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OR A PLAIN AND PERFECT WAY OF TEACHING CHILDREN TO UNDERSTAND, WRITE
AND SPEAK THE LATIN TONGUE.*
BY ROGER ASCHAM.
Written in 1563–4, and first printed in 1571.
PREFACE TO THE READER. Waen the great plague was at London, the year 1563, the Queen's Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, lay at her Castle of Windsor; where, upon the tenth day of December, it fortuned, that in Sir William Cecil's chamber, her Highness's principal Secretary, there dined together these personages, M. Secretary himself,' Sir William Peter, Sir J. Mason,: D. Wotton,“ Sir Richard Sackville, Treasurer of the Exchequer, Sir Walter Mildmay,'Chancellor of Exchequer, M. Haddon,” Master of Requests, M. John Astely,: Master of the Jewel House, M. Bernard Hampton,' M. Nicasius, '° and I." Of which number, the most part were of her Majesty's most honorable Privy Council, and the rest serving her in very good place. I was glad then, and do rejoice yet to remember, that
my chance was so happy to be there that day, in the company of so many wise and good men together, as hardly then could have been picked out again, out of all England beside.
M. Secretary hath this accustomed manner; though his head be never so full of most weighty affairs of the realm, yet at dinner time he doth seem to lay them always aside; and findeth ever fit occasion to talk pleasantly of other matters, but most gladly of some matter of learning, wherein he will courteously hear the mind of the meanest at his table.
Not long after our sitting down, “I have strange news brought me, saith M. Secretary, this morning, that divers scholars of Eaton run * The following is the original title of the work, as given by UPTON.
s C H 0 L E M A S T E R ; Or plaine and perfile Way of teaching Children, to understand, writ, and speake, the LATIN TONGUE, but specially purposed for the prirate bringing up of Youth in Jentlemen and Noblemens Houses, and commodious also for all such as have forgot the LATIN TONGUE, and would, by themselres, without a Schulemaster, in short Tyme, and with small Paines, recover a sufficient Habilitie, to understand, write, and speake LATIN.
By ROGER ASCHAM,
Cum Gratia & Privilegio Regia Majestatis, per Decennium. 1. 2, &c. The Numerals refer to Annotations on pages 161–166.
away from the school for fear of a beating."12 Whereupon M. Secretary took occasion to wish, that some more discretion were in many schoolmasters, in using correction, than commonly there is; who many times punish rather the weakness of nature, than the fault of the scholar; whereby many scholars, that might else prove well, be driven to hate learning before they know what learning meaneth; and so are made willing to forsake their book, and be glad to be put to any other kind of living.
M. Peter, as one somewhat severe of nature, said plainly, that the rod only was the sword, that must keep the school in obedience, and the scholar in good order. Mr. Wotton, a man mild of nature, with soft voice and few words, inclined to M. Secretary's judgment, and said, “In mine opinion the school-house should be in deed, as it is called by name, the house of play and pleasure, and not of fear and bondage ; and as I do remember, so saith* Socrates in one place of Plato. And therefore if a rod carry the fear of a sword, it is no marvel if those that be fearful of nature, choose rather to forsake the play, than to stand always within the fear of a sword in a fond (foolish) man's handling."
M. Mason, after his manner, was very merry with both parties, pleasantly playing both with the shrewd touches of many curstt boys, and with the small discretion of many lewdf schoolmasters. M. Haddon was fully of M. Peter's opinion, and said, that the best schoolmaster of our time was the $ greatest beater, and named the person. “Though, quoth I, it was his good fortune, to send from his school into the Universitys one of the best scholars indeed of all our time, yet wise men do think, that that came to pass, rather by the great towardness of the scholar, than by the great beating of the master; and whether this be true or no, you yourself are best witness.” I said somewhat further in the matter, how, and why young children were sooner allured by love than driven by beating, to attain good learning ; wherein I was the bolder to say my mind, because M. Secretary courteously provoked me thereunto; or else in such a company
The passage, to which the Dean of Canterbury refers, is in Plato's 7th Book of Repub, Chap. 16, and is afterward cited by Mr. Ascham. Tà piv toivuv doyesuar te kai yewjetprov, και πάσης της προπαιδειας, ήν της Διαλεκτικής δει προπαιδευθήναι, παιξίν έσι χρή προβάλλειν έχ ώς επάναγκες μαθείν το σχήμα της διδαχής ποιεμένος. Τι δή; "Οτι (ήν δ' εγώ) δδεν μάθημα μετά δελτίας τον ελεύθερος χρή μανθάνειν. Οι μεν γαρ τα σώματος πονοι, βία πονέμενοι, χείρου ουδέν το σώμα απεργάζονται, Ψυχή δε βιαιον δεν έμμονον μάθημα 'Αληθή, έφη. Μη τοινυν βια (είπον) ώ άρισε, τες πάιδας εν τοίς μαθήμασιν, αλλά πάιζοντας τρέφε, ίνα και μάλλον διός τ' ης καθοραν εφ' ό έκαστος πέφυκεν. (17.)
Curst, mischievous ; lewd, sarage. * This was Nicholas Udel, Master of Ealon School. whom Bole stiles. Elegantissimus omni. um bonarum li'erarum Magister, it prrum felicissimus interpres. His severity his own scholar, Mr. Tusser, has sufficiently proclaim'd
$ This was Mr. Haddon, sometime Fellow of King's College in Cambridge.
and surely in his presence, my wont is to be more willing to use mine ears, than to occupy my tongue.
Sir Walter Mildmay, M. Astley, and the rest, said very little; only Sir Richard Sackville said nothing at all. After dinner, I went up to read with the Queen's Majesty. We read then together in the Greek tongue, as I well remember, that noble oration of Demosthenes against Æschines, for his false dealing in his embassage to King Philip of Macadonie. Sir Richard Sackville came up soon after, and finding me in her Majesties privy chamber, he took me by the hand, and carrying me to a window, said :
"M. Ascham, I would not for a good deal of money have been this day absent from dinner; where, though I said nothing, yet I gave as good ear, and do consider as well the talk that passed, as any one did there. M. Secretary said very wisely, and most truly, that many young wits be driven to hate learning, before they know what learning is. I can be good witness to this myself; for a fond (foolish) schoolmaster, before I was fully fourteen years old, drave .me so with fear of beating from all love of learning, that now, when I know what difference it is, to have learning, and to have little, or none at all, I feel it my greatest grief, and find it my greatest hurt that ever came to me, that it was my so ill chance, to light upon so lewd a schoolmaster. But feeling it is but in vain to lament things past, and also wisdom to look to things to come, surely, God willing, if God lend me life, I will make this my mishap some occasion of good hap to little Robert Sackville my son's son. For whose bringing up, I would gladly, if it so please you use specially your good advice. I hear say you have a son mucii of his age; we will deal thus together: point you out a schoolmaster, who by your order shall teach
13 and for all the rest, I will provide, yea though they three do cost me a couple of hundred pounds by year; and beside, you shall find me as fast a friend to
yours, as perchance any you have." Which promise the worthy gentleman surely kept with me until his dying day.
We had then farther talk together of bringing up of children, of the nature of quick and hard wits, of the right choice of a good wit, of fear, and love in teaching children. We passed from children and came to young men, namely, gentlemen: we talked of their too much liberty to live as they lust; of their letting loose too soon to overmuch experience of ill, contrary to the good order of many good old Commonwealths of the Persians, and Greeks; of wit gathered, and good fortune gotten by some, only by experience without learning. And, lastly, he required of me very earnestly to shew what I thought of the common going of English men into Italy. “But, saith he, because this place, and this time will not suffer so long talk, as these good matters require, therefore I pray you, at my request, and at your leisure, put in some order of writing the chief points of this our talk, concerning the right order of teaching, and honesty of living, for the good bringing up of children and young men; and sure. ly, beside contenting me, you shall both please and profit very many others." I made some excuse by lack of ability, and weakness of body. “Well, saith he, I am not now to learn what you can do ; our dear friend, good M. Goodricke,* whose judgment I could well believe, did once for all satisfy me fully therein. Again, I heard you say, not long ago,
thauk Sir John Cheke'' for all the learning you have; and I know very well myself, that you did teach the Queen. And therefore, seeing God did bless you, to make you the scholar of the best master, and also the schoolmaster of the best scholar, that ever were in our time, surely, you should please God, benefit your country, and honest your own name, if you would take the pains to impart to others what you learned of such a master, and how you taught such a scholar. And in uttering the stuff ye received of the one, in declaring the order
ye took with the other, ye shall never lack neither matter, nor manner, what to write nor how to write, in this kind of argument."
I beginning some further excuse, suddenly was called to come to the Queen. The night following, I slept little; my head was so full of this our former talk, and I so mindful somewhat to satisfy the honest request of so dear a friend. I thought to prepare some little treatise for a New-years' gift that Christmas: but, as it chanceth to busy builders, so, in building this my poor school-house, (the rather because the form of it is somewhat new, and differing from others,) the work rose daily higher and wider, than I thought it would at the beginning
And though it appear now, and be in very deed, but a small cottage, poor for the stuff, and rude for the workmanship; yet in going forward I found the site so good, as I was loth to give it over; but the making so costly, out-reaching my ability, as many times I wished that some one of those three, my dear friends, with full purses, Sir, Tho. Smith, M. IIaddon, or M. Watson had had the doing of it. Yet nevertheless, I myself spending gladly that little, that I gat at home by good Sir John Cheke, and that I borrowed abroad of my friend Sturmius, 15 beside somewhat that was left me in reversion, by my old Masters Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, I have at last patched it up, as I could, and as you see. If the matter be mean, and meanly handled, I pray you bear both with me, and it; for never work went up in
• Bishop of Ely, and Lord Chancellor under Edward, Vi.
worse weather, with more lets and stops, than this poor school-house of mine. Westminster-Hall can bear some witness, beside* much weakness of body, but more trouble of mind, by some such sores, as grieve me to touch them myself; and therefore I purpose not to open them to others. And in the midst of outward injuries, and inward cares, to increase them withal, good Sir Richard Sackville dieth, that worthy gentleman; “That earnest favorer and furtherer of God's true Religion; that faithful servitor to his prince and country; a lover of learning, and all learned men; wise in all doings ; courteous to all persons, shewing spite to none, doing good to many; and as I well found, to me so fast a friend, as I never lost the like before.” When he was gone, my heart was dead; there was not one that wore a black gown for him, who carried a heavier heart for him, than I; when he was gone, I cast this book away; I could not look upon it, but with weeping eyes, in remembring him, who was the only setter on, to do it; and would have been not only a glad commender of it, but also a sure and certain comfort to me, and mine for it.
Almost two years together, this book lay scattered and neglected, and had been quite given over of me, if the goodness of one had not given me some life and spirit again. God, the mover of goodness, prosper always him and his, as he hath many times comforted me and mine, and, I trust to God, shall comfort more and more. Of whom most justly I may say, and very oft, and always gladly I am wont to say, that sweet verse of Sophocles, spoken by Oedipus to worthy Theseus.
"Έχω γαρ ά 'χω διά σε, κέκ άλλον βροτών. This hope hath helped me to end this book; which if he allow, I shall think my labors well employed, and shall not much esteem the misliking of any
others. And I trust he shall think the better of it because he shall find the best part thereof to come out of his school whom he of all inen loved and liked best.
Yet some men, friendly enough of nature, but of small judgment in learning, do think I take too much pains, and spend too much time, in setting forth these childrens affairs. But those good men were never brought up in Socrates's school, who saitht plainly, “ that no
* Ingravescente jam ætate, a nocturnis et pomeridianis studiis abhorrebat: Antelucanis et matutinis temporibus legebat, commentabatur, studebat, scribebat. Erat corpore imbecillis, et valetudinarius, mullis morbis fractus, continentibus febribus correptus, variis, ag rotalionibus aflictus ; quee puucis ante mortem annis eum in hecticam febrim conjecerunt. This is taken out of Mr. Granl's excellent Oration on Mr. Ascham. (19)
For whatsoever I hare, I have through thee, and through none other of living men. (+) Plato in initio Theagίς: Αλλά μεν δή, ω Δημόδοκε, και λέγεται γε συμβολή ιερών χρήμα είναι. είπερ ήν και άλλη ήτιςύν εςιν ιερά, και αυτή άν ειη, περί ης συ νυν συμβολεύει. Ου γάρ έξι περί ότε θειοτέρα άν άνθρωπος βιλεύσαιτο, ή περί Παιδείας και αυτό, και των αυτώ οικείων. This Passage is cited by the Author, tho' not so fully. (16.)