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trade, they still set up a boarding-school, and drive a trade this way, when all others fail: nay, I have been told of butchers and barbers, who have turned school-masters; and, more surprising still, made fortunes in their new profession.
Could we think ourselves in a country of civilised people, could it be conceived that we have any regard for posterity, when'such are permitted to take the charge of the morals, genius, and health, of those dear little pledges, who may one day be the guardians of the liberties of Europe; and who may serve as the honour and hulwark of their aged parents? The care of our children, is it below the state? Is it fit to indulge the caprice of the 'igvorant with the disposal of their children in this par. ticular? For the state to take the charge of all its children, as in Persia or Sparta, might at present be inconvenient; but surely, with great ease, it might cast an eye to their instructors.
Of all professions in society, I do not know a more useful, or a more bonourable one, than a schoolmaster; at the same time that I do not see any more generally despised, or whose talents are so ill rewarded.
Were the salaries of schoolmasters to be aug. mented from a diminution of useless sinecures, how might it turn to the advantage of this people ; a people whom, without flattery, I may, in other respects, term the wisest and greatest upon earth. But while I would reward the deserving, I would dismiss those utterly unqualified for their employo ment: in short, I would make the business of a schoolmaster every way more respectable, by increasing their salaries, and admitting only men of proper abilities.
It is true we have schoolmasters appointed, and they have some small salaries; but where at pre
sent there is only one schoolmaster appointed, there should at least be two; and wherever the salary is at present twenty pounds, it should be a hundred. Do we give immoderate benefices to those who in. struct ourselves, and shall we deny even subsistence to those who instruct our children ? Every member of society should be paid in proportion as he is necessary; and I will be bold enough to say, that schoolmasters in a state, are more necessary than clergyman, as children stand in more need of instruction than their parents.
But instead of this, as I have already observed, we send them to board in the country, to the most ignorant set of men that can be imagined. But, lest the ignorance of the master be not sufficient, the child is generally consigned to the usher. This is commouly some poor needy animal, little superior to a footman either in learning or spirit, invited to his place by an advertisement, and kept there merely from his being of a complying dispo. sition, and making the children fond of him. * You give your child to be educated to a slave,' says a philosopher to a rich man; ' instead of one slave, you will then have two.'
It were well, however, if parents, upon fixing their children in one of these houses, would exaamine the abilities of the usher, as well as the master; for, whatever they are told to the contrary, the usher is generally the person most employed in their education. If, then, a gentleman, upon putting his son to one of these houses, sees the usher disregarded by the master, he may depend upon it, that he is equally disregarded by the boys: the truth is, in spite of all their endeavours to please, they are generally the laughing stock of the school. Every trick is played upon the usher; the oddity
of his manners, his dress, or his language, are a fond of eternal ridicule : the master himself, now and then, cannot avoid joining in the laugh ; and the poor wretch, eternally resenting this ill usage, seems to live in a state of war with all the family. This is a very proper person, is it not, to give children a relish for learning? They must esteem learning very much, when they see its professors used with such little ceremony! If the usher be despised, the father may be assured his child will never be properly instructed,
But let me suppose, that there are some schools without these inconveniences, where the masters and ushers are men of learning, reputation, and assiduity. If there are to be found such, they cannot be prized in a state sufficiently. A boy will learn more true wisdom in a public school in a year,
than by a private education in five. It is not from masters, but from their equals, youth learn a knowledge of the world; the little tricks they play each other, the punishment that frequently attends the commission, is a just picture of the great world; and all the ways of men are practised in a public school in miniature. It is true, a child is early made acquainted with some vices in a school; but, it is better to know these when a boy, than be first taught them when a man; for their novelty then may have irresistible charms.
in a public education, boys early learn temper. ance: and if the parents and friends would give them less money upon their usual visits, it would be much to their advantage; since it may justly be said, that a great part of their disorders arise froin surfeit, plus occidit gula quam gladius.' And now I am come to the article of health, it may not be amiss to observe, that Mr. Locke, and some
others, have advised that children should be inured to cold, to fatigue, and hardship, from their youth; but Mr. Locke was but an indifferent physician. Habit, I grant, has great influence over our constitutions; but we have not precise ideas upon this subject.
We know that among savages, and even among our peasants, there are found children born with such constitutions, that they cross rivers by swimring, endure cold, thirst, hunger, and want of sleep, to a surprising degree; that when they happen to fall sick, they are cured without the help of medicine, by nature alone. Such examples are adduced to persude us to imitate their manner of education, and accustom ourselves betimes to support the same fatigues. But had these gentlemen considered first, how many lives are lost in this ascetic practice; had they considered, that those savages and peasants are generally not so long-lived as they who have led a more indolent life; that the more laborious the life is, the less populous is the country; had they considered, that what phy. sicians call the stamina vitæ,' by fatigue and labour become rigid, and thus anticipate old age; that the number who survive those rude trials, bears no proportion to those who die in the expement; had these things been properly considered, they would not have thus extolled an education begun in fatigue and hardships. Peter the Great, willing to inure the children of his seamen to a life of hardship, ordered that they should only drink sea-water; but they unfortunately all died under the trial.
But while I would exclude all unnecessary labours, yet still I would recommend temperance in the highest degree. No luxurious dishes with high
seasoning, nothing given children to force an appetite; as little sugared or salted provisions as possible, though ever so pleasing ; but milk, morning and night, should be their constant food. This diet would inake them more healthy than any of those slops that are usually cooked by the mistress of a boarding-school ; besides, it corrects any consump. tive habits, not unfrequently found amongst the children of city parents.
As boys should be educated with temperance, so the first greatest lesson that should be taught them is to admire frugality. It is by the exercise of this virtue alone, they can ever expect to be useful members of society. It is true, lectures continually repeated upon this subject, may nake some boys, when they grow up, run into an extreme, and become misers; but it were well, had we more misers than we have amongst us. I know few cha. racters more useful in society : for a man's having a larger or smaller share of money lying useless by him, no way injures the commonwealth ; since, should every miser now exhaust his stores, this might make gold more plenty, hut it would not increase the commodities or pleasures of life; they would still remain as they are at present : it matters not, therefore, whether men are misers or not, if they be only frugal, laborious, and fill the sta. tion they have chosen. If they deny themselves the necessaries of life, society is no way injured by their folly.
Instead, therefore, of romances, which praise young men of spirit, who go through a variety of adventures, and at last conclude a life of dissipa. tion, folly, and extravagance, in riches and matrimony, there should be some men of wit employed to compose books that might equally interest the