« VorigeDoorgaan »
the chisel, and appeared but just before learning was destroyed by comment, criticism, and barbarous innovations.
What happened in Rome may probably be the case with us at home. Our nobility are now more solicitous in patronizing painters and sculptors than those of any other polite profession; and from the lord, who has his gallery, down to the 'prentice, who has his two-penny copper-plate, all are admirers of this art. The great, by their caresses, seem insensible to all other merit but that of the pencil; and the vulgar buy every book rather from the excellence of the sculptor than the writer.
How happy were it now, if men of real excellence in that profession were to arise! Were the painters of Italy now to appear, who once wandered like beggars from one city to another, and produce their almost breathing figures, what rewards might they not expect! But many of them lived without rewards, and therefore rewards alone will never produce their equals. We have often found the great exert themselves, not only without promotion, but in spite of opposition. We have often found them flourishing, like medical plants, in a region of savageness and barbarity, their excellence unknown, and their virtues unheeded.
They who have seen the paintings of Caravagio are sensible of the surprising impression they make; bold, swelling, terrible to the last degree; all seems animated, and speaks him among the foremost of his profession; yet this man's fortune and his fame seemed ever in opposition to each other.
Unknowing how to flatter the great, he was
driven from city to city in the utmost indigence, and might truly be said to paint for his bread.
Having one day insulted a person of distinction, who refused to pay him all the respect which he thought his due, he was obliged to leave Rome, and travel on foot, his usual method of going his journeys down into the country, without either money or friends to subsist him.
After he had travelled in this manner as long as his strength would permit, faint with famine and fatigue, he at last called at an obscure inn by the way side. The host knew, by the appearance of his guest, his indifferent circumstances, and refused to furnish him a dinner without previous pay
As Caravagio was entirely destitute of money, he took down the innkeeper's sign, and painted it anew for his dinner.
Thus refreshed, he proceeded on his journey, and left the innkeeper not quite satisfied with this method of payment. Some company of distinction, however, coming soon after, and struck with the beauty of the new sign, bought it at an advanced price, and astonished the innkeeper with their generosity; he was resolved therefore to get as many signs as possible drawn by the same artist, as he found he could sell them to good advantage; and accordingly set out after Caravagio, in order to bring him back. It was night-fall before he came up to the place, where the unfortunate Caravagio lay dead by the road side, overcome by fatigue, resentment, and despair.
No. 6. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 1759.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE BEE.
As few subjects are more interesting to society, so few have been more frequently written upon, than the education of youth. Yet is it not a little surprising, that it should have been treated almost by all in a declamatory manner? They have insisted largely on the advantages that result from it, both to the individual and to society, and have expatiated in the praise of what none have ever been so hardy as to call in question.
Instead of giving us fine but empty harangues upon this subject, instead of indulging each hiş particular and whimsical systems, it had been much better if the writers on this subject had treated it in a more scientific manner, repressed all the sallies of imagination, and given us the result of their observations with didactic simplicity. Upon this subject the smallest errors are of the most dangerous consequence; and the author should not venture the imputation of stupidity upon a topic, where his slightest deviations may tend to injure the rising generation.
I shall therefore throw out a few thoughts upon this subject, which have not been attended to by
others, and shall dismiss all attempts to please, while I study only instruction.
The manner in which our youth of London are at present educated is, some in free schools in the city, but the far greater number in boarding schools about town. The parent justly consults the health of his child, and finds an education in the country tends to promote this much more than a continuance in town. Thus far they are right; if there were a possibility of having even our free schools kept a little out of town, it would certainly conduce to the health and vigour of perhaps the mind, as well as of the body. It may be thought whimsical, but it is truth; I have found by experience, that they who have spent all their lives in cities, contract not only an effeminacy of habit, but even of thinking.
But when I have said, that the boarding schools are preferable to free schools, as being in the country, this is certainly the only advantage I can allow them; otherwise it is impossible to conceive the ignorance of those who take upon them the important trust of education. Is any man unfit for any of the professions; he finds his last resource in setting up school. Do any become bankrupts in trade, they still set up a boarding school, and drive a trade this way, when all others fail: nay, I have been told of butchers and barbers, who have turned schoolmasters; and, more surprising still, made fortunes in their new profession.
Could we think ourselves in a country of civilized people; could it be conceived that we have any regard for posterity, when such are permitted to take the charge of the morals, genius, and health of those
dear little pledges, who may one day be the guardians of the liberties of Europe, and who may serve as the honour and bulwark of their aged parents? The care of our children, is it below the state? is it fit to indulge the caprice of the ignorant with the disposal of their children in this particular? For the state to take the charge of all its children, as in、 Persia or Sparta, might at present be inconvenient; but surely with great ease it might cast an eye to their instructors. Of all members of society, I do not know a more useful, or a more honourable one, than a schoolmaster; at the same time that I do not see any more generally despised, or whose talents are so ill rewarded.
Were the salaries of schoolmasters to be augmented from a diminution of useless sinecures, how might it turn to the advantage of this people; a people whom, without flattery, I may in other respects term the wisest and greatest upon earth! But while I would reward the deserving, I would dismiss those utterly unqualified for their employment in short, I would make the business of a schoolmaster every way more respectable, by increasing their salaries, and admitting only men of proper abilities..
There are already schoolmasters appointed, and they have some small salaries; but where at present there is but one schoolmaster appointed, there should at least be two; and wherever the salary is at present twenty pounds, it should be a hundred. Do we give immoderate benefices to those who instruct ourselves, and shall we deny even subsistence to those who instruct our children? Every member of society should be paid in proportion as he is ne