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READING FOR HONOURS.
When first the college-rolls receive his name,
The day that preceded my departure out, “ John, John, where are you? I from Bog-Lodge, to pass the entrance want to speak to you! He would put examination in the University of Dub- more alacrity into his motions, and lin, was one not soon to be forgotten hasten to meet my mother, saying, in a in the annals of my family. My sisters cheerful voice, “ Here, my heart, what had been up with the first light of day is it you want ? The answer to this to pack my things, namely, my clothes, question did not, it is true, always set a few books, and a plumb-cake, which forth a case of sufficient importance to my kind Aunt Jenny had made on pur- justify the bringing of my poor father pose for me to distribute among my in a hurry across four or five fields, young companions in college. I took especially as our stiles are rather hard only a few books, as I was to return to climb, and he has had a touch of home immediately after entrance ; but lumbago ; but his patience, and obethose few were packed in my port- dience, were most exemplary ; and manteau, at the recommendation of whether the matter in hand was to get another maiden aunt, by name Sally, a bit of twine to tie a parcel, or to who advised me to take a Homer, à solve the problem of which of two Virgil, a Terence, and a Horace, "just coats I was to wear in Dublin, his to cast my eye over them on the morn- attention to my mother's wishes was ing of the examination.” My mother unfailing. Once indeed, and only once, did nothing all day but run out of one did he lose his habitual composure at room and into another, call the ser. what he seemed to consider an unreavants, and ask were they sure of this sonable command on her part. She thing and that? pull all the things out had dispatched all the servants and of my trunk to ascertain if they were labourers about the place in different properly packed; or run into the directions in search of him, and was kitchen and disperse the servants in herself perched on an elevated spot in all directions for my father, to ask him the barley field, making the sylvan some question, or give him some orders. echoes reverberate the name of her My father was indeed the only uncon- beloved, when, for the fifteenth time in cerned person among us. He walked the course of the day, my father came about the farm as if nothing extraordi- from the other end of the farm, obedient nary was about to happen; and seemed to this the fifteenth command. He adso little inclined to come in the vanced with difficulty, and no wonder, way of the bustle, that, excepting considering the length of ground he had when summoned by an emissary from traversed since morning ; but he spokein my mother, he kept aloof from the the same resigned tone as ever, while his house all day. On such occasions he eye seemed to say, “pray, have mercy would slowly, and reluctantly, walk on me !" But mercy was not, at this homewards, grumbling—“ Plague on moment, an inmate of my mother's them ! can't they let a man alone with bosom. She hailed him with—“ Why, their nonsense !!” till summoned by John, what on earth has kept you so fresh messengers, and perhaps by the long ? Here I have been waiting, and distant voice of his helpmate, calling calling, and sending for you, and you
no more minding me than if you were considering that her ascendancy predeaf. I declare this kind of thing is dominates at Bog Lodge, in every not to be borne !"
thing, from the education of the chil. “ Well, my heart, and what is it I am dren to the dressing of the dinner. In to do for you?
fact, my mother only plays second fid“ Why, go down to Inishogh im- dle to Aunt Sally, who is certainly a mediately, and get some spirit of cam- very clever person, as is evident from phor for Joe's tooth. We had as near her manner of conversation : for let as possible packed his trunk without the subject be what it may, algebra or it. Be sure and tell Mr. M.Dorey to haymaking, theology or potatoes, all send it very strong."
are discussed with a volubility and deMy poor father could contain him- cision which show a well-informed and self no longer, but broke out with—“I commanding mind. Even when, as protest to Heaven my—my love—this sometimes happens, she knows nothing is more than I can submit to! Can't of the subject on the tapis, she is not
for himself? I think it would content with being silent, or with a simbe more becoming than for me to be a ple confession of ignorance, like my slave to my own son."
father or other ordinary people ; but To these rebellious expressions my occupies half an hour in informing us mother indignantly replied, Why that she knows nothing, and giving us then, upon my word, Joe shall not go, reasons why, in the most classical and and I wonder at your proposing it,-I sesquipedal English. As my literary think we may at least permit him to education, together with that of my enjoy the society of his sisters and sisters, has been entirely under the diaunts on this the last day he is to spend rection of my invaluable aunt for many at home.”
years, it is not surprising that at so im“ The last day !” exclaimed my fa- portant an era of my life, as entering ther, “why, what the plague, isn't he college, she should feel considerably coming back on Friday, and can't he interested, and exert her powers of have enough of the society of his sis- eloquence, both to incite me to the acters then, and of his aunts too, plague quirement of academic honours, and take them!”
my sisters to the best arrangement of “Of course he cannot,” said Aunt my portmanteau. This last feat was Sally, who had just joined the group, at length happily accomplished, and we “when you know he will be reading for sat down to a very late dinner. The the premium, and of course, poor fel- conversation at table was chiefly conlow, will be able to see but little of us." fined to the ladies ; for I sat silent,
" Reading for the premium,--stuff - wrapt in anticipations of future greatand if he can't go, can't one of the ness; and my father was so fully occuservants, or one of the men go ?" pied in appeasing his hunger, which
“Yes,” said my mother, " and leave that day was rather sharp, that he only the business of the farm undone, and muttered a few broken sentences, which the dinner uncooked."
as they were apparently addressed con“ I protest,” said Aunt Sally, “ John fidentially to his plate, none thought it is really too absurd ; for he knows, incumbent on them to answer. The that if Joey's tooth should ache in col- rest of the evening was spent in dislege, it will be impossible for him to cussing the many and great things I answer in that clear and distinct manner was to perform at entrance. Aunt Jenwhich is indispensable to a young man's ny said, that if I was a good boy, and success."
lessons well, perhaps, besides The dispute ended, in a servant-boy getting first place, the Provost would being sent to Inishogh, while my mo make an exception in my favour, and ther and Aunt Sally joined in exclaim- give me a handsome book for a premium, ing against my father for his selfish dis At this sentence of Aunt Jenny, a position, that would not let him take a grunt issued from my father, who was pinsworth of trouble to save his whole sitting near the fire. This, by the by, family from a tooth-ache.
has been, for whatever reason, for some I may here observe that Aunt Sally time back, his usual mode of joining in maintains an authority over my father, our conversation ; and we are so well superior even to that exercised by my accustomed to it, as to be able to dismother ; which is not extraordinary, tinguish by the intonation, between his
grunt applausive, and that expressing bounds of modesty) I had already outdispleasure
, or even minuter shades of done Milton, Dryden, and Pope ; for sentiment.
whereas their juvenile efforts had been Aunt Sally relied on my implicitly confined to what are called minor pofollowing the directions which she had ems, I had already written great part so often given me, about sitting firm of a romantic epic in the manner of the and erect at the examinations, and re- Corsair, to be comprised in twenty peating the answers in a full, clear, cantos. My reasoning on this subject voice, and looking full in the examiner's was strictly logical. If, said I, at the face. Nothing, she observed, was of age of eighteen, I have already surmore importance toa young man than the passed the greatest poets that ever eximpression he leaves on the minds of isted, to what an inconceivable eminence others, and nothing influences that im- shall I not have attained at the end of pression more than manners—and she my life! My father, I am sorry to say, hoped that mine would leave such an thinks proper to differ from the rest of impression on the minds of the Uni- mankind respecting my abilities. When versity as would influence them most mny Aunt Sally wonld appeal to my •Ode favourably towards me, not only in to Phingari, (which means the moon) awarding an honourable place to me at as a proof that I had talents sufficient entrance, but through the whole of my to carry off all the preiniums, prizes, subsequent course.
and medals, classic and scientific, which A grunt from my father followed the college had to bestow, he would Aunt Sally's harangue.
grunt and mutter something aboutMy mother desired me to be sure better mind his books than be writing and get the first place—and to read all such heaps of trash-do him no good the books which Aunt Sally had put in college-just idling the boy, and up for me and to take care and an- making a fool of him." Or if he venswer my very best—and to observe all tured to criticise my lines, and prove Aunt Sally's directions about pronunci- them to be “nonsense,” he encountered ation and manner of answering, and such screams of indignation from the then I should be sure to get the first ladies, as deprived him of courage to place.
proceed. He has (strange to say) the We parted for the night. Next reputation of being a good scholar, and moming I rose early, took leave for the judge of literature, but he certainly first time in niy life of parents, aunts, does not exhibit these qualities among and sisters, and mounted the Dublin his own family. I remember a critimail with a beating heart. The world cism of his which moved the just conwas literally new to me: I had never tempt of the Inishogh ladies' reading been ten miles from home, and knew society, and which I insert as a specinothing of men and customs, beyond men of his peculiar mode of thinking. the confines of my native parish. In my “ Ode” just mentioned, are the These considerations, however, did not following lines : disturb me. I had no fears of future failure either in College or the world.
“By lone Phingari's pensive light
How swiftly rows the Mameluke; My talents I knew to be prodigious, Chanting to his guitar so fight and had been so often assured of my
A legend of the silvery brook.
And oh! the Bulbul's lay he loves scholastic abilities by my aunts and To list in isles of orient clime; sisters, and by my tutor Mr. M Classi Where through each fairy bower he roves,
Building the deep entrancing rhyme." can, that I could anticipate nothing short of a brilliant triumph. But on
Now nothing can be more in the my classical attainments, (great as they style of Byron than these lines. They undoubtedly are,) I relied less than on have, as Miss Scriblerina Botherem obmy talents in general literature, especi- serves, the melancholy swell, and deep ally poetry, for which I have a fine unutterable feelings of his poetry. But genius
, which has received the suffrages my poor father cares little for deep unas well of the female circle at home, as utterable feelings. He asks how this same of all the neighbouring ladies and gen- Mameluke can row swiftly, and play tiemen who visit us, and
who have al- the guitar at the same time ?—and as ways testified the highest admiration of for the next verse, he can't for the life my precocious intellect. In fact, (if I of him see any meaning or sense in it may mention it without exceeding the at all--and it' there be anything in it
worth saying, it is worth saying clearly, tion, I did not distribute according to or else not at all. My sisters who took her directions, not feeling quite easy at up the cudgels for me, informed him the idea of carrying a plum-cake that it is absurd to criticise the modern through the streets into the courts of school of poetry, as you would the old- the College, and there dividing it fashioned precise verse of Milton and among the gownsmen. My happiness Dryden—that my lines present to the was, however, considerably diminished mind an image of deep impassioned by the reflections which I was often loveliness, whose very obscurity makes forced to make on the state of my it appear as if dim with a halo of po- wardrobe. My clothes, though they etical atmosphere. My father made still fitted me, were not of the newest no reply, except saying, that "if I cut, and I soon perceived that however minded my business more, and read the suitable for a lounge in the streets, (or classics instead of stringing a parcel rather street) of Inishogh, they were of nonsense together, I might come to but ill calculated to compete with the know what poetry is, and perhaps see fashionable vestments of the gay that it does not consist in talking about world in College-green and DamePhingari, and bulbuls, and orient street. In fact, before leaving home, I climes, and such stuff!!!"
had had some secret misgivings, that my It is not to be supposed that I suffer outward man but ill accorded with the the fire of my genius to be damped by splendour of my pretensions in other these or any other of my father's criti- respects : but though my mother was cisms, inasmuch as he is on this, as on inclined to sympathise, yet Aunt Sally all other matters at issue between him was so decidedly against granting my and Aunt Sally, a minority in himself. petition for at least a new coat, that the
With the consciousness of such thing was altogether impossible. My splendid talents, I could not help say- aunt argued with her usual ability, that ing to myself, as the coach, on whose my newest suit, which had been made roof I sat, rolled along the crowded eighteen months before by Thady streets of Dublin—“ Little do these O Brallaghan, the Inishogh tailor, was people know who is entering their city good enough for me, during my short at this moment !” And when jostled stay in Dublin, and the other suit, of at the coach office by porters and jin- about four years' standing, would, with gle-men, and all sorts of dirty persons, a little mending, do admirably well for I indignantly called to mind that the travelling in. Manners, she remarked, time was at hand when I should walk form the essential distinction of a gentheir streets, not undistinguished as at tleman, and a real gentleman could present, from the ordinary herd of never be mistaken for anything else, men. I stopped at Macken's hotel, in however mean his attire—while low, Dawson-street, which has thus acquired underbred people were sure to be dea kind of classic celebrity; and having tected, through all the finery which introduced myself to my intended tu- their money could heap on them, tor, the Rev. Dr. Golumpus, who had Though not so thoroughly convinced been selected because Aunt Sally was of the applicability of these maxims to once in his company. I occupied my- my own case, as I am wont to be by self for a day or two in walking about Aunt Sally's reasonings on theology, the city, and surveying its objects of and politics, I was forced to make the interest. Among these was a remark- best of it, and persuade myself that able pillar, erected in honour of the such was the grace and gentility of my immortal Nelson, to the top of which demeanour, that I came within the I ascended; and a puppet-show, which principle of Mr. Twitch's observation, a man exhibited at the corner of Car- that "little Flanagan would look well lisle bridge, for only a halfpenny a in any thing.”. Still, as ever and anon peep, and which contained some highly I caught a glimpse of my figure in a interesting representations. In the mirror in some shop window, I could confectioner's shops, I found a very not repress some bitter feelings of moragreeable mode of spending my spare tification at my battered hat and shabby time in the intervals of sight-seeing, coat, as well as some uncharitable wishespecially after my excellent Aunt es concerning my Aunt Sally. Jenny's plum cake had been consumed : On the appointed day I entered which, by the by, I may as well men- college. When fairly in the hall I felt
my self-confidence to be on the wane, day. But these flattering speculations and stronger when my name and pa were compelled to give way to a dire rentage were asked ; I gave them in persuasion of the reality. I was, and with a proud consciousness of the there was no use in denying it, a huge honour I was destined to confer on my way—a monstrous way from the top Alma Meter at some future indefinite of the class. That I had actually got time, yet I trembled for the event of last place, I did not, it is true, learn the present examination. In fact, till the next day ; but still I knew there was cause for apprehension ; for enough to warrant me in presuming it seems the Fellows are not content that my return to Bog Lodge, and my with the grand general translation of reception by Aunt Sally would be cona passage, which shows that a man is siderably on the wrong side of triumfully master of its spirit but they have phal. When all was over, and I was a plaguy precise way of requiring the borne amid the joyful rush of my felmeaning of every word-a pedantic low-students into the crowded court of and tiresome process, fit only for a the College, I had one solitary satisplodder, and unworthy of a man of faction, that I knew no one there. genius. On the present occasion, how- Forcing my way through the throng ever, it happened, that I had com- uncongratulated and unhonored, I paspletely forgotten both the sense and sed the College gate, somewhat crestspirit of every line which I was required fallen since morning, and traversed the to translate ; and one of the examiners streets, thinkin gall the people were (a truculent looking fellow) said it was laughing at me, till I reached the hotel. a shame for my friends to send me so There, vexed and wearied, I locked ill prepared. However, I passed, and the door of my room and threw myself got-last place! The first was won on the bed, where, after a while, the by a vulgar fellow, who sat near me, bitter thoughts that agitated me, graand whose voice and manner ought to dually gave way to others of a less have made the Fellows (according to humiliating nature. My confidence in Aunt Sally's theory) unanimous in re- my own powers (that unfailing sympjecting him. He certainly translated tom of genius) began to with wonderful fluency and accuracy, strength, and I eagerly grasped at any that I allow; but his look was coarse pretext that would shift the blame of and uninspired, and he was utterly my disgrace from my own shoulders destitute of what at Bog Lodge is and transfer it to those of others. Such called manners. During the progress was not long wanting. I began clearly of the examination, a very odd and un to perceive that my examination had wonted feeling, made up of surprise been a most partial and unfair one ; and shame, had grown upon me; at and by dint of going over the events times I could hardly believe but that of the day one after the other, I made I was asleep, and should presently out such a catalogue of wrongs and awake, and find myself in my own bed insults which had been heaped on me, at home. That disgrace and failure as soon banished humility from my should ever come to be named in the mind, and supplied its place with virsanne sentence with me, was what had tuous indignation at the stupidity and never entered into my imagination— insolence of the heads of college. what I had never calculated on as It is a disgrace to the nation," said possible in the nature of things. What! I, “ that such a university should be 1, the clever and talented Joey Skim- tolerated. I have often heard Aunt things—the youthful genius of Inis- Sally speak of the infamous deficiencies hogh-the admirable Crichton of the in its undergraduate course ; but now age, whose name would shed a classic I can bear witness to them myself. splendour over the neighbourhood of The scoundrels!—what sort of an exBog Lodge!!!—that I should be set amination was that to give me? If I down among the dunces !-nonsense! failed in the the passages they gave It must be all a delusion, and I must be me, why did'nt they try me in others ? dreaming like Nic Bottom, a most rare I am confident, that I could find out dream ; on waking from which, I shall parts of Homer and other books, which no longer be an ass, but, as nature if it had pleased their high mightimade me, a most proper and sweet nesses to take me in, I must, bevond youth as you shall see on a summer's a shadow of doubt, have gained the