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the censure of having had a lower breeding, and worse. company, than suits with his quality. If this be so, (as I suppose it is,) it will be matter of wonder, why young gentlemen are forced to learn the grammars of foreign and dead languages, and are never once told of the grammar of their own tongues: they do not so much as know there is any such thing, much less is it made their business to be instructed in it. Nor is their own language ever proposed to them as worthy their care and cultivating, though they have daily use of it, and are not seldom in the future course of their lives judged of, by their handsome or awkward way of expressing, themselves in it. Whereas the languages whose grammars they have been so much employed in, are such as probably they shall scarce ever speak or write; or, if upon occasion this should happen, they shall be excused for the mistakes and faults they make in it. Would not a Chinese, who took notice of this way of breeding, be apt to imagine, that all our young gentlemen were designed to be teachers and professors of the dead languages of foreign countries, and not to be men of business in their own?
3. There is a third sort of men, who applying themselves to two or three foreign, dead (and which amongst us are called the learned) languages, make them their study, and pique themselves upon their skill in them, No doubt those who propose to themselves the learning of any language with this view, and would be critically exact in it, ought carefully to study the grammar of it. I would not be mistaken here, as if this were to undervalue Greek and Latin: I grant these are languages of great use and excellency; and a man can have no place amongst the learned, in this part of the world, who is a stranger to them. But the knowledge a gen. tleman would ordinarily draw for his use, out of the Roman and Greek writers, I think he may attain without studying the grammars of those tongues, and, by bare reading, may come to understand them sufficiently for all his purposes. How much farther he shall at any time be concerned to look into the grammar and critical niceties of either of these tongues, he himself will be able to determine, when he comes to propose to himself the study of any thing that shall require it. Which brings me to the other part of the inquiry, viz.
When grammar should be taught?" To which upon the premised grounds, the answer is obvious, viz.
That, if grammar ought to be taught at any time, it must be to one that can speak the language already: how else can he be taught the grammar of it? This, at least, is evident from the practice of the wise and learned nations amongst the ancients. They made it a part of education to cultivate their own, not foreign tongues. The Greeks counted all other nations barbarous, and had a contempt for their languages. And, though the Greek learning grew in credit amongst the Romans, towards the end of their commonwealth, yet it was the Roman tongue that was made the study of their youth: their own language they were to make use of, and therefore it was their own language they were instructed and exercised in.
But more particularly to determine the proper season for grammar; I do not see how it can reasonably be made any one's study, but as an introduction to rhetoric : when it is thought time to put any one upon the care of polishing his tongue, and of speaking better than the illiterate, then is the time for him to be instructed in the rules of grammar, and not before. For grammar being to teach men not to speak, but to speak correctly, and according to the exact rules of the tongue, which is one part of elegancy, there is little use of the one to him that has no need of the other; where rhetoric is not necessary, grammar may be spared. I know not why any one should waste his time, and beat his head about the Latin grammar, who does not intend to be a critic, or make speeches, and write dispatches in it. When any one finds in himself a necessity or disposition to study any foreign language to the bottom, and to be nicely exact in the knowledge of it, it will be time enough to take a grammatical survey of it. If bis use: of it be only to understand some books writ in it, with-, out a critical knowledge of the tongue itself, reading
alone, as I have said, will attain this end, without charging the mind with multiplied rules and intricacies of grammar.
$ 169. For the exercise of his writing, let him sometimes translate Latin into English: but the learning of Latin being nothing but the learning of words, a very unpleasant business both to young and old, join as much other real knowledge with it as you can, beginning still with that which lies most obyious to the senses ; such as is the knowledge of minerals, plants, and animals, and particularly timber and fruit-trees, their parts and ways of propagation, wherein a great deal may be taught a child, which will not be useless to the man: but more especially geography, astronomy, and anatomy. But, whatever you are teaching him, have a care still, that you do not clog him with too much at Once; or make any thing his business but downright virtue, or reprove him for any thing but vice, or some apparent tendency to it.
$ 170. But if, after all, his fate be to go to school to get the Latin tongue, it will be in vain to talk to you concerning the method I think best to be observed in schools. You must submit to that you find there, not expect to have it changed, for your son; but yet by all means obtain, if you can, that he be not employed in
making Latin themes and declamations, and, es. least of all, verses of any kind. You may insist on it, if it will do any good, that you have no de. sign to make him either a Latin orator or poet, but barely would have him understand perfectly a Latin au. thor; and that you observe those who teach any of the modern languages, and that with success, never amuse their scholars to make speeches or verses either in French or Italian, their business being language barely, and not invention
$ 171. But to tell you, a little more fully, why I would not have him exercised in making of themes and verses : 1. As to themes, they have, I confess, the pretence of something useful, which is to teach people to speak handsomely and well on any subject; which, if it could be attained this way, I own would be a great advantage; there being nothing more becoming a gentleman, nor more useful in all the occurrences of life, than to be able, on any occasion, to speak well, and to the purpose. But this I say, that the making of themes, as is usual in schools, helps not one jot towards it; for do but consider what it is in making a theme that a young lad is employed about; it is to make a speech on some Latin saying, as “ Omnia vincit amor," or « Non “ licet in bello bis peccare,” &c. 'And here the poor lad, who wants knowledge of those things he is to speak of, which is to be had only from time and observation, must set his invention on the rack, to say something where he knows nothing, which is a sort of Ægyptian tyranny, to bid them make bricks who have not yet any of the materials. And therefore it is usual, in sach cases, for the poor children to go to those of higher forms with this petition, “ Pray give me a little sense;" which, whether it be more reasonable or more ridicu: lous, iş not easy to determine. Before a man can be in any capacity to speak on any subject, it is necessary he be acquainted with it; or else it is as foolish to set him to discourse of it, as to set a blind man to talk of colours, or a deaf man of music. And would you not think him a little cracked who would require another to make an argument on a moot point, who understands nothing of our laws? And what, I pray, do school-boys understand concerning those matters, which are used to be proposed to them in their thèmes, as subjects to discourse on, to whet and exercise their fancies?
$ 17%. In the next place, consider the language that their themes are made in: it is Latin, a langaage foreign in their country, and long since dead every-where; a language which your son, it is a thousand to one, shall never have an oecasion once to make a speech in as long as he lives, after he comes to be a man; and a language wherein the manner of expressing one's self is so far different from ours, that to be perfect in that, would very little improve the purity and facility of his English style. Besides that, there is now so little room or use for set speeches in our own language in any part of our
English business, that I can see no pretence for this sort of exercise in our schools: unless it can be supposed, that the making of set Latin speeches should be the way to teach men to speak well in English 'extempore. The way to that I should think rather to be this: that there should be proposed to young gentlemen rational and useful questions, suited to their age and capacities, and on subjects not wholly unknown to them, nor out of their way: such as these, when they are ripe for exercises of this nature, they should, extempore, or after a little meditation upon the spot, speak to, without penning of any thing. For I ask, if he will examine the effects of this way of learning to speak well, who speak best in any business, when occasion calls them to it upon any debate; either those who have accustomed themselves to compose and write down before-hand what they would say; or those, who thinking only of the matter to understand that as well as they can, use themselves only to speak extempore? And he that shall judge by this, will be little apt to think, that the accustoming him to study speeches, and set compositions, is the way to fit a young gentleman for business. -, § 173. But perhaps we shall be told, it is to improve and perfect them in the Latin tongue. It is true, that is their proper business at school ; but the making of themes is not the way to it: that perplexes their brains, about invention of things to be said, not about the signification of words to be learnt; and, when they are making a theme, it is thoughts they search and sweat for, and not language. But the learning and mastery of a tongue, being uneasy and unpleasant enough in itself, should not be cumbered with any other difficulties, as is done in this way of proceeding. In fine, if boys invention be to be quickened by such exercise, let them make themes in English, where they have facility, and a command of words, and will better see what kind of thoughts they have, when put into their own language: and, if the Latin tongue be to be learned, let it be done in the easiest way, without toiling and disgusting the mind by so uneasy an employment as that of making speeches joined to it.