Imatges de pÓgina

who come to court are commonly obliged to associate with the worst description of characters there. These are they who laugh at quietness of nature as simpleness and lack of wit, and at bashful and blushing modesty as babyishness and ill-breeding. What is learned from their company is, first, to blush at nothing; “then followeth to dare do any mischief; to contemn stoutly any goodness; to be busy in every matter; to he skillful in every thing; to acknowledge no ignorance at all.” Moreover," he continues, "where the swing goeth, there to follow, fawn, flatter, laugh, and lie lustily at other men's liking; to face, stand foremost, shove back; and to the meaner man, or unknown in the court, to seem somewhat solemn, coy, big, and dangerous of look, talk, and answer; to think well of himself, to be lusty in contemning of others, to have some trim grace in a privy mock: and, in greater presence, to bear a brave look; to be warlike, though he never looked enemy in the face in war; yet some warlike sign must be used, either a slovenly buskin, or an over-staring frounced head, as though out of every hair's top should suddenly start out a good big oath when need requireth. Yet, praised be God! England hath at this time many worthy captains and good soldiers, which be indeed so honest of behavior, so comely of conditions, so mild of manners, as they may be examples of good order to a good sort of others, which never came in war."

Something, he considers, may be done to remedy these evils by good laws; but the object is perhaps chiefly to be effected by “observing private discipline, every man carefully in his own house; and namely, if special regard be had to youth, and that not so much in teaching them what is good, as in keeping them from that that is ill." "In youth,” he says, "some ignorance is as necessary as much knowledge;" " but this ignorance in youth," he adds, “which I speak on, or rather this simplicity, or most truly this innocency, is that which the noble Persians, as wise Xenophon doth testify, were so careful to breed up their youth in. But Christian fathers commonly do not so.

“And to know what worthy fruit did spring of such worthy seed, I will tell you the most marvel of all, and yet such a truth as no man shall deny it, except such as be ignorant in knowledge of the best stories.

Athens, by this discipline and good ordering of youth, did breed up, within the circuit of that one city, within the compass of one hundred years, within the memory of one man's life, so many notable captains in war, for worthiness, wisdom, and learning, as be scarce matchable, no, not in the state of Rome, in the compass of those seven hundred years when it flourished most.

And because I will not only say it, but also prove it, the names of them be these-Miltiades, Themistocles, Xantippus, Pericles, Cimon, Alcibiades, Thrasy. bulus, Conon, Iphicrates, Xenophon, Timotheus, Theopompus, Demetrius, and divers others more; of which every one may justly be spoken that worthy praise which was given to Scipio Africanus, who Cicero doubteth whether he were more noble captain in war, or more eloquent and wise counseller in peace.' And if ye believe not me, read dilligently Æmilius Probus* in Latin, and Plutarch in Greek, which two had no cause either to flatter or lie upon any of those which I have recited.

And beside nobility in war, for excellent and matclrless masters in all manner of learning, in that one city, in memory of one age, were more learned men, and that in a manner altogether, than all time doth remember, than all place

* He means the lives now commonly held to be written by Cornelius Nepos.

doth afford, than all other tongues do contain. And I do not mean of those authors which by injury of time, by negligence of men, by cruelty of fire and sword, be lost, but even of those which by God's grace are left yet unto us, of which, I thank God, even my poor study lacketh not one. As in philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Euclid, and Theophrast; in eloquence and civil law, Demosthenes, Æschines, Lycurgus, Dinarchus, Demades, Isocrates, Isæus, Lysias, Antisthenes, Andocides; in History, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and which we lack, to our great loss, Theopompus and Ephorus; in poetry, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and somewhat of Menander Demosthenes' sister's son.

The remembrance of such a commonwealth, using such discipline and order for youth, and thereby bringing forth to their praise, and leaving to us for our example, such captains for war, suoh counsellors for peace, and matchless masters for all kind of learning, is pleasant for me to recite, and not irksome, I trust, for others to hear, except it be such as make neither account of virtue nor learning

And whether there be any such or no, I cannot well tell; yet I hear say, some young gentlemen of ours count it their shame to be counted learned, and perchance they count it their shame to be counted honest also, for I hear say they meddle as little with the one as with the other. A marvellous case, that gentlemen should be so ashamed of good learning, and never a whit ashamed of ill manners! Such do say for them, that the gentlemen of France do so; which is a lie, as God will have it. Langæus and Bellæus, that be dead, and the noble Vidam of Chartres, that is alive, and infinite more in France which I hear tell of, prove this to be most false. And though some in France, which will needs be gentlemen, whether men will or no, and have more gentleship in their hat than in their head, be at deadly feud with both learning and honesty; yet I believe, if that noble prince, King Francis the First, were alive, they should have neither place in his court nor pension in his wars, if he had knowledge of them. This opinion is not French, but plain Turkish, from whence some French fetch more faults than this, which I pray God keep out of Englaud, and send also those of ours better minds, which bend themselves agaiust virtue and learning, to the contempt of God, dishonor of their country, to the hurt of many others, and at length to the greatest harm and utter destruction of themselves.

Some others, having better nature, but less wit (for ill commonly have overmuch wity) do not utterly dispraise learning, but they say, that, without learning, common experience, knowledge of all fashions, and haunting all companies, shall work in youth both wisdom and ability to execute any weighty affair. Surely long experience doth profit much, but most, and almost only to him (if we mean honest affairs) that is dilligently before instructed with precepts of well-doing. For good precepts of learning be the eyes of the mind, to look wisely before man which way to go right, and which not.

Learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty; and learning teacheth safely, when experience maketh more miserable than wise. He hazardeth sore that waxeth wise by experience. An unhappy master is he that is made cunning by many shipwrecks; a' miserable merchant, that is neither rich nor wise but after some bankrouts. It is costly wisdom that is bought by experience. We know by experience itself, that it is a marvellous pain to find out a short way but by long wandering; and surely he that would

prove wise by experience, he may be witty indeed, but even like a swift runner, that runneth fast out of the way, and upon the night, he knoweth not whither. And verily they be fewest in number that be wise by unlearned experience. And look well upon the former life of those few, whether your example be old or young, who, without learning, have gathered by long experience a little wisdom and some happiness; and when you do consider what mischief they have committed, what dangers they have escaped (and yet twenty for one do perish in the adventure,) then think well with yourself whether ye would that your own son should come to wisdom and happiness by the way of such experience or no.

It is a notable tale, that old Sir Roger Chamloe, some time Chief-Justice, would tell of himself. When he was Ancient in inn of court, certain young gentlemen were brought before him, to be corrected for certain misorders; and one of the lustiest said, 'Sir, we be young gentlemen; and wise men before us have proved all fashions, and yet those have done full well.' This they said, because it was well known that Sir Roger had been a goodfellow in his youth. But he answered them very wisely. 'Indeed,' saith he, 'in youth I was as you are now; and I had twelve fellows like unto myself, but not one of them came to a good end. And therefore, follow not my example in youth, but follow my counsel in age, if ever ye think to come to this place or to these years that I am come unto, lest ye meet either with poverty or Tyburn in the way.'”

Although thus jealous, however, of the effects of teaching by experience, and earnestly in favor of the method of at least laying the foundations of knowledge in the young mind chiefly by learning and good bringing up, Ascham would by no means have the whole time of youth to be spent in study.

"I do not mean, by all this my talk, that young gentlemen should always be poring on a book, and by using good studies should lose honest pleasure, and haunt no good pastime; I mean nothing less. For it is well known that I both like and love, and have always, and do yet still use all exercises and pastimes that be tit for my nature and ability. And beside natural disposition, in judgment also I was never either Stoic in doctrine or Anabaptist in religion, to mislike a merry, pleasant, and playful nature, if no outrage be committed against law, measure, and good order."

Therefore, to ride comely, to run fair at the tilt or ring, to play at all weapons, to shoot fair in bow, or surely in gun, to vault lustily, to run, to leap, to wrestle, to swim, to dance comely, to sing and play on instruments cunningly, to hawk, to hunt, to play at tennis, and all pastimes generally which be joined with labor used in open place, and on the daylight, containing either some fit exercise for war, or some pleasant pastime for peace, be not only comely and decent, but also very necessary for a courtly gentlemen to use."

Returning to the subject of joining learning with comely exercises, he highly recommends the work of Conto Baldesar Castiglione, entitled “Il Cortigianto," (the Courtier,) as excellently translated into English by Sir Thomas Hobby, "which book," says he, "advisedly read and diligently followed but one year at home in England, would do a young gentleman more good, I wiss, than three years travel abroad spent in Italy.” “But the English court,” he adds, " has never lacked many fine examples for young gentlemen to follow.” Among these he mentions the late King Edward, “and in the second degree, two noblo

primroses of nobility, the young Duke of Suffolk and Lord Henry Malavers," who, he says, were two such examples to the court for learning, as our time may rather wish than look for again.” At St. John's College, Cambridge, also, he commemorates Sir John Cheke and Dr. Redmayn as having, in his time, done more by their example than the good statutes of the college themselves did "to breed up learned men, of whom there were so many," says he, “in that one College of St. John's, at one time, as I believe the whole University of Lovain, in many years, was never able to afford.”

He then proceeds: "Present examples of this present time I list not to touch; yet there is one example for all the gentlemen of this court to follow, that may well satisfy them, or nothing will serve them, nor no example move them to goodness and learning.

"It is your shame (I speak to you all, you young gentlemen of England,) that one maid should go beyond you all in excellency of learning and knowledge of divers tongues. Point forth six of the best given gentlemen of this court, and all they together show not so much good will, spend not so much time, bestow not so many hours daily, orderly, and constantly, for the increase of learning and knowledge, as doth the Queen's Majesty herself. Yea I believe, that beside her perfect readiness in Latin, Italian, French and Spanish, she readeth here now at Windsor more Greek every day than some prebendary of this church doth read Latin in a whole week. And that which is most praiseworthy of all, within the walls of her privy chamber, she hath obtained that excellency of learning to understand, speak, and write both wittily with head and fair with hand, as scarce one or two rare wits in both the Universities have in many years reached unto. Amongst all the benefits that God hath blessed me withal, next the knowledge of Christ's true religion, I count this the greatest, that it pleased God to call me to be one poor minister in setting forward these excellent gifts of learning in this most excellent Prince; whose only example, if the rest of our nobility would follow, then might England be, for learning and wisdom in nobility, a spectacle to all the world beside. But see the mishap of men; the best examples have never such force to move to any goodness, as the bad, vain, light, and fond have to all illness.”

"Take heed, therefore, ye great ones the Court, yea though ye be the greatest of all, take heed what ye do, take heed how ye live, for as you great ones use to do, so all mean men love to do. You be indeed makers, or marrers of all men's manners within the realm."

Returning from this digression, the author states the sum of what he has hitherto delivered to be, "that from seven year old to seventeen, love is the best allurement to learning; from seventeen to seven-and-twenty, that wise men should carefully see the steps of youth surely staid by good order, in that most slippery time, and specially in the court;" and he then proceeds as follows:

"Sir Richard Sackville, that worthy gentleman of worthy memory, as I said in the beginning, in the Queen's privy chamber at Windsor, after he had talked with me for the right choice of good wit in a child for learning; and of the true difference betwixt quick and hard wits; of alluring young children by gentleness to love learning; and of the special care that was to be had to keep young men from licentious living; he was most earnest with me to have me say my mind also what I thought concerning the fancy that many young gentlemen of

England have to travel abroad, and namely to lead a long lifo in Italy. His request, both for his authority and good will toward me, was a sufficient commandment unto me to satisfy his pleasure with uttering plainly my opinion in that matter. "Sir,' quoth ), 'I take go thither, and living there, for a young gentleman, that doth not go under the keep and guard of such a man as both by wisdom can, and authority dare rule him, to be marvellous dangerous." * *

"But to my matter; as I began plainly and simply with my young scholar, so will I not leave him, God willing, until I have brought him a perfect scholar out of the school, and placed him in the University, to become a fit student for logic, and rhetoric, and so after to physic, law, or divinity, as aptness of nature, advice of friends, and God's disposition shall lead him."


We shall commence an abstract of the Second Book of the Schoolmaster, by introducing the opening passages of the First, which were omitted in their place, as belonging more appropriately to the subject matter of this :

" After the child hath learned perfectly the eight parts of speech, let him then learn the right joining together of substantives with adjectives, the noun with the verb, the relative with the antecedent. And in learning farther his syntaxis, by mine advice he shall not use the common order in common schools for making of Latins, whereby the child commonly learneth, first, an evil choice of words (and “right choice of words,' saith Cæsar, “is the foundation of eloquence,') then a wrong placing of words, and, lastly, an ill framing of the sentence, with a perverse judgment both of words and sentences. These faults, taking once root in youth, be never, or hardly plucked away in age. Moreover, there is no one thing that hath more either dulled the wits or taken away the will of children from learning, than the care they have to satisfy their masters in making of Latins.

For the scholar is commonly beat for the making, when the master were more worthy to be beat for the mending, or rather marring of the same, the master many times being as ignorant as the child what to say properly and fitly to the matter.

Two schoolmasters have set forth in print, either of them, a book of such kind of Latins, Horman and Whittington. A child shall learn of the better of them that which, another day, if he be wise and come to judgment, he must be fain to unlearn again.

There is a way touched in the first book of Cicero de Oratore, which wisely brought into schools, truly taught, and constantly used, would not only take wholly away this butcherly fear in making of Latins, but would also with ease and pleasure, and in short time, as I know by good experience, work a true choice and placing of words, a right ordering of sentences, an easy understanding of the tongue, a readiness to speak, a facility to write, a true judgment both of his own and other men's doings, what tongue soever he doth use.

The way is this: After the three concordances learned, as I touched before, let the master read unto him the Epistles of Cicero, gathered together and chosen out by Sturmius for the capacity of children.

First, let him teach the child cheerfully and plainly the cause and matter of the Letter: then let him construe it into English, so oft as the child may easily carry away the understanding of it; lastly, parse it over perfectly. This done thus let the child, by and by, both construe and parse it over again; so that it

« AnteriorContinua »