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'Primer,' to find 'confusion worse confounded,' proofs undeniable of our second charge,
(2.) The Primer ' evinces an utter ignorance of the place of grammar in learning language.
Not only this 'Primer,' but other parts of the public school system, proceed on the fallacy that language is learnt from grammar, instead of what is true, that the grammar is learnt from the language. John Locke, no mean authority on the human mind, spoke of the absurdity of teaching the grammar (that is, the structure and analysis of a language) before the student knows a word of the language itself. Grammar to language is an accessory, we admit, but only an accessory after the fact;' only when the rule finds words for an observation which the student recognizes as soon as read. Till such time, a rule is neither digested nor applied; it serves as so much mental lumber, and nothing more. All methods of teaching a language are defective but those which begin with the language itself. Translation and retranslation must go on pari passu with every noun or verb or part of grammar: you will then make a sensible progress both in language and in grammar, properly so called.
When the student is already familiar with the forms of sentences and the idioms of a language from extensive reading, for which twenty pages of the accidence are quite sufficient, the observations of the grammarian form the easy and interesting study of an hour. It is then, and not before, that the mental exercise claimed for classical education begins in good earnest. Grammar also, at that stage, tends to accuracy in the language; but for mere children, the practice of quoting for a genitive or a dative, a rule which commonly happens to be right, is mere guesswork and parrot-gabble, and no mental exercise at all. Parsing grammatically is good drilling, we allow, but only to the extent of a boy's intelligence. But as to the Primer,' it is as unfitted to form, as it is to fill, the mind of boys. The term 'primer,' or introduction,' is indeed a mis
nomer; a dose of it will operate like Mrs. Squeers' brimstone and treacle, to take away the school appetite for the day. Many of the rules are so abstruse we ourselves could only guess at their meaning by the examples. Learners can only profit by such rules by the time they have well-nigh learnt to do without them. And this leads us to the third point.
(3.) The Nine' evince an ignorance of the first principles of education. The end of education is to teach the boy to teach himself as a man; to lead him till he can run alone, and let him leave off with an appetite; to form a love of literature, and teach him to find a resource in books. Now the writers of the Primer' remind us of men who take a dog by the ears and rub his nose in anything repulsive, or throw him into the water, thinking to make him take to it kindly another day. A duck in a walled pond, it is said, will fall into despair and drown. The weary prisoner on the treadmill feels the labour doubly hard when his ear tells him that he toils for toiling sake, and grinds no corn. The 'Primer' seems formed on the same principles of discouragement. It virtually says, Who enters here must give up hope.' The poor boy finds himself as in a wood; he may be whipped round and round, and made to go, but he is never to be gladdened by daylight, or by seeing his way out. The Primer' acts, not as a stimulus, but as a caution to a boy. It rises before his eyes as a notice board, 'Beware.' Pains and penalties, 'bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble,' form the leading idea. The Dean of Christchurch gave evidence before the School Commission that after six or seven years of Greek and Latin at a public school, young men commonly come to college unable to translate at sight even simple passages. The 'Primer' system explains it all. Is it true that young ladies can read French from no book but their own? Far from it. We admit that the dead languages differ in facility from the living ones, but it must be admitted the inequality between the performances of our
boys with Latin and our girls with French is rather too great.
Under the Primer' system we cannot wonder if many a vow is registered at school to eschew learning to the end of one's days; for the child is set to work in a way contrary to the nature of man, yes, and of beast too. When the fine-spirited horse has once strained at a burthen which will not yield, though you lighten that burthen, it is hard to persuade the noble animal to try again.
Nothing is more contrary to a boy's nature than to appreciate and apply philosophical terms. Boys
are quick enough at analyzing or observing the same forms and idioms as they read; but whoever inverts the process, whoever sets a child not to analyze but to generalize, as the 'Primer' does, from rules full of unheard-of technicalities, shows extreme ignorance of a child's mind, and literally begins at the wrong end.
But the Nine' ought to know that nature has implanted in boys a certain sense and a capacity for pleasure, and for taking interest in the dryest of all pursuits. In all but the very dullest there is a responsive chord, if you can but strike it. For, what Aristotle called Mathesis, or the pleasures of acquisition-the delight men feel in a sense of progress and in increasing strength-these are also the pleasures of the boy. You identify this peculiar pleasure as a child laughs with joy when it has solved a riddle or adjusted the sticks of a wooden puzzle. A master worthy of the name will identify the same gleam of natural satisfaction as he sees the boy brighten up when he has also solved the enigma of a Latin sentence, and feels difficulties cleared away, and darkness bursting into light. The beauty and the fitness of Latin and Greek for the training of the mind consist not least in this-that with an able master the steeps are so nicely sloped, the stepping-stones are so many, and the difficulties imperceptibly and gradually decrease. But the unhappy Primer' system mars all. It flies in the face of nature, and
scatters to the winds all her kindly aids and tendencies.
A young Etonian (now a Master of Eton) told the School Commission in effect, that as to any moral influence between the master and the boy, the only conductor was the birch. Under the' Primer' system the birch is the only conductor of mental energy also. The boy must be driven, but not led. If the Primer' does teach the young idea how to shoot, it must be on the breechloading principle, no doubt.
It is no answer to say that the old Grammars had their hard technicalities too. It is small praise that at the present day nine men have produced nothing worse As in præsenti to waste the time and disgust the minds of boys. We do not say the new Primer is not better than the old for ripe scholars; but it is for the younger classes that it is intended, and for them we say it is the worst, because the most repulsive and unintelligible we have ever seen. The cruel part of the matter is, that since these nine public schoolmasters will virtually inflict the Grammar on some nine thousand private teachers, we here have disgust and mental misery sown broadcast among the youth of England. Years of experience, as boys ripened into scholars, rather in spite of these technicalities than by virtue of them, has taught all with whom we speak, as it has taught us, that words heteroclite, acquisitive, adimitive, and the like, never did convey any ideas to a boy till such time as the ideas came without them. We have a distinct recollection of one rule up at class, and of one cry somewhat similar in the playground, with a once-popular game called 'Hammer, Chisel, and Block.' But whether we said. Hi possessivi meus tuus suus,' in school, or whether we cried Hi cockalorum, jig, jig, jig!' out of school, the exercise of grammatical intelligence was just the same.
But, lastly, the Nine' should have remembered that if the youthful mind is aptly compared to a clear and blank piece of paper, it is no small misfortune to be doomed to enter on the long life before us
with our mental tablets scribbled over with the vilest rubbish and a horrid jargon worthy of Hanwell or of Colney Hatch. Many sensible men will not adopt any of the ingenious aids to memory, objecting to fill their minds with Willconsau, Henrag, and other garbage from Grey's Memoria Technica.' Then, good friends, in this nineteenth century what do you say at having specially invented for your dear boy's mind, and paying, perhaps, a hundred pounds half-yearly to make him gabble such stuff as this:
'Substantives in do and go
Added to this males must be
Such rubbish, intended by its rhyme to be indelibly imprinted on the minds of boys, is in the 'Primer' written or adapted by nine men who profess to regard the culture of mind and the culture of taste no less than the culture of Latin and Greek! For our own part, the moment we read it we were forcibly reminded of Mrs. Quickly, when she exclaimed, Harum, horum!-shame to teach the child such words.'
The same error (adverting to the use of grammar) of putting a good thing in the wrong place, and so disgusting the mind you design to form, and wasting valuable time besides, this runs through the whole of public school composition in verse and prose. That youths whose minds are already familiar with prose or verse, and who have a store of the best models and finest pages familiar to their minds,
should be set down to imitate either Cicero or Virgil, is reasonable enough. We should then have satisfactory results at little cost of time.
But as to setting children who cannot read a line of Latin to dibble words by rule thumbed out of the Dictionary or Gradus, at ten times the cost of time, and with pain instead of pleasure, this also is, in the true spirit of the 'Primer' system, beginning at the wrong end.
This beginning at the wrong end is the reason that so many school years pass away, and Latin and Greek are like hieroglyphics after all. We know a young lady who had read all the 'Eneid' of Virgil and all the 'Iliad' of Homer by fourteen years of age. This she
did accurately and well, with no more grammar than verbs and nouns to start with, trusting to her father's comments on the idioms as they occurred. Had she begun in the
Primer' system she would barely have been out of the grammars, much less into the languages, if not stopped altogether at the onset. Economize the time wasted at school about grammar before it can be understood, as also about verses and other exercises, before the boy has words for either, and our public schools might begin to teach Latin and Greek in no homœopathic quantities. At present, with nineteen boys out of twenty, the years at school are spent all about the foundation, and one never to bear a superstructure-in short, a schoolboy's pursuit of classical literature reminds us of old Mathews' story of the Cockney at the Epping Hunt crying out, Coachman, drive me a one-and-sixpenny fare after the stag!'
THE Old Bailey! Ugly words
associated (in a Londoner's mind, at all events) with greasy squalor, crime of every description, a cold, bleak-looking prison, with an awful little iron door, three feet or so from the ground, trial by jury, black caps, bullying counsel, a visibly affected' judge, prevaricating witnesses, and a miserable, trembling, damp prisoner in a dock. The Old Bailey or rather the Central Criminal Court, held at the Old Baileyis, par excellence, the criminal court of the country. In it all the excellences and all the disadvantages of our criminal procedure are developed to an extraordinary degree. The Old Bailey juries are at once more clearsighted and more pigheaded than any country jury. The local judges-that is to say, the Recorder and the Common Serjeantare more logical, and more inflexible, and better lawyers than the corresponding dignitaries in any of our session towns. The counsel are keener in their conduct of defences than are the majority of circuit and sessions counsel; and at the same time the tone of their cross-examinations is not so gentlemanly, and
altogether they are less scrupulous in their method of conducting the cases entrusted to them. The witnesses are more intelligent and less trustworthy than country witnesses. The officers of the court keep silence more efficiently, and at the same time are more offensive in their general deportment than the officers of any other court in the kingdom. And lastly, the degree of the prisoners' guilt seems to take a wider scope than it does in cases tried on circuit. More innocent men are charged with crime and more guilty men escape at the Old Bailey than at any other court in the kingdom; because the juries, being Londoners, are more accustomed to look upon niceties of evidence from a legal point of view, and in many cases come into the jury box with exaggerated views of what constitutes a 'reasonable doubt,' and so are disposed to give a verdict for the prisoner, when a country jury would convict.
The Old Bailey, although extremely inconvenient, is beautifully compact. You can be detained there between the time of your committal and your trial-you can be tried
there, sentenced there, condemnedcelled there, and comfortably hanged and buried there, without having to leave the building, except for the purpose of going on to the scaffold. In a short time executions will probably be conducted privately, and then there will be no occasion to go outside the four walls of the building at all-the thing will be done in the paved yard that separates the court-house from the prison. It will then be as though you were tried in the drawing-room, confined in the scullery, and hanged in the back garden.
The court-house contains, besides
ample accommodation for the judges, aldermen, common-councilmen, sheriffs, and under-sheriffs, two large courts, called the Old Court and New Court, and two or three secondary courts, which are only used when the pressure of business is rather heavy. The gravest offences are usually tried in the Old Court on the Wednesday or Thursday after the commencement of the session, on which days one or two of the judges from Westminster sit at the Old Bailey. The arrangement of the Old Court may be taken as a tolerably fair sample of a criminal court. The bench occupies one side of the
court, and the dock faces it. On the right of the bench are the jury-box and witness-box; on the left are the seats for privileged witnesses and visitors, and also for the reporters and jurymen in waiting. The space bounded by the bench on one side, the dock on another, the jury-box on a third, and the reporters' box on the fourth, is occupied by counsel and attorneys, the larger half being assigned to the counsel. Over the dock is the public gallery, to which admission was formerly obtained by payment of a fee to the warder. It is now free to about thirty of the public at large at one time, who can see nothing of the prisoner except
his scalp, and hear very little of what is going on.
The form in which a criminal trial is conducted is briefly as follows. The case is submitted to the grand jury, and if, on examination of one or more of the witnesses for the prosecution, they find a primâ-facie case against the prisoner, a 'true bill' is found, and handed to the clerk of arraigns in open court. The prisoner is then called upon to plead; and, in the event of his pleading guilty,' the facts of the case are briefly stated by counsel, together with a statement of a previous conviction, if the prisoner is an old offender, and the judge passes sen