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Sissy Jupe
by [?]

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

The scene was a bare, plain, monotonous vault of a schoolroom, and the speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observation. The emphasis was helped by his square wall of a forehead, by his thin and hardset mouth, by his inflexible and dictatorial voice, and by the hair which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, as if the head had scarcely warehouse room for the hard facts stowed inside. The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders,–nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was,–all helped the emphasis.

“In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir! Nothing but Facts!”

The speaker, Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, and the schoolmaster, Mr. M’Choakumchild, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of Facts poured into them until they were full to the brim.

“Girl number twenty,” said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, “I don’t know that girl. Who is that girl?”

“Sissy Jupe, sir,” explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.

“Sissy is not a name,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Call yourself Cecilia.”

“It’s father as calls me Sissy, sir,” returned the young girl with another curtsey.

“Then he has no business to do it,” said Mr. Gradgrind. “Tell him he mustn’t. Cecilia Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?”

“He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir.”

Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.

“We don’t want to know anything about that here. Your father breaks horses, don’t he?”

“If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring.”

“You mustn’t tell us about the ring here. Very well, then. Describe your father as a horse-breaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?”

“Oh, yes, sir.”

“Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier and horse-breaker. Give me your definition of a horse.”

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand).

“Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!” said Mr. Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. “Girl number twenty possessed of no facts in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy’s definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours!”

“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

“Now, girl number twenty,” said Mr. Gradgrind, “you know what a horse is.”

She curtsied again, blushed, and sat down, and the third gentleman present stepped forth, briskly smiling and folding his arms. “That’s a horse,” he said. “Now, let me ask you, boys and girls, would you paper a room with representations of horses?”

After a pause, one-half of the children cried in chorus, “Yes, sir!” Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman’s face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, “No, sir!”

“Of course, No. Why wouldn’t you?”

A pause. One boy ventured the answer, because he wouldn’t paper a room at all, but would paint it.

“You must paper it,” said Thomas Gradgrind, “whether you like it or not. Don’t tell us you wouldn’t paper it. What do you mean, boy?”

“I’ll explain to you then,” said the gentleman, after another pause, “why you wouldn’t paper a room with a representation of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality–in fact? Of course, No. Why then, you are not to see anywhere what you don’t see in fact; you are not to have anywhere what you don’t have in fact. This is a new principle, a great discovery,” said the gentleman. “Now I’ll try you again. Would you use a carpet having a representation of flowers upon it?”