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being unwilling to attend a royal ball because that worldly
entertainment coincided with the religious celebration of the
Epiphany ; he was rather a monk than a king ; he was desti-
tute of all spirit of initiative and liberty, irresolute, absorbed
in his pious erudition and mystic prayers ; finally, he was
another Telemachus, who could not do without his Mentor.
Fenelon had monopolized and absorbed the will of his pupil.
He had forgotten that the purpose of education is to form,
not a pale copy, an image of the master, but a man inde-
pendent and free, capable of sufficing for himself.


195. The Telemachus. — The Telemachus, composed
from 16D4 to 1698, was designed for the Duke of Bour-
gogue ; but he was not to read it, and did not read it, in
fact, till after his marriage. Through this epopee in prose,
this romance borrowed from Homer, Fenelon purposed to
continue the moral education of his pupil. But the book
abounds in sermons. " I could have wished," said Boileau,
" that the Abbe" had made his Mentor a little less a preacher,
and that the moral of the book could have been distributed
a little more imperceptibly, and with more art." At least,
they are beautiful and excellent sermons, aimed against lux-
ury, the spirit of conquest, the consequences of absolute
power, and against ambition and war. Louis XIV. had
probably read the Telemachus, and had comprehended the
allusions concealed in the description of the Republic of
Salentum, when he said of Fenelon that he was "the most
chimerical spirit in his kingdom." Besides the moral lesson
intended for princes, the Telemachus also contains bold
reflections on political questions. For example, note the
conception of a system of public instruction, very new for

[ the time : " Children belong less to their parents than to the
Republic, and ought to be educated by the State. There
should be established public schools in which are taught the

ifear of God, love of country, and respect for the laws."

196. Bossuet and Fenelon. — Bossuet, as preceptor of
the Dauphin, 1 was far from having the same success as
Fenelon. Nothing was overlooked, however, in the educa-
tion of the son of Louis XIV. ; and the Letter to Pope
Innocent XI. (1679), in which Bossuet presents his scheme
of study, gives proof of high fitness for educational work.

* Eldest son of Louis XIV., born Nov. 1, 1661; died April 14, 1711.


He recommends assiduous labor, uo leaves of absence,
and play mingled with study. "A child must play and
enjoy himself," he says. Emulation excited by the presence
of other children, who came to compete with the prince ; a
thorough reading of the Latin authors, explained, not in
fragments, as with the Jesuits, but in complete texts ; a cer-
tain breadth of spirit, since the study of the comic poets —
of Terence in particular — was expressly recommended ; a
familiarity with the Greeks and the Romans, "especially
with the divine Homer " ; the grammar learned in French ;
history, "the mistress of human life," studied with ardor,
and presented, first, in its particular facts, in the lessons
which the Dauphin drew up, and then in its general laws,
the spirit of which has been transmitted to us in the Dis-
course on Universal History ; geography learned " while
playing and making imaginary journeys " ; philosophy ; and
finally the sciences, brilliantly presented, — with such a pro-
gramme, and under such a master, it seems that the Dauphin
ought to have been a student of the highest rank ; but he
remained a mediocre pupil, "absorbed," to use Saint
Simon's expression, " in his own fat and gloom."

It must certainly be acknowledged that, notwithstanding
his excellent intentions, Bossuet was in part responsible for
the fact that these results were insufficient, or, rather, nil.
He did not know how " to condescend," as Montaigne says,
" to the boyish ways of his pupil." In dealing with him he
proceeded on too high a plane. "The austere genius of
Bossuet," says Henry Martin, "did not know how to be-
come small with the small." Bossuet lacked in flexibility
and tact, precisely the qualities that characterized F6nelon.
Bossuet, in education, as in everything else, is grandeur,
noble and sublime bearing; F£nelon, as preceptor, is ad-
dress, insinuating grace. That which dominates in the one


is authority, a majesty almost icy ; that which constitutes
the charm of the other is versatility, a persuasive gentleness,
a penetrating tenderness.

To be just, however, it must be added that the faults were
not all on Bossuet's side. In that education, stamped with
failure, the pupil was the great culprit, with his ungrateful
and rebellious nature. "My lord has much spirit," said a
courtier, " but he has it concealed." For on^e not a courtier,
does it not amount to the same thing to have one's spirit
concealed and to have none at all ?

197. Sphere and Limits of Education. — It seems that,
on one page of the Education of Girls, F£nelon has traced
in advance, and by a sort of divination, the parallels of the
two educations of the Dauphin and of the Duke of Bour-
gogne respectively. How can we fail to recognize the
anticipated portrait of F£nelon's future pupil in this passage,
written in 1680?

"It must be acknowledged, that of all the difficulties in
education, none is comparable to that of bringing up chil-
dren who are lacking in sensibility. The naturally quick
and sensitive are capable of terrible mistakes, — passion and
presumption do so betray them ! But they have also great
resources, and when far gone often come to themselves. In-
struction is a germ concealed within them, which starts, and
sometimes bears fruit, when experience comes to the aid of
knowledge, and the passions lose their power. At least,
we know how to make them attentive, and to awaken their
curiosity. We have the means of interesting them, and of
stimulating them through their sense of honor ; but, on the
other hand, we can gain no hold on indolent natures."

On the other hand, all that follows applies perfectly to the
Dauphin, the indocile pupil of Bossuet : —

FENEL01ST. 185

"... All the thoughts of these are distractions ; they are
never where they ought to be ; they cannot be touched to
the quick even by corrections ; they hear everything and feel
nothing. This indolence makes the pupil negligent, and
disgusts him with whatever he does. Under these conditions,
the best planned education runs the risk of failure. . . .
Many people, who think superficially, conclude from this
poor success that nature does all for the production of men
of merit, and that education has no part in the result ; but
the only conclusion to be drawn from the case is, that there
are natures like ungrateful soils, upon which culture has but
little effect." 1

Nothing better can be said, and F£nelon has admirably
summed up the lesson that should be drawn from these two
princely illustrations of the seventeenth century. If the
sorry results of Bossuet's efforts should inspire the educator
with some modesty, and prove to him that the best grain
does not grow in an ingrate soil, is not the brilliant educa-
tion of the Duke of Bourgogue, which developed almost all
the virtues in a soul where nature seemed to have planted
the seeds of all the vices, of a nature to increase the con-
fidence of teachers, and show them what can be done by the
art of a shrewd and able teacher?

[108. Analytical Summary. — 1. Education as a plastic
art has never been exhibited in a more favorable light than
in this history of Fenelon's teaching ; and perhaps the
resistance that sometimes sets at defiance the teacher's art
could not be better illustrated than in the case of Bossuet's
ro}'al pupil.

2. These two historical illustrations also exhibit the play
of the two factors that enter into education, — nature and

1 Education of Girls, Chap. v.


art. F6nelon's teaching illustrates the potency of human
art in controlling, modifying, almost re-creating a work of
nature. The Duke of Bourgogne was almost re-macle to

3. Here is also an illustrious example of the attempt to
make education a pastime, to divest it of all constraint, to
make learning run parallel with the pupil's inclinations. In
the natural recoil from a dry and formal teaching that had
to be enforced against the pupil's will, it is sometimes for-
gotten that a large part of life's duties lie outside of our

4. The policy of leading pupils at such a distance that
they seem to themselves to be following their own initiative,
is one of the highest of the teacher's arts.

5. The inculcation of moral lessons through fables, after
Fenelon's plan, is a practice that modern teaching might
profitably adopt.]




199. Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke. — Descartes,
a spiritualist ; Malebranche, an idealist ; Locke, a sensation-
alist, — such are the philosophers of the seventeenth century
who are related to the history of pedagogy. And yet the
first two have only a remote connection with it, through their
exposition of some of its general principles. Locke is the
only one who has resolutely approached educational ques-
tions in a special treatise that has become a classic in Eng-
lish pedagogy.

200. Descartes (1596-1650). —Descartes, the father of
modern philosophy, docs not generally figure in the lists
drawn up by the historians of education ; and yet, in our


opinion, there is no thinker who has exercised a more deci-
sive influence on the destinies of education. The author of
the Discourse of Method has, properly speaking, no system
of pedagogy, having never directly treated of educational
affairs ; but through his philosophical principles he has
changed the direction of human thought, and has intro-
duced into the stud} 7 of known truths, as well as into the
search for new truths, a method and a taste for clearness
and precision, which have profited instruction in all of its

" We now find," says Rollin, " in the discourses from the
pulpit and the bar, and in the dissertations on science, an
order, an exactness, a propriety, and a solidity, which were
formerly not so common. Many believe, and not without
reason, that we owe this manner of thinking and writing to
the extraordinary progress which has been made within a
a century in the study of philosophy." 1

201. The Discourse of Method (1637). — Every system
of philosophy contains in germ a special system of educa-
tion. From the mere fact that philosophers define, each in
his own way, the nature and the destiny of man, they come
to different conclusions as to the aims and methods of educa-
tion. Only a few of them have taken pains to deduce from
their principles the consequences that are involved in them ;
but all of them, whether they will or no, are educators.

Such is the case of Descartes. In writing, in the first
part of his Discourse of Method, his Considerations Touching
the Sciences, Descartes has written a chapter on practical
pedagogy, and through the general rules of his logic, he
has, in effect, founded a new theory of education.

i Rollin, Traite des etudes, Tome IV. p. 335.


202. Criticism of the Current Education. — Descartes
has given a long account of the education which he had re-
ceived among the Jesuits, at the college of La Fleche, and
this account furnished him occasion, either to criticize the
methods in use, or to indicate his personal views and his
educational preferences.

" From my infancy letters have been my intellectual
nourishment. . . . But as soon as I had completed the
course of study required for the doctor's degree, I found
myself embarrassed with so many doubts and errors that it
seemed to me that I had received no other profit from my
efforts at learning than the discovery of my growing igno-

In other terms, Descartes ascertained that his studies,
though pursued with ardor for eight years in one of the
most celebrated schools of Europe, had not permitted him
to acquire " a clear and sure knowledge of all that is useful
for living." This was to condemn the barren teaching and
the formal instruction of the Jesuits. Passing in review the
different parts of the instruction, Descartes first remarks
that it was wrong to make an abuse of the reading of
ancient books ; for, to hold converse with the men of other
centuries "is about the same as travelling; and when we
spend too much time in travelling, we become strangers in
our own country." Then he complains that he was not
made to know " the true use of mathematics," since he had
been shown their application only to the mechanic arts. He
nearly condemns rhetoric and poetics, since eloquence and
poetry are "intellectual gifts rather than the fruits of study."
The ancient languages — and in this he gravely deceives
himself — seem to him useful only for the understanding of
authors. He does not admit that the study of Latin or
Greek can contribute to intellectual development.


From these reflections there seems to issue the notion of
an instruction more solid, more positive, more directly use-
ful for the purposes of life, than that which had been
brought into fashion by the Jesuits. However, Descartes
does not eliminate the ordinary studies, as eloquence,
"which has incomparable power and beauty"; poetry,
"which has an enchanting tenderness and melody"; the
reading of the classics, which is " a studied conversation
with the most estimable men of past centuries " ; history,
"which forms the judgment" ; fables, whose' "charm arouses
the spirit." But he would give to all these exercises a more
practical turn, a more utilitarian character, a more positive

203. Great Principles of Modern Pedagogy. — With-
out intending it, without any other thought than that of
modifying the false direction of the mind in the search for
scientific truth, Descartes has stated some of the great prin-
ciples of modern pedagogy.

The first is the equal aptitude of minds to know and com-
prehend. "Good sense," says Descartes, "is the thing of
all else in this world that is most equally distributed. 1 . . .
The latent ability to judge well, to distinguish the true from
the false, is naturally equal among all men." What is this
but saying that all men are entitled to instruction ? In a cer-
tain sense, what are the innumerable primary schools scattered
over the surface of the civilized globe, but the application
and the living commentary of Descartes' ideas on the equal
distribution of good sense and reason among men ?

1 I am in doubt whether M. Compayre intends to sanction this doctrine
or not. This is an anticipation of one of Jacotot's paradoxes: " All human
beings are equally capable of learning." The verdict of actual teachers
is undoubtedly to the effect that there are manifold differences in the
ability of pupils to know, comprehend, and judge. (P.)


But, adds Descartes, " it is not enough to have a sound
miud ; the principal thing is to make a good use of it." In
other words, nature is not sufficient in herself ; she needs to
be guided and directed. Method is the essential thing ; it
has a sovereign importance. Success will depend less on
natural qualities, such as imagination, memory, quickness
of thought, than upon the rules of intellectual direction
imposed on the mind. Education has a far greater part
than nature in the formation and development of accurate
and upright intelligences.

Another Cartesian principle is the substitution of free
inquiry and reflective conviction for blind beliefs founded
upon authority. Descartes promulgated this famous rule of
his method : "The first precept is, never to receive anything
for true that I do not know, upon evidence, to be such ; . . .
and to comprise no more within my judgments than what is
presented so clearly and distinctly to my mind that I have
no occasion to call it in question." In this declaration he
has not only reformed science and revolutionized philoso-
phy, but has banished from the school the old routine, the
mechanical processes and exercises of pure memory, and
has made a demand for rational methods that excite the
intelligence, awaken clear and distinct ideas, and provoke
judgment and reflection. Of course, it is not proposed to
make a little Descartes out of every child, despoiling him
of received beliefs in order to construct personal opinions
de novo; but the rule of evidence, applied with moderation
and discretion, is none the less an excellent pedagogical
precept, which will never be disallowed by those who wish
to make of the child something more than a mere machine.

204. Objective and Subjective Pedagogy. — We have
now reached a place where we may call into notice two dif-
ferent tendencies, equally legitimate, which we shall find,


with exaggerations that compromise their utility, in the
practice of modern teachers. There are those who wish
above all to develop the intelligence ; and there are others
who are preoccupied with furnishing the mind with a stock
of positive knowledge. The first conceive instruction as
taking place, as it were, through what is within, through the
development of the internal qualities of precision and meas-
ure ; the others are preoccupied only with the instruction
that takes place through what is without, through an ex-
tended erudition, through an accumulation of knowledges.
In a word, if I may be allowed the expression, some affect
a subjective pedagogy, and others an objective pedagogy.
Bacon is of the latter number. That which preoccupies the
great English logician above everything else is the exten-
sion of observations and experiments. " To reason without
knowing anything of that which we reason upon," he says,
"is as if we were to weigh or measure the wind." Des-
cartes, however, who has never neglected the study of facts,
esteems them less as material to be accumulated in the mind,
than as instruments for training the mind itself. He would
have repudiated those teachers of our day who seem to
think the whole thing is done when there has been made to
pass before the mental vision of the child an interminable
series of object-lessons, without the thought of developing
that intelligence itself.

205. Malebranche (1638-1715). — We must not expect
great pedagogical wisdom from a mystical dreamer and reso-
lute idealist, who has imagined the vision of all things in
God. Besides, Malebranche has given only a passing atten-
tion to things relating to education. The member of a
teaching congregation, the Oratoiy, he has not taught; and
the whole effort of his mind was spent in the search for
metaphysical truth. Nevertheless, it is interesting to stop


for a moment this visionary who traverses the earth with
eyes fixed on the heavens, and inquire of him what he
thinks of the very practical question, education.

206. Sense Instruction condemned. — Malebranche will
reply to us, with the prejudices of a metaphysician of the
idealist type, that the first thing to do is to nourish the child
on abstract truths. In his view, souls have no age, so to
speak, and the infant is already capable of ideal contempla-
tion. Then let sense instruction be abandoned, " for this
is the reason why children leave metaphysical thoughts, to
apply themselves to sensations." Is it objected that the
child does not seem very well adapted to meditation on
abstract truths? It is not so much the fault of nature,
Malebranche will reply, as of the bad habits he has con-
tracted. There is a means of remedying this ordinary inca-
pacity of the child.

" If we kept children from fear, from desires, and from
hope, if we did not make them suffer pain, if we removed
them as far as possible from their little pleasures, then we
might teach them, from the moment they knew how to speak,
the most difficult and the most abstract things, or at least the
concrete mathematics, mechanics."

Does Malebranche hope, then, to suppress, in the life of
the child, pleasure and pain, and triumph over the tendencies
whicrt ordinary education has developed?

"As an ambitious man who had just lost his fortune and
his credit would not be in a condition to resolve questions in
metaphysics or equations in algebra, so children, on whose
brains apples and sugar-plums make as profound impressions
as are made on those of men of forty years by offices and
titles, are not in a condition to hear the abstract truths that
arc taught them."

Consequently, we must declare war against the senses, and


exclude, for example, all sorts of sensible rewards. Only,
by a singular contradiction, Malebranche upholds material
punishments in the education of children. The only thing
of sense he retains is the rod. 1

207. Influence of Material Environment. — Another
contradiction more worthy of note is, that, notwithstanding his
idealism, Malebranche believes in the influence of physical
conditions on the development of the soul. He does not go
so far as to say with the materialists of our time, that ' ; man
is what he eats " ; but he accords a certain amount of influ-
ence to nourishment. He speaks cheerfully of wine and of
" those wild spirits who do not willingly submit to the orders
of the will." He never applied himself to work without hav-
ing partaken of coffee. The soul, in his view, is not a force
absolutely independent and isolated, which develops through
an internal activity: " we are bound," he says, "to every-
thing, and stand in relations to all that surrounds us."

208. Locke (1632-1704). - Locke is above all else a
psychologist, an accomplished master in the art of analyzing
the origin of ideas and the elements of the mental life. He
is the head of that school of empirical psychology that rallies
around its standard, Condillac in France, Herbart in Ger-
many, and in Great Britain Hume and other Scotchmen, and

1 Is not the antagonism pointed out by Malebranche more serious than
M. Compayre seems to think? If the current of mental activity sets
strongly towards the feelings, emotions, or senses, it is thereby diverted
from the purely intellectual processes, such as reflection and judgment.
The mind of the savage is an example of what comes from " following the
order of nature " in an extreme training of the senses. On the nature and
extent of this antagonism, the following authorities may be consulted:
Hamilton, Metaphysics, p. 330 ; Mansel, Metaphysics, pp. 08, 70, 77 ; Bain,
The Senses and the Intellect, pp. 392-394 ; Bain, Education as a Science)
pp. 17, 29, 37 ; Spencer, Principles of Psychology, pp. 98-99. (P.)


the most of modern philosophers. But from psychology to
pedagogy the transition is easy, and Locke had to make no
great effort to become an authority in education after having
been an accomplished philosopher.

209. Some Thoughts on Education (1693). — The book
which he published towards the close of his life, under the
modest title Some Thoughts concerning Education, was the
summing up of a long experience. A studious pupil at
Westminster, he conceived from his early years, as Descartes
did at La Fleche, a keen sense of repugnance for a purely
formal classical instruction, and for language studies in gen-
end, in which, nevertheless, he attained distinction. A
model student at the University of Oxford, he there became
an accomplished humanist, notwithstanding the practical and
positive tendency of his mind that was already drawn to-

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