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Scottish Education - Schools and University
Chapter VI - Second Period (1560 - 1696). Burgh and Other Schools


WE have seen in our first period that up to the Reformation the Church gave effective support to education. Its power however was on the wane under the widening influence of ideas which ultimately found expression in the Reformation. On the occurrence of that great event a large part of the patrimony of the Old Church was appropriated by a greedy nobility ; the New Church succeeded in retaining some part, but little was left for education. If in these circumstances education suffered, as it certainly did, it was not due to indifference on the part of Knox and the reformers. While the reformed church can justly claim to have taken the first energetic step in promoting general or elementary education, the paramount aim of the new as of the old church was not so much education for its own sake, as security for the spread and establishment of what they considered true religion. Knox's scheme, set forth in the first book of discipline, was unfortunately not carried out. Its marvellous wisdom, comprehensiveness, and unity of plan have been the admiration of educationists during the three and a half centuries which have since run their course ; its consummation is to-day the goal which they are striving to reach, and which seems nearer attainment than at any previous epoch.

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1567 giving the Church power to appoint superintendents, to whom was committed the duty of deciding as to the qualifications of teachers, but neither by it, nor by the appeal to parliament in the second book of discipline, was there any restitution of church money for behoof of schools [Act, 1667]. Even the Act of 1592, which ratified all the former Acts dealing with church judicatories, confines itself to the cheap ordinance that all schools and colleges should be reformed, but leaves untouched the provision of means by which reformation is to be effected [Act, 1592]

It cannot be said that the falling off in education can be charged against town councils generally. All over the country they had great difficulties to contend with, which they did their best to overcome. Even in Edinburgh the council were obliged to make use of a part of St Giles as a school. In 1560 we find in the burgh records that the last portion of the church was converted into a school, tolbooth, prison house, and clerk's chamber, "because of the gret inquietation thai haif had in tymes past within the tolbooth for lack of rowme to minister justice. . .and considerin the skant of prisoun houssis and incommoditie of thair clerkis chalmer, and for inhalding of the yeirlie maill of the samyn, and gret soomes of money debursit for thair scole...and having enough of rowme in the kirk to make a tolbooth,...and also rowme for a scole for thair bairns...thai all in ane voice concludes, decerns and ordaines the dene of gilde with all deligence to big up ane stane wall &c. [Edinburgh Burgh Records.]' Then follow distinct specifications for the work.

The scheme of Knox and his brother reformers contemplated the establishment of first a school in connection with every kirk or parish, in which the ordinary branches and Latin should be taught ; second, a higher school or college in cities and notable towns ; and third, university instruction for those who showed aptness for learning. Provision was to be made for competent masters. The rich were to be compelled to educate their children at their own expense, the poor who could not pay for their education were to be supported by the Church, so that poor and rich alike, if they were of "good engine," should continue at the colleges "until the commonwealth have profit of them," and should then proceed to further knowledge at the university, or be sent to a "handicraft or other profitable exercise."

That Latin is set down as one of the subjects to be taught in the ordinary school need not excite surprise, in view of the fact that, at this time, Latin-some of it doubtless sadly wanting in both accuracy and purity-was the language in which masters and pupils talked to each other in the process of teaching. We are not shut up to the conclusion that Latin, for its own sake, was a subject of instruction to every pupil in the class, which would be as foolish and as wasteful of valuable time then as now. We have seen above that Knox had alternative treatment for pupils of different capacity. Those who have aptness for learning are to proceed to further knowledge at the university, but others are to be sent to a handicraft or other profitable exercise. It is pretty certain that Knox did not intend that the embryonic handicraftsman, who was to make a profitable exercise of his life, should waste his time in grinding at Latin grammar. He knew that there were pupils for whom university training would be of no benefit either to themselves or to their country, pupils who were intended by nature to be hewers of wood or drawers of water, and whose proper and unalterable sphere of action was handicraft or other functions subordinately intellectual.

One cannot but admire the patriotic wisdom of that other phrase" until the commonwealth have profit of them." Have we not in it the seed of that growth of which Scotland is justly proud-its position in the van of educated nations-the grand aim of education as being not position, wealth, and other objects of reasonable ambition, that have however a savour of pardonable selfishness about them, but the profit of the commonwealth?

Knox's estimate of the importance of education, as the surest foundation of national prosperity, recalls the opinion, already quoted, of Ninian Winzet. Doughty champions both, one of the old, the other of the new faith, sufferers both at the hands of those who opposed them, they had in common a noble conception of the means by which a nation was to gain power and pre-eminence. Winzet stated his views in general terms, but with perfect clearness. Knox furnished a definite plan by which his views could be carried out. Thanks to remissness on the part of parliament and rapacity on the part of the nobles, that plan was only partially successful. All, rich and poor alike, were to receive as much education as they could turn to profitable use. The ascent from the primary through the secondary school to the university was to be open to all who were qualified by natural ability to make it, and by this means the best brain of the country, from whatever class, was to be utilised. In the face of great difficulties this aim has never been entirely lost sight of, and even to the present day the conception is more or less fully realised. Had parliament been more patriotic, and the barons less greedy, Scotland would, in its educational system and position, have been, even more than it is, the envy of other nations.

We thus see that, both before and for a long time after the Reformation, the Church took a very keen interest in education. In the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century, the General Assembly appointed Commissions for establishing schools and supplying funds for the education of poor scholars in the six most northern counties [Book of the Universal Kirk, pp. 34, 239]. It also made most vigorous but unsuccessful efforts to retain or regain from the unscrupulous barons parts of the pious foundations made to schools before the Reformation. It protested in vain against the secularisation of the patrimony of the Church, and "overtured parliament to erect and maintain grammar schools in all burghs and other considerable places, on the ground that the 'good estate of the kirk and commonwealth mainly depended on the flourishing of learning [Act of Parliament, 1641, v, 646.],'" and, as the proper sources for supporting schools had entirely failed, it prayed parliament to provide other means so that poor children who are of " good engine " might be educated.

The Church records in the latter half of the 16th century abound in suggestions, prayers, and complaints to Queen Mary, and, after her imprisonment and exile, to the Regent and Council, as to the application for the support of education, of rents, of "sources hitherto devoted to idolatry [Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 17.]," and the necessity of "reforming the nobility in their wrongful using of the patrimony of the kirk to the great hurt of the schools [Ibid. p. 253]." The Church meanwhile did not confine herself to appeals for restitution of her rights. Scanty as were her means, she sent from her own exchequer liberal contributions for salaries to teachers, and education for poor scholars. The session records up to the end of the 17th century of Stirling, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Crail and elsewhere bear testimony to payments from the session-box for these purposes.

As this was the attitude of the Church towards the schools, it was to be expected that she should have a large share in their management. This was so. It is beyond question, that from the Reformation to the passing of the Act of 1872, the appointment of masters to the parish schools was entirely in the hands of the Church. It is probably safe to say that this has never been disputed. With regard to burgh schools, it cannot be maintained that acquiescence in the prerogative of the Church was so complete. It is however certain that amid the alternations of supremacy, resembling the game of battledore and shuttlecock, between Presbytery and Episcopacy from 1560 to 1688, the party for the time being in power, whether presbyterial or episcopal, claimed the right of the appointment of masters for all schools, parish and burgh. The General Assembly in its day of power was no whit more persistent in its contention, than the Bishop and Archbishop when they had the upper hand. Between 1638 and 1699 the Assembly passed four Acts in which superintendence of all schools and the appointment of teachers are claimed by the Church. Nor can it be said that this was the outcome of clerical arrogance. They could point to Acts of Parliament showing that they had law on their side. In Grant's Burgh Schools, p. 82, we have abundant evidence that this was the attitude of the rival churches. " The Act of Parliament 1567 provides that in all schools to burgh and landward, no one may instruct the youth but such as shall be tried by the superintendent or visitor of the kirk [Acts of Parliament, III, 24, 38; ratified 1581, c. r, III, 210]. The Act of 1584 requires masters of schools and colleges to conform with humility to the acts commanding obedience to the bishops or commissioners appointed to have spiritual jurisdiction in the diocese, under pain of deprivation [Act of Parliament, 1584, c. 2, III, 347]. The Act of 1662 forbids any one to teach a public school or be pedagogue to the children of persons of quality, without a licence of the ordinary- of the diocese [Ibid. 1662, c. 13, VII, 379]. The Act of 1693 declares that all schoolmasters shall be liable to the trial, judgment, and censure of the presbyteries for their sufficiency, qualification and deportment [Ibid. 1693, c. 38, IX, 303.]. In the Act of 1707 which was incorporated in the Treaty of Union it is provided that no master shall bear office in any school without submitting to the discipline of the Established Church [Ibid. 1707, c. 6, XI, 403, 414.]."

It is unnecessary to accumulate further proof that the Church claimed and parliament sanctioned this superintendence of all public schools. But jurisdiction was not confined to public schools. Private tuition at home, and education in Roman Catholic countries abroad, were subject to the same limitations. Parents who sent their children to countries where there was danger of infection from the " leprosy of poperie" were ordered to bring them home, on pain of excommunication [Book of the Universal Kirk, p. 437]. Private tutors to the sons of noblemen were obliged to declare solemnly before the presbytery that they had never worshipped in any but Protestant Churches [Presbytery Records of Aberdeen. The tutor of the Master of Caithness had spent two years in France and could give only a modified declaration on this point, which was however accepted. He had a pardonable desire to look on Royalty, and being unable to "have the sight of the King except at the messe, he went there, but gave no reverence to the messe which he abhors."].

Throughout the later 16th and the 17th centuries the exercise of the kirk's jurisdiction over schools in respect of both appointment and dismissal of masters was seldom called in question. The state of matters in the 18th century will be dealt with in a future chapter. The town councils began soon after the Reformation to take more interest in schools, but the kirk and burgh authorities, as a rule, worked amicably into each other's hands. Between the two a give-and-take spirit seems to have been developed, the councils recognising what the kirk had done and was doing for education, and the kirk seeing the benefit of carrying the councils with her, as being both able and willing to supplement her all too scanty resources. It is not necessary to give minute details of individual instances. It is perhaps sufficient to say that in upwards of twenty cases there is evidence that hearty co-operation characterised what may be called the dual control of the councils and the Church party, whether that party was at the time Presbyterial or Episcopal.

In some cases the council appointed the master, but in almost every instance the intimation of' the appointment was followed by such phrases as "by the admission of the kirk,"  "after being tryit by the kirk," "being examined by the presbytery," "on the report of the minister," etc.

While the foregoing remarks represent the general relation of the councils to the kirk in the matter of the patronage of schools, we find some indications in the 17th century of the awakening effect of the Reformation,-instances in which instead of acquiescence in, we find resistance to ecclesiastical control. The Reformation unquestionably contributed largely to the transference of patronage from the Church to municipal authority. The extent to which the claims of the Church were resisted depended on circumstances-the respective tempers of churchmen and councils, and the pliability or obstinacy of the teacher. In many cases the council appealed to the Church for help and advice, in others the authority of the Church was flatly denied. In 1580 the teacher of the Canongate school handed over to the council of the burgh " as his undoubted patrons " his office, though he had received the appointment for life from the commendator of Holyrood [Register of the Canongate.].

Fifty years later the council of Perth unanimously declared that the kirk session had no power to appoint a master of the grammar school, and gave the office to John Row. At his induction the council invited the ministry to be present, but they refused [Burgh Records of Perth. They refused "being mychtele miscontent because the counsall appointed him haillelie by thair own aduys, quhairupone the ministrie daylie raillit out of the pulpett aganes the provest, baillies, and counsall, and thairefter did complene to the presbiterie."].

Other similar instances are recorded of the jealousy with which town councils resisted any attempt at encroaching on their right of appointing teachers, but they are comparatively few. In 1620 the council of Burntisland were so anxious to establish their prescriptive right in this respect, that for many years they insisted on the master annually going through the ceremony of handing to the council at the end of the year the keys of the school and dwelling house, as an acknowledgment that they were the patrons. The keys were of course ceremoniously handed back at once [Report on Burgh Schools, 11, 95.]. While there is little to admire in this very parochial and ostentatious assertion of proprietorship, one sees in it evidence of healthy interest in education which might be turned to good account.

So early as the 17th century the conversion of a burgh school into a burghal and parochial, and ultimately into a purely parochial school, had commenced in Inverury and Jedburgh. In the former the master was at first paid entirely from the common good of the burgh, but in the course of a year a new master was appointed whose salary was paid partly from the common good and partly from voluntary contributions. This continued for forty-two years, when the school became entirely parochial [Burgh Records of Inverury]. In Jedburgh the grammar school was under the sole management of the council, but in 1656 the heritors were admitted to the joint management, an equal number on each side forming a committee for the election of the teacher [Burgh Records of Jedburgh.].

Schools partly burghal and partly parochial are found in unimportant burghs where one school was sufficient, and where the council and landward heritors shared the expense of maintenance. This conversion or combination was usually, but not always, arranged amicably in respect of both payment of salary and appointment of master. In some cases the patronage was alternatively exercised by the heritors and minister at one time, and by the minister and council at another. As a rule, the town councils were more active in the election of teachers and management than were the kirk-session and heritors. No good purpose would be served by going more fully into the details of separate cases. Those mentioned may be taken as typical.

Just as monopolies were granted for the sale of ordinary commodities, so prohibition of sending boys to any but the public and music schools, which has already been referred to, was prevalent all over Scotland from early times, and continued till near the beginning of the 19th century. It does not appear that this was due to presumed or proved incompetence in the private teacher, but simply because such private teaching was a hindrance to the prosperity of the recognised public school. There may have been, and probably were, then as now, a number of incompetent teachers whose qualifications were inferior to those of the public schoolmaster, but there were no doubt among them men of the requisite ability to whom the town councils might with propriety have given license to teach. Their refusal indicates not so much a general zeal for education, as an overweening desire for the success of the schools under their management, which has a savour of unwholesome trades-unionism. The prohibition was only partially successful notwithstanding the pains and penalties threatened, and in many cases enforced, on those who disobeyed the injunctions of the council. The penalties varied in different districts-in some cases a payment of 20 shillings, in others £5 and £10 Scots to the master of the grammar school for every child taught in an adventure school. Sometimes the risk of having "the Scole durris steikit [shut] up" was added.

The disobedience of even ex-provosts and ex-bailies was punished with the same rigour. Two such dignitaries in Peebles were each fined £10 Scots, and ordained to lie in prison till the fines were paid. In Banff, banishment awaited those who contravened the orders of the council. The education of girls seems to have received less attention, but schools kept by women in which girls were taught to " sew and wyive pearling allanerlie [This means that sewing and knitting of stockings alone were taught.]" were not so stringently prohibited. The catechism and psalm-book seem to have been taught to boys in schools kept by women and in the sang schools. The maximum age at which boys were allowed to remain at these elementary schools varied greatly, being in some districts six, and in others seven, eight, and even ten. As a rule, as soon as they could read the psalm-book, they had to remove to the public school.

This narrowness of view and disregard of the claims to general education by the poor was sure to come to an end, as we shall see it did, when we come to treat of the 18th century. That private schools continued to exist notwithstanding the prohibitions ordained, and the penalties inflicted, and amid the shock and turmoil of war, and political and ecclesiastical commotion, furnishes a remarkable proof of the value attached to education by the average citizen. The persistency and courage with which he faced and, to a large extent, overcame municipal ordinances challenge our highest admiration.

While we may legitimately question or even condemn the municipal zeal which strove to suppress private schools as misdirected, we cannot in view of the frequency and rigidity of their visitations and examinations doubt its genuineness. In these there was a powerful combination of ecclesiastical, municipal and academic elements. Acts of Assembly and of Parliament [Acts of Parliament, 1655, 1658, vi, Part II, 826, 876.] were passed fixing the time, method, and object of visits by presbyteries, heritors, town councils, and universities to grammar schools and Scots schools, Scholae triviales vernaculae. These latter were probably the representatives of the schools which Knox aimed at establishing in connection with every kirk or parish. The time of visit varied. In some cases it was half-yearly, in others quarterly, in others monthly. The visitors were charged with the duty of seeing that pious and qualified masters were appointed, and scandalous and negligent ones removed. They had also to see that they signed the Confession of Faith. The revenues of the school passed under review, and rules for their management were laid down [Ibid. 1690, c. 25, ix, 163.].

The visitations authorised by the town councils seem to have been more searching in their character than those ordered by the kirk and parliament, and were commenced with varying expedition in different burghs. Glasgow led the way near the end of the 16th century. Stirling and Aberdeen seem not to have moved in the matter till early in the 17th, Perth not till 1630, Edinburgh not till 1640, and Paisley in 1646. The reports of these visitations vary much in fulness. In some cases it is simply intimated that a visitation was made. The account given of a Glasgow visitation near the end of the 16th century shows the character and extent of the proceedings in that city and possibly in other burghs. It is provided that men of eminence shall twice a year examine the grammar school. These examiners were appointed by the council and the university. The master intimated the coming examination to the scholars twenty days before. Each class was examined in the work done. To the two higher classes were dictated themes in the vulgar tongue which were to be translated into Latin and given to the examiners. After the examination the pupils who had not done well were reproved and, if unfit to be promoted, were put back, while those who had done well received signal honours and rewards. Next day the Scots school was to be examined, and intimation given to those who had been found fit to commence the study of Latin. In this shortened account from the original in the Archives of Glasgow we have evidence of the existence of a most important function of examination, which at some time during the course of the four succeeding centuries was departed from, and within comparatively recent years restored in the classification of Glasgow High School, Edinburgh Academy, and elsewhere-the promotion from a lower to a higher class by proved fitness for advancement.

Much the same account is given of the examination of Edinburgh High School, with the addition that when the scholars are dismissed and the examiners have reported how the youth have profited, the master and doctors shall be removed, and enquiry made as to whether any fault can be found with them. In Paisley and Aberdeen the visitation was once a month. Of the regulations under eight heads found in the Aberdeen registers it is not necessary to say more than that they exhibit the thoroughness with which these visitations were conducted. One of them may be referred to as setting an example which in these modern days might be followed with advantage: "there shall be public acting at every quarterly visitation that the scholars may learn boldness and a vivacity in public speaking [Grant's Burgh Schools, p. 150. By acting probably only recitation is meant.]."

It would not be difficult to find objections to such frequent visitations, but we have in them a proof of keen interest and careful supervision on the part of the municipal authorities.

In every large school there were school laws written in "gryt letteris on a brod," so that there should be no pretence of not knowing them. They covered the entire work of both masters and pupils. All schools were opened and closed with prayer, as many are now. As already mentioned Latin was the language usually spoken in both school and playground. Other languages might be used, but not the vernacular. This was a rule faithfully observed till the early part of the 18th century. The injunction to use no expression that was not classical was doubtless but indifferently observed.

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the hours of school attendance were inordinately long, commencing at 5 or 6 in the morning and continuing, with a break of two hours during the day, till 6 in the evening. To give a detailed account of different districts is unnecessary. It is sufficient to say that everywhere they were so long as to be pronounced intolerable in this age of societies for preventing cruelty to children. Modifications were gradually introduced, but even in the I 8th century the attendance in some of the grammar schools was not less than eight hours. The hours of the English master were less oppressive. To the Town Council of Dunbar is due the credit of setting the example of half-holidays.

In some cases there was compensation for long daily attendance in two hours of recreation on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Saturdays from two o'clock for the rest of the day [Report on Burgh Schools, I, 16.]. Occasional holidays on special occasions such as the visit of a distinguished stranger were given in old times much as they are now, and while the Candlemas offering was a school institution it was followed by a holiday. There were other occasions of holidays in connection with the cutting of bent or rushes, with which, on the score of comfort and cleanliness, the earthen floor of the school was strewed. Several holidays were allowed for this. Early in the 17th century the cutting of bent was discontinued because of accidents arising from the use of the hooks required for the work. For this there was substituted a contribution of twelve pennies, called bent silver, in May, June, and July by every scholar. The holidays, however, were continued. Aberdeen seems to have been less exacting in the matter of bent silver. [Aberdeen Burgh Records. "The provost and bailies, upon certain good respects and considerations moving them, discharge the master of the grammar school in giving leave to the bent, or in exacting any bent silver by reason of the inconvenience that falls out frequently by the occasion foresaid."]

Games did not occupy a very prominent place in school life. Archery, bowls, golf, handball, and wrestling were practised, but apparently without definite system or rules. Cards, dice, and playing for money were forbidden, and in Glasgow, scholars who resorted to yards in which "aliebowlis, glakis, and French kyles" were practised did so under pain of £10 [Aliebowlis was probably a game with bowls in an alley. There are still bowling alleys in connection with taverns. Glakis was a puzzle with some notched pieces of wood which it was difficult to undo and replace in their former position. French kyles is probably the old name for the modern nine pins, a game not yet extinct and not uncommon in the latter half of last century. The yards in which these games were played may have been disreputable, but nine pins is in itself harmless. Paisley was in a bad plight. In the Burgh Records we find that the council, "moved by certain ongoings in their midst, ordain that changers [innkeepers] selling drink to scholars shall pay £10 of money, and be discharged in future from brewing."]. The day of cricket and football had not yet come, but the need of physical recreative exercise as an element of school life was recognised and reasonably attended to.

The question of holidays gave the patrons of schools a great amount of trouble throughout the whole of the 16th and 17th centuries. The newly awakened Protestant feeling against everything savouring of popery led them to object to festival holidays of every kind, but especially to those of Christmas, "the superstitious time of Yule [Even so late as December 21, 1647, the following entry is found in the Aberdeen Burgh Records, "The same day the provost and bailies ordain the hail inhabitants of this town their bairns, repair and keep the school precisely upon Sunday next and the week thereafter, under pain often pounds. Intimation to be made by the drum."]." In this objection schoolboys naturally did not share, with the result that in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and elsewhere violent rebellions were of frequent occurrence. In spite of Acts of Parliament, and ordinances of town councils, the boys in Aberdeen in 1604 refused to be deprived of their old privilege, took possession of the school, and held it by armed force "with swords, guns, pistols, and other weapons, spoiling and taking poor folks gear,--geese, fowls, and other vivers [victuals] and repyning altogether to the discipline of the master." In consequence of this, the council passed an order that no pupil is to be admitted to the school unless some friend or parent gives caution for his behaviour, and that he shall not join in taking possession of the school under the pain of £20. In subsequent years the rebellious conduct was repeated.

Discipline seems to have been lax in Aberdeen in other matters than holidays. We find another record about this time bearing that the writing master was attacked in the street and seriously wounded with dirks and batons to great effusion of blood. [There is another entry that Alexander Forbes asks pardon of Mr William Wedderburn, one of the masters in the school, for "giving him ane cuff in passing to the grammar school, and promises whatever satisfaction the provost may ordain." He ordains that Forbes, "being sorry and grieved for his wrang, must go presently to the grammar school, and there, in all humility on his knees in presence of the magistrates and master of the school and scholars, sit down on his knees, acknowledge and confess his fault and crave pardon." All which he did. Burgh Records of Aberdeen.]

We find evidence of the same rebellious spirit in Edinburgh. In 1580, eight scholars were imprisoned and fined forty shillings each for holding the school in defiance of the masters and breaking of one of the doors.

The Christmas holidays were not the only occasions of riot and even dangerous violence. Similar disagreements between masters and scholars arose in connection with the autumn holidays. In 1587 the scholars of the Edinburgh High School barred out the famous master, Mr Rollock, and "proudly and contemptuously held it against the Lord Provost and the balies who were compelled to ding [break] in pieces one of the doors." When this was done the scholars were found armed with pistols, swords, halberts, and other weapons. Eight years later we have proof of the dangerous character of these outbreaks. On this occasion the scholars went to the council and petitioned for a holiday. On their petition being refused, they procured arms of various kinds, and took possession of the school. Mr Rollock being thus barred out applied to the magistrates for help. A member of the town council, John Macmorran, came with a party of men to help in getting access to the school, and on his attempting to force the door was shot in the head and killed. [Grant's Burgh Schools, pp. 187-188.]

It is not difficult to find some palliation for the rebellion of high-spirited boys in connection with the shortening of their holidays. Old customs die hard. Schoolboys were not without excuse for thinking that a sacrifice of ten days of immemorial holidays was an extravagant estimation of the extent to which they were expected to abhor the errors of popery. Till well past the middle of last century in some Aberdeenshire schools a petition was put on the master's desk before he came in on the morning of Shrove Tuesday, asking for a holiday [It was always in the same words: "Beef brose and sautie bannocks day. Please give us the afternoon." The afternoon was spent according to the weather in a " snawba' bicker" [a snowball fight] or a game of shinty (hockey), in still earlier times in a cockfight, the victims becoming the property of the schoolmaster.]. At the same time a similar custom existed in Glasgow University. A selected party of students called on certain of the professors on special occasions with the same request, which was usually granted.

In the burgh records of all important towns we have abundant evidence of the keen interest felt, and of the earnest efforts made by town councils, to secure for the office of master the men with the highest qualifications. They were as a rule chosen without fear or favour. It was extremely rare that a man was appointed by testimonials or correspondence, and when such occasion arose, he was taken on probation and definitely appointed only after his probation was announced to be satisfactory. By the results of a fair and apparently strict examination the election was made. Some of the examinations, judged by the books on which the candidates were tested, seem to indicate high classical attainments, such as translating ad aperturam Horace, Juvenal, Hesiod and Plautus. It is not easy to discover how much accuracy was demanded, but the impression left by the entries in the records is that the test was reasonably high. There was usually a competition between two or more candidates. In several cases, where there was no competition, the candidate was found disqualified, or admitted on probation when the examiners did not agree as to his fitness. For the grammar school of Aberdeen in 1602 two candidates came forward, and were examined by the learned men of Old and New Aberdeen, with the result that a dead heat was declared, and both men were appointed. How far this was successful is not recorded. The master after being presented, and before he was admitted to the office, was obliged, like all officers of state, to take the oath de fideli administratione. Every condition as to orthodoxy, loyalty, character, and ability being satisfied, there was usually a ceremonial admission to office, the patrons taking him by the hand, and presenting him with some symbol of authority, in some cases a grammar, and in others the key of the school and tawse, the analogue of the English cane or birch. [Burgh Records of Perth and Cupar.]

In the 17th century the appointment of assistant teachers took various forms. In one place the Rector appointed his assistants subject to the approval of the council. In another the council made the appointments subject to the approval of the Rector. In another the Rector's authority was absolute. In other and the worst cases the teachers were independent of each other, the authority and even the name of Rector being abolished. The action of the patrons was sometimes empirical, depending on the success or failure of previous experiments. There can be no doubt that the best form was to have the Rector as the central source of authority, the other teachers having the right of appeal to the patrons in the event of an abuse of authority.

During the period now being dealt with-the later 16th and the 17th centuries-the tenure of office was insecure. The main forms of tenure were three, (1) the pleasure of the town council durante bene placito; (2) for a definite period; (3) for life, ad vitam aut culpam. By far the most numerous appointments were for a definite period; the next were those made during pleasure. The number of life appointments was comparatively small, the first occurring in Haddington in 1563, which was soon thereafter followed in Crail and Edinburgh. Appointments made at the pleasure of the council left the teacher completely in the power of the patrons. We have little information as to whether a kindly and judicious use was made of this power, but the position of, the teacher was unfortunate, and it would be strange if there were not then, as now, cases in which a harsh use was made of a little brief authority. Appointments for a definite period ranged from eleven years to a quarter of a year. Here the teacher had the advantage of a definite contract into which he entered with his eyes open. By far the largest number of appointments ad vitam aut culpam belong to the 18th century.

From the Reformation to 1690 almost continuously the position of the schoolmaster was far from comfortable. Removal from office was a perpetual threat and possibility according as Presbyterianism or Episcopacy had for the time the upper hand. Signature to the Confession of Faith was imperative on all schoolmasters. Roman Catholics in office were, on refusing subscription, dismissed. In this action the kirk was sometimes backed up by the municipal authorities.

Considerations of space forbid an enumeration of instances. Suffice it to say that by Act of Parliament in 1640 subscription to the Confession was not only demanded from teachers, but parents who refused obedience to the demands of the Church then in the ascendant were deprived of their children, for whose education in the true faith means were provided. [Act of Parliament, 1640, v, 272] This was carried out without respect of persons. Peer and peasant were subjected to the same treatment. The General Assembly had even the courage to "deal earnestly" with the King for allowing his daughter to live in the company of Lady Livingstone, an "obstinate papist [Annals of Linlithgow parish.]." During Cromwell's rule there was some modification in this respect. All but Roman Catholics had, so far as election to office was concerned, liberty of choice in the exercise of their religion. [Act of Parliament, 1655, vi, part ii, 827.]

With the Restoration, Episcopacy being then established, parliament passed an Act embodying a Declaration, which made it imperative that teachers should sign a bond declaring that it was unlawful for a subject to enter into leagues and covenants. [Act of Parliament, 1662, c 54, VII, 405. It was rescinded in 1690.] Obedience to this was, as might be expected, refused by many teachers who declined to yield to the demands of " black prelacy," and were consequently removed from office. While it was in force it pressed cruelly on teachers. In Forfar, Linlithgow, Paisley, Aberdeen, Ayr, Edinburgh, dismissals took place. It was followed by another Act in 1681, more offensive and intolerable, and having the same motive, putting as Wodrow says "the gravestone upon the Covenant," and extinguishing personal liberty. [Ibid. 1681, c. 6, viii, 243.]

On the advent of the Revolution in 1688 and establishment of Presbyterianism, tests were not abolished, but simply changed. Roman Catholics were still excluded from all offices, civil or military. The oaths imposed were for the protection of Presbyterianism instead of Episcopacy. Subscription to the Confession of Faith was still binding on teachers by the Act of 1690, which was ratified by the Union, with an addendum that the teachers must conform themselves to the worship presently in use in the Church, and never endeavour directly or indirectly to prejudice the same. [Grant's Burgh Schools, p. 271.]

It was not unnatural, and perhaps essentially human, that Presbyterians, now that their turn had come, should follow and even better the example set by their Episcopal rivals in similar circumstances. It is difficult to say to which of the two the palm for intolerance should be awarded. Toleration and conscience clauses were not thought of. The time for the discussion of religious questions in a calm give-and-take spirit had not yet come. It is satisfactory to observe that the arrogation to themselves, on the part of clerics in all ages and creeds, of a special and quasi-heaven-sent commission to keep things right, and dictate to the laity, is considerably less pronounced now than in former times.

The causes for which teachers could be dismissed were various. They were obliged to take the oath of allegiance to the throne. In the period now being dealt with there does not appear any record of dismissal in connection with this. There are a great many cases under the head of infirmity. We have abundant evidence of the zeal for education shown by the town councils, but one is tempted to doubt as to whether their zeal was tempered by judgment and kindly feeling. A number of dismissals are, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, apparently heartless. The reasons variously given are of the following character:- "because of old age," "from weakness unable to wait upon the school," "being seized with palsy the school is vacant," &c. In very few cases is there any mention of provision for an old age that was almost certainly impecunious.

Dismissals on account of inefficiency are also numerous. With these there is probably no fault to be found, if all the circumstances were taken into account. The grounds are variously stated:- "children attracted to other schools," "inefficient to await on the school," "school has fallen into decay," "children not instructed sufficiently," "school decayed to the great hurt and discredit of the burgh," "school desolate, the children vaiging (playing truant) and committing evil things by not being kept to school," "supine negligence and many other faults," "the master not known in the new method of teaching English," &c.

Severity of discipline is also the reason of many dismissals. The burgh records of Jedburgh, Arbroath, Glasgow, and other towns make mention of instances of excessively severe discipline. In 1699 in Moffatt a boy died from the effects of cruel punishment. The master was brought to trial, and the judges found the treatment of the boy " relevant to infer the pains of death," but instead of the extreme penalty of hanging, the master was taken from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh by the hangman, first to the middle of the Lawnmarket where he received seven severe stripes and then to the Fountain-well where he received other five similar stripes, and was then banished forth of the kingdom never to return under the highest pains. [History of the Rod, p. 183.] Punishments were in the past more severe than they are now, but the masters were carefully watched by the council in the use they made of the rod, and when undue severity was proved against them they were either censured or removed.

Teachers were frequently dismissed for quarrelling with each other. Quarrels arose from very defective organisation. There was no central source of authority. In large schools each teacher had charge of a separate branch, the fees from which formed a substantial part of his emoluments. There was consequently a strong temptation for every member of the staff not only to canvass for pupils for himself, but also to poach upon the preserves of others, by secretly teaching other branches than his own. This system was not uncommon so late as twenty-five or thirty years ago. It is probably now extinct, and not too soon.

Schoolmasters were sometimes dismissed for immorality, drunkenness and fighting to the effusion of blood. [In 1697 James Bean, schoolmaster, of Kirkcudbright, and John Campbell, were fined and imprisoned for "venting and expressing" against each other "several unchristian words, such as confoundit lyers, knaves, begerlie rascals, and the lyke, which brak furth in strocks ane upon the other." And Henry Gibson, schoolmaster, of Kirkcudbright, and John Walker, burgess there, were indicted for "mutuall blood and batterie, being in excess of drink." Burgh Records of Kirkcudbright.]

The case of John Cunningham is a peculiarly sad one. He was accused in 1591 of witchcraft. An admission was wrung from him, when put to the torture, that he had had meetings with the devil, and had done many impossible feats. When he was released from torture, he said the admission he had made was not true, whereupon he was subjected again to the most terrible suffering in the presence of King James, who interpreted the poor man's refusal to make a second admission as a proof that the devil had entered his heart. He was condemned and burnt. [Grant's Burgh Schools, p. 283.]

As already mentioned teachers were too often dismissed owing to old age and decrepitude with no provision whatever for the remainder of their days. The records of the 16th century furnish few examples of such provision. There are more in the 17th, but even then they are far from numerous. This may have been a necessity from want of funds, but if so, it was a sad necessity. The council frequently signified their satisfaction with aged teachers by making them honorary burgesses and guild brothers, which was not then, as it is now, a mere compliment, but carried with it substantial privileges, not only for the teacher himself, but in some cases for his children also. In some cases they were exempted from the payment of certain taxes and common burdens in the burgh. Presents of small sums of money, a new hat, or piece of plate, were also indications of satisfaction. A yearly pension was of rare occurrence, and there was no stated provision for superannuated teachers. From the earliest times to the period now being dealt with, the masters of burgh schools had not been entitled to demand pensions, when infirmity and old age, though preceded by long and excellent service, had made resignation imperative. That higher education suffered seriously from this is beyond doubt : that it retained a certain amount of vitality is matter for surprise.

The dignity attached to the position of the master of the grammar school in pre-Reformation times was in the 17th century much lowered. He still had duties outside his proper office, but they were no longer such as made him a fellow-worker with high state officials. He still had some semi-clerical functions, reading prayers, [Burgh Records of Paisley.] acting as precentor [Burgh Records of Haddington, Burgh Records of Ayr.] and session clerk; [Burgh Records of Haddington.] others secular, such as being clerk of the burgh, guyding and keeping the clock, [Maitland Club Miscellany, II, 46.] walking the marches of the burgh. [Report on Burgh Schools, II, 115.] On great occasions such as the visit of Queen Anne of Denmark after her marriage with James VI, Hercules Rollock of Edinburgh High School delivered a congratulatory oration. [Steven's High School, 21.] But to a considerable extent the glory had departed.

Patrons of schools in their zeal for education naturally objected to teachers engaging in any occupation likely to interfere with their proper duties. In this objection they were backed up by the Convention of Royal Burghs, who requested parliament to pass an act forbidding men to be both schoolmasters and ministers. [Record of Convention of Royal Burghs, 241.] The General Assembly had the same view and ordained the visitors of grammar schools to see that this was attended to. The teachers on the other hand naturally disliked this prohibition against supplementing their miserably small incomes, and sometimes contrived to get- permission to be pluralists, subject to their efficiency in school being maintained. In numerous instances the minister of the parish was permitted, on certain conditions, to be at the same time master of the grammar school. [Burgh Records of Crail, Haddington, Kirkcudbright and others.]

We have seen that by the famous Act of 1496 barons, freeholders, and men of substance were held bound to have their children satisfactorily educated. This was not enough for Knox, who, in drawing up his first Book of Discipline in 1560, proposed that all fathers of whatever estate should be compelled to have their children trained in learning and virtue. If parents were too poor to meet the expense, funds must be furnished from the public purse. Parents who were able to pay but neglected the admonition were to be compelled to make full payment, whether they sent their children to school or not, and were besides to be fined. Attendance at school was made a condition of the poor receiving alms. Poor children who attended school were allowed three hours daily for seeking their meat through the town. If food was still wanting, the kirk session provided it. [Kirk Session Records of Anstruther. ]

Let it be granted that Town Councils and the Church in their pursuit of what was best for education fell into mistakes which later experience enables us to avoid, there still remains the outstanding fact that a country small, poor, and shamelessly robbed of an inheritance which belonged to education, kept steadily in view and pursued with unslackened rein its aim for intellectual culture and advancement. For more than 300 years in a practically continuous record, there is scarcely a burgh or important town in which provision was not made for the teaching of Latin and Greek to all, rich and poor alike, who were able to turn them to profitable use. We are warranted in saying that no other country has such a record.

With regard to the character and pitch of the instruction and the books read, we have evidence in Melville's Diary [Melville's Diary, pp. 13, 14, 17; 1829] where the course followed in Logie, Montrose is sketched, and in a document in the Glasgow Archives which gives the details of a five years' course. The Minora Colloquia of Erasmus, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Livy, Sallust, Terence, and Cicero are mentioned as the books in use. It is reasonable to infer that if these books were read, they were fairly level with the pupils' attainments.

We may note here that from very early times the master took with him through the whole curriculum the pupils with whom he started, until the Rector's class was reached. This practice, perhaps confined to Scotland, was adhered to in some schools-notably in Edinburgh Academy and High School, and in the High School of Glasgow till the latter half of the 19th century, with the result that, according as a master was popular or the reverse, his class was large or small, and pupils were promoted from class to class irrespective of attainments.

Many books used in earlier times had by this time been supplanted by others. The Grammar by Vaus seems not to have been used after the Reformation. An improved edition of Despauter still survived, but was in its turn displaced by a series of grammars by Simson, Duncan, and Home of Edinburgh High School. Home's Grammar was the first which parliament appointed to be taught exclusively in all schools. It was again superseded by that of Wedderburne of Aberdeen, which held the field till Ruddiman's - the first Latin Grammar in a purely English dress-took its place.

In the middle ages music occupied a much higher place as a branch of education than it does now. The Reformers in their strong opposition to anything savouring of luxury, taste, or refinement, and as a protest against what was so conspicuous in the Roman Catholic service, carried their disregard of it even into school life. Sang schools which till now had received great attention declined so much that an Act of Parliament was passed for their revival. [Act of Parliament, 1579, c. 58, III, 174] This had not the desired effect. Thirty years later James VI endowed music schools in Musselburgh [Report on Burgh Schools, ii, 130.] and Elgin. [Report on Endowed Schools, II, 332.] His Consort Anne did the same for Dunfermline. But these royal efforts, seconded though they were by parliament, were not followed by a general revival. The music school of Glasgow was described as "altogether decayed." In spite of greatly enlarged emoluments in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee, and other towns, this branch was not restored to its former prominence during the period with which we are now dealing.

The use of music at lykewakes and funerals led to abuses which called for interference by the authorities. The doctor of music was forbidden to sing at lykewakes on pain of dismissal from office. Old customs die hard, and on the gradual return of the same abuses the Act of Council forbidding singing at lykewakes was ratified. The abuses were probably akin to the riotous behaviour which accompanies Irish wakes.

From very early times instruction in elementary subjects by private teachers was in stepmotherly fashion permitted, but after the Reformation Town Councils saw the necessity of sound acquaintance with English and writing as a preliminary to entrance into the grammar school. Grants were accordingly made to elementary schools which, from the failure of Knox's scheme, were simply adventure schools. For starting these the authority of the magistrates was required. ["It having pleased the Lord to vouchsafe to Alexander Anderson in Aberdeen learning-reading and writing, the Council in 1661 allow him to teach these branches." Burgh Records of Aberdeen.] In the smaller grammar schools there was often a room set apart for these elementary subjects, but in the larger grammar schools, Glasgow and Aberdeen, English was not taught as a separate branch till early in the 19th century, and in Edinburgh not till the latter half of the same century. [Report on Burgh Schools, I, 34] In some cases separate buildings were erected for the English department, in others the elementary branches were taught in the sang school. In 1583 reading, writing, English, and music were taught in the sang school of Ayr. [Burgh Records of Ayr.] In Dunbar in 1679 the English and grammar schools were separate, each under its own master. [Burgh Records of Dunbar.]

The intercourse between Scotland and France in the middle ages secured for the French language an early introduction into the schools. It was allowed to be spoken in school and presumably was known before the Reformation. Teachers of French were appointed in Edinburgh in 1574 and in Aberdeen in 1635. In 1574 the Council of Edinburgh authorised a Frenchman to commence a school in which to teach his own language, and asked him to give intimation of this by setting up a sign. [Chambers' Domestic Annals, 1, 95.] There is unfortunately no information about the extent and character of the instruction.

The kirk then as now laid great stress on the importance of the religious element in education. An Act of Parliament in 1567 declares that, if this is neglected, instruction shall be "tinsell baith to thair bodyis and saulis. [Act of Parliament, 1567, c. II, III, 24.] "Burgh records abound in proofs of the universality of this attitude on the part of the kirk. The lesser catechism for the younger and the shorter catechism for the older pupils were constantly in evidence. Saturday was to a large extent occupied in hearing the repetition of these and other memory tasks. Sunday was no day of rest for pupil or teacher. Attendance at church was no merely formal function. In the session records of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Peebles, Elgin, and elsewhere, we find that the masters of the grammar schools were held bound to obtain from their pupils notes of the sermons they had heard, and hear them repeat the shorter catechism. Many men of sound judgment and enlightened views on education and the formation of character think that this severe inculcation of Calvinistic logic has contributed largely in giving to Scotsmen the stamina and backbone which have carried them to success in so many fields.

We get a tolerably clear idea of the importance attached to a knowledge of the Catechism from a custom which was observed in Aberdeen, [Session Records of Aberdeen.] Leith, and probably elsewhere. Two grammarschool pupils were appointed to take up a position in the front of the pulpit in the interval between the sermons. For the benefit of "common ignorant people and servants," the one asked and the other answered in a loud voice, questions from the shorter Catechism, that all might hear and learn accurately both question and answer. [One cannot but admire these zealous endeavours to secure universal acquaintance with a wonderfully logical document, but may hesitate about ascribing to it the saving efficacy claimed for it by a university student who, in the 19th century, gave as its etymology "derived from Kara down, and xaoµa a gap, a set of questions arranged to keep people from stumbling into the bottomless pit-in short, a Catechism."]

In the latter half of the 17th century considerable attention was paid to the formation of libraries in connection with the more important grammar schools such as Edinbugh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Montrose. Boys leaving school were required to make contributions for the purchase of books. In some cases fines imposed for law-breaking were employed for this purpose, and in others contributions were made from the common good. Edinburgh Grammar School 300 years ago had a collection of nearly 600 volumes, which subsequent additions have raised to 7000. Dollar has a library of over 5000 volumes.

With respect to emoluments the rapacity of the Barons at the Reformation in taking the lion's share of the property of the Old Church and the good fortune of the Reformers in securing a part of it, while education got a very small portion, have already been referred to. Parliament seeing the impecunious position of the teacher, passed an act in 1567 [Act of Parliament, 1567, c. 13, Ill, 25] ordaining patrons to make over to poor students certain church funds as altarages, chaplainries, and prebends. This was done in very few cases, and the act was practically fruitless. Queen Mary in 1567, [Report on Endowed Schools, II, 425] James VI in 1572, his Consort in 1610, and Charles I in 1630 all showed their interest in schools by establishing pensions for teachers, some of which continue to the present day. The Barons did not follow the royal example. But even when endowments did reach the destination for which they were intended, their value was much reduced by dilapidations and mismanagement, buildings being in so many cases ruinous that an Act of Parliament was passed [Act of Parliament, 1594, c. 98, IV, 94] to remedy the evil.

Trustees in those days seem to have used great freedom in the interpretation of their duties ; for another act was passed in 1633 and ratified sixty-three years afterwards, forbidding them to do as they pleased with mortifications of which they were trustees. Instances of this absorption or alienation of funds assigned to education occurred in Kirkwall, Irvine, Paisley, and in many other places. All educational foundations were protected by parliament and received special exemption from taxation. [Act of Parliament, 1587, c. 8, III, 433]

In treating of teachers' emoluments a general view is all that can be attempted. It must be borne in mind that the country was poor, money scarce, and the amount secured for education from church lands so small as to be scarcely worth consideration. Another source-endowments made by private persons-is also of comparatively little importance. Here and there a successful merchant or a benevolent lady mortified small amounts for the districts in which they were interested. Very important support was furnished by the Town Councils from the common property of the burgh, which was as various in amount as in source and character-lands, fishings, feu duties, mills, markets, use of bells and mortcloth at funerals, fines for blood and battery, &c. When, as sometimes happened, these sources fell short of what was required, stentmasters were appointed who might be liberal or niggardly according to circumstances. [Stentmaster was the person appointed to fix the amount of any duty payable.] In 1612 a number of the inhabitants of Inverury rated themselves for providing "sillar and victual " for the teacher, the common good being exhausted. [The items of this contribution are instructive as showing the zeal for education and the different circumstances, but on the whole the poverty of the people. Payments in money range from 26s. 8d. to 4s.; some contribute a peck of meal, others a firlot, others two firlots, others a boll, and one provides a free house. Burgh Records of Inverury.]

The least variable and most important source of the teacher's emoluments was the amount received in fees, which were rigidly exacted, usually in advance, from all who were able to pay. Failure to pay was followed by expulsion, and those parents who fell into arrears were liable to have their goods poinded. The Council regulated the scale of fees ; landward pupils paid more than burgesses, the poor paid less than the full amount, and the very poor were educated gratis.

From three other sources contributions were made towards the teacher's salary, bent silver already referred to, Candlemas offerings and cock-money. On February 2 every pupil was expected to present to the teacher an offering in money depending in amount on the means and social position of the parents, and a holiday was granted. In country districts the practice was kept up till the middle of the 19th century. There are few school customs so surprising as making cock-fights a source of emolument for the teacher. The fights took place in the schoolroom, none but scholars and gentlemen and persons of note being present. The scholars who did not supply cocks paid money contributions by way of compensation. The cocks that would not fight, and those killed in the fight, became the perquisite of the teacher. It is very remarkable that a practice so debasing and now punishable was, up to the end of the 18th century, not only permitted but encouraged by school authorities and persons of unquestionable respectability and position.

The stipends of teachers, at no time large, were, early in the 17th century, much reduced below a living wage through bad seasons and consequent dearth of provisions and multitude of schools. The humble appeals for augmentation bring out in painful contrast the dignity of the master in former times and his sordid surroundings during the subsequent century. [The master of Aberdeen Grammar School in 1620 beseeches the Council to increase his salary, saying that "quhairas thair wisdomes exactis a dewtie of him on the ane pairt, so it will not offend thame on the uther pairt that he be particular in regrating [improving] his estate, the treuth quhairoff is, he has not ane stipend quhilk may encourage ane honest man to walk in sic a toillsum callin with chearfulnes...and he sees no correspondense betwist his extraordinar paynes and thi ordinar reward." Grant's Burgh Schools, p. 481.] The master was usually supplied with a house or a sum of money in payment of rent. We have in the burgh records of Peebles a description of such a house, simple but probably sufficient. Fuel also was supplied in some cases by the parents sending periodically a" kairtfull of turfes," or by the Council sending a specified quantity of peats and coal. [Burgh Records of Peebles.] Contributions of clothes were sometimes added as a supplement of stipend-a new hat, a piece of linen, a web of cloth, a piece of tanned hide, a "stand of clayths [a suit of clothes]." [Burgh Records of Paisley and Ayr.]

Towards the middle and end of the 17th century contributions by benevolent persons in the shape of gifts and bequests were made for payment of fees and partial maintenance at burgh schools of children of poor honest men, and for increase of the emoluments of teachers. These, however, were not large or numerous enough to make the teacher's position enviable from either a pecuniary or social point of view.

But much as the social position of the master had suffered, a still lower depth was reached by the under teachers. Customs change, and the feelings with which one regards them undergo corresponding alterations, but it is difficult to believe that maintenance of self-respect, and of wholesome influence over pupils was consistent with the teacher's going from house to house for his "meit of all the bairns day about," as we learn from the records of important burghs was the plight of the grammar school doctor for more than a hundred years. [Burgh Records of Haddington, Kirkcaldy, Stirling, Peebles, Ayr and Sanquhar.] A glimmer of the sordid indignity of the arrangement seems to have crossed the imagination of the Provost and Council of Stirling who, "for the better flourishing of the grammar school, modify [substitute] for the board and entertainment in meat of the Latin doctor a quarterly payment of 6/- besides the scholage."

It is difficult to understand why under these conditions there should have been a "multitude of schools" which was the complaint of an Aberdeen Rector. A more natural result would have been the disappearance of education from the land.


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