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IV. SIR MATTHEW HALE.
PLAN OF EDUCATION FOR HIS GRANDCHILDREN.
Written in 1678.
“ Letter of Advice to his Grandchildren," written when he was "threescore and four years," and published after his death, Sir Matthew Hale—one of the most resplendent names in the annals of jurisprudence, for mental ability, general learning, purity of life, and impartiality as judge-gives the following plan for their education, in which he differs“
upon great reason and observation" “from the ordinary method of tutors," not only in his day, but for two centuries afterwards in England :
PLAN OF EDUCATION FOR BOYS BETWEEN THE AGES OF EIGHT AND TWENTY
As to you, my grandsons, you must know, that till you come to be about eighteen or twenty years old, you are but in preparation to a settled estate of life; as there is no certain conjecture to be made before that age what you will be fit for, so till that age you are under the hammer and the file, to fit, dispose, and prepare you for your future condition of life, if God be pleased to lend it you; and about that time it will probably appear, both what you will be fit for, and whether you are like to make a prosperous voyage in the world or not.
1. Until you come to eight years old, I expect no more of you than to be good English scholars, to read perfectly and distinctly any part of the Bible, or any other English book, and to carry yourselves respectfully and dutifully to those that are set over you.
2. About eight years old, you are to be put or sent to a grammar school, where I expect you should make a good progress in the Latin tongue, in oratory and poetry; but above all to be good proficients in the Latin tongue, that you may be able to read, understand and construe any Latin author, and to make true and handsome Latin; and though I would have you learn somewhat of Greek, yet the Latin tongue is that which I most value, because almost all learning is now under that language. And the time for your abode at the grammar school is till you are about sixteen years old.
3. After that age, I shall either remove you to some university, or to some tutor that may instruct you in university learning, thus to be educated till you are about twenty years old; and herein I shall alter the ordinary method of tutors, upon great respon and observation.
I therefore will have you employed from sixteen to seventeen in reading some Latin authors to keep your Latin tongue; but principally and chiefly in arithmetic and geometry, and geodesy or measuring of heights, distances, and superficies and solids, for this will habituate and enlarge your understanding, and will furnish you with a knowledge which will be both delightful and useful all the days of your life; and will give you a pleasant and innocent diversion and entertainment when you are weary and tired with any other business.
From seventeen years old till nineteen or twenty, you may principally intend logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, according to the ordinary discipline of the university; but after you have read some systems or late topical or philosophical tracts that may give you some taste of the nature of those sciences, I shall advise your tutor to exercise you in Aristotle, for there is more sound learning of this kind to be found in him, touching these sciences, than in a cartload of modern authors; only tutors scarce take the pains to understand him themselves, much less tp instruct their scholars and pupils in them, insomuch, that there are few that have read his books.
And under the title of philosophy, I do not only intend his eight books of physics, but his books de Natura et Generatione Animalium, his books de Incestu Animalium, de Anima, de Meteoriis, de Somno et Vigilia, de Morte, de Plantis, de Mundo, and his Mechanics, if you join thereunto Archimedes'.
These are part of real philosophy, and excellently handled by him, and have more of use and improvement of the mind than other notional speculations in logic or philosophy delivered by others; and the rather, because bare speculations and notions have little experience and external observation to confirm them, and they rarely fix the minds, especially of young men. But that part of philosophy that is real, may be improved and confirmed by daily observation; and is more stable, and yet more certain and delightful, and goes along with a man all his life, whatever employment or profession he undertakes.
4. When you come to above twenty years old, you are come to the critical age of your life; you are in that state of choice that the ancients tell us was offered to Hercules; on the left hand, a way of pleasure, of luxury, of idleness, intemperance, wantonness, which though it first be tempting and flattering, yet it ends in dishonor, in shame, in infamy, in poverty; such a way as the wise man spoke of, “There is a way that is pleasant and delightful, but the end of that way is death;" and that which the same wise man speaks of, (Eccles. xi. 9) “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart. But know for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment." Again, on the right hand, there is a way of honesty and sobriety, of piety and the fear of God, of virtue and industry; and though this way may seem at first painful and rugged, yet it ends in peace and favor with God, and commonly in honor and reputation, in wealth and contentation even in this life. For although Almighty God bath reserved greater rewards for virtue and goodness than this life affords, yet he loves and delights to behold good and comely order among the children of men; and therefore a wise father will draw on his children to goodness, and learning, and obedience to him, with handsome rewards and encouragements, suitable to the age and disposition of his children. So the great Master and Father of the children of men, and of the great family of heaven and earth, doth commonly invite and draw men to ways of piety, virtue and goodness, by the encouragements of reputation, honor, esteem, wealth and other outward advantages, and thereby in great measure governs the children of men, and maintains that order that is necessary and convenient for the world of mankind.
And although this is neither the only nor chief reward of goodness and virtye yet till men are grown to that ripeness of understanding to look after re
wards of a higher nature, namely, the happiness of the life to come, he is pleased most wisely to make use of these inferior encouragements and invitations, like so many little pulleys and cords, to draw men to the ways of virtue, piety and goodness, wherein, when they are once led and confirmed, they are established in higher and nobler expectations, namely, the love of God and the beauty of goodness and virtue. And on the right-hand way, there are not only propounded certain general virtues of sobriety, temperance and industry, but there are also certain particular walks of industry and virtue, and the exercise thereof in certain especial callings and employments, some more liberal and eminent, as divines, physicians, lawyers, &c. Some more laborious, yet generous enough as husbandry, the primitive and most innocent employment, is such as becomen noblemen and gentlemen. Some of other kinds, as merchants and handicrafts. And to all these employments, justly and industriously followed, Almighty God hath annexed a blessing; for they conduce to the good of mankind, and the maintenance of human societies, and the convenient support of persons and families.
And when you come to about this age, unless you are corrupted by idleness, evil company or debauchery, your minds will begin to settle, and your inclinations will begin to bend themselves towards some of these employments, and to a steady course of life. And although it may please God to order things so that you may not be put upon the necessity to take any of these professions upon you for your subsistence, because I may leave you a competent provision otherways, yet assure yourselves a calling is so far from being a burther dishonor to any of you, that it 'will be a great advantage to you every way to be of some profession; and therefore I commend some of them to your choice, especially for such of you whose fortunes may not be so plentiful.
But if you should not fix to any of these more regular professions, as divinity, law, or physic, yet I would have you so far acquainted with them, as that you may be able to understand, and maintain, and hold fast, the religion in which you have by me been educated; and so much of the laws of the kingdom, as may instruct you how to defend the estate that shall be left you, and to order your lives conformable to those laws under which you live, and to give at least common advice to your neighbors in matters of ordinary or common concernment; and so much of physic, especially of anatomy, as may make you know your own frame, and maintain and preserve your health by good diet, and those ordinary helps, a good herbal or garden may afford.
And although you should not addict yourselves professedly to any of these three callings, yet I would have you all acquainted with husbandry, planting and ordering of a country farm, which is the most innocent, and yet most necessary employment, and such as becomes the best gentleman in England; for it is a miserable thing to see a man master of an estate in lands, and yet not know how to manage it, but must either be at the mercy of tenants or servants, or otherwise he knows not how to live, being utterly a stranger to husbandry; and therefore must be beholden to a tenant or a servant for his subsistence, who many times knowing their own advantage, by the ignorance, carelessness or idleness of a master or landlord, set the dice upon him, and use him as they please. I have always observed, a country gentleman that hath a competent estate of lands in his hands, and lives upon it, stocks it himself, and understands it, and manages it in his own hands, lives more plentifully, breeds up his children more handsomely, and in a way of industry, is better loved in his country, and doth
more good in it, than he that hath twice the revenue and lives upon his rents, or it may be in the city, whereby both himself, and family, and children, learn a life of idleness and expense, and many times of debauchery. And therefore if you can not settle your minds to any other profession, yet I would have you be acquainted with the course of husbandry, and manage at least some considable part of your estate in your own hands. And this you may do without any disparagement, for the life of a husbandman is not unseemly for any of the children of Adam or Noah, who began it; and although that employment requires attendance and industry, as well as knowledge and experience, yet it will afford a man competent time for such other studies and employments as may ivecome a scholar or a gentleman, a good patriot or justice in his country.
Though all callings and employments carry with them a gratefulness and conenting variety much more than idleness and intemperance, or debauchery, yet in whatsoever calling you are settled, though that calling must be your principal business, and such as you must principally apply yourselves unto, yet I thought it always necessary to have some innocent diversions for leisure times; because it takes off the tediousness of business, and prevents a worse misspending of the time. I therefore commend to those gentlemen, of what profession soever, that they spend their spare and leisure hours in reading of history or mathematics, in experimental philosophy, in searching out the kinds and natures of trees and plants, herbs, flowers, and other vegetables; nay, in observing of insects, in mathematical observations, in measuring land; nay, in the more cleanly exercise of smithery, watch-making, carpentry, joinery works of all sorts. These and the like innocent diversions give these advantages: 1. They improve a man's knowledge and understanding; 2. They render him fit for many employments of use; 3. They take off the tediousness of one employment; 4. They prevent diversions of worse kinds, as going to taverns, or games, and the like; 5. They rob no time from your constant calling, but only spend with usefulness and delight that time that can be well spared.
Massachusetts... 1780 1780 Cambridge University ; duty to cherish
literature, arts, science.... Connecticut..... 1818 1818 | Yale College ; interest of school fund for
equal benefit of all .... New Hampshire - 1784 1784 Duty to promote literature, arts, and
1777 1793 | Town and county grammar schools Maine
1820 1820 Towns at own expense to support
schools; colleges encouraged...: Rhode Island.... 1842 1812 Schools to be promoted ; school fund not
to be borrowed... New York....... 1777 1822 Common school fund; literature fund ;
$25,000 of deposit fund annually ap
propriated .... New Jersey .... 1776 1844 School fund not to be borrowed; income
for equal benefit of all ..... Pennsylvania ... 1776 1790 Legislature to establish schools and pro
mote arts and science..... Delaware .... 1776 1831 | Legislature to establish schools and pro
mote arts and science....
1776 none. Georgia
1777 1798 - Legislature to provide education for the
people and endow university.... Kentucky ...... 1790 1850 Superintendent; each county to have
proportion of school fund ..... Tennessee 1796 1835 Principal of school fund inviolate; com
missioners .... Ohio ..... 1802 1802 Schools to be provided by interest of fund
and taxation.. Louisiana .... 1812 1845 Superintendent; free public schools..
university of New Orleans.... Indiana.. 1816 1816 Superintendent; schools equally open
97 94 98 99
to all; school fund ... Mississippi 1817 | 1817 Schools to be encouraged. Illinois
104 106 107