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Verbal Realists: things through words.
§ 6. Next we find a party less numerous and for a time less influential, who did care about things for the sake of the things themselves; but carried away by the literary current of their age, they sought to learn about them not directly, but only by reading. Here again we have a kind of realism which is not yet extinct. Some years ago I was assured by a Graduate of the University of London who had passed in chemistry, that, as far as he knew, he had never seen a chemical in his life: he had got all his knowledge from books. While such a thing is possible among us, we need not wonder if those who in the sixteenth century prized the knowledge of things, allowed books to come between the learner and the object of his study, if they regarded Nature as a far-off country of which we could know nothing but what great authors reported to us.
As this party, unlike the Scholars, did not delight in literature as such, but simply as a means of acquiring knowledge, literary form was not valued by them, and they preferred Euclid to Sophocles, Columella to Virgil. Seeking to learn about things, not immediately, but through words, they have received from Raumer a name they are likely to keepVerbal Realists. In the sixteenth century the greatest of the Verbal Realists also gave a hint of Realism proper; for he was no less a man than Rabelais.
§ 7. Lastly we come to those who, as it turned out, were to have more influence in the schoolroom than the Scholars and the Verbal Realists combined. I do not know that these have had any name given them, but for distinction sake we may call them Stylists. In studying literature the Scholars cared both for form and substance, the Verbal Realists for substance only, and the Stylists for form only. The Stylists gave up their lives, not, like the scholars, to gain
Stylists: words for themselves.
a thorough understanding of the ancient writings and of the old world, but to an attempted reproduction of the ancient languages and of the classical literary form.
§ 8. In marking these tendencies at the Renascence, we must remember that though distinguished by their tendencies, these Scholars, Verbal Realists, and Stylists, were not divided into clearly defined parties. Categories like these no doubt assist us in gaining precision of thought, but we must not gain precision at the expense of accuracy. The tendencies we have been considering did not act in precisely opposite directions, and all were to some extent affected by them. But one tendency was predominant in one man and another in another; and this justifies us in calling Sturm a Stylist, Erasmus a Scholar, and Rabelais a Verbal Realist.
§ 9. In one respect they were all agreed. The world was to be regenerated by means of books. Nothing pleased them more than to think of their age as the Revival of Learning.
1. The curriculum bequeathed by the Renascence and stereotyped in the School Codes of Germany, in the Ratio of the Jesuits, and in the English public school system, was greatly influenced by the most famous schoolmaster of the fifteen hundreds, John Sturm, who was for over forty years Rector of the Strassburg Gymnasium.
§ 2. Sturm was a fine specimen of the successful man: he knew what his contemporaries wanted, and that was just what he wanted. "He was a blessed fellow," as Prince Hal says of Poins, "to think as every man thought," and he not only "kept the roadway" himself, but he also "personally conducted" great bands of pupils over it, at one time 200 noblemen, 24 counts and barons, and 3 princes." What could schoolmaster desire more?
§ 3. But I frankly own that Sturm is no favourite of mine, and that I think that he did much harm to education. However, his influence in the schoolroom was so great that I must not leave him unnoticed; and I give some information, taken mainly from Raumer's account of him, which is translated in Henry Barnard's "German Teachers and
His early life. Settles in Strassburg.
Educators." I have also looked at the exhaustive article by Dr. Bossler in K. A. Schmid's Encyklopädie (sub v.)
§ 4. John Sturm, born at Schleiden in the Eifel, not far from Cologne, in 1507, was one of 15 children, and would not have had much teaching had not his father been steward to a nobleman, with whose sons he was brought up. He always spoke with reverence and affection of his early teachers, and from them no doubt he acquired his thirst for learning. With the nobleman's sons and under the guidance of a tutor he was sent to Liége, and there he attended a school of the Brethren of the Life in Common," alias Hieronymites. Many of the arrangements of this school he afterwards reproduced in the Strassburg Gymnasium, and in this way the good Brethren gained an influence over classical education throughout the world.
§ 5. Between the age of 15 and 20 Sturm was at Lyons, and before the end of this period he was forced into teaching for a maintenance. He then, like many other learned men of the time, turned printer. We next find him at the University of Paris, where he thought of becoming a doctor of medicine, but was finally carried away from natural science by the Renascence devotion to literature, and he became a popular lecturer on the classics. From Paris he was called to Strassburg (then, as now, in Germany) in 1537. In 1538 he published his plan of a Gymnasium or Grammar School, with the title, "The right way of opening schools of literature (De Literarum Ludis recte aperiendis)," and some years afterwards (1565) he published his Letters (Classicæ Epis tola) to the different form-masters in his school.
§ 6. The object of teaching is three-fold, says Sturm, "piety, knowledge, and the art of expression." The student should be distinguished by reasonable and neat speech
His course of Latin. Dismissed.
(ratione et oratione) To attain this the boys in his school had to give seven years to the acquirement of a pure Latin style; then two years more were devoted to elegance; then five years of collegiate life were to be given to the art of Latin speech. This course is for ten years carefully mapped out by Sturm in his Letters to the masters. The foundation is to be laid in the tenth class, which the child enters at seven years old, and in which he learns to read, and is turned on to the declensions and conjugations. We have for all classes the exact "pensum," and also specimens of the questions put in examination by the top boy of the next class above, a hint which was not thrown away upon the Jesuits.
§ 7. Sturm cries over the superior advantages of the Roman children. "Cicero was but twenty when he delivered his speeches in behalf of Quintius and Roscius; but in these days where is there the man even of eighty, who could make such speeches? Yet there are books enough and intellect enough. What need we further? We need the Latin language and a correct method of teaching. Both these we must have before we can arrive at the summit of eloquence."
§ 8. Sturm did not, like Rabelais, put Greek on a level with Latin or above it. The reading of Greek words is begun in the sixth class. Hebrew, Sturm did not himself learn till he was nearly sixty.
§ 9. With a thousand boys in his school, and carrying on correspondence with the leading sovereigns of his age, Sturm was a model of the successful man. But in the end "the eligious difficulty" was too much even for him, and he was dismissed from his post by his opponents "for old age and other causes." Surely the "other causes" need not have been mentioned. Sturm was then eighty years old.
§ 10. The successful man in every age is the man who