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the good or ill bringing up of children doth as much serve to the good or ill service of God, our prince, and our whole country, as any one thing doth beside.
I do gladly agree with all good scholemasters in these points: to have children brought to good perfectness in learning; to all honesty in manners; to have all faults rightly amended; to have every vice severely corrected; but for the order and way that leadeth rightly to these points, we somewhat differ. For commonly many scholemasters, some as I have seen, and more as I have heard tell, be of so crooked a nature, as, when they meet with a hard-witted scholar, they rather break him than bow him, rather mar him than mend him. For when the scholemaster is angry with some other matter, then will he soonest fall to beat his scholars; and though he himself should be punished for his folly, yet must he beat some scholar for his pleasure; though there be no cause for him to do so, nor yet fault in the scholar to deserve so. These, we will say, be fond scholemasters; and few they be that be found to be such. They be fond in deed, but surely over many such be found everywhere. But this I will say, that even the wisest of your great beaters do as oft punish nature as they do correct faults. Yea, many times the better nature is over punished. For if one, by quickness of wit, take his lesson readily, another, by hardness of wit, taketh it not so speedily; the first is always commended, the other is commonly punished; when a wise scholemaster should rather discreetly consider the right disposition of both their natures, and not so much weigh what either of them is able to do now, as what either of them is likely to do hereafter. For this I know, not only by reading of books in my study, but also by experience of life abroad in the world, that those which be commonly the wisest, the best learned, and best men also, when they be
old, were never commonly the quickest of wit when they were young. The causes why, amongst others which be many, that move me thus to think, be these few, which I will reckon. Quick wits commonly be apt to take, unapt to keep; soon hot, and desirous of this and that; as cold and soon weary of the same again; more quick to enter speedily than able to pierce far; even like over-sharp tools, whose edges be very soon turned. Such wits delight themselves in easy and pleasant studies, and never pass far forward in high and hard sciences. And therefore the quickest wits commonly prove the best poets, but not the wisest orators; ready of tongue to speak boldly, not deep of judgment, either for good counsel or wise writing. Also for manners and life, quick wits commonly be in desire newfangled, in purpose unconstant, light to promise anything, ready to forget everything, both benefit and injury; and thereby neither fast to friend, nor fearful to foe; inquisitive of every trifle, not secret in greatest affairs; bold with any person, busy in every matter; soothing such as be present, nipping any that is absent; of nature also always flattering their betters, envying their equals, despising their inferiors; and by quickness of wit, very quick and ready to like none so well as themselves.
Moreover, commonly men very quick of wit be also very light of conditions, and thereby very ready of disposition to be carried over quickly, by any light company, to any riot and unthriftiness when they be young; and therefore seldom either honest of life or rich in living when they be old. For quick in wit and light in manners be either seldom troubled or very soon weary in carrying a very heavy purse. Quick wits also be, in most part of all their doings, over quick, hasty, rash, heady, and brainsick. These two last words, heady and brainsick, be fit and proper words, rising naturally of the matter, and turned aptly by the condition,
of over much quickness of wit. In youth also they be ready scoffers, privy mockers, and ever over light and merry. In age soon testy, very waspish, and always over miserable; and yet few of them come to any great age, by reason of their misordered life when they were young; but a great deal fewer of them come to show any great countenance or bear any great authority abroad in the world, but either live obscurely, men know not how, or die obscurely, men mark not when. They be like trees that show forth fair blossoms and broad leaves in spring time, but bring out small and not long lasting fruit in harvest time; and that only such as fall and rot before they be ripe, and so never or seldom come to any good at all. For this ye shall find most true by experience that, amongst a number of quick wits in youth, few be found in the end either very fortunate for themselves or very profitable to serve the commonwealth, but decay and vanish, men know not which way; except a very few, to whom peradventure blood and happy parentage may perchance purchase a long standing upon the stage. The which felicity, because it cometh by others' procuring, not by their own deserving, and stand by other men's feet, and not by their own, what outward brag so ever is borne by them, is indeed, of itself and in wise men's eyes, of no great estimation.
Some wits, moderate enough by nature, be many times marred by over much study and use of some sciences, namely, music, arithmetic and geometry. These sciences, as they sharpen men's wits over much, so they change men's manners over sore, if they be not moderately mingled, and wisely applied to some good use of life. Mark all mathematical heads, which be only and wholly bent to those sciences, how solitary they be themselves, how unfit to live with others, and how unapt to serve in the world. This is not only known now by common experience, but uttered
long before by wise men's judgment and sentence. Galen saith much music marreth men's manners; and Plato hath a notable place of the same thing in his books de Rep., well marked also, and excellently translated by Tully himself. Of this matter I wrote once more at large, twenty years ago, in my book of shooting: now I thought but to touch it, to prove that over much quickness of wit, either given by nature or sharpened by study, doth not commonly bring forth either greatest learning, best manners, or happiest life in the end.
Contrariwise, a wit in youth that is not over dull, heavy, knotty, and lumpish, but hard, rough, and though somewhat staffish, as Tully wisheth otium, quietum, non languidum, and negotium cum labore, non cum periculo, such a wit I say, if it be at the first well handled by the mother, and rightly smoothed and wrought as it should, not overthwartly and against the wood, by the scholemaster, both for learning and whole course of living, proveth always the best. In wood and stone, not the softest, but hardest be always aptest for portraiture, both fairest for pleasure and most durable for profit. Hard wits be hard to receive, but sure to keep; painful without weariness, heedful without wavering, constant without newfangleness; bearing heavy things, though not lightly, yet willingly; entering hard things, though not easily, yet deeply; and so come to that perfectness of learning in the end, that quick wits seem in hope, but do not indeed, or else very seldom, ever attain unto. Also for manners and life, hard wits commonly are hardly carried either to desire every new thing, or else to marvel at every strange thing; and therefore they be careful and diligent in their own matters, not curious and busy in other men's affairs; and so they become wise themselves, and are also counted honest by others. They be grave, stedfast, silent of tongue, secret of heart. Not hasty in mak
ing, but constant in keeping any promise. Not rash in uttering, but wary in considering every matter; and thereby, not quick in speaking, but deep of judgment, whether they write or give counsel in all weighty affairs. And these be the men that become in the end both most happy for themselves, and always best esteemed abroad in the world.
I have been longer in describing the nature, the good or ill success of the quick and hard wit than perchance some will think this place and matter doth require. But my purpose was hereby plainly to utter what injury is offered to all learning, and to the commonwealth also, first by the fond father in choosing, but chiefly by the lewd scholemaster in beating and driving away the best natures from learning. A child that is still, silent, constant, and somewhat hard of wit is either never chosen by the father to be made a scholar, or else, when he cometh to the schole, he is smally regarded, little looked unto, he lacketh teaching, he lacketh couraging, he lacketh all things, only he never lacketh beating, nor any word that may move him to hate learning, nor any deed that may drive him from learning to any other kind of living.
And when this sad-natured and hard-witted child is beat from his book, and becometh after either student of the common law, or page in the court, or serving man, or bound apprentice to a merchant, or to some handicraft, he proveth in the end wiser, happier, and many times honester too, than many of these quick wits do by their learning.
Learning is both hindered and injured, too, by the ill choice of them that send young scholars to the universities. Of whom must needs come all our divines, lawyers, and physicians. These young scholars be chosen commonly, as young apples be chosen by children, in a fair garden about St. James' tide; a child will choose a Sweeting, because it is presently fair and pleasant, and refuse a Runnet, because