10 Old-time Schools and School-books
times was omited." An enormous fireplace was the sole means of warming the schoolrooms of that day, and in sharp weather it consumed the wood most ravenously. The vote mentioned above was intended to remedy the chronic vanishing of the school woodpile, but it was not wholly effective, and the next year the selectmen were directed to prosecute delinquents.
Such an experience was not at all exceptional, and most of the towns passed special acts applying to the case. Sometimes the children of parents who did not do their part in keeping up the woodpile were turned out of the school. Sometimes they were refused " the benefit of the fire," and the master saw to it that they sat in the schoolroom's bleakest corner. Another rule was that the schoolboys of households whose parents sent the wood in sled length must cut it up where it lay in the schoolyard.
Many of the towns provided a grammar school before they did an elementary. It seems to have been generally understood that children would be taught to read before attending the grammar schools. Thus in an agreement with a teacher of the Roxbury grammar school we find he is to " use his best skill and endeavor, both by precept and example, to instruct in all scholastical, moral, and theological discipline the children of the proprietors of the school—all a-b-c-darians excepted."
We get suggestive glimpses of the routine of the early schools in the Dorchester scho 1 rules of 1645, which provided that for seven months in the warmer