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MR. SAMUEL HARTLIB.
Written about the Year 1650.
AM long fince persuaded, that to say, or do
ought worth memory and imitation, no purpofe or refpect should fooner move us, than fimply the love of God, and of mankind. Neverheless to write now the reforming of education, ho' it be one of the greatest and noblest designs hat can be thought on, and for the want whereof this nation perishes, I had not yet at this time been induc'd, but by your earnest intreaties and erious conjurements; as having my mind for he prefent half diverted in the pursuance of fome ther affertions, 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 friendfhip have prevail'd with me to diide thus, or transpose my former thoughts, but
that I fee those aims, those actions which have won you with me the esteem of a perfon sent hither by fome good providence from a far country, to be the occafion and the incitement of great good to this island. And, as I hear, you have obtain'd the fame repute with men of most approv'd wisdom, and fome of highest authority among us. Not to mention the learned correfpondence 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 feas; either by the definite will of God fo ruling, or the peculiar fway of nature, which alfo is God's working. Neither can I think that, fo reputed, and fo valu'd as you are, you would, to the forfeit of your own difcerning ability, impofe upon me an unfit and overr-ponderous argument, but that the fatisfaction which you profess to have receiv'd from thofe incidental difcourses which we have wander'd into, hath prest and almost constrain'd you into a persuasion, that what you require from me in this point, I neither ought, nor can in confcience defer beyond this time both of fo much need at once, and fo much opportunity to try what God hath deter
min'd. I will not resist therefore, whatever it is, either of divine or human obligement, that you but will forthwith fet down in
lay upon me; writing, as you request me, that voluntary Idea, which hath long in filence presented itself to me, of a better education, in extent and comprehenfion far more large, and yet of time far fhorter, and of attainment far more certain, than hath been yet in practise. Brief I shall endeavour to be; for that which I have to fay, affuredly this nation hath extreme need should be done fooner than spoken. To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old renowned authors, I fhall fpare; and to search what many modern Janua's and didactics, more than ever I fhall read, have projected, my inclination leads me not. But if you can accept of these few Obfervations which have flower'd off, and are, as it were, the burnishing of many ftudious and contemplative years, altogether spent in the fearch of religious and civil knowledge, and fuch as pleas'd you fo 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 lov him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we ma the nearest by poffeffing our fouls of true virtue which being united to the heavenly grace of fait makes up the highest perfection. But because ou understanding cannot in this body found itfel but on fenfible things, nor arrive fo clearly t the knowledge of God and things invifible, a by orderly conning over the visible and inferio creature, the fame method is neceffarily to be fol low'd in all difcreet teaching. And seeing every na tion affords not experience and tradition enoug for all kinds of learning, therefore we are chiefl taught the languages of thofe people who hav time been most industrious after wisdom Lat any fo that language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known. And tho' a Lin guift fhould pride himself to have all the tongue that Babel cleft the world into, yet, if he had not studied the folid things in them as well a the words and lexicons, he were nothing fo much to be efteem'd a learned man, as any yeoman 01 tradesman competently wife in his mother dia Ject only. Hence appear the many mistakes which we have made learning generally fo unpleafing and
fo unfuccefsful; first we do amiss to spend seven or eight years meerly in fcraping together fo much miferable Latin and Greek, as might be learnt otherwise easily and delightfully in one year. And that which cafts our proficiency therein fo much behind, is our time loft partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to schools and univerfities, partly in a prepofterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to compofe themes, verses and orations, which are the acts of ripeft judgment 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 ftriplings, like blood out of the nofe, 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 Anglicifms, 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 fome preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis thereof in fome chofen short book leffon'd throughly to them, they might then