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ance with the language; so that the power of conversing in Latin is not so much an effort as an impulse of the learner's mind. He begins to think in the words that spring up, as it were spontaneously, to convey his thoughts to others. His tongue incontinently utters in good set terms whatever his mind conceives, and though these common-place forms of expression are by no means desirable as the characteristic of an English style, they are undoubtedly the most proper, because the most classical modes, in which it is possible to use a dead language.
We pretend not to say, how easily or how soon, any one may become a good Latin or Greek scholar by our system : the authority of those eminent men, from whom we have derived it, supersedes the necessity of such declarations on our part. Locke affirms, “ Whatever stir there is made about getting of Latin, as the great and difficult business, his mother may teach it him herself if she will but spend two or three hours in a day with him.” But we carry his method farther, joining others with it, which perhaps may be thought to render it a more difficult and tedious study. Ascham however tells us, that in eight months, a young gentleman of his acquaintance arrived at so perfect a knowledge by the means he recommends, as to be able to translate the English which he gave him into Latin, “ so choicely, so orderly, so without any great miss in the hardest points of grammar, that some in seven years in grammar schools, yea, and some in the University too, cannot do half so well.” Another example he gives us in Queen Elizabeth, who,
“ in the space of a year or two attained to such a perfect understanding in both the tongues [Greek and Latin) and to such a ready utterance of the Latin [in conversation] and that with a judgment, as they be few in number in both the Universities, or elsewhere in England, that be in both tongues comparable with her Majesty.” More to the same effect might be added, but we shall conclude with Milton's memorable opinion which forms the motto for our system :
“ We do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek, as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in ONE YEAR.” That his view of the means to be employed in this case coincides with our own, his following words declare; for after speaking of the poor striplings at grammar schools, and “ the ill habit which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom, with their untutored Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well-continued and judicious conversing among prose authors digested, which they scarce taste” — he adds, “ whereas if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into the memory, they were led to the praxis thereof, in some chosen short book LESSONED THOROUGHLY TO THEM, they might then forthwith proceed to learn the substance of good things and arts, in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power.” The short book lessoned thoroughly to them, is evidently such a work as we produce in our Interlinear Translations, and the Parsing Lessons make it a praxis of the
grammar. This,” he continues, “ I take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning languages, and whereby we may hope to give account to God of our youth spent herein.”
But are we of opinion that the language may, by the means we prescribe, be learnt in one year? Yes; and we would affirm with Milton, easily and delightfully too. But let not the shortness of this term deceive any one into the expectation, that in one year the language is to be acquired, and all the best books in it read. Much remains to be done after the art of reading English is attained; and of course the mere understanding of the Latin or Greek language does not bring with it of necessity the comprehension of those subjects which are treated of by the greatest authors in either of those languages. We have been so much accustomed to consider a knowledge of the language every thing, that we forget or do not reflect that this is only valuable as a means of arriving at a knowledge of things. It is true, that, by the variety of our initiatory books, we shall lead the pupil to a practical acquaintance with the style of every author, by which he will obtain a thorough insight into the peculiarities of the whole language; but even this is but an introduction : if he would learn truly what is possible to be gained, he will apply himself to the complete mastery of the matter of each author, and endeavour to become skilled in the “ substance of good things and arts in due order.” “ A complete and generous education,” says the same great authority, “ that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war, may be given a youth between twelve and one-and-twenty, less time than is now bestowed in pure trifling with grammar and sophistry:"we put it in the power of every one to secure such an education; but upon his own exertions will depend the degree of his success.