Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/593

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of an essay on the formation of character (De Ingenuis Moribus) which remained a classic for two centuries, passing through some forty editions before the year 1600. The Renaissance was fertile in educational treatises; but this tractate was the clearest, as it was the earliest, statement of the principles on which humanistic training rested. Vittorino, after holding a chair of rhetoric at Padua, and then teaching privately at Venice, was invited by Gian Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, to undertake the tuition of his children. In 1425 he took up his residence in a villa assigned to him for that purpose at Mantua, where he remained till his death in 1446. Here he created a school of a type previously unknown.

His aim was to develop the whole nature of his pupils, intellectual, moral, and physical; not with a view to any special calling, but so as to form good citizens and useful members of society, capable of bearing their part with credit in public and private life. For intellectual training he took the Latin classics as a basis; teaching them, however, not in the dry and meagre fashion generally prevalent in the medieval schools, where their meaning as literature was too often obscured by artificial and pedantic methods, but in the large and generous spirit of Renaissance humanism. Poetry, oratory, Roman history, and the ethics of Roman Stoicism, were studied in the best Latin writers, and in a way fitted to interest and stimulate boys. By degrees Vittorino introduced some Greek classics also. The scholars were practised in Latin composition, and to some extent in Greek; also in recitation, and in reading aloud. He further provided for some teaching of mathematics, including geometry (a subject which the, humanists preferred to the schoolmen's logic), arithmetic, and the elements of astronomy. Nor did he neglect the rudiments of such knowledge as then passed for natural philosophy and natural history. Music and singing also found a place. Unlike some of the contemporary humanists, Vittorino was an orthodox, even a devout churchman, and one whose precepts were enforced by his practice. He was a layman, and the type of education which he was creating might even be contrasted, in some respects, with the ecclesiastical type which had preceded it. But he was entirely exempt from any tendency to neopaganism in religion or ethics; and his ethical influence as a teacher seems to have been thoroughly sound.

With great insight and tact, Vittorino saw how far social education could be given in a school with advantage to morals and without loss to manliness; he inculcated a good tone of manners, and encouraged the acquirement of such social accomplishments as the age demanded in well-educated men. As to physical training, he provided instructors in riding, swimming, and military exercises. He also promoted every kind of healthy outdoor activity. This was a new thing in schools. The ecclesiastical schoolmaster of the Middle Ages had not usually concerned himself with it. The medieval provision for physical training had been