Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the reading class to which I belonged, and of which I had obtained the first place, was called up, some of the boys in it who were much older and nearly twice as tall as myself, not liking what they deemed the disgrace of having so little a fellow at the head of the class, when standing up before the audience all placed themselves above me. Though feeling that this was unjust, I adopted the plan which, according to Corneille, is that of 'l'honnête homme trompé,' namely, ne dire mot, and was submitting without a word to what I saw the master himself did not oppose, when to my surprise, and, I must say, shame, I heard my mother's voice breaking the silence, and saw her stand forth in the opposite gallery, while every eye in the room was turned towards her, and in a firm, clear tone (though in reality she was ready to sink with the effort), address herself to the enthroned schoolmaster on the injustice she saw about to be perpetrated. It required, however, but very few words to rouse his attention to my wrongs. The big boys were obliged to descend from their usurped elevation, while I, ashamed a little of the exhibition which I thought my mother had made of herself, took my due station at the head of the class."

Whyte's taste for the drama and for poetry was early developed. In 1761 he had prepared two tragedies, the first of which was founded on the story of Abradatas and Panthea, in Xenophon's Cyropædia; the plot of the second was identical with that of Walpole's "Mysterious mother." A character in one of these plays had been written expressly for Sheridan, who undertook to perform it and to have the whole advantageously cast for representation, but Whyte committed both tragedies to the flames, together with some treatises which he had composed on English grammar. He could not, however, so readily divest himself of his attachment to poetry; and at night, after the labors of his school had been concluded, he spent many solitary hours in composing what he vainly supposed would become "immortal verse." The first fruits of these labors appeared in 1772 in a large quarto volume of more than 500 pages, entitled "The Shamrock or Hibernian cresses. A collection of poems, songs, epigrams, &c. Latin as well as English, the original production of Ireland. To which are subjoined Thoughts on the prevailing system of school education, respecting young ladies as well as gentlemen, with practical proposals for a reformation. By Samuel Whyte, Principal of the English grammar school. Dublin: Printed by R. Marchbank, in Cole's-alley, Castle-street." This work was published by a very large subscription, and the editor boasted that two-thirds of the verse and the entire of the prose and

notes had been contributed by himself. At the annual examinations, Whyte usually had a play performed by his pupils, and in general the specimens of youthful proficiency exhibited on those occasions were quite marvellous. Thus, in the prologue to the tragedy of Cato in 1771, the speaker in addressing the audience, says

"We plead our years too-I am, sirs, only seven,
Our Marcia's nine, her father scarce eleven:
But with great Cato's sentiments impress'd,
Honor and filial reverence fill each breast."

Whyte's pupils first performed this play on Christmas-eve, 1771, at the little theatre in Capel-street, for the entertainment of their private friends. "The marquis of Kildare one morning on the stage started the thought, that if these boys repeated their play for the public at large, and money were taken at the doors (which was not done at first), the profits might be applied to some of the charitable institutions of

A Dublin writer in 1586 eulogises as follows another schoolmaster of the same name: "In the west end of the churchyard (of St. Canice, Kilkenny), of late have been founded a grammar schoole by the right honorable Pierce or Peter Butler, erle of Ormond and Ossorie, and by his wife the countesse of Ormond, the ladie Margaret fitz Gerald, sister to Girald fitz Girald, the earle of Kildare that last was. Out of which schoole have sprouted such proper impes, through the painefull diligence and the laboursome industrie of a famous lettered man, M. Peter White (sometime fellow of Oriall college, in Oxford, and schoolemaister in Kilkennie) as generallie the whole weale publike of Ireland, and especiallie the southerne parts of that island, are greatly thereby furthered. This gentleman's method in training up youth was rare and singular, framing the education according to the scholer's veine. If he found him free, he would bridle him like a wise Isocrates from his booke; if he perceived him to be dull, he would spur him forward; if he understood that he were the worse for beating, he would win him with rewards: finallie, by interlasing studie with recreation, sorrow with mirth, paine with pleasure, sowernesse with sweetnesse, roughnesse with mildnesse, he had so good successe in schooling his pupils, as in good sooth I may boldlie bide by it, that in the realme of Ireland was no grammar schoole so good, in England I am well assured none better. And bicause it was my happie hap (God and my parents be thanked) to have been one of his crue, I take it to stand with my dutie, sith I may not stretch my abilitie in requiting his good turnes, yet to manifest my good will in remembering his paines. And certes, I acknowledge myselfe so much bound and beholding to him and his, as for his sake I reverence the meanest stone cemented in the wals of that famous schoole."

[ocr errors]

Dublin. Stuart, an actor, and a great oddity, clapped the marquis on the shoulder, with a good move, my lord.'"Why, I think it is, Mr. Stuart,' repeated lord Kildare, with the sense and good humor of his natural character. The plan was adopted, and succeeded to the delight of every feeling

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"For the relief of the confined debtors in the different Marshalsea, on Thursday, the 2nd of January, 1772, will be performed, by the young gentlemen of the English grammar school, Graftonstreet, the tragedy of CATO. Cato, Master Whyte. Lucius, Master George Carleton. Sempronius, Master John Bird. Juba, Master Anthony Gore. Syphax, Master Marnell. Marcus, Master William Holmes. Portius, Master Lynam Decius, Master William Irvine. Lucia, Master Gibson. Marcia, Master Nugent. With an оссаsional prologue, by Master Richard Holmes. Dancing, between the acts, by Master M'Neil; and singing, by Master Bird. After the play, by particular desire, Dryden's Alexander's Feast, to be spoken by Master Whyte. Boxes, 11s. 44d. Pit, 5s. 5d. Gallery, 3s. 3d. Second gallery, 2s. 2d. Stewards to the charity: Marquis of Kildare, earl of Bellamont, and lord Dunluce."

The three Misses Montgomery, usually styled "the three Graces," superintended the decorations; the band was entirely composed of gentlemen, and captain French and captain Tisdal stood sentry on the stage. The receipts of the night, amounting to £262 5s. Ed., were applied to procuring the liberation of eighty poor debtors from the Marshalsea. The annual dramatic performances at Whyte's academy, and the subsequently distinguished career of many of the juvenile actors who engaged in them, are alluded to as follows in Master Benjamin Nun's address to his school-fellows, at a public July examination (1790), the speaker having just completed his tenth year :

"How many here, these thirty years, have been
The little actors in this busy scene!

Here as the friend, the hero or the sage,
Given the fair prospect of their future age!
How many here performed the mimick play,
Like Tommy Moore, the Roscius of the day!

Or, from this height, harangued the admiring train;
While echoing plaudits shook that crowded plain!

Less pleasing cares their present thoughts engage;
Less pure ambition rules their riper age.
Some, rais'd aloft, who in the state preside,
To their own gain the nation's councils guide.
Some, on whose lips a crowd of clients dwell,
Swallow the fish and give to each a shell.
On India some, or Afric's groaning shores,
From human sufferings heap their guilty stores:
While some at home obnoxious places hold,

And part with honest fame for ribbands, chains, and gold!
But happier some a better task pursue,

With gospel showers the barren land bedew,
Among the sick their healing cares dispense,
Teach the young mind to ripen into sense,
Extract its riches from the generous soil,
Or crowd their native ports with foreign spoil;
On formless matter life and shape bestow,
With new delights the paths of science strew,
Or active, urge the manufacturing band,

While hundreds hang on their supporting hand."

Whyte's gratification in thus publicly exhibiting the results of his scholastic labors, was alloyed by the knowledge that the ill-success in life of some of his pupils had been ascribed to the taste for theatricals with which they had early been imbued at his academy. With a view of discountenancing such aspersions, he wrote and published in 1790 a poem entitled "The Theatre, a didactic essay; in the course of which are pointed out the rocks and shoals to which deluded adventurers are inevitably exposed." In 1792 Whyte's collected poems were published by subscription under the editorship of his son Edward Athenry Whyte, who became a partner with his father in the management of the academy; this volume, which passed through four editions, was the premium generally pre

* In addition to his poems, Whyte also published the following works: "Miscellanea nova; containing, amidst a variety of other matters, curious and interesting, remarks on Boswell's Johnson; with con. siderable additions, and some new anecdotes of that extraordinary character: a critique on Burger's Leonora; in which she is clearly proved of English extraction; and an introductory essay on the art of reading and speaking in public," 1800. "The Beauties of History," 2 vols. 12mo, addressed to the Hon. Mrs. Beresford. "The Juvenile Encyclopædia." "Matho; or, the Cosmotheoria puerilis," edited by S. Whyte, and addressed to Mrs. Tisdal. Holberg's Universal History, edited by S. Whyte. "A short system of rhetoric." "Hints to the Age of Reason." "Practical Elocution," &c. &c.


sented by the author to the most distinguished of his pupils at the annual examinations; the prizes given to the less successful candidates consisted of neatly-framed portraits of their master, engraved by Brocas from a painting by Hamilton. Whyte felt severely the consequences entailed on Dublin by the removal of the resident nobility and gentry subsequent to the Union, which event he survived eleven years, and died in Grafton-street on the 4th of October, 1811. His son Edward A. Whyte continued to conduct the business of the academy until the year 1824, when he finally closed the establishment, and retired to London where he ended his days.

In the year 1766 a building styled the "Navigation-house" was erected on portion of a vacant plot of ground on the Western side of Grafton-street, for the use of the commissioners of inland navigation, in pursuance of a statute passed in 1765 enacting: "That it should be lawful to and for the corporation for promoting and carrying on an inland navigation in Ireland, to apply so much of the duties vested in them by act of parliament, as should be necessary for building and furnishing a convenient house within the city or county of Dublin, and furnishing the same with proper accommodations for the reception of the said corporation and assistants to meet and assemble in for putting in execution the several powers and authorities vested in them by law."

These commissioners had been incorporated in 1752 and provided by government with a large annual revenue for the purpose of opening the navigation of the Shannon. The mismanagement and incompetency of the members of the corporation were soon rendered apparent by their undertaking, at nearly the same time, twenty-three different works, scarcely any of which were accomplished; it having also been found that their expenditure of nearly six hundred thousand pounds was attended with comparatively unimportant results, the board was dissolved, and an act of parliament passed in 1786 vested the Navigation-house in the crown. Shortly after this enactment, the Irish Academy, which so early as May, 1785, had held meetings in the Navigation-house, presented a memorial to the duke of Rutland, lord lieutenant, praying that government would allow them to occupy the vacant building, and in June, 1787, having received notification that their petition had been granted, the Academy received possession of the house, which it continued to hold till the year 1852. This institu

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »