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* another pretty fancy; when a young man has a “mind to let us know who gave him his scarf, he * speaks a parenthesis to the Almighty, bless, “as I * am in duty bound to pray,” the right honourable “ the countess; is not that as much as to say, bless * her, for thou knowest I am her chaplain : * Your humble servant, • J. O.”
CH, DRY DEN.
I SHALL give the following letter no other recommendation, than by telling my readers that it comes from the same hand with that of last Thursday.
* SIR, * I SEND you, according to my promise, some * farther thoughts on the education of youth, in which * I intend to discuss that famous question “Whether “ the education at a public school, or under a private “ tutor, is to be preferred 2* * As some of the greatest men in most ages have ‘ been of very different opinions in this matter, I “shall give a short account of what I think may be “best urged on both sides, and afterwards leave every * Person to determine for himself.
* It is certain from Suetonius, that the Romans ‘ thought the education of their children a business “ properly belonging to the parents themselves; and * Plutarch, in the life of Marcus Cato, tells us, that ‘ as soon as his son was capable of learning, Cato • would suffer nobody to teach him but himself, “ though he had a servant, named Chilo, who was an * excellent grammarian, and who taught a great • many other youths.
• On the contrary, the Greeks seemed more incli* ned to public schools and seminaries.
* A private education promises in the first place * virtue and good breeding ; a public school manly ‘ assurance, and an early knowledge in the ways of • the world.
• Mr. Locke, in his celebrated Treatise of Educa‘tion, confesses that there are inconveniences to be • feared on both sides; “If,” says he, “I keep my “ son at home, he is in danger of becoming my young “master; if I send him abroad, it is scarce possible “to keep him from the reigning contagion of rude“ness and vice. He will perhaps be more innocent “ at home, but more ignorant of the world, and more “ sheepish when he comes abroad.” However, as • this learned author asserts, that virtue is much more • difficult to be attained than knowledge of the world, • and that vice is a more stubborn, as well as a more • dangerous fault than sheepishness, he is altogether • for a private education; and the more so, because * he does not see why a youth, with right manage4 ment, might not attain the same assurance in his • father’s house, as at a public school. To this end * he advises parents to accustom theinoons to what* ever strange faces come to their house ; to take • them with them when they visit their neighbours, • and to engage them in conversation with men of • parts and breeding.
• It may be objected to this method, that conversation is not the only thing necessary, but that unless it be a conversation with such as are in some measure their equals in parts and years, there can be no room for emulation, contention, and several of the most lively passions of the mind; which, without being sometimes moved, by these means, may possibly contract a dulness and insensibility.
• One of the greatest writers our nation ever produced observes, that a boy who forms parties, and makes himself popular in a school or a college, would act the same part with equal ease in a senate or a privy-council; and Mr. Osburn, speaking like a man versed in the ways of the world, affirms, that the well laying and carrying on of a design to rob an orchard, trains up a youth insensibly to caution, secrecy, and circumspection, and fits him for mat
ters of greater importance.
* In short, a private education seems the most natural method for the forming of a virtuous man; a public education for making a man of business. The first would furnish out a good subject for Plato's republic, the latter a member for a community overrun with artifice and corruption. • It must however be confessed, that a person at the head of a public school has sometimes so many boys under his direction, that it is impossible he should extend a due proportion of his care to each of them. This is however, in reality, the fault of the age, in which we often see twenty parents, who, though each expects his son should be made a scholar, are not contented altogether to make it worth while for any man of a liberal education to take upon him the care of their instruction. • In our great schools indeed this fault has been of late years rectified, so that we have at present not only ingenious men for the chief masters, but such as have proper ushers and assistants under them. B b 2
* I must nevertheless own, that for want of the same encouragement in the country, we have many a promising genius spoiled and abused in those little Senal naties. ‘I am the more inclined to this opinion, having myself experienced the usage of two rural masters, each of them very unfit for the trust they took upon them to discharge. The first imposed much more upon me than my parts, though none of the weakest, could endure ; and used me barbarously for not performing impossibilities. The latter was quite of another temper; and a boy, who would run upon his errands, wash his coffeepot, or ring the bell, might have as little conversation with any of the classics as he thought fit. I have known a lad of this place excused his exercise for assisting the cook-maid; and remember a neighbouring gentleman's son was among us five years, most of which time he employed in airing and watering our master's gray pad. I scorned to compound for my faults, by doing any of these elegant offices, and was accordingly the best scholar, and the worst used of any boy in the school. * I shall conclude this discourse with an advantage mentioned by Quintilian, as accompanying a public way of education, which I have not yet taken notice of; namely, that we very often contract such friendships at school as are a service to us all the following parts of our lives. * I shall give you, under this head, a story very well known to several persons, and which you may depend upon as real truth. * Every one, who is acquainted with Westminster school, knows that there is a curtain which used to be drawn across the room, to separate the upper school from the lower. A youth happened, by some mischance, to tear the above-mentioned curtain : the severity of the master was too well known for
“ the criminal to expect any pardon for such a fault; so that the boy, who was of a meek temper, was terrified to death at the thoughts of his appearance, when his friend who sat next to him, bade him be of good cheer, for that he would take the fault on himself. He kept his word accordingly. As soon as they were grown up to be men, the civil war broke out, in which our two friends took the opposite sides: one of them followed the parliament, the other the royal party. * As their tempers were different, the youth, who had torn the curtain, endeavoured to raise himself on the civil list, and the other, who had borne the blame of it, on the military: the first succeeded so well, that he was in a short time made a judge under the Protector. The other was engaged in the unhappy enterprise of Penruddock and Grove in the west. I suppose, Sir, I need not acquaint you, with the event of that undertaking. Every one knows that the royal party was routed, and all the heads of them, among whom was the curtain champion, imprisoned at Exeter. It happened to be his friend's lot at that time to go the western circuit: the trial of the rebels, as they were then called, was very short, and nothing now remained but to pass sentence on them ; when the judge hearing the name of his old friend, and observing his face more attentively, which he had not seen for many years, asked him, if he was not formerly a Westminster scholar : By the answer, he was soon convinced that it was his former generous friend; and, without saying any thing more at that time, made the best of his way to London, where employing all his power and interest with the Protector, he saved his friend from the fate of his unhappy associates. * The gentleman, whose life was thus preserved by the gratitude of his school fellow, was afterwards “ the father of a son, whom he lived to see promoted