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CARDINAL WOLSEY ON STUDIES FOR GRAMMAR SCHOOL-1528.* Thomas, Cardinal of York, etc., to the Masters of Ipswich School, Greeting.
We suppose no one to be ignorant with what mental effort, zeal, and industry we have always directed our labors to this point; not with a view to our own private advantage, but as far as possible to consult the welfare of our country and of all our fellow-subjects. In which one object we consider we shall reap the richest fruit of patriotism, if with divine blessing we should adorn by cultivation the minds of our countrymen. Influenced therefore by a warmth of affection incredibly great toward our birth-place, which claims our exertions by its own right, we have dedicated a school, not wholly without elegance as a building, as the clearest testimony of our perfect love. And since there seemed but little done in having built a school, however magnificent the structure, unless there should be added skilful ma-ters, we have endeavored by all means to appoint to preside over it two masters duly relected and approved; under whose tuition the youth of Britain, from their earliest years, might imbibe morality and learning; naturally considering that the hope of the whole state rests on this stage of life, as that of the harvest on the blade of corn. And that this might succeed more happily and early, we have provided, with all care, zeal, and diligence, that, in a little treatise on the instruction of loys, you should have the method and plan of teaching principally necessary for this tender age. It will now in turn be your part, who are masters in our new school, here to exercise the boys with diligence in the rudiments of education; that, as well in elegance of literature as in purity of morals, they may advance in due order to higher views. And, if you strive after this object as carefully as we shall exhibit the plan before your eyes, you will not only now, while we earnestly favor your pursuits, lay us under obligation to yourselves, but you will ab olutely make us survive on happy terms with all posterity.
From our own palace, Sept. 1, A. D. 1528.
In what order boys, admitted into our academy, should be taught, and what authors should be lessoned to them.
First Class.-In the first place, it has been not improperly resolved that our school be divided into eight classes. The first of these to contain the less forward boys, who should be diligently exercised in the eight parts of speech; and whose now flexible accent it should be your chief concern to form-making them repeat the elements assigned them, with the most distinct and delicate pronunciation since raw material may be wrought to any shape whatever; and according to Horace,
"The odors of the wine that first shall stain
The virgin versel, it will long retain ;' on which account it were least proper to deprive this time of life of due care.
Second Cass. -Next in order, after pupils of this age have made satisfactory progress in the first rudiments, we should wish them to be called into the second form, to practise speaking Latin, and to render into Latin some Eng. lish proposition; which should not be without point or pertinence, but should contain some piquant or beautiful sentiment, sufficiently suitable to the capacity of boys. “As soon as this is rendered, it should be set down in Roman characters ; and you will daily pay attention that each of the whole party have this note-book perfectly correct, and written as fairly as possible with his own hand.
Should you think proper that, besides the rudiments, some author should be given at this tender age, it may be either Lily's Carmen Monitorium or Cato's Precepts; that is, with a view of forming the accent.
Third Class. Of authors who mainly conduce to form a familiar stylepure, terse, and polished--who is more humorous than Æsop? Who more useful than Terence? Both of whom, from the very nature of their subjects, are not without attraction to the age of youth.
* Original Letter in Latin in Barnard's American Journal of Education, vii. 487.
Furthermore, we should not disapprove of your subjoining, for this form, the little book composed by Lily on the genders of nouns.
Fourth Class. -Again, when you exercise the soldiership of the fourth class. what general would you rather have than Virgil himself, the prince of all poets? Whose majesty of verse, it were worth while, should be pronounced with due intonation of voice.
As well adapted to this form, Lily will furnish the past tenses and supines of verbs. But although I confess such things are necessary, yet, as far as possible, we could wish them so appointed as not to occupy the more valuable part of the day.
Fifth Class.-And now, at length, you wish to know what plan of teaching we would here prescribe. Your wish shall be indulged. One point that we think proper to be noticed, as of first importance, is, that the tender age of youth be never urged with severe blows, or harsh threats, or indeed with any sort of tyranny. For by this injurious treatment all sprightliness of genius either is de-troyed or is at any rate considerably damped.
With regard to what this form should be taught, your principal concern will be to lesson them in ome select epistles of icero; as none other seem to us more easy in their style, or more productive of rich copiousness of language.
Sixth Class. --Moreover, the sixth form seems to require some history, either that of Sallust or Cæsar's Commentaries To these might not improperly be added Lily's Syntax; verbs defective and irregular; in short, any you may notice, in the course of reading, as departing from the usual form of declination.
Seventh Class.-The party in the seventh form should regularly have in hand either Horace's Epistles, or Ovid's Metamorphoses, or Fasti; occasionally composing verse or an epistle of their own. It will also be of very great importance that they sometimes turn verse into prose, or reduce prose into meter. In order that what is learnt by hearing may not be forgotten, the boy should reperuse it with you, or with others. Just before retiring to rest he should study something choice, or worthy of remembrance, to repeat to the master the next morning.
At intervals attention should he relaxed, and recreation introduced; but recreation of an elegant nature, worthy of polite literature. Indeed, even with his studies pleasure should be so intimately blended that a boy may think it rather a game at learning than a task. And caution must be used, lest by immoderate exertion the faculties of learners be overwhelmed, or be fatigued by reading very far prolonged; for either way alike there is a fault
Eighth Clası.-Lastly, when by exercise of this kind the party has attained to some proficiency in conversation-style, they should be recalled to the higher precepts of grammar : as, for instance, to the figures prescribed by Donatus, to the elegance of Valla, and to any ancient authors whatever in the Latin tongue. In lessoning from these, we would remind you to endeavor to inform yourselves at least on the points it may be proper should be illustrated on each present occasion. For example, when intending to expound at length a comedy of Terence, you may first discuss in few words the author's rank in life, his peculiar talent, and elegance of style. You may then remark how great the pleasure and utility involved in reading comedies; of which word you should explain the signification and derivation. Next you may briefly but perspicuously unravel the substance of the plot; and carefully point out the particular kind of verse. You may afterward arrange the words in more simple 'order; and wherever there may appear any remarkable elegance; any antiquated, new-modelled, or Grecian phrase ; any obscurity of expres-ion; any point of etymology, whether derivation or composition; any order of construction rather harsh and confused; any point of orthography; any figure of speech, uncommon beauty of style, rhetorical ornament, or proverbial expression: in short.
overbial expression: in short, anything proper or improper for imitation; it should be scrupulously noticed to the young party.
Moreover, you will pay attention that in play-time the party speak with all possible correctness; sometimes commending the speaker when a phrase is rather apposite, or improving his expression when erroneous. Occasionally some pithy subject for a short epistle in their native tongue should be proposed. And, to conclude, you may exhibit, if you please, some formulæ, which, serving as a guide, a given theme may conveniently be treated
Furnished with the e rudiments in our school, boys will easily display the paramount importance of beginning from the best. Do you but now proceed, and enlighten with most honorable studies your well-deserving courttry. POSITIONS FOR THE TRAINING UP OF CHILDREN.
BY RICHARD MULCASTER, LONDON, 1581.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE. RICHARD MULCASTER was born in the city of Carlisle, or its neighborhood, educated at Eton, and elected scholar of King's College, in Cambridge, in 1548, and studied in Christ Church College, in Oxford, in 1555. Such was his reputation for scholarship, he was chosen the first master of Merchant Tailor's school, in London, in 1561, which position he held for twenty-five years, with the reputation of a strict but inpartial disciplinarian, and of a learned and skillful teacher. His Catechism in Latin hexameter verse was a textbook in his own school, and his two treatises-- Elementaire, which advocates the teaching of the English language, and “Position for the Training up of Children, either for skill in their hooke, and health in their bodie," had a marked influence on the theory and practice of school-keeping in his day, and would have had much more, if the principal schools of the country had been responsibli to public or professional opinion, and had not been each iron-bound in the practice of its own master, who was secure of his salary in endowments and the good will of the governors. Mulcaster resigned his mastership in 1608, and retired to the rectory of Sanford Rivers in Essex, given him by Queen Elizabeth, to whom he dedicated his Positions, in an Epistle, in which the author bespeaks“ her encouragement of his toilsome and troublesome labor for the great good the following its precepts would do the common weal.” He died in 1611, and was buried in the chancel of his church at Sanford Rivers.
The “Positions" is one of the earliest, and still one of the best treatises in the English language, on the conditions necessary to a uniform and efficient system of public schools, and the objects to be aimed at in the proper training of the individual for the then recognized professions and occupations of society. This will be best seen by a careful study of the Contents of the several chapters.