BLTC Press Titles

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My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Conversations with Luther

by Martin Luther


1 His own oldest son. born Tune 7, 1526. Luther speaks in 1532.


meant heartily well by it. They could not read dispositions and how to suit correction to them. The apple and the switch1 should go hand in hand. It is a bad thing if children lose their spirit on account of parents and teachers. There have been many bungling masters who have hurt splendid talents by nagging. Ah, what a time we had with the lupus2 on Fridays and Donatus* on Thursdays! They asked strictly of each one to parse ' legeris, legere, legitur, lecti mei ars.' These questions were like a trial for murder. Good method in teaching should note differences of character in pupils."

When someone asked Luther how he would interpret the text: "Provoke not your children to wrath,"4 he replied: "Have you read your Terence? 'According to the common practice of fathers, I daily nagged him etc.'5 This sentence means that children should be so educated that they are not made timid. If one is a Demea,1 then he makes children either faint-hearted or desperate; accordingly they do what otherwise they would no doubt leave undone. Children ought to be flogged, but also they should be given food and drink, that they may see that we should like to have them virtuous. Thus Solomon says: 'Chasten thy son, but turn not thy mind to his destruction! '2 One ought to educate a child, where there is hope of success; but if one sees that there is no hope, and that he can learn nothing, one ought not to whip him to death on that account, but train him for something else. Some teachers are as cruel as hangmen. For instance I was once whipped fifteen times before noon, for no fault of mine, for I was expected to decline and conjugate what I had not yet learned. Anthony Tucher of Nuremberg used to say: 'Praise and punishment both have a place in ruling.' Hence one should be kind and friendly to little people and none the less continue the whipping."

1 /. e., reward and punishment.

* The lupus, or wolf, was the monitor who punished the boys for not speaking Latin.

* Donatus, on the Parts of Speech, was the common Latin text-book.

4 Ephesians vi, 4.

•The reference is to the comedy of Terence, Heautontimorumenos (The Self-tormentor), Act 1, line 49. Menedemus, who is doing penance for having driven his only son from home by harsh treatment, regrets that instead of using kindness he resorted to force, " according to the common practice of fathers."

Luther often spoke at length about witchcraft, about pressure at the heart and nightmare,1 and how his mother was troubled by a neighbor who was a witch, to whom she was obliged to be very respectful and conciliating, for otherwise the woman plagued her children and made them cry themselves to death. A certain preacher chided her in a manner; he was then poisoned and died, for no medicine could cure him, for she took earth from his footprints, bewitched it and threw it into the water, and without this earth he could not recover. Luther was then asked whether such things could happen to pious people. "Yes," said he, "our minds are subject to falsehoods just as our bodies are to murders. I think that my illnesses are not natural but are mere bewitchments. But God will free his elect from these evils."

1 See Terence's play, Adelphi (The Brothers). Demea, one of the brothers, is a harsh and violent father.

* Proverbs xix, 18.

1"Alpdrucken" and "Alptraum," both caused, in superstitious belief, by an incubus.



1505-1508, 1509-1511.

When Luther wished to return home and was on the road, by chance he struck his sword with his leg and cut an artery. He was then alone in a field with one companion, about as far from Erfurt as Eutzsch is from Wittenberg (half a mile).1 Thereupon the blood flowed alarmingly and could not be checked. When he tried to stop it with his finger, the leg swelled to an amazing size. At length a surgeon was called from the town, who cured the wound. When he was in danger of death, he said: "O Mary, help!" ("Had I died then," said he, "I should have died calling on Mary.") Again in bed during the night the wound broke open, and as his strength failed he again called on Mary. It was the Tuesday after Easter.2

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