Thursday, June 25, 2009


No More Pencils, No More Books

Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), Summer's Last Will and Testament (excerpt in modern spelling):
Young men, young boys, beware of schoolmasters,
They will infect you, mar you, blear your eyes;
They seek to lay the curse of God on you,
Namely, confusion of languages,
Wherewith those that the Tower of Babel built
Accursed were in the world's infancy.
Latin, it was the speech of infidels.
Logic hath nought to say in a true cause.
Philosophy is curiosity;
And Socrates was therefore put to death,
Only for he was a philosopher.
Abhor, contemn, despise these damned snares.

Out upon it, who would be a scholar? Not I, I promise you. My mind always gave me this learning was such a filthy thing, which made me hate it so as I did. When I should have been at school construing, Batte, mi fili, mi fili, mi Batte, I was close under a hedge, or under a barn-wall, playing at span-counter or jack-in-a-box. My master beat me, my father beat me, my mother gave me bread and butter, yet all this would not make me a squitter-book. It was my destiny: I thank her as a most gorgeous goddess, that she hath not cast me away upon gibridge. O, in what a mighty vein am I now against horn-books! Here, before all this company, I profess myself an open enemy to ink and paper. I'll make it good upon the accidence body, that in speech is the devil's Pater noster. Nouns and pronouns, I pronounce you as traitors to boys' buttocks. Syntaxis and prosodia, you are tormentors of wit, and good for nothing, but to get a schoolmaster twopence a week. Hang copies; fly out, phrase-books; let pens be turned to pick-tooths! Bowls, cards and dice, you are the true liberal sciences! I'll ne'er be a goosequill, gentlemen, while I live.

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