Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/September 1886/Some Outlines from the History of Education I
|SOME OUTLINES FROM THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION.|
PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI.
IT is noticeable that, upon the subjects of education and religion, almost every one believes he has something to say. It is noticeable also that this belief is often quite apart from knowledge or special preparation. In mathematics, we wait for the judgment of the mathematician, in chemistry, for the judgment of the chemist, while in education we wait for no one, but bring forth our opinions loudly and dogmatically. We have, as a pleasant consequence, the fact that the nonsense written and spoken about education is like no other nonsense for completeness, except that written and spoken concerning religion. What fledgling does not think it in his power to produce a helpful tractate about God, his nature and modus operandi? In like manner, who can not write a scientific tractate upon education?
It is a consideration of much moment, when approaching such a subject as education, to reflect that true science ends controversy. The Ptolemaic and Copernican systems may not share the heavens between them. Is it said we have various systems of theology? This is painfully true, the reason being that we have not a scientifically adequate one on the face of the earth. The same is the case with systems of government and political economy. We may safely conclude that the fact of the existence of diverse systems is proof that the given subject has not been reduced to scientific expression.
From earliest times there have been teachers and students; from earliest times great-minded men have given themselves to the work of education. We see throughout Europe ancient seats of learning cared for by governments and reverently regarded. More than this, during the past two, even three centuries, enthusiastic efforts have been made to found education upon its true bases. Most fitting opportunities were granted to men who thought they had the science of the matter; experiment after experiment was tried; and yet to-day we find ourselves in the very thick of the conflict, on the threshold of great changes, and apparently no nearer the education-science. Naturally the question arises, Why is this so? as naturally also the further question, What have we to expect? These inquiries are vitally related, and the answer to the second follows from the answer to the first.
Past endeavors have not given us a science of education because, from the nature of the case, education is the last subject that can become a science. Who is it whom we seek to educate? Man. What is man? Evidently if we are to educate man upon scientific methods we must know what man is; we must know the laws of his being, the relation of these laws to one another, and to the end for which man is made. The science of education, therefore, presupposes a true psychology, and a knowledge of the formation of character based upon this psychology. In our country so-called educational treatises are written by persons who have neither psychology nor minds to comprehend it; and, while these works may have much valuable practical matter, they should not be received as in any sense scientific. With one exception ("Education" by Herbert Spencer), the only works which may claim to pretend to treat education scientifically are German, and every one of these bases itself directly upon some psychological system. I need but name in illustration A. H. Niemeyer's "Ground Principles of Education," Fred. Schwarz's "Instruction-Book of Pädagogik," as coming directly out of the Kantian thought, or Miss Anna C. Brackett's translation of "The Philosophy of Education," by Professor Rosenkranz, the biographer of Hegel, as an application of Hegelian thought to education. We of to-day are feeling the influence of an entirely different philosophical system from either of those above mentioned. Our educational methods are being remarkably and rapidly modified. This change has received its psychological expression in England, and Mr. Spencer may be regarded as the representative thinker of this new school. Here the idea of man as to his nature and the laws of his development is distinct and peculiar; it gives us an education based almost entirely upon instruction in the physical sciences.
Pending the attainment of a psychology that shall secure sufficient general recognition to become the source of proper reform in our educational efforts, it would seem that nothing could be more profitable than some consideration of the history of education. It is surely matter for regret that a subject so important as this should not long since have been examined in the light of the idea of development. It is our good fortune in most other matters to have abandoned a priori discussion. Even with so deep a work as Goethe's "Faust" we feel that it is necessary to proceed historically if we are to gain correct ideas as to its origin and meaning. We have come to recognize this "Faust" as the life-poem of one of the greatest of our race; we have come also to know that the material which Goethe transformed was deeply rooted in our common humanity, and had already passed through a natural and vigorous development long before the poet's day. How much profundity of nonsense this historical feeling would have saved us in literature and religion can not be estimated. Our debt to Comte as the living source of modern historical feeling may well temper our judgments before his later speculations. We have a right to expect that whatever value there is in general historical study, as related to the life and works of men, we should find in the history of education as related to the practical matter of teaching and learning. There is even a closer relation between general history and the history of education. This is seen in a moment if we consider again who is to receive the education. The ideas which man has entertained about himself have determined alike his history and his education. The profitable thing in considering our subject historically is exactly this detection of man's ideas of himself. We see these ideas shaped by varying circumstances, and in turn shaping man's activity in every direction. Education has had a wonderful unfolding and there is not a phase of its course which may not be traced to that idea of man's nature and destiny which prevailed at the time.
This close relation between general history and the history of education has led to the adoption of the same broad time-divisions in both subjects, as follows:
From Christ to the Reformation.
From the Reformation to Pestalozzi.
From Pestalozzi to the present.
This division is the one chosen by all authorities in the history of education, though special reference may here be made to Schmidt's "Geschichte der Pädagogik," a work of remarkable philosophic value, and one to which I am greatly indebted in the preparation of these articles.
Turning to the first division, we find that the nations having a history and corresponding systems of education are the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the Greeks, and the Romans. Nothing can be more interesting and profitable than to observe how directly and completely the education found among these peoples was shaped by the ideas which they respectively entertained about their own nature and destiny.
We have frequently been asked to consider the peculiar appearance which China presents in history. There is something here as sad as it is peculiar. Centuries before the nations of to-day had emerged from barbarism, China showed remarkable advancement in civilization. We should not think here chiefly of the public works constructed by this people, such as the wall of defense or the canal, or even of their knowledge in special directions, such as the use of gunpowder or the art of multiplying impressions from woodcuts, or the use of porcelain, the compass, and the bell. The fact above all others to be noted is, that in no country, without exception, has such direct and supreme value been placed upon education as in China. The educated man alone could hold office in this vast empire; riches and birth were of no avail if the man were uneducated. We may contrast this profitably, so far as the idea is concerned, with our American suffrage system, where the vote of bestial ignorance counts for more than that of trained intelligence, and where the qualification for office is availability. In China, the higher the office to be filled, the higher must be the education. Such being the estimate placed upon education by this people, we should not judge that stagnation would prevail in China for over twenty-five hundred years and education become nothing but pitiable mummery. We learn a valuable lesson here as to the way in which one fundamental error can vitiate centuries of national existence. China, as arrested development, has been aptly compared to the feet of her women.
In seeking the cause for such arrest of growth, we come upon the idea which this people entertained of themselves: they were members of a family—nothing more; the emperor was their father. This family-idea, applied everywhere and never transcended, kept the people children. With our modern feeling of individuality so fiercely coursing in our veins, we find it almost impossible to realize that in China there were no persons, no individuals. A human being fully grown, and with what should have been the strength of manhood upon him, was simply a son, a child. He did not belong to himself or to a nation, but to a family. Absolute obedience to father and teacher prevented all progress beyond the condition of father and teacher: learning was ceaseless repetition. The Chinese had village schools, town schools, and universities; their highest reverence was for the most learned, and their education found its supreme test in an act of memory.
Passing from China to India, we find that man's idea of himself is somewhat enlarged. The people are divided into four castes: Brahmans, warriors, merchants, Sutras. Birth determines each man's condition and duties; to be a Brahman is to live and die a Brahman, to be born a Sutra is to live and die a Sutra. No physical law is more inflexible than the law of caste in this far-off land. But these social divisions show improvement over the condition in China. Man is nearer himself as member of a caste than as member of an enormous family. Further, man in India has been shaped by a most wonderful religion. The special mental characteristic of the Indian, imagination, fancy, was constantly and powerfully influenced by the outside world. Nature seemed to have produced one impression above all others upon the Indian mind, the impression of universal necessity. We find these elements at work determining the idea which man had of himself and molding the education of India. The Sutras were so low as to be beneath all education; the other classes were trained for their special duties—the Brahmans in religion, the rulers and warriors in government and war, the merchants in trading. As there might be members of the higher castes in villages, provision was made for their instruction by elementary schools. This instruction consisted in reading, writing, and reckoning. A teacher, with staff in hand, would take his place under a tree and teach the boys sitting around him. In arithmetic only the rudiments were taught. Writing was closely connected with reading, and was taught by a stick in the sand; then on palm-leaves with an iron point, and at last on plantain-leaves with a kind of ink. In the higher schools at Benares, the esoterics (which might include members of the second and third classes) were taught grammar, prosody, and mathematics; the esoterics, poetry, history, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, and law. The pupil is a listener for five years; then he is allowed to take part in the discussions. The period of study lasts from twelve to twenty years, and the highest instruction is furnished by a study of the Vedas. Though the Indians had no theory of education, they expressed wise educational maxims most beautifully by fable and poetry. "War-skill and learning are both renowned, but the first turns to folly in old aire, while the second appears worthy for every period of life." "Culture is higher than beauty and concealed treasure, it accompanies you upon your journeys through foreign lands and gives an indestructible power." "As the tree shadows him who would cut it down, and as the moon illumines the huts of the lowest, so should a man love those that hate him." "Be humble, for the tender grass bows itself uninjured to the wind, while mighty trees are rent in pieces by it." "The wise man should strive to attain knowledge as though he were not subject to death, but he should fulfill the duties of religion as though death were settling upon his lips."
Did the special purpose of the present paper allow, it would be instructive at this point to notice the reformation in the religion of India. Brahm and Nirwana as root-ideas appear to have been essentially the same, and the highest glory of man was absorption in the all. That which is especially instructive here is the fundamentally different development of this common idea in Brahminism and Buddhism. For the Brahman, God is in everything: everything is God: from this come the deification of Nature and all forms of animal-worship.
For the Buddhist, on the contrary, since the highest blessing is the loss of one's self in Nirwana, everything that has independent existence must be cursed by the very fact of existence. We must pity, not worship, anything that is. From this interpretation of the common idea, what are wealth and social distinctions? Where all is wretched, how can one thing be better than another? Buddha, well called the Luther of India, could cut clean through the caste-distinctions and make a way for what, long afterward and under, other influences, so mightily prevailed in Christendom, the conventual system, the order of monks.
Buddhist education was training in Buddhist religion. The principles of this education are found in the catechism of the Buddhists, and take the form of such commandments as these: "Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt commit no act of impurity. Thou shalt do no wrong by thy speech. Thou shalt drink nothing intoxicating. Thou shalt not kill any living being."
Among the remaining Oriental nations we find ideas respecting man that are equally narrow and ill-adapted for advancement. In Persia the national idea, in Egypt the priestly idea, among the Israelites the patriarchal idea, determined respectively all that was undertaken in the way of training. It is a singularly instructive fact that man, as an individual, first appears among the Greeks and Romans. Here lies the radical difference between the contributions to history offered by the Eastern peoples and that progressive movement commenced at Greece and Rome. The trite saying, "History began with the Greeks," finds its philosophy in the fact that here man entered on his career as an individual, a person. This idea of individuality, however, was by no means unlimited. It never exceeded the boundaries of Greece and Rome. A Grecian was a person, a Roman was a person; for them there were rights and opportunities. They could be educated. Man as man, however, was not yet known. Despite this serious limitation we must call the advance shown by these peoples great when compared with all that had preceded. To say I am an individual Grecian, an individual Roman, is far better than to say I am a child among millions of other children, or, I am a member of a caste. It has been frequently observed that education among the Greeks and Romans shaped itself in strict keeping with the root-difference between these peoples. For the Greeks, highest excellence was beauty, in body and mind; for the Romans, it was result, something brought to pass, whether physical or mental. Therefore the Greeks surpassed in art and philosophy, the Romans in war and law. It has been often remarked that our first theoretical treatment of education is furnished by the Greeks. Plato, in his "Republic" and "Book of the Laws," states the fundamental principles of education, and surrenders the individual to the state. Education is an affair of the state and for the state. Here is the limitation of individuality, a limitation not to be exceeded at this time by this people. The Romans, not demanding public education, left the child to home training for his earlier years, but placed him as a youth with some celebrated jurist for special instruction in law and state-craft. This Roman training was, from beginning to end, practical, and never lost such character even after the rhetoric and philosophy of Greece were added to the subject-matter of education.
Human history, and consequently education, were now to feel the impulse of a new movement. Christianity, whether true or false, appears with the announcement that "God hath made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." In this is contained a truth that gave Christianity power to supplant heathenism and to shape the course of education for centuries. The history of education for a long time after Christ would be a history of the Church. We need concern ourselves with this movement only so far as to find a thread of development that may lead from past times to the present. Persecution was the inevitable experience of those who allied themselves to the new faith. During the earlier years the struggle for existence was constant and absorbing. The children were necessarily kept at home and taught only the simple forms of the new faith, or were sent to heathen schools for instruction in reading and writing. This practice continued until persecution had relaxed its grasp sufficiently to allow some r on upon the new religion as a body of belief and teaching. With this reflection came the supposed discovery that Christianity was something purely spiritual and heavenly, having no concern with earthly affairs. The error here, though natural, was fatal. A misunderstood Christianity led men astray and multiplied sorrow for the race. With the growth of this religion it became necessary to instruct the converts in the faith they were about to adopt. During the first century a. d., institutes for the catechumens, or schools for the teaching of Christianity, were established. The heathen converts at first grown persons, and were taught nothing but the principles of the new religion: all other training they must receive from heathen schools. Christianity was a train for heaven, not for earth. The order of the monks appeared in Palestine, Constantinople, and Rome. Education was the special care of these men, who had forsaken all worldly interests, and education consisted wholly in such instruction as would fit for the duties of the order.
With further advance Christianity began to reach out all over departments of life. Now, for the first time, leading men among the Christians demanded that the children should be taken from the heathen schools and receive all their education at the hands of Christians. That the catechetical schools made no break with heathenism. is plain. Clement was a leader of these schools at Alexandria from 189 a. d. He was master of classical training, and brought his learning to the service of the new religion. He felt no pronounced opposition to heathenism, but believed it could illustrate and advance Christianity. He says, "Mosaic law and heathen philosophy do not stand in opposition to one another, but are related as parts of one truth; both prepare, but in different ways, for Christianity." The new force, however was irresistibly working in contrary direction. A few years from the death of Clement the new religion announces its direct and uncompromising hostility to heathenism and all forms of heathen education. There was war to the death against everything connected with Greece and Rome. Education must train for heaven and for nothing else. By imperial order the schools of philosophy closed, 529 a. d. No more were children to be suckled in a creed outworn, no more could one "have sight of Proteus rising from the sea or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn." From the fourth to the sixth century heathen culture was trampled out by the march of the barbarians over the empire.
To estimate in any sense justly the course of events through this formative period, it is, I think, important to recognize the elements at work in the process. The East and West were to be dealt with by a new religion; more than this, the barbarian must be subdued; the savage conqueror from beyond the Alps must be trained. As has been said, it would prove far more difficult to adjust philosophies and old religions to the new faith than to convert and baptize the rough, fresh peoples who were but just coming to self-consciousness, and whose vigor would furnish material for the world's progress. When we consider the magnitude of the problem, we shall not wonder that the day was long in dawning; we shall not wonder that Christian went astray from the path whose dire it contained within itself. Throughout the entire middle period Christianity was unable to assimilate, organize the heritage of classical thought. It seemed necessary that Christianity should, preserve existence and form as against Grecian philosophy and Oriental mysticism by rising above all human things, by fixing the eye on heaven.
At this time, when the treasures of the world's learning seemed lost beyond recovery, the cry is again heard, "Ex oriente lux!" One of the most brilliant and ending phenomena of human history now appeared—Arabian culture.
It has been said, and perhaps too often of late, that what we regard as the deeper differences of our fellows correspond to the broad divisions of the earth. Races and peoples differentiate themselves according to climate and territory. This is taken as a clew to the proper definition of a people—viz., a "totality of individuals in the mass of humanity," a totality conditioned by the land to which they belong and by the stage of development on which they enter. It is important to remark the word conditioned. The distinguishing characteristics of a people do not come entirely from without. There is something more than climate and environment. This may properly be called the race type, which, like the primal institution of the individual is never created by education; dependent on land and climate for expression, it unfolds after its own kind. The impress of the original type found wherever the development has been sufficiently advance to bring out the varied parts of our nature. By this is not meant that each people accomplishes something distinctive in religion and government. morals, science, and art.
Our meaning rather is that the mark of each people is plainly visible on all these manifestations. The statement is just that each people is an individual within the race, and that it will show the working of three forces—original constitution, climatic condition, influence from adjacent nations.
Our examination of any national movement can not deserve approval unless the idea of development control the investigation. We are above being satisfied by facts alone. History is alive. It is no longer enough to know that at such a time the Arabians conquered Spain, passed on to France, were defeated by Charles Martel, ruled for centuries in Granada, lived luxuriantly, fostered literature and art, were at last driven back whence they came, and are now as nothing in the world's life. We need to discover the natural place and functions of the Arabian people in history. We must know this people as a growth on the common tree. Any detailed examination of the kind indicated is foreign to the purpose of this paper. While, however, nothing but the merest outline can be drawn, it should consist of living lines—i. e., of those features which represent the causes at work in this given historic unfolding. It is well understood that Arabia is physically one of the most peculiar of all countries. It seems preestablished to make tribes, to prevent nationality. Its shape is that of a triangular peninsula, limited on the west by the Red Sea, on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the east by the Persian Gulf, on the north it joins Syria. The most remarkable feature of the country is the almost impassable separation between the exterior and interior, between the coasts and the central land. This separation is made by a broad belt of desert, yet beyond the sand-wastes is the Arabia of the Arabians, the most productive and healthy portion of the entire country.
Not only is the land itself peculiar, it is peculiarly placed. Alexandria lies upon the left, Jerusalem and Damascus in front, Persia and the Orient upon the right. The remark is familiar that almost all the philosophical and religious systems of the known world would meet here in passing. We need a few sentences as to the people themselves and their condition before the appearance of Mohammed. The origin of the Arabians is lost in tradition. There is no question, however, that the division of this people into classes obtained from earliest times. There were the pure Arabs and the Mostarabs; the former lived in cities, the latter were the true sons of the desert and led always the nomadic life. Here we find the origin of the present well-known separation of the people into Ahl-Bedoo, or dwellers in the open land, and Ahl-Hadr, or dwellers in fixed localities. We find the complete expression of the nomadic Arab existence in the clan, the family. While the residents in cities show such modifications as would be expected from closer and more permanent intercourse, still here also the family, the tribe, was matter of chief consideration. Arabian land had severed the Arabian people at the same time it had developed immense physical endurance.
We need some characterization of the Arabian nature, that individual and primary constitution which, produced by no climate or circumstances, developed as external conditions might necessitate, yet always as itself. The Arabian nature has been said to have the following characteristics in remarkable degree and intensity: "Seriousness and pride, veracity, generosity, hospitality, passionateness and ardor in love and hatred, vindictiveness running on and on through years to the last member of the tribe, and often mounting to extreme cruelty. Mentally the peculiarities of the people were receptiveness, quickness of discernment. They had high esteem for lyric and narrative poetry, and possessed language of perfect form suited to express the various ideas which Nature might suggest to a pastoral people, and to portray the fiercer passions of the mind." Before the time of the Prophet, Arabia had clusters of inhabitants thus endowed. There were tribes, but there was no nation. There were peoples allied to each other by a common nature, yet driven apart by an independence born of wandering life and desert solitude. Mohammed made a nation, such a nation as was possible. Unity, in the full sense of that word, never obtained among this people. Yet they were so aggregated by the Prophet as to conquer the old world, to invade Europe, to threaten Christian civilization, to hold Spain for eight hundred years, and to pass through a most brilliant career in every department of human activity. Was there nothing ready to the Prophet's hand? Was there no preparation for the message "There is one God"? It is here at such points as this that we may find chief interest in historical movements. To trace living connections between the old and the new is alike the highest intellectual gratification and truest historical exposition.
Though the Arabian people were separated into tribes, and though these tribal distinctions were deep and permanent, there were not lacking certain points of connection. Had such comings-together been entirely wanting, nothing of all that happened could have happened. Between these Arabians, whether roaming over the desert or living in cities, two forces ever tended to bring them together: the one was religious, the other artistic. Mecca had been a sacred place to every dweller in the land from earliest times. Here, in soil utterly desolate, burst forth the magic well Zem-Zem. It offered its waters to Hagar and Ishmael. It had medicinal properties and miraculous virtues; the people came together, and Mecca was built. More than this, here was a sacred black stone, mysterious in origin and power. It was said to have come from heaven with Adam. Here Adam worshiped after his expulsion from paradise, in a tent sent from heaven. Seth substituted a structure of clay and stone. This was destroyed by the deluge, and rebuilt by Abraham. As it now stands in the mosque at Mecca, it was shaped in the year 1627. It is from thirty-five to forty feet in height, eighteen paces long, and fourteen broad; its door is covered with silver, and is opened but three times each year. This is the Kaaba. In its northeast corner, incased in silver, lies the black stone, toward which all the faithful turn in prayer. So much had religion done to bind these Arabs together. There was an artistic influence. "Poetry seemed the necessary expression of the passionate nature of this people. Poetry preserved the genealogies and rights of the tribes, as also the memory of great actions. A poet honored his tribe; in turn his tribe and kindred tribes joined to do him honor." Every year, from all parts of this strange land, there was a gathering near Mecca. The poets recited their poetry, disputing for the prize, and the assembly determined the merits of the productions. Seven poems, each the work of a distinct poet, were thought worthy of special esteem. They were written down in golden characters upon Egyptian paper, and suspended upon the walls of the Kaaba.
Only one of these poems antedates the new faith; the author was contemporaneous with the Prophet. I make two brief selections from the first poem; in the one the poet is describing his steed, in the other a storm:
"Even in his weakest state he seems to boil while he runs, and the sound which he makes in his rage is like that of a bubbling caldron. When other horses are languid, he rushes on like a flood, and strikes the hard earth with a firm hoof. He has the loins of an antelope and the thighs of an ostrich; he trots like a wolf and gallops like a young fox."
"O friend, seest thou the lightning, whose flashes resemble the quick glance of two hands amid clouds raised above clouds?
"I sit gazing at it—far distant is the cloud on which my eyes are fixed. Its right side seems to pour its rain on the hills of Katan, its left on the mountains of Sitar and Jadbul. The cloud unloads its freight on the desert of Ghabeit, like a merchant of Yemen alighting with his bales of rich apparel."The small birds of the valley warble at daybreak, as if they had taken their early draught of generous wine mixed with spice."
A verse from the poem of Tarafa:
From the poem of Zohair:
A later Arabian poet says:
Men who could feel and utter such truths might well have something to do in the world. On the 16th of July, 622 a. d., Mohammed fled for his life from Mecca to Medina; eighty years passed, and Syria, Persia, Northern Africa were subdued, and the Moslem host stood upon the southern coast of the straits of Gibraltar, prepared for the conquest of Spain. Mohammed made a nation.
It were most interesting to obtain a philosophical account of this man's character and career. This is not, however, in the line of our present purpose. It is sufficient here to remember that monotheism was the one lesson taught the Semitic race. The original God-idea was One Being, God over all. It is very justly remarked that, in the opinion of Mohammed, this idea had been narrowed by Judaism: God had become the God of Israel. Again, this idea had been falsely developed by Christianity in her doctrine of the Trinity, and in her anthropomorphic Saviour. Directly opposed to both of these is the proclamation of the Prophet, "There is but one God, the Living, the Ever-living, the Holy, the Self-contained, and Mohammed is his prophet."
This pure monotheism recognizes no distinctions among men; no Jews, no Christians, no classes—God is one God. Here is the source of Mohammed's power.
Our literature is filled with testimonials to the marvelous expression which Arabian culture received in Spain. There is no need to enumerate the schools of learning or the achievements of this people in every direction. I am confident that a few words from the Arabians themselves will do more than can be accomplished in any other way, to show their attainments in thought and feeling.
In Persia the faith of Islam became a mystical pantheism; this finds beautiful expression in the lines of Rumi, who died in the year 1262:
"I am the little sun-dust—I am the great sun-ball;
To the little dust I say remain, and to the sun, pass on.
I am the morning's glimmer, I am the evening's haze;
I am the wild leaves' moaning, I am the sea's high billow;
I am the mast, the rudder, the steersman, and the ship;
I am the physician, the sickness, the poison, and the antidote;
The sweet, the bitter, the honey, and the gall;
I am the chain of Being, I am the ring of worlds."
To this all-soul humanity should make complete surrender:
|"Truly death ends life's need,|
|Yet shudders life 'fore death;|
|Life sees the dark hand.|
|Not the bright gift which she offers;|
|So shudders before love the heart|
|As if threatened with destruction,|
|For where love awakes, there dies|
|The I, the dark despot:|
|Let him die in the night,|
|And breathe thou free in morning red."|
In the year 1060 a prince, living on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, wrote and gave to his son a book, called the book of Kabus. This gift was to represent better things than gold and lordly station. I translate, as before, from a German rendering:
The prince now gives advice so practical, so wise, as to be worthy of application by all sons at all times:
"Dost thou desire to become a judge, then must thou be courageous, sharp-sighted, quick of comprehension, and a man of sound judgment. Thou must know what thy case has before it and behind it; thou must be a judge of men. Thou must know the habits of every class of men, thou must see into their failings. Give to each cause much investigation and, reflection, and after thou hast discerned the right decision, express it in few words that not a syllable further be needed. Above all things must the judge be honest, and his chief excellence consists in this, that he is learned and self-controlled, and keeps himself from forbidden things. Dost thou desire to become a physician? Then must thou learn the theory and practice of medicine. Thou must investigate fire, air, water, and earth. Thou must learn to distinguish the temperament, the sanguine, the choleric, the melancholy, and the phlegmatic, together with their related sources, the blood and the gall, also their corresponding principal organs. Thou must give attention also to the senses and their powers, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling; also to the inner powers, the imagination, memory, and reason; also to the animal powers, activity and repose. By the sick man himself lay thy hand upon the pulse.
"Dost thou desire to become a poet, so give heed that thy expression in the poems be clear and plain. Shun dark speaking; write not poetry without imagery, taste, or art.
"Dost thou desire to learn music, then must thou be well-habited and friendly, not of evil habit and ungracious. When thou comest into the company, be not always playing light songs and melodies, or always playing hard and difficult pieces. For the people assembled are not all of one nature, but are often quite opposed to each other; as generally men are not all of one taste. Therefore must thou be instructed in all forms of melody and various kinds of instruments, that all the people may receive pleasure."Lastly, my son, art thou called to be a ruler—guard thyself from all that is forbidden. Reach not out thy hand after another's possession. In all things thou undertakest, first seek to bring thy desire into harmony with thy understanding; then begin the matter. In no affair over-haste thyself, but when thou hast hit the fitting time then come to the work. In all things regard consequences—a ruler must be sharp-sighted, and consider the end. And whatsoever possessions thou mayst have, and whatsoever occupations thou mayst pursue, seek always to reflect upon the beginning and the end; seek to know eternity and to gain the honor of the virtuous, that, among all men, thou mayst be one of the most excellent."
These words show a culture of which no people need be ashamed. Were there power to apply their wisdom in our day, life would enter upon its fuller fruition, and men would be more helpful one to another, because more noble.
[To be continued.]