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Confessions of an Etonian   By:

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Transcriber's note: Inconsistent hyphenation and unusual spelling in the original document have been preserved. A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.



I. E. M.

London Saunders and Otley, Conduit Street. 1846.

"To preserve the past is half of immortality."



The author is anxious to request any person who may meet with this trifling volume to bear in mind that it contains the memoir of an unworthy member of the place to which it alludes that many years have now elapsed since he quitted the spot where its regulations with regard to education have been as much altered as improved. For Eton! "my heart is thine though my shadow falls on a distant land." But should these pages influence the judgment of any mistaken but well meaning parent, as to his son's future destination, the writer will hope that he has not exposed himself in vain.




"Here's Harry crying!" And on the instant, my brother awoke the elder ones to witness and enjoy the astounding truth.

"What makes you think that?" I replied, in as resolute a tone as a throat choking with anguish would admit of.

"Why, you're crying now," added another brother; "I see the tears shining in the moonlight."

"Only a little," I at length admitted; and, satisfied with the concession, my numerous brethren composed themselves once more to sleep in the corners of the carriage, on their way to Eton, leaving my eldest brother's pointer and myself at the bottom, to our own reflections As for old Carlo, his still and regular breathing evinced that his mind was as easy and comfortable as his body, sagaciously satisfying himself with the evil of the day as it passed over him. Here Carlo had the advantage of me, I anticipated the morrow. Strange and boisterous school boys, tight pantalooned ushers, with menacing canes, were, to my yet unsophisticated mind, anything but agreeable subjects for a reverie, and I felt proportionately doleful; I turned my thoughts on the past, and I was very miserable.

I now learnt that I had been happy, and, for the first time, appreciated that happiness. The hours of this long, weary day had appeared to be as many months; and when I ruminated on former scenes, and their dear little events, I sighed in bitterness, "What a time ago all this seems!" And as I peered up at the moon from my abyss through the window, my eyes unconsciously swam with tears, when I reflected that, if at home, I should at this moment be taking tea with my dear nurse, Lucy, and my sister's governess, just before I went to bed.

I had now bid an eternal farewell to, doubtless, by far the dearest, happiest period of our existence, the dawn of life's day that enviable time when "we have no lessons;" when the colt presses, with his unshod foot, the fresh and verdant meadow, while he wonders at the team toiling under a noontide sun, over the parched and arid fallow in the distance.

This, then, was my first lesson of experience; and on reflection, perhaps many of us will agree that, after all the vaunted troubles and anxieties incident to manhood, few surpass in intensity and hopelessness the sad separation from home for a detested school; it is real and wringing anguish, though, fortunately, like flayed eels, we eventually become inured to it... Continue reading book >>

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