Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/92

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in English was then unknown. A young man, whose time had been mainly given to Latin and Greek, might be expected to err in estimating the value of an undeveloped study.

After many years of experience in teaching I have come to believe that one may be liberally educated without knowing even Shakespeare's "little Latin and less Greek." Let us see what is claimed for classical studies by their friends. Dr. Jacob, in a lecture before the London College of Preceptors, after saying—what is most true—that it is "of the greatest importance to accustom young boys or girls to exercise such mental powers as attention, observation, exactness or clearness of apprehension, the comparison of contrasts and similarities, generalization from, a number of particular instances, the facility in tracing order in the midst of variety," tells us that Latin "affords peculiar opportunities for promoting the exercise of the very faculties which most need to be drawn out and trained in boys, if they are to have an education which deserves the name." I think it will puzzle Dr. Jacob, or any one else, to show wherein Latin affords peculiar opportunities for promoting this training. Indeed, an advocate of science-teaching may as well make a similar claim for the particular science which he recommends. Certainly the botanist may accept this language as a statement of his claim. These results can undoubtedly be deduced from the study of English, and, in fact, from almost any real study.

"We must, therefore, seek a higher ground for justifying the giving of so much precious time to the study of Latin and Greek. Let us try the real object of learning a language, to use it as a tool for receiving and conveying thought. The utter uselessness of Latin and Greek for this practical purpose, to almost every one who studies them, puts them out of court at once. After all the years spent in the study of these languages, not one in a thousand of our college graduates even learns to read them, and I doubt if there are ten teachers of them in America who can read them. There are many who can translate a Latin or a Greek book with the aid of a dictionary; there are others who can translate without the help of a dictionary; but translating is not reading. To read a book in a foreign language, you must think in its language—you must catch the thought at a glance without the intervention of English words at all. Now, who is there before me who can thus read an unfamiliar passage in Latin or Greek? Although I have spent many of the best years of my life in studying these languages, I am free to say I cannot do it. I have never known a man who could do it. Hence we know no more about the thought, the life, the philosophy, the poetry of the Greeks and the Romans, than we could have learned far more readily from good translations—using the correct translations of others in place of our own imperfect work.

All this, I know, is unpardonable heresy. My sin is made worse by the fact that I have fallen from grace. I was trained up in the good orthodox creed that the study of Latin and Greek is the chief factor of