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'Have I read through Lilly?-have I learnt by heart that 'most atrocious monument of absurdity, the Westminster "Grammar?-have I been whipt for the substantives ?-whipt for the verbs?-and whipt for and with the interjections?— "Have I picked the sense slowly, and word by word, out of • Hederick ?—and shall my son Daniel be exempt from all this 'misery?-Shall a little unknown person in Cecil Street, Strand, No. 25, pretend to tell me that all this is unnecessary?Was it possible that I might have been spared all this?—The whole system is nonsense, and the man an impostor. If there had been any truth in it, it must have occurred to some one • else before this period.'-This is a very common style of observation upon Mr Hamilton's system, and by no means an uncommon wish of the mouldering and decaying part of mankind, that the next generation should not enjoy any advantages from which they themselves have been precluded.—' Aye, aye, it's all mighty well-but I went through this myself, and I am ' determined my children shall do the same. 'We are convinced that a great deal of opposition to improvement proceeds from this principle. Crabbe might make a good picture of an unbenevolent old man, slowly retiring from this sublunary scene, and lamenting that the coming race of men would be less bumped on the roads, better lighted in the streets, and less tormented with grammars and lexicons, than in the preceding age. A great deal of compliment to the wisdom of ancestors, and a great degree of alarm at the dreadful spirit of innovation, are soluble into mere jealousy and envy.
But what is to become of a boy who has no difficulties to grapple with? How enervated will that understanding be, to which every thing is made so clear, plain, and easy ?-no hills to walk up, no chasms to step over; every thing graduated, soft, and smooth. All this, however, is an objection to the multiplication table, to Napier's bones, and to every invention for the abridgment of human labour. There is no dread of any lack of difficulties. Abridge intellectual labour by any process you please-multiply mechanical powers to any extent there will be sufficient, and infinitely more than sufficient, of laborious occupation for the mind and body of man. Why is the boy to be idle?-By and by comes the book without a key; by and by comes the lexicon. They do come at last-though at a better period. But if they did not come,-if they were use less, if language could be attained without them, would any human being wish to retain difficulties for their own sake, which led to nothing useful, and by the annihilation of which our fa
culties were left to be exercised, by difficulties which do lead to something useful,-by mathematics, natural philosophy, and every branch of useful knowledge? Can any one be so anserous as to suppose, that the faculties of young men cannot be exercised, and their industry and activity called into proper action, because Mr Hamilton teaches, in three or four years, what has (in a more vicious system) demanded seven or eight? Besides, even in the Hamiltonian method it is very easy for one boy to outstrip another. Why may not a clever and ambitious boy employ three hours upon his key by himself, while another boy has only employed one? There is plenty of corn to thrash, and of chaff to be winnowed away, in Mr Hamilton's system; the difference is, that every blow tells, because it is properly directed. In the old way, half their force was lost in air. There is a mighty foolish apopthegm of Dr Bell's, that it is not what is done for a boy that is of importance, but what a boy does for himself. This is just as wise as to say, that it is not the breeches which are made for a boy that can cover his nakedness, but the breeches he makes for himself. All this entirely depends upon a comparison of the time saved, by showing the boy how to do a thing, rather than by leaving him to do it for himself. Let the object be, for example, to make a pair of shoes. The boy will effect this object much better if you show him how to make the shoes, than if you merely give him wax, thread, and leather, and leave him to find out all the ingenious abridgments of labour which have been discovered by experience. The object is to turn Latin into English. The scholar will do it much better and sooner if the word is found for him, than if he finds it-much better and sooner if you point out the effect of the terminations, and the nature of the syntax, than if you leave him to detect them for himself. The thing is at last done by the pupil himself-for he reads the language-which was the thing to be done. All the help he has received has only enabled him to make a more economical use of his time, and to gain his end sooner. Never be afraid of
wanting difficulties for your pupil; if means are rendered more easy, more will be expected. The animal will be compelled, or induced to do all that he can do. M'Adam has made the roads better. Dr Bell would have predicted, that the horses would get too fat; but the actual result is, that they are compelled to go ten miles an hour instead of eight,
For teaching children, this too I think is to be observed, that, in most cases, where they stick, they are not to be farther puzzled, by putting them upon finding it out themselves;
as by asking such questions as these, viz.-which is the nominative case in the sentence they are to construe? or demanding what "aufero" signifies, to lead them to the knowledge what "abstulere" signifies, &c. when they cannot readily tell. This wastes time only, in disturbing them; for ⚫ whilst they are learning, and apply themselves with attention, they are to be kept in good humour, and every thing made easy to them, and as pleasant as possible. Therefore, where6 ever they are at a stand, and are willing to go forwards, help them presently over the difficulty, without any rebuke or chiding; remembering that, where harsher ways are taken, they are the effect only of pride and peevishness in the teacher, who expects children should instantly be masters of • as much as he knows; whereas he should rather consider, that his business is to settle in them habits, not angrily to in'culcate rules.'-Locke on Education, p. 74.
Suppose the first five books of Herodotus to be acquired by a key, or literal translation after the method of Hamilton, so that the pupil could construe them with the greatest accuracy ;we do not pretend, because the pupil could construe this book, that he could construe any other book equally easy; we merely say, that the pupil has acquired, by these means, a certain copia verborum, and a certain practical knowledge of grammar, which must materially diminish the difficulty of reading the next book; that his difficulties diminish in a compound ratio with every fresh book he reads with a key-till at last he reads any common book, without a key-and that he attains this last point of perfection in a time incomparably less, and with difficulties incomparably smaller, than in the old method.
There are a certain number of French books, which, when a boy can construe accurately, he may be said, for all purposes of reading, to be master of the French language. No matter how he has attained this power of construing the books. If you try him thoroughly, and are persuaded he is perfectly master of the books-then he possesses the power in question-he understands the language. Let these books, for the sake of the question, be Telemachus, the History of Louis XIV. the Henriade, the Plays of Racine, and the Revolutions of Vertot. We would have Hamiltonian keys to all these books, and the Lancasterian method of instruction. We believe these books would be mastered in one-sixth part of the time, by these means, that they would be by the old method, of looking out the words in the dictionary, and then coming to say the lesson to the master; and we believe that the boys, long before they came to the end of this
series of books, would be able to do without their keys,-to fling away their cork-jackets, and to swim alone. But boys who learn a language in four or five months, it is said, are apt to forget it again. Why, then, does not a young person, who has been five or six months in Paris, forget his French four or five years afterwards? It has been obtained without any of that labour, which the objectors to the Hamiltonian system deem to be so essential to memory. It has been obtained in the midst of tea and bread and butter, and yet is in a great measure retained for a whole life. In the same manner, the pupils of this new school use a colloquial living dictionary, and, from every principle of youthful emulation, contend with each other in catching the interpretation, and in applying to the lesson before them.
If you wish boys to remember any language, make the acquisition of it very tedious and disgusting.' This seems to be an odd rule: But if it is good for language, it must be good also for every species of knowledge-music, mathematics, navigation, architecture. In all these sciences aversion should be the parent of memory-impediment the cause of perfection. If difficulty is the sauce of memory, the boy who learns with the greatest difficulty will remember with the greatest tenacity;-in other words, the acquisitions of a dunce will be greater and more important than those of a clever boy. Where is the love of difficulty to end? Why not leave a boy to compose his own dictionary and grammar? It is not what is done for a boy, but what he does for himself, that is of any importance. Are there difficulties enough in the old method of acquiring languages? Would it be better if the difficulties were doubled, and thirty years given to languages, instead of fifteen? All these arguments presume the difficulty to be got over, and then the memory to be improved. But what if the difficulty is shrunk from? What if it puts an end to power, instead of increasing it; and extinguishes, instead of exciting, application? And when these effects are produced, you not only preclude all hopes of learning or language, but you put an end for ever to all literary habits, and to all improvements from study. The boy who is lexicon-struck in early youth, looks upon all books afterwards with horror, and goes over to the blockheads. Every boy would be pleased with books, and pleased with school, and be glad to forward the views of his parents, and obtain the praise of his master, if he found it possible to make tolerably easy progress; but he is driven to absolute despair by gerunds, and wishes himself dead! Progress is pleasure-activity is pleasure. It is impossible for a boy not to make progress, and not to be
active in the Hamiltonian method; and this pleasing state of mind we contend to be more favourable to memory, than the languid jaded spirit which much commerce with lexicons never fails to produce.
Translations are objected to in schools justly enough, when they are paraphrases, and not translations. It is impossible, from a paraphrase or very loose translation, to make any useful progress-they retard rather than accelerate a knowledge of the language to be acquired, and are the principal causes of the discredit into which translations have been brought, as instruments of education.
Infandum Regina jubes renovare dolorem,
Oh! Queen, thou orderest to renew grief not to be spoken of. 'Oh! Queen, in pursuance of your commands, I enter upon the narrative of misfortunes almost too great for utterance.
The first of these translations leads us directly to the explication of a foreign language, as the latter ensures a perfect ignorance of it.
It is difficult enough to introduce any useful novelty in education, without enhancing its perils by needless and untenable paradox. Mr Hamilton has made an assertion in his Preface to the Key of the Italian Gospel, which has no kind of foundation in fact, and which has afforded a conspicuous mark for the aim of his antagonists.
'I have said that each word is translated by its one sole undeviating meaning, assuming as an incontrovertible principle in all languages that, with very few exceptions, each word has one meaning only, and can usually be rendered correctly into another by one word only, which one word should serve for its representative at all times and on all occasions.
Now, it is probable that each word had one meaning only in its origin; but metaphor and association are so busy with human speech, that the same word comes to serve in a vast variety of senses, and continues to do so long after the metaphors and associations which called it into this state of activity, are buried in oblivion. Why may not jubeo be translated order, as well as command, or dolorem rendered grief as well as sorrow? Mr Hamilton has expressed himself loosely; but he perhaps means no more than to say, that in school translations, the metaphysical meaning should never be adopted, when the word can be rendered by its primary signification. We shall allow him, however, to detail his own method of making the translation in question.
'Translations on the Hamiltonian system, according to which this