Thomas Arnold.

Introductory lectures on modern history, delivered in Lent term, MDCCCXLII. With the inaugural lecture delivered in December, MDCCCXLI.. online

. (page 35 of 35)
Online LibraryThomas ArnoldIntroductory lectures on modern history, delivered in Lent term, MDCCCXLII. With the inaugural lecture delivered in December, MDCCCXLI.. → online text (page 35 of 35)
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lion is obtained with the greatest names in history, and the most
remarkable actions of their lives : while their chronological arrange-
ment is learnt at the same time from the order of the pictures ; a
boy's memory being very apt to recollect the place which a favourite
print holds in a volume, whether it comes towards the beginning,
middle, or end, what picture comes before it, and what follows it.
Such pictures should contain as much as possible the poetry of his-
tory ; the most striking characters, and most hercic actions, whether
of doing or of suffering ; but they should not embarrass themselves
with its philosophy, with the causes of revolutions, the progress of
society, or the merits of great political questions. Their use is of
another kind, to make some great name, and great action of every
period, familiar to the mind ; that so in taking up any more detailed
history or biography, (and education should never forget the im-
portance of preparing a boy to derive benefit from his accidental
reading,) he may have some association with the subject of it, and
may not feel himself to be on ground wholly unknown to him. He
may thus be led to open volumes into which he would otherwise
have never thought of looking : he need not read them through —
indeed it is sad folly to require either man or boy to read through
every book they look at, but he will see what is said about such and
such persons or actions ; and then he will learn by the way some-
thing about other pe'sons and other actions ; and wiU have his stock
of associations increased, so as to render more and more informa-
tion acceptable to him.

" After this foundation, the object still being rather to create an
appetite for knowledge than to satisfy it, it would be desirable to
furnish a boy with histories of one or two particular countries,
Greece Rome, and England, for instance, written at no great
length, and these also written poetically much more than philo-
sophically, with much liveliness of style, and force of painting, so
aa to excite an interest about the persons and things spoken of. The
absence of all instruction in politics or political economy, nay even
an absolute erroneousness of judgment in such matters, provided
always that it involves no wrong principle in morality, are compara*
lively of slight importance. Let the boy gain, if possible, a strong
appetite for knowledge to begin with ; it is a later part of educatior.


*hicli should enable liim to pursue it sensibly, and to make it. when
obtained, wisdom.

" But should his education, as is often the case, be cut short by
circumstances, so that he never receives its finishing lessons, will
ho not feel the want of more direct information and instruction in its
earlier stages ? The answer is, that every thing has its proper sea-
eon, and if summer be cut out of the year, it is vain to suppose that
the work of summer can be forestalled in spring. Undoubtedly,
much is lost by this abridgement of the term of education, and it
is well to insist strongly upon the evil, as it might, in many in-
stances, be easily avoided. But if it is unavoidable, the evil conse-
quences arising from it cannot be prevented. Fulness of knowledge
and sagacity of judgment arc fruits not to be looked for in early
youth ; and he who endeavours to force them does but interfere with
the natural growth of the plant, and prematurely exhaust its vigour.

" In the common course of things, however, where a young per-
son's education is not interrupted, the later process is one of exceed-
ing importance and interest. Supposing a boy to possess that outline
of general history which his prints and his abridgements will have
given him, with his associations, so far as they go, strong and lively,
and his desire of increased knowledge keen, the next thing to be done
is to set him to read some first-rate historian, whose mind was
formed in, and bears the stamp of some period of advanced civili-
zation, analogous to that in which we now live. In other words,
ho should read Thucydides or Tacitus, or any writer equal to thom,
if sucn can be found, belonging to the third period of fuU civiliza-
tion, that of modern Europe since the middle ages. The particular
subject of the history is of little moment, so long as it be taken
neither from the barbarian, nor from the romantic, but from the phi-
losophical or civilized stage of human society ; and so long as the
writer be a man of commanding mind, who has fully imbibed the
influences of his age, yet without bearing its exclusive impress.
And the study of such a work under an intelligent teaclier becomes
indeed the key of knowledge and of wisdom : first it aflords an ex-
ample of good historical evidence, and hence the pupil may be
taught to notice from time to time the various criteria of a credible
narrative, and by the rule of contraries to observe what are the in-
dications of a testimony questionable, suspicious, or worthless. Un-


due scepticism may be repressed by showing how generally IrulV,
has been attained when it has been honestly and judiciously soiighi ;
while credulity may be checked by pointing out, on the other hand,
how manifold are the errors into which those are betrayed whose
intellect or whose principles have been found wanting. Now too
the time is come when the pupil may be introduced to that high
philosophy which unfolds the ' causes of things.' The history with
which he is engaged presents a view of society in its most advanced
state, when the human mind is highly developed, and the various
crises which affect the growth of the political fabric are all over-
past. Let him be taught to analyze the subject thus presented to
him ; to trace back institutions, civil and religious, to their origin ;
to explore the elements of the national character, as now exhibited
in maturity, in the vicissitudes of the nation's fortune, and the moral
and physical qualities of its race ; to observe how the morals and
the mind of the people have been subject to a succession of in-
fluences, some accidental, others regular ; to see and remember
what critical seasons of improvement have been neglected, — what
besetting evils have been wantonly aggravated by wickedness or
folly. In short, the pupil may be furnished as it were with certain
formulae, which shall enable him to read all history beneficially ;
which shall teach him what to look for in it, how to judge of it, and
how to apply it.

" Education will thus fulfil its great business, as far as regards
the intellect, to inspire it with a desire of knowledge, and to fur-
nish it with power to obtain and to profit by what it seeks for.
And a man thus educated, even though he knows no history in de-
tail but that which is called ancient, will be far better fitted to enter
on public life, than he who could tell the circumstances and the
date of every battle and every debate throughout the last century ;
whose information, in the common sense of the term, about modern
history, might be twenty times more minute. The fault of s)'stems
of cla.ssical education in some instances has been, not that they did
not teach modern history, but that they did not prepare and dispose
their pupils to acquaint themselves with it afterwards ; not that
they did not attempt to raise an impossible superstructure, but that
they did not jjrepare the ground for the foundation, and put the ma-
terials within reach of the builder.


'* That impatience, which is one of the diseases of the ago, is in
great danger of possessing the public mind on the subject of edu-
cation ; an unhealtliy restlessness may succeed to lethargy. Men
are not contented with sowing the seed, unless they can also reap
the fruit ; forgetting how often it is the law of our condition, —
'that one soweth, and another reapeth.' It is no wisdom to make
boys prodigies of information ; but it is our wisdom and our duty
lo cultivate their faculties each in its season — first the memory and
imagination, and then the judgment ; to furnish them with the
means, and to excite the desire, of improving themselves, and to
wait with confidence for God's blessing on the result."

Dr. Arnolo's Uescri|)tion of Rugby School,

'Journal of Education,' voL vii. pp. 'J45-9.

No. III.
(See p. Hi, note 1 to Lecture II.)
On Translation.

" * * * All this supposes, indeed, that classical instruction should
be sensibly conducted ; it requires that a classical teacher should be
fully acquainted with modern history and modern literature, no less
than with those of Greece and Rome. What is, or perhaps what
used to be, called a mere scholar, cannot possibly communicate to
his pupils the main advantages of a classical education. The know-
ledge of the past is valuable, because without it our knowledge of
the present and of the future must be scanty ; but if the knowledge
of the past be confined wholly to itself; if, instead of being made
to bear upon things around us, it be totally isolated from them, and
so disguised by vagueness and misapprehension as to appear inca-
pable of illustrating them, then indeed it becomes little better than
laborious trifling, and they who declaim against it may be fully

" To select one instance of this perversion, what can be more ab-
surd than the practice of what is called construing Greek and Latin,
continued as it often is even with pupils of an advanced age 1 Tim
«tudy of Greek and Latin considered as mere languages, is of im-
portance, mainlv as it enables us to understand and employ weli


that language in which we commonly think, and speak, and ivrite.
It does this, because Greek and Latin are specimens of language
at once highly perfect and incapable of being understood without
long and minute attention : the study of them, therefore, naturally
involves that of the general principles of grammar ; while their
peculiar excellences illustrate the points which render language
clear, and forcible, and beautiful. But our application of this gen-
eral knowledge must naturally be to our own language, to show us
what are its peculiarities, what its beauties, what its defects ; to
teach us by the patterns or the analogies offered by other lan-
guages, how the effect which we admire in them may be produced
with a somewhat different instrument. Every lesson in Greek or
Latin may and ought to be made a lesson in English. The trans-
lation of every sentence in Demosthenes or Tacitus is properly an
exercise in extemporaneous English composition ; a problem, how
to express with equal brevity, clearness, and force, in our own Ian
guage, the thought which the original author has so admirably ex
pressed in his. But the system of construing, far from assisting, is
positively injurious to our knowledge and use of English ; it accus-
toms us to a tame and involved arrangement of our words, and to
the substitution of foreign idioms in the place of such as are na-
tional ; it obliges us to caricature every sentence that we render,
by turning what is, in its original dress, beautiful and natural, into
something which is neither Greek nor English, stiff, obscure, and
flat, exemplifying all the faults incident to language, and excluding
every excellence.

" The exercise of translation, on the other hand, meaning, by
translation, the expressing of an entire sentence of a foreign Ian
guage by an entire sentence of our own, as opposed to the render-
ing separately into English either every separate word, or at most
only parts of the sentence, whether larger or smaller, the exercise
■jf translation is capable of furnishing improvement to students of
every age, according to the measure of their abilities and know,
ledge. The late Dr. Gabell, than whom in these matters there caa
be no higher authority, when he was the under-master of Win-
chester College, never allowed even the lowest forms to construe,
they alwavs were taught, according to his expression, to read intt
English. From this habit even the youngest boys derived several


idvantages ; the meaning of the sentence was more clearly seen
when it was read all at once in English, than when every clause
or word of English was interrupted by the intermixture of patches
of Latin; and any absurdity in the translation was more apparent.
Again, there was the habit gained of constructing English sentences
upon any given subject, readily and correctly. Thirdly, with re-
spect to Latin itself, the practice was highly useful. By being
accustomed to translate idiomatically, a boy, when turning his own
thoughts into Latin, was enabled to render his own natural English
into the appropriate expressions in Latin. Having been always ac-
customed, for instance, to translate ' quum venisset' by the particle
' having come,' he naturally, when he wishes to translate ' having
come,' into Latin, remembers what expression in Latin is equivalent
to it. Whereas, if he has been taught to construe literally ' when he
had come,' he never has occasion to use the English participle in his
translations from Latin ; and when, in his own Latin compositions,
he wishes to express it, he is at a loss how to do it, and not unfre-
quently from the construing notion that a participle in one language
must be a participle in another, renders it by the Latin participle
passive ; a fault which all who have had any experience in boys'
compositions must have frequently noticed.

" But as a boy advances in scholarship, he ascends from the idio-
matic translation of particular expressions to a similar rendering of
an entire sentence. He may be taught that the order of the words
in the original is to be preserved as nearly as possible in the trans-
lation ; and the problem is how to elTect this without violating the
idiom of his own language. There are simple sentences, such as
' Ardeam Rutuli habebant,' in which nothing more is required than
to change the Latin accusative into the English nominative, and
the active verb into one passive or neuter : ' Ardca belonged to the
Rutulians.' And in the same way the other objective cases, the
genitive and the dative, when they occur at the beginning of a
sentence, may be often translated by the nominative in English,
making a corresponding change in the voice of the verb following.
But in many instances also tlic nominative expresses so completelv
the principal subject of the sentence, that it is unnatural to put it
into any other case than the nominative in the translation. ' Om-
nium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum llecti


precibus aut donis regiis posset, jurejurando adegit [Brutus] nemi-
nem Rorna passuros regnare.' It will not do here to translate
' adegit' by a passive verb, and to make Brutus the ablative case,
because Brutus is the principal subject of this and the sentences
preceding and following it ; the historian is engaged in relating his
measures. To preserve, therefore, the order of the words, the
clause ' avidum novae libertatis populum' must be translated as a
subordinate sentence, by inserting a conjunction and verb. ' First
of all, while the people were set so keenly on their new liberty, to
prevent the possibility of their ever being moved from it hereafter
by the entreaties or bribes of the royal house, Brutus bound them
by an oath, that they would never suffer any man to be king at
Rome.' Other passages are still more complicated, and require
greater taste and command of language to express them properly ;
and such will often offer no uninteresting trial of skill, not to the
pupil only, but even to his instructor.

"Another point may be mentioned, in which the translation of
the Greek and Roman writers is most useful in improving a boy's
knowledge of his own language. In the choice of his words, and
in the style of his sentences, he should be taught to follow the
analogy required by the age and character of the writer whom he
is translating. For instance, in translating Homer, hardly any
words should be employed except Saxon, and the oldest and simplest
of those which are of French origin ; and the language should con-
sist of a series of simple propositions, connected with one another
only by the most inartificial conjunctions. In translating the trage-
dians, the words should be principally Saxon, but mixed with many
of French or foreign origin, like the language of Shakspeare, and
the other dramatists of the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. The
term ' words of French origin' is used purposely, to denote that
large portion of our language which, although of Latin derivation,
came to us immediately from the French of our Norman conquer-
ors, and thus became a part of the natural spoken language of that
mixed people, which grew out of the melting of the Saxon and
Norman races into one another. But these are carefully to be dis-
tinguished from another class of words equally of Jjatm derivation,
but which have been introduced by learned men at a much later
period, directly from Latin books, and have never, properly speak-


ing, formed any part of the genuine national language. These
truly foreign words, which Johnson used so largely, are carefully
to be shunned in the translation of poetry, as being unnatural, and
associated only with the most unpoetical period of our literature,
the middle of the eighteenth century.

" So also, in translating the prose writers of Greece and Rome,
Herodotus should be rendered in the style and language of the
Chroniclers ; Thucydides in that of Bacon or Hooker, while De-
mosthenes, Cicero, Caesar, and Tacitus, require a style completely
modern — the perfection of the Enijlish language such as we now
speak and write it, varied only to suit the individual differences of
the different writers, but in its range of words and in its idioms,
substantially the same.

"Thus much has been said on the subject of translation, because
the practice of construing has naturally tended to bring the exer-
cise into disrepute : and in the contests for academical honours at
both Universities, less and less importance, we have heard, is con-
stantly being attached to the power of viva voce translation. We
do not wonder at any contempt that is shown towards construing,
the practice being a mere folly ; but it is of some consequence that
the vplue of translating should be better understood, and the exei'-
cise more carefully attended to. It is a mere chimera to suppose,
as many do, that what they call free translation is a convenient
cover for inaccurate scholarship. It can only be so through the
incompetence or carelessness of the teacher. If the force of every
part of the sentence be not fully given, the translation is so far
faulty ; but idiomatic translation, much more than literal, is an
evidence that the translator does see the force of his original ; and
it should be remembered that the very object of so translating is to
preserve the spirit of an author, w-here it would be lost or weakened
by translating literally ; but where a literal translation happens to
be faithful to the spirit, there of course it should be adopted ; and
any omission or misrepresentation of any part of the meaning of tlie
original does not preserve its spirit, but, as far as it goes, sacrifices
it, and is not to be called '■free translation,'' but rather ' imperfect,
' blundering,' or, in a word, ' bad translation.' "

Dr. Arnold's Description of Rugby School,

' Journal of Education,' vol. vii. pp. 241-5.


The essential difficulty in the process of translation lias beer
well stated by Mr. Newman, in the Preface to his " Church of the
Fathers ;"

" It should be considered that translation in itself is, after all
out a problem, how, two languages being given, the nearest approxi-
mation may be made in the second to the expression of ideas al-
ready conveyed through the medium of the first. The problenr.
almost starts with the assumption that something must be sacrificed
and the chief question ia, what is the least sacrifice ? In a balance
of difficulties, one translator will aim at being critically correct,
and will become obscure, cumbrous, and foreign ; another will aim
at being English, and will appear deficient in scholarship. While
grammatical particles are followed out, the spirit evaporates ; and
while ease is secured, new ideas are intruded, or the point of the
original is lost, or the drift of the context broken." p. viii.

On a subject of so much interest in education, I may add a re-
ference to some judicious ' Remarks on Translation' by Mr. R. H.
Home, in the third No. of the ' Classical Museum,^ Decern., 1843.
The nature of true and false translation, is also examined and well
exemplified, in an article on ' German and English Translators
from the Greek,' ir the '■Foreign Quarterly Revieiv,'' vol. xxxiii.
July, 1841.



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Online LibraryThomas ArnoldIntroductory lectures on modern history, delivered in Lent term, MDCCCXLII. With the inaugural lecture delivered in December, MDCCCXLI.. → online text (page 35 of 35)