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will bring manhood ; and manhood, higher duties and heavier responsibilities, though differing with the position and circumstances of every individual in that miniature world. But each will probably become the master of a future home, and diffuse therein either good or evil, happiness or sorrow, as the seeds now sown may then yield a harvest.
Still wider is the circle of consequences depending on the impetus given or received, at a public school. Its very title designates its national importance. From our public schools we expect to receiveby no means exclusively, indeed, but generally—the future clergy, statesmen, judges, senators, and, though last not least in importance, the gentlemen of England. There are commingled, in some things on a par, but in others how widely otherwise, the sons of the noble, the wealthy, and the aspiring ; in short, of the mass of the gentry of the nation. Some bring to the public school, ambition to excel; others only pride of birth.
Some come as “ boys,” to idle away as much as may be of the time which intervenes, ere as “men” they enter on the indulgences of college life; others seek to profit by present advantages, so as to enable them to avail themselves of future ones. Here friendships are formed, which time will foster into political connections; and dislikes are sown, which years may ripen into party animosity; and if the child be father to the man, an acute observer may trace in the tastes and habits of the boy, what will be the bent of his genius and the aim of his future manhood.
With such impressions of the importance of a public school, I had been anxious for an opportunity of visiting Harrow, and by the kindness of a friend my wish was gratified. The church is a beautiful object, standing on the summit of a hill, surrounded by fine trees; it must imprint itself on the memory of those who have been educated beneath its shadow. In after years, perchance, the vision of Harrow Church may rise on the memory of some young soldier, as he keeps his midnight watch on the dreary sands of India : words of devotion, to which he once listened with a weary ear, may then fall like dew upon his heart ; and prayers, once repeated unheeded, may then spring upward from the depths of a chastened spirit, and rise with acceptance to the throne of the Most High.
Approaching Harrow from the side of Pinner, our party passed the cricket-ground, which was then unoccupied ; but my fancy peopled it with the active and ardent forms of those who delight to excel in that thoroughly English game. Every amusement may be abused ; and too many are so; nor can I join with those who would restore the authority of the Book of Sports, and permit cricket to be played on the villagegreen during the intervals of Sabbath worship; but I should rejoice to think that every village had its accustomed ground, where different ranks might mingle with good old English courtesy, to foster kindness of feeling, activity of body, and quickness of eye, by practising the "noble game of cricket.”
From the cricket-ground of Harrow, a steep ascent leads to the town and schools. Our first visit was to the churchyard. The view from thence is most extensive, and of a thoroughly English character : fairspreading meadows and cornfields stretch out for miles beneath the eye. Windsor, with its noble associations ; London, surmounted by its murky atmosphere ; Hampstead, Highgate, and others of those coveted retreats from the cares of the busy world, are all included within the view on a clear day. The hum of insects delighting in the blossoms of the lime trees, was the only sound that mingled in the stillness, till the clock struck, and the school-bell pealed the signal of noontide dismissal. Then merry voices from a distance reached us ; and we were reminded that to this spot Byron had delighted to repair, when the same sound greeted his ear, and that here, stretched on the tombstone by which we stood, he had gazed on the scene which now met our eye. I could recollect having been taken to the village of Hucknall, to see the funeral train of the poet pass to his resting-place. I had often visited Newstead, and had seen how every memorial connected with his memory was cherished there ; and now I stood by the spot where, with all the dreamy fancies of genius, he had passed the hours of many a summer day. Would that the peacefulness of those summer days had been transferred into his spirit; and that, with an eye alive to all the beauties of God's handiwork, he had also recognized the Maker! Would that the morbid feelings which made him court solitude in youth, had been hushed into peace, not roused into stormy action, by the subsequent tenor of his life! Then might that noble intellect have been as nobly applied, and talents of the highest order have done God service.
The church of Harrow is plain, and displays many tokens of generations passed away: it contains some interesting monuments dedicated to the memory of those whose earthly existence closed here in death. The main interest of the edifice consists, however, in its associations. The gallery where the boys sit, the cuttings which, in idle abstraction, they have left as memorials of moments ill-employed, -and among these, some names much celebrated in after-life all remind the heart of subjects of contemplation, how important, yet how little appreciated. Of youth merging into manhood; of fast-coming cares, and duties, now unheeded, of the purposes of life, and the responsibilities of intellect. Alas! that Time should so slowly unveil Truth.
The sexton 'seemed almost surprised that Byron did not constitute with me, the all-absorbing topic. The poet was evidently, in his estimation, the genius loci. He took us into a little turret, where a piece of wood on which Byron had written his name, was very carefully treasured ; and the spot where in after-years, his daughter Allegra had been interred, was also pointed out. But other names blended in our memories, and after another glance at the beautiful prospect, we sought admission to the school-house.
Even its steps are worth notice, so worn are they by countless footsteps, light with passing pleasure, or heavy with transient sorrow, that we might indeed find sermons in those stones. Of the multitudes who have left the print of their feet on those steps, some shall visit them no more; their sun hath gone down, perchance while it was yet day; others, now feeble with age, will again pass over them with delight, and greet with an approving smile some honourable mention of their children's children.
But where is the great School ? was the first question ; and while a guide was sought, curiosity led us to find it for ourselves. Once seen, it is never to be forgotten : its wide chimney, its oaken benches, its dark floor, its venerable aspect, and its panelled walls, all speak its designation. Those walls were what I had especially wished to see ; for there, generation after generation have carved their names; and these names are now as proudly treasured by the Harrow boys, as though they were chased on the precious ore of Cellini, or boasted the magic lightness of the touch of Gibbon. Names which, during the last and present centuries, have been inscribed by history on the page of England's records, are there mingled in strange juxtaposition ; poets and statesmen, nobles and civilians, the linguist and the wit, are so blended, that they are sometimes difficult to decipher, and recall to the mind of the spectator those ancient manuscripts, in which words and sentences are not divided : “Byron," was of course soon pointed out; “J. Wildman,” the present possessor of the poet's favourite abbey, was not far off, for they were schoolmates ; “R. Peel,” was another object of attraction, and it was gratifying to see how his sons had clustered their names around his, as closely as space would permit : “ J. Parr," called to recollection, a glimpse I once had of that singular and eminent man riding through the streets of Leamington, preceded, not followed,
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by his servant; and who could trace the characters “ R. B. Sheridan," without a sigh, that talents such as his, should have wanted the counterpoise of self-control!
“ The Marquis of Hastings,” and “Lord Elgin," have each made to themselves a name; the one linked with the splendours of India ; the other, with the classic shores of Greece. “ Spencer Perceval," by his untimely fate, and “ Lord Ashley,” by his untiring endeavours in the cause of benevolence, excite deep thought; and “Aberdeen,” “ Palmerston,” “ Harrowby,“ “Westmoreland,” “Ripon,” and “Duncannon," perhaps little thought, when they carved their names as boys, on the panels of Harrow, that time might imprint their names even more indelibly on the records of their country.
My chief desire had been to find the name of one, who, invited by his mother to conquer difficulty by application, had, with unwearied industry, cultivated talents of no common order, and had gained the reward which he merited. This was Sir W. Jones. I was pleased to find that the honour he reflected on Harrow was fully appreciated, and that Dr. Wordsworth, to whom all such inscriptions were fraught with interest, had offered a prize to the boy who should discover the name of “ W. Jones." Once found, a line was drawn around it; and the memorial of that distinguished linguist, though, as the guide acknowledged, not so often asked for by strangers as many others, was evidently one of the treasures of Harrow. Not far distant, the name of the
Captain " was pointed out, carved beneath that of his father, who had also been Captain of his year; and thus each gave and received honour from the association.
Time only sufficed for a cursory examination of the other portions of the building : we visited the comfortable library, and were shown several volumes in which the inscription “ex dono auctoris,” rendered the work more valuable. When the hand traced those words, doubtless a thrill of pleasure swelled the heart, as memory recalled the days of boyhood: now hand and heart are mingled with the dust, and the sentient, the still existing spirit, where dwelleth it? The room in which the examinations are held, that theatre of hopes and fears, where many a heart beats almost audibly, and parental pride is mortified or gratified, detained us a few minutes, and then we ascended to the sixth-form room, the cor corculum of a public school. To those who assemble there, the master looks, as pledges of his ability, and 'proofs of his care. To those, their schoolmates turn, as leaders in good or evil. On those are resting many a parental anxiety. And they, standing on the very verge of manhood, what are their hopes, for of all the cares of manhood, they are still ignorant? Yet they have not reached its boundary without feeling that life has temptations in every stage; and one who could thoroughly estimate them, has left this record: “I am daily more and more struck with the difficulty of meeting those various temptations, both intellectual and moral, which stand in a boy's way: a school shows as undisguisedly as any place, the corruption of human nature, and the monstrous advantage with which evil starts, if I may so speak, in its contest with good."* Here it is that the moral influence of the teacher has most effect. If the heart be impressed while the mind is guided and informed, education fulfils its noblest office, and experience indeed teaches truth.
This room at Harrow commands a lovely prospect and has, what a place of study should always possess, a cheerful and cheering aspect. Dr. Vaughan had only just quitted his desk; a partly examined exercise lay upon it; and it appeared that “Campbell's Classical English,” had been the theme. A few thoughts on those who had so lately filled that room ; an earnest hope that learning and true wisdom might there go hand in hand ; and one parting glance to imprint the scene more firmly on the memory, and we hastened away. The Glance at Harrow, often anticipated, had fully realized my expectations, and henceforward my visit thither was to be one of those pleasant recollections, which flit across the heart, and leave no sorrow in their train.