MELANCHTHON, Philipp (1497-1560). Autograph letter signed ('Philippus Melanchthon') to the Mayor and Council of Saalfeld ('Den Erbaren, weisen und fürnehmen Herrn Burgermeistern und Rath zu Salfeld, meinen gunstigen Herrn'), Wittenberg, 4 September 1542, in German on paper, 3 pages, folio (332 x 215mm), integral address panel (skilful restoration to margins).
MELANCHTHON ON THE CHARACTERISTICS REQUIRED OF A SCHOOL TEACHER. Melanchthon has been asked by the Council to report on whether Jacob Birnstiel is a suitable man to to serve as a schoolteacher. Melanchthon has summoned him, and finds that he is a good 'Grammaticus' and writes well; his capabilities are sufficient for the work. But he is still young, 'und die Jugend unachtsam ist' (and youth is inattentive); also, not all 'Ingenia' have the desire to be a schoolmaster, 'und dieses Werk, wie alle Sachen, eine besondere Emsigkeit bei den jungen Knaben, sie anzuhalten, zu fragen, ein Ding oft zu repetiren, bedarf' (and this work, as with all things, requires an especial industriousness with the young boys, to encourage them, to question them, to repeat something often); Magister Sebastian is therefore to be asked to supervise and encourage his colleague, as Melanchthon himself has discussed with them both. Melanchthon has no doubt of Sebastian's skill, desire and modesty, hopes that with God's grace their school will be well looked after, and wishes to serve them in whatever way he can.
Alongside Melanchthon's role as a leader of the Protestant Reformation - a position which had placed him at the forefront of the discussions with Papal authorities at Regensburg which had confirmed the irreconcilable division between Catholic and Protestant in the year before the present letter - Melanchthon has importance as a notable educational reformer. A brilliant scholar, he became Professor of Greek at the University of Wittemberg at the age of 21.
Published in Corpus Reformatorum, 10, nr. 7126.