Educational Activity In The Early Centuries
( Originally Published 1906 )
IT is curious and interesting to trace a line from Athens round the Aegean Sea, on round the eastern and south-eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and then to reflect upon the immensity of effort, of human intellectual activity at work there in the centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ. Such a line would, roughly speaking, connect Athens, Byzantium, and Pergamon ; it would pass Cos and Rhodes, two island homes of learning off the coast of Asia Minor (the latter famed in the last century B.c. and the first A.D. for its school of Rhetoric); it would travel on to Tarsus, Antioch, Berytus, and Alexandria. As we contemplate this collection of educational centres in the south-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, the Rome of the future seems isolated in the Italian peninsula.
Athens was the first in time as in lasting prestige.
And yet in the years of her greatest intellectual supremacy much of the machinery—if we may so call it—which we regard as an essential part of a University was wanting. For example, there appears then to have been no " University Library "; as Dr. Sandys remarks, " Apart from Aristotle's Library, we hear of no important collection of books in the Athenian Age."
The confinement of academic buildings was reduced to a minimum, since Newman could write : " No awful arch, no window of many coloured lights marks the seats of learning there or elsewhere ; philosophy lives out of doors. No close atmosphere oppresses the brain or inflames the eyelid ; no long session stiffens the limbs. Epicurus is reclining in his garden, Zeno looks like a divinity in his porch,—the restless Aristotle, on the other side of the city, as if in antagonism to Plato, is walking his pupils off their legs in his Lyceum by the Ilyssus."
Since Athens was at the zenith of her glory in pre-Christian times, we may leave her now with one more excerpt from Newman (quoted with approval by Dr. Sandys). "I doubt whether Athens had a library till the reign of Hadrian. It was what the student gazed on, what he heard, what he caught by the magic of sympathy, not what he read, which was the education furnished by Athens."
At the end of the chapter we may return to the Athens of Basil and Gregory ; but here it seems better to deal with others of these towns, because though they rose to fame before the birth of Christ, they continued to flourish after that date, and some of them exercised considerable influence on Christian life. Foremost among them all is Alexandria, the city of the Ptolemies, whose fame goes back to the fourth century B.c. When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, he founded Alexandria on the western side of the Nile Delta. The first of the Ptolemies had been educated at the Court of Philip of Macedon, and was counted among Alexander's personal friends. He accompanied the Conqueror on his Egyptian expedition, and when Alexander died suddenly in 323 B.c., Ptolemy, having caused him to be buried at Alexandria in a golden coffin, turned his attention next to improving his own prospects. He succeeded in making himself master of the newly conquered province, and Alexandria, though bearing even to our own day its founder's name, became the capital city of Egypt and of the dynasty of the Ptolemies. Before the Macedonian attack the inhabitants of the place appear to have been Egyptians and Greeks. During the first twenty years of the city's existence some colonies of Jews settled in it. It seems to be pretty generally admitted that Greek was the general language of the East. But two conflicting accounts concerning Alexandria may be quoted. Thus Professor Gwatkin writes: "Greek was, indeed, the language of commerce everywhere. No other language was spoken in Greece itself and Macedonia, on the islands and round the coast of Asia inside Taurus. It was only among the Lycaonian mountains (Acts xiv. 11) that St. Paul's Greek was not enough. . . . It had tougher rivals in Egypt and Syria. Alexandria, indeed, was mostly Greek, but the common people of Egypt held to their Coptic. Syriac also showed few signs of disappearance. In Palestine the Greek element was mostly along the coast and in the Decapolis, though it was also strong in Galilee." Professor Gwatkin is writing of the Apostolic age. Dr. Sinker is writing of the third and fourth centuries B.c. when he says : "Even before Alexander's time the Jews had settled in large numbers in Egypt, and the building of Alexandria would help to bring them together yet more largely. As in Palestine so a fortiori in Egypt, Hebrew had died out, and here Greek, the universal lingua franca, had taken its place."
Putting these two extracts together (extracts which appear in the small volume issued by the Pitt Press in 1893 under the title the Cambridge Companion to the Bible), we seem forced to conclude that Greek was less triumphantly universal in the first century A.D. than in the third century B.C. Dr. Sandys cites Diodorus Siculus (c. B.C. 40) as a witness to the decline of Hellenistic influence in Alexandria about that time ; he writes : "Of Alexandria at the date of his " (i.e. of D. St.'s) " own visit he tells us, as an eye-witness, that a Roman who had accidentally killed a cat was mercilessly put to death by the populace (i. 14). This incident is of some importance for our present purpose. It proves that the mob of Alexandria was ' no longer Greek as it professed to be,' but was 'deeply saturated with Egyptian blood,' thus showing that towards the close of the Alexandrian age, as at the beginning, Greek civilisation in Alexandria was confined to a very limited circle." Dr. Sandys seems to agree with Professor Gwatkin, but not with Dr. Sinker, since he questions the prevalence of Greek civilisation at the beginning of the Alexandrian age. To quote one more writer. Mr. W. St. Lilly in an article in the Nineteenth Century, Sept. 1889, writes of the first century Christians : " There were Jews of Palestine—` Hebrews ' they are called in the Acts of the Apostles —whose language was Aramaic, and there were the ` Grecians' as the same document terms them, Hellenized Jews who spoke, as a rule, with no great correctness the tongue of Hellas, and who came chiefly from Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene." There are obvious discrepancies between these four writers ; it has seemed well to cite them accurately, and leave the reader to weigh their relative claims to authority. It is on the supposition that the Jewish colonists of Alexandria had abandoned Hebrew for Greek that some thinkers have surmised that the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint was made in the reign of the second Ptolemy for the use of these Alexandrian Hellenized Jews.
According to him, Ptolemy, desiring books for his newly-founded library, asked the inhabitants of Jerusalem to prepare for him a Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. In response, they despatched seventy learned elders to Alexandria. Ptolemy, fearing that collusion among them might lead to textual corruption, shut them up, each man by himself, commanding each one to make his own translation. On comparison, the seventy renderings were found to be verbally identical, so that even the Gentiles present," adds St. Irenaeus, "perceived that the Scriptures had been interpreted by the inspiration of God."
It was to the first of the dynasty, to Ptolemy Soter, that Alexandria owed the foundations of her later educational fame. By his liberality and fore-sight the possibility of her future intellectual eminence was secured, for he set out by providing the very raw materials of knowledge. It was he who designed and began the Great Library. His son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, finished it, and built the Smaller Library. Demetrius of Phaleron, who acted as adviser to both father and son, stated, about 385 B.c., that the two libraries together contained not less than 200,000 MSSt. Besides these institutions, there was the famous Museum, the home of the Muses, built by Ptolemy Philadelphus. According to Strabo, it consisted of cloisters, a public lecture theatre, and a great dining-hall where its members could meet and feast. It is possible that it also possessed zoological and botanical gardens, since the second Ptolemy is known to have been interested in the science of zoology. Like her great forerunner, Athens, Alexandria attracted professors from every part of the civilised world. There is a well-known passage in Cardinal Newman's Historical Sketches descriptive of Alexandria's ancient glory, her pleasant situation, and her stately buildings.' The following sentences refer to her catholicity in scholars : "It cannot be thought that the high reputation of these foundations would have been maintained unless Ptolemy had looked beyond Egypt for occupants for his chairs ; and, indeed, he got together the best men wherever he could find them. On these he heaped wealth and privileges ; and so complete was their naturalisation in their adopted country that they lost their usual surnames, drawn from their place of birth, and instead of being called, for instance, Apion of Oasis, or Aristarchus of Samothracia, or Dionysius of Thrace, received each simply the title of ` the Alexandrian.' Thus Clement of Alexandria was a native of Athens,' . . . hence proceeded, as it would appear, the great Christian writers and doctors, Clement, whom I have just been mentioning, Origen, Anatolius, and Athanasius. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, in the third century, may be added."
The curriculum of Alexandria was wide, including Grammar (in its classical sense, in which, really, literary criticism is a more accurate term), Rhetoric, Poetry, Philosophy and Medicine, Mathematics, Astronomy and Music.
Alexandria's intellectual rival, Pergamon, founded about 383 B.c. by Philetwrus, an absconding treasurer of the King of Thrace, rose to honour under that delinquent's great-nephew, Eumenes I I. Dr. Sandys observes : " While the school of Alexandria was mainly interested in verbal scholarship, the school of Pergamon found room for a larger variety of scholarly studies."1."' Despite that, the great Galen left Pergamon in the second century A.D. to pursue his medical studies, first at Smyrna and afterwards at Alexandria.
Of other cities specially connected with the Christians, Antioch and Tarsus are probably those which occur most readily to our minds. Antioch was the capital of Syria in the third century B.C., and it appears to have attained a considerable degree of culture. St. Jerome says St. Peter was bishop of Antioch before he was bishop of Rome. He mentions among others " a highly-gifted presbyter " of the third century A.D., Malchion, of that Church " who had most successfully taught rhetoric in the same city." It is worth noting, too, as an instance of the recognition of the uses of secular learning, that St. Jerome mentions Diodorus (of the fourth century) who "enjoyed a great reputation while he was still presbyter of Antioch." 2 He further says that Diodorus wrote many works " in the manner of Eusebius the Great of Emesa, whose meaning he has followed, but whose eloquence he could not imitate on account of his ignorance of secular literature." This closing sentence shows clearly that Jerome, at any rate, distinguished piety and learning, and recognised their respective spheres of usefulness. In thinking of Antioch we may recall the fact that Gennadius, adding to Jerome's history, mentions one Theodorus (who may be Theodore of Mopsuestia), " a presbyter of the Church at Antioch, a cautious investigator, and clever of tongue." This remark again proves that the marks of the learned man were known and esteemed by the early Christians. That the art of literature was not utterly neglected by the primitive Christians, Gennadius shows when he speaks of Isaac, another presbyter of the Church of Antioch, who "lamented the downfall of Antioch in an elegiac poem."
Between Pergamon in Mysia and Antioch in Syria lay the Cilician city of Tarsus. Familiar to us all as the birthplace, proudly claimed, of St. Paul, it was less renowned than the other three cities mentioned above as a place of learning. Its schools were good, but none attained to university rank ; probably when St. Paul left his native city in order to learn from the great Gamaliel, he was but following the general custom. Antioch, though not ranking as a university city, could make a claim to a considerable degree of intellectual distinction ; for she possessed a theatre, that essential element in culture ; she had a library, the raw material of learning; and Antiochus Asiaticus, the last of his race, dignified his short reign by building for his capital city a Museum, or home of the Muses, in imitation of Alexandria's more famous pile.
Though it is slightly anticipating events in later chapters, it seems well to close this one with a description of Athens as it was presented to St. Basil and St. Gregory Nazianzen. They carry us away for the moment from the Church of the first years to that of post-Nicene days. They were two friends and contemporaries in the latter three-quarters (roughly speaking) of the fourth century, and the story of their lives throws considerable light on education as it was then in Christian circles.
St. Gregory was the son of a man who belonged at first to a small obscure sect called Hypsistarians. Their doctrine blended the idea of a Supreme Deity (without distinction of Persons) with a ritual which, while it abjured all notion of sacrifice, borrowed from the Levitical law details pertaining to the observance of days and the consumption of foods. This man became later on a priest of the Christian Church, and died bishop of Nazianzus. St. Gregory's mother was named Nonna ; she was the daughter of Christian parents. To her the boy owed much of his early training. St. Basil also was indebted to women for a part of his education ; these were his grandmother, mother, and elder sister. The labours of the former on his behalf he recognises in his letters : "The idea of God which I had from my blessed mother, and her mother Macrina, that has ever grown within me" (Letter to Eustathius, 375 A.D.) ; and again : " What clearer evidence can there be of my faith than that I was brought up by my grandmother, blessed woman ! who came from you" (he is writing to the Church of Neocaesarea), "I mean the celebrated Macrina, who taught me the words of the most blessed Gregory ; which as far as memory had preserved down to her day, she cherished herself, while she fashioned and formed me, while yet a child, upon the doctrines of piety."
The actual year of Gregory's birth is uncertain, lying probably between 325 and 330 A.D. He had an elder sister, and a brother—who followed the profession of medicine—probably younger than him-self. The boys went to school in the Cappadocian Caesarea ; their tutor was the man whom Gregory afterwards, in his Carmen de Vita sua, apostrophised as follows :
" Remember now the Gregory whom erst
Later on, the two brothers were removed to the other Caesarea in Palestine, the metropolitical see, well known as that of Eusebius the historian; St. Basil became its diocesan later on. The foundation of the school and library of Caesarea is attributed to Pamphilus, the friend and teacher of Eusebius. Jerome says that Pamphilus transcribed with his own hand the greater part of Origen's works for this library.1 Origen, probably the most learned man of his time, taught in the school. Of its curriculum Jerome gives us a glimpse in chap. lxv. of his Ecclesiastical History. He tells us that Theodorus, afterward called Gregory of Neocaesarea (210 (or 15)—270 A.D.), probably "the most blessed Gregory" of St. Basil's letter, "went to Caesarea in Palestine to study Greek and Latin literature." Jerome adds that Origen persuaded the young man " to study philosophy, in the teaching of which he " (Origen) "gradually introduced the matter of faith in Christ." Jerome writes in a later chapter that a contemporary of St. Gregory, Euzoius, bishop of Caesarea (after Basil), " with great pains attempted to restore the library collected by Origen and Pamphilus, which had already suffered injury."
But in the youth of Gregory, Caesarea's school was apparently flourishing. He went for a short time to Alexandria, and hence took ship to the older University, Athens. In danger of shipwreck, he vowed to be baptized if his life were spared. On his arrival at Athens he found St. Basil, whom he had met first in the school of Carterius. It is not known when St. Gregory was baptized. Cardinal Newman (Historical Sketches, vol. iii. p. 53) observes that he and Basil sought that rite together, after their five years of successful student life at Athens. The material point to the historian of education is their way of life at that University. In the poem cited before, Gregory writes :
" A pair were we not all unknown in Greece ;
One thing there was which joined us most of all,
It is in the Panegyric on St. Basil, pronounced perhaps on the third anniversary of that saint's death, that we find St. Gregory's views of education in general and of Athens in particular. His general view of education is shown by the following quotation from his Oration :
(§ 11) "I take it as admitted by men of sense, that the first of our advantages is education ; and not only this our more noble form of it, which disregards rhetorical ornaments and glory and holds to salvation and beauty in the objects of our contemplation, but even that external culture which many Christians ill-judgingly abhor as treacherous and dangerous, and keeping us afar from God. For as we ought not to neglect the heavens, and earth, and air, and all such things because some have wrongly seized upon them, and honour God's works instead of God ; but to reap what advantages we can from them for our life and enjoyment, while we avoid their dangers ; not raising creation, as foolish men do, in revolt against the Creator, but from the works of Nature apprehending the Worker, and, as the divine Apostle says, bringing into captivity every thought to Christ ; and again as we know that neither fire, nor food, nor iron, nor any other of the elements is of itself most useful or most harmful except according to the will of those who use it ; and as we have compounded healthful drugs from certain of the reptiles, so from secular literature we have received principles of inquiry and speculation, while we have rejected their idolatry, terror, and pit of destruction. Nay, even these have aided us in our religion, by our perception of the contrast between what is worse and what is better, and by gaining strength for our doctrine from the weakness of theirs. We must not, then, dishonour education because some men are pleased to do so, but rather suppose such men to be boorish and uneducated, desiring all men to be as they themselves are, in order to hide themselves in the general, and escape the detection of their want of culture. But come now and, after this sketch of our subject and these admissions, let us contemplate the life of Basil."
It has seemed worth while to quote this section in its entirety. It is quite true that it contains the admissions that " many Christians ill-judgingly abhor " " external culture," and that some men (by which we understand some Christian men) "dishonour education"; but, on the other hand, the whole spirit of St. Gregory is agreeable to that wider outlook, that serene sanity, which has ever distinguished the nobler leaders of the Catholic Church, those, that is, who have not been the least Christian, but, on the contrary, have been the most so. It is interesting to reflect that the Oration was pronounced after Gregory's departure from Constantinople in 381 ; if Compayré were right in saying that " after the fourth century profound night wraps humanity," one can only conclude that the passage from light to darkness was startlingly rapid.
In describing Basil's boyhood's upbringing by his father, "acknowledged in those days by Pontus as its common teacher of virtue," Gregory again gives us a glimpse of his general theory : (§ 12) " He was trained in general education, and practised in the worship of God, and, to speak concisely, led on by elementary instruction to his future perfection. For those who are successful in life or in letters only, while deficient in the other, seem to me to differ in nothing from one-eyed men, whose loss is great but their deformity greater, both in their own eyes and in those of others. While those who attain eminence in both alike, and are ambidextrous, both possess perfection and pass their life with the blessedness of heaven."
Again, we get a scrap of educational theory where, in § 21, he is describing their life at Athens " Our most cherished studies were not the most pleasant, but the most excellent, this being one means of forming young minds in a virtuous or vicious mould." Pedagogic theorists differ, and apparently always have differed, on the theory of " no tasks " ; some holding that learning should be made easy ; others, with whom is St. Gregory apparently, that the end not the means settles the question, not pleasure but excellence determines our choice ; in which case obstacles must inevitably bar our way, and teach us the difficult art of climbing.
If anyone doubt still whether Gregory valued learning, i.e. learning as common men understand it, secular learning, or to take the gentler name of fair association, the humanities, then let them listen to the saint's account of the city of Caesarea : (§ 12) " Caesarea . . . I mean this illustrious city of ours, for it was the guide and mistress of my studies, the metropolis of letters no less than the cities she excels and reigns over ; and if anyone were to deprive her of her literary power, he would rob her of her fairest and special distinction." Could any humanist wish him to say more ? But he is not content ; he adds : " Other cities take pride in other ornaments, of ancient or of recent date, that they may seem something to be described or to be seen. Letters form our distinction here, and are our badge, as if upon the field of arms or on the stage."
Lest anyone should think that Gregory was carried away by local patriotism, " town-pride," let us add his description of " Byzantium, the imperial city of the East . . . distinguished by the eminence of its rhetorical and philosophical teaching."
So much for his general outlook ; let us turn to his account of Athens, the city of which with loving recollection he writes : (§ 14) "Athens, which has been to me, if to anyone, a city truly of gold, and the patroness of all that is good. For it brought me to know Basil more perfectly, though he had not been unknown to me before, and in my pursuit of letters I attained to happiness." He admits that Athens was a dangerous environment for the weaker brethren : " Hurtful as Athens was to others in spiritual things, and this is of slight consequence to the pious, for the city is richer in those evil riches—idols—than the rest of Greece, and it is hard to avoid being carried along with their devotees and adherents ; yet we, our minds being closed up and fortified against this, suffered no injury. On the contrary, strange as it may seem, we were thus the more confirmed in the faith from our perception of their trickery and unreality, which led us to despise these divinities in the very home of their worship."
Here surely Gregory indicates, to those who had sense enough to appreciate his suggestion, the wisdom of breadth ; the courage of daring to compare one's own ideal with another, with one even hostile and alien to it ; the kind of courageous holding of truth which Mill advocated in his Liberty ; the " trying " of all things which St. Paul recommended and commended.
The main study in the University of Athens when these two distinguished men became her alumni seems to have been oratory : (§ 15) "Most of the young men at Athens," writes Gregory, " in their folly are mad after rhetorical skill."
He goes on to describe the initiation of the " freshman," how he is introduced to " those who are eminent in debating power, and purveyors of arguments"; how then he is subjected to a course of " raillery," " of a more insolent or argumentative kind, according to the boorishness or refinement of the railer." This part of the " salting process, as it was called in the German Universities of the sixteenth century, draws the following comment from Gregory :
"The performance which seems very fearful and brutal to those who do not know it, is to those who have experienced it very pleasant and humane, for its threats are feigned rather than real." It is a far cry from to-day to that day of the fourth century when St. Gregory, to a mixed audience no doubt, recalled his student days. But nevertheless the reader is on familiar ground ; for who has not heard the Oxford or Cambridge graduate justify, with gentle condescension, to that common herd so uninitiated in such ways, the immemorial practices of his Alma Mater ?
The final stage of this curious process was a forced bath, after which the Athenian freshman was received by the rest "as an equal, and one of themselves."
The two future saints were evidently numbered among the " reading men " : ( 12) " Two ways were known to us, the first of greater value, the second of smaller consequence ; the one leading to our sacred building and to our teachers there, the other to secular instructors." No jealousy ever marred their friendship : (§ 20) "Envy we knew not, and emulation was of service to us. We struggled, not each to gain the first place for himself, but to yield to the other ; for we made each other's reputation to be our own."
The social life of the University of Athens must have been distracting enough ; Gregory speaks of the other students as attending (§ 21) "feasts, theatres, meetings, banquets." He and Basil lived differently : (§ 20) " impelled " as he says they were, "by equal hopes, that of letters " ; yet there was another aim, and in attempting its achievement they must have been marked off from the gay and dissipated throng of students not less than by their love of learning ; and that aim Gregory describes in these words : (§ 21) " We had but one great business and name,—to be and to be called Christians,—of which we thought more than Gyges of the turning of his ring."
Sidelights upon the learning of Athens are thrown by Gregory's references to Basil's erudition. It is true that Gregory passed a much longer time there than his friend, remaining probably some twelve years or more ; nevertheless Basil owed much to the city. His skill in languages was not acquired there, as Gregory tells us : (§ 15) " He was versed in many languages before his arrival." Evidently he had much still to learn, as the end of this sentence runs : (§ 23) "It was a great thing for either of us to outstrip the other in the attainment of some object of our study." They succeeded—" we became famous, not only among our own teachers and comrades, but even throughout Greece, and especially in the eyes of its most distinguished men."
Some may deduce from the well-known fact that the two young men relinquished University life to take up purely Christian work, a proof that the Christians did not esteem learning highly. A sufficient answer may be found in the fact that St. Gregory, late in life, delivered this oration, so alive with love of learning.
But in another passage Gregory, describing Basil's rare attainments, gives us information concerning the curriculum of Athens : (§ 23) " Who, owing to his character, was less in need of education ? Yet who, even with his character, was so imbued with learning ? What branch of learning did he not traverse; and that with unexampled success, passing through all as no one else passed through any one of them ; and attaining such eminence in each, as if it had been his sole study ? The two great sources of power in the arts and sciences, ability and application, were in him equally combined. For, because of the pains he took, he had but little need of natural quickness, and his natural quickness made it unnecessary for him to take pains ; and such was the co-operation and unity of both that it was hard to see for which of the two he was more remarkable. Who had such power in Rhetoric, which breathes with the might of fire, different as his disposition was from that of rhetoricians ? Who in Grammar, which perfects our tongues in Greek, and compiles history, and presides over metres, and legislates for poems ? Who in Philosophy, that really lofty and high-reaching science, whether practical and speculative, or in that part of it whose oppositions and struggles are concerned with logical demonstrations ; which is called Dialectic, and in which it was more difficult to elude the verbal toils, if need required, than to escape from the Labyrinths ? Of Astronomy, Geometry, and numerical proportion he had such a grasp, that he could not be baffled by those who are clever in such sciences ; excessive application to them he despised as useless to those whose desire is godliness ; so that it is possible to admire what he chose more than what he neglected, or what he neglected more than what he chose. Medicine, the result of philosophy and laboriousness, was rendered necessary for him by his physical delicacy and his care of the sick. From these beginnings he attained to a mastery of the art, not only in its empirical and practical branches, but also in its theory and principles."
In the next section St. Gregory seems to sum up his friend's attainments in a single sentence, " His galleon was laden with all the learning attainable by the nature of man."
One more quotation in praise of St. Basil's learning must suffice : (§ 13) " An orator among orators, even before the chair of the rhetoricians" (i.e. before he had studied rhetoric) ; "a philosopher among philosophers, even before the doctrines of philosophers ; highest of all, a priest among Christians, even before the priesthood."
One sentence in the same section is of special interest as showing that a Christian could under-stand the essential connection between different parts of human philosophy : "Eloquence was his by-work from which he culled enough to make it an assistance to him in Christian philosophy, since power of this kind is needed to set forth the objects of our contemplation."
St. Basil, some years after he left Athens, retired to a place close to Neocaesarea, where he was born, and there lived with a few companions in a condition so like monastic solitude that the Eastern Church regarded him as the founder of monasticism, in Pontus. In a letter to Gregory he gives insight into his " rule." His utter self - dissatisfaction escapes in the pathetic confession to his friend: " Though I have left the city's haunts, as the source of innumerable ills, yet I have not yet learned to leave myself . . . so I have got no great good from this retirement."
Those who, with that folly which springs from party spirit, expect to find nothing in a monk's mind but stringent asceticism, may be surprised by the quick humanity of the following description of our common lot. The trials of the common man in the fourth century bear a singular resemblance to those of the same person in the twentieth : " He who is not yet yoked in the bonds of matrimony is harassed by frenzied cravings, and rebellious impulses, and hopeless attachments ; he who has found his mate is encompassed with his own tumult of cares ; if he is childless there is desire of children ; has he children, anxiety about their education ; attention to his wife, care of his house, oversight of his servants, misfortunes in trade, quarrels with his neighbours, lawsuits, the risks of the merchant, the toil of the farmer. Each day as it comes darkens the soul in its own way, and night after night takes up the day's anxieties and cheats the mind with corresponding illusions."
Writing once of instruction, Matthew Arnold declared that "its prime direct aim is to enable a man to know himself and the world." But education is a more comprehensive matter than instruction, and is concerned primarily as well as finally with the regulation of conduct, that conduct which, as Matthew Arnold also taught us, " is three-fourths of life."
And so in this descriptive passage concerning man's ordinary life on earth, St. Basil encloses in a nutshell the natural conditions which it is education's task to alter and ennoble.
St. Basil's method is not likely to commend itself to the populace ; but it was an educational method of a primitive Christian, and it deserves a brief notice here, because it is interesting to notice how a similar up-bringing affected two men differently ; St. Gregory exhibiting so much more regard for learning than his friend, which might puzzle M. Compayré if he thought of his own observation : "If the early Fathers of the Church showed some occasional sympathy for profane literature, it was owing to the fact that in their unbaptized youth they frequented pagan schools."
In their " unbaptized youth" both St. Basil and St. Gregory frequented Athens. (Pagan seems a curious adjective to apply to that city, and yet it is undoubtedly of Greece and Rome that M. Compayré is speaking.) They both imbibed its learning; but temperament intervened, and though Basil's culture was wide and profound, it is Gregory who speaks and writes most in favour of learning. Basil's "rule " included " prayer while it is yet night "; manual labour ; theological study, mainly of the Bible,—for he writes, " the study of inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty,"—and works of mercy among the poor.
We may conclude that, like other men, the Fathers differed in temperament and taste ; and did not owe their regard for learning wholly to the pagan schools they attended in their youth.