William Shepherd.

Systematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 44)
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domestic habits ? The conduct of learned females is watched,
especially by their own sex, with an evil eye. Their foibles
are magnified. Their errors are exaggerated, and whatever
faults they commit, are laid to the account of literature, with
the candour and good sense evinced by the self-complacent
ignorant, who, on seeing a man executed for forgery, ex-
claimed, ** such are the consequences of reading and writing !**
Many a lady has railed against learned females who, if she
had herself received some tincture of learning, would have been
enabled to detect the charlatanism of her son's preceptor, who,~
being himself grossly ignorant, wastes the precious time of
his pupil, while he proposes to render him, probably by some
short and easy method, a proficient in literature* and in science.
When we consider what influence the female sex have in di-
recting the early ideas of man, and also upon the habits of his
future life, it fe surely desirable that they should be endowed
with every species of knowledge, conveniently within th6ir
reach, which may turn that influence to good.

The preceptors of youth, of either jsex, ought, however, to
be again and again admonished of the importance of the task
which they have undertaken, and also of its difficulty. It is
their duty to be patient with the dull, and steady with the
froward to encourage the timid, and repress the insolent
fully to employ the minds of their pupils, without overburden-
ing them to awaken their fear without exciting their dislike
to communicate the stores of knowledge accoruing to the ca-
pacity of the learner, and to enforce obedience by the strict-
ness of discipline. Above all, it is their bounden duty to be
ever on the watch, and to check the first beginnings of vice.
For valuable as knowledge may be, virtue is infinitely more
valuable ; and worse than useless are those mental accom-
plishments, which are accompanied by depravity of heart.
Languages. Philosophical principles are discovered by


the examination, and by the comparison of a multiplicity of
facts. Upon this process is founded tlie philosophy of gram-
mar, to an acquaintance with which, a knowledge of a variety
of languages is absolutely necessary. Hence, the study of
languages becomes an object extremely interesting to the
man of scientific research, and especially to those who devote
themselves to metaphysical inquiries. It is no less so to him,
vihp, declining any recondite examination into tbe origin of
words, and the mechanism of phraseology, is contented with
tracing the imagery which, in the literary compositions of dif-
ferent countries, captivates the fancy, and impresses the heart;
and thus bounds his views to those investigations, which result
in fixing the laws of just taste. The historian, who is not
qualified to read the original records of the age and country
which are the subjects of his lucubrations, finds himself per-
plexed at every step. He moves onward through dimness and
shade. He is obliged to trust implicitly to guides, who may
be, for aught he knows, ignorant or unfaithful. Thus do his
difficulties multiply ; and he finds himself little qualified to in-
vestigate what is embarrassing, and to elucidate what is ob-
scure and, however penetrating may be his natural sagacity,
and however alert may be his vigilance, he is continually liable
to fall into the most ridiculous errors.

To say nothing of the peculiar views and circumstances of
diplomatists and statesmen, or of those who hold even subor-
dinate situations in our public offices, the occurrences of com-
mon life render a familiarity witli different languages highly
expedient, if not essentially requisite to successful enterprize.
Our armies and our fleets have, of late years, carried on their
operations in almost every nation of Europe, and in all the
quarters of the globe and it is evident to the perception of
common sense, what facilities are afforded to the conduct of
those operations, by a knowledge of the vernacular tongue of
the country in which they take place. The want of this
knowledge was found to be so inconvenient, and in 6ome in-
stances so detrimental, and even fatal io Flanders, at the com-


mcncement of the war against the Republic of France, that a
vocabulary, containing, in three or four languages, a collection
of military terms, and of the forms of speech used in the
common^ intercourse of Kfe, was found to be extremely use-
ful. It is a well known fact, that the first process entered
upon by a military cadet in our East Indian possessions, is the
learning of the Hindostannee tongue. To all which observa-
tions it may be added, that for the management of the exten-
sive concerns of our merchants, manufacturers, and superior
tradesmen,, it is highly desirable to add to other qualifications
that of a good linguist. Hence a few plain and practical remarks
upon the study of languages, may in this Essay be esteemed as
not altogether useless or uninteresting.

Languages are divided into two classes, the dead and the
living ^that is to say, those which are no longer used by the
general mass of the inhabitants of any country, as the means
of oral communication, and the remembrance of which ig
preserved merely by written documents; such as the Latin,
the Greek, the Hebrew, and the Saxon and those which
are still in use in diff'erent states as the medium of social in-
tercourse, such as the French, the Italian, the Spanish, and
the Portuguese.

With respect to living languages, it is certain, that the
most effectual and the most speedy method, whereby a pupil
may acquire a facility in them, is to reside for a sufiicient time
in the countries where they are in vernacular use, and to frequent
the company of that class of society where they are spoken in
their purity. Much instruction may also be gained by attend-
ance upon theatrical performances, and by listening to legal
pleadings in those countries, where the courts of law are open,
and advocates are employed to plead. By this means the
process of instruction is perpetually going on. Necessity at
first compels to exertion ; and the pleasures of society give a
stimulus to the intellect. The faculty of association puts forth
its full influence for the production of the desired effect ; and
ideas and iheir corresponding words soon begin to present


themselres simultaneously to the mind. Mr. Gibbon de-
scribes in the following lively terms, the easy and the rapid
manner, in which, duruig his first residence at Lausanne, he
acquired a knowledge of the French tongue : " In the Pays
de V^aud, the French language is used with less imperfection
than in most of the distant provinces of France : in Pavil-
liard's family, necessity compelled me to listen and to speak ;
and if 1 was at first disheartened by the apparent slowness,
in a few months i was astonished by the rapidity of my pro-
gress. My pronunciation was formed by the constant re-
petition of the same sounds ; the variety of words and
idioms, the rules of grammar, and disthictions of genders,
were impressed on my memory : ease and freedom were
obtained by practice ; correctness and elegance, by labour ;
and before 1 was recalled home, French, lin which I
spontaneously thought, was more familiar than English to
my ear, my tongue, and my pen."

It must, however, be observed, as a matter of the highest
moment, that unless oral instructions be accompanied and
confirmed by grammatical and philological studies, their re-
sults will, on quitting the scene of their communication, be
lost, with a celerity which is hardly to be conceived. That
which is learned merely by rote, soon vanishes from the re-
collection, it should seem to be the law of Providence, that
vrhat is easily attained, makes a slight impression on the tablet
of the memory ; and that a slight impression is soon erased.
No intellectual acquirement is solid and permanent, which is
not founded on the knowledge and application of principles.

For those who cannot conveniently fix their residence in
the countr}-, the language of which they wish to acquire, the
most feasible method of attaining this object, is toj procure
the assistance of a native of that country in the capacity of
tutor. In this case, the choice of Uie individual is u matter
of prime importance. To say nothing of moral character and
correctness of manners, it is not every one N\ho is qualified to
teach his native tongue. The office of an accompfished pre-


ceptor, in any language, requires a rare union of acquirements,
it demands an extensive acquaintance with general literature,
and a knowledge of the principles of universal grammar and
good taste. People, who are not themselves well educated, will
experience but little success in educating others. And while
our country swarms witli foreigners of every description,
whose first idea, when they are reduced to difficulties, is to
assume the office of teachers, caution on this head is peculiarly
necessary. Ignorance and presumption generally gojiand in
hand ; and it is by no means an uncommon incident, that they,
who in their native country never rose higher than to the occu-
pation of valets or clerks, profess to imbue their pupils with
all the graces and elegancies of its language. It is obvious,
that from instructors of this description, little can be learned
but vulgarity and barbarism. A faithful and intelligent pre-
ceptor, however, may be of the greatest use. He will be
enabled to attune the ear of his pupil to a correct pronun-
ciation. He will give him a relish for the best authors of his
native country. He will introduce him to a familiar acquain-
tance, not only with its historians and poets, but also witli its
more idiomatic, its comic and colloquial writers, whose phra-
seology will be an excellent guide, and will afford him much
facility in speaking their language. At the same time he will
instruct him in composition, and qualify him for maintaining an
epistolary correspondence in the language which is the object
of his study. It is evident that the earlier the period at which
a pupil is entrusted to the care of such a tutor as has been
described, and the more time he dedicates to bis instructions,
the more quick and certain will be his progress. To a youth
of good parts, daily and domestic intercourse with a preceptor
of this description will almost, as far as the acquisition of
languages is concerned, supersede the necessity of foreign travel.
;'<'/rhe above-mentioned methods are requisite for the acqui-
sition of what may be styled a practical use of the living lan-
guages. But there is a numerous class of students, who never
enter into the concerns of active life whose views are con-


fined to the closet, and who merely wish to peruse the works
of the standard writers of different modern nations, as they
read the Latin and Greek classics, without particularly trou-
bling themselves with tlie study of the colloquial forms of
speech. How many scholars are there, for instance, who never
held a conversation in Italian, but who experience great plea-
sure in perusing the poems of Tasso and Ariosto in the origi-
nal. This degree of acquaintance with modern languages is
not a matter of difficult acquirement. A few elementary in-
structions, from a properly qualitied teacher, are required, after
which, the student, if he be possessed of tolerable abilities, and
of sufficient diligence, and especially if he has previously ob-
tained a grammatical knowledge of the Latin tongue, may, in a
great measure, depend upon his own exertions. In this pur
suit, however, he must be particularly admonished, above all
things, to lay his foundation well- not to be disgusted with the
toil of elementary inquiries to dwell with patient industry
upon grammatical inflections and<not to leave any difficulty
without due investigation. He must advance into the district
of literature, as the skilful and prudent general advances into
an enemy's country with caution and circumspection, being
particularly careful to leave no strong place luioccupied in his
rear. And during the whole course of his progress he will
derive singular advantage from Sir WiUiam Jones's method of
double translation, that is, from making a version of passages
selected from some approved author, of the language which he
is studying, into English and after a proper interval of time,
re-translating that version into the original tongue. This pro-
cess will give him a stock of words, and a facility of expres-
sion, and by comparing his second version, with the phraseo-
logy of the original author, he will in a manner constitute him
his corrector, and thus acquire the aid of a tutor, who will
guard him against barbarism, and impart to him a taste for the
elegancies of style.

As to the dead languages, the principal of them are the
LaUn, the Greek/ and the Hebrew. These are taught in our



Schools and Universities. The systems of our various pubHc
establishments are not exactly alike, but they are all well
adapted to the end which they are designed to answer. They
are all founded upon patient industry, and accuracy of elemen-
tary research, without which, the attainment of any valuable
knowledge is utterly impracticable. It does not fall within
the province of the present work to enter into any criticism of
these systems. Where all are good, it is hardly necessary it
would perhaps be invidious, 4o inquire whi9h is the best. But
for the direction of some masters of private seminaries, and for
the guidance of those who may wish to attain to a certain degree
of classical knowledge, by dint of their own exertions, it may
not be inexpedient to subjoin a method, by which a student
may attain to a tolerable acquaintance with the Latin and
Greek languages. f#

Pursuing the common road, he will begin with the Latin
tongue. The first requisite will be ati acquaintance with the
grammar. Latin Grammars are almost innumerable ; but
Owen's Lilly's Accidence improved, published by Lowndes,
London, is particularly adapted to unassisted learners. First,
because it exhibits a sufficient variety of forms of the declen-
sion of nouns, and is nevertheless concise. Secondly, because
the syllables of doubtful pronunciation in the Latin words are
carefully accented. Thirdly, because the syntax rules are copi-
ous, but clear, and illustrated by a sufficiency of singularly
well chosen and classical examples. Of this grammar, the* ac-
cidence and syntax should be committed to memory.

The examples in the syntax being construed at the end of
the book, the student will, by the perusal, acquire a know-
ledge of a considerable number of words and combinations.
When he is thoroughly master of them, therefore, he may
proceed to try to construe some easy introductory book. He
must henceforth, resolutely forego the help of translations, they
are the bane of scholarship. Let him provide himself with
Ainsworth's Dictionary, and Valpy's Delectus. This latter
most useful book, contains in its first pages a number of easy


sentences, through which he will, by the help of his dictionary
and grammar, proc^eed with profit and pleasure. But he^
must observe, that he ought to keep himself in the constant
exercise of analysis, or parsing, i. e. declining the nouns and
pronouns, forming the verbs which occur, and investigating
in the rules of syntax, the reason of. the cases, genders, num-
Wrs, modes, &c. This will appear at first irksome, but it
will soon become easy ; and in the formation of verbs, and the
declension of nouqs, he will find much assistance in Hoole's

Those who have not sufficient courage to encounter Valpy's
Delectus, will find a succedaneum for resolute study in Bailey's
Phtedrus, in which the road of the scholar is smoothed by an
ordo, or an exhibition of the arrangement of the Latin words
as they occur in English construction ; by an index or diction-
ary adapted to the author ; and by a collection of remarkable
phrases. The writer of this article would, however, by no
means recommend the use of this, or similar books, as he is
persuaded that more real progress in a knowledge of the La-
tin tongue, will be made by the patient, unassisted investigation
of ten lines, than by the perusal of fifty lines thus facilitated by
special indexes and ordos.

When be enters on the second part of Valpy's Delectus,
which contains more intricate sentences than those which oc-
curred in the former, he will do well to procure Lyne's Latin
Primer, where he will find a number of excellent rules for
construing Latin. These rules he may apply to Valpy's De-
\^tus, as Valpy's selection of passages is more interesting and
classical than Lyne's.

When he feels a consciousness that he has advanced suffi-
ciently into Valpy's Delectus, to have acquired a tolerable faci-
lity in investigating sentences, he will be gratified by entering
upon the perusal of a classic writer. The general simplicity
of the construction of Ovid's periods, is a sufficient ground of
recommendation as an introductory author. Let the student
then provide himself with the Excerpta ex Ovidii Metamorph.


published by Pote, of Eton. In the notes subjoined to the
text, he will find an useful help. It will also be necessary for
hitti to procure Lenipriere's Classical Dictionary. This work
will throw great light on the mythological and historical allu-
sions which abound in every page of Ovid. Cellarius's maps
too will afford him a correct idea of ancient geography.

During the whole of this process, it is absolutely and indis-
pensably requisite that he continue the task of analysis. If he
has not the assistance of a master, of course he cannot derive
.any advantage from the common exercise books. But the
method of double translation will be found to preclude the
necessity of any help of this kind. By daily translating into
English some of the prose sentences in Valpy's Delectus, and
on the ensuing day re-translating his version into Latin, he will
be able to correct his own exercises, and acquire in time a
considerable promptitude in Latin composition.

The prosody contained in Owen's grammar ia compendious
and satisfactory, but that contained in Valpy's Latm Grammar
is still more so. By committing the latter to memory, and
applying its rules to Ovid's verses, he will, in process of time,
be able to read Latin verse correctly. In order to assist his
more early pronunciation, the Gradus ad Parnassum, ofvLabbe's
Catholici Indices Eruditae Pronunciationis, will be found of
signal benefit.

He may now vary his studies by the perusal of Cornelius
Nepos. In the notes to the Delphin edition of this author, he
will meet with considerable assistance.

When he has read what he esteems a sufficient portion of
Cornelius Nepos, he may read a few books of Caesar's Com-
mentaries. Of this author also, the Delphih edition will be
found the most useful.

From Ovid he may advance to Virgil, which author he will
do well to read in the school edition of Heyne. The explana-
tory notes of that indefatigable scholar are, in an eminent de-
gree, clear, useful, and honest because he turns not from dif-
ficulties, " to hold his farthing candle to the sun." H* bends the


strength of his talents to the faithful elucidation of his au-
thor, and thus he is truly an useful editor.

It is to be wished, that Horace had fallen into such indus-
trious hands. In Knox's Horatius Expurgatus, however, the
scholar will find a good collection of illustrative notes. The
annotations subjoined to Frances's translation also throw much
light on various obscure passages in this elegant author. The
Variorum edition of Juvenal is an elaborate work, and the an-
notations throw ample light upon most of his difficulties. The
learned veteran, Mr. Owen, in his poetical version of Juvenal,
and in his occasional notes, has displayed the various accom-
plishments of a correct grammarian, and of a scholar of ele-
gant taste. During the perusal of Juvenal, this valuable pub-
lication may be consulted with pleasure and profit.

When these works, or considerable portions of them, have
been carefully studied, especially if the method of parsing, and
double translation recommended above, have been faithfully
persevered in, the student

" Nabit sine cortice "

will be qualified to pursue his studies without any further pe-
culiar aid.

In the study of the Greek tongue, the scholar's attention
will, of course, be first directed to the grammar. The Eton
and Westminster rudiments are the standard Greek grammars
of this country. The former, being the more concise of the
two, is the more proper to be committed to memory ; the
latter, exhibiting a much greater variety of the declensions of
nouns substantive and adjective, is a very acceptable object of
occasional consultation and reference. But it will be by no
means necessary for the student to commit to memory the
whole of the Eton grannnar. He must, however, make him-
self master of all the paradigms of the declension of nouns,
pronouns, and verbs. If he does not accomplish this, he will
find himself embarrassed in every subsequent step. It is very
desirable also tliat he should be familiarly acquainted with the


rules for the formation of various cases in the fifth declension*
of simple nouns ; and lie will derive great advantage from a
# frequent perusal of the rules for the formation of the tenses of
verbs. It may also be useful to him to be informed, that the
verbs in /*i are more clearly exhibited in the Westminster, than
in the Eton grammar.

By statedly writing down the paradigms which he has learnt,
he will not only ascertain the correctness of his remembrance,
but he will also become familiarly acquainted with the Greek

When he has thoroughly drilled himself in the grammar, he
may proceed to the study of Dalzel's Collectanea Graeca
Minora ; a work of modest pretensions, but of transcendent
merit, whose author possessed the rarely united accomplish-
ments of profound erudition, and a happy facility and benevo-
lent desire of communicating instruction. Though qualified
to expatiate in the widest field of Grecian literature, he con-
descended to sympathize with the tyro he felt his difiiculties,
he perceived the obstructions that stop his progress, and skil-
fully and satisfactorily removed them. His diligent fidelity,
and his careful minuteness of explanation, are beyond all praise.
When to all these recommendations is superadded the elegance
of his selection from the purest Greek authors, we may con-
gratulate the student on the occurrence of an introductory
book of such superior excellence. The index subjoined to
thi volume supersedes the use of a lexicon.

Whether the tyro wishes to pursue his studies by the perusal
of prose or verse, he is happy in the further assistance of
Mr. Dalzel. In that gentleman's two volumes, entitled Col-
lectanea Graeca Majora, he will find a treasure of explanatory
notes, in which the peculiarities of the Greek idiom are
accurately developed.

In the use of the prose Collectanea, it will be advisable to
adopt the plan suggested by the editor in his preface, viz.
to begin with the extracts from the easier authors, such as
Xenophon and iElian, and afterwards to make trial of Hero-


dolus, Polyaenus, qnd Thucydides ; and last of all^ to peruse the
passages selected from the philosophers, orators, and critics.

Till he has formed a tolerably familiar acquaintance with
the Greek radicals, he will find Hedericus's Lexicon the best
adapted to the exigencies of the general study of Greek
authors. In process of time, he will derive more pleasure,
as well as profit, from the philosophic arrangement of

When he has read ihe historical extracts from Xenophon,
he may, by way of variety, apply himself to the study of the
poetic Collectanea. This elaborate work is introduced by
extensive extracts from Homer's Odyssey. The diligent pe-
rusal of these extracts will, with the assistance of Mr. Dal-
zel's copious annotations, give him a very competent acquaint-
ance with Homer's style. The constant consultation of the
Tabella Dialectorum, in the Eton grammar, will soon fami-
liarize him to the variations from the standard, that is, the
Attic dialect, which perpetually occur in the works of the
mighty master of epic song.

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 44)