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strike the youthful mind are remembered longer than their betters.
Mr. Lyte's book is interesting as well as amusing ; but he has to use what materials come to hand, and they are mostly anecdotical or archæological. A history of Eton, if the documents have not perished, ought to be a history of English education during the last 450 years. We search these pages in vain to find when the great changes were made which the New Learning introduced into schools; what effect the Reformation had on the studies of the place; how Greek* was introduced and flourished; what was the origin of the books used by successive generations of learners, by whom compiled, and where printed ; how it came about that the Eton books were regarded a century ago as the best of all school books; why Keate submitted to teach for twenty-five years from the same texts which had been used at Eton for a century, he the contemporary of Blomfield and Monk, and the inheritor of Porson's traditions ; why Attic Greek was almost entirely omitted from the school course, and Latin verse became the criterion of Eton scholarship; so that Bobus Smith came near to being reckoned, like Dante, among the five poets of ancient Rome; why and by what degrees Eton education ceased to be literary and rhetorical, and became critical and scholarly, a change not wholly for the better; what were the habits and traditions which formed the scholarstatesman of the type of Wellesley, Canning, and Praed, who were always scholars, and did not cease to be schoolboys when they became statesmen. All this and much more we should be glad to see treated of. Mr. Lyte would probably answer that he was writing a history of Eton College, not a tractate of education ; but the one should in some degree include the other; and we hope that in some future edition room may be found for a comparison of Eton scholarship with that of other schools at different periods of their history.
We have but scanty information as to the state of learning in Medieval England. The impulse given to education by the Carlovingian revival of learning, of which the literature of the times of Alfred is one of the evidences, and in which our countryman Alcuin bore no inconsiderable part, had been obscured by a cloud of resurgent barbarism, but had retained some of its original vigour in the schools and seminaries attached to Cathedrals and Convents, which were intended for the education of poor clerks and of the young. Popes and
Except a notice on p. 99 attributing the probable introduction of Greek into the school to Robert Aldrich, Head Master 1515-1521.
Councils had ordained that the cloistered clergy should take part in the work of education, and England was not behind the other nations of Christendom in this respect. England,' says Milman, was almost a land of schools ; every cathedral, almost every monastery, had its own.'.
The schools attached to the Ecclesiastical Establishments were mainly intended to supply clergy to the Church. Grammatica and Cantus were the chief subjects taught: and of these Grammatica was a jejune study, consisting of little more than the text and a scholastic comment on Donatus, and the barbarous rhymes of the Doctrinale of Alexander Dolensis. The Friars, whose new brooms swept in every corner of the Church, set up schools to reinforce or supplant the Cathedral and conventual schools. They invaded the Universities also, and for some generations the rival schools of Franciscans and Dominicans monopolized Christian education, as the Jesuits did in a later age. It must not be forgotten that popular education was not yet thought of, except in so far as the ministry was supplied in great measure from the middle and lower classes ; for it was a common thing for the younger son of a farmer or tradesman to go to the University; and the annals of the Church are full of the names of prelates and doctors of humble origin. There were parish schools, no doubt, in all parts of England, but the poor were not taught to read and write: their education consisted of instruction in the Christian faith and the repetition of the ordinary Church offices, and there must have been many to whom, for want of more learning, the rule applied :
"If thou can neither read ne say,
Thy paternoster rehearse alway.' It was not thought good that the poor should learn : and Jack Cade was not alone in disliking people who usually talked of a noun and a verb : though it must be set down to the credit of the clergy of England before the Reformation, that help was given to the poorest children to become clerks for the service of the Church.
Besides these schools, Bishops and Abbots took into their own households boys of good family to serve as pages, and supported a schoolmaster to teach them grammar;' that is, reading and writing, and the rudiments of such Latin as was then current. These were not only clerkly boys—princes of the blood and scions of noble houses were sent by their parents to
* History of Latin Christianity,' Book xur., ch. vi. + Mentioned (with no great respect) in • Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum,' ii. 3).
the courts of prelates to learn curtesye.' A picturesque anecdote tells us how Sir Thomas More, when a boy, waiting at the table of Cardinal Morton, would . . . at Christmastide suddenly step in among the players, and never studying for the matter, make a part of his own there presently among them, which made the lookers-on more sport than all the players beside.'
Amongst prelates who gave attention to this part of their pastoral duties, honourable mention may here be made of Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, whose tragical death under the gallows on Glastonbury Tor has been recorded by Mr. Froude. He is said to have taught many boys at his own house in the Abbey, besides others to whom he gave exhibitions at the University; and what was done at Glastonbury was the rule at St. Edmundsbury, St. Alban's, and Reading, not to mention humbler foundations.
Noblemen's castles, like the court of the Persian King, were also seats of education in which pueri gentiles or domicelli were bred up in the customs of chivalry. We may surmise that they learnt more of hunting, tilting, hawking, and carving, than of more serious studies-
• Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line'and young gentlemen would strut about with horns slung over their shoulders, ' as if they would blow the horn whilst they were dining,' says Erasmus, who did not love the swagger of the illiterate. But letters also were taught to those who would learn, and the poetry of the Middle Ages owes more to lay teaching than to the Church. The author of the • Broad Stone of Honour' has collected instances of princes, ladies, and knights in various countries who were also beaux clercs and lovers of learning; and small as their store of Latin might be, and rare as such instances no doubt were, yet we must not set down as illiterate men who could listen to the gestes and lays which they could not read themselves, any more than we are at liberty to despise Walpole because he knew little Latin, Cromwell because he read little but the Bible, or the Duke of Wellington because he confounded the quantities of Jacobus 'and Carolus. Such men had a liberal education, though it did not come by the study of books. An age is not necessarily dull and unintelligent because it is illiterate, nor illiterate because its literature is limited. • We may, however, freely admit that the age in which William of Wykeham was born was one in which letters had sunk to a
Roper, quoted by Furnivall, “ Education in Early England,' 1867.
low ebb. It was the period which came between the end of clerical education and the beginning of humanism. The Statute of Provisors is said to have lowered the education of the clergy by cutting England off from Continental learning, and the sequestration of alien Priories may have operated in the same direction. It was also, it is true, the period of the rise of English undefiled, the age of Chaucer, Gower, and Langland ; but English Latin, as we read it in the chronicles and correspondence of the time, was barbarous, and its barbarism was made more conspicuous by the tawdry use of quotations from classical authors dragged in for the sake of ornament. A famous bishop, Thomas Bekynton, a Wykehamist too, and one of the first benefactors of Eton, is not ashamed to write such stuff as
navem sequebatur piscis vocatus le Shark, qui quidem piscis percutiebatur bis cum uno harpyngyren et recessit,' and so forth ; nor is the Bursars' Latin, as shown in the Audit Rolls of the College, more respectable. Probably some instruction in Priscian and Donat, Terence, Ovid, and Horace, was all the classical lore that was taught in schools ;* and the versification to be read on the tombs of early Provosts and Fellows of Eton, shows how meagre was the result of this study of the ingenuous arts.
Better days were coming. The removal of the Papal See to Avignon, a century earlier, had brought Italian knowledge out of Italy, and Petrarchism was taking the place of Scholasticism, and preparing the world for the Renaissance. Since the time of Chaucer and Wyclif the education of the world was passing from the hands of the Roman Church into that of the laity. The foundations of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are rather educational than conventual. In Lancastrian times, besides the royal foundations, and Wykeham's almost royal foundations, we find schools at Rotherham, Wye in Kent, and Higham Ferrers, founded by three Archbishops, -Scott of York, Cardinal Kemp, and Chicheley, of Canterbury. Other schools, such as Sir Simon Eyre's at Leadenhall, and William Sennock's at his birthplace, Sevenoaks, rose up by the side of St. Anthony's Hospital, St. Thomas of Acon, and the ancient ecclesiastical schools attached to Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. The City of London School credits its first beginning to John Carpenter, Town Clerk of London, in the reign of Henry V. ; and the Mercers' School belongs to, the same date.
Wykeham had his education at St. Swithun's School in. Winchester, and we may believe that it was the recollection of his own youth, as well as the facilities given by his position as Bishop of Winchester, which made him choose that city as the site of his new Foundation. The Oxford Foundation has nothing novel in it; Wykeham was but following in the fashion; so far, that is, as it can ever be the fashion for rich men to give largely of their wealth: the Statutes of New College do not differ materially from those of contemporary colleges. There are the same arrangements for masses to be said for the Founder's soul, the same care for the aged and the poor, the same precautions against the encroachments of monks and friars; even the same numbers occur as in the medieval schools and universities, 70, 25, 12. Nor are we to suppose that Wykeham designed to be the founder of the Public School system of England. His aim was more limited. Yet his foundation contained the germ of a greater growth, and the system which has grown out of it during the last 400 years is a true development.
* A list of books belonging to Charles, Duke of Berry, 1454, contains only the following: “An ABC, vii. Psalms, Donat, Accidius, Cato, a “Doctrinal." Gargantua's library was almost as meagre.
Attached to the ecclesiastical Seminary which was Wykeham's original design (his 25 scholars were to be educated for the priesthood) was to be a lay school of “filii nobilium et valentium personarum,' commoners, in fact, or commensales. The same institution was imitated at Eton. Henry VI. visited Winchester to acquaint himself with the working of Wykeham's school, and imitated it in his new foundation at Eton. Here, as at Winchester, there were two kinds of.commensals:' the fellow-commoners, as they would be called at Cambridge, who dined at the second table in Hall, the high table being reserved for the College dignitaries; and the second class, who sat promiscuously with scholars and choristers. The first class were, we may suppose, lodged in the rooms of the Provost and Fellows; for the second, chambers were to be provided in the College buildings; but it is probable that this part of the Founder's intentions was not carried out, and that there were oppidans' or lodgers in the town in dames' houses from an early period.*
As at Winchester, so at Eton, the delegation of discipline to the elder boys was part of the original institution. Whether or not this was invented by William of Wykeham we have no means of judging; at any rate it has been a prominent characteristic of the public school system ever since that time, though it has never been carried so far at Eton as in other schools. Other common features are the system of servitors,
* The word oppidan' first occurs in an Audit Book of 1557.—P. 136, note.