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« the history, and untouched with the interests, 6 of his native country; what an useless, what an " odious animal! Who will say that education is o on a right footing while its tendency is to cre“ ate such a monster! Ye parents, listen, and be “ wise. Would you have your children healthy, 6 and polite, and sentimental? Let their early “ youth be employed in genteel exercises; the “ theatre, the coffehouse, and the card table
will refine their taste, instruct them in publick « affairs, and produce habits of attention and con6 trivance; and the French authors will make “ them men of wit and sprightly conversation, “ and give a certain je ne scais quoi of elegance " to their whole behaviour; but for Greek and “ Latin, the study of Gronovius, Scaliger, and “ Burman, the accomplishment of Dutch com«mentators and Jesuits; heavens! what has a man “ of fashion to do with it!"
Most of the discourses I have heard or read on this side of the question were in a similar style of vague declamation; seasoned with high encomiums on the utility and elegance of the French language and literature, and on the late discoveries in physiology for which we cannot be said to be indebted to any of the sages of Greece and Rome. And how easy is it to declaim on such a topick! By blending some truth with your falsehood; by giving to the latter the air of harmless amplification, and by descanting on the abuses of study, as if they were its natural consequences, you may compose a very plausible harangue; such as could not be fully answered without greater waste of time and patience, than the champion of antiquity would think it worth his while to bestow. And if your doctrine happens to flatter the prejudices, the vanity, or the indolence of the age, you will be regarded by some as a fine writer, of liberal principles, and a manly spirit.
It is however thought by many, who in my opinion are more competent judges, that an early acquaintance with the classicks is the only foundation of good learning, and that it is incumbent on all who direct the studies of youth, to have this great object continually before them, as a matter of the most serious concern; for thạt a good taste in literature is friendly both to publick and to private virtue, and of course tends to promote in no inconsiderable degree the glory of a nation; and that as the ancients are more or less understood, the principles and the spirit of sound erudition will ever be found to flourish or decay. I shall therefore state as briefly as possible some of the peculiar advantages that seem to me to accompany this sort of study; with a view to obviate, if I can, certain prejudices, which I am
sorry to observe have of ļate years been gaining ground, at least in the northern part of this island. The subject is copious; but I doubt whether those adversaries to whom I now address myself would take the trouble to read a long dissertation.
The objections that are most commonly made to the study of the Greek and Latin authors, may perhaps be reduced to four. It is said, first, « that this mode of education obliges the student “ to employ too much time in the acquisition of “words: secondly, that when he has acquired “ these languages, he does not find, that they re“pay his toil: thirdly, that the studies of a gram“mar school have a tendency to encumber the "genius, and consequently to weaken, rather “than improve, the human mind: and, lastly, “that the classick authors contain many descrip“tions and doctrines that may seduce the under“ standing, inflame the passions, and corrupt the « heart.”
I. 1. In answer to the first objection, I would observe that the plan of study must be very bad, where the student's health is hurt by too close application. Some parents and teachers have thought that the proficiency of the scholar must be in proportion to the number of hours he employs in conning his task; but that is a great mis
take. Experience proves, that three or four hours a day, properly employed in the grammar school, have a better effect than nine; and are sufficient to lay within a few years a good foundation of classical knowledge. Dunces, it is true, would require more time; but dunces have nothing to do with Greek and Latin: for studies that yield neither delight nor improvement are not only superfluous but hurtful; because they misemploy those faculties which nature had destined to other purposes. At the same time, therefore, that young men are prosecuting their grammatical studies, they may learn writing, drawing, arithmetick, and the principles of geometry; and may devote the intervals of leisure to riding, fencing, dancing, and other manly exercises. Idleness is the greatest misfortune incident to early years; the distempers it breeds in the soul are numberless and incurable. And where children, during their hours of relaxation, are left at their own disposal, they too often make choice of criminal amusement and bad company. At Sparta, the youth were continually under the inspection of those who had authority over them; their education, says Plutarch, was one continued exercise of obedience; but it was never said, that the Spartan youth became torpid, or melancholy, or sickly, from want of amusement. Wherever there is a
school, there ought to be, and generally is, a field . or area for diversions; and if the hours that boys in this country spend with one another, that is, in sauntering, and too often in gaming, quarreling, and swearing, were to be devoted to exercise, under the eye of some person of prudence, their souls and bodies would both be the better for it; and a great deal of time left for the study of many branches of knowledge, besides what is contained in the grammar, and ancient authors. The misfortune is, that we allot too much of their time, not to play, but to idleness; and hence it happens, that their classical studies interfere with other necessary parts of education. But certain it is, that their studies and amusements might be made perfectly consistent; and the culture of the mind promoted at the same time with that of the body. If both these ends are not always accomplished, and but seldom pursued, the blame is to be laid neither on the teacher, nor on the things that are taught, but on those persons only who have the power of reforming our school discipline, and want the inclination. At any rate, the blame cannot be laid on the classick authors, or on those very useful members of a commonwealth, the compilers of grammars and dictionaries. For the faculties of children might be dissipated by idleness, their manners poisoned by