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MILTON'S Tractate on Education has been a favourite study of mine for five and twenty years.
When I first went as an assistant master to a large public school, about the time when the Public Schools Commission was beginning to sit, it occurred to me as an ardent educational reformer, that a cheap reprint of Milton's Tractate would have a good effect in clearing the thoughts and opinions of my colleagues and others on the pressing question of the day. I had opened negotiations with the school bookseller for executing a reprint which I intended to scatter broadcast in pamphlet form through the public schools of England. My theories received a rude shock. One of the senior masters at my school set Milton as a subject for a Latin theme to his division, and told his boys that they were to prove that Milton, like Burke, went mad in his old
I had never heard of this idea before, and I asked the master on what grounds it rested. He replied, “Did he not write a crack-brained book about education in his old age?” Milton was by no means in his old age when he wrote the Tractate, but that did not matter. I concluded that my scheme would be useless, and gave
I am now able to carry out the design formed so long ago, under more favourable auspices. Milton's Tractate is a subject set in the Teachers' Certificate Examination of the University of Cambridge for the present year. As far as I am aware, no separate reprint of the work exists, and it therefore became necessary to prepare one.
The present edition is an exact facsimile of the edition of 1673, published in Milton's lifetime. I have carried the accuracy of the facsimile so far as even to reproduce Milton's misprints. I have done this because it would have in some cases spoilt the appearance and the arrangement of the pages to have corrected them, while in no case are they likely to cause any difficulty to the reader. They are all, I believe, mentioned in the notes. The notes have been confined to what appeared to be necessary for the explanation of the text. I have edited the work as a schoolmaster, and not as a philological student of the English language. By the kindness of Messrs C. K. Paul, Trench and Co. I am able to reprint as an Introduction the account which I had given of Milton's Tractate in the sixth chapter of my Introduction to the History of Educational Theories?.
1 An Introduction to the History of Educational Theories, by Oscar Browning, M.A. London : Kegan Paul, Trench and Co.