270 | Instructions to Francis Bernard Jr.

    [post c.13 Feb. 1764]1

    Instructions to Frank

    As the Infirmity of Mind under which you labour has made it impracticable for me to settle any certain plan either for compleating your Education or for your further designation; I find it necessary to dictate to you with the Authority of a Father instead of concerting with you, as I have much desired, with the confidence of a Friend. And I earnestly recommend that you wd give a due attention to what I now direct, as well as to what I shall have occasion to add upon your subject: for I have felt so much pain already on your account, that if you should be ^seem^ disposed to add to it, I must, in my own defence, take violent measures to get rid of my uneasiness.

    As to the present disposition of you, there is no choice; your return to College is the only course to be taken. For tho’ you should make no use of the advantages which you will there have to improve yourself, yet your Situation will be creditable, & I hope out of the way of those dangers which you would be continually exposed to in a more unguarded station. Illness is less disreputable at an university than elsewhere; because the very residence implies the contrary, & the misuse of it is not a matter of general enquiry. And tho it is not to be expected that a Place so frequented should be quite free from Vice, yet surely the Encouragements & the opportunities to it, are much less frequent than in any place equally populous.

    But you know that at present it is not only intended for a place of improvement but also a state of probation for you. And when you get there you will do well to consider what you owe to your parents to your patrons & friends, to the Society you belong to & above all to yourself. If you reflect upon all these duties with the concern they deserve, you will not wonder at my telling ^you^, that upon your conduct for the two next years most probably will depend the future success, good or bad, of your whole life.

    If you will think, you cannot but consider the loss of 3 years immediately after entring the university a lamentable damage to one of your hopes: I consider them as worse than lost: for they have been consumed in strengthning an habit which threatens the loss of all your years to come. If you felt half as much for yourself, as I do for you, you would surely endeavour to rouse yourself, & recover the Activity of your mind. Till that ^is^ in some measure effected, it will be in vain for me to settle rules for your Studies, or propose any general plan of improvement: especially as you already know enough of my mind for present use.

    The Disposal of your person must therefore be the chief subject of this, which will be settled in few Words. You are to reside at College from the time you get there untill you have determined for your Batchelors Degree. Nevertheless You are to be at liberty in the long vacation to visit such freinds of mine or proper friends2 of your own acquiring to be approved of, as shall be inclined to make you welcome. But I must absolutely forbid your resorting to London untill a suitable Accommodation can be provided for you. I will use my own endeavours to make this time of relaxation as agreeable to you as it can be with safety. And as it will be necessary that you have some one to resort to for approbation of your intended excursions, I will endeavour to engage some friend of mine to undertake that office.3

    As you have hitherto had 70 pounds a year, altho’ it is ten pounds more than I intended or thought necessary, I shall not now lower your allowance: but as I expect it shall pay for every thing, the odd ten pounds shall be reserv’d to pay for public lectures, which, tho’ your ^lassitude &^ inability to pursue any steady purpose of study shall continue, you will probably take a pleasure in. You will therefore have paid to you (at Oxford only) 15 pounds evry quarter day, the other 10 pounds being reserved for the purposes aforesaid & accounted for if not expended at the end of the year. You will find this Allowance sufficient if you live regularly, that is, use the College hall as your only refectory: this is a considerable Article of Œconomy in the life of a Collegian, who has a table provided for him, the profits of which he cant transfer from thence. But It is absolutely necessary to Œconomy to keep an exact Account of your Expences; that if they exceed your income, you may  know where the excess might have been prevented.

    In treating on your subject I cannot avoid cautioning you against the fatal consequences of a disregard of my Authority, when it is exercised wholly for your interest. But I would not have you think that I desire to employ threats to influence your conduct preferably to other means. I had rather you should be incited to do right by a prospect of rewards, & much more by a due sense of your duty. I therefore must add that it is my intention as soon as the Term before mention’d is expir’d to think about getting you some genteel appointment. The manner in which this can be done, will depend a good deal upon the qualifications you shall then be master of, & the Character you will then bear: for by that time you will begin to have a fixd Character. And tho your indolence & impotence of mind should continue to have Dominion over you, I will procure for you as I probably shall have it in my power, an handsome & independent settlement in this Country; I mean if your moral Character stands unimpeach’d, & your Reputation is not stain’d by any habit of Vice. If the latter should be the Case, It will not be in my power to serve you here, or any where else.

    It has therefore been no little Consolation to me to understand that you have not as yet contracted any vicious habits because if you should prove an honest religious & moral Man, I make no doubt but I shall be able to settle you to good advantage, tho’ you should not have improved your talents according to their Capacity. On the other hand, if you should turn vitious irreligious & immoral, All my hopes of you & all my power to serve you will be destroyed at once. You need not therefore wonder at my being alarmed with your disposition to refine upon & explain away the principles of religion & consequently of true Morality or what is the same thing, to endeavour to break the Natural connection which joins them together. For I well know that when the Barriers between Virtue & Vice are thrown down the latter is sure to prevail, & the Theory of Libertinism scarce ever fails of being followed by the practice.

    As you can’t undertake to pursue any certain purpose, It would be in vain for me to set you any task of study. But There is one task of another kind, which I shall set you & expect you will perform: I mean a regular & effectual correspondence with me. In this I expect a short account of your transactions & the disposition both of your body & mind; your excursions in the vacation, & the Civilities you recieve, that I may know to whom I am obliged. I dont expect an exact journal, but would not have any material Circumstances omitted. I am willing you should make these details as favorable to yourself  as can be consistently with a regard to truth. I shant expect a stile from you at present: But I would have you endeavour to acquire one by degrees, so that it may appear natural & not forced. That there may be no disputes about the frequency of your writing, nor excuses for your having postponed or delay’d it, I propose that you should write to me every two months in the beginning of the Month, so that Mr Spicer4 may have the letter before the second Saturday. And this is not to be neglected upon account of any short occasional letters wrote in the intervals; nor is it to excuse your writing evry month for the first 2 or 3 Months after your arrival. I must also desire that you would keep my letters with this paper at the head of them tied up separately, & have them ready to show to me upon demand.

    If you should think yourself put under too strict a restraint, you will have it in your power to put an end to it in a very short time. The time now assigned for your constant residence at College, is no more than necessary for your Education, & not so much as you owe to the Discipline of the Society. You cant imagine that I should desire to keep you in perpetual Wardship: Nothing but the Necessity arising from your own misconduct shall make me continue it one hour longer than I can help. I want to see you your own Master with an independent income which you can call your own, & not to remain a perpetual Pensioner upon my little stock. If you are not so very soon, it will be your own fault & not mine. For if you will not assist in your own advancement, it will be impracticable for me to bring it about alone, tho I am ever so much

    Your Affectionate Father

    Ms, AC BP, 10: 151-157.