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where we prove the truth of it by some reason or arrangement; 3, the confirmation, where we show the unreasonableness of the contrary opinion ; 4. the simile or comparison ; 5. the example, where we bring some instances from history to corroborate the truth of our theme; 6. the testimony or quotation, to show that others think as we do ; 7. the conclusions, where we sum up the whole, and show the practical use of the theme, by concluding with some pertinent observations.'
Such rules as these may be thought calculated to shackle rather than forward the pupil. But their object is not so much to give freedom, as precision to the movements of the mind; and however unpromising such a method may appear, for giving grace or vigour to the expression of thought, we approve of the judgment which led our author to adopt it, as the basis of these lessons. There can be no logical writing without it. It may be true that no elegant compositions are written upon such a model, because it is the perfection of art to conceal art; but were they analyzed and dissected by a skilful hand, all or most of these parts would be found interwoven with the texture of the composition. The discipline implied in these exercises is as necessary for forming the mind to correct thought, as the style to the correct expression of it. Few men ever become deep thinkers or clear writers, whose minds have not been accustomed to logical investigation. Without it, mental conclusions are loose and desultory.
As soon as a habit of generalizing the thoughts is acquired by this artificial process, the pupil is released from his restraints, and is at last allowed to write Essays, without being required to observe the order pursued in his simple and complex themes. We extract part of
Easy Essays. • After the pupil has had some practice in writing on regular subjects, according to the directions in the preceding lessons, (XXXV. XXXVI. and XXXVII.) forsaking the artificial arrangement of his composition, and being guided in his train of thought only by a few hints thrown into the form of heads, he may be required to write from an outline or skeleton, composed of these heads; as exemplified in the following
OUTLINE. •1. All desire to arrive at old age; but few think of acquiring those virtues which alone can inake it happy.' • 2. The life of man, a building ; youth, the foundation.'
3. All the later stages of life depend upon the good use made of the former.'
* 4. Age, therefore, requires a well spent youth to render it happy.'
It will be seen from this lesson that the pupil slides, at last, into a natural system with all the aids and appliances which art can give him. Perhaps the three last steps of his progress might be simplified a little. To divide the lessons, however, would render them less compact. To alter them at all, would impose the labour of entirely re-casting them. And this Mr. Parker seems to have discovered, for nearly the whole of these three lessons, as well as lessons XX. XXI. and XXIII. are taken from Walker's 'English Themes and Essays;' and we are obliged to add, for the most part without acknowledgment. Even the models, the themes, the skeletons, the subjects, are all appropriated with only very slight alterations. We must however do Mr. Parker the justice to say that his alterations are improvements, for Mr. Walker's language is often inelegant, and occasionally incorrect. We strongly disapprove of the principle of taking piecemeal from another work; but when such a thing is done without being properly acknowledged, it is what we feel ourselves called upon to condemn. The only portion of Mr. Parker's book which can be considered new is comprised in the early lessons. We were in expectation of finding more that was original after reading the following remark (p. 59.) Whether the arrangement of the principles contained in the several lessons is as strictly progressive as it might be, is a question submitted with deference. Having enjoyed little conversance with the collected wisdom of others upon the subject, either in person or in print, diffidence of his own opinion forbids the Author to recommend any adherence to the order in which they are presented.'
We dislike neologisms whether of English or foreign manufacture, and therefore object to conversance' in the above extract as a bad word. It is almost the only blot of the kind in the book. Generally the style is clear and good, the sentences well constructed, and the words well selected. The plan of the lessons is clear and simple.
On the whole we are disposed to think that Mr. Parker's book is capable of being made a useful guide to the art of composition, if he will improve the arrangement of the lessons, supply the defects we have pointed out, add a lesson on punctuation, and re-cast the exercises taken from Walker, substituting a new selection of subjects for those given in lessons XXXVI. XXXVII. and XXXVIII., which are objectionable because they hold out a premium for idleness. Lads who dislike application will be sorely tempted to break the commandment, and steal an Essay ready made from Walker.
ETYMOLOGICAL MANUAL. An Etymological Manual of the English Language, adapted
to the improved system of Education, for the Use of Schools and private Families. By John Oswald. Edinburgh,
1833. Third Edition. An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language,
on a plan entirely new, adapted to the modern system of Tuition. By John Oswald. Edinburgh, 1833.
It will no doubt appear a mere truism to our readers, to assert that a child should always be made to understand whatever he happens to be reading, and that it is the duty of the teacher to make him comprehend, first, the meaning of each term, and then the sense of the whole. We cannot, however, recur too often to this subject, nor impress too strongly upon the minds of all those engaged in the important business of tuition, the necessity of keeping this point always before their eyes. The mere utterance of certain sounds which are unconnected with any definite ideas is an unprofitable waste of time; it is turning a child into a mere machine, and neglecting the cultivation of that most important part of our nature, the intellect. Every sentence which the pupil reads may be made an instrument not only of advancing his proficiency in the mere art of reading and of cultivating his habits of attention, but also of communicating much valuable information of permanent advantage to him through life. Even the time consumed in acquiring the mechanical part of the art will be shortened, if the pupil is taught to carry the sense along with the sound; if along with the mere mechanical routine of sounds and technicalities, his attention is roused, his curiosity gratified, and his fancy ainused. It is astonishing to observe the avidity with which a child will have recourse to reading, if he has been properly trained, and if books suited to his age are placed within his reach. Knowledge, in fact, is as necessary for the mind, as food for the body*.
To rest satisfied with enabling the pupil to comprehend the individual passage on which he is employed is not sufficient. It is indeed impossible that much ground can be gone over, or that much direct information can be communicated in a school; but the instructor, anxious for the improvement of his pupil, will contrive not only to explain the passage before him, but to add as much more useful information as his own knowledge and the circumstances of the case will admit. We have stated that it is not only necessary that the meaning of the whole passage should be comprehended, but that the attention of the pupil should be directed to the full force of each particular term employed, and this can never be properly accomplished unless by a minute examination of the roots, derivatives, and compounds of the word. Thus if the word "unassailable' occurred, it might be sufficient for the explanation of the passage to say that it meant 'not open to attack;' but this would by no means accomplish all the good that might be done. We have here an opportunity of introducing him to several large families of words which are constantly recurring in the language, and by drawing his attention to them, we are at the same time cultivating the faculty of observation. By the explanation we have given, it is by no means improbable that the child would have received po clear or definite ideas of the word, and that on its recurrence he would be quite as much puzzled as if he had never seen it before. It would be hopeless to expect, that on meeting with others from the same root, he should be able, without some instruction, to comprehend their meaning by aid of the word which he had already met. If the teacher, however, direct his attention to the threefold composition of the word, the un, the as, and the sail, a very different result may be expected. Let him inquire the meaning of the syllable un in composition, and ask the pupil to point out other words to which it gives the signification of not, such as uneasy, not easy, unequal, not equal, unfair, not fair. He may be also asked if the syllable ever assumes any other form, and if he has been at all accustomed to this species of training, he will at once answer, that it is sometimes in, as incomplete, not complete, incautious, not cautious; sometimes il,
* Ut aves ad volatum, equi ad cursum, ad sævitiam feræ gignuntur; ita nobis propria est mentis agitatio atque solertia: unde origo animi cælestis creditur. Hebetes vero et indociles non magis secundum naturam homines eduntur, quam prodigiosa corpora et monstris insignia : sed hi pauci admodum. -Quintil. Inst. i. i.
as illegal, not legal; sometimes im, as impartial, riot partial ; and sometimes ir, as irrational, not rational. The pupil will thus be led to observe that the consonant in the prefix in is modified by the nature of the letter which follows it. To make this part complete, he may also be asked if he knows any other syllables which give a negative signification to the word to which they are joined, and if he cannot recollect, he may be told of dis and non. The teacher will then proceed to examine the meaning of as in composition, and draw the pupil's attention to the different forms which this element assumes, as ac, ad, af, ag, al, an, &c. illustrating the whole with apposite examples. He will then come to the root sail, and show that in compound words it always has the signification of to leap, to jump; that assail or assault means to leap or fall upon with violence, to attack suddenly; that it does not always take the same form, but still that there is so much resemblance in all the words, that there can be no difficulty in recognising the root in all of them: thus exult (i. e. 'eksult), to leap for joy, to rejoice in triumph ; dissilient, starting asunder; resilient, leaping back; salient, leaping ; insult, a leaping on, any gross abuse offered to another either by words or actions, to trumple upon, to affront; result, a leaping back,mas if the rebound, the recoil of any act,-i. e. its effect or consequence—if the act be one of reasoning, a conclusion. It is in this way that the curiosity of the pupil may be excited, and he will at once receive a key to several large classes of words. The interest which pupils take in such an exercise cannot be properly appreciated without being witnessed. Whatever difficulties there may be, they encounter them with the utmost cheerfulness; and as their curiosity has been excited, they willingly exert themselves to overcome them.
Up to the present time the teacher has had to contend with considerable difficulties, and to depend mainly on his own knowledge of the language: we have not seen, nor do we think that there formerly existed, any small work which was easily accessible to the great body of teachers, which could be of much use to them in furthering this particular object. It is only lately, indeed, that the attention of the public has been particularly directed to the advantages likely to accrue from a more minute and careful examination of the radical portions of vocables, and it was not therefore to be expected that our lexicographers should have devoted that attention to this branch of the subject to which its great importance entitles it. Children are often much embarrassed by the numerous definitions given to explain some simple word, all which may be avoided if their attention