Paging through an original McGuffey Eclectic Second Reader, I found this gem. It is even better as a dramatic reading.

What do you think? Remember, this was to be learned and recited by students about 10 years old.

Lesson XXII.
The Truant.

1. Who is he that sleeps till a late hour, and when he wakes, yawns and wishes for the return of night, that he may fold his arms and sleep again?
2. He is the idle and worthless truant. He comes forth clothed in the garments of slovenliness. In his step is the heaviness of stupid sloth. The scars of strife are on his swollen cheeks.
3. The rage of malice flashes from his eyes. His uncombed hair, all matted, stands erect. On his lips are the words of deceit and falsehood.
4. Ignorance is a cap of disgrace to his head, and vice and impiety dwell in his heart.
5. Behold him as he now skulks along yonder lane. How slyly he walks. He stops to look into every bush, that he sees on his right hand and on his left.
6. He know that he is not in the way that leads to the object which it is his duty to seek, yet he scorns to turn away from it.
7. His eye looks around for a companion in crime. His ear eagerly listens for the whistled signal.
8. As the voice of the charmer is to the adder, that is too deaf to be charmed, so is the voice of instruction to him that is too vicious to be taught. He creeps into the thick woods lest he should be seen and sent back to school.
9. The fear of punishment is in his breast, for he has neglected every duty. Learning is his abhorrence, and he loathes those who would teach him. He loathes the knowledge which they would impart to him.
10. He looks upon them as foes, and he flies to folly “as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.”
11. Wretched are the parents of such a son! – Grief and shame are theirs. His name shall be stamped with the mark of infamy when their poor broken hearts shall molder in the grave!

3 thoughts on “The Truant

  1. Ah, the old McGuffy Readers! Dipping into them always provides a fascinating glimpse of a vanished world that we nevertheless see was populated with people whose sins and foibles, fears and fancies were little different from our own. What’s changed, sadly, is our attitude about them. Tales like The Truant might very well have put the fear of God into most 10-year-olds back in the 1830s. But 10-year-olds today? First, it’s hard to imagine many of them, processed as they are through a thoroughly debased public school system, even being able to read, let alone understand, it! Second, while I don’t presume great sophistication in today’s 10-year-olds, by that age anymore, and in spite of good parents’ efforts to filter out the garbage, they’re so inundated with pop-culture images of “scary” things that The Truant is likely to seem little more than melodramatic hokum. Of course, that’s where Christian parental guidance and genuine schooling – as opposed to the secular/absurdist propagandizing of our public schools – makes such a difference. I trust the students of Redeemer Classical will be given the means to discern the truth of The Truant. 🙂

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