Best Intentions: The Education and Killing of Edmund Perry

Anson, Robert Sam

Vintage, 1988

pp. 104 - 105

Phillips-Exeter Academy was founded in 1781 by John Phillips, the son of a Calvinist minister. He founded the Academy “for the purpose of promoting piety and virtue and education of youth.” He wanted youth to know English, Latin, sciences, and arithmetic, “but more especially to learn the great end and real business of living.” “Instructors, [Phillips] decreed, were to frequently delineate . . . the deformity and odiousness of vice, and the beauty and amiableness of virtue.” They were also to “spare no pains” to convince students “of their numberless and indispensable obligations. . . . .” But above all, P went on, in a passage that was to become the Exeter credo, “it is expected that the attention of instructors to the disposition of the minds and morals of the youth under their charge will exceed every other care, well considering that though goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous, and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.”