The visionary philosopher
having put himself at the head of an institution for teaching beasts,
had collected sundry of what he thought the most docile animals. He had
in his academy, as it might be called, under scholastic discipline, a
baboon, a pet squirrel, a young bear, and half a dozen pigs, &c. &c.
The squirrel, as in the case of young masters, with the sons of rich people,
he encouraged or coaxed, to get his task by giving him nuts to crack;
and the pigs, by throwing them rinds of pompions, or parings of apples;
the bear and the baboon in like manner, by something in their way; and
so with all the others. Some he intimidated by the ferule and the birch.
He was instructing them according to the Lancastrian mode, or method,
to make marks on sand, and to write before they began to read.
Things were going on very well, to all appearance, and to the satisfaction
of the tutor, when a catastrophe which now took place brought the matter
to a conclusion. It was not from the lady who had brought the pet squirrel
to be taught, though she had expressed some impatience at the favourite
not making a more rapid progress, because she was sure it had genius.
But she had forbidden the professor to use the rod; and what ground could
she have to expect a close application, and a quickness of perception
without a stimulus to the mind, by the feelings of the body? However,
it was not from the lady taking away her scholar, or that of any of the
other employers and subscribers withdrawing their rabbits, or other students,
but from that wicked fellow, Will Watlin, followed by Harum Scarum with
a switch, who, breaking into the menagerie, exclaimed to the professor,
or principal; it is not of much consequence now which he is called: --What,
said he to the master of the hall, is it in imitation of your pupils,
that you are here in your bare buff? Sans culottes, have you nothing to
cover your nakedness? Had you put yourselves in your sherryvallies, or
overalls, there would have been some decency-- Every thing is French now-a-days.
Is it French that you are teaching these to speak, or write? I see a baboon
there; Louis, I suppose, is his name. He will learn French fast enough,
if that is all you have put upon his hands. He was a Frenchman as far
back as Arbuthnot. The squirrel may chatter something, and it may sound
to us like French. Do you mean to make the bear a parlez-vous? No wonder
that the two John Bulls, senior and junior, the old and the New England,
should talk of French influence. Do you expect your pigs will be
made officers under Bonaparte, interpreters, perhaps? I would have you
know that we have too much French amongst us already. If the French should
come over to us in an oyster-shell; for I do not see what else they have
to come over in; and this they could not do unless, like Scotch witches,
there might be some use in currying favour with Napoleon.
But is the discipline of your school correct, even if there was something
to be taught that would be of use, in science, in agriculture or in commerce?
Do you instruct them in history or good breeding; to keep their persons
clean, to pare their nails, and shave their beards, those of them that
are grown gentlemen? That fellow there the racoon, does not appear to
me to have had his beard shaved these two weeks. It is true, I do not
see any of them with a cigar in his teeth, like the American monkies and
opossums, the greater part of them of a bad family education; and so farewell.
But that mongrel between the terrier and the pointer breed, with a collar
on his neck, may be said to have a collar without a shirt to it. I am
tired of these remarks; away with you, away.
With that, Will Watlin drawing his wattle, and Harum Scarum using his
switch, they began to lay about them. The monkey leaped; the pigs squealed,
the squirrel chattered and ran into his cage, the bear growled, the pointer
howled, &c &c &c. The education was thus interrupted, and
the institution broken up.