“I hesitated whether to write to you or not, but decided that I ought to. Children naturally prefer play to study: fathers naturally train them to follow good courses, using persuasion or force. Your children, like their companions, neglected their work and were in need of correction. I resolved to punish them, and to inform their father. They returned to work and studied diligently for some time, but they are now occupied with birds once again, and neglecting their studies. Their father, passing through the city, commented on their conduct. Instead of coming to me, or to their uncles, they have run away to you or to Olympus.”

 

Letter 69 from Robert Browning:  The Correspondence of a tenth century Byzantine Scholar Byzantion, 24 (1954) repr in Robert Browning Studies (Aldershot, Ashgate Publishing, 1977)