1902 Encyclopedia > Education > Port Royal

(Part 13)

Port Royal

Almost while Milton was writing this treatise, he might have seen an attempt to realize something of his ideal in Port Royal. What a charm does this name awaken! Yet how few of us have made a pilgrimage to that secluded valley! Here we find, for the first time in the modern world, the highest gifts of the greatest men of a country applied to the business of education. Arnauld, Lancelot, Nicole did not commence by being educational philosophers. They began with a small school, and developed their method as they proceeded. Their success has seldom been surpassed. But a more lasting memorial than their pupils are the books which they sent out, which bear the name of their cloister. The Port Royal Logic, General Grammar, Greek, Latin, Ralian, and Spanish Grammars, the Garden of Greek Roots which taught Greek to Gibbon, the Port Royal Geometry, and their translations of the classics held the first place among school books for more than a century. The success of the Jansenists was too much for the jealousy of the Jesuits. Neither piety, nor wit, nor virtue could save them. A light was quenched which would have given an entirely different direction to the education of France and of Europe. No one can visit without emotion that retired nook which lies hidden among the forests of Versailles, where the old brick dove-cot, the pillars of the church, the trees of the desert alone remain to speak to us of Pascal, Racine, and the Mère Angélique. The principles of Port Royal found some supporters in a later time, in the better days of French education before monarchism and militarism had crushed the life out of the nation. Rollin is never mentioned without the epithet bon, a testimony to his wisdom, virtue, and simplicity. Fénelon may be reckoned as belonging to the same school, but he was more fitted to mix and grapple with mankind.

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