صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

only made the theatres for the exhibition of intemperance and folly; and the most chaste of them is characterised by a looseness of expression which no chaste mind could tolerate in our day, either in the parlour or on the stage. It finely illustrates the true beauty of Milton's mind, that his Muse is always robed in matronly dignity and grace; and that even in his earliest years, when the blood of youth is rebellious, and the fancy wild, his thoughts and measures move and march to the sound of Dorian music.



It must be always important to know what the most eminent scholar of his own, or any age, thought and said upon education, and the method of imparting the higher branches of it. He conveyed what he had to say to Mr. Samuel Hartlib, of whom little is known, but that he was a foreigner, and doubtless, a wise and fruitful scholar. Milton published his letter to him the same year in which he published his elaborate tract on Divorce. This tract has only received the sneers and contempt of Dr. Johnson, and other ushers and schoolmasters; but, if too vast and magnificent to be realised by any private individual,—although some have come near to the accomplishing of Milton's ideas, even in private establishments—it contains hints of a very practical character; and from what we know of the method of teaching pursued by the illustrious author, (himself a schoolmaster,) it seems to be, as far as possible, a copy of his own arrangements. It is far in advance of the pedantic methods of the time; in it. the author reminds his correspondent, that learning is not, and cannot be, its own end. It is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright; and, out of the knowledge to love him, and to imitate him, to be like Him as we may; the nearest, by possessing our souls of true virtue, which, being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the best perfection. "And thus, though 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 esteemed a learned man, as any yeoman or tradesman, competently wise in his mother dialect only." Henoe, "first, we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek as might be otherwise learned easily and delightfully in one year."

In this letter is indeed laid down a scheme for the perfect education of those especially who are intended to take part in the great and more public affairs of life: a complete and generous education fitting to a man to perform "justly, and skilfully, and magnanimously, all the arts both of peace and war." The house in which instruction should be given, should be both school and university; there should be no necessity to leave it to go to another college, unless to perfect the knowledge of the pupil in the more erudite portions of Law or Medicine. But scholarship is usually in the youthful days of life a drudgery and a hardship; the obedience given is not given willingly; the mind is not inflamed to the love of learning, and the fervid admiration of lofty virtue: and this is to be traced mainly to imperfect and ineloquent masters. The right master will catch the mind of the scholar with mild and effectual persuasions: he will illustrate his teachings by his own example: he will temper a lesson to every opportunity by his own life; he will infuse ardour into the minds of his friends; yet there shall be no mere unloving labour in their pursuits.- "Even geometry may be taught playing, as the old manner was." With so noble a scholar as Milton, we may be sure that the study of the classics is not only insisted on, but those things also which lie near our individual and social happiness. He insists on these. "In course, should be read to them, but from no tedious writer, the institution of physic."

It is a sorry thing in Milton's view of the matter, to be compelled to call in the aid of the physician and surgeon upon every emergency; nay, in some instances it will be impossible that such aid can be procured. A man should know his "own tempers, and humours, and seasons; he should be a physician to himself and to his friends." The education of the school-room too, should have a distinct bearing upon the future pursuits of life: in such an institution the experience of expert hunters, fowlers, fishermen, shepherds, gardeners, apothecaries; and in the other sciences, architects, engineers, mariners, and anatomists may be procured; and thus lessons be given, having reference to the future routine of ordinary daily labour, to which the youth or the man may be called. It would be a sorry method of knowledge that should concern itself alone with the words, and be mindless of the things—to set before the student excellent Greek, and leave him unprovided with the tools wherewith to win his way through the difficulties of life about him. And now the judgment of good and evil presents itself; the young and pliant affections are cultivated with the lessons of the wise ancients, and of sacred learning, applied to the conduct and discipline of life; they should be led to the knowledge of good, and to the hatred of all evil; this calls for high and educated perceptions, and out of the study of morals grows that of politics, a branch of morals thus to understand the beginning, end, and reason of political societies, that they may not be in a dangerous fit of the commonwealth: such poor shaken uncertain reeds of such a tottering conscience, as many of our great counsellors have lately shown themselves, but steadfast pillars of state. "After this they are to dive into the grounds of law and legal justice." He recommends that the youth of the land shall travel—not learn principles; but to enlarge experience. Finally, he insists

« السابقةمتابعة »