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and one-and-twenty, (less time than is now bestowed in
pure trifling at grammar and sophistry), is to be thus
ordered.

First, To find out a spacious house, and ground about it,
fit for an academy, and big enough to lodge a hundred and
fifty persons, whereof twenty, or thereabout, may be attend-
ants, all under the government of pne, who shall be thought
of desert sufficient, and ability either to do all, or wisely to
direct and oversee it done. This place should be at once both
school and university, not needing a remove to any other
house of scholarship, except it be some peculiar college of
law, or physic, where they mean to be a practitioner ; but
as for those general studies, which take up all our time from
Lilly to the commencing, as they term it, Master of Art, it
should be absolute. After this pattern as many edifices may
be converted to this use, as shall be needful in every city
throughout this land, which would tend much to the in-
crease of learning and civility everywhere. This number,
less or more, thus collected to the convenience of a foot
company, or interchangeably two troops of cavalry, should
divide their day's work into three parts, as it lies orderly ;
their studies, their exercise, and their diet.

For their studies : First, they should begin with the chief
and necessary rules of some good grammar, either that now
used, or any better; and while this is doing, their speech is
to be fashioned to a distinct and clear pronunciation, as near
as may be to the Italian, especially in vowels : for we Eng-
lishmen being far northerly, do not open our mouths in the



246 JOHN MILTON

cold air, wide enough to grace a southern tongue; but are
observed by all other nations to speak exceeding close
and inward : so that to smatter Latin with an English mouth,
is as ill a hearing as Law-French. Next, to make them ex-
pert in the usefullest points of grammar, and withal to sea-
son them, and win them early to the love of virtue and true
labor, ere any flattering seducement, or vain principle seize
them wondering, some easy and delightful book of educa-
tion should be read to them ; whereof the Greeks have store,
as Cebes, Plutarch, and other Socratic discourses. But in
Latin, we have none of classic authority extant, except the
two or three first books of Quintilian, and some select pieces
elsewhere. But here the main skill and ground-work will
be to temper them such lectures and explanations upon
every opportunity, as may lead and draw them in willing
obedience, enflamed with a study of learning, and the ad-
miration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to
be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous
to all ages, that they may despise and scorn all their child-
ish, and ill-taught qualities, to delight in manly and liberal
exercises; which he who hath the art, and proper eloquence
to catch them with, what with mild and effectual persua-
sions, and what with the intimation of some fear, if need be,
but chiefly by his own example, might in a short space gain
them to an incredible diligence and courage; infusing into
their young breasts such an ingenuous and noble ardor, as
would not fail to make many of them renowned and match-
less men. At the same time, some other hour of the day,
might be taught them the rules of arithmetic, and soon after
the elements of geometry, even playing, as the old manner
was. After evening repast till bedtime, their thoughts will
be best taken up in the easy grounds of religion, and the
story of Scripture. The next step would be to the authors
on agriculture, Cato, Varro, and Columella, for the matter



SELECTION FROM MILTON 247

is most easy, and if the language be difficult, so much the
better, it is not a difficulty above their years. And here
will be an occasion of inciting and enabling them hereafter
to improve the tillage of their country, to recover the bad
soil, and to remedy the waste that is made of good; for
this is one of Hercules' praises. Ere half these authors be
read, (which will soon be with plying hard and daily), they
cannot choose but be masters of any ordinary prose. So
that it will be then seasonable for them to learn in any
modern author the use of the globes, and all the maps ; first,
with the old names, and then with the new: or they might
be then capable to read any compendious method of natural
philosophy ; and at the same time might be entering into the
Greek tongue, after the same manner as was prescribed in
the Latin ; whereby the difficulties of grammar being soon
overcome, all the historical physiology of Aristotle and
Theophrastus are open before them, and as I may say, under
contribution. The like access will be to Vitruvius, to Sen-
eca's natural questions, to Mela, Celsus, Pliny, or Solinus.
And having thus passed the principles of arithmetic, geom-
etry, astronomy, and geography, with a general compact
of physics, they may descend in mathematics to the instru-
mental science of trigonometry, and from thence to forti-
fication, architecture, enginery or navigation. And in nat-
ural philosophy they may proceed leisurely from the
history of meteors, minerals, plants, and living creatures, as
far as anatomy. Then also in course might be read to them
out of some not tedious writer the institution of physic ; that
they may know the tempers, the humors, the seasons, and
how to manage a crudity: which he who can wisely and
timely do, is not only a great physician to himself, and to his
friends, but also may at some time or other save an army by
this frugal and expenseless means only; and not let the
healthy and stout bodies of young men rot away under him



248 JOHN MILTON

for want of this discipline; which is a great pity, and no
less a shame to the commander. To set forward all these
proceedings in nature and mathematics, what hinders, but
that they may procure, as oft as shall be needful, the help-
ful experiences of hunters, fowlers, fishermen, shepherds,
gardeners, apothecaries ; and in the other sciences, archi-
tects, engineers, mariners, anatomists; who doubtless will
be ready, some for reward, and some to favor such a hope-
ful seminary? And this will give them such a real tincture
of natural knowledge, as they shall never forget, but daily
augment with delight. Then also those poets which are
now counted most hard, will be both facile and pleasant,
Orpheus, Hesiod, Theocritus, Aratus, Nicander, Oppian,
Dionysius, and in Latin, Lucretius, Manilius and the rural
part of Virgil.

By this time, years and good general precepts will have
furnished them more distinctly with that act of reason which
in ethics is called Proairesis: that they may with some judg-
ment contemplate upon moral good and evil. Then will be
required a special reinforcement of constant and sound in-
doctrinating, to set them right and firm, instructing them
more amply in the knowledge of virtue, and the hatred of
vice : while their young and pliant affections are led through
all the moral works of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero, Plutarch,
Laertius, and those Locrian remnants; but still to be re-
duced in their nightward studies, wherewith they close the
day's work, under the determinate sentence of David or
Solomon, or the evangelists and apostolic Scriptures. Being
perfect in the knowledge of personal duty, they may then
begin the study of economics : and either now, or before
this, they may have easily learned, at any odd hour, the Ital-
ian tongue. And soon after, but with wariness and good
antidote, it would be wholesome enough to let them taste
some choice comedies, Greek, Latin, or Italian: those trag-



SELECTION FROM MILTON 249

edies also that treat of household matters, as Trachiniae,
Alcestis, and the like. The next remove must be to the
study of politics ; to know the beginning, end, and reasons of
political societies ; that they may not in a dangerous fit of the
commonwealth be such poor, shaken, uncertain reeds, of
such a tottering conscience as many of our great counsel-
ors have lately shown themselves, but steadfast pillars of
the state. After this, they are to dive into the grounds
of law, and legal justice; delivered first, and with best war-
rant, by Moses; and as far as human prudence can be
trusted, in those extolled remains of Grecian lawgivers,
Lycurgus, Solon, Zaleucus, Charondas, and thence to all
the Roman edicts and tables, with their Justinian ; and so
down to the Saxon and common laws of England, and the
statutes. Sundays also, and every evening, may be now un-
derstandingly spent in the highest matters of theology, and
church history, ancient and modern : and ere this time the
Hebrew tongue at a set hour might have been gained, that
the Scriptures may be now read in their own original;
whereto it would be no impossibility to add the Chaldee, and
the Syrian dialect. When all these employments are well
conquered, then will the choice histories, heroic poems, and
Attic tragedies of stateliest and most regal argument, with
all the famous political orations, offer themselves ; which, if
they were not only read, but some of them got by memory,
and solemnly pronounced with right accent and grace, as
might be taught, would endue them even with the spirit and
vigor of Demosthenes or Cicero, Euripides or Sophocles.
And now, lastly, will be the time to read with them those
organic arts which enable men to discourse and write per-
spicuously, elegantly, and according to the fitted style of
lofty, mean, or lowly. Logic therefore, so much as is use-
ful, is to be referred to this due place, with all her well-
couched heads and topics, until it be time to open her con-



250 JOHN MILTON

tracted palm, into a graceful and ornate rhetoric, taught out
of the rule of Plato, Aristotle, Phalerius, Cicero, Hermo-
genes, Longinus. To which poetry would be made subse-
quent, or, indeed, rather precedent, as being less subtile and
fine, but more simple, sensuous, and passionate. I mean
not here the prosody of a verse, which they could not but
have hit on before among the rudiments of grammer; but
that sublime art which in Aristotle's poetics, in Horace,
and the Italian commentaries of Castelvetro, Tasso, Maz-
zoni, and others, teaches what the laws are of a true epic
poem, what of a dramatic, what of a lyric, what decorum
is, which is the grand master-piece to observe. This would
make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our
common rhymers and play writers be, and show them what
religious, what glorious and magnificent use might be made
of poetry, both in divine and human things. From hence,
and not till now, will be the right season of forming them to
be able writers and composers in every excellent matter,
when they shall be thus fraught with an universal insight
into things. Or whether they be to speak in parliament
or council, honor and attention would be waiting on their
lips. There would then also appear in pulpits other visages,
other gestures, and stuff otherwise wrought, than what we
now sit under, oft-times to as great a trial of our patience,
as any other that they preach to us. These are the studies
wherein our noble and our gentle youth ought to bestow
their time in a disciplinary way, from twelve to one-and-
twenty ; unless they rely more upon their ancestors dead,
than upon themselves living. In which methodical course
it is so supposed they must proceed by the steady pace of
learning onward, as at convenient times, for memory's sake,
to retire back into the middle ward, and sometimes into the
rear of what they have been taught, until they have con-
firmed and solidly united the whole body of their perfected



SELECTION FROM MILTON 251

knowledge, like the last embattling of a Roman legion. Now
will be worth the seeing what exercises and recreations may
best agree and become these studies.

The course of study hitherto briefly described, is, what
I can guess by reading, likest to those ancient and famous
schools of Pythagoras, Plato, Isocrates, Aristotle, and such
others, out of which were bred up such a number of re-
nowned philosophers, orators, historians, poets and princes,
all over Greece, Italy, and Asia, besides the flourishing stud-
ies of Cyrene and Alexandria. But herein it shall exceed
them, and supply a defect as great as that which Plato noted
in the commonwealth of Sparta; whereas that city trained
up their youth most for war, and these in their academies
and lyceum, all for the gown ; this institution of breeding
which I here delineate, shall be equally good, both for
peace and war ; therefore about an hour and a half ere they
eat at noon, should be allowed them for exercise, and due rest
afterwards : but the time for this may be enlarged at
pleasure, according as their rising in the morning shall be
early. The exercise which I commend first, is the exact use
of their weapon, to guard and to strike safely with edge or
point; this will keep them healthy, nimble, strong, and well
in breath ; is also the likeliest means to make them grow
large and tall, and to inspire them with a gallant and fear-
less courage, which being tempered with seasonable lectures
and precepts to them of true fortitude and patience, will turn
into a native and heroic valor, and make them hate the cow-
ardice of doing wrong. They must be also practiced in all
the locks and gripes of wrestling, wherein Englishmen were
wont to excel, as need may often be in fight to tug or grap-
ple, and to close. And this, perhaps, will be enough, where-
in to prove and heat their single strength. The interim of
unsweating themselves regularly, and convenient rest be-
fore meat, may both with profit and delight be taken up



252 JOHN MILTON

in recreating and composing their travailed spirits, with the
solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learnt;
either while the skilful organist plies his grave and fancied
descants in lofty fugues, or the whole symphony with artful
and unimaginable touches adorn and grace the well-studied
chords of some choice composer ; sometimes the lute, or soft
organ-stop, waiting on elegant voices, either to religious,
martial, or civil ditties ; which, if wise men and prophets be
not extremely out, have a great power over dispositions and
manners; to smooth and make them gentle from rustic
harshness and distempered passions. The like also would
not be unexpedient after meat, to assist and cherish nature
in her first concoction, and send their minds back to study
in good tune and satisfaction ; where having followed it
close under vigilant eyes, till about two hours before supper,
they are by a sudden alarum or watch-word, to be called out
to their military motions under sky or covert, according to
the season, as was the Roman wont; first on foot, then, as
their age permits, on horseback, to all the art of cavalry:
that, having in sport, but with much exactness, and daily
muster, served out the rudiments of their soldiership in all
the skill of embattling, marching, encamping, fortifying,
besieging and battering, with all the helps of ancient and
modern stratagems, tactics and warlike maxims, they may
as it were out of a long war come forth renowned and per-
fect commanders in the service of their country. They
would not then, if they were trusted with fair and hopeful
armies, suffer them, for want of just and wise discipline, to
shed away from about them like sick feathers, though they
be never so oft supplied ; they would not suffer their empty
and unrecruitable colonels of twenty men in a company, to
quaff out, or convey into secret hoards, the wages of a delu-
sive list, and a miserable remnant: yet in the meanwhile to
be over-mastered with a score or two of drunkards, the only



SELECTION FROM MILTON 253

soldiery left about them, or else to comply with all rapines
and violences. No, certainly, if they knew aught of that
knowledge which belongs to good men or good governors,
they would not suffer these things. But to return to our own
institute, besides these constant exercises at home, there is
another opportunity of gaining experience, to be won from
pleasure itself abroad. In those vernal seasons of the year,
when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sul-
lenness against nature not to go out and see her riches,
and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. I
should not therefore be a persuader to them of studying
much then, after two or three years that they have well laid
their grounds, but to ride out in companies with prudent
and staid guides, to all the quarters of the land; learning
and observing all places of strength, all commodities of
building and of soil, for towns and tillage, harbors and
ports for trade. Sometimes taking sea as far as to our
navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical
knowledge of sailing, and of seafight. These ways would
try all their peculiar gifts of nature, and if there were any
secret excellence among them, would fetch it out, and give
it fair opportunities to advance itself by, which could not
but mightily redound to the good of this nation, and bring
into fashion again those old admired virtues and excellen-
cies, with far more advantage, now in this purity of Chris-
tian knowledge. Nor shall we then need the Monsieurs of
Paris to take our hopeful youth into their slight and prodi-
gal custodies, and send them over back again transformed
into mimics, apes and kick-shoes. But if they desire to see
other countries at three or four-and-twenty years of age, not
to learn principles, but to enlarge experience, and make wise
observations, they will by that time be such as shall deserve
the regard and honor of all men where they pass, and the
society and friendship of those in all places who are best



254 JOHN MILTON

and most eminent. And perhaps then other nations will be
glad to visit us for their breeding, or else to imitate us in
their own country.

Now, lastly, for their diet, there cannot be much to say,
save only that it would be best in the same house ; for much
time else would be lost abroad, and many ill habits got ;
and that it should be plain, healthful and moderate, I sup-
pose is out of controversy. Thus, Mr. Hartlib, you have a
general view in writing, as your desire was, of that which
at several times I had discoursed with you concerning the
best and noblest way of education; not beginning, as some
have done, from the cradle, which yet might be worth many
considerations, if brevity had not been my scope. Many
other circumstances also I could have mentioned, but this
to such as have the worth in them to make trial, for light
and direction, may be enough. Only, I believe that this is
not a bow for every man to shoot in, that counts himself a
teacher, but will require sinews almost equal to those which
Homer gave Ulysses; yet I am withal persuaded, that it
may prove much more easy in the essay, than it now seems
at distance, and much more illustrious : howbeit, not more
difficult than I imagine, and that imagination presents me
with nothing but very happy and very possible, according
to best wishes ; if God hath so decreed, and this age hath
spirit and capacity enough to apprehend.



XVII. JOHN AMOS COMENIUS.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

John Amos Comenius, one of the most influential of
modern educators, was born at Komna in Moravia, March
28, 1592. His family belonged to the earnest Protestant
organization known as Moravian Brethren, in which he
subsequently became a distinguished preacher and bishop.
In youth he displayed an eager thirst for knowledge ; but
his experience in the schools of the time opened his eyes to
many defects in method and discipline, which later in life
he earnestly endeavored to remedy. After studying at the
College of Herborn and the University of Heidelberg, he
took charge, in 1616, of the Moravian congregation at Ful-
neck, and in connection with his pastoral duties assumed
direction of the recently established school there. But the
busy and happy life which he had thus entered upon, was
disturbed by the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. In
1621 Fulneck was sacked by the Spaniards. Comenius lost
all his property, including his library ; and owing to the
intolerance of the Austrian government, he was compelled
at length to seek refuge at Lissa in Poland.

At Lissa he was placed at the head of the Moravian
gymnasium, and he turned his attention anew to the theory
and practice of education. He perused with deep interest
the works of Ratich and Bacon, but observed " here and
there," to use his own words, " some defects and gaps.
Therefore, after many workings and tossings of
my thoughts, by reducing everything to the immovable law

255



256 JOHN AMOS COMENWS

of nature, I lighted upon my ' Great Didactic/ which shows
the art of readily and solidly teaching all men all things."
This work, which remained in manuscript till 1649, IB one
of the greatest of all books on educational theory and
method; and though, after a temporary vogue, it was neg-
lected for some two hundred years, its principles in recent
decades have done much to reform the schools of Chris-
tendom.

Comenius next set about reforming the teaching of Latin,
which was then carried on in the most unscientific manner.
Schools were little short of a terror to boys ; instruction in
unintelligible Latin grammars was accompanied with an
inconsiderate and sometimes cruel use of the rod. Comen-
ius emphasized the teaching of things as well as of rvords.
As he states it in his " Gate of Tongues Unlocked " (Janua
Linguarum Reserata), which was published in 1631, " My
fundamental principle an irrefragable law of didactics
is that the understanding and the tongue should advance in
parallel lines always." This book had an immense success,
and was translated into no fewer than a dozen European
languages.

The fame of Comenius was now well established through-
out Europe. In 1641 he was invited to England to reform
education and to establish a " universal college." But the
time was not propitious. The excitement and uncertainty
connected with the approaching civil war threw all his
plans into confusion. At this juncture he accepted an in-
vitation to visit Sweden. There he elaborately discussed
with Oxenstiern, " the eagle of the North," his great edu-
cational schemes. His cherished pansophic plans were not
encouraged ; and as a result of this conference, he withdrew
to Elbing in Prussia and devoted the next four years to the
preparation of his " Latest Method with Languages "
(Methodus Linguarum Novissima), in which he laid down



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 257

the principle that words and things should be learned to-
gether ; that theory should not be divorced from practice ;
and that study should advance by easy gradations. This
work appeared in 1648.

In 1650 Comenius established a model school at Patak
in Hungary, where he produced his " World Illustrated "
(Orbis Pictus), the most famous of all his writings. This
work contains, as stated on the title-page, " the pictures and
names of all the principal things in the world, and of all the
principal occupations of man." It was designed to lay a
solid foundation of knowledge in accurate sense-percep-
tion. " The foundation of all knowledge," as Comenius ex-
plained, " consists in representing clearly to the senses sen-
sible objects, so that they can be apprehended easily."

In 1654 Comenius returned to Lissa, where one more mis-
fortune awaited him. Two years later the town was plun-
dered by the Poles, and he lost his house, books, and above
all, his manuscripts. : ' This loss," he said, " I shall cease
to lament only when I cease to breathe." After several
months' wandering in Germany, he was offered an asylum
at Amsterdam by Laurence de Geer. Here he spent the re-
maining years of his life, devoting himself to teaching as a
means of support, and to the promulgation and defense of
his educational views. His last days were somewhat imbit-
tered by envious attacks upon his character and methods,
but in all his trials he exhibited a meek, forbearing Chris-
tian spirit. He died in 1671 at the advanced age of eighty
years.

The following selection is taken from Keatinge's transla-
tion of " The Great Didactic." The opening paragraphs
present important or fundamental views from the earlier
chapters. The sixteenth chapter is given in full for two
reasons: I. It exhibits the process, not always convincing
perhaps, by which the great Moravian arrives at his con-

PAINTER FED. Ess. 17



258 JOHN AMOS COMENWS

elusions ; and 2, The principles he lays down as the founda-
tion upon which the imposing superstructure of his edu-



Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterGreat pedagogical essays; Plato to Spencer → online text (page 19 of 33)