Page images
PDF
EPUB

well to serve God and their country, both by virtue and wisdom.

But if will and wit, by further age, he once allured from innocency, delighted in vain sights, filled with foul talk, crooked with wilfulness, hardened with stubbornness, and let loose to disobedience; surely it is hard with gentleness, but unpossible with severe cruelty, to call them back to good frame again. For where the one perchance may mend it, the other shall surely break it; and so, instead of some hope, leave an assured desperation, and * shameless contempt of all goodness; the furthest point in all mischief, as Xenophon doth most truly and most wittily nark.

Therefore to love or to hate, to like or contemn, to ply this way or that way, to good or to bad, you shall have as you use a child in his youth.

And one example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child for virtue and learning, I will gladly report ; which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit.

Before I went into Germany, t I came to Brodlegate in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholding. Her parents, the Duke and Duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber, reading Phædo Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace. After salutation, and duty done,

* This is the passage, I suppose : "Eteodo od doxeñ páncota rs αχαριστία ή αναισχυντία, και γαρ αύτη μεγίστη δοκεί είναι επι πάντα τα αισχρά ηγεμών. .

+ This discourse with this excellent lady, he thus expresses in a letter to his friend Sturmius : “ Hâc superiore æstate, cum amicos meos in agro Eboracensi viserem, et inde literis Joannis Checi in Aulam, ut huc proficiscerer, accitus sum, in via deflexi Leicestriam, ubi Jana Graia cum patre habitaret. Statim admissus sum in cubiculum: inveni nobilem puellam, Dii boni! legentem Græcè Phædonem Platonis; quem sic intelligit, ut mihi ipsi summam admirationem injiceret. Sic loquitur et scribit Græcè, ut vera referenti vix fides adhiberi possit. Nacta est præceptorem Joannem Elmarum, utriusque linguæ valdè peritum; propter humanitatem, prudentiam, usum, rectam religionem, et alia multa rectissimæ amicitiæ vincula, mihi conjunctissimum."

[ocr errors]

you,"

with some other talk, I asked her, why she would lose such pastime in the park ? Smiling, she answered me; I wist, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.” “ And how came you, madam,” quoth I, “ to this deep knowledge of pleasure and what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto ?” “ I will tell quoth she," and tell you a truth, which perchance you will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother; whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry, or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing any thing else; I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly, as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea presently sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer; who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing while I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do else but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me."

I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that erer I saw that noble and worthy

I could be over long, both in showing just causes, and in reciting true examples, why learning should be taught rather by love than fear. He that would see a perfect discourse of it, let him read that learned treatise, which my friend Joan. Sturmius wrote, De Institutione Principis, to the Duke of Cleves.

The godly counsels of Solomon and Jesus the son of Sirach, for sharp keeping in and bridling of youth, are meant

lady.

rather for fatherly correction, than masterly beating; rather for manners, than for learning; for other places, than for schools. For God forbid, but all evil touches, wantonness, lying, picking, sloth, will

, stubbornness, and disobedience, should be with sharp chastisement daily cut away.

This discipline was well known, and diligently used, among the Grecians and old Romans; as doth appear in Aristophanes, Isocrates, and Plato, and also in the Comedies of Plautus ; where we see that children were under the rule of three persons, præceptore, pædagogo, parente. The schoolmaster taught him learning with all gentleness ; the governor corrected his manners with much sharpness; the father held the stern of his whole obedience. And so he that used to teach, did not commonly use to beat, but remitted that over to another man's charge. But what shall we say, when now in our days the schoolmaster is used both for preceptor in learning and pædagogus in manners ? Surely, I would he should not confound their offices, but discreetly use the duty of both; so that neither ill touches should be left unpunished, nor gentleness in teaching anywise omitted. And he shall well do both, if wisely he do appoint diversity of time, and separate place, for either purpose ; using always such discreet moderation, as

“ the schoolhouse should be counted a sanctuary against fear, and very well learning a common pardon for ill doing, if the fault of itself be not over heinous." And thus the children, kept up in God's fear, and

preserved by his grace, finding pain in all ill doing, and pleasure in well studying, should easily be brought to honesty of life, and perfectness of learning; the only mark that good and wise fathers do wish and labour that their children should most busily and carefully shoot at.

There is another discommodity, besides cruelty in schoolmasters 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 labour; * 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.

And see the great obedience that was used in old time to fathers and governors. No son, were he never so old of years, never so great of birth, though he were a king's son, might marry, but by his father's and mother's consent. Cyrus the Great, after he had conquered Babylon and subdued rich King Crosus, with whole Asia Minor, coming triumphantly home, his uncle Cyaxares offered him his daughter to wife. Cyrus thanked his uncle, and praised the maid ; but for marriage, he answered him with these wise and sweet words, as they be uttered by Xenophon: 'Ana', u Κυαξάρη, το, το γένος επαινώ, και την παϊδα, και δώρα. βούλομαι δε, έφη, συν τη του πατρός γνώμη και τη της μητρός ταύτά σοι συναιrécou That is to say, Uncle Cyaxares, I cominend the stock, I like the maid, and I allow well the dowry; but (saith he) by the counsel and consent of my father and mother, I will determine further of these matters."

Strong Samson also in Scripture saw a maid that liked him; but he spake not to her, but went home to his father and his mother, and desired both father and mother to make the marriage for him. Doth this modesty, doth this obedience, that was in great King, Cyrus and strong Samson, remain in our young men at this day? No surely : for we live not longer after them by time, than we live far different from them by good order. Our time is so far from that old discipline and obedience, as now, not only young gentlemen, but even very girls, dare, without all fear, though not without open shame, where they list, and how they list, marry themselves in spite of father, mother, God, good

* "Έστιν αυτοίς Ελευθέρα Αγορά καλουμένη, ένθα τά τε βασίλεια και τα άλλα αρχεία πεποίηται, εντεύθεν τα μεν ώνια, και οι αγοραίοι και αί τούτων φωναι, και απειρoκαλίαι απελήλανται εις άλλον τόπον, ως μη μιγνύεται η τούτων τύρβη τη των πεπαιδευμένων ευκοσμία. I see no difference between this college in Persia, and one here in England; excepting that theirs was joined to the court, and so was more in the eye of the world.

order, and all. The cause of this evil is, that youth is least looked unto, when they stand in most need of good keep and regard. It availeth not to see them well taught in young years, and after when they come to lust and youthful days, to give them licence to live as they lust themselves. For if you suffer the eye of a young gentleman once to be entangled with vain sights, and the ear to be corrupted with fond or filthy talk, the mind shall quickly fall sick, and soon vomit, and cast up all the wholesome doctrine that he received in childhood, though he were never so well brought up before. And being once inglutted with vanity, he will straightway loath all learning, and all good counsel to the same; and the parents, for all their great cost and charge, reap only in the end the fruit of grief and care.

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 man's life, and most slippery to stay well in) they have commonly the rein of all licence in their own hand, and especially such as do live in the court." And that which is most to be marvelled at, commonly the wisest and also best men, be found the fondest fathers in this behalf. And if some good father will seek some remedy herein, yet the mother (if the house hold of our lady) had rather, yea and will 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 prínce and his country, both wisely in peace, and stoutly in war, when he is old.

The fault is in yourselves, ye noblemen's sons, and therefore

ye deserve the greater blame, that commonly the meaner men's children come to be the wisest counsellors and greatest doers, in the weighty affairs of this realm. And why? for God will have it so of his providence, because ye will have it no otherwise by your negligence.

And God is a good God, and wisest in all his doings, that will place virtue, and displace vice, in those kingdoms where he doth govern;

“ For he knoweth, that nobility without virtue and wisdom, is blood indeed, but blood truly without bones and sinews; and so of itself, without the other, very weak to bear the burthen of weighty affairs."

The greatest ship indeed commonly carrieth tire greatest

« PreviousContinue »