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A FREE (AND EASY) SCHOOL.

BE kind enough to look at the following
prospectus of "Queen Elizabeth's Royal Free
Grammar-School," at Thistledown. Dr. Laon
Blose, head master, seeks private pupils, who
are to bring with them silver forks and
spoons. He wants pupils at forty guineas,
with extras, on the usual terms. Be kind
enough to look at the first paragraph of the
prospectus.

"At this school, founded by Queen Elizabeth,
there are only seven foundation or free boys,
who attend as day scholars, not at all
inter
fering with the private pupils." A Free
Grammar-School master advertises the free
boys as of no consequence at all! To be
sure, you sayan every-day occurrence. So
it is.

Here is an educational register for the year
of our Lord 1851. It contains a list of what
are humorously called Free Grammar-Schools,
one hundred and eighteen pages long. There
are in this country two thousand four hundred
endowed schools, and in two thousand of
them there are not four hundred free pupils!
The endowment of some of these establishments
is small; a scanty stipend for a clergyman,
but a fair stipend for a trained village
schoolmaster. In others it is large; but,
small or large, it very rarely is made serviceable
to the children of the poor. Here, for
example, if we look into the register, we find
one Grammar-Scliool, founded, like that of
Thistledown, by Queen Elizabeth, free to sons
of parishioners. It is respectably endowed. If
we look into the advertisements bound up with
the same register, we find the reverend headmaster
of this school informing us, that "the
course of instruction pursued, comprises
theology, the Greek and Latin classics, as
preparatory to the universities and public
colleges, geometry, algebra, French," and a
great deal more. Every boarder who comes
hungering for knowledge must bring with him
"a silver spoon and fork." Again, another
school, endowed with a good house, a few
acres of field, and two hundred and eighty
pounds a year, in order that it might be "free
to boys born in the parish," looks abroad for
patronage, and advertises to the public that
"the system of education is adapted to prepare
young gentlemen for Addiscombe, Woolwich,
Sandhurst, and the examination required at
the Horse Guards, as well as for the public
schools and the universities." Why is it so
adapted? Is it a custom at the Horse
Guards to examine curly-headed ploughboys?
Does Lubin sigh to be a wrangler?

That is all very well, you say, and very
stale. You know all about Free Grammar-
School abuses, and the children of the poor,
despoiled of their inheritance. But you are
tired of dry statistics, and vague generalities.
Something distinct and tangible would suit
you better. Will I go and visit one of these
Free Grammar-Schools; walk into the school-
room; see the boys at work; catechise the
head-masters; look over the building, and
bring back a report of what is to be seen?
Will I? Of course I will. Take the Royal
Free Grammar-School of Thistledown, of
which I have just seen the prospectus.
Dr. Laon Blose confesses to the usual
partiality for silver forks. He teaches German,
drawing, dancing, music, on the usual terms.
He prepares younger boys for Eton. His
course of study is comprehensive. He has
seven foundation boys who do not interfere
with his arrangements. "At Midsummer
and Christmas all the pupils are examined,
and prizes are awarded by the trustees and
governors." You wonder whether the foundation
boys ever have prizes given to them.
I will go and ask. Of this school, at present,
beyond its prospectus, I know nothing whatever.
It seems to be like others of its class.
Let us accept it as a specimen. I know no
more than you do, what we shall find when we
get there; but we will run over to Thistledown,
and look about us. What we see we will
report quite faithfully; we will not feign
even the minutest incident, and not invent
a syllable of dialogue, but bring back a
true picture of this Royal Grammar-School,
and of the way in which they manage it,
falsifying only the names of places or of
persons.

You put on the coat of Fortunatus, as a
railway wrapper, and go with me as invisible
companion. A sentence brings us to our
journey's end. We pass through the little
station-house, and scorning the small fly at
the door, which has blown itself into a railway
omnibus, we march upon the high-road
to Thistledown. That little country town is

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