Artifice, Autonomy and Authority in Practical Education (1798)
Jan'y 11th 1780. Little Lovell was ask'd to spell ga go gi which he spelt very well. When he was ask'd, to spell gu, he wd not tell the first letter—nobody told him how to spell it, but after his Father had given him several hard stroaks with a whip he told it. What does obstinacy in children arise from? Is there no danger of making them cowards by beating them? Is it not pain or fear of pain, that makes them yeild to the person who is stronger than themselves? [...] Will not then the child think, I am weak now & am forced to submit, to those that are stronger—but when I am older & stronger I will make others submit to me—What is it that makes a servile, base disposition? being govern'd alone by fear of bodily pain—What would you think of a man who was restrain'd from committing murder only by the fear of being hang'd? 
- As this extract from the "child register" kept by Honora Sneyd Edgeworth shows, Edgeworthian education was not, at its inception, always as happy as Practical Education, published in 1798, suggests. Although it was Honora who instigated the experimental, practical and observation-based approach to children's learning which was to form the foundation of, and source-book for, the 1798 publication, her preoccupation with morality and obedience stands in stark contrast to the later work's intention: to create children with active, inventive minds, confident self-command and "benevolent affections" (Edgeworth, 2003, 6). The second wife of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Maria Edgeworth's first stepmother (two more were to follow), Honora was a stern—if sometimes troubled—disciplinarian, who held that "almost everything that education can give, is to be given before the age of 5 or 6—therefore I think great attention & strictness should be shewn before that age; particularly, if there is anything refractory or rebellious in the disposition, that is the time to repress it, & to substitute good habits, obedience, attention, & respect towards superiors." (Butler, 1972, p.47) As for Richard Lovell Edgeworth's response to his wife's misgivings about severe physical punishments—which in the manuscript of 1780 quoted above, is written in Honora's notebook, just after Honora's troubled self-questionings—although impenitent about the severity of his punishment of Lovell, his explanation of the child's seemingly inexplicable obstinacy shows the imprint of the Hartleyan associationism which was another of the formative influences on Practical Education, particularly in its wish to foster a psychologically informed understanding of children's ideas and motivations. Lovell, Richard Lovell Edgeworth reflects, "was a very feeble infant; and felt great pain from attempting to walk: so much as to prevent him from going to his food for many hours if it were put at a distance from him. [Did his parents test this through experiment, one wonders? And if so, how long did Lovell go hungry?] His Nurse ambitious that he should walk early by harsh words & threats made him walk without giving him pleasure when he had done—hence, I apprehend, arose his dislike to obedience." His insight into his son's obstinacy notwithstanding, however, Richard Lovell Edgeworth is contented, in 1780, to dismiss Honora's momentary doubt about the wisdom of harsh discipline. 
- By 1798, however, when Maria Edgeworth was setting down the Edgeworth family experiment in education, corporal punishment and the use of force were regarded as clear signs of failure in adult preceptors, not as means of discipline or character formation required by the innate obstinacy and waywardness of young children: Edgeworth indeed cites Bonesana Cesare Beccaria, among others, to argue that "the most sanguinary penal laws have always been ineffectual to restrain from crimes", and emphasises (citing the radical educationalist David Williams in support) that "punishments are the abrupt, brutal resource of ignorance, frequently, to cure the effects of former negligence" on the part of adult carers and teachers; "the language of blows need seldom be used to reasonable creatures" (2003, 138 & 148). Coleridge's famous sarcasm at the expense of Edgeworthian "practical education" in a letter of September 1798, after Josiah Wedgwood (II) told him that the Edgeworth children had been "most miserable...; and yet the father in his book is ever vapourizing about their happiness", is clearly, in part, well founded.  Certainly it seems that the children of Richard Lovell Edgeworth's first two marriages were treated with severity and strictness, as the exchange quoted above demonstrates.
- But the 1798 volume is far more concerned with making learning an active pleasure rather than a source of pain or shame, with liberating children's minds, including them in the conversation and interests of the family, and thus, through practical example rather than moral harangue or punishment, inspiring them with "benevolent affections" and a desire to benefit society at large. (2003, 6.) Practical education, as conceived and explained by Edgeworth, was to be easy, enjoyable, and based on activity and experience, rather than rule and rote, so that independent discovery and experiment were to be valued more highly than dictation and authority, and affection, rather than fear, was to be the motive. Playfulness and pleasure are constantly emphasised throughout the volume as integral to learning and discovery, at one with children's innate curiosity and desire for knowledge, and Edgeworth also stresses the importance of allowing children to make their own choices, and learn "from their own experience a just confidence in their own powers" (2003, p.29). In other words, this was an education intended to create a cohesive society, but one in which variety of opinion and enquiry were valued, as opposed to a society which enforced conformity.
- When Practical Education first came out in 1798, it emerged in the midst of an urgent debate about "useful knowledge" and its effects on social stability and health. In his Discourse on the Love of our Country, Richard Price had rejoiced at the French Revolution, seeing it as a sign of a "diffusion of knowledge which has undermined superstition and error". He had called on his fellow "friends of freedom, and writers in its defence" to behold "the light you have struck out, after setting AMERICA free, reflected to FRANCE and there kindled into a blaze that lays despotism in ashes, and warms and illuminates EUROPE"—to applaud an "ardour for liberty" and a "general amendment ... in human affairs" which was "catching and spreading", presaging an era of "increasing light and liberality" (Price, 1790, 41–2). Edmund Burke, on the other hand, had celebrated what he saw as the English nation's natural firebreak or lightning-rod—a "sullen resistance to innovation": and declared: "We know that we have made no discoveries; and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality; nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born, altogether as well as they will be after ... the silent tomb shall have imposed its law upon our pert loquacity." (Burke, 1986, 181, 182.) This debate about innovation, inflammatory experiments, the moral value of the "diffusion of knowledge", and the political character of enlightenment, is not simply a feature of explicitly political and public declarations for, or declamations against, the "rights of man". As Price's discussion of patriotism and enlightened fellow-feeling had suggested, education—the diffusion of knowledge—was increasingly to seem a matter of public and political importance in the 1790s. Burke had famously enlisted the domestic sphere against the innovators, rhetorically yoking together "our state" and "our hearths" (1986, 120), and aiming to persuade his readers that aristocratic and monarchical authority possessed natural claims equal to the private affections of home and family. Writers on education such as Priestley, Wollstonecraft, and the Edgeworths countered this by showing how the apparently private realm of child-rearing and early education might become a source of social transformation and of challenge to established authorities.
- The quiet challenge to authoritarianism posed by Practical Education is discernible in many places, but is perhaps clearest in the discussion of "memory and invention" in Chapter XXI. With its attention firmly fixed on the merits of experimentation, observation, adaptation of existing knowledge and the encouragement of rational enquiry, Edgeworth's critical exploration of the value placed on children's ability to memorise and learn by rote implicitly challenges the conservative Burkean respect for precedents, "wise prejudice" (1986, 194), and the sanctity of custom, and consistently shows more respect for the "living" world of innovative thinkers than for the "dead" world of adherence to the established rules and understandings of the natural and human orders. For Burke, the French regard for "false lights" had led France into a quagmire of "muddy understandings" and "cold hearts" (1986, 124, 171), and he represents these anti-authoritarian questionings of the old order as a kind of bad science, evoking Lunar experiments with air. The innovations of the revolutionaries triggered, he had argued, a dangerous and unpredictable chemical reaction, in which "the wild gas, the fixed air is plainly broken loose", leaving "the agitation of a troubled and frothy surface." (1986, 90.) Burke goes on to assert that contrary to this pernicious knowledge, British education is "in a manner wholly in the hands of ecclesiastics, ... in all stages from infancy to manhood." (1986, 198.) Burke's idea of education as the creator and supporter of orthodoxy is, as we shall see, quite contrary to Edgeworth's notion of education as based on enquiry, observation and experiment.
- Edgeworth, in fact, takes Burke's valuation of prejudice, "antient usage" (1986, 276) and habit and quietly overturns it. Suggesting that it is only "[t]hose who are governed in their opinions by precedent and authority" who believe that rote learning is valuable in and of itself, Edgeworth highlights the suspension of critical thought involved in such feats of memory: "Whilst we repeat, we exclude all thought from the mind, we form a habit of saying certain sounds in a certain order." Such habitual behaviour can in fact, she suggests, have lasting injurious effects: "no one can reason clearly, whose memory has these foolish habits; the ill matched ideas are inseparably joined, and hence they imagine that there is some natural connexion between them. Hence arise those obstinate prejudices, which no arguments can vanquish." (2003, 313, 318, 326.)
- Rational memory, on the other hand, in which ideas are thoroughly tested and subjected by the child to "philosophic arrangement" is a kind of scientific endeavour which may involve thinking that is "foreign to [a] customary course of associated ideas" (2003, 318, 317.)  The communication of knowledge from adult to child is not to be conceived of as a direct imprint of adult categories onto the child's undeveloped but receptive mind, Edgeworth cautions; instead, she recommends that when something is explained, the child should be asked to run through the explanation for him- or herself, not necessarily using the same words: "In such repetitions as these the mind is active, therefore it will strengthen and improve." (2003, 327.)  Crucially, Edgeworth suggests that it is children's full inclusion in rational society that helps to create new knowledge: in a "large and literary family" where there is continual conversation and dialogue, especially if children are "encouraged to take a reasonable share in conversation", and permitted to "talk freely of what they read", curiosity will feed the memory at the same time as invention is nurtured (2003, 328). Writing in the manuscript child register about an immersion en famille in the study of chemistry in 1796, Edgeworth suggests that such intellectual endeavour, in which adults and children are joined, is the best and most stimulating environment for all, since "[a] large family may send out antennae for knowledge to different regions." Such inclusivity and collaborative effort creates an appetite for knowledge, as well as keeping learning pleasurable; elsewhere in the same manuscript account of the family study made of chemistry, Edgeworth describes "[a] new chemical masque—To imprint upon our memories the names of the acids and alkalies by their different affinities we gave to each person in the family the name of an acid or an alkali—This diverted us all & we got them by heart with ease.... This exhibition not only diverted us but fixed the names of the mixtures on our minds—In the Evening the Children were all upon the gravel walk and they began a chemical dance—When Lovell called to any of the couples & asked what they were they readily told him & each acid & alkali gradually learned to distinguish all their proper partners." (Edgeworth MSS, August 23rd 1796, M.S. Eng.misc.c.895, fol.90.) Children, like adults, argues Edgeworth, have more motivation for absorbing ideas when they feel that they can make use of it "in some future invention": this hope gives more incentive to remember data than when "they merely learn by rote, because they are commanded to do so by the voice of authority." The "habit of inventing" is one, Edgeworth observes, that "increases the wish for knowledge, and increases the interest men take in a number of ideas, which are indifferent to uncultivated and indolent people. It is the same with children." She urges: "Let their useful curiosity be encouraged; let them make a part of the general society of the family, instead of being treated as if they had neither senses or understanding. When any thing is to be done, let them be asked to invent the best way of doing it." (2003, 328–9, 331.) 
- In this emphasis on social integration and practicality, as well as on the liberation of children's inventive powers, Practical Education shows how different the Edgeworth family's outlook was from Rousseau's. Although frequently cited in Practical Education, Rousseau's system, as laid down in Emile, had limited appeal for Maria Edgeworth. Ostensibly interested in freeing the "natural man" from the "slavish prejudice" of conventional society, Rousseau effectively reinstates in his scheme the "control, constraint [and] compulsion" that he finds so offensive in civilised society. (1911, 7, 10.) He had in Emile described a one-to-one adult-to-child relationship, in which, from the very beginning, the child's experiences were strictly monitored, and sometimes actually invented by the preceptor-figure (presented to us as the author himself). Although Rousseau's emphasis on the development of physical confidence in the child seems to indicate a wish to foster a hardy, independent, natural being, his determination to control what information and ideas are available to his pupil, isolating him from an awareness of a wider society, in fact suggests a strictly hierarchical relationship, in which the mastery is always in the hands of the adult: "let him always think he is master while you are really master. There is no subjection so complete as that which preserves the forms of freedom.... Are you not master of his whole environment so far as it affects him?" Rousseau recommends that this control should always be invisible to the child: "Give him no orders at all, absolutely none.... Let him know only that he is weak and you are strong... let this be perceived, learned, and felt ... let the curb be force, not authority. If there is something he should not do, do not forbid him, but prevent him, without explanation or reasoning." (1911, 84, 55.) Though invisible, control often seems, for Rousseau, to be absolute.
- Echoing this emphasis on control as an ostensible means of creating freedom, in 1797 Tom Wedgwood—one of the sons of Josiah Wedgwood, a Lunar Society man and a friend of Richard Lovell Edgeworth—proposed an experiment in education still more extreme than Rousseau's. Wedgwood wanted to involve Wordsworth, Coleridge, Godwin, Beddoes, Holcroft and Horne Tooke in the education of a child, with the aim of "anticipat[ing] a century or two upon the large-paced progress of human improvement". He therefore proposed to rear a child from infancy under laboratory conditions, raised in a nursery with plain grey walls, enlivened only by a few carefully chosen instructive objects, and guarded from the external world. "The gradual explication of Nature would be attended with great difficulty; the child must never go out of doors or leave his own apartment." (Cited by Gill, 1989, 130–1.) Although Tom Wedgwood clearly meant to raise a child blissfully unaware of the corruption and compromise of the real world, his proposed scheme of education paradoxically reproduced the situation prevailing in British society in 1797—in which "sedition" was prevented using surveillance, restriction of freedom of expression, and imprisonment without charge—a strange replication of what several of Wedgwood's ideal preceptors had themselves experienced in the 1794 Treason Trials.
- Edgeworthian education, by contrast with Rousseau's and Wedgwood's schemes, was sociable, playful, and sought to produce an integrated society in minature. But it also encouraged children to interrogate the assumptions and reasonings of those who were supposedly superiors. Edgeworth asserts that "if we compare [children's] method of reasoning with the reasonings of the learned, we shall sometimes be surprised. They have no prejudices, therefore they have the complete use of all their senses; they have few ideas, but those few are distinct; they can be analysed and compared with ease; children, therefore, judge and invent better in proportion to their knowledge than most grown-up people." (2003, 335.) As so often in Edgeworth's writing, her allusion, in this case to Robert Hooke, in support of this assertion amplifies the point that she seems to undercut with her cautious italicisation. Hooke's discussion of scientific experiment and innovation seeks to counter the influence of prejudice and of loyalty to authoritative precedents. Again, there are implicitly anti-Burkean overtones here. Hooke notes, for instance, that philosophy's progress is inhibited if men conform to "a Prejudice against the search of Truth elsewhere, than in Books thereby chained up by the imbib'd Principles and Dictates of their Teachers, and allow themselves to be habituated to a loathing of anything that offered it self as a Novelty or new Discovery". He associates this with a mistaken loyalty to orthodoxies which leads to distortion of truth, where those making experiments feel obliged "to wrest over all the Observations they chance to stumble upon, and make them correspondent with their already believ'd Theory; instead of an indeavour to rectify and regulate those so receiv'd Theories by those Intimations, which careful and accurate Observations would afford." (Hooke, 1705, 4,5.) It is interesting to notice here how Hooke values "stumbling" in the pursuit of truth: like Edgeworth, he suggests that it is the unprejudiced observer, willing to attend to the evidence of the senses and to reason from this evidence, who will advance knowledge: truly damaging errors come rather from the assumptions and conscious knowledgeability of "wise" experts rather than from ignorance.
- Edgeworth's account of the family practice of "conversation-lessons" in the Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (begun by her father but completed by her after his death in 1817) is also suggestive of the kind of openness to enquiry and tolerance of error that Hooke recommends. Of her father's attitude to intellectual enquiry, Edgeworth remembered that, "[i]n trying experiments he always shewed, that he was intent upon learning the truth, not upon supporting his opinion." The same dialogic openness was evident in his desire to include children in adult pursuits, and in his attitude towards children's efforts to solve problems: "when he was building or carrying on experiments, or work of any sort, he constantly explained to his children whatever was doing or to be done; and by questions adapted to their several ages and capacities, exercised their powers of observation, reasoning and invention." This had an electric effect on children's interest in knowledge, as Edgeworth comments: "The animation spread through the house by connecting children with all that is going on, and allowing them to join in thought or conversation with the grown-up people of the family, was highly useful...thus both sympathy and emulation excited mental exertion in the most agreeable manner." The Edgeworthian method and attitude allowed the child to make mistakes, in the belief that the process of acquiring understanding and knowledge required error in order to build the power to make right judgments: so that her father, Edgeworth records, "would sit quietly while a child was thinking of the answer to a question, without interrupting, or suffering it to be interrupted, and would let the pupil touch and quit the point repeatedly; and without a leading observation or exclamation, he would wait till the shape of reasoning and invention were gone through, and were converted into certainties." Through this patient willingness to listen, Maria Edgeworth argues, "[t]he pupil's mind became secure, not only of the point in question, but steady in the confidence of its future powers." (Edgeworth, 1820, II.181, 182; see also 180–90.) We might compare this with Wollstonecraft's assertion in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (cited with approval very early on in Practical Education) that men have "superiour judgment, and more fortitude than women" because "they ... by more frequently going astray enlarge their minds." (1995, 193) Error itself is valued in Wollstonecraft's moral schema as a means of acquiring robust understanding, implicitly running counter to the Miltonic schema in which error and unauthorised knowledge are presented as fatal to innocence.
- Error is indeed conceived by Edgeworth as crucial to the child's learning and his relationship with the parent or teacher. She advises: "Let him try his own experiments, then he will be ready to try yours; and if yours succeed better than his own, you will secure his confidence." Note that "if": adult superiority is not a given, and respect is enjoined for the child's own attempts to discover truth. It is not assumed that the child has no right to pursue his own investigations and test his own ideas, even if they prove erroneous. A good example of this tolerance of error appears in Chapter II of Practical Education, when Edgeworth is discussing the notion of play as a form of work when children are intent upon it. It is worth quoting this passage at length, since it tells us much about the kind of tacit anti-authoritarianism which later brought Edgeworth's moral integrity into disrepute.
S-, a little boy of nine years old, was standing without any book in his hand, and seemingly idle; he was amusing himself with looking at what he called a rainbow upon the floor: he begged his sister M- to look at it; then he said he wondered what could make it; how it came there. The sun shone bright through the window; the boy moved several things in the room, so as to place them sometimes between the light and the colours which he saw upon the floor, and sometimes in a corner of the room where the sun did not shine. As he moved the things he said, "This is not it;" "Nor this;" "This hasn't any thing to do with it." At last he found, that when he moved a tumbler of water out of the place where it stood, his rainbow vanished. Some violets were in the tumbler; S- thought they might be the cause of the colours which he saw upon the floor, or, as he expressed it, "Perhaps these may be the thing." He took the violets out of the water; the colours remained upon the floor. he then thought that "it might be the water." He emptied the glass; the colours remained, but they were fainter. S- immediately observed, that it was the water and glass together that made the rainbow. "But," said he, "there is no glass in the sky, yet there is a rainbow, so that I think the water alone would do, if we could but hold it together without the glass. Oh, I know how I can manage." He poured the water slowly out of the tumbler into a bason, which he placed where the sun shone, and he saw the colours on the floor twinkling behind the water as it fell; this delighted him much.... He then said he thought the different thickness of the glass was the cause of the variety of colours: afterwards he said he thought that the clearness or muddiness of the different drops of water was the cause of the different colours. (2003, 41.)
- What is striking here is the way in which the child is allowed to play and experiment with the glass of water, without the adults who are listening attempting to direct his reasoning, to correct his errors or to forestall his enquiry. The conclusions drawn show the adults, in fact, learning something from the child, that is, as Edgeworth immediately notes, how mistaken "rigid preceptors" would be in supposing the child "idle whilst he was meditating upon the rainbow on the floor", when it would be apparent to any observer "free from prejudices" that "his attention was fixed; he was reasoning, he was trying experiments." The child exploring the mystery of the rainbow is then compared to Descartes and Buffon; their scientific thought, Edgeworth points out, was equally rooted in "pleased attention", Descartes pleased and instructed by an experiment with a glass globe to investigate the phenomenon of the rainbow explored here by Edgeworth's half-brother Sneyd with his glass of water, and Buffon diverted by, and then learning from, his observation that the shadows of trees falling on a white wall were green (2003, 41). Edgeworth is concerned above all to show that, notwithstanding his errors, Sneyd was engaged in philosophical work—or play—equal in seriousness to that of Antonio de Dominis, Descartes, or Buffon: something that "rigid preceptors", such as Blake's Nurse in Songs of Experience, might miss. Such observers, remarks Edgeworth, might have condemned the child "for wasting his time at play"—a phrase that cannot help but recall the thoughts of the Nurse in Blake's Song, who, unlike the permissive Nurse of Songs of Innocence, has no confidence in children's self-governance: "Your spring & your day, are wasted in play/And your winter and night in disguise." (ll.7–8).  Instead, Edgeworth suggests that the child's efforts are not to be considered as different in kind from those of scientists such as de Dominis, "however high sounding the name", since "he could have exerted only his utmost attention upon the theory of the rainbow, and the child did the same" (42). As so often in Edgeworth, one wonders about the citation of de Dominis, sometime Archbishop of Spalato, pioneer of optical science, and controversial theologian: de Dominis notoriously challenged the authority both of the Papacy and of Protestant England, and ended by having his body burnt, together with his books, by the Inquisition in Rome in 1624—although he was scarcely any more popular with the Protestant authorities of his time. While not, of course, explicitly advocating such perilous flouting of authority in her child experimentalists, Edgeworth does emphasise throughout Practical Education the importance of allowing children the opportunity of judging according to their own experience and observations: "We should have little hopes of those who swallow every thing they read in a book; we are always pleased to see a child hesitate and doubt, and require positive proof before he believes." (378–9.)
- Edgeworth's subtle, often allusively coded challenge to authority is picked up in the chapter on "Taste and Imagination", where she urges that children should be encouraged to develop an "enlarged toleration of mind", attending "to their own feelings", so as "to ascertain the truth by experiments upon themselves" (341, 342). Rather than seeking to influence children's own responses, Edgeworth suggests: "We should let children see things as they really are, and we should not prejudice them either by our exclamations of rapture, or by our affected disgust." (353.) Again, it is interesting that among the tastes she identifies as injurious when transmitted by unthinking adults to unquestioning children is the taste for high rank or office. Following Erasmus Darwin, who had suggested that ambition was a form of insanity, Edgeworth warns that these false tastes are easily established in childhood, in "early mistaken associations. A feather, or a crown, or an alderman's chain, or a cardinal's hat, or a purse of yellow counters, are unluckily associated in the minds of some men with the idea of happiness, and without staying to deliberate, these unfortunate persons hunt through life the phantasms of a disordered imagination." Such erroneous wrong-headedness, foisted on children by adults, may at first seem insignificant, but it has larger repercussions: "who, urged by the maniacal desire for gold, hears unmoved the groans of his fellow-creatures, the execrations of mankind, and that "still small voice," which haunts those who are stained with blood?" (359) Children, though naturally ignorant of and therefore originally indifferent to the attractions of worldly power, can be corrupted by adults who introduce the idea of ambition, and who thus "instill error and prejudice, without the smallest degree of compunction": Edgeworth therefore expresses disapproval of the kind of "nonsensical conversation" in which adults probe children as to whether they want to be a king, bishop, judge, general or admiral when they grow up; by comparison, Edgeworth sees children's ignorance as a form of wisdom: "Children, who have not learned by rote the expected answers to such interrogations, stand in amazed silence upon these occasions.... We have often thought, in listening to the conversations of grown up people with children, that the children reasoned infinitely better than their opponents." (364)
- Following a similar philosophy, it is always urged in Practical Education that children should think and feel for themselves, and "exercise their invention upon all subjects", from fictional plots, to poetry, translation, historical events and scientific technology (421). (Theology, or scriptural study, is never mentioned.) Even those authors largely approved of by the Edgeworths, such as Buffon and Darwin, are to be considered as authorities which can and should be challenged where children identify faults in their arguments: "no names of high authority should ever preclude an author's arguments from examination." (2003, 372.)  Even when it is done with the best intentions, Edgeworth is critical of the kind of reasoning often practised by adults on children, in which "[p]eople arrange questions artfully, so as to bring them to whatever conclusion they please"; the consequence is that the child becomes cunning and timid, fearful of giving the wrong answer, and determined to "evade the snare that is laid for him" (2003, 374). This kind of artificial exchange, far from promoting an attachment to truth, actually suppresses honest enquiry, according to Edgeworth, and she several times in Practical Education compares this subtly authoritarian mode of interrogation with the thwarted exchanges between landowners and peasants, or masters and slaves. The perversion of truthfulness in these situations, and in children governed by fear, is explicitly linked to the project of education. In the case of Irish peasants, Edgeworth identifies the reluctance to give straight answers to straight questions as the result of oppression: peasants are in effect instructed in deception by those in authority, "from that apprehension of injustice which [they have] been taught to feel by hard experience" (2003, 124: my italics). Slaves are \ fearful of answering questions: "Oppression and terror necessarily produce meanness and deceit in all climates, and in all ages; and wherever fear is the governing motive in education, we must expect to find in children a propensity to dissimulation, if not confirmed habits of falsehood." (2003, 125.)
- This wariness of the potential perversion of truthfulness by authority pervades Edgeworth's approach to children's natural responses. In the chapter on books, for instance, readers are warned about the national stereotypes propagated in some geography textbooks, and adults are urged not to dismiss the questions children may ask about the opinions they find in books, which all too often try to impose the authors' own "moral reflections, and easy explanations of political events" on young readers: "These reflections and explanations do much harm," warns Edgeworth; "they instil prejudice, and they accustom the young unsuspicious reader to swallow absurd reasoning, merely because it is often presented to them." In particular, she values the strong reactions that children have to cruelty and suffering, commenting: "The simple morality of childhood is continually puzzled and shocked at the representation of the crimes and the virtues of historic heroes. History, when divested of the graces of eloquence, and of that veil which the imagination is taught to throw over antiquity, presents a disgusting, terrible list of crimes and calamities; murders, assassinations, battles, revolutions, are the memorable events of history. The love of glory atones for military barbarity; treachery and fraud are often dignified with the names of prudence and policy; and the historian, desirous to appear moral and sentimental, yet compelled to produce facts, makes out an inconsistent, ambiguous system of morality." (2003, 202.) Burke had characterised France as an untaught child,suggesting that the French should have had their imaginations directed by a "pious predilection for [your] ancestors", rather than acting "as if you had never been moulded into civil society, and had every thing to begin anew" (1986, 122). Edgeworth, by contrast, values the honest and instinctive reactions of the child against the deceitful veil that children are "taught" to throw over the "memorable events of history". Consistently hostile to subterfuge and artifice as a means of directing children's thoughts and observations, Edgeworth thus distances herself from the "pious predilections" that Burke thinks right, identifying this unquestioning fidelity to authority with a perpetuation of violence and unhappiness. Rather, she believes, parents or teachers "should never force any system upon the belief of children; but [should] wait until they can understand all the arguments on each side of the question"; likewise, she advises that "[w]hen the young reader pauses to think, allow him time to think, and suffer him to question the assertions which he meets with in books with freedom, and that minute accuracy which is only tiresome to those who cannot reason" (2003, 421, 202.)
- It was, however, this resolute emphasis on free thinking and free enquiry which later brought Practical Education into disrepute. Although celebrated in France, Switzerland and America, Practical Education in Britain was, in the years following its publication, to be closely associated with an unambiguous hostility to established authority and religion, signalled, according to an increasingly reactionary press, in its author's firm determination to remain "silent" on religion and politics, "because [as Edgeworth declared in her Preface] we have no ambition to gain partizans, or to make proselytes." (2003, 6.) The British Critic, which had been founded in 1792–3 to help counter the influence of radical publications, began the assault, denouncing Practical Education for its "education à-la-mode...nearly 800 quarto pages on practical Education, and not a word on God, Religion, Christianity, or a hint that such topics are ever to be mentioned. To make amends, there is a great deal about Dr. Darwin, and Zoonomia, and Dr. Beddoes.... What an advantage it must be to have children so brought up, as to be divested of all the prejudices which fettered the groveling minds of Bacon, Hooker, Locke, Boyle, Newton, and prejudiced only in favour of the discoveries and discoverers of the last 30 years!" (February 1800, xv.210.)
- When a second edition was called for, despite this early indication of unease about the welter of scientific allusion and absence of religious instruction in Practical Education, Edgeworth, with the support of her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, decided not to alter the policy of avoiding mention of religious ideas, claiming that "[c]hildren usually learn the Religion of their parents; they attend public worship, and both at home and at School they read the Bible and various religious Books, which are of course put into their hands.... The Authors continue to preserve the silence upon this Subject, which they before thought prudent; but they disavow in explicit terms the design of laying down a system of Education, founded upon Morality, exclusive of Religion." (Edgeworth, 1801, xiv.) Sarah Trimmer, a household name in children's literature and an adherent of the Church of England, was not impressed by this disavowal. Founding editor of the Guardian of Education, whose opening number in June 1802 had warned of a "conspiracy against CHRISTIANITY and all SOCIAL ORDER" endeavouring "to infect the minds of the rising generation, through the medium of Books of Education and Children's Books", she conceded the "great ingenuity and practical knowledge" displayed in Practical Education, but feared for the morals and religion of pupils taught by it. Insisting that "[t]he true centre of education should be religion", she maintained that "even geography, writing and arithmetic may be made in some measure subservient to religious instruction"; and this Edgeworth had signally failed to do. (1802, i.2; 1803, ii.171.) 
- Mrs Trimmer saw Practical Education as implicitly Jacobinical in its tacit hostility to religion, evidenced in Edgeworth's neglect of opportunities for religious instruction. What Edgeworth meant by equipping children to receive "lasting impressions concerning things of the utmost importance to their present and future happiness" was not that they should dwell on religious matters, but that they should be able to make themselves happy using rationality, judgment, and independent reasoning. (Trimmer, 1792, 34.) Trimmer rejects this as a "false PHILOSOPHY, which has no foundation in truth or reason", and attacks those who advocate deferring religious instruction until a time when "young people might...with unprejudiced minds chuse a religion for themselves, when (it was imagined) they would be capable of discriminating betwixt truth and error." (1802, i.10; cf. Edgeworth, 2003, 421: "We should never force any system upon the belief of children; but [should] wait until they can understand all the arguments on each side of the question".) In a series of articles criticising Edgeworthian notions of utility and truth, Trimmer denies that children need to study anything but "what is already known": "all that is necessary is, to follow an old and beaten track", not to strive to initiate children in scientific discovery nor to encourage them to invent, since, she argues, "experimental knowledge...ought not to supersede the most important of all knowledge." (1802, i.491; 1803, ii.35.) Trimmer finds fault, for instance, with the story of Sneyd and the rainbow, contending that his attention should have been called to the rainbow as "the appointed token of God's everlasting covenant with man" (1803, ii.39). Rather than drawing the child's attention to the fact of human sinfulness, which had necessitated the punishment of the flood and had confirmed God's authority as lawgiver and judge, Sneyd had been deliberately left in ignorance, and a prime opportunity for his spiritual enlightenment had been missed. In contrast with Edgeworth's interest in analysing the corrupting influence of unquestionable authority on truthfulness, Trimmer urges that implanting "the desire of obtaining the favour of the SUPREME BEING" is the best spur to the "love and practice of truth and integrity", and laments that this salutary "fear of GOD" is never mentioned by Edgeworth, partly because of her neglect of religious texts in favour of writings by scientists and radicals: "for instructions how to excite this fear, the BIBLE will prove a better text book than the sophistical writings of a Williams and a Rousseau", or the "charming eloquence of a Godwin" (1803, ii.100–101).
- What Trimmer suggests as integral to moral education, the inculcation of fear, is in fact akin to the artificial courses of experience which Edgeworth several times explicitly condemns in Practical Education. Whereas Sneyd's investigation of the rainbow could have been annexed to the cause of religious instruction and the emotional manipulation of the child's own observation, according to Trimmer, Edgeworth is more interested in the opportunity to review adult preconceptions afforded by such incidents. Although artificial courses of experience had been explicitly recommended by writers such as Rousseau and de Genlis, both frequently cited in Practical Education, Edgeworth had her doubts about such underhand devices. De Genlis, for instance, recommends that children should be tested by adults, who should invent experiences for them as a necessary part of their training in virtue; this constitutes a species of moral manipulation which she considers more effective than mere harangues, because children have the impression that they are forming their conclusions for themselves: "Produisez donc des événements, offrez [à l'élève] des tentations, multipliez les épreuves, redoublez-en l'attrait à mesure que la raison se fortifie." ("Produce events, expose [your pupil] to temptation, multiply the number of tests, and make them more and more attractive as the child's reasoning powers grow stronger." De Genlis, 1782, i.358.)  Edgeworth on the other hand warns against "tormenting" children with "artificial trials of temper" and other tests imposed by adults on children, declaring: "We may safely allow children to be as happy as they possibly can be without sacrificing the future to the present" (2003, 103), and returns to this theme as she summarises her book in its concluding chapter: "We have reprobated the artifices sometimes used by preceptors towards their pupils; we have shewn that all confidence is destroyed by these deceptions. May they never more be attempted! May parents unite in honest detestation of these practices! Children are not fools, and they are not to be governed like fools." (2003, 399.)
- But this neglect of opportunities to inculcate religious belief, in which experiments in natural philosophy might be turned by parents or preceptors into artful openings for the reinscription of dogma, was among the faults identified by those who saw Practical Education as immoral. The freedom from moral "declamation" (2003, 6) that Edgeworth thought so important in the raising of unprejudiced, enquiring children and citizens suggested only impiety and treason to readers anxious about the vast experiment in politics still under way in revolutionary France. This could only have been exacerbated by the publication of two works in 1797–8 which alleged close links between the educators and intellectuals of Prussia and France, and the French Revolution: Barruel's Memoirs illustrating the History of Jacobinism, and John Robison's Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, Carried on in the secret meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies. Barruel, for instance, represents the Revolution as the outcome of a perverted education: "the French Revolution has been a true child to its parent sect; ...those black deeds and atrocious acts [were] the natural sequel of the principles and systems that gave it birth." Indeed, Barruel implicates many of the intellectual figures cited in Practical Education: Voltaire, Marmontel, D'Alembert, Condillac, d'Argenson and Buffon, suggesting that all were involved in a conspiracy designed to spread atheism and anarchy, while pretending only to value "toleration, reason and humanity", and blaming them for a false philosophy "reject[ing] ... every authority that is not derived from the light of nature." (Barruel, 1797–8, xvi, 150, 4.) Likewise, Robison refers to the "specious pretext of enlightening the world by the torch of philosophy", condemns "Cosmo-politism", and warns women in particular that if they are seduced by "Illumination", and fail to "preserve [Christianity] in full force on their minds" and to impress this belief on their children, they will lose the status and freedom they now have and become mere slaves to men's appetites (Robison, 1797, 11, 100, 269).
- This association of Edgeworthian enlightenment and interest in scientific experiment with irreligiousness begins to surface strongly in the reviews of her work—not just her educational works,but also her fiction. John Foster, for instance, reviewing the second part of Tales of Fashionable Life in the Eclectic Review in October 1812, laments that Edgeworth, though a great talent, cannot be read with "unmingled esteem", since her "rare and brilliant qualities...are not set...in correct, scriptural principles." Edgeworth was ranked among those "minds of the highest and most vigorous capability, ...actuated by too much natural benevolence; with whom the benefit of society is a decided object...- who yet, by their utmost exertions, lay scarcely a single stone, and never the foundation stone, in the great work of human improvement," because of their neglect of "the original architect, of him who designed, and who knows the end of every part." The end result of all such endeavour, argues Foster, is "a Babel. The good produced is, at best, desultory. A want of systematic co-operation,—of design correct from the beginning, deprives it of half its value." Edgeworth's sins of omission with regard to religion, which Foster condemned as a "radical defect" of her work, were particularly regrettable, since "for a woman, to strike the public eye, and incur public censure, as irreligious, cannot be otherwise than painful, must be felt as derogating from the first character she has to sustain,—the character of sex, to the proprieties of which, talent can offer no indulgence." (Foster, October 1812, VIII.979, 980, 981, 999, 1000.)
- Despite this adverse critical reaction, however, the third edition of Practical Education, published in 1811, steadfastly repeated the original determination to say nothing of religious instruction, although the new edition did appear under the amended title of Essays on Practical Education. The Preface to the 1798 edition had claimed that Practical Education, while not intended as a theoretical system, had been written to a "regular plan" and cogent "design"; it was not to be regarded as "a heap of desultory remarks and experiments, which lead to no general conclusions"; rather, it was presented as the beginnings of a "natural history" of "the infant mind" (2003, pp.6, 410). The new title, however, did mean that it was possible for those who objected to the absence of reference to religion to view the work as a collection of essays, which were now excusably incomplete.
- Even this alteration, however, still laid both Maria and Richard Lovell Edgeworth open to the charge of atheism, a charge which resurfaced in the vituperative responses to the Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, published in 1820. Once again, the Eclectic Review was unsympathetic, lamenting the "mark of irreligion...impressed on the whole of Mr. Edgeworth's life—on all his literary productions, on his principles of education, on all his views and reasonings" and identified all his "associates" (such as Darwin and Priestley, and possibly Maria Edgeworth herself) as "avowed champions or ...credulous disciples of infidelity.... what seems at first a negative fault, a mere avoidance of every thing relating to theology, really involves a spirit of active hostility" and a "corrupt morality that taints the whole of their instructive and valuable writings." (Eclectic Review, November 1820, XIV.378–9.) But it was John Wilson Croker's vicious review in the Quarterly which ensured that Practical Education's reputation was definitively sullied. Accusing the father of paganism andthe daughter of perjuring herself by trying to defend his religious principles, Croker vehemently rejected the idea that Richard Lovell Edgeworth could ever have been a Christian, dismissing Maria Edgeworth's account of the values he had communicated to his children: "Not a word of a future existence! A veneration for an unknown cause! a submission to inscrutable decrees!—morality, generosity, temper, and good manners! these constitute Mr. Edgeworth's notion of religion—what is all this but mere pagan philosophy.... Why is there no mention of piety, of gratitude to God, of confidence in a Saviour, of hopes of futurity, to be found in this summary of the religion which Mr. Edgeworth taught his children?" (Croker, July 1820, XXIII.544.) Clearly, the effect of Croker's vicious review was to destroy the Edgeworths' credibility as educationalists, since Practical Education had been based on observing the educational practices employed by Richard Lovell Edgeworth with his own children. But the programme was now definitively revealed as, at the very least, faulty; at worst, thoroughly impious.
- Where Edgeworth had, then, in 1798, focused on children's ability to make themselves happy, their aspiration to invent useful solutions to the problems they encountered, and their confidence in their own powers of reason and observation, religious critics such as John Foster, John Wilson Croker and Sarah Trimmer, would interpret this as a misapplication of enlightenment, contrasting it with the education which would have created a very different set of "hopes of futurity". For such critics, Edgeworthian education would remain an unhappy affair.
- Mitzi Myers's numerous articles and book chapters on Edgeworth's writing for and of children and adolescents bring many fresh insights relevant to my discussion of autonomy and the refusal of artifice in Practical Education. For a full, although not exhaustive, list of relevant work by Myers, see Edgeworth 2003, xxiii-iv. Of especial importance for the theme of this present essay is Myers's "Aufklärung für Kinder? Maria Edgeworth and the Genders of Knowledge Genres", which discusses the Edgeworthian emphasis on invention, the democratization of Enlightenment knowledges and the interpenetration of the imaginative and scientific in Practical Education—something that she also explores in her article "Romancing the Moral Tale", where she comments on how Edgeworth's moral tales for children, far from cancelling imagination in favour of a dour fidelity to the real and mundane, "elude the dichotomy of 'fantastic visions' and 'useful knowledge'" (1991, 105). In "Aufklärung für Kinder?", Myers deftly illuminates the way in which Practical Education uses references to Lunar, continental and American science, suggestive of an intellectual networking transgressing political boundaries alarming to those who wished to foster anti-Jacobin paranoia in 1790s Britain. In particular, Myers shows how the children's experiments and investigations encouraged by Edgeworth echo the intellectual exchange and openness considered suspect by Burke and others: "[a]s a small-scale participatory public culture, Enlightenment science was emphatically a community of experience, a coordinated communal activity as reliant on linguistic skills as empirical data." The conversations and dialogues through which children learn and gain self-confidence in Practical Education are likened by Myers to this intellectual networking, and she suggests that the "improvisational, playful, ad hoc quality of Lunar science—its brainstorming, its gossipy communal sharing and problem-solving, its fascination with observation and data-gathering, its zany ideas" have clear resonances with the domestic scene of education in Edgeworth's work, revealing the public and political ambitions and appeal of her educational thinking and her observations of how children learn to think and create (Myers 1995, 126, 128). Other particularly relevant articles by Myers include her "Reading Rosamond Reading", in which Myers discusses the Edgeworthian communal workspace in relation to the representation of the communal educative process in the family portrait painted by Adam Buck in 1789; and "'Anecdotes from the Nursery' in Maria Edgeworth's Practical Education (1798)", which focuses on the importance of Edgeworth's use of anecdotes about real children to the political and pedagogical effectiveness of her educational programme.
- Other significant work relevant for a fuller understanding of the genesis and politics of Practical Education has been done by Marilyn Butler, Matthew O. Grenby, Alan Richardson, Penny Brown and Catherine Toal. Marilyn Butler (1972) gives a lucid and suggestive account of the creation of Practical Education as, in many ways, a multi-authored family project, and a more recent book chapter by her (Butler 2000) gives an account of Edgeworthian educational thought in relation to Scottish enlightenment thinkers such as Adam Smith and Dugald Stewart, and shows how Edgeworth came to be associated with irreligion and the popular Enlightenment, thereby "destroying her popularity, largely through guilt by association" (158). Penny Brown (1993) gives a clear sense of where Practical Education fits in with the wave of children's literature and educational treatises in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and notes its importance for a "secularist" tradition of education, picked up by later writers such as Harriet Martineau. A recent article by Matthew O. Grenby skilfully addresses the debate in the wake of the French Revolution surrounding the politicization of children's books, and gives an incisive account of Sarah Trimmer's reasons for suspecting an irreligious and subversive strain in much writing for and about children in the 1790s (Grenby, 2003). Alan Richardson's seminal book (1994) is also relevant to the present essay: he reads Practical Education in relation to Wordsworth's association of childhood and power in The Prelude, but interrogates the Romantic allegation that such "rationalist" works negated the "imagination" so highly prized by Wordsworth and Coleridge. Lastly, Catherine Toal (2004) convincingly shows how Practical Education sought to foster children's autonomy, contrasting the Edgeworthian radical optimism about the power of children to invent with the Rousseauan anxiety to maintain surveillance and control over the child's environment, and relating this debate about independence to Edgeworth's Belinda (1801).
 All spellings and punctuation as in MS. Lovell, Maria Edgeworth's half-brother, would at this time have been four years old. The extract is taken from Honora's notebook, M.S. Eng.misc.c.895, fol.76, Papers of Maria Edgeworth and the Edgeworth Family, Bodleian Library, Oxford. Lovell later set up a school in Edgeworthstown for children of various ranks and religious affiliation, in which they would instigate their studies by learning to read and write without "a complicated apparatus of severe or preposterous punishment, or by rewards—that foster hurtful propensities. But to give children motives for application & obedience, adapted to their young capacities, & to give them the habit of preferring the prospect of much future good, to small present pleasures, a habit, which leads to contentedness & to good conduct in this life, & to the hopes of happiness in a life to come—seem to me to be the great objects of rational instruction." (Richard Lovell Edgeworth, letter of 1816 to the Erasmus Smith Trust, to whom he was applying for funding for the school, cited in Burton, 1979, 319.) The school was opened in the summer of 1816, and ran for seventeen years before its closure in 1833. [back]
 M.S.Eng.misc.c.895, fol.78. It seems possible that Maria Edgeworth is thinking back to this exchange when she criticises "ill-timed restraints" and "injudicious incitements" in the treatment of infants in Chapter I of Practical Education and shows her disapproval of interrupting the child when its attention is elsewhere and peremptorily "insist[ing] upon it pronouncing the scanty vocabulary which we have compelled it to learn." (15). [back]
 Coleridge assumes that Practical Education is the work of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, rather than of his daughter, Maria Edgeworth. (The quotation is from a letter to Coleridge's wife, dated 19 September 1798; Letters, ed. E.H. Coleridge, 1895, i, 261.) Both names appear as co-authors on the title-page, although it was Maria Edgeworth who actually wrote the book, availing herself of the child registers kept by Honora Sneyd Edgeworth, and of the notes she herself took about children's observations, experiments and comments in 1796–7: many of these records of conversations and anecdotes appear in the Appendix to Practical Education, as well as appearing regularly throughout the main text. Edgeworth's philosophy of education is based principally upon her father's practice, and that of his second and third wives, with their children, and secondarily on educational practice and theory drawn from a very wide range of authors, including Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Kames, Locke, David Williams, Priestley, Condillac, Barbauld and Erasmus Darwin; but the organization of the book and nearly all the material is her own. For more on this, see Mitzi Myers, 1999, and Introductory Note, Edgeworth, 2003 [back]
[4 An example of this emphasis on the child's own "philosophic arrangement" as the building-blocks of a "rational memory" is given in "Frank" in Edgeworth's Early Lessons (1801), a collection of stories for young children, in which Frank, the child of the title, wishes to learn some lines from Erasmus Darwin's The Botanic Garden, Part II: The Loves of the Plants (Canto I, ll.21–30) by heart to please his father, but does not attempt this until he has understood all the imagery of the poem by seeking out moths, glow-worms, honey-combs etc, learning something of natural history and respect for animals as he fathoms the meaning of each reference, and thereby prepares his memory while not excluding thought from his mind. [back]
[5 There is an impressive example of this in Edgeworth's own child register, when she records Henry and Sneyd (then aged about fourteen and ten) being asked, after a series of lectures given by Lovell based on Joseph Black's lectures on chemistry, to give an oral account of all they had learnt. The two acquit themselves well. (M.S. Eng. misc.c.895, fols. 91–96.) [back]
[6 Both Practical Education and the child register kept by Maria Edgeworth in 1796–7, on which she drew extensively for the 1798 work, record incidents in which children succeeded in offering inventions to solve household problems. For instance, an entry dated July 22nd 1796 records what happened when Sneyd, ME's half-brother, then aged nine or ten, was asked to invent a means of opening a skylight located over a stairwell, and came up with a solution similar to the mechanism used to open the dome of an observatory. Practical Education gives several other instances of children's inventions: see, for instance, 2003, 333–4, which reveal the talent of Edgeworth's half-sister, Charlotte, then twelve, for mechanical invention. [back]
[7 See also Edgeworth's respectful treatment of the "philosophic state of doubt" of a three year old, drawing out how a na´ve question posed by the child is in fact evidence of his powers of observation: 2003, 366. [back]
[8 Edgeworth gives several examples of children questioning the logic they find in books, including an instance where Henry, aged fourteen, and Sneyd, aged ten, questioned Buffon's suggestion that the stripes of the wasp are signs of its viciousness, just as those of the tiger announce its ferocity (2003, 372), and another where Sneyd criticises Darwin's observations about birdsong (2003, 424). The child's logic in both cases surpasses the adult authors' logic. [back]
[9 Trimmer writes her review of Practical Education over several numbers of The Guardian of Education: see vol. I, no.8 (December 1802), 490–98; II, no.9 (January 1803), 30–43; no.10 (February 1803), 92–101; no.11 (March 1803), 163–71. [back]
[10 For instances of Rousseau's advocacy of artificial experiences as a means of controlling children, see his story about Emile and the melon seeds, and the story of the wilful child who insisted on venturing alone into the streets of Paris: Rousseau, 1911, 62–3, 87–9. [back]
Barruel, Abbé [Augustin]. Memoirs illustrating the History of Jacobinism. 4 vols. [Trans. Robert Clifford.] T. Burton/E. Booker for R. Clifford: London, 1797–8.
British Critic, XV (February 1800). Review of Practical Education. 210.
Brown, Penny. The Captured World: The Child and Childhood in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing in England. New York/London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Ed. Conor Cruise O'Brien. London: Penguin Books, 1968; 1986.
Burton, E. F. The Contribution to Education of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744–1817). Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Manchester, 1979.
Butler, Marilyn. Maria Edgeworth: A Literary Biography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.
-----. "Irish Culture and Scottish Enlightenment: Maria Edgeworth's Histories of the Future." Economy, Polity, and Society: British Intellectual History 1750–1950. Eds Stefan Collini, Richard Whatmore, and Brian Young. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. 158–80.
Croker, John Wilson. Review of Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth in Quarterly Review, XXIII (July 1820). 510–49.
Eclectic Review. Review of Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth. XIV (November 1820). 359–79.
Edgeworth, Maria, & Edgeworth, Richard Lovell. Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, esq., begun by himself and concluded by his Daughter, Maria Edgeworth. 2 vols. London: R. Hunter, 1820.
Edgeworth, Maria. Practical Education (1798). The Novels and Selected Works of Maria Edgeworth, 12 vols: Vol.11. Ed. Susan Manly. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2003.
Edgeworth, Maria, & Edgeworth, R.L. Practical Education. 2nd edition. 3 vols. London: Joseph Johnson, 1801.
Foster, John. Review of Maria Edgeworth, Tales of Fashionable Life. Eclectic Review, VIII (October 1812). 979–1000.
Gill, Stephen. William Wordsworth: A Life. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.
Grenby, Matthew O. "Politicizing the Nursery: British Children's Literature and the French Revolution." The Lion and the Unicorn 27:1. 2003. 1–26.
Hooke, Robert. The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke. Samuel Smith & Benjamin Walford: London, 1705.
Myers, Mitzi. "Romancing the Moral Tale: Maria Edgeworth and the Problematics of Pedagogy." Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England. Ed. James Holt McGavran, Jr. Athens, Georgia: U of Georgia P, 1991. 96–128.
Myers, Mitzi. "Reading Rosamond Reading: Maria Edgeworth's 'Wee-Wee Stories' Interrogate the Canon." Infant Tongues: The Voice of the Child in Literature. Eds Elizabeth Goodenough, Mark A. Heberle, and Naomi Sokoloff. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1994. 57–79.
-----. "Aufklärung für Kinder? Maria Edgeworth and the Genders of Knowledge Genres; Or, 'The Genius of Nonsense' and 'The Grand Panjandrum Himself.'" Women's Writing, 2:2. 1995. 113–40.
-----. "'Anecdotes from the Nursery' in Maria Edgeworth's Practical Education (1798): Learning from Children 'Abroad and at Home'". Princeton Library Chronicle, LX:2. Winter 1999. 220–50.
Papers of Maria Edgeworth and the Edgeworth Family. Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Price, Richard. A Discourse on the Love of our Country. London, 1790.
Richardson, Alan. Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice, 1780–1832. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.
Robison, John. Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies. Collected from Good Authorities. W. Creech: Edinburgh & T. Cadell/W. Davies, London, 1797.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile, or Education (1762). Trans. & ed. Barbara Foxley. London & Toronto: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1911.
Toal, Catherine. "Control Experiment: Maria Edgeworth's Critique of Rousseau's Educational System." An Uncomfortable Authority: Maria Edgeworth and Her Contexts. Eds Heidi Kaufman and Chris Fauske. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2004. 212–231.
[Trimmer, Sarah]. The Guardian of Education. 5 vols. London, 1802–6. Reviews of Practical Education in I, no.8 (December 1802), 490–98; II, no.9 (January 1803), 30–43; no.10 (February 1803), 92–101; no.11 (March 1803), 163–71.
Trimmer, [Sarah] Mrs. Reflections upon the Education of Children in Charity Schools; with the Outline of a Plan of Appropriate Instruction for the Children of the Poor. T. Longman & J. & F. Rivington: London, 1792.
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Men and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1790/1792). Ed. Sylvana Tomaselli. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.