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explaining what needs no explanation, and doing so by words which do need it. But according to his system, the subject must be dissected and broken into as many divisions as possible, and each of these must have a corresponding subdivision, to explain or illustrate it ; so that, if any division should chance to be perfectly intelligible, its subdivision must necessarily obscure it.
This is the bane of all cast-iron methods. A certain framework is constructed, into which all subjects are required to fit, and as long as every pigeon-hole is properly filled with something necessary or unnecessary, the object of the constructor is answered. Symmetry and completeness on paper become his principal aim, and the object for which the notes are designed, the lesson itself, is lost sight of. We are sure that Mr. Jones would not have lost the prize if he had written his lesson on St. Paul in the form of a sketch of lesson, like those published by the Home and Colonial Society, because it would have admonished him of the faults of prolixity and over-elaborateness which occasioned his failure. Our first objection to the form of notes adopted by Mr. Jones, is that it is calculated to lead the composer of them astray from the object he ought to have in view ; we are also of opinion that it produces an equally misleading effect on him when he is delivering the lesson. A little reflection will show that any notes intended to assist a person in oral delivery should be written, as nearly as possible, in the language in which people speak, so that portions of them can be interwoven, without alteration, with the discourse. If they be “cribbed, cabined, and confined” between perpendicular lines, and expressed in a concise and elliptical style, they cannot be consulted in the course of the delivery of the lesson, without, to a greater or lesser extent, checking the flow of its language, because the lecturer or teacher must transform them into the style of oral language before he can make use of them.
There are only two lessons on Geography, one of which is placed in the Introduction, and the other at p. 116. Probably the reason why this class is so imperfectly represented is, that that subject admits of such complete classification, that it is possible to frame a form of lesson which shall be applicable to every country. This is what Mr. Jones has done. “ The first particulars,” says he, “to be noticed would be its position, boundaries, area, &c.; then the climate, soil, and productions ; the mountains, with all particulars respecting them would come next, as being the principal and grandest physical feature of the country; the next step would be the rivers which rise in the mountains,—their direction, length, tributaries, the lakes which may be formed by them, basins, cataracts, and confluence with the sea ; then the towns erected on the banks of the rivers, with any remarkable historical events by which they may be distinguished ; and lastly, the people which inhabit the towns, population, manners and customs, agriculture, manufactures, exports and imports, language, religion, education and government, literature and celebrated men, &c. &c.” He then proceeds to tabularise these topics, so as to form a general form of lesson on any country.
Now, in addition to the defect of extreme length and complexity common to all Mr. Jones's lessons, we must take exception to the order in which the heads of the lesson are placed-namely, Etymology, Position, Extent, Boundaries, &c., Climate, Soil, and Productions, Divisions, Mountains, and so forth. In our opinion, “ Divisions” ought to go after “ Position, Extent,” and “Mountains” should precede “ Climate," because they are one of its principal determining causes ; and the pupils should be led by the questions of the teacher to deduce from all the physical features, and the position of the country, what must be its climate, and thence what must be its productions. But we have a further objection to this method of teaching geography.
We are inclined to think that teachers have not formed a clear idea of the peculiar advantages and disadvantages of classification. Its chief utility is as an aid to the memory. It brings together objects of the same nature, and separates them from those of different nature, thus arranging them under a few heads, which are easily carried in the memory. But this advantage is attended with some inherent disadvantages. In the first place, classification is the direct opposite of nature. Mountains, rivers, &c., are never found classified, but are blended together in endless variety; secondly, it destroys the perception of the mutual action and reaction of the parts in which nature may be divided. It has often been our fate (and, we fear, will be so for many years to come) to hear lessons on geography delivered, in which—first, all the capes, promontories, and headlands : then all the bays and gulfs : then all the mountains, running the heights of the principal peaks : then the rivers, in the order of their lengths; and so on, are rapidly enumerated, like the articles in an inventory, and afterwards repeated by the children under examination, in the same order and with equal rapidity, by the mere exercise of verbal memory, but without the slightest exertion of the intellectual, or even the perceptive, faculties. Such lessons are very nearly useless, and forgotten almost as quickly as they are learnt. We do not, however, contend that classification should never be employed. It is a very good exercise of memory to make the pupil name, in a certain order, all the capes, mountains, rivers, sea-ports, &c., of a certain country. But this is not the order in which those things should be taught. They should be presented to the learner as they are in nature, and their mutual relations should be the guide of the teacher in grouping them together in his lesson. For example, the mountain-ranges, with their river-systems, the basins drained by them, the towns on the banks of these rivers, the ports at their mouths, &c., form a natural and logical division of the subject. In some portions of the globe the tablelands and lowlands would determine the groups into which the lesson should be divided. In others, the deserts and fertile tracts would be the principal landmarks. The choice of the leading principle on which a lesson on geography should be divided, must vary with the subject, and must be left to the discretion of the teacher; and the manner in which he exercises it will form a conclusive test of his ability and skill. In examining, he should endeavour to bring out, in as great relief as possible, the natural connection of the parts of his subjects, and lead the children to discover, by reasoning, the conclusions as to climate, productions, employment, &c., which may be drawn from that connection. But he may also occasionally exercise the memories of his pupils as to mere facts, by requiring them to name all the mountains, rivers, towns, &c., in a country. These are the only general rules which can be framed for the preparation of a geographical lesson. To construct a formula applicable to all lessons, as Mr. Jones has done, argues a shallowness which we are surprised to find in a certificated teacher.
We have felt it to be our duty to remark at some length on the errors of principle into which Mr. Jones has fallen, because they are calculated to give a false direction to the exertions of those teachers who have not been well grounded in method. There are, however, a few blemishes of detail, which we cannot pass over.
At p. 3, the word 'arbitrary'is used instead of obligatory.
At p. 15, we find, as an instance of feigned repentance, the case of “ Judas, who repented and bung himself.” We should have thought the latter circumstance a sufficient proof of the sincerity of his sentiments, such as they were ; and it is uncertain, as Mr. Jones expresses himself, whether he means that Judas did or did not repent. But we fancy that the idea which Mr. Jones intended to express is, that the erring apostle felt only one part of repentance-"sorrow for sin," but not the determination to lead a new life,—the faith in the mercy of God, and the prayerful confession of his guilt, which might have saved him from the divine wrath. This is a serious blemish in a lesson on such an important point of practical religion.
At p. 75 we find it stated that “Saul, in the original, signifies death, hell, and is probably indicative of his character previous to his conversion." For our part we can see no probability of the kind, but a considerable degree of absurdity in the supposition. ·
Lastly, we must take exception to the selection of the notes of lesson given as models. There are too many of a purely liturgical character, and we do not see the utility of the lesson on the punishments of the Jews, unless there be such a thing as a class composed of juvenile executioners.
Agamemnon of Æschylus. Translated by W. Blew, M.A. Pp. 266.
London : Longmans. The value of translations, whether as an aid to scholarship, or as a vehicle for imparting to the non-classical reader some idea of the character of ancient literature, is undoubted. We speak, of course, of translations of a high order, which aim at a transfer of the spirit as well as of the body of the original, so that it shall sound to the modern ear with all the freshness and vivacity of a new composition. In this class we unhesitatingly place Mr. Blew's version of “King Agamemnon,” which combines the merit of faithfulness—a free and unservile faithfulness—with much of the novelty of a modern poem.
Mr. Blew discusses, in rather a lengthy preface, some of the moot points of the art of translation. We will not follow him in the discussion, but merely state the two most important conclusions at which he arrives, and which he illustrates in his own work : the first regards the rendering of the dialogue, for which he adopts the ten-syllabled rhymed couplet, in preference to blank verse; the second regards the choruses, which he preserves in their original form as to the exact correspondence and equipoise of strophe and antistrophe. We confess ourselves, as yet, unconvinced by his arguments on either of these two points ; but these are questions of taste, which we leave to the judgment of individual readers.
The translation occupies about a hundred pages, and the remainder of the volume consists of notes and illustrations, the latter chiefly from
modern poetry. Mr. Blew follows Paley's edition of Æschylus as his text-book.
We subjoin, as a specimen, extracts from the speech of Clytemnestra ; vv. 855_876, 895_903.
“ Men, townsmen, Argos' present elderhood,
I blush not, this mine husband-loving mood,
The Alcestis of Euripides. Pp. 62. Oxford : J. H. Parker. Another number of the admirable series of the Oxford Pocket Classics, texts, with short notes. Having had occasion already to speak in terms of high commendation of this series, both as regards substance and execution, we need now say no more than that the present Number confirms us in our opinion.
A Construing Book. By the Rev. E. Thring, M.A. Pp. 103. Cam
bridge : Macmillan. The compiler of this work very properly asserts, that languages may be, and ought to be, taught by an explanation of principles, 'rather than by bare rules. We quite agree with him : the rule appeals to mere obedience : the principle appeals to the understanding: when once the principle is mastered, the application is comparatively easy. For instance, it is one thing to teach a boy by rule that do, præbeo, and other verbs of giving, govern a dative : it is another thing to explain why that particular inflection is used, as in p. 23 of this work—“The dative case denotes broadly, nearness to, at; as, 'Frigus præbes tauris :' the gift stopping at the receiver.”
The “ Construing Book” is compiled with a view to this system of teaching. The sentence is gradually built up under the eye of the pupil, the various stages being duly explained as they occur. The sentences selected for this purpose, are culled from the Latin poets, Ovid, Virgil, and Horace. We question whether the passages are sufficiently graduated : they appear to be too advanced for the junior classes.
Elementary Treatise on Mechanics. By S. Parkinson, B.D., Fellow and
Tutor of St. John's College, Cambridge. Pp. 288. Cambridge : Macmillan, 1855.
Mr. Parkinson's object in adding another to the gradually increasing stream which has flowed from the days when “ Wood's Mechanics” first emerged from the ever-labouring brain of that doughty old Johnian, is that of presenting a suitable volume for junior classes in the universities, and the higher classes in schools. This has been effected very fairly, and the book, as far as it goes, usefully and lucidly performs its task. But there is an attempt to go beyond it, and the chapter on dynamics is a failure—as all attempts to explain curvilinear motion must be which discard the use of the differential calculus. The geometrical expositions are anything but “tolerably simple ;" they are to our apprehension all but unintelligible. The best part of the book is that which treats of statics. The mechanical powers are remarkably well described, and the problems excellent.
History of Ancient Greece. Pp. 350. Chambers : London and
Edinburgh. Precisely that for which the author of this Condensation of Greek History takes credit for in his preface, is in our opinion the fault of his work. It is nothing but a narrative of facts. He condemns, not very civilly, in Bishop Thirlwall, that merit which he has certainly most faithfully avoided, namely, that it is “more a dissertation on the history than the history itself.” This is just what new books on history ought to be. The facts already given usque ad nauseam in all kinds of histories should be made the text of lively instruction, and philosophical historical essays. Mr. Grote's book is held to be superior to the Bishop's—"more full and satisfactory as to the delineation of facts and characters.” “The leading features of the history” of Greece have indeed been brought out, and very correctly, and in their right order and proportions, but nothing else has ; and we cannot praise books of history written in