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- Mr. Midshipman Easy - 4/78 -


"Lord bless him, yes, ma'am, he was saying his letters yesterday."

"Oh, Mr Easy, what can have put this in your head? Johnny, dear, come here--tell me now what's the letter A? You were singing it in the garden this morning."

"I want some sugar," replied Johnny, stretching his arm over the table to the sugar-basin, which was out of his reach.

"Well, my love, you shall have a great lump if you will tell me what's the letter A."

"A was an archer, and shot at a frog," replied Johnny in a surly tone.

"There now, Mr Easy; and he can go through the whole alphabet--can't he, Sarah?"

"That he can, the dear--can't you, Johnny dear?"

"No," replied Johnny.

"Yes, you can, my love; you know what's the letter B. Now don't you?"

"Yes," replied Johnny.

"There, Mr Easy, you see what the boy knows, and how obedient he is too. Come, Johnny dear, tell us what was B?"

"No, I won't," replied Johnny, "I want some more sugar"; and Johnny, who had climbed on a chair, spread himself over the table to reach it.

"Mercy! Sarah, pull him off--he'll upset the urn," screamed Mrs Easy. Sarah caught hold of Johnny by the loins to pull him back, but Johnny, resisting the interference, turned round on his back as he lay on the table, and kicked Sarah in the face, just as she made another desperate grasp at him. The rebound from the kick, given as he lay on a smooth mahogany table, brought Johnny's head in contact with the urn, which was upset in the opposite direction, and, notwithstanding a rapid movement on the part of Mr Easy, he received a sufficient portion of boiling liquid on his legs to scald him severely, and induce him to stamp and swear in a very unphilosophical way. In the meantime Sarah and Mrs Easy had caught up Johnny, and were both holding him at the same time, exclaiming and lamenting. The pain of the scald, and the indifference shown towards him, were too much for Mr Easy's temper to put up with. He snatched Johnny out of their arms, and, quite forgetting his equality and rights of man, belaboured him without mercy. Sarah flew into interfere, and received a blow which not only made her see a thousand stars, but sent her reeling on the floor. Mrs Easy went off into hysterics, and Johnny howled so as to be heard at a quarter of a mile.

How long Mr Easy would have continued it is impossible to say; but the door opened, and Mr Easy looked up while still administering the punishment, and perceived Dr Middleton in mute astonishment. He had promised to come in to tea, and enforce Mr Easy's arguments, if it were necessary; but it certainly appeared to him, that in the argument which Mr Easy was then enforcing, he required no assistance. However, at the entrance of Dr Middleton, Johnny was dropped, and lay roaring on the floor; Sarah, too, remained where she had been floored, Mrs Easy had rolled on the floor, the urn was also on the floor, and Mr Easy, although not floored, had not a leg to stand upon.

Never did a medical man look in more opportunely. Mr Easy at first was not certainly of that opinion, but his legs became so painful that he soon became a convert.

Dr Middleton, as in duty bound, first picked up Mrs Easy, and laid her on the sofa. Sarah rose, picked up Johnny, and carried him, kicking and roaring, out of the room; in return for which attention she received sundry bites. The footman, who had announced the doctor, picked up the urn, that being all that was in his department. Mr Easy threw himself panting in agony on the other sofa, and Dr Middleton was excessively embarrassed how to act: he perceived that Mr Easy required his assistance, and that Mrs Easy could do without it; but how to leave a lady, who was half really and half pretendedly in hysterics, was difficult; for if he attempted to leave her, she kicked and flounced, and burst out the more. At last Dr Middleton rang the bell, which brought the footman, who summoned all the maids, who carried Mrs Easy upstairs, and then the Doctor was able to attend to the only patient who really required his assistance. Mr Easy explained the affair in few words, broken into ejaculations from pain, as the Doctor removed his stockings. From the applications of Dr Middleton, Mr Easy soon obtained bodily relief; but what annoyed him still more than his scalded legs, was the Doctor having been a witness to his infringement of the equality and rights of man. Dr Middleton perceived this, and he knew also how to pour balm into that wound.

"My dear Mr Easy, I am very sorry that you have had this accident, for which you are indebted to Mrs Easy's foolish indulgence of the boy; but I am glad to perceive that you have taken up those parental duties which are inculcated by the Scriptures. Solomon says, 'that he who spares the rod, spoils the child,' thereby implying that it is the duty of a father to correct his children, and in a father, the so doing does not interfere with the rights of man, or any natural equality, for the son being a part or portion of the father, he is only correcting his own self; and the proof of it is, that a father, in punishing his own son, feels as much pain in so doing as if he were himself punished. It is, therefore, nothing but self-discipline, which is strictly enjoined us by the Scriptures."

"That is exactly my opinion," replied Mr Easy, comforted at the Doctor having so logically got him out of the scrape. "But--he shall go to school to-morrow, that I'm determined on."

"He will have to thank Mrs Easy for that," replied the Doctor.

"Exactly," replied Mr Easy. "Doctor, my legs are getting very hot again."

"Continue to bathe them with the vinegar and water, Mr Easy, until I send you an embrocation, which will give you immediate relief. I will call to-morrow. By-the-bye, I am to see a little patient at Mr Bonnycastle's: if it is any accommodation, I will take your son with me."

"It will be a great accommodation, Doctor," replied Mr Easy.

"Then, my dear sir, I will just go up and see how Mrs Easy is, and to-morrow I will call at ten. I can wait an hour. Good-night."

"Good-night, Doctor."

The doctor had his game to play with Mrs Easy. He magnified her husband's accident--he magnified his wrath, and advised her by no means to say one word, until he was well and more pacified. The next day he repeated this dose, and, in spite of the ejaculations of Sarah, and the tears of Mrs Easy, who dared not venture to plead her cause, and the violent resistance of Master Johnny, who appeared to have a presentiment of what was to come, our hero was put into Dr Middleton's chariot, and with the exception of one plate of glass, which he kicked out of the window with his feet, and for which feat the Doctor, now that he had him all to himself, boxed his ears till he was nearly blind, he was, without any further eventful occurrence, carried by the Doctor's footman into the parlour of Mr Bonnycastle.

CHAPTER V

Jack Easy is sent to a school at which there is no flogging.

Master Jack had been plumped down in a chair by the doctor's servant, who, as he quitted him, first looked at his own hands, from which the blood was drawn in several parts, and then at Master Jack, with his teeth closed, and lips compressed, as much as to say, "If I only dared, would not I, that's all!" and then walked out of the room, repaired to the carriage at the front door, when he showed his hands to the coachman, who looked down from his box in great commiseration, at the same time fully sharing his fellow-servant's indignation. But we must repair to the parlour. Dr Middleton ran over a newspaper, while Johnny sat on the chair all of a heap, looking like a lump of sulks, with his feet on the upper front bar, and his knees almost up to his nose. He was a promising pupil, Jack.

Mr Bonnycastle made his appearance--a tall, well-built, handsome, fair man, with a fine powdered head, dressed in solemn black and knee buckles; his linen beautifully clean, and with a peculiar bland expression of countenance. When he smiled he showed a row of teeth white as ivory, and his mild blue eye was the ne plus ultra of beneficence. He was the beau-ideal of a preceptor, and it was impossible to see him and hear his mild pleasing voice, without wishing that all your sons were under his protection. He was a ripe scholar, and a good one, and at the time we speak of, had the care of upwards of one hundred boys. He was celebrated for turning them out well, and many of his pupils were rising fast in the senate, as well as distinguishing themselves in the higher Professions.

Dr Middleton, who was on intimate terms with Bonnycastle, rose as he entered the room, and they shook hands. Middleton then turned to where Jack sat, and pointing to him, said, "Look there."

Bonnycastle smiled. "I cannot say that I have had worse, but I have almost as bad. I will apply the Promethean torch, and soon vivify that rude mass. Come, sit down, Middleton."

"But," said the Doctor, as he resumed his chair, "tell me, Bonnycastle, how you will possibly manage to lick such a cub into shape, when you do not resort to flogging?"

"I have no opinion of flogging, and therefore I do not resort to it. The fact is, I was at Harrow myself, and was rather a pickle. I was called up as often as most boys in the school, and I perfectly recollect, that eventually I cared nothing for a flogging. I had become case-hardened. It is the least effective part that you can touch a boy upon. It leaves nothing behind to refresh their memories."

"I should have thought otherwise."

"My dear Middleton, I can produce more effect by one caning than twenty floggings. Observe, you flog upon a part the most quiescent; but you cane upon all parts, from the head to the heels. Now, when once the first sting of the birch is over, then a dull sensation comes over the part, and the pain after that is nothing; whereas a good sound caning leaves sores and bruises in every part, and on all the parts which are required for muscular action. After a flogging, a boy may run out in the hours of recreation, and join his playmates as well as ever, but a good caning tells a very different tale; he cannot move one part of his body without being reminded for days by the pain of the punishment he has undergone, and he is very careful how he is called up again."


Mr. Midshipman Easy - 4/78

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