4. She therefore thought herself entitled to the superintendance of her son’s education; and when my father, at the instigation of the parson, faintly proposed that I should be sent to school, very positively told him, that she would not suffer so fine a child to be ruined: that she never knew any boys at a grammar-school that could come into a room without blushing, or set at the table without some awkward uneasiness; that they were always putting themselves into danger by boisterous plays, or vitiating their behaviour with mean company; and that for her part, she would rather follow me to the grave than see me tear my clothes, and hang down my head, and sneak about with dirty shoes and blotted fingers, my hair unpowdered, and my hat uncocked.
5. My father, who had no other end in his proposal than to appear wise and manly, soon acquiesced, since I was not to live by my learning; for indeed he had known very few students that had not some stiffness in their manner. They therefore agreed that a domestic tutor should be procured, and hired an honest gentleman of mean conversation and narrow sentiments, but who having passed the common forms of literary education, they implicitly concluded qualified to teach all that was to be learned from a scholar. He thought himself sufficiently exalted by being placed at the same table with his pupil, and had no other view than to perpetuate his felicity by the utmost flexibility of submission to all my mother’s opinions and caprices. He frequently took away my book, lest I should mope with too much application, charged me never to write without turning up my ruffles, and generally brushed my coat before he dismissed me into the parlour.
6. He had no occasion to complain of too burthensome an employment; for my mother very judiciously considered that I was not likely to grow politer in his company, and suffered me not to pass any more time in his apartment, than my lesson required. When I was summoned to my task, she enjoined me not to get any of my tutor’s ways, who was seldom mentioned before me but for practices to be avoided. I was every moment admonished not to lean on my chair, cross my legs, or swing my hands like my tutor; and once my mother very seriously deliberated upon his total dismission, because I began, said she, to learn his manner of sticking on my hat, and had his bend in my shoulders, and his totter in my gait.
7. Such, however, was her care, that I escaped all these depravities, and when I was only twelve years old, had rid myself of every appearance of childish diffidence. I was celebrated round the country for the petulence of my remarks, and the quickness of my replies; and many a scholar five years older than myself, have I dashed into confusion by the steadiness of my countenance, silenced by my readiness of repartee, and tortured with envy by the address with which I picked up a fan, presented a snuff-box, or received an empty tea-cup.