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as Casimire, who is not in danger now and then of such extravagancies: but still they should not be admired or defended, if we pretend to pass a just judgement on the writings of the greatest men.
Milton is a noble genius, and the world agrees to confess it; his poem of Paradise Lost is a glorious performance, and rivals the most famous pieces of antiquity ; but that reader must be deeply prejudiced in favour of the poet, who can imagine him equal to himself through all that work. Neither the sublime sentiments, nor dignity of numbers, nor force or beauty of expression are equally maintained, even in all those parts which require grandeur or beauty, force or harmony. I cannot but consent to Mr Dryden's opinion, though I will not use his words, that for some scores of lines together, there is a coldness and flatness, and almost a perfect absence of that spirit of poesy which breathes, and lives, and flames in other pages.
XI. When you hear any person pretending to give his judgement of a book, consider with yourself whether he be a capable judge, or whether he may not lie under some unhappy bias or prejudice, for or against it, or whether he has made a sufficient inquiry to form his justest sentiments
Though he be a man of good sense, yet he is incapable of passing a true judgement of a particular book, if he be not well acquainted with the subject of which it treats, and the manner in which it is written, be it verse or prose; or if he hath not had opportunity or leisure to look sufficiently into the writing itself.
Again, though he be never so capable of judging on all other accounts, by the knowledge of the subject, and of the book itself, yet you are to consider also whether there be any thing in the author, in his manner, in his language, in his opinions, and his particular party, which may warp the sentiments of him that judgeth, to think well or ill of the treatise, and to pass too favourable or too severe a sentence concerning it.
find that he is either an unfit judge because of his ignorance, or because of his prejudices, his judgement of that book should go for nothing. Philographo is a good divine, an useful preacher, and an approved expositor of scripture, but he never had a taste for any of the polite learning of the age : he was fond of every thing that appeared in a devout dress, but all verse was alike to him : he told me last week there was a very fine book of poems published on the three Christian graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity; and a most elegant piece of oratory on the four last things, Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. Do you think I shall buy either of those books merely on Philographo's recommendation ?
C H A P. VI.
Of living Instructions and Lectures, of Teachers and
HERE are few persons of so penetrating a genius, and so just a judgement, as to be capable of learning the arts and sciences without the assistance of teachers. There is scarce any science so safely and so speedily learned, even by the noblest genius, and the best books, without a tutor. His assistance is absolutely necessary for most persons, and it is very useful for all beginners. Books are a sort of dumb teachers, they point out the way to learning ; but if we labour under
doubt or mistake, they cannot answer sudden questions, or explain present doubts and difficulties: this is properly the work of a living instructor.
II. THERE are very few tutors who are sufficiently furnished with such universal learning as to sustain all the parts and provinces of instruction. The sciences are numerous, and many of them lie far wide of each other; and it is best to enjoy the instruction of two or three tutors at least, in order to run through the whole encyclopedia, or circle of sciences, where it may be obtained; then we may
expect that each will teach the few parts of learning which are committed to his care in greater perfection. But where this advantage cannot be had with convenience, one great man must supply the place of two or three common instructors.
III. It is not sufficient that instructors be competently skilled in those sciences which they profess and teach ; but they should have skill also in the art or method of teaching, and patience in the practice of it.
It is a great unhappiness indeed, when persons, by a spirit of party, or faction, or interest, or by purchase, are set up for tutors, who have neither due knowledge of science, nor skill in the way of communication. And alas ! there are others who, with all their ignorance and insufficiency, have self-admiration and effrontery enough to set up themselves : and the poor pupils fare accordingly, and grow lean in their understandings. And let it be observed also, there are some very
learned men who know much themselves, but have not the talent of communicating their own knowledge ; or else they are lazy, and will take no pains at it. Either they have an obscure and perplexed way of talking, or they shew their learning uselessly, and make a long periphrasis on every word of the book they explain, or they cannot condescend to young beginners, or they run presently into the elevated parts of the science, because it gives themselves greater pleasure, or they are soon angry and impatient, and cannot bear with a few impertinent questions of a young, inquisitive, and sprightly genius; or else they skim over a science in a very slight and superficial survey, and never lead their disciples into the depths of it.
IV. A good tutor should have characters and qualifications very
different from all these. He is such a one as both can and will apply himself with diligence and concern, and indefatigable patience to effect what he undertakes ; to teach his disciples, and see that they learn ; to adapt his way and method as near as may be to the various disposi
tions, as well as to the capacities of those whom he instructs, and to inquire often into their progress and improvement.
And he should take particular care of his own temper and conduct that there be nothing in him, or about him, which may be of ill example ; nothing that may savour of a haughty temper, a mean and sordid spirit; nothing that may expose him to the aversion or to the contempt of his scholars, or create a prejudice in their minds against him and his instructions : but, if possible, he should have so much of a natural candour and sweetness mixed with all the improvements of learning, as might convey knowledge into the minds of his disciples with a sort of genteel insinuation and sovereign delight, and may tempt them into the highest improvements of their reason by a resistless and insensible force. But I shall have occasion to say more on this subject, when I come to speak more directly of the methods of the communication of knowledge.
V. The learner should attend with constancy and care on all the instructions of his tutor; and if he happens to be at any time unavoidably hindered, he must endeavour to retrieve the loss by double industry for time to come. He should always recollect and review his lectures, read over some other author or authors upon the same subject, confer upon it with his instructor, or with his associates, and write down the clearest result of his present thoughts, reasonings, and inquiries, which he may have recourse to hereafter, either to re-examine them, and to apply them to proper use, or to improve them further to his own advantage.
VI. A STUDENT should never satisfy himself with bare attendance on the lectures of his tutor, unless he clearly takes up his sense and meaning, and understands the things which he teaches. A young disciple should behave himself so well as to gain the affection and the ear of his instructor, that, upon every occasion, he may with the utmost freedom ask questions, and talk over his own sentiments, his doubts and difficulties with him, and, in a humble and modest man, ner, desire the solution of them.
VII. Let the learner endeavour to maintain an honourable opinion of his instructor, and heedfully listen to his instructions, as one willing to be led by a more experienced guide : and though he is not bound to fall in with
every sentiment of his tutor, yet he should so far comply with him as to resolve upon a just consideration of the matter, and try and examine it thoroughly with an honest heart, before he presume to determine against him. And then it should be done with great modesty, with a humble jealousy of himself, and apparent unwillingness to differ from his tutor, if the force of argument and truth did not constrain him. VIII. It is a frequent and growing folly in our age,
that pert young disciples soon fancy themselves wiser than those who teach them ; at the first view, or upon very
little thought, they can discern the insignificancy, weakness, and mistake of what their teacher asserts. The youth of our day, by an early petulancy, and pretended liberty of thinking for themselves, dare reject at once, and that with a sort of scorn, all those sentiments and doctrines which their teachers have determined, perhaps after long and repeated consideration, after years of mature study, careful observation, and much prudent experience.
IX. It is true, teachers and masters are not infallible, nor are they always in the right; and it must be acknowledged it is a matter of some difficulty for younger minds to maintain a just and solemn veneration for the authority and advice of their parents, and the instructions of their tutors, and
yet at the same time to secure to themselves a just freedom in their own thoughts. We are sometimes too ready to imbibe all their sentiments without examination, if we reverence and love them ; or, on the other hand, if we take all freedom to contest their opinions, we are sometimes tempted to cast off that love and reverence to their
persons which God and nature dictate. Youth is ever in danger of these two extremes. X. But I think I inay safely conclude thus : though the