Advice to Young Men, one of the best and liveliest of Cobbett's books, contains many records of his life at Botley, and especially of his ways with his children. He had strong views about the way in which children should be brought up. " Did we, who have bred up a family of children, and have had servants during the greater part of the time, neve1 leave a young child to the care of servants? Never; no, not for one single hour. Were we, then, tied constantly to the house with them ? No ; for we sometimes took them out; but one or the other of us was always with them, until, in succession, they were able to take good care of themselves; or until the elder ones were able to take care of the younger, and then they sometimes stood sentinel in our stead. How could we visit, then? Why, if both went, we bargained beforehand to take the children with us ; and if this were a thing not to be proposed, one of us went, and the other stayed at home, the latter being very frequently my lot. From this we never once deviated. We cast aside all considerations of convenience; all calculations of expense; all thoughts of pleasure of every sort. And what could have equalled the reward that we have received for our care and for our unshaken resolution in this respect ? " 2
94 Cobbett insisted on the importance of good health, air,
and exercise. But he also had a maxim that prevented him from making his views a burden to his children. This was to " make their lives as pleasant as you possibly can."