Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood: Wisdom will never go out of Fashion 7 March, 2012Posted by Molly Joyful in Books, Cuthbert Collingwood, Family, Letters, Quotes, Royal Navy, things you don't need but probably want, Trivia, Vices and Virtues.
Tags: advice, age of sail, Art, Books, collingwood, Cuthbert Collingwood, Family, Letters, personal, Quotes, Royal Navy, st. paul's cathedral, things you don't need but probably want, Vices and Virtues
Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood, died on 7th March, 1810 at the age of 61. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit St. Paul’s Cathedral today as I’ve just started a new job, but be assured that “Old Cuddy” wasn’t deprieved of his annual gift of flowers. A very lovely flowerbox with red roses and berries, not unlike the one from last year, was placed on his tomb.
So rather than paying my respects in person, I’ll do so in writing. I won’t talk about naval battle strategies or politics, though. When asked why I took such an interest in some old admiral who died a gazillion of years ago, I usually say: “People with common sense never go out of fashion.” Collingwood was born in 1748, but had a more modern approach to many things and better understanding of human nature than a good number of people nowadays.
On 17 April, 1809, Collingwood wrote a letter to his daughters while aboard his ship, the Ville de Paris, anchored off Minorca. I dare say that we’d all live in a much better world if some of the advice he gave his girls was headed today. Actually, I petition for his pieces of advice to be printed on a 4x20ft banner and put up in the Houses of Parliament. I suggest neon pink vinyl, so that really nobody can miss it.
The education of a lady, and indeed of a gentleman too, may be divided into three parts; all of great importance to their happiness, but in different degrees.
The first part ist the cultivation of the mind, that they may have a knowledge of right and wrong, and acquire a habit of doing acts of virtue and honour. By reading history, you will perceive the high estimation in wihch the memories of good and virtuous people are held; the contempt and disgust which are affixed to the base, whatever may have been their rank in life.
The second part of education is to acquire a competent knowledge how to manage your affairs, whatever they may happen to be; to know how to direct the economy of your house; and to keep exact accounts of every thing which concerns you. Whoever cannot do this must be dependent on somebody else, and those who are dependent on another cannot be perfectly at their ease. (…)
The third part is, perhaps, no less in value than the others. It is how to practise those manners and that address which will recommend you to the respect of strangers. Boldness and forwardness are exceedingly disgusting, and such people are generally more disliked the more they are known; but, at the same time, shyness and bashfulness, and the shrinking from conversation with those with whom you ought to associate, are repulsive and unbecoming.
This quote was taken from the excellent book “The Five Hundred Best English Letters”, selected and edited by The First Earl of Birkenhead, first published in 1931. I’d like to thank Esteven for the many hours of enjoyment I spent reading it.