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to a few modifications. On the same principle on which we admit six tenses, we might introduce nearly double that number. Hence a celebrated grammarian, Mr. Harris, in a dissertation on this subject, enumerates no fewer than turelve tenses. It is quite easy to make a child understand that a man is now striking a piece of iron with a hammer, that he did the same thing yesterday, and will perform the same action to-morrow,—in other words, that ail action was performed at some past time, is performing now, or will be performed at some future period; but it is almost impossible to convey to hia mind a clear idea of twelve, or even of six, tenses, although a hundred distinctions and definitions should be crammed into his memory. A disposition to introduce quibbling and useless metaphysical distinctions has been the banc of theology, and one of the causes of the divisions of the Christian church. A similar disposition has rendered grammar perplexing and uninteresting to young minds, and prevented them from understanding or appreciating its nature and general principles. By attempting too much, in the first instance—by gorging their memories with all the distinctions, modifications, and rules, which grammarians have thought proper to inculcate,—we have produced a disgust at the study, when, by attempting nothing more than they were able clearly to comprehend, we might have rendered it both delightful and instructive. There are, properly speaking, no oblique cases in English nouns, excepting the possessive case, and yet, in some grammars, we have six cases specified, similar to those of Latin nouns; and in almost every book on grammar, three cases at least are considered as belonging to English nouns. On the same principle, we might affirm that there arc as many cases as there are prepositions in the language; for every combination of a preposition with a noun forms a distinct relation, and consequently may be said to constitute a distinct rate. Were it expedient in this place, many such remarks might be offered in reference to the absurdities and intricacies of our grammatical systems, and the perplexing and inefficient modes by which a knowledge of this subject is attempted to be communicated.
In communicating to the young a knowledge of grammar, or of any other subject, that plan which is the easiest and the most interesting should of course be adopted. All intricate and abstruse definitions and discussions ought to be avoided, and nothing attempted but what is level to their comprehensions, and which may be illustrated and explained by feasible images and representations. In endeavouring to impart a general idea of the elements of grammar, I would, in the first instance, lead the pupils to a position where
they would have a distinct view of an extensive landscape, where they might see either ships sailing, birds flying, windmills in motion, men digging the ground, or working with saws and hammers, carriages moving, or reapers cutting down the corn. I would then inform them (if they are acquainted with numbers,) that there arc about fifty thousand words in the English language, but that they may be reduced to about eisht different rlas*et + or kinds; or, in other words, that all the words they see in the different books that conic into their hands, however numerous they may appear, may be arranged into these classes. I would next tell them that one of these kinds of words is called nouns, or terms which express the names of all kinds of objects, and desire them to point out, in the landscape before them, some of those objects designated nouns. They would find no difficulty in complying with such a requisition, and instantly, "a house, a tree, a ship, a church, a flower, a man, a horse," and similar names, would be cheerfully vociferated. They would next be told that certain qualities or properties belong to every object; that a house may be high or lou; large or smalt, white, gray, or reit—a tree, tall, thiik, or slender—that a feather is light— gold, heavy—butter, soft, &c.; and that the words, high, low, light, heavy, soft, &c., belong to that class termed adjectives, or words expressive of qualities. Some particular objects might then be mentioned, and the pupils requested to point out some of the qualities which they may possess. For example, Hoy, After two or three qualities that a boy may possess are stated, they would soon apply the adjectives, good, bad, lazy, diligent, tall, handsome, mischievous, beautiful, and other qualities. A Table, round, oval, square, oblong, higti, low, long, short, &c., adding the word table to each of these qualities. To diversify this exercise a little, a quality might be mentioned, and the pupils desired to name any objects to which it will apply. For instance, the quality Round,—when such answers as the following might be given," A hat is round, a wafer is round, a saucer is round, a shilling
* The words In the English language have generally been arranged into nine classes, or " p:irls of speech but it appears almost unnecessary to consider the article and the interjection as distinct parts of speech, particularly the interjection, which is not necessary to the construction of a sentence, being only thrown in to express the emotion of the speaker. It is proper, however, thnt the nature and use of these words be explained to the young. Perhaps all the words essential to tangunge might be arranged into the four following classes; JVWnr, Attributives, (or adjectives.) Affirmatives, and Connectives. e*uch arrangements, however, are of little Importance, provided we convey a clear idea to those whom we Instruct of the leading parts of speech which are essential to language, and be careful not to perplex th^ir attention with too minute or unnecessary divisions.
is round, the sun and moon are round." In like manner, High, which applies to towers, mountains, trees, the clouds; and Soft, which applies to butter, dough, jelly, slime, pudding, snow, &c.
I would next direct their attention to that class of words which express actions, and request them to look around upon the landscape, and tell me if they perceive any thing in motion, or shifting its position from one place to another; (for motion, either mental or corporeal, is implied in every action.) Should they hesitate in answering this request, an instance or two may be pointed out; but they will seldom be at a loss, and will at once reply— "Ships are moving—birds are flying—the horse is trotting—men are walking—the mason is breaking stones—the trees are waving —the labourer is digging the earth." They may also be told to streteh out their hands, to walk a few steps, to strike the ground with a rod, to look up to the sky, or to perform any other action that may be judged expedient, and then informed, that the words expressive of such actions, as walking, striking, breaking, flying, &c. are denominated verbs. Having engaged them several times in such exercises, till a clear idea of the nature of a verb is communicated, it will be easy to explain the difference between active and neuter verbs, and the three tenses, the past, the present, and the future. They may be told, for example, that masons broke stones yesterday, and will break stones to-morrow—that James urate a letter to his cousin a few days ago, and will probably write another in a few days hence—and that birds flew through the air last year, and will fly in the same manner in the year to come. The quality of an action, and the manner in which it may be performed, or any circumstance that happens to be connected with it, may also be explained and illustrated. Thus, they may be asked, In what manner the clouds move, and the birds fly—slmrly or swiftly? In what manner the labourer performs his work — slovenly or neatly, cheerfully or heavily? In what manner the river runs—smoothly or rapidly? How James behaves during the time of instruction —attentively or foolishly? How the house to which I point is situated—pleasantly, awkwardly, or disagreeably? They may then be told, that such terms as slowly, swiftly, smoothly, pleasantly, &c. which express certain qualities of actions, constitute another qlass of words, denominated adverbs.
Words which express the relations in which objects stand to each other, may be next pointed out. They may be directed to observe that a certain house (pointing to it) stands near a tower, a river, or a large tree—that a house on the right hand is distant from an
other on the left—that the clouds are placed above the earth—that the grass is under our feet, and that a certain mansion is situated upon the declivity of a hill. Such relations might also be illustrated by desiring one of the pupils to walk to a certain point, suppose a tree, and then to return from that point to his former position;—or, to place himself in a position before the rest of the pupils, and afterwards in a position behind them—when the relative positions of objects denoted by the terms near, above, to, and from, before, and behind, may be familiarly explained, and designated by the word prepositions. An idea may be given of another class of words, which stand instead of names, by asking such questions as these:—How does that house look among the trees, on the opposite bank of the river? The answer might be, " It looks beautifully." How does that lady walk 1 SJit walks gracefully. What kind of a scholar is John? He is a good scholar. What did two wicked boys do to Arthur a few days ago! They struck him with tlutir fists. By such examples, it will be easy to show that the words if, she, he, stand in the place of lujvte, lady, and John; that they and their refer to the wicked boys, and that him stands instead of Arthur. They may be then informed, that such words are distinguished by the name prx. nouns: and, by a few more familiar instructions, they may be made acquainted with the nature and use of tho nominative, possessive, and objective cases, both singular and plural, by which they are varied. In a similar way the nature and use of the article and of eon. junctions may be pointed out and illustrated.
The plan now described may be varied, by directing the attention of the young to the objects contained in a parlour or a schoolroom—or, a large engraved landscape, accurately coloured, containing a considerable variety of objects, and representing various artificers at work, and objects in motion, might be placed before them, and used for the same purpose as a real landscape—or, they may be desired to form an imaginary picture, every one being called upon to specify the objects they wish to be put into the picture, along with their qualities, and the actions and movements they wish to have exhibited. This picture may either be merely imaginary, or it may be rudely sketehed with a pencil on a sheet of paper. One may desire that an elegant mansion may be placed in it; another, a church with a spire, and near it a small cottage; another may wish to see exhibited, a smith hammering his iron, or a few persons fishing in a river; and another, a school and play-ground, a cotton-manufactory, or a steamvessel sweeping along the river.—The exhibitions at a market or fair, a public procession, boys and girls at play a festive entertainment, with all its accompaniments, the scenes of a sca-port, or any other scene connected with nature or human society, might be conceived 1 or delineated for this purpose, and grammatical exercises connected with it in the manner now illustrated. I should, however, prefer a real landscape, as it appears on a fine day of summer or autumn, to any other exhibition; as real objects make a more lively impression on the mind than any picture can produce, and the view of a beautiful landscape, in the open air, Is attended with the idea of liberty, freedom from formal tasks, and various exhilarating circumstances. And it ought never to be forgotten, that, by connecting the process of education with varied and pleasant associations, we gradually enlarge the sphere of juvenile knowledge, and impress more deeply on the youthful mind the instructions we intended to impart By a few occasional lessons, in the way of amusement, on the plan now stated, which may be varied in every possible mode, more correct ideas of the parts of speech may be communicated, than what is generally done in a year or two by the dry and abstract modes in which this branch of instruction has usually been conducted.
Such a plan of instruction appears to be suggested by the mode in which we may conceive language to have been originally formed. Were we to suppose man just now created, and placed for the first time on the surface of this globe, his attention would, in the first place, be directed to the various objects which he beheld existing around him. These he would endeavour, by some means, to distinguish one from another; and, if it were his design to invent a language by which he rnizht hold a communication with other rational beings, his first effort would undoubtedly be, to give them names by which the ideas of them might be at any time recalled, when the objects themselves were absent from his view. These form a copious source of words, which must be common to every language formed for the communication of thought among intelligent beings, wherever existing, throughout the immensity of the universe. He would likewise soon discover that every one of the objects around him was endowed with certain attributes or qualities, to express which another class of words or rims would be requisite. In the course of his further survey, he would perceive certain rrmnges, motions, and events, such as the tbbing and flowing of the sea, the rising and letting of the sun, the flight of birds, the movements of quadrupeds, &c . the expression of which would require a class of words distinct from the former. These classes comprehend all the words which can be deemed
essential to language, or to a mutual interchange of sentiments between rational beings. In the progress of tho formation of language, however, other words would be found highly expedient, for the purpose of ease or ornament, for connecting the different parts of a discourse, or to avoid circumlocutions or disagreeable repetitions; and hence the invention of pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions. If this appears to have been the process by which language was originally formed, it likewise suggests the proper mode by which a general knowledge of the object, use, and component parts of language may be communicated to the young.
With regard to Syntax, in many of our initiatory grammars, there are between thirty and forty syntactical rules, many of them long and complex, and accompanied with numerous explanations, distinctions, and exceptions, all of which are intended to be crammed verbatim into the memory of the grammatical tyro, whether he understand them or not, and however ungracious and irksome the task assigned him. Is such a task necessary to be imposed, in the first instance? and, if imposed, will it tend to inspire the pupil with a greater relish for grammatical studies, or render hhn more accurate in the art of composition? I have no hesitation in answering such questions in the negative. Although all the rules alluded to were admitted to be useful, it would be highly inexpedient to burden and perplex a young person with such exercises, when communicating the first elements of grammatical arrangement, especially when he cannot be supposed to have a clear conception of the meaning and application of the greater part of such rules. What idea, for example, can a child of six or seven years have of such a sentence as the following, which forms only the one-f mrth part of the 30th rule of syntax, in Blair's Grammar—" The same adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions, are always understood to apply to their respective parts of speech, when connected by conjunctions; so that, if either of them be changed in the next clause of the sentence, or the mood or tense of the verb be changed, tho nominative or its pronoun must be repeated,"—or of the following, which forms another part of the same rule —" All the parts of a sentence should correspond with each other, and a regular and similar construction be carefully preserved throughout; and this corresponding analogy in the construction of sentences constitutes the principal charm of elegant composition."*
* Mr. Blair, tn his Preface to the Grammar alluded to, eays, A grammar for the use of schools should not contain any thinf superfluous," and 11every thing should be expressed in the smallest number of vords,"—which are certainly good maxims, and yet some of his syntactical rules
I am fully convinced that, in the first instance, it is quite unnecessary to advert to more than three or four fundamental rules in syntax, in order to direct the young in the general construction of sentences. There is one principal rule, which, if punctually observed, would prevent any egregious blunder from being committed either in speaking or writing,—and that is, "A verb should agree with its nominative in number and person." This might be called, with some propriety, the Rule of syntax—a rule which is short and simple, which can be easily explained and comprehended, on the observation of which the moaning of a sentence frequently depends, and a rule, in short, which is most frequently violated, even by good writers, especially when their sentences arc long and complex. To this rule I would add the following—"Active verbs and prepositions govern the objective case of pronouns;'' and, in order to prevent such inaccurate expressions as " more belter" " more dearer," &c., the rule, " Double comparatives and superlatives are improper," may.be added. Exercises might also be given to illustrate the two following rules—"The past participle should be used after the verbs have and be," and " The verb to be, should have the same case after it as before it." It ought never to he forgotten, that the habit of accurate composition depends more on practire, and the study of good writers, than on a multitude of rules; and I appeal to every one who is in the habit of composing, whether, in the moment of committing his thoughts to writing, he ever thinks of the rules of syntax, except, perhaps, some of those now specified. I have known an individual, in the lower walks of life, who had never been taught grammar, nor perused any book on the subject—who wrote essays on physical subjects, which might have been inserted with propriety (and some of them were actually inserted) in respectable scientific journals. The only inaccuracy which appeared was an occasional violation of the first rule of syntax above stated. A more correct idea of the construction of sentences will be conveyed to the young by the occasional remarks of a judicious teacher, during their reading lessons—by exercising them frequently on the rules above stated, particularly the first—in causing them to correct ungram
occupy nearly a page. He immediately addi, "Whatever it is desirable young people should know they must learn by rote—the memory is the only faculty of children of which teachers can properly avail themselves, and it is a vain attempt to address their immature powers of reason and reflection." Such sentiments are rather loo antiquated for the nineteenth century. This gentleman, whether hi* name be real or fictitious, has succeeded much better in the execution of his "Class-Book," and his "Grammar of Natural Philosophy," than in hia "Practical Grammar of the English Language."
matical sentences—and by pointing out the inaccuracies which occur in their written compositions,—than by all the formal rules that can be packed into their memories.
All the instructions alluded to above may be imparted without the assistance of any book or manual of grammar, and that, too, almost in the way of amusement When the « pupil has arrived at the age of 13 or 14 years, such books as " Murray's English Grammar," and " Irvine's Elements of English Composition," may be put into his hands for private perusal, where he will meet with a number of minute remarks and observations on the subject, which may be worthy of his attention. But, at the same time, he may be given to understand, that the careful study of good authors, a clear conception of the subject to which his attention is directed, and the exercise of judgment, taste, and common sense, on every piece of composition, will be of more avail than any system of abstract rules; and that a breach of some of the rules laid down by grammarians may sometimes be as proper as a strict observance of them. In short, in training children to accuracy, both in grammar and orthoepy, it might have a good effect were care uniformly taken, both in the school and the parlour, to correct every expression in their ordinary conversation that is ungnunmatical, or incorrect in their pronunciation— to explain the reasons of the corrections, and to endeavour, on all occasions, to induce them to express their thoughts with propriety and precision. In the schools in Scotland every child should be taught to pronounce the English language with accuracy, even in his common conversation, so that the Scottish language may bo extirpated as soon as possible, since it will never again be the language of literature or science.
Geography is a branch of knowledge with which every individual of the human race ought to be, in some measure, acquainted. It is scarcely consistent with the character of a rational being, surrounded by the immensity of the works of God, to feel no desire to become acquainted with these works, and, particularly, to remain in ignorance of the form, magnitude, component parts, and general arrangements of the terrestrial habitation allotted for his abode. It is equally inconsistent with a principle of benevolence, and with the relations in which he stands to hcinsa of the same nature and destination, to remain altogether unacquainted with the physical and moral condition of other tribes of his fellowmen, and to feel no interest in alleviating their miseries or promoting their improvement It is even inconsistent with the spirit of reli gion and toe duties of a Christian, to remain in indifference with regard to geographical knowledge, for " the field" of Christian labour and benevolence is " the world" with its numerous tribes of inhabitants, which it is the great object of this science to investigate and describe. As the depositories of Revelation, of "tho good things of great joy," which are intended to be communicated "to all people," we are bound to study this subject in all its bearings and relations, and to teach it to our children, and our children's children, that they may feel an interest in the moral condition of the inhabitants of distant lands, and employ their energies in diffusing Divine knowledge, in counteracting moral evils, in abolishing the system of warfare, and preparing the way for a harmonious intercourse among all the families of the earth. This science, therefore, ought to form a subject of study in every seminary devoted to the instruction of the young. Yet it is a fact, that, in the present state of society, we find thousands of our fellow-men almost as ignorant as the horse or the mule, of the arrangements of the world in which they dwell, and of the various tribes of human beings with which it is pecpled—as if they had no connection with their brethren of the same family, nor any common relation to the Universal Parent who gave them existence.
This study, like many other scholastic exercises, has too frequently been conducted in a dry and uninteresting manner, and very inadequate ideas communicated of its grand features and leading objects. Lists of the names of towns, cities, countries, rivers, bays, and gulfs, have been imposed as tasks to the memory, without any corresponding ideas; and the mechanical exercises of copying maps, and twirling an artificial globe, have not unfrequently been substituted for clear and comprehensive views of the leading facts and principles of the science. Physical geography has been almost entirely omitted in the initiatory books on this subject; and most of them are constructed on this principle, that the meagre descriptions and details they contain shall be committed to memory by rote. In this way, months and even years have been spent, and as little real knowledge of geography acquired, as there is of theology by the common routine of committing to memory the vocables 1-.f the "Church Catechism," or tho Westminster Assembly's synopsis of Divinity.
In communicating a knowledge of geography, it is requisite, in the first place, to give the young a clear and impressiv' idea of the iiize, form, component parts, and general arrangementt of the earth, considered simply as an object of contemplation, and a part of the creati Ju of God. In stating to a class of pu
pils that " the earth is round like a ball," the reasons or arguments which prove this position should be clearly and familiarly illustrated. If they are near the sea-coast, they should bo conducted to the margin of the sea, to observe how the hull of a ship, leaving the shore, disappears, near the horizon, before tho sails, and the sails before the topmast; and a telescope should be provided, that the observation may be made with perfect distinctness. They may be informed, at the same time, that a ship disappears from the view, in the same manner, in all parts of the ocean; and if so, the ocean must form a part of the surface of a sphere; and if the ocean, with its numerous ramifications of seas, straits, and gulfs, be of a spherical form, the surface of the land must be nearly of the same figure, since it is nearly on the same level as the sea, no part of it rising more than a mile or two above this level, except the peaks of a few lofty mountains. Where there is no convenient access to the sea-coast, or the margin of a lake or river, the same fact may be illustrated by the appearance of a person going over the top of a conical hill,—or any waving tract of ground may be selected, and a little boy directed to walk from the one extremity to the other, over the highest point of it; when it will be perceived, after having passed this point, that the lower parts of his body will first disappear, and that the top of his head will be the last part of him that will be visible, as represented in the following figure.
The pupils may next be made to perceive, that if the earth be round like a globe, we might travel directly east or west, and, holding on in the same direction, without turning back, might arrive at the same point from which we set out; and then be informed, that tho experiment has actually been made—that ships, at different periods, have sailed quite round the world, the course of which may afterwards he pointed out on the artificial globe. But, as theso voyages have been made only in an easterly or westerly direction, they may be led to understand that, had we no other proofs of the earth's rotundity, this experiment would only prove that the earth is round in one direction, like a cylinder or a drum. The roundness "of the earth, from north to south, might, at the same time, be explained from the fact, that when we travel a considerable distance from N. to S. or from 8. to N., a number of new stars successively appear in the heavens, in the quarter to which we are advancing, while many of those in the