Julian Home

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
Language: English
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Speech-Day at Harton.

“A little bench of heedless bishops there,
And here a chancellor in embryo.”

It was Speech-day at Harton. From an early hour handsome equipages had been dashing down the street, and depositing their occupants at the masters’ houses. The perpetual rolling of wheels distracted the attention every moment, and curiosity was keenly on the alert to catch a glimpse of the various magnates whose arrival was expected. At the Queen’s Head stood a large array of carriages, and the streets were thronged with gay groups of pedestrians, and full of bustle and liveliness.

The visitors—chiefly parents and relatives of the Harton boys—occupied the morning in seeing the school and village, and it was a pretty sight to observe mothers and sisters as they wandered with delighted interest through the scenes so proudly pointed out to them by their young escort. Some of them were strolling over the cricket-field, or through the pleasant path down to the bathing-place. Many lingered in the beautiful chapel, on whose painted windows the sunlight streamed, making them flame like jewellery, and flinging their fair shadows of blue, and scarlet, and crimson, on the delicate carving of the pillars on either side. But, on the whole, the boys were most proud of showing their friends the old school-room, on whose rude panels many a name may be deciphered, carved there by the boyish hand of poets, orators, and statesmen, who in the zenith of their fame still looked back with fond remembrance on the home of their earlier days, and some of whom were then testifying by their presence the undying interest which they took in their old school.

The pleasant morning wore away, and the time for the Speeches drew on. The room was thronged with a distinguished company, and presented a brilliant and animated appearance. In the centre was a table loaded with prize-books, and all round it sat the secular and episcopal dignitaries for whom seats had been reserved, while the chair was occupied by a young Prince of the royal house. On the other side was a slightly elevated platform, on which were seated the monitors who were to take part in the day’s proceedings, and behind it, under the gallery set apart for old Hartonians, crowded a number of gentlemen and boys who could find no room elsewhere.

“Now, papa,” said a young lady sitting opposite the monitors, “I’ve been asking Walter here which is the cleverest of those boys.”

“Ahem! young men you mean,” interrupted her elder sister.

“No, no,” said Walter positively, “call them boys; to call them young men is all bosh; we shall have ‘young gentlemen’ next, which is awful twaddle.”

“Well, which of those boys on the platform is the cleverest—the greatest swell he calls it? Now you profess to be a physiognomist, papa, so just see if you can guess.”

“I’m to look out for some future Byron or Peel among them; eh, Walter?”


The old gentleman put on his spectacles, and deliberately looked round the row of monitors, who were awaiting the Headmaster’s signal to begin the speeches....