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as being a product of the Humanistic revival, and a record of the university scheme of the Humanists'. It is well worthy of our attention as showing the then curriculum of a good university, and I shall give the substance of it. In what we should call the secondary school, but what Buchanan calls (as being part of the university) the "College of Humanity," the course was to extend over six years. From the first, all were required to speak Latin and write a Latin theme daily. Their first reading-book was to be Terence, and thereafter Cicero, Ovid, Virgil and Horace. In the fourth year they were to begin Greek, and in their fifth and sixth, read Homer and Hesiod. The boys were then to be admitted to the “College of Philosophy”—the university proper—and after two years' study they were eligible for the degree of bachelor, the subjects of examination being dialectic, logic and morals. The next year and a half was devoted to natural philosophy, mathematics and metaphysics, after which they received their licencia (equivalent to M.A.). Those intended for the Church then proceeded to the "College of Divinity," where they studied Hebrew, law and theology, expounding passages of Scripture and holding disputations. This scheme of Buchanan's has close affinities to the organization of the Jesuit ‘colleges' and academies, the full organization of which was brought into operation about the same time.
In estimating the work of the universities, we must bear in mind that the want of books determined largely the method of teaching. The difficulties by which the diffusion of learning was beset before the invention of printing, may be gathered from the historians of the period, and are well summed up in the following quotation from Mr J. A. Symonds' Renaissance in Italy.
“Very few of the students whom the master saw before him possessed more than meagre portions of the text of Virgil or of Cicero; they had no notes, grammars, lexicons,
| Hume Brown's vernacular writings of Buchanan (Scots Texts Society).
or dictionaries of antiquities and mythology to help them. It was therefore necessary for the lecturer to dictate quotations, to repeat parallel passages at full length, to explain geographical and historical allusions, to analyse the structure of sentences in detail, to provide copious illustrations of grammatical usage, to trace the stages by which a word acquired its meaning in a special context, to command a full vocabulary of synonyms, to give rules for orthography and to have the whole Pantheon at his fingers ends. In addition to this, he was expected to comment upon the meaning of his author, to interpret his philosophy, to point out the beauties of his style, to introduce appropriate moral disquisition on his doctrine, to sketch his biography, and to give some account of his relation to the history of his country and to his predecessors in the field of letters.
“In short, the professor of rhetoric had to be a grammarian, a philologer, an historian, a stylist and a sage in one. obliged to pretend at least to an encyclopaedic knowledge of the classics, and to retain whole volumes in his memory. All these requirements, which seem to have been satisfied by such men as Filelfo and Poliziano, made the Professor of Eloquence
-for so the varied subject-matter of Humanism was often called—a very different business from that which occupies a lecturer of the present century. Scores
Scores of students, old and young, with nothing but pen and paper on the desks before them, sat patiently recording what the lecturer said. At the end of his discourses on the Georgics or the Verrines, each of them carried away a compendious volume, containing a transcript of the author's text, together with a miscellaneous mass of notes, critical, explanatory, ethical, aesthetical, historical, and biographical. In other words, a book had been dictated, and as many scores of copies as there were attentive pupils had been made. The language used was Latin. No dialect of Italian could have been intelligible to the students of different nationalities who crowded the lecture-rooms. The elementary education in grammar requisite for following a professorial course of lectures had been previously provided by the teachers of the Latin schools which depended for maintenance partly on the State and partly on private enterprise.”
Even after the invention of printing, books were scarce and dear and had often to be dispensed with. Hallam (Literature of Europe, chap. iv. § 2, 31) says: "The process of learning without books was tedious and difficult, but not impracticable for the diligent. The teacher provided himself with a lexicon which was in common use among his pupils and with one of the grammars (he is referring to the teaching of Greek] published on the Continent, from which he gave oral lectures, and portions of which were transcribed by each student. The books read in the lecture-room were probably copied out in the same manner, the abbreviations giving some facility to a cursive hand; and thus the deficiency of impressions was in some degree supplied, just as before the invention of printing. The labour of acquiring knowledge strengthened, as it always does, the memory; it excited an industry which surmounted every obstacle, and yielded to no fatigue; and we may thus account for that copiousness of verbal learning which sometimes astonishes us in the scholars of the 16th century, and in which they seem to surpass the more exact philologers of later ages'." Unquestionably learning without books had its advantages, but without the cheapening of the art of printing neither learning nor education could ever have been wide-spread.
I have endeavoured very briefly to sum up the gains of the Revival, in so far as it was educational, after it had hardened down into formula and routine. It must be admitted that, even in its narrowest conception, the curriculum of study
In connexion with this, see an interesting passage in Plato's Phaedrus (Jowett's translation, I. p. 63).
afforded materials, both in the school and the university, whereby a true education might be given by capable men to competent students—especially after the invention of printing. But materials do not themselves suffice: there can be no education where there is no life, no vital intercourse of mind with mind in pursuit of some ideal aim, whether that be style, science, philosophy, Protestant dogma, or Catholic doctrine. The fire burns out, and all that has not gone off in smoke is ashes, and with these generations of youth must content them. selves, except where they are re-lighted here and there by the rare genius of an eminent teacher. It cannot be expected that the average schoolmaster or professor should rise above the spirit and methods of the age in which he lives. Great scholars, jurists and theologians, were notwithstanding produced, while the mass of students had now gained access to classical literature and the elements of mathematics. But in the secondary school, and for the ordinary boy, as for the ordinary teacher, life was almost as dreary as ever. Grammar was the despot and rotememory the slave. Verbalism had again reasserted itself, though now, it is true, with higher aims. The attempt to introduce real studies, even history and geography, broke down. In fact, how could it be otherwise? Who, or what agency was there to organize the spirit of the Revival in the school domain and sustain the teacher's ambition to the level which it had reached in a few enthusiastic and original minds?
After the preceding brief survey, the characteristics of the Revival in education will best be studied, I think, in the writings of representative men whom I proceed to speak of.
by Sir Thomas Elyot ; d. 1546.
The Governour, by Sir Thomas Elyot, was unknown save to the learned few until it was edited and reprinted by Mr Croft in 1880. The writer was a lawyer, and after holding a legal office for some time he was appointed by Wolsey Clerk of the Council of King Henry VIII. in 1523. He died in 1546. The Governour was printed 1530–31. The Institutio Principis Christiani of Erasmus is referred to by him, and he is indebted also to other writers (among whom I would include Plutarch).
I think Elyot's book of historical importance for two reasons : first because it seems to have been the first treatise in English written in the spirit of the earlier Italian Humanists, and secondly because it must have exercised influence on the mind of Roger Ascham. It would not serve much purpose to expound the whole of The Governour. I can give the reader a fair acquaintance with its spirit and aims by stringing together its leading precepts, and so letting Elyot speak for himself. Colet, I may mention, died only 10 or 12 years before the publication of Elyot's book, but it was only incidentally that he wrote on education, although historically he was an important figure as founder of the Humanistic School of St Paul's. Accordingly Elyot's work may be accepted as the first full exposition of the Humanistic point of view, not only in English but also in England.