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ROGER ASCH A M.
[ROGER Ascham was preceptor, and ultimately Latin Secretary to Queen Elizabeth. The latter appears to have been much attached to him, if we may judge from the remark which she made at his death, that she would rather have given ten thousand pounds than lose him. He is generally quoted as the first English author who wrote on the subject of education. Many of his views were much in advance of the times in which he lived. His principal work, The Schoolmaster, contains, besides many good general views of education, what Johnson considered the best advice that ever was given for the study of languages. It also presents judicious characters of ancient authors. He published another work, entitled Toxophilus, a dialogue on the art of Archery. The following extract is from the Schoolmaster.]
Importance of having a Schoolmaster of the right sort.
It is pity that commonly more care is had, and that among very wise men, to find out rather a cunning man for their horse, than a cunning man for their children. To the one they will gladly give a stipend of two hundred crowns by the year, and loth to offer the other two hundred shillings. God, that sitteth in heaven, laugheth their choice to scorn, and rewardeth their liberality as it should; for he suffereth them to have tame and well ordered horse, but wild and unfortunate children.
One example, whether love or fear doth work more in a child for virtue and learning, I will gladly report; which may be heard with some pleasure, and followed with more profit. Before I went into Germany, I came to Broadgate, in Leicestershire, to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholden. Her parents, the duke and the duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber, reading a dialogue of Plato in Greek, and that with as much delight, as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Bocace. After salutation and duty done, with some other talk, I asked her, why she would lose such pastime in the park? Smiling, she answered me, “I wiss, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant." “ And how came you, madam," quoth I, “ to this deep knowledge of pleasure ? And what did chiefly allure you unto it, seeing not many women, but very few men, have attained thereunto?" "I will tell you," quoth she, “ and tell you a truth which, perchance, ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is, that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world, or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea, presently, sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways, which I will not name for the honour I bear them, so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer; who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing, whiles I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because, whatever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me. And thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure and more, that, in respect of it, all other pleasures, in very deed be but trifles and troubles unto me.”
[RICHARD HOOKER was an eminent divine of the church of England in the days of Queen Elizabeth. His principal work is an elaborate Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. He is generally known among theologians as “the judicious Hooker." His style is not one to be imitated, though it contains many points worthy of observation. The words, for the most part, are well chosen and pure, but the arrangement of them into sentences is intricate and harsh, and formed almost exclusively on the idiom and construction of the Latin. Much strength and vigour are derived from this adoption, but perspicuity, sweetness, and ease, are too generally sacrificed. There is, notwithstanding these usual features of his composition, an occasional simplicity in his pages, both of style and sentiment, which truly charms. A single extract is given.]
Touching musical harmony, whether by instrument or by voice, it being but of high and low in sounds a due proportionable disposition, such notwithstanding is the force thereof, and so pleasing effects it hath in
that very part of man which is most divine, that some have been thereby induced to think that the soul itself by nature is, or hath in it, harmony; a thing which delighteth all ages, and beseemeth all states; a thing as seasonable in grief as in joy; as decent, being added unto actions of greatest weight and solemnity, as being used when men most sequester themselves from action.
The reason hereof is an admirable facility which music hath to express and represent to the mind, more inwardly than any other sensible mean, the very standing, rising, and falling, the very steps and inflections every way, the turns and varieties of all passions whereunto the mind is subject; yea, so to imitate them, that, whether it resemble unto us the same state wherein our minds already are, or a clean contrary, we are not more contentedly by the one confirmed, than changed and led away by the other. In harmony, the very image and character even of virtue and vice is perceived, the mind delighted with their resemblances, and brought by having them often iterated into a love of the things themselves. For which cause there is nothing more contagious and pestilent than some kinds of harmony; than some, nothing more strong and potent unto good.
And that there is such a difference of one kind from another, we need no proof but our own experience, inasmuch as we are at the hearing of some more inclined unto sorrow and heaviness, of some more mollified and softened in mind; one kind apter to stay and settle us, another to move and stir our affections; there is that draweth to a marvellous grave and sober mediocrity; there is also that carrieth, as it were, into ecstasies, filling the mind with a heavenly joy, and for the time in a manner severing it from the body; so that, although we lay altogether aside the consideration of ditty or matter, the very harmony of sounds being framed in due sort, and carried from the ear to the spiritual faculties of our souls, is, by a native puissance and efficacy, greatly available to bring to a perfect temper whatsoever is there troubled ; apt as well to quicken the spirits as to allay that which is too eager; sovereign against melancholy and despair; forcible to draw forth tears of devotion, if the mind be such as can yield them; able both to move and to moderate all affections.
In church music curiosity or ostentation of art, wanton, or light, or unsuitable harmony, such as only pleaseth the ear, and doth not naturally serve to the very kind and degree of those impressions which the matter that goeth with it leaveth, or is apt to leave, in men's minds, doth rather blemish and disgrace that we do, than add either beauty or furtherance unto it. On the other side, the faults prevented, the force and efficacy of the thing itself, when it drowneth not utterly, but fitly suiteth with matter altogether sounding to the praise of God, is in truth most admirable, and doth much edify, if not the understanding, because it teacheth not, yet surely the affection, because therein it worketh much. They must have hearts very dry and tough, from whom the melody of the psalms doth not sometime draw that wherein a mind religiously affected delighteth.