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philosophic melancholy, as scenes full of inspiration, in which Genius might try her wings, and Wisdom meditate without interruption. But I am obliged to own, that, though I have walked there many a time; though my fancy was warmed with the scene, and shot out into a thousand excursions over the regions of romance, of melancholy, of sentiment, of humour, of criticism, and of science, she returned, like the first messenger of Noah, without having found a resting place; and I have, at last, strolled back to the house, where 1 sat listless in my chamber, with the irksome consciousness of some unperformed resolution, from which I was glad to be relieved by a summons to billiards, or a call to dinner.
• Thus have I returned to town, as unprofitable in the moments of solitude and retirement, as in those of business or society. Do not smile at the word business : what would be idleness to you, is to me very serious employment: besides you know very well, that to be idle, is often to be least at lei
I am now almost hardy enough to lay aside altogether my resolution of writing in your paper ; but I find that resolution a sort of bond against me, till you are good enough to cancel it, by saying, you do not expect me to write. I have made a more than ordinary effort to give you this sincere account of my attempts to assist you. I have at least the consolation of thinking that you will not need my assistance. Believe me, with all my failings,
Most sincerely and affectionately yours,
P.S. I have just now learned by accident, that my nephew, a lad of fifteen, who is come to town from Harpow-school, and lives at present with me, having seen one of your
numbers about a week ago, has already written, and intends transmitting you, a political essay, signed Aristides, a pastoral subscribed X. Y., and an acrostic on Miss E. M. without a signature.'-y.
No 15. TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 1779.
Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectique cultus pectora roborant.-Hor. However widely the thinking part of mankind may have differed as to the proper mode of conducting education, they have always been unanimous in their opinion of its importance. The outward effects of it are observed by the most inattentive. They know, that the clown and the dancing-master are the same from the hand of nature; and, although a little farther reflection is necessary to perceive the effects of culture on the internal senses, it cannot be disputed that the mind, like the body, when arrived at firmness and maturity, retains the impressions it received in a more pliant and tender age.
The greatest part of mankind, born to labour for their subsistence, are fixed in habits of industry by the iron hand of necessity. They have little time or opportunity for the cultivation of the understanding; the errors and immoralities in their conduct, that flow from the want of those sentiments which education is intended to produce, will, on that account, meet with indulgence from every benevolent mind. But those who are placed in a conspicuous station, whose vices become more complicated and destructive, by the abuse of knowledge, and the misapplication of improved talents, have no title to the same indulgence. Their guilt is heightened by the rank
and fortune which protect them from punishment, and which, in some degree, preserve them from that infamy their conduct has merited.
I hold it, then, uncontrovertible, that the higher the rank, the more urgent is the necessity for storing the mind with the principles, and directing the passions to the practice, of public and private virtue. Perhaps it might not be impossible to form plans of education, to lay down rules, and contrive institutions, for the instruction of youth of all ranks, that would have a general influence upon manners. But this is an attempt too arduous for a private hand ; it can be expected only from the great council of the nation, when they shall be pleased to apply their experienced wisdom and penetration to so material an object, which, in some future period, may be found not less deserving their attention than those important debates in which they are frequently engaged, which they conduct with an elegance, a decorum, and a public spirit, becoming the incorrupted, disinterested, virtuous representatives of a great and Aourishing people.
While in expectation of this, perhaps distant, æra, I hope it will not be unacceptable to my readers to suggest some hints that may be useful in the education of the gentleman, to try if it be not possible to form an alliance between the virtues and the graces, the man and the citizen, and produce a being less dishonourable to the species than the courtier of Lord Chesterfield, and more useful to society than the
savage of Rousseau. The sagacious Locke, towards the end of the last century, gave to the public some thoughts on education, the general merit of which leaves room to regret that he did not find time, as he seemed once to have intended, to revise what he had written, and give a complete treatise on the subject. But, with
all the veneration I feel for that great man, and all the respect that is due to him, I cannot help being of opinion, that some of his observations have laid the foundation of that defective system of education, the fatal consequences of which are so well described by my correspondent in the letter published in my Fourth Number. Mr. Locke, sensible of the labyrinth with which the pedantry of the learned had surrounded all the avenues to science, successfully employed the strength of his genius to trace knowledge to her source, and point out the direct road to succeeding generations. Disgusted with the schoolmen, he, from a prejudice to which even great minds are liable, seems to have contracted a dislike to every thing they taught, and even to the languages in which they wrote. He scruples not to speak of grammar as unnecessary to the perfect knowledge either of the dead or living languages, and to affirm, that a part of the years thrown away in the study of Greek and Latin, would be better employed in learning the trades of gardeners and turners; as if it were a fitter and more useful recreation for a gentleman to plant potatoes, and to make chess-boards and snuff-boxes, than to study the beauties of Cicero and Homer.
It will be allowed by all, that the great purpose of education is to form the man and the citizen, that he may be virtuous, happy in himself, and useful to society. To attain this end, his education should begin, as it were, from his birth, and be continued till he arrive at firmness and maturity of mind, as well as of body. Sincerity, truth, justice, and humanity, are to be cultivated from the first dawnings of memory and observation. As the powers of these increase, the genius and disposition unfold themselves; it then becomes necessary to check, in the. bud, every propensity to folly or to vice; to root out
every mean, selfish, and ungenerous sentiment; to warm and animate the heart in the pursuit of virtue and honour. The experience of ages has hitherto discovered no surer method of giving right impressions to young minds, than by frequently exhibiting to them those bright examples which history affords, and by that means, inspiring them with those sentiments of public and private virtue which breathe in the writings of the sages of antiquity.
In this view, I have ever considered the acquisition of the dead languages as a most important branch in the education of a gentleman. Not to mention that the slowness with which he acquires them, prevents his memory from being loaded with facts faster than his growing reason can compare and distinguish, he becomes acquainted by degrees with the virtuous characters of ancient times; he admires their justice, temperance, fortitude, and public spirit, and burns with a desire to imitate them. The impressions these have made, and the restraints to which he has been accustomed, serve as a check to the many tumultuous passions which the ideas of religion alone would, at that age, be unable to control. Every victory he obtains over himself serves as a new guard to virtue. When he errs, he becomes sensible of his weakness, which, at the same time that it teaches him moderation, and forgiveness to others, shews the necessity of keeping a stricter watch over his own actions. During these combats, his soning faculties expand, his judgment strengthens, and, while he becomes acquainted with the corruptions of the world, he fixes himself in the practice of virtue.
A man thus educated enters upon the theatre of the world with many and great advantages. Accustomed to reflection, acquainted with human nature, the strength of virtue, and depravity of vice, he can