« PoprzedniaDalej »
ly instructed to value herself on her blood, and to despise her father's dirty connexions with business.
To this mode of education it is owing, that the same vices and follies are delivered down from one generation to another. The modish excesses of these times are in their nature the same with those which were formerly in vogue, though they differ somewhat in their shape and appearance. The present race of Bucks, Bloods, and Free-thinkers, are but the spawn of the Mohocks and the Hell-Fire-Club: and if our modern fine ladies have had their Masquerades, their Vauxhalls, their sunday tea-drinking at Ranelagh, and their morning chocolate in the Hay-Market, they have only improved upon the Ring, the Spring-Gardens, the New-Exchange assignations, and the morn ing Puppet-Shew, which employed the attention of their grandmothers. And as it is not apparent, that our people of fashion are not more wicked, so neither are they wiser than their predecessors.
When I contemplate the manner, in which the younger part of the polite world is brought up, I am apt to carry my reflections farther than what merely concerns their own persons. Let our young men of fashion expose their ignorance abroad, rather than improve at our Universities at home ;....let them trifle away their time in insipid amusements, and run loose about the town in one continued round of extravagance and debauchery,....let our young ladies be taught nothing but gallantry and whist, and be seen only at routs and assemblies ;....if the consequence extend not beyond themselves. But as these are to be the fathers and mothers, the guardians and tutors, on whom the morals of our next race must depend; it becomes a public concern, lest the reign of vice and ignorance should be supported, as it were, by hereditary succession, and propagated to distant gen
The modern method of education is, indeed, so little calculated to promote virtue and learning, that it is almost impossible the children should be wiser or better than their parents. The country squire seldom fails of seeing his son as dull and awkward a looby as himself; while the debauched or foppish man of quality breeds up a rake or an empty coxcomb, who brings new diseases into the family, and fresh mortgages on the estate. If you would therefore favour us, Mr. Town, with a few remarks on this subject, you would do service to posterity: for the present, give me leave to illustrate what I have said, by the example of a very fashionable family.
Lady Belle Modely was one of the finest women in the last reign, as the Colonel her husband was one of the smartest fellows. After they had astonished the world singly with the eclat of their actions, they came together: as her ladyship was proud of fixing a man, who was thought to have intrigued with half the women of fashion; while the Colonel fell a sacrifice to her beauty, only because she was admired by every body else. They lived together for some time in great splendor: but as matrimony was a constraint upon their freedom, they at length parted by private agreement. Lady Belle keeps the best company, is at the head of every party of pleasure, never misses a masquerade, and has card-tables constantly at her own house on sundays. The Colonel is one of the oldest members of the club at White's, runs horses at New-market, has an actress in keeping, and is protected from the impertinence of duns, by having purchased a seat in parliament at almost as great an expence, as would have satisfied the demands of his creditors.
They have two children: the one has been educated by the direction of his father, the other has been bred up under the eye of her mamma. The boy was, indeed, put to grammar-school for a while;
but Latin and Greek, or indeed, any language except French, are of no service to a gentleman: and as the lad had discovered early marks of spirit, (such as. kicking down wheel-barrows, and setting old women on their heads) the Colonel swore Jack should be a soldier, and accordingly begged a pair of Colours for him, before he was fifteen. The Colonel, who had served only in the peaceful campaigns of Covent Garden, took great pains to instil into Jack all that prowess so remarkable in the modern heroes of the army. He enumerated his victories over bullies, his encounters with sharpers, his midnight skirmishes with constables, his storming of bagnios, his imprisonment in round-houses, and his honorable wounds in the service of prostitutes. The Captain could not fail of improving under so excellent a tutor, and soon became as eminent as his father. He is a Blood of the first rate: Sherlock has instructed him in the use of the broad sword, and Broughton has taught him to box. He is a fine gentleman at assemblies, a sharper at the gaming-table, and a bully at the bagnios. He has not yet killed his man in the honorable way; but he has gallantly crippled several watchmen, and most couragiously run a waiter through the body. His scanty pay will not allow him to keep a mistress; but it is said that he is privately married to a woman of the town.
Such is the consequence of the son's education; and by this our people of distinction may learn, how much better it is to let a lad see the world, as the phrase is, than to lash him through the grammarschool like a parish-boy, and confine him with dull pedants in a college-cloister. Lady Belle has not been less careful of her daughter Miss Harriot..... Those, who undertake the business of educating polite females, have laid it down as a rule to consider women merely as dolls; and therefore never attempt
the cultivation of their principles, but employ their whole attention on adorning their persons. The ro
mantic notions of honour and virtue are only fit for poor awkward creatures, who are to marry a shopkeeper or a parson; but they can be of no use to a fine girl, who is designed to make a figure. Accordingly Miss Harriot was committed to the care of Madame Governante, who never suffered her to speak a word of English, and a French dancing master, who taught her to hold up her head and come into the room like a little lady. As she grew up, her mamma instructed her in the nicest points of ceremony and good-breeding: she explained to her the laws and regulations of dress, directed her in the choice of her brocades, told her what fashions best became her, and what colours best suited her complexion. These excellent rules were constantly enforced by examples drawn from her ladyship's own practice : above all, she unravelled the various arts of gallantry and intrigue, recounted the stratagems she had herself employed in gaining new conquests, taught her when to advance and when to retreat, and how far she might venture to indulge herself in certain freedoms without endangering her reputation.
Miss Harriot soon became the public admiration of all the pretty fellows, and was allowed to be a lady of the most elegant accomplishments. She was reckon, ed to play a better game at whist than Mrs. Sharply, and to bet with more spirit at brag than the bold lady Atall. She was carried about to Tunbridge, Bath, Cheltenham, and every other place of diversion, by the mother; where she was exposed as at a public mart for beauty, and put up to the highest bidder.... But as Miss had some fortune in her own disposal, she had not the patience to wait for the formal delays of marriage articles, jointures, settlements, and pinmoney; and (just before the late act took place)
eloped with a gentleman, who had long been very intimate with her mamma, and recommended himself to Miss Harriot by a stature of six foot and a shoulder-knot.
The Fool of Pantomime, who ne'er spake word,
I HAVE lately received several letters from my cousin Village, concerning the entertainments of the country. He tells me, that they have concerts every evening in that part of the month, in which the almanack promises it will be moon-light. In one little town in particular, all the polite company of the place assemble every Sunday evening (after church) at the Three Compasses, which is kept by the clerk, to regale themselves with cakes and fine home-brewed in an arbour at the end of his cabbage-garden; to which they have given the genteel denomination of Little Ranelagh. I shall this day present my reader with his last letter; and only take notice of the grand difference between the summer amusements in town and country. In London, while we are almost smothered in smoke and dust, gardens are opened every evening to refresh us with the pure air of the