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neither himself, nor my mother, man nor maid, should speak anything in my company, but such Latin words as every one had learned only to gabble with me. It is not to be imagined how great an advantage this proved to the whole family; my father and my mother by this means learned Latin enough to understand it perfectly well, and to speak it to such a degree as was sufficient for any necessary use; as also those of the servants did who were most frequently with me.
In short, we Latined it at such a rate, that it overflowed to all the neighboring villages, where there yet remain, that have established themselves by custom, several Latin appellations of artisans and their tools. As for what concerns myself, I was above six years of age before I understood either French or Perigordin, any more than Arabic; and without art, book, grammar, or precept, whipping, or the expense of a tear, I had, by that time, learned to speak as pure Latin as my master himself, for I had no means of mixing it up with any other.
As to Greek, of which I have but a mere smattering, my father also designed to have it taught me by a device, but a new one, and by way of sport; tossing our declensions to and fro, after the manner of those who, by certain games at tables and chess, learn geometry and arithmetic. For he, among other rules, had been advised to make me relish science and duty by an unforced will, and of my own voluntary motion, and to educate my soul in all liberty and delight, without any severity or constraint; which he was an observer of to such a degree, even of superstition, if I may say so, that some being of opinion that it troubles and disturbs the brains of children suddenly to wake them in the morning, and to snatch them violently and over-hastily from sleep (wherein they are much more profoundly involved than we), he caused me
to be wakened by the sound of some musical instrument, and was never unprovided of a musician for that purpose. Secondly, like those, who, impatient of a long and steady cure, submit to all sorts of prescriptions and recipes, the good man being extremely timorous of any way failing in a thing he had so wholly set his heart upon, suffered himself at last to be overruled by the common opinions; which always follow their leader as a flight of cranes, and complying with the method of the time, having no more those persons he had brought out of Italy, and who had given him the first model of education, about him, he sent me at six years of age to the College of Guienne, at that time the best and most flourishing in France. And there it was not possible to add anything to the care he had to provide me the most able tutors, with all other circumstances of education, reserving also several particular rules contrary to the college practice; but so it was, that with all these precautions it was a college still. My Latin immediately grew corrupt, of which also by discontinuance I have since lost all manner of use; so that this new way of education served me to no other end, than only at my first coming to prefer me to the first forms; for at thirteen years old, that I came out of the college, I had run through my whole course (as they call it), and, in truth, without any manner of advantage, that I can honestly brag of, in all this time.
XV. ROGER ASCHAM.
Roger Ascham holds an honored place in the long line of English scholars and teachers. He was born in 1515 and died in 1568; thus his life fell in the agitated reigns of Henry VIII., Mary, and Elizabeth. He was graduated from St. John's College, Oxford, in 1537. He was there under the instruction of Sir John Cheke, a man of admirable character and learning, to whom he ever afterwards expressed a sense of deep obligation. After his graduation he became a college tutor and received an appointment to read Greek in the public schools. In 1545 he published a work on archery entitled “Toxophilus, or the School of Shooting.” He thought it necessary to apologize for using the mother tongue, in which, as he tells us, he tried to follow the advice of Aristotle “ to speake as the common people do, to thinke as wise men do."
In 1848 he became tutor to the lady Elizabeth, afterwards the illustrious queen, to whom for two years he gave instruction in the ancient languages. His position as tutor and Latin secretary introduced him to the society of the nobility. It was at the suggestion of Sir Richard Sackville that he wrote “ The Scholemaster,” by which his name is chiefly known in English literature and English pedagogy.
The work is not throughout original. Besides the ideas borrowed from Sir John Cheke and John Sturm, the distinguished educator of Strasburg, Ascham naturally drew largely, at this renaissance period, from the ancients,
among whom he specifies Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. The preparation of the work was interrupted by the death of Sir Richard Sackville. “When he was gone,” Ascham tells us in the preface, “my heart was dead. There was not one that wore a black gown for him who carried a heavier heart for him than I. When he was gone, I cast this book away; I could not look upon it but with weeping eyes, in remembering him who was the only setter on to do it, and would have been not only a glad commender of it, but also a sure and certain comfort to me and mine for it.” The work was published posthumously by his wife.
“ The Scholemaster" is a book of nearly three hundred pages. Its general character is fully set forth in the original title page bearing date 1570: “ THE SCHOLEMASTER ; or plaine and perfite way of teach yng children to understand, write, and speake in Latin tong, but specially purposed for the private brynging up of youth in Gentlemen and Noble mens houses, and commodious also for all such as have forgot the Latin tonge, and would by themselves, without a Scholemaster, in short tyme, and with small paines, recover a sufficient hability to understand, write, and speake Latin."
In teaching Latin Ascham advocates the inductive method which, with variations, has been so often tried since his day. After learning the eight parts of speech and the general principles of agreement, the child is to take up Sturm's collection of Cicero's Letters. “First," continues Ascham, “ let the master teach the child, cheerfully and plainly, the cause and matter of the letter; then let him construe it into English so oft as the child may easily carry away the understanding of it. Lastly, parse it over perfectly. This done thus, let the child by and by both construe and parse it over again; so that it may appear that the child doubteth in nothing that his master taught
him before. After this, the child must take a paper book, and sitting in some place where no man shall prompt him, by himself let him translate into English his former lesson. Then showing it to his master, let the master take from him his Latin book, and pausing an hour at the least, then let the child translate his own English into Latin again in another paper book. When the child bringeth it turned into Latin, the master must compare it with Tully's book and lay them both together; and where the child doth well, either in choosing or true placing of Tully's words, let the master praise him, and say here ye do well. For I assure you, there is no such whetstone to sharpen a good wit and encourage a will to learning as is praise."
The selection that follows has been chosen for its general pedagogical interest. It will be observed that Ascham is an ardent advocate of gentle methods in teaching, and that he exhibits a rare consideration for the patient, capable plodder.
SELECTION FROM ROGER ASCHAM.
I have now wished, twice or thrice, this gentle nature to be in a scholemaster. And, that I have done so, neither by chance, nor without some reason, I will now declare at large, why, in mine opinion, love is fitter than fear, gentleness better than beating, to bring up a child rightly in learning
With the common use of teaching and beating in common schools of England, I will not greatly contend: which if I did, it were but a small grammatical controversy, neither belonging to heresy nor treason, nor greatly touching God nor the prince; although in very deed, in the rod,