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JQA Diary, volume 29 24 February 1816
JQA Neal Millikan

24. VI:15. Immediately after Breakfast, I went into London, and went with Mr Smith to Freemason’s Hall, and attended the publick exhibition of a Mr Matheson’s Academy, of boys and girls— This is the improved system of Education, which was among the Projects that Messrs: Service and Studley were desirous of introducing in America. We found Studley there. The meeting was not very fully attended; nor by persons apparently of much note. There were a number of boys and girls from ten to fifteen years of age, stationed in little boxes on both sides of and maintaining a sort of forensic dispute upon the question, of preference between Public and Private Education. They all spoke exactly alike; with the same tone, and the same gestures— The debate was all obviously written by one hand—in a mean, but pedantic Style— The common-place arguments on this hacknied topic were adduced, leaving the scale of course to preponderate in favour of the Public side. The manner of the Speaking was in many respects very good—there was no monotony in the delivery of any one Speaker, but they were speaking machines all cast in one mould— Their pronunciation was all in the lowest vulgarity of the Cockney Style, turning every v 402into a w, dropping the aspirate where it should be used, and using it where it should be dropped, and crowding together the syllables so as to suppress the utterance of more than half the vowels— After taxing my patience for about an hour, I left the Hall, with the disputants still in the midst of the discussion, and one of the girls, holding forth upon the Advantages of Public lower Private-Education. There were specimens of Penmanship hung round the room, which gave me no better opinion of Mr Matheson’s Calligraphy, than his Orator gave me of his Rhetoric— I called at the Stationer Williams’s, and took some Articles— Then at the Booksellers Whitmore and Fenn, in Charing-Cross; where I took the Annual Register’s for 1812. 13. and 14. to send to the Secretary of State, the last Edinburgh Review for Mr Jackson at Paris, and Chalmers’s Political Annals of the Colonies to send to Mr. Plumer.— I also called at Bish’s Lottery-Office to enquire for the luck of Mrs A’s ticket, but the Books were at Guildhall, and nothing could be known till Monday Morning.— I was surprized at Craven-Street, by a visit from Major Swett, Son in Law to Mr W. Gray of Boston— He had an open Letter from my father to Mr Gray; a sort of introductory circular to any of his friends in France— Mr Swett came last Summer to France; has been only a few days in this Country, and intends to return to America, in the Galen— He offered to take any things for me— There was a Note from Mr Sharp, with the ninth and tenth Volumes, of a late Edition of Burke’s works in 8vo.— I had ordered the Carriage at five; but walked on before, and was overtaken by it, just at the Kensington Turnpike— When I got home I found my three Sons, and their Schoolmates Sheaffe, Hammond, and F. Williams, who were playing Symphonies upon the flute. They dined with us, and after dinner returned with John and Charles to School. I brought the Edinburgh Review out from town, and read this Evening the Article upon Tweddell’s Remains; with the charges against the Earl of Elgin.