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cient languages, any farther than as parts of practical knowledge; and as the practical uses are, after all, very few and only for a few persons-estimated we mean in dollars and cents—the study of these languages has, in many places where once studied, been wholly laid aside. The age that has no patience to allow seed time to vegetate and strike root, before it asks where is the fruit; that looks for knowledge first, and then travels up the stream to the fountain of principles ; that props a roof, hangs down the walls and then underlays the foundation; that advances backwards like a crawfish, reversing the natural order, so as to learn first pictures and then things, words and then letters, has no need for studies so different in nature, so opposite in all their tendencies as the ancient languages. And yet a little knowledge of Greek would show some that their boasted philosophy is only a revival of an old theory, and that anciently were some also, who had resolved never to go into the water until they had learned to swim.
The very objection, however, against the old system, that it is too difficult, too tedious, too abstract, grants that it is proper for intellectual discipline; while these objections admit, too, in advocating the easier and shorter methods, that the commonalty are weak, hasty and selfish, and that the system of instruction instead of elevating men should be sunk to their baseness. Great progress seems, indeed, at first to be made, where the rough places of learning are smoothed, its mountains levelled, its valleys raised, for the construction of the literary rail way; but after all the real progress is about the same as that of a little girl, taught to spell by pictures or “things," as the book said, instead of the primitive mode, the sounds of letters themselves. “What does that spell dear ?” said her father, covering the picture with one hand and pointing to the name printed below. “ Cow" was the immediate answer. Why, how do you know?” “I see the legs."
We are aware that the dead languages are professedly studied; but we have good reason for saying, that, while in a few schools and colleges efforts may be made to restore the old method of study, or at least to resist any more innovations, in most places the mode of going over the classics is tantamount to an utter abandonment of the languages as a discipline, and even for many obvious reasons, an aggravation of existing evils, and a disparagement to these very studies. Pupils do indeed go over the whole course
and more too; but it is precisely as some tourists go over a whole country, in cars and steamboats, and with just the same sort of good to themselves and others—to be able to say it has been done, and nothing more. The same mania for simplifying, and if we may make a word, for babifying, rages here as in other systems of education. Hence copious dictionaries are rendered more copious, or dictionaries are made for every individual book, and every possible meaning of every word given, till a lexicon is equivalent to a literal translation. In addition, English translations are furnished, some in appendices, some in separate books, some again interlined. Then again, but small attention is given to written exercises, analytical and synthetical ; and rarely, very rarely, is there sustained, for two or three years at the outset, that severe, toilsome, searching, but indispensable verbal analysis, called parsing. Hence the study as an instrument of discipline is lost sight of, and becomes a mere study for the acquisition of knowledge and practical advantage, or for pleasure or vanity: and hence men take that amount which may suffice for law, medicine, divinity, quotation, or the like, and no more. Now we contend that none but invincible obstacles should be removed, and removed in such a way that the instrument of removal should itself require a little mental labour, both to exercise the mind and to make it better retain the true meaning when thus found. It is an inwrought deep-seated habit of studying and thinking, that we wish, a habit not to be eradicated, and to be applied to any and every thing, and in all the countless variations of circumstances. Hence we approve that medium of interpreting Latin poetry, where necessary, by a Latin ordo, and Greek, where necessary, by Latin translations : and we approve of Latin notes and of Latin rendering of Greek in Greek lexicons. This we grant is indispensable for all classics designed for school-books: but if one, in after life needs to use Latin and Greek authors, not for discipline, but for literary purposes, then may he very properly and advantageously, seek aid from all quarters, in deciding the sense. Hence works written to increase the knowledge of men may be very different from those written to aid in the mental discipline of boys: and while the latter may be consulted advantageously even by men, the others never can be consulted advantageously by schoolboys.
We even insist, that while it is pleasant to the boy, to
arrive at the true sense in all cases, yet that it is not needful; for the mind is often more exercised and puts forth more force, and practices greater skill and ingenuity, in making out a false sense, than the true one: so that he is like a person taking a walk to see or obtain something in which he is, indeed, disappointed, but yet has a very pleasant and health-giving exercise.
In vain, however, is the best system and the best books, without competent and faithful teachers. Although many “schoolmasters are abroad in the land,” but few are in any sense qualified to preside over and administer the ancient discipline. We despair, indeed, of finding teachers in all respects suitable, unless among the clergy: and we prefer such for many important reasons. These are, professedly teachers of religion; and when such are, also, as ought always to be the case, truly pious men, the morals of the young can never be in safer keeping or under better guidance; because an irreligious teacher and an irreligious education are a curse; because, generally speaking, the clergy have most true learning, are more skilled in teaching by their very profession, that of public teachers; because such have more weight of character, and are more respected both by parents and children; and because very few laymen, ever intend to make teaching a business for life, but a mere stepping stone to other employments and professions. Hence we would now suggest to our Presbyterian readers, whether some plan of a classical school on the old system, cannot be devised, so that one may be under the superintendence of every presbytery or synod; conducted by our own clergymen, and on liberal, yet true presbyterian principles, or, if others choose so to call it, a sectarian school. Something of this sort, if we would restore sound learning, is to be done ; especially as the effect of the common school system is in many places to destroy classical schools, without substituting any thing deserving the name of thorough discipline, in their place; and also, we fear ultimately to subvert every thing like evangelical religion, in schools patronized or supported by the state. And no teacher independant of an ecclesiastical body, can expect to resist, by his arm or influence, the strong and adverse tide of popular combination.
We have hitherto, mainly considered the advocated course as to its discipline, but we now remark that knowledge very extensive, and by the very difficulty of getting it, ex
act and permanent, is acquired by the study of the dead languages. Grammar in its largest sense, history, geography, astronomy, architecture, polity, war, manners, gardening, in short, every thing of the ancient world, its philosophy, its arts, its sciences, its religion: and until it is shown that the history of the past is useless to the present age, we may safely avail ourselves of the knowledge gained in a classical education, as an argument in its favour. But the most important consideration, here, is, that a properly disciplined mind can add to its stock of ancient knowledge, all the modern knowledges in at least half the time that the undisciplined mind demands for their acquisition. Scarcely one of the present European languages, that a good classical scholar cannot, as to the mere reading of books, master in a few months, sometimes a few weeks, and indeed, sometimes in a few days; some of them he can read at sight, or with the help of a grammar and dictionary, almost instantly. Things too, which others regard as studies, he looks upon as pleasant recreations, such as geology, botany, mineralogy, history; and some that the undisciplined never venture upon, he boldly and successfully attacks, such as logic, and metaphysical studies. There are, in fact, no bounds to his capabilities of acquiring and retaining; and indeed, a well disciplined man may, by his order and system and perseverance and tact, add almost every accomplishment, if he see proper, to his more substantial stores. The true secret of immense learning lies in the entire mastery of a few principles, and then in the steady and determined application of these to a given subject, till it is conquered ; and this, persons thoroughly disciplined in early youth, are nearly the only persons that can do. These persons have a foundation of immoveable rock, and that foundation will sustain any superstructure of any material and of any height.
A sad mistake is made by parents who are able and who design to give their children a classical education, by separating between such an education, and an English education; for after a child can read fluently, write a passable hand, and commit at all to memory, every hour devoted to the English is lost, and sometimes worse than lost. What are the English studies, supposed to constitute a good elementary education? Principally these, spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, and geography, to which you may add composition and speaking. Now we speak from experience here, when we say that the great
majority of mere English pupils, after many years of seemingly assiduous attention, with competent and faithful teachers, never become fluent and thorough in all these branches ; they get to a certain point and there they remain in utter disgust at the whole. But we do know also from experience, that if a classical teacher is a man of talents and skill, he can so order matters, that all the above named English studies, and several others not named, shall, provided the parent will have patience, and will aid too, in keeping the pupil up to the high-water mark of his diligence and duties, be entirely mastered by the time that his elementary classical discipline is ended.
The impatience, the ignorance, the niggardliness of some parents, when teachers are competent, generally forbid the experiment, and the incompetency of professed modern teachers, would too often abuse the confidence and liberality of other parents; and hence, another forcible argument for presbyterial or synodical grammar schools. Indeed we have no doubt that such, notwithstanding their increase of price and sectarian character, would at last be popular among men of the world, and perhaps among other sects, unless they chose to establish such themselves. This, indeed, they are to some extent, already doing, and whatever scruples we might feel as to the liberality of such a course, are removed by the example of our neighbours. But whatever course may be pursued by Presbyterians, as to the organization of church schools, we do indulge the hope that they will more and more unanimously favour the old thorough modes of education, as contrasted with all modern and empirical contrivances. We know not how far the prevailing current, both of practice and opinion, can be counteracted by force of argument or elegance of style, or we should look, with still more sanguine expectation than we now do, for a change of public sentiment, by means of such performances as that before us.
ART. IV.- The History of Christianity, from the Birth
of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire. By the Rev. H. H. Milman, Prebendary of St. Peter's, and Minister of St. Margaret's, Westminster.