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Waverley

Chapter 3
Education
The education of our hero, Edward Waverley, was of a nature somewhat desultory. In
infancy, his health suffered, or was supposed to suffer (which is quite the same thing), by
the air of London. As soon, therefore, as official duties, attendance on Parliament, or the
prosecution of any of his plans of interest or ambition, called his father to town, which
was his usual residence for eight months in the year, Edward was transferred to
Waverley-Honour, and experienced a total change of instructors and of lessons, as well as
of residence. This might have been remedied, had his father placed him under the
superintendence of a permanent tutor. But he considered that one of his choosing would
probably have been unacceptable at Waverley-Honour, and that such a selection as Sir
Everard might have made, were the matter left to him, would have burdened him with a
disagreeable inmate, if not a political spy, in his family. He therefore prevailed upon his
private secretary, a young man of taste and accomplishments, to bestow an hour or two
on Edward's education while at Brere-wood Lodge, and left his uncle answerable for his
improvement in literature while an inmate at the Hall.
This was in some degree respectably provided for. Sir Everard's chaplain, an Oxonian,
who had lost his fellowship for declining to take the oaths at the accession of George I,
was not only an excellent classical scholar, but reasonably skilled in science, and master
of most modern languages. He was, however, old and indulgent, and the recurring
interregnum, during which Edward was entirely freed from his discipline, occasioned
such a relaxation of authority, that the youth was permitted, in a great measure, to learn
as he pleased, what he pleased, and when he pleased. This slackness of rule might have
been ruinous to a boy of slow understanding, who, feeling labour in the acquisition of
knowledge, would have altogether neglected it, save for the command of a task-master;
and it might have proved equally dangerous to a youth whose animal spirits were more
powerful than his imagination or his feelings, and whom the irresistible influence of
Alma would have engaged in field sports from morning till night. But the character of
Edward Waverley was remote from either of these. His powers of apprehension were so
uncommonly quick, as almost to resemble intuition, and the chief care of his preceptor
was to prevent him, as a sportsman would phrase it, from overrunning his game, that is,
from acquiring his knowledge in a slight, flimsy, and inadequate manner. And here the
instructor had to combat another propensity too often united with brilliancy of fancy and
vivacity of talent,--that indolence, namely, of disposition, which can only be stirred by
some strong motive of gratification, and which renounces study as soon as curiosity is
gratified, the pleasure of conquering the first difficulties exhausted, and the novelty of
pursuit at an end. Edward would throw himself with spirit upon any classical author of
which his preceptor proposed the perusal, make himself master of the style so far as to
understand the story, and if that pleased or interested him, he finished the volume. But it
was in vain to attempt fixing his attention on critical distinctions of philology, upon the
difference of idiom, the beauty of felicitous expression, or the artificial combinations of
syntax. 'I can read and understand a Latin author,' said young Edward, with the self-
 
 
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