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in the extreme, and make convulsive efforts to
cram up just a little more before they go in, and
then give it up as useless, till a fresh conviction
of their desperate situation urges them on to a
fresh trial. The careless wallahs (chiefly those
who are under the maximum age for candidates,
and who, if plucked this time, have more chances
left) walk about vaguely, and seem to think the
whole thing a bore. I notice two Parsees and
a Hindoo (all included by the other wallahs
under the somewhat contemptuous designation
of "niggers"); the former in their own proper
Oriental costume, the latter looking incongruous
in an European suit of black. The general opinion
of the wallahs seems to be that these niggers
have no business here, and that their impudence
in coming up for exam is a gross outrage, and
a thing which ought not to be.

While I am making these observations, I see
a man who has been to the same grinder's as
myself, and I go up to him. He is cramming out
of a book, but that doesn't matter, because if I
can stop his cramming, and drive out of his
head what he has just put into it, so much the
less chance will he have of beating me in the
exam. So I stick to him till it is time to go in,
and I receive from him fabulous accounts of the
number of men who have come up. "Two
hundred and fifty, by Jove! and only sixty
appointments going!" I am terrified to hear
what a number of wonderful geniuses there
are among them. " One man is certain to pass
first in mathematics. There lie is, leaning
against the pillar there, with a green umbrella."
(I could devour him, umbrella and all.) "That's
young Brown of Pembroke, who is sure to
make full marks in classics." (I should like to
see the portico fall and crush young Brown of

The clock strikes, and a shudder runs
through the crowd, and we slowly and mournfully
enter the hall prepared for our reception.
Giving our numbers, we are directed
to our places, and sit down, all in a flutter.
Presently the examiner enters, and the printed
questions are distributed. Some of us are rather
surprised and disgusted to find that the subject
is the History of the Laws and Constitution of
a certain Country. Many of us had trusted
that this subject would come on at a later stage,
and had not properly crammed for it; but
there's no help for it, so we go to work and
make the best of it. Some of the questions
I found I could do, and did. Others I found
I could not do, but did all the same: acting on
the principle, useful in all exams, of " making
shots" at everything on the chance of hitting
something. And here, I regret to say, I was
compelled to be guilty of a slight hypocrisy.
We were required to write the life of a certain
historical personage whom I detest; I wrote,
not a withering satire, but a fervid eulogium on
him! Well, the competitive system is chargeable
with it, that's all I know.

Looking round from time to time, I was able
to see how the other wallahs were getting on, and
became well or ill affected towards them accordingly.
If I saw a wallah writing rapidly, but
steadily and continually, I knew he was "well
up," and could have crushed him. If I saw
a wallah burying his fingers in his hair, and
making use of his pen as if it were something
to eat, I bore him no malice, and would have
done him no harm. Now and then, a wallah
would arrive at the end of his stock of
knowledge, would deliver up his papers, and walk
out of the room; as the number of departing
wallahs increased, so also did the satisfaction of
those who remained. Curious to see how the
niggers fared, I watched them whenever I had
nothing else to do. They wrote away like mad
men. He in the European costume appeared
to be in a perpetual state of delight and bright
idea. After musing awhile, he would suddenly
grin from ear to ear (a considerable distance),
and dash down on paper the sentiments that had
occurred to him.

The performances were varied by little excursions
made by divers wallahs to the presiding
examiner, for the purpose of asking insane
questions on the questions, and getting, if possible,
some clue to their answers. But I was too old
a stager at examinations for this kind of thing.
The only purpose for which I would approach
an examiner, would be to hold my paper close
up before his eyes, to conceal some little opera
tion going on between confederate examiners.
This I have seen practised with success:
otherwise I would advise wallahs to keep their places.

Such as I have described was the course of
most days of the paper exam. Most subjects
came too soon upon the wallahs, and it was
sometimes laughable to see the frank
acknowledgment of their ignorance made by these young
persons. No one was allowed to leave the room
until after the expiration of half an hour from the
time fixed for the commencement of the examination.
Every day, a few left as soon as the
half hour was up, but on one day in particular
this desire for an early departure was very
conspicuous. It was the day for, let us say, ancient
Coptic, and we had an exceedingly stiff paper
on Coptic history and literature. The instant
the half-hour struck, about twenty wallahs rose
as one wallah, seized their hats and sticks, and
rushed off, to the surprise and delight of the rest.
As the exam proceeded, I came to find out the
peculiarities of different wallahs, and was able to
form a rough estimate of their chances of passing.
I generally found that those who talked loudest,
knew least, and that those who displayed the
profoundest contempt for our tyrants, the examiners,
took the greatest pains to stand well in the sight
of those magnates. One wallah proclaimed to an
admiring circle that if old Dash expected him
to put the vowel points to his Hebrew composition,
old Dash would find himself mistaken.
And yet I saw this very wallah, who sat just
before me, painfully and laboriously distributing
the despised points he had vowed to neglect.

It is wonderful what mistakes one makes in
an examination, through hurry or carelessness,
without discovering them until one has sent in
all one's papers, and left the room. Thus I