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pretty well convinced that Latin is nothing more nor less than an ingenious device of severe parents for the torture of boys; and that schoolmasters are only a new sort of Spanish inquisitors. But if the pedagogue is thoroughly orthodox, he has only been playing with the poor fellow's nerves thus far; the peine forte et dure is yet to come. The unlucky lad finds, that although he has been pronouncing Latin words for months, he has always been pronouncing them wrong; and the proper correction is now to be applied in prosody, in the study of which attractive science he stores his head with a strange medley of longs and shorts, with long lists of crabbed words and barren formulas, and with divers sets of verses in rueful Latin, not more rueful, however, or unintelligible, than the elegant English which accompanies them, -and after all, pronounces naturally enough, just as he had been in the habit of doing from the beginning. Well, indeed, might the old grammarians take a. the motto of their wearisome books,
“Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum,
Tendimus in Latium." But the boy has got through his grammar, in some way or other, and must now begin to read. A book is put into his hands, say Nepos or Cesar,-or, if the teacher be a greater blockhead than common, Cicero's Orations, or even Virgil, as if difficulties enough could not be found in the language itself, without adding those of oratorical or poetical diction. All translations are things forbidden, and the boy must go to work as if he were a Champollion deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, to make sense out of the unknown pages before him, with no other aid than a dictionary for the meanings of the words, and the lumber of grammar with which his head is crammed for their structure. Slowly and painfully he toils at his task, and at last grinds out a clumsy version, in which he has no confidence himself, but which he hopes will satisfy the pedagogue, and that is his only object. This course is continued for another year, with occasional exercises in that most atrocious of absurdities, making bad Latin into worse, and the neophyte is pronounced "ready for college." To college, then, he goes. After an examination which, in nine
, cases out of ten, is altogether perfunctory, he is admitted freshman, and spends a year in the same, or very nearly the same, kind of study as before. He meets the classical tutor once a day, together with twenty or thirty other boys,-reads a scrap of Latin or Greek from the author assigned, answers a question or two in
syntax, and the hour's work is over. So three years more are passed, and the student leaves college with his diploma, to be sure, but with little more Latin and Greek than when he commenced his course. Even the best of the graduates of most of our colleges are unable to translate Demosthenes, Tacitus, or even Cicero, ad aperturam libri. The same may be said of English graduates. “Examine,” says Bulwer,* "the average of young men of eighteen; open a page of some author they have not read, and, parrot-like, got by heart; open a page in the Dialogues of Lucian, in Statius; ask the youth to construe it, as you would ask your daughter to construe a page of some French author she has never seen before. Does he not pause, does he not blush, does he not hesitate, does not his eye wander abroad in search of his accustomed 'crib,' does he not falter out something about lexicons and grammars, and at last throw down the book, and tell you he has never learned that; but as for Virgil and Herodotus, there he is your man?” And as for speaking or even writing Latin freely, the thing is almost unknown as an ordinary result of school and college training. Years, money, and labor enough are spent, but there is no fruit.
We are aware that the unnatural mode of teaching which we have hastily noticed is not now in as general use as it once was, and that there has been great improvement, within the last fifteen years, especially. But we doubt, exceedingly, whether the improvement is as great as has been supposed. We could name several institutions in New England, and a few out of it, in which a more rational method is pursued, but we fear that the list would be a very small one. In many instances, too, where the orthodox plan of grammar, dictionary, and ferula has been abandoned, the worse evil of loose and superficial study has been introduced, and although the scholar is saved from many painful hours and painful blows, he gets, after all, but little learning for his labor. It cannot be said, that either in this country or in England there are any clear ideas of teaching widely diffused among classical instructors; but one thing is certain, and gratifying too,—there is a widely diffused conviction of the inefficiency of our common systems, and an active search for something better. Abundant proof of this is afforded in the multitude of elementary books either borrowed from the German or made upon the soil, that have been sent forth of late years, in few, or none, of which is the old system of grammatical drudgery adopted. It is clear that a better day is coming, both in
• England and the English, vol. 1, p. 168.
England and America; and the books named at the head of this article are its latest precursors.
All the various modes of teaching languages that have been proposed, however much they may differ in detail, may be reduced to two,—the orthodox method, alluded to above, which gives the pupil grammatical principles first, and the language afterward,-and what has been called the concrete method, in which the language is made prominent, and the grammar subordinate. The principle of the first method is thus stated briefly by Walch, Convenit cum ratione, quod prius intelligenda sit lingua, quam loquendo et scribendo usurpanda, quoniam multo facilius est intelligere, quam scribere aut loqui :* the theory of the second by Erasmus, Lingue facilius usu, quam præceptis et lectione scriptorum cognoscende. We need not say that, out of Germany, the spirit of the former method is still almost universally prevalent, and that all attempts to substitute the latter, or even a modification of it, have been cried down, until a few years past, as dangerous innovations.
It may surprise many who have not investigated the subject to learn, that nearly all the schemes which have been stigmatized as innovations,--the empiricalt methods of Hamilton, Jacotot, Ollendorff, &c.,-are in reality founded, to a greater or less extent, upon principles advanced centuries ago; and advanced, too, even by the very founders of those English seminaries which have so long kept up the worst absurdities of the orthodox school. The system of instruction extant in the days of Erasmus, when Latin was the language of common intercourse among the learned, was in many respects the reverse of the modern grammar and dictionary plan. In all the grammar schools founded in the time of Henry VIII., Latin was intended to be taught colloquially. The views of Erasmus were fully adopted by Dean COLET, who founded St. Paul's School, and also by Cardinal Wolsey. The following remarks are quoted from Colet in the Essay before referred to :
“ Latin speech was before the rules, and not the rules before the Latin speech. Wherefore, well beloved masters and teachers of grammar, after the parts of speech, read and expound plainly unto your scholars good authors: and show to them in every sentence what they shall observe, warning them to follow and do like, both in writing and speaking: and be to them your own self, also
• Hist. Crit. Latinæ Linguæ, iii, 6.
See Essay on a System of Classical Instruction. Lond. 1830.
speaking with them the pure Latin very present, and leave the rules.”
The Eton Latin Grammar is founded upon one originally drawn up for the use of St. Paul's School, of which Wm. Lily was the first master. The original preface to that grammar (said to have been written by Wolsey himself) sets forth the same principles as those advanced by Colet, and enjoins that boys be taught grammar “not by rote, but by reason;" that all the forms of words should be thoroughly learned “by plain and divers examples and continued repetitions :"-so that even the Eton Grammar itself, stumbling block as it has been to thousands of English boys, was originally intended for oral and practical teaching. Fifty years afterward, Ascham developed substantially the same views in his Scholemaster. But, by degrees, the use of Latin in ordinary discourse was dropped to some extent; and, partly on that account, and partly on account of the multiplication of reading books, the oral mode of instruction fell into disuse, and the grammar and dictionary plan, - the silent dullness of the dead letter of books,-took the place of the animated voice of the living teacher. By the time of Milton, there was full reason for his severe attacks upon existing methods : he saw the evil clearly, and proposed the remedy. In the letter to Hartlib, before quoted, he says:
“If, after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, striplings were led to the praxis thereof in some chosen short book lessoned thoroughly to them, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things and arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power. This I take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning languages, and whereby we may best hope to give account to God of our youth spent therein.”
John Locke went further toward empiricism than any of the opponents of the grammatical method; and certainly his views must be considered ultra in detail, although the general principle is undoubtedly correct. “If grammar," says he, "ought to be taught at any time, it must be to one who can speak the language already: how else can he be taught the grammar of it? I know not why any one should waste his time, and beat his head about the Latin grammar, who does not intend to be a critic, or make speeches and write dispatches in it. When any one finds in himself a necessity or disposition to study any foreign language to the bottom, and to be nicely exact in the knowledge of it, it will be time enough to take a grammatical survey of it."* It will appear
* John Locke on Education.
in what follows, that we do not adopt Locke's views fully: yet his advice was pertinent to the state of instruction in his time. All advice, however, no matter from what quarter, was thrown away upon Eton and Westminster. To be sure, translations of the miserable Latin in which the grammars were composed were put into the boy's hands,* but they had still to commit to memory the barbarisms of Propria que maribus, As in præsenti, Verba dandi et reddendi,t &c., and to treasure up scores of euphonious and useful jaw-breakers, such as Asyndeton and Polysyndeton, Oxymoron and Onomatopeia, with the elegant doggerel before alluded to under the name of Prosody.
Nevertheless, better books were produced, even during the long and deadening sway of orthodoxy in England. One of the best elementary works, indeed, that we know of, is, “The Natural Method of Teaching, being the Accidence in Questions and Answers," by SAMUEL HOADLEY, Master of Brookhouse Grammar School, of which we have before us the eleventh edition, 1758. In the preface to this book may be found almost every good notion of Hamilton's system, or Jacotot's, or of the latest German methods; as for instance the following:
“ All that was here intended was
“1. To give so many Examples as were judged necessary to give light to the rules and to direct the practice under them.
“2. To propose Rules, true, plain, and directive, but those only the main and general ones.
“3. To make Exercises and Imitations so easy and many, as might certainly introduce an habit of performing every operation aright.
“5. To cause the same words to be fetched over again in the genders, comparisons, declensions, and syntactic rules; and so to fix them that they be in no danger of being lost.
“11. To read to the child so much as we judge fit at a time, and to require him to read it after us with exactness, well observing the quantity, accent, &c., of every syllable.
Even in Walch's time the absurdity of using a grammar written in a foreign language was perceived : Præcepta grammatices debent esse conscripta vernacula ejus qui studet linguis perdiscendis. Hist. Crit. Prolegom., p. 6. Yet it is not a long time since we had none but Greek and Latin lexicons, so strong was the persuasion that the road to classical learning must be thorny in order to be thorough.
| Even so great a man-as Dr. Arnold of Rugby could not free himself from attachment to these old forms.