Mr. Value presents his compliments

June 6, 2014

When Samuel Griswold Goodrich decided to improve himself by improving his education, he turned to “Mr. Value,” who taught French, fencing, and dancing in Hartford, Connecticut, from around 1805 to at least 1825.  Lydia Sigourney (poet and author of—among other works—Scenes in My Native Land) found Value “courteous,” “patient,” and “exacting” as he attempted to give her French the proper “Parisian pronunciation.”

She also calls him “formally ceremonious.”  This may be why his advertisements in the Connecticut Mirror are such a delightful part of my ongoing research on Goodrich: Value’s courtly diffidence as he advertises himself, the explosion of italics, and those long, winding sentences have a bizarre charm.  It’s like P. T. Barnum chanelling Uriah Heep, by way of Mr. Micawber.

Here’s one of my favorites—with an unusual title—from the June 3, 1816 issue of the Connecticut Mirror (p. 3, col 5):

The last intrusion, pardon it—the last opportunity improve it.

Reluctantly does Mr. Value present himself again, but a virtuous and refined education, being the Summum Bonum of this life, and as a few short months, will probably terminate his séjour in this city, he once more respectfully offers his services, as a teacher, to its inhabitants.

Among the branches he is capable of teaching, he would particularly recommend to their attention, the French Language; a correct knowledge of which, being of such vast importance to its possessours, that he cannot forbear soliciting Gentlemen to obtain, what they will find so useful and agreeable through all the walks of life.—Do they wish to learn any of the other modern languages? after they have acquired it, they can make themselves masters of any of them, with ease and facility.

Do they pursue the sciences? all are written in that tongue.  Is wealth their object? let them know the French Language perfectly, and they can collect the golden treasures from all parts of the globe.  Let gentlemen consult their own interest, and improve the last opportunity of acquiring it easily, accurately and expeditiously.  Could the volume of futurity be opened, many would probably be surprised, to see how small a number of the active and enterprising youth, who now inhabit this city, destined to pass their lives within its limits.—How important, then, that parents should well prepare their sons for that momentous voyage which all must make on life’s tempestuous ocean.

He would also say something of Music, but who does not feel its enchanting powers? what is there so soft, so smooth, so captivating? who that is human, can withstand its inpsiring charms? listen but a moment to its melodious strains, and every noisy passion is hushed in calm repose.  Then let your daughters obtain that, which graces the highest and dignifies the lowest station, let them learn this sweetest of all the sciences, this ornament of society and charm of solitude.

Nor can he forget Dancing, how indispensably necessary are ease, propriety and elegance of manners in social life, and where are these graces to be acquired but in a well regulated dancing school?  The instruction received there corrects every disagreeable and awkward habit, banishes rude and indelicate actions, keeps at a distance every worthless intruder, unites a pleasing dignity of address with gracefulness of manners, and receives from taste and discernment the homage of esteem and admiration.  There are other branches, but he can no longer particularize.

How excellent is a good education! how agreeable has he found it in the land that gave him birth! and better than gold, has it been to him in the burning climes of Africa and the frozen regions of Europe, and now, what would become of the stranger, “to all the stranger’s ills a prey” without it?  To Heaven he can never be sufficiently grateful, for giving him parents, sensible of its importance; never can he forget these prophetic words of his venerable father, “My children must have an education, for when all is gone, that will remain.[“]

And now, he would talk of the favours received, from an enlightened & generous public:  he would mention the attentions of friends esteemed and beloved, but here time and language fail him, and he must bid adieu to all, by assuring them, that so long as memory remains, he shall retain the most grateful sense, of their hospitality and kindness.

Agreeable to former notification, Mr. Value will be at Bulkley’s Hall at 2 o’clock, P. M. on Wednesday, the 5th of June inst. when he will commence his Dancing School for young Ladies, and at 7 o’clock in the evening of the same day, and in the same place, for Gentlemen.  Terms $7 per quarter, and two lessons per week, the half to be paid in advance, and the remainder at the beginning of the second half quarter.  None admitted for a less sum than $7, whether they take all their lessons or not—be particular and remember this.

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