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many modern annotators practise. Whoever explains to a pupil
a difficulty which he could master by study and reflection, does
him an essential injury. The process of acquiring the know-
ledge necessary to understand the subject, will be worth vastly
more than the mere comprehension of it from another's explana-
tion. All patient tasking of the mental powers, is useful to the
young, and all aid rendered to them, to relieve them from such
tasking, is fatal to their intellectual progress. The difficulties of
the hin of science are known only to those who have used their
own powers in overcoming them. Carry the young student to
its summit, in the arms of misguided love, and he neither knows
the path by which he ascended, nor can he accomplish the same
journey alone. He can neither guide others in their upward
course, nor enjoy the true rest of the scholar, which always suc-
ceeds the fatigues of study, and the victories of thought. As in
the Olympic games, so in the curriculum of learning ; the most
active runner alone receives the crown. The indolent, the timid,
and the halting, remain " unhonored and unsung," amid the
common herd of gazers. In the process of education, therefore,
those studies are most useful, which most effectually excl|p the
student to use his own powers. There is a period, in the history
of every man, when he needs mental discipline, more than men-
tal resources. He needs power of invention, more than acquired
knowledge. Hence in our modem colleges and universities, all
students are subjected to precisely the same discipline, without

deeply upon the memory, than if it were paseively imbibed from books or teachers.
In the same manner as the windinf2:8 of a road make a m#e lasting impression on
the mind, when we have once travelled it alone, and inquired out the way at eveiy
turn, than if we had travelled along it a hundred times, trusting ourselves impli-
citly to the gmdance of a eompaiiion.«-PhiL of the Active and Moral Powers, p; 19.



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to Cki$kal SMg. [April,

Mgaid to nftbmJ ai^teteneies, during a c«rtai& period of tbe lite-
rary and scientific course.

It is undoubtedly proper to regard constitutional tenden4»es
and tastes, in the choice of a profession'; but in the earlier stagea^
oi education, a disrelish for a particular study should never be
allowed to interfere with the prosecution of it. That very dis«
like implies a mental deficiency, which ought to find its compea*
sati<m in more severe discipline. Frequently the partialities,
and prejudices of the young, in respect to particular studies, are
mere whims, \9hich deserve not a moment's attention. In other
eases, the '' natural bent" of the mind is so strong, in one direc-
tion, as to need to be checked ; else if a single faculty be culti-
vated, while the others remain inactive, the man becomes an
intellectual monster. Hence the propriety of treating all minds
alike, in the early stages of mental development. The faculties
of all men, differing not in kind, but only in degree, for a
time require the same discipline. While we freely admit, that it
is only the combined influence of different studies, which can
wajce the finished scholar, the able reasoner, and the deep
thinker, we do fearlessly maintain, that the study of the classics
10 the best discipline for the tyro, and one of the most valuable
helps for the mature scholar. These studies, however, should be
Mursued as the meeohs^ and not the end of intellectual culture. It
16 important to know Greek and Latin ; not because these lan^
guages contain all knowledge, or because they are the only effi-
cient aids to a liberal education ; but be^^ause they furnish th«
best stimulus to mental effort. To exact of modem students tho
same knowledge of these tongues which students possessed when
there was little else to be learned, would exclude the study of
other important and necessary branches of education. The mul-*
tiplication of new sciences, of avowed and admitted utility, hag
led both teachers and learners to undervalue the classics. Men ^
have lost sight of the true utility of literary pursuits, in their
aoramble after material comforts, and their eagerness to appro-*
priate the avails of new discoveries. The whole circle of s<a-
enees cannot be comprehended by ^y one mind. A selection
must be made with reference both to economy of time, and men-
tal improvement. The best subjects of study, are undoubtedly
those which employ the greatest number of the mental powers.
This advantage is secured, as we have endeavored to show, by
the study of the dead languages. Youth is the appropriate sea*-
son for such pursuits. The memory is then tenacious, and im-
pressions lasting. The organs of speech are then flexible, and
most easily adapted to the utterance of foreign sounds. The
principles of general grammar, and the laws vrhich regulate the
construction of a particular language, can then be most easily
imparted. Admitting these positions to be true, it is important



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a



1848.] jmBtoOmiicaiaM^ 19

to uiqwre wksX aids nd applianees skall be pfat into the handt
of the young student, to enable him to master the Latin or
Greek languages* Upon this point, there exists a diversity of
opinion. Some authors would relieve their pupils almost en-
tirely of mental labor, by an abundant proyision of notes, oom-
mentaries, and in some cases, even interlinear translations, whese
the words are numbered in their order, lest the English versicm
should be marred by the transpositions of the origmal tongue.
Others choose to throw the student entirely upon his own re^
sources ; and accordingly put into his hands onfy the text of an
ancient author, without note or comment. Of these two ex-
tremes, the latter is undoubtedly preferable ; for if every diffi-
culty be solved for the stuaent, he loses the great benefit which
would otherwise result to him, from the free use of his own
powers. Help should never be administered, in the preparation
of recitations, when the abilities of the learner are competent to
the task. Every intricate problem which he can solve alone,
every difficult sentence which he can analyze correctly, without
the aid of notes, is a true victory over himself. Such triumpfaB
inspire confidence for new conquests. He has learned the value
of perseverance, and gained new power of self-control. He has
learned the possibility of governing his own thoughts — ikom
truant wanderers, which love any place better than home, any
amusement better than the muses. He can now compel them to
do service which he once believed beyond their power. By a
series of successful experiments in overcoming difficulties, the
student soon learns that patient thought, and fixed attention, will
do more to make one wise, than all the miscalled helps whidi the
stalls affi)rd. •

It^ true of intellectual as well as material wealth, that we
prue^most highly those acquisitions which have been secured
with the greatest toil. The problem which we have studied, re-
flected upon, and mastered, makes a stiA^ impression on the
mind. It cannot be forgotten like those '^ winged words '' which
meet the inquirers ear from the teacher's lips, or like the indis^
tinct and cloudy notions which, flit through the mind, after a cur-
sory examination of notes. That which has cost us anxious
thought we do not willingly let die from the memory. We
prize it precisely in proportion to the mental labor expended upon
It ; as we value material treasuies more after having incorporated
our own labor with ^em. What is easily acquired is apt to be
soon lost. Knowledge is retained only by making it a pirrt outfit
intellectual furniture. When there is too little mental excite-
ment and fire to fuse the foreign materials with the learner's
own reflections, study produces no permanent result. The easy
acquisition of knowledge, by the aid of other men's labors, may
satisfy curiosity, excite the imagination, and in some measure re-



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310 Aiii to Ommad Stwig. [April,

fine the taste ; but itusnany fidls to make men learned or wise.
The student of encyclopaedias, commentaries, hand-books and
keys, neTer knows anything, certainly. Like one clothed in
borrowed raiment, he constantly fears exposure. He can never
trust his own opinion, and if he chance to present just views upon
any subject, there is often some one at hand to exclaim ; ^' alas,
master, for it was borrowed !'* Young minds seldom digest the
abundant provisions which sedulous authors provide, and, of
eeurse, no mental strength is derived from them. There is great
fcrce in the proverb; *• Beware of the man of one book." He
who has thoroughly studied and digested one useful book, is bet-
ter educated than he who has perked a thousand. He may
have less versatility of powers, less fluency of speech, and less
ready wit ; but he will have greater force of thought, more power
of ongination, and greater ability to reason and decide. Unneces-
sary assistance rendered to young minds, tends to enfeeble them ;
to stifle, rather than promote thought; to satiate, rather than
stimulate curiosity. The excessive simplification of everything
abstruse or complicated only begets a sickly precocity which
terminates in premature decay. Modem students are apt to aim
at extent, rather than depth of research. They love to cull flow-
ers in cultivated fields, but hate to delve in the dark mine for
imdiscovered ore. . Every text book must be read with collateral
helps, not studied and comprehended by dint of mental effort.
Acquaintance with many books, in the popular apprehension, is
equivalent to much wisdom. Facility of acquisition is substituted
for the power of invention. The former is obtained throng the
labors of others, the latter, by personal application, in the
study of the classics, it is better to explain, by notes, too little
than too much. It is always expected that pupils of widelv dif-
ferent degrees of mental power will study the same bpok. One
will not fail, perhaps, in one sentence, in ten ; another will stum-
ble upon every word0 If books are to be made for Uie humblest
capacities, they will prove an incumbrance to the only class of
persons who can really be taught to think. Is it not better,
tiierefore, that the teacner, by the living voice, should minister to
the wants of feeble minds, rather than to suffer the best students to
be permanently injured by their incapacity 1 Every teacher knows
full well, that when a recitation is prepared by the aid of a com-
mentary, the student needs that very commentary to prompt his
mejnory while under examination. Hence, nothing is more com-
mon than to see the scholar's eye drop to the foot of his page, to
catch a glimpse of the printed note. When these explanations
are in an appendix, the eye of the reciter often moves like a
shuttle-cock from one part of the book to the other, in order to
revive his dim (M>nceptions, and call his straggling thoughts from
the appended ^^ notes," and bring his fragmentary knowledge to



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1846.] Mb to (Homed StuAjf. 311

bear upon the interpretation of the text. The pupil -who thus
learns his task, never feels sure that he is right. He has faint
impressions, but no certain convictions. He is never certain that
his recitation is prepared. He is never safe without his adjutants.
He cannot recite from another edition of the same author. All is
strange there. It is to him a new work. When he reads from
his own book, he feels sure that he has at hand all that is nefces-
sarv to elucidate the text; but when " the armor wherein he trust-
ed" is taken away, his courage fails, and he is discomfited. It
follows, therefore, that the extent of ground gone over by a
pupil, in a given time, is no test of scholarship. To read a iree
translation of a difficult author, without comparing it all with the
original, would give a person very little notion of the style of the
author, or of the language in which he wrote. To read a text-
book, by the aid of a free translation, or by copious annotations
(which in many cases are more injurious), merely comparing the
version or notes 'N^'ith the original, so as by the principle of asso-
ciation to recall the meaning of the words at recitation, will
neither make the student master of the language, nor of the
thoughts of the writer. Such feeble impressions are soon obliter-
ated, and if the student be called upon to recite the same passage
affain, he is obliged to resort to the same process of preparation.
He can never swim without his cork. This is not true of one
who has mastered the subject studied ; who has sought know-
ledge from the love of it, and not from a prurient anxiety to dis-
play it. He who has clearly understood and appreciated an author's
meaning, by hard study, cannot forget what he has learned. No
succession of new ideas will displace the old. They have been
.enstamped upon the soul, and their impression will remain till
"times's effacing finger" shall blot the page of memory. Know-
ledge thus acquired constitutes the resources of the orator and of
the teacher. It makes the ready debater, the intelligent counsel-
lor, and the wise judge. No man is well prep *ed for the business
of life whose ideas have only a transient home in the soul, or re-
pose entirely apart in books. No superfjpial helps will supply
the place of protracted study. Like the numerous PK)ps which
support a falling building, they betoken debility rather than
strength. The mind must have capacity before it can contain.
It must have strength before it can sustain. Caj>acity and
strength, apart from nature's gifts, depend almost entirely upon
the exercise of one's own faculties — on severe, long-continued,
mental efforts.*

' " When you find, therefore," says Bishop Hall, ** motions of resistance, awaken
yonr courage the more, and know that there is some good that appears not ; vain
endeavors find no opposition. All crosses imply a secret commodity ; resolve the»
to wiU before you b^^in not to will ; and rather oppose yourielfe, as Satan oppont
you, or else you doe nothing.*'^Quoted by Warxen, lam Studie*^ p. 109.



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312 JUd9 to a^Miwd aMv^ [Ap«t,

On Uie utility of employing o&e's own powers in OYeroominfi^

difficulties, hear the pnilosophic Burke : ^^ Difficulty is a severe
instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental
guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know our-
selves, as he loves us better too. PtUer ipse colendi haudfacUem es$e
viam voltdt. He that wrestles with us, stren^hens our nerves,
and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper* This ami-
cable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaia-
lance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its
relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial/^

This is the student's own work. It admits of no substitute.
No costly library, no hoarded treasure of literary lore, not even
the accurate recollection of what others have wntten will atone
for the neglect of such discipline. The men who lead the public
mind by their superior talents, are thinking men, industriouB
men ; in a word, they are ^^hard students.'' They succeed by
their own mental labors. The greatest benefactors of mankind
are also thinking men. They have sufficient grasp of intellect
to survey wide nelds of labor, and to adapt means to ends, upon
an extended theatre of action. Men who do not go below the
surface of the momentous questions of the day, are soon under-
stood, and frequently despised. If the young would have strong
minds, capable of great achievements, they must submit to severe
intellectual labor. The great problems of life are only wrought
out by patient mental toil. The only preparation for this work
is thorough mental discipline, based upon the constant exercise
of one's own native powers. The more difficult*the task, provid-
ed its accomplishment be within the student's power, the gpreater
the benefit resulting from it.

When a classic is put into the hands of a student, he should
liave also such helps provided, as with his own application, are
necessary to the full understanding of the author.* Lexicons and
works of reference should be within his reach, so that he may
have no excuse for indolence. It is no doubt a convenience to
the student to find M the information requisite to a complete
elucidation of the autnor in the very book from which he is to
recite. Mdeed, there would be no very great objection to this,
if the notes were few, brie^ and judiciously prepared. But it
may be questioned whether such aids do not encourage careless
habits of study. Where little labor is demanded in the prepara-
tion of a task, the student is apt to become indolent. It is so
much easier to read than to study, to appropriate literary trca^
sures than to seek for them, that few are willing to bear the

' Art demonstrat tantum, ubi quaeras, atque ubi sit illud, quod studcas invenire;
reliqua sunt in cura, attentione animi, cogitatione, vigilantia, assiduitate, labore;
complectar uno verbo, quo stdpe jam usi sumus, diligmtia ; qua una yirtute omneb
f irtutes reliqiUM continentar."— Cicero de Ontare, Lib. 1 , §35.



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184&] jSUfto a<uncal atud^. 313

£itigiie of patient researek. The only plausible reason urged for
incorporating notes and comments with the book studied, is econ*
omy of time ; but how can the time of the younj? be so profitably
employed as in the search after knowledge ? The very effort re-
quired for its discovery, the fixing of the attention upon the
Uiought so as to imprint it upon the memory ; the exercise of the
judgment in selecting the appropriate facts for illustration, all
tend to invigorate the mind, and to form habits of minute and ac-
curate investigation* Most editors of school-books are so anxious
to make their books agreeable rather than useful, so that the sale
ma)r be more ready, and the profit more abundant, that, by their
copious explanations, they preclude the possibility of severe
study. With some of the text-books in use, a student may ap-
pear respectably well in recitation, with little more mental effort
than would be required to understand an equal amount of compo*
sition in his vernacular tongue. Every anomaly is explained ;
every difficult passage literally rendered, every geographical,
biographical and archaeological allusion fully illustrated in the
notes. The student needs neither grammar, dictionary, or manual
of antiquities to understand his author, nor does he need much
intellect. A very small capital is sufficient to trade in such mer-
diandise ; nor will he be greatly enriched by the commerce.
Such pupils would be almost as much benefited by listening to
soft strains of exquisite music, or by gazing at a beautiful land-
scape or picture, as by thus toying with ancient authors. In
eadi case, the mind is nearly passive in receiving impressions.
Thoughts come unbidden, and escape imobserved.
*• By the power of association, these furnished facts may be re-
called in presence of the teacher and the class, because they
were conned, or rather perused, for that very purpose ; but it
would be a strange phenomenon in metaphysics, if they should
be retained for any other occasion. The information which, by
an asterisk or figure, is referred to a particular phrase or word,
seems to be designed only for a specific purpose, to explain a
present difficulty. Should the same idiom again occur, the same
explanation will be needed. It seldom occurs to the learner,
that a principle may be involved in the solution of his present
difficulty, and that other like phrases or constructions are to be
solved in the same way. If the same information be derived
from the lexicon, or classical dictionary, or any other manual, in
the regular course of investigation, there is certainly a greater
probability of its being retained for subsequent use. if the text
contain allusions to manners and customs, of which the student
knows not where to find an explanation ; or if it contain names
of persons, places, deities, &c., which are not defined in the ordi-
nary lexicons, it is wise to append to the text-book explanatory
notes. But if these notes are necessarily numerous, it is .better



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314 Aids to ChMiad aiudg. JApril,

that they should be found in a separate Tolume ; for while the stu-
dent has the requisite information in his hands, and before his
eyes, he will seldom make any other use of the notes than to
read them to his teacher. Why should he trouble himself to
commit to memory what is always before him at recitation, and
can be referred to at pleasure 1

There is the same improvidence in the many, respecting mental
stores, as exists in regard to material wealth. If the Vants of the
present hour are satisfied, no thought is bestowed on the future.
We maintain, therefore, that it is no commendation of a book, to
say that it is adapted to " the meanest capacity ;" for the epithet
descriptiye of the talents of the learner, usually applies with
greater force, to the book itself. The commentary of an editor
ought to be suggestive, rather than demonstrative ; adapted to
stimulate, rather than satiate curiosity. The furnished " aids*^
should be so prepared, as to throw the student upon his own re-
sources, and teach him how to study ; not to relieve him of the
fatigue of mental eflFort, by furnishing him not only the results,
but the processes of the editor's researches. The " notes'' should
discharge the office of a Mentor, pointing out the road to literary
distinction ; and not perform the drudgery of a pack-horse, carry-
ing the young idler with all his " luggage," up the steep of
knowledge. Helps, rightly administered, excite thought, and
promote industry; but when furnished in excess, they beget
satiety, allay curiosity, and encourage indolence. Idle and in-
different students always take the precaution to provide them-
selves with text-books which afford the most abundant aid to the
learner. Here their vigilance ends. The pleasure of reading
is substituted for the labor of learning. This is better than abso-
lute inaction. There is occupation in it, but " it is rather the
swing of an easy chair, than the grasp and tug of a strong rower,
striving to keep time with one stronger than himself." Let the
young student, who thus seeks to lay his intellectual burdens
upon an attendant porter, be addressed in the language of the
stem Persius :



-<* tibi luditur ! Effluis, ament !



Contemndre 2 Sonat vitium pcrcussa maligne
Respondet viridi non cocta fidelia, limo.
Udam et moUe lutum es, nunc, nunc properandoi et arri
Fingenduf fine fine rota V*

Persius, Sat. 3 : 20—25.



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184&] TkeLifri^FntA. 316



ARTICLE VI.

THE LIFE OF FAITH A MENTAL DISCIPLINE.

* B7 Rot. Hsmtt T. Chkstbb, Lodi, New Jersey.

The Life of Faiih. By Thomas C. Upham, D.D. Boston :
Waite, Feirce, and Company. 1846.

This book presents, we may say, the subject of subjects for
the present age. It presents it to individual minds — which is the
only way, in religion, to reach the age. The want of faith, is the
wtnt of the age. The Holy Spirit, which gives to n\ankind the
food of faith, m the Word of God, can alone inspire an appetite
anew for that food ; otherwise, according to the oriental proverb,
men will continue to eat dirt, and will love better the husk of a
vain ceremony, than the meat of a living truth. The want of
feith is an evil, which many see and deplore, in their way, with-
out at the same time recognizing or acknowledging the true foun-
tain of faith, or the way of return to it. Others see the fountain,
but seem to lie indolent or helpless by the sidelbf it. Professor
Upham's work is rather employed in analyzing faith, and tracing
the various modes of its operation, than in presenting or expouno-
ing any theological view of it. He shows the soul resting on its
Centre, Gk>d, and demonstrates the strength and peace thence
ensuing.

The Italian, Mazzini, made an impressive generalizing remark
in his recent address to the Pope ; a remark, characterizing the
&11 of the' present age in Europe, from the standard of a past one,
in regard to the power of Aligion ; a remark, which in reference
to fiftith, is 6ut too just in regard to the whole Christian world.
He said that ours is an age in which the bad scoflF and work, the
good pray and hope, rume believe. Can there then, be the good^
who pray and hope, without believing 1 Undoubtedly there is a



Online LibraryWashington (State) Office of commissioner of publiThe Biblical repository and classical review, Volume 4 → online text (page 38 of 93)