In the Epitome of God Lavatory Comenius and the Offset Children’s Photograph Playscript

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By Charles McNamara

Toilet Comenius’ Orbis Sensualium Pictus (or The Reality of Things Obvious to the Senses Worn in Pictures ) is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica , “the kickoff children’s photograph playscript.” Earlier promulgated in одна тысяча шестьсот пятьдесят восемь in Latin and German, the Orbis —with its сто пятьдесят pictures viewing quotidian activities ilk brewing beer, attention gardens, and slaughtering animals—is instantly intimate as an root of today’s children’s lit. This overture centered on the ocular was a find in breeding for the immature, as was the decisiveness to learn the common in gain to Latin. Different treatises on teaching and grammatic handbooks, it is aimed immediately at the offspring and attempts to betroth on their layer.

The Orbis was staggeringly pop. At one item, it was the nigh secondhand casebook in Europe for primary pedagogy, and according to one bill, it was translated into “most European and around of the Oriental languages.” Its source Bathroom Comenius, a Czech by parentage, was besides long-familiar passim Europe and worked in various countries as a civilize meliorist. His portrayal was multicolor by Rembrandt, and according to an одна тысяча восемьсот восемьдесят семь version of the Orbis , Comenius was evening “once solicited to suit Chairman of Harvard College” (although he ne’er came to Harvard, one can distillery get his distinguish graven on the westerly frieze of Teachers College at Columbia University).

Tied if he is less illustrious tod by describe, his modern ideas almost training are distillery influential. In his Didactica Magna , e.g., he advocates for equalize educational opportunities for all: boys and girls, plenteous and miserable, urban and rural.

Contempt his imperfect aims and long-lasting educational shape, Comenius does not detach as a exhaustively mod headmaster. When we address the get-go paginate of the Orbis , we obtain an gap doom that would appear rum in today’s children’s books: “Come, boy, study to be smart.” We see supra the textbook a instructor and educatee in duologue, the quondam property up his digit and sporty a lambaste and enceinte hat, the latter hearing in an spirit someplace ‚tween awe and anxiousness. The scholar asks, “What doth this beggarly, to be overbold?” His instructor answers, “To infer justly, to do justifiedly, and to animadvert justifiedly all that are requisite.”

The offset chapter of the Orbis looks to the tertiary of these goals in what reads wish an betimes variant of “Old MacDonald Had a Raise.” Children discover how “to opine rightly” by imitating creature noises. These two pages are a trove of Latin imitative verbs and odd renderings of fleshly sounds: cats shout “nau nau” rather of “meow miaul,” and we larn that “the Fudge quacketh” (anas tetrinnit), “the Rabbit squeaketh” (lapus vagit), great site and “the Gasconade crieth” (cornix cornicatur). This foundation to fauna noises is fellow dominion for mod educational toys, as any activate to Toys R’ Us confirms. The instructor explains that kickoff the bookman mustiness larn “the knit sounds…which life creatures recognise how to pee, and thy clapper knoweth how to simulate.” Abaft mastering these noises, the scholar and instructor “will enter the Humankind, and we leave scene all things.”

But astern encyclopaedism how to quack and how to skreak, the children do not “go into the Reality,” and they do not really horizon anything either. Alternatively, the Orbis short shifts to the philosophic and the inconspicuous, maybe hoping that a truehearted clench of ducks and mice is sufficient for intellect the elysian. Chapter два presents children with a clang class in theological metaphysics, where they acquire that God is “in his Core Unearthly, and One.

In his personality, 3.” They larn that He is “A Twinkle untouchable; and yet altogether. Every where and no where.” Eve if the Orbis is devoted to viewing the humankind visually, its discourse of God is precis and unintelligible. And the representative for this chapter is cipher same the bewhiskered methuselah we see on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

It is alternatively a composite plot, faceless and geometrical. So often for the end of display “The Humans of Things Obvious to the Senses.”

Comenius reveals the principle for this example at its end, where he calls God “the Creator, so the Regulator and Restorer of all things, which we outcry the Humankind (Mundum).” Solitary subsequently introducing God can the source identify His creations: “The World” (Mundus), “The Heaven” (Caelum), the quartet elements, plants, and animals. In fact, the Orbis broadly mimics the ordering of institution establish at the commencement of Generation. Comenius expands upon the thin Scriptural tale with colored examples of beast.

We study approximately a stupefying change of alien animals: thither are six chapters on birds (“Water-Fowl” (Aves Aquaticae), “Ravenous Birds” (Aves Rapaces), among others) and a chapter on “Flying Vermin” (Insecta Volantia), including mentions of the “Gad-Bee” (Oestrum) and the “Glow-worm” (Cicindela).

Abaft xxxv chapters on divinity, elements, plants, and animals, Comenius last introduces humankind. He again opts for the Scriptural story and addresses Adam and Eve earlier more contiguous topics similar “The Outwards Parts of a Man,” where we acquire that women suffer “two Dugs, with Nipples” and that beneath the tum, we discovery “the Groyn and the privities.” The anatomic language is brobdingnagian, including row for apiece digit and for a act of clappers in the personify. But amid statement on the material and fellow, Comenius again injects the abstraction and unseeable into his photograph volume with Chapter 43, a give-and-take of “The Someone of Man.” A specked adumbrate of a homo, initiative his blazonry as if to receive the students’ regard, stands at the top of the varlet. Contempt this exemplification, Comenius’ treatment of the mortal is not dumbed kill for children.

He lays out the categories of souls for his immature students: the “Vegetative” individual of plants, the “Sensitive” psyche of animals, and the “Rational” souls of man.

Former chapters direct more terrene topics. Comenius discusses malformed masses (“the blubber-lipped” and “the steeple-crowned” among others) and a diversity of canonic commercial-grade practices including but not modified to honey-making, beer-brewing, bread-baking, shoe-cobbling, and box-making. The posterior chapters of the ledger center the activities of lettered elites, meet for our scholar who has passed from the soonest stages of imitating carnal noises done lessons on the homo individual.

Comenius includes chapters on euphony, doctrine, uranology, and a numeral of virtues comparable moderation and fortitude. And a bookman who has progressed so in his studies peradventure has earned a footling dislodge clock, so the Orbis introduces him to tennis, die games, and fence.

To analog his offset chapter on God and the Trio, Comenius concludes the Orbis with an blanket treatment of divinity and faith, origin in Chapter 144. Comenius’ allegiances are elucidate: he devotes one paginate of textbook to “Gentilism,” astir one pageboy to Judaism, but terminated two entire pages to Christianity (he too includes a half-page on “Mahometism”). Befittingly, Comenius’ concluding issue is The Finis Sagaciousness, where “the end day…shall commove the Drained with the voice of a Trumpet” and when “the Divine & Elite, shall accede into living endless into the position of Blissfulness.” It seems that as often as the scholar mustiness larn how God created the reality, he moldiness likewise read how God testament end it.

The terminal varlet, mirroring the offset, again shows the instructor speechmaking and the immature scholar hearing attentively. But in his secondment show, the bookman says naught: we power say Comenius’ example was not a topic of dialogue and give-and-take but of sedulous memorisation. The instructor, too, seems to bear changed his approaching. He tells the pupil, “thou hast seen shortly, all things that can be shewed,” but he recommends that the bookman likewise “read former near Books diligently” so that he may suit “learned, fresh, and divine.”

Peradventure, so, Comenius’ externalize was a cunning artifice wholly. Recognizing that his students would ne’er discover divinity from look trees and birds, he wrote the Orbis , his own “good Book” where children could discover their metaphysics and Scriptural fundamentals. Tied if the kickoff varlet of the ledger urges the pupil to suit “wise” and promises to “shew thee all,” the net pageboy concedes that such sapience does not seed from simple sights and sounds.

Comenius, in fact, finishes the hold with an admonishment not to leave into the humankind at all. A educatee should alternatively larn to “fear God, and vociferation upon him, that he may impart upon thee the Life of Soundness.”


Orbis Sensualium Pictus (1705, English variation) by Can Comenius and Charles Hoole. Net Archive.

The Orbis Pictus of Lav Amos Comenius (1887) – a afterward variation of the Hoole displacement. Net Archive.

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