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Listen here to a passage from one of Dr Arnold's letters.
“My delight in going over Homer and Virgil with the boys makes me think what a treat it must be to teach Shakespeare to a good class of young Greeks in regenerate Athens, to dwell upon him line by line, and word by word, in the way that nothing but a translation lesson ever will enable one to do, and so to get all his pictures and thoughts leisurely into one's mind, till I verily think one would after a time almost give out light in the dark, after having been steeped as it were in such an atmosphere of brilliance. And how could this ever be done without having the power of construing, as the proper medium through which alone all the beauty can be transmitted? because else we travel too fast and more than half of it escapes us."
There is here, as you see, a recognition of the fact that the slow process of construing, translating, and analysing line by line, is in the case of an author whose works are in a foreign language, very helpful to true literary insight and enjoyment. No doubt classic authors may be taught in so dull and soulless a way that pupils attach very unpleasant associations to the great names of antiquity, and their interest in them is permanently deadened. But no one who has ever had the good fortune to read a play of Æschylus, or a book of the Æneid with a thoroughly sympathetic teacher can doubt that Arnold is right, and that the literary and moral beauties of the writer, his images and pictures, may be thoroughly appreciated in the process of translation and analysis.
And if this be so with ancient writers, why not with our Critical own? The faculty of criticism does not destroy the power analysis
of enjoyment in the case of an oratorio or a great paintnotdestructive of
ing. On the contrary, it greatly heightens it. It is the literary
instructed man, whose perceptions have been trained to enjoyment. discern the difference between what is good and what is Cultivation of Literary Taste.
bad, and to know why one thing is good and another bad, who gets the most pleasure from the contemplation of a work of art'. And when we are taught to dwell on the exquisite fitness with which a great author has chosen his epithets, the appropriateness of his imagery, or the rhythm and balance of his sentences, all this is clear gain to us, and I do not see why any of that literary sensibility which comes from the sympathetic reading of a good book merely for our own delight should be sacrificed to it. Of course we must not be challenging admiration, or leading the pupil to express a pleasure which he does not feel. Still less must we fall into the ignoble habit of reading such a book with a view to examination only. It is however a great mistake to suppose that intelligence and perception are of less value in an examination than a few technical facts and dates. Nothing is more welcome to a good examiner than the discovery of any proof of originality or critical power, of strong opinion, or honest admiration, provided it goes with thorough knowledge of the substance of the book which is learned. The one thing which maddens an examiner is the mere routine of the text-books, the conventional critical judgments of the lecture-room mechanically reproduced, the use of second-hand estimates of books which the candidate has evidently never read. And so, I would urge on you, when you have before you the two objects, first of enabling your pupil to understand and intelligently to admire an English classic ; and then of enabling him also to get some credit for his knowledge at an examination : keep the larger and the nobler aim before you; disregard the second ; and be sure nevertheless that this is the best way of attaining the second. There is not and ought not to be any real inconsistency
1 “It is not the eye that sees the beauties of the heaven, nor the ear that hears the sweetness of music, or the glad tidings of a prosperous accident, but the soul that perceives all the relishes of sensual and intellectual perceptions ; and the more noble and excellent the soul is the greater and more savoury are its perceptions. And if a child beholds the ich ermine, or the diamonds of a starry night, or the order of the world, or hears the discourses of an apostle ; because he makes no reflex acts upon himself, and sees not that he sees, he can have but the pleasure of a fool or the deliciousness of a mule.”
between the two purposes. The history With young students, the thorough and searching of litera
investigation of one or two fruitful books is of more value than lessons in what is called the history of literature. Of course it is desirable that the scholar should know the names of the greatest writers, when they lived, and what they wrote. But there is a certain unreality-almost dishonesty—in the mere appropriation of other men's opinions about books before we have read them. After all the best study of literature is to be found in literature itself, and not in what compilers of manuals have said about it. We are here especially bound to keep clear of all confusion between means and ends. What is the end which we propose to ourselves in all lessons on literature? It is to produce a permanent appetite for reading, a power of discriminating what is good from what is bad, and a conscious preference for it. “What a heaven,” says Bishop Hall, "lives a scholar in, that at once and in one close room can daily converse with all the glorious writers and fathers, and single them out at pleasure! To find wit in poetry, in philosophy profoundness, in mathematics acuteness, in history wonder of events, in oratory sweet eloquence, in divinity supernatural delight and holy devotion, as so many rich metals in their proper mines, whom would it not ravish with delight?"
Main object of Lessons in English.
Now of course it would be unreasonable to expect True puryou to convey to young learners anything like this pose of lesscholarly enthusiasm. But if your teaching of literature English
literature. is good and sound, it ought to convey at least the germ of such enthusiasm into a good proportion of the minds with which you deal. And this is the true test of your success in this department. For if your scholars do not acquire a positive love for reading, if they do not ask to be allowed to read the whole book or poem of which the extract you take as a lesson forms a part; if
do not find them voluntarily hunting in the library for the other works of some author whom you have tried to make them admire ; if they do not feel a heightened admiration for what is noblest and truest in literature, and an increasing distaste for what is poor and flimsy and sensational, then be sure that there must be something incurably wrong in your method of teaching, and that all your apparatus of grammar, paraphrase, and logical and grammatical analysis, will have failed to fulfil its purpose.
X. ARITHMETIC AS AN ART.
Why BEFORE asking how we should teach Arithmetic it Arithmetic should be may be well to ask for a moment why we should teach it taught. at all. There are two conceivable objects in teaching
any subject. (1) Because the thing taught is necessary, or useful, and may be turned to practical account, or (2) Because the incidental effect of teaching it is to bring into play and exercise certain powers and capabilities, and so to serve a real educational purpose. As we have seen, some things we teach are justifiable on the one, and some on the other of these grounds. And it behoves us all, whatever be the subject we teach, to make sure which of these two purposes we are aiming at. For if lessons on any subject are not valuable, either for their obvious practical uses or for their disciplinal effect on the general power and capacity of the pupil, there is no justification for teaching that subject at all.
But of Arithmetic we may safely say at the outset, Art and a that if rightly taught, it is well calculated to fulfil both Science.
purposes. Its rules become of real service in helping us to solve the problems of daily life; and its laws and principles, if rightly investigated, serve to set particular mental faculties in operation, and so to further the improvement and development of the learner. It is con