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wise in his mother dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have made learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful; first, we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year.
And that which casts our proficiency therein so much behind, is our time lost 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 judgment, † and the final work of a head filled 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 nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit; besides the ill habit which they get of wretched barbarising against the Latin and Greek idiom, with their untutored Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well continued and judicious conversing among pure authors digested, which they scarce
* Is it not better to have ten ideas in one language, than one idea in ten ?
† It is a usual practice (but in my opinion somewhat preposterous) that scholars in the universities are too early entered in logic and rhetoric ; arts indeed fitter for graduates than children and novices,—the untimely and unripe accession to these arts, bath drawn on, by necessary consequence, a watery and superficiary delivery and handling thereof, as is fitted indeed to the capacities of children.-Bacon's Advancement of Learning.
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 lessoned thoroughly to them, they might then forth with 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 most rational and most 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 recovered from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that instead of beginning with arts most easy, (and those be such as are most obvious to the sense,) they present their young unmatriculated novices at first coming with the most intellective abstractions of logic and metaphysics, so that they having but newly left those grammatic 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 tossed and turmoiled with their unballasted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for the most part grow into hatred and contempt of learning, mocked and deluded all this while with ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge; till poverty or youthful years call them importunately their several ways, and hasten them with the sway of friends, her to an ambitious and mercenary, or ignorantly zealous divinity: some allured 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 Aattery and courtshifts, and tyrannous aphorisms appear to them the highest points of wisdom; instilling their barren hearts with a conscientious slavery; if, as I rather think, it be not feigned. 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 feasts 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 errors, and these are the fruits of mispending our prime youth at schools and universities as we do, either in learning mere words, or such things chiefly as were better unlearned.
I shall detain you now no longer in the demonstration of what we should not do, but straight conduct you to a hill side, where I will point you out 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 prospect and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming. I doubt not but ye shall have more ado to drive our dullest and laziest youth, our stocks and stubs, from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture, than we have now to hale and drag our choicest and hopefullest wits to that asinine feast of sowthistles and brambles, which is commonly set before them as all the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most
I call therefore a complete and generous education, that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of
And how all this may be done between twelve and one and twenty, less time than is now bestowed in pure trifling at grammar and sophistry, is to be thus ordered, &c. &c.*
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ERROR
Good and evil we know in the field of this world grow up together almost inseparably: and the knowledge of good is so involved and interwoven with the knowledge of evil, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly to be discerned, that those confused seeds which were imposed upon Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out and sort asunder, were not more intermixed.+
* From Milton's Letter to Master Hartlib.
+ We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, who write what men do, and not what they ought to do; for it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with columbine inno
I CANNOT praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not
cency, except men knew exactly all the conditions of the serpent; his baseness and going upon his belly : his volubility, and lubricity; his envy and sting.
The connection between truth and error, or rather how error leads to truth, may be seen in tracing the drogress of any invention, as the steam engine; or of any science, of astronomy for instance, of which there is to any person desirous to see how light arises out of darkness, a very interesting delineation in the posthumous works of Adam Smith.
Yet surely to alchemy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman, whereof Æsop makes the fable; that, when he died, told his sons, that he had left unto them gold buried under ground in his vineyard : and they digged over all the ground, and gold they found none: but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of the vines, they had a great vintage the year following ; so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature, as for the use of man's life.—BACON.
Good and ill are universally intermingled and confounded; - happiness and misery, wisdom and folly, virtue and vice. Nothing is pure and entirely of a piece. All advantages are attended with disadvantages. A universal compensation prevails in all conditions of being and existence. And it is scarce possible for us by our most chimerical wishes, to form the idea of a station or situation altogether desirable. The draughts of life, according to the poet's fiction, are always mixed from vessels on each hand of Jupiter : or if any cup be presented altogether pure, it is drawn only, as the same poet tells us,
from the left-handed vessel.-HUME. Truth is often covered with heaps of idle and unprofitable