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THE GOOD SCHOOLMASTER
There is scarcely any profession in the commonwealth more I necessary, which is so slightly performed. The reasons
whereof I conceive to be these: First, young scholars make this calling their refuge; yea, perchance before they have taken any degree in the university, commence schoolmasters in the country, as if nothing else were required to set up this profession but only a rod and a ferula. Secondly, others who are able use it only as a passage to better preferment, to patch the rents in their present fortune, till they can provide a new one and betake themselves to some more gainful calling. Thirdly, they are disheartened from doing their best with the miserable reward which in some places they receive, being masters to their children and slaves to their parents. Fourthly, being grown rich, they grow negligent, and scorn to touch the school but by the proxy of the usher. But see how well our schoolmaster behaves himself. . . .
He studieth his scholars' natures as carefully as they were books, and ranks their dispositions into several forms. And though it may seem difficult for him in a great school to descend to all particulars, yet experienced schoolmasters may quickly make a grammar of boys' natures, and reduce them all — saving some few exceptions— to these general rules:
1. Those that are ingenious and industrious. The conjunction of two such planets in a youth presages much good unto him. To such a lad a frown may be a whipping, and a whipping a death; yea, where their master whips them once, shame whips them all the week after. Such natures he useth with all gentleness.
2. Those that are ingenious and idle. These think, with the hare in the fable, that running with snails— so they count the rest of their schoolfellows— they shall come soon enough to the post, though sleeping a good while before their starting. Oh! a good rod would finely take them napping!
3. Those that are dull and diligent. Wines, the stronger they be, the more lees they have when they are new. Many boys are muddy-headed till they be clarified with age, and such
afterwards prove the best. Bristol diamonds are both bright, and squared, and pointed by nature, and yet are soft and worthless; whereas Orient ones in India are rough and rugged naturally. Hard, rugged, and dull natures of youth acquit themselves afterwards the jewels of the country, and therefore their dullness at first is to be borne with if they be diligent. The schoolmaster deserves to be beaten himself, who beats Nature in a boy for a fault. And I question whether all the whipping in the world can make their parts, which are naturally sluggish, rise one minute before the hour Nature hath appointed.
4. Those that are invincibly dull, and negligent also. Correction may reform the latter, not amend the former. All the whetting in the world can never set a razor's edge on that which hath no steel in it. Such boys he consigneth over to other professions. Shipwrights and boat-makers will choose those crooked pieces of timber which other carpenters refuse. Those may make excellent merchants and mechanics who will not serve for scholars.
He is able, diligent, and methodical in his teaching; not leading them rather in a circle than forwards. He minces his precepts for children to swallow, hanging clogs on the nimbleness of his own soul, that his scholars may go along with him.
From «The Holy and Profane State) It is a vanity to persuade the world one hath much learning by I getting a great library. As soon shall I believe every one
is valiant that hath a well-furnished armory. I guess good housekeeping by the smoking, not the number of the tunnels, as knowing that many of them — built merely for uniformity - are without chimneys, and more without fires.
Some books are only cursorily to be tasted of: namely, first, voluminous books, the task of a man's life to read them over; secondly, auxiliary books, only to be repaired to on occasions; thirdly, such as are mere pieces of formality, so that if you look on them you look through them, and he that peeps through the casement of the index sees as much as if he were in the house. But the laziness of those cannot be excused who perfunctorily pass over authors of consequence, and only trade in their tables
and contents. These, like city cheaters, having gotten the names of all country gentlemen, make silly people believe they have long lived in those places where they never were, and flourish with skill in those authors they never seriously studied.
It is the second city in Christendom for greatness, and the first I for good government. There is no civilized part of the
world but it has heard thereof, though many with this mistake: that they conceive London to be the country and England but the city therein.
Some have suspected the declining of the lustre thereof, because of late it vergeth so much westward, increasing in buildings, Covent Garden, etc. But by their favor (to disprove their fear) it will be found to burnish round about with new structures daily added thereunto.
It oweth its greatness under God's divine providence to the well-conditioned river of Thames, which doth not (as some tyrant rivers of Europe) abuse its strength in a destructive way, but employeth its greatness in goodness, to be beneficial to commerce, by the reciprocation of the tide therein. Hence it was that when King James, offended with the city, threatened to remove his court to another place, the Lord Mayor (boldly enough) returned that “he might remove his court at his pleasure, but could not remove the river Thames.”
Erasmus will have London so called from Lindus, a city of Rhodes; averring a great resemblance betwixt the languages and customs of the Britons and Grecians. But Mr. Camden (who no doubt knew of it) honoreth not this his etymology with the least mention thereof. As improbable in my apprehension is the deduction from Lud's-Town,- town being a Saxon, not British termination; and that it was so termed from Lan Dian, a temple of Diana (standing where now St. Paul's doth), is most likely in my opinion.
It is dangerous to gather flowers that grow on the banks of the | pit of hell, for fear of falling in; yea, they which play with
the Devil's rattles will be brought by degrees to wield his sword; and from making of sport they come to doing of mischief.
A public office is a guest which receives the best usage from them who never invited it.
Scoff not at the natural defects of any, which are not in their power to amend. Oh! 'tis cruel to beat a cripple with his own crutches.
Learning has gained most by those books by which the printers have lost.
Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues.
To smell to a turf of fresh earth is wholesome for the body; no less are thoughts of mortality cordial to the soul.
The lion is not so fierce as painted.
... Their heads sometimes so little that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long that there is no wit for so much room.
Often the cock-loft is empty in those whom nature hath built many stories high.
The Pyramids themselves, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders.
... One that will not plead that cause wherein his tongue must be confuted by his conscience.
But our captain counts the image of God - nevertheless his image — cut in ebony as if done in ivory; and in the blackest Moors he sees the representation of the King of Heaven.