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Nicholas Nickleby, The Original Squeers

Nicholas Nickleby, The Original Squeers image
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A correspondent senda us tho follow ing curious acoount of a recent oonversution he held with a gentlemanly En glishmán nrw traveliug in tbís country We gïve it for whatever it s worth. I n the midst of a familiar cbat, he asked, "Did you ever read Dickens' Nicholaa Nickleby ?" I answerod "Yes." "Wüll," returned he, "Oíd Squeers was my oíd niaster, William Shaw." - And here you have the rest of the story : "Ooe duy wben I was about nineteen years old, as I waa passing by a bookstore on Holboru Hill, London, oear the Saracen's Head hotel, I saw a finely thóngh comioally devised pieture of a Bchoolmáster. On stopphig to observe it more carel'ully, I recognized the liueaments of tny old Yorkshiro schoolmaster, Shaw, and I went ia and purehased the volume oontainiog the pioture, and found that it was Diekéns' Nieholas Nickleby, A short time afterwarde, I met an old school fellow by the name of Bishop, from whom Dickenp got the f acts of the school part of the story ; he told mo that he had put Dickens in poasession of them as the surest way he knew to pay off old Shaw for his brutality." I asked him in what part of TTorkshire the Shaw aoademy (Dothuboy's Hall) was situated ; and his reply was, at Bows. And ihen by piece-meals we examined the characters of Suueers (Mr. Shaw), Mrs. Squeers (Mis. Shaw), Miss Squeers (Mis Helen Shaw), and MaBter Wickford (Mr. Johnny tíhaw). Mrs. Shaw was to a dot as Dickens representa her. Sho used to take all o'nr lead pencils, paper, shirts, collara, etc., and eithor Bell them or give them to Juhnny. O, what a hatetul little fellow he was; he'd steal our balls, and Ha we didn't dare to speak to bis father about them, he always kept them. Miss Shavv is unfairly drawn by Dickens; she was well educatod and considerably refined, having been sent to a first class ladies' boardiug school. Mr. Shaw was a very passiouatu mau, and wheu snragud at a boy in school, would order two boys to hüld him dowo upou a table, oue holding dowu hia head, the other Lis feet, aud theti would gash bis bare back wilh birch sticks. But no boy in sohool dared cry whea whipped. for if he did the other boys piuchcd and kicked him wlwn they got out of doow. Mr Shaw never taught any branches exoupt reading and spelling. The reuding exercise oouaisted of Bible reading frora the whole school, one hundrod aud twen ty boys, two verse- aiieco; and the writiug exercise of two liues, of large and small haud. ]f any boy in eithnr of these exercises didn't satiafy Mr. Shaw, he woud fortnwith lay him out on the table, order two buys to hold him down ar.d flog him till he got tired. Oue day getting mad at a boy for u slijfht iault in peumunship, be struck him with a rod and cut open his right cheek. The assistant mastera were orphaned boys whorn cruol guardián had apprentiued to him. Ouo of them had had a largu fortune left him by hm pareuta, but h9 guardián had appreuticed him to Shaw as farm-boy and teacher, and had kept the lortune for uimself. Mr. Shaw's large farm was cuhivated by the boys. If they dido't work hard euough they were allowed half rationa. For nearly two moi;ths they had towork at haying, the school being divided into throwers and rakers. After the haying, old Shaw would say to the boys in the writiug class, 'I'll not flog the rakers, for their hands aro sore; bat wo unto you throwers I' He used to go to London twice a year, and then the boys had to write letters tel!ingfcheir parants what a good man Mr. Shaw was, aud how kiudly he troated them. Before the letters were written, he uaed to say, 'I defy a boy oiyou to Bay tbat 1 ever took away a oollar, shirt, or even pin from him ;' but Mrs. Shaw always did that part of the business. When in London he quartered at the Saraoen's liead. Once iu three weeks the boys were ranged in rows, and the assiataot masters went around and euw whether each boy had bis lead poon, foi k and kuife iu hand; if he hadu't them, he lost his pocket money for two or threo months. After the publication of 'Nicholas Nickleby,' Mr. Shaw lost all hia pay scholars, so he apprenticed all his apprenticed Bohoolmasters to shoemaker, bluckHmiths and carpen tors. Mrs. Sbaw in about two years afterwards died of a broken heart. Her contemptible old husband died, almost an idiot. Hulen married a low, drinking fellow; Johnny became a London lnaí'er; and thu seoond son, Jonathan, who studied medicine, spent whutever was left of the old mun'e property among hi fellow studeuts in drinking and high living generülly ; but for soine yeais has boen the village physician in his nativo place, Bows. John Èrodie aotually exiated in John Doats, tbe village shoemaker, who had the humane habit of helping the boys in running away from Sbaw's dungeon, as he ealled the sohool. When a boy oame to the school, his olothes and other things vvore taken possession of by Mrs. Shaw, and he waa given pants of leather whioh bad been worn by generatious of boys before him, and which had been sti putehed with different colored pieces of oloth that (he door Bchoolboys mistakenly ealled them 'Joseph's coat of muny colors.' When Mr. Shaw and all the contemptible tribe of Yorkshire gchoohndsters had been showt) up and ruined by Dicken'i Nick}ely, the Loudon Ditfütrh came out ad vií-in Shaw and lus fellow aufferers to proseuuto Diekens for libel; but iny bruther aud I, who by bitttcr experience knew the truthof Mr. Dickenn'ei exposition, wrote to tho editor of that paper, assuring liim that tho book was ulmost litentlly tiue. And theu the Dipach pitched ioto old Shaw more savagely ban Diokens had doue. Nicholaa Niokleby, nr rather a young Londoner, came into the school as assistant teacher after I left. - Spring field Rt-publioan;


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