Page images
PDF
EPUB

subject, and on simple sabjects yol not part words. Subjects such as I contempiale are constantly oocarria, wherever there are human beings. You may take a year itetne scme accident that has happened in the booze bere you reside, in a Deizbvouna, mide, on the bigà rosd; or you may desenbe a bird's nest; the peculiar form, colour, and babits of tre swallow, the dog tribe, the cat tribe, the daisy, the wi.d rose, the boney bee, &c.

Well, having described the object to a child, take your pen and write down as well as you can the very things you said, and baring carefully corrected them according to the best of your abuity, copy out the whole in your composition book.

Many children would be far better as an anditory than one child. And very desirable for your purpose is it that utility to oilers should be immediately in your view. For these reasges I advise you to become a teacher in a Sunday-school, or if that is not possible or not convenient, tben gather around you a number of children and form a class. By preparing to teach them you will give your mind useful discipline, and in communicating to them what you know you will take effectual lessons in the ditticuit art of correctly expressing your thoughts. By teaching others you will best teach yourselí. To diligence there is nothing impossible. Report to a child or two the following anecdote :

SOUTHEY'S SCHOOLING. Here one year of my life was passed with little profit, and with a good deal of suffering. There could not be a worse school in all respects. Thomas Flower, the master, was a remarkable man, wurthy of a better station in life, but utterly unfit for that in which he was placed. His whole delight was in mathematics and astronomy, and he had constructed an orrery upon so large a scale that it filled a room.. What a misery it must hare been for such a man to teach a set of stupid boys, year after year, the rudiments of arithmetic ! And a misery he seemed to feel it. When he came to his desk, even there he was thinking of the stars, and looked as if he were out of humour, not from ill nature, but because his calculations . were interrupted. But, for the most part, he leit the school to the care of his son Charley, a person who was always called by that familiar diminutive, and whose consequence you may appreciate accorcingly. Writing and arithmetic were all they professed to teach; but twice in the week a Frenchman came from Bristol to instruct in Latin the small number of boys who learnt it, of whom I was one. That sort of ornamental pepmarship, which I now fear has wholly gone out of use, was taught there. The father, as well as Charley, excelled in it. They could adorn the heading of a rule in arithmetic in a ciphering book, or the bottom of a page, not merely with common flourishing, but with an angel, a serpent, a fish, or a pen, formed with an ease and freedom of hand which was to me a great object of admiration; but, unluckily, I was too young to acquire the art. I have seen, in the course of my life, two historical pieces produced in this manner; worthy of remembrance they are, as notable speciniens of whimsical dexterity. One was David killing Goliah; it was in a broker's shop at Bristol, and I would have bought it if I could have afforded, at that time, to expend some ten shillings upon it. They taught the beautiful Italian, or lady's hand, used in the age of our parents; en. grossing (which, I suppose, was devised to insure distinctness and legibility); and some varieties of German text, worthy, for their square, massy, antique forms, to have figured in an antiquarian's title-page.

EXERCISES IN COMPOSITION.

HISTORICAL THEME.
The formation of the Hebrew Tabernacle.

PERSONAL THEME.
What have been my thoughts during this day?

POETICAL THEME.

The stillness of the country. Form each of the following words into a simple sentence: girl; boy; dove; California ; amendment; Adam; England; disturbo ance.

Describe a butterfly; a robin ; a lark; a salmon ; a mackerel ; a sheep; a rabbit.

Supply suitable adjectives in the ensuing sentences :-
Wise men love counsels.

men must die.
The fruit of autumn is delicious.
Small faults produce ones.
O how — is hypocrisy !
Complete the following propositions :-

for having been too exacting.
to respect the aged.
the prevention of evil
for having soiled his book.

- the scholar's negligence. Carefully study the following conversation, and having done so, endeavour to imitate it. CONVERSATIONS ON ENGLISH GRAMMAR AND

COMPOSITION.-No. I. Well, I have failed again; a packer I am, and a packer I must remain, fond as I am of reading, and desirous as I am of getting an employment more suitable to my tastes. And yet, if I had fair play, I could, I am sure, do the counting-house work as well as some that are there."-"Not quite, William ; true you are intelligent and trustworthy; you also write a good hand, and are ready at accounts, but you are a very poor Grammarian."--"Not so poor as you think; though I am, I grant, far behind you, Thomas ; but then you have been at college, and ought to know Grammar.”Yes, and I am willing to teach you, for I am sure you will never get forward as you wish, and as I should like to see, until you can write your mother tongue correctly.”—“I know that, and I have studied English Grammar; but it is very difficult."-"Yes, and you still write bad English: for instance, your letter of application for the vacant situation contains not less than three grammatical mistakes, and is enough of itself to prevent your success. How can you expect to rise in the world when you cannot speak and write English? In a counting-house they want their letters written grammatically. It would be a disgrace to a house to send out letters containing

errors of Grammar like those which you commit."-"I dare say you are right; and so I must remain a packer.”-“That does not follow; learn the English Grammar."-"A very easy precept, but a very hard job."-"Not so hard as you think.''-"Excuse me, I have tried, and I have failed.”-“Because you tried by yourself."“By myself I must still try, or give it up."-"No, I will assist you, if you will make one more effort. Let us talk over the matter; I think I can make the study easy to you. Once a-week we will converse together on English Grainmar, and if you will only reflect in the intervals on what I say, and follow my guidance, I have no doubt you will, in time, understand the subject thoroughly,"_“I agree, and am very much obliged to you for the offer." -“0, never mind the obligation; brothers should assist each other, and I am very desirous to see you in such a position as your character and talents mark you out for.”—“Let us begin this evening.”_" Very well, and you must come to the parsonage every Tuesday evening at eight o'clock, and we will see what can be done.”

“Now, as a fundamental rule, you must observe that Grammar is a science in which authority goes a very long way. At first, you will do well to consider that everything depends on authority."-“What authority?"_“That of the best writers in the language. If you study English Grammar, then you take as your authorities or guides such mén as Shakespear, Milton, Dryden, Johnson, Pope, Macaulay. Their practice is your model. As they write so you must write. Grammar then, you see, is, for our pur. pose, imitation. Those who write English Grammar derive the instructions they offer from the usages of the best English authors, or, as they are iermed, the English classics.”-“Classics !' why I thought the term 'classics' was confined to the Greek and Roman authors, such as Homer and Virgil.”-“ O no, every literature has its classics. The word is derived from 'class,' and denotes those writers who, by common consent, are placed in the first class. The practice of such writers sets the fashion in the language in which they write, and they are followed by all who wish to speak and write that language correctly. Now you are to suppose that I have studied our English classics, and have hence ascertained how I ought to speak and write. In that study I have been preceded by others. Their conclusions afford me aid. Under that aid I have formed a system of rules, and that system of rules is called • English Grammar.' English Grammar, then, you see, is a science. Science, you know, means knowledge; it is knowledge, the materials of which are systematically arranged ; arranged, that is, into a system, arranged in a set order, and with a view to a certain purpose or résult; and English Grammar consists of a continued set of rules derived from the practice of well-educated Englishmen, so arranged as to form a complete whole, and communicate useful information to the learner.”—“ Well, I understand that; but in our house every boʻly says 'they does,' and you told me yesterday that was wrong.”

"It is wrong; remember I said that we are guided by the practire of educated Englishmen, and educated Englishmen say "they du."-"But what does the word Grammar signify? I thought a Grammar was a book ; you say it is a science.”—“ It is both. Grammar is a word of Greek origin. It comes from gramma, which denotes a letter, a letter of the alphabet. Hence Grammar is the science of letters-letters, that is, employed to express ideas. Listen, letters represent sounds, and form syllables and words;

words represent sounds, and the sounds they represent, represent or stand for thoughts or ideas; while those thoughts or states of mind represent things, objects in the inner world or in the outer world. This statement will require thought. Do not trouble yourself too much about it now, you will understand it by and bye. But observe that Grammar is ihe science by wbich you learn to express your ideas correctly, that is, according to the usages of the best au hors. And a book in which these usages are set forth as rules is also called a Grammar. Every language has rules peculiar to itself. Hence we have French Grammar,' Greek Grammar,' as well as 'English Grammar."".

THE GREEK ELEMENT.-GREEK STEMS. The prefixes and suffixes of which I have treated, are connected with certain roots or stems. So far as these stems are of Saxon birth, you need little instruction in them; they are your mother tongue, and, in general, are as readily understood by you as the words which denote the members of your body, or the food that. you eat. With other stems you are not acquainted. Among the words I gave you for exercise in composition in the last lesson, there are words for the meaning of which you have probably had to resort to a dictionary. Such a word is accessary. Now accessary being made up of the Latin words ad, to, cedo, I go, and the termination ary, would have occasioned you no difficulty had you been familiar with the foreign or exotic stems of our language. In origin, those stems are various. Chiefly they are derived from the Latin, as in the word accessary. Some come from the Greek ; others are of different parentage. These must all be separately considered. I begin with an example of

Greek Stems.
Greek words.

Stems. English words.
adelphos, a brother adelph Philadelphia
philos, a friend, loving phil philosophy
sophos, wise

soph sophist Now let me explain the process I here intend. Adelphos is found in Philadelphia, but not in its full form. It is found as it appears under “Stems ;" for adelphos, passing into Philadelphia, loses os, and takes ia. By this time you know enough of the changes in language to be aware that these changes in the termina. lions do not affect the root-meaning, or the essential import of the word. Prefixes and suffixes convert verbs into nouns, and adjectives into adverbs; or they may modify the signification ; they may even reverse it, but they nevertheless leave the import of the stem still traceable after it has undergone their influence. Philadelphia, then, has clearly something to do with adelphos, a brother. What that something is, you find indicated in the next Greek word and its stem, namely, philos, loving, and phil. Putting the two together, you have Philadelphia, and putting the two meanings together, namely, love and brother, you obtain brotherly-love as the import of the word under consideration. Remembering that Philadelphia is the name of a town in the United States, you are reminded that the

name, brotherly-love, was given to it by its founder Penn, as indicative of the spirit with which he dealt with the original inhabitants of that region. Passing on to the next word, philosophy, I find at the beginning of it the same phil of which I have already spoken. But I find, also, sophy. What am I to do with sophy ? First, I know that the y may, represent the Greek ia, as is set forth in the remarks on suffixes Changing the one into the other, I thus get sophia. Now, by referring to the next line in my list of words, I see one which is very like sophia ; that is, sophos. I already know enough of the changes which words undergo to find reason for thinking that sophia is connected with sophos in mean. ing and source as well as in form. This idea is confirmed by my seeing that soph is given as the stem of sophos. Now soph is equivalent to our wise ; here love and wise must be put together, and so I learn that philosophy is the love of what is wise, or the love of wisdom. Such being the case, a philosopher must be one who loves wisdom.

But soph is given as the origin of sophist. Sophist obviously consists of two parts; the part which is given, that is, soph. meaning wise, and ist. What is this ist ? Let me think. Have I not had ist before ? O yes, I remember, ist is a suffix, a Greek suffix, and denotes a partisan, one who follows a party in an opinion ; like baptist, one who observes baptism, Sophist, then, must be one who pursues wisdom, one who is given to wisdom. Now such is the meaning of the word, and such is the whole meaning of the word as taught by etymology, or the doctrine of tracing out the root-signification of words. And here you have an instance of the short-comings of etymology. So far as I have yet gone you see no difference between philosopher and sophist, for both are students of wisdom. Yet, if you meet with the two in a narrative or a discussion, you find that their meanings are different; at least, a philosopher is spoken of with respect, a sophist is spoken of slightingly.

I have entered into these details in order to show you that history must be taken as an ally to etymology in the study of languages. In the case before us history supplies the lacking information. From history we learn that the sophists were a set of Greek teachers who, not content to be called philosophers or lovers of wisdom, pretended to be sophoi or wise men, and so came to be designated sophistai, sophists, disparagingly. A sophist, then, you thus learn, is a pretender to wisdom; and as all pretenders are obliged to resort to trickery, so a sophist is one who, by unsound and cunning arguments or delusive appeals, aims, for his own purposes, to produce a false impression. Knowing what a sophist is, you easily infer the meaning of sophism, or a means by which the sophist works; and sophistry, his art. Advanced thus far, you have no difficulty with sophistical, nor with sophistically.

Turn your attention for a moment to the English representatives given above, and observe generally that in representatives, whether designated English or foreign, I mean the radical parts of the words, in each case the radical or essential elements of each word. Now, you have above these three combinations of letters, namely,

« PreviousContinue »