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proof of his ability was his reformation of the parish choir. The singing had been a combination of grating discords. Tom declared that it had been the cause of several violent cases of colic. But he was not content with sitting in his pew and pulling sour faces towards the gallery—he took his station there, armed with his violoncello ; he collected some boys from the village school, and trained them to sing a few psalm tunes melodiously; then he drove away the incorrigible discord-makers and mended those who stayed; so that the Copseley choir soon rose above the par of our country churches. By this small achievement, I say, Tom placed himself in advance of a great number of our country squires—he did something, however little, to raise the people. Now what was Tom Benlow's mission f (the word has been hackneyed; but it is not a bad one.)—The question is easily answered. Without a doubt, he was sent into the world to make some improvement in human life at Copseley—to be the true aristocrat of Copseley, that is, to be the helper and the mender of the place. This would have been as worthy an object of life as writing a book on the Universal Millennium. Mr. Carlyle is quite right when he prefers the man who would really make one village better, to the preacher who only shouts that common-place—“All men want mending !”—Well, Tom might have been a true man if his best instincts had been encouraged; but this was not the case. With good, warm feelings, he had no deep self-knowledge, no determined view of life, no steady resolution; thus he became the victim of cant. But before telling his perverted education, I must refer to the occasion of it. Tom often visited the house of Samuel Wilson, a farmer at Copsend. There was no mystery in the motive of Tom's visits; for the farmer was a violoncello-player and had three daughters—fine, tall, darked-eyed girls, who were good singers. It was, ‘indeed, a truly superior though not a wealthy family, and it was no wonder if a stronger motive than even the love of music soon led young Benlow more frequently to Copsend ; for where could he have found, among all the “selftitled gentry of the neighbourhood, a girl so worthy to be loved as Elizabeth Wilson 2 For some time this love, remained a secret; but signs of a stronger character than could be attributed to the mere love of music appeared. Tom could not spend one day happily without an evening visit to Copsend. At last, old Squire Benlow found out the secret. “Of course,” said he to Mrs. B., “the Wilsons are decent people—they are fine girls—but for Tom to go there for a wife —hang the boy! what low notions he has We have neglected Tom's education too long—this must be mended ! ” Accordingly, the rector of Copseley was invited to dine with the Squire, that an after-dinner consultation might take place on the question of our young Squire's destiny. Mr. Baker, the rector, was a man with a low forehead, a large rubicund visage, and a heavy figure. He was not rapid either as a thinker or a speaker. He never considered any weighty matter upon an empty stomach; and therefore, dinner passed over without any mention of the great topic. The time was favourable, as the young Squire was engaged in a cricket-match between Copseley and little Bilton. After dinner, the leg of a roasted goose seemed insoluble on the rector's stomach, and required the help of cognac and hot-water. Two or three doses of this medicine seemed to clear at once the rector's stomach and his ideas—he became clear, sure, and positive on the case of young Tom Benlow, and hardly seemed to feel the responsibility of pronouncing a decision on which a young man's happiness might depend. “Yes,” said he, gazing through the dark-red glass of mixture at the wax-lights— “Tom must go to Oxford. It is the right place for him. It will be the means of breaking off”—To finish the sentence, the rector shut his right eye, inclining his head towards Copsend, and then drank up the contents of his glass. This solemn oracle seemed to have its due effect upon the old Squire. At this decisive moment, young Benlow stepped into the room. “We were just talking about you, Tom,” said the Squire; “you must go to 0xford, my boy!” “Must I?” said Tom; “but first of all, I should like a glass of small-beer—sherry and soda-water—anything cooling! We've had a splendid game. I was in an hour and hit the ball into the tent twice. Poor little Bilton . It never was so small as it is today !” “You must throw aside the cricket-bat and take up the Greek, my boy!” said the Squire. “Hang the Greek What was it made for, Mr. Baker 7" said Tom. “Only two or three years at it, and then you are a man l "said the rector. “Mr. Baker, I think I have told you,” said the Squire, “we have had a parson in our family for three generations.” “I hope there will not be one in the fourth,” said Tom.
“That must be as God pleases,” said the Squire, emptying his glass, as if to reward himself for such a pious observation; “but, Tom, you must be educated like a gentleman.” “Yes : that is the right view of the case,” said the rector. So it was decided that Tom should go to college. As a preparatory step, a tutor was soon found for him : this was a neighbouring curate, Mr. Holmes, a quiet little man who had edited some Greek books. Tom opened his lexicon with a frown— nothing could make him profess the least love for any of the worthies of ancient literature, or any sympathy with the woes of (Edipus, Philoctetes and Hecuba; but he was not a dolt, as I have said; his father and the cant, and fashion of the age demanded it ; so he crammed as much Greek as was thought necessary. He did a harder thing, too, and a more absurd service to cant—he ceased visiting Copsend Farm, and tried to forget Elizabeth Wilson. A young man stifling the life and truth of his own heart, and studying the obsolete sorrows of old King (Edipus I is not the absurdity grotesque 3 As Tom proceeded with his studies, a change became observable in his person. He had been a model of manly health—now there was some sallowness in his face, and he even condescended to take medicine. Study was dry work; and Tom told me that one of the choruses in Sophocles had required six glasses of gin-and-water for its solution. He adopted the homoeopathic system when his intellect was cloudy, by fumigating the old dramas with a cloud of cigar-smoke. At last, Tom went to Oxford, and passed his examination very well, expressing his decision on several points of theology, of which he had never thought for five minutes. He was only reconciled to this by the conviction that it was “the custom,”—it was “respectable.” - The course of study at Oxford may be, for certain minds with whom it agrees well, the best possible mode of forming a welldeveloped character; but it was utterly uncongenial with Benlow's constitution. Nothing can truly educate a man but the leading out of his best and highest faculties into a proper sphere of exercise. The heart, too, must have its place in every good system. If this is neglected, the mind becomes confused, and all the affections that have been slighted rise in revolt against the oppression practised upon them, Let our proformá teachers repeat as often as they will, their vague common-places about that human nature which they have never earnestly studied; it remains a truth, that there is no true light for the guidance of a man save that which is evolved from his own conscience. This light was darkened in the mind of Benlow. He had been taught to consider his own true character as a mistake, and had been told that, to make himself a man, he must submit his mind and his affections to the sway of a dominant cant. He tried the experiment: the result may be guessed. For some little time he appeared devoted to uncongenial studies; but, as his dislike of the course chosen for him increased, he became less and less careful in his conduct, until he found himself associated with the most reckless and dissipated men of the university. He soon became one of the latest sitters at the convivial table; he knew the way to Bicester well; he gave parties; followed the hounds; accumulated debts, and, after two years, returned to Copseley with some proof that education had had some effect upon him ; for he was altogether an altered man. He had not been at Copseley many weeks before he quarrelled with the old Squire. There had been some mention of again requiring the services of Mr. Holmes to prepare Tom for ordination. “You'll never make me a parson, mind you that, I'm fixed ’’ said Tom. “Why? Why? Why not ?” stammered the old Squire. “Because I was never intended to be a parson, I am not fit for the office,” said Tom. “And if you are not fit, whose fault is it?” asked the father, in anger; “I have laid out money enough upon you to make you fit 1 '' “Then you might have spent it in a better way,” said Tom. “You’ll disappoint all my best hopes,” said the Squire. “For that I care not a straw,” said Tom, leaving the room. To make the story brief-Tom engaged a house a few miles from Copseley, and undertook the management of one of the old Squire's farms. He was never seen drunk; but was known to be one of the hardest drinkers in the neighbourhood, and, in other respects, a dissipated character. He died, a bachelor, at the early age of thirty-two. As he drank, talked, and laughed, like other country gentlemen, it might appear ludicrous if it were said that Tom died, at last, of a broken heart; but this may be said, without fear of contradicNo. xxi.-WOL. IV. s
tion, that his life was made unhappy, and, probably, shortened by a mode of education without regard to his natural character, by the perversion instead of the development of his good faculties.
A tree is cultivated as a tree: a flower is treated with a regard to its innate constitution; when shall we learn to respect man, and to educate him according to the nature of the faculties with which he is endowed ?
MiNE is the little hand, puny and weak,
Mine is the secret prayer, breathed low and lone,
Mine is the brain that but gleams like a spark,
Mine is the hermit-life, lone in its hours,