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Intelligencer, No. 9

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2021

David Hayton
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Adam Rounce
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

Headnote

Published c. 6–9 July; copy text 1728 (see Textual Account).

This examination of modern ideas of education, and the false sense of refinement and effete foreign manners inculcated into the sons of gentlemen, also reflects, in passing, on the qualities of some of the statesmen who have passed over the public stage since 1660. It is possible that this essay was composed at the same time as the fragmentary ‘Hints of the Education of Ladies’, a work sometimes dated earlier (see CWJS, vol. II, pp. 212–17). Both works are concerned with the ways in which the superficial and artificial have led to the denigration of intellectual attainment in children's education amongst the children of the gentry and nobility, with damaging consequences. Both also show the influence of Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), the most influential modern work on education, in terms of challenging the ramshackle methods of learning described by Swift.

The essay was later given the title ‘An Essay onModern Education’, when reprinted in the Pope/Swift Miscellanies of 1732.

THE INTELLIGENCER.

From frequently reflecting upon the Course and Method of Educating Youth in this and aNeighbouring Kingdom, with the general Success and consequence thereof; I am come to this Determination, That Education is always the worse in Proportion to the Wealth and Grandeur of the Parents. Nor do I doubt in the least, that if the whole World were now under the Dominion of one Monarch (provided I might be allowed to chuse where he should fix the Seat of his Empire) the only Son and Heir of that Monarch, would be the worst Educated Mortal, that ever was born since the Creation: And, I doubt the same Proportion will hold through all Degrees and Titles, from an Emperor downwards, to the commonGentry. I do not say that this hath been always the case: for in better times it was directly otherwise; and a Scholar may fill half his Greek and Roman Shelves with Authors of the Noblest Birth, as well as highest Virtue. Nor, do I tax all Nations at present with this defect, for I know there are some to be excepted, and particularly Scotland, under all the Disadvantages of it's Clymate and Soyle, if that happiness be not rather owing even to those very dis-advantages.

Type
Chapter
Information
Irish Political Writings after 1725
A Modest Proposal and Other Works
, pp. 73 - 85
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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