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fell ill, he preferred to go to the hospital rather than to remain in his own home. All the menial work was done by slaves, as had been the custom of the ancient Greeks. The greatest toleration prevailed in regard to religious belief and practice. In the end More says that he cannot entirely approve of everything that Raphael has related, but he declares: “There are many things in the commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments”.
The book was written in Latin, and first published in 1516; the third edition (1518) is the best of the early editions; it contains a woodcut, executed by Holbein, of More and his friends listening to Raphael's narrative. They are sitting in a garden. Raphael is drawn just as More describes him in the book, and More himself is attired as becomes a man of rank. On the left side, More's son, a young boy, is running forward. Holbein probably introduced him because in the dedication More said that he never allowed a boy to miss a conversation that might be advantageous to him. It is a fine piece of work, and proves that the illustrator must have been acquainted with the text. Another woodcut gives a bird'seye view of the island of Utopia.
The book was first translated into English in 1557 by Ralph Robinson, again by Gilbert Burnet in 1684, and by Arthur Cayley in 1808.
II. Roger Ascham. Roger Ascham was born in Yorkshire in 1515. He received a good education, studying Greek and Latin at St. John's College, Cambridge. After taking Roger his degree he gathered pupils round him, and Ascham. about 1538 was appointed Greek reader at his old college. Archery had always been his favourite exercise, and in 1545 he published a treatise on archery called Toxophilus 1. Its English style is perhaps a little rough, but The "Toxoit is clear, and shows a considerable advance philus”, 1545. on the prose of his predecessors. Men did not yet perceive that it was possible to give beauty and charm of style to English prose composition; they considered that such efforts should be confined to poetry. Indeed, Ascham deemed it necessary to make an apology for writing in his own tongue; that of itself shows how little such an accomplishment was esteemed. In the dedication to Henry VIII., whom he addresses
i The word is Greek, and means 'a lover of the bow'.
defender of the faith and of the Church of England”, he wrote:
Although to have written this book either in Latin or Greek (which thing I would be very glad yet to do, if I might surely know your Grace's pleasure therein) had been more easier and fit for my trade in study, yet nevertheless, I supposing it no point of honesty, that my commodity should stop and hinder any part either of the pleasure or profit of many, have written this English matter in the English tongue, for English men.
The dedication is followed by an address to the gentlemen and yeomen of England, and there again he deems an apology necessary for writing in the English tongue.
If (he says) any man would blame me, either for taking such a matter in hand, or else for writing it in the English tongue, this answer I may make him, that when the best of the realm think it honest for them to use, I, one of the meanest sort, ought not to suppose it vile for me to write. And though to have written it in another tongue, had been both more profitable for my study, and also more honest for my name, yet I can think my labour well bestowed, if with a little hindrance of my profit and name, may come any furtherance, to the pleasure or commodity of the gentlemen and yeomen of England, for whose sake I took this matter in hand. And as for the Latin or Greek tongue, everything is so excellently done in them, that none can do better: in the English tongue, on the contrary, everything in a manner so meanly, both for the matter and handling, that no man can do worse.
He that will write well in any tongue, must follow this counsel of Aristotle, to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do.
The book takes the form of a dialogue between Toxophilus (Ascham himself) and Philologus (probably Sir John Cheke). The first part is an argument in favour of archery as a recreation for students and as an instrument of war; the second part contains practical hints for becoming proficient in the art.
About 1545 Ascham began to direct the studies of the Princess Elizabeth, and in 1548 he was appointed her tutor. He found her most accomplished. She talked French and Italian very well, Latin and Greek fairly well, wrote a beautiful hand, and was fond of music. She was widely read in the Greek and Latin classics. Lady Jane Grey was also a protégée of his, and in the Schoolmaster, Ascham relates very charmingly that he visited The “Schoolher about 1550 at her father's house, and found master”. her reading Plato while the rest of the household were out hunting.
After travelling abroad in an official capacity, Ascham was appointed, in 1553, Latin secretary 2 to Mary. On her death he retained the same office under Elizabeth, and often read Greek and played chess with her. Ascham died at London in 1568. The queen was much grieved, and declared that she would rather have cast £10,000 into the sea than have lost her Ascham.
Ascham's greatest literary achievement, the Schoolmaster, was not published until 1570, two years after his death. It is our first treatise on education. The
The Schoolpreface relates the origin of the work. It master”. appears that one day in 1563, Ascham was dining at Windsor Castle, where the queen then was, with Sir William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh), Elizabeth's
Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), in an imaginary conversation between Ascham and Lady Jane Grey at the time of her marriage, makes the scholar, with a kind of intuition of her troubles to come, advise Lady Jane to concern herself more with realities and less with her books; but she replies that she cannot give up her Cicero, Epictetus, Plutarch, and Polybius.
Secretary for foreign tongues. His duties were to read and translate all documents in foreign languages sent to the sovereign, and to write the replies, generally in Latin.
chief political adviser. The talk turned on the running away from Eton of several boys “for fear of beating”. A discussion ensued as to the wisdom of administering corporal punishment to schoolboys. Some were in favour of such discipline, but others, and among them Ascham, advocated a gentler mode of treatment. When dinner was over, Ascham went up to read with the queen. We then read together (he writes) in the Greek tongue, as I well remember, that noble oration of Demosthenes against Æschines for his false dealing in his embassage to King Philip of Macedonia. A little later Sir Richard Sackville' complimented Ascham on the part he had taken in the discussion at dinner, and requested him to find a schoolmaster for his grandson, whom he wished taught with Ascham's own son. The two men had then a long conversation about the best methods of education, and finally Sackville said to Ascham:
Because this place and this time will not suffer so long talk as these good matters require, therefore, I pray you, at my request, and at your leisure, put in some order of writing the chief points of this our talk, concerning the right order of teaching, and honesty of living, for the good bringing up of children and young men.
And so Ascham wrote his famous Schoolmaster.
The first part of Ascham’s book is a general treatise on education, pointing out with much wisdom that flogging is a mistake, and that gentleness and judicious praise will accomplish much more. For I assure you (he writes) that there is no such whetstone to sharpen a good wit and encourage a will to learning as is praise.
Ascham recommends that the aim of teachers, who must be chosen with the greatest care, should be to make their pupils love their lessons. Sports and games in moderation are to be encouraged side by side with learning, by
1 Father of Thomas Sackville the poet, of whom we shall have much to say later.
preference those that can be carried on in the open air. And in conclusion Ascham advises all to take example by the queen, who rivals the rare wits of both universities in her excellency of learning, and then England, for learning and wisdom, would be a spectacle to all the world beside. It is interesting to note in a serious prose work the personal influence of Elizabeth and the high estimation in which she was held by her subjects. It is the same spirit that enters in so extravagant a degree into the poetical literature of her day. Ascham has much to say in dispraise of the prevailing custom of sending English youths to Italy to complete their education. He declares that Italy is not what it used to be, that vice is to be met in every city, and that it is impossible to gain there wisdom or honesty.1
The second part treats of the teaching of Latin, and advocates a method that remains quite the best for acquiring a literary knowledge of any language, ancient or modern. Ascham counsels the teacher to translate into simple English a piece of some Latin author, and then direct the pupil, without book, to turn it back into Latin, and afterwards compare his rendering with the original. The comparison will afford ample opportunity of gently pointing out the pupil's faults and of explaining the reasons for correction.
Ascham's English style is simple and clear, and more vigorous than ornamental. His writings deservedly occupy a high place in our literature, and form an important step in the history of English prose.
1 Shakespeare also recorded his dislike of the “ Italianized Englishman". In Richard 11. (ii. 1) he speaks of fashions in proud Italy:
Whose manners still our tardy, apish nation
Limps after in base imitation. And in As You Like It (iv. I) Rosalind says to Jaques, "Farewell, Monsieur Traveller: look you lisp, and wear strange suits, disable all the benefits of your own country, be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola".