Imatges de pÓgina

of laws and penalties, but indifferent to the right training of the young."

To this Bacon adds a panegyric upon the schools of the Jesuits, by way of introduction to another paragraph on education. It is as follows:

"As it regards teaching, this is the sum of all direction: take example by the schools of the Jesuits; for better do not exist. However, I will add, according to my wont, a few scattered thoughts on this head. Collegiate training for young men and boys excels, in my opinion, that of the family or of the school. For not only are greater incentives to action to be found at colleges, but there too the young have ever before their eyes men of dignified bearing and superior scholarship, who command their respect, and whom they grow insens ibly to imitate. In short, there is hardly a particular in which colleges do not excel. In regard to the course and order of instruction, my chief counsel would be to avoid all digests and epitomes of learning; for they are a species of imposture, giving men the means to make a show of learning, who have it not. Moreover, the natural bent of individual minds should be so far encouraged, that a scholar, who shall learn all that is required of him, may be allowed time in which to pursue a favorite study. And furthermore, it is worth while to consider, and I think this point has not hitherto received the attention that its importance demands, that there are two distinct modes of training the mind to a free and appropriate use of its faculties. The one begins with the easiest, and so proceeds to the more difficult; the other, at the outset, presses the pupil with the more difficult tasks, and, after he has mastered these, turns him to pleasanter and easier ones: for it is one method to practice swimming with bladders, and another to practice dancing with heavy shoes. It is beyond all estimate, how much a judicious blending of these two methods will profit both the mental and the bodily powers. And so to select and assign topics of instruction, as to adapt them to the individual capabilities of the pupils,-this, too, requires a special experience and judgment. A close observation and an accurate knowledge of the different natures of pupils is due from teachers to the parents of these pupils, that they may choose an occupation in life for their sons accordingly. And note further, that not only does every one make more rapid progress in those studies to which his nature inclines him, but again that a natural disinclination, in whatever direction, may be overcome by the help of special studies. For instance, if a boy has a light, inattentive, and inconstant spirit, so that he is easily diverted, and his attention can not be readily fixed, he



will find advantage in the mathematics, in which a demonstration must be commenced anew whenever the thoughts wander even for a


These cautions respecting mental training may not, at the first glance, appear to abound either in weight or wisdom; but, acted on, they are both fruitful and efficient. For as the wronging or cherishing of seeds or young plants is that, that is most important to their thriving, and as it was noted that the first six kings, being in truth as tutors of the state of Rome in the infancy thereof, was the principal cause of the eminent greatness of that state which followed; so the culture and manurance of minds in youth hath such a forcible, though unseen operation, as hardly any length of time or contention of labor can countervail it afterward. And it is not amiss to observe how small and mean faculties, gotten by education, yet when they fall into great men or great matters, do work great and important effects, whereof I will give a notable example. And the rather, as I find that the Jesuits also have not neglected the cultivation of these lesser graces of the scholar, in which, as it seems to me, they have shown sound judgment. I speak of that art which, followed for a livelihood, brings reproach, but, used in education, does the best of service,-I mean the acting of plays. This strengthens the memory, gives volume to the voice, power to the expression, ease to the bearing, grace to the gestures, and imparts a wonderful degree of selfconfidence, thus thoroughly fitting young men for the demands of a public career. Tacitus relates that a certain stage-player, Vibulenus, by his faculty of playing, put the Panonnian armies into an extreme tumult and combustion. For there arising a mutiny among them, upon the death of Augustus Cæsar, Blæsus, the lieutenant, had committed some mutineers, which were suddenly rescued; whereupon Vibulenus got to be heard speak, which he did in this manner: 'These poor innocent wretches, appointed to cruel death, you have restored to behold the light; but who shall restore my brother to me, or life unto my brother, that was sent hither in message from the legions of Germany, to treat of the common cause? And he hath murdered him this last night by some of his fencers and ruffians, that he hath about him for his executioners upon soldiers. Answer, Blæsus, what done with his body? The mortalest enemies do not deny burial; when I have performed my last duties to the corpse, with kisses, with tears, command me to be slain besides him, so that these my fellows, for our good meaning, and our true hearts to the legions, may have leave to bury us.' With which speech he put the army into an infinite fury and uproar; whereas truth was, he had no

brother, neither was there any such matter, but he played it merely as if he had been upon the stage."

It should be understood, however, that this passage on education is isolated, and by no means in connection with the general philosophical system of Bacon. It is surprising that the man who said, "It is no less true in this human kingdom of knowledge than in God's kingdom of heaven, that no man shall enter into it, except he become first as a little child," did not adhere to this sentiment, and carry it into all his speculations. When he taught that "men must abjure all traditional and inherited views and notions, so that with an open and unworn sense they might come to the observation of nature," why did he not apply his doctrine to that class, who know nothing by tradition, and who have nothing to unlearn,--I mean to children? Why did he not build anew the science of education upon the solid basis of realism? Instead of this, we find nothing but an ill-assorted farrago of good, bad, and indifferent. I have already expressed my disapproval of the (pernicious influence) of the educational tenets of the Jesuits, which Bacon so highly recommends, especially their primum mobile, the principle of emulation.) Much might be urged also against some of the features of seminaries and colleges. His advocaey of theatrical representations in schools is, singularly enough, supported by the above example from Tacitus; which, more nearly considered, is truly hideous, an example of a stage-player, who, in the reign of Tiberius, with the aid of surpassing eloquence, palmed off upon the Pannonian legions a wholesale lie, and so instigated them to a rebellion against their general. But he forgot to add, that Drusus most fitly recompensed the ill-omened orator for his all too potent speech with the loss of his head. Why did not Bacon, keen as he ordinarily proved himself in argument, rather use this example to condemn theatrical representations in schools, inasmuch as these representations very often pass from a mimic jest into a too serious familiarity with lies and deceit ?

Meanwhile some of his views in the passage above quoted, as, against over hasty methods of imparting instruction, in favor of a judicious interchange between the easier and the more difficult branches of learning, and the like, are timely and encouraging.

But, though these doctrines insure their own reception, we ought not too hastily to conclude that Bacon's highest claims in the cause of education are based upon them. These claims proceed much rather from the fact, which I can not too often repeat, that he was the first to break out of the beaten track, and to address scholars, who lived and moved in the languages and writings of antiquity, yea, who

an Batke

were mostly echoes of the old Greeks and Romans, and who had no higher ambition than to be so,-to address them in such language as the following: "Be not wrapped up in the past, there is an actual present lying all about you; look up and behold it in its grandeur. Turn away from the broken cisterns of traditional science, and quaff the pure waters that flow sparkling and fresh forever from the unfathomable fountain of the creation. Go to nature and listen to her many voices, consider her ways and learn her doings; so shall you bend her to your will. For knowledge is power."

These doctrines have exerted an incalculable influence, especially in England, where theoretical and practical natural philosophy are, in the manner indicated by Bacon, united, and where this union has been marvelously fruitful of results. Their influence, moreover, may be traced, at quite an early period, in the department of education. The first teacher who imbibed the views of Bacon was, most probably, Ratich. But we have the distinct acknowledgment from that most eminent of the teachers of the seventeenth century, Comenius, of his indebtedness to Bacon. In the year 1633, he brought out a work upon natural philosophy; and, in the preface to this work, he adverted to his own obligations to Bacon. He here called the "Instauratio Magna" 66 a most admirable book. I regard it as the most brilliant of the philosophical works of the present century. I am disappointed, however, that the keen-eyed Verulam, after furnishing us with the true key to nature, has not himself opened her mysteries, but has only showed us by a few examples how they may be opened, and so left the task to future generations." In another paragraph he says: Do not we, as well as the ancients, live in the garden of nature? Why then should not we, as well as they, use our eyes and our ears? Why must we learn the works of nature from any other teachers than these, our senses? Why, I ask, shall we not throw aside our dead books, and read in that living volume around us, in which vastly more is contained than it is possible for any man to record; especially too that the pleasure and the profit to come from its perusal are both so much the greater? In experience too, we are so many centuries in advance of Aristotle."


With this eminent example of Bacon's influence in the department of instruction, I shall close. Were I to cite additional instances, I should be compelled to anticipate much of the following history. In this, the connection of our modern realists, their schools of industry, polytechnic schools, and the like, with the doctrines of Bacon, will be so abundantly and so repeatedly demonstrated, as to justify me in styling him the founder and originator of modern realism, and of realistic principles of instruction.




Men's thoughts are much according to their inclination; their discourse and speeches according to their learning and infused opinions; but their deeds are after1 as they have been accustomed: and therefore, as Machiavel well noteth (though in an evil-favored instance,) there is no trusting to the force of nature, nor to the bravery of words, except it be corroborate' by custom. His instance is, that for the achieving of a desperate conspiracy, a man should not rest upon the fierceness of any man's nature, or his resolute undertakings, but take such a one as hath had his hands formerly in blood: but Machiavel knew not of a friar Clement, nor a Ravillac, nor a Jaureguy, nor a Baltazar Gerard; yet his rule holdeth still, that nature, nor the engagement of words, are not so forcible as custom. Only superstition is now so well advanced, that men of the first blood are as firm as butchers by occupation; and votary" resolution is made equipollent to custom, even in matter of blood. In other things, the predominancy of custom is every where visible, insomuch as a man would wonder to hear men profess, protest, engage, give great words, and then do just as they have done before, as if they were dead images and engines, moved only by the wheels of custom. We see also the reign or tyranny of custom, what it is. The Indians (I mean the sect of their wise men,) lay themselves quietly upon a stack of wood, and so sacrifice themselves by fire: nay, the wives strive to be burned with the corpse of their husbands. The lads of Sparta," of ancient time, were wont to be scourged upon the altar of Diana, without so much as queching." I remember, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time of England, an Irish rebel condemned, put

1. After. According to. "That ye seek not after your own heart."-Num., xv: 39. "He who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh."-Gal., iv: 23. "Deal not with us after our sins "—Litany.

2. As. That. See page 23.

3. Corroborate. Corroborated; strengthened; made firm.

"His heart is corroborate."-Shakespeare.

4. Nor-Are not. This double negative is used frequently by old writers.

"Nor to no Roman else."-Shakespeare.
"Another sort there be, that will

Be talking of the fairies still,

Nor never can they have their fill."-Drayton.

5. Votary. Consecrated by a vow. 6. Cic. Tuseul. Dial., ii: 14.

7. Quech (properly quich.) To move; lo stir.

"Underre her feet, there as she sate,

An huge great lyon laye, that mote appalle
An hardy courage; like captived thrall
With a strong iron chain and collar bounde-
Not once he could nor move nor quich.”—Spenser.

« AnteriorContinua »