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her servants, if she did not give much to him who was lavish of a little." Johnson adds--“ However he might fail in his economy, it were indecent to treat with wanton levity the memory of a man, who shared his frailties with all; but whose learning or virtues few can attain, and by whose excellencies many may be improved, while himself only suffered by his faults.” He died in December, 1568. The queen was much concerned at his death, and was heard to say, that she had rather have lost ten thousand pounds, than her tutor Ascham.
The only other works of Ascham are, 1. His Schoolmaster. 2. His Epistles, which were collected and published after his death by Mr. Grant, master of Westminster school, and dedicated to queen Elizabeth, with the intention of recommending his son, Giles Ascham, to her patronage. The Schoolmaster was prints ed by his widow. The Toxophilus, and the account of Germany, alone were published by himself.
His design in writing his Toxophilus was, according to his own account, not inerely to vindicate himself from the imputation of spending too much time in archery; but, as stated by Dr. Johnson, " to give an example
of diction more natural and more truly English, than was used by the common writers of that age, whom he censures for mingling exotic terms with their native language, and of whom he complains, that they were made authors not by skill or education, but by arrogance and temerity.—He has not failed (says Johoson) in either of his purposes. He has sufficiently vindicated archery as an innonocent, salutary, useful, and liberal diversion ; and if his precepts are of no use, he has only shewn by one example among many, how little the hand can derive from the mind, how little intelligence can contribute to dexterity. In every art, practice is much; in arts manual, practice is almost the whole. Precept can at most but warn against error, it can never bestow excellence.” This work has been lately published separately in a small volume.
The following passage is curious, as it shews the state of the language at the time of his writing
If any man would blame me either for taking such a matter in hand, or else for writing it in the English tongue, this answer I may make him, that when the best of the realm think it honest for them to use, I, one of the meanest sort, ought not to
suppose it vile for me to write: and though to have. written it in another tongue had been both more profitable for my study and also more honest for my name, yet I can think my labour well bestowed, if with a little hindrance of my profit and name may come any furtherance to the pleasure or commodity of the gentlemen and yeomen of England, for whose sake I took this matter in hand. And as for the Latin or Greek tongue, every thing is so excellently done in them, that none can do better : in the English tongue, contrary, every thing in a manner so meanly, both for the matter and handling, that no man can do worse. For therein the least learned, for the most part, have been always most ready to write.' And they which had least hope in Latin have been most bold in English: when surely every man that is most ready to talk is not most able to write. He that will write well in any tongue, must follow this counsel of Aristotle, to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do: as so should every man understand him, and the judgment of wise men allow him. Many English writers have not done so, but using strange words, as Latin, French, and Italian, do make all, things dark and hard. Once I communed with a man which rea‘soued the English tongue to be enriched, and encreased thereby, saying, Who will not praise that feast where a man shall drink at a dinner both wine,
ale, and beer? Truly (quoth I) they be all good, every one taken by himself alone, but if you put malvesye and sack, red wine and white, ale and beer, and all in one pot, you shall make a drink not easy to be known, nor yet wholesome for the body. - Cicero in following Isocrates, Plato, and Demosthenes, encreased the Latin tongue after another sort. This way, because divers men that write, do not know they can neither follow it, because of their ignorance, nor yet will praise it for over arrogancy ; two faults, seldom the one out of the other's company. English writers, by diversity of time, have taken divers matters in hand. In our fathers' time nothing was read but books of feigned chivalry, 'wherein a man by reading should be led to none other end, but only to manslaughter and baudry. If any man suppose they were good enough to pass the time with all, he is deceived. For surely vain words do work no small thing in vain, ignorant, and young minds, especially if they be given any thing thereunto of their own nature. These books (as I have heard say) were made the most part in abbeys and monasteries, a very likely and fit fruit of such an idle and blind kind of living. In our time now, when every man is given to know, much rather than to live well, very many do write, but after such a fashion as very many do shoot, Some shooters take in hand stronger
bows than they are able to maintain. This thing maketh them some time to overshoot the mark, some time to shoot far wide, and perchance hurt some that look on. Other, that never learned to shoot, nor yet knoweth good shaft nor bow, will be as busy as the best,
“ Or plain and perfect way of teaching children to understand, write, and speak the Latin tongue ; but specially purposed for the private bringing up of youth in gentlemen and noblemen's houses; and commodious also for all such as have forgot the Latin tongue, and would by themselves without a schoolmaster, in short time, and with small pains, recover a sufficient hability to understand, write, and speak Latin."
The occasion of his writing the Schoolmaster, was the following. Being in company with some people of consequence about the court, a dispute of considerable warmth arose respecting the best manner of educating youth; and this accidental occurrence, aided by a particular request from sir Richard Sackville, who was one of the company, gave birth to