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which I believe from what others say, and which from the sight of other infants I conjecture that I myself have passed through, although the conjecture may be very reliable, I am loath to include as one period of this life of mine which I live in this world. For it is as much lost in the darkness of oblivion as the time which I passed in my mother's womb. But if also "I was conceived in iniquity," and in sin my mother then nourished me, where, I beseech Thee, O my God, where, O Lord, or when was I, Thy servant, innocent? But, lo, I pass over that time; for why should I linger upon that which has left no footprints upon my memory?



Whence when a Boy he learned to speak.


upon infancy.

ASSING then out of infancy I arrived at childhood; or rather it came to me, and followed Nor did infancy depart; (for whither did it go?) and yet it ceased to be. For I was now not a speechless infant, but a talking boy. And this I do remember; and have since observed how I learned to speak. For my elders did not teach me my words in a systematic order, as soon afterwards they taught me my letters: but I myself with the mind which Thou gavest me, my God, tried to make known the desires of my heart, by means of cries and various sounds, and by various movements of my limbs, so that I might get my own will; and when I could not express all my desires, or not to all to whom I would have done so, I went over the sounds in my memory;

1 Ps. li. 7.



when they named anything, and, as they spoke, moved towards it, I saw and retained the name of the thing, which they had uttered when they wanted to point it out. And that, indeed, they meant the thing in question, was manifest by the bodily movement, as it were by that natural language which belongs to mankind at large, which consists of expressions of the face, glances of the eyes, gestures of the body, and tones of voice indicating the affections of the mind, when it either seeks, possesses, rejects, or shuns things. Thus by frequently hearing words in various sentences, which were put in their proper order, I gradually collected for what they stood, and thereby began to express my desires, my mouth having gradually brought itself to utter them.

Thus with those amongst whom I lived, I exchanged these signs of our desires which we made known to one another, and launched deeper and deeper into the stormy society of human life, depending on parental authority and the bidding of my elders.


The hatred of Lessons, love of Play, and the fear of being whipped, which is in Boys.

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GOD, my God, what misery did I then experience, and what deception! when I was told that it was as a boy my right course of life to obey my teachers, in order that I might get on in this world, and excel in those rhetorical arts which lead to human honours and false riches. Then I was put to school to learn things of which I, poor boy, did not know the



use; and yet, if I was slow in learning them I was flogged: for this course was held in high repute by my elders, many of whom before us had trodden the same road, and had marked out a wearisome path, along which we were forced to go; thus multiplying the toil and pain of the sons of Adam.

But we found, O Lord, men who called upon Thee; and we learned from them to do the same, thinking of Thee, as well as we could, as some Great One, Who could, although we were unable to see Thee, hear us and help us. For as a boy I began to pray to Thee, my Help and my Refuge, and broke the fetters of my tongue to frame a prayer to Thee; and I used to ask Thee, though but a little boy yet with no little earnestness, that I might not be whipped at school. And when Thou didst not hear me, which was not "for no purpose,' my stripes, at that time a great and heavy trouble to me, were made a subject of laughter by my elders, and even by my parents, who yet wished me no ill.

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Is there any one who possesses such courage, and cleaves to Thee with such devotion?-is there, I say, any one (putting aside cases of mere stolidity) who entertains for Thee so great and vehement an attachment, as to disregard racks, hooks, and other tortures from which the whole world in terror prays to be delivered—and to laugh at those who have the greatest dread of them, as our parents laughed at the tortures which we boys suffered at the hands of our masters? For we had as great a dread of our sufferings as they of theirs, and prayed as earnestly that we might escape them and yet we incurred them, by not 1 Ps. xxii. 2.



writing, reading, or minding our lessons so much as we were bidden. For memory and ability were not wanting to us, O Lord, for Thou didst graciously bestow them upon us according to our age; but we delighted in play; and were corrected for this by those who did the same. But the trifles with which older persons are occupied are called business, but when boys occupy themselves with that which in their case corresponds with those trifles, they are punished by those elders; and no one pities either boys or men. For will any one of sound judgment approve of my being beaten, because as a boy, through playing at ball, I made less progress in those studies which would only render me, when a man, capable of playing at a worse game; for what else was he doing who chastised me, who, when overthrown in some petty controversy by a fellow-tutor, was more tormented by chagrin and envy, than I was when beaten by my play-fellow in a game of ball?


Through love of Play and of Performances, he is drawn away from Study.


ND yet I did sin, O Lord God, Disposer and Creator of all things natural, but only Disposer of sins: O Lord my God, I did wrong by acting contrary to the commands of my parents and of those masters. For I might have afterwards put to a good account that knowledge which, whatever their motive was, they wished me to acquire. For it was not from the choice of something better that I disobeyed them,



but through love of play; delighting in the pride of victories in contests; and to have my ears tickled with false fables, that they might itch the more; and the same curiosity made my eyes sparkle more and more at the sight of the plays and games of my elders. And although those who show them are held in such esteem that almost all would be glad for their children to do the same, yet are they willing that their children should be flogged, if by such games they are hindered from those studies, by the means of which they hope some time that they will become capable of the same performances.

Look mercifully on these things, O Lord; and deliver us, who now call upon Thee; deliver those, too, who have not yet called upon Thee, and grant that they may call upon Thee, and that Thou mayest deliver them.


Seized with Illness, he earnestly asked for Baptism, which his other, after careful deliberation, deferred.


OR I had already heard, as a boy, of eternal life, promised to us through the humility of our Lord God, descending to our pride; and I was already signed with the sign of His cross, and salted with His salt, even from the womb of my mother, who placed all her hope in Thee. Thou sawest, O Lord, when I was still but a boy, how one day I was suddenly seized

One of the rites used in the admission of a Catechumen, previous to Baptism, "founded on the Lord's words, 'Have salt in yourselves.''

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