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§ 1. MASTERS and scholars who sigh over what seem to them the intricacies and obscurities of modern grammars may find some consolation in thinking that, after all, matters might have been worse, and that our fate is enviable indeed compared with that of the students of Latin 400 years ago. Did the reader ever open the Doctrinale of Alexander de Villa Dei, which was the grammar in general use from the middle of the thirteenth to the end of the fifteenth century? (v. Appendix, p. 532). If so, he is aware how great a step towards simplicity was made by our grammatical reformers, Lily, Colet, and Erasmus. Indeed, those whom we now regard as the forgers of our chains were, in their own opinion and that of their contemporaries, the champions of freedom (Appendix, p. 533).
§ 2. I have given elsewhere (Appendix, p. 533) a remark· able passage from Colet, in which he recommends the leaving of rules, and the study of examples in good Latin authors. Wolsey also, in his directions to the masters of Ipswich School (dated 1528), proposes that the boys should be exercised in the eight parts of speech in the first form,
Wolsey on teaching.
and should begin to speak Latin and translate from English into Latin in the second. If the masters think fit, they may also let the pupils read Lily's Carmen Monitorium, or Cato's Distichs. From the third upwards a regular course of classical authors was to be read, and Lily's rules were to be introduced by degrees. "Although I confess such things are necessary," writes Wolsey, "yet, as far as possible, we could wish them so appointed as not to occupy the more valuable part of the day." Only in the sixth form, the highest but two, Lily's syntax was to be begun. In these schools the boys' time was wholly taken up with Latin, and the speaking of Latin was enforced even in play hours, so we see that anomalies in the accidence as taught in the As in præsenti were not given till the boys had been some time using the language; and the syntax was kept till they had a good practical knowledge of the usages to which the rules referred.*
§ 3. But although there was a great stir in education throughout this century, and several English books were published about it, we come to 1570 before we find anything that has lived till now. We then have Roger Ascham's Scholemaster, a posthumous work brought out by Ascham's widow, and republished in 1571 and 1589. The book was
* In another matter, also, we find that the masters of these schools subsequently departed widely from the intention of the great men who fostered the revival of learning. Wolsey writes: "Imprimis hoc unum admonendum censuerimus, ut neque plagis severioribus neque vultuosis minis, aut ulla tyrannidis specie, tenera pubes afficiatur: hac enim injuria ingenii alacritas aut extingui aut magna ex parte obtundi solet." Again he says: "In ipsis studiis sic voluptas est intermiscenda ut puer ludum potius discendi quam laborem existimet." He adds: "Cavendum erit ne immodica contentione ingenia discentium obruantur aut lectione prolonga defatigentur ; utraque enim juxta offenditur."
History of Methods useful.
then lost sight of, but reappeared, with James Upton as editor, in 1711,* and has been regarded as an educational classic ever since. Dr. Johnson says "it contains perhaps the best advice that was ever given for the study of languages," and Professor J. E. B. Mayor, who on this point is a higher authority than Dr. Johnson, declares that "this book sets forth the only sound method of acquiring a dead language."
§ 4. With all their contempt for theory, English schoolmasters might have been expected to take an interest in one part of the history of education, viz., the history of methods, There is a true saying attributed by Marcel to Talleyrand, "Les Méthodes sont les maîtres des maîtres-Method is the master's master." The history of education shows us that every subject of instruction has been taught in various ways, and further, that the contest of methods has not uniformly ended in the survival of the fittest. Methods then might often teach the teachers, if the teachers cared to be taught; but till within the last half century or so an unintelligent traditional routine has sufficed for them. There has no doubt been a great change since men now old were at school, but in those days the main strength of the teaching was given to Latin, and the masters knew of no better method of starting boys in this language than making them learn by heart Lily's, or as it was then called, the Eton Latin Grammar. If reason had had anything to do with teaching, this book would have been demolished by Richard Johnson's Grammatical Commentaries published
Prof Arber is one of the very few editors who give accurate and sufficient bibliographical information about the books they edit. All students of our old literature are under deep obligations to him.
Our three celebrities.
in 1706; but worthless as Johnson proved it to be, the Grammar was for another 150 years treated by English schoolmasters as the only introduction to the Latin tongue. The books that have recently been published show a tendency to revert to methods set forth in Elizabeth's reign in Ascham's Scholemaster (1570) and William Kempe's Education of Children (1588), but the innovators have not as a rule been drawn to these methods by historical inquiry.
§ 5. There seem to be only three English writers on education who have caught the ear of other nations, and these are Ascham, Locke, and Herbert Spencer. Of a contemporary we do well to speak with the same reserve as of "present company," but of the other two we may say that the choice has been somewhat capricious. Locke's Thoughts perhaps deserves the reputation and influence it has always had, but in it he hardly does himself justice as a philosopher of the mind; and much of the advice which has been considered his exclusively, is to be found in his English predecessors whose very names are unknown except to the educational antiquarian. Ascham wrote a few pages on method which entitle him to mention in an account of methods of language-learning. He also wrote a great many pages about things in general which would have shared the fate of many more valuable but long forgotten books had he not had one peculiarity in which the other writers were wanting, that indescribable something which Matthew Arnold calls "charm."
§ 6. Ascham has been very fortunate in his editors, Pro. fessor Arber and Professor Mayor, and the last editions*
* Mayor's is beautifully printed and costs Is. (London, Bell and Sons.)
A.'s method for Latin: first stage.
give everyone an opportunity of reading the Scholemaster. I shall therefore speak of nothing but the method.
§ 7. Latin is to be taught as follows:-First, let the child learn the eight parts of speech, and then the right joining together of substantives with adjectives, the noun with the verb, the relative with the antecedent. After the concords are learned, let the master take Sturm's selection of Cicero's Epistles, and read them after this manner:
first, let him teach the child, cheerfully and plainly, the cause and matter of the letter; then, let him construe it into English so oft as the child may easily carry away the understanding of it; lastly, parse it over perfectly. This done, then let the child by and by both construe and parse it over again; so that it may appear that the child doubteth in nothing that his master has taught him before. After this, the child must take a paper book, and, sitting in some place where no man shall prompt him, by himself let him translate into English his former lesson. Then showing it to his master, let the master take from him his Latin book, and pausing an hour at the least, then let the child translate his own English into Latin again in another paper book. When the child bringeth it turned into Latin, the master must compare it with Tully's book, and lay them both together, and where the child doth well, praise him," where amiss point out why Tully's use is better. Thus the child will easily acquire a knowledge of grammar, "and also the ground of almost all the rules that are so busily taught by the master, and so hardly learned by the scholar in all common schools. We do not contemn rules, but we gladly teach rules; and teach them more plainly, sensibly, and orderly, than they be commonly taught in common schools. For when the master shall compare Tully's book with the scholar's translation,