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Bishop Burnet Thoughts on Education

As for the place of education, it seems fittest for the persons of quality to breed their children out of their own houses; if their health be any way good and regular; and that because oft the fondness of parents, especially the mothers, is the loss of children; as also in a great family among many servants, especially grooms and footmen, there are many debordings and occasions of corrupting youth; and their also by their vain flatteries, spoil children. Great confluences of company will also occasion many necessary avocations to a boy; and too great a table may make a child too much a slave to his belly and taste. A private house, therefore, of some discreet friend, will be perhaps the best place for a child’s education. Thus the Carthaginians put all children of quality, after they were three years old, into the temples amongst the Priests, where they lived until they were twelve.


For a child’s exercises, he should be allowed all that he hath a mind to, if they be not too excessive wasters of his body and devourers of his time. And a child, from whom parents would expect much comfort, should not be bred too softly, deliciously, or arrogantly, for this debauches them into sordid luxury and effeminacy. They should be therefore taught to eat any thing, and not to expect that every thing be done to them by servants; but learn to put on and off their clothes, and other things belonging to themselves; and so, however their fortune alter, they be early taught to bear a lower condition. Only fine clothes, and variety of them, is an encouragement I would not have denied to children; especially to such as see others of their own rank in good order. And so far have I adventured to say of children, while their childhood lasts; that is, until they be seven or eight years old; though many of the advices I have suggested may be of use to a riper age.