Imágenes de página


of our sincerity by displaying a temperate and considerate regard. One other fault in manners is superfluous ceremony; this is never acceptable, and creates that uneasiness which it is the part of good breeding to

True politeness does not reside in this or that fashion of doing a thing, a particular bow, or a certain scrape, but only in the heart. “And in good earnest,” says Locke in conclusion, “ if I were to speak my mind freely, so children do nothing out of obstinacy, pride, and ill-nature, it is no great matter how they put off their hats or make legs."

The system of keeping boys at Latin and Greek for eight or ten years at a school, from which they return as ignorant as they went of all other matters, and in most cases soon forget even that which they have learnt, is not patiently to be endured. The virtue of the child is the first grand object; subsidiary to this, and valuable only as contributing to it, is learning, which is not worth the having if it is to be acquired to the exclusion of every other species of mental cultivation. With respect to studies, and the means of facilitating them, the method hinted at before deserves to be considered. “I have always had a fancy that learning might be made a play and recreation to children.”

.* It was observed, that a relish or distaste might be imparted artificially for almost anything; now this may be done not only in the manner there suggested, viz., by employing one passion against another, but by more direct expedients. Let a

* He mentions further, in confirmation of this view, that,

amongst the Portuguese, it is so much a fashion and emulation, amongst their

dren, to learn to read and write, that they cannot hinder them from it. They will learn it one from another, and are as intent on it as if it were forbidden them.

ball of iron, for example, be contrived, with spaces, and different letters painted on them; or dice, with letters in the same manner instead of the points; and let some good games be devised that may teach the alphabet in this way. And to sharpen his desire to play at such games, let him suppose that they properly belong to those older than himself. “ I know a person who, by pasting on the six vowels on the six sides of a die, and the remaining eighteen consonants on the sides of three other dice, has made this a play for his children, that he shall win who, at one cast, throws most words on these four dice; whereby his eldest son, yet in coats, has played himself into spelling, with great eagerness, and without once having been chid for it, or forced to it.”—“ Be

des these, twenty other plays might be invented, depending on letters."

The Fables of Æsop, as containing matier at once easy and entertaining, and inculcating, in a familiar way, a quantity of memorable wisdom, may be the best book to put into a child's hands as soon as he can read; and the accompaniment of pictures is on every account to be recommended. It will add much to the utility of these lessons, if he be encouraged to relate the stories he has read to other people, and to converse about them. And let these two rules always be observed; first, that the lesson shall be over before the attention has ceased, so that he goes away with an appetite; and second, that he shall always have the satisfaction of feeling that he has learnt something which he did not know before. To Æsop's Fables should be added the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, which he should learn by heart, without waiting to be able to read them. But the promiscuous reading of the Bible

will do harm, not good, while he is still unable to comprehend the abstruse and recondite meanings with which it abounds. Certain portions should be selected for him, especially such stories as he will be able to read with some degree of pleasure as well as instruction; and to this let there be added all such remarkable moral truths, and rules of conduct, as it may be important to fix in his mind. When he comes to be entered in writing, he should not be taught to hold his pen and shape the letters all at once, but the former part of the action should be perfected first." I think the Italian way, of holding the pen between the thumb and the forefinger alone, may be best."--Learning to draw will improve his writing-hand, and introduce him to an art highly useful as well as ornamental, which saves much description, and in inany cases furnishes the means of definition, where language can hardly suffice; especially if he is intended to travel. Short-hand, whether for dispatch or secrecy, is not less useful, but should not be learned till after a good writing-hand is formed. French and Latin are both necessary to a gentleman's education, and, but for prejudice, might be taught in the same manner, that is to say, by vivá voce instruction. For this purpose the tutor should be able to converse in Latin with tolerable fluency and accuracy; and a much better acquaintance might be made thus with the general character of the language, than by the ordinary drudgery. Let every rule be learnt by the practical application of it, and not by tedious, unillustrated precepts, which cannot make half the impression. Nor is the method of teaching by rote to be depreciated, or deemed superficial; for language is the creature of

custom, not of law; and practice, therefore, not theory, should communicate it. “And I fain would have any one name to me that tongue that any one can learn, or speak as he should do, by the rules of grammar. Languages were made not by rules or art, but by accident, and the common use of the people. And he that speaks them well has no other rule but that; nor anything to trust to, but his memory, and the habit of speaking after the fashion learned from those that are allowed to speak properly, which, in other words, is only to speak by rote.” It is not intended by this that books of grammar have no use ; but that they may be very well dispensed with by all ordinary learners, who merely seek the common advantages and pleasures which a

new language holds out. The science of grammar is for those to study who are led to contemplate the philosophy of language, or who desire to be critics, and make literature their occupation. If then a tutor cannot be had who is able to teach Latin by oral practice, the second best method is by interlineation, or writing under each word in the Latin its corresponding English, with as much literality of translation as possible. In this method, some previous acquaintance with the conjugations and declensions will be necessary to supply the place of vivâ voce example. But, indeed, so little need these difficulties frighten any one, that any mother, who chooses, may undertake the Latin herself, if she will only get some one to mark the penultimate for her in words of more than one syllable, and then make the child read with her, in the Latin, the Evangelists, which she can hardly help understanding; and so on with other easy books. It is not generally advisable to

teach by catechising, which is apt to lead to irritation, usually discomposing and alarming the pupil; copious information and ready helps, on the contrary, impart cheerfulness and keep up attention. Whenever trepidation is produced in the child, and his thoughts have received disturbance from without, no further instruction can do any good :—“ It is as impossible to draw fair and regular characters on a trembling mind, as on a shaking paper."

As the mere acquirement of words possesses no attraction for a child, let his Latin be made the medium of some entertaining knowledge. But if, after all, he is to be sent to a public school, insist upon it that he shall not waste his time at themes and verses. The former are ordinarily given on subjects with which it is impossible the boy should have any acquaintance; but if he had, what chance is there of his arranging his thoughts to any purpose, while writing, or attempting to write, in an ancient language, where all the labour is how to make his words hang together? As to verses, if he has no genius for poetry, they can do him no good; and if he has, it is so dangerous and precarious a gift, that no father, who wishes to see his son happily settled in life, can desire that it should be cherished. The committing long passages to memory is another practice at schools much to be denounced. A good memory is not to be acquired; that which interests the feelings is easily retained in the mind, but a heap of Latin or Greek lines is not worth the pains it costs to remember it, and may make a pedant though it cannot make a scholar. But though this parrot-like repetition of long passages can further no good object, there are many opportunities of tasking the memory with real advantage. Children should every

« AnteriorContinuar »