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deeds, will very soon be over-like. “ The confounding of companies breedeth confusion of good manners, both in the court and every where else.”
And it may be a great wonder, but a greater shame to us Christian men, to understand what a Heathen writer, Isocrates, doth leave in memory of writing, concerning the care that the noble city of Athens had to bring up their youth in honest company and virtuous discipline; whose talk in Greek is to this effect in English:
“ The city was not more careful to see their children well taught, than to see their young men well governed ; which they brought to pass, not so much by common law, as by private discipline. For they had more regard that their youth by good order should not offend, than how by law they might be punished; and if offence were committed, there was neither way to hide it, nor hope of pardon for it. Good natures were not so much openly praised, as they were secretly marked and watchfully regarded, lest they should lose the goodness they had. Therefore in schools of singing and dancing, and other honest exercises, governors were appointed more diligent to oversee their good manners, than their masters were to teach them any learning. It was some shame to a young man to be seen in the open market; and if for business he passed through it, he did it with a marvellous modesty and bashful fashion. To eat or drink in a tavern was not only a shame, but also punishable in a young man. To contrary, or to stand in terms with an old man, was more heinous * than in some place to rebuke and scold with his
* In this citation out of Isocrates, Mr. Ascham has rather given the sense of several passages, than a strict translation of his author; and perhaps he might trust to his memory, without consulting the original; which is no uncommon thing with learned men. What is here expressed, “ than in some place,” is in the Greek, ñ vīv: which is not a comparison between Athens and some other state in point of strict discipline and regularity of manners, but a complaint of a decay herein, and of a degeneracy in the present age from the good conduct of former times.
The latter part, where he keeps somewhat closer to the original, I shall transcribe: Ούτω δ' έφευγαν την αγοράν, ώστε εί και ποτε διελ. θεϊν αναγκασθείεν, μετά πολλής αιδούς και σωφροσύνης εφαίνοντο τούτο ποιούντες. αντειπείν δε τούς πρεσβυτέροις, ή λοιδορήσασθαι, δεινότερον ενόμιζον, ή νύν περί τους γονέας εξαμαρτάνειν. εν καπηλείω δε φαγείν πιεϊν, ουθείς ουδ' αν οικέτης επιεικής ετόλμησε.
own father.” With many other more good orders and fair disciplines, which I refer to their reading that have lust to look upon the description of such a worthy commonwealth.
And to know what worthy fruit did spring of such worthy seed, I will tell you the most marvel of all, and yet such a truth as no man shall deny it, except such as be ignorant in knowledge of the best stories.
Athens, by this discipline and good ordering of youth, did breed
up, within the circuit of that one city, within the compass of one hundred years, within the memory of one man's life, so many notable captains in war, for worthiness, wisdom,
and learning, as be scarce matchable, no not in the state of Rome, in the compass of those seven hundred years, when it flourished most.
And because I will not only say it, but also prove it, the names of them be these: Miltiades, Themistocles, Xantippus, Pericles, Cimon, Alcibiades, Thrasybulus, Conon, Iphicrates, Xenophon, Timotheus, Theopompus, Demetrius, and divers others more; of which every one may justly be spoken that worthy praise which was given to Scipio Africanus, who Cicero doubteth, “ whether he were more noble captain in war, or more eloquent and wise counsellor in peace.” And if you believe not me, read diligently * Æmilius Probus in Latin, and Plutarch in Greek; which two had no cause either to flatter or lie upon any of those which I have recited.
And beside nobility in war, for excellent and matchless masters in all manner of learning, in that one city, in memory of one age, were more learned men, and that in a manner altogether, than all time doth remember, than all place doth afford, than all other tongues do contain. And I do not mean of those authors, which by injury of time, by negligence of men, by cruelty of fire and swordt be lost'; but even of those, whích by God's grace are left yet unto us; of which, I thank God, even my poor study lacketh not one. As in philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Euclid, and Theophrast; in eloquence and civil law, Demosthenes, Æschines, Lycurgus, Dinarchus, Demades, Isocrates, Isæus,
Cornelius Nepos, whose Works by a mistake have gone under the name of Æmilius Probus; who seems to have no other title to them, than as he took care to have them copied out for the use of the Emperor Theodosius.
Lysias, Antisthenes, Andocides; in history, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and which we lack to our great loss, Theopompus and Ephorus ; in poetry, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and somewhat of Menander, Demosthenes' sister's son.
Now let Italian, and Latin itself, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English, bring forth their learning, and recite their authorities; Cicero only excepted, and one or two more in Latin, they be all patched clouts and rags, in comparison of fair woven broad-cloths; and truly, if there be any good in them, it is either learned, borrowed, or stolen from some of those worthy wits of Athens.
The remembrance of such a commonwealth, using such discipline and order for youth, and thereby bringing forth to their praise, and leaving to us for our exainple, such captains for war, such counsellors for peace, and matchless masters for all kind of learning, is pleasant for me to recite, and not irksome, I trust, for others to hear, except it be such as make neither account of virtue nor learning.
And whether there be any such or no, I cannot well tell : yet I hear say, some young gentlemen of ours count it their shame to be counted learned ; and perchance they count it their shame to be counted honest also; for I hear say, they meddle as little with the one as with the other. A marvellous case, that gentlemen should so be ashamed of good learning, and never a whit ashamed of ill manners ! Such do say for them, that the gentlemen of France do so; which is a lie, as God will have it : Langæus and Bellæus, that be dead, and the noble Vidam of Chartres, that is alive, and infinite more in France, which I hear tell of, prove this to be most false. And though some in France, which will needs be gentlemen, whether men will or no, and have more gentleness in their hat than in their head, be at deadly feud with both learning and honesty; yet I believe, if that noble prince, King Francis the First, were alive, they should have neither place in his court, nor pension in his wars, if he had knowledge of them. This opinion is not French, but plain Turkish, from whence some French fetch more faults than this; which I pray God keep out of England, and send also those of ours better minds, which bend themselves against virtue and learning, to the contempt of God, dishonour of their country, to the hurt of many others, and at length 10 the greatest harm and utter destruction of themselves.
Some others, having better nature but less wit (for ill commonly have over much wit), do not utterly dispraise learning, but they say, that without learning common experience, knowledge of all fashions, and haunting all companies, shall work in youth both wisdom and ability to execute any weighty affair. Surely long experience doth profit much, but most, and almost only to him (if we mean honest affairs) that is diligently before instructed with precepts of well doing. For good precepts of learning be the eyes of the mind, to look wisely before a man, which way to go right, and which not.
Learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty; and learning teacheth safely, when experience maketh more miserable, than wise. He hazardeth sore that waxeth wise by experience. An unhappy master is he that is made cunning by many shipwrecks; a miserable merchant, that is neither rich nor wise but after some bankrouts. It is costly wisdom that is bought by experience. We know by experience itself, that it is a marvellous pain to find out but a short way
by long wandering. And surely, he that would prove wise by experience, he
be witty indeed, but even jike a swift runner, that runneth fast out of the way, and upon the night, he knoweth not whither. And verily they be fewest in number that be happy or wise by unlearned experience. And look well upon the former life of those few, whether your example be old or young, who without learning have gathered by long experience a little wisdom and some happiness; and when you do consider what mischief they have committed, what dangers they have escaped, (and yet twenty for one do perish in the adventure, J then think well with yourself, whether you would that your own son should come to wisdom and happiness by the way of such experience or no.
It is a notable tale, that old Sir Roger Chamloe, sometime chief justice, would tell of himself. When he was ancient in inn of court, certain young gentlemen were brought before him to be corrected for certain misorders : and one of the lustiest said, “ Sir, we be young gentlemen; and wise men before us have proved all fashions, and yet those have done full well.” This they said, because it was well known that Sir Roger had been a goodfellow in his youth. But he answered them very wisely: “ Indeed," saith he,“ in youth I was, as you are now; and I had twelve fellows like unto myself, but not one of them came to a good end. And therefore follow not my example in youth, but follow my counsel in age, if ever ye think to come to this place, or to these years that I am come unto; lest you meet either with poverty or Tyburn in the way."
Thús experience of all fashions in youth, being in proof always dangerous, in issue seldom lucky, is a way indeed to overmuch knowledge, yet used commonly of such men, which be either carried by some curious affection of mind, or driven by some hard necessity of life, to hazard the trial of over-many perilous adventures.
Erasmus, the honour of learning of all our time, said wisely, “ That experience is the common schoolhouse of fools and ill men. Men of wit and honesty be otherwise instructed. For there be, that keep them out of fire, and yet was never burned ; that beware of water, and yet was never nigh drowning; that hate harlots, and was never at the stews; that abhor falsehood, and never broke promise themselves."
But will you see a fit similitude of this adventured experience. A father that doth let loose his son to all experiences, is most like a fond hunter that letteth slip a whelp to the whole herd; twenty to one he shall fall upon a rascal, and let go the fair game. Men that hunt so, be either ignorant persons, privy stealers, or night-walkers.
Learning therefore, ye wise fathers, and good bringing up, and not blind and dangerous experience, is the next and readiest way that must lead your children, first to wis. dom, and then to worthiness, if ever ye purpose they shall come there.
And to say all in short, though I lack authority to give counsel, yet I lack not good will to wish, that the youth in England, especially gentlemen, and namely nobility, should be by good bringing up so grounded in judgement of learning, so founded in love of honesty, as when they should be called forth to the execution of great affairs, in service of their prince and country, they might be able to use, and to order all experiences, were they good, were they bad, and that according to the square, rule, and line, of wisdom, learning, and vịrtue.
And I do not mean by all this my talk, that young gentlemen should always be poring on a book, and by using good studies should lose honest pleasure, and haunt no good