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much into the discovery of truth, as into a captious and fallacious use of doubtful words, which is the most useless and most offensive way of talking, and such as least suits a gentleman or a lover of truth of any thing in the world.
There can scarce be a greater defect in a gentleman, than not to express himself well, either in writing or speaking. But yet, I think, I may ask my reader, Whether he doth not know a great many, who live upon their estates, and so, with the name, should have the qualities of gentlemen, who cannot so much as tell a story as they should, much less speak clearly and persuasively in any business? This I think not to be so much their fault, as the fault of their education; for I must, without partiality, do my countrymen this right, that where they apply themselves, I see none of their neighbours outgo them. They have been taught rhetoric, but yet never taught how to express themselves handsomely with their tongues, or pens, in the language they are always to use; as if the names of the figures, that embellished the discourses of those who understood the art of speaking, were the very art and skill of speaking well. This, as all other things of practice, is to be learned not by a few or a great many rules given, but by exercise and application, according to good rules, or rather patterns, till habits are got, and a facility of doing it well.
Agreeable hereunto, perhaps it might not be Style. amiss to make children, as soon as they are
capable of it, often to tell a story of any thing they know; and to correct at first the most remarkable fault they are guilty of, in their way of putting it together. When that fault is cured, then to show them the next, and so on, till, one after another, all, at least the gross ones, are mended. When they can tell tales pretty well, then it may be time to make them write them. The Fables of Æsop, the only book almost that I know fit for children, may afford them matter for this exercise of writing English, as well as for reading and translating, to enter them in the Latin tongue. When they are got past the faults of grammar, and can join
in a continued coherent discourse the several parts of a story, without bald and unhandsome forms of transition (as is usual) often repeated; he that desires to perfect them yet farther in this, which is the first step to speaking well, and needs no invention, may have recourse to Tully; and by putting in practice those rules, which that master of eloquence gives in his first book" De Inventione," § 20. make them know wherein the skill and graces of an handsome narrative, according to the several subjects and designs of it, lie. Of each of which rules fit examples may be found out, and therein they may be shown how others have practised them. The ancient classic authors afford plenty of such examples, which they should be made not only to translate, but have set before them as patterns for their daily imitation.
When they understand how to write English with due connexion, propriety, and order, and are pretty well masters of a tolerable narrative style, they may be advanced to writing of letters; wherein they should not be put upon any strains of wit or compliment, but taught to express their own plain easy sense, without any incoherence, confusion, or roughness. And when they are perfect in this, they may, to raise their thoughts, have set before them the example of Voiture's, for the entertainment of their friends at a distance, with letters of compliment, mirth, raillery, or diversion; and Tully's epistles, as the best pattern, whether for business or conversation. The writing of letters has so much to do in all the occurrences of human life, that no gentleman can avoid showing himself in this kind of writing: occasions will daily force him to make this use of his pen, which, besides the conséquences, that, in his affairs, his well or ill managing of it often draws after it, always lays him open to a severer examination of his breeding, sense, and abilities, than oral discourses; whose transient faults, dying for the most part with the sound that gives them life, and so not subject to a strict review, more casily escape observation and censure.
Had the methods of education been directed to their
right end, one would have thought this, so necessary a part, could not have been neglected, whilst themes and verses in Latin, of no use at all, were so constantly every where pressed, to the racking of children's inventions beyond their strength, and hindering their cheerful progress in learning the tongues, by unnatural difficulties. But custom has so ordained it, and who dares disobey? And would it not be very unreasonable to require of a learned country schoolmaster (who has all the tropes and figures in Farnaby's rhetoric at his fingers' ends), to teach his scholar to express himself handsomely in English, when it appears to English. be so little his business or thought, that the boy's mother (despised, it is like, as illiterate, for not having read a system of logic and rhetoric), outdoes him in it?
To write and speak correctly gives a grace, and gains a favourable attention to what one has to say; and, since it is English that an English gentleman will have constant use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his style. To speak or write better Latin than English may make a man be talked of; but he would find it more to his purpose to express himself well in his own tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain commendation of others for a very insignificant quality. This I find universally neglected, and no care taken any where to improve young men in their own language, that they may thoroughly understand and be masters of it. If any one among us have a facility or purity more than ordinary in his mother-tongue, it is owing to chance, or his genius, or any thing, rather than to his education, or any care of his teacher. To mind what English his pupil speaks or writes, is below the dignity of one bred up amongst Greek and Latin, though he have but little of them himself. These are the learned languages, fit only for learned men to meddle with and teach; English is the language of the illiterate vulgar; though yet we see the policy of some of our neighbours hath not
thought it beneath the public care to promote and reward the improvement of their own language. Polishing and enriching their tongue is no small business amongst them; it hath colleges and stipends appointed it, and there is raised amongst them a great ambition and emulation of writing correctly and we see what they are come to by it, and how far they have spread one of the worst languages, possibly, in this part of the world, if we look upon it as it was in some few reigns backwards, whatever it be now. The great men amongst the Romans were daily exercising themselves in their own language; and we find yet upon record the names of orators, who taught some of their emperors Latin, though it were their mother tongue.
It is plain the Greeks were yet more nice in theirs; all other speech was barbarous to them but their own, and no foreign language appears to have been studied or valued amongst that learned and acute people; though it be past doubt, that they borrowed their learning and philosophy from abroad.
I am not here speaking against Greek and Latin; I think they ought to be studied, and the Latin at least, understood well, by every gentleman. But whatever foreign languages a young man meddles with (and the more he knows, the better), that which he should critically study, and labour to get a facility, clearness, and elegancy to express himself in, should be his own, and to this purpose he should daily be exercised in it.
$ 190. Natural philosophy, as a speculative science, I imagine, we have none; and perhaps I may think I have reason to say, we never shall be able to make a science of it. The works of nature are contrived by a wisdom, and operate by ways, too far surpassing our faculties to discover, or capacities to conceive, for us ever to be able to reduce them into a science. Natural philosophy being the knowledge of the principles, properties, and operations of things, as they are in themselves, I imagine there are two parts of it, one comprehending spirits, with their nature and qualities; and the other bodies. The first of these is usually referred to metaphysics: but
under what title soever the consideration of spirits comes, I think it ought to go before the study of matter and body, not as a science that can be methodized into a system, and treated of, upon principles of knowledge; but as an enlargement of our minds towards a truer and fuller comprehension of the intellectual world, to which we are led both by reason and revelation. And since the clearest and largest discoveries we have of other spirits, besides God and our own souls, is imparted to us from heaven by revelation, I think the information, that at least young people should have of them, should be taken from that revelation. To this purpose, I conclude, it would be well, if there were made a good history of the Bible for young people to read; wherein if every thing that is fit to be put into it were laid down in its due order of time, and several things omitted, which are suited only to riper age; that confusion, which is usually produced by promiscuous reading of the Scripture, as it lies now bound up in our Bibles, would be avoided; and also this other good obtained, that by reading of it constantly, there would be instilled into the minds of children a notion and belief of spirits, they having so much to do, in all the transactions of that history, which will be a good preparation to the study of bodies. For, without the notion and allowance of spirit, our philosophy will be lame and defective in one main part of it, when it leaves out the contemplation of the most excellent and powerful part of the creation.
$191. Of this history of the Bible, I think too it would be well, if there were a short and plain epitome made, containing the chief and most material heads for children to be conversant in, as soon as they can read. This, though it will lead them early into some notion of spirits, yet is not contrary to what I said above, that I would not have children troubled, whilst young, with notions of spirits; whereby my meaning was, that I think it inconvenient, that their yet tender minds should receive early impressions of goblins, spectres, and apparitions, wherewith their maids, and those