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SCHOOLS


were ordered to provide a grammar master who might be, and in fact nearly always was, to teach the young monks and novices. Yet in 1387 the Winchester cathedral monks were found by William of Wykeham to be “wholly ignorant of grammar” and to make the lessons in church unintelligible by wild false quantities. In the visitations of Norwich monasteries in the late 15th century (Dr Jessopp, Camd. Soc. 1892) hardly one had its grammar master as it ought to have had. In 1495 Osney Abbey provided for the monks a grammar master who was a secular (Boase, Oxford, Historic Towns). At Canterbury itself Archbishop Warham in 1511 found the monks totally ignorant of the meaning of the mass an of the lessons which they read, and ordered them to have a grammar master to teach the young monks. In 1531 Bishop Longland of Lincoln issued injunctions to Messenden Priory in English “for that ye be ignorant and have small understanding of Latin.” At the Dissolution a grammar master was teaching the monks at Winchester grammar, but he was not a monk but ex-second-master of Winchester College (Hist. Winchester Coll. 26), and other Wykehamists were to be found teaching grammar at the London Charterhouse and Netley Abbey, Hants. It is clear that the monks were by no means a learned body.

It is chiefly from the London and Oxford schools that we learn what grammar schools actually taught in the 12th to the 15th centuries. The local classicus is Fitzstephen's Description of London (Mat. Hist. Becket, Rolls series, iii. 4), as it was in the youth of Thomas à Becket when about 1127 he attended St Paul's school, “the city school,” before going to Paris university. Fitzstephen describes the contests of the scholars from it and the other two schools on saints' days, when the elders contended in logic and rhetoric, and the boys “vie with each other in verses, or in the principles of the art of grammar or the rules of preterites and supines, others in epigrams, rhymes and metres”; while on Shrove Tuesday, after a cock-fight in the morning, they had a great game of (foot?) ball in Smithfield. About a century later, 1267, Oxford University statutes show us that B.A.s had to read for their degree Priscian On Constructions twice, and Donatus's Barbarismus once; books which imply an advanced knowledge of Latin syntax. The Oxford grammar school statutes, not dated but of the 13th century, provide or grammar masters being examined in verse-making and prose composition and knowledge of Latin authors before being licensed to teach. The only authors actually mentioned, and that for the sake of being forbidden as improper, are Ovid's Art of Love and Pamphilus who wrote De Amore. Every fortnight the masters were to set a copy of verses and letters to write, which the boys were to do the next holiday, and show up on the following whole school day. Special attention was to be paid to the smaller boys in hearing and examining them on their rules as to parts of speech and accidence. It was particularly ordered that they were to observe the rule in Latin and Roman (Romanis), i.e. translations were to be done not into English but Romance, i.e. French. For after the Conquest French was the vernacular language of the upper classes, and while the pre-Conquest school glossary of Ælfric translated Latin into English, the post-Conquest glossaries, such as Neckam of St Albans school, give the translation in French. Though by the 13th century English was supplanting French, the schools as usual lagged behind, and the fiction was kept up that French was still the vernacular of England till after the victories of Edward III. John of Trevisa, translating the Polychronicon of Higden, who, writing in 1327, commented on the corruption of English due to the strange custom of boys in school being compelled to construe in French, tells us that this custom of construing into French “was changed after the first murrain (the Black Death of 1349) by John Cornwal, a ' ‘mayster of gramere’ ” followed by Richard Pencrych, so that “ now, A.D. 1385, in al the gramer scoles of Engelond children leaveth Frensch and construeth and lurneth an Englysch,” the advantage of which was that they learnt Latin quicker, but the disadvantage was that they knew “no more French than their left heel.” Master John Cornwall was an Oxford grammar schoolmaster, being paid 10d. in 1347 for “salary” of his school for the six founder's-kin boys at Merton; and Pencrych was not, as supposed by Mr de Montmorency (State Intervention, 22) through a strange misunderstanding, a schoolmaster at Penkridge in Staffordshire (though he no doubt took his name from that place), but was another Oxford man, living in 1367 in a hall by Merton, afterwards called Pencrych Hall. Though this very rational innovation thus began in Oxford, yet a new edition of the Oxford Grammar School Statutes in the late 14th or early 15th century provided that the masters should in construing teach the meaning of words by turns in English and French, “lest the French tongue should be utterly lost, ” as it came to be.

It is extremely difficult to ascertain what books were actually read in English schools before the 16th century. Whether the Christian poets such as Sedulius and Juvencus, the staple of Alcuin and recommended by Colet for St Paul's in 1518, were much read in the intermediate times, is doubtful. Vincent of Beauvais, who wrote about 1245 “on the education of noblemen” for the queen of France, quotes Horace, Ovid, Apuleius and Valerius Maximus, but would like to substitute the Christians for the classics. But he was a Dominican friar. It is certain that classical authors were not expelled. In 1356 Bishop Grandison of Exeter abused the schoolmasters of his diocese for taking the boys, “as soon as they could read the Lord's Prayer, the creed or matins and the hours of the Virgin, and before they could construe or parse them,” to “other school books and poets as if they were heathens instead of Christians.” Books of manners in verse were read in schools from the days of John de Garlandia, c. 1220, to the Quos decet in mensa of Sulpicius, a Roman schoolmaster of 1498, which was read in the lower forms of Winchester and Eton in 1535. The metrical rammar of Alexander of De villa Dei (Dol) was almost as popular as Donatus. In rhetoric Cicero De oratore was the staple work. In dialectic or logic successive manuals were founded on Boëthius and Isidore of Seville. The 15th century saw a reaction against the logic, which, valuable as it was, was begun much too early and was strongly re probated by Wayneflete, who at Magdalen School insisted that his “demyes,” or scholars, should not go on to logic till perfect in grammar. The wide knowledge of the classics shown by Chaucer, who no doubt, like Becket before him and Milton after him, went to St Paul's school, indicates what the average laymen and cleric learnt in the average grammar school.

A question has been raised as to who attended the grammar schools. The answer appears to be, all classes. Theoretically, sons of slaves and villeins were excluded. But it seems certain that picked specimens even of this class were admitted. The bulk of early schools were then, as now, in cities and boroughs, where all were free. ÆElfric's Anglo-Saxon colloquies represent sons of smiths, huntsmen, cowherds, shepherds attending school and learning Latin. That villeins' sons did go to school is clear from two instances alone. In 1312 Walter of Merton, fellow of Merton College, Oxford, a villein, was manumitted by the prior of Durham. In 1344 the manor rolls at Great Waltham, Essex, show a villein fined 3d. for sending his son to school without licence from the lady of the manor (Hist. Rev., July 1905). In 1391, after the Peasants' Revolt, the Commons sent up a bill to Richard II. “that no neif” (said to mean a female villein) “or villein may henceforth send their children to school (a escoles) for their advancement by clergy, and that for the maintenance and salvation of the honour of all the freemen of the realm.” The petition was rejected. In 1406 the statute of artisans, while putting numerous restrictions on their freedom, adds, “provided always that every man or woman of whatever estate or condition shall be free to send their son or daughter to learn grammar (literature) at any school in our kingdom.” Henry VI., in the statutes of Eton, bears witness to the admission of the unfree to schools by inserting a reactionary prohibition against villeins (nativi) or illegitimate children being admitted scholars. Illegitimates were theoretically excluded from the priesthood, but the papal registers are crammed with indulgences to scholars who were illegitimate for admission to holy orders. As to the upper class, an erroneous inference that gentlemen's sons were not sent to school has been drawn from the passage of Higden above quoted, because, after saying that children in grammar schools learnt no French now, he adds that neither did gentlemen teach their sons French. But the two classes are not mutually exclusive. Elder sons, who were going to be knights or squires, did not as a rule go to school, but the younger sons did. The vast majority of bishops, and the higher clergy, were the younger sons of noblemen and gentlemen, and had certainly been to school. It is made a reproach against Bishop Grosseteste of Lincoln in his contest with his chapter that he was not a gentleman. We find Giffard, archbishop of York, son of a great Gloucestershire magnate, sending three wards to Beverley grammar school in 1276, and another archbishop of York, William Melton, ex-privy seal and lord chancellor, sending two nephews to Newark school in 1338. The only known mention of the school of Taunton before the days of its wrongly-reputed founder, Bishop Fox, is preserved in an inquisition in 1310 to prove the age of a royal ward, Hugh, son and heir of Thomas de la Tour. John of Kent, 60 years old, knows Hugh's age because he had a son at the school of Taunton with him seventeen years before (The Genealogist, iii. 211). This cannot have been an isolated instance. William of Wykeham would not have provided for “10 sons of noblemen and gentlemen, special friends of the college,” being admitted as commensales or boarders with the scholars, nor have forbidden the scholars of Winchester and New College to quarrel as to whether their birth was noble or otherwise, nor would the earliest lists of scholars and commoners there contain the names