Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

to make the best of it. Uncomfort- goats would bleat from the cabins, able enough was the effort for the first and plaintively remind us that, till ten minutes of the session; but by de- their door is unpadlocked, they can grees the hopes of a possible warming get no prog; then the punctual magof hands upon the surface of the Dutch pie, and his friend the jay, having stoves after class, if they should have hopped all down the corridor, would been lighted in time, and at any rate be heard screaming for broken victhe certainty of a hot breakfast, were tuals at the school-room door, till entertained, and brought their conso- our dismissal bell, finding so many lation ; besides which, the being up in other tongues loosened, at length time to welcome in the dawn of the wags its own, and then for the next dullest day, while health and liberty hour and a half all are free to folare ours, is a pleasure in itself. There low their own devices. Breakfast was no exception to it here ; for when shortly follows; but, alas! another the darkness, becoming every moment cold ceremony must be undergone less and less dark, had at length given first. A preliminary visit to pump way, and melted into a gray gloaming, court, and a thorough ablution of we would rejoice, even before it ap- face and hands, is indispensable to peared, at the approach of a new day. those who would become successful That approach was soon further candidates for that long-anticipated heralded by the fitful notes of small meal. This bleaching process, at an day-birds chirping under the leaves, icy temperature, was never agreeable ; and anon by their sudden dashings but when the pipes happened to be against the windows, in the direction frozen-a contingency by no means of the lights not yet extinguished in unfrequent-and the snow in the yard the class-rooms. Presently the pigs must be substituted for the water were heard rejoicing and contending which was not in the pump, it proved over their fresh wash; then the old a difficult and sometimes a painful horse and the shaggy little donkey in business ; especially as there was the stable adjoining the styes, knowing always some uncertainty afterwards, by this stir that their feed was coming, whether the chilblained paws would enorted and brayed at the pleasant pass muster before the inspector-geneprospect. The cocks had by this time ral commissioned to examine themroused their sleepy sultanas, who came who, utterly reckless as to how the creeping from under the barn-door to boys might “ be off for soap," and meet their lords on the dungbill. Our incredulous of what they would fain peacock, to satisfy himself that he had attribute to the adust complexion of not taken cold during the night, would their skin, would require to have that scream to the utmost pitch of a most assertion tested by a further experidiscordant voice ; then the prescient ment at the “pump head."

THE REFECTORY.

“ Forbear to scoff at woes you cannot feel,

Nor mock the misery of a stinted meal.”—CRABBE.

The dietary tables at the chateau, whose impoverished lacteals could furconspicuous alike for the paucity and nish out of their sorry fodder no better siinplicity of the articles registered supplies. It was London sky-blue, in therein, are easily recalled to mind. short, but not of the Alderney dairy, The fare they exhibited was certainly which was made to serve our turn at coarse—though, by a euphemism, it Yverdun. This milk, at seven in summight have been termed merely plain mer, and at half-past seven in winter, —and spare withal. The breakfast was transferred boiling, and as yet would consist of milk and water—the unadulterated, into earthenware mixfirst aqueous enough without dilution, ers, which bad been previously halfbeing the produce of certain ill-favour- filled with hot water from a neighed, and, as we afterwards tasted their bouring kettle. In this half-andflesh, we may add ill-flavoured kine, half state it was baled out for the assembled school into a series of pew. in its cage, give full scope to its ter platters, ranged along the sides of tongue, and appear, from the loud inthree bare deal boards, some thirty creasing swell of its prolonged oyez, feet long by two wide, and mounted to announce the message of good on tressels, which served us for tables. cheer like a herald conscious and proud The ministering damsels were two of his commission. Ding-dong !--come great German Fraus, rejoicing seve- along ! Dinner's dishing!-ding-dong! rally in the pleasing names of Gret- Da capo and encore! Then, starting chen and Bessie. When Frau Gret- up from every school-room form chen, standing behind each boy, had throughout the chateau, the noisy dropt her allowance of milk over his boys rushed pell-mell, opened all right shoulder-during which process the doors, and, like emergent bees there was generally a mighty clatter in quest of honey, began coursing up for full measure and fair play—the and down right busily between the other Frau was slicing off her sliees of salle-à-manger and the kitchen bread from a brown loaf a yard long, snuffing the various aromas as they which she carried under her arm, and escaped from the latter into the passlashed clean through with wonder- sage, and inferring from the amount ful precision and address. It was now of exhaled fragrance the actual profor all those who had saved pocket- gress of the preparations for eating. money for menus-plaisirs to produce Occasionally some “sly Tom” would their cornets of cinnamon or sugar, peep into the kitchen, while the sprinkle a little into the milk, and Fraus were too busy to notice him, then fall to sipping and munching with and watch the great cauldron that increased zest and satisfaction. So had been milked dry of its stores in dry and chaffy was our pain de ménage the morning, now discharging its that none ventured to soak it entire, aqueous contents of a much-attenuated or at once, but would cnt it into frus- bouillon-the surface covered with trums, and retain liquid enough to lumps of swimming bread, thickened wash down the boluses separately. throughout with a hydrate of potaIn a few minutes every plate was toes, and coloured with coarse insipid completely cleaned out and polished; carrots, which certainly gave it a and the cats, that generally entered the savoury appearance. It was not good room as we left it, seldom found a broth—far from it, for it was both drop with which they might moisten sub-greasy and super-salted ; but then their tongues, or remove from cheeks it was hot, it was thick, and there and whiskers the red stains of mur- was an abundant supply. It used to dered mice on which they had been gush, as we have said, from the great breaking their fast in the great tower. stop-cock of the cauldron, steaming So much for the earliest meal of the and sputtering, into eight enormous day, which was to carry us through tureens. The shreds of beef, together five hours, if not of laborious mental with whatever other solids remained study, at least of the incarceration of behind after the fluid had been drawn our bodies in class, which was equally off, were next fished up from the irksome to them as if our minds had abyss with long ladles, and plumped. been hard at work. These five bours into the decanted liquor. The young terminated, slates were once more in- gastronome who might have beheld salivated and put by clean, and the these proceedings would wait till the hungry garrison began to look for- lid was taken off the saur-kraut ; ward to the pleasures of the noon-day and then, the odour becoming overrepast. The same bell that had been poweringly appetising, he would run, calling so often to class would now as by irresistible instinct, into the give premonitory notice of dinner, but dining-room, where most of the boys in a greatly changed tone. In place of were already assembled, each with a the shrill snappish key in which it bad ration of brown bread in his hand, all the morning jerked out each short and ready for the Fraus, who were unwelcome summons from lesson to speedily about to enter. The dinner lesson, as if fearful of ringing one note was noisy and ungenteel in the exbeyond the prescribed minute, it now treme — how could it be otherwise ? would take time, vibrate far and wide ventre affamé n'a point d'oreilles.

Hardly was the German grace con- in the class-room. At half-past four cluded, and the covers removed, precisely, a gouté was served out, when that bone of contention, the which consisted of a whacking slice of marrow bone, was caught up by some bread, and either a repetition of the big boy near the top of the table, and morning's milk and water, or café au became the signal for a general row. lait, (without sugar

66 bien entendu,") All in his neighbourhood would call or twenty-five walnuts, or a couple out second, third, fourth, fifth, &c., of ounces of strong-tasted gruyère, for said bone; and thus it would travel or a plateful of schnitz (cuttings of from plate to plate, yielding its dried apples, pears, and plums.) We contents freely to the two or three might choose any one of these several first applicants, but wholly inade- dainties we liked, but not more. quate-unless it could have resolved Some dangerous characters—not to itself altogether into marrow-to meet be imitated—would occasionally, while all the demands made upon its stores. young Frau Schmidt stood doling Then arose angry words of contention, out the supplies from her cupwhich waxed hot as the marrow board among the assembled throng, waxed cold, every candidate being make the disingenuous attempt to equally vociferous in maintaining the obtain cheese with one hand and priority of his particular claim. Ear- schnitz with the other. But the nest appeals in German, French, artifice, we are happy to say, seldom Spanish, English, &c., were bandied succeeded ; for that vigilant lady, from one to the other in consequence, quick-eyed and active, and who, of as to who had really said après toi all things, hated to be imposed upon, first! At last the “ dry bone” was would turn round upon the false found undeserving of further conten- claimant, and bid him hold up both tion; and, ceasing to drop any more his hands at once-which he, ambifatness upon any boy's bread, the dexter as he was, durst not do, and competition for it was dropt too. thus he was exposed to the laughter When now we had half-filled our and jeers of the rest. At nine, the stomachs with a soup which few bell sounded a feeble call to a soiphysicians would have withheld from disant supper ; but few of us cared for their fever patients on the score of its a basin of tisane under the name strength, we threw in a sufficiency of lentil soup-or a pappy potato, of bread and saur-kraut to absorb salted in the boiling--and soon after it; and, after the post-prandial Ger- we all repaired to our bed-roomsman grace had been pronounced, the made a noise for a short time, then boys left the table, generally with a undressed, and. were speedily asleep saved crust in their pockets, to repair under our duvets, and as sound, if to the garden and filch-if it was not as musical, as tops. filching-an alliaceous dessert from Our common fare, as the reader has the beds, which they washed in the now seen, was sorry enough ; but we clear stream, and added, without fear had our Carnival and gala days as of indigestion, to the meal just con- well as our Lent. Vater Pestalozzi's cluded within the chateau. Most of birthday, in summer, and the first us throve upon this Spartan diet; but day of the new year, were the most some delicate boys, unendowed with conspicuous. On each of these occathe ostrich power of assimilation usual sions we enjoyed a whole week's holiat that period—for boys, like ostriches, day; and as these were also the can digest almost anything—became periods for slaughtering the pigs, we deranged in their chylopoietics, and fed (twice a-year for a whole week!) continued to feel its ill effects in upon black puddings and pork à mesenteric and other chronic ail- discretion, qualified with a sauce of ments for years afterwards. An hour beetroot and vinegar, and washed was given for stomachs to do their down with a fluid really like smallwork, before we re-assembled to ours beer.

CLASSES.

The school-rooms, which lay im- the class, and the hour upstriking mediately under the dormitories on loud that it should not be defrauded of the ground floor, consisted of a num- its dues. No glazed globe, gliding ber of detached chambers, each of round on easy axis, spun under its which issued upon a corridor. They brassy equator to the antipodes on its were airy—there was plenty of air at sides being touched. No bright zodiac Yverdun — and lofty as became so was there to exhibit its cabalistic venerable a building; but they were figures in pleasing arabesques. In unswept, unscrubbed, peeled of their place of these and other well-known paint, and, owing to the little light objects, here stood a line of dirty, that could find its way through two much-inked desks, with an equally very small windows punched out of dirty row of attendant forms subjacent the fortress walls, presented, save at alongside. There was a scantling-it mid-day, or as the declining sun illu- seldom exceeded a leash-of ricketty mined momentarily the dark recess, rush-bottom chairs distributed at long as comfortless a set of interiors as you intervals along the walls ; a coal-black could well see. It required, indeed, slate, pegged high on its wooden horse; all the elasticity of youth to bear a keyless cupboard, containing the many hours' daily incarceration in various implements of learning, & such black-holes, without participat- dirty duster, a pewter plate with ing in the pervading gloom. Such cretaceous deposits, a slop-basin and dismal domiciles were only fit resorts a ragged sponge ;—and then, unless he for the myoptic bat, who would occa- had included the cobwebs of the ceilsionally visit them from the old tower; ing, (not usually reckoned up in the for the twilight horde of cockroaches, furniture of a room,) no other which swarmed along the floor, or the movables remained. One conspicueight-eyed spiders who colonised the ous fixture, however, there was, a ceiling. The tender sight, too, of a gigantic Dutch stove. This lumberpatient just recovering from ophthal- ing parallelogram, faggot-fed from mia would here have required no the corridor behind, projected several factitious or deeper shade—but merits feet into the room, and shone bright like these only rendered them as un- in the glaze of earthenware emgenial as possible to the physiology blazonments. Around it we would and feelings of their youthful occu- sometimes congregate in the intervals of pants. If these apartments looked class : in winter to toast our hands and gloomy in their dilapidations and want hind quarters, as we pressed against the of sun, the sombre effect was much heated tiles, with more or less vigour heightened by the absence of the or- according to the fervency of the cendinary tables and chairs, and what tral fire; and in summer either to tell ever else is necessary to give a room stories, or to con over the pictorial a habitable appearance. Had an ap- History of the Bible, which adorned praiser been commissioned to make its frontispiece and sides. We canout a complete list of the furniture and not say that every square exactly the fixtures together, a mere glance squared with even our schoolboy had sufficed for the inventory. In notions of propriety in its mode of vain would his practised eye have wan- teaching religious subjects; there was dered in quest of themes for golden a Dutch quaintness in the illustrations, sentences, printed in such uncial char- which would sometinies force a smile acters that all who run may read; in from its simplicity, at others shock, vain for the high-hung well-backed from its apparent want of decorum chart, or for any pleasing pictorial and reverence. Pre-eminent of course souvenirs of Æsop or the Ark- among the gems from Genesis, Adam neither these nor the long “coloured and Eve, safe in innocency and "naked Stream of Time," nor formal but use- truth," here walked unscathed amidst ful views in perspective, adorned our a menagerie of wil beasts-there, sorry walls. No old mahogany case dressed in the costume of their fall, clicked in a corner, beating time for they quitted Eden, and left it in pos

66

session of tigers, bears, and crocodiles. some purpose; they know what they Hard by on a smaller tile, that brawny are about ; they help one another ; " knave of clubs,” Cain, battered they work orderly and to one end,down his brother at the altar; then “How skilfully they build the cell, followed a long picture gallery of the How neat they spread the wax, acts of the patriarchs, and another And labour hard to store it well equally long of the acts of the apostles.

With the sweet food," &c. &c. But, queer as many of these miscon- In none of these particulars did we ceptions might seem, they were no- resemble the “ busy bee.” This being thing to the strange attempts made at admitted, our object in offering a few dramatising the parables of the New words upon the course of study purTestament meg. a stout man, stag- sued at the chateau is not with any gering under the weight of an enor- idea of enlightening the reader as to mous beam which grows out of one eye, anything really acquired during the employs his fingers, assisted by the long ten hours' session of each day ; other, to pick out a black speck from but rather to show how ten hours' the cornea of his neighbour. Here, an imprisonment may be inflicted upon unclean spirit, as black as any sweep, the body for the supposed advantage issues from the mouth of his victim of the mind, and yet be consumed in with wings and a tail! Here again, the “profitless labour, and diligence good Samaritan, turbaned like a Turk, which maketh not rich;" to prove, by is bent over the waylaid traveller, and an exhibition of their opposites, that pours wine and oil into his wounds method and discipline are indispenfrom the mouths of two Florence flasks; sable in tuition, and (if he will accept there, the grain of mustard-seed, be- our pathemata" for his “mathecome a tree, sheltering already a large "mata" and guides in the bringing up aviary in its boughs; the woman, of bis sons) to convince him that edudancing a hornpipe with the Dutch cation, like scripture, admits not of broom, has swept her house, and lo! private interpretation. Those who the piece of silver that was lost in refuse to adopt the Catholic views of her hand; a servant, who is digging a the age, and the general sense of the hole in order to hide his lord's talent society in which they live, must blame under a tree, is overlooked by a mag- themselves if they find the experipie and two crows, who are attentive ment of foreign schools a failure, and witnesses of the deposit :—and many that they have sent their children others too numerous to mention. So " farther to fare worse." much for the empty school-room, but And now to proceed to the geography what's a hive without bees, or a school- class, which was the first after breakroom without boys ? The reader fast, and began at half-past eight. who has peeped into it untenanted, As the summons-bell sounded, the shall now, if he pleases, be intro- boys came rushing and tumbling in, duced, dum fervet opus full and alive. and ere a minute had elapsed were Should he not be able to trace out swarming over, and settling upon, the very clearly the system at work, he gh reading-desks : the ma will at least be no worse off than the already at his work, was chalking bee-fancier, who hears indeed the out the business of the hour; and as buzzing, and sees a flux and reflux this took some little time to accomcurrent of his winged confectioners plish, the youngsters, not to sit unentering in and passing out, but can- employed, would be assiduously ennot investigate the detail of their la- gaged in impressing sundry animal bours any farther. In the Yverdun, forms--among which the donkey was as in the hymenopterus apiary, we a favourite---cut out in cloth, and well swarmed, we buzzed, dispersed, re- powdered, upon one another's backs. assembled at the sound of the bell, When Herr G- had finished his flocked in and flocked out, all the chalkings, and was gone to the corner day long ; exhibited much restlessness of the room for his show-perch, a and activity, evincing that something skeleton map of Europe might be seen, was going on, but what, it would have by those who chose to look that way, been bard to determine. Here the covering the slate: this, however, was comparison must drop. Bees buzz to what the majority of the assembly

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »