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Yet it is Nevertheless there is still a lingering and very potent still paramount in tradition, stronger even in our Grammar Schools than in our higher the Universities themselves, that Latin and Greek are in instruction. some way the staple of a gentleman's education; that he
who has them and nothing else can claim to be called a scholar, and that he who has much other culture, and varied knowledge in other departments, and who has had no classical training, is an inferior being. It is not difficult to account for this sentiment. The men who make the public opinion of the country on these matters are for the most part those whose early education was carried out on this theory. One naturally values that which one knows best. Down deep in the mind of the successful statesman, the clergyman, or man of letters, who looks back on his years of toil over the Latin Accidence and the Greek Lexicon there is the half-expressed conviction, “The system must have been a good one because it produced me.” It is very difficult for a man in later life to divest his mind of all the associations which give a certain dignity to the thought of a classical education, or to ask himself what might have been done with his faculties if they had been otherwise trained. Now and then a man has the boldness to put this question to himself, and the answer is not always satisfactory. Listen to Wordsworth’s reminiscences of his College days. I was, he says,
“ Misled in estimating words, not only
By common inexperience of youth
The testimony accumulated by the Schools Inquiry And often Commission of 1866 was conclusive not only as to the fresuit.
unfruitfui prevalence in the Grammar Schools of a belief in the supreme efficacy of Latin and Greek as means of mental training, but also as to the worthlessness of much of the result, and the heavy price we have paid in England for the maintenance of the Grammar School theory. It constantly happened to me when engaged as Assistant Commissioner on that enquiry to find an ancient Grammar School with 50 boys, of whom three-fourths had begun the Latin Grammar, about ten were learning the delectus, some four or five in the highest class of the school were translating Cæsar, and one or at most two at the head of the School were reading Virgil and elementary Greek, and gave some promise that they might perhaps go to the University. And an occasional success in preparing a boy for matriculation encouraged the master and trustees in describing this as a thoroughly classical school, and caused them to forget that at least 48 out of the 50 would never go to the University, and would never learn enough of Latin or of Greek to be able to read even a simple author. Meanwhile for the sake of the ‘Classics' which had absorbed all their time they had been allowed to remain wholly ignorant of mathematics, they knew absolutely nothing of physical science, of French or German, or of the structure of their own language: they wrote, and even spelt, badly, and were often in point of general knowledge inferior to the children of a National School.
This state of things is being slowly mended; and there can be little doubt that, ere long, all schools of this kind will have been modernized and improved. Other subjects are asserting their right to recognition ; and perhaps the danger is that in the wholesome reaction against a state of opinion which gave to Latin and Greek
an exclusive and hurtful predominance in a school
a system of liberal education ? The future The answer to this question appears to me to depend
w entirely on the considerations which I tried to insist on Latin and Greek in in the second lecture, and particularly on the length of schools.
time which the student will probably devote to his course of instruction. You should keep in view roughly the three classes of learners—those who are likely to enter the Universities, and to aim at something like finished scholarship ; those whose course of instruction will probably not be prolonged beyond 16 or 17 and who may be presumed to enter professions soon after; and those who only receive primary instruction ending at 13 or 14. Latin has indeed its relations to all three. But it is not Latin for the same purpose, or to be taught by the same methods. In an interesting and suggestive paper by Professor Ramsay, in Macmillan's Magazine, you will find that he would treat all these classes alike. Latin, he says, ought to be taught from the first as a living language. You are to aim at the power of varied expression and spontaneous thought by the help of Latin; you must learn the grammar very thoroughly, compose and recompose idiomatic phrases, long before you attempt to read an author. And all this he would seem to recommend alike for the boy who means to make scholarship the business of his life, and for the children of the Burgh and parish schools. But surely the reasons which justify the learning of Latin are so different in the The place of Latin in High Schools.
different cases, that the same methods are not applicable to them all.
We may hope that means will always be found for en- (1) In couraging genuine Greek and Latin scholarship in Eng-Semois land. Considering the part which has been played by the ancient literature in forming the intellectual character of Europe, considering that nearly the whole of the best books which have been written in English are saturated through and through with allusions and modes of thought drawn consciously or unconsciously from classical sources ; considering too the admitted value, the literary and artistic finish of the best books which have come down to us, it is evident that we shall sustain a great loss if ever this mine of wealth ceases to be explored or if we come to disregard it. And we may hope too that there will always be some students in England so devoted to the study of the ancient literature, that they will not neglect what may be called the niceties and elegancies, the refinements and luxuries of Greek and Latin scholarship. Even for these it may well be doubted whether Latin is ever likely to be used, as Professor Ramsay would have it, as a medium for free expression, or intellectual intercourse. It is only in a very limited sense that, even for them, Latin ought to be regarded as a living language. But we may admit that for them the training in versification and in Greek and Latin composition, to which so many years were devoted in the old grammar schools, has a meaning and a value. And in the sixth form of a public school, and in the case of all who are likely to reach it and to proceed to the Universities, let us by all means accept the University standard and work towards it. It is not within my province now to criticize that standard; or to say how you are to attain it. But I will ask you to consider the
case of those to whom this ideal is unattainable, and to enquire what part the study of Latin ought to play in
their education. (2) In
For those scholars who, when at the University, Modern,
- are likely to select mathematics, natural science, or and Middle modern subjects as their special subjects, and for the far Schools.
larger number who are never likely to proceed to the University, but who will enter professional or other active life at 16 or 17, the attempt to teach versification and the niceties of scholarship, or even to teach Greek at all, generally proves to be a mistake, for the reasons which have been already given, of which the chief is that the studies are not carried on to the fruit-bearing stage. Yet for such pupils, Latin has a real value. It can do much for them if the purpose with which it should be
taught is carefully defined and kept in view. Objects to The substantial difference in the teaching of Latin to be kept in
such pupils is that here you want them to read the lanview.
guage, but not to write it. You wish to familiarize them with the works of a few of the easier and more valuable Latin authors, and to understand their contents. And besides, and even above this, you teach Latin to this class of pupils; (1) because in it you find the best practical illustration of the science of grammar and the laws and structure of language generally ; (2) because it furnishes an effective instrument for examining the history, formation, affinities, and development of the English language, and (3) because it helps to explain much that would otherwise be obscure in our national literature, and to make intelligible the relation in which this literature stands to that of Greece and
Rome. How to be Now if these be the main objects contemplated, it attained.
will follow that much of the most laborious part of the