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how could Nelson have comprehended the battle of Salamis, from merely a knowledge of modern naval tactics? I have seen many intelligent Europeans, who, although they have had almost daily opportunities of studying our institutions for years, were still unable to comprehend the nature of their influence on society. How often do we see Frenchmen, even when Shakspeare is presented to them, unable to discover its beauties, when only a channel of twenty miles separates them from that land, where almost every heart beats to the sound of bis lyre.
If our contemporaries find it so difficult to understand our national character and literature, because they will not for the time lose their local feelings and adopt those of the country whose institutions or literature they are examining, how is it possible for us to comprehend ancient authors without a previous knowledge of every thing relating to the moral, political, religious, and natural character of Greece or Rome?
“ Without a minute acquaintance with ancient Greece, most of the life, the beauty, and the sublimity of her poetry disappears. The mind wanders over the pages of its bards, without being much enlightened, the beart never feels those exquisite allusions and comparisons, which arose in the poet's mind, when contemplating the country of his birth. To such an eye some of the noblest creations of Grecian genius, some of the brightest conceptions of uninspired poesy are almost without form and colourless. The vale of Tempe presents no more loveliness than one of our western prairies; the temples of their deities are as destitute of beauty as a Chinese pagoda, or the residence of Juggernaut While studying the page of Homer, he feels as Byron did when looking at the political degradation of the classic land of that poet ;
4. 'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more."
to him every object is inanimate, and he turns from the perusal of the bard who has been the delight of more than one hundred generations to read the ephemeral rhymes of the day; and, in their jingle, he perceives more melody; and, in their comparatively insipid thought he finds more feeling and energy, than in the verse of him, who has been the wonder
Why is this great difference between a German and an American youth? There is as much of the grand and beautiful in our natural and poetical world, as in his. We are not less susceptible to the influence of real or ideal loveliness. Our minds and our hearts are as much excited by a perusal of Hamlet, the Midsummer's Night Dream, or Comus, as his by Faust or Wallenstein or Oberon. The difference is this. He reads Homer with the eye of a Grecian who is fainiliar with its society, and with the thoughts and actions of the heroic age; we peruse the Iliad with views formed solely by the manners and feelings, and systems of the nineteenth century. The former, by his previous studies, has been able to transport himself to a distant age and people, while we, standing at the distance of nearly three thousand years, look with the feelings we have acquired from our peculiar education, at a country which seems indefinitely remote. To him, the seige of Troy is a living reality, and VOL. IV.-N0. 7.
the characters of Sophocles, Æschylus or Euripides, are all embodied. He shares in every passion which they feel, for he is a spectator of their sufferings; their joys, their deliverance relieve him from a distress, almost as real as if he had been their contemporaries. To him, they are living beings, acting their appropriate part on the great theatre of life : to us they are but spectres, dimly seen through the night of and flitting before us in forms so indistinct, as to leave few traces of their existence upon our memories. This is not fancy; it is no Utopian system of education, but one which has long existed in Germany. The admirable commentaries which are within the reach of every student, and abstracts of which are made the text book of every gymnasium, and still more the superior character of the instructors, whose research and unwearied application enable them to explain the most difficult passages in a satisfactory manner to the student's mind, give the existences of the poetic world of Greece that reality which we assign to the characters of Tasso or Shakspeare. With such assistance, his enthusiasm is soon excited; he wanders through ancient Greece with enlightened guides to explain to him every natural or moral, every religious or political feature of the country. He becomes as familiar with its rivers and lakes, its mountains and valleys, as with those of his native land, and though inhabiting a distant kingdom, the men who lived in the histories of Greece, or in the songs of her bards, become the companions of his mind.”—pp. 385-390.
From these schools, young men, at the age of eighteen, are prepared to pass to the Universities to prosecute any professional studies, or engage in any literary or scientific pursuits to which their inclinations or circumstances may lead them. They go forth understanding the principles of all that knowledge which, hereafter, they will have to apply to the practical purposes of life, and qualified to profit by instruction, in any form in which it may be presented to them. The objections, so frequently and so justly made, to the great English schools, that too great a portion of human life is devoted in them to the acquisition of two dead languages, by no means apply to the German. It will be perceived, from the extracts we have made, that in the latter, besides languages, ancient and modern, every thing that we consider essential in a merc English education, grammar, geography, history, mathematics, composition and criticism, are actually taught. The application of mathematics to physics, most readily perceived, when the principles of mathematics are really understood, chemistry, natural history, medicine, jurisprudence and theology, are the studies pursued in the Universities, and the languages of any, and of all people can be acquired by those who wish to make philology their special occupation.
If it should be asked how in the same number of years which we usually allot to education, so much more can be taught at
the German institutions than in our own-we can only reply that it is accomplished by the skilful and diligent application of good principles to particular objects ; by employing those only as instructors, who are profoundly versed in those branches which they profess to teach, by circumscribing each instructor within a limited and appropriate sphere, and especially by pointing, constantly, to literary distinction as the great object of their ambition, and by inspiring in the pupil from the fulness, richness and beauty of the public lectures, that ardent desire of improvement which surmounts all obstacles, and that perseverance which can alone insure success in the career of human life.
To exemplify our opinions we will advert to one mode practised in the Gymnasia, by which a great economy oftime and a great improvement in effect can be made in our present processes of teaching. Much of the time of almost every child is devoted to the acquisition of the Latin language. In the opinion of many this time is wasted because, after all, only a smattering of the language is ultimately acquired. Why does it happen that our children, after having been engaged in learning Latin five or six years, leave school almost totally ignorant of its structure, if not of its elements, while in Germany, in the same time, or in less, it becomes as familiar to the student as his native tongue? This is altogether the consequence of defects in our plans of tuition. Speaking and writing are the only modes by which a foreign language can be rendered familiar to any one, and these, the two essential modes of teaching, are, with us, universally neglected. Children do not go to school to learn to speak their native language; this is insensibly imbibed from infancy in their domestic associations and habits. A child, whose parents are of different nations, generally learns to speak the language of each parent without effort, and may be made to acquire, in the same manner, other tongues, if the nurses, attendants or companions that are placed around him are selected for this purpose. If in their schools they were permitted only to hear or speak another language, this also, without effort, would be insensibly attained. Composing in Latin would render accurate the knowledge which at first would be crude and imperfect. If from the time boys were sufficiently advanced to read Cæsar, a portion of every day, one half hour, for instance, were employed in writing Latin, not from those books of exercises where every thing is prepared to encourage idle habits and save labour and thought, but by converting into Latin such sentences or passages of English authors, as the taste or judgement of the master should select, and which should be adapted to the proficiency
of the scholar-their progress would be rapid, and they would soon obtain a complete mastery over that language. These exercises might commence with simple sentences as in the first class books used in our infant schools, and be extended until they included the mysteries of versification, and thus render pronunciation and prosody perfectly familiar. There is no doubt that the first exercises, like early composition in English, would exhibit many trespasses against orthography, syntax and taste, but practice, with care and attention, would soon correct these errors. No one can doubt, that under such a system, more would be learned in two or three years tban is now done in twice that time, employed merely in translating. It is true that this would require teachers competent to spcak and to write, correctly at least, if not elegantly, the Latin language; but when we perceive how much our schools have really improved within a few years, there is no doubt that this obstacle would soon be overcome, and competent instructors readily procured.
It is in the Gymnasia and in similar schools that the great superiority of European education over our own is principally perceived. Attainments of a higher order than we are accustomed to look for are demanded from them, and therefore, are obtained. The difficulties that we deem insuperable; the ardua montium juga that appear formidable at a distance, are often easily overcome by diligence and skill. Either from remissness or ignorance we have, ourselves, been the cause of our inferiority. Even in our collegiate establishments, the same limited views are entertained which are so fatal in our elementary and grammar schools. We require, for admission, into our colleges but few and slender qualifications, and therefore young men come to them most scantily and superficially prepared. They come thus ill prepared in compliance with our own requisitions, what right then have we to complain? If more were demanded, more as in other countries would readily be obtained. If the attainment of higher endowments had been made an indispensable condition for admission to a collegiate course, no one can doubt that our students would soon be found in possession of all those qualifications that distinguish the scholars of Europe. If, for example, no one was permitted to enter the Freshman class in our colleges, unless besides a knowledge of grammar, geography, the outlines of history and arithmetic, he could read accurately Cicero, Virgil and Horace in Latin, Homer and Demosthenes in Greek, understood algebra and the first six books of Euclid, or some equivalent treatise in Geometry; young men would soon acquire this necessary knowledge. Teachers in every part of the country would qualify themselves to meet
this advance in education, or must be aware that they would soon be superseded by more industrious or better instructed competitors. Students, well prepared, would, at eighteen, be entering the first class in our colleges, instead of becoming juniors at fifteen or sixteen ; and four years would then be profitably employed in the acquisition of those sciences, and that knowledge which will be most important to them in future life. Even professional studies, as in the German Universities, might be introduced, because the attention of the students would no longer be occupied, for the greater portion of their time, with those branches which ought to have constituted a part of their preliminary studies. Philosophy, in its loftiest and most extended signification; theology, jurisprudence or medicine might become portions of a great system of instruction, and advantages would be gained not only in the variety and accuracy of the knowledge acquired during the collegiate course, but even in the time ultimately consumed in preparing a young man for the active and real duties of life. Two years at least, perhaps we may say two years and a half of the present collegiate life are wasted in repairing, (and that nominally only) the omissions occasioned by previous neglect. We speak on this subject freely and advisediy. We know that the learned and enlightened scholars, at the head of our own college, wish for such a reform, but the trustees have withheld their sanction, yielding to what they consider, on this subject, as popular feeling or popular prejudice—as if it were wise in order to render a college popular, to open the doors to all applicants for admission, to glean through high-ways and bye-ways for materials to increase its numerical importance; as if it were necessary to lower the scale of education in order to render it more useful; as if on a subject of so much importance a vacillating course ought to be pursued, lest the parent of every stupid or neglected boy should become hostile to the institution, because not arranged to meet the particular evils of his own case.
We are aware that even under the present system much and unqualified good has been done, we only regret that it has not been more extensive and more complete. We know that it has scattered light over many of the benighted regions of the State, we wish that the light which it is constantly diffusing should become more pure and more perfect. We know that many from the halls of our college have risen to distinction in our councils, and repaired by the native vigour of their minds the defects of early instruction; and the pages of this journal will testify that some, even in the paths of literature, have triumphed over deficient opportanities, have disdained to draw from the lower streams