A young friend told me the other day that her mother was greatly shocked when they were out walking together, and the daughter’s Sabbath School scholars greeted her with a cheerful, “Hulloa!” This displeasure at the frank familiarity of children (and working people) is exceedingly Victorian. The little girls, one presumes, should have curtsied, and the small boys touched their caps with respectful humility.
The path into the kingdom of Heaven was by way of deference to your “betters” and, of course, “better class” children don’t go to Sabbath School. I am at present sojourning in a village where a few years ago there resided a lady of the old social order, who demanded that all the children in the place should bob to her. If a little girl failed to curtsy, or a boy missed pulling his forelock, she knocked at the cottage door where they lived, and scolded the mother for neglecting to train her children properly.
I have not heard that any mother dared to round on her impertinent visitor and tell her to go mend her own manners. There is no doubt that the lady would sincerely believe that the Empire itself and the very stability of the social order were founded upon the subservience of one class to another.
The other day I was going through the village square and a voice called “Hulloa!” I looked all round and could see no one likely to greet me that way. Then another “Hulloa” came from the ground, and I saw a small girl on the cobbled pavement diligently sweeping it with a tiny brush.
She had observed passing one of the members of the great republic of childhood, and naturally she greeted me as such. Sometimes I think whimsically of “Hulloa” as the password into that Kingdom of Heaven where all are child-like, and all on terms of unaffected familiarity and genuine brotherliness.