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This challenge was generally couched in rhyme, and either sent by the hands of a common friend, or posted upon the chapel-door.These contests, as the reader perceives, were always public, and were witnessed by the peasantry with intense interest.Nay, I do maintain, that he who is intimately acquainted with the character of our countrymen, must acknowledge, that their zeal for book leaning, not only is strong and ardent, when opportunities of scholastic education occur, but that it increases in proportion as these opportunities are rare and unattainable.The very name and nature of Hedge Schools are proof of this; for what stronger point could be made out, in illustration of my position, than the fact, that, despite of obstacles, the very idea of which would crush ordinary enterprise – where not even a shed could be obtained in which to assemble the children of an Irish village, the worthy pedagogue selected the first green spot on the sunny side of a quickset-thorn hedge, which he conceived adapted for his purpose, and there, under the scorching rays of a summer sun, and in defiance of spies and statutes, carried on the work of instruction.The determination once fixed, the boy was set apart from every kind of labour, that he might be at liberty to bestow his undivided time and talents to the object set before him.His parents strained every nerve to furnish him with the necessary books, and always took care that his appearance and dress should be more decent than those of any other member of the family.As for Mat, when he’s half gone, I’d turn him agin the country for deepness in larning; for it’s then he rhymes it out of him, that it would do one good to hear him.’” “So,” said I, “you think that a love of drinking poteen is a sign of talent in a schoolmaster? “Look at tradesmen, and ‘tis always the cleverest that you’ll find fond of the dhrink!
It was evident that the latter could not divest himself of his boyish terror so long as the other sat, as it were, in the plenitude of his former authority, contracting his brows with habitual sternness, thundering out his arguments, with a most menacing and Stentorian voice, while he thumped his desk with his shut fist, or struck it with his great ruler at the end of each argument, in a manner that made the youngster put his hands behind him several times, to be certain that that portion of his dress which was unmentionable, was tight upon him.From this circumstance the name of originated; and however it may be associated with the ludicrous, I maintain, that it is highly creditable to the character of the people, and an encouragement to those who wish to see them receive pure and correct educational knowledge.A , however, in its original sense, was but a temporary establishment, being only adopted until such a school-house could be erected, as was in those days deemed sufficient to hold such a number of children as were expected, at all hazards, to attend it.If the church were in prospect, he was distinguished, after he had been two or three years at his Latin, by the appellation of “the young priest,” an epithet to him of the greatest pride and honour; but if destined only to wield the ferula, his importance in the family, and the narrow circle of his friends, was by no means so great.
If, however, the goal of his future ambition as a schoolmaster was humbler, that of his literary career was considerably extended.Frazher, with his black coat upon him, and his caroline hat, and him wouldn’t take a glass of poteen wanst in seven years?