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By Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)
By Richard Sherry (1506-1555)
Modernized by Wolfsbane (2012).
I have striven to replicate the word choice of Richard Sherry in this Early Modern English translation of Desiderius Erasmus’ original Latin text as accurately as possible in modern English. What that means in practice is that most of the work I have done is merely modernizing the spelling of the language while keeping the words intact. Words that are commonly joined in modern English (such as “himself,” “everything,” “indeed”) have been conjoined. The “-eth” verb endings have been retained. The British “our” spelling of words like “savour” is kept if it is still commonly used in British English today. In an effort to keep the word selection exact, I have sometimes used archaic words: a synonym or definition is placed in brackets after these words. Some words I could find no real modern form of, so I retained those, with the original spelling, and placed definitions in brackets after them (for a very few, I could not find a definition). Punctuation, except for the stray comma added that was missing in a list, is kept intact, no matter how much it deviates from modern English. Roman numerals are kept as they were in the original, with a period before and after each set of lower-case numerals (e.g., .iii.). Names and other proper nouns that are normally capitalized in modern English have been capitalized: all else has been kept intact (such as the strange capitalization of “Elephants” in §60 and other sections). Historic names have been modernized to their most common contemporary usage: for instance, “Hesiodus” has been changed in all cases to “Hesiod.” The original transcribed text I copied from, found at Project Gutenberg, was very imprecise in its paragraph separations. I thus took the liberty of separating paragraphs wherever there was a line break, ¶ symbol, or the word “newline” and numbering the resulting paragraphs as “sections” (marked by the § symbol) for easier reference. The two footnotes in §60 (notes 11 and 12) are explanatory footnotes from the transcriber of the above-mentioned text. All other footnotes are sentence fragments throughout the text that seem to be side-notes from the original text: I have taken the liberty of making these footnotes. This work is most likely fraught with my errors: if you find any errors, or have any comments to improve this text, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (please include the section number to make correction easier). I apologize for all errors on my part in this text: I welcome correction. Thank you for reading this text, and God Bless. Wolfsbane June 28, 2012
That children ought to be taught and brought up gently in virtue and learning, and that even forthwith from their nativity:
A declamation of a brief theme, by
Erasmus of Rotterdam.
Imprinted at London by John Day, dwelling over Aldersgate, beneath Saint Martin’s. And are to be sold at his shop by the little conduit in Chepesyde at the sign of the Resurrection. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum. Per septennium.
§1. If thou wilt harken unto me, or rather to Chrisippus, the sharpest witted of Philosophers, thou shalt provide that thine infant and young babe be forthwith instructed in good learning, whilst his wit is yet void from tares and vices, whilst his age is tender and tractable, and his mind flexible and ready to follow everything, and also will keep fast good lessons and precepts. For we remember nothing so well when we be old, as those things that we learn in young years.1 Care not thou for those fool’s woods which chatter that his age, partly is not able enough to receive discipline, & partly unmeet to abide the labours of studies. For first, the beginnings of learning, stand specially by memory, which as I said, in young ones is very holdfast. Secondly because nature hath made us to knowledge the study of that thing cannot be too hasty, whereof the author of all thing herself hath grafted in us the seeds. Beside this some things be necessary to be known when we be somewhat elder, which by a certain peculiar readiness of nature, the tender age perceiveth both much more quickly, & also more easily than doth the elder, as the first beginnings of letters, the knowledge of tongues, tales & fables of poets. Finally, why should that age be thought unmeet to learning, which is apt to learn manners? Or what other things should children do rather when they be more able to speak, seeing needs they must do somewhat? How much more profit is it that age to sport in letters, than in trifles? §2. Thou wilt say that it is but of little value that is done in those first years. Why is it despised as a small thing, which is necessary to a very great manner? And why is that lucre, be it never so little, yet a lucre, despised of purpose? Now if you often put a little to a little, there riseth a great heap. Herewith consider this also, if being an infant he learn smaller things, he shalt learn greater, growing upwards in those years, in which t hose smaller should have been learned. Finally while he doth these things, at the least he shall be kept from those faults, wherewith we see commonly that age to be infected. For nothing doth better occupy the whole mind of man, than studies. Verily this lucre ought not to be set light by. But if we should grant that by these labours the strength of the body is somewhat diminished; yet think I this loss well recompensed by winning of wit. For the mind by moderate labours is made more quick, & lusty. And if there be any jeopardy in this point, it may be avoided by our diligence. You must have for this tender age a teacher to enter it by fair means, & not discourage it by foul. And there be also some things both pleasant to be known, & as it were sibbe [peace] to children’s wits, which to learn is rather a play than a labour. Howbeit childhood is not so weak which even for this is the more meet to take pains & labour, because they feel not what labour is. Therefore if thou wilt remember how far unworthy he is to be counted a man which is void of learning, and how stirring the life of man is, how slipper youth is to mischief, and man’s age how it desireth to be occupied, how barren old age is, and further how few come unto it, thou wilt not suffer thy young babe in the which thou shalt live still as it were born again, to let go any part of his time unoccupied, in the which anything may be gotten that either may do much good to all the whole life afterwards, or keep it away from hurts, and mischiefs. The self same matter enlarged by copy.
Division of that confutation.
§3. After the long despaired fruitfulness of thy wife, I hearsay thou art made a father, and that with a man child, which showeth in itself a marvelous towardness, and even to be like the parents: and that if so be we may by such marks and tokens prognosticate anything, may seem to promise perfect virtue. And that therefore thou doest intend, to see this child of so great hope, as soon as he shall be somewhat of age to be begun in good letters, and to be taught in very honest learning, to be instructed and fashioned with the very wholesome precepts of philosophy. In deed you will be the whole father, and you will have him your very son, and to look like you, not only in the fashion of his face, and lineaments of his body, but also in the gifts of his wit. Verily as I am heartily glad for the good fortune of mine especial friend, so I greatly allow your wise intent. This one thing I would warn you to boldly in deed, but lovingly, not to suffer after the judgment and example of the common people, that the first age of your infant should flit away without all fruit of good instruction, and then at the last to set him to learn his first letters, when both his age will not so well be handled, and his wit shall be more ready to evil, and peradventure possessed already with the fast holding briars of vices. §4. Yea rather even now look about for some man, as of manners pure & uncorrupt, so also well learned: & into his lap deliver your little child, as it were to a nurse of his tender mind, that even with his milk he may suck in sweet learning: & divide the care of thy little sonny to his nurses & teacher that they should sucken the little body with very good juice, & so endue his mind with very wholesome opinions, & very honest learning. For I think it not convenient that thou one of all the best learned, & also wisest shouldest give care to those pious women, or unto men very like to thin the beard excepted, which by a cruel pity, & hateful love, judge that the children even until they wax springoldes [become young men], should be kept at home kissing their mothers, and among the sweet words of their nurses’ pastimes, and unchaste trystings [trysts] of servants and maidens. And think that they ought utterly to be kept away from learning as from venom, saying that the first age is so rude that it can receive no discipline, and so tender that it is not meet for the labours of studies: and finally that the profit of that age is so little worth, that neither any cost should be made upon it, neither that the weakness of the children should be vexed. While I prove every of these things false, I pray you a little while take heed, counting as the truth is, first that these things be written of him which loveth you as well as any man doth, & inespecially of that thing which so pertaineth to you, that none can do more. For what is more dearer to you than your son, inespecial having but him alone, upon whom we would be glad if we might bestow yea our life, not only our substance. Wherefore who may not see that they do lewdly & also untowardly which in tilling their land building their houses, keeping their horse, use the greatest diligence they can, & take to counsel men that be wise, & of great experience: in bringing up and teaching their children, for whose sakes all other things are gotten, take so little regard that never they once counsel with their own mind, not seek for the judgments of wise men, but as though there were a trifle in hand, give care to foolish women, and to every rascal wretch, which is no less shame to hear, than if a man taking thought for the shoe, would set naught by the foot, or with great study would provide that there should be no fault in the garment, naught reckoning for the health of the body. Good sir, I will not here cause you to tarry with common places, how much the strength of nature, how much fatherly love, the law of God, men’s constitutions require the parents to owe unto the children, through whom
as much as we may we escape to die, and be made to live ever. But some think they have gaily done the office of a father, when they have only begotten children, where as this is the least portion of love that the name of a father requireth. What great thought take the mothers commonly lest the infant should look a goggle or a squint, lest he should be puff cheeked, wry necked, crook shouldered, crook legged, splay footed, and lest that the proportion of his body should not be trim in every point: whereunto beside other things, they be wont to use swaddle bonds, and keep in their cheeks with little miters. They have regard also to their milk, their meat, their bathes, & their movings, by which things the physicians in many books, and inespecial Galene hath taught that the children get good health of their body: neither do they differ this diligence unto the seventh or tenth year, but even as soon as the child commeth out of the mother’s womb, they take great charge of this. And they do well, for the infancy not regarded, oftentimes causeth men to have a sickly and sore diseased old age, if they happen to come to it. Yea moreover or ever the child be born, yet doth the mother take great heed: They eat not of every meat when they be great with child, they take heed that they move not their body to hurt them: and if there happen anything to fall upon their face, by and by they take it away with their hand, and lay it upon the private part of their body. It hath been proved by many experiments, that by this remedy the deformity which would have been on that part of the body that is seen, hath lain hid in the secret place. No man calleth this too hasty a care which is used for the worser part of man. Why this is that part of man, whereby we be properly called men, neglected so many years? §5. Should he not do all against God’s forbod [forbidding] which would trim his cap, letting his head be unkempt, and all scabbed? Yet much more unreasonable is it that we should bestow just labours upon the mortal body, and to have no regard of the immortal soul. Further, if a man have at home an horse colt, or a whelp of a good kind, will he not straight way begin to fashion him to do somewhat, and will do that so much the more gladly, the readier the young age is to follow the teacher’s mind? We will teach a popinjay while time is, to speak as a man doth, knowing well that the elder he waxeth, the less apt he will be to be taught, yea the common proverb giving warning of this thing: That an old popinjay careth not for the rod. §6. And what a thing is it to be diligent in a bird, and slow in teaching thy son? What do the witty husbandmen? Do they not teach even straight way the plants while they be yet tender, to put away their wild nature by grafting, and will not tarry till they be waxen big and mighty? §7. And they do not only take heed that the little tree grow not crooked or have any other fault, but if there be any, they make haste to amend it, while it will yet bow, and follow the hand of the fashioner. §8. And what living thing, or what plant will be as the owner or husbandman would have it to serve for, except our diligence help nature? The sooner it is done, the better will it come to pass.
§9. In deed to many dumb beasts, nature the mother of all things, hath given more help to do their natural offices, but because the providence of God hath of all creatures unto men only given the strength of reason, she hath left the greatest part to education, in so much that one hath written very well the first point, the middle, and the third, that is the chief of all man’s felicity, to be good instruction, & right bringing up. Which praise Demosthenes gave to right pronunciation, and that in deed not falsely, but right bringing up helpeth much more to wisdom, than pronunciation to eloquence. For diligent and holy bringing up, is the fountain of all virtue. As to folly and mischief, the first, second, and third point, is undiligent and corrupt education. This is the thing that is chiefly left unto us. That is the cause why unto other beasts nature hath given swiftness, flight, sharpness of sight, greatness, and strength of body, scales, flyshes, heares, horns, nails, venom, whereby they may both defend their health, and provide for their lineage, and bring up their young: and bringeth forth man only soft, naked, and unfenced: but instead of all this, hath given him a mind able to receive all disciple, because in this only are all things, if a man will exercise it. And every living thing, the less meet it is to teaching, so much the more it hath of native prudence. Bees learn not to make their cells, to gather juice, and to make honey. The Emmets [ants] are not taught to gather into their holes in summer, whereby they should live in winter, but all these things be done by instruction of nature. But man neither can eat, nor go, nor speak, except he be taught. Then if the tree bring forth either no fruit or unsavory, without the diligence of grafting, if the dog be unmeet to hunt, the horse unapt to joust, the ox to the plow, except our diligence be put to, how wild and unprofitable a creature would man become, except diligently, and in due time he should be fashioned by good bringing up. §10. I will not here rehearse unto you the example of Lycurgus known of every man, which bringing out two whelps, one of a gentle kind, but evil taught, that ran to the meat, that other of sluggish sires, but diligently brought up, that left the meat and leapt upon the beast. Nature is an effectual thing, but education more effectual, overcometh it. Men take heed that they may have a good dog to hunt, to have a good horse to journey with, and here they think no diligence to be too hasty, but to have a son that should be both worship and profit to the parents, upon whom they might lay a good part of the charges of their household, whose love might nourish and bear up their unwieldy age, and that should show himself a trusty and helping son in a law, a good husband to his wife, a valiant and profitable citizen to the commonwealth, I say to have such one, either they take no care, or else they care too late. For whom do they plant? for whom do they plow? for whom do they build? for whom do they hunt for riches both by land & by sea? not for their children? But what profit or worship is in these things, if he that shall be heir of them cannot use them? With unmeasurable study be possessions gotten, but of the possessor we take no keep. Who prepareth an harp for the unskillful of music? Who garnisheth a library for him that can skill of no books? And are so great riches gotten for him which cannot tell how to use them? If thou gettest these things to him that is well brought up, thou givest him instruments of virtue: but if thou get them for a rude and rustical [rustic] wit, what other thing doest thou than minister a matter of wantonness and mischief? What can be thought more foolish than this kind of fathers? They provide that the body of the son may be without fault, and should be made apt to do all manner things comely, but the mind, by whose moderation all honest works do stand, that they care not
for. It needeth me not here to rehearse that riches, dignity, authority, and also healthfulness of body, which men so desirously wish to their children, nothing doth more get them unto man, than virtue and learning. They wish unto them a prey, but they will not give them a net to take it with all. That thing which is of all most excellent, thou canst not give thy son, but thou mayest store him with those good sciences, whereby the best things be gotten. Now is this a great inconvenience, but it is yet a greater, that they leave at home their dog well taught, their horse well broken and taught, and their son instructed with no learning. They have land well tilled, and their son shameful rude. §11. They have their house goodly trimmed, and their son void of all garnishing. Further, they which after the people’s estimation seem to be marvelous wise, do prolong the diligence to garnish the mind either in to an age unapt to be taught, or else take no care at all for it, and are marvelous thoughtful of external goods of fortune, yea or ever he be born, whom they have appointed to be lord of them all. For what see we not them to do? When their wife is great with child, then call they for a searcher of nativities, the parents ask whether it shall be a man or a woman kind. They search out the destiny. If the astrologer by the birth hour have said that the child should be fortunate in war: we will, say they, dedicate this child to the king’s court. If he shall promise ecclesiastical dignity, we will, say they, hunt for him by some means, a Bishopric, or a fat Abbotship. This child will we make a president or a dean. §12. This seemeth not to them too hasty a care when they prevent even the wary birth: and seemeth it too hasty that is used in fashioning your child’s minds? So quickly you provide to have your son a captain or an officer, and therewith wilt thou not provide that he may be a profitable captain or officer of the commonwealth? Before the time come you go about this, to have your son a bishop, or an abbot, and wilt thou not fashion him to this well, to bear the office of a bishop, or an abbot? Thou settest him to a chariot, and showest him not the manner to guide it. Thou puttest him to the stern, and passest not that he should learn those things that becommeth a shipmaster to know. Finally in all thy possessions thou regardest nothing less than that, that is most precious, & for whose sake all other things be gotten. Thy corn fields be goodly, thy houses be fair, thy vessel is bright, thy garment, and all thy household stuff, thy horses be well kept, thy servants well taught, only thy son’s wit is foul, filthy & all sluttish. Thou hast perchance bought by the drum a bond slave, vile, and barbarous, if he be rude and ignorant, thou markest to what use he is good, & trimly thou bringest him up to some craft, either of the kitchen, physic, husbandry, or stewardship: only thy son thou settest light by, as an idle thing. They will say: He shall have enough to live on, but he shall not have to live well on. Commonly the richer that men be, the less they care for the bringing up of their children. What need is it, say they, of any learning, they shall have enough? Yea the more need have they of the help of philosophy and learning. The greater the ship is, & the more merchandise it carryeth about, the more need it hath of a cunning ship master. How greatly do Princes go about this, to leave unto their sons as large a dominion as they can, and yet do none care less that they should be brought up in those good ways, without the which, principality cannot well be ordered. How much more doth he give, that giveth us to live well, than to live? Very little do children owe unto their fathers of whom they be no more but begotten, and not also brought up to live virtuously.
§13. The saying of Alexander is much spoken of: except I were Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes. But very worthily doth Plutarch rebuke it, because that so much the more he should have wished to have had Diogenes’ philosophy, how much the greater his dominion was. But much more shameful is their sluggardy [sluggishness/sloth], which not only bring not up their children aright, but also corrupt them to wickedness. When Crates the Theban did perceive this abomination, not without a cause he would go in to the highest place of the city, & there cry out as loud as he could, & cast them in the teeth with their madness in this wise. You wretches what madness drives you? Take you such thought to get money and possessions, & take you no care for your children for whom you get these things? As they be scant half mothers which only bring forth, and not up their children, so be they scant half fathers, which when they provide necessaries for their children’s bodies, even so much that they may riot withal, provide not that their minds may be garnished with honest disciplines. Trees peradventure will grow though either barren, or with wild fruit: horses are foaled, though perchance they be good for nothing: but men (trust me) be not born, but fashioned. Men in old time which by no laws, nor good order led their lives in woods, in wandering lusts of body, were rather wild beasts than men. Reason maketh a man: that hath no place where all things are governed after affection. If shape and fashion should make a man, Images also should be counted among men. Elegantly said Aristippus when a certain rich man asked him what profit learning should bring to a young man: & it be no more but this quod he, that in the playing place one stone sit not upon another. Very properly another Philosopher Diogenes I trow [think], bearing in the midday a candle in his hand, walked about the market place that was full of men: being asked what thing he sought: I seek quod he, a man. He knew that there was a great company, but of beasts, and not men. The same man on a day, when standing on a high place he had called a great sort together, and said nothing else but come hither men, come hither men. Some half angry cried again: we are here men, say what thou hast. Then quod he: I would have men come hither & not you which are nothing less than men, and therewith drove them away with his staff. Surely it is very true, that a man not instructed with Philosophy nor other good sciences, is a creature somewhat worse than brute beasts. For beasts follow only the affects of nature, a man except he be fashioned with learning, and precepts of philosophy, is wrought into affections more than beastlike. For there is no beast more wild, or more hurtful than a man, whom ambition driveth, desire, anger, envy, riot, and lust. Therefore he that provideth not that his son may by and by be instructed in the best learning; neither is he a man, nor the son of a man. §14. Were it not an abominable sight that the mind of a man should be in a beast’s body? As we have read that Circes when she had enchanted men with her witchcraft, did turn them into Lions, bears and swine, so that yet there should be still in them the mind of a man, which thing Apuleus wrote to have happened to himself, and Austin also hath believed that men have been turned into wolves. Who could abide to be called the father of such a monster. But it is a more marvelous monster that a beast’s mind should be in a man’s body, and yet do very many please themselves in such children, and both the fathers seem, and the common people think such to be very wise.
§15. It is said that bears cast out a lump of flesh without any fashion, which with long licking they form and bring into a fashion, but there is no bear’s young one so evil favoured as a man is, borne of a rude mind. §16. Except with much study thou form and fashion this, thou shalt be a father of a monster and not a man. If thy son be born with a copped head or crook-shouldered, or splay footed, or with six fingers in one hand, how loath wouldst thou be for it, how art thou ashamed to be called the father not of a man, but of a monster: and art thou not ashamed of so monstrous a mind? §17. How discouraged be the fathers in their hearts if their wife bring forth a natural, & an infant of a brute mind? For they think they have begotten not a man, but a monster, and except fear of the law did let them, they would kill that that is born. Thou blamest nature which hath denied the mind of a man to thy child, & thou causest by thine own negligence, that thy son should be without the mind of a man. But thou wilt say: Better it is to be of a brutish rather than of an ungracious mind. Nay better it is to be a swine, than an unlearned and evil man. Nature, when she giveth thee a son, she giveth nothing else, than a rude lump of flesh. It is thy part to fashion after the best manner, that matter that will obey & follow in every point. If thou wilt slack to do it, thou hast a beast: if thou take heed thou hast, as I might say, a God. §18. Straight way as soon as thy infant is born, it is apt to be taught those things which properly belong to a man. Therefore after the saying of Virgil, bestow diligent labour upon him, even from his tender age. Handle the wax straight while it is very soft, fashion this clay while it is moist, season this earthen vessel with very good liquour, while it is new, by your wool while it cometh white from the fuller, and is not defiled with any spots. Antisthenes did very merrily show the same, which when he had taken a certain man’s son to be taught, and was asked of his father what things he had need of: a new book quod he, a new pencil, and a new table. Verily the philosopher required a rude and empty mind. Thou canst not have a rude lump; but and if thou fashionest not like a man, of itself it wilt wax naught, into monstrous forms of wild beasts. Saying thou doest owe this service to God & nature, although there were no hope that thou shouldest have any profit thereby, count in thy mind, how great comfort, how great profit, how much worship the children that be well brought up bring to their fathers. Again2 into what shames and great sorrows they cast their parents that be evil brought up. There is no need to bring here unto the examples out of old chronicles: do no more but remember in thy mind the households of thine own city, how many examples shalt thou have in every place? I know thou dost often hear such words. §19. O happy man that I were, if my children were buried. O fortunate mother, if I had never brought forth child. It is a weighty matter to bring up children well, I grant: but no man is borne to himself, no man born to be idle. Thou wouldst needs be a father, thou must be a good father; thou hast gotten them to the commonwealth, not to thy self only; or to speak more like a Christian man, thou hast begotten them to God, not to thy self. Paul writeth that so in deed women be saved, if they bring forth children, & so bring
Children evil brought up, bring shame to their parents.
them up that they continue in the study of virtue. God will straightly charge the parents with the children’s faults. Therefore except that even forthwith thou bring up honestly that, that is borne, first thou dost thy self wrong, which thorough thy negligence, gettest that to thy self, than the which no enemy could wish to another, either more grievous or painful. Dionysius did effeminate with delegates of the court Dion’s young son that was run away from him: he knew that this should be more careful to the father, than if he had killed him with a sword. A little while after when the young man was forced of his father that was come to him, to return again of his old virtue, he brake his neck out of a garret. Indeed a certain wise Hebritian [Hebrew scholar] wrote very wisely. A wise child maketh the father glad, & a foolish son is sorrow to the mother. But a wise child not only is pleasure to his father, but also worship and succor, and finally his father’s life. Contrary a foolish and lewd child, not only bringeth heaviness to his parents, but also shame and poverty, and old before the time: and at last causeth death to them, of whom he had the beginning of life. What need me to rehearse up? daily are in our eyes the examples of citizens, whom the evil manners of their children have brought to beggary, whom either the son being hanged, or their daughter an whore of the stews, have tormented with intolerable shame and villainy. I know great men, which of many children have scant one left alive. §20. One consumed with the abominable lepry [leprosy], called by diminution the French pox, beareth his death about with him: another hath burst by drinking for the best game, another going a whorehunting in the night with a visar, was pitifully killed. What was the cause? Because their parent’s thinking it enough to have begotten them, and enriched them, took no heed of their bringing up. §21. They shall die by the law, which lay away their children, and cast them into some wood to be devoured of wild beasts. But there is no kind of putting them away more cruel, than to give up that to beastly affections, which nature hath given to be fashioned by very good ways. If there were any witch could with evil crafts, and would go about to turn thy son into a swine or a wolf, wouldest thou not think that there were no punishment too sore for her mischievous deed? But that which thou abhorrest in her, thou of purpose doest it thy self. How huge a beast is lechery? how ravenous and insatiable is riot? how wild a beast is drunkenship? how hurtful a thing is anger? how horrible is ambition? To these beasts doth he set over his son, whosoever from his tender youth doth not accustom him to love that, that is honest: to abhor sin: yea rather not only he casteth him to wild beasts, which the most cruel casters away are wont to do, but also which is more grievous, he nourisheth this great and perilous beast, even to his own destruction. It is a kind of men most to be abhorred, which hurteth the body of infants with bewitching: and what shall we say of those parents which through their negligence and evil education bewitch the mind? They are called murderers that kill their children being new born, and yet kill but the body: how great wickedness is it to kill the mind? For what other thing is the death of the soul, than folly and wickedness. And he doth also no less wrong to his country, to whom as much as lieth in him, he giveth a pestilent citizen. He is naught to Godwards, of Whom he hath received a child for this purpose, to bring him up to virtue. Hereby you may see, how great and manifold mischiefs they commit which regard not the bringing up of tender age.
§22. But as I touched a little before, they sin more grievously than do these, which not only do not fashion them to honesty, but also season the tender and soft vessel of the infant to mischief and wickedness, and teacheth him vice before he know what vice is. How should he be a modest man and despiser of pride, that creepeth in purple? §23. He cannot yet sound his first letters, and yet he now knoweth what crimson and purple silk meaneth, he knoweth what a mullet is, and other dainty fishes, and disdainfully with a proud look casteth away common dishes. How can he be shamefast [shamefaced] when he is grown up, which being a little infant was begun to be fashioned to lechery? How shall he wax liberal when he is old, which being so little hath learned to marvel at money & gold? If there be any kind of garment lately found out, as daily the tailors craft, as in time past did Africa, bringeth forth some new monster, that we put upon our infant. He is taught to stand in his own conceit: & if it be taken away, he angrily asketh for it again. How shall he being old hate drunkenness, which when he is an infant is taught to love wine? They teach them by little and little such filthy words which are scant to be suffered, as saith Quintilian, of the delicious Alexandrians. And if the child speak any such after them, they kiss him for his labour. I warrant you they know their young, growing nothing out of kind, when their own life is nothing else than an example of naughtiness. Being an infant, he learneth the unchaste flattering words of nurses, and as we say, he is fashioned with the hand to wanton touching. He seeth his father well whetteled with drink, and heareth him babbling out that, that should be kept in. He sitteth at great, and not very honest feasts, he heareth the house full of jesters, harps, minstrels and dancers. §24. To these manners the child is so accustomed, that custom goeth into nature. There be nations that fashion their children to fierceness of war while they be yet red from the mother. They learn to look fiercely, they learn to love the sword, and to give a stripe. From such beginnings they are delivered to the master: and do we marvel if we find them unapt to learn virtue, which have drunk in vices, even with the milk? But I hear some men defending their folly thus, and say that by this pleasure which is taken of the wantonness of infants, the tediousness of nursing is recompensed. What is this? Should it be to the very father more pleasant if the child follow an evil deed, or express a lewd word, than if with his little stuttering tongue, he spake [spoke] a good sentence, or follow any deed that is well done? Nature specially hath given to the first age an easiness to follow and do after, but yet this following is somewhat more prone to naughtiness than to goodness. Is vice more pleasant to a good man than virtue, specially in his children? If any filth fall upon the young child’s skin, thou puttest it away, and dost thou infect the mind with so foul spots? Nothing sticketh faster than that is learned in young minds. I pray you what motherly hearts have those women, which dandle in their lap their children till they be almost seven years old, and in manner make them fools? If they be so much disposed to play why do they not rather get apes, and little puppets to play withall? O say they: they be but children. They be in deed: but it can scant be told how much those first beginnings of our young age do help us to guide all our life after, & how hard & untractable a wanton and dissolute bringing up, maketh the child to the teacher, calling
the same gentleness, when indeed it is a marring. Might not an action of evil handling children marvelous justly be laid against such mothers? §25. For it is plainly a kind of witchcraft & of murder. They be punished by the law, that bewitch their children, or hurt their weak bodies with poisons: what do they deserve which corrupt the chief part of the infant with most ungracious venom? It is a lighter matter to kill the body than the mind? If a child should be brought up among the goggle eyed stutters, or halting, the body would be hurt with infection: but in deed faults of the mind creep upon us more privily, & also more quickly, & settle deeper. The apostle Paul worthily gave this honor unto the verse of Menander, that he would recite it in his epistles: Evil communication, corrupteth good manners: but this is never truer than in infants. Aristotle when he was asked of a certain man by what means he might bring to pass, to have a goodly horse: If he be brought up quod he, among horses of good kind. And that if neither love nor reason can teach us how great care we ought to take for the first years of our children, at the least ways let us take example of brute beasts. For it ought not to grieve us to learn of then a thing that shall be so profitable, of whom mankind now long ago hath learned so many fruitful things: since a beast called Hippopotamus hath showed the cutting of veins, & a bird of Egypt called Ibis hath showed the use of a clister, which the physicians greatly allow. The herb called dictamum which is good to draw out arrows, we have known it by harts. They also have taught us that the eating of crabs is a remedy against the poison of spiders. And also we have learned by the teaching of lizards, that dictamum doth comfort us against the biting of serpents. For this kind of beasts fight naturally against serpents, of whom when they be hurt, they have been espied to fetch their remedy of that herb. Swallows have showed us salandine, and have given the name unto the herb. §26. The weasel hath showed us that rewe is good in medicines. The Stork hath showed us the herb organye: and the wild boars have declared that Ivy helpeth sicknesses. Serpents have showed that fennel is good for the eyesight. That vomit of the stomach is stopped by lettuce, the Dragon admonisheth us. §27. And that man’s dung helpeth against poison, the Panthers have taught us, and many more remedies we have learned of Brute beasts: yea and crafts also that be very profitable for man’s life. Swine have showed us the manner to plow the land, and the Swallow to temper mud walls. To be short, there is in manner nothing profitable for the life of man, but that nature hath showed us an example in brute beasts, that they that have not learned philosophy and other sciences, may be warned at the least way by them what they should do. Do we not see how that every beast, not only doth beget young, but also fashion them to do their natural office? The bird is born to fly. §28. Doest thou not see how he is taught thereunto & fashioned by his dame? We see at home how the cats go before the kittens, and exercise them to catch mice and birds, because they must live by them. §29. They show them the pray while it is yet alive, and teach them to catch it by leaping, and at least to eat them. What do harts? Do they not forth with exercise their fawns to
swiftness, and teach them how to run? they bring them to high steep doune places, & show them how to leap, because by these means they be sure against the trains of the hunters. There is put in writing as it were a certain rule of teaching elephants and dolphins in bringing up their young. In Nightingales, we perceive the offices of the teacher and learner, how the elder goeth before, calleth back, and correcteth, and how the younger followeth and obeyeth. And as the dog is born to hunting, the bird to flying, the horse to running, the ox to plowing, so man is born to philosophy and honest doings: and as every living thing learneth very easily that, to the which he is born, so man with very little pain perceiveth the learning of virtue and honesty, to the which nature hath grafted certain vehement seeds and principles: so that to the readiness of nature, is joined the diligence of the teacher. What is a greater inconvenience than beasts that be without reason to know and remember their debt toward their young: Man which is divided from brute beasts by prerogative of reason, not to know what he oweth to nature, what to virtue, and what to God? §29. And yet no kind of brute beasts looketh for any reward of their young for their nourishing and teaching, except we lust to believe that the Storks nourish again they dames forworn with age, and bear them upon their backs. But among men, because no continuance of time taketh away the thank of natural love: what comfort, what worship, what succor doth he prepare for himself, that seeth his child to be well brought up? Nature hath given unto thy hands a new fallowed field, nothing in it in deed, but of a fruitful ground: and thou through negligence sufferest it to be overgrown with briars and thorns, which afterwards cannot be pulled up with any diligence. In a little grain, how great a tree is hid, what fruit will it give if it spring out. §30. All this profit is lost except thou cast seed in the furrow, except thou nourish with thy labour this tender plant as it groweth, and as it were make it tame by grafting. Thou awakest in taming thy plant, and sleepest thou in thy son? All the state of man’s felicity standeth specially in three points: nature, good ordering, and exercise. I call nature an aptness to be taught, and a readiness that is grafted within us to honesty. Good ordering or teaching, I call doctrine, which standeth in monitions and precepts. I call exercise the use of that perfectness which nature hath grafted in us, and that reason hath furthered. Nature requireth good order and fashioning: exercise, except it be governed by reason, is in danger to many perils and errors. They be greatly therefore deceived, which think it sufficient to be born, & no less do they err which believe that wisdom is got by handling matters and great affairs without the precepts of philosophy. Tell me I pray you, when shall he be a good runner which runneth lustily in deed, but either runneth in the dark, or knoweth not the way? §31. When shall he be a good sword player, which shaketh his sword up and down winking? Precepts of philosophy be as it were the eyes of the mind, and in manner give light before us that you may see what is needful to be done and what not. Long experience of diverse things profit much indeed, I confess, but to a wise man that is diligently instructed in precepts of well doing. Count what they have done, and what they have suffered all their life, which have gotten them by experience of things a sely [silly] small prudence & think whether thou wouldest wish so great mischiefs to thy son.
Moreover philosophy teacheth more in one year, than doth any experience in thirty, and it teacheth safely, when by experience more men wax miserable than prudent, in so much that the old fathers not without a cause said: a man to make a peril or be in jeopardy, which assayed a thing by experience. Go to, if a man would have his son well seen in physic, whether would he rather he should read the books of physicians or learn by experience what thing would hurt by poisoning, or help by a remedy. How unhappy prudence is it, when the shipman hath learned the art of sailing by often shipwrecks, when the prince by continual battles and tumults, and by common mischiefs hath learned to bear his office? This is the prudence of fools, and that is bought too dearly, that men should be wise after they be stricken with mischief. He learneth very costly, which by wandering learneth not to wander. Philippus wisely learned his son Alexander to show himself glad to learn of Aristotle: and to learn philosophy perfectly of him to the intent he should not do that he should repent him of. And yet was Philip commended for his singular towardness of wit. What think ye then is to be looked for of the common sort. But the manner of teaching doth briefly show what we should follow, what we should avoid: neither doth it after we have taken hurt monish us, this came evil to pass, hereafter take heed: but or ever ye take the matter in hand, it crieth: If thou do this, thou shalt get unto the evil name and mischief. Let us knit therefore this threefold cord, that both good teaching lead nature, and exercise make perfect good teaching. Moreover in other beasts we do perceive that every one doth soonest learn that that is most properly belonging to his nature, and which is first to the safeguard of his health: and that standeth in those things which bring either pain or destruction. Not only living things but plants also have this sense. For we see that trees also in that part where the sea doth savour, or the northern wind blow, to shrink in their branches and boughs: and where the weather is more gentle, there to spread them farther out. §32. And what is that that properly belongeth to man? Verily to live according to reason, and for that is called a reasonable creature, and divided from those that cannot speak. And what is most destruction to man? Foolishness. He will therefore be taught nothing sooner than virtue, and abhor from nothing sooner than foolishness, if so be the diligence of the parents’ will incontinent set aworke the nature while it is empty. But we hear marvelous complaints of the common people, how ready the nature of children is to fall to vice, & how hard it is to draw them to the love of honesty. They accuse nature wrongfully. The greatest part of this evil is through our own fault, which mar the wits with vices, before we teach them virtues. And it is no marvel if we have them not very apt to learn honesty, seeing they are now already taught to mischief. And who is ignorant, that the labour to unteach, is both harder, and also goeth before teaching. Also the common sort of men do amiss in this point three manner of ways: either because they utterly neglect the bringing up of children, or because they begin to fashion their minds to knowledge too late, or because they put them to those men of whom they may learn that that must be unlearned again. We have shown those first manner of men unworthy to be called fathers, and that they very little differ from such as set their infants out abroad to be destroyed, and that they ought worthily to be punished by the law, which doth prescribe this also diligently by what means children should be brought up, & afterwards youth. The second sort be very many, with whom now I specially intend to strive. The third doeth amiss two ways, partly through ignorance, partly through wretchlessness.
And since it is a rare thing and a shame to be ignorant to whom thou shouldest put out thy horse, or thy ground to be kept, how much more shameful is it not to know whom thou shouldest put thy child in trust withal, being the dearest part of thy possessions? There thou beginnest to learn that, that thou canst not skill well of thy self, thou askest counsell of the best seen: here thou thinkest it maketh no matter to whom thou committest thy son. Thou assignest to thy servants, every man his office that is meetest for him. Thou triest whom thou mayest make overseer of thy husbandry, whom to appoint to the kitchen, and who should oversee thy household. And it there be any good for nothing, a slug, a dullhead, a fool, a waster, to him we commit our child to be taught: and that thing which requireth the cunningest man of all, is put to the worst of our servants. What is untoward, if here men have not an untoward mind? There be some which for their covetous mind be afeard to hire a good master, and give more to an horsekeeper than a teacher of the child. And yet for all that they spare no costly feasts, night & day they play at dice, and bestow much upon hounds & fools. In this thing only they be sparers and niggards, for whose cause sparing in other things might be excused. I would there were fewer which bestow more upon a rotten whore, than upon bringing up of their child. Nothing saith the Satire writer standeth the father in less cost than the son. Peradventure it will not be much amiss here to speak of the day diet, which long ago was much spoken of in the name of Crates. They report it after this fashion. Allow to thy cook .x. pound, to thy physician a grote, to thy flatter .v. talents, to thy counselor smoke, to thy harlot a talent, to thy philosopher .iii. halfpence. What lacketh to this preposterous count, but to put to it that the teacher have .iii. farthings: Howbeit I think that the master is mean under the name of philosopher. When one that was rich in money, but needy of wit asked Aristippus what wages he would ask for teaching his son, & he answered .v.C. grotes. You ask quod he too great a sum: for with this much money a man may buy a servant. §33. Then the philosopher very properly again: but now, quod he, for one thou shalt have two: a son meet to do the service, and a philosopher to teach thy son. Further if a man should be asked, whether he would have his only son dead to win an hundred horses, if he had any crumb of wisdom, he would answer (I think:) in no wise. Why givest thou then more for thy horse? why is he more diligently taken heed to than thy son? why givest thou more for a foal, than for the bringing up of thy child? Be frugal and sparing in other things, but in this point to be thrifty, is no sparing but a madness. There be other again that take good heed in choosing a master, but that is at the desire of their friends. They let pass a meet and cunning man to teach children, and take one that can no skill, for none other cause, but that he is set forward at the desires of their friends. Thou mad man, what meanest thou? In sailing thou regardest not the affection of them that speak good words for a man, but thou settest him to the helm, which can best skill to govern the ship: in the son, when not only he himself is in jeopardy, but the father and mother and all the household, yea and the commonwealth itself, wilt thou not use like judgment? Thy horse is sick, whether wilt thou send for a leech at the good word of thy friend, or for his cunning in leechcraft. What? Is thy son of less price unto thee than thy horse? Yea settest thou less by thy self than by thy horse? This being a foul thing in mean citizens, how much more shameful is it in great men? At one supper a dashing against the mischievous rock of dice, and so having shipwrecked, they lose two hundred pound, and yet they say they be at cost, if upon their son they bestow about .xx. pound. No man can
give nature, either to himself, or to other: howbeit in this point also the diligence of the parents helpeth much. The first point is, that a man chose to himself a wife that is good, come of a good kindred, and well brought up, also of an healthful body. For seeing the kindred of the body and mind is very straightly knit, it cannot be but that the one thing either must be helped or hurt of the other. The next is, that when the husband doeth his duty to get children, he do it neither being moved with anger, nor yet drunken, for these affections go into the child by a secret infection. A certain philosopher seemed to have marked that thing properly, which seeing a young man behaving himself not very soberly, it is marvel quod he, but if thy father begat thee when he was drunk. Verily I think this also maketh greatly to the matter, if the mother at all times, but specially at the time of conception and birth, have her mind free from all crimes, and be of a good conscience. For there can be nothing either more quiet or more merry than such a mind. The third point is that the mother nourish with her own breasts her infant, or if there hap [happen] any necessity that it may not so be, let be chosen a nurse, of a wholesome body, of pure milk, good conditions, neither drunken, not brawler, nor lecherous. For the vices that be taken even in the very beginnings of life, both of the body and of the mind, abide fast until we be old. Some men also write that it skilleth much who be his sucking fellows & who be his playfellows. Fourthly that in due season he be set to a chosen schoolmaster allowed by all men’s witness, and many ways tried. You must be diligent in choosing, and after go through with it. Homer disalloweth where many bear rule: and after the old proverb of the Greeks. The multitude of captains did lose Caria. And the often changing of physicians hath destroyed many. There is nothing more unprofitable, than often to change the master. For by that means the web of Penelope is woven and unwoven. But I have known children, which before they were .xii. year old, had more than .xii. masters, and that through the recklessness of their parents. And yet after this is done must the parents be diligent. They shall take heed both to the master & to the son, neither shall they so cast away all care from them as they are wont to lay all the charge of the daughter upon the spouse, but the father shall oftentime look upon them, and mark whether he profit, remembering those things which the old men spake [spoke] both sagely and wittily, that the forehead is set before the hinder part of the head: and that nothing sooner fatteth the horse than the master’s eye, nor that no dung maketh the ground more fruitful than the master’s footing. I speak of young ones. For as for the elders it is meet sometime that they be sent far out of our sight, which thing as it were a grafting, is inespecially wont to tame young men’s wits. Among the excellent virtues of Paulus Emilius, this also is praised, that as often as he might for his business in the commonwealth he would be at the exercises of his sons. And Pliny the nephew was content now and then to go into the school for his friend’s son’s sake, whom he had taken upon him to bring up in good learning. §34. Furthermore, that that we have spoken of nature is not to be understand one ways. For there is a nature of a common kind, as the nature of a man in to use reason. But there is a nature peculiar, either to him or him, that properly belongeth either to this man or that, as if a man would say some men to be born to disciplines mathematical some to divinity, some to rhetoric some to poetry, and some to war.
§35. So mightily disposed they be and pulled to these studies, that by no means they can be discouraged from them, or so greatly they abhor them, that they will sooner go into the fire, than apply their mind to a science that they hate. I knew one familiarly which was very well seen both in Greek and Latin, and well learned in all liberal sciences, and with an archbishop by whom he was found, had send hither by his letters, that he should begin to hear the readers of the law against his nature. After he had complained of this to me (for we lay both together) I exhorted him to be ruled by his patron, saying that it would wexe [wax] more easily, that at the beginning was hard, and that at the least way he should give some part of his time to that study. After he had brought out certain places wonderful foolish, which yet those professors half goddess did teach their hearers with great authority, I answered, he should set light by them, & take out that which they taught well: and after I had pressed upon him with many arguments, I am quod he so minded, that as often as I turn myself to these studies, me thinketh a sword runneth through my heart. Men that be thus naturally born, I think they be not to be compelled against their natures, lest after the common saying we should lead an Ox to wrestling, or an Ass to the harp. Peradventure of this inclination you may perceive certain marks in little ones. There be that can prognosticate such things by the hour of his birth, to whose judgment how much ought to be given, I leave it to every man’s estimation. It would yet much profit to have espied the same as soon as can be, because we learn those things most easily, to the which nature hath made us. I think it not a very vain thing to conjecture by the figure of the face and the behaviour of the rest of the body, what disposition a man is of. Certes Aristotle so great a philosopher vouchsafed to put out a book of physiognomy very cunning and well laboured. As sailing is more pleasant when we have born the wind and the die, so be we sooner taught those things to the which we be inclined by readiness of wit. Virgil hath showed marks whereby a man may know an ox good for the plough, or a cow meet for generation & increase of cattle. Best is the ox that looketh grimly. He teacheth by what tokens you may espy a young colt meet for lusting. Straight way the colt of a lusty courage trampleth garlic in the fields .&c. for you know the verses. They are deceived which believe that nature hath given unto man no marks, whereby his disposition may be gathered, and they do amiss, that do not mark them there be given. Albeit in my judgment there is scant any discipline, but that the wit of man is apt to learn it, if we continue in precepts and exercise. For what may not a man learn, when an Elephant may be taught to walk upon a cord, a bear to dance, and an ass to play the fool. As nature therefore is in no man’s own hand, so we have taught wherein by some means we may help nature. But good ordering and exercise is altogether of our own wit and diligence. How much the way to teach doth help, this specially declareth, that we see daily, burdens to be lift up by engines and art, which otherwise could be moved by no strength. §36. And how greatly exercise availeth that notable saying of the old wise man, inespecially proveth, that he ascribeth all things to diligence and study. But labour, say they, is not meet for a tender age, & what readiness to learn can be in children which yet scarce know that they are men: I will answer to both these things in few words. How agreeth it that that age should be counted unmeet for learning, which is now apt to learn good manners? But as there be rudiments of virtue, so be there also of sciences. Philosophy hath his infancy, his youth, and ripe age. An horsecolt, which forthwith
sheweth his gentle kind, is not straight way forced with the bit to carry on his back an armed man, but with easy exercises he learneth the fashion of war. The calf that is appointed to the plough, is not straight ways laden with weary yokes, nor pricked with sharp goads, but as Virgil hath elegantly taught: First they knit about his neck circles made of tender twigs, and after when his free neck hath been accustomed to do service, they make round hoops meet, & when they be writhen, join a pair of meet ones together, and so cause the young heifers to go forwards, and often times they make them to draw an empty cart, and slightly go away, but afterwards they set on a great heavy axletree of beech, and make them to draw a great plough beam of iron. Plowmen can skill how to handle oxen in youth, and attemper their exercises after their strength much more diligently ought this to be done in bringing up our children. Furthermore the providence of nature hath given unto little ones a certain meet hability [ability]. An infant is not yet meet to whom thou shouldest read the offices of Cicero, or the Ethics of Aristotle, or the moral books of Seneca or Plutarch, or the epistles of Paul, I confess, but yet if he do anything uncomely at the table, he is monished, and when he is monished, he fashioneth himself to do as he is taught. He is brought into the temple, he learneth to bow his knee, to hold his hands mannerly, to put off his cap, and to fashion all the behaviour of his body to worship God, he is commanded to hold his peace when mysteries be in doing, and to turn his eyes to the altar. These rudiments of modesty and virtue the child learneth before he can speak, which because they stick fast until he be elder, they profit somewhat to true religion. There is no difference to a child when he is first born, between his parents & strangers. Anon after he learneth to know his mother, & after his father. He learneth by little & little to reverence them, he learneth to obey them, & to love them. He unlearneth to be angry, to be avenged, & when he is bidden kiss them that he is angry withal, he doth it, & unlearneth to babble out of measure. He learneth to rise up, & give reverence to an old man, & to put off his cap at the image of the crucifix. A3 certain young man when he was rebuked of Plato because he had played at dice complained that he was so bitterly chidden, for so little harm. Then quod Plato, although it be but small hurt to play at dice, yet is it great hurt to use it. As it is therefore a great evil to accustom thy self to evil, so to use thy self to small good things is a great good. And that tender age is so much the more apt to learn these things, because of itself it is pliant unto all fashions, because it is not yet occupied with vice, and is glad to follow, if you show it to do anything. And as commonly it accustometh itself to vice, or ever it understand what vice is, so with like easiness may it be accustomed to virtue. And it is best to use best things even at the first. §37. That fashion will endure long, to the which you make the empty and tender mind. Horace wrote that if you thrust out nature with a fork, yet will it still come again. He wrote it and that very truly, but he wrote it of an old tree. Therefore the wise husband man will straight way fashion the plant after that manner which he will have tarry forever when it is a tree. It will soon turn in to nature, that you pour in first of all. Clay if it be too moist will not keep the fashion that is printed in it: the wax may be so soft that nothing can be made of it. But scarce is there any age so tender that is not able to receive learning. No age saith Seneca, is too late to learn: whether that be true or no I wit not, surely elderly age is very hard to learn some things. This is doubtless, that no age is so young but it is apt to be taught, inespecially those things unto the which nature hath made
They that think that these little rudiments help nothing to virtue, in my mind be greatly deceived.
us, for as I said: for this purpose she hath given a certain peculiar desire of following, that what so ever they have heard or seen, they desire to do the like, and rejoice when they think they can do anything: a man would say they were apes. And of this riseth the first conjecture of their wit and aptness to be taught. Therefore as soon as the man child is born, anon he is apt to learn manners. After when he hath begun to speak, he is meet to be taught letters. Of what thing regard is first to be had, a readiness by & by is given to learn it. For learning although it have infinite commodities, yet except it wait upon virtue, it bringeth more harm than good. Worthily was refused of wise men their sentence, which thought that children under seven year old should not be set to learning: and of this saying many believed Hesiod to be the author, albeit Aristophanes the grammarian said, that those moral precepts in the which work it was written, were not made by Hesiod. Yet needs must be some excellent writer, which put forth such a book that even learned men thought it to be of Hesiod’s doing. But in case it were Hesiod, without doubt yet no man’s authority ought to be of such force unto us, that we should not follow the better if it be showed us. Howbeit whosoever were of this mind, they meant not this, that all this time until seven years should be quite void of teaching, but that before that time children should not be troubled with the labour of studies, in the which certain tediousness must be devoured, as of canning without book, saying the lesson again, and with writing it, for scant may a man find any that hath so apt a wit to be taught, so tractable and that so will follow, which will accustom itself to these things without pricking forward. Chrisippus appointed three years to the nurses, not that in the mean space there should be no teaching of manners, and speech, but that the infant should be prepared by fair means to learn virtue and letters, either of the nurses, or of the parents, whose manners without peradventure do help very much to the good fashioning of children. And because the first teaching of children is, to speak plainly and without fault, in this afore time the nurses and the parents help not a little. This beginning, not only very much profiteth to eloquence, but also to judgment, and to the knowledge of all disciplines: for the ignorance of tongues, either hath marred all the sciences, or greatly hurt them, even divinity itself also, physic & law. The eloquence of the Gracchians was much marveled at in time past, but for the most they might thank their mother Cornelia for it, as Tullie judgeth. It appeareth saith he, that the children were not so much brought up in the mother’s lap, as in the mother’s communication. So their first schooling was to them the mother’s lap. Lelia also expressed in her goodly talk the eloquence of her father Caius. And what marvel. While she was yet young she was dyed with her father’s communication, even when she was born in his arms. The same happened to the two sisters, Mucia and Licinia, nieces unto Caius. Specially is praised the elegance of Licinia in speaking, which was the daughter of Lucius Crassus, one Scipio’s wife as I weene [think]. What needs many words? All the house and all the kindred even to the nephews, and their cousins did often express elegance of their fore fathers in artificial and cunning speaking. The daughter of Quintus Hortencius so expressed her father’s eloquence, that there was long ago an oration of hers to see, that she made before the officers called Triumuiri, not only (as Fabius saith) to the praise of womankind. To speak without fault no little help bring also the nurses, tutors, and playfellows. For as touching the tongues, so great is the readiness of that age to learn them, that within a few months a child of Germany may learn French, and that while he doth other things also: neither doth that thing come ever better to pass than in rude and very young years. And if this come to
pass in a barbarous and unruled tongue, which writeth other wise than it speaketh, and the which hath his schriches [screeches] and words scarce of a man, how much more easily will it be done in the Greek or Latin tongue? King Mithridates is read to have perfectly known .xxii. tongues, so that he could plead the law to every nation in their own tongues without any interpreter. §38. Themistocles within a year’s space learned perfectly the Persian’s tongue because he would the better commen [commune] with the king. If somewhat old age can do that, what is to be hoped for a child? And all this business standeth specially in two things, memory and imitation. We have showed before already that there is a certain natural great desire in children to follow other, and very wise men write that memory in children is very sure in holding fast: and if we distrust their authority, experience itself will prove it unto us. Those things that we have seen being children, they so abide in our minds, as though we had seen them yesterday. Things that we ready today when we be old, within two days after if we read them again they seem new unto us. Furthermore how few have we seen which have had good success in learning the tongues when they were old? And if some have well spedde [succeeded] them in knowledge, yet the right sound and pronunciation hath chanced either to none, or to very few. For rare examples be no common rules. Neither for this must we call children to learn the tongues after sixteen year old, because that the elder Cato learned Latin, and Greek, when he was three score and ten years old. But Cato of Utica much better learned than the other and more eloquent, when he was a child was continually with his master Sarpedo. And hence we ought so much the more to take heed, because that young age led rather by sense than judgment, will as soon or peradventure sooner learn lewdness & things that be naught. Yea we forget sooner good things than naught. Gentile philosophers espied that, & marveled at it, and could not search out the cause, which Christian philosophers have showed unto us: which telleth that this readiness to mischief is settled in us of Adam the first father of mankind. This thing as it cannot be false, so is it very true, that the greatest part of this evil cometh of lewd and naughty bringing up, inespecially of tender youth, which is pliable to everything. §39. We find in writing that great Alexander learned certain faults of his master Leonides, which he could not leave when he was well grown up, and a great Emperour. Therefore as long as among the Latins flourished that old virtuousness of good manners, children were not committed to an hireling to be taught, but were taught of the parents themselves & their kinsfolk, as of their uncles both by father and mother, of the grandfathers, as Plutarch saith: For they thought it especially pertained to the honour of their kindred, if they had very many excellently well seen in liberal knowledge, where as nowadays all nobility almost standeth in painted & graven arms, dancing, hunting, and dicing [playing at dice]. Spurius Carbilius of a bond man made free, whose patron Carbilius brought in the first example of divorce, is reported to be the first that taught an open grammar school. Before this time it was counted a very virtuous office if every man taught his kinsfolk in virtue and learning. Now is this their only care, to seek for their child a wife with a good dowry. That done, they think they have done all that belongeth to a father. But as the world is always ready to be worse and worse, daintiness hath persuaded us to commune this office to a tutor that is one of our household, and a
gentleman is put to be taught of a servant. In which thing indeed, if we would take heed whom we choose, the jeopardy were so much the less, because the teacher lived not only in the fathers sight, but also were under his power if he did amiss. They that were very wise, either bought learned servants, or provided they might be learned, that they might be teachers to their children. But how much wiser were it, if the parents would get learning for this intent, that they themselves might teach their own children. Verily by this means the profit would be double, as the commodity is double if the Bishop show himself a good man, to the intent he may encourage very many to the love of virtue. Thou will say; every man hath not leisure, and they be loath to take so great pain. But go to good sir, Let us cast with ourself how much time we lose at dice, bankettynge [banking], and beholding gay sights, and playing with fools, and I ween [expect] we shall be ashamed, to say we lack leisure to that thing which ought to be done, all other set aside. We have time sufficient to do all we should do, if we bestow it so thriftily as we should do. But the day is short to us, when we lose the greater part thereof. Consider this also, how great a portion of time is given now and then to the foolish business of our friends. If we cannot do as they all would have us, verily we ought chiefly to regard our children. What pain refuse we to leave unto our children a rich patrimony and well established: and to get that for them which is better than all this, should it irk us to take labour? namely when natural love and the profit of them which be most dearest unto us, maketh sweet all the grief and pain. If that were not, when would the mothers bear so long tediousness of childbirth and nursing. He loveth his son lightly which is grieved to teach him. §40. But the manner to instruct them was the more easy to them in old time, because the learned and unlearned people spake all one tongue, save that the learned spake more truly, more elegantly, more wisely, and more copiously. I confess that, and it were a very short way of learning, if I were so nowadays. And there have been some that have gone about to renew and bring again those old examples, and to do as those old fathers have done aforetime, as in Phrisia, Canterians, in Spain Queen Elisabeth the wife of Fardinandus [Ferdinand], out of whose family there have come forth very many women both marvelously well learned and virtuous. Among the English men, it grieved not the right worshipful Thomas More, although being much occupied in the king’s matters, to be a teacher to his wife, daughters, and son, first in virtue, and after in knowledge of Greek and Latin. Verily this ought to be done in those that we have appointed to learning. Neither is there any jeopardy that they should be ignorant in the people’s tongue, for they shall learn that whether they will or not by company of men. And if there be none in our house that is learned, anon we should provide for some cunning man, but tried both in manners and learning. It is a foolish thing to make a proof in thy son, as in a slave of little value, whether his teacher be learned or not, and whether he be a good man that thou hast gotten him or not. In other things pardon may be given to negligence, but here thou must have as many eyes as Argus had, and must be as vigilant as is possible. They say: a man may not twice do a fault in war: here it is not lawful to do once amiss. Moreover the sooner the child shall be set to a master, so much shall his bringing up come the better to pass. I know some men find this excuse, that it is jeopardy lest the labour of studies make the good health of the tender body weaker. Here I might ensure, that although the strength of the body were somewhat taken away, that this incommodity is well recompensed by so goodly gifts of the mind. For we fashion not a wrestler, but a
philosopher, a governor of the commonwealth, to whom it is sufficient to be healthful, although he have not the strength of Milo: yet do I confess that somewhat we must tender the age, that it may wax the more lusty. But there be many that foolishly do fear lest their children should catch harm by learning, which yet fear not the much greater peril that cometh of too much meat, whereby the wits of the little ones no less be hurted than be their bodies by kinds of meats and drinks that be not meet for that age. They bring their little children to great and long feasts, yea fasting sometime until far forth nights, they fill them with salt and hoat meats, sometime even till they vomit. They bind in and load the tender bodies with unhandsome garments to set them out, as some trim apes, in man’s apparel, and otherways they weaken their children, and they never more tenderly be afraid of their health, than when communication is begun to be had of learning, that is of that thing which of all other is most wholesome and necessary. That which we have spoken touching health, that same pertaineth to the care of his beauty, which as I confess is not to be light set by, so to carefully to be regarded, is not very meet for a man. Neither4 do we more waywardly fear any other thing than the hurt of it to come by study, where it is hurt a great deal more by surfeit, drunkenness, untimely watching, by fighting and wounds, finally by ungracious pox, which scarce any man escapeth that liveth intemperately. From these things rather let them see they keep their children than from learning, which so carefully take thought for the health and beauty. Howbeit5 this also may be provided for by our care & diligence that there should be very little labour and therefore little loss. This shall be if neither many things, neither every light thing be taught them when they be young, but the best only & that be meet for their age, which is delighted rather in pleasant things than in subtlety. Secondly, a fair manner of teaching shall cause that it may seem rather a play than a labour, for here the age must be beguiled with sweet flattering words, which yet cannot tell what fruit, what honour, what pleasure learning shall bring unto them in time to come. And this partly shall be done by the teacher’s gentleness & courteous behaviour, & partly by his wit & subtle practice, whereby he shall devise diverse pretty means to make learning pleasant to the child, & pull him away from feeling of labour. For there is nothing worse than when the waywardness of the master causeth the children to hate learning before they know wherefore it should be loved. The first degree of learning, is the love of the master. In process of time it shall come to pass that the child which first began to love learning for the master’s sake, afterwards shall love the master because of learning. For as many gifts are very dear unto us even for this cause, that they come from them whom we love heartily: so learning, to whom it cannot yet be pleasant through discretion, yet to them it is acceptable for the love they bear to the teacher. It was very well spoken of Isocrates that he learneth very much, which is desirous of learning. And we gladly learn of them whom we love. But some be of so unpleasant manners that they cannot be loved, no not of their wives, their countenance lowering, their company currishe [like a cur], they seem angry even when they be best pleased, they cannot speak fair, scarce can they laugh when man laugh upon them, a man would say they were born in an angry hour. These men I judge scant worthy to whom we should put our wild horses to be broken, much less would I think that this tender and almost sucking age should be committed to them. Yet be there some that think that these kind of men, even inespecially worthy to be set to
A wayward fear for hurting children’s beauty. Provision for easing children’s labour.
teach young children, whilst they think their sturdiness in looking is holiness. But it is not good trusting the looks, under that frowning face lurk oftentimes most unchaste and wanton manners, neither is to be spoken among honest men, to what shamefulness these bouchers [debauchers] abuse children by fearing them. No nor the parents themselves can well bring up their children, if they be no more but feared. The first care is to be beloved, by little and little followeth after, not fear, but a certain liberal and gentle reverence which is more of value than fear. How properly then I pray you be those children provided for, which being yet scant four year old are sent to school, where sitteth an unknown schoolmaster, rude of manners, not very sober, and sometime not well in his wit, often lunatic, or having the falling sickness, or French pox? For there is none so vile, so naughty, so wretched, whom the common people thinketh not sufficient enough to teach a grammar school. And they thinking they have gotten a kingdom, it is marvel to see how they set up the bristles because they have rule, not upon beasts, as saith Terence, but upon that age which ought to be cherished with all gentleness. You would say it were not a school, but a tormenting place: nothing is heard there beside the flapping upon the hand, beside yorking of rods, beside howling and sobbing and cruel threatenings. What other thing may children learn hereof, than the hate learning? When this hatred hath once settled in the tender minds, yea when they be old they abhor study. It is also much more foolish, that some men send their little children to a pious drunken woman to learn to read and write. It is against nature that women should have rule upon men: beside that, nothing is more cruel than that kind, if they be moved with anger, as it will soon be, and will not cease till it be full revenged. Monasteries also, and colleges of brethren, for so they call themselves, seek for their living hereof, and in their dark corners teach the ignorant children commonly by men that be but a little learned, or rather lewdly learned, although we grant they be both wise and honest. §41. This kind of teaching howsoever other men allow it, by my counsel no man shall use it, whosoever intendeth to have his child well brought up. It behoveth that either there were no school, or else to have it openly abroad. It is a short way indeed that commonly is used: for many be compelled of one more easily by fear, that one brought up of one liberally. §42. But it is no great thing to bear rule upon Asses or Swine, but to bring up children liberally as it is very hard, so is it a goodly thing. It is tyranny to oppress citizens by fear, to keep them in good order, by love, moderation and prudence, it is princely. Diogenes being taken out of the Agenites, and brought out to be sold, the crier asked him by what title he would be set out to the buyer. Ask quod he if any will buy a man that can rule children. At this strange praise many laughed. One that had children at home communed with the philosopher, whether he could do indeed that he professed. He said he could. By short communication he perceived he was not of the common sort, but under a poor cloak, there was hidden great wisdom: he bought him, and brought him home, & put his children to him to be taught. As the Scots say, there be no greater beaters than French schoolmasters. When they be told thereof, they be wont to answer, that that nation even like the Phrygians is not amended but by stripes. Whether this be true let other men judge. Yet I grant that there is some difference in the nation, but much more in the property of every several wit. Some you shall sooner kill, than amend with stripes: but
the same by love and gentle monitions you may lead whither ye will. Truth it is that of this disposition I myself was when I was a child, and when my master which loved me above all other, because he said he conceived a certain great hope of me, took more heed, watched me well, and at last to prove how I could abide the rod, and laying a fault unto my charge which I never thought of, did beat me, that thing so put away from me all the love of study, and so discouraged my childish mind, that for sorrow I had almost consumed away, and indeed followed thereof a quartaine ague. When at last he had perceived his fault, among his friends he bewailed it. §43. This wit (quod he) I had almost destroyed before I knew it. For he was a man both witty and well learned, and as I think, a good man. He repented him, but too late for my part. Here now (good sir) conjecture me how many forward wits these unlearned great beaters do destroy, yet proud in their own conceit of learning, wayward, drunken, cruel, and that will beat for their pleasure: themselves of such a cruel nature, that they take pleasure of other men’s torments. These kind of men should have been butchers or hangmen, not teachers of youth. Neither do any torment children more cruelly, then they that cannot teach them. §44. What should they do in schools but pass the day in chiding and beating? I knew a divine and that familiarly, a man of great name, which was never satisfied with cruelty against his scholars, when he himself had masters that were very great beaters. He thought that did much help to cast down the fierceness of their wits, & tame the wantonness of their youth. He never feasted among his flocks, but as Comedies be wont to have a merry ending, so contrary when they had eaten their meat, one or other was hailed out to be beaten with rods: and sometime he raged against them that had deserved nothing, even because they should be accustomed to stripes. I myself on a time stood near him, when after dinner he called out a boy as he was wont to do, as I trow [thought] ten year old. And he was but new come from his mother into that company. He told us before that the child had a very good woman to his mother, and was earnestly committed of her unto him: anon to have an occasion to beat him, he began to lay his charge I wotte [know] not what wantonness: When the child showed himself to have nothing less, and beckoned to him to whom he committed the chief rule of his college, surnamed of the thing, a tormentor, to beat, him ne by and by cast down the child, and beat him as though he had done sacrilege. The divine said once or twice, it is enough, it is enough. But that tormentor deaf with ferventness, made no end of his butchery, till the child was almost in a sound: Anon the divine turning to us, he hath deserved nothing quod he, but that he must be made low. Whoever after that manner hath taught his salve, or his Asse? A gentle horse is better tamed with puping [pumping?] of the mouth or soft handling, than with whip or spurs. §45. And if you handle him hard, he will whynche [wince?], he will kick, he will bite, and go backwards. An ox if you prick him too hard with goads, will cast off his yoke, and run upon him that pricked him. So must a gentle nature be handled as is the whelp of a Lion. Only art tameth Elephants, not violence, neither is there any beast so wild, but that it will be tamed by gentleness, neither any so tame, but immoderate cruelness will anger it. It is a servile thing to be chastened by fear, and common custom calleth children
free men, because liberal and gentle bringing up becometh them, much unlike to servile. Yet they that be wise do this rather, that servants by gentleness and benefits leave off their slavish conditions: remembering that they also be men, and not beasts. There be rehearsed marvelous examples of servants toward their masters, whom verily they should not have found such if they had kept them under only by stripes. §46. A servant if he be corrigible is better amended by monitions, by honesty, & good turns, than by stripes: if he be past amendment, he is hardened to extreme mischief and either will run away and rob his master, or by some craft go about his master’s death. Sometime he is revenged on his master’s cruelty, though it cost him his life. And there is no creature more fearful than man, whom cruel injury hath taught to despise his own life. Therefore the common proverb that saith a man hath as many enemies as he hath servants, If it be true, I think it may be chiefly imputed to the unreasonableness of the master: for it is a point of art, and not of chance to rule well servants. And if the wiser masters go about this thing, so to use their servants, that they should serve them well and gently, and instead of servants had rather have them free men, how shameful is it by bringing up, to make servants of those that be gentle and free by nature? Nor without cause doth the old man in the comedy think that there is great difference betwixt a master and a father. The master only compelleth, the father by honesty and gentleness accustometh his son, to do well of his own mind, rather than by fear of another: and that he should be all one in his presence and behind his back. He that cannot do this saith he, let him confess that he cannot rule children. But there ought to be a little more difference betwixt a father and the master, than betwixt a king and a tyrant. We put away a tyrant from the commonwealth, and we chose tyrants, yea for our sons, either we ourselves exercise tyranny upon them. Saint6 Paul desireth Philo to be good to Onesimus, not now as a servant, but as a dear brother instead of a servant. And writing to the Ephesians, he monisheth the masters to remit their bitterness against their servants, and their threatenings, remembering that they are rather fellow servants than masters, because they both have a common master in heaven, which as well will punish the masters if they do amiss, as the servants. The Apostle would not have the masters full of threatening, much less full of beating: for he saith not, pardoning your stripes, but pardoning your threatenings, and yet we would have our children nothing but beaten, which scarce the Galley masters or Sea robbers do against their slaves and rowers. But of children, what doth the same Apostle command us? §47. In so much he will not have them beaten slavishly, he commandeth all cruelty and bitterness to be away from our monitions and chiding. §48. You fathers saith he, provoke not your children to anger, but bring them up in discipline and chastising of the Lord. And what the discipline of the Lord is, he shall soon see that will consider, with what gentleness, what meekness, what charity the Lord Jesus hath taught, suffered and nourished and brought up by little and little his disciples. The laws of man do temper the father’s power: the same also permit unto the servants an action of evil handling, and from whence then cometh this cruelty among Christian men? In time past one Auxon a knight of Rome, whilst he went about to amend his son by
Howbeit this vile name of servitude ought utterly to be taken away out of the life of Christian men.
beating him unmeasurably, he killed him. That cruelty so moved the people, that the fathers and children hailed him into the market place, & all to be pricked him, thrust him in with their writing pins, nothing regarding the dignity of his knighthood, and Octavius Augustus had much ado to save him. But nowadays how many Auxons do we see which through cruel beating, hurt the children’s health, make them one eyed, weaken them, and sometime kill them. Rods serve not to some men’s cruelty, they turn them and beat them with the great end, they give them buffets, and strike the young ones with their fists, or whatsoever is next at hand they snatch it, and dash it upon them. It is told in the law, that a certain sowter [shoemaker], when he laid one of his sowters upon the hinder part of the head with a last [tool used to shape shoes], he stroke out one of his eyes, and that for that deed he was punished by the law. What shall we say of them which beside their beatings, do then shameful despite also? I would never have believed it, except both I had known the child, and the doer of this cruelty perfectly. §49. A child yet scant .vii. year old, whose honest parents had done good to his master, they handled so cruelly, that scarce any such tyrant as was Mezencius or Phalaris could do more cruelly. They cast so much man’s dung into the child’s mouth that scarcely he could spit, but was compelled to swallow down a great part of it. What tyrant did ever such kind of despite? After such dainties, they exercised such lozdelynes. The child naked was hanged up with cords by the armholes, as though he had been a strong thief, and there is among to Germans no kind of punishment more abhorred than this. Anon as he hung, they all to beat him with rods, almost even till death. For the more the child denied the thing that he did not, so much the more did they beat him. Put also to this, the tormentor himself almost more to be feared than the very punishment, his eyes like a serpent, his narrow and writhen mouth, his sharp voice like a spirit, his face wan and pale, his head rolling about, threatenings and rebukes such as they lusted in their anger: a man would have thought it a fury out of hell. What followed? anon after this punishment the child fell sick, with great jeopardy both of mind and life. Then this tormentor began first to complain, he wrote to his father to take away his son as soon as could be, and that he had bestowed as much physic upon him as he could, but in vain upon the child that was past remedy. §50. When the sickness of the body was somewhat put away by medicines, yet was the mind so astonied [astonished], that we feared lest he would never come again to the old strength of his mind. Neither was this the cruelty of one day, as long as the child dwelt with him there passed no day but he was cruelly beaten once or twice. I know thou suspectest O reader, that it was an heinous fault, whereunto so cruel remedy was used. I will show you in few words. There was found both of his that was beaten, and of two others, their books blotted with ink, their garments cut, and their hose arrayed with man’s dung. §51. He that played this play was a child born to all mischief, which by other ungracious deeds afterwards, made men believe the other to be true that were done before. And he was nephew by the sister’s side to this mad doctor: even then playing a part before to these things which soldiers are wont to do in battle or robbing. At an host’s house of his, he pulled out the faucet, and let the wine run upon the ground, and as one to show a
pleasure, he said that he felt the savour of the wine: with an other of his fellows he daily played at the sword, not in sport, but in earnest, that even then you might well perceive he would be a thief or a murderer, or which is very like to them, that he would be an hired soldier. Although the teacher favoured him, yet fearing lest they should one kill another, he sent away his cousin. For he had for that other a good reward: and he was of this sort of gospellers [preachers/evangelists], to whom nothing is more sweet than money. His godfather was made surely to believe that the child was with a good and diligent master, when indeed he dwelt with a boucher [butcher], & was continually in company, and made drudge with a man that was half mad, and continually sick. Thus favouring more his kinsman than him by whom he had so much profit, the suspicion was laid upon the harmless, to whom they ascribed so much malice that he would tear and defile his own garments to avoid suspicion if any such thing had been done. But the child coming both of good father and mother, did never show any token of such a naughty disposition: and at this day there is nothing farther from all malice than are his manners, which now free from all fear telleth all the matter in order as it was done. §52. To such tutors do honest citizens commit their children whom they most love, and such do complain that they be not well rewarded for their pains. And this tormentor would not once knowledge he had done amiss, but had rather play the stark mad man, than confess his fault: and yet against such is not taken an action of evil handling, neither hath the rigour of the law any power against such huge cruelty. There is no anger worse to be pleased than theirs that be like to have the falling sickness. How many things be crept in, into the life of Christian men, not meet neither for the Phrygians nor the Scythians, of the which I will show one much like this matter. The young gentleman is send in to the university to learn the liberal sciences. But with how ungentle despites is he begun in them? First they rub his chin, as though they would shave his beard: hereunto they use piss, or if there be any fouler thing. This liquour is dashed into his mouth, & he may not spit it out. With painful bobs they make as though they drew horns from him: sometime he is compelled to drink a great deal of vinegar or salt, or whatsoever it listeth [pleases] the wild company of young men to give him: for when they begin the play, they make him swear that the shall obey all that they command him. At last they hoyse [hoist] him up, & dash his back against a post as often as they list. After these so rustical despites sometime followeth an ague or a pain of the back that never can be remedied. Certes [Certainly] this foolish play endeth in a drunken banquet: with such beginnings enter they into the studies of liberal sciences. But it were meet that after this sort there should begin a boucher [butcher], a tormentor a bard or a bond slave or a boatman, not a child appointed to the holy studies of learning. It is a marvel that young men given to liberal studies be mad after this fashion, but it is more marvel that these things be allowed of such as have the rule of youth. To so foul & cruel foolishness is pretensed the name of custom, as though the custom of an evil thing were anything else than an old error, which ought so much the more diligently to be pulled up because it is crept among many. So continueth among the divines the manner of a vesper, for they not an evil thing with a like name, more meet for scoffers then divines. But they that profess liberal sciences, should have also liberal spirits. But I come again to children, to whom nothing is more unprofitable, than to be used to stripes, which enormity causeth that the gentle nature is intractable, and the viler driven to desperation: and continuance of them
maketh that both the body is hardened to stripes, & the mind to words. Nay we may not oftentime chide them too sharply. A medicine naughtily used, maketh the sickness worse, helpeth it not, and if it be laid too continually, by little and little, it ceaseth to be a medicine, and doth nothing else than doth stinking and unwholesome meat. But here some man will lay unto us the godly sayings of the Hebrews. He that spareth the rod hateth his child and he that loveth his son, beateth him much. Again: Bow down the neck of thy child in youth, and beat his sides while he is an infant very young. Such chastisement peradventure was meet in time past for the lewes. Now must the saying be expounded more civilly. And if a man will be hard to us with letters and syllables, what is more cruel than to bend the neck of a child, & to beat the sides of an infant? wouldest thou not believe that a bull were taught to the plough, or an ass to bear paniars, and not a man to virtue? And what reward doth he promise us? That he grope not after other men’s dores [bars of gold and silver bullion]. He is afraid lest his son should be poor, as the greatest of all mischief. What is more coldly spoken than this sentence? Let gentle admonition be our rod, and sometime chiding also, but sauced with meekness, not bitterness. Let us use this whip continually in our children, that being well brought up, they may have at home a means to live well, and not be compelled to beg counsel at their neighbours how to do their business. Licon the philosopher hath showed .ii. sharp spurs to quicken up children’s wits, shame, and praise: shame is the fear of a just reproach, praise is the nourisher of all virtuous acts: with these pricks let us quicken our children’s wits. Also if you will, I will show you a club to beat their sides withal. Continual labour vanquisheth all things saith the best of all poets. Let us wake, let us prick them forwards, & still call upon them, by requiring, repeating, and often teaching: With this club let us beat the sides of our infants. First let them learn to love, and marvel at virtue and learning, to abhor sin and ignorance. Let them hear some praised for their well doings, and some rebuked for their evil. Let examples be brought in of those men to whom learning hath gotten high glory, riches, dignity, and authority. And again of them to whom their evil conditions & with without all learning hath brought infamy, contempt, poverty and mischief. These verily be the clubs meet for Christians, that make disciples of Jesus. Emulation is an envy without malice, for desire to be as good as another, & to be as much praised. And if we cannot profit by monitions, nor prayers, neither by emulation, nor shame, nor praise, nor by other means, even the chastening with the rod, if it so require, ought to be gentle & honest. For even this that the bodies of gentle children should be made bare, is a kind of despise. Howbeit Fabius utterly condemneth all the custom to beat gentle children. Some man will say, what shall be done to them if they cannot be driven to study but by stripes? I answer roundly, what would ye do to asses or to oxen if they went to school? Wouldest thou not drive them into the country, & put the one to the backhouse, the other to the plow. For there be men as well born to the plow and to the backhouse, as oxen and asses be. §53. But they will say: then decreaseth my flock. What then? Yea and mine advantage too. This is an hard matter: this maketh them to weep. They set more money than by the profit of the children. §54. But such are all the common sort of foolish teachers. I grant. As the philosophers describe a wise man, the rhetoricians an orator, such one as scarce may be found in any
place: So much more easy it is to prescribe what manner of man a schoolmaster should be, than to find many that will be as you would have them. Civil officers and prelates should see that there were good school masters. §55. But this ought to be a public care and charge, and belongeth to the civil officer, and chief prelates of the churches that as there be men appointed to serve in war, to sing in churches, so much more there should be ordained that should teach citizens’ children well and gently. Vespasian7 out of his own coffers gave yearly six hundred pound to Latin and Greek rhetoricians. Pliny8 the nephew of his own liberality bestowed a great sum of money to the same purpose. And if the commentary in this point be slack, certainly every man ought to take heed at home for his own house. §56. Thou wilt say: what shall poor men do which can scarce fund their children, much less hire a master to teach them? Here I have nothing to say, but this out of the comedy: We must do as we may do, when we cannot as we would. We do show the best way of teaching, we be not able to give fortune: Save that here also the liberality of rich men ought to help good wits, which cannot show forth the strength of natural inclination because of poverty. Poverty hurteth good wits. I will that the gentleness of the master should be so tempered, that familiarity, the companion of contempt, put not away honest reverence, such one as men say Sarpedo was, tutor to Cato of Utica, which through his gentle manners got great love, and by his virtue as like authority, causing the child to have a great reverence, and to set much by him without any fear of rods. But these that can do nothing else but beat, what would they do if they had taken upon them to teach Emperors’ or kings’ children, whom it were not lawful to beat? They will say that great men’s sons must be excepted from this fashion. What is that? Be not the children of citizens, men as well as kings’ children be? Should not every man as well love his child as if he were a king’s son? If his estate be somewhat base, so much the more need hath he to be taught, and helped by learning, that he may come up, from his poor case. But if he be of high degree, philosophy & learning is necessary to govern his matters well. Further not a few be called from low degree to high estate, yea sometime to be great bishops. All men come not to this, yet ought all men to be brought up to come to it. I will brawl no more with these great beaters, after I have told you this one thing: How that those laws & officers be condemned of wise men, which can no more but fear men with punishment, & do not also entice men by rewards: and the which punish faults, and provide not also that nothing be done worthy punishment. The same must be thought of the common sort of teachers, which only beat for fault, and do not also teach the mind that it do not amiss. They straightly require their lesson of them: if the child fail, he is beaten: and when this is done daily because the child should be more accustomed to it, they think they have played the part of a gay schoolmaster. But the child should first have been encouraged to love learning, and to be afraid to displease his teacher. But of these things peradventure some man will think I have spoke too much & so might I worthily be thought, except that almost all men did in this point so greatly offend, that hereof a man can never speak enough.
§57. Furthermore it will help very much, if he that hath taken upon him to teach a child, so set his mind upon him, that he bear a fatherly love unto him. By this it shall come to pass, that both the child will learn more gladly, & he shall feel less tediousness of his labour. For9 in every business love taketh away the greatest part of hardness. And because after the old proverb: Like rejoiceth in like, the master must in manner play the child again, that he may be loved of the child. Yet this liketh me not, that men set their children to be taught their first beginnings of letters unto those that be of extreme and doting old age, for they be children in very deed, they fain not, they counterfeit not, stuttinge [acting foolish], but stutte [foolish] indeed. §58. I would wish to have one of a lusty young age, whom the child might delight in, and which would not be loath to play every part. This10 man should do in fashioning his wit, that parents and nurses be wont to do in forming the body. How do they first teach the infant to speak like a man? They apply their words by lisping according to the child’s tattling. How do they teach them to eat? They chew first their milk soppes [toasted bread with soup or broth poured over it], and when they have done, by little & little put it in to the child’s mouth. How do they teach them to go? They bow down their own bodies, and draw in their own strides after the measure of the infant’s. Neither do they feed them with every meat, nor put more in than they be able to take: and as they increase in age, they lead them to bigger things. First they seek for nourishment that is meet for them, not differing much from milk, which yet if it be thrust into the mouth too much, either it choketh the child, or being cast out defileth his garment. When it is softly and prettily put in, it doth good. Which self thing we see cometh to pass in vessels that have narrow mouths: if you pour in much, it bubbleth out again, but if you pour in a little, and as it were by drops, indeed it is a while, and fair and softly erste [first], but yet then filled. The feeding of the body and mind compared together. So then as by small morsels, and given now and then, the little tender bodies are nourished: in like manner children’s wits by instructions meet for them taught easily, and as it were by play by little & little accustom themselves to greater things: & the weariness in the mean season, is not felt, because that small increasings so deceive the feeling of labour, that nevertheless they help much to great profit. As it is told of a certain wrestler, which, accustomed to bear a calf by certain furlongs, bare him when he was waxen a bull, without any pain: for the increase was not felt, which every day was put to the burden. But there be some that look that children should straightway become old men, having no regard of their age, but measure the tender wits, by their own strength. §59. Straightway they call upon them bitterly, straightway they straightly require perfect diligence, by and by they frown with the forehead if the child do not as well as he would have him, and they be so moved as though they had to do with an elder body, forgetting you maybe be sure that they themselves were once children. How much more courteous is it that Pliny warneth a certain master that was too sore. Remember saith he, that both he is a young man, and that thou hast been one thyself. But many be so cruel against the tender children, as though they remembered not neither themselves, neither their scholars to be men. What things little young children should be first taught. Thou wouldest that I
A sentence to be marked. A likening of schoolmasters and nurses together.
should show thee those things that be meet for the inclination of that age, and which should by and by be taught the little young ones. First the use of tongues which commeth to them without any great study, there as old folks can scarce be able to learn them with great labour. Children desire naturally to follow & do as other do. And here too as we said, moveth the children a certain desire to follow and do as they see other do: of the which thing we see a certain like fashion in pies and popinjays. What is more delectable than the fables of poets, which with their sweet enticing pleasures to delight children’s ears that they profit us very much when we be old also, not only to the knowledge of the tongue, but also to judgment and copy of elegant speech? What will a child hear more gladly than Aesop’s fables, which in sport and play teach earnest precepts of philosophy? and the same fruit is also in the fables of other poets. The child heareth that Ulysses’ fellows were turned into swine, and other fashions of beasts. The tale is laughed at, and yet for all that he learneth that thing that is the chiefest point in all moral philosophy: Those which be not governed by right reason, but are carried after the will of affections, not to be men, but beasts. §60. What could a stoycke say more sagely? and yet doth a merry tale teach the same. In a thing that is manifest I will not make thee tarry with many examples. Bucolicall, where the herdmen do speak of net and sheep. Also what is more merry conceited than the verses called Bucolicall? what is sweeter than a comedy, which standing by moral manners, delighteth both the unlearned and children? And hear how great a part of philosophy is learned by play? Add unto this the names of all things, in the which it is marvel to see how nowadays, yea even they be blind which are taken for well learned men. Finally, short and merry conceited sentences, as commonly be proverbs, and quick short sayings of noble men, in the which only in time past philosophy was wont to be taught to the people. There appeareth also in the very children a certain peculiar readiness to some sciences, as unto music, arithmetic, or cosmography. For I have proved that they which were very dull to learn the precepts of grammar and rhetoric, were found very apt to learn the subtle arts. Nature therefore must be holpen [helped] to that part whereunto of itself it is inclined. And down the hill is very little labour, as contrary is great. Thou shall neither do nor say anything against thy natural inclination. I knew a child that could not yet speak which had no greater pleasure, than to open a book, and make as though he read. And when he did that sometime many hours, yet was he not weary. And he never wept so bitterly, but if you had offered him a book, he would be pleased. That thing made his friends hope that in time to come he would be a well learned man. His name also brought some good luck: for he was called Hierome [Jerome]. That is a teacher of holy learning. And what he is now I cannot tell, for I saw him not being grown up. To the knowledge of the tongue it will help very much if he be brought up among them that be talkative. Fables and tales will the child learn so much the more gladly, and remember the better, if he may see before his eyes the arguments properly painted, and whatsoever is told in the oration be showed him in a table.11 The same shall help as much to learn without book the names of trees, herbs, and beasts, and also their properties, inespecially of these which be not common to be seen in every place, as is Rhinoceros, which is a beast that hath a horn in his nose, natural enemy to the
“in a table” In context, “table” looks like an error for either “tale” or “fable”, but it means picture (Latin tabula).
Elephant: Tragelaphus, a goat hart, Duocrotalus, a bird like to a swan, which putting his head into the water brayeth like an ass, an ass of Inde and an Elephant. The table may have an Elephant whom a Dragon claspeth hard about, wrapping in his former feet with his tail. The little child laugheth at the sight of this strange painting, what shall the master do then? He shall show him that there is a great beast called in Greek an Elephant, and in Latin likewise, save that sometime it is declined after the Latin fashion. He shall show, that that which the Greeks call proboscida, or his snout, the Latins call his hand, because with that he reacheth his meat. He shall tell him that that beast doth not take breath at the mouth as we do, but at the snout: & that he hath teeth standing out on both sides, and they be ivory, which rich men set much price by, and therewith shall show him an ivory comb. Afterwards he shall declare that in Inde there be dragons as great as they. And that dragon is both a Greek word and a Latin also, save that the Greeks say dracontes12 in the genitive case. He shall show that naturally betwixt the dragons and the Elephants is great fight. And if the child be somewhat greedy of learning, he may rehearse many other things of the nature of Elephants and dragons. Many rejoice to see huntings painted. Here how many kinds of trees, herbs, birds, four footed beasts may he learn and play? I will not hold you long with examples, seeing it is easy by one to conjecture all. §61. The master shall be diligent in choosing them out, and what he shall judge most pleasant to children, most meet for them, what they love best, and is most flourishing, that inespecially let him set before them. The first age like unto the spring time, standeth in pleasant sweet flowers, and goodly green herbs, until the harvest time of ripe man’s age fill the barn full of corn. §62. Then as it were against reason in ver [summer] or spring time to seek for a ripe grape, and a rose in autumn, Autumn is the time betwixt summer and winter. so must the master mark what is meet for every age. Merry and pleasant things be convenient for childhood, howbeit all sourness and sadness must be clean away from all studies. And13 I am deceived except the old men meant that also, which ascribed to the muses being virgins, excellent beauty, harp, songs, dances, and plays in the pleasant fields, and joined to them as fellows the Ladies of love: and that increase of studies did stand specially in mutual love of minds, and therefore the old men called it the learning that pertained to man. And there is no cause why profit may not follow pleasure, and honesty joined to delectation. For14 what letteth that they should not learn either a proper fable, art of poets, or a sentence, or a notable pretty history, or a learned tale, as well as they learn and can without book a pious song, and oftentimes a bawdy one too, & foolish old wives’ tattlings, & very trifles of trifling women? What a sum of dreams, vain riddles, and unprofitable trifles of spirits, hobgoblins, fairies, witches, nightmares, wood men and giants, how many naughty lies, how many evil sayings remember we, yea even when we be men, which being little children we learned of our daddies, grandmothers, nurses, &
“the Greeks say dracontes in the genitive case” Latin draco, draconis Greek δρακων, δρακοντος (drakôn, drakontos) 13 The meaning of the poets’ device touching the muses & Charites. 14 Wherefore learning is called humanity.
maidens while they were spinning, and heard them when they kissed & played with us? And what a profit should it have been to learning, if instead of these most vain garringes, not only foolish, but also hurtful, we had learned those things that we rehearsed a little before. Thou wilt say, what learned man will lowly his wit to these so small things? Yet Aristotle himself being so great a philosopher was not grieved to take upon him the office of a teacher, to instruct Alexander. §63. Chiron fashioned the infancy of Achilles, and Phoenix succeeded him. Eli the priest brought up the child Samuel. And there be nowadays which either for a little money, or for their pleasure take almost more pain in teaching a pie or a popinjay. There be some that for devotion’s sake take upon them journeys that both be far off and jeopardous, and other labours beside almost intolerable. Why doth not holiness cause us to do this office seeing nothing can please God better? Howbeit in teaching those things that we have rehearsed, the master must neither be too much calling upon, neither too sharp: but use a continuance rather than be without measure. Continuance hurteth not so it be measurable, & spice also with variety and pleasantness. Finally if these things be so taught, that imagination of labour be away, and that the child do think all things be done in play. Here the course of our talking putteth us in remembrance briefly to show by what means it may be brought to pass that learning should wax sweet unto the child, which15 before we somewhat touched. To be able to speak readily, as I told you is easily gotten by use. After this commeth the care to read and write which of itself is somewhat tedious, but the grief is taken away a great part by the cunning handling of the master, if it be sauced with some pleasant allurements. For you shall find some which tarry long and take great pain in knowing & joining their letters & in those first rudiments of grammar, when they will quickly learn greater things. The irksomeness of these things must be holpen [helped] by some pretty craft, of the which the old fathers have showed certain fashions. Some have made the letters in sweet crusts and cakes that children love well, that so in manner they might eat up their letters. §64. When they tell the letter’s name, they give the letter itself for a reward. Other have made the fashion of ivory, that the child should play with them, or if there were any other thing wherein that age is specially delighted. The16 English men delight principally in shooting, and teach it their children first of all: wherefore a certain father that had a good quick wit perceiving his son to have a great pleasure in shooting, brought him a pretty bow & very far arrows, & in all parts both of his bow & arrows were letters painted. Afterwards instead of marks, he set up the fashion of letters, first of Greek, and after of Latin: when he hit, & told the name of the letter, beside a great rejoicing, he had for a reward a cherry, or some other thing that children delight in. Of that play commeth more fruit, if two or three matches play together. For then the hope of victory and fear of rebuke maketh them to take more heed, and to be more cheerful. By this device it was brought about that the child within a few days playing, had perfectly learned to know & sound all his letters which the common sort of teachers be scarce able to bring to pass in three whole years with their beatings, threatenings, and brawlings. Yet do not I allow the diligence of some too painful, which draw out these things by playing at chesses or dice.
How learning may be made sweet unto the child. The practice of a certain English man to teach his child his letters by shooting.
For when the plays themselves pass the capacity of children, how shall they learn the letters by them? §65. This is not to help the children’s wits, but to put one labour to another. As there be certain engines so full of work and so curious, that they hinder the doing of the business. Of this sort commonly be all those things which some have devised of the art of memory for to get money, or for a vain boasting, rather than for profit: for they do rather hurt the memory. The17 best craft for memory, is thoroughly to understand, and then to bring into an order, last of all often to repeat that thou wouldest remember. And in little ones there is a natural great desire to have the mastery inespecially of such as be of lusty courage, and lively towardness. §66. The teacher shall abuse these inclinations to the profit of his study. If he shall profit nothing by prayers, and fair means, neither by gifts meet for children, nor praises, he shall make a contention with his equals. His fellow shall be praised in the presence of the duller. Desire to be as good shall quicken forwards, whom only adhortation [exhortation] could not do. Yet it is not meet so to give the mastery to the victor, as though he should have it forever: but sometime he shall show hope to him that is overcome, that by taking heed he may recover the shame: which thing captains be wont to do in battle. And sometime we shall suffer that the child should think he had gotten the better, when he is worse indeed. Finally by interchanging, praise and dispraise, he shall nourish in them, as Hesiod saith, a strife who shall do best. Perchance one of a sad wit will be loath so to play the child among children. And yet the same is not grieved, neither yet ashamed to spend a great part of the day in playing with little puppies or marmosets, or to babble with a pie or popinjay, or to play the fool with a fool. By these trifles, a very sad matter is brought to pass, and it is marvel that good men have little pleasure herein, seeing that natural love of our children, and hope of great profit is wont to make those things also pleasant, which of themselves be sharp, sour and bitter. I confess that the precepts of grammar be at the beginning somewhat sour, and more necessary than pleasant. But the handsomeness of the teacher shall take from them also a great part of the pain. The best thing and plainest must be taught first. §67. But now with what compasses, and hardness be children troubled while they learn without the book the names of the letters before they know what manner letters they be? §68. While they be compelled in the declining of nouns and verbs to can by rote in how many cases, moods and tenses one word is put: as muse in the genitive and dative singular, the nominative and vocative plural? Legeris of legor, and of legerim, and legero? What a beating is then in the school, when children be asked these things? §69. Some light teachers to boast their learning are wont of purpose to make these things somewhat harder. Which fault maketh the beginnings almost of all sciences in doubt, and painful, specially in logic. And if you show them a better way, they answer they were brought up after this fashion, and will not suffer that any children should be in better case, than they themselves were when they were children. All difficulty either therefore must
The best craft for memory.
be avoided, which is not necessary, or that is used out of time. It is made soft and easy, that is done when it should be. But when time is, that of necessity an hard doubt must be learned, than a cunning teacher of a child shall study as much as he may to follow the good and friendly Physicians, A good school master in teaching, must follow a physician in medicines. which when they shalt give a bitter medicine do anoint, as Lucretius saith, the brims of their cups with honey, that the child enticed by pleasure of the sweetness should not fear the wholesome bitterness, or else put sugar into the medicine itself, or some other sweet savouring thing. Yea they will not be known that it is a medicine, for the only imagination sometime maketh us quake for fear. Finally this tediousness is soon overcome, if things be taught them not too much at once, but by little and little, and at sundry times. Howbeit we ought not to distrust too much children’s strength, if perhaps they must take some pains. A child is not mighty in strength of body, but he is strong to continue, and in ability strong enough. He is not mighty as a bull, but he is strong as an emmet [ant]. In18 some things a fly passeth an elephant. Everything is mighty in that, to the which nature hath made him. Do we not see tender children run marvelously swiftly all the day long, and feel no weariness. What is the cause? Because play is fit for that age, and they imagine it a play and no labour. And in everything the greatest part of pain is imagination, which sometime maketh us feel harm, when there is no harm at all. Therefore seeing that the providence of nature hath taken away imagination of labour from children, And how much they lack in strength, so much they be holpen [helped] in this part, that is, that they feel not labour, It shall be the master’s part, as we said before, to put away the same by as many ways as he can, and of purpose to make a play of it. §70. There be also certain kinds of sports meet for children, wherewith their earnest study must somewhat be eased after they be come to that, they must learn those higher things which cannot be perceived without diligence and labour: as are the handling of Themes, to turn Latin into Greek, or Greek into Latin, or to learn cosmography without book. But most of all shall profit, if the child accustom to love and reverence his master, to love and make much of learning, to fear rebuke, and delight in praise. There19 remaineth one doubt, wont to be objected by those which say: The profit that the child getteth in those three or four years to be so little, that it is not worth the labour, either to take so much pain in teaching, or bestow so much cost. And these indeed seem unto me, not so much to care for to profit the children, as for the sparing of their money, or the teacher’s labour. But I will say he is no father, which when the matter is of teaching the child, taketh so great care for expenses. Also it is a foolish pity, to thintent [with the intention that] the master should save his labour, to make his son lose certain years. I grant it to be true indeed that Fabius saith, that more good is done in .i. year after, than in these .iii. or .iiii. why should we set light by this little that is won in a thing far more precious. Let us grant that it is but a very little, yet were it better the child to do it, than either nothing at all, or learn somewhat that after must be unlearned. With what business shall that age be better occupied as soon as he beginneth to speak, which in no wise can be unoccupied? Also how little soever it be that the former age doth bring, yet shall the child learn greater things, even in the same years, when smaller should have been learned, if he had not learned them before. This saith Fabius, every year furthered and increased
Note the sentence. The last objection touching the profit of the child in his young years.
profiteth to a great sum and as much time as is taken before in the infancy, is gotten to the elder age. It needeth not to rehearse that in those first years certain things be easily learned, which be more hard to be learned when we be elder. For it is very easily learned, that is learned in time convenient. Let us grant that they be small and little things, so we confess them to be necessary. Yet to me indeed it seemeth not so little a furtherance to learning to have gotten though not a perfect knowledge, yet at the least way a taste of both the tongues, besides so many vocables and names of things, and finally to have begun to be able to read and write promptly. It grieveth us not in things much more vile, to get all the vauntage [advantage] we can, be it never so little. A diligent merchant setteth not light by winning of a farthing, thinking thus in his mind: it is indeed of itself but a little, but it groweth to a sum, and a little often put to a little, will quickly make a great heap. The Smiths rise before day, to win as it were part of the day. Husbandmen upon the holy day do some things at home, to make an end of more work the other days. And do we regard as nothing the loss of .iiii. years in our children, when there is nothing more costly than time, nor no possession better than learning? It is never learned timely enough that never is ended. For we must ever learn as long as we live. §71. And in other things the lucre that is lost by slackness, may be recovered by diligence. Time when it is once flown away (and it flieth away very quickly) may be called again by no enchantments. For the poets do trifle which tell of a fountain, whereby old men do as it were wax young again: and the physicians deceive you, which promise a gay flourishing youth to old men through a certain foolish fifth essence I wot [wit/know] not what. Here therefore we ought to be very sparing, because the loss of time may by no means be recovered. Besides this the first part of our life is counted to be best, and therefore should be bestowed more warily. Hesiod alloweth not sparing, neither at the highest, nor at the lowest, because when the tunne [cask] is full it seemeth too hasty, and too late when it is spent: and therefore biddeth us spare in the myddes [halfway/middle]. But of time we must nowhere cast away the sparing, and if we should spare when the tunne [cask] is full for this cause that wine is best in the middest [midst/middle], then should we most of all save our young years, because it is the best part of the life, if you exercise it, but yet that goeth swiftest away. The husbandman if he be anything diligent, will not suffer any part of his land to lie vacant, and that that is not meet to bring forth corn, he setteth it either with young graffes [grasses], or leaveth it to pasture, or storeth it with pot herbs. And shall we suffer the best part of our life to pass away without all fruit of learning? New fallowed ground must be prevented with some fruitful thing, les being untilled, it bring forth of itself naughty cockle [darnel]. For needs must it bring forth somewhat. Likewise the tender mind of the infant, except it be straight ways occupied with fruitful teachings, it will be overcoved [over-covered] with vice. An earthen pot will keep long the savour of the liquor that it is first seasoned with, and it will be long or it go out. But as for an earthen vessel being new and empty, you may keep it for what liquor ye will. §72. The mind either bringeth forth good fruit, if you cast into it good seed, or if ye regard it not, it is filled with naughtiness, which afterwards must be pulled up. And not a little hath he won which hath escaped the loss, neither hath he brought small help to virtue, which hath excluded vice. But what need many words? Wilt thou see how much
it availeth, whether one be brought up in learning or not? Behold how excellently learned in the old time men were in their youth, and how in our days they that be aged be able to do nothing in study? Ovid20 being a very young man wrote his verses of love. What old man is able to do like? What21 manner of man Lucan was in his youth his works declare. How came this? Because that being but .vi. months old he was brought to Rome, & straight way delivered to be taught of two the best grammarians, Palemon, and Cornutus. His22 companions in study were Salcius Bassus, and Aulus Persisus: that23 one excellent in history, that other in a Satire. §73. Doubtless hereof came that most perfect knowledge that he had in all the seven sciences, & his so marvelous eloquence, that in verse he was both an excellent orator, & also a Poet. In this our time there wanteth not examples of good bringing up (although they be very few) & that as well in women as men. Politian praise the wit of the maiden Cassandra. §74. And what is more marvelous than Ursinus a child of .xii. years old? for the remembrance of him, he also in a very elegant epistle put in eternal memory. How few men shall you now find, which at one time be able to indict two epistles to so many notaries, that the sentence in every one do agree, and that there should happen no inconvenient speech. That child did it in five epistles & gave that arguments without any study, & was not prepared aforehand to do it. Some men when they see these things, thinking that they pass all men’s strength, ascribe it to witchcraft. It is done indeed by witchcraft, but it is an artificial enchanting, to be set in time to a learned, god, and vigilant master. It is a strong medicine to learn the best things of learned men, and among the learned. §75. By24 such witchcraft Alexander the Great, when he was a young man, besides eloquence was perfect in all the parts of Philosophy, and except the love of wars, & sweetness to reign had quite wrought away his inclination, he might have been counted the chief among the best Philosophers. By the same means Caius Caesar being but a young man, was so eloquent & well seen in the mathematical sciences. §76. So well seen also were many Emperors: Marcus Tullius, also Virgil, and Horace in their lusty youth were so excellent in learning and Eloquence, all because they were straight way in their tender age learned of their parents & nurses the elegancy of the tongues, and of the best masters the liberal sciences: as Poetry, Rhetoric, Histories, the knowledge of antiquities, Arithmetic, Geography, Philosophy, moral and political. And what do we I pray you? we keep our children at home till they be past fourteen or fifteen year old, and when they be corrupted with idleness, riot, & delicateness, with much work at the last we send them to the common schools. There to further the matter well, they taste a little grammar: after, when they can decline words, & join the adjective and the
Ovid. Lucan. 22 Bassus. 23 Persius. 24 Alexander.
substantive together, they have learned all the grammar, and then be set to that troubled Logic, where they must forget again if they have learned to speak anything well. But more unhappy was the time when I was a child which all too vexed the youth with modes of signifying, and other foolish questions, & teaching nothing else than to speak foolishly. Verily those masters because they would not be thought to teach foolish things, darkened grammar with difficulties of Logic and Metaphysic: even for this verily, that afterwards they should return backwardly to learn grammar, when they were old, which we see happeneth now to some divines that be wiser, that after so many high degrees and all their titles, whereby they may be ignorant in nothing, they be fain to come again to those books, which are wont to be read unto children. I blame them not, for it is better to learn late than never, that thing which is necessary to be known. §77. Good Lord what a world was that, when with great boasting John Garland’s verses were read to young men, and that with long and painful commentaries? when a great part of time was consumed in foolish verses, in saying them to other, repeating them, and hearing them again? when Florista and Florius were learned without book? for as for Alexander, I think him worthy to be received among the meaner sort. Moreover how much time was lost in Sophistry, and in the superfluous masses of Logic? And because I will not be too long, how troublesomely were all sciences taught? how painfully? whiles every reader to auaunce [advance?] himself, would even straight way in the beginning stuff in the hardest things of all, and sometime very foolish things too. For a thing is not therefore goodly because it is hard, as to stand a far off, and to cast a mustard seed through a needle’s eye & miss not, it is hard indeed, but yet it is a very trifle: and to undo a pair of tariers [tarriers?/terriers?], it is much work, but yet a vain and idle subtlety. §78. Add here unto, that oftentimes these things be taught of unlearned men, and that is worse, of lewd learned men, sometime also of sluggards and unthrifts, which more regard taking of money than the profit of their scholars. When the common bringing up is such, yet do we marvel that few be perfectly learned before they be old. §79. The25 best part of our life is lost with idleness, with vices, wherewith when we be infected, we give a little part of our time to studies, and a great part to feasts and plays. And to an ill matter is taken as evil a craftsman, either teaching that is foolish, or that which must be unlearned again. And after this we make our excuse that the age is weak, the wit not yet apt to learn, the profit to be very small, and many other things, when indeed the fault is to be ascribed to evil bringing up. I will not trouble you any longer, only will I speak to your wisdom which is in other things very sharp and quick of sight. A goodly brief rehearsal of the things before spoken. Consider how dear a possession your son is, how diverse a thing it is and a matter of much work to come by learning, and how noble also the same is, what a readiness is in all children’s wits to learn, what agility s in the mind of man, how easily those things be learned which be best and agreeable to nature, inespecially if they be taught of learned and gentle masters by the way of play: further how fast those things abide with us, wherewith we season first of all the empty and rude minds, which self things an elder age perceiveth both more hardly, and sooner forgetteth: Beside this how dear and the loss never recovered, time is, how much it
availeth to begin in season, and to learn everything when it should be, how much continuance is able to do, & how greatly the heap that Hesiod speaketh of, doeth increase by putting to little and little, how swiftly the time flieth away, how youth will always be occupied, & how unapt old age is to be taught: If thou consider these things thou wilt never suffer that thy little child should pass away (I will not say) seven year, but not so much as three days, in the which he may be either prepared or instructed to learning though the profit be never so little. FINIS.
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