THE LESSONS QUESTION THERE was a great noise, BAILIE, a while ago aboot "cramming” in skuils, an’ there was letters written tae the papers aboot it an’ a’ thegither. Being a member o’ the Skuil Brod, of course I couldna but see there wis need for an inquiry, an’ I wis going tae throw mysel’ intae the fray and be the champion o’ the doon-trodden ratepayers, wha, in thae days o’ philanthropy, hae their noses kept gey sair tae the grindstane. But I happened tae speak tae a freen o’ mine wha is a Toon Cooncillor, an’ he says— “Mr Kaye, dinna you interfere, let them fecht awa’ among themsel’s. If ye interfere it wid only lower your dignity. I’m sure ye micht see that! When the Toon Cooncil is abused for the bad gas, or the bungling o’ the municipal building plans, or putting an extra penny on the polis tax, they never fash their thoom. Never condescend, Mr Kaye, tae bandy words or argue wi’ your inferiors, an’ they’ll think a’ the mair o’ ve.” BAILIE, I tbocht it wisna bad advice, an’, besides, it was a heep easier tae say naething aboot it, so I held my tongue an‘ it blew bye. Hoover, the ither nicht, it cropped up again. In my capacity o’ elder, I wis paying a visit tae Mr M’Callum, a decent bricklayer in Stra’bungo, an’ him an’ me had a crack aboot the blawing up o’ the gasometer. His wife was darning stockings at the time, an’ a’ the bairns were roon the table learning their lessons. “Ye see, Mr Kaye, if it wis an escape—” “Faither, wis Robinson Crusoe a black man?” “No, no, lassie, he belanged tae Fife. Weel, Mr Kaye, as I was saying, if it wis an escape—” “Father, who discovered the Fiji Islands?" “I don’t know — do you, Mr Kaye?” “Of course,” Says I, "it, was Christopher Columbus. Weel, Mr M’Callum, as ye were saying, if it wis an escape—” “Aye, Mr Kaye, if it wis an escape, ye see—” “Oh, father, hoo d’ye divide six by fourteen, an’ five remains?” “Gracious me,” says iMr M’Callum, “will ye let Mr Kaye an’ me alane — work it oot yersel’. Weel, Mr Kaye, as I was saying, if it wis an escape, ye see—” “Father, could Adam talk Gaelic?” "Great criftens,” says Mr M’Callum, wiping his broo, “Mr Kaye, d’ye hear this — ye are a member o’ the Skuil Brod, an’ at yet ye look on calmly at me being martyred slowly at my ain fireside — the only minute I get to mysel’, an’ this is the way I am tormented. Ever since this Government grant began, the bairns are driving me wild wi’ their questions — thae letters tae the papers stopped it for a wee, but noo it’s as bad as ever; indeed, this wee while it’s goin’ ower the score a' thegither. Can ye dae naething, Mr Kaye?” “I can,” says I; “put on your hat an’ come awa’ an' see Mr Robison, the head skuilmaster.” So awa’ we gaed an’ were ushered in. Mr Robison had a party o’ twa or three freens, and wis busy telling a story when suddenly I turns roon an’ says: “Mr Robison, if a herring an' a hauf cost three bawbees, hoo much wid eleeven cost?” They a’ thocht it wis a bit joke o’ mine, an’ laughed, an’ polite enough no’ to say they had heard the guess before, so Mr Robison jist resumed his story, but at the meenit when he wis getting tae an interesting bit I cries oot— "Mr Robison, could ye see as faur through a milestane as ony ither body?” Mr Robison didna look vera pleased like, but he laughed an‘ starts wi’ his story again. I let him go on a wee, an’ then I says— "D’ye ken hoo mony beans mak’ five?” At this Mr Robison looks at me an’ says— “I doot, Mr Kaye, ye’ve been tasting before ye cam’ in, an’ I’m surprised at ye; recollect,” he goes on wi’ dignity, “that although I’m a skuilmaster, an’ in a manner your servant, recollect that that’s only during working hours; noo I’m free, an’ ye’ve no richt tae come here an’ ask sich questions.” “Mr Robison,” says I, “dinna get angry — keep calm — I’m only gieing ye a bit taste o’ what ye prescribe tae ithers. Here’s my freon, Mr M’Callum, d’ye think he shouldna hae a wee while o’ leisure as weel as you? I doot ye’re inconsistent, Mr Robison; ye sit doon at your ain fireside at your ease, but ye sen’ hame your scholars wi’ their lessons unexplained, an’ expect their fathers an’ mothers tae explain this, that, an’ the ither thing. My freen wis telling me he works free six tae six, gets one day’s holiday Spring an’ Autumn, an’ a week at New Year, an' twa months in the summer; forbye a hale holiday every Saturday, an' yet ye expect him tae begin at nicht when he's tired tae explain tae hir bairns what he pays you for doing. No, no, Mr Robison, ye have a gran' berth o’t; ye hae better pay than a minister, or a sheriff, or a professor in the college. Shakespeare says, ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire.’ We dinna grudge ye your pay, but really ye mustna throw your work on ither folks’ shoothers. An’ noo, Mr Robison, we’ve got the unpleasant part o’ the programme ower, we’ll brew a wee drap mair toddy an’ ye’ll begin your story again. Your guid health, gentlemen a’. Noo, Mr Robison, gang on. I think ye had got tae the bit aboot the ghost beginning tae play ‘The Campbells are coming’ on the Jew’s harp.” Weel, BAILIE, tae mak’ a lang story short, I convened a meeting o’ the skuilmasters under us, an’ showed them hoo unfair it wis tae send the bairns hame wi’ their lessons unexplained, an’ hae them bothering their hard-worked fathers, wha, worthy men, sometimes kent less aboot the subject than the bairns themsel’s, an’ being sensible folk, they saw it; so noo in the Govan parish, landward division, there’s nae sich thing as badgered fathers or “crammed” bairns.