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does not love. Woman is destined to play a grand part in
domestic life. ' " Can men hope for any sweetness in life, if
their most select companionship, which is that of marriage,
is turned into bitterness ? " Then let us cease to neglect the
education of women, and renounce the prejudices by which
we pretend to justify this neglect. A learned woman, it is
said, is vain and affected ! But it is not proposed that
women shall engage in useless studies which would make
ridiculous pedants of them ; it is simply a question of teach-
ing them what befits their position in the household. Woman,
it is said again, ordinarily has a weaker intellect than man !
But this is the best of reasons why it is necessary to
strengthen her intelligence. Finally, woman should be
brought up in ignorance of the world ! But, replies F^nelon,
the world is not a phantom ; " it is the aggregate of all the


families" ; and women have duties to fulfill in it which are
scarcely less important than those of men. "Virtue is not
less for women than for men."

179. Good Opinion of Human Nature. — There are two
categories of Christians : the first dwell particularly on the
original fall ; and the others attach themselves by preference
to the doctrine of redemption. For the first, the child is
deeply tainted with sin ; his only inclinations are those
towards evil ; he is a child of wrath, who must he severely
punished. For the others, the child, redeemed by grace,
"has not yet a fixed tendency towards any object"; his
instincts have no need of being thwarted ; all ttiey need is
direction. Ferielon follows this last mode of thinking, which
is the correct one. He does not fear self-love, and does not
interdict deserved praise. He counts upon the spontaneity
of nature. He regrets the education of the ancients, who
left more liberty to children. Finally, in his judgments on
human nature, he is influenced by a cheerful and amiable
optimism, and sometimes by an excess of complacency and

180. Feebleness of the Child. - But if Fenelon believes
in the innocence of the child, lie is not the less convinced of
its feebleness. Hence the measures he recommends to those
who have in charge the bringing up of children: "The
most important thing in the first years of infancy is the
management of the child's health. Through the selection- of
food and the regime of a simple life, the body should be
supplied with pure blood. . . . Another thing of great im-
portance is to allow the organs to si lengthen by holding
instruction in abeyance. . . ." The intellectual weakness of
the child comes for the most part from his inability to fix his
attention. " The mind of the child is like a lighted taper in


a place exposed to the wind, whose flame is ever unsteady."
Hence the urgent necessity of not pressing children beyond
measure, of training them little by little as occasion permits,
" of serving and assisting Nature, without urging her."

181. Instructive Curiosity; Object Lessons. — If the
inattention of the child is a great obstacle to his progress,
his natural curiosity, by way of compensation, is a potent
auxiliary. Fenelon knows the aid that can be derived from
this source, and we shall quote entire the remarkable passage
in which he indicates the means of calling it into exercise
through familiar lessons which are already real lessons on
objects : —

" Curiosity in children is a natural tendency which comes
as the precursor of instruction. Do not fail to take advan-
tage of it. For example, in the countiy they see a mill, and
they wish to know what it is. They should be shown the
manner of preparing the food that is needed for human use.
They notice harvesters, and what they are doing should be
explained to them ; also, how the wheat is sown, and how it
multiplies in the earth. In the city, they see shops where
different arts are practised, and where different wares are
sold. You should never be annoyed by their questions ;
these are so many opportunities offered you by nature for
facilitating the work of instruction. Show that vou take
pleasure in replying to such questions, and by this means
you will insensibly teach them how all the things are made
that serve human needs, and that give rise to commercial

182. Indirect Instruction. — Even when the child has
grown up, and is more capable of receiving direct instruc-
tion, Fenelon does not depart from his system of mild man-
agement and precaution. There are to be no didactic lessons,


but as far as possible the instruction shall be indirect. This
is the great educational method of Fenelon, and we shall
soon see how he applied it to the education of the Duke of
Bourgogne. " The less formal our lessons are, the better."
However, there is need of discretion and prudence in the
choice of the first ideas, and the first pictures that are to be
impressed on the child's mind.

" Into a reservoir so little and so precious only exquisite
things should be poured." The absence of pedantry is one
of the characteristics of F6nelon. "In rhetoric," he says,
' ' I will give no rules at all ; it is sufficient to give good
models." As to grammar, " I will give it no attention, or,
at least, but very little." Instruction must be insinuated,
not imposed. We must resort to unexpected lessons, — to
such as do not appear to be lessons. F£nelon here antici-
pates Rousseau, and suggests the system of pre-arranged
scones and instructive artifices, similar to those invented for
£mile. !

183. All Activity must be Pleasurable. — One of the
best qualities of Fenelon as a teacher is that of wishing that
study should be agreeable ; but this quality becomes a fault
with him, because he makes an abuse of attractive instruc-
tion. We can but applaud him when he criticises the harsh
and crabbed pedagogy of the Middle Age, and depicts to us
those tiresome and gloomy class-rooms, where teachers are
ever talking to children of words and things of which they
understand nothing. "No liberty," he says, "no enjoy-
ment, but always lessons, silence, uncomfortable postures,
correction, and threats." And so there is nothing more just
than this thought: " In the current education, all the pleas-

1 For an example of this " artifice " carried to the extreme of absurdity,
see Miss Worthington's translation of the timile, p. 133. (P.)


ure is put on one side, and all that is disagreeable on the
other ; the disagreeable is all put into study, and all the
pleasure is found in the diversions." Fenelon would change
all this. For study, as for moral discipline, " pleasure must
do all."

First, as to study, seek the means of making agreeable to
children whatever you require of them. "We must always
place before them a definite and agreeable aim to sustain
them in their work." "Conceal their studies under the
appearance of liberty and pleasure." Let their range of
vision extend itself a little, and their intelligence acquire
more breadth." " Mingle instruction with play." "I have
seen," he says again, " certain children who have learned to
read while playing."

For giving direction to the will, as for giving activity to
the intelligence, never subject children to cold and absolute
authority. Do not weary them by an indiscreet exactness.
Let wisdom appear to them only at intervals, and then with
a laughing face. Lead them by reason whenever it is pos-
sible for you to do it. Never assume, save in case of ex-
treme necessity, an austere, imperious air that makes them

" You would close their heart and destroy their confidence,
without which there is no profit to hope for from education.
Make yourself loved by them. Let them feel at ease in
your presence, so that they do not fear to have you see their

Such, intellectually and morally, is the amiable discipline
dreamed of by Fenelon. It is evident that the imagination
of our author conducts him a little too far and leads him
astray. Fenelon sees everything on the bright side. In
education, such as this too complacent teacher dreams of it,
there is no difficulty, nothing laborious, no thorns. "All


metals there are gold ; all flowers there are roses." The
child is almost exempted from making effort : he shall not
be made to repeat the lesson he has heard, ' ' for fear of an-
noying him." It is necessary that he learn everything while
playing. If he has faults, he must not be told of them, save
with precaution, " for fear of hurting his feelings." Fcmelon
is decidedly too good-natured, too much given to cajolery.
In his effort to shun whatever is repulsive, he comes to ex-
clude whatever is laborious. He fulls into an artless pleasantry
when he demands that the books of his pupil shall be
"beautifully bound, with gilt edges, and fine pictures."

184. Fables and History. — F6nelon's very decided
taste for agreeable studies, determines him to place in the
foremost rank of the child's intellectual occupations, fables
and history, because narratives please the infant imagination
above everything else. It is with sacred history especially
that he would have the attention occupied, always selecting
from it "that which presents the most pleasing and the
most magnificent pictures." He properly demands, more-
over, that the teacher "animate his narrative with lively and
familiar tones, and so make all his characters speak." By
this means we shall hold the attention of children without
forcing it; "for, once more," he says, "we must be very
careful not to impose on them a law to hear and to remember
these narratives."

185. Moral and Religious Education. — Contrary to
Rousseau's notions, F6nelon requires that children should
early have their attention turned to moral and religious
truths. He would have this instruction given in the con-
crete, by means of examples drawn from experience. We
need not fear to speak to them of God as a \vneiahle old
man, with white beard, etc. Whatever of the superstitious


there may be in these conceptions adapted to the infant
imagination will be corrected afterwards by the reason.
It is to be noted, moreover, that a religion of extremes is
not what Fenelon desires. He fears all exaggerations, even
that of piety. What he demands is a tempered devotion, a
reasonable Christianity. He is suspicions of false miracles.
"Accustom girls," he says, "not to accept thoughtlessly
certain unauthorized narrations, and not to practise certain
forms of devotion introduced by an indiscreet zeal." But
possibly, without intending it, Fenelon himself is preparing
the way for the superstition he combats, when, for the pur-
pose of indoctrinating the child with the first principles of
religion, he presents to him the notion of God under sensi-
ble forms, and speaks to him of a paradise where all is of
gold and precious stones.

186. Studies Proper for Women. — So far, we have noted
in F6nelon's work only general precepts applicable to boys
and girls alike. But in the last part of his work, Fenelon
treats especially of women's own work, of the qualities pecu-
liarly their own, of their duties, and of the kind of instruction
they need in order to fulfill them.

No one knew better than Fenelon the faults that come to
woman through ignorance, — unrest, unemployed time, in-
ability to apply herself to solid and serious duties, frivolity,
indolence, lawless imagination, indiscreet curiosity concern-
ing trifles, levity, and talkativeness, sentimentalism, and,
what is remarkable with a friend of Madame Guyon, a mania
for theology : ' ' Women are too much inclined to speak
decisively on religious questions."

What does Fenelon propose as a corrective of these
mischievous tendencies ? It must be confessed that the plan
of instruction which he proposes is still insufficient, and that
it scarcely accords with the ideal as we conceive it to-day.


" Keep young girls," lie says, " within the common
bounds, and teach thern that there should be for their sex a
modesty with respect to knowledge almost as delicate as that
inspired by the horror of vice."

Is not this the same as declaring that knowledge is .not
intended for women, and that it is repugnant to their deli-
cate nature?

When F6nelon tells us that a young girl ought to learn to
read and write correctly (and observe that account is taken
only of the daughters of the nobility and of the wealthy
middle classes) ; when he adds, let her also learn grammar,
we can infer from these puerile prescriptions, that F£nelon
does not exact any great things from women in the way of
knowledge. And yet, such as it is, this programme sur-
passed, in the time of F6nelon, the received custom, and
constituted a substantial progress. It was to state an excel-
lent principle, whose consequences should have been more
fully analyzed, to demand that women should learn all that is
necessary for them to know, in order to bring up their
children. F£nelon should also be commended for having-
recommended to young women the reading of profane
authors. He who had been nourished on such literature, who
was, so to speak, but a Greek turned Christian, who knew
Homer so perfectly as to write the Telemachus, could not,
without belying himself, advise against the studies from
which he had derived so much pleasure and profit. He also
recognized the utility of history, ancient and modern. He
grants a place to poetry and eloquence, provided an elimina-
tion be made of whatever would be dangerous to purity of
morals. What we comprehend less easily is that he con-
demns, os severely as he does, music, which, he says, " fur-
nishes diversions that are poisonous."

But these faults, this mistrust of too high an intellectual


culture, ought not to prevent us from admiring the Education
of Girls. Let us be grateful to Fenelon for having resisted,
in part, the prejudices of a period when young women were
condemned by their sex to an almost absolute ignorance ; for
havjng declared that he would follow a course contrary " to
that of alarm and of a superficial culture of the intelligence " ;
and finally, for having written a book, all the generous in-
spirations of which Madame de Maintenon herself has not
caught ; and of which Ave may say, finally, that almost every-
thing that it contains is excellent, and that it is defective
only in what it does not contain.

187. Madame de Lambert (1647-1733). — Fenelon, as
an educator of women, was the founder of a school. From
Rollin to Madame de Genlis, how many teachers have been
inspired by him! But in the front rank of his pupils we
must place Madame de Lambert. In her Counsels to her Sou
( 1701) , and especially in her Counsels to her Daughter (1728),
she has taken up the tradition of Fenelon with greater
breadth and freedom of spirit. "As discreet as he with
respect to works of the imagination, of which she fears that
the reading may inflame the mind ; " more severe, even, than
he towards Racine, whose name she seems to hesitate to
pronounce ; disposed to exclude her daughter from " plays,
representations that move the passions, music, poetry, — all
belonging to the retinue of pleasure, — in other respects,
Madame de Lambert takes precedence and surpasses her
master" (Greard). She reproaches Moliere for having
abandoned women to idleness, pastime, and pleasure. She
loves history, especially the history of France, " which no
one is permitted not to know." Finally, without entering
into the details of her protests, she makes a powerful plea for
the cause of woman's education ; she already belongs to the
eighteenth century.


188. Education of the Duke of Bourgogne. — Singu-
larly enough, Fenelon did not make an application of his
ideas on education till after he had set them forth in a
theoretical treatise. The education of the Duke of Bour-
gogue permitted him to make a practical test of the rules
established in the Education of Girls. Nothing is of more
interest to the historian of pedagogy than the study of that
princely education into which Fenelon put all his mind and
heart, and which, by its results, at once brilliant and insuffi-
cient, exhibits the merits and the faults of his plan of

189. Happy Results. — The Duke of Bourgogne with his
active intelligence, and also with his impetuous, indocile
character, and his fits of passion, was just the pupil for the
teacher who relied on indirect instruction. It would have
been unwise to indoctrinate with heavy didactic lessons a
spirit so impetuous. Through tact and industry, Fenelon
succeeded in captivating the attention of the prince, and in
skillfully insinuating into his mind knowledges that he would
probably have rejected, had they been presented to it in a
scientific and pedantic form. " I have never seen a child,"
says Fenelon, " who so readily understood the finest things
of poetry and eloquence." Doubtless the happy nature of the
prince contributed a large part towards these results ; but
the art of Fenelon had also its share in the final account.

100. Moral Lessons; The Fables. — How shall morals
be taught to a violent and passionate child? Fenelon did
not think of preaching fine sermons to him ; but presented
to him, under the form of Fables, the moral precepts that he
wished to inculcate. The Fables of F6nelon certainly have
not, as a whole, a large literary value ; but, to form a just
appreciation of them, we must recollect that their merit is


especially to be seen in the circumstances attending their
composition. Composed from day to day, they were adapted
to the circumstances of the life of the young prince ; they
were filled with allusions to his faults and his virtues, and
they conveyed to him, at the favorable moment, under the veil
of a pleasing fiction, the commendation or the censure that he
deserved. "One might," says the Cardinal de Bausset,
' ' follow the chronological order in which these pieces were
composed, by comparing them with the progress which age
and instruction must have made in the education of the
prince." The apologues, even with their very general morals,
will always have their value and place in the education of
children. What shall be said of the fables in which the
moral, wholly individual, was addressed exclusively to the
pupil for whom they were written, either on account of some
perversity that he let come to the surface, or of a rising virtue
that had been manifested in his conduct? It is thus that the
fable called The Capricious presented to the young duke the
picture of his fits of passion, and taught him to correct him-
self ; that of the Bee and the Fly reminded him that the
most brilliant qualities serve no good purpose without mod-
eration. One day, in a fit of anger, the prince so far forgot
himself as to say to Fenelon, who was reproving him : " No,
no, Sir! I know who I am, and who you are!" The next
day, doubtless in response to this explosion of princely self-
conceit, Fe'nelon had him read the fable entitled Bacchus
and the Faun: "As Bacchus could not abide a malicious
jeerer always ready to make sport of his expressions that
were not correct and elegant, he said to him in a fiery and
important tone : " How dare you jeer the son of Jupiter?"
The Faun replied without emotion : ' ' Alas ! how does the
son of Jupiter dare to commit any fault?"

Certain fables, of a more elevated tone than the others,


are not designed simply to correct the faults of children ;
they prepare the prince for the exercise of government.
Thus, the fable of the Bees disclosed to him the beauties of
an industrious State, and one where order reigns ; the Nile
and the Ganges taught him love for the people, " compassion
for humanity, harassed and suffering." Finally, from each
of these fables there issued a serious lesson under the pleas-
ing exterior of a witticism ; and more than once, in reading
them, the prince doubtless felt an emotion of pleasure or of
shame, as he recognized himself in a commendation or in a
reproof addressed to the imaginary personages of the Fables.

191. Historical Lessons ; The Dialogues of the Dead. — ■
It is not alone in moral education, but in intellectual educa-
tion as well, that F6nelon resorts to artifice. The ingenious
preceptor has employed fiction in all its forms the better to
compass and dominate the spirit of his pupil. There are the
fables for moral instruction, the dialogues for the study of
history, and finally, the epopee in the Telemachus, for the
political education of the heir to the throne of France.

The Dialogues of the Dead put on the stage men of all
countries and conditions, Charles the Fifth and a monk of
Saint Just, Aristotle and Descartes, Leonardo da Vinci and
Poussin, Caesar and Alexander. History proper, literature,
philosophy, the arts, were the subjects of conversations com-
posed, as in the Fables, at different intervals, according to
the progress and the needs of the Duke of Bourgogne.
These were attractive pictures that came from time to time
to be introduced into the scheme for the didactic study of
universal history. They should be taken only for what they
were intended to be, — the pleasing complement to a regular
and consecutive course of instruction. Fenelon knew better
than any one else that history is interesting in itself, and


that to make the study of it interesting, it is sufficient to pre-
sent it to the childish imagination with clearness, with vivac-
ity, and with feeling.

192. Variety of Disciplinary Agents. — The education
of the Duke of Bourgogne is the practical application of
Fenelon's principles as to the necessity of employing an
insinuating gentleness rather than an authority which dryly
commands. There are to be no sermons, no lectures, but
indirect means of moral instruction. The Duke of Bouro-oene
was irascible. Instead of reading to him Seneca's treatise
On Anger, this is Fenelon's device : One morning he has
a cabinet-maker come to his apartments, whom he has in-
structed for the purpose. The prince enters, stops, and
looks at the tools. " Go about your business, Sir," cries
the workman, who assumes a most threatening air, " for I
am not responsible for what I may do ; when I am in a pas-
sion, I break the arms and legs of those whom I meet." We
guess the conclusion of the story, and how, by this experi-
mental method, F£nelon contrives to teach the prince to
guard against anger and its effects.

When indirect means did not answer, F£nelon employed
others. It is thus that he made frequent appeals to the self-
love of his pupil ; he reminded him of what he owed to his
name and to the hopes of France. He had him record his
word of honor that he would behave well: "I promise the
Abb£ Fenelon, on the word of a prince, that I will obey
him, and that, in case I break my word, I will submit to any
kind of punishment and dishonor. Given at Versailles, this
29th day of November, 1689. Signed: Louis." At other
times Fenelon appealed to his feelings, and conquered him
by his tenderness and goodness. It is in such moments of
tender confidence that the prince said to him, "I leave the

FfiNELON. 181

Duke of Bourgogne outside the door, aud with you I am but
the little Louis." Finally, at other times, Fenelon resorted
to the harshest punishments ; he sequestered him, took away
his books, and interdicted all conversation.

193. Diversified Instruction. — By turns serious and
tender, mild and severe, in his moral discipline, Fenelou was
not less versatile in his methods of instruction. His domi-
nant preoccupation was to diversify studies — the term is
his own. If a given subject of study was distasteful to his
pupil, Fenelon passed to another. Although the success of
his tutorship seems to be a justification of his course, there
is ground for thinking that, as a general rule, Fenelon's
precept is debatable, and that his example should not be fol-
lowed hy making an over-use of amusement and agreeable
variety. Fenelon has too often made studies puerile through
his attempts to make them agreeable.

194. Results of the Education of the Duke of Bour-
gogne. — It seems like a paradox to say that Fenelon was
too successful in his educational apostleship ; and yet this is
the truth. Under his hand — "the ablest hand that ever
was," says Saint Simon — the prince became in all respects
the image of his master. He was :i bigot to the extent of

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