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of their course of study. Already, in 1559, the Constitu-
tions, probably written by Loyola himself, devoted a whole
book to the organization of the colleges of the society. 2 But
in particular, the Ratio Studiornm, published in 1599, con-
tains a complete scholastic programme, which has remained
for three centuries the invariable educational code of the
congregation. Without doubt, the Jesuits, always ready to
make apparent concessions to the spirit of the times, with-
out sacrificing anything of their own spirit, and without
renouncing their inflexible purpose, have introduced modifi-
cations into their original rules ; but the spirit of their edu-
cational practice has remained the same, and, in 1854,
Beckx, the actual general of the order, could still declare
that the Ratio is the immutable rule of Jesuit education.

153. Primary Instruction Neglected. — A permanent
and characteristic feature of the educational policy of the
Jesuits is, that, during the whole course of their history,
they have deliberately neglected and disdained primary in-
struction. The earth is covered with their Latin colleges ;
and wherever they have been able, they have put their hands

1 Bacon de Augmentis Scientiarum, Lib. VI. chap. iv.

2 See the fourth book of the Constitutions.


on the institutions for university education; but in no in-
stance have they founded a primary school. Even in their
establishments for secondary instruction, the}' entrust the
lower classes to teachers who do not belong to their order,
and reserve to themselves the direction of the higher classes.
Must we believe, as they have declared in order to explain
this negligence, that the only reason for their reserve and
their indifference is to be sought for in the insufficiency of
their teaching force ? No ; the truth is that the Jesuits
neither desire nor love the instruction of the people. To
desire and to love this, there must be faith in conscience and
reason ; there must be a belief in human equality. Now
the Jesuits distrust the human intelligence, and administer
only the aristocratic education of the ruling classes, whom
they hope to retain under their own control. They wish to
train amiable gentlemen, accomplished men of the world ;
they have no conception of training men. Intellectual cul-
ture, in their view, is but a convenience, imposed on certain
classes of the nation by then rank. It is not a good in
itself ; it may even become an evil. In certain hands it is
a dangerous weapon. The ignorance of a people is the best
safeguard of its faith, and faith is the supreme end. So we
shall not be astonished to read this in the Constitutions: —

" None of those who are employed in domestic service on
account of the society, ought to learn to read and write, or,
if they already know these arts, to learn more of them.
They shall not be instructed without the consent of the
General, for it suffices for them to. serve with all simplicity
and humility our Master, Jesus Christ."

154. Classical Studies: Latin and the ITimamties. —
It is only in secondary instruction that the Jesuits have
taken position with marked success. The basis of their
teaching is the study of Latin and Greek. Their purpose is


to monopolize classical studies in order to make them serve
for the propagation of the Catholic faith. To write in Latin
is the ideal which they propose to their pupils. The first
consequence of this is the proscription of the mother tongue.
The Ratio forbids the use of French even in conversation ;
it permits it only on holidays. Hence, also, the importance
accorded to Latin and Greek composition, to the explication
of authors, and to the study of grammar, rhetoric, and
poetry. It is to be noted, besides, that the Jesuits put
scarcely more into the hands of their pupils than select
extracts, expurgated editions. They wish, in some sort, to
efface from the ancient books whatever marks the epoch and
characterizes the time. They detach fine passages of elo-
quence and beautiful extracts of poetry ; but they are afraid,
it seems, of the authors themselves ; they fear lest the pupil
find in them the old human spirit, — the spirit of nature.
Moreover, in the explication of authors, they pay more
attention to words than to things. They direct the pupil's
attention, not to the thoughts, but to the elegancies of lan-
guage, to the elocutionary effect; in a word, to the form,
which, at least, has no religious character, and can in no-
wise give umbrage to Catholic orthodoxy. They fear to
awaken reflection and individual judgment. As Macaulay
has said, they seem to have found the point up to which
intellectual culture can be pushed without reaching intellec-
tual emancipation.

155. Disdain of History, of Philosophy, and of the
Sciences in General. — Preoccupied before all else with
purely formal studies, and exclusively devoted to the exer-
cises which give a training in the use of elegant language,
the Jesuits leave real and concrete studies in entire neglect.
History is almost wholly banished from their programme.
It is only with reference to the Greek and Latin texts that


the teacher should make allusion to the matters of history
which are necessary for the understanding of the passage
under examination. No account is made of modern history,
nor of the history of France. "History," says a Jesuit
Father, "is the destruction of him who studies it." This
systematic omission of historical studies suffices to put in its
true light the artificial and superficial pedagogy of the
Jesuits, admirably defined by Beckx, who expresses himself
thus : —

"The gymnasia will remain what they are b/ nature, a
gymnastic for the intellect, which consists far less in the
assimilation of real matter, in the acquisition of different
knowledges, than in a culture of pure form."

The sciences and philosophy are involved in the same dis-
dain as history. Scientific studies are entirely proscribed in
the lower classes, and the student enters his year in philoso-
phy, 1 having studied only the ancient languages. Philosoph}'
itself is reduced to a barren study of words, to subtile dis-
cussions, and to commentaries on Aristotle. Memory and
syllogistic reasoning are the only faculties called iuto play ;
no facts, no real inductions, no care for the observation of
nature. In all things the Jesuits are the enemies of prog-
ress. Intolerant of everything new, they would arrest the
progress of the human mind and make it immovable.

156. Discipline. — Extravagant statements have been
made relative to the reforms in discipline introduced by the
Jesuits into their educational establishments. The fact is,
that they have caused to prevail in their colleges more of
order and of system than there was in the establishments of
the University. On the other hand, they have attempted to
please their pupils, to gild for them, so to speak, the bars of

1 See note to § 141.


the prison which confined them. Theatrical representations,
excursions on holidays, practice in swimming, riding, and
fencing, — nothing was neglected that could render their
residence at school endurable.

But, on the other hand, the Jesuits have incurred the
grave fault of detaching the child from the family. They
wish to have absolute control of him. The ideal of the per-
fect scholar is to forget his parents. Here is what was said
by a pupil of the Jesuits, who afterwards became a member
of the Order, J. B. de Schultaus : —

"His mother paid him a visit at the College of Trent.
He refused to take her hand, and would not even raise his
eyes to hers. The mother, astonished and grieved, asked
her son the cause of such a cold greeting. ' I refuse to
notice you,' said the pupil, ' not because you are my mother,
but because you are a woman.' And the biographer adds :
' This was not excessive precaution ; woman preserves
to-day the faults she had at the time of our first father ; it
is always she who drives man from Paradise.' When the
mother of Schultaus died, he did not show the least emotion,
having long ago adopted the Holy Virgin for his true

157. Emulation Encouraged. — The Jesuits have always
considered emulation as one of the essential elements of dis-
cipline. " It is necessary," says the Ratio, "to encourage
an honorable emulation ; it is a great stimulus to study.
Superior on this point, perhaps on this alone, to the Jansen-
ists, who through mistrust of human nature feared to excite
pride by encouraging emulation, the Jesuits have always
counted upon the self-love of the pupil. The Ratio mul-
tiplies rewards, — solemn distributions of prizes, crosses,
ribbons, decorations, titles borrowed from the Roman
Republic, such as decurions and prcetors; all means, even


the most puerile, were invented to nourish in pupils an ardor
for work, and to incite them to surpass one another. Let
us add that the pupil was rewarded, not only for his own
good conduct, but for the bad conduct of his comrades if he
informed against them. The decurion or the praetor was
charged with the police care of the class, and, in the absence
of the official disciplinarian, he himself chastised his com-
rades ; in the hands of his teacher, he became a spy and an
informer. Thus a pupil, liable to punishment for having
spoken French contrary to orders, will be relieved from his
punishment if he can prove by witnesses that one of his
comrades has committed the same fault on the same day.

158. Official Disciplinarian. — The rod is an element,
so to speak, of the ancient pedagogical regime. It holds a
privileged place both in the colleges and in private educa-
tion. Louis XIV. officially transmits to the Duke of Mon-
tausier the right to correct his son. Henry IV". wrote to the
governor of Louis XIII. : " I complain because you did not
inform me that you had whipped my son ; for I desire and
order you to whip him every time that he shall be guilty of
obstinacy or of anything else that is bad ; for I well know
that there is nothing in the world that can do him more good
than that. This I know from the lessons of experience, for
when I was of his age, I was soundly flogged." :

The Jesuits, notwithstanding their disposition to make
discipline milder, were careful not to renounce a punishment
that was in use even at court. Only, while the Brethren of
the Christian Schools, according to the regulations of La
Salle, chastised the guilty pupil themselves, the Jesuits did
not think it becoming the dignity of the master to apply the
correction himself. They reserved to a laic the duty of

1 Letter to Madame Montglat, Nov. 14, 1607.


handling the rods. An official disciplinarian, a domestic, a
porter, was charged in all the colleges with the functions of
chief executioner. And while the Ratio Studiorum recom-
mends moderation, certain witnesses prove that the special
disciplinarian did not always carry a discreet hand. Here,
for example, is an account given by Saint Simon : —

" The eldest son of the Marquis of Boufflers was fourteen
years old. He was handsome, well formed, was wonder-
fully successful, and full of promise. He was a resident
pupil of the Jesuits with the two sons of d'Argenson. I do
not know what indiscretion he and they were guilty of. The
Fathers wished to show that they neither feared nor stood in
awe of any one, and they flogged the boy, because, in fact,
they "had nothing to fear of the Marquis of Boufflers ; but
they were careful not to treat the two others in this way,
though equally culpable, because every day the}' had to
count with dArgenson, who was lieutenant of police. The
boy Boufflers was thrown into such mental agony that he
fell sick on the same day, and within four days was dead.
. . . There was a universal and furious outcry against the
Jesuits, but nothing ever came of it." 1

159. General Spirit of the Pedagogy of the Jesuits. —
The general principles of the doctrine of the Jesuits are
completely opposed to our modern ideas. Blind obedience,
the suppression of all liberty and of all spontaneity, such is
the basis of their moral education.

" To renounce one's own wishes is more meritorious than
to raise the dead ; " " We must be so attached to the Roman
Church as to hold for black an object which she tells us is
black, even when it is really white;" "Our confidence in
God should be strong enough to force us, in the lack of a

1 Saint Simon, dle'moires, Tome IX. 83.


boat, to cross the ocean on a single plank ; " "If God should
appoint for our master an animal deprived of reason, you
should not hesitate to render it obedience, as to a master
and a guide, for this sole reason, that God has ordered it
thus ; " " One must allow himself to be governed by divine
Providence acting through the agency of the superiors of
the Order, just as if he were a dead body that could be put
into any position whatever, and treated according to one's
good pleasure ; or as if one were a baton in the hands of an
old man who uses it as he pleases."

As to intellectual education, as they understand it, it is
wholly artificial and superficial. To find for the mind occu-
pations that absorb it, that soothe it like a dream, without
wholly awakening it ; to call attention to words, and to
niceties of expression, so as to reduce by so much the oppor-
tunity for thinking ; to provoke a certain degree of intel-
lectual activity, prudently arrested at the place where the
reflective reason succeeds an embellished memory ; in a word,
to excite the spirit just enough to arouse it from its inertia
and its ignorance, but not enough to endow it with a real
self-activity by a manly display of all its faculties, — such is
the method of the Jesuits. "As to instruction," says
Bersot, " this is what we find with them : history reduced to
facts and tables, without the lesson derived from them
bearing on the knowledge of the world ; even the facts sup-
pressed or altered when they say too much ; philosophy
reduced to what is called empirical doctrine, and what
de Maistre called the philosophy of the nothing, without
danger of one's acquiring a liking for it ; physical science
reduced to recreations, without the spirit of research and
liberty; literatim' reduced to the complaisant explication of
the ancient authors, and ending in innocent witticisms. . . .
With respect to letters, there are two loves which have noth-


ing in common save their name ; one of them makes men,
the other, great boys. It is the last that we find with the
Jesuits ; they amuse the soul."

160. The Oratorians. — Between the Jesuits, their adver-
saries, and the Jansenists, their friends, the Oratorians oc-
cupy an intermediate place. They break already with the
over-mechanical education, and with the wholly superficial
instruction which Ignatius Loyola had inaugurated. Through
some happy innovations they approach the more elevated and
more profound education of Port Royal. Founded in 1614, by
B6rulle, the Order of the Oratory soon counted quite a large
number of colleges of secondary instruction, and, in particu-
lar, in 1638, the famous college of Juilly. While with the
Jesuits it is rare to meet the names of celebrated professors,
several renowned teachers have made illustrious the Oratory
of the seventeenth century. We note the Pere Lamy, author
of Entretiens sur les Sciences (1683) ; the Pere Thomassin,
whom the Oratorians call the "incomparable theologian,"
and who published, from 1681 to 1690, a series of Methods
for studying the languages, philosophy, and letters ; Masca-
ron and Massillon, who taught rhetoric at the Oratory ; the
Pere Lecointe and the Pere Lelong, who taught history there.
All these men unite, in general, some love of liberty to ardor
of religious sentiment ; they wish to introduce more air and
more light into the cloister and the school ; they have a taste
for the facts of history and the truths of science ; finally, they
attempt to found an education at once liberal and Christian,
religious without abuse of devotion, elegant without refine-
ment, solid without excess of erudition, worthy, finally, to
be counted as one of the first practical tentatives of modern

The limits of this study forbid our entering into details.
Let us merely note a few essential points. That which dis-


tinguishes the Oratorians, is, first, a sincere and disinterested
love of truth.

" We love the truth," says the Pure Lamy ; " the days do
not suffice to consult her as long as we would wish ; or, rather,
we never grow weary of the pleasure we find in studying her.
There has always been that love for letters in this House :
those who have governed it have tried to nourish it. When
there is found among us some penetrating and liberally en-
dowed spirit who has a rare genius for the sciences, he is
discharged from all other duties." *

Nowhere have ancient letters been more loved than at
the Oratory.

" In his leisure hours the Pere Thomassin read only the
authors of the humanities ; " and yet French was not there
sacrificed to Latin. The use of the Latin language was not
obligatory till after the fourth year, and even then not for the
lessons in history, which, till the end of the courses, had to
be given in French. History, so long neglected even in the
colleges of the University, particularly the history of France,
was taught to the pupils of the Oratory. Geography was
not separated from it ; and the class-rooms were furnished
with large mural maps. On the other hand, the sciences had
a place in the course of study. A Jesuit father would not
have expressed himself as the Pere Lamy has done : —

" It is a pleasure to enter the laboratory of a chemist. Tn
the places where I have happened to be, I did not miss an
opportunity to attend the anatomical lectures that were given,
and to witness the dissection of the principal parts of the
human body. ... I know of nothing of greater use than
algebra and arithmetic."

Finally, philosophy itself, — the Cartesian philosophy, so
mercilessly decried by the Jesuits, — was in vogue at the Ora-

1 Entretiens sur les Sciences, p. 197.


toiy. " If Cartesianisni is a pest," wrote the regents of the
College of Angers, " there are more than two' hundred of us
who are infected with it." . . . " They have forbidden the
Fathers of the Oratory to teach the philosophy of Descartes,
and, consequently, the blood to circulate," wrote Madame de
Sevigne, in 1673.

Let us also furnish proof of the progress and amelioration
of the discipline at the Oratory : —

"There are many other ways besides the rod," says the
Pere Lamy ; " and, to lead pupils back to their duty, a ca-
ress, a threat, the hope of a reward, or the fear of a humili-
ation, has greater efficiency than whips."

The ferule, it is true, and whips also, were not forbidden,
but made part of the legitima poenarum genera. But it does
not appear that use was often made of them ; either through
a spirit of mildness, or through prudence, and through the
fear of exasperating the child.

"There is needed," says the Pere Lamy again, "a sort of
politics to govern this little community, — to lead them
through their inclinations ; to foresee the effect of rewards
and punishments, and to employ them according to their
proper use. There are times of stubbornness when a child
would sooner be killed than yield."

' ' What made it easier at the Oratory to maintain the au-
thority of the master without resorting to violent punishments,
is that the same professor accompanied the pupils through the
whole series of their classes. The Pere Thomassin, for
example, was, in turn, professor of grammar, rhetoric, phil-
osophy, mathematics, history, Italian, and Spanish, — a touch-
ing example, it must be allowed, of an absolute devotion to
scholastic labor. But this universality, somewhat superficial,
served neither the real interests of the masters nor those of
their pupils. The great pedagogical law is the division of


161. Foundation of the Little Schools. — From the
very organization of their societ}', the Jansenists gave evi-
dences of an ardent solicitude for the education of youth.
Their founder, Saint Cyran, said : " Education is, in a sense,
the one thing necessary. ... I wish you might read in my heart
the affection I feel for children. . . . You could not deserve
more of God than in working for the proper bringing up of
children." It was in this disinterested feeling of charity for
the good of the young, in this display of sincere tenderness
for children, that the Jansenists, in 1643, founded the Little
Schools at Port Royal in the Fields, in the vicinity, and then
in Paris. 1 They received into those schools only a small
number of pupils, preoccupied as they were, not with domi-
nating the world and extending their influence, but with do-
ing modestly and obscurely the good they could. Persecution
did not long grant them the leisure to continue the work they
had undertaken. By 1660 the enemies of Port Royal had
triumphed ; the Jesuits obtained an order from the king clos-
ing the schools and dispersing the teachers. Pursued, impris-
oned, expatriated, the solitaries of Port Ro3'al had but the
opportunity to gather up in memorable documents the results
of their educational experience all too short. 2

162. The Teachers and the Books of Port Royal. —
Singular destiny, — that of those teachers whom a relentless

1 For the Little Schools of Port Royal, see a recent account by Carre'
(Revue Pidayogique, 1883, Nos. 2 and 8).

2 No more pathetic piece of history has ever been written than that
which relates the vindictive and relentless persecution of the peaceful
and pious solitaries of Port Royal: " The house was razed to the ground,
and even the very foundations ploughed up. The gardens and walks were
demolished; and the dead were even torn from their graves, that not a ves-
tige might be left to mark the spot where this celebrated institution had
stood." — Lancelot's Tour to La Grande Chartreuse, p. 243. See also Nar-
rative of the Demolition of Port Royal (London, 1816). (P.)


fate permitted to exercise their functions for only five
years, yet who, through their works, have remained perhaps
the best authorized exponents of French education ! The
first of these is Nicole, the moralist and logician, one of the
authors of the Port Royal Logic, who taught philosophy
and the humanities in the Little Schools, and who published
in 1670, under the title, The Education of a Prince, a series of
reflections on education, applicable, as he himself says, to
children of all classes. Another is Lancelot, the grammarian,
the author of the Methods for learning the Latin, Greek,
Italian, and Spanish languages. Then there is Arnauld, the
great Arnauld, the ardent theologian, who worked on the
Logic, and the General Grammar, and who finally composed
the Regulation of Studies in the Humanities. In connection
with these celebrated names, we must mention other Janse-
nists not so well known, such as De Sacy and Guyot, both
of whom were the authors of a large number of translations ;
Coustel, who published the Rides for the Education of Chil-
dren (1687) ; Varet, the author of Christian Education
(1668). Let us add to this list, still incomplete, the Regi-
men for Children, by Jacqueline Pascal (1657), and we shall
have some idea of the educational activit}' of Port Royal.

163. The Study of the French Language. — As a
general rule, we may have a good opinion of the teachers who
recommend the study of the mother tongue. In this respect,
the solitaries of Port Royal are in advance of their time.
"We first teach to read in Latin," said the Abbe" Fleury,
"because, compared with French, we pronounce it more as
it is written." x A curious reason, which did not satisfy
Fleury himself ; for he acknowledged the propriety of putting,
as soon as possible, into the hands of children, the French

1 Du choix et de la methode des etudes.


books that they can understand. This was what was done
at Port Royal. With their love of exactness and clearness,
with their disposition, wholly Cartesian, to make children
study only the things they can comprehend, the Jansenists

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 13 of 48)