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council chamber the next morning. We did som-the provost and all the heads of the college attended. It is useless to enter into the trial—the result was, that the three upper boys were suspended from their authority, for three months after the Christmas vacation, and my father was publicly requested to permit me to return my father looked at me, and I nodded assent. This be. ing agreed upon, after a hundred professions of friend ship, and promised protection from Dr. Davies, and the usual civilities, we withdrew.
This was an important triumph; but, to render it complete and honourable, it was to be well used. I was aware of what time I had lost, and was determined to make it, during the Christmas vacation, the stimulus of exertion. I knew that Dr. Davies's professions of friendship were mere common-place stuff, and that on my return to college I should have to encounter the utmost severity of literary discipline.
I, therefore, my father having indulged me in every thing that was necessary, devoted myself during the following six weeks, not only to what is generally called the task of school-boys, but to larger and more comprehensive study, particularly of the Greek language: and on my return to Eton, I was prepared at all points. Nor was this caution useless--Soon after I had entered the school, I was called upon to translate the most dif. ficult passages in Homer, in the day's lesson- I did so correctly. I was asked many questions by Dr. Davies, which, I think, he would not have asked other boys of my standing; but I, fortunately, was prepared to answer them. Having tried me on all sides, he desired me to sit down.
Suspecting that, contrary to the usual custom, he might endeavour to entrap me, by calling me out the next morning, under an idea that I might be unprepared, I retired to my study, and in a short time obtained complete possession of the whole lesson with all its branches.
As I suspected, it happened I was called out, and I perceived that I was not to be submitted to the common chances of my classmates I, therefore, took good care to be always ready. I thank Dr. Davies for it; for in the interval between the Christmas and the Easter vacation, I gained more knowledge than I ever obtained before in a whole year.
After Easter, the suspension of these six-form boys' power was to cease, and I was again to be submitted, with my classmates, to their control, in certain cases. Well, then, “thinks I to myself,” what's to be done? But I must digress a little-Technical terms, whether adopted by manufacturers, merchants, tradesmen, or collegians, are so little understood by the world in ge. neral, that some explanation is necessary. Let me then, be permitted to remark, that it is one custom at Eton college, before the Easter vacation, to give the fifth and sixth-form boys a theme for an epic poem, in Latin, which they are supposed to write, during the vacationthis poem is called a Bacchus; referring to the virtues of the ancient, not the vices of the modern deity, so called. These poems are suspended in the public hall for general inspection—the mechanical part consists of a number of sheets of paper pasted together and rolled, till exhibited, round sticks prepared for that purpose. The appellation of the poem is “ Bacchus.”
Well! when the theme was given out--now,“thinks I to myself,” the best thing I can do, is to exert myself to the utmost in composing my Bacchus. I thought of it while yet remaining at Eton; but when at home I applied myself most steadily to it. On my return to Eton I delivered to my tutor a Latin epic poem, of about three hundred and fifty lines—he stared with astonishment; for our task was only, as I believe, seventy—“What have you
been about?” said he—“My duty,” I replied. “ Did you write this all yourself ?” “I did, sir!” Then, after reading a few pages of it, he desired me to leave him. The next morning Canning told me that his tutor had got my Bacchus, and had been reading part of it to him. I asked him if his tutor (who, by the by, was a much better scholar than mine) was pleased with it.He replied, that he appeared to be so very much. Well! the day arrived—the Bacchusses all suspended in regular form and order, and each boy, mounted on the tables, reading the work of another.
While I was standing on a table reading one that pleased me much, I heard a general hiss. I turned round to learn the cause, and I perceived my three friends entering the hall — They made one turn and retired—I remained, till I had the satisfaction of finding my Bacchus sent for by the heads of the college, who were sitting in conclave above. This was totally unexpected to me, for I had not yet attained that rank in the class which entitled me to a claim. I suspected immediately that some works of supererogation were being carried on, as a cover to injuries intended. When I left the hall to return to my chamber, these boys were standing at the entry door, and as I passed them, one observed: “We'll
teach you to hiss." I replied, I did not like to learn such goose-like eloquence; and passed by them. I had scarcely got to my chamber when I was sent for by Dr. Davies--who accused me of hissing the upper boys. I told him I could, by the testimony of four or five boys who were reading a Bacchus with me, prove that we were so interestingly engaged, that we did not see the boys enter, and did not turn till we heard the hissing, and that we had then no share in it. He said that I had behaved very uncivil to the boys during their suspension. To one, sir, I confsss, I did; because he had made me a thief, and forced myself, and five others, to steal his neighbour's chairs. “What are you talking about? Did I not promise you protection?” “ Then perform your promise, sir,” replied I, “by keeping me from being forced to become a thief, a villain, and a liar.” “Go about your business, you saucy fellow.” I made my bow and retired. I knew the doctor too well to believe that all would end here. Accordingly when he came to call the evening absence, he began his attack by challenging me for wearing a pair of white cotton stockings, and continued torturing me (as I then termed it) so incessantly, when under his immediate eye, that my life became a state of constant irritation; added to this, the three upper boys, having their original power over me restored to them, were perpetually harassing and distressing me, in such a manner, that, having no means of redress or retaliation, I became miserable worried myself into sicknesstill on my return home, at the following vacation, I, readily finding an advocate in
my tender mother, persuaded my yielding father to withdraw me entirely from Eton college, assuring him that
I had so far advanced in my studies, that I could pursue them with equal advantage at home. He consented to my plan, and lent me a considerable library. I fitted up my room; laid down a regular system for the employment of my hours, and conformed to it with tolerable regularity during the succeeding winter and spring, visiting in the morning, for an hour, a party of young ladies, for the purpose of reading to them the English poets, and passing the evening with a party of young friends in my study, translating to each other the Latin classics, and commenting upon their merits.
During this period my hours of relaxation were engaged in practical mechanics. I built a garden phaeton for a young lady who was a cripple; I built a boat, and bought another; I built a summer house; I contrived and executed an alarm machine, regulated by water, to awaken me early in the morning, for I had taken one of Alexander's notions in my head, and had determined to ascertain with how little sleep I could maintain
This machine was composed, first of a scale beam, from one end of which was suspended a leaden weight; from the other a tin pail with a funnel inserted in the centre of its bottom; the tube of this funnel had so small an aperture that but a little portion of water could run through it in a given time; this portion having been ascertained by repeated experiments, the beam was balanced, and so much water was put into the pail as would run out during the hours appropriated to rest. When the pail became lighter than the weight, the end of the beam suspending the pail would of course rise; in rising it was made to, touch a trigger which