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ON THE DUTIES OF SCHOOL BOYS.
Quinctilian says, that he has included almost all the duty of scholars in this one piece of advice which he gives them, to love those who teach them, as they love the sciences which they learn of them; and to look upon them as fathers, from whom they derive not the life of the body, but that instruction which is in a manner the life of the soul. Indeed this sen. timent of affection and respect suffices to make them apt to learn during the time of their studies, and full of gratitude all the rest of their lives. It seems to me to include a great part of what is to be expected from them. Docility, which consists in submitting to directions, in readily receiving the instructions of their masters, and reducing them to practice, is proper. ly the virtue of scholars, as that of masters is to teach well. The one can do nothing without the other; and as it is not sufficient for a labourer to sow the seed, unless the earth, after having opened its bosom to receive it, in a manner hatches, warms, and moistens it; so likewise the whole fruit of instruction depends up. on a good correspondence between the masters and the scholars. Gratitude for those who have la. boured in our education, is the character of an honest man, and the mark of a good heart. Who is there among us, says Cicero, that has been instructed with any care, that is not highly delighted with the sight, or even the bare remembrance of his preceptors, masters, and the place where he was taught and brought up? Seneca exhorts young men to preserve always a great respect for their masters, to whose care they are in. debted for the amendment of their faults, and for having imbibed sentiments of honour and probity.
Their exactness and severity displease sometimes at an age when we are not in a condition to judge of the obligations we owe to them; but when years have ripened our understanding and judgment, we then discern that what made us dislike them, I mean ad. monitions, reprimands, and a severe exactness in restraining the passions of an imprudent and inconsid. erate age, is expressly the very thing which should make us esteem and love them. Thus we see that Marcus Aurelius, one of the wisest and most illustri. ous emperors that Rome ever had, thanked the gods for two things especially—for his having had excel. lent tutors himself, and that he had found the like for his children,
Quinctilian, after having noted the different characters of the mind in children, draws, in a few words, the image of what he judged to be a perfect scholar; and certainly it is a very am
“ For my part," says he, 6 I like a child who is encouraged by commendation, is animated by a sense of glory, and weeps when he is outdone. A noble emulation will always keep him in exercise, a reprimand will touch him to the quick, and honour will serve instead of a spur. We need not fear that such a scholar will ever give himself up to sullenness." Mihi ille detur puer, quem laus excitet, quem gloria juvet, qui virtus fleat. Hic erit alendus ambitu: hunc mordebit objurgatio : hunc honor excitabit: in hoc desidiam nunquam verebor.
How great a value soever Quinctilian sets upon the talents of the mind, he esteems those of the heart far beyond them, and looks upon the others as of no value without them. In the same chapter from whence I took the preceding words, he declares, he should never have a good opinion of a child, who placed his study in occasioning laughter, by mimicking the behaviour, mien, and faults of others; and he presently gives an admirable reason for it: “ A child," says he, “ca not be truly ingenious, in my opinion, unless he be good and vira
tuous; otherwise, I should rather choose to have him dull and heavy than of a bad disposition.". Non dabits
t spem bonæ indolis, qui hoc imitandi studio pet, it, ut rideatur. Nam probus quoque imprimis erit ille vere ingeniosus: alioqui non pejus duxerim tardi esse ingenii, quam mali. He displays to us all these talents in the eldest of his two children, whose character he draws, and whose death he laments in so eloquent and pathetic a strain, in the beautiful pre. face to his sixth book. I shall beg leave to insert here a small extract of it, which will not be useless to the boys, as they will find it a model which suits well with their age and condition.
After having mentioned his younger son, who died at five years old, and described the graces and beauties of his counte. nance, the prettiness of his expressions, the vivacity of his understanding, which began to shine through the veil of childhood; “I had still left me,” says he, “myson Quinctilian, in whom I placed all my pleasure and all my hopes, and comfort enough I might have found in him; for, having now.entered into his tenth year, he did not produce only blossoms like his younger brother, but fruits already formed, and be. yond the power of disappointment.--I have much experience; but I never saw in any child, I do not say only so many excellent dispositions for the sciences, nor so much taste, as his masters know, but so much probity, sweetness, good-nature, gentleness, and inclination to please, and oblige, as I discerned in him.
“ Besides this, he had all the advantages of nature, a charming voice, a pleasing countenance, and a surprising facility in pronouncing well the two languages, as if he had been equally born for both of them.
" But all this was no more than hopes. greater value upon his admirable virtues, his equality of temper, his resolution, the courage with which he bore up against fear and pain; for, how were his physicians astonished at his patience under a distemper
of eight months continuance, when at the point of death he comforted me himself, and bade me not to weep for him! and delirious as he sometimes was at his last moments, his tongue ran of nothing else but learning and the sciences: O vain and deceitful hopes!"' &c. Are there many boy's amongst us, of whom we can truly say so much to their ad. vantage, as Quinctilian says here of his son? What a shame would it be for them, if, born and brought up in a Christian country, they had not even the virtues of Pagan children! make no scruple to repeat them here again—docility, obedience, respect for their masters, or rather a degree of affection, and the source of an eternal gratitude; zeal for study, and a wonderful thirst after the sciences, joined to an abhorrence of vice and irregularity; an admirable fund of probity, goodness, gentleness, civility, and liberality; as also patience, courage, and greatness of soul in the course of a long sickness. What then was wanting to all these virtues ? That, which alone could render them truly worthy the name, and must be in a manner the soul of them, and constitute their whole value, the precious gift of faith and piety; the saving knowledge of a Mediator; a sincere desire of pleasing God, and referring all our actions to him.
THE HONOUR AND ADVANTAGE OF A CONSTANT ADHERENCE TO TRUTH.
Petrarch, a celebrated Italian Poet, who flourished about four hundred years ago, recommended himself to the confidence and affection of Cardinal Colonna, in whose family he resided, by his candour and strict regard to truth. A violent quarrel occured in the houshold of this nobleman, which was carried so far, that recourse was had to arms. The Cardinal wished to know the foundation of this affair; and that he might be able to decide with justice, he assembled all his people, and obliged them to bind themselves, by a most solemn oath on the Gospels, to declare the whole truth. Every one, without exception, submitted to this determination; even the Bishop of Luna, brother to the Cardinal, was not excused. Petrarch, in his turn, presenting himself to take the oath, the Cardinal closed the book, and said, “ As to you, Petrarch, your word is sufficient*" ry similar to this, is related of Zenocrates, an Athenian Philosopher, who lived three hundred years before Christ, and was educated in the school of Plato. The people of Athens entertained so high an opinion of his probity, that one day when he approached the altar, to confirm by an oath the truth of what he had asserted, the judges unanimously declared his word to be sufficient evidence. From “ A Father's Instructions," &c.
by Dr. Percival.
* See the life of Petrarch, elegantly translated by Mrs. Dobson.