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We observe that in the foregoing lesson nothing has been told the children, nothing learned by them by rote, but they have become conscious that they possess a knowledge of certain things, acquired by the use of their own powers of observation, and thus have their attention awakened for future observations and the path to knowledge opened to them. We also find in this simple lesson on a few of the objects accessible in the least varied neighborhood, the basis for the future idea of rivers, lakes, mountains, and plains; and in the use of the rougher and poorer lands for pasturing, but the better for culture, the germ for the future perception of the relation of the physical features of a region to the industries of its people. There still remain to be given lessons on the woodlands, or “woods” as the children call them, in which a little definition would be obtained by comparing them with an orchard as the meadow was compared with the pasture; and they would be noticed by the children as the home for certain animals, and afterward their uses to us found by them. In the same manner there would follow a second lesson on brooks, in which the animals living in the water are noticed, and the uses of brooks to us obtained. In many neighborhoods there will be found in addition to these physical forms, various others, as little waterfalls, valleys, etc. Ali should be noticed.
[TO BE Continued.]
BRIEF DISCUSSIONS OF WORDS, PHRASES, AND USAGES IN THE
BY KEV. S. A. CRANE, D. D.
AFTER a few brief remarks on the nature and purpose of language in general, I shall, in this lecture, confine myself to some desultory discussions and illustrations of words and phrases, and of syntactical laws and usages, in the language which we daily speak and write.
Language is that by which men men make known to each other their feelings, desires and thoughts. It mainly assumes two forms, articulate sounds and written characters. Both the sounds and the characters differ, as they are used by different peoples and nations. Those used by us constitute the English language. This is now the speech of vast multitudes of people. It looks to England for its birth-place and its name; but it has spread thence to almost every part of the world, and is now spoken in nearly all North America, in large portions of Asia and Africa, in Australia, and in very many of the islands of all the seas. The vast numbers of the people who now speak it, the widely separated and important positions which they occupy on the surface of the globe, the very great extent to which they hold and control the interests of trade and commerce, science and the arts, and are directing and working out the great and difficult problems of social life and political and religious institutions,—and especially the fact that they are nearly all of one and the same race, and that too a race remarkable for its intellect, activity and enterprize ; all these considerations unite to invest the English language at this time with a degree of dignity and importance not inferior to that of any other form of speech. For these, and for other reasons to which I cannot now allude, it seems not unlikely that our language is destined hereafter to exert even a wider and more commanding influence on the affairs and history of the world than it hitherto has. That this may not be set down for a dream of imagination, nor a iond illusion of filial affection for our mother-tongue, I will cite the testimony of a German writer as quoted by Trench, who describes him as a profound scholar and a passionate admirer of his own language. “In truth,” says this writer, “ the English language may with all right be called a world-language; and appears destined hereafter to prevail with a sway more extensive even than its present over all the portions of the globe. For in wealth, good sense and closeness of structure no other of the languages at this day spoken deserves to be coropared with it.”
GROWTH AND DECAY.
Like every thing that has life, every living language is subject to laws of growth and decay. It may not be easy, and yet it is exceedingly important, to ascertain these laws. I suppose they are to be sought for in the character and habits of the people. Language is the outward expression of what is inwardly felt or conceived. In the order of nature, feelings and thoughts come first, and words are then formed to give them utterance. Let the mind be well stored with vigorous thoughts and beautiful conceptions, and the linguistic faculty will not fail to furnish a rich, varied and ample wardrobe to give them
fit and becoming attire. So at least thought Milton, when invoking his native language, he says:
“ I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
A loudly knock to have their passage out;
So long, therefore, as any people shall have intellectual vigor, active and well-disciplined, imagination pure, morals sound, and taste refined, I do not believe there is in the laws of language any thing which will subject it to the process of deterioration. It may in time miss something of the bloom of youth, but it will stand firm in the grace and strength and dignity of manhood. Languages, it is true, have perished. But decay and death began in the people that spoke them. These first became luxurious, idle and vicious; and then their language, reduced to the servile work of expressing only their poor and feeble thoughts and gross conceptions, itself grew feeble as they grew corrupt. The degradation of a people necessarily draws after it the decay and corruption of their language.
HISTORIC LIFE OF WORDS. But besides the intellectual and moral condition of a people there are other causes which exert more or less influence on their language. The primary elements of language are words written or spoken. These put together, according to the laws of thought and language, constitute sentences; and sentences in like manner compose volumes. Into these are gathered all the rich harvests of study, investigation and experience. The brilliant fancies and beautiful creations of poesy, the profound researches of philosophy, the grave lessons of history, and more than all, the divine illuminations of Heavenly Wisdom, are all entrusted to the keeping of language, to be in it and by it preserved and transmitted to all coming generations for instruction, pleasure and improvement. But it is of the highest importance to remember that words thus constructed into sentences are not dead materials like the wood and stones and bricks which men build into walls and houses. Far more fitly may the words of a sentence find their proper analogy in the soldiers that compose a regiment. When you look at that regiment only as a military organization, you do not see all there is there. Every one of those men has a life and history of his own and a family to which he belongs; and you must become acquainted with these, and follow each man home and see the sphere of usefulness which he fills there, and the strength and tenderness of affection with which he is there held and cherished before you can duly estimate the sum and worth of human life, hope and happiness represented by that body of men. In like manner every word, as it is constructed into a sentence, brings with it a life which is its own; and that life has a history which runs back into the earlier ages of the world, revealing its origin and family, and telling more or less of the manners and habits of those times and of the changes which have occurred in its own inner life; and you must have traced out all these, and have carefully considered them, before you are fully prepared to comprehend all the wealth of meaning which historically connects itself with and is contained in a single word.
In the time of Alfred the Great, in England and in many of the northern nations of Europe, it was common for persons of rank to designate their ancestry through the father as the “ swordside," and through the mother as the “ spindleside.” These designations do us now much good service in helping us to a better understanding of the social and political condition of those times and peoples ; revealing to us the fact that war was then the most honorable occupation for men, and that the spindle, the loom and the needle held corresponding rank among the occupations of women. That well-known and significant provision of the Salic law in France, “ The crown does not descend to the distaff,” not only tells of the warlike and unsettled state of the times, when those old Franks deemed it derogatory to their martial spirit, and unsafe for the nation, that the sceptre should be held by female hands; but it throws light on the social and industrial status of women then and there, for by contrasting, as it does, the “ distaff” with the “crown,” it clearly brings out the fact, that among the employments of women these domestic manufactures were held to have a noble and even royal distinction.
Our English word capital, in the sense of money, finds its parentage in the Latin “ caput,” English “head.” How then comes it to mean money ? Merely by a change in that which constitutes or represents wealth. In pastoral times property mainly consisted in flocks and herds; and these were counted by the head, per capita ; and hence the word used to designate these soon came to include all
other possessions, and finally money, which is the representative of property of whatever kind.
Pecuniary is a word of the same class, finding its origin in the Latin “ pecunia,” and that in “ pecus," a flock; and thus points back to the simplicity of those pastoral ages when riches consisted chiefly in flocks and herds.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
CONCERNING PLANS OF TEACHING.
Nobody has any right to impose his plan of teaching on his neighbor. There is no method which can call itself the me:hod of education. There is only one set of right principles, but there may be ten thousand plans. Every teacher must work for himself as every man of the world works for himself. There is for all men in society only one set of right principles, yet you shall see a thousand men in one town all obeying them, although all, in conduct, absolutely differ from one another. They will present among themselves the widest contrasts and, yet every one may be prospering and making friends. Thompson talks little, avoids company, sticks to a few good friends and does his work in a snug corner. Wilson speaks freely and cheerily, delights in associating with his fellows, and works with a throng of helping hands around him. Jackson is nervous, fidgety and constitutionally irritable; he does his duty, though, and gains his end. Robson, on the contrary, is of an easy temper, lets a worry rest and never touches it when he comes near; he does his duty, too, and gains his end. But let the shy Thompson undertake to make his way in the world by being, like Wilson, sociable and jolly, and he will make himself contemptible by clumsy efforts, and the end of them will be dismal failure. In the school, as in the world, a man must be himself if he would have more than a spurious success; he must be modeled upon nobody. The school-master should read books of education, and he may study hard to reason out for himself by their aid, if he can, what are the right principles to go upon. A principle that he approves he must adopt; but another man's plan that he approves he must assimilate to the nature of his own mind, and of his own school before he can adopt it. Even his school he must so man