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Why I like boys - An Incident in the Early Life of Ebenezer Jones, Poet

I said the other day that I loved boys with energy and charm and enterprise and devotion to burning ideals. Here is one of those boys.

We were together at a well-known boarding-school of that day (1828), situated at the foot of Highgate Hill, and presided over by a dissenting minister, the Rev. John Bickerdike. . . .

We were together, though not on the same form; and on a hot summer afternoon, with about fifty other boys, were listlessly conning our tasks in a large schoolroom built out from the house, which made a cover for us to play under when it was wet. Up the ladder-like stairs from the playground a lurcher dog had strayed into the schoolroom, panting with the heat, his tongue lolling out with thirst. The choleric usher who presided, and was detested by us for his tyranny, seeing this, advanced down the room. Enraged at our attention being distracted from our tasks, he dragged the dog to the top of the stairs, and there lifted him bodily up with the evident intention – and we had known do similar things – of hurling the poor creature to the bottom.

‘YOU SHALL NOT!’ rang through the room, as little Ebby, so exclaiming at the top of his voice, rushed with kindling face to the spot from among all the boys – some of them twice his age.

But even while the words passed his lips, the heavy fall was heard, and the sound seemed to travel through his listening form and face, as, with a strange look of anguish in one so young, he stood still, threw up his arms, and burst into an uncontrollable passion of tears.

It is historic fact that the best of the Brits were often unalterably opposed to the worst.

Ebenezer Jones grew up to write poems of unusual beauty, and was a young supporter of the Chartists, when, in 1839, they gained over one million signatures on a petition to Parliament demanding voting rights for working men.


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