Prospectus: Classical Education

THE PRINCIPAL object of education is to communicate to the youthful mind that love of mental and moral improvement, which will continue to act with a steady and permanent impression when no longer directed by the hand of the preceptor. That this disposition is most effectively promoted by an intimate acquaintance with the poets, philosophers, and historians of antiquity appears to be generally acknowledged, though the total neglect of classical studies among the young men of the present age, who, in the language of the time have finished their education, seems to shew that in the method usually employed to introduce them to an acquaintance with these inimitable models of eloquence there is some inherent and radical defect.
  In fact it too frequently happens that the instructors of youth aim only at communicating the knowledge of the words and rules of a language, without exciting the taste of the student to penetrate into the beauties of the authors who have written in it: and instead of leading him forward by an easy and pleasant progress, involve him in the first instance in studies so dry, disgusting, and repulsive that the first ideas he associates with classical literature are those of weariness, pain, and privation.
  The youthful mind should be taught from the beginning to take pleasure in the acquisition of knowledge, and to pursue it for its own sake: when this object has not been accomplished, the end of education has not been answered.
  The child who learns his lessons under the dread of punishment, or the hope of reward, may proceed with rapidity through the common routine of academical education, but when these motives cease to operate, the effects they have produced will terminate. The pupil who is made to feel the value of knowledge, and to pursue it for its intrinsic advantages and pleasures, is alone likely to become an accomplished and useful member of society.
  The mind must be excited and awakened before it can be cultivated to advantage. On this account it was the opinion of the ancients that the first years of youth should be devoted to poetry. But it is not enough for this purpose to discipline a reluctant child with the minutiae of syntax and prosody: he must be led by the conviction of future gratification to proceed with diligence through these toilsome acquisitions, as the peasant must be to conceive a prospect of harvest before he can be stimulated to the labour of turning the soil.
  The harmonious language and delightful poetry of Italy are admirably adapted to form the taste of youth, and must be regarded as an indispensable requirement of elegant education.
  Those who have been educated in large cities are seldom persons of superior taste: to the acquisition of which an early acquaintance with the beauties of nature is indispensable. The youth who, unacquainted with the country, reads in a populous city the beautiful descriptions of Homer and Virgil, derives no pleasure from the language to which his fancy yields no corresponding images: but he who under kind and skilful superintendence, amidst the wild beauties of nature, associates the ideas of the great poets with the living landscapes around him, derives from the pleasure thus experienced an ardent love of letters which accomplishes at once the great objects of education, and of which the salutary effects will be felt to the latest period of life.
  This mode of education, requiring more art and attention than the common mode of instruction, can only be properly pursued amongst a limited number of pupils, not so small as to exclude emulation, nor so numerous as to prevent the most sedulous attention to any individual of the establishment.
  With these ideas, the writer of the prospectus proposes to receive eight pupils, in a beautiful retirement in the county of Westmoreland, at 100 Gs. per annum. They will be educated in the religion of the established church, and the same attention will be paid to their health and morals as to the improvement of their minds.—
  The principal objects of study will be the Greek, Latin, Italian and French languages; an intimate knowledge of the language and literature of England generally too much neglected in the education of youth—poetry–history–and mental and moral philosophy.
  For further particulars, and unexceptionable testimonials as to ability and character, apply to……