H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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the ancient system of instruction. Cromwell's commissioners
appeared both at Oxford and at Cambridge, and formally
expelled the schoolmen and their commentators alike from
the colleges and from the schools. One of their number,
Dr. Leighton, in an oft-quoted passage, has left on record the
scene to be witnessed in the great court of New College,
Oxford, "full of the leaves of Dunce" (Duns Scotus), "the
wind blowing them into every corner." Among the more
notable of the new provisions were those requiring that each
college should now found and maintain " two daily public
lectures, one of Greek the other of Latin" that all students
should be allowed to read the Scriptures without interference,
and also to attend lectures upon them; that lectures on the
canon law and degrees in that faculty should alike be abolished:
that the study of Aristotle should be pursued without "the
frivolous questions and obscure glosses " of his medieval com-
mentators ; that Rudolphus Agricola (an early German re-
former) and Melanchthon should occupy a prominent place in
the new list of text-books. In the year Io40 the foundation


of the Regius Professorships at both universities on the several
subjects of divinity, civil law, physic, Hebrew, and Greek, with
separate endowments, afforded important extraneous aid to
these several branches of learning. Ascham, writing about
the year 1542, speaks with enthusiasm of the impetus thus
given to classical studies at Cambridge, which he describes as
" quite another place," " so substantially and splendidly has it.
been endowed bv the royal munificence." "Aristotle and

/ /

Plato," he goes on to say, ' : are being read even by the
boys (the undergraduates) ; Sophocles and Euripides are more
familiar authors than Plautus was in your time : Herodotus,
Thucydides, and Xenophon are more conned and discussed



than Livy was then. Demosthenes is as familiar an author as
Cicero used to be ; and there are more copies of Isocrates in
use than there used to be of Terence. Nor do we disregard
the Latin authors, but study with the greatest zeal the choicest
writers of the best period." Much of the credit for this
improved state of things appears to have belonged to Sir John
Cheke (p. 281), who had been appointed to the professorship of
Greek. The foundation of Trinity College in 1546 is, perhaps,
the last notable event in connection with the history of
education in Henry's reign. Through the royal munificence it
was Largely endowed, chiefly from the great tithes which had
formerly belonged to the monasteries, while in its constitution
the college represented the first complete example of a society
administered and providing its various courses of instruction
in entire independence of the university.

It is due to Henry himself to recognise the fact that he Eminent
was a scholar and well-read theologian, and that he selected
the ablest teachers to educate his own family. Ludovicus Yives
was the tutor of the Princess Mary ; Roger Ascham of Lady
Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth ; Sir John Cheke of Prince
Edward. No scholar in this reign, however, exercised a more
potent influence than Sir Thomas More, whose wont it was to More.
assemble under his roof young scholars destined for the
clerical profession or for official life, whom he treated with
parental kindness; while of the circle thus gathered round
him, we are told that it resembled "rather an universite than a
private school." His " Utopia " remained imprinted in England
during his lifetime (p. 136), but in 1551 it was translated into
English by Ralph Robinson, a fellow of Corpus Christi College,
Oxford, and belongs accordingly to the literary influences of
the reign of Edward VI. From its pages we may not unreason-
ably infer the breadth of thought and wise sentiments which
characterised the author's conversation with those whom he,
in a certain sense, educated. Allowing for certain commun-
istic notions, it may justly be said that social reform and
enlightened philanthropy, ever since More's time, have seemed
to draw nearer to the ideal which he here holds up, of an
imaginary community where life is carried on according to
Nature rather than the dictates of medieval asceticism, and
where legislation places within the reach of all, healthy homes,



prescribed hours both of labour and recreation, land and other
property shared in common, perfect freedom of opinion, ;m<l
every kind of intellectual pursuit and innocent pastime.

Elyot. Among those who received instruction under More's roof

was Sir Thomas Elyot, another of the many eminent men
whom Wolsey's discernment raised to serve the State. In his
remarkable book entitled " The Governour," which appeared
in 1531, Elyot propounded a variety of views on the subject
of education, many of which were startling- to his contem-
poraries. They were largely derived from Plato's " Republic,"
as well as from the writings of Patrizi, an Italian bishop of
the preceding century, and thus distinctly represent Renaissance
influence. But to the majority of Englishmen they were
altogether new; and appearing as the utterances of a dis-
tinguished diplomatist of the day, they produced a great
effect at the time, while their subsequent effect on educational
literature was yet greater. Among the reforms which Elyot
advocated Avere : systematic kindness to the youthful learner
and a careful regard for individual aptitudes ; the use of
object-lessons in instructing children, with the aid of pictures
and toys ; in the study of Latin, less attention to the niceties
of grammar and more to the meaning and spirit of each
author ; in the study of Greek, an observed sequence of
authors ; the use of maps in the study of historical writers,
less time given to logic.

vives. Superior in originality to Elyot was Ludovicus Yives, a

native of Valencia in Spain. He had studied not only at the
university of his native town, but also at Paris, Louvain, and
Oxford. He resided in England from 1523 to 1528, and during

o o

that time acted as tutor to the Princess Mary. Although
well read in the classical authors, he did not regard them
with that unqualified admiration, approaching almost to
idolatry, too often exhibited by the scholar of the Renaissance.
He had the courage dispassionately to weigh in the balance
the disadvantages as well as the advantages to be derived
from the study of the pagan literature, and pronounced his
conclusions with a candour and sobriety of judgment dis-
played by few of his contemporaries. He is perhaps the
first writer on the subject of education who advised the use
of expurgated editions of the classical authors. His discourse


Pileolus or cap.

Cameo, with head
of Virgin.


Sodality Crucifix, Cross, Seal, and George.


Pouneet Box.


(By permission, from photographs by the Rev. A. L Cortie, S.J.)

OLD oh'liHIi


" On Studies " (De Disciplinis), which appeared abonv t he same
lime as Elyot's work, is also the vehicle of many independent
and enlightened judgments on oilier educational <|iiestions.
He was not only one of 1 he first to reject the notion of accept-
ing the authority of Aristotle as final on all scientific subjects;
but he, in a very remarkable manner, anticipated IJacon 1>\
insisting upon observation and experiment as essential to all
true scientific advancement. In discussing the choice of a site
for a school he dwells upon considerations rarely present to the
minds of founders in those day's, such as the healthiness of the
locality, cheapness of necessaries for living, the character of the
crafts carried on in the neighbourhood, and other features o h
the local lile. In connection with teaching he lays special
stress on a careful continuity in the work of instruction, the
interdependence of the different parts being always maintained.
He is of opinion that more should be left to the independent
exertion of the pupil than was the practice in that day. And
while he places, with justice at that time, the acquirement of
Latin in the foreground, he holds that it should be taught, and
grammar likewise, ilirumjli fl' medium <>f tfie vernacular.
Living languages, he considers, should be acquired, mil
through a grammar, but by learning to converse in them
with natives.

Ascham. It is astonishing that views so rational and enlightened

should have been propounded so authoritatively in the first
half of the sixteenth century, and should have produced so
little effect that they appear to have altogether passed from
recollection, and were again put forth two centuries later
as the result of independent speculation. Much, on the
other hand, of what Elyot had advised and taught was em-
bodied by Roger Ascham in his well-known treatise, " The
Scholemaster." The first edition of the hook did not appear
until 1570, but we know that as early as 1545 he was carrying
into practice the views to which he here gives expression.
During the early part of King Edward's reio-n he was acting
as tutor to the Princess Elizabeth, to whose remarkable skill
as a linguist and conversational command of Latin, (Ireek,
French, and Italian, he pays a notable tribute. A temporary
coolness arose, however, between the princess and her in-
structor, and from 1550 to the death of Kdward, Ascham was




absent from England, acting as secretary to Sir Richard
Morysin, English ambassador to the Court of Charles V.

The most striking feature in the " Scholemaster " is the classical
method recommended by Ascham in teaching Latin. It is ^
borrowed from the younger Pliny, but improved upon, and is
as simple as it is rational. As the text-book of instruction,

- -~*-

V_ (L S ySfeSBftjYfc/ i\\.




Ascham recommends a selection from the easier Letters of
Cicero, which had been compiled by his friend John Sturm.
A letter was to be taken, and the learner was first of all to be
made clearly to understand its object and the tenor of its
contents. Then he was to render the original into English,
and to do this more than once, until he understood the
precise force of every Latin expression. Next, he was to

1-28 THE OLD OEDEli CHA\<;KI>.


parse the Latin, word by word. After this, lie was to have ;i
'paper book" given to him, in which he was to write a trans-
lation of the whole letter into English. Then, after a certain
interval of not less than an hour, he was to have his English
version given him back to turn into Latin. Then he was to
take his Latin version to the master, who was to place the
pupil's Latin and Cicero's side by side, and, pointing out the
deviations from the original, to make these discrepancies the
basis of <i ICKXOII in </r<i i/mui i:

Notwithstanding the manifest merits of this method, it
involved too much trouble on the part of the teacher with the
individual pupil, and called, perhaps, for too much intelligence
in the average instructor to be acceptable in the class room.
The method which ultimately obtained in the public grammar
school was that of Ascham's contemporary above-mentioned,
John Sturm, of Strassburg a system of carefully graduated
instruction extending through nine classes, in which little was
left to the discretion of the instructor of each class and little
regard was paid to the individual capacity of the scholar. It
had, however, the merit of reducing the work of teaching the
classics to a system of uniform, rigid drill, which appealed
much more successfully than Ascham's method to the
mechanical spirit of the age and to the interests of the
ordinary schoolmaster. But although his method failed to
gain currency, Ascham's " Scholemaster " at once took its
permanent place as an English classic. The whole work
abounds with choice anecdotes, admirable reflections, pregnant
sentiments from pagan authors, scholarly criticisms ; and ex-
hibits throughout, moreover, a deep yet kindly estimate of the
by nature, which makes it one of the most suggestive and
fascinating books in the English language, and justly entitles
the author to the praise bestowed upon him by Gabriel
Harvey, of being " a flowing spring of humanity.' Unfor-
. tunately, however, his pleadings in favour of a more kindly
discipline remained as little regarded as his method of
teaching Latin. The harsh treatment of the grammar school
(Vol. II, p. 179) continued, and became proverbial; so that
parents, as at Earn worth early in the seventeenth century,
would sometimes complain to the magistrates that their children
were in "danger of losing their senses, lives, and limbs."



THAT period of the history of English literature which includes GEORGE


the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward YI. and Mary has an BURY.

interest which varies remarkably, according to the standard of Liter a

. . 111 i- tui> e.

appreciation adopted. Judged by the positive literary merit

of the writers whose names are included in it, it can hardly
be admitted to the second class, and certainly not to the first.
It produced no poet and no prose-writer whose works have
retained, or have at any time reached, a prominent position
among English classics. Skelton, More, Latimer, Wyatt,
Ascham, and Surrey are the only names in it that are at all
familiar to any but students of English literature ; and if we add
Hawes at the earliest part of it, and Udall later, Ave shall have
pretty well exhausted the list of those whose literary interest,
intrinsically and without the aid of the historic estimate, is
above the average. We may add many as curiosities, as
valuable for the matter of their writings as teachers, and so
forth. But here we get into quite another order of apprecia-
tion that of the historic estimate itself. Viewed from this
side, the period is not only not insignificant, but it takes very
high rank ; for it is one of those by no means common periods
when the order changes, not with the gradual and almost
imperceptible kind of change which is always before us. It is
not merely a shifting of scenes that is going on, it is the
passage from one act to another almost the passage from one
play to another in a trilogy or tetralogy. In a certain sense
no change has taken place since which has been so sweeping
as that which began, if it was not fully accomplished,
during these fifty years. Here English literature ceases Modern
to be medieval, and prepares itself to be modern; it ap-
plies itself for enrichment and comparison to the classical
tongues, regarded for the first time as literary models, and
to modern languages other than French ; it makes efforts at
the drama ; it discusses abstract questions of philosophy and
polity no longer in the scholastic manner. Above all, it
sets about a complete reformation of its poetry, a reforma-
tion the effects of which, indeed, are not fully seen till a
quarter of a century after it has ceased, but which is
practically inevitable, not merely from the date of " Tottel's
Miscellany " (1557), but from the much earlier date at

Era Be-







which the more important contents of that Miscellany were

The causes of this great change were necessarily manifold, and
some of them were not specially literary ; but in so far as speci-
ally literary influences were necessary and were at work, they
were supplied by the two new studies above referred to. The
first was the study of the classics, and especially of Greek
(p. 112), not merely as texts, the matter of which was to be
more or less implicitly believed, but from the point of view of
scholarship as models of style, as examples of literary life, and
instructions in literary manners. The other Avas the study of the
literature of Southern Europe, and especially of Italy, and

rather later Spain, not neglect-
ing the more northern produc-
tions of Germany, for matter
chiefly. France had already
exercised her full teaching in-
fluence, and France at this
particular moment had nothing
whatever to teach. It was not
till quite towards the end of our
period that, in Marot and Rabe-
lais, she began once more to pro-
duce writers of great individual
talent, and neither of these
had anything to teach English-
men in what Englishmen were
then specially anxious to learn the formal parts of literature.
It is seldom, however, that a period of change from the old
to the new like this opens with such striking examples of the
old as Hawes and Skelton. They complete each other in a very
remarkable way, and though they have wide differences in
appearance, they have even greater agreements in reality. They
were almost exact contemporaries, for though it is not known
when either was born, Skelton certainly died in 1529, and the
only positive mention that we have of Hawes as dead dates from
the following year. Hawes was an Oxford man : Skelton was
of Cambridge. Hawes travelled, was Groom of the Chamber
to Henry VIII, was evidently a great student of Chaucer and
his school, especially Lydgate, and in the main followed them


(From Jascuy's edition of Lyndsay, 1558.)



in his own verse. Scarcely anything more is known of him
personally. With Skelton, who was probably a rather older
man, it is different. A Master of Arts at Cambridge from, it
would appear, 1484, he was soon created Poet Laureate by the
sister university a dignity rather to be compared with the
academic " crowns " of some foreign institutions than with the

.rternomanluradicdumlidcra fulgent


iVndiq;SkeltotmmcmoTabitBtalter adonis A

fft w*wtrn~


(Frora his "Garlands of Laurel," 1523.)

office of Dryden and Lord Tennyson. He was an industrious
translator of Latin, and was patronised by Henry VII. and his
mother Lady Margaret. He took orders rather late, fourteen
years after his Master's degree was presented to the Rectory of
Diss, in Norfolk (his native county), and proceeded to take to
himself a wife, for which, though not deprived, he was sus-



pended. He went to London and, though he had once been
tutor to Henry VIII., and seems to have been well treated by
him, plunged into the fray against Henry's favourite, \\olsey,
attacking him in various satires of no great polish but
of unsurpassed virulence and occasional vigour, the chief of
which is "Why come ye not to Court! 1 " He had to take
sanctuary at Westminster, and died there but a few months
before Wolsey's disgrace.

Although, as has been said, there are strange differences
between these two contemporaries, the differences are accom-
panied by resemblances not less remarkable. Hawes is essentially
and not merely in his accidents, a courtly poet. His chief
poem, ' The Pastime of Pleasure : or, the History of Grand
Amour and La Belle Pucel '' (of which, with his other
work, the first thorough edition has long been expected from
Professor Arber) speaks itself by its very title to all who know
the old English poetry. In general character, no less than
in minor developments, it deviates hardly at all from the
common form of the allegorical love romance which had been
planted upon all Europe by the " Roman de la Rose," to which
even the -towering genius of Chaucer stooped at times, and
which almost completely enslaved Chaucer's followers. There
are a few touches of more modern English in Hawes, and there
is a certain way of regarding his subject which has encouraged
liberal critics to speak of him as at least a half-way house to the
" Faerie Queene." The half-way house seems to the present
writer to have nearly all its windows turned to the first, not
the second, stage of the journey. Hawes is not by any means a
despicable poet, but he is altogether of the past, even for his
own time.

It is fair to say, however, that the much more original and
versatile genius of Skelton shows, in his more elaborate and
literary work, exactly the same tendency, if tendency that may
be called which refuses to tend. One whole division of his
poems the " Garlande of Laurel," with its delightful minor
addresses to the girls of high degree who had, at the Countess
of Surrey's bidding, vied in embroidering a gift for the Laureate ;
the " Bouge of Court," an allegorical satire ; the " Dolorous
Death of the Earl of Northumberland," and the rest runs in
the ruts of the old poetry quite as much as Hawes. And the



other half the half which, in a somewhat second-hand way,
keeps Skelton's name alive for those who do not care to examine
the stately Chaucerian septetts, or the dainty skipping verses
to Lady Muriel and Lady Elizabeth Howard, to the two Isabels
(Pennell and Knight), to Margery Wentworth, Margaret Tylney,
Jane Blennerhassett and Gertrude Statham though it is fresh
and vigorous enough, has no foretaste of Elizabethan form in it.
"The Tunning of Elynour Rummynge " (anticipating and better-
ing Smollett at his filthiest, but full of masterstrokes), " Why
come ye not to Court ?" with its fearless onslaught on the all-
powerful favourite ; the illiberal but genuine and patriotic shout
over the Rout of the Duke of Albany and his Scots and French-
men at " the water of Tweed " these and minor things are


written in a curious short skipping doggerel, which has pre-
served the name of Skeltonian, but which as little as anything
of the time shows the influence of the real Renaissance, the
influence which was to unite scholarship with vigour in

Yet in the very time of these two poets, and partly by the The

of F

means of one of them for Skelton was no idle translator the Tongues,
seeds of this Renaissance in England were being sown broadcast.
Everybody, to adopt a pardonable exaggeration, was reading
French, Italian, German, Spanish, Latin, Greek but especially
Italian and the classics and applying their lessons to English.
The great influence of the teaching of Greek, first at Oxford and
then at Cambridge, has been referred to. The range and vigour
of the more modern studies of the time may be exampled by
the excellent John Palsgrave, d. 1554, who not only was re-
sponsible for an " Eclaircissement de la Langue Francoise "
(1530), historically very valuable, but translated (1546) what is,
perhaps, the most brilliant of Renaissance Latin comedies, the
" Acolastus " of the Dutchmen, Wilelm Voider, alias Fullonius,
alias Gnapheus. A French grammar had been, a little earlier,
published by Alexander Barclay (d. 1552), a Scot probably a Alexander
Cambridge man, certainly a chaplain of St. Mary Ottery in Devon
and a monk of Ely, an adapter of Eclogues (said to be the first
in English, after .Eneas Silvius and Mantuanus), and best of all
known as the translator (1509) of Sebastian Brant's "Narren-
schiff." Barclay, who seems to have been somewhat vagrant in
taste, was subsequently a Franciscan at Canterbury, and after




the dissolution of the monasteries held divers secular benefices.
But the range of his studies is more significant of the time than
of any personal impulse. It was, indeed, a time which was
" making itself" (to use the famous phrase in reference to the
youth of Sir Walter Scott) in almost every direction; and the
positive interest of its achievements, or of most of them, is not
nearly so remarkable as their comparative importance in the
history of literature. Independently of the foreign scholars

of At-


(Barclay, "Ship <>/ Fmh," 1509.)

who, chiefly in Latin, set examples to the English writers, such
as Bernard Andre and Polydore Vergil ; of the reforming con-
troversialists, with Tyndale and Roy at their head, who helped
to bring literature, or something like literature, in the vernacular,
home to the vulgar ; of the early translators of the Bible, among
whom, of course, Tyndale himself is to be reckoned ; of the half-
historians, half-chroniclers, like Fabyan, Hall, and Grafton, some
writers who, without being beholden to their matter or the
novelty of their form in English, would have been at any time



noteworthy for their purely literary talents, appeared in the
reign of Henry VIII. There was Leland, the topographer ; there

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 16 of 68)