“The fact is, that the condition of a small boy at a large school is one of peculiar hardship and suffering. He is entirely at the mercy of proverbially the roughest things in the universe—great schoolboys; and he is deprived of the protection which the weak have in civilized society: for he may not complain; if he does, he is an outlaw—he has no protector but public opinion, and that a public opinion of the very lowest grade, the opinion of rude and ignorant boys.

“What do schoolboys know of those deep questions of moral and physical philosophy, of the anatomy of mind and body, by which the treatment of a child should be regulated?

“Why should the laws of civilization be suspended for schools? Why should boys be left to herd together with no law but that of force or cunning? What would become of society if it were constituted on the same principles? It would be plunged into anarchy in a week.

“One of our judges, not long ago, refused to extend the protection of the law to a child who had been ill- treated at school. If a party of navvies had given him a licking, and he had brought the case before a magistrate, what would he have thought if the magistrate had refused to protect him, on the ground that if such cases were brought before him he might have fifty a day from one town only?

“Now I agree with you that a constant supervision of the master is not desirable or possible—and that telling tales, or constantly referring to the master for protection, would only produce ill-will and worse treatment.

“If I rightly understand your book, it is an effort to improve the condition of schools by improving the tone of morality and public opinion in them. But your book contains the most indubitable proofs that the condition of the younger boys at public schools, except under the rare dictatorship of an old Brooke, is one of great hardship and suffering.

“A timid and nervous boy is from morning till night in a state of bodily fear. He is constantly tormented when trying to learn his lessons. His play-hours are occupied in fagging, in a horrid funk of cricket-balls and foot-balls, and the violent sport of creatures who, to him, are giants. He goes to his bed in fear and trembling,—worse than the reality of the rough treatment to which he is perhaps subjected.

“I believe there is only one complete remedy. It is not in magisterial supervision; nor in telling tales; nor in raising the tone of public opinion among schoolboys—but in the separation of boys of different ages into different schools.

“There should be at least three different classes of schools,—the first for boys from nine to twelve; the second for boys from twelve to fifteen; the third for those above fifteen. And these schools should be in different localities.

“There ought to be a certain amount of supervision by the master at those times when there are special occasions for bullying, e. g. in the long winter evenings, and when the boys are congregated together in the bedrooms. Surely it cannot be an impossibility to keep order and protect the weak at such times. Whatever evils might arise from supervision, they could hardly be greater than those produced by a system which divides boys into despots and slaves.

“Ever yours, very truly,      
“F. D.”

The question of how to adapt English public school education to nervous and sensitive boys (often the highest and noblest subjects which that education has to deal with) ought to be looked at from every point of view.1 I therefore add a few extracts from the letter of an old friend and school-fellow, than whom no man in England is better able to speak on the subject.

“What’s the use of sorting the boys by ages, unless you do so by strength: and who are often the real bullies? The strong young dog of fourteen, while the victim may be one year or two years older.… I deny

  By PanEris using Melati.

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