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of any distinction, have turned their thoughts to such a discouraging employment; for the best English historian must lie under this mortification, that when his style grows antiquated, he will be only considered as a tedious relater of facts, and perhaps consulted in his turn, among other neglected authors, to furnish materials for some future collector.

I doubt your lordship is but ill entertained with a few scattered thoughts upon a subject, that deserves to be treated with ability and care. However, I must beg leave to add a few words more, perhaps not altogether foreign to the same matter. I know not whether that which I am going to say may pass for caution, advice, or reproach, any of which will be justly thought very improper from one in my station to one in yours. However, I must venture to affirm, that if genius and learning be not encouraged under your lordship’s administration, you are the most inexcusable person alive. All your other virtues, my lord, will be defective without this; your affability, candour, and good-nature ; that perpetual agreeableness of conversation, so disengaged in the midst of such a weight of business and opposition ; even your justice, prudence, and magnanimity, will shine less bright without it. Your lordship is universally allowed to possess a very large portion in most parts of literature; and to this you owe the cultivating of those many virtues, which otherwise would have been less adorned, or in lower perfection. Neither can you acquit yourself of these obligations, without letting the arts, in their turn, share your influence and protection : besides, who knows but some true genius may happen to arise under your ministry, exortus ut æthereus sol. Every age might perhaps produce one or two of these to adorn it, if they were not sunk under the censure and obloquy of plodding, servile, imitating pedants. I do not mean, by a true genius, any bold writer, who breaks through the rules of decency to distinguish himself by the singularity of his opinions ; but one who, upon a deserving subjeet, is able to open new scenes, and discover a vein of true and noble thinking, which never entered into any imagination before ; every stroke of whose pen is worth all the paper blotted by hundreds of others in the compass of their lives. I know, my lord, your friends will offer in your defence, that, in your private capacity, you never refused your purse and credit to the service and support of learned or ingenious men ; and that, ever since you have been in public employment, you have constantly bestowed your favours to the most deserving persons. But I desire your lordship not to be deceived; we never will admit of these excuses, nor will allow your private liberality, as great as it is, to atone for your excessive public thrift. But here again I am afraid most good subjects will interpose in your defence, by alleging the desperate condition you found the nation in, and the necessity there was for so able and faithful a steward to retrieve it, if possible, by the utmost frugality. We grant all this, my but then it ought likewise to be considered, that you have already saved several millions to the public, and that what we ask is too inconsiderable to break into any rules of the strictest good husbandry. The French King bestows about half a dozen pensions to learned men in several parts of Europe, and perhaps a dozen in his own kingdom; which, in the whole, do probably not amount to half the income of many a private commoner in England, yet have more contributed to the glory of that prince than any million he has otherwise employed. For

lord;

learning, like all true merit, is easily satisfied ; while the false and counterfeit is perpetually craving, and never thinks it has enough. The smallest favour given by a great prince, as a mark of esteem, to reward the endowments of the mind, never fails to be returned with praise and gratitude, and loudly celebrated to the world.

have known, some years ago, several pensions given to particular persons, (how deservedly I shall not inquire,) any one of which, if divided into several parcels, and distributed by the Crown to those who might, upon occasion, distinguish themselves by some extraordinary production of wit or learning, would be amply sufficient to answer the end. Or, if any such persons were above money, (as every great genius certainly is, with very moderate conveniencies of life,) a medal, or some mark of distinction, would do full as well.

But I forget my province, and find myself turning projector before I am aware ; although it be one of the last characters under which I should desire to appear before your lordship, especially when I have the ambition of aspiring to that of being, with the greatest respect and truth,

My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient,

most obliged,
and most humble servant,

J. SWIFT.

AN ESSAY

ON

MODERN EDUCATION.

The following treatise is excellent on all points, excepting, perhaps, the tone of bitterness with which Swift reprobates persons and professions of a different turn from his own. The zeal with which he maintains the cause of sound classic learning is worthy of his genius. And it is a matter of important remark, that since the continent has been shut against wanderers of rank and wealth, we have seen symptoms of the revival of ancient discipline among our nobility and youths of fortune.

From frequently reflecting upon the course and method of educating youth in this and a neighbouring kingdom, with the general success and consequence thereof, I am come to this determination,—that education is always the worse, in proportion to the wealth and grandeur of the parents ; nor do I doubt in the least, that if the whole world were now under the dominion of one monarch, (provided I might be allowed to choose where he should fix the seat of his empire,) the only son and heir of that monarch would be the worst educated mortal that ever was born since the creation ; and I doubt the same proportion will hold through all degrees and titles, from an emperor downward to the common gentry.

I do not say that this has been always the case ; for, in better times, it was directly otherwise, and a scholar may

fill half his Greek and Roman shelves with author's of the noblest birth, as well as highest virtue : nor do I tax all nations at present with this defect, for I know there are some to be excepted, and particularly Scotland, under all the disadvantages of its climate and soil, if that happiness be not rather owing even to those very disadvantages. What is then to be done, if this reflection must fix on two countries, which will be most ready to take offence, and which, of all others, it will be least prudent or safe to offend ?

But there is one circumstance yet more dangerous and lamentable: for if, according to the postulatum already laid down, the higher quality any youth is of, he is in greater likelihood to be worse educated, it behoves me to dread and keep far from the verge of scandalum magnatum.

Retracting, therefore, that hazardous postulatum, I shall venture no farther at present than to haps some additional care in educating the sons of nobility, and principal gentry, might not be ill employed. If this be not delivered with softness enough, I must for the future be silent.

In the meantime, let me ask only two questions, which relate to England. I ask, first, how it comes about that, for above sixty years past, the chief conduct of affairs has been generally placed in the hands of new men, with very few exceptions ? The noblest blood of England having been shed in the grand rebellion, many great families became extinct, or were supported only by minors. When

that persay,

L

VOL. IX.

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