The Barefooted Newsboy

“Matthew Arnold and the Barefooted Newsboy.” The Illustrated Sydney News (26 July 1888): 24.

This article is more anecdote than it is caricature; however, Arnold’s humanity and general good-naturedness seems to come across quite well in this story in this Australian newspaper, via The Boston Herald:

“Matthew Arnold (says the Boston Herald) was greatly struck by the democratic government of our reading-room when he was in Boston. He came in here one day and saw a little barefooted newsboy sitting in one of the best chairs, enjoying himself apparently for dear life. The great essayist was completely astounded. ‘Do you let barefooted boys in this reading-room?’ he asked. ‘You would never see such a sight as that in Europe. I do not believe there is a reading-room in all Europe in which that boy, dressed as he is, would enter.’ Then Mr. Arnold went over to the boy, engaged him in conversation, and found that he was reading the ‘Life of Washington,’ and that he was a young gentleman of decidedly anti-British tendencies, and, for his age, remarkably well-informed. Mr. Arnold remained talking with the youngster for some time, and as he came back to our desk, the great Englishman said, ‘I do not think I have been so impressed with anything else that I have seen since arriving in this country as I am now with meeting this barefooted boy in this reading-room. What a tribute to democratic institutions it is to say that, instead of sending that boy out to wander alone in the streets, they permit him to come in here and excite his youthful imagination by reading such a book as the ‘Life of Washington!’ The reading off that one book may change the whole course of that boy’s life, and may be the means of making him a useful, honorable, worthy citizen of this great country. It is, I tell you, a sight that impresses a European not accustomed to your democratic ways.’”

This article was accessed through Trove: Digitized Newspapers and More.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to post a comment!

Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold
A rare photograph of Arnold smiling