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More ordinary imperfections and distortions of the body in figure, are so far from excluding all hope, tbat we usually see them attended with some notable compensation one way or other, whereof our own time hath produced with us no slight example in a great minister of state, and many other.
I am yet willing to grant, that generally in nature the best outward shapes are also the likeliest to be consociated with good inward faculties ; for this conclusion hath somewhat from the Divine Light : since God himself made this great world (whereof man is the little model) of such harmonious beauty in all the parts, to be the receptacle of his perfectest creature.
Touching such conjectures as depend on the complexions of children: albeit I make no question but all kinds of wits and capacities may be found under all tinctures and integuments; yet I will particularly describe one or two with some preference, though without prejudice of the rest.
The first shall be a palish clearness, evenly and smoothly spread, not over-thin and washy, but of a pretty solid consistence; from which equal distribution of the phlegmatic humor, which is the proper allay of fervent blood, I am wont to hope (where I see it) will flow a future quietude and serenitude in the affections, and a discreet sweetness and moderation in the manners; not so quick perchance of conceit, as slow to passion, and commonly less inventive than judicious; howsoever, for the most part, proving very plausible, insinuant, and fortunate men.
The other is, the pure sanguine melancholic tincture, wherein I would wish five parts of the first to three of the second ; that so there may be the greater portion of that which must illuminate and enrich the fancy, and yet po scant of the other, to fix and determine the judgment; for surely the right natural definition of a wise habit is nothing else but a plentifulness and promptness in the storehouse of the mind, of clear imaginations well fixed.
Marcilius Ficinus (the deep Florentine Platonic) increaseth these proportions, requiring eight to two in the foresaid humors, and withal adding two more of pure choler. But of that I shall speak more among the inward motions, purposely here forbearing it, where I only contemplate the superficial appearance.
In the outward frame and fabric of the body, which is the next object after complexion, an erect and forward stature, a large breast, neat and pliant joints, and the like, may be good signifieants of health, of strength, or agility, but are very foreign arguments of wit. I will therefore only say somewhat of the head and eye, as far as may conduce to my present scope.
The head in a child I wish great and round, which is the capablest figure, and the freest from all restraint and compression of the parts; for since in the section of bodies we find man, of all sensible creatures, to have the fullest brain to his proportion, and that it was so provided by the Supreme Wisdom, for the lodging of the intellective faculties, it must needs be a silent character of hope, when, in the economical providence of nature, (as I may term it,) there is good store of roomage and receipt where those powers are stowed : as commonly we may think husbanding men to foresee their own plenty, who prepare beforehand large barns and granaries. Yet Thucydides (anciently one of the excellentest wits in the learnedst part of the world) seems (if Marcellinus in his life have well described him) to have been somewhat taper-headed, as many of the Genoesers are at this day in common observation, who yet be a people of singular sagacity : yea, I call not impertinently to mind, that one of my time in Venice had wit enough to become the civil head of that grave republic, who yet for the littleness of his own patural head was surnamed Il Donato Testolina. But the obtrusion of such particular instances as these are unsufficient to disauthorize a note grounded upon
the final intervention of nature. The eye in children (which commonly let them roll at pleasure) is of curious observation, especially in point of discovery; for it loveth, or hateth, before we can discern the heart; it consenteth, or denieth, before the tongue; it resolveth, or runneth away, before the feet: nay, we shall often mark in it a dullness, or apprehensiveness, even before the understanding. In short, it betrayeth in a manner the whole state of the mind, and letteth out all our fancies and passions as it were by a window. I shall therefore require in that organ, without poetical conceits, (as far as may concern my purpose, be the color what it will,) only a settled vivacity, not wandering, nor stupid; yet, I must confess, I have known a number of dull-sighted, very sharp-witted men.
The truth is, that if in these external marks, or signatures, there be any cer tainty, it must be taken from that which I have formerly called the total result · ance : by which, what I mean, I shall more properly explain in the third section, when I come to handle the general air of the person and carriage. I will now hasten to those more solid and conclusive characters, which, as I have said, are emergent from the mind, and which oftentimes do start out of children when themselves least think of it; for, let me tell you, nature is proditorious.
And first I must begin with a strange note: that a child will have tantum ingenii quantum iræ; that is, in my construction, as much wit as he hath waywardness. This rule we have cited by a very learned man,* somewhere out of Seneca, and exemplified by Angelus Politianus, (none of the meanest critics,) who, writing the life of Pietro de Medici, concludeth, that he was likely to prove a wise man, because he was a froward boy. Truly I have been many times tempted to wonder, notwithstanding the value of these authors, how so disordinate a passion, seated in the heart and boiling in the blood, could betoken a good constitution of the brain, which, above any other, is, or should be, the coldest part. But because all sudden motions must necessarily imply a quick apprehension of the first stirring cause, and that the dullest of other creatures are tho latest offended, I am content for the present to yield it some credit.
We have another, somewhat of the same mould, from Quintilian, (whom I have ever thought, since any use of my poor judgment, both the elegantest and soundest of all the Roman pens,) that a child will have tantum ingenii quantum memoriæ. This, I must confess, will bear a stronger consequence of hope ; for memory is not only considerable as it is in itself a good retention, but likewise as it is an infallible argument of good attention-a point of no small value in that age which a fair orange or a red apple will divert.
There is yet another in the same writer, and in the same place, where he handleth this very theme—How to descry capacities : that parents should mark whether their children be naturally apt to imitate; wherewith certainly all fine fancies are caught, and some little less than ravished. And we have a tradition of Quintilian himself, that when he saw any well-expressed image of grief, either in picture or sculpture, he would usually weep; for, being a teacher of oratory in school, he was perhaps affected with a passionate piece of art, as with a kind of mute eloquence. True it is indeed, which a great mastert hath long before taught us, that man is of all creatures the most mimical, as a kind of near adjunct to reason, arguing necessarily in those that can do it well, whether it be in gestures, in styles, in speech, in fashion, in accents, or howsoever, no shallow impression of similitudes and differences; about which, in effect, is conversant the whole wisdom of the world.
t Aristotle in Rbetoricis.
Besides these, I would wish parents to mark heedfully the witty excuses of their children, especially at suddens and surprisals ; but rather to mark than pamper them, for that were otherwise to cherish untruth : whereof I shall speak more in the final section.
Again are to be observed not only his own crafty and pertinent evasions, but likewise with what kind of jests, or pleasant accidents, he is most taken in others; which will discover the very degree of his apprehension, and even reach as far as to the censuring of the whole nations, whether they be flat and dull, or of quick capacity; for surely we have argument enough at this day to conclude the ancient Grecians an ingenious people; of whom the vulgar sort, such as were haunters of theaters, took pleasure in the conceits of Aristophanes ; reserving my judgment to other place upon the filthy obscenities of that and other authors, well arguing among Christians, when all is said, that the devil is one of the wittiest.
Again, it shall be fit to note, how prettily the child himself doth manage his pretty pastimes. This may well become an ordinary parent, to which so great an emperor as Augustus descended in the highest of his state, and gravest of his age, who collected (as Suetonius tells us) out of all the known world, especially from the Syrians and Moors, (where, by the way, we may note who were then reputed the sharpest nations,) little boys of the rarest festivity, to play before bim at their ordinary sports. And indeed there is much to be noted, worthy of a sadder judgment in the wiliness of that age.
Again, I would have noted in children, not only their articulate answers, but likewise certain smiles and frowns upon incident occasions; which, though they be dumb and light passions, will discover much of that inward power which moveth them, especially when withal they lighten or cloud the whole face in a
Lastly, let not his very dreams be neglected; for, without question, there is a great analogy between those apprehensions which he hath taken by day into his fancy, and his nocturnal impressions ; particularly in that age which is not yet troubled with the fumes and cares of the world, so as the soul hath a freer and more defecated operation. And this is enough for the disclosing of a good capacity in the popular way which I have followed, because the subject is general.
Now for the second part of this chapter, touching inclinations: for after we know how far a child is capable, the next will be to know unto what course he is naturally most inclined. There must go before a main research, whether the child that I am to manage be of a good nature or no; as the same term is vulgarly taken, for an ingenious and tractable disposition : which being a fundamental point, and the first root of all virtuous actions, and though round about in every mother's mouth, yet a thing which will need very nice and narrow observation, I have spent some diligence in collecting certain private notes, which may direct this inquiry.
First, therefore, when I mark in children much solitude and silence, I like it not, nor any thing born before his time, as this must needs be in that sociable and exposed age, as they are for the most part. When, either alone or in company, they sit still without doing of any thing, I like it worse ; for surely all dispositions to idleness, or vacancy, even before they grow habits, are dangerous; and there is commonly but a little distance in time between doing of nothing, and doing of ill.
APHORISMS OF EDUCATION. Time is the plainest legend, and every day a leaf is turned. If we look abroad, we shall see many proceed yearly out of the schools of experience, whereas few, in comparison, are commended unto degrees by us : indeed the multitude of those schools infinitely exceeding our numbers ; but especially because the means which they follow are far more obvious and easy. Libraries and lectures profiting none, but such as bring some measure of understanding with them; but the occurrents of the world being easily entertained by the weakest capacities, assisted only with common sense : neither therefore is this legend of time to be contemned by those whose wits are more pregnant, or studies furnished with greatest choice. The students of common law manifest the benefit arising from the use thereof; who, as by reading their year books they recover the experience by former ages : so by daily repair to the courts of justice, they suffer nothing of the present to pass unobserved. And I note, that whereas foreign universities in conferring degrees) regard merely the performance of some solemn exercise, ours further require a certain expense of time, supposing (as I conceive) that howsvever exercise of form may be deceitfully dispatched of course, yet that he who lives some space among the assiduous advantages and helps of knowledge, (except he be of the society of the Antipodes, who turn night into day, and take no notice of what is done,) can not choose but receive so much upon ordinary observation, as may make him master of some art; which frequent opportunities, as they happily add something to those who are but idle lookers on, 80, no doubt, they must advance perfection in those who are more studiously observant; every day presenting their judgments with matters examinable by the precepts they read, and most producing to their inventions, occurrents fit for further inquiry.
Every nature is not a fit stock to graft a scholar on. The Spaniard (that wrote the Trial of Wits) undertakes to show what complexion is fit for every profession. I will not disable any for proving a scholar, nor yet dissemble that I have seen many happily forced upon that course to which by nature they seemed much indisposed. Sometimes the possibility of preferment prevailing with the credulous, expectation of less expense with the covetous, opinion of case with the fond, and assurance of remoteness with the unkind parents, have moved them, without discretion, to engage their children in adventures of learning, by whose return they have received but small contentment. But they who are deceived in their first designs deserve less to be condemned, as such who (after sufficient trial) persist in their willfulness are no way to be pitied. I have known some who have been acquainted (by the complaints of governors, clamors of creditors, and confessions of their sons) what might be expected of them, yet have held them in with strong hand, till they have desperately quit, or disgracefully forfeited the places where they lived. Deprived of which, they might hope to avoid some misery, if their friends, who were so careful to bestow them in a college when they were young, would be so good as to provide a room for them in some hospital when they are old.
He seldom speeds well in his course, that stumbles at his setting forth. I have ever been unwilling to hear, and careful not to útter, predictions of illsuccess; oracles proceeding as well from superstitious ignorance, as curious learning: and what I deliver in these words, occasioned by examples past, I desire may be applied for prevention, rather than prejudice to any hereafter. To the same effect I heard a discreet censor lesson a young scholar, negligent at his first entrance to the elements of logic and philosophy, telling him that a child starved at nurse would hardly prove an able man. And I have known some who attended with much expectation at their first appearing, have stained the maidenhead of their credit with some negligent performance, fall into irrecoverable dislike with others, and hardly escape despair of themselves. They may make a better excuse, but not hope for more favor, who can impute the fault of their inauspicious attempts somewhere elsema circumstance necessarily to be considered where punishment is inflicted; but where reward is proposed for worth, it is as usually detained from those who could not, as from those who cared not to deserve it.
The way to knowledge by epitomes is too straight; by commentaries, too much
about. It is sufferable in any to use what liberty they list in their own manner of writing, but the contracting and extending the lines and sense of others, if the first authors might speak for themselves, would appear a thankless office; and if the readers did confer with the originals, they would confess they were not thoroughly or rightly informed. Epitomes are helpful to the memory, and of good private use, but set forth for public monuments, accuse the industrious writers of delivering much impertinency, and divert many to close and shallow cisterns, whose leisure might well be acquainted with more deep and open springs. In brief, what I heard sometimes spoken of Ramus, I believe of those thrifty compendiums: they show a short course to those who are contented to know a little, and a sure way to such whose care is not to understand much. Commentaries are guilty of the contrary extreme, stifing the text with infinite additions, and screwing those conceits from the words, which, if the authors were set on the rack, they would never acknowledge. He who is discreet in bestowing his pains, will suspect those places to be desert and barren, where the way can not be found without a guide; and leave curiosity in inquest of obscurities, which, before it receive content, doth lose or tire itself with digressions.
Discretion is the most universal art, and hath more professors than students.
Discretion, as I understand it, consists in the useful knowledge of what is fit and comely; of necessary direction in the practice of moral duties, but most esteemed in the composing and framing civil behavior : men ordinarily being better content to be dishonest, than to be conscious to themselves that they are unmannerly. Few study it, because it is attained rather by a natural felicity, than by any endeavor or pains; and many profess it, presuming on sufficiency to censure others; and as unable to discern themselves, concerning their own defects, as unaccustomed to be rightly informed. It little concerns men indifferent what we do in that kind; and our friends are either nothing offended therewith, or unwilling to offend us with their relation : our enemies seldom speak of it in our hearing, and when we hear, we as hardly believe them.