No. 168. Wednesday, September 12, 1711. Steele.

... _Pectus Práceptis 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 quáque 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 quá probra nefandi homines isto cádendi jure
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. Your most obedient Servant, T. S.


You have represented several sorts of Impertinents singly, I wish you would now proceed, and describe some of them in Sets. It often happens in publick Assemblies, that a Party who came thither together, or whose Impertinencies are of an equal Pitch, act in Concert, and are so full of themselves as to give Disturbance to all that are about them. Sometimes you have a Set of Whisperers, who lay their Heads together in order to sacrifice every Body within their Observation; sometimes a Set of Laughers, that keep up an insipid Mirth in their own Corner, and by their Noise and Gestures shew they have no Respect for the rest of the Company. You frequently meet with these Sets at the Opera, the Play, the Water-works, [4] and other publick Meetings, where their whole Business is to draw off the Attention of the Spectators from the Entertainment, and to fix it upon themselves; and it is to be observed that the Impertinence is ever loudest, when the Set happens to be made up of three or four Females who have got what you call a Woman's Man among them.

I am at a loss to know from whom People of Fortune should learn this Behaviour, unless it be from the Footmen who keep their Places at a new Play, and are often seen passing away their Time in Sets at All-fours in the Face of a full House, and with a perfect Disregard to People of Quality sitting on each Side of them.

For preserving therefore the Decency of publick Assemblies, methinks it would be but reasonable that those who Disturb others should pay at least a double Price for their Places; or rather Women of Birth and Distinction should be informed that a Levity of Behaviour in the Eyes of People of Understanding degrades them below their meanest Attendants; and Gentlemen should know that a fine Coat is a Livery, when the Person who wears it discovers no higher Sense than that of a Footman. I am SIR, Your most humble Servant.

Bedfordshire, Sept.. 1, 1711


I am one of those whom every Body calls a Pocher, and sometimes go out to course with a Brace of Greyhounds, a Mastiff, and a Spaniel or two; and when I am weary with Coursing, and have killed Hares enough, go to an Ale-house to refresh my self. I beg the Favour of you (as you set up for a Reformer) to send us Word how many Dogs you will allow us to go with, how many Full-Pots of Ale to drink, and how many Hares to kill in a Day, and you will do a great Piece of Service to all the Sportsmen: Be quick then, for the Time of Coursing is come on.

Yours in Haste, T. Isaac Hedgeditch.

[Footnote 1: 'Instit. Orat.' Bk. I. ch. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Dr. Charles Roderick, Head Master of Eton.]

[Footnote 3: Dr. Nicholas Brady, Tate's colleague in versification of the Psalms. He was Rector of Clapham and Minister of Richmond, where he had the school. He died in 1726, aged 67.]

[Footnote 4: The Water Theatre, invented by Mr. Winstanley, and exhibited by his widow at the lower end of Piccadilly.]

Translation of motto:
HOR. 2 Ep. i. 128.
'Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest art.'