Some Reading Advice

Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster:

“Than take this order with him: Read dayly vnto him, some booke of Tullie, as the third booke of Epistles chosen out by Sturmius, de Amicitia, or that excellent Epistle conteinyng almost the whole first book ad Q. fra: some Comedie of Terence or Plautus: but in Plautus, skilfull choice must be vsed by the master, to traine his Scholler to a iudgement, in cutting out perfitelie ouer old and vnproper wordes: Cæs. Commentaries are to be read with all curiositie, in specially without all exception to be made, either by frende or foe, is seene, the vnspotted proprietie of the Latin tong, euen whan it was, as the Grecians say, in akme, that is, at the hiest pitch of all perfitenesse: or some Orations of T. Liuius, such as be both longest and plainest.

These bookes, I would haue him read now, a good deale at euery lecture: for he shall not now vse dalie translation, but onely construe againe, and parse, where ye suspect, is any nede: yet, let him not omitte in these bookes, his former exercise, in marking diligently, and writyng orderlie out his six pointes. And for translating, vse you your selfe, euery second or thyrd day, to chose out, some Epistle ad Atticum, some notable common place out of his Orations, or some other part of Tullie, by your discretion, which your scholer may not know where to finde: and translate it you your selfe, into plaine naturall English, and than giue it him to translate into Latin againe: allowyng him good space and tyme to do it, both with diligent heede, and good aduisement. Here his witte shalbe new set on worke: his iudgement, for right choice, trewlie tried: his memorie, for sure reteyning, better exercised, than by learning, any thing without the booke: & here, how much he hath proffited, shall plainly appeare. Whan he bringeth it translated vnto you, bring you forth the place of Tullie: lay them together: compare the one with the other: commend his good choice, & right placing of wordes: Shew his faultes iently, but blame them not ouer sharply: for, of such missings, ientlie admonished of, proceedeth glad & good heed taking: of good heed taking, springeth chiefly knowledge, which after, groweth to perfitnesse, if this order, be diligentlie vsed by the scholer & iently handled by the master: for here, shall all the hard pointes of Grammer, both easely and surelie be learned vp: which, scholers in common scholes, by making of Latines, be groping at, with care & feare, & yet in many yeares, they scarse can reach vnto them. I remember, whan I was yong, in the North, they went to the Grammer schole, litle children: they came from thence great lubbers: alwayes learning, and litle profiting: learning without booke, euery thing, vnderstandyng within the booke, litle or nothing: Their whole knowledge, by learning without the booke, was tied onely to their tong & lips, and neuer ascended vp to the braine & head, and therfore was sone spitte out of the mouth againe: They were, as men, alwayes goyng, but euer out of the way: and why? For their whole labor, or rather great toyle without order, was euen vaine idlenesse without proffit. In deed, they tooke great paynes about learning: but employed small labour in learning: Whan by this way prescribed in this booke, being streight, plaine, & easie, the scholer is alwayes laboring with pleasure, and euer going right on forward with proffit: always laboring I say, for, or he haue construed parced, twise translated ouer by good aduisement, marked out his six pointes by skilfull iudgement, he shall haue necessarie occasion, to read ouer euery lecture, a dosen tymes, at the least. Which, bicause he shall do alwayes in order, he shall do it alwayes with pleasure: And pleasure allureth loue: loue hath lust to labor: labor alwayes obteineth his purpose, as most trewly, both Aristotle in his Rhetoricke & Oedipus in Sophocles do teach, saying, pan gar ekponoumenon aliske. et. cet. & this oft reading, is the verie right folowing, of that good Counsell, which Plinie doth geue to his frende Fuscus, saying, Multum, non multa.”

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