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and Swift. She worked a sampler; she learnt her catechism; she was taught logic and geometry. Madam Tucker was of that oldfashioned style of schoolmistress which curiously united simplicity with subtlety. She would make a girl of sixteen wear a pinafore, and stand her in a corner if she gave herself airs and graces, yet would carry her into Shakspeare's magic realm, and show her the clue to Milton's music, and teach her how to detect the error of a syllogism, and make her find out for herself the curious law which holds as to the intersecting diagonals of a regular pentagon. She made her pupils do two things -obey and think. “Learn those two words thoroughly,” she would
you will be good women. You must obey me.
You must think for yourselves. You will be wives and mothers by-and-by; then you will have to obey your husbands, and at the same time to make your children and servants obey you. You will be placed in various conditions which neither you nor I can foresee; then you will find the value of being able to think for yourselves."
Thus the old lady was wont to lecture over the breakfast table now and then.
I suppose half the wives of the Devonshire squires for about three generations learnt to obey and think from Madam Tucker in her famous school in the Close of Walter Branscombe's Cathedral. They all turned out well, those girls of hers. She would have none but ladies. She treated them with the utmost kindness, yet punished them when requisite with the utmost severity. She held herself, and with justice, the equal of the most patrician of her pupils' mothers.
Such was Mrs. Silchester's schoolmistress.
This sort of teaching has gone very much out of fashion, and I can only hope that the modern school boards may introduce something more satisfactory and scientific. Still there are a good many people who have felt
grateful for such an education as Madam Tucker's, and have wished they could find something similar for their own children, even in these days of ladies' colleges and aristocratic seminaries. That old Exeter dame taught nothing she did not know, and made her pupils learn.
When Silvia and Silvester Silchester were out of the nurse's hands, their mother thought it time they should learn their alphabet. She opened the subject to the Squire.
Alphabet!” he exclaimed. “My dear Joan, they shall learn nothing of the kind. It would be absurd to teach children what is really a nonentity. How many alphabets are there ? how many letters in each ? how many sounds without a letter to represent them?”
Mrs. Silchester, though one of Madam Tucker's prize pupils, was taken thoroughly aback by this eloquent outburst of her husband. He, standing with his back to the great wood fire in the hall, waxed more voluble as he waxed warmer.
“Alphabets, my darling Joan, are the ruin of realms and religions. I object to printing," -a strong statement from the owner of the choicest library in Devon—“ but printing was inevitable when that scoundrel Cadmus invented an alphabet.”
Mrs. Silchester was not unused to the Squire's volubility. She had a vague idea that Madam Tucker had introduced her to Cadmus, but not, she thought, as a scoundrel. However, she was far too wise a woman to interrupt her husband in the full flush of his oratory. On he went, like a rivulet after rain.
Aristophanes taught the Athenians that true gentlemen ought not to be able to read or write. Imagination and memory are what
want. Learn your Homer and your Solon. Get poetry and law into your brain ; the one will teach you the pleasure and peril of life, the other its method and management."
“But really, John,” says Mrs. Silchester, " would you like our son and daughter not to know reading and writing?"
Yes," he replied, with an emphasis that deserves small capitals. “My dear girl, you talk of teaching them their alphabet. Do you know your alphabet ? ”
“I ought to," she answered.
“Why, the English, you goose,” said Joan, pulling his whiskers. They had left the hall, and were sitting side by side on one of those dear old parlour window-seats that held out in Devon longer than in any other county. Is there a parlour all through England now? Or have the [with]drawing-rooms exterminated them ?
Parlour! How I like the word! A room for chat, talk, gossip. A room without stiffness. A room for afternoon. It had no antimacassars; and the big mastiff lounged in to see who called; and there might be a volume of Swift