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My Friend Smith A Story of School and City Life   By: (1852-1893)

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My Friend Smith A Story of School and City Life

By Talbot Baines Reed This is a curious book by the author. It does not surprise us, because it has a long school life section, but then it goes on to describe in rather frightening detail the life of a young clerk in London, trying to survive on a miserable pittance, living in a cheap lodging house, and trying to keep up socially with his contemporaries. He is loyal to his friends, and in particular to his friend Smith, whom he had met at school, which had been a school for troublesome and backward boys.

I think it rings very true. There is a foreword which is as enthusiastic as I am about the book. It still gives you a lot to think about. It was quite a true image even when I was young myself and trying to make my way in London, and from what I hear of the tribulations of the young, it is probably not far from the truth today.

Read the book yourself and see what you think. NH. MY FRIEND SMITH A STORY OF SCHOOL AND CITY LIFE




"It was perfectly plain, Hudson, the boy could not be allowed to remain any longer a disgrace to the neighbourhood," said my uncle.

"But, sir," began my poor old nurse.

"That will do, Hudson," said my uncle, decisively; "the matter is settled Frederick is going to Stonebridge House on Monday."

And my uncle stood up, and taking a coat tail under each arm, established himself upon the hearthrug, with his back to Mrs Hudson. That was always a sign there was no more to be said; and off I was trotted out of the dreaded presence, not very sure whether to be elated or depressed by the conversation I had overheard.

And indeed I never was quite clear as to why, at the tender and guileless age of twelve, I was abruptly sent away from my native village of Brownstroke, to that select and popular "Academy for Backward and Troublesome Young Gentlemen," (so the advertisement ran), known as Stonebridge House, in the neighbourhood of Cliffshire.

Other people appeared to divine the reason, and Mrs Hudson shook her head and wiped her eyes when I consulted her on the subject. It was queer. "I must be a very backward boy," thought I to myself, "for try as I will, I don't see it."

You must know I was an orphan. I never could recollect my mother nor could Mrs Hudson. As to my father, all I could recall of him was that he had bushy eyebrows, and used to tell me some most wonderful stories about lions and tigers and other beasts of prey, and used now and then to show me my mother's likeness in a locket that hung on his watch chain. They were both dead, and so I came to live with my uncle. Now, I could hardly tell why, but it never seemed to me as if my uncle appeared to regard it as a privilege to have me to take care of. He didn't whack me as some fellows' uncles do, nor did he particularly interfere with my concerns, as the manner of other uncles (so I am told), is. He just took as little notice as possible of me, and as long as I went regularly to Mrs Wren's grammar school in the village, and as long as Mrs Hudson kept my garments in proper order, and as long as I showed up duly on state occasions, and didn't bring more than a square inch of clay on each heel (there was a natural affinity between clay and my heels), into his drawing room, he scarcely seemed to be aware that his house possessed such a treasure as an only nephew.

The part of my life I liked least was the grammar school. That was a horrid place. Mrs Wren was a good old soul, who spent one half of her time looking over her spectacles, and the other half under them, for something she never found. We big boys for twelve is a good age for a dame's grammar school we didn't exactly get on at old Jenny Wren's, as she was called... Continue reading book >>

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