Chapter III. His Schools and Schoolmasters
There were no good schools in Virginia
at that time. In fact, the people
did not care much about learning.
There were few educated men besides the parsons, and even
some of the
parsons were very ignorant.
It was the custom of some of the richest families to send
sons to England to the great schools there. But it is doubtful
young men learned much about books.
They spent a winter or two in the gay society of London, and
the manners of gentlemen--and that was about all.
George Washington's father, when a young man, had spent some
Appleby School in England, and George's half-brothers, Lawrence
Augustine, who were several years older than he, had been sent
But book-learning was not thought to be of much use. To know
manage the business of a plantation, to be polite to one's
equals, to be
a leader in the affairs of the colony--this was thought to
be the best
And so, for most of the young men, it was
enough if they could read and
write a little and keep a few simple accounts. As for the girls,
parson might give them a few lessons now and then - and if
good manners and could write letters to their friends, what
George Washington's first teacher was a
poor sexton, whose name was Mr.
Hobby. There is a story that he had been too poor to pay his
from England, and that he had, therefore, been sold to Mr.
a slave for a short time - but how true this is, I cannot say.
From Mr. Hobby, George learned to spell
easy words, and perhaps to write
a little - but, although he afterward became a very careful
penman, he was a poor speller as long as he lived.
When George was about eleven years old his father died. We
do not know
what his father's intentions had been regarding him. But possibly,
had lived, he would have given George the best education that
But now everything was changed. The plantation at Hunting
indeed, almost all the rest of Mr. Washington's great estate,
property of the eldest son, Lawrence.
George was sent to Bridge's Creek to live for a while with
Augustine, who now owned the old home plantation there. The
the younger children remained on the Rappahannock farm.
While at Bridge's Creek, George was sent to school to a Mr.
who had lately come from England.
There are still to be seen some exercises which the lad wrote
time. There is also a little book, called _The Young Man's
from which he copied, with great care, a set of rules for good
and right living.
Not many boys twelve years old would care for such a book
you must know that in those days there were no books for children,
indeed, very few for older people.
The maxims and wise sayings which George copied were, no doubt,
interesting to him--so interesting that many of them were never
There are many other things also in this _Young Man's Companion_,
have reason to believe that George studied them all.
There are short chapters on arithmetic and surveying, rules
measuring of land and lumber, and a set of forms for notes,
other legal documents. A knowledge of these things was, doubtless,
greater importance to him than the reading of many books would
Just what else George may have studied in Mr. Williams's school
say. But all this time he was growing to be a stout, manly
boy, tall and
strong, and well-behaved. And both his brothers and himself
beginning to think of what he should do when he should become