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Early Fortunes of William of Wykeham.
SCHOOL-DAYS OF EMINENT MEN.
Progress of Education.
EDUCATION OF THE EARLY BRITONS.
10 trace the modes of teaching which were practiced among
a rude people inhabiting caves, or at best, houses built of stakes and wattles, in forest glades, has been an inquiry attended with slight results. Such a people inhabited Britain; and all that we can gather amid the glimmerings of the earliest history of its aborigines is, that skill in certain field sports, healthful pastimes, and domestic amusements, formed the only approach to education which the youth received from their parents. They knew not how to read-indeed, they held it dishonorable to learn--but they sung and danced to music, and learned hymns by heart.
The early British games consisted in lifting up great weights, running, leaping, swimming, wrestling, and riding; and it is supposed, charioteering, or the skillful driving and management of carriages. The other pastimes were playing with the sword, and buckler, and spear; coursing, fishing, and fowling; poetical composition ; playing on, and singing to, the harp, etc.
Herodian mentions iron girdles as used by the Britons for keeping the bellies of the youth within its size: this they were also to effect by fasting, running, riding, and swimming; all which Giraldus mentions of the Welsh and Irish. We discover no traces of the use of letters among the Britons previous to their subjugation by the Romans, and their subsequent intercourse with that extraordinary people; for although alphabets have been produced and attributed to them, yet the display of these alphabets has been neither accompanied, nor their existence confirmed, by the exhibition of a single manuscript.