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HOME, SCHOOL, AND COLLEGE TRAINING.
MILTON! thou should'st be living at this hour:
We are selfish men:
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.- Wordsworth. John Milton, the most resplendent name for genius and culture, in prose and poetry, in English literature, belongs legitimately to the annals of Pedagogy, both as teacher and author. With natural endowments, such as are vouchsafed to but few in the history of a nation, with rare opportunities of home, school and college culture diligently improved, and his whole youthful training consummated by several years of intercourse with artists, scholars, and statesmen, in different countries, Milton first addressed himself as a worker, to the business of teaching, and to educational reform as “one of the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought of”—“the only genuine source of political and individual liberty, the only true safeguard of states, the bulwark of their prosperity and renown.” His “Tractate on Education,” published in 1644, amid the revolutionary upbreak of English society, maps out a vast domain of literature, science, and art, which only pupils of the amplest leisure, and of the highest industry and emulative ardor, under teachers of the best learning and method, can successfully traverse and master. While its aim is far beyond any thing attained at that day by the university scholars of England, its diligent perusal now, in connection with the study of his own life, will inspire an ingenuous mind "with a love of study, and the admiration of virtue,” and its precepts faithfully followed, will fit American youth “ to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.”
John Milton was born in the city of London, on the 9th of December, 1608. His father was a scrivener--copyist and draftsman of all kinds of documents, legal, commercial, and literary-and had the means and disposition to give his gifted son the opportunities of education which the best private tutors and public schools could impart. These opportunities are graphically described by Prof. Masson, in his elaborate and exhaustive work, entitled the “Life and Times of John Milton," from which we shall draw freely.*
HOME EDUCATION OF MILTON.
MORE important in his case than contact with the world of city sights and city humors lying around the home of his childbood, was the training he received within that home itself. It is a warm and happy home. Peace, comfort and industry reign within it. During the day the scrivener is busy with his apprentices and clerks; but in the evening the family are gathered togetherthe father on one side, the mother on the other, the eldest girl and her brother John seated near, and little Kit lying on the hearth. A grave puritanic piety was then the order in the households of most of the respectable citizens of London; and in John Milton's home there was more than usual of the accompanying affection for puritanic habits and modes of thought. Religious reading and duvout exercises would be part of the regular life of the family. And thus a disposition towards the serious, a regard for religion as the chief concern of life, and a dutiful love of the parents who so taught him, would be cultivated in Milton from his earliest years. Happy child, to have such parents; happy parents, to have such a child!
But the scrivener, though a serious man, was also a man of liberal culture. • He was an ingeniose man,” says Aubrey; and Phillips, who could recollect nim personally, says that while prudent in business, “ he did not so far quit his generous and ingenious inclinations as to make himself wholly a slave to the world.” His acquaintance with literature was that of a man who had been sometime at college. But his special faculty was music. He had so cultivated the art as to acquire in it a reputation above that of an ordinary amateur. He was a contributor with twenty-one of the first English composers then living, in a collection of madrigals published under the title of “The Triumphs of Oriana," all originally intended to be sung at an entertainment in compliment to Queen Elizabeth. His name also appears in “ The Whole Book of Psalms," 1621, and “ The Tears and Lamentations of a Sorrowfull Soule," 1614. An organ and other instruments were part of the furniture in the house in Bread Street, and much of his spare time was given to musical study and practice. Hence wo can readily understand the high place given by Milton to music in his "Tractate on Education.” The intervals of more severe labor, he said, might "both with profit and delight be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of music, heard or learnt-either while the skillful organist plies his grave and fancied descant in lofty fugues, or the whole symphony with artful and unimaginable touches adorn and grace the well-studied chords of some choice composer; sometimes the lute or soft organ. stop waiting on elegant voices, either to religious, martial, or civil ditties, which, if wise men and prophets be not extremely out, have a great power over dispositions and anners to smooth and make them gentle." of this kind of education Milton had the full advantage. Often must be, as a child, have bent over his father while composing, or listened to him as he played. Not unfre. quently of an evening, if one or two of his father's musical acquaintances dropped in, there would be voices enough in the Spread-Eagle for a little nousehold concert. Then might the well-printed and well-kept set of the Orianas be brought out; and, each one present taking a suitable part, the child might hear, and always with fresh delight, his father's own madrigal:
* Vol. I. pp. 658. Republished by GOULD & LINCOLN.
Fair Oriana, in the morn,
They can remember little how a child is affected who do not see how from the words, as well as from the music of this song, a sense of fantastic grace would sink into the mind of the boy-how Oriana and her nymphs and a little Arcadian grass-plat would be before him, and a chorus of shepherds would be seen singing at the close, and yet, somehow or other, it was all about Queen Elizabeth! And so, if, instead of the book of Madrigals, it was the thin, large vol. ume of Sir William Leighton's "Tears and Lamentations” that furnished the song of the evening.
Joining with his young voice in these exercises of the family, the boy became a singer almost as soon as he could speak. We see him going to the organ for his own amusement, picking out little melodies by the ear, and stretching his tiny fingers in search of pleasing chords. According to Aubrey, his father taught him music, and made him an accomplished organist.
But, in the most musical household, music fills up but part of the domestic evening; and sometimes it would not be musical friends, but acquaintances of more general tastes, that would step in to spend an hour or two in the SpreadEagle.
Among the friends of the family were the Rev. Richard Stocke, the min. ister of the parish of Allhallows, Bread-street, "a constant, judicious, and religious preacher;" Humphrey Lownes, a printer and publisher; and John Lane, the author of “Poetical Vision," and continuation of the “Squire's Tale" in Chaucer, thus finishing that “story of Cambuscan bold,” which, the son afterwards noted, had been left "half-told” by the great original. In the conversation of such men, Milton's boyhood had educational stimulus and food of the best quality.
MILTON'S BOOK AND SCHOOL TRAINING. Writing in 1641, while his father was still alive, Milton describes his early scholastic education in these words :-"I had, from my first years, by tho ceaseless diligence and care of my father, (whom God recompense) been exercised to the tongues and some sciences, as my age would suffer, by sundry masters and teachers both at home and the schools." And again, in another publication after his father was dead:-"My father destined me, while yet a little child, for the study of humane letters.
Both at the grammar-school and under other masters at home he caused me to be instructed daily."
The only teacher of Milton of whom we have a distinct account from him. self
, as one of his masters before he went to a regular grammar-school, or who taught him privately while he was attending such a school, was Thomas Young, afterwards a Puritan minister in Suffolk, and well known in his later life as a prominent divine of the Puritan party.
He was a Scotchman by birth. In one of his subsequent publications, at a time when it was not convenient for a Puritan minister of Suffolk to announce his name in full, he signed himself “ Theophilus Philo-Kuriaces Loncardiensis," which may be translated "Theophilus Kirklover, native of Loncardy," where he was born in 1587. He was sent thence to the University of St. Andrews, where his name is found among the matriculations at St. Leonard's College in 1602. After completing his education in Arts there, and probably also becoming a licenciate of the Scottish Kirk, he migrated into England in quest of occupation-about the very time, it would seem, when the efforts of King James to establish Episcopacy in Scotland were causing commotion among the Scottish Kirkmen. He settled in or near London, and appears to have supported him. self partly by assisting Puritan ministers, and partly by teaching.
From Young's subsequent career, and from the unusually affectionate man. ner in which Milton afterwards speaks of him, it is clear that however his gait and accent may have at first astonished Mrs. Milton, he was a man of many good qualities. The poet, writing to him a few years after he had ceased to be bis pupil, speaks of the “incredible and singular gratitude he owed him on account of the services he had done him," and calls God to witness that he reverenced him as a father. And, again, more floridly in a Latin elegy, in words which may be translated thus:
“Dearer he to me than thou, most learned of the Greeks (Socrates) to Clinj. ades (Alcibiades) who was the descendant of Telamon; and than the great Stagirite to his generous pupil (Alexander the Great) whom the loving Chaonis bore to Libyan Jove. Such as Amyntorides (Phønix) and the Philyreian hero (Chiron) were to the king of the Myrmidones (Achilles, the pupil, according to the legend, of Phønix and Chiron,) such is he also to me, First, under his guidance, I explored the recesses of the Muses, and beheld the sacred green spots of the cleft summit of Parnassus, and quaffed the Pierian cups, and, Clio favoring me, thrice sprinkled my joyful mouth with Castalian wine."
The meaning of which, in more literal prose, is that Young grounded his pupil well in Latin, gave him perhaps also a little Greek, and at the same time awoke in him a feeling for poetry, and set him upon the making of English and Latin verges.
How long Young's preceptorship lasted, can not be determined with precision. It certainly closed about 1622, when Young left England at the age of thirty five, and became pastor of the congregation of English merchants settled in Hamburg.
MILTON AT ST PAUL'S SCHOOL. From the first it had been the intention of Milton's father to send his son to one of the public schools in town, and before 1620 this intention had been carried into effect.
London was at that time by no means ill provided with schools. Besides various schools of minor note, there were some distinguished as classical seminaries. Notable among these was St. Paul's School in St. Paul's Churchyard, a successor of the old Cathedral School of St. Paul's, which had existed in the same place from time immemorial. Not less celebrated was Westminster School, founded anew by Elizabeth in continuation of an older monastic school which had existed in Catholic times. Ben Jonson, George Herbert, and Giles Fletcher, all then alive, had been educated at this school; and the great Camden, after serving in it as under-master, had held the office of head-master since 1592. Then there was St. Anthony's free school in Threadneedle street, where Sir Thomas More and Archbishop Whitgift had been educated-once so flourishing that at the public debates in logic and grammar between the different schools of the city, St. Anthony's scholars generally carried off the palm. In particular there was a feud on this score between the St. Paul's boys and the St. Anthony's boys—the St. Paul's boys nicknaming their rivals "Anthony's pigs," in allusion to the pig which was generally represented as following this Saint in his pictures; and the St. Anthony's boys somewhat feebly retaliating by calling the St. Paul's boys “Paul's pigeons," in allusion to the pigeons that used to hover about the cathedral. Though the nicknames survived, the feud was now little more than a tradition-St. Anthony's school having come sorely down in the world, while the pigeons of Paul's fluttered higher than ever.
A moro formidable rival in the city now to St. Paul's, was the free-school of the Merchant Tailors' Company, founded in 1561. Finally, besides these public day schools, there were schools of note kept by speculative schoolmasters on their own account; of which by far the highest in reputation was that of Thomas Farnabie, in Goldsmith's Rents, near Cripplegate.
Partly on account of its nearness to Bread-street, St. Paul's school was that chosen by the scrivener for the education of his son, when he was in or just over his twelfth year.*
There were in all eight classes. In the first or lowest the younger pupils were taught their rudiments; and thence, according to their proficiency, they were at stated times advanced into the other forms till they reached the eighth, whence, “ being commonly by this time made perfect grammarians, good orators and poets, and well instructed in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and sometimes, in other Oriental tongues," they passed to the Universities. The curriculum of the school extended over from four to six years, the age of entry being from eight to twelve, and that of departure from fourteeen to eighteen.t
A description of St. Paul's School will be found on pages 141-142. t For the account of St. Paul's School given in the text, the authorities are, Stow, edit. 1603, pp. 74, 75; Fuller, Church History, Book V., Section 1; Mr. Cunningham, in his Handbook of London, article “Paul's School;" and, most of all, Strype in his edition of Stow, 1720, vol. 1., pp. 163–169. Strype was himself a scholar of St. Paul's from 1657 to 1661, or about thirty-seven years after Milton. The original school was destroyed in the great fire of 1666; but Strype remembered the old building well, and his description of it is affectionately minute.