Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 10. Ezekiel Cheever

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXIII. Education

§ 10. Ezekiel Cheever

The outstanding figure in the conduct of the Latin school, as well as the chief representative of the colonial schoolmaster, is Ezekiel Cheever, who taught for seventy years, the last thirty-eight of them as master of the Boston Grammar School. Cheever himself contributed little to literature except a Latin Accidence, probably the earliest American school book, entitled A Short Introduction to the Latin Tongue (before 1650). This in itself was no more voluminous than the poetic tribute paid after his death by one of his pupils, Cotton Mather. With better motive perhaps than metre he thus records his esteem:

  • A mighty tribe of well instructed youth
  • Tell what they owe to him and tell with truth,
  • All the eight parts of speech he taught to them
  • They now employ to trumpet his esteem.
  • …….
  • Ink is too vile a liquor; liquid gold
  • Should fill the pen by which such things are told.
  • Another of Cheever’s pupils was Judge Sewall, who has left us in his diary some details of the schooling of his children. After hearing Mather’s funeral oration upon Cheever, Sewall made in this diary but one brief entry about their departed master: “He abominated periwigs.”