Milton, though he was perhaps rather a private tutor than a schoolmaster, is the most famous now. Another of them, Charles Hoole, royalist and ex-master of Rotherham, who taught first close to Milton in Aldersgate Street and then in Tokenhouse Garden in Lothbury, produced a most novel and useful school book in his New Discovery of the Old Art of Teaching School, written in 1637 and published “after 14 years' diligent trial in practice in London” in 1660. There is no more illuminating work for demonstrating the absurdity of the notion that thought and theorizing were not brought to bear on education in those days. Milton's Tractate on Education (1643) is but a series of vague generalities compared with Hoole's book, and is chiefly noticeable for its denunciation, not of education being wholly classical, which is assumed as a matter of course, but of the absurd method which devoted ten years to not learning a smattering of Latin when Italian or French were learnt in a year. But Milton's own idea of cramming the unfortunate boys with Varro and Columella, with agriculture and fishing, tactics and strategies in Greek and Latin authors, so that the pupils might learn things instead of words, was as visionary a one as could be conceived.
The Restoration parliament not only cut off the supply of new schools and new endowments, but by the Act of Uniformity in 1662 and the Five Mile Act in 1665, imposing prohibitory penalties on all teaching in public or private schools, except by rigid Church of England men, did its best to stop all advance. The very ferocity of the attempt in the long run defeated itself. By a series of decisions of the courts all the schools but the endowed grammar schools were (in defiance, it must be admitted, of the law and historical right) freed from the control of the bishops, and even some grammar schools. Thus in Bates's case, 1670, it was held that where a master was put in by lay patrons he could not be turned out for teaching without the licence of the ordinary, but only censured, and that the statutory penalty was a bar to proceedings in the ecclesiastical courts. Next year in Cox's case it was settled that the bishop's licence was only required in grammar schools. Private schools nominally to teach writing, arithmetic, French, geography and navigation were outside ecclesiastical cognizance and gradually monopolized the education of the middle classes. Singleton, expelled from the headmastership of Eton at the Restoration, is said to have had 300 boys in a school in St Mary Axe. Foubert, banished from France for Protestantism, had an academy in the Haymarket under royal patronage. No dissenter, however, could be a member of a governing body or master of an endowed school, and if a dissenter went as a scholar he had to go to church and learn the church catechism. The church was therefore left in sole control of the endowed schools, with the result that at the end of the 18th century the schools were in a more decrepit condition than they were at any time in their long history. Only those which had great possessions and attracted the aristocracy flourished.
The post-Restoration period is distinguished, however, by one great innovation, the development of girls' schools. There were girls' schools at Hackney and at Chelsea, at Oxford and at Bicester, boarding-schools where “young gentlewomen learnt to play, dance and sing,” and where needlework was usually taught. In 1673 Mrs Makin, who had a ladies' school at Tottenham High Cross, and had been governess to the Princess Elizabeth, published an “Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen,” dedicated to the princess, afterwards queen, Mary. She advocates the education of girls in the same subjects as men, including Latin, though not by learning Lily's grammar by heart, but by learning grammar in English.
In the 18th century, with the progress of the means of communication, a few great schools, of which Westminster, Eton, Winchester, Harrow were the greatest, throve at the expense of the country grammar schools to which the local nobility and gentry used to resort. They were conducted, however, like private schools—the town boys at Westminster, the dames houses at Eton, the Commoners' houses at Winchester, being in fact private ventures. The process was imitated at Harrow from 1725, and Rugby from 1765, which emulated and sometimes surpassed the three old schools: while Charterhouse and Shrewsbury (which in the latter days of Elizabeth had been one of the largest schools in the country) also developed on the same lines. But there was little change even in their matter or method. In those schools in which French was taught and English poetry and prose were cultivated it was in a sort of amateur way and as a by-study. The serious work of scholarship was still confined to classics, though they were made the medium of excursions into history, geography and political science. The grammar schools in the country towns, with on the whole inferior teachers, clung more closely to the ancient ways. As the growth of commerce and manufactures brought into the ranks of the local aristocracy men mostly dissenters, the grammar schools, which refused to admit them either as governors or scholars, and which despised, if they did not, as they often did, wholly reject modern languages and modern subjects, were relegated to the free boys, who went there not for love of learning but because learning was free. Where some enterprising man got together a boarding-school his “young gentlemen,” who paid relatively high fees, were carefully secluded even in work, still more in play, from the common herd of free boys.
Never probably since the 9th century was the condition of the public schools of England worse than in the years 1750 to 1840. In the Victoria County Histories, in Carlisle's Endowed Grammar Schools, in the reports of Lord Brougham's Commission of Inquiry concerning Charities (1818-1837), it may be read in the case of county after county and school after school how the grammar schools, where they still struggled to preserve a semblance of higher education, were often taught by the nearest vicar or curate, and were reduced to ten or even to no boys. Thus at Stamford in 1729 there were five boys; at Birmingham in 1734 none; at Moulton in 1744 none; at Wainfleet in 1753 none; at Oundle in 1762 one entry, in 1779 four in the school, in 1785 none. At Repton between 1779 and 1800 fifteen boys were admitted; at Abingdon from 1792 to 1803 there were from three to ten boys; at Derby in 1826 four boys; at Chesterfield in 1827 four boys, and from 1832 to 1836 one boy constituted the whole school. Often for half a century no more than half a dozen boys had been known to attend the school; sometimes this was the case for a century, while a large proportion of the schools had been definitely converted into elementary schools, and bad ones at that. Great, if partial, improvement followed after the publication of the reports of Lord Brougham's commission and the suits in Chancery and private acts of parliament for the restitution of endowments of schools which followed them. But the Public Schools Commission Report of 1863 and the Schools Inquiry Report of 1868 revealed still a deplorable state of things. This has largely been remedied by the removal of religious disabilities, the introduction of the principle of representative government in the governing bodies of schools, and the widening of the curriculum through special commissions with drastic powers, in the case of the great public schools under the Public Schools Commission, and in the case of the lesser public schools by the Endowed Schools Commissioners and the Charity Commissioners under the Endowed Schools Act 1869, and the carving of endowed grammar or high schools for girls out of the old schools for boys.
It is satisfactory to end this review of the history of schools with the conclusion that however much might still require to be done, the conditions in 1910 showed a complete alteration. English schools of all grades had never been so full of pupils, so well equipped with buildings and appliances, or staffed with such devoted and active bands of teachers.
Elementary Schools.—Elementary teaching prevailed in medieval England to an infinitely wider extent than has been commonly supposed. It was at first the duty of every parish priest. Its origin has been credited, even as lately as 1908 (Foster Watson, English Grammar Schools to 1660), to a decree of Theodulf, bishop of Orleans in France, in 787, and to a law