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TOWARDS FORMING THE CHARACTER OF A YOUNG PRINCESS.
I call that a complete and generous education, which fits a person to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices both of public and private life, of peace, and of war.— -Milton.
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER. MY LORD.-Could it have been foreseen by the author of the following pages, that in the case of the illustrious person who is the subject of them, the standard of education would have been set so high; and especially, that this education would be committed to such able and distinguished hands, the work might surely have been spared. But as the work was gone to the press before that appointment was announced, which must give general satisfaction, it becomes important to request, that if the advice suggested in any part of the work should appear presumptuous, your lordship, and still more the public, who might be more forward than your lordship in charging the author with presumption, will have the candour to recollect, that it was offered not to the learned bishop of Exeter, but to an unknown, and even to an imaginary preceptor.
Under these circumstances, your lordship will perhaps have the goodness to accept the dedication of the following pages; not as arrogantly pointing out duties to the discharge of which you are so competent, but as a mark of the respect and esteem with which I have the honour to be, My lord, your lordship's most obedient and most faithful servant, April 2, 1805.
Ir any book, written with an upright and disinterested intention, may be thought to require an apology, it is surely the slight work which is now, with the most respectful deference, submitted, not to the public only, but especially to those who may be more immediately interested in the important object which it has in view.
If we were to inquire what is, even at the present critical period, one of the most momentous concerns which can engage the attention of an Englishman, who feels for his country like a patriot, and for his posterity like a father; what is that object of which the importance is not bounded by the shores of the British islands, nor limited by our colonial possessions;-with which, in its consequences, the interests, not only of all Europe, but of the whole civilized world, may hereafter be in some measure implicated; what Briton would hesitate to reply, the educa tion of the Princess Charlotte of Wales?
After this frank confession of the unspeakable importance of the subject in view, it is no wonder if the extreme difficulty, as well as delicacy of the present undertaking, is acknowledged to be sensibly felt by the author.
It will too probably be thought to imply not only officiousness, but presumption, that a private individual should thus hazard the obtrusion of unsolicited observations on the proper mode of forming the character of an English princess.-It may seem to involve an appearance of unwarrantable distrust, by implying an apprehension of some deficiency in the plan about to be adopted by those, whoever they may be, on whom this great trust may be devolved and to indicate selfconceit, by conveying an intimation, after so strong an avowal of the delicacy and difficulty of the task, that such a deficiency is within the powers of the author to supply.
The author, however, earnestly desires, as far as it may be possible to obviate these anticipated charges, by alleging that under this free constitution, in which every topic of national policy is openly canvassed, and in which the prerogative of the crown form no mean part of the liberty of the subject, the principles which it is proper to instil into a royal personage, become a topic, which if discussed respectfully, may without offence, exercise, the liberty of the British press.
The writer is very far, indeed, from pretending to offer any thing approaching to a sytem of instruction for the royal pupil, much less from presuming to dictate a plan of conduct to the preceptor. What is here presented, is a mere outline, which may be filled up by far more able hands: a sketch which contains no consecutive details, which neither aspires to regularity of design, nor exactness of execution.
To awaken a lively attention to a subject of such moment, to point out some circumstances connected with the early season of improvement, but still more with the subsequent stages of life; to offer, not a treatise on education, but a desultory suggestion of sentiments and principles; to convey instruction, not so much by precept or by argument, as to exemplify it by illustrations and examples; and, above all, to stimulate the wise and the good to exertions far more effectual; these are the real motives which have given birth to this slender performance.
Had the royal pupil been a prince, these hints would never have been obtruded on the world, as it would then have been naturally assumed, that the established plan usually adopted in such cases would have been pursued. Nor does the author presume in the present instance, to insinuate a suspicion, that there will be any want of a large and liberal scope in the projected system, or to intimate an apprehension that the course of study will be adapted to the sex, rather than to the circumstances of the princess.
If, however, it should be asked, why a stranger presumes to interfere in a matter of such high concern? It may be answered in the words of an elegant critic, that in classic story, when a superb and lasting monument was about to be consecrated to beauty, every lover was permitted to carry a tribute.
The appearance of a valuable elementary work on the principles of Christianity, which has been recently published in our language, translated from the German under the immediate patronage of an august personage, for the avowed purpose of benefit to her illustrious daughters, as it is an event highly auspicious to the general interests of religion, so is it a circumstance very encouraging to the present undertaking.
It is impossible to write on such points as are discussed in this little work without being led to draw a comparison between the lot of a British subject, and that of one who treats on similar topics under a despotic government.-The excellent archbishop of Cambray, with every advantage which genius, learning, and profession, and situation could confer; the admired preceptor of the duke of Burgundy, appointed to the office by the king himself, was yet in the beautiful work which he composed for the use of his royal pupil, driven to the necessity of couching his instructions under a fictitious narrative, and of sheltering behind the veil of fable, the duties of a just sovereign, and the blessings of a good government: he was aware, that even under this disguise, his delineation of both would too probably be construed into a satire on the personal errors of his own king, and the vices of the French government, and in spite of his ingenious discretion, the event justified his apprehensions.
Fortunate are the subjects of that free and happy country who are not driven to have recourse to any such expedients; who may, without danger, dare to express temperately what they think lawfully; who, in describing the most perfect form of government, instead of recurring to poetic invention, need only delineate that under which they themselves live; who, in sketching the character, and shadowing out the duties of a patriot king, have no occasion to turn their eyes from their own country to the throne of Ithaca or Salentum.
TOWARDS FORMING THE CHARACTER OF A YOUNG PRINCESS.
human nature could indeed be wholly effaced, as easily as they are kept out of sight, there We are told that when a sovereign of ancient would at least be some resonable plea against times, who wished to be a mathematician, but the charge of cruelty. But when, on the conwas deterred by the difficulty of attainment, trary, the most elevated monarch must still asked, whether he could not be instructed in retain every natural hope and fear, every afsome easier method, the answer which he re- fection and passion of the heart, every frailty ceived was, that there was no royal road to of the mind, and every weakness of the body, geometry. The lesson contained in this reply to which the meanest subject is liable; how exought never to be lost sight of, in that most im-quisitely inhuman must it be to provide so seduportant and delicate of all undertakings, the education of a prince!
It is a truth which might appear too obvious to require enforcing, and yet of all others it is a truth most liable to be practically forgotten, that the same subjugation of desire and will, of inclinations and tastes, to the laws of reason and conscience, which every one wishes to see promoted in the lowest ranks of society, is still more necessary in the very highest, in order to the attainment either of individual happiness, or of general virtue, to public usefulness, or to private self-enjoyment.
Where a prince, therefore, is to be educated, his own welfare no less than that of his people, humanity no less than policy, prescribe, that the claims and privileges of the rational being should not be suffered to merge in the peculiar rights or exemptions of the expectant sovereign. If, in such cases, the wants and weaknesses of
lously for the extrinsic accident of transient greatness, as to blight the growth of substantial virtue, to dry up the fountains of mental and moral comfort, and in short to commit the illfated victim of such mismanagement to more, almost, than human dangers and difficulties, without even the common resources of the least favoured of mankind.
Yet, must not this be the unaggravated consequence of not accustoming the royal child to that salutary control which the corruption of our nature requires, as its indispensable and earliest corrective? If those foolish desires, which in the great mass of mankind are providentially repressed by the want of means to gratify them, should, in the case of royalty, be thought warrantable, because every possible gratification is within reach, what would be the result, but the full blown luxuriance of folly, vice, and misery? The laws of human nature
will not bend to human greatness; and by these immutable laws it is determined, that happiness and virtue, virtue and self-command, self-command and early habitual self-denial, should be joined together in an indissoluble bond of con
The first habit, therefore, to be formed in every human being, and still more in the offspring and heir of royalty, is that of patience, and even cheerfulness, under postponed and restricted gratification. And the first lesson to be taught is, that since self-command is so essential to all genuine virtue and real happiness, where others cannot restrain us, there, especially, we should restrain ourselves. That illustrious monarch, Gustavus Adolphus, was so deeply sensible of this truth, that when he was surprised by one of his officers in secret prayer in his tent, he said, 'Persons of my rank are answerable to God alone for their actions; this gives the enemy of mankind a peculiar advantage over us; an advantage which can only be resisted by prayer, and reading the Scriptures.'
-If they find it necessary to counteract the pernicious influence of domestic luxury, and the corrupting softness of domestic indulgence, by severity of study and closeness of application; how much more indispensable is the spirit of this principle in the instance before us? The highest nobility have their equals, their competitors, and even their superiors. Those who are born within the sphere of royalty are destitute of all such extrinsic means of correction, and must be wholly indebted for their safety to the soundness of their principles, and the rectitude of their habits. Unless, therefore, the brightest light of reason be, from the very first, thrown upon their path, and the divine energies of our holy reli gion, both restraining and attractive, be brought as early as possible to act upon their feelings, the children of royalty, by the very fate of their birth, would be of all men most miserable.'
Let it not, however, be supposed, that any impracticable rigour is here recommended; or that it is conceived to be necessary that the gay period of childhood should be rendered gloomy or painful, whether in the cottage or the palace. The virtue which is aimed at, is not that of the stoic philosophy; nor do the habits which are deemed valuable, require the harshness of a Spartan education. Let nature, truth, and rea. son, be consulted; and, let the child, and especially the royal child, be as much as possible, trained according to their simple and consistent indications. The attention, in such instances as the present, should be the more watchful and unremitting, as counteracting influences are, in so exalted a station, necessarily multiplied; and every difficulty is at its greatest possible height. In a word, let not common sense, which is uni
As the mind opens, the universal truth of this principle may be exemplified in innumerable instances, by which it may be demonstrated, that man is a rational being only so far as he can thus command himself. That such a superiority to the passions is essential to all regular and steady performance of duty; and that true gratification is thus, and thus only insured, because, by him who thus habitually restrains himself, not only every lawful pleasure is most perfectly njoyed; but every common blessing, for which the sated voluptuary has lost all relish, becomes a source of the most genuine pleasure, a source of pleasure which is never exhausted, because such common blessings are never wholly with-versal and eternal, be sacrificed to the capricious held.
The mind should be formed early, no less than the person and for the same reason. Providence has plainly indicated childhood to be the season of instruction, by communicating at that period, such flexibility to the organs, such retention to the memory, such quickness to the apprehension, such inquisitiveness to the temper, such alacrity to the animal spirits, and such impressibility to the affections, as are not possessed at any subsequent period. We are therefore bound by every tie of duty to follow these obvious designations of Providence, by moulding that flexibility to the most durable ends; by storing that memory with the richest knowledge; by pointing that apprehension to the highest objects; by giving to that alacrity its best direction; by turning that inquisitiveness to the noblest intellectual purposes; and, above all, by converting that impressibility of heart to the most exalted moral use.
If this be true in general, much more forcibly does it apply to the education of princes! Nothing short of the soundest, most rational, and, let me add, most religious education, can counteract the dangers to which they are exposed. If the highest of our nobility, in default of some better way of guarding against the mischiefs of flatterers and dependents, deem it expedient to commit their sons to the wholesome equality of a public school, in order to repress their aspiring notions, and check the tendencies of their birth;
tastes of the child, or to the pliant principles of any who may approach her. But let the virtue and the happiness of the royal pupil be as simply, as feelingly, and as uniformly consulted, as if she were the daughter of a private gentleman. May this attention to her moral and mental cultivation be the supreme concern, from honest reverence to the offspring of such a race, from a dutiful regard to her own future happiness, and from reasonable attention to the well-being of those millions, whose earthly fate may be at this moment suspended on lessons, and habits, received by one providentially distinguished female!
On the Acquisition of Knowledge. THE course of instruction for the princess will, doubtless, be wisely adapted, not only to the duties, but to the dangers of her rank. The probability of her having one day functions to discharge, which, in such exempt cases only, fall to the lot of females, obviously suggests the expediency of an education not only superior to, but in certain respects, distinct from, that of other women. What was formerly deemed necessary in an instance of this nature, may be inferred from the well-known attainments of the
unfortunate lady Jane Grey; and still more from the no less splendid acquirements of queen Elizabeth. Of the erudition of the latter, we have particular account from one, who was the fittest in that age to appreciate it, the celebrated Roger Aschasm. He tells us, that when he read over with her the orations of Eschines and Demosthenes in Greek, she not only understood, at first sight, the full force and propriety of the language, and the meaning of the orators, but that she comprehended the whole scheme of the laws, customs, and manners of the Athenians. She possessed an exact and accurate knowledge of the Scriptures, and had committed to memory most of the striking passages in them. She had also learned by heart many of the finest parts of Thucydides and Xenophon, especially those which relate to life and manners. Thus were her early years sedulously employed in laying in a large stock of materials for governing well. To what purpose she improved them, let her illustrious reign of forty-five years declare!
themselves, as much as possible, on Grecian mo dels, present to us the nearest possible transcripts of those masters whom they copy. Thus, by an acquaintance with the Latin language, we are brought into a kind of actual contact not only with the ancient world, but with that portion of it which, having the most direct and the fullest intercourse with the other parts, introduces us, in a manner the most informing and satisfactory to classical and philosophical antiquity in general. But what is still more, the Latin tongue enables us for ourselves, without the intermediation of any interpreter, to examine all the particular circumstances in manners, intercourse, modes of thinking and speaking, of that period which Eternal Wisdom chose (probably because it was ever after to appear the most luminous in the whole retrospect of history), as fittest for the advent of the Messiah, and the bringing life and immortality to light by the gospel.
ability to manage it with gracefulness and vigour will be considerably increased.*
Of the modern languages, if the author dares hazard an opinion, the French and German seem the most necessary. The Italian appears less important, as those authors which seem more peculiarly to belong to her education, such as Davilla, Guicciardin, and Beccaria, may be read either in French or English translations.
If to this may be added lesser yet not unimportant considerations, we would say, that by If the influence of her erudition on her subse- the acquaintance which the Latin language quent prosperity should be questioned; let it be would give her with the etymology of words, considered, that her intellectual attainments sup- she will learn to be more accurate in her definiported the dignity of her character, under foibles tions, as well as more critically exact and eleand feminine weaknesses, which would other-gant in the use of her own language; and her wise have sunk her credit: she had even address enough to contrive to give to those weak. nesses a certain classic grace. Let it be considered also, that whatever tended to raise her mind to a level with those whose services she was to use, and of whose counsels she was to avail herself, proportionably contributed to that mutual respect and confidence between the queen and her ministers, without which, the results of her government could not have been equally It is not to be supposed that a personage, unsuccessful. Almost every man of rank was then der her peculiar circumstances, should have a man of letters, and literature was valued ac- much time to spare for the acquisition of what cordingly. Had, therefore, deficiency of learning are called the fine arts; nor, perhaps, is it to be been added to inferiority of sex, we might not desired. To acquire them in perfection, would at this day have the reign of Elizabeth on which steal away too large a portion of those precious to look back, as the period in which administra-hours which will barely suffice to lay in the vative energy seemed to attain the greatest possible perfection.
rious rudiments of indispensable knowledge; and, in this fastidious age, whatever falls far short of perfection, is deemed of little worth. A moderate skill in music, for instance, would probably have little other effect, than to make the listeners feel, as Farinelli is said to have done, who used to complain heavily that the pension of 2000l. a year, which he had from the king of Spain, was compensation little enough for his being sometimes obliged to hear his majesty play. Yet this would be a far less evil than that to which excellence might lead. We can think of few things more to be deprecated, than that those who have the greatest concerns to pursue, should have their tastes engaged, perhaps monopolized, by trifles. A listener to the royal music, if possessed of either wisdom or virtue, could not but feel his pleasure at the most exquisite performance abated, by the apprehension that this perfection implied the ne
Yet, though an extended acquaintance with ancient authors will be necessary now, as it was then, in the education of a princess, a general knowledge of ancient languages, it is presumed, may be dispensed with. The Greek authors, at least, may doubtless be read with sufficient advantage through the medium of a translation; the spirit of the original being, perhaps, more transfusible into the English, than into any other modern tongue. But are there not many forcible reasons why the Latin language should not be equally omitted?* Besides the advantage of reading, in their original dress, the historians of that empire, the literature of Rome is peculiarly interesting, as being the most satisfactory medium through which the moderns can obtain an intimate knowledge of the ancient world. As the Latin itself is a modification of one of the Greek dialects, so theglect of matters far more essential. Roman philosophers and poets, having formed
* The royal father of the illustrious pupil is said to possess the princely accomplishment of a pure classical taste. Of his love for polite learning, the attention which he is paying to the recovery of certain of the lost works of some of the Roman authors is an evidence.
* Who does not consider as one of the most interesting passages of modern history, that which relates the effect produced by an eloquent Latin oration pronounc ed in a full assembly, by the late empress Maria Theresa, in the bloom of her youth and beauty, so late as the year 1740? Antiquity produces nothing more touch. ing of the kind.