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Mr. SAMUEL HART LIB.
Written about the Year 1650.
AM long since persuaded, that to say, or de ought worth memory and imitation, no pur
pose or respect should fooner move us, than fimply the love of God, and of mankind. Never. theless to write now the reforming of education, tho’ it be one of the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought on, and for the want whereof this nation perishes, I had not yet at this time been inducd, but by your earnest intreaties and ferious conjurements; as having my mind for the present half diverted in the pursuance of some other assertions, the knowledge and the use of which cannot but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of truth, and honest living, with much
more peace. Nor should the laws of any private friendship have prevaild with me to divide thus, or transpose my former thoughts, but that I fee those aims, those actions which have won you with me the esteem of a person fent hither by some good providence from a far country, to be the occasion and the incitement of great good to this island. And, as I hear, you have obtain'd the fame repute with men of most approv'd wisdom, and some of highest authority among us.
Not to mention the learned correspondence which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordinary pains and diligence which you have usd in this matter both here, and beyond the feas; either by the definite will of God so ruling, or the peculiar fway of nature, which also is God's working. Neither can I think that, so reputed, and so valu'd as you are, you would, to the forfeit of your own dircerning ability, impose upon me an unfit and over-ponderous argument, but that the satisfaction which you profess to have receiv'd from those incidental discourses which we have wander'd into, bath prest and almost constrain'd you into a persuasion that what you require from me in this point, I neither ought, nor can in conscience defer beyond this time both of so much need at once, and so much opportunity to try what God hath determind. I will not resist therefore, whatever it is, either of divine or human obligement, that you lay upon me; but will forthwith fet down in writing, as you request me, that voluntary idea which hath long in silence presented it self to me, of a better education, in extent and comprehen. fion far more large, and yet of time far fhorter, and of attainment far more certain, than hath
been yet in practice. Brief I Thall endeavour to be; for that which I have to say, assuredly this nation hath extreme need should be done sooner than spoken. To tell you therefore what I have benefited herein among old renowned authors, I shall spare ; and to search what many moa dern Januas and Didactics, more than ever I shall read, have projected, my inclination leads me not. But if you can accept of these few obfervations which have flower'd off, and are, as it were, the burnishing of many studious and contemplative years, altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge, and such as pleas'd you fo well in the relating, I here give you them to dife' pose of.
The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the neareft by posseffing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection. But because our understanding cannot in this body found itself but on sensible things, nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible, as by orderly conning over the visible and inferior creature, the lame method is necessarily to be follow'd in all difcreet teaching. And seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kinds of learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the languages of those people who have at any time been most industrious after wisdom ; so that language is but the instrument conveying to us things uierul to be known. And tho' a linguist should
pride himself to have all the tongues that Babel cleft the world into, yet, if he had not studied the folid things in them as well as the words and lexicons, he were nothing fo much to be eftecm'd a learned man, as any yeoman or tradesman competently wife in his mother dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have made learning generally fo unpleafing and so unsuccessful ; firit we do amiss to spend feven or eight years merely in fcraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learnt otherwise easily and delightfuily in one year. And that which casts our proficiency therein so much behind, is our time lost partly in too oft idle yacancies given both to schools and universities, partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment, and the final work of a head fill’d, by long reading and observing, with elegant maxims, and copious invention. These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit : besides the ¡ll habit which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek Idiom, with their untutor d Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well-continu'd and judicious conversing among pure authors digested, which they scarce taste; whereas, if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis thereof in some cholen short book lesfond throughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the subitance of good things, and arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power: