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to be industrious, by them to be lazy. For they say, ".Our life's but a span ’; we can only live once; why should you heed your father's threats? he's an old twaddler, he has one foot in the grave; we shall soon hoist him up and carry him off to burial."
14. What I have said hitherto is apropos to my subject : I will now speak a word to the men. Parents must not be over harsh and rough in their natures, but must often forgive their sons' offenses, remembering that they themselves were once young. And just as doctors by infusing a sweet flavor into their bitter potions find delight a passage to benefit, so fathers must temper the severity of their censure by mildness; and sometimes relax and slacken the reins of their sons' desires, and again tighten them; and must be especially easy in respect to their faults, or if they are angry must soon cool down. For it is better for a father to be hot-tempered than sullen, før to continue hostile and irreconcilable looks like hating one's son. And it is good to seem not to notice some faults, but to extend to them the weak sight and deafness of old age, so as seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear, their doings. We tolerate the faults of our friends; why should we not tha our sons? Often even our slaves' drunken debauches we do not expose, been rather near? Spend more freely. Have you been vexed ? Let the matter pass. Has your son deceived you by the help of a slave? Do not be angry. Did he take a yoke of oxen from the field, did he come home smelling of yesterday's debauch? Wink at it. Is he scented like a perfume shop? Say nothing. Thus frisky youth gets broken in.
15. Those of our sons who are given to pleasure and pay little heed to rebuke, we must endeavor to marry, for marriage is the surest restraint upon youth. And we must marry our sons to wives not much richer or better born, for
the proverb is a sound one, “Marry in your own walk of life.” For those who marry wives superior to themselves in rank are not so much the husbands of their wives as unawares slaves to their dowries.
16. I shall add a few remarks, and then bring my subject to a close. Before all things fathers must, by a good behavior, set a good example to their sons, that, looking at their lives as a mirror, they may turn away from bad deeds and words. For those fathers who censure their sons' faults while they themselves commit the same, are really their own accusers, if they know it not, under their sons' name; and those who live a depraved life have no right to censure their slaves, far less their sons. And besides this they will become counselors and teachers of their sons in wrongdoing; for where old men are shameless, youths will of a certainty have no modesty. We must therefore take all pains to teach our sons self-control, emulating the conduct of Eurydice, who, though an Illyrian and more than a barbarian, to teach her sons educated herself though late in life, and her love to them is well depicted in the inscription which she offered to the Muses: "Eurydice of Hierapolis made this offering to the Muses, having conceived a vast love for knowledge. For when a mother with sons full-grown she learnt letters, the preservers of knowledge."
To carry out all these precepts would be perhaps a visionary scheme; but to attain to many, though it would need a happy disposition and much care, is a thing possible to human nature.
Jerome, who was born at Stridon on the border-line between Dalmatia and Pannonia about 340 A. D., is regarded as the most learned of the Latin Fathers. After receiving an elementary education under his father, who was a Christian, he studied rhetoric and philosophy at Rome, where in 360 he was also admitted to the Church by baptism. A few years later a serious illness at Antioch deepened his religious fervor and he withdrew into the desert to lead a life of asceticism. After four years of ascetic life he returned to Antioch, where in 379 he was ordained a presbyter. He afterwards studied under Gregory Nazianzen at Constantinople, and later sojourned in Rome till the year 385. Here he worked on his famous translation of the Bible, now known as the Vulgate, and at the same time attained to great popularity by his sanctity and eloquence. He gathered a company of Christian women about him for religious instruction, among whom were the lady Paula and her daughter Eustochium. He was accompanied by them on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and when Paula had founded several convents at Bethlehem for nuns and monks, he fixed his permanent residence there. It was in monastic retirement in the town of the nativity that Jerome completed the great literary labors of his life, and wrote the important letters and controversial treatises that compose so large a part of his published works. The following extract is his famous letter to Laeta about
the education of her little daughter Paula. It was written in 403, and, as would naturally be expected, is pervaded by the ascetic spirit of the author and of the age in which he lived. Doubting whether the details of the child's training, as he had proposed them, could be carried out in Rome, he advises Laeta, in case of difficulty, to send Paula to the convent at Bethlehem, where she would be under the care of her grandmother, the elder Paula, and of her aunt Eustochium. Acting upon Jerome's advice Laeta subsequently sent her daughter to Bethlehem, where she eventually succeeded Eustochium as head of the nunnery founded by her grandmother.
JEROME'S LETTER TO LAE
Thus must a soul be educated which is to be a temple of God. It must learn to hear nothing and to say nothing but what belongs to the fear of God. It must have no understanding of unclean words, and no knowledge of the world's songs. Its tongue must be steeped while still tender in the sweetness of the Psalms. Boys with their wanton thoughts must be kept from Paula : even her maids and female attendants must be separated from worldly associates. For if they have learned some mischief they may teach more.
Get for her a set of letters made of boxwood or of ivory and called each by its proper name. Let her play with these, so that even her play may teach her something. And not only make her grasp the right order of the letters and see that she forms their names into a rhyme, but constantly disarrange their order and put the last letters in the middle and the middle ones at the beginning that she may know them all by sight as well as by sound.
Moreover, so soon as she begins to use the style upon the
wax, and her hand is still faltering, either guide her soft fingers by laying your hand upon hess, or else have simple copies cut upon a tablet; so that her efforts confined within these limits may keep to the lines traced out for her and not stray outside of these. Offer prizes for good spelling and draw her onwards with little gifts such as children of her age delight in.
And let her have companions in her lessons to excite emulation in her, that she may be stimulated when she sees them praised. You must not scold her if she is slow to learn but must employ praise to excite her mind, so that she may be glad when she excels others and sorry when she is excelled by them. Above all you must take care not to make her lessons distasteful to her, lest a dislike for them conceived in childhood may continue into her maturer years. The very words which she tries bit by bit to put together and to pronounce ought not to be chance ones, but names specially fixed upon and heaped together for the purpose, those for example of the prophets or the apostles or the list of patriarchs from Adam downwards, as it is given by Matthew and Luke. In this way while her tongue will be well trained, her memory will be likewise developed.
Again, you must choose for her a master of approved years, life, and learning. A man of culture will not, I think, blush to do for a kinswoman or a high-born virgin what Aristotle did for Philip's son when, descending to the level of an usher, he consented to teach him his letters. Things must not be despised as of small account in the absence of which great results can not be achieved. The very rudiments and first beginnings of knowledge sound differently in the mouth of an educated man and of an uneducated. Accordingly you must see that the child is not led away by the silly coaxing of women to form a habit of shortening long words or of decking herself with gold and purple. Of
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