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the Greek Olympiads saved the chronology of the world. To
We do not apprehend for America what has been, perhaps with
“ venient annis
Senec, in Medea, Act. I, Vers. 374.
A boy in America is generally placed at college at fourteen, ready, as is presumed, to enter upon the reading of the easier Latin and Greek authors-Livy and Homer, for instance. To these he is supposed to devote one-third of the time appropriated by the college rules to study. The remaining two-thirds are occupied, not in kindred pursuits,* but in mathematics, and some third branch, perhaps modern geography. He has no private tutor to direct his studies, but forms one of a class of twenty or thirty, as the case may be, with whom he has no necessary communication, except that they meet for recitation at a stated hour once a day, in each branch of study. The tutor appears, and if the grammatical construction of the author in hand be correct, “ verbum verbo reddens,” he opens not his mouth. He comes to hear, not to teach, and having dragged round the circle of monotonous voices from A to Z, until he himself becomes as insensible of the beauties of his class-book as his pupils, he gives the signal, and his thirty boys rush to the light of day, wise in the words of Homer or Sallust, but quite ignorant of their spirit and characteristics. We appeal to those whose experience can prompt them, if this is not a fair representation of the routine of college recitations in the classics. Enough is seldom done, (whether the fault lie with the tutor or the rules under which he acts, it matters little), to aid the intellectual or imaginative part of the exercise. As it is folly, so far as the poetry of the author is concerned, to set a young school boy to translate Virgil, so is it folly, having placed Horace in the hands of a collegian, not to teach him what Horace means. Each recitation should be accompanied with something by way of lecture to open the beauties of the author-to explain points of geography, chronology, and mythology, 5 and particularly to trace the exquisite appositeness of classic customs-the connexion of the real with the ideal, which so entirely distinguished the ancient manners, particularly of the Greeks, from those of the moderns--a branch of learning, by the way, in which all our systems of antiquities are deficient
. The pupil stands up with his dry translation, variegated only by his gleanings from the notes, (which themselves sometimes want explanation), “in Usum Delphini.” Generally he is satisfied with this skeleton mode of complying with the requisitions of his teachers; but if he is a boy of any fancy, he will sometimes warm up in spite of all disadvantages, and feeling something of the soul of his author, give a free, spirited, and
The study of Roman Antiquities is in some instances pursued only to a very limited extent, and for a very short period.
+ See Alfieri's account of his education in the Academy and University of Turin, for a picture of the effects of this sort of instruction. (Autobiography.)—It is at once lamentable and ridiculous.
We are happy in the sanction of Dr. Ludlow to this opinion.-- Address, p. 16.
poetic version of a beautiful passage, which is immediately and
It may be easier to suggest these evils than to remedy them,
the exact sciences, and gave them over in despair. So did Fuseli, a man of most original though distorted genius, and so (to swell the list no farther) did Horace Walpole, of whose Nugæ we have recently had a new relish, and who, with scarcely an exception, is the most delightful of English letter-writers.* What martyrdom to such minds to be cooped up within a right-angled triangle or an oblate spheroid ! Yet such has been the fate, and is at this moment the fate, of many a youth, whose heart is dried up within him amidst pursuits he cannot appreciate or endure. We care not for the source or origin of these tendencies, nor do we wish their variety to be reduced by thrusting the children of the country into huge public seminaries as soon as they can speak, according to a recent scheme. It is sufficient for us that they exist, beneficially as we believe, whether derived from the nursery, the village school, the scenery amidst which we are born, or the peculiar qualities of the parental mind. It is the part of philosophical training to guide and direct; not to chill, obstruct, or neglect them.
The feasibility and propriety of adapting the studies to the individual — of cutting the coat to the person instead of stuffing the person into the coat-being granted, we repeat our impressions, that each recitation in the classics should be accompanied by a semi-lecture, explanatory, not of the mere anatomy, but of the spirit of the author; and that works should be read in connexion, illustrative of his aims and systems, as well as of the localities of his scenes, and their true chronology. Boys never will glean this information from the old scholiast, or all the Scaligers and Bentleys who have succeeded him. The Dacier Horace, sneered at, as it is
, as the work of a woman, presents that author, particularly the portion at first least appreciated, his Lyrics, to the young student, in new and beautiful attitudes, and excites an affection for the poet commensurate with the pleasure derived from his perusal. No boy should touch the Greek tragedians withput reading Schlegelma writer now easily accessible—who has brought out with the most profound critical philosophy the true principles of their art, and discriminated with surprising grace and power their various characteristics and excellencies. Mitford, with an affected orthography, and even greater defects of a different order, would much enhance the interest and facilitate the acquisition of the Grecian orators and historians, entering as he does into the politics of the communities to which they belonged with
* The predilection of D'Alembert, on the other hand, for the exact sciences, was so great, that it overcame all the efforts of his early teachers, and impelled him, even after he commenced the study of a profession, to beg back one by one the mathematical books which he had intrusted to a friend, for the very purpose of placing himself beyond the temptation to use them.
the fervour of an ardent mind excited by a lofty subject. It would be easy to follow this subject sarther, but we are only suggesting a topic, not writing a treatise. It is a knowledge of classical literature, founded on an acquaintance with its incalculable importance, and a perception of its genial beauties, which we would inculcate-a love of that Egerian spirit which meets the scholar in his silent chamber, and like the nymph of Numa, not only glads him with her presence, but inspires him with those counsels which ennoble and enrich him.
Mr. Grimké has spoken of translations, as being fully adequate to convey to the student all the necessary knowledge to be found in the works of the ancients. Considered as a substitute for the originals, they certainly communicate a knowledge of facts; and if facts were all we wanted, they might be deemed sufficient. But unless our previous argument has been lamentably deficient, a simple barren knowledge of events furnishes but a small portion of the inducements to the study of the classics. Even were it a mere question of time, if the ancients are worth reading at all they will repay their acquisition in the original. Euclid may perhaps be read in English as well as in his own language, but we do not now remember another author of either Greece or Rome of whom we can say the same, not even excepting Vitruvius or Columella. The truth is, that translation is principally valued by judicious critics, not as supplying the place of originals, but as enriching the language of the translator with new combinations, and its poetry with a vast accession of images. Our principal and popular version of Homer is a remarkable illustration of this position in both its branches, which, by the way, is more and more applicable the farther we get from the simplest style of narration. An English Herodotus may be tolerable, but an English Euripides is impossible. “A very pretty poem, yours, Mr. Pope,” said Bentley, “ but you must not call it Homer;" and Dennis varied the sarcasm, though he equally adhered to the truth, when he said that it was so well called Pope's Homer, for it was nothing like Homer's Homer." Yet while it is hardly a translation, it is the best translated poem in the universe, though we know not whether it has done more good by attracting readers to the original, or more harm by sending them away from it, disappointed with its stern majesty when compared with the exuberant efflorescence of the copy. The words of an author are the embodied substance, not the mere echo of his thoughts. They are as much a part of his composition as the ideas they represent. The best authors are therefore
* So far is it from being deemed necessary, at some of our institutions, that the student should go out of his text book, that the doors of the college library are actually barred against him for two years after he is matriculated.