Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

. (page 87 of 121)
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Boy. AAer two or three qualities that a boy may
pof^ess are stated, they would soon appiv the ad-
jectives, good, bad, lazy, diligent, tall, handsome,
mischievous, beautiful, ana other qualities. A TahU,
— rottfui, oval, square, oblong, high, low, long, short,
dto., adding the word table to each of these qualities.
To diversify this exerciM a little, a quality might
be mentioned, and the pupils desired to name
any objects to which it will apply. For instance,
the quality Rimnd, — when such answers as the fol-
lowing might be given, ** A hat is round, a wafer is
round, a saucer is round, a shilling is round, the sun
and moon are round." In like manner, Bigh, which
apnlies to towers, moomtains* trees, the clouds; and
Soft, which applies to butter, docijgh, jelly, slime,
pudding, snow, Ac.

I would D#xt direct their attention to that class of
words which express actions, aifd request them to



• The words in the English language have gene-
rally been arranged into nine daases, or ''parts of
speech;" but it appears almost unnecessary to con-
nder the article and the interjection as distinct parts
of speech, particularly the interjection, which is not
necessary to the construction of a sentence, being
only thrown in to express the emotion of the speak-
er. It is proper, however, that the nature and use
of these words be explained Co the yotmg. Perhaps
all the words e^^ential to language might be arrang-
ed into the four followin|; classes: Nowns^ Attribu-
tives, (or adjectives,) Affirmatives and Connectives.
(^eh arrangements, however, are of little import-
ance, provided we convey a clear idea to those wnom
we instruct of the leading parts of speech which are
essential to language, and oe carefbl not to perplex
their attention with too minute or onne e e mr y di-
Tiiionj.



look aroimd upon the landscape, and tell me if they
perceive any tning in motion, or shifting its position
from one place to another : ([for motion, either men-
tal or corporesd, is implied in every action.) Shoald
they hesitate in answering this request, an instance
or two may be pointed out; but they will seldom be
at a loss, and will at once reply—" Ships are mor-
ing - birds are flpng— the horse is trotting— men
are walking— the mason is breaking stones— the
trees are waving— the laborer is digging the earth."
They may also be told to stretch out their hands, to
walk a few steps, to strike the ground with a rod,
to look up to the sky, or to perform any other action
that may be judged expedient, and then informed,
that the words expressive of such actions, as wali-
ing. striking, breakifig, flying, Ac. are denominated
v^s. Having engaged them several times in such
exercises, till a clear idea of the nature of a verb is
communicated, it will be easy to explain the differ-
ence between active and neuter verbs, and the three
tenses, the past, the present, and the future. Thejr
may be told, for example, that masons br^ stones

Jesterday, and will break stones to-morrow— that
ames wrote a letter to his cousin a few days ago, and
will probably write another in a few days hence - asd
that birdb^T^w through the air last year, andwiflAf
in the same manner in the year to come. The
quality of an action, and the manner in which it
may be performed, or any circumstance that happens
to be connected with it, may also be explained and
illustrated. Thus, they may be asked. In what man-
ner the clouds move, and the birds fly— Jiwiy or
swiftly? In what manner the laborer performs his
woxVslovenliy or neatly, cheerfully or heavily? In
what manner the river runs—smoothly or rapidlfl
How James behaves during the time of instruction
—attentively or foolishly ? How the house to which
I point is siinnXeA—pUasanUy, awkwardly or disa-
greeably? They may then be told, that such terms
as slowly, swiftly, smoothly, pleasantly, Ac. which ex-
press certain qualities of'actions, constitute another
class of words, denominated adverbs.

"Words which express the relations in which ob-
jects stand to each other, may be next pointed oiit.
They may be directed to observe that a certain
house (pointing to it) stands near a tower, a river,
or a large tree— that a house on the right hand is
distant /riwi another on the lefl— that the clouds are
placed above the earth— that the grass is under oor
feet, and that a certain mansion is situated «;>0ii the
declivity of a hill. Such relations might also be il-
lustrated by desiring one of the pupils to walk to a
certain point, supjxise a tree, and then to retnra
from that point to his former piosition ;— or, to place
himself in a position before the rest of the pupils,
and afterwards in a nosition behind them— when the
relative positions or objects denoted by the terms
ttear, above, to, and from, before, and behind, maybj
familiarly explained, and designated by the word
prepositions. An idea may be given of another cla5S
of words, which stand instead of names, by asking
such questions as these :— How does that house look
among the trees, on the opposite bank of the rircrl
The answer might be, " It looks beautifully." How
does that lady walk 1 She walks gracefully. What
kind of a scholar Is John 1 He is a good scholar.—
What did two wicked boys do to Arthur a few dayi
ago 7 They struck him with their fists. By such
examples, it will be easy to show that the words «,
she, he, stand Ito the place of house, ladv, and Jo^s
that they and their refer to the wicked boys, and that
him stands instead of Arthur. They n«y be thfli
informed, that such words are distinguished hyjhe
name pronouns ; and by a few more familiar instrtc-
tions, they may be made acquainted with the nature
and use of the nominative, possessive, and objective
eases, both siDgQlar and plural, by which they art



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fmried. In a similar way the nature and use of the
article and of eat^neUons may be pointed oat and
illostrated.

The plan now described may be varied, by direct-
ing? the attention of the vonng to the ooiects con-
tained in a parlor or a schoolroom— or a large en-
graved landscape, accurately colored, containing a
considerable variety of objects, ana representmg
various artificeis at work, and objects m motion,
might be placed before them, and used for the same
purpose as a real land8cape - or, they may be de-
sired to form an imaginary picture, every one being
called upon to specifjr the obiects they wish to be
put into the picture, along with their qualities, and
the actions and movements they wish to have ex-
hibited. Thitf picture may either be menJf imagii^
ary, or it may be rudely sketched with a pencil on a
sheer of paper. One may desire that an elegant
mansion may hp placed m it ; another, a church
with a spire, and near it a small cottage ; another
may wish to see exhibited^ a smith hammering his
iron, or a few persons fishmg in a river ; and ano-
ther, a school and play-ground, a cotton-manufacto-
ry, or a steam- vessel sweeping along the river. The
cxnibitions at a market, or ftiir, a public procession,
boys and girls at play, a festive entertainment, with
all its accompaniments, the scenes of a sea^port, or
any other scene connected with nature or human
society, might be conceived or delineated fortius
purpose, and grammatical exercises connected with
It in the manner now- illustrated. I should, how-
ever, prefer a real landscape, as it appears on a fine
day of summer or autumn, to any other exhibition ;
as real objects make a more lively impression on the
mind than any picture can produce, and the view
of a beautiful Uindscape, in the open air, b attend-
ed with the idea of liberty, freedom fh>m formal
tasks, and various exhilarating circumstances. And
it ought never to be forgotten, that, by connecting
the process of education with varied and pleasant
associations, we gradually enlarge the sphere of
juvenile knowledge, and impress more deeply on the
vouf hfhl mind the instructions we intended to impart.
by a few occasional lessons, in the way of amuse-
ment, on the plan now stated, which may be varied
in everv possible mode, more correct ideas of the
parts of speech may be communicated, than what is
generally done in a year or two by the dry and ab-
stract modes in whicn this branch of instruction has
Qsuall V been conducted.

Such a plan of instruction appears to be suggest-
ed by the mode in which we may conceive language
to have been originally formed. Were we to sup-
pose man jast now created, and placed for the first
time on the surface of this globe, Lis attention would,
in the first place, be directed to the various objects
which he beheld existing around him. These he
would endeavor, bv some meams to distinguish one
from another ; and, if it were his design to invent
a language by which he might hold a communica-
tion with other rational beings, his first effi>rt would
undoubtedly be, to give them names by which the
ideas of them might be at any time recalled, when
the objects themselves were absent from hie vie%r.
Theje form a copious source of words, which must
be common to every language formed for the oom-
mimication of thought among intelligent beings,
wherever existing, ihruuchont the immensity of
the universe. He would likewise soon discover
that every one of the oMeets around him wasi en-
dowed with certain attributes or qualities, to express
which another class of words or signs would be re-
quisite. In the course of his ftirther survey, be
would perceive certain changes, motions, and events,
■oeh as the ebbing and fiowrog of the sea, the rising
aad setting of the sun, the flight of birdSytbe mov*>
MMMaof qnadrapedi, dte. the aTpfriwi of which



would reouire a class of words distinct from the
former. These classes comprehend all the words
which can be deemed essenluU to language, or to a
mutual interchange of sentiments between rational
beings. In the progress of the formation of lan-
guage, however, other words would be found high-
ly expedient, for the purpose of ease or ornament,
for connecting the different pans of adiscourse, or
to avoid circumlocutions or disagreeable repeti-
tions ; and hence the invention of pronouns, prepo-
sitions, and coQjuuctions. If this appears to have
been the process by which language was originally
formed, it likewise suggests the proper mode by
which a general knowledge of the object, use, and
component parts of langusige may be communicated
to the voung.

With regard to Sifniax, in many of our initiatory
grammars, there are between thiily and forty syn-
tactical roles, many of them long and complex, aad
accompanied with numerous explanations, distinc-
tions, and exceptioiis, all of which are intended te
be crammed verbatim into the memory of the gram-
matical tyro, whether he understand them or not,
and however ungracious and irksome the task as-
signed him. Is such a task necessary to be imposed,
in the first instance 1 and, if imposed, will it tend
to Inspire the pupil with a greater relish for |ram-
mati^ studies, or render him more accurate m the
art of compositioo 1 I have no hesitation in an-
swering such questions in the ne^tivo. Although
all the rules alluded to were admitted to be useful,
it would be highly inexpedient to burden and per-
plex a young person witn such exercises, when com-
municating tne first elements of grammatical ai^
rangement, especially when he cannot be supposed
to have a clear conception of the meaning and sp-
pUcation of the greater part of such rules. What
idea, for example, can a child of six or seven years
have of such a sentence as the following, which
forms only the ene^fouftk part of the 30th rule of
syntax, in Blair's Grammar—" The same adjec-
tives, adverbs, and prepositions, are always under-
stood to apply to their respective parts of speech,
when connected by conjunctions ; so that, if either
of them be changed in the next clause of the sen-
tence, or the mood or tense of the verb be changed,
the nominative or its pronoim must be repeated/^*-
or of the following, which forms another part of
the same rule—" AH the parts of a sentence should
correspond with each other, and a regular and simi-
lar construction be carefullv preserved throughout j
and this corresponding analogy in the construction
of sentences constitutes the principal- charm of ele-
gant composition."*

I am (blly convinced that, in the first instance, it
15 quite unnecessary to advert to more than three or
four fundamental rules in syntax, in order to direct
the young in the general oonstmetion of sentences.



• Mr. Blair, in his Prefhce to the Grammar al-
luded to, says, " A grammar for the use of schools
skonUi not cemtai^ amf thing 9i¥p9rfmiam»^ and ''every
thing should be exprJMsed fn Uf Mui<?«i< nmfmJbtr of
wenCi,"— which are certainly good maxims, and



yet some of his syntactical roles occupy nearly a
page. He inmemicly adds, ** Whatever it is desi-
rable jroong people should know Ikoff wmd Uam hf



rote the memory is the onkf faooUf of ehildren of
which teachers can properly avail themselves, and
it is a vain attempt to address their immature pow-
er* of reason and reflection." Such sentiments
are rather too antiquated for the nineteenth centu-
ry. This gentleman, whether his name be teal or
juaJtiomi^ has succeeded much better in the execu-
tion of his " Class-Book," and hit '* Grammar of
Natiural Phikiophy," than in 1^ **PraetiealOft»-
marof thtBttgnabl



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There is one principal rule, which, if pnncttially
observed, would prevent any egregious blonder
from being commiiied either in speaking or writing
— and that is, "A verb shptUd ogree wUk its n#f)una-
tive in member and ptrson" This might be called,
with some propriety, ike Rule of syntax—a rale
which is short and simple, which can be easily ex-
plained and comprehended, on the observation of
which the meanmg of a sentence freqaently de-
pends, and a rale, in short, which is most freqaent-
Iv violated, even by good writers, especially when
tneir sentences arc lon^ and complex. To this role
I would add the foUowmg—" AcUve verbs hndorepo-
tilions govern the objective case of pronoonsp and,
in order to prevent soch inaccorate expressions as
" more better^" "more dearer," Ac. the role, " Double
comparatives and soperlatives are imprc^r," may
be added. Elxercises might also be given to illos-
trate the two following roles—" The past participle
should be used after the verbs have and he ;" and
** The verb to be, shonld have the same ease after it
as before it." It ooght never to be iorgotten, that
the habit of accorate composition depends more on
practice, and the stody of good writers, than oi^ a
moltitode of rules; and I appeal to every one who
is in the habit of composing, whether, in the mo-
ment of committing his thoughts to writing, he ever
thinks of the mlea of syntax, except, perhaps, some
of those now specified. I have known an individual,
in the lower walks of life, who had never been
taught grammar, nor perused any book on the sob-
ject— who wrote essays on phvsical sobjects, which
mignt have been inserted with propriety (and some
of them were actoally inserted) in respectable sci-
entific Joomals. The oxAy inaccuracy which ap-
peared was an occasional violation of the first role
of syntax above stated. A more correct idea of
the construction of sentences will be conv^ed to
the youuK by the occasional remarks of a. judicious
teacher, aurins their reading lessons— by exercising
them frequently on the rules above stated, particu-
larly the first-^in causing them to correct ungram-
matical sentences— and oy pointing out the inaccu-
racies which occur in their written compositions,
—than by all the formal roles that can be packed
into thnir memories.

All the instructions alluded to above may be im-
parted without the assistance of any book or manual
of grammar, and that, too, almost in the way of
amusement. When the pupil has arrived at the
age of 13 or 14 years, such books as " Murray^
English Grammar," and "Irvme's Elements of
English Composition," may be put into his hands
for private perusal, where ne will meet with a num-
ber of minute remarks and observations on the sub-
ject, which may be worthy of his attention. But,
at the same time, he may be given to understand,
that the careful study of good authors, a dear con-
ception of the subject to which his attention is di-
rected, and the exercise of judgment, taste, and
common sense, on every piece of composition, will
be of more avail than any system of abstract rules;
and that a breach of some of the roles laid down
by grammarians may sometimes be as proper as a
strict observance or them. In short, in training
children to accuracy, both in grammar and orthoe-
py, ii might have a good effect were care nniformly
taken, both in the school and the parlor, to correct
every expression in their ordinary conversation that
is ungrammatioal, or ineorrect in their pronmieia-
tion— to explain the reasons of the eerreetioDs, and
to endeavor, on all oecasioDS, to indooe them to ex-

Iiress thfir thoughts with propriety and precision,
n the schools in Scotland every child should be
taught to pronounce the SngHsk langoaj^ with ac-
eora^, even in bis eommoik conversation, so that
the Soottiih language nay btaxtirpsttdaaeooQ at



possible, since it will never again be the language
of literature or science.

SsonoN YI. — Cfeograpky.

Geof^phy is a branch of knowledge with which
every mdividual of the human race ought to be, in
some measu re, acquainted. It is scarcely consistent
with the character of a rational being, surrounded
by the immensity of the works of God, to feel no
desire to become acquainted with these works, and,
particularly, to remain in ignorance of the form,
magnitude', component parts, and general arrange-
ments of the terrestrial halntation allotted for his
abode. It is equally inconsistent with a principle
of benevolence, and with the relations in which he
stands to beings of the same nature and destination,
to remain altogether unacquainted with the physi-
cal and moral condition of other tribes of his fel-
low-men, and to feel no interest in alleviating their
miseries or promoting their improvement. It is
even inconsistent with the spirit of reli^on and the
duties of a Christian, to remain in indifference
with regard to geographical knowledge for " the
field" of Christian labor and benevolence is " the
world" with its numerous tribes of inhabitant,
which it is the great object of this science to inves-
tigate and describe. As the depositories of Reve-
lation, of " the good things of great jov," which are
intenaed to be commimicated *^ to all feopU^* we
are bound to study this subject in all its oearings
and relations, ana to teach it to our children, and
our children's children, that they may f^l an inter-
est in the moral condition of the inhabitants of dis-
tant lands, and employ their energies in difibstog
Divine knowledge, in counteracting moral e^ils^ in
abolishin|r the system of warfare, and preparing
the way for a harmonious intercourse among all
the families of the earth. This^science, therefore,
ooght to form a subject of study in every seminary
devoted to the instruction of the youn^. Yet it is a
fact, that, in the present state of society, we find
thousands of our fellow-men almost as ignorant as
the horse or the mule, of the arrangements of the
world in which they dwell, and of the various tribes
of hnman beings with which it is peopled— as if
they had no connection with their bretnren of the
same family, nor any common relation to the Uni-
versal Parent who gave them existence.

This study, like many other scholastic exercise?,
has too fVequently been conducted in a dry and un-
interesting manner, and very inadequate ideas com-
municated of its grand features and leading objects.
Lists of the names of towns, cities, countries, rivers,
bays, and gulphs, have been imposed as tasks to the
memory, without any corresponding ideas ; and the
mechanical exercises of copying maps, and twiriing
an artificial globe, have not unf^e^uently been snb-
stituted for clear and comprehensive views of the
leading facts and principles of the science. P^J^
eal geo^phy has been almost entirely omitted in
the initiatory books on this subject; and most of
them are constructed on this principle, that the
meagre descriptions and details they contain skaU
be committed to memory by rote. In this way^ months
and even years have been spent, and as little real
knowledge of geography acquired, as there is of
theology by the common routine of committing to
memory the vocables of the " Church Catechism,"
or the Westminster Assembly's synopsis of Divinity.

In communicating a knowledge of geography, it
is requisite, in the first place, to give the young a
clear and impressive idea of the size, form, comf^
nefU parts, and general arrangements of the earth,
considered simply as an object of contemplation, and
a part of the creation of God. In stating to a dMS
of popibthat ** the earth is round like a ball," tkt



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reasons or orgwneTits which prove this position
should be clearly and familiarly illustrated. If they
are near the sea-coast, they should be conducted to
the margin of the sea, to observe how the hull of a
riiij), leaving the shore, disappears, near the horizon,
before the sails, and the sails before the topmast ; and
a telescope should be provided^ that the observation
may be made with perfect distmctness. They may
be mformed, at the same time, that a ship disappears
from the view, in the same manner, in all parts of
the ocean ; and if so, the ocean must form a part of
the surface of a sphere ; and if the ocean, with its
numerous ramifications of seas, straits, and gulfs, be
of a spherical form, the surface of the land must be



nearly of the same figure, since it is nearly on the
same level as the sea, no part of it rising more than a
mile or two above thb level, except the peaks of a few
lolly mountains. Where there is no convenient ac-
cess to the sea-coast, or the margin of a lake or river,
the same fact may oe illustrate by the appearance
of a person going over the top of a conical hill, — or
any wavine tract of ground may be selected, and a
little bov directed to walk from the one extremity
to the otner, over the highest point of it; when it will
be perceived, af\er having passed this point, that the
lower parts of his body will first disappear, and that
the top of his head will be the last part ot him that
will be visible, as represented in the xollowing figure.



The pupils nwy next be made to perceive, that if
the eaith be round like a globe, we might travel
directly east or west, and, holdinf^ on in the same
direction^ without turning back, might arrive at the
same pomt from which we set out; and then be
informed, that the experiment has actually been
made— that ships, at different periods, have sailed
quite round the world, the course of which may af-
terwards be pointed out on the artificial globe. >"But,
as these voyara have been made only in an easterly
or westerly direction, they may be led to understand
that, had we no other proofs of the earth's rotundity,
(his experiment would only prove that the earth is
round m one direction, like a cylinder or a drum.
The roundness of the earth, from north to south,
might, at the same time, be explained from the fact,
that when we travel a considerable distance from



N. to S. or from S. to N., a number of new stars
successively appear in the heavens, in the quarter to
which we are advancing, while many of those in the
opposite quarter gradually disappear ; which could
not happen if the earth were a plane in that direc-
tion, like the longitudinal surface of a cylinder : for,
in this case, we should see all the stars of^the heavens,
from the North pole to the South, on whatever por-
tion of the cylindrical surface we were supposed to be
placed. Tnis might be illustrated by surrounding
a terrestrial globe, or any other ball, with a large
hoop or circle, about twice or thrice the diameter of
the globe, on which some of the start might be re-
presented. This circle might be made either of
wood or pasteboard, and the globe within it connect-
ed with a moveable plane to represent the horixon,
as exhibited in the following figure.




In this fiffure, the inner circle represents the



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 87 of 121)