« VorigeDoorgaan »
There, on another side, the heavens unfold
With these is Damon now--my hope is sure-
--as we call thee by thy name most dear! Diodotus abovem but yet our Damon here. As thine was roseate purity, that fled, In youth abstemious, from :he nuptial bed, Thy virgin triumph heavenly spousals wait:Lo! where it leads along its festal state !A crown of living lustre binds thy brow; Thy band sustains the palm's immortal bough; While the full song, the dance, the frantic lyre, And Sion's thyrsus, wildly waved, conspire To solemnize the rites, and boundless joys inspire.
receiving more than the key, which opened the important gate.
Many able men, offended at the number of years, devoted by our public schools to the attainment of language, have indulged in some similar speculations, and have endeavoured to crowd the immature and
growing mind with a variety of intellectual food, adapted to oppress rather than to nourish it. But the success of these philanthropic projectors lias been very partial; and calculated, on the whole, to attest the wisdom of our established system; which, instilling into the boy the first principles of religion, and, with them, the sanctions and the objects of moral duty, contents itself with cultivating the attențion and the taste of its pupil; and with giving him the means of access to the knowledge of his riper years.
But Milton's benevolence was always restless in the pursuit of innovation, as it tended to improvement; and, like Cæsar in the field, he never thought any thing done, while any thing more, in his opinion, reinained to be done. Not content with the common school authors, he placed in the hands of boys, from ten to fifteen
of age, such writers, as, not remarkable for the
beauty or the purity of their diction, were capable of giving information in some of the departments of science. The books selected for this purpose from the Roman authors were, according to Philips, the agricultural works of Cato, Columella, Varro, and Palladius; the medical treatise of Cornelius Celsus; Pliny's natural history; Vitruvius's architecture; Frontinus's stratagems, and the philosophical poems of Lucretius and Manilius: from the Greek, Hesiod, Aratus, Dionysius's Periegesis, Oppian's Cynogetics, Apollonius Rhodius, Quintus Calaber, some of Plutarch's philosophical works, Geminus's astronomy, the Cyropædia and Anabasis of Xenophon, Polyænus's stratagems, and Ælian's tactics.
Admitting for a moment the propriety of Milton's system of instruction, and the solidity of its foundation, we may reasonably doubt whether many of these authors were calculated to promote it. Vitruvius may be read with instruction on the subject of architecture; but, while the Roman agricultural writers impart no useful information to the natives of Britain, the Roman philosophical poets, (if Manilius—the perplexed, the prosaic, the astrological' Manilius can be called either a philosopher or a poet,) com
municaté nothing but what is bad. If Lu. cretius's philosophy were not redeemed by the wealth of his poetry, it would not now attract a vagrant eye; and would, probably, have been whelmed under the worst rubbish of antiquity. The selection from the Greek is preferable to that from the Latin writers. The Muses of Ascra, and of Rhodes, are certainly respectable; and they present to us the stamp of the most simple and the most refined age of Grecian poetry. But they are to be regarded only as poets; for Apollonius assumes nothing more than to be the framer of a poetic fable; and the economy or the husbandry of Hesiod will not entitle him to the honourable rank of an instructor in our country, or the present age.
Plutarch offers to us information and strong sense in an uncouth dress; and the two works of Xenophon are admirable productions, well known in the higher classes of our public schools; intelligible and instructive to the boy, and delightful to the man. Oppian, Quintus Calaber, Geminus, Polyænus and Ælian may be dismissed with Celsus, Pliny, and Frontinus, as possessing various degrees of merit, and as objects of literary curiosity;
but as qualified neither to give the young
useful information, nor to form his taste.
Proceeding with this ambitious, if notv novel design of infusing extraordinary knowledge into the youthful mind, Milton has been expected to produce more than human abilities have the power to command; and has been insulted for not sending, from his little academy, orators and poets, philosophers and divines.' No master can make scholars against the inhibition of nature; and solitary learning cannot snatch the palm of literary renown; or command the gaze of the world. “ Virûm volitare per ora” is the privilege of the highly favoured few; and if we compare the small proportion of these to the multitude of the undistinguished even among the most cultivated of the human race; if we reflect on the hundreds and the thousands
?" If his pupils," says the candid Philips, “ had received his documents with the same acuteness of wit and apprehension, the same industry, alacrity, and thirst after knowledge, as the instructor was indued with, what prodigies of wit and learning might they have proved." Life of Milton.---Johnson talks with the true feeling, and in the proper style of a schoolmaster. Every man, that has ever undertaken to instruct others, can tell what slow advances he has been able to make; and how much patience it requires to recall vagrant attention, to stimulate sluggish indifference, and to rectify absurd misapprehen. sion." . Life of Milton.