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Lavengro by George Henry Borrow

The Irish Protestants have faults


The

Irish Protestants have faults, numerous ones; but the greater number of these may be traced to the peculiar circumstances of their position: but they have virtues, numerous ones; and their virtues are their own, their industry, their energy, and their undaunted resolution are their own. They have been vilified and traduced--but what would Ireland be without them? I repeat, that it would be well for her were all her sons no worse than these much-calumniated children of her adoption.

CHAPTER TEN

PROTESTANT YOUNG GENTLEMEN--THE GREEK LETTERS--OPEN CHIMNEY--MURTAGH--PARIS AND SALAMANCA--NOTHING TO DO--TO WHIT, TO WHOO!--CHRISTMAS

We continued at this place for some months, during which time the soldiers performed their duties, whatever they were; and I, having no duties to perform, was sent to school. I had been to English schools, and to the celebrated one of Edinburgh; but my education, at the present day, would not be what it is--perfect, had I never had the honour of being _alumnus_ in an Irish seminary.

'Captain,' said our kind host, 'you would, no doubt, wish that the young gentleman should enjoy every advantage which the town may afford towards helping him on in the path of genteel learning. It's a great pity that he should waste his time in idleness--doing nothing else than what he says he has

been doing for the last fortnight--fishing in the river for trouts which he never catches; and wandering up the glen in the mountain, in search of the hips that grow there. Now, we have a school here, where he can learn the most elegant Latin, and get an insight into the Greek letters, which is desirable; and where, moreover, he will have an opportunity of making acquaintance with all the Protestant young gentlemen of the place, the handsome well-dressed young persons whom your honour sees in the church on the Sundays, when your honour goes there in the morning, with the rest of the Protestant military; for it is no Papist school, though there may be a Papist or two there--a few poor farmers' sons from the country, with whom there is no necessity for your honour's child to form any acquaintance at all, at all!'

And to the school I went, where I read the Latin tongue and the Greek letters, with a nice old clergyman, who sat behind a black oaken desk, with a huge Elzevir Flaccus before him, in a long gloomy kind of hall, with a broken stone floor, the roof festooned with cobwebs, the walls considerably dilapidated, and covered over with strange figures and hieroglyphics, evidently produced by the application of burnt stick; and there I made acquaintance with the Protestant young gentlemen of the place, who, with whatever _eclat_ they might appear at church on a Sunday, did assuredly not exhibit to much advantage in the schoolroom on the week days, either with respect to clothes or looks. And there I was in the habit of sitting on a large stone, before the roaring fire in the huge open chimney, and entertaining certain of the Protestant young gentlemen of my own age, seated on similar stones, with extraordinary accounts of my own adventures, and those of the corps, with an occasional anecdote extracted from the story-books of Hickathrift and Wight Wallace, pretending to be conning the lesson all the while.


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