Page:Letters of Life.djvu/205

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ages and grades of improvement, some, indeed, older than ourselves, so that accurate classification was a matter of labor as well as tact. Our course of study was extensive for the times, and thorough. We encouraged them to question us on points not well understood, and, as we required of them readiness of reply in recitation, found it necessary to review our own studies, especially historical ones, lest some inquiry of a chronological character should cause hesitation, or haply disclose ignorance.

We attached great importance to clear, fair chirography. One hour every morning was devoted to this accomplishment. It was one of earnest manual as well as mental effort. Metallic pens were unknown, and we set copies in their writing-books with our own hands. Our knives must be continually sharpened for manipulation upon the goose-quills which solicited us from every quarter, like the bristling of chevaux-de-frise. We were continually on our feet during that hour, overlooking and advising the writers, making and mending pens, which sometimes seemed to us returned for alteration with capricious frequency.

But the muscular fatigue of the chirographical morning hour was nothing to the onerous labor of the afternoons, which it was expected we should devote to the ornamental branches. The number and nature of these it would be tedious to enumerate. The supervision of the fancy-work that then entered into femi-