Of the time of Learning, Dutie of Masters, and what the fittest Method to be obserued.
AS the Spring is the onely fitting seede time for graine, setting and planting in Garden and Or∣chard: So youth, the Aprill of mans life, is the most naturall and conuenient season to scatter the Seeds of knowledge vpon the ground of the mind,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith Plato, It behooueth in youth out of hand, to de∣sire and bend our minds to Learning: neither as good Hus∣bands, while time serueth, let slip one houre; for, saith he, elsewhere, Our ground is hard,*and our horses be wild; with∣all, if we meane to reape a plentifull haruest, take we the counsell of Adrastus in Euripides, To looke that the seed be good. For, in the foundation of youth, well ordered and taught, consists (saith Plato againe) the flourishing of the Common-wealth. This tender Age is like water spilt vpon Page 22 a table, which with a finger wee may draw and direct which way we list; or like the young Hop, which, if wan∣ting a pole, taketh hold of the next hedge: so that now is the time (as Waxe) to worke it plyant to any forme.
How many excellent wits haue we in this Land, that smell of the Caske, by neglecting their young time when they should haue learned! Horace his Quo semel, once fit for the best Wine, since too bad for the best Vineger, who growne to yeares of discretion, and solid vnder∣standing, deepely bewaile their misspent, or misguided youth, with too late wishing (as I haue heard many) that they had lost a ioynt, halte their estates, so that they had beene held to their Bookes when they were young. The most (and without cause) lay the fault vpon bad Masters; to say truth, it is a generall plague and com∣plaint of the whole Land; for, for'one discreete and able Teacher, you shall finde twenty ignorant and carelesse, who (among so many fertile and delicate wits as Eng∣land affoordeth) whereas they make one Scholler, they marre ten.
The first and maine Error of Masters,* is want of dis∣cretion, when in such varietie of Natures as different as their countenances, the Master neuer laboureth to try the strength of euery capacitie by it selfe,* which (as that Lesbian stone Aristotle speaketh of) must haue the rule fitted to it, not that brought to the rule: for as the selfe same medicines haue seuerall operations, according to the complexions they worke vpon; so one and the selfe∣same Method agreeth not with all alike: some are quick of capacitie, and most apprehensiue, others of as dull; some of a strong memorie, others of as weake; yet may that dullard, or bad memorie, (if he be obserued) proue as good, yea (in Aristotles opinion) better then of the other. But we see on the contrary, out of the Masters carterly iudgment, like Horses in a teame, they are set to draw al alike, when some one or two prime and able wits Page 23 in the Schoole, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (which he culs out to admiration if strangers come, as a Costardmonger his fairest Pip∣pins) like fleete hounds goe away with the game, when the rest need helping ouer a stile a mile behind: hence being either quite discouraged in themselues, or taken a∣way by their friends (who for the most part measure their learning by the forme they fit it) they take leaue of their bookes while they liue.
A second ouer-sight nigh a kin to the former, is indis∣cretion in correction, in vsing all Natures alike, and that with immoderation, or rather plaine crueltie: true it is, Quo quisque est solertior & ingeniosior,*hoc docet iracundi∣or. But these fellowes beleeue with Chrysippus in Quin∣tilian, that there is no other Method of making a Schol∣ler, then by beating him, for that he vnderstandeth not through their owne fault; wherein they shew themselues egregious Tyrants, for, Correction without instruction is plaine tyrannis.
The Noble, generous, and best Natures, are won by commendation, enkindled by Glory,* which is fax mentis honestae, to whom conquest and shame are a thousand tor∣tures. Of which disposition for the most part, are most of our young Nobilitie and Gentlemen, well borne, in∣heriting with their being, they vertue of their Ancestors, which euen in this tender greennesse of year wil bewary it selfe, as well in the Schoole as abroad at their play and childish recreations.
Quintilian aboue all others, desireth this disposition to make his Orator of, and whom chiding greeueth, to be tenderly dealt withall; yet haue I knowne these good and towardly Natures, as roughly handled by our Pla∣gosi Orbilij, as by Dionysius himselfe taking reuenge vpon the buttockes of poore Boyes for the losse of his king∣dome, and railed vpon by the vnmannerly names of block-heads (oft by farre worse then block-heads) asses, dolts, &c. which deepely pierceth the free and generous Page 24 Spirit; for,*Ingenuitas (saith Soneca) non recipit contemp∣tum; Ingenuitie or the generous minde, cannot brooke contempt; and which is more vngentlemanly, nay bar∣barous and inhumane, pulled by the eares, lashed ouer the face, beaten about the head with the great end of the rod, smitten vpon the lippes for euery slight offence with the Ferula, (not offered to their Fathers Scullions at home) by these Aiaces flagelliferi; fitter far to keep Beares, (for they thriue and are the fatter for beating, saith Pliny) then to haue the charge of Noble and Gen∣tlemen.
In Germanie the Schoole is, and as the name importeth, it ought to be meerely Ludus literarius, a very pastime of learning, where it is a rare thing to see a Rodde stirring: yet I heartily wish that our Children of England were but halfe so ready in writing and speaking Latine, which Boyes of tenne and twelue yeares old will doe so round∣ly, and with so neate a phrase and stile, that many of our Masters would hardly mend them; hauing onely for their punishment shame, and for their reward praise. Ca∣uendum à plagis (saith Quintilian) sed potiùs laude aut aliorum praelatione vrgendus est puer: that is, wee must hold our hands, and rather bring a Child forward with praise, and preferring of others. Beside, there ought to bee a reciprocall and a mutuall affection betwixt the Master and Scholler, which iudicious Erasmus and Lodo∣uicus Viues,* (sometimes teacher to Queene Marie, and a Spaniard, who came into England with Queene Kathe∣rine her mother) doe principally require, Patris in illum in duendo affectum, by putting on a Fathers affection to∣ward him: and as Pliny saith, Amore, non artifice docen∣te, qui optimus Magister est: To win his heart and affe∣ction by loue, which is the best Master, the Scholler a∣gaine the contrary. So may a discrect Master, with as much or more case, both to himselfe & his Scholler, teach him to play at Tennise, or shoot at rouers in the field, and Page 25 profit him more in one moneth, beside his encourage∣ment, then in halfe a yeare with his strict and seuere vsage. But in stead heereof, many of our Masters for the most part so behaue themselues, that their very name is hatefull to the Scholler, who trembleth at their comming in, reioyceth at their absence, and looketh his Master (returned) in the face, as his deadly enemy.
Some affect, and seuerer Schooles enfore, a pre∣cise and tedious strictnesse, in long keeping the Schol∣lers by the walls; as from before sixe in the morning, till twelue, or past: so likewise in the afternoone; which beside the dulling of the wit, and deiecting the Spirit, (for,*Otij non minùs quam negotij ratio extare debes) breedeth in him afterward, a kinde of hate and carelesnesse, of studie when hee commeth to bee sui i•∣ris, at his owne libertie, (as experience prooueth by many, who are sent from senere Schooles vnto the Vniuersities:) withall, ouer-loading his memorie, and taking off the edge of his inuention, with ouer hea∣uy taskes in Themes, Verses, &c. To be continually po∣ring on the Booke (saith Socra••s) hurteth and weake∣neth the memorie very much;* affirming learning to bee sooner attained vnto by the eare in discourse and hea∣ring, then by the eye in continuall reading. I verily be∣leeue the same, if we had Instructors and Masters at hand, as readie as Bookes. For wee see by experience, those who haue beene blinde from their birth, to retaine more by hearing, then others by their eyes, let them reade neuer so much: wherefore Fabius would haue, Istud ediscendi taedium protinùs à pueris deuorari, this same toyle or tediousnesse of learning by heart, to bee presently swallowed or passed ouer by Children.
Wherefore I cannot but commend the custome of their Schooles in the Low Countries, where for the auoy∣ding of this tedious sitting still, & irksome poring on the Page 26 booke all day long; after the Scholler hath receiued his Lecture, he leaueth the Schoole for an houre, and walk∣eth abroad with one or two of his fellowes, either into the field, or vp among the trees vpon the rampire; as in Andwerpe, Breda, Vtrechs, &c. where they conferre and recreate themselues till time calls them in to repeate, where perhaps they stay an houre; so abroad again, and thus at their pleasure the whole day. For true it is, that Lipsius saith,*ingenia vegeta, must haue suos re•essus, strong and liuely wits must haue their retrait or intermission of exercise, and as Rammes (engines of warre in old time) recoyle backe to returne with the greater force; which the mind doth vnto study after pause and rest, not vnlike a field, which by lying fallow, becommeth farre more fat and fruitfull.
A fourth error, is the contrary (for, Stulti in contraria currunt,) too much carelesnesse and remissenesse in not holding them in at all, or not giuing them in the Schoole that due attendance they ought: so that euery day is play-day with them, bestowing the Summer in seeking Birds-nests, or haunting Orchards; the Winter, in kee∣ping at home for cold, or abroad all day with the Bow, or the Birding-peece: they making as little conscience in taking, as their Master in giuing their learning, who for∣getreth belike,* that Rumour layeth each fault of the Schol∣ler vpon his necks. Plato remembreth one Protagoras, a Bird of the same feather, who when hee had liued three∣score yeares, made his boast, he had spent fortie of those threescore, in corrupting and vndoing youth. We haue, I feare, a race of those Protager-asses euen yet among our common Schoole-masters in England.
But the diseases whereunto some of them are very subiect, are Humour and Folly (that I may say nothing of the grosse Ignorance and in-sufficiency of many) where∣by they become ridiculous and contemptible both in the Schoole and abroad. Hence it comes to passe, that in Page 27 many places, especially in Italy, of all professions that of Peda•eria is held in basest repute; the Schoole-master almost in euery Comedy being brought vpon the Stage, to paralell the Zani, or Pantaloun. He made vs good sport in that excellent Comedy of Pedantius, acted in our Trinitie Colledge in Cambridge: and if I bee not decei∣ued, in Priscianus vapulans, and many of our English Playes.
I knew one, who in Winter would ordinarily in a cold morning, whip his Boyes ouer for no other purpose then to get himselfe a heat: another beat them for swearing, and all the while sweares himselfe with horrible oathes, he would forgiue any fault sauing that.
I had I remember my selfe (neere S. Albanes in Hert∣forshir• where I was borne) a Master, who by no entrea∣tie would teach any Scholler he had, farther then his Fa∣ther had learned before him; as if he had onely learned but to reade English, the sonne, though he went with him seauen yeares, should go no further; his reason was, they would then prooue saucy rogues, and controule their Fathers; yet these are they that oftentimes haue our hopefull Gentry vnder their charge and tuition, to bring them vp in science and ciuilitie.
Beside, most of them want that good and direct Me∣thod, whereby in shortest time and with least labour, the Scholler may attaine vnto perfection; some teaching priuately, vse a Grammer of their owne making; some againe, none at a••: the most Lillies, but praeposterously posted ouer, that the boy is in his Quantitie of Syllables, before hee knoweth the Qualitie of any one part of speech; for he profiteth no more then he mastereth by his vnderstanding. Nor is it my meaning that I would all Masters to be tyed to one Methode, no more then all the Shires of England to come vp to London by one high way; there be many equally alike good. And since Me∣thod, as one saith,* is but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, let euery Master if he Page 28 can,* by pulling vp stiles and hedges, make a more neere and priuate way to himselfe, and in Gods name say with the diuinest of Poets:
But in stead of many good they haue infinite bad, and go stumbling from the right as if they went blindfold for a wager: hence commeth the shifting of the Scholler from Master to Master, who poore boy (like a hound among a Companie of ignorant hunters hollowing euery decre they see) misseth the right, begetteth himselfe new la∣bour, and at last by one of skill, but well rated or beaten for his paines. They cannot commonly erre, if they shall imitate the builder, first to prouide the Scholler with matter, then cast to lay a good foundation, I meane a sol∣lide vnderstanding of the Grammar, euery rule made fa∣miliar and fast, by short and pleasant examples, let him bring his matter into forme, and by little and little raise the frame of a strong and well knit stile both in writing and speaking; and what doth harme in all other building, is heere most profitable and needfull, that is, Translation. For I know nothing that benefiteth a Scholler more then that; first by translating out of Latine into English, which laid by for some time, let him translate out of English into Latine againe varying as oft as he can both his words and Phrases. Dosetus who hath gathered all the Phrases of Tullie into one volume, Manutius, Erasmus his Cop•a, and Drax his Callipo•a with others, will helpe Page 29 him much at the first; let him after by his owne reading enrich his vnderstanding, and learne haurire ex ipsis fon∣tibus, next exercise himselfe in Theames and Declamation if he be able. The old method of teaching Grammar, saith Suetonius, was disputation in the fore-noone, and decla∣mation in the after-noone; but this I leaue to the discre∣tion of the iudicious Master.
I passe ouer the insufficiencie of many of them (with ill example of life (which Plato wisheth aboue all things to be respected and looked into) whereof as of Physicke and ill Physitians, there is many times more danger then of the disease it selfe; many of them being no Grammari∣ans at all, much lesse (as Quintilian requireth in a Schoolemaster) Rhetoricians to expound with proper and purest English, an Eloquent Latine or Greeke Au∣thor, vnfold his inuention: and handling of the subiect, shew the forme and fluencie of the style, the apt disposi∣tion of figures, the proprietie of words, the weight of graue and deepe Sentences which are nerui orationis, the sinewes of discourse. Musitians, without which Grammar is imperfect in that part of Prosodia, that dealeth onely with Meter and Rhithmicall proportions. Astronomers to vnderstand Authors who haue written of the heauens and their motions, the seuerall Constellations, setting and rising of the Planets, with the sundry names of cir∣cles and points; as Manilius and Pontanus. And lastly, Naturall and Morall Philosophers, without which they canot as they ought, vnderstand Tullies Offices, or Aesops Fables, as familiar as they seeme.
Farre be it that I may bee thought to question the worth and dignitie of the painfull and discreete teacher, who, if Learning be needfull, must be as necessarie: be∣sides, I am not ignorant, that euen thea greatest Princes, with the most reuerend Bishops, and most profound Schollers of the world, haue not beene ashamed of tea•ching the Grammer: or that I inueigh in the least, against Page 30 the learned and worthy Masters of our publike Schooles, many of whom may be ranked with the most sufficient Schollers of Europe. I inueigh against the pittifull abuse of our Nation by such, who by their ignorance and neg∣ligence deceiue the Church and Common-wealth of ser∣uiceable members, Parents of their Money, poore Chil∣dren of their time, esteeme in the world, and perhaps meanes of liuing all their liues after.