Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

it is then green, hard, and sour, when the one, if it be eaten, doth breed ill humors; the other, if it stand his time, be ordered and kept as it should, is wholesome of itself, and helpeth to the good digestion of other meats. Sweetings will receive worms, rot, and die on the tree, and never or seldom come to the gathering for good and lasting store.

For very grief of heart I will not apply the similitude; but hereby is plainly seen how learning is robbed of its best wits, first by the great beating, and after by the ill choosing of scholars to go to the universities. Whereof cometh partly that lewd and spiteful proverb, sounding to the great hurt of learning, and shame of learned men, that the greatest clerks be not the wisest men.

And though I, in all this discourse, seem plainly to prefer hard and rough wits, before quick and light wits, both for learning and manners, yet am I not ignorant that some quickness of wit is a singular gift of God, and so most rare amongst men, and namely such a wit as is quick without lightness, sharp without brittleness, desirous of good things without newfangleness, diligent in painful things without wearisomeness, and constant in good will to do all things well, as I know was in Sir John Cheke, and is in some that yet live, in whom all these fair qualities of wit are fully met together.

And speaking thus much of the wits of children for learning, the opportunity of the place, and goodness of the matter might require to have here declared the most special notes of a good wit for learning in a child, after the manner and custom of a good horseman, who is skilful to know, and able to tell others, how by certain sure signs a man may choose a colt that is like to prove another day excellent for the saddle. And it is pity that commonly more care is had, yea, and that amongst very wise men, to find out rather a cunning man for their horse than a cunning man

for their children. They say nay in word, but they do so in deed. For to the one they will gladly give a stipend of 200 crowns by the year, and loth to offer to the other 200 shillings. God that sitteth in heaven laugheth their choice to scorn, and rewardeth their liberality as it should; for he suffereth them to have tame and well ordered horse, but' wild and unfortunate children; and therefore in the end they find more pleasure in their horse than comfort in their children.

[ocr errors]

Yet some will say that children of nature love pastime and mislike learning, because in their kind the one is easy and pleasant, the other. hard and wearisome: which is an opinion not so true as some men ween. For the matter lieth not so much in the disposition of them that be youn as in the order and manner of bringing up by them that be old, nor yet in the difference of learning and pastime. For beat a child if he dance not well, and cherish him though he learn not well, ye shall have him unwilling to go to dance, and glad to go to his book. Knock him always when he draweth his shaft ill, and favor him again though he fault at his book, ye shall have him very loth to be in the field, and very willing to be in the schole. Yea, I say more, and not of myself, but by the judgment of those from whom few wise men will gladly dissent, that if ever the nature of man be given at any time more than other to receive goodness, it is in innocency of young years before that experience of evil have taken root in him. For the pure clean wit of a sweet young babe is like the newest wax, most able to receive the best and fairest printing; and like a new bright silver dish never occupied, to receive and keep clean any good thing that is put into it.

And thus will in children, wisely wrought withal, may easily be won to be very well willing to learn. And wit in

children by nature, namely memory, the only key and keeper of all learning, is readiest to receive and surest to keep any manner of thing that is learned in youth. This lewd and learned, by common experience, know to be most true. For we remember nothing so well when we be old, as those things which we learned when we were young. Therefore, if to the goodness of nature be joined the wisdom of the teacher in leading young wits into a right and plain way of learning, surely children, kept up in God's fear and governed by his grace, may most easily be brought well to serve God and country both by virtue and wisdom.

There is another discommodity besides cruelty in scholemasters in beating away the love of learning from children, which hindereth learning and virtue, and good bringing up of youth, and namely young gentlemen, very much in England. This fault is clean contrary to the first. I wished before to have love of learning bred up in children; I wish as much now to have young men brought up in good order of living, and in some more severe discipline than commonly they be. We have lack in England of such good order as the old noble Persians so carefully used, whose children, to the age of twenty-one years, were brought up in learning, and exercises of labor, and that in such place where they should neither see that was uncomely nor hear that was unhonest. Yea, a young gentleman was never free to go where he would and do what he list himself, but under the keep and by the counsel of some grave governor, until he was either married or called to bear some office in the commonwealth.

This evil is not common to poor men, as God will have it, but proper to rich and great men's children, as they deserve it.

Indeed from seven to seventeen young gentlemen commonly be carefully enough brought up. But from seventeen to seven and twenty (the most dangerous time of all a

man's life, and most slippery to stay well in) they have commonly the rein of all license in their own hand, and specially such as do live in the court. And that which is most to be marveled at, commonly the wisest and also best men be found the fondest fathers in this behalf. And if some good father would seek some remedy herein, yet the mother (if the household of our lady) had rather, yea, and will to, have her son cunning and bold, in making him to live trimly when he is young, than by learning and travel to be able to serve his prince and his country both wisely in peace and stoutly in war when he is old.

But nobility, governed by learning and wisdom, is indeed most like a fair ship, having tide and wind at will, under the rule of a skilful master; when contrariwise, a ship carried, yea, by the highest tide and greatest wind, lacking a skilful master, most commonly doth either sink itself upon sands or break itself upon rocks. And even so, how many have been either drowned in vain pleasure or overwhelmed by stout wilfulness the histories of England be able to afford over many examples unto us. Therefore, ye great and noble men's children, if ye will have right fully that praise, and enjoy surely that place which your fathers have, and elders had, and left unto you, ye must keep it as they got it, and that is by the only way of virtue, wisdom and worthiness.

XVI. JOHN MILTON.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

He was

Milton is best known as a poet. His “ Paradise Lost," one of the world's great epics, has given him a place among the greatest singers of all time. But he was more than a poet. He was a scholar of wide attainments, a controversialist of great force, a patriot of unselfish purpose, and an educator of broad and independent spirit. The Commonwealth, it was said, owed its standing in Europe to Cromwell's battles and Milton's books.

He was born in London, December 9, 1608. educated at Cambridge, where he spent seven years and took the usual degrees. But the education of the time did not approve itself to his judgment, and later, as will be seen, he pointed out its defects of subject and method with trenchant force. He left the university

He left the university in 1632, and spent the next five years in private study at his father's home in Buckinghamshire. Besides reading all the Greek and Latin writers of the classic period, he mastered Italian, and feasted, as he tells us, “ with avidity and delight on Dante and Petrarch.”

Tiring at length of his country life, Milton left England in 1638 for a tour on the continent. At Paris he met Grotius, one of the most learned men of his age, who resided at the French capital as ambassador from the Queen of Sweden. Afterwards he visited the principal cities of Italy, and was everywhere cordially received by men of learning. In his travels he preserved an admirable and cour

« PredošláPokračovať »