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CLASSICS

Colet (1510), the friend of Erasmus, whose treatise De pueris instituendis (1529) has its English counterpart in the Governor of Sir Thomas Elyot (1531). The highmaster of St Paul’s was to be “learned in good and clean Latin, and also in Greek, if such may be gotten.” The master and the second master of Shrewsbury (founded 1551) were to be “well able to make a Latin verse, and learned in the Greek tongue.” The influence of the revival extended to many other schools, such as Christ’s Hospital (1552), Westminster (1560), and Merchant Taylors’ (1561); Repton (1557), Rugby (1567) and Harrow (1571).

At the grammar school of Stratford-on-Avon, about 1571-1577, Shakespeare presumably studied Terence, Horace, Ovid and the Bucolics of Baptista Mantuanus (1502). In the early plays he quotes Ovid and Seneca. Similarly, Shakespeare and the grammar-school. in Titus Andronicus (iv. 2) he says, of Integer vitae: “’Tis a verse in Horace; I know it well: I read it in the grammar long ago.” In Henry VI. part ii. sc. 7, when Jack Cade charges Lord Say with having “most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar-school,” Lord Say replies that “ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” In the Taming of the Shrew (I. i. 157) a line is quoted as from Terence (Andria, 74): “redime te captum quam queas minimo.” This is taken verbatim from Lilye’s contribution to the Brevis Institutio, originally composed by Colet, Erasmus and Lilye for Early text-books. St Paul’s School (1527), and ultimately adopted as the Eton Latin Grammar. The Westminster Greek Grammar of Grant (1575) was succeeded by that of Camden (1595), founded mainly on a Paduan text-book, and apparently adopted in 1596 by Sir Henry Savile at Eton, where it long remained in use as the Eton Greek Grammar, while at Westminster itself it was superseded by that of Busby (1663). The text-books to be used at Harrow in 1590 included Hesiod and some of the Greek orators and historians.

In one of the Paston Letters (i. 301), an Eton boy of 1468 quotes two Latin verses of his own composition. Nearly a century later, on New Year’s Day, 1560, forty-four boys of the school presented Latin verses to Queen Elizabeth. The queen’s Ascham. former tutor, Roger Ascham, in his Scholemaster (1570), agrees with his Strassburg friend, J. Sturm, in making the imitation of the Latin classics the main aim of instruction. He is more original when he insists on the value of translation and retranslation for acquiring a mastery over Latin prose composition, and when he protests against compelling boys to converse in Latin too soon. Ascham’s influence is apparent in the Positions of Mulcaster, who in 1581 insists on instruction in English before admission to a grammar-school, while he is distinctly in advance of his age in urging the foundation of a special college for the training of teachers.

Cleland’s Institution of a Young Nobleman (1607) owes much to the Italian humanists. The author follows Ascham in protesting against compulsory Latin conversation, and only slightly modifies his predecessor’s method of teaching Cleland. Latin prose. When Latin grammar has been mastered, he bids the teacher lead his pupil “into the sweet fountain and spring of all Arts and Science,” that is, Greek learning which is “as profitable for the understanding as the Latin tongue for speaking.” In the study of ancient history, “deeds and not words” are the prime interest. “In Plutarch pleasure is so mixed and confounded with profit; that I esteem the reading of him as a paradise for a curious spirit to walk in at all time.” Bacon in his Advancement of Learning (1605) notes it as “the first distemper of learning when men study words and not matter” (I. iv. 3); he also observes that the Jesuits “have much Bacon, Milton, Petty. quickened and strengthened the state of learning” (I. vi. 15). He is on the side of reform in education; he waves the humanist aside with the words: vetustas cessit, ratio vicit. Milton, in his Tractate on Education (1644), advances further on Bacon’s lines, protesting against the length of time spent on instruction in language, denouncing merely verbal knowledge, and recommending the study of a large number of classical authors for the sake of their subject-matter, and with a view to their bearing on practical life. His ideal place of education is an institution combining a school and a university. Sir William Petty, the economist (1623-1687), urged the establishment of ergastula literaria for instruction of a purely practical kind. Locke, who had been educated Locke. at Winchester and had lectured on Greek at Oxford (1660), nevertheless almost completely eliminated Greek from the scheme which he unfolded in his Thoughts on Education (1693). With Locke, the moral and practical qualities of virtue and prudence are of the first consideration. Instruction, he declares, is but the least part of education; his aim is to train, not men of letters or men of science, but practical men armed for the battle of life. Latin was, above all, to be learned through use, with as little grammar as possible, but with the reading of easy Latin texts, and with no repetition, no composition. Greek he absolutely proscribes, reserving a knowledge of that language to the learned and the lettered, and to professional scholars.

Throughout the 18th century and the early part of the 19th, the old routine went on in England with little variety, and with no sign of expansion. The range of studies was widened, however, at Rugby in 1828-1842 by Thomas Arnold. Arnold, whose interest in ancient history and geography, as a necessary part of classical learning, is attested by his edition of Thucydides; while his influence was still further extended when those who had been trained in his traditions became head masters of other schools.

During the rest of the century the leading landmarks are the three royal commissions known by the names of their chairmen: (1) Lord Clarendon’s on nine public schools, Eton, Winchester, Westminster, Charterhouse, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury, St Paul’s and Merchant Taylors’ (1861-1864), resulting in the Public Schools Act of 1868; (2) Lord Taunton’s on 782 endowed schools (1864-1867), followed by the act of 1869; and (3) Mr Bryce’s on secondary education (1894-1895).

A certain discontent with the current traditions of classical training found expression in the Essays on a Liberal Education (1867). The author of the first essay, C.S. Parker, closed his review of the reforms instituted in Germany Controversy on classical education. and France by adding that in England there had been but little change. The same volume included a critical examination of the “Theory of Classical Education” by Henry Sidgwick, and an attack on compulsory Greek and Latin verse composition by F.W. Farrar. The claims of verse composition have since been judiciously defended by the Hon. Edward Lyttelton (1897), while a temperate and effective restatement of the case for the classics may be found in Sir Richard Jebb’s Romanes Lecture on “Humanism in Education” (1899).

The question of the position of Greek in secondary education has from time to time attracted attention in connexion with the requirement of Greek in Responsions at Oxford, and in the Previous Examination at Cambridge.

In the Cambridge University Reporter for November 9, 1870, it was stated that, “in order to provide adequate encouragement for the study of Modern Languages and Natural Science,” the commissioners for endowed schools had “Compulsory Greek.” determined on the establishment of modern schools of the first grade in which Greek would be excluded. The commissioners feared that, so long as Greek was a sine qua non at the universities, these schools would be cut off from direct connexion with the universities, while the universities would in some degree lose their control over a portion of the higher culture of the nation. On the 9th of March 1871 a syndicate recommended that, in the Previous Examination, French and German (taken together) should be allowed in place of Greek; on the 27th of April this recommendation (which only affected candidates for honours or for medical degrees) was rejected by 51 votes to 48.

All the other proposals and votes relating to Greek in the Previous Examination in 1870-1873, 1878-1880, and 1891-1892 are set forth in the Cambridge University Reporter for November 11, 1904, pp. 202-205. In November 1903 a syndicate was