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The Idea of Europe

 | 
Catriona Seth
, 
Rotraud von Kulessa

66. Europe and Africa

Texte intégral

1The fictitious correspondent imagined by Cadalso makes comments likely to provoke incomprehension in a number of his compatriots at the time his book was published. Yet he sets out truths: in some societies, like the Moroccan one, an important place is granted, in pedagogy, to essential aspects which the educators of members of the European aristocracy had a tendency to neglect.

Letter XLII

Nuño to Ben-Beley

2According to the account that Gazel has given me of you, I know that you are an upstanding gentleman who lives in Africa, and you will have equally discerned from the account of me that he will have personally given you, that I too am an upstanding gentleman living in Europe. I believe that nothing more is necessary for us to form a good opinion of one another. We respect each other though we are yet to have the occasion to meet; as long as we address each other as such, we will be friends.

3This young man’s demeanour and the knowledge that he was raised at your hand compel me to leave Europe and voyage to Africa, where you reside. I wish to spend time around an African scholar, as I swear that I am weary of European scholars, save a few who live in Europe as if they were in Africa. I would be grateful if you could tell me what methods you used and what you hoped to achieve through Gazel’s education. In truth, I find him uncultured in his understanding, but he is inclined to do good; and as I hold all the world’s learning on matters of virtue in very low regard, I long for a dozen or so tutors such as yourself to come and take charge of the education of our young people, instead of leaving it in the hands of their European counterparts. They let their students’ hearts wander astray, only to fill their heads with prattle of glory, French courtesies, Spanish vanity, Italian arias and other similarly ‘perfect’ and ‘important’ things; things that are no doubt very valuable, given the amount of money spent on teaching them, but which nevertheless seem so very inferior to the maxims that I have seen Gazel himself put into practice.

4José Cadalso, Moroccan Letters (1789).

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Table des illustrations

Légende Famous anti-slavery medallion drawn by Josiah Wedgwood, c.1787i
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