Page images

1563, and was not published in his lifetime. The complete title is “The Schoolmaster ; or a plaine and perfite way of teaching children, to understand, write, and speak the Latin Tonge, but specially purposed for the private bringing up of Youth in Jentlemen and Noblemen's Houses, and commodious also for all such as have forgot the Latin Tonge, and would by themselves, without a schoolmaster, in short tyme, and with small Paines, recover a sufficient Habilitie to understand, write, and speake Latin. By Roger Ascham.” This work is full of judicious remarks, and is rendered very pleasant by the vein of gentle enthusiasm which runs through it. For the purpose of private tuition the plan commended in it is excellent, but to a large school utterly inapplicable. For such a school indeed the author did not intend it, as the title of it plainly declares. The mode of discipline also which he recommends is of value chiefly under the same restriction, unless indeed his whole doctrine be adopted, and the severities of coercion be employed by the parent, as he would have it, and the more persuasive and winning methods left to the teacher. A memorable example of the effect of this partition of labors is given by Ascham himself. “Before I went to Germany,” he says in his Schoolmaster, “I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholdinge. Her parents, the Duke and the Duches, with all the household, jentlemen and jentlewomen, were hunting in the parke. I found her in her chamber, readinge Phædon Platonis in Greeke, and that with as much delite as some jentlemen would reade a merie tale in Bocase. After salutation and dewtie done, with some other taulks, I asked her, why she would lose such pastime in the parke? Smiling, she answered me, 'I wisse, all their sport in the parke is but a shadoe to that pleasure that I find in reading Plato. Alas! good folke, they never felt what trewe pleasure ment.' And howe came you, Madame, quothe I, to this deepe knowledge of pleasure ? And what did chieflie allure you into it, seeinge not many women, but verie few men, have attained thereunto. 'I will tell you, quoth she, and tell you a truth which perchance ye will marvell at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharpe and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence, eyther of father or mother, whether I

alle worlacasure, or hing else

speake, kepe silence, sit, stand, or go, eate, drinke, be merie, or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anie thing else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, or number, even so perfitely as God made the world, or else I am so shapplie taunted, so cruellie threatened, yea presentlie, sometimes with pinches, nippes, and bobbes, and other weys, which I will not name for the honor I bear them, so without measure nisordered, that I thincke myself in helle, till time come that I must go to Mr Elmer, who teacheth me so jentlie, so pleasantlie, with such fair allurements to learninge, that I think all the time nothing whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do else but learning, is full of griefe, trouble, feare, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my booke hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more that in respect of it, all other pleasures in very deed are but trifles and troubles unto me.'”.

The same severity of the parent were not always desirable, yet some degree of it more than is now common among us would exceedingly lighten the burden and aid the labors of the teacher.

The following passage is from the “Schoolmaster," concerning which Dr Johnson says, that “it is conceived with great vigor, and finished with great accuracy; and perhaps contains the best advice that was ever given for the study of languages.” It is interesting to know what such men as Ascham thought of family government and discipline, nearly three hundred years ago.

“ There is another discommoditie beside cruelty in schoolmasters in beating away the love of learning from children, which hindereth learning and virtue, and good bringing up of youth, and namlie young gentlemen, verie much in England. This fault is clean contrary to the first. I wished before, to have love of learning bred up in children ; I wish as much now, to have young men brought up in good order of living, and in some more severe discipline, than commonlie they be. We have lacke in England of such good order as the old noble Persians so carefullie used ; whose children, to the age of twentyone years, were brought up in learning, and exercises of labor; and that in such place where they should neither see what was uncomlie, nor hear what was unhonest. Yea, a young gentleman was never free to go where he would, and do what he liste himself; but under the keep, and by the counsele, of some grave governor, until he was either married, or called to bear some office in the Commonwealth.

“And see the great obedience that was used in old time to fathers and governors. No sonne were he never so old of years, never so great of birth, though he were a kings sonne, might not marry, but by his father's and mother's also consent. Our tyme is so farre from that old discipline and obedience, as now, not onlie young gentlemen, but even verie girles dare, without all fear, though not without open shame, where they list, and how they list, marrie themselves in spite of father, mother, God, good order, and all. The cause of this evil is, that youth is least looked unto, when they stand most in need of good keep and regard. It availeth not, to see them well taught in young years, and after when they come to lust and youthful dayes, to give them licence to live as they list themselves. For if ye suffer the eye of a young gentleman once to be entangled with vain sights, and the ear to be corrupted with fond or filthie talk, the mind shall quicklie fall sick, and soon vomit, and cast up all the wholesome doctrine that he received in childhood, though he were never so well brought up before. And being once inglutted with vanitie, he will straitway loathe all learning, and all good counsell to the same; and the parents, for all their great cost and charge, reap onlie in the end the fruite of grief and care. This evil is not common to poore men, as God will have it, but proper to riche and great men's children, as they deserve it. And that which is most to be marveled at, commonlie the wisest and also best men, be found the fondest fathers in this behalfe. And if some good father would seek some remedie herein, yet the mother (if the house hold of one lady) had rather, yea, and will too, have her sonne cunnyng and bold, in making him to live trimlie when he is young, than by learning and travail, to be able to serve his prince and his countrie, both wiselie in peace, and stoutlie in warre, when he is old."

“But I marvele the lessc that these misorders be amongst some in the court; for commonlie in the countrie also every where, innocencie is gone, bashfulness is vanished ; much presumption in youth, small authoritie in age; reverence is


neglected, duties be confounded; and, to be short, disobedience doth overflow the banks of good order, almost in every place, almost in every degree of man.

Mean men have eyes to see, and cause to lament, and occasion to complain of these miseries; but others have authoretie to remedie them, and will do so, when God shall think time fitte. For all these miseries be God's just plagues, by his sufferance brought justlie upon us, for our sins, which be infinite in number, and horrible in deede; but namelie, for the great abbominable sin of unkindness. But what unkindness? Even such unkindness as was in the Jews, in contemning God's voice, in shrinking from his worde, in wishing backe again for Egypt, in committing adultrie and whoredom, not with the women, but with the doctrine of Babylon; did bring all the plagues, destructions, and captivities, that fell so oft and horrible upon Israel.

“We have cause also in England to beware of unkindness, who have had, in so fewe years, the candle of God's word so oft lighted, so oft put out; and yet will venture, by our unthankfulnesse in doctrine and sinful life, to loose again light, candle, candlesticke and all. God keep us in his feare; God grafte in us the true knowledge of his worde, with a forward will to follow it, and so to bryng forth the sweets fruites of it; and then shall he preserve us by his grace, from all manner of terrible dayes.

“ The remedie of this, doth not stand only in making good common laws for the whole realme, but also (and perchance chieflie) in observing private discipline, every man carefullie in his own house; and namelie if special regard be had to youth; and that, not so much in teaching them what is. good, as in keeping them from that which is evill. Therefore if wise fathers be not as well aware in weeding from their children ill things and ill companie, as they were before in grafting in them learning, and providing for them good schoolmasters, what fruit they shall reape of all their cost and care, common experience doth tell.

“It may be a great wonder, but a greater shame to us christian men, to understand what a heathen writer, Isocrates, doth leave in memorie of writing, concerning the care that the noble citie of Athens had, to bring up their youth in honest enterprise, and vertuous discipline ; whose talk in Greek, is to this effect in Englishe.

“ The citie was not more careful to see their children well taught, than to see their young men well governed ; which they brought to passe, not so much by common law, as by private discipline. For they had more regard, that their youth by good order should not offend, than how, by law, they might be punished; and if offence were committed, there was neither way to hide it, nor hope of pardon for it. Good natures were not so much openly praised, as they were secretly marked, and watchfullie regarded, lest they should loose the goodness they had. Therefore in schools of singing and dancing, and other honest exercises, governors were appointed, more diligent to oversee their good manners, than their masters were to teach them any learning. It was some shame to a young man to be seen in the open market ; and if for business he passed through it, he did it with a marvellous modestie, and bashful fashion. To eat or drink in a tavern, was not only a shame, but also punishable in a young man. To contrarie, or to stand in terms with an olde man, was more heinous, than in some place to rebuke and scold with his own father.'

“ With many other more good orders, and fair disciplines, which I refer to their reading, that have desire to look upon the description of such a worthie commonwealth. And to know what worthie fruit did spring of such worthie seede, I will tell you the most marvell of all, and yet such a truth, as no man shall denie it, except such as be ignorant in knowledge of the best stories.

“Athens, by this discipline and and good ordering of youth, did breede up, within the circuit of that one citie, within the compass of one hundred years, within the memorie of one man's life, so manie notable captains in warre, 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, Cymon, Alcibiades, Thrasybulus, Conon, Iphicrates, Xenophon, Timotheus, Theopompus, Demetrius, and divers others more; of which every one may justlie be spoken that worthie praise, which was given to Scipio Africanus, who Cicero doubteth, whether he were more noble captaine in warre, or more eloquent and wise counsellor in peace.' And if ye believe not me, read dili

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »