Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/39

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Chapter II.


Young Flinders received his preparatory education at the Donington free school. This was an institution founded and endowed in 1718 by Thomas Cowley, who bequeathed property producing nowadays about 1200 pounds a year for the maintenance of a school and almshouses. It was to be open to the children of all the residents of Donington parish free of expense, and in addition there was a fund for paying premiums on the apprenticeship of boys.

At the age of twelve the lad was sent to the Horbling Grammar School, not many miles from his own home. It was under the direction of the Reverend John Shinglar. Here he remained three years. He was introduced to the Latin and Greek classics, and received the grounding of that mathematical knowledge which subsequently enabled him to master the science of navigation without a tutor. If to Mr. Shinglar's instruction was likewise due his ability to write good, sound, clear English, we who read his letters and published writings have cause to speak his schoolmaster's name with respect.

During his school days another book besides those prescribed in the curriculum came into his hands. He read Robinson Crusoe. It was to Defoe's undying tale of the stranded mariner that he attributed the awaking in his own mind of a passionate desire to sail in uncharted seas. This anecdote happens to be better authenticated than are many of those quoted to illustrate the youth of men of mark. Towards the end of Flinders' life the editor of the Naval Chronicle sent to