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Art. 1.-AN ECONOMICAL METHOD OF STUDYING THE
[We owe an apology to the author of the article from which we have quoted largely in the last and present numbers, for the transpositions we have made in it. It has been convenient for us, to present first the method by which it is proposed to secure success in classical studies. In the present number, we give the opposite method, which doubtless is too prevalent among us, and which is the origin of the dislike to those pursuits which many students have conceived ; and some of the considerations which show that the plan proposed is the only economical one.]
“It is painful to contemplate the results of an opposite process, although the disheartening picture is everywhere presented to our view. The victim of a loose and hurried preparation for college is carried rapidly through his grammar. the forms of the language are imperfectly committed to memory. The lessons of the one day, for the want of constant repetition, are forgotten before those of the next are acquired. The more minute rules and exceptions, the very parts which require the most careful attention, are postponed to other periods, and the student is told that he can most effectually acquire them as matters of observation in his subsequent reading. In vain has the experience of scholars and teachers demonstrated that these subsequent periods seldom if ever arrive. The temptation to save a small
more of the langere seldomhis is
amount of present time and labor, although it may be at the expense of far greater waste and embarrassment in future, s in most cases too powerful to be resisted. No fact is more conclusively established, than that those more minute parts of the language, which are neglected at the beginning of the course, are seldom thoroughly mastered ; and that in the few cases in which this is accomplished, it is at a sacrifice of far more toil and time than would have been required in the introductory grammatical exercises. We have called them minute parts, but the term is only used relatively. In themselves they are of the highest importance, and often a knowledge of them is more conducive to a satisfactory acquaintance with the language, than of others which are seemingly of much more value. We mean (for example) the rules which relate to accents, quantity, gender, contractions, the uses of the conjunctions and adverbs, the exceptions to the rules of formation and syntax, with their various modifications. These may be compared to the joinings and braces, whose skilful location is often of more importance to the stability of the edifice, than even the larger materials.
To produce a few illustrations out of many; how often is it the case that the Greek pronouns remain sources of perplexity to the student during his whole course, causing him frequently to leave sentences imperfectly understood, even when all the words have been carefully examined with the lexicon, for the want of the ready knowledge and prompt application of some rule which would at once have prevented all difficulty. In such cases either impatience or indolence tempts him to pass it over, or the same reference must be made hundreds of times to the grammar, because he has no precise formula treasured up in his memory as a guide to his researches. It is not too much to say, that a few days' patient exercise of the memory, at the proper time, might have prevented months from being afterwards ineffectually wasted. The same remark may be made in reference to some neglected rule of syntax. It is plausibly said, that these may be better learned and treasured up by observation. Did not experience contradict the assertion, it must be false from the very nature of things. In the one case the student, like the ready architect, has his rule constantly in his possession, to be at once applied to the measurement of every difficulty
that arises. In the other the rule itself becomes the object of search. When it has at length been found and applied to the removal of present impediments, it is then laid aside, and in consequence of its being connected with no remembered form of words, the same wearisome and unsatisfactory process is constantly to be repeated.
Difficulties suffered in this way to accumulate, present a more appalling and discouraging prospect to the apparently advanced student than to the tyro to whom all is new. Surveyed in the mass and from the ground of a superficial progress, they appear magnified beyond their real extent. They seem to beset his path both before and behind. The ground over which he has passed appears as much, if not more encumbered than that on which he is yet to enter. Onward he often feels he cannot go, and backward he dare not look, in consequence of the great amount of work he has left undone. Hurried in this manner through his grammar, and carried still more rapidly through the careless reading of a number of Latin authors; wearied with the dull monotony of daily turning over the leaves of his lexicon, and finding that the only progress he is in reality making is only a discovery of increasing perplexities, why is it a matter of wonder that the strongest repugnance is often manifested to the exercises in which he is compelled to be engage? With every new author he finds only a repetition of the same unsatisfactory toil. No facilities in reading have been acquired. Virgil is as difficult as Cæsar ; Cicero is still more difficult than Virgil; Horace is a senseless maze; Livy a wilderness of intricate and inexplicable constructions; and in the last book that he is required to read in his collegiate course, he finds that he has but little if any more command of the language than when he first set out. He has acquired but the mere scanty recollections of disconnected words, whose poor remains have barely lodged in the surface of the memory, forming no part of the furniture of the mind, and never entering into the habitual channels of thought. The language has never been made his own. He has never learned, in any degree to think in it. He has never had its grammatical forms and syntactical idioms associated with the words to which they alone can impart life and meaning. He has never been exercised by constant writing, to a necessary study of those peculiarities which escape the attention in mere