Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

even then probably fallen from its earlier grandeur. The schools of Perth and Stirling were attached to the Monastery of Dunfermline, and we read of their existence so early as 1173. These, and others, were all Burgh or Grammar Schools.

But there was another and higher class of schools within the walls of the monasteries, chiefly designed, no doubt, for the education of the clergy. To them, however, it would appear that the sons of the nobility were occasionally sent, and in the cartulary of Kelso an instance occurs in the year 1260, of the grant by a noble-woman of a rent to the abbot and monks, on condition that they should board and educate her son with the best boys entrusted to their care. It was in these latter schools, which perished in the wreck and plunder of the Reformation, leaving no substitutes behind them, that the rudiments of the scholastic philosophy were taught, and that such men as John of Dunse* must have been prepared for the brilliant careers on which they immediately entered at Oxford, and Paris, and Bologna. Nor was this the only direction in which their influence may be traced. Law can scarcely have been taught at the Burgh Schools, and as, in 1496, the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow had only been recently founded, it has always seemed probable to us that it was to these monastic schools that the expression "schules

of art and jure,' which occurs in the remarkable statute of James IV. with reference to the education of the sons of barons and freeholders, was intended to apply. In this conjecture we have the support of Professor Mackay,t the latest authority on the subject. It is probable,' he says, ' that the .masters of the schools of the monasteries may have given

some instruction on this subject--and it is certain that the art of charter-writing must have been cultivated in them.' Many of the higher ecclesiastics were decorated with legal titles,--and as by the help of the capacious net of the Canon Law they contrived to appropriate a large portion of the whole legal business of the community, nothing seems more natural than that the local schools of law should have served the

* The claim of Scotland to the Doctor subtilis is pretty well established by the date. The date of his birth is, indeed, unknown; but he died on Nov. 8, 1308, not six years before the battle of Bannockburn. By that time Scotus certainly meant a Scot. John Scotus Erigena on similar grounds, it would seem, must be given up to the Sister Island, as in the ninth century Scotus no doubt signified an Irishman.

† History of Roman Law in Scotland, “Journal of Jurisprudence,' Feb. 1876, p. 60.

[graphic]

which must have included reading, and then a general education, which ultimately included grammar. Previously to the foundation of the parish schools by Knox, these cathedral schools appear to have been the sole organs of the primary instruction, which in singular contrast to the existing state of matters in Scotland must have stood in a very unfavourable position relative to the secondary. In towns like Jedburgh and Dunfermline, Mr. Innes believes these ecclesiastical singing schools to have been the germs of the Burgh grammar schools, and there seems every probability that they were the sources of the national music of Scotland. In 1579, shortly after the Reformation, an Act was passed ordaining that 'sang

schools' be provided in burghs for the instruction of the youths in music and singing, . quhilk is like to fall in great • decay, without timous remeid be provided.' Provosts, baillies, and town councils, and the patrons and provosts of the colleges where 'sang schools are founded (where foundations • exist), are required to erect and set up ane sang school, with • ane maister sufficient and abill for instruction of the youth in • the saide science of musick.'

That the pretty liberal course of instruction thus provided, extending to that of the burgh school at all events, was intended for the benefit of all classes, is a point on which Mr. Innes has no hesitation. Speaking of the 16th century, he says :• Andrew Simson taught Latin with success at the grammar

school at Perth—the sanie foundation doubtless of which the • Dunfermline monks were the patrons three centuries earlier " - where he had sometimes 300 boys under his charge; and • although it is boasted that these included the sons of the prin

cipal nobility and gentry, it is more for our present purpose to

observe they must have consisted of a large proportion of the • burgher and peasant class, and a great number who cannot • have been designed for the Church.'

In the interesting account which he has given of the educational condition of Scotland at and about the period of the Reformation, Mr. Innes has greatly toned down the expressions which lay before him in Row's history and similar works, and it may even be doubted whether he has not toned them down too much. The Andrew Simson to whom he refers was really a man of considerable eminence. He was the author of a well-known Latin grammar, which kept its place in the schools till the days of Ruddiman, and he was one of the four members of the Commission of which Buchanan was president, for rectifying the inconvenience arising from the use of different grammars in the schools. The existence of a multi

[graphic]

Nunc est trilinguis, Latio jungens Græciam,
Et huic Palestinam ; omnium linguis loquens.
O ter beatum te nunc Perthanam Scholam !

O ter beatum Rollum Rectorem tuum !' This thrice-blessed rector—the well-known author of the Hebræ Linguæ Institutiones, and afterwards Principal of King's College, Aberdeen—was blessed with one apt pupil at any rate, for it must have been under his long reign that the Admirable Crichton attended the school.

From these early days till comparatively recent times, though it certainly made no progress, the Grammar School of Perth maintained a respectable character. When Adam Ferguson attended it (about 1733 to 1738), the rector was Mr. James Martin, a distinguished teacher, we are told, justly proud of having instructed the great Lord Mansfield. That he instructed him well was afterwards proved at Westminster and at Oxford; but it does not say much for the condition of the school that when Ferguson entered the University of St. Andrews, at the age of fifteen, he is said to have carried neither Greek nor mathematics along with him. *

With these notanda to guide us to a conception of its former condition, let us now turn to the picture of the present state of this venerable institution, as we find it in the pages of the Report. All that we learn of its recent history is that the school 'was extended and improved, particularly in 1760, when the

mathematical and scientific departments were annexed; and ' that in 1806, a large and handsome new building was erected by subscription for the accommodation of all the classes, at an expense of upwards of 6,0001. At this period a really vigorous effort seems to have been made for the revival of the school. The ground on which the still handsome buildings stand was generously presented to the public by the then provost, and in his deed he makes provision for the building in course of time becoming too small for the accommodation of the schools of the burgh. But it was an expiring effort : the good provost Marshall had no successor, and the seventy years which have since intervened exhibit nothing but steady, and latterly rapid, retrogression. As usual in Scotland, the Town Council are the parties most immediately to blame, and justly figure as the chief villains in the piece. Still one can scarcely regard, without feelings of indignation and contempt, a whole community sitting listlessly by and beholding, for so long a time, the destruction of an institution which their ancestors bequeathed

* Edinburgh Review, January, 1867, p. 57.

« AnteriorContinuar »