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In Virginia education was largely a private business, for though the Syms and Eaton free schools, the oldest institutions of the kind in the colonies, continued to exist, they did not grow either in wealth or in efficiency. This State had many private schools, such as that at St. Mary's in Caroline County, kept by Jonathan Boucher, who, in addition to his duties as rector, took boys at twenty pounds for board and education, or that of William Prentis in Williamsburg, who, though a clerk at the time and afterwards a merchant, had a school where he taught Latin and Greek and took tuition fees. Prentis's pupils read Ovid, Cato, Quintus, Curtius, Terence, Justin, Phædrus, Virgil, and Cæsar, and used a “gradus," a "pantheon," a “vocabulary,” a Greek grammar, and two dictionaries. Sometimes the parents would advertise for “any sober diligent person qualified to keep a country school,” guaranteeing a certain number of pupils. That the results were not always satisfactory, even among the best families, is apparent from Nathaniel Burwell's unfraternal characterization of his brother Lewis as one who could neither read, spell, nor cipher correctly, and was in “no ways capable of managing his own affairs or fit for any gentleman's conversation."
Prominent planters obtained tutors from Englland, Scotland, and the Northern Colonies, and the accounts given by some of these teachers — Benjamin Harrower at Captain Daingerfield's, Philip Fithian at Councilman Carter's, and the Reverend Jonathan Boucher at Captain Dixon's - throw light on the conditions attending the education of a planter's children. The conditions thus described were probably more agreeable than was elsewhere the case, for in other instances not only were tutors indentured servants but frequently were treated as such and made to feel the inferiority of their position. One John Warden refused to accept the post of tutor in a Virginia family, unless the planter and his wife and children would treat him “as a gentleman." The following letter from a Virginian to Micajah Perry of London in 1741 must be similar to many dispatched for a like purpose: “If possible I desire you will send me by Wilcox a schoolmaster to teach my children to read and write and cypher (the children were two girls, sixteen and twelve, and a boy five years old). I would willingly have such a person as Mr. Lock describes, but cant expect such on such wages as I can afford, but I desire he may be a modest, sober, discreet person. His wages I leave to your discretion, the
usual wages here for a Latin master from Scotland is £20 a year, but they commonly teach the children the Scotch dialect which they never can wear off.” In addition to his employer's children the tutor was generally allowed to take other pupils for whom he could charge tuition. Harrower did this but had considerable trouble collecting the fees, and John Portress kept a school on Gibbons's plantation in Georgia where he taught the neighboring children writing, grammar, and “practical” mathematics. In some instances the tutor acted also as ao | general factotum for the planter, even serving as overseer or steward.. James Ellerton, the English tutor on Madam Smith's estate in South Carolina, had as much to do with corn, pigs, and fences as he did with reading and the rule of three.
A great many New York, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina boys of the more wealthy families were sent abroad for their education. The sons of Oliver De Lancey of New York went to England, those of William Byrd, 3d, were at Sinnock's in Kent in 1767, Alexander and John Spotswood remained at Eton four years, and Samuel Swann of North Carolina studied in England in 1758. Keith William Pratt, Thomas Jones's stepson, at the age of fourteen was at Dr.
L'Herundell's school in Chelsea, learning French, Latin, Greek, writing, arithmetic, drawing, and fencing "as far as it is thought necessary for a gentleman.” His sister Betty, aged nine, wrote him from Virginia, when he was eight years old: “You are got as far as the rule of three in arithmetic, but I cant cast up a sum in addition cleverly, but I am striving to do better every day. I can perform a great many dances and am now learning the Sibell, but I cannot speak a word of French.”
Despite their English education, few Southern boys were as precocious as Jonathan Edwards, who began Latin at six, was reading Locke On the Human Understanding when other boys were lost in Robinson Crusoe,' and was ready for college at thirteen; or as Samuel Johnson, later president of King's College, who was ambitious to learn Hebrew at six, complained of his tutor as “such a wretched poor scholar” at ten, entered Yale at fourteen, and capped the climax of a long and erudite career by publishing a Hebrew and English grammar at the age of seventy-one. Few could quote classical writers or show such wide reading and extensive
• Perhaps it is only fair to note that at a later date John C. Calhoun was reading Locke at the age of thirteen. But he was not a tidewater Southerner and furthermore was educated at Yale.
knowledge of books as did Cotton Mather or Thomas Hutchinson, but few in the South were surpassed by the boys in the North in versatility and knowledge of the world. Many Southern lads went to the Northern colleges at Philadelphia, Princeton, and New Haven, and a few to Northern schools to study some such special subject as navigation.
In the Carolinas there were fewer tutors than in Virginia. A large number of private schools, however, was maintained in Wilmington, Charlest ton, and Savannah. There was a provincial free school in Charleston and another at Childesbury in the same colony, but the free school founded by Colonel James Inness "for the benefit of the youth of North Carolina" was not started in Wilmington until 1783. South of Williamsburg there was no “seminary for academical studies," says Whitefield, who tried to turn his Orphan House in Savannah into a college in 1764. The private schools which predominated were promoted by private persons who advertised their wares and offered a varied assortment of educational attractions such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, surveying, dialing, navigation, gauging, and fortification, but there is reason to believe that the results