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brevity, clearness, and force, in our own language, the thought which the original author has so admirably expressed in his. But the system of construing, far from assisting, is positively injurious to our knowledge and use of English; it accustoms us to a tame and involved arrangement of our words, and to the substitution of foreign idioms in the place of such as are natural; it obliges us to caricature every sentence that we render, by turning what is, in its original dress, beautiful and natural, into something which is neither Greek nor English, stiff, obscure, and flat, exemplifying all the faults incident to language, and excluding every excellence."
All very true; not a bit too severe upon construing, and very correct as to the true way of reading Demosthenes or Tacitus. Boys should not read Demosthenes or Tacitus until they have learned the Greek and Latin idioms, both in regard to the use and arrangement of words and phrases, so that they can take the sense of their author just as he expresses it, reading him, rather than translating him. But we cannot concur, even with Dr. Arnold, in recommending the exclusive practice of this mode of rendering with beginners ; believing, not without good reason, that they will not perceive the foreign idiom and arrangement, unless they first translate in the foreign order. This is a very different thing from construing ; but it is a very different thing also from Dr. Arnold's method of free rendering. Our views on this subject are confirmed by Dr. Peithmann, whose admirable elementary books have not received the attention they deserve. In the Preface to his Practical Latin Grammar, he remarks,
“ If it is an admitted principle, that to enter into the spirit of any language we must be enabled to think and to feel in that language, the common practice of construing Latin appears incongruous with the natural process of the mind. A translation from a foreign language should, therefore, be not only a true verbal analysis, but exhibit as near as possible the proper position of words and clauses in a classical sentence. The more it arrests the attention of the learner by its remoteness from his own language, the more will it impress on his mind the idiom and construction of the language he is acquiring; the less will it act upon his English phraseology and his accustomed manner of dressing his thoughts, which is but too often the case in the common method of construing. The observation of a great philologist and critic,* the more barbarous your translation the better, was therefore the result of an accurate inquiry into the proper method of teaching languages. But when there is any doubt whether the learner, while he perceives the sense of single words and clauses, understands the
* A. W. Von Schlegel.
aggregate meaning of the whole, the master should immediately present a general view of the sense, as near as possible, in the Latin arrangement. It is, however, evident, that this natural manner of translating can only be effectually resorted to when we proceed on progressive principles, as in this Grammar, commencing with the most simple phrases and constructions, and proceeding, by easy gradations, to more complicated periods.”—Pp. 7, 8.
Dr. Peithmann's Grammar is marked by another excellence, which cannot be too strongly commended, namely, attention to the quantity of syllables from the beginning. He says,
“ Though it is obvious that, in the order of nature, we acquire the sound and sense of a word at the same time, and that sound and sense, when once acquired, are ever after almost inseparable ; yet the common grammars reverse the order which nature has pointed out, and, instead of beginning with pronunciation, furnish the learner with rules (at the end) to correct the vicious utterance which he has acquired in his passage through the book. But years consumed in the practice of versification are often unable to effect this. To enable, therefore, the youthful learner to acquire that correctness of pronunciation which stamps the accomplished scholar, this Grammar begins with the general rules of pronunciation, and points out the quantity of words by constant denotation of their syllables. The special rules have been simplified and compressed into three pages, at the end of the etymological part.”-P.5.
We have thus examined a number of elementary books, and developed principles not generally in use in American schools. Although we have spoken with freedom of the results of the less effective methods of teaching to which we have referred, it must not be supposed that we consider the classical teaching which our schools have afforded in past time to have been valueless. On the contrary, there has necessarily been much mental growth from the labor expended in acquiring even a small amount of knowledge under such unfavorable circumstances; our only objection is, that the circumstances are made unnecessarily unfavorable; that the amount of knowledge and of mental discipline secured are by no means in proportion to the pains and toil expended. Our boys spend as many years generally in their course of training preparatory for college as do the youth of the German Gymnasia ; yet one of the latter, after his six years' education, goes to the university at seventeen or eighteen, able to read almost any Latin or Greek author, to write Latin, and even speak it with tolerable fluency, and to listen intelligibly to the Latin lectures of a Hermann; pursues his classical reading, along with all his other studies at the university; and afterward keeps up his acquaintance with the languages of antiquity to the end of life; while an English or American bachelor of arts, as we have said before, generally throws his Latin and Greek books away as soon as he gets his diploma. The system which leads to these results must be wrong; this, indeed, is acknowledged in almost every quarter, and various plans of improvement are pointed out. The teachers of America are a laborious, useful, and honorable class of men : God forbid that any word of ours should be considered as disparaging them; for it is to them that we look, not with doubt or hesitancy either, for the accomplishment of all the great improvements that we hope for.
We now conclude with a brief summary of principles developed more or less fully in the course of the foregoing remarks.
1. The object of studying languages is twofold:
(2.) The mental discipline gained in acquiring them. No good teacher will lose sight of either of these ends.
2. No language can be thoroughly acquired without the outlay of much labor and time. All schemes which promise to dispense with such outlay must be pronounced visionary and chimerical.
3. But labor without fruit does not contribute to mental cultivation. Labor is easy if there is method in its expenditure and fruit as its result. Labor and pain are not necessary companions : learning should not be "wrung from poor striplings like blood from the nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit."*
4. The grammar of a language cannot be understood until the language itself is at least partially acquired.
5. The vernacular may be learned, so far as its use is concerned, without grammar: a foreign living language may be so learned, but never so thoroughly, nor even so rapidly, as with grammatical aids. In the study of a dead language grammar is indispensable.
6. “A grammar intended for beginners should be framed altogether differently from one intended for the higher classes, both in the distribution of the matter and in the mode of presenting it. Those who think that the pupil should use the same grammar from the beginning of his course to the end, are quite in error."
7. In elementary books, or in teaching, no etymological form nor grammatical principle should be presented to the pupil without an immediate application thereof to practice, which should be kept up, both orally and in writing, from the very first lesson.
8. The all-important rule of practice, in the acquisition of language, is imitation and repetition. This is no new invention ; all good teachers have known and used it; but yet it has been but slightly employed in elementary books heretofore. * Milton.
9. Models for imitation should be simple at first, and gradually made more complicated; but they should always be selected from pure authors, say, in Latin, from Cicero and Cesar.
10. The pupil's ear should be trained to correctness from the beginning, and the simplest rules of prosody learned and applied as soon as possible. For this purpose, the quantity of all syllables should be marked in elementary books, and attention to it should be strictly enforced by the teacher.
11. The foreign idiom, both as to the use and arrangement of words, should be made familiar to the pupil by constant practice. Nothing can be more hurtful than exercises in which foreign words are used in the idiom, and according to the arrangement of the vernacular.
12. In elementary training, translations from the foreign language should be made in two ways :-1. Directly, in the order of the original as far as possible ; 2. Freely, in that of the vernacular. The first is essential to the study of the foreign language; the
be made an excellent exercise in our own. 13. The early reading should be in simple authors. No greater folly can be committed than to put Cicero's Orations or Virgil's Æneid into the hands of a boy who cannot write a sentence of simple Latin prose.
It will be perceived that we have confined our remarks to works strictly elementary, and to processes adapted to the earliest stage of instruction in languages. Our range has been wide enough, perhaps, even with this limitation, to weary our readers ; should it appear to be otherwise, however, and our discussion be deemed anything else than a bore, we hope to take up, at a future time, the question of secondary and higher instruction,-its objects and its methods. It will be observed, also, that we have noticed none of the elementary Greek and Latin Grammars that have been published in this country, of which many are admirable in their kind, while others are quite the reverse. We have purposely avoided discussing the merits of any that we could not commend; and even of those (and their name is legion) which are really valuable in other respects, there are none prepared on the precise system whose merits it is the object of this article to develop. We have left untouched, also, a number of German works which have fallen under our notice: to take them in would have opened an almost illimitable field, which we have not time to traverse at present.
Carlisle, Nov. 15, 1845.
Art. V1.- Observations in the East, chiefly in Egypt, Palestine,
Syria, and Asia Minor. By John P. DURBIN, D. D., late President of Dickinson College; Author of “Observations in Europe," &c. Two vols., 12mo. Pp. 347 and 299. New-York: Harper & Brothers. 1845.
The publication of two volumes of “Observations in tne East," after the recent inundations from that quarter, would seem to be a bold enterprise, and would indicate no ordinary degree of moral courage in the author. Yet here we have them, got up in the best style of the Harpers, with maps, plates, plans, and cuts in abundance, on steel and on wood, with type that does not make the eyes ache, on paper so fine and white that it does,-two handsome and readable volumes, full of amusement and instruction.
He who first explores an untrodden field can easily make a book, for a lively imagination can furnish embellishments for the facts, and if hard pushed, the facts themselves; but he who follows in the track of Burckhardt, Laborde, Wilkinson, Lane, Stephens, Robinson, and Olin, not to mention a host of others, has a more difficult task to perform. He undertakes to lead us through a domain which we have traversed again and again with trustworthy guides, till we are half persuaded that we should find ourselves little at fault if we should undertake the journey without any guide. We know something already of the highways and byways, the scenes and scenery, the men and women, the manners and customs, past and present, of “the land of the sun;" and we hold our conductor to a strict reckoning and a straight path, unwilling to accord him "ample room and verge enough.” We are decidedly in haste as we pass along; and wonder why Mehemet Ali has not made a railway from Cairo to Jerusalem, and compelled all travelers to exchange the camel for the car. We almost believe this would be the greatest of his improvements, and a benefaction to the world. We throw a familiar side-glance at Pompey's Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle, as we do at the shops in Broadway when we are hastening to the “Book Concern.” We have no longer any patience with monkish legends which credulous tradition pours wholesale into more credulous ears, and our indifference is shocking to the holy fathers. We could even count the ripples on the surface of “Old Nile,” as we sit in our study, were it not rather dull business; could feel quite at home taking a whiff from the hookah of our venerable friend Tualeb, in his Tawara tent; and enjoy a comfortable siesta on the summit of Cheops.