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The Prole. Style was not in Milton sereght to tiat Segree of Excellipez as it

as it was afternaris in que

[ 343 Ann's Reign de. Ble,






Written about the Year 1650,


Am long fince persuaded, that to say, or do
ought worth memory and imitation, no pur-

pose or respect should sooner move us, than FL fimply the love of God and of mankind. Never

theless to write now the reforming of education,
tho' it be one of the greatest and noblest designs
that can be thought on, and for the want whereof
this nation perilhes, I had not yet at this time
been induc'd, but by your earneit intreaties and
serious conjurements; as having my mind for the
present half diverted in the pursuance of some
other assertions, the knowledge and the use of
which cannot but be a great furtherance both to
the enlargement of truth, and honest living, with
much more peace. Nor should the laws of any.


private friendship have prevail'd with me to divide thus, or transpofe my former thoughts, but that I fee those aims; those actions which have won you with me the esteem of a person fent hither by some good providence from a far country, to be the occasion and incitement of great good to this island. And, as I hear, you have obtaind the same repute with men of most approv'd wisdom, and some of highest authority among us. Not to mention the learned correspondence, which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordinary pains and diligence, which you 'have us’d in this matter both here, and beyond the seas; either by the definite will

of God so ruling, or the peculiar sway of nature, rv which also is God's working. Neither can I think,

that, so reputed, and so valued, as you are, you would, to the forfeit of your own discerning ability, impose upon me an unfit and overponderous argument, but that the satisfaction which you profess to have receiv'd from those incidental discourses, which we have wander'd into, hath preft and almost constrain'd you into à perfuasion, that what you require from me in this point, I neither ought, nor can in conscience defer beyond this time both of so much need at once, and so much opportunity to try what God hath determin'd. I will not refift therefore, whatever it is, either of divine or human obligement, that you lay upon me; but will forthwith set down in writing, as you request me, that voluntary idea, which hath long in silence presented itself to me, of a better education, in extent and comprehenfion far more large, and yet of time far shorter, and of attainment far more certain, than hath been yet in practice. Brief I shall endeavour to be ; for that, which I have to fay, assuredly this nation hath extreme need should be done sooner than



fpoken. To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old renowned authors, I fhall spare; and to fearch what many modern Januas and Didactics, more than ever I fhail read, have projected, my inclination leads me not. But, if you can accept of these few observations, which have Aower'd off, and are, as it were, the burnishing of many studious and contemplative years, altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge, and such as pleas’d you so well in the relating, I here give you them to dispose of.

The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by poffeffing our fouls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection. But,because our understanding cannot in this body found itself but on sensible things, nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible, as by orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature, the fame method is necessarily to be follow'd in all discreet teaching. And seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kinds of learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the languages of those people, who have at any time been most industrious after wisdom; so that language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known. And, tho' a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues,

that Babel cleft the world into, yet, if he had not studied the solid things in them as well as the words and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be efteem'd a learned man,

as any yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his mother dialect only. Q5


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Hence appear the many mistakes, which have made learning generally lo unpleasing and so unsuccessful ; firit we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learnt otherwise easily and delightfully in one year. And that which casts our proficiency therein fo much behind, is our time loft partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to schools and universities, partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses, and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgs ment, and the final work of a head fill'd, by long reading and observing, with elegant maxims, and copious invention. These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the mose, or the plucking of untimely fruit: besides the ill habit,which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek Idiom, with their untutor’d Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well-continu'd and judicious converfing among pure authors digested, which they scarce taste; whereas, if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis thereof in some chosen short book lefsen'd throughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things, and arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power. This I take to be the moft rational and moit profitable way of learning languages, and whereby we may best hope to give account to God of our youth spent herein. And for the usual method of teaching arts, I deem it to be an old error of universities not yet well recover'd from the scholastic grofsness of barbarous ages, that instead of beginning with arts most

easy, easy, (and those be such, as are most obvious to the fente,) they present their young unmatriculated novices at first coming with the intellective abstractions of logick and metaphyficks : so that they having but newly left those grammatick flats and shallows, where they stuck unreasonably, to learn a few words with lamentable construction, and now on the sudden transported under another climate to be tost and turmoild with their unballafted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for the most part grow into hatred and contempt of learning, mock'd and deluded all this while with ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and delightful know, ledge; till poverty or youthful years call them importunately their several ways, and haften them with the sway of friends, either to an ambitious or mercenary, or ignorantly zealous divinity: fome allur’d to the trade of law, grounding their purposes not on the prudent and

heavenly contemplation of justice and equity, which was never taught them, but on the promising and pleasing thoughts of litigious terms, fat contentions, and flowing fees; others betake them to state-affairs, with souls so unprincipled in virtue, and true generous breeding, that flattery and court-shifts, and tyrannous aphorisms appear to them the highest points of wisdom; instilling their barren hearts with a conscientious llavery, if, as I rather think, it be not feign'd: others, lastly, of a more delicious and airy spirit, retire themselves, knowing no better, to the enjoyments of ease and luxury, living out their days in feast and jollity; which indeed is the wisest and the safest course of all these, unless they were with more integrity undertaken. And these are the fruits of mifpending our prime youth at the schools and universities,as


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