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What I would request in all this prattle is, that our females would either let us have their persons or their minds, in such perfection as nature designed them.
The way to this is, that those who are in the quality of gentlewomen, should propose to themselves some suitable method of passing away their time. This would furnish them with reflections and sentiments proper for the companions of reasonable men, and prevent the unnatural marriages which happen every day between the most accomplished women and the veriest oafs, the worthiest men and the most insignificant females. Were the general turn of women's education of another kind than it is at present, we should want one another for more reasons than we do as the world now goes. The common design of parents, is to get their girls off as well as they can; and they make no conscience of putting into our hands a bargain for our whole life, which will make our hearts ache every day of it. I shall, therefore, take this matter into serious consideration, and will propose, for the better improvement of the fair sex, a Female Library. This collection of books shall consist of such authors as do not corrupt while they divert, but shall tend more immediately to improve them as they are women. They shall be such as shall not hurt a feature by the austerity of their reflections, nor cause one impertinent glance by the wantonness of them. They shall all tend to advance the value of their innocence as virgins, improve their understanding as wives, and regulate their tenderness as parents. It has been very often said in these lucubrations, that the ideas which most frequently pass through our imaginations, leave traces of themselves in our countenances.' There
shall be a strict regard had to this in my Female Library, which shall be furnished with nothing that shall give supplies to ostentation or impertinence ; but the whole shall be so digested for the use of my students, that they shall not go out of character in their inquiries, but their knowledge appear only a cultivated innocence.
[Tatler, No. 248.
Dn Flogging Schoolboys
I am very much at a loss to express by any word that occurs to me in our language, that which is understood by indoles in Latin. The natural disposition to any particular art, science, profession, or trade, is very much to be consulted in the care of youth, and studied by men for their own conduct when they form to themselves any scheme of life. It is wonderfully hard, indeed, for a man to judge of his own capacity impartially. That may look great to me which may appear little to another; and I may be carried by fondness towards myself so far, as to attempt things too high for my talents and accomplishments. But it is not, methinks, so very difficult a matter to make a judgment of the abilities of others, especially of those who are in their infancy. My commonplace book directs me on this occasion to mention the dawning of greatness in Alexander, who being asked in his youth to contend for a prize in the Olympic games, answered he would, if he had kings to run against him. Cassius, who was one of the conspirators against Cæsar, gave as great a proof of his temper, when in his childhood he struck a playfellow, the son of Sylla, for saying his father was master of the Roman people. Scipio is reported to have answered, when some flatterers at supper were asking him what the Romans should do
for a general after his death, ‘Take Marius. Marius was then a very boy, and had given no instances of his valour ; but it was visible to Scipio, from the manners of the youth, that he had a soul formed for the attempt and execution of great undertakings. I must confess I have very often, with much sorrow, bewailed the misfortune of the children of Great Britain, when I consider the ignorance and undiscerning of the generality of schoolmasters. The boasted liberty we talk of, is but a mean reward for the long servitude, the many heartaches and terrors, to which our childhood is exposed in going through a grammar-school. Many of these stupid tyrants exercise their cruelty without any manner of distinction of the capacities of children, or the intention of parents in their behalf. There are many excellent tempers which are worthy to be nourished and cultivated with all possible diligence and care, that were never designed to be acquainted with Aristotle, Tully, or Virgil ; and there are as many who have capacities for understanding every word those great persons have writ, and yet were not born to have any relish of their writings. For want of this common and obvious discerning in those who have the care of youth, we have so many hundred unaccountable creatures every age whipped up into great scholars, that are for ever near a right understanding and will never arrive at it. These are the scandal of letters, and these are generally the men who are to teach others. The sense of shame and honour is enough to keep the world itself in order without corporal punishment, much more to train the minds of uncorrupted and innocent children. It happens, I doubt not, more than once in a year, that a lad is
chastised for a blockhead, when it is good apprehension that makes him incapable of knowing what his teacher means. A brisk imagination very often may suggest an error, which a lad could not have fallen into, if he had been as heavy in conjecturing as his master in explaining. But there is no mercy even towards a wrong interpretation of his meaning ; the sufferings of the scholar's body are to rectify the mistakes of his mind.
I am confident that no boy, who will not be allured to letters without blows, will ever be brought to anything with them. A great or good mind must necessarily be the worse for such indignities; and it is a sad change, to lose of its virtue for the improvement of its knowledge. No one who has gone through what they call a great school, but must remember to have seen children of excellent and ingenuous natures (as has afterwards appeared in their manhood) : I say no man has passed through this way of education but must have seen an ingenuous creature, expiring with shame—with pale looks, beseeching sorrow, and silent tears, throw up its honest eyes, and kneel on its tender knees to an inexorable blockhead to be forgiven the false quantity of a word in making a Latin verse. The child is punished, and the next day he commits a like crime, and so a third with the same consequence. I would fain ask any reasonable man, whether this lad, in the simplicity of his native innocence, full of shame, and capable of any impression from that grace of soul, was not fitter for any purpose in this life, than after that spark of virtue is extinguished in him, though he is able to write twenty verses in an evening ?
Seneca says, after his exalted way of talking, 'As