« PreviousContinue »
Latin in Secondary or Middle Schools. 237
orthodox Latin teaching in the grammar and public schools becomes, if not superfluous, of very secondary importance. These objects are attainable, within a very reasonable amount of time and without encroaching on the domain of other learning. And when it is once understood that they are worth attaining, it becomes evident that they are just as important in schools for girls as in those for boys. The tacit assumption in our old school plans that somehow Latin was a masculine and French a feminine study, is wholly indefensible. Both languages ought to be taught as essential parts of every school course which is likely to be prolonged to the age of sixteen, and unless it is likely to be prolonged beyond that age, more than these two languages ought not to be attempted.
And bearing in mind that the main reason for teach- By coning Latin is because of its reflex action on the under
parison of standing of English, it is well from the first to teach the Latin with two languages together. A few elementary lessons on
English the necessary parts of an English sentence, and on the forms. classification of English words, should precede the introduction of a pupil to the Latin grammar; but after such lessons have been well understood, it seems to me desirable to teach the two grammars together, comparing at every step English constructions and idioms with those of Latin. After all we must remember that the knowledge of grammar as a science is to be had, not from the study of any one language per se, but from the comparison and synthesis of two or more languages. It is not till we have seen the differences and the resemblances in the structure of two distinct grammars, that we can get the least perception of the difference between those principles which are accidental cr distinctive of particular tongues, and those which are
fundamental and common to all organized languages alike.
For instance how much clearer the nature of the difference between Personal and Demonstrative pronouns will be, if by some such table as that which follows, you point out (a) that our own language once recognized this distinction as clearly as the Latin, (6) that we have retained in modern use only those forms which are printed in capitals, and (c) that in the third person we have lost the plural forms of the Personal pronoun, and also most of the singular forms of the Demonstrative, and have pieced together the fragments, so as to make what we now call one pronoun, of which he, she, and it are the singular, and they and their the plural forms.
Comparison of Latin and English forins. 239
THIRD PERSON, DEMONSTRATIVE
Masculine. Feminine. Neuter. Nom. Se Nile SEO Illa THÆT Illud Gen. Thæs Illius Thære Illius Thæs Illius Dat. Tham Illi Thære Illi Tham Illi Accus. Thone Illum Tha Illam Thæt Illud Ablative Thy Illo Thære Illa Thy Illo
Masculine and Feminine.
It is important that lessons on grammar and on sim- Byconnect
ing transple translation should proceed pari passu from the first.
lation This is now recognized by all the best writers of elemen- with tary Latin books; but the principle though important from the is often lost sight of by teachers. They say, and quite first. truly, “We must have our scholars well grounded in the grammar first of all.' But their notion of grounding consists in requiring a great deal of the grammar to be learned by heart, before it is understood or seen in any practical application to the actual construction of sentences. It is for this reason that the study is felt to be so dry and repulsive to school-boys.
We repel a scholar by forcing him to learn at the beginning the whole list of inflections and conjugations, containing many forms and distinctions of which he sees neither the meaning nor the use, and which he will not want for a long time to come. All such synopses are useful and indeed indispensable; but they should be reserved for a later period of the study when they will serve to collect and classify the knowledge which has been gradually acquired. With this view many good
teachers object even to give the whole set of inflections in a noun to be learned by heart; but prefer to give a separate lesson on the genitive, or the accusative, to point out its various modifications and its exact meaning, and then to give a number of illustrative examples at once, so that theory and practice should go together from the first. Consider the difference in importance, and in immediate usefulness, between the accusative and the vocative case, consider how much more important the second declension is than the fourth, and you will then see how absurd is the method which obliges a boy to commit all these things to memory together at the same stage of his career. It is shocking to think of the heedless and unscientificuse which many teachers have made of the mere verbal memory in treating this subject, keeping boys two or three years learning a great many bare abstractions, before allowing them to make any practical use of their knowledge or read a single line. It needs to be constantly repeated that memory is a faculty of association mainly, and that words and names without useful associations are of no value, and are soon rejected by a healthy
intelligence. How much The portion of the Latin grammar which, for the már need purpose now in view, requires to be thus gradually be learned learned by heart is small, and may be comprised in a by heart.
very few pages. It may consist of:
(1) The five declensions including of course all adjectives and participles. Here of course you will not separate nouns from adjectives, and so go over the same forms twice. You will shew from the first the identity of the inflections in the two.
(2) The rules for gender, with one or two of the most notable exceptions.
Learning of Grammar by heart.
(3) The four conjugations of verbs active and passive, with the substantive verb esse.
(4) The irregular verbs volo, eo, nolo, mālo, and possum.
(5) Three or four of the leading rules of syntax, and these only, when the time comes for applying them.
The simple rule of concord, between nominative and verb, and between noun and adjective, will come very early. Do not attempt to disjoin syntax and accidence as if syntax were an advanced part of the study.
And from the first, as sentences are formed, I would call attention to the corresponding form in English, or to the absence in English of some inflection which is present in Latin, and to the expedients by which in our language we supply the lack of a more complete accidence and inflection.
Many of the best teachers adopt the crude-form The crudesystem of teaching the Latin and Greek accidence. They form,
system. call attention to the stem of the word—to that part which is common to all forms, and is independent of the inflection, and they show how this stem is clothed with one garb after another, according to the use which has to be made of it. Such teachers would not speak of rex as the root for king, but reg, and would show how this root was disguised in the nominative case ; nor porto, portare, to carry, but port; nor πούς for foot but ποδ; nor πράσσω
but πραγ: .
“Ancient languages," said Lord Bacon, “were more full of declensions, cases, conjugations, tenses, and the like: the modern commonly destitute of these do loosely deliver themselves in many expressions by prepositions and auxiliary verbs : may it not be conjectured that the F. L.