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Lincoln Phelps.

Lectures to young ladies, comprising outlines and applications of the different branches of female education, for the use of female schools, and private libraries online

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is indebted for an excellent translation of Epictetus, one
of the Grecian poets.

The Hebrew is the language of the ancient Israelites,
and that in which the Old Testament was written. It is

* From the Greek athletis, a wrestler.

t From gymnasium, a place where athletic exercises were per-
formed.

t From theatron, a place where shows were exhibited.
Mrs. Elizabeth Carter.



ANCIENT LANGUAGES. 107

supposed to be the most ancient language now known,
The Jews still make use of it in their synagogues. A knowl-
edge of the Hebrew is highly important for ministers
of the gospel, in order that they may understand the
scriptures of the Old Testament in their original strength
and beauty. Few ladies attempt this study. Its connex-
ion with our own language, or with science is but slight.
The alchymists however had borrowed many terms from
this language, and these words along with the fragments
of the science have become incorporated with chemis-
try.

For the encouragement of those who may desire to be-
come acquainted with languages, I will mention the ac-
quisitions of a young lady with whose biography I hope
many of you are already familiar ; I mean Elizabeth
Smith, of England, who died at the commencement of
the present century. Her biographer observes that she
early showed a great desire for instruction, and devoted
that time which is often spent in trifling amusements to the
acquisition of knowledge. Under adverse circumstances of
fortune, which allowed her few advantages, she early learn-
ed the Spanish and Italian languages, and became fami-
liar with geometry. After this, she acquired the German,
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew lauguages, and made consid-
erable progress in the Arabian and Persian. She waS,
says her biographer, ' a very fine musician, and those
ladies who devote almost their whole time to this single
accomplishment, may feel astonished that one of their own
sex should have been able to unite with it such proficien-
cy in abstruse sciences. She was at the same time remarka-
ble for attention to domestic employments, and for her deli-
cate taste in dress, displaying as much skill in making a
gown or cap as in explaining a problem in Euclid or a
difficult passage in Hebrew. 3 Of her Hebrew translations
one of the most learned scholars of Europe observes,
' This work strikes me as Conveying more of the true
character and meaning of the Hebrew than any other
translation that we possess. 5 This character, so perfect
in intellect, so pure and amiable in morals, possessed al-
so that crowning ornament, without which, as a whole, it
would have been imperfect piety. She was called to an



108 MODERN LANGUAGES.

early grave ; but the embalming . spirit of religion had
anointed her body for burial, and preserving in all their
loveliness the beautiful lineaments of her mind, prepar-
ed it for a high station among those pure and holy in-
telligences, who differ in degree of knowledge and happi-
ness, as ' one star differeth from another star iri glory.'



LECTURE XI.

Modern Languages.

SOME of the modern tongues are generally admit-
ted to be desirable accomplishments for young ladies.
Facilities for acquiring these are, however, less frequent
than for learning Latin and Greek. I refer here to those
cases in which girls are educated at, home during the
first twelve or fourteen years.

People who reside in the country, unless in the vicinity
of literary institutions, seldom have an opportunity of
learning the modern tongues from well qualified teachers,
as such can find more eligible situations in populous
places. But there are few country towns where some
persons might not be found competent to teach the dead
languages. The clergyman, lawyer or doctor of the parish
would probably be willing to devote a small portion of
time to a review of classical studies, or a young lady's
father or brother may be able to assist her in acquiring
the elements of the dead languages. A pupil thus pre-
pared to commence French, or any other modern lan-
guage, may be expected to make rapid progress.

Few except the natives of a country are competent to
teach its language. There are probably some English
teachers of the French, who by long practice have acquir-
ed a tolerably correct pronunciation ; but in general it is
not advisable to commence this language under any but
a native teacher. The Spanish pronunciation, being
much more easy to an English tongue, may be better



MODERN LANGUAGES.



109



taught by an English teacher than the French or Italian.
The Italian is less difficult than the French.

Books which attempt lo give the sounds of French
words by combinations of English letters, always mislead a
student. For example, in a work professing to be a guide fco
French pronunciation, I find a direction to pronounce the
word brouillard, a storm, thus, broolar ; the / being mark-
ed as silent, the pronunciation would be brooar. Those
of you who are accustomed to the peculiar changes of
some of the organs of speech in the pronunciation of the
French liquid sounds, will at once perceive the impossibili-
ty of expressing the same by any combination of English
sounds. I might add many other examples equally tending
to show that the French, as a spoken language, must be
learned orally. Those who have not the advantages of ac-
quiring the French accent, may, even without a teacher,
learn to translate the language. While no other tongue
is so difficult to pronounce as the French, no other is so
easily translated into English.

At the present time, the French is more generally
spoken than any language in the world. It is a medium
of communication common to the polite, as is the Latin
to the learned. It is the language in which the diplo-
matic correspondence of the different courts of Eu-
rope is usually carried on. It is a familiar sound in the
streets of St. Petersburg, Rome, Madrid, London and
New York. The educated South American speaks
French almost like a Parisian ; and few of the inhabit-
ants of the West Indian islands are ignorant of the lan-
guage. In many parts of Canada and Louisiana it is
the prevailing tongue.

You see then how valuable must be a language so
extensive in its use ; and the opportunity which is here
enjoyed of acquiring it in its native elegance of pronun-
ciation, should be prized and improved by those who are
thus privileged.

The French literature is rich and diversified. It is
not, however, to be expected that all who study this
language will become so familiar with it as to be able
to speak or even to read it with fluency ; but it should be
accounted no useless attainment to be able to translate the
10



110 MODERN LANGUAGES.

occasional French sentences which you will meet with
in the course of your English reading. At the present
day, scarcely a new publication appears, which does
not contain more or less French words and senten-
ces. They are also much introduced into conversa-
tion ; and we are constantly hearing people, (and
among these, some who know nothing of the lan-
guage except as they provide themselves for partic-
ular occasions,) expressing themselves after the French
tournure, and in French phrases.

Many of the French words which may be considered
as adopted into our own language are still pronounced
with their original French sounds, as debut, depot, eclat,
&c. It would appear ludicrous to a polite ear to hear
these words pronounced according to the analogies of
the English.

A sketch of the history of the French language, with
some remarks upon its literature may not be useless or
uninteresting to you. The French language, is compar-
atively of modern origin. France was anciently called
Gaul, or Gallia. The first inhabitants of this country
mentioned in history were the Celts. Some vestiges of
their language are said to appear in the dialect of the
peasants of Brittany in France, called the Armoric.
When Gaul was conquered by the Romans under Julius
Caesar, the Latin was introduced, as it was into England
about the same time. The language of the Franks and
other savage tribes gradually became incorporated with
that of the Gauls and the Romans ; and the whole form-
ed a corrupt dialect which was called the Romance, or
Roman rustic ; * because spoken by the peasantry, who

* The following is a specimen of the old romance, or Roman
rustic, as exhibited in Morland's history of the churches of the
valleys of Piemonts.

' Car la plus fort arma dura que lo Diavol aya son las fennas,
laqual cosa es dernonstra, car lo Diavol eslegic la fenna a decebre
lo premier home. Et Balaam acer eslegic aquestas a degittar lo
filli d' Israel.'

' Now the strongest arms the Devil hath are women, which
thing is shown in that the Devil made choice of the woman to de-
ceive the first man by. And Balaam made choice of them to re-
ject the children of Israel.'



MODERN LANGUAGES.



Ill



had mixed their own language with Latin words and
idioms. This dialect was divided into two branches,
which received their names from the respective modes
of pronouncing the terms for the affirmative yes. In
the southern part of France, this was expressed by Oc,
and their dialect was called, langue d'Oc (the language
of Oc) or Occitanic dialect. North of the Loire, where
yes was expressed by oui, the language was called
langue d'Oui; from the latter was derived the Modern
French. In the 12th century the south of France was
united under one government called Provence, and the
langue d'Oc then took the name of Provencal.* At
this time the Northern dialect assumed the name of
French. The accent of the people in the south of
France, at this time, differs considerably from that of
the Parisian.

It was about this period that the Troubadours, or
wandering minstrels, gave to the French people a taste
for poetry and romance. The Crusades had served to
foster the most extravagant passions, and had given rise
to the most romantic incidents. The human mind
glowing with new and tender images, and luxuriating in
the unrestrained freedom of those lawless days, exhibited
a strange mixture of wildness and refinement. This
was a period peculiar to itself, and one which has furnished
modern fiction with its choicest materials. The very
name of Chivalry, knight or troubadour, seems to call
up the spirit of curiosity and give interest to a tale or
song.t

The song of the Troubadour was heard with equal
delight in the castle and in the cottage, by courtly
dames and humble peasants. None of the productions
of those poets are now celebrated in literature.

The fifteenth century produced a poet of great taste
and sweetness, Charles d' Orleans, father of Louis XII.,
and uncle of Francis I. He composed most of his po-

* The mark under the t', in the word Prove^al, is the French
cedilla, which denotes that c has the sound of s.

t Mrs. Hemans' popular song of < The knight look'ddown from
the Paynim's Tower,' is thus most happily chosen for effect.






112 MODERN LANGUAGES.

etry while imprisoned in England, whither he was carried
after having been captured at the battle of Agincouru
Cotemporary with this poet, was Clotilde de Sarville,
many of whose thoughts were strikingly beautiful, and
whose style was highly polished for the time in which
she wrote.*

* It may not be uninteresting to the pupil, in French to note the
peculiar orthography of that remote period, while all may delight
in those sweet and touching- expressions of maternal love of this-
female writer of the fifteenth century.

VERSLETS A MOJV PREMIER NE.

' O cher enfantelet, vray pourtraict de ton pere,
Dors sur le seyn que ta bousche a presse !

Dors, petiot ; cloz, amy, sur le seyn de ta mere,
Tien doulx oeillet par le somme oppresse.

1 Bel amy, cher petiot, que ta pupille tendre,

Gouste ung sommeil qui plus n'est faict pour moy I
, le veille pour te veoir, te nourrir, te defendre
Ainz qu'il m'est doulx ne veiller que pour toy !

1 Estend ses brasselets; s'espand sur lui le somme i
Se clost son ceil : plus ne bouge il s'endort

N'estoit ce tayn flowry des couleurs de la pomme r
Nele diriez dans les bras de la mort ?

* Arreste, cher enfant ! j'en fremy toute engtiere i

Reveille-toy ! chasse ung fatal propoz !
Mon fils ! pour ung moment ah ! revoy la lunicre I
Au prilx du tien rends-moy tout mon repoz!

1 Doulce erreur ! il dormoit c'est assea respire ;

Songes legiers, flattez son doulx sommeil !
Ah ! quand voyray cestuy pour qui mon coeur souspire,,

Aux miens costez, jouir de son reveil ? '

LINES TO MY FIRST BORN.

' Sweet babe ! true portrait of thy father's face,
Sleep on the bosom that thy lips have prest !

Sleep, little one ; and closely, gently place
Thy drowsy eyelids on thy mother's breast.

* Upon that tender eye, my little friend,

Soft sleep shall come, that cometh not to me '
I watch to see thee, nourish thee, defend
*Tis sweet to watch for thee alone, for thee.

1 His arms fall down ; sleep sits upon his brow ;

His eye is closed : he sleeps how still and calm f
Wore not his cheek the apple's ruddy glow,

Would you not say he slept on death s cold arm?



MODERN LANGUAGES.



113



In 1539, Francis I., called the Father of Utters, estab-
lished a professorship of the French language, and for-
bade the use of the Latin in public documents and judi-
cial proceedings. During his reign the language was
greatly improved, and literary men received the most
munificent encouragement. Clement Marot, a poet of
those days, is said to have used every effort to re-
form the barbarities of his language, and to intro-
duce refined and elegant expressions. He acknowledged
that to the conversation of polished females he was in-
debted for the improvements which he introduced.

In 1635, the Acadamie Francaise, consisting of forty
members, was established by Cardinal Richelieu. To
this body was consigned the care of the language and
literature of the nation.

In 1694, was published the dictionary of the Academy,
which continued lo be the standard of the French lan-
guage until the revolution of 1789; since which time,
new words and phrases, corresponding to a new state of
things, have gradually been intioduced.

To Malsherbes, a man of great genius and learning,
whose labors preceded the reign of Louis XIV. is ascrib-
ed the honor of having rescued the French language
more effectually from foreign idioms than any other
writer had done. So peremptorily did he insist on this
point, that he was called the * Tyrant of words and syl-
lables ; and it is said, that when in the hour of death his
confessor was expatiating on the joys of heaven, he beg-
ged him not to speak on such a subject in language so
vulgar and inaccurate.

The reign of Louis XIV. is considered as the Augus-

1 Awake, my boy ! I tremble with affright !

Awake, and chase this fatal thought! unclose
Thine eye but for one moment on the light !

Even at the price of thine give me repose !

* Sweet error ! he but slept 1 breathe again
Come gentle dreams, the hour of sleep beguile ! ''

Oh ! when shall he, for whom [ sigh in vain,
Beside me watch to see that waking smile ? '

For this translation, and some facts relating to French literature,
the author is indebted to the jNorth American Review.

10*



114 MODERN LANGUAGES.

tan age of French literature. Montaigne at this period
complained of the fluctuating character ofhis language,
and endeavored to give it energy and stability. Cor-
neille, Moliere^ Racine and Voltaire successively occu-
pied the public with their dramatic writings. Fenelon,
the amiable and pious author of Telemachus, distinguish-
ed himself for several valuable and interesting works.
Rousseau rendered himself famous for talents, and infa-
mous for the abuse of them. Condillac was an able met-
aphysical writer of a later period ; although professing
himself a disciple of Locke, he seems to have miscon-
ceived the opinions of that writer in some important
points, especially with regard to sensations ; these Locke
considered to be the moving cause of certain mental
operations, which, being independent of matter, were
therefore entirely different from sensations. He termed
them ideas of reflection. Condillac erroneously supposed
jthe language of Locke to be, that all our mental opera
tions were sensations, and the shadows of sensations,
Mr. Locke's ideas of reflection were called, in the system
of Condillac, sensations. Mr. Locke termed feelings, or
reflections, the mind looking in upon itself; while
Condillac probably understood him to mean the reflect-
ed images of sensations. But although we admit that sen-
sation seems to awaken in the mind the germ of thought,
we cannot consider our intellectual states of mind
or our emotions merely as sensations under a new form.

Among the female writers in the French language,
aie Madame de Genlis, distinguished for the num-
ber of her works, (amounting to more than one hun-
dred volumes), Madame de Stae'l, a woman of a pow-
erful and masculine intellect, and Madame de Sevigne,
whose letters are considered as patterns of epistolary
writing. I would also mention Madame Campari, whose
ideas on female education were more just and solid than
jnost of her cotemporaries.

We have already devoted more time to the considera-
tion of language.- than was at first intended, and must
omit enlarging upon the Spanish and Italian literature.
These are much less extensive thaw the French ; yet these
languages possess claims to the attention of the student



MODERN LANGUAGES. 115

who has leisure and opportunity for acquiring them.
The Spanish excels in dignity, the Italian in sweetness.
From their analogy both with the French, and Latin a
knowledge of those languages may be easily obtained by
one who understands either of the two latter.

With this lecture will close our view of languages, to
which branches of study we have hitherto given our
attention, have all a relation as to one common object.
Several of the first lectures of our course were prelimi-
nary considerations on the subject of education in gen-
eral. In commencing with the individual branches, we
considered the process of combining articulate sounds
in a manner to form words, the importance of a know-
ledge of orthography, and pointed out some methods for
correcting bad habits of spelling.

Secondly, we remarked upon the process of learning
to read, the requisites for the good reader, a peculiar im-
portance of this qualification to our own sex, and some
of the defects most common in this department of edu-
cation.

Thirdly, we remarked upon that science which gives
rules for the construction of sentences, and by means of
which language receives its character and permanency.
That mode of speech which has no grammatical stand-
ard, can be considered only as a kind of savage dialect.
As a people become civilized, they naturally fix the
boundaries and idioms of their language.

Fourthly, from the consideration of grammar, or the
study of our own language, we proceeded to consider the
use of the Latin, as a branch of female education. On
account of its utility in giving correct ideas of our own
and other modern tongues, and especially its important
aid to mental discipline, it was recommended to those
who can have the advantages of a liberal course of study.
Our view of ancient languages closed with some brief
remarks upon the Greek and Hebrew.

Fifthly, we considered the study of modern languages,
devoting our attention chie>fly to that of the French,
which, on account of the greater extent to which it is
spoken and the superior richness of its literature, de-
mands the greatest attention.



116 MOBERtf

Wo are now to commence with a different department
of education, to begin a review of certain other branch-
es of study, which, like those we have already examined,
have an intimate relation to each other. Several of our
next lectures will be devoted to modern and ancient ge-
ography, modern and ancient history, and mythology,
between all of which their is a connexion more or less
intimate. In these studies, although language ceases to be
the immediate subject of our inquiry, we are still de-
pendent upon it as a medium of communication.

We are now to consider the earth, with respect to its
general and particular divisions; its features both of land
and water ; the races and nations of human beings who
have dwelt upon its surface, with its various revolutions,
civil, political and moral. As we ascend into antiquity,
^>ur lights become dim and uncertain, and carry us into
the fabulous regions of mythology. Most of the ancient
divinities are supposed to be distinguished persons, who,
for their good or evil deeds, were immortalized by be-
coming objects of worship ; the favor of some being im-
plored, while the wrath oi others was deprecated.



LECTURE XII.

/

Modern Geography. Ancient Geography.

IN pursuing the course at first marked out for our
Saturday's lectures, I find the subject of intellectual im-
provement expanding so much before me, that it will be
necessary to pass over in a more cursory manner than
could be wished, the various branches of education
which occupy the attention of the individual members of
an institution, including pupils differing widely from each
Other in age and literary acquirements.

On account of this diversity, I sometimes feel an em-
barrassment respecting the style in which you should be
addressed, and the kind of information most proper to



MODERN GEOGRAPHY. 117

be communicated ; for in endeavoring to accommo-
date myself to the capacities of the more advanced pu-
pils, there is danger that others may be uninterested and
uninstructed ; while on the other hand, to address my-
self generally to the younger, and less understanding
class of pupils, would be to discourage those who give
tone and character to the institution, and for whose im-
provement it is more especially designed.

But it is not useless for the advanced pupil occasion-
ally to look back to the elements of sciences which have
become familiar, and to take general views of what has
been passed in detail. When laboring to reach the sum-
mit of Mount Ida* you have not been as sensible of the
actual appearances, and especially of the relative situa-
tions of the various streets and buildings which you
passed, as when you could look down from a command-
ing height on those objects ; you then enjoyed the scen-
ery as a whole, and saw the separate objects combining
to form one beautiful scene. So it is in science, each
separate principle and fact at first engages the atten-
tion, one difficulty arises as another is conquered, until
the mind delights to pause in the ascent, and look
down on the prospect beneath. It is thus that it becomes
invigorated for new toils.

If younger pupils shall sometimes hear subjects dis-
cussed which they do not comprehend, it may serve to
quicken their diligence to attain knowledge which they
perceive to be familiar to others. It is well, too, for them,
that their curiosity should be excited well for them to
perceive the many paths of knowledge which lie before
them, and in exploring which, although there is labor,
there is also an ample reward.

It was my intention to have given a sketch of the his-
tory, uses and applications of the different branches of
female education ; but, as before remarked, in order that
the literary department of our course shall not occupy a
much greater space than its relative importance demands,
it will be necessary to be more general than may be in-

* An eminence east of Troy, and a favorite walk of the pupils
of the seminary.



118 MODERN GEOGRAPHY.

teresting to you, or satisfactory to myself. I said the
relative importance, for in comparison to the moral and
religious formation of the youthful mind, literary attain-
ments dwindle into insignificance.*

We will now proceed to notice the science of geogra-
phy. On the importance of this study it is unnecessary
to dwell, since it is usually a favorite pursuit with most
young persons, and in most schools receives a large
share of attention.

Great improvements within a few years have been
made in the methods of teaching geography, and in the
books used for that purpose. Twenty years since, the best
works used were those of Dwight, Morse and Guthrie.
Dwight's geography was in the form of question and an-
swer ; it was unaccompanied by an atlas or maps of any
kind. Morse's first work, though superior to Dwight's
contained no attempt at classifying facts in a philosoph-
ical manner ; a pupil might study it diligently for months,


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Online LibraryLincoln PhelpsLectures to young ladies, comprising outlines and applications of the different branches of female education, for the use of female schools, and private libraries → online text (page 10 of 27)