L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Messr. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Messrs. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Messrs. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, August 1, 1789.
“Give me a
WHEN I observe how universal wish for Children is, as well among those who have fortunes to bequeath as those who have their own bread to
earn, I am not a little surprised at finding few or perhaps none who are considerate enough to recollect that the simple possession of
Offspring ought to be but half their care, and that how to manage them when obtained is a business of equal importance since it is evident
that they may prove plagues as well as blessings, and disgrace instead of ornaments. So frequently does it happen, that in the first ardour
of embracing an Heir, we totally forget the approaching duty of educating the Boy; and so apt are we to imagine that after the immediate
risques of Child-birth are over, nothing more remains to be done, or to be endured, and that beauty of person, elegance of mind and goodness
of disposition are only to be wished for, and to be obtained. To awaken Parents out of so fatal a Lethargy, has been the attempt of many
zealous writers, who have variously employed their pens on the subject of Education, To determine, indeed, the respective merits of these
Authors, would be difficult and tedious; but I must beg for indulgence, when I declare, that I think them all more zealous than successful,
and more plausible than true; many of their directions being improper to be put into execution, and others impossible.
Now to convince the world in general that I am not too severe in this censure, I intend, this day, to lay before them the sketch of a plan, in which the numerous errors of my Predecessors are exposed, and the fatal consequences arising from them obviated by a very different mode of Educating our Youth. And though it may be a mere skeleton of what might be said on so fruitful a subject, still I hope that my Reader will see enough in it to discover that not a single writer, from Rousseau to Mde De genhis, knew either what Young people ought to learn, or the manner in which they should be instructed.
I could say much more in praise of me and mine, but modesty (which has always been my foible) forbids it, and I hurry to put my Readers in possession of my Plan, which I venture to affirm, will induce all the married part of them, to remove their Sons from Winchester, Westminster, or Eton, and place them (with a salary of 200!. per ann.) under the direction of the Loiterer.
I have already affirmed, that all those who have hitherto offered plans of Education to the Public have been totally wrong in the whole of their System. Nor should it appear wonderful if we find them erroneous in their directions, when it is evident that they were faulty in their principles.
Rousseau, for instance, recommends to us to adopt every method which may render Boys strong, active, and hardy; and to this end, if I forget not, even advises that we should suffer them to brave the heat of August and the cold of December, without gloves, tippet, or stockings. Now one moment’s reflection will shew us that such a mode of conduct is exceedingly reprehensible, unless, truly, we wish to make our Sons Carters and Bargemen; for strength of Muscles, freshness of Complexion, and soundness of Lungs are accomplishments far beneath the notice of a Gentleman, since nothing can be so vulgar as the being able to bear fatigue or to face danger. Perhaps my Readers will think that I carry my ideas of Elegance too near perfection, when I confess that I would rather not see a Gentleman more than 10 inches round the calf of his leg, if He could possibly avoid it; but though I could put up with his being well made, I shall at least ever preserve a most thorough contempt for any one (above the rank of a Porter) who presumes to have strong nerves or good eyes.
It may, perhaps, be deemed vanity in a Person who by his situation sees but little, and is likely to see less of the fair Sex, to offer directions for the education of Girls, or to object to those already offered. Yet as far as general ideas may be apply to particular cases, I trust that I may do both the one and the other; and under this plea I will boldly censure Mde De genus, and oppose my opinions to hers.
Without descending to small faults we may upon the very perusal of her Essay, discover that she deserves no more praise than Rousseau — For (I blush while I mention it) She actually recommends Health, Modesty, and Literature, as worthy of praise and attention. She even pays more regard to polishing the mind of Adelaide than to the keeping her teeth clean; She scarcely mentions one word about Lemon Paste, or Pearl Powder, and in her eagerness to teach her Music and Drawing, forgets the more important duties of wrenching her neck in a collar, and her feet in the Stocks.
To say more against the Swiss or the French Essayist might be thought cruel, and would certainly be needless; I shall therefore lay my own scheme before the World.
And first the Boy. We will suppose that he is endowed with a tolerable disposition and a moderate share of genius. We will suppose him at once proud and cowardly; blest with a weak constitution, and a narrow mind; in his temper fawning and revengeful, in his disposition deliberate, acute and deceitful. Having established these data, we will educate him accordingly, that is, he shall know how, either to spend a fortune with spirit, or acquire one by cunning.
The first three years of life are generally spent in the Nursery; yet even here something may be done; and I would wish his Nurse, as far as lies in her power, to keep him delicate and puny, and to debar him from the inclemency of fresh air, or the fatigue of bodily exercise. For by these means a great deal of trouble will be saved on my part, and I shall receive my pupil in some degree formed to my hands. Since it is evident, that when the body is already become feeble and diminutive, it will require less pains to render the mind weak and effeminate.
Greek and Latin carry their own absurdities too manifest in the face of them to require any methodical objection. But there are Languages worth acquiring, because there are Languages which are fashionable. I would instruct my Pupil in French, because many of the fair Sex (to please whom it is the sole duty of ours) finding it a difficult matter to understand grammatically their own tongue, wisely prefer that of our Neighbours. Nor should Italian be forgotten, the superiority of which over English has long been proved by the eagerness with which every one who lives Comme il faut deserts Siddons for Marchesi, and Shakespeare for Tarchi.
Of French, and Italian, therefore, He should be in some measure master; He should be able to write a Billet doux in the one and an Air in the other, though I would wish him not to practice Orthography in either. For that would appear Correct, and Correctness is Pedantry. Thus far of Literature.
Whatever time can be conveniently spared from such engagements, would not be ill-employed in perfecting him in Hoyle, and teaching him to know at first sight the odds at Whist and Hazard. As soon as he is a tolerable proficient in the theory, let him be initiated into the practice of gaming. Let him be a constant attendant at Faro-tables and Horse-races, as the advantages arising from an early knowledge of such scenes are numerous; He will not only gain a respectable acquaintance among the great and the good, but will likewise be an eye-witness to that gentleness of address, that openness of behaviour, and that contempt of Self-interest, which ever attend on turns of chance and eagerness of Play. And moreover, any unjustifiable prejudice which he may have conceived against deceit, or any dislike which he may have ignorantly entertained of defrauding a fellow Creature, will be more easily overcome; and he will start with a surer chance of Success when unimpeded by the stings of immediate remorse, or the remembrance of former Virtue.
What has hitherto been said is easy to be understood by the meanest comprehension, and to be practiced by the weakest abilities, but what I am proceeding to say, few I fear will set a proper value on, and still fewer bring to Perfection. I mean that callousness of Heart, and that engaging Apathy, without which Impudence is vulgar, and Effrontery alarming.
Beware how you permit a Boy to enter the precincts of a Church during that critical Age when his Scepticism is not incurable, and his infidelity confirmed. Nor let the complaints of misery ever reach his ears: Pity is a dangerous as well as a mean Vice, and he who descends to Charity may relapse into Religion, or by once relieving the distressed, may acquire such an inveterate habit of putting his hand into his pocket, that too frequently the Limbless Veteran, or the Shivering Orphan may defraud him of that treasure which was due to Fashionable dissipation. I repeat it, that whilst one generous, or one tender sentiment remains; whilst one atom of humanity disgraces his heart, there is no knowing that the Venom will not spread and corrupt the whole.
To avoid, therefore, the possibility of such a relapse, it will be highly prudent to fix his affections on objects totally independent of thought and reflection; and to teach him to look on a Ball-room as the only theatre for merit, and dress the only criterion of taste. Let him recollect the following truisms, and mode his conduct accordingly. “He who cannot dance is a Dunce; He who cannot swear a Coward; and, He who has not white teeth, a — Scoundrel.”
By following these directions, either in full or in part, as occasion presents itself whoever wishes to become Loved and Respected, will be certain of Success. Let him indulge in every species of Dissipation; let him riot in every Pleasure, and when merit is rewarded, He may depend upon an exalted situation.
Having thus conducted my Pupil through all the mazes of Education, unallured by the insinuations of Morality, and uncorrupted by the precepts of Religion, I will leave him to his happiness, and remembering the promise which I have made to the fair Sex, proceed to give some rules for the Education of a fine Lady.
As soon as she can understand what is said to her, let her know that she is to look forwards to matrimony, as the sole end of existence, and the sole means of happiness; and that the older, the richer and the foolisher her Husband is, the more enviable will be her situation.
Having taught her this truth, it will be easy to make her act accordingly. She will immediately hold up her head, bridle in her chin, and turn out her feet. If she has a neat ankle, she will contrive to dance well, if a pretty Arm she will make herself mistress of the Harp. And I must do the Ladies the justice to confess, that they far out-strip us in discovering their own excellencies, and in acquiring at once all those important nothings which ensure our esteem, and rivet our affections.
But to return to my Subject. Let her too be taught the use of Cards, and the propriety of Gaming. She will of course soon play a good game of Whist and Cribbage; and by always winning considerably increase her portion, (or improve her jointure.) And when nothing particular calls her out, she may indulge the Good man at home with a tête-à-tête, and add something to her pin-money by the knowledge of Picquet.
With respect to any method of rendering her face more beautiful, or her form more elegant, I have but little to say: I would wish her to avoid walking, lest her ankle grow thick; and riding on Horseback, lest her shoulders become round. Rouge and Fard are both innocent, and becoming, but as some people in England are censorious enough to abuse those who wear them, I would advise her to join most vehemently in the abuse, and put them on with secrecy. — Scandal, too, she should be a proficient in, as by artfully traducing a Rival, she may often exalt herself; but let her be cautious in the application of it: And after all, as Scandal is a weapon which may recoil against one’s self, I must approve of that delicate species of it which hides its venom under extravagant praise of the person whom we wish to wound.
The last and most important piece of advice which I have to give, is this. Let every Girl who seeks for happiness conquer both her feelings and her passions. Let her avoid love and friendship as she wishes to be admired and distinguished. For by these means she will always keep her own secrets and prefer her own Interest. No inconsiderate affection will deter her from breaking a promise, or from sacrificing a previous to a more advantageous Engagement. No ridiculous principle of Consistency will draw a tear from her when parting from a Parent or a Friend. She will return the blessings of the one and the embrace of the other with a smile, and fly unreflecting to Dissipation and Frivolity.
Nor should she forget that the death of her Husband will still add something more to her happiness, as it removes her farther from restraint. She will be cautious, therefore, how she suffers her interest to unite with that of a person whom it is her duty to torment whilst alive, and forget as soon as dead.
By minutely pursuing this system of Prudence, She will reap praise and pleasure in every station of life; She will be an accomplished Coquette, and a Successful Gamester; she will be an unfeeling Daughter, a Childless Wife, and a tearless Widow.
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