Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
 
The Proper Qualities for a Tutor
By John Locke (1632–1704)
 

THE CHARACTER of a sober man, and a scholar, is, as I have above observed, what every one expects in a tutor. This generally is thought enough, and is all that parents commonly look for. But when such an one has emptied out, into his pupil, all the Latin and logic he has brought from the university, will that furniture make him a fine gentleman? Or can it be expected that he should be better bred, better skilled in the world, better principled in the grounds and foundations of true virtue and generosity, than his young tutor is?
  1
  To form a young gentleman, as he should be, it is fit his governor himself should be well-bred, understand the ways of carriage, and measures of civility, in all the variety of persons, times, and places; and keep his pupil, as much as his age requires, constantly to the observation of them. This is an art not to be learnt nor taught by books: nothing can give it but good company and observation joined together. The tailor may make his clothes modish, and the dancing-master give fashion to his motions; yet neither of these, though they set off well, make a well-bred gentleman; no, though he have learning to boot; which, if not well managed, makes him more impertinent and intolerable in conversation. Breeding is that, which sets a gloss upon all his other good qualities, and renders them useful to him, in procuring him the esteem and good-will of all that he comes near. Without good-breeding, his other accomplishments make him pass but for proud, conceited, vain, or foolish.  2
  Courage, in an ill-bred man, has the air, and escapes not the opinion, of brutality: learning becomes pedantry; wit, buffoonery; plainness, rusticity: good-nature, fawning; and there cannot be a good quality in him, which want of breeding will not warp, and disfigure to his disadvantage. Nay, virtue and parts, though they are allowed their due commendation, yet are not enough to procure a man a good reception, and make him welcome wherever he comes. Nobody contents himself with rough diamonds, and wears them so, who would appear with advantage. When they are polished and set, then they give a lustre. Good qualities are the substantial riches of the mind; but it is good-breeding sets them off: and he that will be acceptable, must give beauty as well as strength to his actions. Solidity, or even usefulness, is not enough: a graceful way and fashion in everything is that which gives the ornament and liking. And, in most cases, the manner of doing is of more consequence than the thing done; and upon that depends the satisfaction or disgust, wherewith it is received. This, therefore, which lies not in the putting off the hat, nor making of compliments, but in a due and free composure of language, looks, motion, posture, place, etc., suited to persons and occasions, and can be learned only by habit and use, though it be above the capacity of children, and little ones should not be perplexed about it; yet it ought to be began, and in a good measure learned, by a young gentleman, whilst he is under a tutor, before he comes into the world upon his own legs; for then usually it is too late to hope to reform several habitual indecencies, which lie in little things. For the carriage is not as it should be, till it is become natural in every part; falling, as skilful musicians’ fingers do, into harmonious order, without care, and without thought. If in conversation a man’s mind be taken up with a solicitous watchfulness about any part of his behaviour, instead of being mended by it, it will be constrained, uneasy, and ungraceful.  3
  Besides, this part is most necessary to be formed by the hands and care of a governor; because, though the errors committed in breeding are the first that are taken notice of by others, yet they are the last that anyone is told of. Not but that the malice of the world is forward enough to tattle of them; but it is always out of his hearing, who should make profit of their judgment, and reform himself by their censure. And indeed this is so nice a point to be meddled with, that even those who are friends, and wish it were mended, scarce ever dare mention it, and tell those they love that they are guilty in such or such cases of ill-breeding. Errors in other things may often with civility be shown another; and it is no breach of good manners or friendship to set him right in other mistakes: but good-breeding itself allows not a man to touch upon this; or to insinuate to another, that he is guilty of want of breeding. Such information can come only from those who have authority over them: and from them too it comes very hardly and harshly to a grown man; and, however softened, goes but ill down with any one, who has lived ever so little in the world. Wherefore it is necessary, that this part should be the governor’s principal care; that an habitual gracefulness, and politeness in all his carriage, may be settled in his charge, as much as may be, before he goes out of his hands; and that he may not need advice in this point, when he has neither time nor disposition to receive it, nor has anybody left to give it to him. The tutor therefore ought, in the first place, to be well-bred; and a young gentleman, who gets this one qualification from his governor, sets out with great advantage; and will find that this one accomplishment will more open his way to him, get him more friends, and carry him farther in the world, than all the hard words, or real knowledge, he has got from the liberal arts, or his tutor’s learned encyclopædia; not that those should be neglected, but by no means preferred; or suffered to thrust out the other.  4
  Besides being well-bred, the tutor should know the world well; the ways, the humours, the follies, the cheats, the faults of the age he has fallen into, and particularly of the country he lives in. These he should be able to show to his pupil, as he finds him capable; teach him skill in men, and their manners; pull off the mask, which their several callings and pretences cover them with; and make his pupil discern what lies at the bottom, under such appearances; that he may not, as unexperienced young men are apt to do, if they are unwarned, take one thing for another, judge by the outside, and give himself up to show, and the insinuation of a fair carriage, or an obliging application. A governor should teach his scholar to guess at, and beware of, the designs of men he hath to do with, neither with too much suspicion, nor too much confidence; but, as the young man is by nature most inclined to either side, rectify him, and bend him the other way. He should accustom him to make, as much as is possible, a true judgment of men by those marks, which serve best to show what they are, and give a prospect into their inside; which often shows itself in little things, especially when they are not in parade, and upon their guard. He should acquaint him with the true state of the world, and dispose him to think no man better or worse, wiser or foolisher, than he really is. Thus, by safe and insensible degrees, he will pass from a boy to a man; which is the most hazardous in all the whole course of life. This therefore should be carefully watched, and a young man with great diligence handed over it; and not, as now usually is done, be taken from a governor’s conduct, and all at once thrown into the world under his own, not without manifest danger of immediate spoiling; there being nothing more frequent, than instances of the great looseness, extravagancy, and debauchery, which young men have run into, as soon as they have been let loose from a severe and strict education; which, I think, may be chiefly imputed to their wrong way of breeding, especially in this part; for, having been bred up in a great ignorance of what the world truly is, and finding it quite another thing, when they come into it, than what they were taught it should be, and so imagined it was; are easily persuaded, by other kind of tutors, which they are sure to meet with, that the discipline they were kept under, and the lectures that were read to them, were but the formalities of education, and the restraints of childhood; that the freedom belonging to men is to take their swing in a full enjoyment of what was before forbidden them. They show the young novice the world, full of fashionable and glittering examples of this everywhere, and he is presently dazzled with them. My young master, failing not to be willing to show himself a man, as much as any of the sparks of his years, lets himself loose to all the irregularities he finds in the most debauched; and thus courts credit and manliness, in the casting off the modesty and sobriety he has till then been kept in; and thinks it brave, at his first setting out, to signalise himself in running counter to all the rules of virtue, which have been preached to him by his tutor.  5
  The showing him the world as really it is, before he comes wholly into it, is one of the best means, I think, to prevent this mischief. He should, by degrees, be informed of the vices in fashion, and warned of the applications and designs of those who will make it their business to corrupt him. He should be told the arts they use, and the trains they lay; and now and then have set before him the tragical or ridiculous examples of those who are ruining, or ruined, this way. The age is not like to want instances of this kind, which should be land-marks to him; that by the disgraces, diseases, beggary, and shame of hopeful young men, thus brought to ruin, he may be precautioned, and be made to see, how those join in the contempt and neglect of them that are undone, who, by pretences of friendship and respect, led them into it, and helped to prey upon them whilst they were undoing; that he may see, before he buys it by a too dear experience, that those who persuade him not to follow the sober advices he has received from his governors, and the counsel of his own reason, which they call being governed by others, do it only, that they may have the government of him themselves; and make him believe, he goes like a man of himself, by his own conduct and for his own pleasure, when, in truth, he is wholly as a child, led by them into those vices which best serve their purposes. This is a knowledge, which, upon all occasions, a tutor should endeavour to instil, and by all methods try to make him comprehend and thoroughly relish.  6
 
 
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