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No. 168 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Wednesday, September 12, 1711.

‘… Pectus Praeceptis format amicis.’


It would be Arrogance to neglect the Application of my Correspondents so far as not sometimes to insert their Animadversions upon my Paper; that of this Day shall be therefore wholly composed of the Hints which they have sent me.


I Send you this to congratulate your late Choice of a Subject, for treating on which you deserve publick Thanks; I mean that on those licensed Tyrants the Schoolmasters. If you can disarm them of their Rods, you will certainly have your old Age reverenced by all the young Gentlemen of Great-Britain who are now between seven and seventeen Years. You may boast that the incomparably wise Quintilian and you are of one Mind in this Particular.

Si cui est (says he) mens tam illiberalis ut objurgatione non corrigatur, is etiam ad plagas, ut pessimo quaeque mancipia, durabitur. [1]

If any Child be of so disingenuous a Nature, as not to stand corrected by Reproof, he, like the very worst of Slaves, will be hardned even against Blows themselves.’

And afterwards,

‘Pudet dicere in quae probra nefandi homines isto caedendi jure abutantur,

i. e. I blush to say how shamefully those wicked Men abuse the Power of Correction.’

I was bred myself, Sir, in a very great School, of which the Master was a Welchman, but certainly descended from a Spanish Family, as plainly appeared from his Temper as well as his Name. [2] I leave you to judge what sort of a Schoolmaster a Welchman ingrafted on a Spaniard would make. So very dreadful had he made himself to me, that altho’ it is above twenty Years since I felt his heavy Hand, yet still once a Month at least I dream of him, so strong an Impression did he make on my Mind. ‘Tis a Sign he has fully terrified me waking, who still continues to haunt me sleeping.

And yet I may say without Vanity, that the Business of the School was what I did without great Difficulty; and I was not remarkably unlucky; and yet such was the Master’s Severity that once a Month, or oftner, I suffered as much as would have satisfied the Law of the Land for a Petty Larceny.

Many a white and tender Hand, which the fond Mother has passionately kissed a thousand and a thousand times, have I seen whipped till it was covered with Blood: perhaps for smiling, or for going a Yard and half out of a Gate, or for writing an O for an A, or an A for an O: These were our great Faults! Many a brave and noble Spirit has been there broken; others have run from thence and were never heard of afterwards.

It is a worthy Attempt to undertake the Cause of distrest Youth; and it is a noble Piece of Knight-Errantry to enter the Lists against so many armed Pedagogues. ‘Tis pity but we had a Set of Men, polite in their Behaviour and Method of Teaching, who should be put into a Condition of being above flattering or fearing the Parents of those they instruct. We might then possibly see Learning become a Pleasure, and Children delighting themselves in that which now they abhor for coming upon such hard Terms to them: What would be a still greater Happiness arising from the Care of such Instructors, would be, that we should have no more Pedants, nor any bred to Learning who had not Genius for it. I am, with the utmost Sincerity, SIR, Your most affectionate humble Servant.

Richmond, Sept. 5th, 1711.


I am a Boy of fourteen Years of Age, and have for this last Year been under the Tuition of a Doctor of Divinity, who has taken the School of this Place under his Care. [3] From the Gentleman’s great Tenderness to me and Friendship to my Father, I am very happy in learning my Book with Pleasure. We never leave off our Diversions any farther than to salute him at Hours of Play when he pleases to look on. It is impossible for any of us to love our own Parents better than we do him. He never gives any of us an harsh Word, and we think it the greatest Punishment in the World when he will not speak to any of us. My Brother and I are both together inditing this Letter: He is a Year older than I am, but is now ready to break his Heart that the Doctor has not taken any Notice of him these three Days. If you please to print this he will see it, and, we hope, taking it for my Brother’s earnest Desire to be restored to his Favour, he will again smile upon him.