Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
rude manners, and debasing vices: poverty for me was
synonymous with degradation.
‘No; I should not like to belong to poor people,’ was my reply.
‘Not even if they were kind to you?’ I shook my head: I could not
see how poor people had the means of being kind; and then to
learn to speak like them, to adopt their manners, to be uneducated,
to grow up like one of the poor women I saw sometimes nursing
their children or washing their clothes at the cottage doors of the
village of Gateshead: no, I was not heroic enough to purchase
liberty at the price of caste.
‘But are your relatives so very poor? Are they working people?’ ‘I
cannot tell; Aunt Reed says if I have any, they must be a beggarly
set: I should not like to go a-begging.’ ‘Would you like to go to
school?’ Again I reflected: I scarcely knew what school was: Bessie
sometimes spoke of it as a place where young ladies sat in the
stocks, wore backboards, and were expected to be exceedingly
genteel and precise: John Reed hated his school, and abused his
master; but John Reed’s tastes were no rule for mine, and if Bessie’s
accounts of school-discipline (gathered from the young ladies of a
family where she had lived before coming to Gateshead) were
somewhat appalling, her details of certain accomplishments
attained by these same young ladies were, I thought, equally
attractive. She boasted of beautiful paintings of landscapes and
flowers by them executed; of songs they could sing and pieces they
could play, of purses they could net, of French books they could
translate; till my spirit was moved to emulation as I listened.
Besides, school would be a complete change: it implied a long
journey, an entire separation from Gateshead, an entrance into a
‘I should indeed like to go to school,’ was the audible conclusion of
‘Well, well! who knows what may happen?’ said Mr. Lloyd, as he
‘The child ought to have change of air and scene,’ he added,
speaking to himself; ‘nerves not in a good state.’ Bessie now
returned; at the same moment the carriage was heard rolling up
‘Is that your mistress, nurse?’ asked Mr. Lloyd. ‘I should like to
speak to her before I go.’
Bessie invited him to walk into the breakfast-room, and led the
way out. In the interview which followed between him and Mrs.
Reed, I presume, from afteroccurrences, that the apothecary
ventured to recommend my being sent to school; and the
recommendation was no doubt readily enough adopted; for as