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ROFESSOR Meiklejohn, in his Tables of English Literature, describes Milton's vocations as follows: "Student, political writer, poet, Foreign Secretary to Cromwell." Though he established in his own house a sort of private academy and devoted for a series of years the greater part of his time to teaching, schoolmaster" is not included in the list. Johnson calls attention to the fact that all the biographers seem inclined to shrink" from this part of Milton's career. If they mention it at all it is in an apologetic tone, as if the business were undertaken not as a means of livelihood but of philanthropy. The doctor, who had once been a schoolmaster himself, is good enough to say in reference to this supposed timidity, that no wise man will consider teaching "in itself disgraceful." Though Professor Meiklejohn's Tables may be defective, the later biographers do not ignore Milton's private academy.

While Dr. Johnson has a friendly word for the schoolmasters, the peculiar circumstances under which Milton became one did afford him "some degree of merriment." In 1639 he was travelling on the Continent, and had reached Italy. There he received disquieting intelligence from England,-intelligence of political agitations, the consequences of which no one could foresee and he abandoned his tour and returned home. What did this ardent patriot do, asks Dr. Johnson, after reaching his imperilled native land? Why, he opened a boarding school, and thus great promises found small performance, and patriotism was vapored away in the treadmill of obscure drudgeries. Hence Dr. Johnson is amused. Milton, it is true, did not find any vocation of a public nature awaiting him when he reached London. If he had chosen to cast in his lot with the Court, there is little doubt that he would have found a welcome there. Charles had always been friendly to literature, and could hardly have been indifferent to overtures from the author of Comus. fresh from social and intellectual triumphs in Italy. But Milton distrusted the king, and was not wholly in sympathy with the opposition. He first assured his independence and then awaited

the issue of events. So it may be, as has been suggested, that he "betook himself to a private boarding school that his patriotism might not pass into vapor."

In considering Milton's Tract, we should remember that he did not attempt to set forth in it any general scheme of education. He had in mind the needs of a single class-the sons of gentlemen from twelve to twenty-one years of age. There is a similar restriction in the scope of Locke's Thoughts Concerning Education, which appeared some fifty years later. In this respect the English reformers differed from their great contemporary Comenius, whose comprehensive system of instruction included every child in the land. What changes and modifications Milton would have made in his Tract if he had attempted to adjust it to the necessities of so broad a field it is idle to inquire, but he could hardly fail to realize the impracticability of the scheme as it stands for any such purpose.

Though Milton was thinking of a particular class when he wrote his letter to Master Samuel Hartlib, some of his observations are of general application. He emphasizes, for example, the importance of agreeable surroundings while the work of education is in progress. Accordingly we find that he established his school in Aldersgate, a pleasant and spacious street in a quiet part of London, and adorned with some notable buildings, such as Peterhouse, the Earl of Thanet's house, and the Moor and Sun taverns. Lord Shaftsbury and the Duke of Lauderdale, not to mention other men of rank and importance, afterwards resided in this street.

Nor will there be much dissent from Milton's views in regard to what should be the purpose of education-good citizenship. "I call, therefore, a complete and generous education," he says, "that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war." No doubt the distractions of the period led him to emphasize the necessity of a suitable training for citizenship. He believes the nation is suffering in consequence of the shortcomings of the schools, and hopes that "these few observations which . . . are as it were the burnishing of many studious and contemplative years" may be of service in this day of extreme need.


Milton makes two serious charges against current methods. In the first place they involve a waste of time, and then,-what is worse they transform and deform everything into " a grind." No pleasure or zest is possible when young men are haled and dragged to" an assinine feast of sow-thistles and brambles" which the existing systems commonly offer them. He proposes to show them a more excellent way; to lead them by a path "so full of goodly prospect and melodious sounds, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming.”

We are somewhat staggered, it must be confessed, when we learn that Milton would inaugurate his educational reforms by abolishing universities. The education which he outlines begins and ends in the same institution. He enlarges the curriculum of the ordinary academy so that it will meet the wants of students in everything except professional studies, which must be provided for elsewhere. Instead of two great centers of learning like Oxford and Cambridge, Milton would apparently place one of his academy-universities in every considerable town in England. He would provide a building for it "big enough to lodge one hundred and fifty persons . . . all under the government of one who shall be thought of desert sufficient, rather to do all or wisely to direct and oversee it done." This "house of scholarship," supplemented by "some peculiar College of Law or Physics," would in his judgment prove to be a great advance in educational equipment.

Milton discusses the details of his proposed system under three heads-studies, exercise, diet.

The last topic he dismisses with scant consideration. Indeed, he devotes but a single sentence to it, and that very brief for a man who could on occasion crowd into one three or four hundred words. He says that students should board in the academy, and that the table should be "plain, healthful and moderate.”

To the subject of exercise considerable space is given. This result follows naturally enough, because Milton undertakes to prepare his pupils for the duties of war as well as of peace. Therefore fencing, wrestling, extended military exercises and maneuvres are included in his program. In addition he advises expeditions to every part of the country, so that the young men may become familiar with its soil, towns and harbors. What is

more, he would take them on summer cruises, and teach them some practical knowledge of seamanship.

Milton criticises the schools and universities because they begin, not with things which are interesting and readily apprehended, but with "intellective abstractions of logic and metaphysics." As a consequence there follows an inevitable reaction, which leads to hatred and contempt of learning. Through this mismanagement, in connection with other follies, we are cursed with a generation of ignorantly zealous divines; of lawyers more interested in fat contentions and flowing fees than in the establishment of justice and equity; of politicians without a spark of virtue or patriotism; of idlers who spend their days in careless ease and luxury.

Now, Milton begins his education, which he hopes may be "the occasion and excitement of great good to this island," with the study of language. But he endeavors to make this study a means of entrance into the life of the people, of gaining possession of the solid things which language contains, rather than an idle toying with words and lexicons. With this purpose in view he prescribes a very formidable course in the classics and other literatures. He insists upon laying a good foundation of grammatical rules, paying especial attention to pronunciation, so that the pupil shall not "smatter Latin with an English mouth," but acquire something of the distinctness and grace of the Italians. He would also have an attractive book on education read-Cebes, Plutarch or Quintilian. At the same time arithmetic should not be neglected, nor the elements of geometry, nor the easy grounds of religion and the story of Scripture."


Then books on agriculture should be studied—Varro and Cato, for instance, as calculated to stimulate interest in rural pursuits. In connection with them the study of geography and natural philosophy should be taken up.

Next, the young men are to read "all the historical physiology of Aristotle and Theophrastus" and "the natural questions" discussed by Pliny, Solinus and other writers. Architecture, engineering, navigation, music and a list of ten of the most difficult Latin and Greek poets succeed these writers.

After so much preparation, the time has come for a serious

consideration of moral good and evil; to be succeeded by a study of economics and politics, of constitutional history from the time of Moses down to the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain. Italian may be "easily learned at any odd hour," while these more serious studies are in progress. Sundays and every evening should be devoted to theology and church history. Incidentally, Hebrew will be acquired; possibly Chaldee and Syriac !

When all this has been done the student will be prepared for the great histories, poems, dramas and orations of antiquity. They should not only be read, but some of them "got by memory, and solemnly pronounced with right accent and grace."

The final studies of the scheme,-studies which were expected to be useful in the matter of writing and speaking-are logic, rhetoric and poetics. Such an education, Milton was confident, would “mightily redound to the good of the nation."

Dr. Johnson, who wrote the most notable criticism that has been made upon the Tract, pronounced the scheme impracticable. Milton himself evidently feared that there might be some ground for this criticism, as he acknowledges in concluding his exposition of "the best and noblest way of education ""this is not a bow for every man to shoot in that counts himself a teacher." He hoped that the difficulties would prove much less in the actual assay than at a distance. The real question is, as Professor Masson observes, whether this system moves in the right direction. It did suggest important improvements, to one of which—the introduction of physical science into the schools-Dr. Johnson specifically objected, but subsequent opinion has gone altogether with Milton. The most serious charge which has been made against this "best and noblest way of education" is that it ignores English; that, for instance, it proposes to teach physical science through the medium of Latin and Greek. Whether or not it were the only available one in Milton's day, it has long been antiquated. Take out this obsolete element from the scheme, and we may say with Professor Masson: The rest lasts. Above all . . . the faith it inculcates in the powers of the young human spirit, if rightly matured and directed, are merits everlasting."

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