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to grapple, and to close. And this perhaps will be enough, wherein to heat and prove their single strength. The interim of unsweating themselves regularly, and convenient rest before meat, may both with profit and delight be taken up in recreating and composing their travailed spirits with the solemn and divine harmonies of music heard or learned; either whilst the skilful organist plies his grave and fancied descant in lofty fugues,” or the whole symphony, with artful and unimaginable touches, adorn and grace the well-studied chords of some choice composer; sometimes the lute or soft organ-stop waiting on elegant voices, either to religious, martial, or civil ditties, which—if wise men and prophets be not extremely out— have a great power over dispositions and manners, to smooth and make them gentle from rustic harshness and distempered passions. The like, also, would not be inexpedient after meat, to assist and cherish nature in her first concoction, and send their minds back to study in good tune and satisfaction; where, having followed it close under vigilant eyes till about two hours before supper, they are by a sudden alarum or watchword to be called out to their military motions, under sky or covert, according to the season, as was the Roman wont : first on foot, then, as their age permits, on horseback, to all the art of cavalry—that having in sport, but with much exactness and daily muster, served out the rudiments of their soldiership, in all the skill of embattling, marching, encamping, fortifying, besieging, and battering, with all the helps of ancient and modern stratagems, tactics, and warlike maxims, they may, as it were out of a long war, come forth renowned and perfect commanders in the service of their country. They would not then, if they were trusted with fair and hopeful armies, suffer them, for want of just and wise discipline, to shed away from about them like sick feathers, though they be never so oft supplied; they would not suffer their empty and unrecruitable colonels of twenty men in a company to quaff out or convey into secret hoards the wages of a delusive list and a miserable remnant, yet in the meanwhile to be overmastered with a score or two of drunkards, the only soldiery left about them, or else to comply with all rapines and violences. No, certainly, if they
* Descant is what we term variation. “A fugue,” says Hume (on Par. Lost, xi. 563), “is in music the correspondence of parts answering one another in the same notes, either above or below."
know aught of that knowledge that belongs to good men, or good governors, they would not suffer these things.” But to return to our own institute. Besides these constant exercises at home, there is another opportunity of gaining experience, to be won from pleasure itself abroad. In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and a sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. I should not, therefore, be a persuader to them of studying much then, after two years that they have well laid their grounds,t but to ride out in companies, with prudent and staid guides, to all the quarters of the land, learning and observing all places of strength, all commodities of building and of soil for towns and tillage, harbours and ports for trade; sometimes taking sea as far as to our navy, to learn there also what they can in the practical knowledge of sailing and of sea-fight. These ways would try all their pecular gifts of nature; and if there were any secret excellence among them would fetch it out, and give it fair opportunities to advance itself by, which could not but mightily redound to the good of this nation, and bring into fashion again those old admired virtuest and excellencies, with far more advantage now in the purity of Christian knowledge. Nor shall we then need the Monsieurs of Paris to take our hopeful youth into their slight and prodigal custodies, and send them over back again transformed into mimics, apes, and kickshaws. But if they desire to see other countries at three or four and twenty years of age, not to learn principles, but to enlarge experience and make wise observations, they will by that time be such as shall deserve the regard and honour of all men where they pass, and the society and friendship of those who are best and most eminent.S And perhaps then other nations will be glad to visit us for their breeding, or else to imitate us in their own country.
We have always regarded this treatise of Milton's as
* In all this he alludes to the troops of the Parliament, before the New Model.
+ I. e. Foundation.
a singular instance of how even the greatest of minds will allow themselves to be beguiled by their imagination. There could not have been found at that time in England, there could not be found even at the present day, when it is so much more populous, even one hundred persons capable of acquiring, between the ages of twelve and twenty-one, anything approaching to the quantity of various knowledge here supposed ; nay, Milton himself never possessed it at any period of his life. Surely his experience in teaching might have shown him that what he proposed was little short of impossibility, in the present condition of human nature, a condition not likely ever to be essentially altered. A limit is set to our acquisitions, and he who seeks to be acquainted with too many things, will find himself in the end having little real knowledge of any. Most fortunate, too, for the world, we may add, was it, that Milton himself was, as he informs us, educated on a different system, and his splendid imagination allowed to attain its full development. There are some things however in this system worthy of attention and of adoption. Thus, as he would not commence even with Latin grammar till after the age of twelve, it is plain that he was no friend to the forcing system, or that of trying to make infant prodigies; but still we think that classical education may with safety begin at a much earlier age, as indeed he did begin it himself in the case of his nephews. We quite approve of his plan of teaching a more correct mode of pronouncing Latin, but of that we shall speak when we come to notice his own Latin writings. We also approve of his deferring the practice of literary composition till the time when the mind would have been well furnished with
ideas. It would also appear from what he says on the subject, that the compositions should be altogether or chiefly in the vernacular language, of the culture of which however he nowhere speaks; but it is hard to believe that at that time Latin composition, at least in prose, should have been neglected. We much doubt however if he would have included verse-making, a practice which must be offensive to every true poet. Lastly, he is to be commended for including science as well as literature in his course of studies, a matter too much neglected at many of our schools. He makes, as we may observe, the same mistake here as in his own teaching, by commencing with the cultivation of the reason, rather than the imagination; but perhaps he may have thought that before the age of twelve that faculty would have been sufficiently developed by works in the mother tongue. We cannot conclude without expressing our approval of the regard shown to religion in this system of education.
The present seems to be the most suitable place for making some observations with respect to the extent of this great poet's learning, concerning which opinions seem to be somewhat vague and indefinite. In Greek and Latin there was probably not a single author that he had not read. He appears to have been quite familiar with Plato while he was at Cambridge; and from two places of Comus we may infer, that while at Horton, if not before, he had read Athenaeus and Tzetzes' comment on Lycophron.” We have also seent his own assertion, that he carried his studies of the writers of these languages down into the Middle Ages. Beside Homer, it is inferred—chiefly, we believe, from the circumstance of his copy, with his marginal annotations, being in existence—that Euripides was his great favourite; but this inference is not borne out by a perusal of his writings, which would rather lead to the conclusion that Æschylus and Sophocles stood higher in his favour. In Latin there can be little doubt but that he had a great partiality for Ovid, and who with poetic feeling has not?—for in his Prolusions he styles him,
* Comus, v. 95 seq. (see our Mythol. of Greece and Italy, p. 48, third edit.) and v. 879 seq. (ibid. p. 240). Mr. Mitford says, that Lord Charlemont possessed Milton's Lycophron, with some of his critical remarks. f Above, page 10.