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made ? Certainly not. Words were made before letters, and letters came last. What 'then ? Teach children to read by the eye, and then show them how to separate them into letters. A brief experience in this system, some years ago, satisfied us that in every case, reading can be taught to a child in one tenth the time now occupied, and all the difficulties about erroneous orthography, entirely overcome.
A general course of reading should always precede the analysis of language, and hence, we consider it lost time to attempt to teach grammar until the youth has reached the age of twelve years, until he has been carried through a judicious course of study, with a sole view to the understanding of the subject matter treated of, without any reference to the construction of the language used.
The laws of grammatical analysis entered upon at the age of twelve years would soon be mastered, for we should confine the youth to the study of his own language, in every instance. A liberal course of reading, strictly adhered to, accompanied by exercises in constructing sentences, must necessarily follow the study of the grammar, and by the time that the student reaches the age of fifteen years, under such a system, he would be a better writer of the English tongue then nine tenths of all the degree masters in the country at the age of twenty-one.
After this, we would give the child a French teacher, and French society, if it could be had. At all events, we would have the French language taught him by actual practice and reading, without a particle of reference to rules of construction, laws of pronunciation, &c. These latter points would follow as in the case of the English.
If there were time and means, we would have Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, &c. follow in such succession as might be deemed advisable, teaching them in the same manner as pointed out by nature in acquiring the maternal tongue.
The youth at the age of twenty, if well taught, would, under this system, be able to speak some four or five modern languages, and, being provided with so many arms, he could attack the Latin and Greek languages, if he saw fit, and master them, so as to read them, in a very brief time.
This is an utilitarian age, and a happy thing it is for the human family. Since the proclamation of the sacred truth, that, “ all men are created equal,” the effort of every true friend of equality and liberty has been, to do the greatest good to the greatest number; to help his neighbor, while he is the way. The time has gone, therefore, when splendid honors, that avail nothing in benefiting society, are respected. To know the Latin and Greek languages is no longer a great merit. This go-ahead age cares not for such useless trumpery as a knowledge of the classics has been styled by a well-known strong-minded democrat; but to be able to speak and write the ever glorious English tongue with facility, elegance, ease and power, to speak and write the languages of those polite and civilized nations with whom we trade, are of that high value to society, that the possessor of such attainments is regarded, and justly too, as a citizen deserving the utmost honor that can be awarded to him. And it is right that it should be so.
The greatest evil under which our public speakers labor, is diffuseness of style and matter.
What is the cause of this lamentable defect? It is plain. It arises from ignorance of the true principles of the English language, of its great power of concentrating thought. Our prominent men have been educated in a false school. Latin and Greek have constituted their studies in the province of language, and they neither know them nor their own tongue.
No midnight lamp has been trimmed in the study of the English classics, but their wandering brains have burned for years with vexation, because they could not find the meaning of some perplexing Latin phrases, or the true way of scanning some imperfect pentameter. Our copious, rich, expressive and soul-moving tongue must be made a principal study in our schools and colleges, to combine their thoughts, and express them in the briefest time and space. They may study Cicero and Demosthenes till doomsday,—they will not get the art they want. But let them take for their models, English and American speakers who could compress a page of modern distended thought into one sentence or two, and all will be well.
The titles of the works at the head of this article are already well known. Dr. Anthon has done much to aid in the rapid and easy attainment of Latinity by our youth, 4
VOL. 1.-NO. 2.
and he deserves the warmest thanks of all good men; but we do not like the system which calls for the simplification of Latin books for the youth of the country. We do not want to see their valuable time thrown away in the study of Latin. We would see the colleges reverse the present mode of education in language, and then Dr. Anthon could be saved all the labor of reducing the classics to the standard of children's comprehension, of peter parleying (so to speak) the works of the Romans. Young men of twenty and upwards would not need such aids, but in a few months, either with a good speaker of Latin, or by themselves, could master enough of the language to read it, and there the matter would end; and the chances are, in that event, that in nine cases out of ten, the Roman authors would be much more appreciated and better understood than they are now. All our pleasure in reading the Greek and Latin writers came after we had passed the threshold of the school, and went through them voluntarily.
“ The Traveller's Companion," by Madame de Genlis, is an old, but standard book. It is invaluable to the student of modern languages.
“ The Conversations of Corderius," a familiar hand-book to every student of Latin, proves how different was the object for studying Latin in former days, from what it is now. Who is capable of speaking it? One in ten thousand, and he can find no one whose sympathies will break out in the ore rotundo dialect of the ancient Italians, unless by a miracle. Where is the student, in these times, who can recite a single colloquy of Corderius ; and yet it forms a body of colloquial latinity of immense value, necessary to be known by every proficient? Alas! the use of Latin, for good and holy purposes, is gone. It is now only an engine of oppression, to tyrannize over the youthful mind, and keep in subjection its noble, aspiring energies.
In conclusion,—we regard education as an ever active agent, having to do with the body and mind of man, from his birth to his death,—we look upon all children as being born with equal powers of mind,* but that education causes
* We cannot concur with our Correspondent in his views of the natural equality of all men. No two men can be found who have not differed from each other, more or less widely, in every point of their progress, from the cradle to the grave. Inequality, variety, gradation, are the immutable laws every where impressed by the Creator upon the works of his hands.--Eds. So. Quarterly Rev.
an immediate difference by its unequal action; we consider that the whole system of book education, so far as the acquirement of languages is concerned, is vitally false ; we have proposed a change in that system ; and we now take leave of the subject, for the present, in the hope, that at some future day, we may be permitted to commune with you again, good reader, upon this important subject. It is one which comes home to us all. We are, ourselves, the subjects of education, men as we are: we are constantly improving in body and mind. It is not book-learning alone that constitutes our improvement. We mingle with our fellow
creatures every day, every hour, and we learn something new, something to make us better or worse. All this is education. We impart instruction to our fellows unconsciously, as they do to us, and in the constant interchange of thought, the continual round of association, we form new and changing schools for the dissemination of knowledge, each doing good, or bad, in his sphere. But let us turn from the consideration of ourselves, to the dear pledges of affection that surround us on every side. What is our bounden duty to them? To bring them up in the way they should go. Do we perform that duty ? Let our consciences answer. Awful is the responsibility that rests upon the head of a father and a mother, in the education of their children. Important as the example and duty of a father is, greater is the care of a mother. From woman is the character of a nation formed,—said some great man of the last century. How true ! From the travail of birth to the benches of the school, is the child in the lap of the mother. Her plastic hand moulds him, forms him, finishes him, and, when he goes forth into the little world of his school-fellows, he bears the impress of his mother's signet upon his character. A few short years serve to test the truth of that character, and a thousand blessings will descend upon the head of that woman whose child does her honor, for thereby he seals the good deeds of his mother to him, when helpless, and his name will never perish from the face of the earth!
Art. III.—Lives of the Queens of England, from the
Norman Conquest, with Anecdotes of their Courts, now first published, from Official Records, and other authentic documents, private as well as public. By AGNES STRICKLAND. Vols. i. ii. iii. Lea & Blanchard. Philadelphia.
When we consider what has been accomplished in historic research within the last fifty years, we are, indeed, lost in wonder and admiration. Not content with being the mere narrator of facts, interesting, perhaps, but too often criminal ; nor keeping the deeds of a few prominent characters before us, but losing sight of all else, the historian of the present day enters into the philosophy of history, renders it a picture of the times recorded, and that great moral teacher, which, in the hands of a philanthropist and philosopher it is calculated to be,-thus assuming for it the highest station in the rank of literature.
The first few centuries, embracing that portion of time emphatically termed the commencement of modern history, are so shrouded in the mist of obscurity, that our imaginations can scarcely invest them with reality. We are like those standing on some alpine height, the sunlight playing around them, and tinting with gorgeous hues the mountain summit, whilst the distant valley is shrouded in darkness, and a few only of the prominent objects are dimly revealed. So, in the light even of recent times, gleamed, vague and indistinct, our knowledge of the first ten centuries of the christian era. Now, however, a few master minds, bringing to the task learning, and that deep zeal and enthusiasm which no difficulties can repress, no labor, however arduous, can weary, have voluntarily relinquished the fascinations of society, to make us acquainted with a buried and almost forgotten world. The past reappears with graphic fidelity, the picture stands forth with life-like reality. We behold the extraordinary characters of an obscure era, in the physical and mental power which distinguished them, and which strangely blend with those fitful gusts of passion, those startling and impulsive crimes which characterize the earlier ages, and which, whilst our souls shrink from them