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• tho’ at the same time I confess'd that Virtue, which « ought to be our first and principal Care, was more ' usually acquired in the former.
I intend therefore, in this Letter, to offer at Me. thods, by which I conceive Boys might be made to ' improve in Virtue, as they advance in Letters.
• I know that in most of our publick Schools Vice is • punished and discouraged, whenever it is found out ; - but this is far from being sufficient, unless our Youth • are at the same time taught to form a right Judgment • of Things, and to know what is properly Virtue.
"To this end, whenever they read the Lives and • A&tions of such Men as have been famous in their Generation, it should not be thought enough to make
them barely understand so many Greek or Latin Sen• tences, but they should be asked their Opinion of such an A&tion or Saying, and obliged to give their Reafons why they take it to be good or bad. By this means
they would insensibly arrive at proper Notions of Cou'rage, Temperance, Honour and Justice.
“THERE must be great Care taken how the Example of any particular Person is recommended to them ' in gross; instead of which they ought to be taught ' wherein such a Man, tho' great in some respects, • was weak and faulty in others. For want of this • Caution, a Boy is often so dazzled with the Lustre • of a great Character, that he confounds its Beauties ' with its Blemishes, and looks even upon the faulty • Parts of it with an Eye of Admiracion.
"I have often wondered how Alexander, who was • naturally of a generous and merciful Disposition, came • to be guilty of so barbarous an Action as that of drag• ging the Governor of a Town after his Chariot. I • know this is generally ascribed to his Passion for Homer; • but I lately met with a Passage in Plutarch, which, if • I am not very much mistaken, still gives us a clearer • Light into the Motives of this Action. Plutarch tells us, • that Alexander in his Youth had a Mafter named Lilia 'machus, who, tho' he was a Man destitute of all Po• liteness, ingratiated himself both with Philip and his
Pupil, and became the second Man at Court, by calling the King Peleus, the Prince Achilles, and himself
« Phoenix. It is no wonder if Alexander having been 6 thus used not only to admire, but to personate Achil. « les, should think it glorious to imitate him in this • piece of Cruelty and Extravagance.
* TO carry this Thought yet further, I shall submit it • to your Confideration, whether instead of a Theme or « Copy of Verses, which are the usual Exercises, as they " are called in the School Phrase, it would not be more • proper that a Boy should be tasked once or twice a • Week to write down his Opinion of such Persons and « Things as occur to him in his Reading; that he should • descant upon the Actions of Turnus or Æneas, shew • wherein they excelled or were defective, censure or ap• prove any particular Action, observe how it might have • been carried to a greater Degree of Perfection, and how • it exceeded or fell sort of another. He might at the • same time mark what was moral in any Speech, and • how far it agreed with the Character of the Person • speaking. This Exercise would soon strengthen his 's Judgment in what is blameable or praise-worthy, and give him an early Seasoning of Morality.
NEXT to those Examples which may be met with s in Books, I very much approve Horace's Way of setting 6 before Youth the infamous or honourable Characters of • their Contemporaries: That Poet tells us, this was the • Method his Father made use of to incline him to any « particular Virtue, or give him any Aversion to any para • ticular Vice. If, says Horace, my Father advised me to • live within Bounds, and be contented with the Fortune • he should leave me; Do not you see (says he) the mise• rable Condition of Burrus, and the Son of Albus? Let o the Misfortunes of those two Wretches teach you to • avoid Luxury and Extravagance. If he would inspire • me with an Abhorrence to Debauchery, do not (says « he) make your self like Settanus, when you may be • happy in the Enjoyment of lawful Pleasures. How • scandalous (says he) is the Character of Trebonius, who • was lately caught in Bed with another Man's Wife? • To illustrate the Force of this Method, the Poet adds, « That as a headftrong Patient, who will not at first fol• low his Physician's Prescriptions, grows orderly when • he hears that his Neighbours die all about him; so
" Youth is often frighted from Vice, by hearing the ill • Report it brings upon others.
XENOPHO N's Schools of Equity, in his Life of « Cyrus the Great, are sufficiently famous; He tells us,
that the Persian Children went to School, and employ'd • their Time as diligently in learning the Principles of suf• tice and Sobriety, as the Youth in other countries did • to acquire the most difficult Arts and Sciences : their • Governors spent most part of the Day in hearing their • mutual Accusations one against the other, whether for • Violence, Cheating, Slander, or Ingratitude ; and
taught them how to give Judgment against those who • were found to be any ways guilty of these Crimes. I • omit the Story of the long and short Coat, for which • Cyrus himself was punished, as a Case equally known • with any in Littleton.
"THË Method, which Apuleius tells us the Indian • Gymnofophifts took to educate their Disciples, is still more ' curious and remarkable. His Words are as follow : • When their Dinner is ready, before it is served up, the • Masters inquire of every particular Scholar how he has • employ'd his Time since Sun-rising; some of them an. • swer, that having been chosen as Arbiters between two • Persons they have composed their Differences, and made • them Friends ; some, that they have been executing the • Orders of their Parents ; and others that they have either
found out something new by their own Application, or • learnt it from the Instructions of their Fellows : But if • there happens to be any one among them, who cannot
make it appear that he has employ'd the Morning to ad• vantage, he is immediately excluded from the Company, • and obliged to work while the rest are at Dinner.
“IT is not impossible, that from these feveral Ways of • producing Virtue in the Minds of Boys, some general • Method might be invented. What I would endeavour • to inculcate, is, that our Youth cannot be too soon taught • the Principles of Virtue, seeing the first Impressions • which are made on the Mind are always the strongest.
! THE Archbishop of Cambray makes Telemachus say, • that tho' he was young in Years, he was old in the Art of • knowing how to keep both his own and his Friend's Se• crets. When my Father, says the Prince, went to the « Siege of Troy, he took me on his Knees, and after hav+ ing embraced and blessed me, as he was surrounded by • the Nobles of Ithaca, O my Friends, says he, into your • Hands I commit the Education of my Son ; if ever you • lov'd his Father, shew it in your Care towards him: • but above all, do not omit to form him just, sincere, and • faithful in keeping a Secret. These Words of my Father, ' says Telemachus, were continually repeated to me by his • Friends in his Absence; who made no Scruple of com• municating to me their Uneasiness to see my Mother ' surrounded with Lovers, and the Measures they de• signed to take on that Occasion. He adds, that he was « so ravished at being thus treated like a Man, and at • the Confidence repofed in him, that he never once • abused it ; nor could all the Insinuations of his Father's • Rivals ever get him to betray what was committed to • him under the Seal of Secrecy.
• THERE is hardly any Virtue which a Lad might o not thus learn by Practice and Example.
I have heard of a good Man, who used at certain 6 times to give his Scholars Six-Pence apiece, that they • might tell him the next day how they had employ'd it." . The third part was always to be laid out in Charity, • and every Boy was blamed or commended as he could • make it appear he had chosen a fit Object.
• IN Ihort, nothing is more wanting to our publick • Schools, than that the Masters of them should use the 6 fame Care in fashioning the Manners of their Scholars, • as in forming their Tongues to the learned Languages. • Where ever the former is omitted, I cannot help agree« ing with Mr. Locke, That a Man must have a very
ftrange Value for Words, when preferring the Lan• guages of the Greeks and Romans to that which made • them such brave Men, he can think it worth while to 6 hazard the Innocence and Virtue of his Son for a little • Greek and Latin.
• As the Subject of this Essay is of the highest Im• portance, and what I do not remember to have yet seen • treated by any Author, I have sent you what occurr'd • to me on it from my own Observation or Reading and • which you may either suppress or publish as you think I am, S IR, Yours, &c.
N° 338. Friday, March 28.
- Nil fuit unquam
| Find the Tragedy of the Distref Mother is publish'd to:
day: The Author of the Prologue, I suppose, pleads
an old Excuse I have read somewhere, of being dull with Defign; and the Gentleman who writ the Epilogue, has, to my knowledge, so much of greater moment to value himself apon, that he will easily forgive me for publishing the Exceptions made against Gaiety at the end of serious Entertainments, in the following Letter : I should be more unwilling to pardon him than any body, a Practice which cannot have any ill Consequence, but from the Abilities of the Person who is guilty of it.
· Mr. SPECTATOR, o Had the Happiness the other Night of fitting very '1 near you, and your worthy Friend Sir ROGER, at « the acting of the new Tragedy, which you have in a • late Paper or two so juftly recommended. I was highly • pleased with the advantageous Situation Fortune had • given me in placing me so near two Gentlemen, from
one of which I was sure to hear such Reflexions on « the several Incidents of the Play, as pure Nature sug• gested, and from the other such as flowed from the • exactest Art and Judgment: Tho' I must confess that • my Curiosity led me so much to observe the Knight's • Reflexions, that I was not so well at leisure to improve • my self by yours. Nature, I found, play'd her Part ' in the Knight pretty well, till at the last concluding • Lines The intirely forsook him. You must know, Sir, • that it is always my Custom, when I have been well en• tertained at a new Tragedy, to make my Retreat before o the facetious Epilogue enters ; not but that those Pieces • are often very well writ, but having paid down my VOL. V.