1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Polwhele

Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Review of Polwhere, Deserted Village School; The Monthly Review NS 71 (June 1813) 202.



We should be glad to see the pleasantry of this writer more worthily employed, than in ridiculing that zeal for promoting the education of the poor which now pervades this kingdom. Few persons seem to question the expediency of teaching children of all ranks to read and write; and since the old Village Schools were insufficient for this purpose, it may be well to assist or supersede them by later inventions. At any rate, and without engaging deeply in controversy with the author, we deem his fears about the alphabet perfectly futile, and can assure him that learning to trace the letters in sand is not "a slippery knowledge gained too soon;" as well as that, if he chuses to "peep" at some of Dr. Bell's schoolmistresses, "amidst their pigmy throng," he may still see "high spectacled her reverential nose," as he informs us was the case with his favourite dame in days of yore.