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A RECENT instance of the abuse of monitorial power in a public school, has given rise to a controversy on the subject of school government, and led to the inditing of many letters and leading articles in newspapers on “ Fagging and Flogging” in our public schools. Without expressing any opinion on the animus of these effusions, I may be allowed to remark that neither the tone nor temper in which these topics have been discussed is such as to conduce to a dispassionate consideration of a very grave and important subject.
It appears to me that the public have received an impression of the management of public schools, and the influence of their discipline, which is very far from being fair and correct; and that those who condemn the monitorial system in toto, and denounce “ fagging and flogging” on the evidence adduced by the writers alluded to, have formed their judgment on slight and ex parte evidence, and pronounced their verdict on inadequate grounds.
Having strong opinions on the subject, derived from my own personal experience of school-life passed under two different systems-the “usher” system of a private, and the “ monitorial” of a public school-I resolved to publish these “ School Experiences of a Fag” under both phases of scholastic government, with the view of supplying those interested in the subject with other data than such as had been afforded them, for arriving at a just opinion on the
a important point under consideration.
I have laboured to do this fairly; and if it be thought that I have depicted my experiences of a public school in too bright colours, I can only reply that I have truly expressed the feelings with which I look back upon that schoolboy portion of my younger days. And surely it is no small praise of any school that one of its quondam members should have devoted a portion of his scanty leisure to the purpose of bearing testimony in its favour.
Nor can any amount of censure lessen the force of the fact that, with scarcely an exception, publicschool men love and reverence the place where they were educated; not merely for the friendships they formed there, but on account of the pleasurable and salutary influence of the government of the little community.
In the chapters on private-school life, I have drawn much on the information and experiences of others, in order to give greater completeness to the picture. But I had no need to do this in the case of the public school: my own recollections afforded me sufficient materials. I have endeavoured faithfully to paint both systems, and
“ Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice."
Perhaps it would have been wiser not to have indulged in reflections or arguments, but to have left my readers to form their own opinion. When, however, as I wrote this story, the old