Obrázky na stránke

own hand placed over it. 28. The accomplishment of writing well and expeditiously, which is commonly disregarded by people of quality, is by no means an indifferent matter ; for as writing itself is the principal thing in our studies, and that by which alone sure proficiency, resting on the deepest roots, is secured, a too slow way of writing retards thought, a rude and confused hand cannot be read; and hence follows another task, that of reading off what is to be copied from the writing. 29. At all times, therefore, and in all places, and especially in writing private and familiar letters, it will be a source of pleasure to us, not to have neglected even this acquirement.

30. For learning syllables there is no short way; they must all be learned throughout; nor are the most difficult of them, as is the general practice, to be postponed, that children may be at a loss, forsooth, in writing words. 31. Moreover, we must not even trust to the first learning by heart; it will be better to have syllables repeated, and to impress them long upon the memory; and in reading too, not to hurry on, in order to make it continuous or quick, until the clear and certain connection of the letters becomes familiar, without at least any necessity to stop for recollection. Let the pupil then begin to form words from syllables, and to join phrases together from words. 32. It is incredible how much retardation is caused to reading, by haste; for hence arise hesitation, interruption, and repetition, as children attempt more than they can manage; and then, after making mistakes, they become distrustful even of what they

Let reading, therefore, be at first sure, then continuous, and for a long time slow, until, by exercise, a correct quickness is gained. 34. For to look to the right, as everybody teaches, and to look forward, depends not merely on rule, but on habit, since, while the child is looking to what follows, he has to pronounce what goes before, and,

know. 33.

what is very difficult, the direction of his thoughts must be divided, so that one duty may be discharged with his voice, and another with his eyes.

When the child shall have begun, as is the practice, to write words, it will cause no regret if we take care that he may not waste his efforts on common words, and such as perpetually occur. 35. For he may readily learn the explanations of obscure terms, which the Greeks call glossai, while some other occupation is before him, and acquire, amidst his first rudiments, a knowledge of that which would afterwards demand a special time for it. Since, too, we are still attending to small matters, I would express a wish that even the lines, which are set him for his imitation in writing, should not contain useless sentences, but such as convey some moral instruction. 36. The remembrance of such admonitions will attend him to old age, and will be of use even for the formation of his character. It is possible for him, also, to learn the sayings of eminent men, and select passages, chiefly from the poets (for the reading of poets is more pleasing to the young), in his play-time; since memory (as I shall show in its proper place) is most necessary to an orator, and is eminently strengthened and nourished by exercise; and, at the age of which we are now speaking, and which cannot, as yet, produce anything of itself, it is almost the only faculty that can be improved by the aid of teachers.

37. It will not be improper, however, to require of boys of this age (in order that their pronunciation may be fuller and their speech more distinct) to roll forth, as rapidly as possible, certain words and lines of studied difficulty, composed of several syllables, and those roughly clashing together, and, as it were, rugged-sounding; the Greeks call them Chalepoi. This may seem a trifling matter to mention, but when it is neglected, many faults of pronunciation, unless

they are removed in the years of youth, are fixed by incorrigible ill habit for the rest of life.


But let us suppose that the child now gradually increases in size, and leaves the lap, and applies himself to learning in earnest. In this place, accordingly, must be considered the question, whether it be more advantageous to confine the learner at home, and within the walls of a private house, or to commit him to the large numbers of a school, and, as it were, to public teachers. 2. The latter mode, I observe, has had the sanction of those by whom the polity of the most eminent states was settled, as well as that of the most illustrious authors.

Yet it is not to be concealed, that there are some who, from certain notions of their own, disapprove of this almost public mode of instruction. These persons appear to be swayed chiefly by two reasons: one, that they take better precautions for the morals of the young, by avoiding a concourse of human beings of that age which is most prone to vice (from which cause I wish it were falsely asserted that provocations to immoral conduct arise); the other, that whoever may be the teacher, he is likely to bestow his time more liberally on one pupil, than if he has to divide it among several. 3. The first reason indeed deserves great consideration ; for if it were certain that schools, though advantageous to studies, are pernicious to morals, a virtuous course of life would seem to me preferable to one even of the most distinguished eloquence. But in my opinion, the two are combined and inseparable; for I am convinced that no one can be an orator who is not a good man; and, even if any one could, I should be unwilling that he should be. On this point, therefore, I shall speak first.


4. People think that morals are corrupted in schools; for indeed they are at times corrupted; but such may be the case even at home. Many proofs of this fact may be adduced; proofs of character having been vitiated, as well as preserved with the utmost purity, under both modes of education. It is the disposition of the individual pupil, and the care taken of him, that make the whole difference. Suppose that his mind be prone to vice, suppose that there be neglect in forming and guarding his morals in early youth, seclusion would afford no less opportunity for immorality than publicity; for the private tutor may be himself of bad character; nor is intercourse with vicious slaves at all safer than that with immodest free-born youths. 5. But if his disposition be good, and if there be not a blind and indolent negligence on the part of his parents, it will be possible for them to select a tutor of irreproachable character, (a matter to which the utmost attention is paid by sensible parents,) and to fix on a course of instruction of the very strictest kind; while they may at the same time place at the elbow of their son some influential friend or faithful freedman, whose constant attendance may improve even those of whom apprehensions may be entertained.

6. The remedy for this object of fear is easy. Would that we ourselves did not corrupt the morals of our children! We enervate their very infancy with luxuries. That delicacy of education, which we call fondness, weakens all the powers, both of body and mind. What luxury will he not covet in his manhood, who crawls about on purple! He cannot yet articulate his first words, when he already distinguishes scarlet, and wants his purple. 7. We form the palate of children before we form their pronunciation. They grow up in sedan chairs; if they touch the ground, they hang by the hands of attendants supporting them on each side. We are delighted if they utter anything im

modest. Expressions which would not be tolerated even from the effeminate youths of Alexandria, we hear from them with a smile and a kiss. Nor is this wonderful; we have taught them; they have heard such language from ourselves.

9. But, it is said, one tutor will have more time for one pupil. First of all, however, nothing prevents that one pupil, whoever he may be, from being the same with him who is taught in the school. But if the two objects cannot be united, I should still prefer the day-light of an honorable seminary to darkness and solitude; for every eminent teacher delights in a large concourse of pupils, and thinks himself worthy of a still more numerous auditory. 10. But inferior teachers, from a consciousness of their inability, do not disdain to fasten on single pupils, and to discharge the duty as it were of pædagogi. II. But supposing that either interest, or friendship, or money, should secure to any parent a domestic tutor of the highest learning, and in every respect unrivaled, will he however spend the whole day on one pupil? Or can the application of any pupil be so constant as not to be sometimes wearied, like the sight of the eyes, by continued direction to one object, especially as study requires the far greater portion of time to be solitary? 12. For the tutor does not stand by the pupil while he is writing, or learning by heart, or thinking; and when he is engaged in any of those exercises, the company of any person whatsoever is a hindrance to him. Nor does every kind of reading require at all times a prælector or interpreter; for when, if such were the case, would the knowledge of so many authors be gained? The time, therefore, during which the work as it were for the whole day may be laid out, is but short. 13. Thus the instructions which are to be given to each may reach to many. Most of them, indeed, are of such a nature that they may be communi

« PredošláPokračovať »