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saw at once the great absurdity of choosing Latin works as
the first reading-books. "To learn Latin before learning
the mother tongue," said Comenius, wittily, " is like wishing
to mount a horse before knowing how to walk." And again,
as Sainte-Beuve says, "It is to compel unfortunate children
to deal with the unintelligible in order to proceed towards the
unknown." For these unintelligible texts, the Jansenists sub-
stituted, not, it is true, original French works, but at least
good translations of Latin authors. For the first time in
France, the French language was made the subject of serious
study. Before being made to write in Latin, pupils were
drilled in writing in French. They were set to compose little
narratives, little letters, the subjects of which were borrowed
from their recollections, by being asked to relate on the spot
what they had retained of what they had read.

164. New System of Spelling. — In their constant pre-
occupation to make study easier, the Jansenists reformed the
current method of learning to read. " What makes reading
more difficult," says Arnauld in Chapter VI. of the General
Grammar, " is that while each letter has its own proper name,
it is given a different name when it is found associated with
other letters. For example, if the pupil is made to read the
syllable fry, he is made to say ef. ar, y, which invariably con-
fuses him. It is best, therefore, to teach children to know the
letters only by the names of their real pronunciation, to name
them only by their natural sounds." Port Royal proposes,
then, "to have children pronounce only the vowels and the
diphthongs, and not the consonants, which they need not


pronounce, except in the different combinations which they
form with the same vowels or diphthongs, in syllables and

This method has become celebrated under the name of the
Port Royal Method ; and it appears, from a letter of Jacque-
line Pascal, that the original notion was due to Pascal him-
self. 1

165. Discipline in Personal Reflection. — That which
profoundly distinguishes the method of the Jansenists from
the method of the Jesuits, is that at Port Royal the purpose
is less to make good Latinists than to train sound intelli-
gences. The effort is to call into activity the judgment and
personal reflection. As soon as the child is capable of it, he
is made to think and comprehend. In the lessons of the
class-room, not a word is allowed to pass till the child has
understood its meaning. Only those tasks are proposed to
the child which are adapted to his childish intelligence. His
attention is occupied only with the things that are within the
compass of his powers.

The grammars of Port Royal are written in French, " be-
cause it is ridiculous," says Nicole, " to teach the principles
of a language in the very language that is to be learned, and
that for the present is unknown." Lancelot, in his Methods,
abbreviates and simplifies grammatical studies : —

"I have found out, at last, how useful this maxim of
Ramus is, — Few precepts and much practice : and, also, that
as soon as children begin to know these rules somewhat, it is
well to make them observe them in practice."

It is by the reading of authors that the grammar of Port
Royal completes the theoretical study of the rules that are
rigidly reduced to their minimum. The professor, with ref-

1 See Cousin, Jacqueline Pascal, p. 262.


erence to such or such a passage of au author, will make ap-
propriate oral remarks. In this way the example, not the
dry and uninteresting one of the grammar, but the living
example, expressive, and, drawn from a writer that is beiug
read with interest, will precede or accompany the rule, and
the particular case will explain the general law. This is an
excellent method, because it accords with the real movement
of the mind, and adapts the sequence of studies to the prog-
ress of the intelligence, and also because, according to the
advice of Descartes, the child in this way proceeds from the
known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex.

106. General Spirit op the Intellectual Education
at Port Royal. — Without doubt, we need not expect to
find among the solitaries of Port Royal a disinterested devo-
tion to science. In their view, instruction is but a means of
forming the judgment. " The sciences should be employed,"
says Nicole, "only as an instrument for perfecting the
reason." Historical, literaiy, and scientific knowledge has
no intrinsic value. The thing required is simply to employ
those subjects for educating just, equitable, and judicious
men. Nicole declares that it would be better absolutely to
ignore the sciences than to become absorbed in the useless
portions of them. Speaking of astronomical researches, and
of the works of those mathematicians who believe that kk it is
the finest thin<>' in the world to know whether there is a bridge
and an arch suspended around the planet Saturn," he con-
cludes that it is preferable to be ignorant of those things
than to be ignorant that they are vain.

But, on the other hand, the Jansenists have struck from
their programme of studies everything that is merely sterile
verbiage, exercises of memory or of artificial imagination.
Little attention is given to Latin verse at Port Royal. Ver-


sion takes precedence of the theme, 1 and the oral theme
often replaces the written. The pupil is to be taught. " not
to be blinded by a vain flash of words void of sense, not to
rest satisfied with mere words or obscure principles, and
never to be satisfied till he has gained a clear insight into

167. Pedagogical Principles of Nicole. — In his trea-
tise on the Education of a Prince, Nicole has summarized,
under the form of aphorisms, some of the essential princi-
ples of his system of education.

Let us first notice this maxim, a true pedagogical axiom :
' ' ' The purpose of instruction is to carry forward intelligences
to the farthest point they are capable of attaining." This
is saying that every child, whether of the nobility or of the
people, has the right to be instructed according to his apti-
tude and ability.

Another axiom : We must proportion difficulties to the
growing development of the child's intelligence. " The
greatest minds have but a limited range of intelligence. In
all of them there are regions of twilight and shadow ; but
the intelligence of the child is almost wholly pervaded by
shadows ; he catches glimpses of but few rays of light. So
everything depends on managing these rays, on increasing
them, and on exposing to them whatever we wish to have the
child comprehend."

A corollary to the preceding axiom is, that the first
appeal must be made to the senses. "The intelligence of
children always being very dependent on the senses, we
must, as far as possible, address our instruction to the
senses, and cause it to reach the mind, not only through

1 Version: translation from Latin or Greek into French. Theme:
translation of French into Latin or Greek. (P.)


hearing, but also through seeing." Consequently, geogra-
phy is a study well adapted to early years, provided we
employ books in which the largest cities are pictured. If
children study the history of a country, we must not neglect
to show them the situation of places on the map. Nicole also
recommends that the}' be shown pictures that represent the
machines, the arms, and the dress of the ancients, and also
the portraits of kings and illustrious men.

168. Moral Pessimism. — Man is wicked, human nature
is corrupt : such is the cry of despair that comes to our ears
from all the writings of the Jansenists.

"The devil," says Saint Cyran, "already possesses the
soul of even the unborn child." . . .

And again : " We must always pray for souls, and always
be on the watch, standing guard as in a city menaced by an
enemy. On the outside the devil makes his rounds." . . .

" As soon as children begin to have reason," says another
Jansenist, "we observe in them only blindness and weak-
ness. Their minds are closed to spiritual things, and they
cannot comprehend them. But, on the contrary, their eyes
are open to evil ; their senses are susceptible to all sorts of
corruption, and they have a natural inertia that inclines
them to it."

"You ought," writes Yaret, "to consider your children
as wholly inclined to evil, and carried forward towards it.
All their inclinations are corrupt, and, not being governed
by reason, they will permit them to find pleasure and diver-
sion only in the things that carry them towards vice."

169. Effects on Discipline. — The doctrine of the origi-
nal perversity of man may produce contrary results, and
direct the practical conduct of those who accepl it in two
opposite directions. They arc either inspired with severity


toward beings deeply tainted and vicious, or they are excited
to pity and to tenderness for those fallen creatures who suffer
from an incurable evil. The solitaries of Port Royal obeyed
the second tendency. They were as affectionate and good
to the children confided to their care as, in theory, they were
harsh and rigorous towards human nature. In the presence
of their pupils they felt touched with an infinite tenderness
for those poor sick souls, whom they would willingly cure of
their ills, and raise from their fall, at the cost of any and
every sacrifice.

The conception of the native wickedness of man had still
another result at Port Royal. It increased the zeal of the
teachers. It prompted them to multiply their assiduity and
vigilance in order to keep guard over young souls, and there
destroy, whenever possible, the seeds of evil that sin had
sown in them. When one is charged with the difficult mission
of moral education, it is, perhaps, dangerous to have too
much confidence in human nature, and to form too favorable
an opinion of its qualities and dispositions ; for then one is
tempted to accord to the child too large a liberty, and to
practise the maxim, " Let it take its own course, let it
pass" {Laissez faire, laissez passer). It is better to err on
the other side, in excess of mistrust; for, in this case,
knowing the dangers that menace the child, we watch over
him with more attention, abandon him less to the inspiration
of his caprices, and expect more of education ; we demand
of effort and labor what we judge nature incapable of pro-
ducing by herself.

Vigilance, patience, mildness, — these are the instruments
of discipline in the schools of Port Royal. There were
scarcely any punishments in the Little Schools. " To speak
little, to tolerate much, to pray still more," — these are the
three things that Saint Cyran recommended. The threat to


send children home to their parents sufficed to maintain
order in a flock somewhat small. In fact, all whose exam-P
pie would have proved bad were sent away ; an excellent ,
system of elimination when it is practicable. The pious '
solitaries endured without complaint, faults in which they
saw the necessary consequences of the original fall. Pene-
trated, however, as they were, with the value of human
souls, their tenderness for children was mingled with a cer-
tain respect ; for they saw in them the creatures of God,
beings called from eternity to a sublime destiny or to a ter-
rible punishment.

170. Faults in the Discipline oe Port Royal. — The
Jansenists did not shun the logical though dangerous con-
sequences that were involved, in germ, in their pessimistic
theories of human nature. They fell into an excess of pru-
dence or of rigidity. They pushed gravity and dignity to
a formalism that was somewhat repulsive. At Port Royal
pupils were forbidden to thee and thou one another. The
solitaries did not like familiarities, faithful in this respect to
the Imitation of Jesus Chris/, in which it is somewhere said
that it does not become a Christian to be on familiar terms
with any one whatever. The young were thus brought up
in habits of mutual respect, which may have had their good
side, but which had the grave fault of being a little ridicu-
lous in children, since they forced them to live among them-
selves as little gentlemen, while at the same time they oppose
the development of those intimate friendships, of those last-
ing attachments of which all those who have lived at college
know the sweetness and the charm.

The spirit of asceticism is the general character of all the
Jansenists. Varet declares that balls are places of infamy.
Pascal denies himself every agreeable thought, and what he
called an agreeable thought was to reflect on geometry.


Lancelot refuses to take to the theatre the princes of Conti,
of whom he was the preceptor.

But perhaps a graver fault at Port Royal was, that through
fear of awakening self-love, the spirit of emulation was pur-
posely suppressed. It is God alone, it was said, who is to
be praised for the qualities and talents manifested by men.
" If God has placed something of good in the soul of a child,
we must praise Him for it and keep silent." By this delib-
erate silence men put themselves on guard against pride ;
but if pride is to be feared, is indolence the less so ? And
when we purposely avoid stimulating self-love through the
hope of reward, or through a word of praise given in due
season, we run a great risk of not overcoming the indo-
lence that is natural to the child, and of not obtaining from
him any serious effort. Pascal, the greatest of the friends
of Port Royal, said : " The children of Port Royal, who do
not feel that stimulus of envy and glory, fall into a state of

171. General Judgment on Port Royal. — After all
has been said, we must admire the teachers of Port Roj'al,
who were doubtless deceived on some points, but who were
animated by a powerful feeling of their duty to educate, and
by a perfect charity. Ardor and sincerity of religious faith ;
a great respect for the human person ; the practice of piety
held in honor, but kept subordinate to the reality of the
inner feeling ; devotion advised, but not imposed ; a marked
mistrust of nature, corrected by displays of tenderness and
tempered by affection ; above all, the profound, unwearied
devotion of Christian souls who give themselves wholly and
without reserve to other souls to raise them up and save
them, — this is what was done by the discipline of Port
Roval. But it is rather in the methods of teachins;, and in
the administration of classical studies, that we must look for


the incontestable superiority of the Jansenists. The teachers
of the Little Schools were admirable humanists, not of form,
as the Jesuits were, but of judgment. They represent, it
seems to us, in all its beauty and in all its force, that intel-
lectual education, already divined by Montaigne, which
prepares for life men of sound judgment and of upright
conscience. The}' founded the teaching of the humanities.
"Port Royal," says an historian of pedagogy, Burnier,
" simplifies study without, however, relieving it of its whole-
some difficulties ; it strives to make it interesting, while it
d(ies not convert it into child's play; it purposes to confide
to the memory only what has first been apprehended by the
intelligence. ... It has given to the world ideas that it has
not again let go, and fruitful principles from which we have
but to draw their logical consequences."

[172. Analytical Summary. 1. In the history of the
three great teaching congregations we have an illustration
of the supposed power of education over the destinies of

2." To resist the encroachments of Protestantism that fol-
lowed the diffusion of instruction among the people, Loyola
organized his teaching corps of Catholic zealots ; and this
mode of competition for purposes of moral, sectarian, and
political control lias covered the earth, in all Christian
countries, with institutions of learning.

3. The tendency towards extremes, and the difficulty of
attaining symmetry and completeness, are seen in the pref-
erence of the Jesuits for form, elegance, and mere discipline,
in their excessive use of emulation : and in the pessimism of
the Jansenists, their distrust of human nature, and their fear
of human pride.]



education in the seventeenth century ; fenelon (1651-1715) ; how
fenelon became a teacher; analysis of the treatise on
the education of girls; criticism of monastic education;
refutation of the prejudices relative to women j good
opinion of human nature; instinctive curiosity; lessons on
objects; feebleness of the child; indirect instruction; all
activity must be pleasurable j fables and historical nar-
ratives ; moral and religious education; studies proper for
women ; education of the duke de bourgogne (1689-1695) ;
happy results ; the fables j the dialogues of the dead ;
variety of disciplinary agents; diversified instruction;
the telemachus; fenelon and bossuet ; sphere and limits
of education; analytical summary.

173. Education in the Seventeenth Century. — Outside
of the teaching congregations, the seventeenth century
counts a certain number of independent educators, isolated
thinkers, who have transmitted to us in durable records the
results of their reflection or of their experience. The most
of these belong to the clergy, — they are royal preceptors.
In a monarchical government there is no grander affair than
the education of princes. Some others are philosophers,
whom the general study of human nature has led to reflect
on the principles of education. Without pretending to
include everything within the narrow compass of this ele-
mentary history, we would make known either the funda-
mental doctrines or the essential methods which have been
concerned in the education of the seventeenth century, and


which, at the same time, have made a preparation for the
educational reforms of the succeeding centuries.

174. Fenelon (1G51-1715) . — Fenelon holds an important
place in French literature ; but it seems that of all the varied
aspects of his genius, the part he played as an educator is
the most important and the most considerable. Fenelon
wrote the first classical work of French pedagogy, and it may
be said, considering the great number of authors who have
been inspired by his thoughts, that he is the head of a school
of educators.

175. How Fenelon became a Teacher. — It is well
known that the valuable treatise, On the Education of Girls,
was written in 1C80, at the request of the Duke and the
Duchess of Beauvilliers. These noble friends of Fenelon,
besides several boys, had eight girls to educate. It was to
assist, by his advice, in the education of this little family
school, that Fenelon wrote his book which was not designed
at first for the public, and which did not appear till 1G87.
The young Abbe who, in 1G80, was but thirty years old, had
already had experience in educational matters in the man-
agement of the Convent of the New Catholics (1678). This
was an institution whose purpose was to retain young Protes-
tant converts in the Catholic faith, or even to call them there
by mild force. It would have been better, we confess, for
the glory of Fenelon, if lie had gained his experience else-
where than in that mission of fanaticism, where he was the
auxiliary of the secular arm, the accomplice of dragoons,
and where was prepared the Revocation of the Edict of
Nantes. We would have preferred that the Education of
Girls had not been planned in a house where were violently
confined girls torn from their mothers, and wives stolen from
their husbands. But if the first source of Fcmelon's educa-


tional inspiration was not as pure as one could wish, at least
in the book there is nothing that betrays the spirit of intoler-
ance and violence with which the author was associated.
On the contrary, The Education of Girls is a work of gentle-
ness 'and goodness, of a complaisant and amiable grace, which
is pervaded by a spirit of progress.

F6nelon soon had occasion to apply the principles that he
had set forth in his treatise. August 16, 1689, he was
chosen preceptor of the Duke of Bourgogne, 1 with the Duke
of Beauvilliers for governor, and the Abbe Fleury for sub-
preceptor. From 1689 to 1695, he directed with marvellous
success the education of a prince, " a born terror," as Saint
Simon expressed it, but who, under the penetrating influence
of his master, became an accomplished man, almost a saint.
It was for his royal pupil that he composed, one after
another, a large number of educational works, such as the
Collection, of Fables, the Dialogues of the Dead, the treatise
on The Existence of God, and especially the Telemachas, one
of the most popular works in French literature.

In furnishing occasion for the exercise of his educational
activity, events served Fenelon according to his wish. We
may say that his nature predestinated him to the work of
education. With his tender soul, preserving its paternal
instincts even in his celibate condition, with his admirable
grace of spirit, with his various erudition and profound
knowledge of antiquity, with his competence in the studies
of grammar and history, attested by different passages in
his Letter to the Academy; finally, with his temperate dispo-
sition and his inclinations towards liberalism in a century of
absolute monarchy, he was made to become one of the guides,
one of the masters, of French education.

i Son of Louis XIV., bom Aug. 6, 1G82; died Feb. 18, 1712.


176. Analysis of the Treatise on the Education of
Girls. — This charming masterpiece of Fenelon's should be
read entire. A rapid analysis would not suffice, as it is
difficult to reduce to a few essential points the flowing
thought of our author. With a facility in expression inclin-
ing to laxness, and with a copiousness of thought somewhat
lacking in exactness, F^nelon easily repeats himself ; he
returns to thoughts which have already been elaborated, and
does not restrict his easy flowing thought to a rigorous and
methodical plan. We may, however, distinguish three prin-
cipal parts in the thirteen chapters composing the work.
Chapters I. and II. are critical, and in these the ordinary
faults in the education of women are brought into sharp out-
line ; then in chapters III. to VIII. we have general
observations, and the statement of the principles and
methods that should be followed and applied in the education
of boys as in the education of girls ; and finally, from chap-
ter IX. to the end of the book, are all the special reflections
which relate exclusively to the merits and^ demerits, the
duties and the studies, of women.

177. Criticism on Monastic Education. — In the open-
ing of the treatise, as in another little essay * that is usually
included in this volume, Feuelon expresses a preference for
a liberal and humane education, where the light of the world
penetrates, and which is not confined to the shadow of a
monastery : —

" I conclude that it is better for your daughter to be with
you than in the best convent that you could select. ... If
a convent is not well governed, she will see vanity honored,
which is the most subtile of all the poisons that can affect a

1 See the Advice of Fenelon, Archbishop Cambray, to a lady of quality
on the education of her daughter.


young girl. She will there hear the world spoken of as a
sort of enchanted place, and nothing makes a more perni-
cious impression than that deceptive picture of the world,
which is seen at a distance with admiration, and which
exaggerates all its pleasures without showing its disappoint-
ments and its sorrows. ... So I would fear a worldly con-
vent even more than the world itself. If, on the contrary,
a convent conforms to the fervor and regularity of its
constitution, a girl of rank will grow up there in a pro-
found ignorance of the world. . . . She leaves the convent
like one who had been confined in the shadows of a deep
cavern, and who suddenly returns to the full light of day.
Nothing is more dazzling than this sudden transition, than
this glare to which one has never been accustomed."

178. Refutation of the Prejudices relative to the
Education of Women. — It is, then, for mothers that F6ne-
lon writes his book, still more than for the convents that he

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