« PreviousContinue »
Virgil. is more generally read and less appreciated than any other classic. His poems are now used almost universally as a text-book, and at such an early period in the course of classical studies, that they appear to the pupil quite as difficult and uninteresting as the grammar and the dictionary. Months, and even years, are bestowed upon the study of them, and the length of the task only adds to its wearisomeness. The associations formed at, such an early period in one's education are retained with great tenacity through life, and the consequence is, that these elegant and delightful poems call up, in the minds of most persons, no other or more pleasant images than those of the spelling-book, the recitation room, and, perhaps, the rod. Horace is usually read at a later period in the course of study, when the pupil has mastered the greatest difficulties of the language, and his taste and judgment are somewhat matured. The productions of the lyric poet, therefore, are remembered and quoted, and a recurrence to the study of them often opens a new source of pleasure for the scholar's riper years ; while the poems of Virgil, more pleasing as respects the choice of a subject, and the general characteristics of their execution, are quite generally neglected.
It is more easy to perceive an evil of the kind above mentioned, than to suggest a remedy. It is quite important, that a book put into the pupil's hands at such an early period in his studies should be an unexceptionable model of style, and should offer such attractive qualities, as may most effectually encourage his efforts in a long and arduous undertaking. The poems of Virgil answer these requisites so well, that no one is surprised at the general adoption of them, as a text-book of instruction in the Latin language. But allowance must still be made for the small attainments of the youthful pupil, and, we must add, for the imperfect scholarship of a few instructers. The style of the Æneid is easy, it is said ; so it is, for the advanccd scholar, but not for the boy or girl, who has just finished the