The Orbis Pictus

The Orbis Pictus

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The Author’s Preface to the Reader.

Instruction is the means to expel Rudeness, with which young wits ought to be well furnished in Schools: But so, as that the teaching be 1. True, 2. Full, 3. Clear, and 4. Solid.

1. It will be true, if nothing be taught but such as is beneficial to ones life; lest there be a cause of complaining afterwards. We know not necessary things, because we have not learned things necessary.

2. It will be full, if the mind be polished for wisdom, the tongue for eloquence, and the hands for a neat way of living. This will be that grace of one’s life, to be wise, to act, to speak.

3, 4. It will be clear, and by that, firm and solid, if whatever is taught and learned, be not obscure, or confused, but apparent, distinct, and articulate, as the fingers on the hands.

The ground of this business, is, that sensual objects may be rightly presented to the senses, for fear they may not be received. I say, and say it again aloud, that this last is the foundation of all the rest: because we can neither act nor speak wisely, unless we first rightly understand all the things which are to be done, and whereof we are to speak. Now there is nothing in the understanding, which was not before in the sense. And therefore to exercise the senses well about the right perceiving the differences of things, will be to lay the grounds for all wisdom, and all wise discourse, and all discreet actions in ones course of life. Which, because it is commonly neglected in schools, and the things which are to be learned are offered to scholars, without being understood or being rightly presented to the senses, it cometh to pass, that the work of teaching and learning goeth heavily onward, and affordeth little benefit.

See here then a new help for schools, A Picture and Nomenclature of all the chief things in the world, and of men’s actions in their way of living: Which, that you, good Masters, may not be loath to run over with your scholars, I will tell you, in short, what good you may expect from it.

It is a little Book, as you see, of no great bulk, yet a brief of the whole world, and a whole language: full of Pictures, Nomenclatures, and Descriptions of things.

I. The Pictures are the representation of all visible things, (to which also things invisible are reduced after their fashion) of the whole world. And that in that very order of things, in which they are described in the Janua Latinæ Linguæ; and with that fulness, that nothing very necessary or of great concernment is omitted.

II. The Nomenclatures are the Inscriptions, or Titles set every one over their own Pictures, expressing the whole thing by its own general term.

III. The Descriptions are the explications of the parts of the Picture, so expressed by their own proper terms, as that same figure which is added to every piece of the picture, and the term of it, always sheweth what things belongeth one to another.

Which such Book, and in such a dress may (I hope) serve,

I. To entice witty children to it, that they may not conceit a torment to be in the school, but dainty fare....