Adam Smith on the rigorous education of young Fitzmaurice (1759)

Adam Smith

Smith wrote this letter to Lord Shelburne reporting on the progress of young Mr. Fitzmaurice’s education:

The College breaks up in the beginning of June and does not sit down again till the beginning of October. During this interval I propose that he should learn french and Dancing and fencing and that besides he should read with me the best greek, latin and french Authors on Moral Philosophy for two or three hours every morning, so that he will not be idle in the vacation.

It is important to remember that before he became of professor of moral philosophy Smith worked as a tutor. One stands in wonderment at the intensity and depth of education which the elite in the 18th and 19th century were able to “enjoy” (if that is the right word). It reminds one of the extraordinary education which John Stuart Mill got at the hands of his father James in the early 19th century.