Submitted by: Chris Bertani
The late Lord Collingwood described his opinions on the need for a proper education before sending boys to sea in two letters written before and shortly after the Peace of Amiens.
"I will order Mr. ---'s son to be received here with a great deal of pleasure, and do every thing in my power for him. Has he been taught navigation? If his father intended him for the sea, he should have been put to a mathematical school when twelve years old. Boys make very little progress in a ship, without having been well practiced in navigation; and fifteen is too old to begin, for very few take well to the sea at that age. If, however, Mr. --- is determined, he should lose no further time, but have his son taught trigonometry perfectly before he begins navigation. If the boy has any taste for drawing, it will be a great advantage to him, and should be encouraged."
[a year later]
"I would recommend his taking him home, and putting him to a good mathematical school, perfecting him, under his own eye, in navigation, astronomy, mechanics, and fortification. He knows now enough of ships to make the application of what he learns easy to him and when his head is well stocked, he will be able to find employment and amusement without having recourse to company, which is as often bad as good. He has sense and spirit enough to make a good officer and an honourable man; but he must make his studies a business, to which he must be entirely devoted: drawing is the best kind of recreation. If he be sent immediately to sea, he may become a good sailor, but not qualified to fill the higher offices of his profession, or to make his way to them."
A selection from the public and private correspondence of Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood; interspersed with memoirs of his life (Vol 1)