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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XV. Education

§ 8. Hartlib, Petty and Dury

A more direct, but much less influential, connection between Bacon and the history of English education was established by a small group of reformers who interested themselves in the problem of method, especially in its relation to modern studies of the “useful” kind. Prominent amongst them was Samuel Hartlib, an indefatigable publisher, and sometimes writer, on mechanical invention, trade, agriculture, industry and protestant re-union. Hartlib instigated the publication of Milton’s Of Education, of The Advice of W. P., an educational tract by William Petty (1648), and of another The Reformed School by John Dury (1649?), who found it advisable to disavow any desire of superseding universities. Hartlib himself wrote a pamphlet advocating a state system of schools, and, in Macaria (1642), described the state endowment of research and its administration through boards of agriculture, health, industry, and so forth. Petty’s independence of mind was in none of his many projects so completely demonstrated as in his proposed ergastula literaria—schools for all children above the age of seven, who should there study “all sensible objects and actions,” reading and writing being postponed a little for the purpose. All children should learn drawing, mathematics, bodily exercises and a handicraft; the musical should be taught music, and only those should learn foreign languages who would afterwards make use of them. Petty’s notion of school education is nakedly utilitarian; nevertheless, some of his suggestions respecting method are anticipations of Pestalozzi and Froebel.