Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Joscelyn: A Tale of the Revolution >> Chapter III: Stephen Joscelyn >> Page 31

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Page 31

Novel (Romance) | The Reprint Company | 1975, 1976
Transcription JOSCELYN31
of muscle. The upper part of his frame was unusually massive;
his chest broad, as we have described; head and throat of corre-
sponding size; his arms long and sinewy; and long before he grew
to manhood, he was noted, throughout the country, not only as a
great fox-hunter, but by his singular strength of wrist and hand.
He had practiced with quarter staff and broadsword, and his only
exercise was taken on horseback.
Such, in brief, was Stephen Joscelyn. Though a cripple, his
affections were still divided between the exercises of field and forest,
and the study of books. Latterly, in consequence, perhaps, of his
occupation, the influence of the books prevailed. But we shall see !
There is, yet, perhaps, an undecided conflict between them, which
this story must develop.
The business of the school is well begun. The mingled hum
of voices is heard from the children conning their several lessons.
There is the wonted buzz at once of study and unrest. Stephen
Joscelyn only interposes when the murmur shall become imperti-
nence. He is indulgent, and knows too well the value to the string
of the relaxation of the bow. He allows for the tenderness of
gristle and sinew in the child, as he knows what is due to the early
breaking in of the wild colt. It is only the stupid, or the brutal,
that makes the mouth callous, by too frequently straining upon
the bit.
He has borrowed some of his notions of education from the
schools of the Greek masters. He is not for restraining the physical
movements, fettering the boy or girl for five mortal hours on a
stiff bench, to the harm of the yet unhardened sinews, and the
enfeebling and curvature of the spinal shaft, which evils are, in
our day, the too frequent consequence of the cruel habit of con-
centrating the entire tasks of the day into the morning hours only.
He will, in fine weather, take his pupils into the open air, under
the shady trees, and hear them recite, and teach them as they walk
to and fro together. And, at a signal, he, the cripple, will play
with them like any other child; will bend their bows for them,
and use his own; will shape the feathers and sharpen the arrow;
will teach them the sleight of hand which helps the strength, to
hurl the pilum; will train them to such precision in the use of
the discus, that each shall become prouder in his growing progress