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The Blue Coat Schools page 2


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There is to be noted at Christ's Hospital a sort of Golden Age. Charles Lamb has immortalised the schoolmaster of his day, at Christ's Hospital, the Rev. James Boyer. "He has a heavy hand. I have known him double his knotty fist at a poor trembling child (the maternal milk hardly dry upon its lips) with a 'Sirrah, do you presume to set your wits at me?' In his gentler moods, when the 'rabidus furor' was assuaged, he had resort to an ingenious method, peculiar from what I have heard to himself, of whipping the boy and reading the Debates at the same time; a paragraph and a lash between." It has been said that though the traditions of his severity carry us back to the period of the Monastic Schools, Boyer was one of the ablest masters the school ever had. Coleridge mentions that Boyer early moulded his taste to sound preferences in classical authors.

The first Protestant Bishop of India, Dr. T. F. Middleton, sending a donation (400), which would enable him to become a governor of Christ's Hospital, described it as "The noblest institution in the world." And the words of Leigh Hunt (an old " Blue ") explain better than any comment this lavish praise: "Perhaps there is not a foundation in the country so truly English, taking that word to mean what Englishmen wish it to mean-something solid, unpretending, and free to all. More boys are to be found in it who issue from a greater variety of ranks than any school in the kingdom. Christ's Hospital is a nursery of tradesmen, merchants, naval officers and scholars alike; it has produced some of the greatest ornaments of their time."

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