To Lady Olivia Sparrow, February 22 1815

To: The Lady Olivia B. Sparrow
Address: Brampton Park/ Huntingdon
Postmark: C24FE241815
Seal: Red Wax
Watermarks: Undetermined

Feby. 22nd. 1815

MS: MS: British Library, Egerton 1965 ff. 32-3
Published: Undetermined

My dear Lady Olivia

Tho I sent you a few days ago a longer letter than I write to any body else, yet I thought you would wish to hear from me on a Subject so interesting to you. The day after Mr. Hodson got my letter he and his pupil presented themselves in the morning and spent the day here. With the latter I had only general intercourse, my chief object with him being to make myself as pleasant as my state of health allowed , and to remove any prejudice he might have entertained of my being severe and dictatorial. While I sent him walking and talking with young Gisborne, I took the Tutor into my room for a couple of hours. I will as nearly as I can recollect, tell you our chief discourse. His first endeavour has been /not/ to give him any disgust, but to gain his affection. He finds him conformable and complying with his injunctions, but not in habits of application, or much given to reading He is more anxious at first to bring him to stated habits and a regular disposition of time than to force too much reading upon him till he discovers more liking to it. At half past 8 he gives him, I think about a dozen verse of the Greek Testament to study and meditate upon alone. At Nine he sets him to construe those passages to him and after they have discussed the Greek in a literary and grammatical point of view, he then expounds them to him spiritually and Theologically: then their devotions and a little walk before breakfast. I suggested that as he is inclined to sit over his Meals that a short thing, a medium sort of reading such as a paper in the Rambler [1] might be well taken up. His Mornings are at present engaged with Quintilion whom they study /both/ separately and together. I ventured to give my opinion that as he would fill a great station in the world, and was not much addicted to study it might be well to endeavour to imbue his mind with general knowledge such as would be useful in life, and to allure him to the perusal of history and Travels; to make him learn a passage from the Orations of Demosthenes or Cicero, in the Greek & Latin and then to translate and recite them in English, and to labour after a good manner of recitation. Mr. H. told me, and Mr. S. himself told my Sisters that they had spent their time in the most trifling manner at Harrow, and that very little was required of them there. In consequence Mr. H says his habits of conversation are too frivolous, horses &c &c being the favorite theme. Before evening prayer Mr. H. reads and again expounds Scripture. This he says is all the formal religious instruction he gives, for he /is/ afraid to weary him, but he tries to make their walks, their common reading instructive. I insisted much on the necessity & importance of this, knowing it is the best way to mix up instruction with the common pursuits of life. They sometimes dine and drink tea out, but as it is in correct and pious company, I thought it better for his youth than to be confin’d to a tete a téte always with his Tutor. The latter likes his young friend who has yet given him not the slightest cause of complaint.

I wish he may be brought to love reading. I have invited them to come when they please, and hope I shall be better, and of course not so dull. – He is a fine elegant youth. May God bless him! When you write to H. do not mention any of the particulars I have named, as it might make him shy in his communications, and I should not like to seem to take upon me; but I will lose no occasion of pressing my enquiries, and my poor counsel, which is not much worth.

I have not room to say a word in addition to the topic which was my Object in writing
Adieu my dearest Lady
ever Yours

[Written between the salutation and the first line of the letter proper]

Dont you feel for the poor Dss. of Dorset?[2]


A periodical written by Samuel Johnson and published twice weekly between 1750 and 1752. Its essays were intended to ‘join both profit and delight’ (Rambler 4, 31 March 1750).


Arabella Sackville, Dowager Duchess of Dorset (1767-1825), whose only son, George Sackville, 4th Duke of Dorset, had just died from a fall from his horse whilst hunting in Ireland.