Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]










You know that the beginning is the chiefest part of any work, especially in a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is formed and most readily receives the desired impression. For the young man cannot judge what is allegorical and what is literal, and anything that he receives into his mind at that age is apt to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore the tales which they first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.

There you are right, he replied; that is quite essential: but then, where are such models to be found? and what are the tales in which they are contained?

And if they are to be courageous, must they not learn such lessons as will have the effect of taking away the fear of death? Any deeds of endurance which are acted or told by famous men, these they ought to see and hear. If they imitate at all, they should imitate the temperate, holy, free, courageous, and the like. Did you never observe how imitations, beginning in early youth, at last sink into the constitution and become a second nature of body, voice, and mind?

Of the harmonies I know nothing, but I want to have one warlike, which will sound the word or note which a brave man utters in the hour of danger and stern resolve, or when his cause is failing, and he is going to wounds or death, or is overtaken by some other evil, and at every such crisis meets fortune with calmness and endurance; and another, which may be used by him in times of peace and freedom of action when there is no pressure of necessity, expressive of entreaty or persuasion, of prayer to God, or instruction of man, or, again, of willingness to listen to persuasion or entreaty and advice, and which represents him when he has accomplished his aim, not carried away by success, but acting moderately and wisely, and acquiescing in the event. These two harmonies I ask you to leave the strain of necessity and the strain of freedom, the strain of courage and the strain of temperance.


Then good language and harmony and grace depend on simplicity — I mean the simplicity of a truly and nobly ordered mind. And absence of grace and inharmonious movement and discord are nearly allied to ill words and ill nature, as grace and harmony are the sisters and images of goodness and virtue. Because rhythm and harmony find their way into the secret places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, bearing grace in their movements, and making graceful the soul of him who is rightly educated; and also because he who has received this true education of the inner being, with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason of the thing; and when reason comes he will recognize her and salute her as a friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

PLATO: The Republic.


THE reaction against oral reading in our schools was wholesome. Time thus spent had come to be sheer waste. If getting words out of a book into the mind, and out of the mind into the air, is reading, then, the rudiments once mastered, the less of it the better. To cut down the time allotted to such formalities, and give it to nature study or history or algebra or French, was so much clear gain.

There are, however, two ways to right a wrong. You may cut down your barren tree, or you may dig about it and fertilize it, and give it one more chance. This book asks


one more chance for oral reading in our schools. When our food does not agree with us it is not always wise to fast. More food and better may be what we need. Because it is a waste of time to get words into the mind and out again, it does not follow that we should give up reading altogether. The apprehension and communication of ideas is just as profitable to a pupil as any one of the host of subjects with which our modern curriculum is crowded. may be, too, that we shall find there something of the old delight and spontaneity of mental action which the pressure of our enriched programs threatens to banish from the school. Martineau, after all, may be right in saying: "The only knowledge that can really make us better is not of things and their laws, but of persons and their thoughts; and I would rather have an hour's sympathy with one noble heart than read the law of gravitation through and through. To teach us what to love and


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »