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relisb maj never come; and still, the knowledge or the discipline is
so necessars that the studies may be enforced contrary to the pupil's
pleasure. (P.)


but a tabula rasa, an empty and inert capacity, and not a con-
geries of energies and of living forces that are strengthened
by exercise. He does not believe that the faculties, what-
ever they may be, can grow and develop, and this for the
good reason, according to his thinking, that the faculties
have no existence.

But here let him speak for himself : —

' ' I hear it is said that children should be employed in get-
ting things by heart, to exercise and improve their memories.
I would wish this were said with as much authority and
reason as it is with forwardness of assurance, and 'that this
practice were established upon good observation more than
old custom. For it is evident that strength of memory is
owing to an happy constitution, and not to any habitual
improvement got by exercise. 'Tis true what the mind is
intent upon, and, for fear of letting it slip, often imprints
afresh on itself by frequent reflection, that it is apt to retain,
but still according to its own natural strength of retention.
An impression made on beeswax or lead will not last so
long as on brass or steel. Indeed, if it be renewed often, it
may last the longer ; but every new reflecting on it is a new
impression, and 'tis from thence one is to reckon, if one
would know how long the mind retains it. But the learning
pages of Latin by heart no more fits the memory for reten-
tion of anything else, than the graving of one sentence in
lead makes it the more capable of retaining firmly any other
characters." x

If Locke were right, education would become wholly im-
possible ; for, in case of all the faculties, education supposes
the existence of a natural germ which exercise fertilizes and

i Thoughts, edited by R. H. Quick (Cambridge, 1880), pp. 153-4.


220. A Tkade should be learned. — Locke, like Rous-
seau, but for other reasons, wishes his pupil to learn a trade :

" I can not forbear to say, I would have nay gentleman
learn a trade, a manual trade; nay, two or three, but one
more particularly." l

Rousseau will say the same : ' ' Recollect that it is not
talent that I require of }-ou ; it is a trade, a real trade, a purely
mechanical art, in which the hands work more than the head."

But Locke, in having his gentleman learn carpentry or
agriculture, especially designed that this physical labor should
lend the mind a diversion, an occasion for relaxation and
repose, and secure to the body a useful exercise. Rousseau
is influenced by totally different ideas. What he wants is,
first, that through an apprenticeship to a trade, Emile may
protect himself against need in case a revolutionary crisis
should deprive him of his wealth. In the second place,
Rousseau obeys his social, we might even say his socialistic,
preoccupations. Work, in his view, is a strict duty, from
which no one can exempt himself. "Rich or poor, every
idle citizen is a knave."

221. Working Schools. — Although Locke is almost
exclusively preoccupied with classical studies and with a
gentleman's education, nevertheless he has not remained
completely a stranger to questions of primary instruction.
In 1(107 he addressed to the English government a remark-
able document on the importance of organizing "working
schools" for the children of the poor. All children over
three and under fourteen years of age are to be collected in
homes where they will And labor and food. In this way
Locke thought to contend against immorality and pauperism.
He would find a remedy for the idleness and vagabondage of

1 Thoughts, p. 177.


the child, and lighten the care of the mother who is absorbed
in her work. He would also, through habits of order and
discipline, train up stead} 7 men and industrious workmen. In
other terms, he attempted a work of social regeneration, and
the tutor of gentlemen became the educator of the poor.

222. Locke and Rousseau. — In the Emile we shall
frequently find passages inspired by him whom Rousseau
calls " the wise Locke." Perhaps we shall admire even more
the practical qualities and the good sense of the English
educator when we shall have become acquainted with the
chimeras of his French imitator. In the case of Locke, we
have to do, not with an author who wishes to shine, but with
a man of sense and judgment who expresses his opinions,
and who has no other pretense than to understand himself and
to be comprehended by others. To appreciate the Thoughts
at their full value, they should not be read till after having
re-read the Emile, which is so much indebted to them. On
coming from the reading of Rousseau, after the brilliant
glare and almost the giddiness occasioned his reader by a
writer of genius whose imagination is ever on the wing,
whose passion urges him on, and who mingles with so many
exalted truths, hasty paradoxes, and noisy declamations, it
is like repose and a delicious unbending to the spirit to go
to the study of Locke, and to find a train of thought always
equable, a styl% simple and dispassionate, an author always
master of himself, always correct, notwithstanding some
errors, and a book, finally, filled, not with flashes and smoke,
but with a light that is agreeable and pure.

[223. Analytical Summary. — 1. This study illustrates
the fact that the aims and methods of education are deter-
mined by the types of thought, philosophical, political,


religious, scientific, and social, that happen to* be in the
ascendent ; and also the tendency of the human mind to
adopt extreme views.

2. The subjective tendency of human thought is typified
by the Socratic philosophy, and the objective tendency by
the Baconian philosophy ; and from these two main sources
have issued two distinctive schools of educators, the formal-
ists and the realists, the first holding that the main purpose
of education is discipline, training, or formation, and the
other, that this purpose is furnishing instruction or informa-
tion. This line is distinctly drawn in the seventeenth
century, and the two schools are typified by Malebranche
and Locke.

3. The spirit of reaction is exhibited in the opposition to
classical studies, in the effort to convert study into a diver-
sion, in the use of milder means of discipline, and in the
importance attached to useful studies. In these particulars
the reaction of the sixteenth century is intensified. J



the education of women in the seventeenth century; madame
de sevigne j the abbe fleury ; education in convents ; port
royal and the regulations of jacqueline fascal j general
impression; severity and affection; general character of
saini ^jyr; two periods in the institution of saint cyr;
dramatic representations ; THE reform of 1692 ; THE part

FICIENT ; manual labor; moral education; discreet devo-

224. The Education of Women in the Seventeenth
Century. — The Education of Girls of Fenelon has shown us
how far the spirit of the seventeenth century was able to go
in what concerns the education of women, as exhibited in
the most liberal theories on the subject ; but in practice,
save in brilliant exceptions, even the modest and imperfect
ideal of Fenelon was far from being attained.

Chrysale was not alone of this opinion, when he said in
the Learned Ladies : —

"It is not very proper, and for several reasons, that a
woman should study and know so many things. To train the
minds of her children in good morals and manners, to super-
intend her household, by keeping an eye on her servants,
and to control the expenditures with economy, ought to be


her study and philosophy." 1 It is true that Moliere himself
did not sympathize with the prejudices whose expression he
put in the mouth of his comic character, and that he con-
cludes that a woman " may be enlightened on every subject"
(" Je consens qu'une femme ait des clart6s de tout"). But
in real fact and in practice, it is the opinion of Chrysale
that prevailed. Even in the higher classes, woman held
herself aloof from instruction, and from things intellectual.
Madame Racine had never seen played, and had probably \
never read, the tragedies of her husband.

225. Madame de Sevigne. — However, the seventeenth
century was not wanting in women of talent or genius, who
might have made an eloquent plea in behalf of their sex ; but
they were content to give personal examples of a high order,
without any anxiety to be imitated. Madame de Lafayette
made beautiful translations from Latin ; Madame Dacier
was a humanist of the first order ; and Madame de SeVigne
knew the modern languages as well as the ancient. No one
has better described the advantage of reading. She recom-
mends the reading of romances in the following terms : —

" I found that a young man became generous and brave
in seeing my heroes, and that a girl became genteel and wise
in reading Cleopatra. There are occasionally some who take
things somewhat amiss, but they would perhaps do scarcely
any better if they could not read." 2

Madame de Sevigne had her daughter read Descartes, and
her granddaughter Pauline, the tragedies of Corneille.

"For my part," she said, "if I were to bring up my
granddaughter, I would have her read what is good, but not
too simple. I would reason with her." !

1 Les Ft mmes Savantes, Act n. Scene vu., Van Laun's translation.

2 Letter of Nov. 1(5, 1G89. 3 Letter of June 1, 1G80.


22G. The Abbe Fleury. — But Madame de Sevigne 1 and
Madame de Grignan were but brilliant exceptions. If one
were to doubt the ignorance of the women of this period, it
would suffice to read this striking passage from the Abbe
Fleury, the assistant of Fenelon in the education of the
Duke of Bourgogne : —

"This, doubtless, will be a great paradox, that women
ought to learn anything else than their catechism, sewing,
and different little pieces of work, singing, dancing, and
dressing in the fashion, and to make a fine courtesy. As
things now go, this constitutes all their education." 1

Fleury desires something else for woman. He demands
that she learn to write correctly in French, and that she
study logic and arithmetic. But we need not fear lest the
liberalism of a thinker of the seventeenth century carry him
too far. Fleury admits, for example, that history is abso-
lutely useless to women.

227. Education in the Convents. — It is almost exclu-
sively in convents that young girls then received what
passed for an education. The religious congregations that
devoted themselves to female education were numberless ;
we note, for example, among the most celebrated, the Ursu-
lines, founded in 1537 ; the Association of the Angelics,
established in Italy in 1536 ; and the Order of Saint Eliza-
beth. But, notwithstanding the diversity of names, all the
convents for girls resemble one another. In all of them
woman was educated for heaven, or for a life of devotion.
Spiritual exercises formed the only occupation of the pupils,
and study was scarcely taken into account.

228. Port Royal and the Regulations of Jacqueline
Pascal. — The best means of penetrating into the inner life

1 Truite du choix et de la me'thode des etudes, Chap, xxxvm.


of the convents of the seventeenth century is to read the
Regulations for Children, written towards 1657 by Jacqueline
Pascal, Sister Saint Euphemia. The education of girls
interested the Jansenists not less than the education of
men ; but in this respect, Tort Royal is far from deserving
the same encomiums in both cases.

229. General Impression. — There is nothing so sombre
and sad as the interior of their institution for girls, and
nothing so austere as the rules of Jacqueline Pascal.

"A strange emotion, even at the distance of centuries,
is caused by the sight of those children keeping silent or
speaking in a whisper from rising till retiring, never walking
except between two nuns, one in front and the other behind,
in order to make it impossible, by slackening their pace on
the pretext of some indisposition, for them to hold any com-
munication ; working in such a way as never to be in com-
panies of two or three ; passing from meditation to prayer,
and from prayer to instruction ; learning, besides the cate-
chism, nothing but reading and writing ; and, on Sunday,
' a little arithmetic, the older from one to two o'clock, and
the younger from two to half past two ' ; the hands alwa3's
busy to prevent the mind from wandering ; but without
being able to become attached to their work, which would
please God as much the more as it pleased themselves the
less ; opposing all their natural inclinations, and despising
the attentions due the body ' destined to serve as food for
worms'; doing nothing, in a word, except in the spirit of
mortification. Imagine those days of fourteen and sixteen
hours, slowly succeeding one another, and weighing down
on the heads of those poor little sisters, for six or eight
years in that dreary solitude, where there was nothing to
bring in the stir of life, save the sound of the bell announc-


ing a change of exercise or of penance, and you will com-
prehend F6nelon's feeling of sadness when he speaks of the
shadows of that deep cavern in which was imprisoned and,
as it were, buried the youth of girls." *

230. Severity and Love. — The severity of the Regula-
tions is such that the editor, M. de Pontchartrain, also a
Jansenist, allows that it will be impossible to obtain from
all children "so complete a silence and so formal a life";
and requires that the mistresses shall try to gain their affec-
tions. Love must be united with severity. Jacqueline
Pascal does not seem to be entirely of this opinion, since
she declares that only God must be loved. However, not-
withstanding her habitual severity, human tenderness some-
times asserts its rights in the rules which she established.
We feel that she loves more than she confesses, those young
girls whom she calls "little doves." On the one hand,
the Regulations incite the pupils to eat of what is placed
before them indifferently, and to begin with what the}' like
the least, through a spirit of penitence ; but, on the other
hand, Jacqueline writes: "They must be exhorted to take
sufficient nourishment so as not to allow themselves to
become weakened, and this is why care is taken that they
have eaten enough." And so there is a touching solicitude
that is almost maternal in this remark: "As soon as they
have retired, each particular bed must be visited, to see
whether all proprieties have been observed, and whether the
children are well covered in winter." The mystic sister of
the ascetic Pascal has moments of tenderness. "Never-
theless, we must not cease to feel pity for them, and to
accommodate ourselves to them in every way that we can,
but without letting them know that we have thus conde-

1 Greard, Memoire sin- V ' enseiynement secondaire desfilles, p. 55.


scended." However, the dominant conception ever reap-
pearing, is the idea that human nature is evil ; that we have
to do with rebellious spirits which must be conquered, and
that they deserve no commiseration.

There is a deal of anxiety to make study agreeable !
Jacqueline directs her pupils to work at the very things that
are most repulsive, because the work that will please God
the most is that which will please them the least. The
exterior manifestations of friendship are forbidden, and
possibly friendship itself. " Our pupils shall shun every sort
of familiarity one towards another."

Instruction is reduced to the catechism, to the application
of the Christian virtues, to reading, and to writing. Arith-
metic is not taught save on holidays. It seems that memory
is the only faculty that Jacqueline wishes to have developed.
k 'This opens their minds, gives them occupation, and keeps
them from evil thoughts." Have we not reason to say that
at Port Royal women have less value than men ! What a
distance between the solid instruction of Lancelot's and
Nicole's pupils and the ignorance of Jacqueline Pascal's !
Even when the men of Port Royal speak of the education
of women, they have more liberal ideas than those which are
applied at their side. Nicole declares that books are neces-
sary even in convents for girls, because it is necessary " to
sustain prayer by reading."

231. General Character of Saint Cyr. — In leaving
Port Royal for Saint Cyr, we seem, on coming out of a
profound night, to perceive a ray of light. Without doubt,
Madame de Maintenon has not yet, as a teacher, all that
breadth of view that could be desired. Her work is far
from being faultless, but the founding of Saint Cyr (1686)
was none the less a considerable innovation. " Saint Cyr,"
it has been said, " is not a convent. It is a great establish-


merit devoted to the lay education of young women of
noble birth ; it is a bold and intelligent secularization of the
education of women." There is some excess of praise in
this statement, and the lay character of Saint Cyr is very
questionable. Lavall£e, an admirer, could write: "The
instructions of Madame de Maintenon are doubtless too
religious, too monastic." Let us grant, however, that
Madame de Maintenon, who, after having founded Saint
Cyr, was the director of it, extra muros, and even taught
there, at stated times, is personally the first lay teacher of
France. Let us grant, also, that at least in the beginning,
and up to 1G92, the women entrusted with the work of
instruction were not nuns in the absolute sense of the term.
They were not bound by solemn and absolute vows.

But this character relatively laic, and this rupture with
monastic traditions, were not maintained during the whole
life of the institution.

232. Two Periods in the History of Saint Cyr. —
Saint Cyr, in fact, passed, within a few years, through two
very different periods, and Madame de Maintenon followed
in succession two almost opposite currents. For the first
years, from 1686 to 1692, the spirit of the institution is
broad and liberal ; the education is brilliant, perhaps too
much so ; literary exercises and dramatic representations
have an honored place. Saint C}r is an institution inclining
to worldliness, better fitted to train women of intellect than
good economists and housewives. Madame de Maintenon
quickly saw that she had taken a false route, and, from
1692, she reacted, not without excess, against the tendencies
which she had at first obeyed. She conceived an extreme
distrust of literary studies, and cut off all she could from the
instruction, in order to give her entire thought to the moral
and practical qualities of her pupils. Saint Cyr became a


convent, with a little more liberty, doubtless, than there was
in the other monasteries of the time, but it was a convent

233. Dramatic Representations. — It was the notorious
success of the performance of Andromaque and Esther that
caused the overthrow of the original intentions of Madame
de Maintenon. Esther, in particular, was the great event
of the first years of Saint Cyr. Racine distributed the
parts ; Boileau conducted the training in elocution ; and the
entire Court, the king at the head, came to applaud and
entertain the pretty actresses, who left nothing undone to
please their spectators. Heads were a little turned by all
this ; dissipation crept into the school. The pupils were
no longer willing to sing in church, for fear of spoiling their
voices. Evidently the route was now over a dangerous
declivity. The institution had been turned from its purpose.
Matters were in a way to establish, under another form,
another Ildtel de Rambouillet. 1

234. Reform of 1G92. — At the first, as we have seen,
the ladies of Saint Louis, charged with the direction of Saint
Cyr, did not found a monastic order properly so-called ; but,
when Madame de Maintenon resolved to reform the general
spirit of the house, she thought it necessary to transform
Saint Cyr into a monastery, and she founded the Order of
Saint Augustine.

1 " The name generally given to a social circle, which for more than half
a century gathered around Catherine de Yivonne, marquise de Rambouillet,
and her daughter, Julie d'Angennes, duchess de Montausier, and which
exercised a very conspicuous influence oil French language, literature, and
rivilization. . . . Her house soon became the place where all who had
genius, wit, learning, talent, or taste, assembled, and from these reunions
originated the French Academy, the highest authority of French literature,
and the salons, the most prominent feature of French civilization."

— Johnson's Cyclopxdia.


But what she changed in particular was the moral dis-
cipline, and the programme of studies.

Madame de Maintenon has herself recited, in a memorable
letter, 1 the reasons of that reform which modified so pro-
foundly the character of Saint Cyr : —

" The sorrow I feel for the girls of Saint Cyr," she said,
" can be cured only by time and by an entire change in the
education that we have given them up to this hour. It is
very just that I should suffer for this, since I have contri-
buted to it more than any one else. . . . The whole establish-
ment has been the object of my pride, and the ground for
this feeling has been so real that it has gone to extremes that
I never intended. God knows that I wished to establish
virtue at Saint Cyr, but I have built upon the sand. Not
having, what alone can make a solid foundation, I wished
the girls to be witty, high-spirited, and trained to think ; I
have succeeded in this purpose. They have wit, and they
use it against us. They are high-spirited, and are more
heady and haughty than would be becoming in a royal
princess. Speaking after the manner of the world, we have
trained their reason, and have made them talkative, pre-
sumptuous, inquisitive, bold . . . witty, — such characters as
even we who have trained them cannot abide. . . . Let us
seek a remedy, for we must not be discouraged. . . . As
many little things form pride, many little things will destroy
it. Our girls have been treated with too much consideration,
have been petted too much, treated too gently. We must
now leave them more to themselves in their class-rooms,
make them observe the daily regulations, and speak to them
of scarcely anything else. . . . Pray to God, and ask Him to
change their hearts ; and that He may give to all of them

1 See the Letter to Madame de Fontaine, general mistress of the school,
Sept. 20, 1691.


humility. There should not he much conversation with them
on the subject. Everything at Saint Cyr is made a matter of
discourse. We often speak of simplicity, and try to define
it correctly . . . and yet, in practice, the girls make merry in
saying : ' Through simplicity I take the best place ; through
simplicity I am going to commend myself.' Our girls must
be cured of that jesting turn of mind which I have given
them. . . . We have wished to shun the pettiness of certain
convents, and God has punished us for this haughty spirit.
There is no house in the world that has more need of humility
within and without than our own. Its situation near the
Court ; the air of favor that pervades it ; the favors of a
great king; the offices of a person of consideration, — all
these snares, so full of danger, should lead us to take meas-
ures directly contrary to those we have really taken. ..."

235. The Part played by Madame de Maintenon. —
Whatever may be the opinion respecting the tone of the edu-
cational work at Saint Cyr, there cannot be the least doubt
as to the admirable zeal of Madame de Maintenon, and her
indefatigable devotion to the success of her favorite under-
taking. The vocation of the teacher was evidently hers.
For more than thirty years, from 1GS6 to 1717, she did not

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 18 of 48)