A young man advertises in a Milwaukee paper for a partnership. He wants to invest one thousand dollars in some established business. Go to La Crosse and go to betting on election. It pays, and is an established business. There’s millions in it.
There is one thing the American people have got to learn, and that is to give scholars in schools a half holiday when there is a circus in town. We know that we are in advance of many of the prominent educators of the country when we advocate such a policy, but sooner or later the people whose duty it is to superintend schools will learn that we are right, and they will have to catch up with us or resign.
In the first place, a boy is going to attend a circus if there is one in town, and the question before teachers and superintendents should be, not how to prevent him from going to the circus, but how to keep his mind on his books the day before the circus and the day after. There have been several million boys made into liars by school officials attempting to prevent their going to circusses, and we contend that it is the duty of teachers to place as few temptations to lie as possible in the way of boys.
If a boy knows that there will be no school on the afternoon of circus day, he will study like a whitehead all the forenoon, and learn twice as much as he will in all day if he can’t go. If he knows there is a conspiracy on foot between his parents and the teachers to keep him from the circus, he begins to think of some lie to get out of school. He will be sick, or run away, or something.
He will get there if possible. And after the first lie succeeds in getting him out of school, he is a liar from the word go. There is something, some sort of electricity that runs from a boy to a circus, and all the teachers in the world cannot break the connection. A circus is the boys’ heaven.
You may talk to him about the beautiful gates ajar, and the angel band in heaven that plays around the great white throne, and he can’t understand it, but the least hint about the circus tent, with the flap pulled to one side to get in, and the band wagon, and the girls jumping through hoops, and the clown, and he is onto your racket at a jump.
You may try to paralyze him by the story of Daniel in the den of lions, and how he was saved by faith in the power above, and the boy’s mind will revert to the circus, where a man in tights and spangles goes in and bosses the lions and tigers around, and he will wonder if Daniel had a rawhide, and backed out of the cage with his eye on the boss lion.
At a certain age a circus can hold over heaven or anything else in a boy’s mind, and as long as the circus does not hurt him, why not shut up shop a half a day and let him go? If you keep him in school he wont learn anything, and he will go to the circus in the evening and be up half the night seeing the canvas men tear down the tent and load up, and the next day he is all played out and not worth a continental. To some it would look foolish to dismiss school for a circus, but it will cement a friendship between teachers and scholars that nothing else could.