“We are not worst
at once; the course of evil
Begins so slowly, and from such slight source,
An infant’s hand might stop the breach with clay;
But let the stream grow wider, and Philosophy—
Ay, and Religion too—may strive in vain
To stem the headlong current!”—ANON.
With intense delight Eric heard it announced next morning, when the new school-list was read, that he had got his remove into the “Shell,” as the form was called which intervened between the fourth and the fifth. Russell, Owen, and Montagu also got their removes with him, but his other friends were left for the present in the form below.
Mr. Rose, hiss new master, was in every respect a great contrast with Mr. Gordon. He was not so brilliant in his acquirements, nor so vigorous in his teaching, and therefore clever boys did not catch fire from him so much as from the fourth-form master. But he was a far truer and deeper Christian; and, with no less scrupulous a sense of honor, and detestation of every form of moral obliquity, he never yielded to those storms of passionate indignation which Mr. Gordon found it impossible to control. Disappointed in early life, subjected to the deepest and most painful trials, Mr. Rose’s fine character had come out like gold from the flame. He now lived in and for the boys alone, and his whole life was one long self-devotion to their service and interests. The boys felt this, and even the worst of them, in their worst moments, loved and honored Mr. Rose. But he was not seeking for gratitude, which he neither expected nor required; he asked no affection in return for his self-denials; he worked with a pure spirit of human and self-sacrificing love, happy beyond all payment if ever he were instrumental in saving one of his charge from evil, or turning one wanderer from the error of his ways.
He was an unmarried man, and therefore took no boarders himself, but lived in the school-buildings, and had the care of the boys in Dr. Rowlands’ house.
Such was the master under whom Eric was now placed, and the boy was sadly afraid that an evil report would have reached his ears, and given him already an unfavorable impression. But he was soon happily undeceived. Mr. Rose at once addressed him with much kindness, and he felt that, however bad he had been before, he would now have an opportunity to turn over a new leaf, and begin again a career of hope. He worked admirably at first, and even beat, for the first week or two, his old competitors, Owen and Russell.