Taking a view of the different works which have been written on education,
Lord Chesterfield's Letters must not
be silently passed over. Not that I mean to analyze his unmanly, immoral
system, or even to cull any of the useful, shrewd remarks which occur in
his epistles -- No, I only mean to make a few reflections on the avowed
tendency of them -- the art of acquiring an early knowledge of the world.
An art, I will venture to assert, that preys secretly, like the worm in
the bud, on the expanding powers, and turns to poison the generous juices
which should mount with vigour in the youthful frame, inspiring warm
affections and great resolves.*
* That children ought to be constantly guarded against the vices
and follies of the world, appears, to me, a very mistaken
opinion; for in the course of experience, and my eyes have looked
abroad, I never knew a youth educated in this manner, who had
early imbibed these chilling suspicions, and repeated by rote the
hesitating if of age, that did not prove a selfish character.