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To exhibit features of workmanship it would be necessary to quote very largely, and to quote entire the three splendid poems, The Dancing Girl,' The Maid of Song,' and 'The Shepherdess.' The opening stanzas of 'The Maid of Song' will show the poet's sympathy with outward nature, his fine sense of allegorical fitness, and his easy command of rich, expressive melody.
When Autumn leaves are crisp and dry,
And hop like famished sparrows o'er the grass;
When hungry winds creep stealthily along
Mute in the silence of the nightingale.
But when the passage birds of Spring
Burst like warm winds into the melting wood,
'Tis then the joyous Maid of Song reveals
Her passion-notes, and covers the blank day
As flowers drop off the early blossomed May.
It is customary in these days to say that our real drama closes with Sheridan, and that nothing worthy of the name of dramatic poetry has been written since. That may be so; but no competent impartial judge will worthily read Dr. Hake's poems without finding that the author understands at least dramatic situation. Cynical people, too, will be found ready to say that even our lyric poetry, save for one or two great names, is unworthy of English traditions; but surely we shall not feel so poorly represented after all if, in addition to the acknowledged supreme singers of the time, we properly recognise the fine sentiment and grace, the freshness and the melodious form, and the philosophic reach and imaginative strength of Edmund Gosse, Andrew Lang, and Thomas Gordon Hake.
those unacquainted with the working of the machinery by which it is sought to put the Education Acts into force, a direct connection between Education and Boots may not at a first glance be apparent. Nevertheless, such a connection does actually exist. Among practical educational difficulties a prominent place is held by-Boots. Or, to speak by the card, the want of boots, or those manifold ills of wear and tear by which boots are rendered unserviceable, and to which all shoe leather is heir. In the days when
educational compulsion was not, there was in the minds of the poor no necessary association of ideas connecting boots with school. If the boots of their children were 'letting in' during rainy weather, if they were undergoing a process of dissolution between sole and upper, if they were away at the cobbler's for repairs-in any or all of these cases, or the still more decided case of the little ones being without boots altogether, pending the scraping together of money for the purchase of new ones, parents simply kept their children at home as a matter of course. Absence from school-supposing the children were on the register of a school at all-was regarded as one of the least important incidental or accidental features of the general situation. But we have altered all that. Technically, want of boots is not a reasonable excuse' for absence to the School Board authorities. Legally, it is not an admissible plea in arrest of judgment when a parent is summoned before a magistrate on a charge of having committed a breach of the compulsory bye-laws under which the School Boards prosecute. But members of School Boards, by whom proceedings under the Education Acts have to be specifically sanctioned, would be but ill-fitted to discharge the onerous duties entrusted to them were they men or women-who would go upon the hard letter of the law in this matter of boots. Though not officially recognised, the plea of want of boots is in practice allowed to be in some degree at any rate-in the nature of a reasonable excuse. Those whom it may concern have come, by that unerring instinct' which Lord Beaconsfield professes to regard as something very like inspiration, to be aware of this. As might be expected, they seek to turn the knowledge to their own advantage. The less scrupulous among them try to trade upon it unfairly. The less energetic evince a decided tendency to make more out of it than is justified by the absolute necessities and possibilities of individual cases. In this position lies the point of the boot difficulty from the judicial standpoint-the difficulty, namely, of striking a balance between the mercy that should temper justice and the firmness and decision requisite to make compulsion in education an operative reality.
In the Remarks' columns of the duplicate registers from which irregulars' are looked up by the School Board visitors, and on the absentee notes sent out daily from the schools, calling upon parents to state reason why' for the absence of their children, the most frequent entries-when poor districts are in question-are No boots,' 'Bad boots,' 'Boots gone to be repaired.' Then come what may be called the secondary boot entries: Severe cold from wearing bad boots,' 'Broken chilblains,' 'Sore feet,' 'Can't get on boots,' and the like. When the parents of absentees or irregulars are 'invited' to attend before School Board committees to show cause why they should not be summoned before a magistrate and fined,' want of boots is still one of the causes most frequently alleged. Occasionally it is put forward in an amusingly practical and dramatic fashion. A parent will go to the meeting armed with a very old, very much damaged boot-a boot worn to nothing,' as to its sole, and a thing of shreds and patches as to its upper. One past all legitimate service, that the daylight shows through from any point of view, and that would let in water as freely as a sieve. This material weapon of moral defence is kept carefully concealed until the moment when the question What have you to say?' gives the cue for it to leap forth. As answer to that question the picturesquely dilapidated boot is suddenly laid upon the table with triumphant look and gesture, as though it were the sword of a Brennus cast into the scale of ransom, and sure to bring it down-with a bump. Sometimes the child is brought to the meeting in the boots, and is told to hold up its foot to the gentlemen;' but this plan, though it introduces an additional performer, is found to greatly weaken the dramatic force of the situation. These forms of the boot line of defence are also in some instances tried in the police courts. The idea of 'showing cause' in this fashion was originally a good one. It was founded upon an intuitive knowledge of human nature, as well as a feeling for dramatic effect. The exhibition of such mere wrecks and relics of boots as the only foot-gear that parents were presently in a position to give their children was certainly calculated to plead trumpet-tongued against children being compelled to go out in them, even in the interests of their education. But age has withered, and custom staled the force of the 'effect' upon the official mind. Experience goes to show that there is always a possibility that the ragged boot actually tabled may be a property boot. In any case it would not be in the true interests either of the public or the poor to allow the mere silent witness of a worn-out boot to stand as conclusive proof of an absolute necessity for keeping a child away from school. The boot cause,' when put forward in bodily form, is regarded by School Board authorities merely as a gauntlet challenging to inquiry. Investigations are made, and it is upon their results, not upon the more or less piteous looks of the boots put in evidence, that decisions are arrived at.
To the poor and poorest classes the educational difficulty in relaNo. 611 (No. CXXXI. N. S.
tion to boots is but a crowning one, added to and intensifying others previously existing. The providing of shoe leather for their children has always been a difficulty with them. Many a labourer's wife, with three or four, or it may be even a larger number of children of school age upon her hands,' might well paraphrase Nelson's saying, and exclaim that want of boots would be found written on her heart.' Shoe leather, as such women are wont to put the matter themselves, is the greatest worrit' of their lives. In families poor in means but rich in children the question of boots is second in importance only to the question of bread, while the difficulties that lie in the way of keeping up a supply of leather are much greater than those associated with the supply of loaves. To muster the price of a quartern loaf is a comparatively easy matter, and bread takes first place among the articles of household consumption for which, in poor districts, credit is most readily and largely given. But a pair of boots runs into money,' and the bootselling business, as it obtains among the poor, is a ready money one. The oldfashioned bootmaker of the humbler kind, who worked at home, made boots and shoes to measure, had his trade connection among friends and neighbours, to whom in case of need he would give credit, has practically become a personage of the past. He could make no effective stand against the competition of machine-made goods. The home-working shoemaker of the present day has generally to confine his operations to snobbing--to repairs. And even among the snobs the custom of the trade is against giving credit. Of course poor parents have to buy low-priced boots for their children, and in such boots they get a material illustration of the principle of cheap and nasty. These boots are manufactured in a spirit of shoddy, and shoddy substances enter largely into their make-up. They soon become soddened, exhibiting as they do abnormal powers for the absorption and retention of moisture, and they are given to tumbling to pieces ere they can be fairly worn out. When the boot money at command will not 'run' to new goods, resort has to be had to the dealers in second-hand or translated' articles. This is decidedly a case of from bad to worse. The second-handers are old boots cobbled up for this especial trade. They are mere blackened sepulchres, their numerous defects of upper and welt being concealed by a plentiful application of heel-ball' and blacking, while their soles are at best but stuffings of rotten leather. The first wet day they encounter when in wear reduces them to a bursten and shapeless condition, and even before this beginning of the end occurs they are a constant affliction. No amount of 'lasting' will really take out of old boots the creases formed in them by the feet of a first wearer. Not once in a hundred times do old creases exactly fit new feet, and when they do not not fit they fray. As a natural consequence of this mechanical fact, children condemned to wear secondhand boots mostly
Tread on everlasting thorns,
And sow in suffering what is reaped in corns.
Or, worse than corns, 'rawed' or even poisoned feet. In the matter of boot repairing the poor are also unfortunately situated. They have seldom a change of boots for their children, and the one pair constantly in wear therefore frequently requires the services of the cobbler. With a view to meeting the exigencies of educational pressure, it has become a custom to endeavour to get the necessary 'snobbing' done between Friday evening and Monday morning. The rush of work caused by this practice to a considerable extent defeats its own purpose, even where the cobbler is a steady fellow and willing to oblige. If he is not a steady fellow; if he is a lushington,' as it is sometimes the wont of cobblers to be, the position of his customers is still more trying. In that case it generally happens that Saturdays and Mondays are the days whereon he more especially devotes himself to the worship of Bacchus rather than of St. Crispin. 'Boots gone to be repaired,' is perhaps the most difficult to deal with of all the boot excuses for absence from school. Are parents really the victims of the delays or delinquencies of individual cobblers? Or are they only trying to make a stalking horse of shortcomings popularly alleged to be the badge of all the cobbler tribe? This is often in these cases the moot point to be decided, and the decision involves such niceties alike of evidence and judgment as would probably astonish the uninitiated. Occasionally the 'no boots' excuse for absence will be put in on behalf of a child whose teacher will have it within his or her recollection that the child was well booted a day or two previously. On the face of it this looks suspicious; but it by no means necessarily follows that the excuse is not true. In the poverty-stricken districts of great towns few things are more readily pawnable or saleable than children's boots. They are a common form of material guarantee' for small loans. The straining of resources incidental to the purchase of boots frequently produces a reactionary necessity for putting them away.' To take the boots from a child's feet to make money,' seems a hard-hearted proceeding; but there are times when it may be the lesser of a choice of evils. It is one of the most pitiful resources to which stress of circumstances drives the poor. But it is bare justice to the poor to say that as a rule it is only adopted to obtain bread for the passing day, and not at all until less extreme means to the same end have been exhausted.
Thus we see that where the poor are concerned the question of the relation between Boots and Education is surrounded by practical difficulties and hardships. Boots or no boots, says the law in effect, children of school age must attend school. As we have pointed out, those entrusted with the duty of carrying out the law strive to temper justice with mercy. At the same time they are bound in the interests of education-the interests whose ministers or servants they are-to enforce the spirit of the law. They must put on pressure. As a matter of fact they do put on pressure, and the result is that thousands of children have to be sent to school in bad boots; in other words, have to be sent to school under conditions that cannot fail to be injurious