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this hasty measure of a rapacious and arbitrary prince. What was taught in the monasteries was not always perhaps of the greatest importance, but still it served to keep up a certain degree of necessary knowledge." The many new grammar schools that arose in different parts of the country after the destruction of the monasteries were partly, no doubt, called into existence by the vacuum thus created; which, however, they did very little to fill up in so far as the rural population was concerned, although they may have sufficed for most of the great towns.
Both the old monastic schools and the new foundations, however, being considered, to a certain extent, as charitable institutions, were principally attended by the children of persons in humble, or at least in common life; among the higher classes it seems to have been the general custom for boys as well as girls to be educated at home, or under the superintendence of private tutors. A notion of the extent and manner of training which youths of rank underwent in their earliest years may be obtained from some letters which have been lately printed, addressed to Henry's minister, Cromwell, by the tutor of his son Gregory.* This young man, whose capacity is described as rather solid than quick, divided his time under different masters among various studies and exercises, of which English, French, writing, playing at weapons, casting of accounts, and "pastimes of instruments," are particularly enumerated. One master is stated to be in the habit of "daily hearing him to read
*King Henry the Eighth's Scheme of Bishoprics, &c. Svo. Lon. 1838.
somewhat in the English tongue, and advertising him of the natural and true kind of pronunciation thereof, expounding also and declaring the etymology and native signification of such words as we have borrowed of the Latins or Frenchmen, not even so commonly used in our quotidian speech." According to a common practice, two other youths, probably of inferior station, appear to have been educated along with young Cromwell; and between him and them, the account continues, "there is a perpetual contention, strife, and conflict, and in manner of an honest envy, who shall do best not only in the French tongue (wherein Mr. Vallance, after a wondrously compendious, facile, prompt, and ready way, not without painful diligence and laborious industry, doth instruct them), but also in writing, playing at weapons, and all other their exercises." In the end a confident hope is expressed that, "whereas the last summer was spent in the service of the wild goddess Diana," the present shall be consecrated to Apollo and the Muses, to the no small profit of the young man, as well as to his father's good contentation and pleasure. This letter is dated in April; another written in September (apparently of the same year), by which time the boy had begun the study of some new branches, especially Latin and instrumental music, enters into some more minute and curious details of how he spent his time. "First," says his tutor, "after he hath heard mass, he taketh a lecture of a dialogue of Erasmus' colloquium called Pietas Puerilis, wherein is described a very picture of one that should be virtuously brought up; and, for cause it is so necessary for him, I do not only cause him to read it over, but also to practise the precepts of the same; and
I have also translated it into English, so that he may confer therein both together, whereof, as learned men affirm, cometh no small profect, which translation pleaseth it you to receive by the bringer hereof, that ye may judge how much profitable it is to be learned." From this it may be inferred that the original Latin would have been unintelligible to Cromwell, and that that able man was above being flattered by having a knowledge of the learned tongues ascribed to him which he did not possess. The letter goes on-" After that he exerciseth his hand in writing one or two hours, and readeth upon Fabian's Chronicles as long, the residue of the day he doth spend upon the lute and virginal." Vocal music at least, it may be observed, if not instrumental, was always one of the branches of education taught at the old monastic, cathedral, and other free schools; a circumstance originating, no doubt, in the connexion of those schools with the church, in the services of which singing bore so important a part. Lastly, the tutor gives an account of the out-of-door exercises followed by his pupil, intellectual instruction, however, being by no means disregarded even in some of these:-"When he rideth, as he doth very oft, I tell him by the way," he says, some history of the Romans or the Greeks, which I cause him to rehearse again in a tale. For his recreation he useth to hawk, and hunt, and shoot in his long bow, which frameth and succeedeth so well with him that he seemeth to be thereunto given by nature." This training as far as it is detailed, appears to have been judiciously contrived for laying the foundation of a good and solid education both of the mental and physical faculties.
The reforming spirit of the early part of the sixteenth
century was, as always happens, in the shape it took in the popular mind, much more of a destructive than of a constructive character; and even the wisest of the persons in authority, by whom the mighty movement was guided and controlled, were necessarily, to a certain extent, under the influence of the same presumptuous temper, without a share of which, indeed, they would not have been fitted to restrain the more impetuous multitude to the extent they did. But in its application to the universities, as in other cases, this spirit of mere demolition, and contempt for all that was old and established, displayed itself in some things in a very rampant style. The scorn, in particular, with which it treated the whole mass of the ancient philosophy of the schools, was of the most sweeping description. The famous Duns Scotus, so long the lord of opinion, now underwent, in full measure, the customary fate of deposed sovereigns. A royal visitation of the two universities, by commissioners of Cromwell's appointment, took place in 1535, when injunctions were issued abolishing altogether the reading of the works of the most subtle Doctor. The tone of triumph in which Dr. Layton, one of the Oxford commissioners, announces this reform to Cromwell is highly characteristic. "We have set Dunce," he writes, "in Bocardo,* and have utterly banished him Oxford for ever, with all his blind glosses." The despised tomes, formerly so much reverenced, Layton goes on to intimate, were now used by any man for the commonest uses; he had seen them with his own eyes nailed upon posts
* A figure or form of syllogism of the school logic, which terminated in a negative conclusion. The expression, therefore, implies that Scotus was, as it were, annihilated.
in the most degrading situations. "And the second time we came to New College," he proceeds, "after we had declared your injunctions, we found all the great quadrant court full of the leaves of Dunce, the wind blowing them into every corner. And there we found one Mr. Greenfield, a gentleman of Buckinghamshire, gathering up part of the same book leaves, as he said, therewith to make him sewers or blawnshers, to keep the deer within his wood, thereby to have the better cry with his hounds."* The scholastic philosophy, however, which was thus banished from the universities, was in fact the whole philosophy, mental and physical, then taught, and its abolition consequently amounted to the ejection, for the time, of philosophical studies from the academical course altogether. The canon law was another of the old studies, hitherto of chief importance, that was at the same time put down: degrees in the canon law were prohibited; and, in place of the canon lecture, a civil lecture, that is, a lecture on the civil law, was appointed to be read in every college, hall, and inu.
For a short space, the excitement of novelty, and the exertions of a few eminent instructors, made classical learning popular at Oxford and Cambridge, and enabled it in some degree to serve as a substitute for those other abandoned studies to which it ought only to have been introduced as an ally. The learned Ascham boasts, in one of his letters, that, whereas almost the only classics hitherto known at Cambridge had been Plautus, Cicero, Terence, and Livy, all the chief Greek poets, orators, and historians, Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Demos
Strype, Eccles. Mem. i. 335.