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their way up to the station at which most princes are willing enough to set out,-of general and commander-in-chief over their own forces. Butbesides that there is oftentimes great sham and pretence in their show of mock humility—the competition which they stooped to was with their coevals, however inferior to them in birth. Between ages so very disparate as those which you contemplate, I fear there can no salutary emulalation subsist.
Again : in the other alternative, could you submit to the ordinary reproofs and discipline of a day-school? Could you bear to be corrected for your faults? Or how would it look to see you put to stand, as must be the case sometimes, in a corner?
I am afraid the idea of a public school in your circumstances must be given up.
But is it impossible, my dear sir, to find some person of your own age,-if of the other sex, the more agreeable, perhaps, - whose information, like your own, has rather lagged behind his years, who should be willing to set out from the same point with yourself; to undergo the same tasks ?—thus at once inciting and sweetening each other's labours in a sort of friendly rivalry. Such a one, I think, it would not be difficult to find in some of the western parts of this island,-about Dartmoor, for instance.
Or what if, from your own estate,--that estate, which, unexpectedly acquired so late in life, has inspired into you this generous thirst after knowledge,--you were to select some elderly peasant, that might best be spared from the land, to come and begin his education with you, that you might till, as it were, your minds together, -one whose
heavier progress might invite, without a fear of discouraging, your emulation ? We might then see -starting from an equal post—the difference of the clownish and the gentle blood.
A private education, then, or such a one as I have been describing, being determined on, we must in the next place look out for a preceptor ; for it will be some time before either of you, left to yourselves, will be able to assist the other to any great purpose in his studies.
And now, my dear sir, if, in describing such a tutor as I have imagined for you, I use a style a little above the familiar one in which I have hitherto chosen to address you, the nature of the subject must be my apology. Difficile est de scientiis inscienter loqui ; which is as much as to say, that, “in treating of scientific matters, it is difficult to avoid the use of scientific terms.” But I shall endeavour to be as plain as possible. I am not going to present you with the ideal of a pedagogue as it may exist in my fancy, or has possibly been realized in the persons of Buchanan and Busby. Something less than perfection will serve our turn. The scheme which I propose in this first or introductory letter has reference to the first four or five years of your education only; and in enumerating the qualifications of him that should undertake the direction of your studies, I shall rather point out the minimum, or least, that I shall require of him, than trouble you in the search of attainments neither common nor necessary to our immediate purpose.
He should be a man of deep and extensive knowledge. So much at least is indispensable. Something older than yourself, I could wish him, because years add reverence.
To his age and great learning, he should be blessed with a temper and a patience willing to accommodate itself to the imperfections of the slowest and meanest capacities. Such a one, in former days, Mr. Hartlib appears to have been ; and such, in our days, I take Mr. Grierson to be : but our friend, you know, unhappily, has other engagements. I do not demand a consummate grammarian; but he must be a thorough master of vernacular orthography, with an insight into the accentualities and punctualities of modern Saxon, or English. He must be competently instructed (or how shall he instruct you?) in the tetralogy, or four first rules, upon which not only arithmetic, but geometry, and the pure mathematics themselves, are grounded. I do not require that he should have measured the globe with Cook or Ortelius; but it is desirable that he should have a general knowledge (I do not mean a very nice or pedantic one) of the great division of the earth into four parts, so as to teach you readily to name the quarters. He must have a genius capable in some degree of soaring to the upper element, to deduce from thence the not much dissimilar computation of the cardinal points, or hinges, upon which those invisible phenomena, which naturalists agree to term winds, do perpetually shift and turn. He must instruct you, in imitation of the old Orphic fragments (the mention of which has possibly escaped you), in numeric and harmonious responses, to deliver the number of solar revolutions within which each of the twelve periods, into which the Annus Vulgaris, or common year, is divided, doth usually complete and terminate itself. The intercalaries and other subtle problems he will do well to omit, till riper years and course of study
shall have rendered you more capable thereof. He must be capable of embracing all history, so as, from the countless myriads of individual men who have peopled this globe of earth,- for it is a globe, -by comparison of their respective births, lives, deaths, fortunes, conduct, prowess, &c., to pronounce, and teach you to pronounce, dogmatically and catechetically, who was the richest, who was the strongest, who was the wisest, who was the meekest, man that ever lived; to the facilitation of which solution, you will readily conceive, a smattering of biography would in no inconsiderable degree conduce. Leaving the dialects of men (in one of which I shall take leave to suppose you by this time at least superficially instituted), you will learn to ascend with him to the contemplation of that unarticulated language which was before the written tongue; and, with the aid of the elder Phrygian or Æsopic key, to interpret the sounds by which the animal tribes communicate their minds, evolving moral instruction with delight from the dialogue of cocks, dogs, and foxes. Or, marrying theology with verse, from whose mixture a beautiful and healthy offspring may be expected, in your own native accents (but purified), you will keep time together to the profound harpings of the more modern or Wattsian hymnics.
Thus far I have ventured to conduct you to a “hill-side, whence you may discern the right path of a virtuous and noble education ; laborious, indeed, at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospects and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming.”
1 Milton's “Tractate on Education,” addressed to Mr. Hartlib.