child to sleep. How the devil is a lad to build a Utopia on
Geography and Nature Study and Woodwork? Education should prove that the
world is out of joint, and it should point a Kitchener finger at each
child and say, "Your Country Needs _You_ ... to set it Right."



XVI.


This has been a delightful day. About eleven o'clock a rap came at the
door, and a young lady entered my classroom.

"Jerusalem!" I gasped. "Dorothy! Where did you drop from?"

"I'm motoring to Edinburgh," she explained, "on tour, you know, old
thing!"

Dorothy is an actress in a musical comedy touring company, and she is a
very old friend of mine. She is a delightful child, full of fun and
mischief, yet she can be a most serious lady on occasion.

She looked at my bairns, then she clasped her hands.

"O, Sandy! Fancy you teaching all these kiddies! Won't you teach me,
too?" And she sat down beside Violet Brown. I thanked my stars that I
had never been dignified in that room.

"Dorothy," I said severely, "you're talking to Violet Brown and I must
give you the strap."

The bairns simply howled, and when Dorothy took out her wee handkerchief
and pretended to cry, laughter was dissolved in tears.

It was minutes time, and she insisted on blowing the "Dismiss" on the
bugle. Her efforts brought the house down. The girls refused to dismiss,
they crowded round Dorothy and touched her furs. She was in high
spirits.

"You know, girls, I'm an actress and this big bad teacher of yours is a
very old pal of mine. He isn't such a bad sort really, you know," and
she put her arm round my shoulders.

"See her little game, girls?" I said. "Do you notice that this woman
from a disreputable profession is making advances to me? She really
wants me to kiss her, you know. She--" But Dorothy shoved a piece of
chalk into my mouth.

What a day we had! Dorothy stayed all day, and by four o'clock she knew
all the big girls by their Christian names. She insisted on their
calling her Dorothy. She even tried to talk their dialect, and they
screamed at her attempt to say "Guid nicht the noo."

In the afternoon I got her to sing and play; then she danced a ragtime,
and in a few minutes she had the whole crowd ragging up and down the
floor.

She stayed to tea, and we reminisced about London. Dear old Dorothy!
What a joy it was to see her again, but how dull will school be
tomorrow! Ah, well, it is a workaday world, and the butterflies do not
come out every day. If Dorothy could read that sentence she would purse
up her pretty lips and say, "Butterfly, indeed, you old bluebottle!" The
dear child!

                           *       *       *

The school to-day was like a ballroom the "morning after." The bairns
sat and talked about Dorothy, and they talked in hushed tones as about
one who is dead.

"Please, sir," asked Violet, "will she come back again?"

"I'm afraid not," I answered.

"Please, sir, you should marry her, and then she'll always be here."

"She loves another man, Vi," I said ruefully, and when Vi whispered to
Katie Farmer, "What a shame!" I felt very sad. For the moment I loved
Dorothy, but it was mere sentimentalism, Dorothy and I could never love,
we are too much of the pal to each other for emotion to enter.

"She is very pretty," said Peggy Smith.

"Very," I assented.

"P--please, sir, you--you could marry her if you really tried?" said
Violet. She had been thinking hard for a bit.

"And break the other man's heart!" I laughed.

Violet wrinkled her brows.

"Please, sir, it wouldn't matter for him, we don't know him."

"Why!" I cried, "he is a very old friend of mine!"

"Oh!" Violet gasped.

"Please, sir," she said after a while, "do you know any more actresses?"

I seized her by the shoulders and shook her.

"You wee bissom! You don't care a rap about me; all you want is that I
should marry an actress. You want my wife to come and teach you
ragtimes and tangoes!" And she blushed guiltily.

                           *       *       *

Lawson came down to see me again to-night; he wanted to tell me of an
inspector's visit to-day.

"Why don't you apply for an inspectorship?" he asked.

I lit my pipe.

"Various reasons, old fellow," I said. "For one thing I don't happen to
know a fellow who knows a chap who lives next door to a woman whose
husband works in the Scotch Education Department.

"Again, I'm not qualified; I never took the Education Class at Oxford."

"Finally, I don't want the job."

"I suppose," said Lawson, "that lots of 'em get in by wire-pulling."

"Very probably, but some of them probably get in straight. Naturally,
you cannot get geniuses by wire-pulling; the chap who uses influence to
get a job is a third-rater always."

Lawson reddened.

"I pulled wires to get into my job," he said.

"That's all right," I said cheerfully, "I've pulled wires all my days."

"But," I added, "I wouldn't do it again."

"Caught religion?"

"Not quite. The truth is that I have at last realised that you never get
anything worth having if you've got to beg for it."

"It's about the softest job I know, whether you have to beg for it or
not. The only job that beats it for softness is the kirk," he said.

"I wouldn't exactly call it a soft job, Lawson; a rotten job, yes, but a
soft job, no. Inspecting schools is half spying and half policing. It
isn't supposed to be you know, but it is. You know as well as I do that
every teacher starts guiltily whenever the inspector shoves his nose
into the room. Nosing, that's what it is."

"You would make a fairly decent inspector," said Lawson.

"Thanks," I said, "the insinuation being that I could nose well, eh?"

"I didn't mean that. Suppose you had to examine my school how would you
do it?"

"I would come in and sit down on a bench and say: 'Just imagine I am a
new boy, and give me an idea of the ways of the school. I warn you that
my attention may wander. Fire away! But, I say, I hope you don't mind my
finishing this pie; I had a rotten breakfast this morning.'"

"Go on," said Lawson laughing.

"I wouldn't examine the kids at all. When you let them out for minutes I
would have a crack with you. I would say something like this: 'I've got
a dirty job, but I must earn my screw in some way. I want to have a wee
lecture all to myself. In the first place I don't like your discipline.
It's inhuman to make kids attend the way you do. The natural desire of
each boy in this room was to watch me put myself outside that pie, and
not one looked at me.

"'Then you are far too strenuous. You went from Arithmetic to Reading
without a break. You should give them a five minutes chat between each
lesson. And I think you have too much dignity. You would never think of
dancing a ragtime on this floor, would you? I thought not. Try it, old
chap. Apart from its merits as an antidote to dignity it is a first-rate
liver stimulator.' Hello! Where are you going? Time to take 'em in
again?

"'O, I say, I'm your guest, uninvited guest, I admit, but that's no
reason why you should take advantage of me. Man, my pipe isn't half
smoked, and I have a cigarette to smoke yet. Come out and watch me play
footer with the boys.'"

"You think you would do all that," said Lawson slowly, "but you wouldn't
you know. I remember a young inspector who came into my school with a
blush on his face. 'I'm a new inspector,' he said very gingerly, 'and I
don't know what I am supposed to do.' A year later that chap came in
like whirlwind, and called me 'young man.' Man, you can't escape
becoming smug and dignified if you are an inspector."

"I'd have a darned good try, anyway," I said. "Getting any eggs just
now?"

                           *       *       *

To-night I have been glancing at _The Educational News_. There is a
letter in it about inspectors, it is signed "Disgusted." That pseudonym
damns the teaching profession utterly and irretrievably. Again and again
letters appear, and very seldom does a teacher sign his own name.
Naturally, a letter signed with a pseudonym isn't worth reading, for a
moral coward is no authority on inspectors or anything else. It sickens
me to see the abject cringing cowardice of my fellow teachers.
"Disgusted" would no doubt defend himself by saying, "I have a wife and
family depending on me and I simply can't afford to offend the
inspector."

I grant that there is no point in making an inspector ratty, or for that
matter making anyone ratty. I don't advise a man to seize every
opportunity for a scrap. There is little use in arguing with an
inspector who has methods of arithmetic different to your methods; it is
easier to think over his advice and reject it if you are a better
arithmetician than he. But if a man feels strongly enough on a subject
to write to the papers about it, he ought to write as a man not as a
slave. Incidentally, the habit of using a pseudonym damns the
inspectorate at the same time. For this habit is universal, and teachers
must have heard tales of the victimising of bold writers. Most
educational papers suggest by their contributed articles that the
teachers of Britain are like a crowd of Public School boys who fear to
send their erotic verses to the school magazine lest the Head flays
them. No wonder the social status of teachers is low; a profession that
consists of "Disgusted" and "Rural School" and "Vindex" and their kind
is a profession of nonentities.

                           *       *       *

Once in my palmy days I told a patient audience of Londoners that the
Post Office was a Socialist concern.

"Any profits go to the State," I said.

A postman in the crowd stepped forward and told me what his weekly wage
was, and I hastily withdrew my statement. To-day I should define it as a
State Concern run on the principles of Private Profiteering, _i.e._, it
considers labour a commodity to be bought.

The School Board here is theoretically a Socialistic body. Its members
are chosen by the people to spend the public money on education. No
member can make a profit out of a Board deal. Yet this board perpetrates
all the evils of the private profiteer.

Mrs. Findlay gets ten pounds a year for cleaning the school. To the best
of my knowledge she works four or five hours a day, and she spends the
whole of each Saturday morning cleaning out the lavatories. This sum
works out at about sixpence a day or three ha'pence an hour. Most of her
work consists of carrying out the very considerable part of the
playground that the bairns carry in on their boots. Yet all my requests
for a few loads of gravel are ignored.

The members do not think that they are using sweated labour; they say
that if Mrs. Findlay doesn't do it for the money half a dozen widows in
the village will apply for the job. They believe in competition and the
market value of labour.

A few Saturdays ago I rehearsed a cantata in the school, and I offered
Mrs. Findlay half a crown for her extra trouble in sweeping the room
twice. She refused it with dignity, she didn't mind obliging me, she
said. And this kindly soul is merely a "hand" to be bought at the lowest
price necessary for subsistence.

Sometimes I curse the Board as a crowd of exploiters, but in my more
rational moments I see that they could not do much better if they tried.
If Mrs. Findlay had a pound a week the employees of the farmers on the
Board would naturally object to a woman's getting a pound a week out of
the public funds for working four hours a day while they slaved from
sunrise to sunset for less than a pound. A public conscience can never
be better than the conscience of the public's representatives. Hence I
have no faith in Socialism by Act of Parliament; I have no faith in
municipalisation of trams and gas and water. Private profit disappears
when the town council takes over the trams, but the greater
evil--exploitation of labour remains.

Ah! I suddenly recollect that Mrs. Findlay has her old age pension each
Friday. She thus has eight and six a week. I wonder did Lloyd George
realise that his pension scheme would one day prevent fat farmers from
having conscience qualms when they gave a widow sixpence a day?

                           *       *       *

As I came along the road this morning I saw half a dozen carts
disgorging bricks on one of Lappiedub's fields. Lappiedub himself was
standing by, and I asked him what was happening.

"Man," he cried lustily, "they've fund coal here and they're to sink
pits a' ower the countryside."

When I reached the school the bairns were waiting to tell me the news.

"Please, sir," said Willie Ramsay, "they're going to build a town here
bigger than London."

"Bigger than Glasgow even," said Peter Smith.

A few navvies went past the school.

"They're going to build huts for thousands of navvies," said a lassie.

"Please, sir, they'll maybe knock down the school and have a mine here,"
suggested Violet Brown.

"They won't," I said firmly, "this ugly school will stand until the
countryside becomes as ugly as itself. Poor bairns! You don't know what
you're coming to. In three years this bonny village will be a smoky blot
on God's earth like Newcastle. Dirty women will gossip at dirty doors.
You, Willie, will become a miner, and you will walk up that road with a
black face. You, Lizzie, will be a trollop of a wife living in a brick
hovel. You can hardly escape."

"Mr. Macnab of Lappiedub will lose all his land," said a boy.

"He didn't seem sad when I saw him this morning," I remarked.

"Maybe he's tired of farming," suggested a girl.

"Perhaps," I said, "if he is he doesn't need to worry about farming. He
will be a millionaire in a few years. He will get a royalty on every ton
of coals that comes up from the pit, and he will sit at home and wait
for his money. Simply because he is lucky he will be kept by the people
who buy the coals. If he gets sixpence a ton your fathers will pay
sixpence more on every ton. I want you to realise that this is sheer
waste. The men who own the mines will take big profits and keep up big
houses with servants and idle daughters. Then Mr. Macnab will have his
share. Then a man called a middleman will buy the coals and sell them to
coal merchants in the towns, and he will have his share. And these men
will sell them to the householders. When your father buys his ton of
coals he is paying for these things:--the coalowner's income, Mr.
Macnab's royalty, the middleman's profit, the town coal merchant's
profit, and the miners' wages. If the miners want more wages and strike,
they will get them, but these men won't lose their profits; they will
increase the price of coals and the householders will pay for the
increase.

"Don't run away with the idea that I am calling Mr. Macnab a scoundrel.
He is a decent, honest, good-natured man who wouldn't steal a penny from
anyone. It isn't his fault or merit that he is to be rich, it is the
system that is bad."

Thomas Hardy somewhere talks about "the ache of modernism." I adapt the
phrase and talk about the ache of industrialism. I look out at my wee
window and I see the town that will be. There will be gin palaces and
picture houses and music-halls--none of them bad things in themselves,
but in a filthy atmosphere they will be hideous tawdry things with
horrid glaring lights. I see rows of brick houses and acres of clay land
littered with bricks and stones thrown down any way. Stores will sell
cheap boots and frozen meat and patent pills, packmen will lug round
their parcels of shoddy and sheen. And education! They will erect a new
school with a Higher Grade department, and the Board will talk of
turning out the type of scholar the needs of the community require.
They will have for Rector a B.Sc., and technical instruction will be of
first importance. When that happens I shall trek inland and shall seek
some rural spot where I can be of some service to the community. I might
be able to stand the smoke and filth, but before long there would be a
labour candidate for the burgh, and I couldn't stand hearing him spout.



XVII.


I have been considering the subject of school magazines, and I wonder
whether it would be possible to run a school magazine here. I have had
no experience with a school magazine, but I edited a university weekly
for a year. It wasn't a success. I wrote yellow editorials and placarded
the quadrangles with flaring bills which screamed "Liars!" "Are School
Teachers Socially Impossible?" "The Peril and the Pity of the Princes
Street Parade," at the undergraduates passing by. It was of no use. No
one bothered to reply to my philippics, and I had to sit down and write
scathing replies to my own articles. I could never bring my circulation
up to the watermark of a previous editor who had written editorials on
such bright topics as "The Medical Congress" and "The Work of the
International Academic Committee."

In Edinburgh the students are indifferent to their 'varsity magazine,
but in St. Andrews the publication of _College Echoes_ is the event of
the week. The reason is that the St. Andrew's students form a small
happy family; if a reference is made to Bejant Smith everyone
understands it. If you mentioned Bejant Smith in the Edinburgh _Student_
no one would know whom you were referring to.

The success of _College Echoes_ gives me the idea of a school magazine
that would succeed. A magazine for my hundred and fifty bairns would be
useless; what I want is a magazine for parents and children. It would be
issued weekly, and would mingle school gossip with advice. If Willie
Wilson knew that Friday's edition might contain a paragraph to the
effect that he had been discovered murdering two young robins, I fancy
that he would think twice before he cut their heads off.

I imagine entries like the following:--

"Peter Thomson said on Thursday that it was Lloyd George who said
'Father, I cannot tell a lie,' and he was caned by the master who, by
the way, has just been appointed President of the Conservative
Association."

"Mary Brown was late every morning this week."

"John Mackenzie is at present gathering potatoes at Mr. Skinnem's farm,
and is being paid a shilling a day of ten hours. Mr. Skinnem has been
made an elder of the Parish Kirk."

Someone has said that the most arresting piece of literature is your own
name in print. That is true, although I suppose that the thrill wears
off when you become as public as Winston Churchill or Charlie Chaplin.
Why shouldn't the bairns experience this thrill? When I write the report
of a local concert for the local papers I always give prominence to the
children who performed. Incidentally, when I have sung at a concert I
omit all reference to my part; I hate to remind the audience that I
sang. I am a true altruist in both cases.

Publicity is the most pleasing thing in life, and that's why patent
medicines retain their popularity. At present the village cobbler is
figuring in the local paper as a "Cured by Bunkum's Bilious Backache
Bunion Beans" example, and beneath his photograph (taken at the age of
nineteen; he is fifty-four now) is a glowing testimonial which begins
with these words:--"For over a decade I have suffered from an excess of
Uric Acid, from Neurotic Dyspepsia, and from Optical Derangements. Until
I discovered that marvellous panacea...."

I marvel at his improved literary style; it is only a month since he
wrote me as follows:--"Sir, i will be oblidged if you will let peter
away at three oclock tonight hoping that you are well as this leaves me
i am your obidt servent peter Macannish."

The magazine would also contain interesting editorials for the parents.
Art would have a prominent place; if a bairn made a good sketch or a
bonny design it would be reproduced.

Of course, the idea cannot be carried out for lack of funds. Yet I fancy
that the money now spent on hounds and pet dogs would easily run a
magazine for every school in Scotland.

The technical difficulties could easily be overcome. The bigger bairns
could read the proofs and paste up the magazine, and the teachers would
revise it before sending it to the printers.

I must get estimates from the printers, and if they are moderate I
shall try to raise funds by giving a school concert.

                           *       *       *

I see that the Educational Institute is advertising for a man who will
combine the post of Editor of _The Educational News_ with the office of
Secretary to the Institute. The salary is £450 per annum.

This combining of the offices seems to me a great mistake. For an editor
should be a literary man with ideas on education, while a good secretary
should be an organizer. Because a man can write columns on education,
that is no proof that he is the best man to write to the office
washerwoman telling her not to come on Monday because it is a holiday.

I could edit the paper (I would take on the job for a hundred a year and
the sport of telling the other fellow that his notions of education were
all wrong), but I couldn't organise a party of boys scouts. Kitchener is
a great organiser, but I shouldn't care for the editorials of _The New
Statesman_ if he were editor.

I think that the Institute does not want a man with ideas. It wants a
man who will mirror the opinions of the Institute. To do this is a work
of genius, for the Institute has no opinions. No man can represent a
body of men. Suppose the Institute decides by a majority that it will
support the introduction of "Love" as a subject of the curriculum. The
editor may be a misogynist, or he may have been married eight times, yet
the poor devil has to sit down and write an editorial beginning: "Love
has too long been absent from our schools. Who does not remember with
holy tenderness his first kiss?..."

A paper can be a force only when it is edited by a man of force and
personality. A man who writes at the dictation of another is a
tenth-rater. That, of course, is why our press says nothing.

                           *       *       *

Little Mary Brown was stung by a wasp the other day as she sat in the
class.

"Henceforward," I said, "the wasp that enters this room is to be slain.
Tom Macintosh I appoint you commander in chief."

I begin to think that I prefer the wasp to the campaign against it.
To-day I was in the midst of a dissertation on Trusts when Tom started
up.

"Come on lads, there's a wasp!"

They broke a window and two pens; then they slew the wasp.

The less studious boys keep one eye on the window all day, and I found
Dave Thomson chasing an imaginary wasp all round the room at Arithmetic
time. Dave detests Arithmetic. But when I found that Tom Macintosh was
smearing the inside window-sill with black currant jam, I disbanded the
anti-wasp army.

                           *       *       *

The Inspectors refuse to allow teachers to use slates nowadays on the
ground that they are insanitary.

To-day I reintroduced slates to all classes. My one reason was that my
bairns were missing one of the most delightful pastimes of youth--the
joy of making a spittle run down the slate and back again. I always look
back with tenderness to my old slate. It was such a serviceable article.
By running my slate-pencil up it I got all the beats of a drum; its
wooden sides were the acknowledged tests for a new knife, as a hammer
it had few rivals. Then you could play at X-es and O-ies with impunity;
you simply licked your palm and rubbed the whole game out when the
teacher approached.

In the afternoon half a dozen bairns brought sponges, and I sighed for
the good old days when sanitary authorities were plumbers on promotion.

                           *       *       *

I have given my bairns two songs--_Screw-Guns_ and _Follow Me Home_,
both by Kipling. I prefer them to the usual "patriotic" song that is
published for school use. I don't see the force of teaching children to
be patriotic; the man who imagines that a dominie can teach a bairn to
love his neighbour or his country is fatuous. Flag-waving is the last
futility of noble minds. The queer thing is that all these titled men
who spout about Imperialism and Patriotism, and "Make the Foreigner Pay"
are enemies of the worker. They don't particularly want to see a State
where slums and slavery will be no more; they are so busy thinking out a
scheme to extend the Empire abroad that they haven't time to think about
the Empire at home. What is the use of an India or a South Africa if
East Ham is to remain?

No, I refuse to teach my bairns to sing, "Britons never, never, never
shall be slaves." My sense of humour won't allow me to introduce that
song.

Although I like Kipling's verses I abominate Kipling's philosophy and
politics. He is always to be found on the same platform with the Curzons
and Milners and Roosevelts. He believes in "the big stick"; to him
Britain is great because of her financiers, her viceroys, her engineers.
He glories in enterprise and big ships. He believes with the late Lord
Roberts that the Englishman is the salt of the earth. I should define
Kipling as a Grown-up Public School Boy.

I always think that the "Patriot's" main contention is that a man ought
to be ready to die for his country. I freely grant that it is a great
thing to die for your country, but I contend that it is still greater to
live for your country; and the man who tries to live for his country
usually earns the epithet "Traitor."

"What do they know of England who only England know?" Kipling says
this, or words to this effect. That's the worst of these travelled
Johnnies; they go out to India or Africa, and two months after their
arrival they pity the narrow vision of the people at home. After having
talked much to travelled men I have come to the conclusion that travel
is the most narrowing thing on earth.

"If I went out to India," I remarked one day to an Anglo-Indian friend
at College, "and if I started to talk about Socialism in a drawing-room,
what would happen?"

"Oh," he said with a smile, "they would listen to you very politely,
but, of course, you wouldn't be asked again."

When I went down to Tilbury to see this friend off to India I looked at
the crowd on the first-class deck.

"Dick," I said, "these people are awful. Look at their smugness, their
eagerness to be correct at any expense. They are saying good-bye to
wives and mothers and sweethearts, and the whole blessed crowd of 'em
haven't an obvious emotion among 'em. I'll bet my hat that they won't
even wave their hands when the tender goes off."

As I left the boat the first-class passengers stood like statues, but
one fat woman, with a delightfully plebeian face cried: "So long, old
sport!" to a man beside me.

"Good!" cried Dick to me with a laugh.

"Lovely!" I called, and waved my hat frantically to the fat woman. Poor
soul, I fear that society out East will be making her suffer for her
lapse into bad form.

Travel is like a school-history reader; it forces you to study mere
incident. The travelled man is an encyclopædia of information; but I
don't want to know what a man has seen; I want to know what he has
thought. I am certain that if I went to live in Calcutta I should cease
to think. I should marvel at the colour and life of the streets; I
should find great pleasure in learning the lore of the native. But in a
year I should very probably be talking of "damned niggers," and cursing
the India Office as a crowd of asses who know nothing about India and
its problems.

I once lent _Ann Veronica_ to a clever young lady. Her father, an
engineer who had been all over the world, picked up the book. Two days
later he returned it with a final note dismissing me as a dangerous
character for his daughter to know. The lady was clever, and had
mentality enough to read anything with impunity.

No, travel doesn't broaden a man's outlook.

My writing is like my teaching, it is an irresponsible ramble. I meant
to write about songs all the time to-night.

I curse my luck in not being a pianist. I want to give my bairns that
loveliest of tenor solos--the _Preislied_ from _The Meistersingers_. I
want to give them Lawrence Hope's _Slave's Song_ from her _Indian Love
Lyrics_--"_Less than the Dust beneath thy Chariot Wheel_." And there are
one or two catchy bits in _Gipsy Love_ and _The Quaker Girl_ that I
should like them to know. I am sure that they would enjoy _Mr. Jeremiah,
Esquire_, and _The Gipsy's Song_.



XVIII.


The essay I set to-day was this:--"Imagine that you are an old lady who
ordered a duck from Gamage's, and imagine that they sent you an
aeroplane in a crate by mistake. Then describe in the first person the
feelings of the aviator who found the duck awaiting him at breakfast
time."

One girl wrote:--"Dear Mr. Gamage, I have not opened the basket, but it
seems to be an ostrich that you have sent. What will I feed it on?"

A boy, as the aviator, wrote: "If you think I am going to risk my life
on the machine you sent you are wrong. It hasn't got a petrol tank."

The theme was too difficult for the bairns; they could not see the
ludicrous side. I don't think one of them visualised the poor old woman
gazing in dismay on the workmen unloading the crate. H. M. Bateman
would have made an excellent drawing of the incident.

I tried another theme.

"A few days ago I gave you a ha'penny each," I said. "Write a
description of how you spent it, and I'll give sixpence to the one who
tells the biggest lie."

I got some tall yarns. One chap bought an aeroplane and torpedoed a
Zeppelin with it; one girl bought a thousand motor-cars. But Jack Hood,
the dunce of the class, wrote these words: "I took it to the church on
Sunday and put it in the clecshun bag."

I gave him the tanner, although I knew that he had won it by accident. I
don't think that Jack will ever get so great a surprise again in this
life.

                           *       *       *

We rambled out to sketch this afternoon. It was very hot, and we lay
down under a tree and slept for half-an-hour. Suddenly Violet Brown
started up.

"Here's Antonio!" she cried, and the Italian drew his van to the side of
the road.

"A slider for each of us," I said, and he began to hustle. My turn came
last.

"You like a glass, zir, instead of a zlider?" said Antonio.

"Yes," I replied, "a jolly good suggestion; I haven't had the joy of
licking an ice-cream glass dry for many a long day."

It was glorious.

On the way back a girl bought sweets at the village shop. She gave me
one.

"Please, sir, it's one of them changing kind," she said.

"Eh?" I hastily took it out and looked at it.

"By George, so it is, Katie!" I cried, "I thought they were dead long
since." It was white at first but it changed to blue, then red, then
green, then purple. Unfortunately, I bit it unthinkingly, and I never
discovered its complete spectrum.

I call this a lucky day; ice cream and changing balls in one afternoon
are the quintessence of luck. But man is insatiable; to-night I have a
great craving for a stick of twisted sugarelly--the polite call it
liquorice.

                           *       *       *

A couple of Revivalists came to the village a week ago, and they have
made a few converts. One of them stopped me on the road to-night and
asked if I were saved.

"I am, or, at least, was, a journalist," I said, and walked on
chuckling. Of course he gaped, for he did not know why I chuckled. I was
thinking of the reporter sitting in the back seat at a Salvationist
Meeting. A Salvation lass bent over him. "Are you saved, my friend?" she
whispered. He looked up in alarm.

"I'm a journalist," he said hastily.

"O! I beg your pardon," she said, and moved on.

I don't like Revivalism. A couple of preachers came to our village when
I was a lad, and for a month I thought of nothing but hell. "Only
believe!" one of them used to say when he met you on the road; the other
one had a shorter salutation: "Glory!" he shouted at you fiercely.
Incidentally, the village was a hotbed of petty strife when they
departed. And the young women who had stood up to give their "Testimony"
were back to the glad-eye phase again within three weeks.

Lizzie Jane Gunn was a typical convert. Lizzie Jane used to describe the
night of her testimony-giving thus:--"Mind you, Aw was gaein' alang the
road, and Aw had just been gieing ma testimony, and it was gye dark and
Aw was by ma leensome. Weel, a' at eence something fell into ma hand,
and Aw thocht that it was a message frae the Loard; so Aw just grippit
ma hand ticht, an' Aw didna look to see fat it wuz. Fan Aw got hame Aw
lookit to see fat wuz in ma hand, an' d'ye ken fat it wus?... a button
aff ma jaicket!"

I have no sympathy with all this "saving" business. It's a cowardly
selfish religion that makes people so anxious about their
tuppence-ha'penny souls. When I think of all the illiterate lay
preachers I have listened to I feel like little Willie at the Sunday
School.

"Hands up all those who would like to go to Heaven!" said the teacher.
Willie alone did not put his hand up.

"What! Mean to tell me, Willie, that you don't want to go to Heaven?"

Willie jerked a contemptuous thumb towards the others.

"No bloomin' fear," he muttered, "not if that crowd's goin'."

Shelley says that "most wretched men are cradled into poetry through
wrong." I think that most wretched preachers are cradled into preaching
through conceit. It is thrilling to have an audience hang upon your
words; we all like the limelight. Usually we have to master a stiff part
before we can face the audience. Preaching needs no preparation, no
thinking, no merit; all you do is to stand up and say: "Deara friendsa,
when I was in the jimmynasium at Peebles, a fellow lodger of mine
blasphemeda. From that daya, deara friendsa, that son of the devila
nevera prospereda. O, friendsa! If you could only looka into your evila
heartsa...."

I note that when Revivalists come to a village the so-called village
lunatic is always among the first to give his testimony. Willie Baffers
has been whistling _Life, Life, Eternal Life_ all the week, but I was
glad to note that he was back to _Stop yer Ticklin', Jock_, to-night.

                           *       *       *

I have introduced two new text-books--_Secret Remedies_, and _More
Secret Remedies_. These books are published by the British Medical
Association at a shilling each, and they give the ingredients and cost
of popular patent medicines.

These books should be in every school. Everyone should know the truth
about these medicines, and unless our schools tell the truth, the public
will never know it. No daily newspaper would think of giving the truth,
for the average daily is kept alive by patent medicine advertisements.

I marvel at the mentality of the man who can sell a farthing's worth of
drugs for three and sixpence. I don't blame the man; I merely marvel at
him. What is his standard of truth? What does he imagine the purpose of
life to be?

Poor fellow! I fancy he is a man born with a silver knife in his mouth,
as Chesterton says in another context; either that, or he is born poor
in worldly goods and in spirit. He is dumped down in an out-of-joint
world where money and power are honoured, where honesty is never the
best policy; the poor, miserable little grub realises that he has not
the ability to earn money or power honestly; but he knows that people
are fools, and that a knave always gets the better of a fool.

Our laws are really funny. I can swindle thousands by selling a
nostrum, but if I sign Andrew Carnegie's name on a cheque I am sent to
Peterhead Prison. Britain is individualistic to the backbone. The
individual must be protected, but the crowd can look after itself. If I
steal a pair of boots and run for it, I am a base thief; if I turn
bookie and become a welsher I have entered the higher realms of sport,
and I get a certain amount of admiration ... from those who didn't
plunge at my corner. I have seen a cheap-jack swindle a crowd of
Forfarshire ploughmen out of a month's earnings, but not one of them
thought of dusting the street with him.

Honesty must be a relative thing. Personally I will "swick" a railway
company by travelling without a ticket on any possible occasion; yet,
when a cycle agent puts a new nut on my motor-bike and charges a
shilling I call him a vulgar thief. Of course he is; there is no romance
in making a broken-down motor-cyclist pay through the nose, but a ten
mile journey without a ticket is the only romantic experience left in a
drab world.

I once saw an article on _Railway Criminals_ in, I think, _Tit-Bits_.
It pointed out that the men who are convicted of swindling the railway
companies have well marked facial characteristics. I recollect going to
the mirror at the time and saying "Tu quoque!"

In these days I had a firm belief in physiognomy; I believed that you
had only to gaze into a person's eyes to see whether he was telling the
truth or not. I am wiser now that I know Peter Young. Pete is ten, and
he has a clear, honest countenance. To-night I found him tinkering with
the valve of my back tyre.

"Who loosened that valve?" I demanded.

"Please, sir, it was Jim Steel," he said unblushingly, and he looked me
straight in the eyes.

"All right, George Washington," I remarked. "There's a seat in the
Cabinet, waiting for you, my lad." And I meant it too. I believe in the
survival of the fittest, and I know that Peter is the best adapted to
survive in a modern civilisation. It is said of his father that he
bought an old woman's ill-grown pig, a white one, and promised her a
fine piebald pig in a week's time. He brought her the piebald. Then
rain came....

I often condemn the press for not seeking truth, yet no man has a
greater admiration for a good liar than I have. When I hear a fellow
break in on a conversation with the words: "Talking of Lloyd George,
when I was in the Argentine last winter...." I grapple him to my soul
with hoops of steel. I can't stand the common or garden liar with his
trite expressions.... "So the missis is keeping better, old man? Glad to
hear it." "Your singing has improved wonderfully, my dear." "I was kept
late at the office," and all that sort of lie. All the same I recognise
that we are all liars, and few of us can evade the trite manner of
lying.

I met a man on the road to-night, and he stopped to talk. I hate the
fellow; he is one of those mean men who would plant potatoes on his
mother's grave if the cemetery authorities would allow it. Yet I shook
his greasy hand when he held it out. If I had had the tense honesty of
Ibsen's _Brand_ I should have refused to see his hand. But we all lie in
this way; indeed, life would be intolerable if we were all _Brands_ and
cried "All or Nothing!" We all compromise, and compromise is the worst
lie of all. Compromise I can pardon, but not gush. I know men who could
say to old greasy-fist: "Man, I'm glad to see you looking so well!" men
who would cut his throat if they had the pluck. Nevertheless gush is not
one of the Scot's chief characteristics.

There is a shepherd's hut up north, and George Broon lives there alone.
Once another shepherd came up that way, and he thought he would settle
down with George for a time. The newcomer, Tam Kennedy, came in after
his day's work, and the two smoked in silence for two hours. Then Tam
remarked: "Aw saw a bull doon the road the nicht."

Next morning George Broon said: "It wasna a bull; it was a coo."

Tam at once set about packing his bag.

"Are ye gaein' awa?" asked George in surprise.

"Yus," said Tam savagely, "there's far ower much argy-bargying here."

                           *       *       *

Summer holidays at last! Many a day I have longed for them, but now that
they are here I feel very very sad. For to-day some of these bairns of
mine sat on these benches for the last time. When I blow my bugle again
I shall miss familiar faces. I shall miss Violet with her bonny smile; I
shall miss Tom Macintosh with his cheery face. Vi is going to the
Secondary School, and Tom is going to the railway station. They are
sweethearts just now, and I know that both are sad at leaving.

"Never mind, Tam," I heard her say, "Aw'll aye see ye at the station,
ilka mornin' and nicht."

"We'll get merried when Aw'm station mester, Vi," said Tom hopefully,
and she smiled and blushed.

Poor Tom! I'm sorry for you my lad. In three years you will be carrying
her luggage, and she won't take any notice of you, for she is a lawyer's
daughter.

Confound realism!

Once I felt as Tom feels. I loved a farmer's daughter, and I suffered
untold agony when she told me that her father's lease expired in
seventeen years.

"Then we're flittin' to Glesga," she said, and I was wretched for a
week. She was ten then; now she is the mother of four.

Annie and her seventeen years reminds me of the professor who was
lecturing on Astronomy to a village audience.

"In seven hundred million years, my friends," he said solemnly, "the sun
will be a cold body like the moon. There will be no warmth on earth, no
light, no life ... nothing."

A chair was pushed back noisily at the back of the hall, and a big
farmer got up in great agitation.

"Excuse me, mister, but hoo lang did ye say it wud be till that
happened?"

"Seven hundred million years, my friend."

The farmer sank into his chair with a great sigh of relief.

"Thank Goad!" he gasped, "Aw thocht ye said seven million."

They say that when a man dies after a long life he looks back and mourns
the things that he's left undone. I suppose that some teachers look back
over a year's work and regret their sins of omission. I do not.

I know that I have had many lazy days this session; I know that there
were exercises that I failed to correct, subjects that I failed to
teach. I regret none of these things, for they do not count.

Rachel Smith is leaving the district, and to-day Mary Wilson shook her
hand. "Weel, by bye, Rachel, ye'll have to gang to anither schule, and
ye'll maybe have to work there," she said.

"Eh?" I cried, "do you mean to say, Mary Wilson, that Rachel hadn't to
work in this school?"

"No very much," said Mary, "ma father says that we just play ourselves
at this school."

Mary's father is right; I have converted a hard-working school into a
playground. And I rejoice. These bairns have had a year of happiness and
liberty. They have done what they liked; they have sung their songs
while they were working at graphs, they have eaten their sweets while
they read their books. They have hung on to my arms as we rambled along
in search of artistic corners. It was only yesterday that Jim Jackson
marched up the road to meet me at dinner-time with his gun team and gun,
a log of wood mounted on a pair of perambulator wheels. As I approached
I heard his command: "Men, lay the gun!" and when I was twenty yards off
he shouted "Fire!"

"Please, sir," he cried, "you're killed now, but we'll take you prisoner
instead." And the team lined up in two columns and escorted me back to
the school to the strains of _Alexander's Ragtime Band_ played on the
mouth-organ.

"Is it usual, Colonel," I asked, "for the commander of the gun team to
act as the band?"

Jim scratched his head.

"The band was all killed at Mons," he said, "and the privates aren't
musical." Then he struck up _Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers_.

I know that I have brought out all the innate goodness of these bairns.
When Jim Jackson came to the school he had a bad look; if a girl
happened to push him he turned on her with a murderous scowl. Now that I
think of it I realise that Jim is always a bright cheery boy now. When I
knew him first I could see that he looked upon me as a natural enemy,
and if I had thrashed him I might have made him fear me, but the bad
look would never have left his face.

If I told anyone that I had made these bairns better I should be met
with the contemptuous glance that usually greets the man who blows his
own horn. Stupid people can never understand the man who indulges in
introspection; they cannot realise that a man can be honest with
himself. If I make a pretty sketch I never hesitate to praise it. On the
other hand I am readier than anyone else to declare one of my inferior
sketches bad. Humility is nine-tenths hypocrisy.

I do have a certain amount of honesty, and I close my log with a solemn
declaration of my belief that I have done my work well.

As for the work that the Scotch Education Department expected me to do
... well, I think the last entry in my official Log Book is a fair
sample of that.

"The school was closed to-day for the summer holidays. I have received
Form 9b from the Clerk."



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