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horrified, when his daughter, in the simplicity of her heart, told him all she had seen and heard; especially some experiments illustrating the theory of thunder and lightning. This he considered the height of profanity, which he could not have supposed would have been tolerated by my uncle. He never afterwards permitted his daughter to visit there, without stipulating that she should see no philosophical experiments. Her library was restricted to the Bible, and one or two books of devotion, Salmon's Gazetteer, Culpepper's Herbal, the Complete Housewife, and the Universal Spelling Book. If ever the lucubrations of the young lady took a wider range, she was, by her father's injudicious restrictions, exposed to a twofold injury: that of acting in stealthy disobedience, and that of making an indiscreet selection. My uncle, in some degree, convinced Mr. Dormer of his mistake in this particular; or, at least, so far won upon his confidence, as occasionally to obtain permission to place in the hands of the young lady some book which he decidedly recommended as of a harmless and useful tendency, though the permission was generally accompanied by a sigh of apprehension, lest she should turn her brains with study, or be diverted from attention to proper feminine duties. Her mother, he said, was an excellent woman, and her grandmother too; and they never thought of reading scientific books, or of writing, except their household accounts, a few receipts for preserving, or making cakes, and perhaps, in the course of their lives, some half dozen letters to an absent parent or partner ; and why the young ladies of the present day should want to be so much more learned he
could not imagine. He feared it boded no good for the nation.
It will be supposed that the views of the good old man, on the subject of general education, were not very liberal. He watched, with mingled apprehension and satisfaction, the wide and rapid spread of Sunday-school instruction, “doubting whereunto this would grow.” His Majesty, for whom Mr. Dormer had a profound veneration, was, about that time, reported to have said, that he hoped the day would come, when every poor child in his dominions would be able to read the Bible. My uncle repeated it as a noble sentiment, and, coming from such high authority, the old gentleman could not dissent from it. “ True! yes, it was very desirable, and he himself earnestly desired it, that every person should be able to read the Bible; but then, would they make a good use of it? and would the matter
If they should sin against light and knowledge, it would be worse than sinning in ignorance, and their condemnation would be the greater; and, if they were taught to read the Bible, who could answer for it that they would not apply the ability thus acquired to the reading of bad books; or, at least, to the acquirement of knowledge not necessary to their station in life? He had heard of some enthusiastic teachers, who, not content with teaching poor children to read the Bible, employed a week evening in teaching them to write; an accomplishment which he considered extremely undesirable, and likely to lead the way to all sorts of mischief. A poor man had been recently executed for forgery. If he could not have written, that would never have happened.”
My uncle reminded Mr. Dormer of an opposite circumstance. A diligent and industrious lad, known to both the gentlemen, had entered a mercantile house in its very lowest department. He devoted every moment of leisure to the acquirement of useful knowledge, and, with a little assistance from one of the clerks, he learned to read and write. This circumstance excited little notice in the establishment; but his general industry, fidelity, and aptitude for business, recommended him to promotion, and he was advanced a step or two in the office scale. At length, one of the clerks, who had long been failing in health, was entirely laid aside ; and one of the principals observed to the other, that it was matter of regret that the faithful lad, with whose services they were so well satisfied, had not been qualified by education to fill the vacant post. To their great surprise, they learned that, for several eks, if not months, he had actually almost entirely discharged its duties, in addition to his own. He was immediately appointed to fill the situation, and ultimately became the head of the establishment, and was, at the time the circumstance was mentioned, a retired country gentleman, an active magistrate, and an extensive benefactor to his neighbourhood. “If this young man,” said my uncle, “had not learned to write, he could not have taken the situation which led to his subsequent advancement, and extensively beneficial influence. It will not do, my good friend, to argue against any thing merely from its being abused, or being capable of abuse, else we might argue down as evil the sight of our eyes, and light of day.”
Mr. Dormer admitted that there might be here
and there a youth of talent who might properly be allowed to make his way to literary attainments of a higher class than those assigned him by early education; but, in general, he thought it quite unnecessary for domestic servants and village labourers to acquire anything more than an ability to read the Bible. Fifty years ago, he said, writing was never thought of for people of that class, and yet there were servants as trusty and respectable as in the present day. He expressed great satisfaction in saying, that of his own servants, each of whom had lived very long with him, not more than one or two could write : and, on the very rare occurrence of having occasion to hire fresh servants into his establishment, he always gave the preference to those who could not write. Indeed, he very much questioned whether even reading was, in every case, an unqualified advantage.
While Mr. Dormer was debating these questions, my uncle was acting on the liberal decision that, “ for the soul to be without knowledge is not good;" that knowledge is favourable to individual and social happiness and virtue; and that those who possess this advantage are bound to diffuse it among their fellow-creatures to the widest possible extent. He was not only a liberal contributor to public designs for this object, but was the principal originator and supporter of schools in his immediate neighbourhood. The results of these institutions, in some degree, brought to the mind of Mr. Dormer a conviction of their utility. It was not, however, without fear and trembling, lest future years should develope some latent evil in the system, that he became an unsolicited contributor to the funds, sheltering himself behind
the judgment and benevolence of his friend; but confessing his misgivings, lest the ranks of servants and labourers should be deserted; or, at least, that faithful, attached domestics would become increasingly rare.
About that time, the life of Mr. Dormer was placed in circumstances of imminent peril, by the ignorance of a favourite, and, indeed, valuable servant, of whose merits he had often spoken with exultation, adding, “And she can neither read nor write.” This old woman, who had been the nurse of Miss Dormer in her infancy, was always lady paramount in the sick chamber; and on one occasion, Mr. Dormer having met with an accident, old Betty, who could not read the labels, administered, by way of draught, a powerful liniment, and assiduously rubbed the shoulder with what was intended for a cooling draught. This incident probably had some influence in convincing the old gentleman that it was possible for the value, even of a faithful domestic servant, to be enhanced by the possession of knowledge enough to prevent such a mistake.
Mr. Dormer had a dreadful antipathy to the modern practice of medicine. He had an old friend, a physician of the old school ; and, while he lived, Mr. Dormer never hesitated to follow his prescriptions, taking it for granted—whether with or without reason cannot now be said that his practice was governed by two maxims, which Mr. D. held to be incontrovertible—That every land yields both food and physic adapted to its own inhabitants; therefore foreign drugs can never suit the constitution of an Englishman-and, That flesh and herbs being appointed for the food of man,