Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

For the Schoolmaster.

would be sealed to all those who are familiar The Study of the Ancient Classics. with none other than a single modern lan

guage. Besides the works more strictly conThe question is frequently asked by prac

nected with the sciences of these professions, tical people – What are the benefits resulting

there are, in the discussion of great principles from the study of the ancient languages ?

of law and statesmanship, models, preserved

in the classical remains, of untold value to And some venture to predict that, in this age

those who would attain to the highest skill in of progress and of utilitarianism, when an

such discussions. He, who would excel in cient prejudices and conceits are passing away,

either municipal or international law, even if and when men are looking for the simply

he could dispense with the works of Grotius practical, the study of the classics, as Latin

and his compeers in modern times, would yet and Greek authors are denominated, will soon be an incalculable loser, if he could not gath. be discontinued in our systems of popularer the order in arrangement, the clearness in education. We propose to present a few sug- logic, and the fire in appeal, from the orations gestions as to the benefits of a course of clas- of Demosthenes and of Cicero in the original. sical study.

In the case of the clerical profession our ar1. We remind the reader, in the first place, gur

gument is very brief. The very fact, that God that for a thorough professional education, a

| has made a revelation of His will. in any knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages is

tongue, should be sufficient not only to rescue

that tongue from oblivion, but, also, to give very important, if not absolutely indispensable. About this there can hardly be a differ

it an importance above all others. In it are ence of opinion. The technical phraseology

contained those Divine precepts and promises, in both medicine and law is derived almost

I which are to exalt individual character and to wholly from these languages, and it is difficult

purify and bless rations. To the Divine, as to realize fully the exact sense of this phrase-the

case the public advocate and expounder of religology without a previous study of the lan-ion, an acquaintance with the original languages from which it is derived. Then, the guages of the Bible is of the utmost conscwritings of so many eminent in these profes- quence. In the Greek he finds not only the sions,' both in ancient and modern times, I books of the New Testament, but the works of many of the early fathers and expositors, proportional to his capacity, and enough to and of many of the most distinguished of the steadily strengthen the understanding, while primitive Christian preachers. And closely the memory is furnished with lasting and associated with the Greek, the Latin language, pleasing subjects for meditation in after years. as embodying the works of many other equal. The mind is also trained to habits of attenly distinguished primitive interpreters and tive application, of careful analysis, of pa· sermonizers, and ancient versions of the tient investigation, and is thus gradually and Scriptures, and commentaries innumerable in easily prepared for the more difficult and aball times and countries of Christendom, may struse branches of education which are to embe justly regarded as an essential accompani- ploy the thoughts in more advanced age. ment of her sister tongue.

The rules of grammar," it has been very But, not to dwell upon these illustrations, justly observed, “ which comprehend systems since our opponents may admit that the clas- more or less perfect, of the principles of the sical languages are valuable to professional dead languages, take a permanent hold of the men, we will turn to some considerations memory, when the understanding is as yet which may show that the advantages of these unable to comprehend their import; and the studies are intimately connected with the classical remains of antiquity, which, at the proper ends of education, and are of general time we acquire them, do little more than furapplication.

nish a gratification to the ear, supply us with

inexhaustible sources of the most refined en2. We affirm, therefore, that the study of

joyment; and, as our various powers unfold the Latin and Greek languages is a means of

themselves, are poured forth, without effort, disciplining the youthful mind, for which we

from the memory to delight the imagination, have no adequate substitute. We are assuming

and to improve the heart." The study of forthat this study is to be commenced in early

eign modern languages, although far from life — at the average age of from eight to ten

unprofitable, is by no means productive of the years — and we conceive that linguistic studies

same benefits. Their resemblance to our own are peculiarly adapted to this period of life,

in elementary principles, in etymology,in synand peculiarly profitable; indeed, that nothing

tax, in unvaried arrangement and even is can accomplish an equal amount of discipline

construction and signification of words, renwith an equal amount of valuable and perma

ders them much easier of acquisition, and nent attainments. At this period of life the

much less effective in developing and disc:memory is especially susceptible and reten

plining the mental powers. tive, the perceptive faculties being those particularly active ; while, at the same time, the 3. The ancient languages, also, offer a very judgment or the power of abstract reasoning extensive field for philosophic observation, and is not sufficientiy matured for the severer especially do they furnish great facilities for sciences, the reflective faculties being not yet, evolving the philosophy of grammar. It is next in the order of nature, fully developed. In to impossible to learn perfectly the theory of the study of the languages there is a tasking grammar, or the natural relations of words to of the reason (with the very young it may be each other in the construction of sentences. very little, with the adult and mature it may and the universal laws which regulate human be very much, as much as in the highest logic speech, by the study of only a single language or mathematics) in the case of each student,l'The study of several languages is to the whole subject of grammar what comparative anato morality of Horace, the bold and eonvincing my is to the philosophy of the human frame satire of Juvenal, the epic fire and intensity of or of organized animal life. The study of Homer, the strongly lined pictures of Virgil, any new language must suggest to us many the animating descriptions of Xenophon, the new views respecting our own, and respecta critical skill of Longinus, the dramatic life ing the primary laws of all language. That of Æschylus and his brothers of the age of which differs most widely from our own, as Pericles, the overpowering eloquence of De. the oriental languages, for example, must mosthenes and of Cicero i — These are a few of course present the most numerous points of the stars in the great galaxy, and there are of contrast. We are thus led to observe, to a host of others worthy of the bright comcompare, to trace analogies, to mark peculi-panionship. If to read classic authors is to arities, to perceive excellencies and defects, keep good company, where shall we look for and, in short, to understand our peculiar dia- more gifted spirits ? — If our thoughts and lect in the general speech, and those universal character take their tone and elevation from laws which are illustrated in it. At the same the objects with which they are conversant, time, we are furnished with new and interest. where, among merely human authors, can the ing subjects of speculation on the powers and soul take a more lofty range :- If the pleasnecessities of the human mind, which has ac-ures of taste are proportioned to the objects commodated so wonderfully to its purpose which excite them, where can the imagination this unparalleled invention. The Latin and revel in a more delightful region ? We admit Greek tongues, for their distinct peculiarities, that these authors are not Christian. But the order of inversion in sentences, and the they show us all that man can do without collocation of words so different from our Christianity. They tell us the universal moown, with their perfect system of termina- rality which God has distributed broad-cast tions, by which the cases of nouns and adjec- through all nations and ages, and which tives, and the moods, and tenses, and persons Christianity did not create but re-affirmed and of verbs are distinguished, possess the advan- fulfilled; while the speculations, the reasontages and furnish the helps referred to in the ings, the yearnings, of Plato and of Cicero highest degree

exhibit to us all that man can accomplish of 4. In these languages, too, are contained

himself, bringing us to the very threshold of

Revelation, and showing us there the inexormany of the most perfect productions of human

able necessity for a Divine Hand to open to genius in history, poetry, and oratory. From

us the mysteries of our spiritual relatione. very few other sources can the mind of the

All that human genius can do they have done, student drink inspiration so lofty. With the

and then, in the touching words of Socrates boldest original conceptions are united, in

preserved by his pupil, they bid us wait for these masters of the ancient times, a simplici.

that Divine Instructor who alone can enlightty and correctness equally pleasing to the

en our spiritual ignorance. If they do not taste and inspiring to the imagination. If the surest path to distinction in any art is the

teach us religion, which God only can teach,

they remind us of the humanity which is comstudy of the best models, what can better em

mon to us and to them, and persuade us that, ploy the attention of the young and gifted,

as one of them has beautifully expressed it, than the graphic delineation and sublime we should count nothing foreign from ourstrength of Tacitus, the sweet and pathetic I selves (nil alienum, etc.) which belong tom

5. The study of the classics, we further tions, as that of the Latin and Greek. A litcontend, is a very important means of culti-erature, grown up under circumstances so vating a correct taste. There is a fashion in different from our own, at a period of time so literature, as in dress and manners. The man remote, under laws, institutions, and a relig. who devotes himself exclusively to the litera- ion so peculiar, in a form of speech so unlike ture of his own nation and age, will fiecessa- our own, and among a people differing so rily mistake the caprices of present fashion widely from ourselves in sentiment and manfor the universal dictates of human nature. ners, must show us the workings of genius Unable to compare the writings of his cotem- in forms the most peculiar, and furnish us a poraries with those of other times and coun- field of observation the most interesting and tries, his favorite author is made his one instructive. Such studies as these we advcstandard of excellence, and is admired and cate, must be the most effectual means of cutimitated both in his virtues and in his faults. tivating a correct taste -- that is, a taste A correct taste must be formed upon a thor- founded on the principles of our constitation, ough observation of the workings of genius, and common to all ages. The man who deunder all circumstances, at all times, and votes himself to the literary fashion of a parthroughout the whole world; and nowhere ticular period or people, may gain applause, does literature hold out more profitable sub- but he will gain iż only for the fleeting day jects for study to the modern scholar, than and for the limited locality, for with the first in the Latin and Greek classics. These studies fluctuation of the popular taste, his name and are to the literary taste what traveling is to works will sink into forgetfulness; his proour estimate of men and manners — our ductions may flourish and be admired on the knowledge of the world. “A person,” writes pages of a magazine, but they become obsoone most competent to speak by authority, lete even before the author himself has Alled " who has never extended his views beyond up the common measure of human life. He that society, of which he himself is a mem- who would write for immortality, or enjoy ber, is apt to consider many peculiarities in the pleasures of a correct and perfectly cultithe manners and customs of his countrymen vated taste, should be conversant with the as founded upon the universal principles of literature of every age. the human constitution, and when he hears

As an illustration of the argument which of other nations, whose practices, in similar

we have endeavored concisely to present, we cases, are different, he is apt to censure them

refer to one whose name is among the immoras unnatural, and to despise them as absurd.)

tals — the illastrious Milton. Living amongst The effects of traveling in enlarging and en

those who could relish nothing but affectalightening the mind, are obvious to our daily

tion, quaint conceits, and extravagant hyperexperience, and similar advantages may be de

boles, his writings show not a single trait of rived from a careful study of past ages, or of

the false fashion and perverted taste which distant nations, as they are described by the

mark the literature of his day. The sentihistorian." It is the striking remark of a dis

ments of his cotemporaries could no more fix tinguished scholar, that to learn a new lan

the standard of his genius than their political guage is to acquire a new soul ; and, certain- | ly, the acquisition of no modern tongue can

institutions could repress the freedom of his 80 freshen and renovate the mind, or be so

thoughts. He was not the poet of one age, suggestive of new and stimulating associa-T or a nation, but of mankind and the world

one.

We see the cause of this no less in the vast “From the rain drops I am formed, variety of his attainments, than in his sur I have sparkled and shone in the rainbow's passing genius. The master-spirits of Greece arch; and Rome were his most familiar associates.

:lior associates Little brooklets gladly meet England was not to him the only clime of in-|

mofin Flowing joyfully together till they were but spiration. Even “ Parnassus," writes a classic pen of our own times, " was not to him the “ Over precipices deep I leaped, only holy ground of genius. He felt that! And I wake shrill echoes in the mountain poetry was as a universal presence. He felt gorge: the enchantment of oriental fiction, surrender- Me the darkening pine trees shade ed himself to the strange creations of Araby

That the burning sun may not lure me to him. the Blest, and delighted still more in the ro- “ I shall now on my happy way mantic spirit of chivalry, and in the tales of 'Till I reach the lake at the mountain's base : wonder, in which it was embodied. Accord. There, my wanderings left behind, ingly his poetry reminds us of the ocean, I shall sleep 'till I rise to my home in the sky.”. which adds to its own boundlessness contri

J. W.o. butions from every region under heaven.” We ask, did not the classics largely contrib

For the Schoolmaster. ute to make the Milton whom the world ad

Reminiscences of Childhood. mires, — the poet of all nations and of all times.

In a retired quarter of a town in one of

the rural districts of the Old Bay State stands We strongly insist, then, that no adequatelan old fashioned red farm-house. There are substitute for the Latin and Greek classics

many such ; but this one has a special intercan be found, whether we view them as mere

est for me. Need I say it is my birth place ? ly teaching the languages which are needed

I would that all the houses of our broad land in the professions; as a means of disciplining

might be what this was in the days of my the mind; as valuable helps to acquaint us

childhood and youth, - the home of industry, with our own language, and the philosophy

intelligence and virtue. Here one of the oldof language in general ; as models of genius;

fashioned families — a family of ten, five of or as important auxiliaries for correcting and

either sex — first found it a pleasant thing perfecting literary taste.

to behold the light of the sun.” One, the

eldest, passed away before her third autumn For the Schoolmaster.

had ripened its early fruits. The remaining The Brook.

nine, with a tender and devoted mother and

our common mother, Nature, for their earThe rushing mountain stream,

liest and most faithful teachers, arrived at As it hurries on in its hasty course,

mature age, and successively became, as both Lisps a solemn sacred song,

their parents had been before them, for a longTo the God of the land and skies.

er or shorter period, instructors of the young. From the lofty mountain-top.

Around this place are entwined all the cherIt has run along over rock and stone ;

ished associations of my childish days. It is It has bathed the foot of the oak

not, therefore, strange that my recent visit And gladdened the grass on its diamond marge. I should have awakened a long train of recol.

« AnteriorContinuar »