« AnteriorContinuar »
be brought up at the feet of madam de Maintenon, and to be dispatched into foreign courts upon any emergencies of state; but as the news of this last project has not been yet confirmed, I shall take no further notice of it.
Several of my readers may doubtless remember that, , upon the conclusion of the last war, which had been carried on so successfully by the enemy, their generals were many of them transformed into ambassadors: but the conduct of those who have commanded in the present war has, it seems, brought so little honour and advantage to their great monarch, that he is resolved to trust his affairs no longer in the hands of those military gentlemen.
The regulations of this new academy very much deserve our attention. The students are to have in possession, or reversion, an estate of two thousand French livres per annum, which, as the present exchange runs, will amount to at least one hundred and twenty-six pounds English. This, with the royal allowance of a thousand livres, will enable them to find themselves in coffee and snuff"; not to mention news-papers, pens, and ink, wax and wafers, with the like necessaries for politicians.
A man must be at least five-and-twenty before he can be initiated into the mysteries of this academy, though there is no question, but many grave persons of a much more advanced age, who have been constant readers of the Paris gazette, will be glad to begin the world anew, and enter themselves upon this list of politicians.
The society of these hopeful young gentlemen is to be under the direction of six professors, who, it seems, are to be speculative statesmen, and drawn out of the
body of the royal academy. These six wise masters, according to my private letters, are to have the following parts allotted to them.
The first is to instruct the students in state legerdemain, as how to take off the impression of a seal, to split a wafer, to open a letter, to fold it up again, with other the like ingenious feats of dexterity and art. When the students have accomplished themselves in this part of their profession, they are to be delivered into the hands of their second instructor, who is a kind of posture-master.
This artist is to teach them how to nod judiciously, 10 shrug up their shoulders in a dubious case, to connive with either eye, and, in a word, the whole practice of political grimace.
The third is a sort of language-master, who is to instruct them in the style proper for a minister in his ordinary discourse. And to the end that this college of statesmen may be thoroughly practised in the political style, they are to make use of it in their common conversations, before they are employed either in foreign or domestic affairs. If one of them asks another what o'clock it is, the other is to answer him indirectly, and, if possible, to turn off the question. If he is desired to change a louis-d'or, he must beg time to consider of it. If it be inquired of him, whether the king is at Versailles or Marly, he must answer in a whisper. If he be asked the news of the last gazette, or the subject of a proclamation, he is to reply that. he has not yet read it; or, if he does not care for explaining himself so far, he needs only draw his brow: up in wrinkles, or elevate the lefi shoulder.
The fourth professor is to teach the whole art of political characters and hieroglyphics; and to the end, that they may be perfect also in this practice, they are not to send a note to one another (though it be but to borrow a Tacitus or a Machiavel) which is not written in cypher.
Their fifth professor, it is thought, will be chosen out of the society of Jesuits, and is to be well read in the controversies of probable doctrines, mental reservations, and the rights of princes. This learned man is to instruct them in the grammar, syntax, and construing part of treaty Latin; how to distinguish between the spirit and the letter, and likewise demon-. strate how the same form of words may lay an obligation upon any prince in Europe, different from that which it lays upon his most christian majesty. He is likewise to teach them the art of finding flaws, loopholes, and evasions, in the most solemn compacts, and particularly a great rabbinical secret, revived of late years by the fraternity of Jesuits, namely, that contradictory interpretations of the same article may both of them be true and valid.
When our statesmen are sufficiently improved by these several instructors, they are to receive their last polishing from one who is to act among them as master of the ceremonies. This gentleman is to give them lectures upon those important points of the elbow chair, and the stair-head, to instruct them in the different situations of the right-hand, and to furnish them with bows and inclinations of all sizes, measüres, and proportions. In short, this professor is to give the society their stiffening, and infuse into their manners that beautiful political starch, which may qualify them for levees, conferences, visits, and make them shine in what vulgar minds are apt to look upon as trifles.
I have not yet heard any further particulars which are to be observed in this society of unfledged statesmen; but I must confess, had I a son of five-and-twenty, that should take it into his head at that age to set up for a politician, I think I should go near to disinherit him for a blockhead. Besides, I should be apprehensive lest the same arts which are to enable him to negotiate between potentates, might a little infect his ordinary behaviour between man and man. There is no question but these young Machiavels will, in a liitle time, turn their college upside-down with plots and stratagems, and lay as many schemes to circumvent one another in a frog or a sallad, as they may hereafter put in practicc to overreach a neighbouring prince or state.
We are told that the Spartans, though they punished theft in their young men when it was discovered, looked upon it as honourable if it succeeded. Provided the conveyance was clean and unsuspected, a youth might afterwards boast of it. This, say the historians, was to keep them sharp, and to hinder them from being imposed upon, either in their public or private negotiations. Whether any such relaxations of morality, such little jeux d'esprit, ought not to be allowed in this intended seminary of politicians, I shall leave to the wisdom of their founder.
In the mean time we have fair warning given us by this doughty body of statesmen: and as Sylla saw many Marii in Cæsar, so I think we may discover many Torcys in this college of academicians. Whatever we think of ourselves, I am afraid neither our Smyrnan or St. James's will be a match for it. Our coffee-houses are, indeed, very good institutions; but whether or no these our British schools of politics may furnish out as able envoys and secretaries as an academy that is set apart for that purpose, will deserve our serious consideration, especially if we remember that our country is more famous for producing men of integrity than statcsmen; and that, on the contrary, French truth and British policy make a conspicuous figure in nothing ; as the earl of Rochester has very well observed in his admirable poem upon that barren subject.
ON EDUCATION. STORY OF THE WESTMIN
STER BOY. No. 313.
I send you, according to my promise, some 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 ?'
• 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 education, 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 rudeness 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