1902 Encyclopedia > Education > Education in the Reformation

(Part 6)

Education in the Reformation

Still this culture was but for the few. Luther brought the schoolmaster into the cottage, and laid the foundations of the system which is the chief honour and strength of modem Germany, a system by which the child of the humblest peasant, by slow but certain gradations, receives the best education which the country can afford. The precepts of Luther found their way into the hearts of his countryman in short, pithy sentences, like the sayings of poor Richard. The purification and widening of education went hand in hand with the purification of religion, and these claims to affection are indissolubly united in the minds of his countrymen. Melanchthon, from his editions of school books and his practical labours in education, earned the title of Praeceptor Germaniae. Aristotle had been dethroned from his pre-eminence in the schools, and Melanclithon attempted to supply his place. He appreciated the importance of Greek, the terror of the obscurantists, and is the author of a Greek grammar. He wrote elementary books on each department of the trivium—grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. He made some way with the studies of the quadrivium, and wrote Initia doctrinoe Physicoe, a primer of physical science. He lectured at the university of Wittenberg, and for ten years, from 1519 to 1529, kept a schola privata in his own house. Horace was his favourite classic. His pupils were taught to learn the whole of it by heart, ten lines at a time. The tender refined lines of his well-known portraits show clearly the character of the painful, accurate scholar, and contrast with the burly powerful form of the genial Luther. He died in 1560, racked with anxiety for the church which be had helped to found. If he did not carry Protestantism into the heart of the peasant, he at least made it acceptable to the intellect of the man of letters.

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