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WILLIAM C. COLLAR, A.M.,
HEAD MASTER ROXBURY LATIN SCHOOL
3. The true test of a practical mastery of Latin is the
power to write Latin."
Boston, U.S.A., AND LONDON :
PUBLISHED BY GINN & COMPANY.
Bom Estucation Library
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1889, by
WILLIAM C. COLLAR, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ALL Rights RESERVED.
TYPOGRAPHY BY J. 8. CUSHING & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
PRESSWORK BY GINN & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
Fourteen years ago, in a paper on writing Latin read before an association of teachers, I quoted from Ascham’s “Scholemaster,” certain passages, to which, as I then said, I owed the suggestion of a pleasant and helpful method of teaching. I now quote the same passages again, because they strike in a quaint chord the key-notes of this little book :
“ After the childe hath learned perfitlie the eight partes of speach, let him then learne the right joyning togither of substantives with adjectives, the nowne with the verbe, the relative with the antecedent. And in learninge farther hys Syntaxis, by mine advice, he shall not use the common order in common scholes, for making of latines: wherby, the childe commonlie learneth, first, an evill choice of wordes, (and right choice of wordes, saith Coesar, is the foundation of eloquence) than, a wrong placing of wordes: and lastlie, an ill framing of the sentence, with a perverse judgement, both of wordes and sentences. These faultes, taking once roote in yougthe, be never, or hardlie, pluckt away in age. Moreover, there is no one thing, that hath more, either dulled the wittes, or taken awaye the will of children from learning, then the care they have, to satisfie their masters, in making of latines.
“ There is a waie touched in the first booke of Cicero De Oratore, which, wisely brought into scholes, truely taught, and constantly used, would not onely take wholly away this butcherlie feare in making of latines, but would also, with ease and pleasure, and in short time, as I know by good experience, worke a true choice and placing of wordes, a right ordering of
sentences, an easie understandyng of the tonge, a readiness to speake, a facilitie to write, a true judgement, both of his owne, and other mens doinges, what tonge so ever he doth use.
“ The waie is this. After the three Concordances learned, as I touched before, let the master read unto hym the Epistles of Cicero, gathered togither and chosen out by Sturmius, for the capacitie of children.
First, let him teach the childe, cheerfullie and plainlie, the cause and matter of the letter: then, let him construe it into Englishe, so oft, as the childe may easilie carie awaie the understanding of it; lastlie, parse it over perfitlie. This done thus, let the childe, by and by, both construe and parse it over againe : so, that it may appeare, that the childe douteth in nothing, that his master taught him before. After this, the childe must take a paper booke, and sitting in some place, where no man shall prompe him, by him self, let him translate into Englishe his former lesson. Then shewing it to his master, let the master take from him his latin booke, and pausing an houre, at the least, than let the childe translate his owne Englishe into latin againe, in an other paper booke. When the childe bringeth it, turned into latin, the master must compare it with Tullies booke, and laie them both togither: and where the childe doth well, either in chosing, or true placing of Tullies wordes, let the master praise him, and saie here ye do well. For I assure you, there is no such whetstone, to sharpen good witte and encourage a will to learninge, as is praise.
“But if the childe misse, either in forgetting a worde, or in chaunging a good with a worse, or misordering the sentence, I would not have the master, either froune or chide with him, if the childe have done his diligence, and used no trewandship therein. For I know by good experience, that a childe shall take more profit of two fautes, jentlie warned of, then of foure thinges rightly hitt. For than, the master shall have good occasion to saie unto him: Tullie would have used such a worde, not this: Tullie would have placed this word here, not there: would have used this case, this number, this person, this degree, this gender: he would have used this moode, this tens, this simple, rather than this compound: this adverbe here, not there: he would have ended the sentence with this verbe, not with that nowne or participle.
“Whan the Master shall compare Tullies booke with his Scholers translation, let the Master, at the first, lead and teach his scholer, to joyne the Rewles of his Grammer booke, with the examples of his present lesson, untill the Scholer, by him selfe, be hable to fetch out of his Grammer, everie Rewle for everie Example. So, as the Grammer booke be ever in the Scholers hand, and also used of him, as a Dictionarie, for everie present use. This is a lively and perfite waie of teaching of Rewles : where the common waie, used in common Scholes, to read the Grammer alone by it selfe, is tedious for the Master, hard for the Scholer, colde and uncumfortable for them bothe.”
In these few paragraphs we have a method of teaching outlined in a clear, firm hand by one of the greatest of schoolmasters. A method proposed by a great teacher should not in any case be lightly put by; but Ascham adds the testimony and support of his own practice; “I know," he says, “ by good experience.” Still for three hundred years we have neglected the wise words of the old schoolmaster and his straight and simple way, and have gone on beating about the bush, and making of latines” with the same beggarly results that Ascham saw in his day. Books multiply, ingenious methods abound, teachers grind on with ever more painstaking, but somehow the children do not get ahead as they ought. The processes of education have grown too intricate and mechanical. We have theorized, and systematized, and organized, and directed, and refined, until there seems to be little room left for freedom, originality, or spontaneity. It is sometimes well to take a short turn back to first principles, to nature and common
This is what Ascham did. The ingenious methods of the masters of his day, which no doubt were supported by excellent arguments, he cast aside; and while they taught the