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EASY DIALOGUES AND OTHER SELECTIONS
FOR MEMORIZING AND DECLAIMING.
FRANK SEWALL, A. M.
THE desire which has led to the compilation of this volume is that of infusing more life into the study of Latin, as pursued in our classical schools. Two means are employed to this end: one, that of securing the presence of ideas in the mind while the words are being read or repeated; the other, that of habituating the student to the use of that emphasis and inflection in delivery which indicate the living thought behind the speech, and without which all spoken language is dead.
Far from claiming originality either in purpose or general method, the author believes that the present effort is only a revival of the method pursued years ago in the English and Continental schools, when Latin was still taught as a spoken language, and with a practical purpose in view.
If a language which constitutes so vital an element of our own as does the Latin, and which lives and speaks in the words we utter, more manifestly than our own old English of the century before Chaucer—if this is allowed to be called a dead language, we owe the fact to the deadness of our modern methods of teaching ita method whose aim would seem to be a kind of desiccation, by which everything like animation, impulse, emotion, or purpose, is effectually dried out of the passage read or spoken.
To make a language live it is only necessary to put ideas behind the words and thoughts behind the sentences, and then to give utterance to these words and thoughts in accent, tone, and inflection, as these are naturally prompted. If a pupil's mind is filled with rules, whether of accidence, of syntax, or of quantity, there is no room for the ideas of the words themselves; and, where there are no ideas, there are absolutely no vessels or forms of the intellect into which emotion can flow from the will, consequently there is no feeling, no life. The words stand only as signals for the recitation or remembering of certain rules, and the rules put together in their series constitute the interpretation of the sentence; and the work of reading a Latin author, while affording even in this manner a certain logical training to the mind not without its value, becomes, never
theless, hardly more than mechanical. Perhaps throughout an entire work the pupil not so much as once breaks through this ice of art and form into the soul of the writing itself, or feels that
one touch of Nature which makes us all akin.” He is conscious, indeed, of pursuing a dead language, and desires to part company with its bones at the earliest convenient moment.
As a help toward revitalizing the study and the use of the Latin, this little work is put forth. It will be seen that its aim is far from the purism which has become so fashionable in some quarters, and which would be nothing if not classical in the strictest Augustan sense.
In the rules of pronunciation, in the recommendation to scan Latin verse always by accent even when following the classical quantities, in the modern arrangement of the sentence, the author has had in view the one practical aim of making Latin words mean something and speak what they mean, and that to our modern English and American ear. Were we living in the time of Augustus, Horace, and Cicero, we might find the K sound of C and the scantion by quantity as responsive to our feeling and as true a form of expression for us as any other. But we know it to be a fact that the Romans of to-day, so far as any people can bear