Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

five years. To put the machine in motion, twentyfour of the principal subscribers agreed to take upon themselves the trust; and a set of constitutions for their government, and for the regulation of the schools,

Mr. Hutchinson, {Dial. p. 297,) says, "To perfect them in the knowledge of their mother tongue, they should learn it in the grammatical way, that they not only speak it purely, but be able both to correct their own idiom, and afterwards enrich the language on the same foundation."

Dr. Turnbull, in his Observations on a Liberal Education, says, (p. 2(J2,) "The Greeks, perhaps, made more early advances in the most useful sciences than any youth have done since, chiefly on this account, that they studied no other language but their own. This, no doubt, saved them very much time ; but they applied themselves carefully to the study of their own language, and were early able to speak and write it in the greatest perfection. The Roman youth, though they learned the Greek, did not neglect their own tongue, but studied it more carefully than we now do Greek and Latin, without giving ourselves any trouble about our own tongue."

Monsieur Simon, in an elegant Discourse of his among the Memoirs of the Acmlemy of Belles Lettres at Paris, speaking of the stress the Romans laid on purity of language and graceful pronunciation, adds, "May I here make a reflection on the education we commonly give our children? It is very remote from the precepts I have mentioned. Hath the child arrived to six or seven years of age, he mixes with a herd of ill-bred boys at school, where, under the pretext of teaching him Latin, no regard is had to his mother tongue. And what happens? What we see every day. A young gentleman of eighteen, who has had this education, cannot read. For to articulate the words, and join them together, I do not call reading, unless one can pronounce well, observe all the proper stops, vary the voice, express the sentiment, and read with a delicate intelligence. Nor can he speak a jot better. A proof of this is, that he cannot write ten lines without committing gross faults; and, because he did not learn his own language well in his early years, he will never know it well. I except a few, who, being afterwards engaged by their profession, or their natural taste, cultivate their minds by study. And yet even they, if they attempt to write, will find by the labor composition costs them, what a loss it is, not to have learned their language in the proper season. Education among the Romans was upon a quite different footing. Masters of rhetoric taught them early the principles, the difficulties, the beauties, the subtilties, the depths, the riches of their own language. When they went from these schools, they were perfect masters of it, they were never at a loss for proper expressions; and I am much deceived if it was not owing to this, that they produced such excellent works with so marvellous facility."

Pliny, in his letter to a lady on choosing a tutor for her son, speaka

were drawn up by Mr. Francis and myself, which were signed by us all, and printed, that the public might know what was to be expected. I wrote also a paper, entitled, Idea of an English School, which

of it as the most material thing in his education, that he should have a good Latin master of rhetoric, and recommends Julius Genitor for his eloquent, open, and plain faculty of speaking. He does not advise her to a Greek master of rhetoric, though the Greeks were famous for that science; but to a Latin master, because Latin was the boy's mother tongue. In the above quotation from Monsieur Simon, we see what was the office and duty of the master of rhetoric.

To form their style, they should be put on writing letters to each other, making abstracts of what they read; or writing the same things in their own words; telling or writing stories lately read, in their own expressions. All to be revised and corrected by the tutor, who should give his reasons, explain the force and import of words, &c.

This Mr. Locke recommends, (Educ. p. 284,) and says; "The writing of letters has so much to do in all the occurrences of human life, that no gentleman can avoid showing himself in this kind of writing. Occasions will daily force him to make this use of his pen, which, besides the consequence that, in his affairs, the well or ill managing it often draws after it, always lays him open to a severer examination of his breeding, sense, and abilities, than oral discourses, whose transient faults, dying for the most part with the sound that gives them life, and so not subject to a strict review, more easily escape observation and censure."

He adds; "Had the methods of education been directed to their right end, one would have thought this so necessary a part could not have been neglected, whilst themes and verses in Latin, of no use at all, were so constantly everywhere pressed, to the racking of children's invention beyond their strength, and hindering their cheerful progress by unnatural difficulties. But custom has so ordained it, and who dares disobey? And would it not be very unreasonable to require of a learned country-schoolmaster (who has all the tropes and figures in Farnaby's Rhetoric at his fingers' ends) to teach his scholar to express himself handsomely in English, when it appears to be so little his business or thought, that the boy's mother (despised, 'tis like, as illiterate for not having read a system of logic or rhetoric) outdoes liim in it?

"To speak and write correctly gives a grace, and gains a favorable attention to what one has to say. And since 't is English that an Englishman will have constant use of, that is the language he should chiefly cultivate, and wherein most care should be taken to polish and perfect his style. To speak or write better Latin than English may make a man be talked of; but he will find it more to his purpose to express himself well in his own tongue, that he uses every moment, than to have the vain commendations of others for a very insignificant quality. This I find

VOL. II. 18 L*

was printed, and afterwards annexed to Mr. Peters' Sermon, preached at the opening of the Academy. This paper was said to be for the consideration of the trustees; and the expectation of the public, that

universally neglected, nor no care taken anywhere to improve young men in their own language, that they may thoroughly understand and be masters of it. If any one among us have a facility or purity more than ordinary in his mother tongue, it is owing to chance, or his genius, or any thing, rather than to his education or any care of his teacher. To mind what English his pupil speaks or writes, is below the dignity of one bred up among Greek and Latin, though he have but little of them himself. These are the learned languages, fit only for learned men to meddle with and teach; English is the language of the illiterate vulgar. Though the great men among the Romans were daily exercising themselves in their own language ; and we find yet upon the record the names of orators who taught some of their Emperors Latin, though it were their mother tongue. 'T is plain the Greeks were yet more nice in theirs. All other speech was barbarous to them but their own, and no foreign language appears to have been studied or valued amongst that learned and acute people; though it be past doubt that they borrowed their learning and philosophy from abroad."

To the same purpose writes a person of eminent learning in a letter to Dr. Turnbull. "Nothing, certainly," says he, " can be of more service to mankind than a right method of educating the youth, and I should be

glad to hear to give an example of the great advantage it would

be to the rising age, and to our nation. When our public schools were first established, the knowledge of Latin was thought learning; and he that had a tolerable skill in two or three languages, though his mind was not enlightened by any real knowledge, was a profound scholar. But it is not so at present; and people confess, that men may have obtained a perfection in these, and yet continue deeply ignorant. The Greek education was of another kind," (which he describes in several particulars, and adds,) "they studied to write their own tongue more accurately than we do Latin and Greek. But where is English taught at present? Who thinks it of use to study correctly that language which he is to use every day in his life, be his station ever so high, or ever so insignificant. It is in this the nobility and gentry defend their country, and serve their prince in parliament; in this the lawyers plead, the divines instruct, and all ranks of people write their letters, and transact all their affairs; and yet who thinks it worth his learning to write this even accurately, not to say politely? Every one is suffered to form his style by chance; to imitate the first wretched model which falls in his way, before he knows what is faulty, or can relish the beauties of a just simplicity. Few think their children qualified for a trade till they have been whipt at a Latin school for five or six yeare, to learn a little of that which they are

the idea might in a great measure be carried into execution, contributed to render the subscriptions more liberal as well as more general. I mention my concern in these transactions, to show the opportunity I had of being well informed in the points I am relating.

These constitutions are upon record in your minutes; and, although the Latin and Greek are by them to be taught, the original idea of a complete English education was not forgotten, as will appear by the following extracts.

Page 1. "The English tongue is to be taught grammatically, and as a language."

Page 4. In reciting the qualification of the person to be appointed rector, it is said, "that great regard is to be had to his polite speaking, writing, and understanding the English tongue."

"The rector was to have two hundred pounds a year, for which he was to be obliged to teach twenty boys, without any assistance, (and twenty-five more for every usher provided for him,) the Latin and Greek languages; and at the same time instruct them in history, geography, chronology, logic, rhetoric, and the English tongue."

"The rector was also, on all occasions consistent with his duty in the Latin school, to assist the English master in improving the youth under his care"

obliged to forget; when in those years right education would have improved their minds, and taught them to acquire habits of writing their own language easily under right direction; and this would have been useful to them as long as they lived." — Inlrod. pp. 3-5.

To form their pronunciation, they may be put on making declamations, repeating speeches, delivering orations, &c.; the tutor assisting at the rehearsals, teaching, advising, correcting their accent, &c. By pronunciation is here meant, the proper modulation of the voice, to suit the subject with due emphasis, action, &c. In delivering a discourse in public, designed to persuade, the manner, perhaps, contributes more to success, than either the matter or method. Yet the two latter seem to engross the attention of most preachers and other public speakers, and the former to be almost totally neglected.

Page 5. "The trustees shall, with all convenient speed, contract with any person that offers, whom they shall judge most capable of teaching the English tongue grammatically and as a language, history, geography, chronology, logic, and oratory; which person shall be styled the English master."

The English master was to have one hundred pounds a year, for which he was to teach, without any assistance, forty scholars the English tongue grammatically; and at the same time instruct them in history, geography, chronology, logic, and oratory; and sixty scholars more for every usher provided for him.

It is to be observed in this place, that here are two distinct courses in the same study, that is, of the same branches of science, viz. history, geography, chronology, logic, arid oratory, to be carried on at the same time, but not by the same tutor or master. The English master is to teach his scholars all those branches of science, and also the English tongue grammatically, as a language. The Latin master is to teach the same sciences to his boys, besides the Greek and Latin. He was also to assist the English master occasionally, without which, and his general care in the government of the schools, the giving him double salary seems not well accounted for. But here are plainly two distinct schools or courses of education provided for. The Latin master was not to teach the English scholars logic, rhetoric, &c.; that was the duty of the English master; but he was to teach those sciences to the Latin scholars. We shall see, hereafter, how easily this original plan was defeated and departed from.'

When the constitutions were first drawn, blanks

« ZurückWeiter »