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Nor can I wonder at this. An educated man must feel positively ashamed of taking his pupil away from our good English authors, and setting before him instead a Delectus or Eutropius. He therefore skims over them as lightly, and escapes from them as quickly as possible, and has recourse for his composition lesson to one of the many exercise-books which swarm from our educational press. Now, in this there are two evils. The first is, that the time which the pupil must, of necessity, spend over his construing, is almost entirely wasted. Neither thoughts nor words are impressed on his mind. He contracts, moreover, a distaste for the language, to which he is introduced by so melancholy an approach. In the second place, he learns grammar and composition in a bad way. He studies, not an author, but scattered fragments of an author. From these he may pick up a few disjointed phrases; but they can never teach him the connexion of sentences, nor inspire him with the spirit of the language. Besides, he misses the great advantage of selecting and classifying examples for himself: than which there is no more useful process.
These evils, then-evils which I have felt myself, and of which I have heard several eminent teachers complain-I have endeavoured to remedy in the following pages. I have selected for construing the First Book of Livy; because I did not know where else to find such simplicity and elegance of style united to so interesting a narrative. Livy's History is rarely, if
ever, set before beginners, both on account of its great bulk, and of the various difficulties which it contains. The first of these objections I have obviated by publishing separately a small portion only; the latter, by excluding from this portion most of the difficult passages. I trust that, by so doing, I have not exposed it, on the other hand, to the objection which is usually brought against abridgments. Abridgments are usually, and justly, disliked, because they do not give the exact words or sense of the author. But here Livy tells his own pleasant stories in his own pleasant words. What is omitted, is that which no one can wish a beginner to learn, and which may be better learnt elsewhere. Few things are more injurious to the progress of the pupil than coming suddenly on obscure and uninteresting passages. It is much better for him, as he may do here, to read a book through without interruption; and then he should read it over and over again, till he almost knows it by heart. I do not mean to say that the mere beginner will be able to translate every passage in this book without assistance; but an experienced teacher knows that in such cases assistance should always be given.
The character of the notes may be inferred from what has been said. As the text contains, not the history, but the legends, of early Rome, the notes do not contain any historical disquisitions. The whole question has been passed over, as one quite foreign to our present purpose; which is, to teach Latin, not History. The
notes, therefore, are simply grammatical. They profess to teach what is commonly taught in grammars. But it is conceived that the pupil will learn the rules and construction of the language much more easily from separate examples, which are pointed out to him in the course of his reading, and which he may himself set down in his note-book after some scheme of his own, than from a heap of quotations amassed for him by others.
Grammatical notes are commonly objected to, on the ground that they refer the pupil to some one grammar; which grammar may not be the one that he has in his hands. This awkwardness I have avoided by fully explaining and illustrating each rule as it occurs; so that, the notes being complete in themselves, there is no need for reference to any other book. I have, indeed, occasionally referred to my own "Help to Latin Grammar," but merely for the convenience of those who have read that work, in order that they may see here illustrations of rules which they have learnt there; never for an explanation or example that is essential to the understanding of a note. It follows of course from this plan, that the notes are longer than they might otherwise have been. But their length will, I trust, be excused on the score of convenience and completeness.
While, however, I have thus avoided, for the sake of saving trouble and confusion, all reference to other grammatical works, I would not for one moment con
ceal my great obligations to them. In particular, I should wish most amply to acknowledge the valuable assistance which I have derived from the copious and excellent grammars by Professor Madvig, of Copenhagen, and Professor Key, of the London University.
If this work is to be studied with full profit, the pupil, after having read it through once, should be provided with questions and exercises on it. These a good master can readily supply himself, if he have leisure. But, for general use, I purpose drawing up in a small separate volume, probably with a vocabulary, a set of exercises both on the text and the notes. I shall thus hope to accomplish, what I consider of the greatest importance, the union of the construing and composition lesson. Let Livy be the master to teach a boy Latin, not some English collector of sentences. And I do not think he will be found a dull one. Over his lively stories and graceful diction, both pupil and teacher may well be content to linger.