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Ernest Bracebridge School Days   By: (1814-1880)

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Ernest Bracebridge, School Days, by William H G Kingston.

A very well written book one of Kingston's best. It is about various events and personalities in a Victorian school. The boy after whom the book is named is such a heroic character that one can't help wondering if he is really either Kingston's own son, or maybe the son whom Kingston would have liked to have.

In one of the last chapters it so happens that some of the boys pay a visit to another school, which happens to be the one your reviewer was at. It was astonishing to me to read of institutions and customs at that school just exactly as they were in my day, seventy years and more later.

It makes a very good audiobook.




It was a half holiday. One of our fellows who had lately taken his degree and passed as Senior Wrangler had asked it for us. He had just come down for a few hours to see the Doctor and the old place. How we cheered him! How proudly the Doctor looked at him! What a great man we thought him! He was a great man! for he had won a great victory, not only over his fellow men, not only over his books, by compelling them to give up the knowledge they contained, but over his love of pleasure; over a tendency to indolence; over his temper and passions; and now Henry Martin was able to commence the earnest struggle of life with the consciousness, which of itself gives strength, that he had obtained the most important of all victories that over self.

There he stood, surrounded by some of the bigger boys who had been at school with him; a pleasant smile on his countenance as he looked about him on the old familiar scenes. Then he shook hands with the fellows standing near him, and we all cheered again louder than ever. He thanked us, and said that he hoped he should often meet many of us in the world, and that he should always look back with pleasure to the days he had spent in that place. At last he once more waved his hand and went back into the house.

The instant dinner was over, out we all rushed into the playground. Those were happy times when, directly after it, we could stand on our heads, play high cock o'lorum, or hang by our heels from the cross bars of our gymnastic poles without the slightest inconvenience.

Our school was a good one; I ought to speak well of it. I have, indeed, a very small opinion of a boy who does not think highly and speak highly of his own school, and feel thoroughly identified with it, provided it is a good one. Our school, at all events, was first rate, and so was our master. We were proud of him, and believed firmly that there were very few men in England, or in the world, for that matter, who were equal to him. He won the affections of all of us, and as it seemed, with wonderful ease. How he did it we did not trouble ourselves to consider. I have since, however, often thought over the subject, and have had no difficulty in guessing the cause of his influence. He was a ripe scholar, and thoroughly understood what he professed to teach: then he was always just, and although he was strict, and could be very severe on occasions, he was one of the kindest hearted men I ever met. We all thought so; and boys are not bad judges of their elders. He was a tall, fine man, with a florid complexion. His eyes were large and clear, and full of intelligence and expression. And then his voice! how rich and mellow it sounded when he exerted it. His smile, too, was particularly pleasing; and, old as he was, at least as we thought him, he entered heartily into many of our games and amusements; and it was a fine thing to see him stand up with a bat in his hand, and send the ball flying over the hedge into the other field. He had been a great cricketer at College, and had generally been one of the eleven when any University match was played, so we heard; and that made him encourage all sorts of sports and pastimes... Continue reading book >>

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