Education a Cause of Melancholy.

Education a Cause of Melancholy.

EDUCATION, of these accidental causes of Melancholy, may justly challenge the next place, for if a man escape a bad nurse, he may be undone by evil bringing up. Jason Pratensis puts this of education for a principal cause; bad parents, step-mothers, tutors, masters, teachers, too rigorous, too severe, too remiss or indulgent on the other side, are often fountains and fartherers of this disease. Parents and such as have the tuition and oversight of children, offend many times in that they are too stern, always threatening, chiding, brawling, whipping, or striking; by means of which their poor children are so disheartened and cowed, that they never after have any courage, a merry hour in their lives, or take pleasure in any thing. There is a great moderation to be had in such thngs, as matters of so great moment to the making or marring of a child. Some fright their children with beggars, bugbears, and hobgoblins, if they cry, or be otherwise unruly: but they are much to blame in it, many times, saith Lavater, de spectris, part 1. cap. 5. ex metu in morbos graves incidunt et noctu dormientes clamant, for fear they fall into many diseases, and cry out in their sleep, and are much the worse for it all their lives: these things ought not at all, or to be sparingly done, and upon just occasion. Tyrannical, impatient, hare-brained schoolmasters, aridi magistri, so Fabius terms them Ajaces flagelliferi, are in this kind as bad as hangmen and executioners, they make many children endure a martyrdom all the while they are at school, with bad diet, if they board in their houses, too much severity and ill-usage, they quite pervert their temperature of body and mind: still chiding, railing, frowning, lashing, tasking, keeping, that they are fracti animis, moped many times weary of their lives, nimia severitate deficiunt et desperant, and think no slavery in the world (as once I did myself) like to that of a grammar scholar. Præceptorum ineptiis discruciantur ingenia puerorum, (The pupil's faculties are perverted by the indiscretion of the master) saith Erasmus, they tremble at his voice, looks, coming in. St. Austin, in the first book of his confess. et 4. ca. calls this schooling meticulosam necessitatem, and elsewhere a martyrdom, and confesseth of himself; how cruelly he was tortured in mind for learning Greek, nulla verba noveram, et sævis terroribus et púnis, ut nossem, instabatur mihi vehementer, I knew nothing, and with cruel terrors and punishment I was daily compelled. Beza complains in like case of a rigorous schoolmaster in Paris, that made him by his continual thunder and threats once in a mind to drown himself; had he not met by the way with an uncle of his that vindicated him from that misery for the time, by taking him to his house. Trincavellius, lib. 1. consil. 16. had a patient nineteen years of age, extremely melancholy, ob nimium studium, Tarvitii et preceptoris minas, by reason of overmuch study, and his tutor's threats. Many masters are hard-hearted, and bitter to their servants, and by means do so deject, with terrible speeches and hard usage so crucify them, that they become desperate, and can never be recalled.

Others again, in that opposite extreme, do as great harm by their too much remissness, they give them no bringing up, no calling to busy themselves about, or to live in, teach them no trade, or set them in any good course; by means of which their servants, children, scholars, are carried away with that stream of drunkenness, idleness, gaming, and many such irregular courses, that in the end they rue it, curse their parents, and mischief themselves. Too much indulgence causeth the like, inepta patris lenitas et facilitas prava, when as Mitio-like, with too much liberty and too great allowance, they feed their children's humours, let them revel, wench, riot, swagger, and do what they will themselves, and then punish them with noise of musicians;

"Obsonet, potet, oleat unguenta de meo:
Amat? dabitur a me argentum ubi erit commodum.
Fores effregit? restituentur: descidit
Vestem? reasarcietur.-- Faciat quod lubet.
Sumat, consumat, perdat, decretum est pati."

(Let him feast, drink, perfume himself at my expense: If he be in love, I shall supply him with money. Has he broken in the gates? they shall be repaired. Has he torn his garments? they shall be replaced. Let him do what he pleases, take, spend, waste, I am resolved to submit.)

But as Demeo told him, tu illum corrumpi sinis, your lenity will be his undoing, prævidere videor jam diem ilium, quum hic egens profugiet aliquo militatum, I foresee his ruin. So parents often err, many fond mothers especially, dote so much upon their children, like Æsop's ape, till in the end they crush them to death, Corporum nutrices animarum novercæ, pampering up their bodies to the undoing of their souls; they will not let them be corrected or controlled, but still soothed up in every thing they do, that in conclusion "they bring sorrow, shame, heaviness to their parents (Ecclus. cap. xxx. 8, 9.) become wanton, stubborn, wilful, and disobedient; rude, untaught, headstrong, incorrigible, and graceless;" "they love them so foolishly," saith Cardan, "that they rather seem to hate them, bringing them not up to virtue but injury, not to learning but to riot, not to sober life and conversation, but to all pleasure and licentious behaviour." Who is he of so little experience that knows not this of Fabius to be true! "Education is another nature, altering the mind and will, and I would to God (saith he) we ourselves did not spoil our children's manners, by our overmuch cockering and nice education, and weaken the strength of their bodies and minds, that causeth custom, custom nature," &c. For these causes Plutarch in his book de lib. educ. and Hierom, epist. lib 1. epist. 17. to Læta de institut. filiæ, gives a most especial charge to all parents, and many good cautions about bringing up of children, that they be not committed to indiscreet, passionate, bedlam tutors, light, giddy-headed, or covetous persons, and spare for no cost, that they may be well nurtured and taught, it being a matter of so great consequence. For such parents as do otherwise, Plutarch esteems of them "that are more careful of their shoes than of their feet," that rate their wealth above their children. And he, saith Cardan, "that leaves his son to a covetous schoolmaster to be informed, or to a close Abbey to fast and learn wisdom together, doth no other, than that he be a learned fool, or a sickly wise man."

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