Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO DAVID STUART. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO DAVID STUART. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO DAVID STUART.
Mount Vernon, 22 January, 1799.
Washington leaves this day on a visit to Hope Park, which will afford you an opportunity to examine the progress he has made in the studies he was directed to pursue.
I can, and I believe I do, keep him in his room a certain portion of the twenty-four hours, but it will be impossible for me to make him attend to his books, if inclination on his part is wanting; nor while I am out if he chooses to be so, is it in my power to prevent it. I will not say this is the case, nor will I run the hazard of doing him injustice, by saying he does not apply as he ought to what has been prescribed, but no risk will be run, and candor requires I should declare it as my opinion, that he will not derive much benefit in any course which can be marked out for him at this place, without an able preceptor always with him.
What is best to be done with him I know not. My opinion always has been, that the university in Massachusetts would have been the most eligible seminary to have sent him to; first, because it is on a larger scale than any other; and secondly, because I believe that the habits of youth there, whether from the discipline of the school, or the greater attention of the people generally to morals, and a more regular course of life, are less prone to dissipation and excess than they are at the colleges south of it. It may be asked, if this was my opinion, why did I not send him there? The answer is as short as to me it was weighty; being the only male of his line, and knowing (although it would have been submitted to) that it would have proved a heart-rending stroke to have him at that distance, I was disposed to try a nearer seminary, of good repute, which, from some cause, or combination of causes, has not, after the experiment of a year, been found to answer the end that was contemplated. Whether to send him there now, or, indeed, to any other public school, is, indeed, problematical, and to misspend his time at this place would be disgraceful to himself and to me.
If I were to propose to him to go to the university at Cambridge, in Massachusetts, he might, as has been usual for him on like occasions, say, he would go wherever I chose to send him, but if he should go, contrary to his inclination, and without a disposition to apply himself properly, an expense without any benefit would result from the measure. Knowing how much I have been disappointed, and my time disturbed by his conduct, he would not, I am sure, make a candid disclosure of his sentiments to me on this or any other plan I might propose for the completion of his education, for which reason, I would pray that you (or perhaps Mrs. Stuart could succeed better than any one) would draw from him a frank and explicit disclosure of what his own wishes and views are; for, if they are absolutely fixed, an attempt to counteract them by absolute control would be as idle as the endeavor to stop a rivulet that is constantly running. Its progress, while mound upon mound, is erected, may be arrested, but this must have an end, and everything will be swept away by the torrent. The more I think of his entering William and Mary, unless he could be placed in the bishop’s1 family, the more I am convinced of its inutility on many accounts, which had better be the subject of oral communication than by letter. I shall wish to hear from you on the subject of this letter. I believe Washington means well, but has not resolution to act well. Our kind regards to Mrs. Stuart and family, and I am, my dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]James Madison.