Welsh Journals

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Vol. II.] WALES. JULY, 1895. [No. 15. THE DANGERS OF THE WELSH IDLE BOY. HE idle boy is surround¬ ed by dan¬ gers. With some of them he is well acquainted, —h e gets them des¬ cribed to him by his p a r e n t s when he leaves home for school, he gets them described by his master when he leaves school for home. The master tells him, possibly, that his idleness is cruelty to the hard-working father or widowed mother who sacrifices in order that he may have a good education, and the lecture brings a great lump into his throat and a curious kind of moisture into his eyes ; his parent, again, tells him that his idle habits cause anxious care and pain to rise in his learned teacher's conscientious mind, and he suppresses a grin of satisfaction. He occasionally gets a dim idea of the magnitude of his dangers, and he resolves to be idle no more. But it is rarely that the idle boy's conscience is a match for his sweet natural indolence. In Wales, at the present day, the idle boy is exposed to a new danger, of which he himself has no suspicion, a danger not discovered even by parent or schoolmaster. He is in danger of extinction. We are in clanger of having a country without idle boys. The danger is really great, and it is Imminent. Every boy is forced through a course of education, and school discipline is becoming absolutely perfect. The con¬ scientiousness of schoolmasters is becoming wonderful, and it lasts all through the year; the conscientiousness of the Govern¬ ment inspector is more wonderful still, he sacrifices all the pleasures of a lovely summer day in order to test every little boy's knowledge with a thoroughness that would have amazed the good easy going masters of twenty years ago. The master has been trained on strict scientific lines, the inspector has been so carefully trained that no trick on the part of the master or of the idle boy will escape his inquisitorial eye, and the education department of Government exercises a benevolent but despotic rule over inspector, master, and idle boy alike. At the end of every year, if not oftener than that, the idle boy must now bring his knowledge to a point; there is no possibility of the delightful pro¬ crastination condemned at the top of his copy book, all repentance will be too late after the examination day. The rules are so rigid, and education so mechanically perfect, that, at no distant date, the idle boy will be with us no more. It is well worth remembering, before this consummation is attained, that the great benefactors of the world, the organizers of great movements, great poets, and great men generally were, at one time, idle boys. There are exceptions, certainly, and Milton is one of the most illustrious of these. But, as a general rule, a boy has no exalted ideal,—a school-boy like Milton, who thought of the great Task-master's eye when his birch-rod days were not yet over, was indeed a prodigy. We read also that Robert Owen, the socialist, did himself life-long injury by swallowing hot porridge in order to hurry to school. 19 2S9