“And permit me to add, that, as an acquaintance with the Muses contributes not a little to soften the manners, and give a graceful and delicate turn to the imagination, and a kind of polish to severer studies, it would not be amiss that he should have a taste of poetry, although perhaps it were not to be wished he had such strong inclinations that way, as to make that lively and delectable amusement his predominant passion: for we see very few poets, whose warm imaginations do not run away with their judgments. And yet, in order to learn the dead languages in their purity, it will be necessary to inculcate both the love and the study of the ancient poets, which cannot fail of giving the youth a taste for poetry, in general.”
Permit me, dear Sir, to ask you, whether you advanced this for argument sake, as sometimes you love to amuse and entertain your friends in an uncommon way? For I should imagine, that our two universities, which you have shewn me, and for which I have ever since had a greater reverence than I had before, are capable of furnishing as good tutors as any nation in the world: for here the young gentlemen seem to me to live both in the world and in the university; and we saw several gentlemen who had not only fine parts, but polite behaviour, and deep learning, as you assured me; some of whom you entertained, and were entertained by, in so elegant a manner, that no travelled gentleman, if I may be allowed to judge, could excel them! And besides, my dear Mr. B., I know who is reckoned one of the politest and best-bred gentlemen in England by every body, and learned as well as polite, and yet had his education in one of those celebrated seats of learning. I wish your Billy may never fall short of the gentleman I mean, in all these acquirements; and he will be a very happy creature, I am sure.
But how I wander again from my subject. I have no other way to recover myself, when I thus ramble, but by returning to that one delightful point of reflection, that I have the honour to be, dearest Sir, your ever dutiful and obliged,
I now resume my subject. I had gone through the article of the tutor, as well as I could; and will now observe upon what Mr. Locke says, That children are wholly, if possible, to be kept from the conversation of the meaner servants; whom he supposes to be, as too frequently they are, unbred and debauched, to use his own words.
Now, Sir, I think it is very difficult to keep children from the conversation of servants at all times. The care of personal attendance, especially in the child’s early age, must fall upon servants of one denomination or other, who, little or much, must be conversant with the inferior servants, and so be liable to be tainted by their conversation; and it will be difficult in this case to prevent the taint being communicated to the child. Wherefore it will be a surer, as well as a more laudable method, to insist upon the regular behaviour of the whole family, than to expect the child, and its immediate attendant or tutor, should be the only good ones in it.