The Andrometer – how do you measure up?

Sir William JonesSir William Jones (1746 – 1794) a linguist and hyperpolyglot who knew 13 languages thoroughly and another 28 reasonably well, was an Oxford graduate and lawyer who moved to India where he studied Sanskrit.

A recent article in Mental Floss notes that as a young man, while working as a tutor to English nobility, Jones developed what he called an “Andrometer”, or timeline, to check that a person’s moral and intellectual development was on track.

The Andrometer

(Click to enlarge)

Jones explained that this

…enables you to measure every man’s merit by looking for his age in the scale, and then comparing it with the other side, and seeing to what degree he has risen in arts, sciences, and ornamental qualifications.

I find it fascinating that the checklist includes early focus on the art of rhetoric (aka. oratory or public speaking), starting around age 16, continuing with exercises in public speaking and the study of Ancient Orators (presumably Cicero, Quintilian and the like).

Although the list might have been prepared tongue-in-cheek, the focus on rhetoric in a well-rounded education certainly featured in ancient Greece and Rome and continued through to the late 19th century.

According to Jones, by the time a person is in their mid-30’s they should focus on improving their habits of eloquence and start to publish their speeches. At age 38 the checklist states “Eloquence perfect”.

At age 62, we are to enjoy “a glorious retirement” (if only!) and, after three score years and ten, engage in “Preparation for ETERNITY.” Jones, unfortunately, only made it to 47, dying of overwork in Calcutta.

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