Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/277

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betrayed an evident dislike for the domestic turkeys, the one before mentioned showing a warm regard for the rooster, which was evidently reciprocated. When this one became fully grown, the children traded it off to a neighboring boy who resided about three miles distant in the woods, but on the following day the turkey appeared at its old home and immediately sought out its friend the rooster. It was returned to the neighbor, who finally found it impossible to keep his new possession, and so the bargain had to be annulled, and rooster and turkey were allowed to peacefully enjoy each other's companionship. E. M. S. 

 Springfield, Missouri, October 22, 1883.




EDITOR'S TABLE.


DEAD-LANGUAGE STUDIES NECESSARILY A FAILURE.

WE last month cited conclusive testimony that, as a matter of fact, classical studies are a general and notorious failure; we now propose to look a little into the causes of that failure. The partisans of the system have a ready reason for so much of it as they have not the assurance to deny. They admit that the dead languages may partially fail because they are poorly taught.

It is significant that this complaint of bad classical teaching has been made for hundreds of years. The indictments of the system on this score by eminent men would fill a big book. But why, then, have not the sorely-needed reforms been carried out? The subject is surely important enough, and has been prominent enough to enforce attention to it. It has occupied the scholarly talent of generations; yet, where the system has been tried longest, the best minds have still cried out against the unbroken experience of failure, not-withstanding all attempts to reform the bad practices. Two hundred years ago, the mode of studying the dead languages was sharply condemned by John Milton, who thus wrote: "We do amiss to spend seven or eight years in scraping together so much miserable Greek and Latin as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year." Milton believed in reform, and had the most sanguine hope from a better system, which would do more even for dunces than the prevailing method could do for brighter minds, and he gives to his expectation the following quaint and vigorous expression: "I doubt not that ye shall have more ado to drive our dullest and laziest youth, our stocks and stubs, from the infinite desire of such a happy nurture, than we have now to hale and drag our hopefullest and choicest wits to that asinine feast of sow-thistles and brambles which is commonly set before them as the food and entertainment of their tenderest and most docible age." And, after a couple of centuries of progress, what is the outcome? We still hear every-where that the dead languages fail, because they are taught by obsolete and irrational methods, and it is stoutly claimed that all we need is their reformation.

But what mystery is there about these languages that their study should prove the great chronic scandalous failure of higher education, age after age? There can be no reason in their constitution or peculiarities that should necessitate any such result. There has been a thousand times more practice in teaching them than in teaching any other languages; the work of learning them is of the same kind as that of learning other languages, and they are said, moreover, to be the most perfect forms of speech, and in that respect would seem to have advantages over other languages. There is nothing exceptional in the processes of their study. The meanings and relations of words have simply to be acquired, so that they can be used for the expression of thought.