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11 corrections, most recently by IreneKearsey - Show corrections


[From the Melbourne Argus.]

To the Editor of the Argus.

Sir— I am a reader and admirer of your excellent   big sheet. Seldom does it reach me ; but I generally   get the whole in time. Last week I got a whole   armful, and on running over the news, I came to

what appeared to me a queer heading, viz., "The Scotsman and the Ram." Thinks I, this must be some "canny chield," who has come from the auld kintra and brought a pure merino; but I found I was mistaken ; it turned out to be a reply to a "plain   Scotsman" (like myself ) who was laughing in his sleeve at the idea of colleges and academies, in fact the desire of a chield called Richmond to rear up a wheen dominies and sticket ministers in Australia. How I did laugh, for it reminded me of what I was myself; for, Mr. Editor, I came to this country in the David Clark in 1839, just a sticket dominie, with scarce as much sense as enabled me to dis- tinguish pease brose frae parritch. When I landed I was the laughingstock of the whole ship ; but an   honest lad, a sailor, came up to me, and says he, ''Shipmate, douse your kirk-going toggery, and get a   rig out like a man." I took his advice, and have to thank him, that in place of being a crawling, beggarly, bookworm, I am now a happy and a rich man. I hired myself, Mr. Editor, as a shepherd to a decent countryman, at £35 a-year and was next day taken to the British Hotel, where I found the dray all ready for a start. Well, Sir, to the bush I was carried, and a flock of wethers was put under my charge. I started the first day, after some good advice frae my master, and my pockets stuffed with Virgil and Horace, and a Greek Testament. Thinks I shall now have plenty of time to revise my hu-   manity, and become the first classical scholar in the land. Well Sir, down I squatted, and commenced with, "Tityre, tu patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi ;" and so lost was I in my auld daundering way, I fairly forgot the sheep, and when I came to my senses the de'il a one was to be seen, and I had not the most distant idea how to turn. My only resource was to sit down and greet. Luckily the wethers, auld sonsie chields, had mair sense than their shep- herd, and at sunset they turned and went home. My good master, when he saw them alone, ordered two men to mount and look for me; they soon found me,   and when I came home and told him how I had em- ployed myself, I thought he would have died laughing, at the idea af a "sticket minister" getting bushed. Next day he called me, and says he, "Saunders, gi'e me the Latin and Greek books, or   pitch them in the fire; and here is something to amuse you," and he handed me a volume of Sir Walter's Scotland ; "but mind," says he, "to keep   your larboard eye on the glimmers, and never sit down until they settle down on a good pasture." From that day I have cast Latin and Greek to the dogs, have gone on and prospered until I am the owner of thousands of sheep and cattle. Mr. Editor, the people with the fewest ideas of all others are mere authors and readers. Is it far better to be able neither to read nor write, than to be able to do nothing else. A person who is ordinarily seen with a book in his hand is, we may be tolerably sure, equally without the power, or unwilling to be at the trouble of attending to what passes around him, or in his own mind. Learning is, for the most part, but a foil of common sense — a substitute for true knowledge. You might as well ask the paralytic to leap from his chair and throw away his crutch, as expect the learned reader to throw down his book and think for himself. A mere scholar who knows nothing but books must be ignorant even of them. "Books do   not teach the use of books." How should he know anything of work who knows nothing of the subject of it? He parrots those who have parroted others. He can translate the same word into ten different languages, while he can neither read nor write his own correctly. Does he understand the act and practical part of life "better than the theoric?" No.   He knows no liberal or mechanic art, no trade or occupation. Learning has no skill in surgery, in agriculture, in building, in working in wood or iron — it cannot make any instrument of labour, or use it when made ; it cannot handle the plough, or spade, or chisel, or the hammer. I could go on, Mr. Editor, in the same way for pages, showing the absurdity of a college education for our youth. By all means teach them to read, write, and understand the English language correctly ; by 16 they may be turned adrift, they have a young and glorious country to lick into shape ; and what a waste of time to devote the years from 16 to 25 poring over musty Greek and Latin ! I was myself, Sir, seven years at it, besides the time I wasted at college, and pray of what use has it been to me ? I was a mere crawler when I came out. Now I am a man, and a rich man to boot. I forgot to say, my good master, when he gave me Sir Walter, also put a gun into my hand. As true as death, Mr. Editor, I was afraid to touch it, and says I, Sir, I am no sportsman. He roared wi' laughing again, and says he, "Ou Sandie, ye'll no hae much   sport, unless it may be wi a wild dog, or a black   fellow. Shoot the first at once, but keep a calm sough wi his waddie, and for every dog's tail ye bring me, ise gie ye half pound o' baccy." So Mr. Richmond let our youth alone. For '"The more languages a man can speak,   His talent has but sprung the greater leak, And for the industry he has spent upon't, Must full as much some other way discount. The Hebrew, Chaldee, and the Syriac Do, like their letters, set mine reason back, And turn their wits that strive to understand it, Like those that write the character left-handed. Yet, he that is but able to express No sense at all in several languages, Will pass for learn'der than he that's known To speak the strongest reason in his own." SAUNDERS. Glenelg, 9th February, 1851. Lady Editors. — In America, the ladies who edit newspapers are enabled to carry on tea-table gossip, at con- siderable distances. Mrs. Prewitt, editress of the Yazo City Whig, writes to Mrs. Swisshelm, who presides over the fortunes of the Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter : — "We receive   your paper regularly — and our respect increases with our acquaintance. Mrs S., we must have that cup of tea to- gether next summer, if we both live. Do you use green or black?' Mrs. S. responds, 'Green, by all means green! We could scarce swallow a cup of black tea even for polite ness' sake, and you know we are the very embodiment of good-humour.'