Imatges de pàgina
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dorf de Jure Naturali et Gentium," wherein he will be instructed in the natural rights of men, and the original and foundations of society, and the duties resulting from thence. This general part of civil law and history are studies which a gentleman should not barely touch at, but constantly dwell upon, and never have done with. A virtuous and well-behaved young man, that is well versed in the general part of the civil law, (which concerns not the chicane of private cases, but the affairs and intercourse of civilized nations in general, grounded upon principles of reason,) understands Latin well, and can write a good hand, one may turn loose into the world, with great assurance that he will find employment and esteem everywhere.

ENGLISH LAW.

181. It would be strange to suppose an English gentleman should be ignorant of the law of his country. This, whatever station be is in, is so requisite, that, from a justice of the peace to a minister of state, I know no place he can well fill without it. I do not mean the chicane or wrangling and captious part of the law; a gentleman whose business is to seek the true measures of right and wrong, and not the arts how to avoid doing the one, and secure himself in doing the other, ought to be as far from such a study of the law, as he is concerned diligently to apply himself to that wherein he may be serviceable to his country. And to that purpose I think the right way for a gentleman to study our law, which he does not design for his calling, is to take a view of our Eng. lish constitution and government, in the ancient books of the common law, and some more modern writers, who out of them have given an account of this government. And having got a true idea of that, then to read our history, and with it join in every king's reign the laws then made. This will give an insight into the reason of our statutes, and show the true ground upon which they came to be made, and what weight they ought to have.

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182. Rhetoric and logic being the arts that in the ordinary method usually follow immediately after grammar, it may perhaps be wondered that I have said so little of them. The reason is, because of the little advantage young people receive by them; for I have seldom or never observed any one to get the skill of reasoning well, or speaking handsomely, by studying those rules which pretend to teach it; and therefore I would have a young gentleman take a view of them in the shortest systems could be found, without dwelling long on the contemplation and study of those formalities. Right reasoning is founded on something else than the predicaments and predicables, and does not consist in talking in mode and figure itself. But it is besides my present business to enlarge upon this speculation. To come therefore to what we have in hand; if you would have your son reason well, let him read Chillingworth; and if you would have him speak well, let him be conversant in Tully, to give him the true idea of eloquence; and let him read those things that are well writ in English, to perfect his style in the purity of our language.

183. If the use and end of right reasoning be to have right notions, and a right judgment of things; to distinguish betwixt truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and to act accordingly; be sure not to let your son be bred up in the art and formality of disputing, either practicing it himself, or admiring it in

others; uuless, instead of an able man, you desire to have him an insignificant wrangler, opiniatre in discourse, and priding himself in contradicting others; or, which is worse, questioning every thing, and thinking there is no such thing as truth to be sought, but only victory, in disputing. There can not be any thing so disingenuous, so misbecoming a gentleman, or any one who pretends to be a rational creature, as not to yield to plain reason, and the conviction of clear arguments. Is there any thing more inconsistent with civil conversation, and the end of all debate, than not to take an answer, though ever so full and satisfactory; but still to go on with the dispute, as long as equivocal sounds can furnish [a "medius terminus") a term to wrangle with on the one side, or a distinction on the other? Whether pertinent or impertinent, sense or nonsense, agreeing with, or contrary to, what he had said before, it matters not. For this, in short, is the way and perfection of logical disputes, that the opponent never takes any answer, nor the respondent ever yields to any argument. This neither of them must do, whatever becomes of truth or knowledge, unless he will pass for a poor baffled wretch, and lie under the disgrace of not being able to maintain whatever he has once affirmed, which is the great aim and glory in disputing. Truth is to be found and supported by a mature and due consideration of things themselves, and not by artificial terms and ways of arguing: these lead not men so much into the discovery of truth, as into a captious and fallacious use of doubtful words, which is the most useless and most offensive way of talking, and such as least suits a gentleman or a lover of truth of any thing in the world.

There can scarce be a greater defect in a gentleman, than not to express him. self well, either in writing or speaking. But yet, I think, I may ask my reader, whether he doth not know a great many, who live upon their estates, and so, with the name, should have the qualities of gentlemen, who can not so much as tell a story as they should, much less speak clearly and persuasively in any business? This I think not to be so much their fault, as the fault of their education; for I must, without partiality, do my countrymen this right, that where they apply themselves, I see none of their neighbors outgo them. They have been taught rhetoric, but yet never taught how to express themselves handsomely with their tongues, or pens, in the language they are always to use; as if the names of the figures, that embellished the discourses of those who understood the art of speaking, were the very art and skill of speaking well. This, as all other things of practice, is to be learned not by a few or a great many rules given, but by exercise and application, according to good rules, or rather patterns, till habits are got, and a facility of doing it well.

STYLE.

Agreeable hereunto, perhaps it might not be amiss to make children, as soon as they are capable of it, often to tell a story of any thing they know; and to correct at first the most remarkable fault they are guilty of, in their way of putting it together. When that fault is cured, then to show them the next, and so on, till, one after another, all, at least the gross ones, are mended. When they can tell tales pretty well, then it may be time to make them write them. The fables of Æsop, the only book almost that I know fit for children, may afford them matter for this exercise of writing English, as well as for reading and translating, to enter them in the Latin tongue. When they are got past

the faults of grammar, and can join in a continued coherent discourse of the several parts of a story, without bald and unhandsome 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," § 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 pat. tern, 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 examina tion 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.

ENGLISH.

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 Chemes 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? Aud 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 orar tors, 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.

NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.

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 con.

clude, 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 bouud 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 aro 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 rorum naturâ; " when yet it is evident, that by mere 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

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