Imatges de pàgina

the faults of grammar, and can join in a continued coherent discourse of the several parts of a story, without bald and unbandsome forms of transition (as is usual,) often repeated; he that desires to perfect them yet farther in this, which is the first step to speaking well, and needs no invention, may have recourse to Tully; and by putting in practice those rules, which that master of eloquence gives in his first book “ De Inventione," 8 20, make them know wherein the skill and graces of a handsome narrative, according to the several subjects and designs of it, lie. Of each of which rules fit examples may be found out, and therein they may be shown how others have practiced them. The ancient classic authors afford plenty of such examples, which they should be made not only to translate, but have set before them as patterns for their daily imitation.

LETTERS. When they understand how to write English with due connection, propriety, and order, and are pretty well masters of a tolerable narrative style, they may be advanced to writing of letters; wherein they should not be put upon any strains of wit or compliment, but taught to express their own plain easy sense, without any incoherence, confusion, or roughness. And when they are perfect in this, they may, to raise their thoughts, have set before them the example of Voiture's, for the entertainment of their friends at a distance, with letters of compliment, mirth, raillery, or diversion; and Tully's epistles, as the best pattern, whether for business or conversation. The writing of letters has so much to do in all the occurrences of human life, that no gentleman can avoid showing himself in this kind of writing : occasions will daily force him to make this use of his pen, which, besides the consequences, that, in his affairs, his well or ill managing of it often draws after it, always lays him open to a severer examination of his breeding, sense, and abilities, than oral discourses; whose transient faults, dying for the most part with the sound that gives them life, and so not subject to a strict review, more easily escape observation and censure.


Had the methods of education been directed to their right end, one would have thought this so necessary a part, could not have been neglected, whilst themes and verses in Latin, of no use at all, were, so constantly every where pressed, to the racking of children's inventions beyond their strength, and hindering their cheerful progress in learning the tongues, by unnatural difficulties. But custom has so ordained it, and who dares disobey? And would it not be very unreasonable to require of a learned country schoolmaster (who has all the tropes and figures in Farnaby's rhetoric at his fingers' ends,) to teach his scholar to express himself handsomely in English, when it appears to be so little his business or thought, that the boy's mother (despised, it is like, as illiterate, for not having read a system of logic and rhetoric,) outdoes him in it?

To write and speak correctly, gives a grace, and gains a favorable attention to what one has to say; and, since it is English that an English gentleman will have constant use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his style. To speak or write better Latin than English, may make a man be talked of; but he would find it more to his purpose to express himself well in his own tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain commendation of others for a very insignificant quality. This I find universally neglected, and no care taken any where to improve young men in their own language, that they may thoroughly understand and be masters of it. If any one among us have a facility or purity more than ordinary in his mother tongue, it is owing to chance, or his genius, or any thing, rather than to his education, or any care of his teacher. To mind what English his pupil speaks or writes, is below the dignity of one bred up amongst Greek and Latin, though he have but little of them himself. These are the learned languages, fit only for learned men to meddle with and teach; English is the language of the illiterate vulgar; though yet we see the policy of some of our neighbors hath not thought it beneath the public care to promote and reward the improvement of their own language. Polishing and enriching their tongue, is no small business amongst them; it hath colleges and stipends appointed it, and there is raised amongst them a great ambition and emulation of writing correctly; and we see what they are come to by it, and how far they have spread one of the worst languages, possibly in this part of the world, if we look upon it as it was in some few reigns backwards, whatever it be now. The great men amongst the Romans were daily exercising themselves in their own language; and we find yet upon record the names of orators, who taught some of their emperors Latin, though it were their mother tongue.

It is plain the Greeks were yet more nice in theirs; all other speech was barbarous to them but their own, and no foreign language appears to have been studied or valued amongst that learned and acute people; though it be past doubt, that they borrowed their learning and philosophy from abroad.

I am not here speaking against Greek and Latin; I think they ought to be studied; and the Latin, at least, understood well, by every gentleman. But whatever foreign languages a young man meddles with, (and the more he knows, the better,) that which he should critically study, and labor to get a facility, clearness, and elegancy to express himself in, should be his own, and to this purpose he should daily be exercised in it.


184. Natural philosophy, as a speculative science, I imagine, we have none; and perhaps I may think I have reason to say, we never shall be able to make a science of it. The works of nature are contrived by a wisdom, and operato by ways, too far surpassing our faculties to discover, or capacities to conceive, for us ever to be able to reduce them into a science. Natural philosophy being the knowledge of the principles, properties, and operations of things, as they are in themselves, I imagine there are two parts of it, one comprehending spirits, with their nature and qualities; and the other, bodies. The first of these is usually referred to metaphysics; but under what title soever the consideration of spirits comes, I think it ought to go before the study of matter and body, not as a science that can be methodized into a system, and treated of, upon principles of knowledge; but as an enlargement of our minds towards a truer and fuller comprehension of the intellectual world, to which we are led both by reason and revelation. And since the clearest and largest discoveries we have of other spirits, besides God and our own souls, is imparted to us from heaven by revelation, I think the information, that at least young people should have of them, should be taken from that revelation. To this purpose, I conclude, it would be well, if there were made a good history of the Bible for young people to read; wherein if every thing that is fit to be put into it, were laid down in its due order of time, and several things omitted, which are suited only to riper age ; that confusion, which is usually produced by promiscuous reading of the Scripture, as it lies now bound up in our Bibles, would be avoided; and also this other good obtained, that by reading of it constantly, there would be instilled into the minds of children a notion and belief of spirits, they having so much to do, in all the transactions of that history, which will be a good preparation to the study of bodies. For, without the notion and allowance of spirit, our philosophy will be lame and defective in one main part of it, when it leaves out the contemplation of the most excellent and powerful part of the creation.

185. Of this history of the Bible, I think too it would be well, if there were a short and plain epitome made, containing the chief and most material heads for children to be conversant in, as soon as they can read. This, though it will lead them early into some notion of spirits, yet is not contrary to what I said above, that I would not have children troubled, whilst young, with notions of spirits; whereby my meaning was, that I think it inconvenient, that their yet tender minds should receive early impressions of goblins, specters, and apparitions, wherewith their maids, and those about them, are apt to fright them into a compliance of their orders, which often proves a great inconvenience to them all their lives after, by subjecting their minds to frights, fearful apprehensions, weakness, and superstition; which, when coming abroad into the world and conversation, they grow weary and ashamed of; it not seldom happens, that to make, as they think, a thorough cure, and ease themselves of a load, which has sat so heavy on them, they throw away the thoughts of all spirits together, and so run into the other, but worse extreme.

186. The reason why I would have this premised to the study of bodies, and the doctrine of the Scriptures well imbibed, before young men be entered in natural philosophy, is, because matter being a thing that all our senses are constantly conversant with, it is so apt to possess the mind, and exclude all other beings, but matter, that prejudice, grounded on such principles, often leaves no room for the admittance of spirits, or the allowing of any such things as immaterial beings "in rerum naturâ; " when yet it is evident, that by mero matter and motion none of the great phenomena of nature can be resolved : to instance but in that common one of gravity, which I think impossible to be explained by any natural operation of matter, or any other law of motion but the positive will of a superior Being so ordering it. And, therefore, since the deluge can not be well explained without admitting something out of the ordinary course of nature, I propose it to be considered whether God's altering the center of gravity in the earth for a time, (a thing as intelligible as gravity itself, which perhaps a little variation of causes, unknown to us, would produce,) will not more easily account for Noah's flood, than any hypothesis yet made use of to solve it. I hear the great objection to this is, that it would produce but a partial deluge. But the alteration of the center of gravity once allowed, it is no hard matter to conceive, that the divine power might make the center of gravity placed at a due distance from the center of the earth, move round it in a convenient space of time; whereby the flood would become universal, and, as I think, answer all the phenomena of the deluge as delivered by Moses, at an easier rate than those many hard suppositions that are made uso

of to explain it. But this is not a place for that argument, which is here only mentioned by the by, to show the necessity of having recourse to something beyond bare matter and its motion, in the explication of nature; to which the notions of spirits and their power, as delivered in the Bible, where so much is attributed to their operation, may be a fit preparative, reserving to a fitter opportunity, a suller explication of this hypothesis, and the application of it to all the parts of the deluge, and any difficulties that can be supposed in the history of the flood, as recorded in the Scripture.

187. But to return to the study of natural philosophy, though the world be full of systems of it, yet I can not say, I know any one which can be taught a young man as a science, wherein he may be sure to find truth and certainty, which is, what all sciences give an expectation of. I do not hence conclude that none of them are to be read: it is necessary for a gentleman in this learned age to look into some of them, to fit himself for conversation. But whether that of Des Cartes be put into his hands, as that which is the most in fashion, or it be thought fit to give him a short view of that and several others also; I think the systems of natural philosophy, that have obtained in this part of the world, are to be read more to know the hypotheses, and to understand the terms and ways of talking of the several sects, than with hopes to gain thereby a comprehensive, scientifical, and satisfactory knowledge of the works of nature: only this may be said, that the modern corpuscularians talk, in most things more intelligibly than the peripatetics, who possessed the schools immediately before them. He that would look farther back, and acquaint himself with the several opinions of the ancients, may consult Dr. Cudworth's Intellectual Sys. tem; wherein that very learned author hath with such accurateness and judgment collected and explained the opinions of the Greek philosophers, that what principles they built on, and what were the chief hypotheses that divided them, is better to be seen in him than any where else that I know. But I would not deter any one from the study of nature, because all the knowledge we have, or possibly can have of it, can not be brought into a science. There are very many things in it that are convenient and necessary to be known to a gentleman; and a great many other, that will abundantly reward the pains of the curious with delight aud advantage. But these I think are rather to be found amongst such writers, as have employed themselves in making rational experiments and observations, than in starting barely speculative systems. Such writings, therefore, as many of Mr. Boyle's are, with others, that have writ of husbandry, planting, gardening, and the like, may be fit for a gentleman, when he has a little acquainted himself with some of the systems of natural philosophy in fashion.

188. Though the systems of physics, that I have met with, afford little encouragement to look for certainty or science in any treatise, which shall pretend to give us a body of natural philosophy from the first principles of bodies in general, yet the incomparable Mr. Newton, has shown how far mathematics, applied to some parts of nature, may, upon principles that matter of fact justify, carry us in the knowledge of some, as I may so call them, particular provinces of the incomprehensible universe. And if others could give us so good and clear an account of other parts of nature, as he has of this our planetary world, and the most considerable phenomena observable in it, in his admirable book, "Philosophiæ naturalis Principia mathematica," we might in time hope to be furnished with more true and certain knowledge in several parts of this stupendious macnine, than hitherto we could have expected. And though there are very few that have mathematics enough to understand his demonstrations, yet the most accurate mathematicians, who have examined them, allowing them to be such, his book will deserve to be read, and give no small light and pleasure to those, who, willing to understand the motions, properties, and operations of the great masses of matter, in this our solar system, will but carefully mind his conclusions, which may be depended on as propositions well proved.


189. This is, in short, what I have thought concerning a young gentleman's studies; wherein it will possibly be wondered, that I should omit Greek, since amongst the Grecians is to be found the original, as it were, and foundation of of all that learning, which we have in this part of the world. I grant it so ; and will add, that no man can pass for a scholar, that is ignorant of the Greek tongue. But I am not here considering the education of a professed scholar, but of a gentleman, to whom Latin and French, as the world now goes, is by every one acknowledged to be necessary. When he comes to be a man, if he nas a mind to carry his studies farther, and look into the Greek learning, he will then easily get that tongue himself: and if he has not that inclination, his learning of it under a tutor, will be but lost labor, and much of his time and pains spent in that which will be neglected and thrown away, as soon as he is at liberty. For how many are there of an hundred, even amongst scholars themselves, who retain the Greek they carried from school; or ever improve it to a familiar reading, and perfect understanding of Greek authors ?

To conclude this part, which concerns a young gentleman's studies, his tutor should remember, that his business is not so much to teach him all that is knowable, as to raise in him a love and esteem of knowledge; and to put him in the right way of knowing and improving himself, when he has a mind to it.

The thoughts of a judicious author on the subject of languages, I shall here give the reader, as near as I can, in his own way of expressing them. He says *“One can scarce burden children too much with the knowledge of languages. They are useful to men of all conditions, and they equally open them the entrance, either to the most profound, or the more easy and entertaining parts of learning. If this irksome study be put off to a little more advanced age, young men either have not resolution enough to apply to it out of choice, or steadiness to carry it on. And if any one has the gift of perseverance, it is not without the inconvenience of spending that time upon languages, which is destined to other uses: and he confines to the study of words that age of his life that is above it, and requires things; at least, it is the losing the best and beautifulest season of one's life. This large foundation of languages can not be well laid, but when every thing makes an easy and deep impression on the mind; when the memory is fresh, ready and tenacious; when the head and heart are as yet free from cares, passions, and designs; and those, on whom the child depends, have authority enough to keep him close to a long-continued application. I am persuaded, that the small number of truly learned, and the multitude of superficial pretenders, is owing to the neglect of this."

I think every body will agree with this observing gentleman, that languages are the proper study of our first years. But this is to be considered by the

* La Bruyere Mæurs de ce Siecle, p. 577, 662.

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