Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/408

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390
Education

edly at the synod of churches: "Lord, for schools everywhere amongst us! That our schools may flourish ! That every member of this assembly go home and procure a good school to be encouraged by the town where he lives! That before we die we may be so happy as to see a good school encouraged by every plantation in the country!" Such zeal was not an isolated phenomenon and could not but bear fruit. The enthusiasm of America for education and the great public school system of subsequent days are but the legitimate results of such early devotion.

The outstanding figure in the conduct of the Latin school, as well as the chief representative of the colonial schoolmaster, is Ezekiel Cheever, who taught for seventy years, the last thirty-eight of them as master of the Boston Grammar School. Cheever himself contributed little to literature except a Latin Accidence, probably the earliest American school book, entitled A Short Introduction to the Latin Tongue (before 1650). This in itself was no more voluminous than the poetic tribute paid after his death by one of his pupils, Cotton Mather. With better motive perhaps than metre he thus records his esteem:

A mighty tribe of well instructed youth
Tell what they owe to him and tell with truth,
All the eight parts of speech he taught to them
They now employ to trumpet his esteem.

*******

Ink is too vile a liquor; liquid gold
Should fill the pen by which such things are told.

Another of Cheever's pupils was Judge Sewall, who has left us in his diary some details of the schooling of his children. After hearing Mather's funeral oration upon Cheever, Sewall made in this diary but one brief entry about their departed master: "He abominated periwigs."

Of the other colonial schoolmasters who contributed to literature the German pedagogue of Pennsylvania, Christopher Dock, has left the most substantial literary product. Besides a text or treatise he wrote an elaborate set of rules, one hundred in number, which portray in great detail the conduct of schools of the time, but which after all reveal merely transplanted European customs. Methods were extremely practical; although