4 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 9

S CHOOLMASTERS must occasionally wish that their critics would take up

new ground for attack. The great majority of those who are always finding fault with English methods of teaching—both those who, knowing very little about schoolmasters, describe them comprehensively as "dull," and those who know a good deal about them, and yet want some of their methods altered—adopt a single stand- point. There must be less of the classics. If Latin cannot be got rid of, anyhow Greek must go. There must be no more time wasted in "gerund-grinding," and paradigm- hunting, and all such "useless" work : if there is not time for everything in the school curriculum, then the study which has "nothing to show" for the time spent on it must disappear. We sometimes wish, while Greek and Latin are being kicked about in the hall preparatory to expulsion through the front door, that somebody, for the pure interest of discovering who would take up sides, and what epithets they would throw at each other, would begin to deride the teaching of mathematics. Not, of course, the obviously useful teaching of arithmetic ; but the insistence on advanced algebra, geometry, and trigonometry,—what is known in the examinations, in fact, as "higher mathematics." Nobody would deny that a knowledge of "higher mathematics" is a necessity to boys who are intended to enter, or are capable of entering, certain professions. But if it is waste of energy on the part both of teacher and taught to compel a boy of

sixteen or seventeen who is bent on chemical experiment, or devoted to engines, to flog his mind to the composition of Latin elegiacs, is not energy occasionally wasted in other ways ? Suppose that a boy has shown a considerable leaning to the reading of English classics, and can make nothing of any mathematical problems much more intricate than those which belong to the province of workaday arithmetic, ought he to be forced to spend hour after hour in groping after the obscurities of logarithms, and binomial theorems, and all the rest of what is to him only an appallingly weary con- glomeration of meaningless terms ? Much has been written about the dreary farce of exacting alcaic odes from minds incapable of hearing a ring of music in such lines as-

" Tendens Venafranos in agros

Aut La,cedaemonium Tarentum."

But who shall measure the utter deadliness that overwhelms a mind compelled against its will to drag unmeaning sines and tangents over sterile sheets of examination-paper ? Here, surely, is a point worth fencing about ; or perhaps even the buttons might be taken off the foils. It is time that the classicists were left alone for a little, and the mathe- maticians called out.

Meanwhile, those who believe in the value of the classics, and who think it "a great pleasure and a great honour" to have studied them, take the field occasionally with light ]'apiers, and we are the more indebted to them because if they are in earnest they are also amusing. Here, for instance, in the Nineteenth Century for November is Mr. Stephen Paget with an essay entitled "Latin for Girls," which has the peculiar merit that the stickler for pure scholarship could object to it no more than the most thoroughgoing utilitarian. There are, Mr. Paget points out, two kinds of Latin. All Latin is not dead. "There is a dead Latin, and there is a living Latin. Or, at least, there is a way of learning Latin as if it were dead, and a way of learning it as if it were alive." It is this living Latin which Mr. Paget suggests would be a pleasant change of learning for girls, and would open out new prospects. For both boys and girls the beginning is the same,—namely, they must have a sound knowledge of Latin grammar, and must be able to translate easy sentences. Then comes the stage when the boys go off to the public schools, and the girls stay at home. The boys have the Latin classics given them, to translate without a crib. "For the girls, let the process be reversed. Let us • set before them certain English classics, already well known by them, which are also Latin, and were Latin before they were English ; and let us ask them, since they know the English version by heart, to hear how it sounds in Latin." They begin, then, with the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, and go on to the canticles, prayers, Psalms, and hymns, which all well-brought-up girls know by heart in English, but of which the Latin comes to them only in the first word or two of the older version set at the beginning of the Psalm. Boys, it is supposed, must not be given the Magnificat, because it is not golden Latin. Mr. Paget compares it with Livy, however, and asks which are the statelier sentences :—

"Prom, regi AMA duo filii Numitor atque Amulius erant. Numitori, qui natu maximus erat, pater reg,num vetustum gentis legat.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo. Quia respexit humilitatem anent, sure."

There is no style, again, he suggests, in As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end ; but we should all recognise a resonant glory of prayer in the older &cut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in swcula smculorum. The case is imagined of an English girl hearing the Latin service in a Cathedral abroad. There the Latin is for the time being the living language ; the prayers are prayers which she knows by heart in her own language, which for the moment is a dead language. "Nothing, in all education, could be more perverse than that."

Other methods of learning Latin as a living language suggest themselves. Mr. Paget has a leaning towards epitaphs ; there is a solemn directness about Hie jacet, no involution of sentences, no trouble about structure, and you know what they are going to say. Besides epitaphs, there are quotations, tags, and scraps which it is inconvenient not to know with fuller knowledge than merely recognition by sight; there are abbreviations, syllables, and letters in daily use, quite numerous enough for a good lesson; above all, there are derivations, of which the pursuit is fascinating for persons much more learned than English girls. Finally, the writer recommends that when the pupil has sufficiently advanced in her studies, she must be examined. "Girls love examinations." Here is one of Mr. Paget's suggested examination-papers, which must not be reprinted without the author's proviso that "dictionaries are allowed, and it is against the rules of the game to plough or pluck any Of the candidates"

"1. Explain, from the point of view of history, the Latin on a penny.

2. What are the elements of Latin in the following words : suburban, transpontine, ultraniontane, intermediate, approximate, opposite, and remote ?

3. An English author has lately defended the use of the phrase Under the Circumstances.' Give your opinion on this point.

4. Translate freely into Latin prose Every little boy or girl

That's born into this world alive, Is either a little Liberal Or else a little Conservative.

5. Imagine that you have written a book. Dedicate it, in Latin, to one of your friends.

6. Express, in Latin: God save the King, Three cheers for (F/oreant) the Navy, the Army, and the Reserve Forces, and I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year."

The obvious comment to make is, of course : "What per- centage of marks ought the public-school brother be allowed to miss without being ploughed P" On him—instructed not

only, incidentally, in such abstruse businesses as logarithms, but primarily and fundamentally in Greek and Latin—

presumably we ought to have no mercy ; or are we right in inferring that the author of the examination-paper thinks that there might be better ways of getting a knowledge of Latin than "having to learn Livy " If it is true that, as Mr. Paget remarks, "of all the boys who are conscripts in the service of the classics, few attain high rank," and that "for every boy who loves Latin there are ten who love it not, and more than ten on whom in later years it has no influ- ence "; and if it is true also that much of the mathematics taught is wholly forgotten in a year or two after leaving school, are the schoolmasters wholly right in their methods with the boys ? Their reply, no doubt, would be that their pupils learn a great deal more than in after years they think they have learnt ; and that the preliminary drudgery of the grammar papers and the rows of paradigms, and also the Euclid propositions, enables them to build on a firm founda- tion much more quickly and certainly than those who have not had the same grounding. Be that as it may, it would undoubtedly be unsatisfactory if a classically trained boy were ploughed in Mr. Paget's examination labelled "For Girls." But that involves another point. It is unsatisfactory that any schoolboy, even trained in the strictest sect of the Ciceronians, should be ignorant of the stately Latin of the

great hymns and prayers. Which of the carols brings back the air of a Christmas night so surely as the Latin, or what is there in the English version to compare with the resounding vowels of " Adeste Fideles " P Yet for a school- boy to be ignorant of those and of the Latin prayers is to

be ignorant of what was a great part of the religious services of his fathers ; and though the learning of neither

prayers nor hymns comes into the school routine, both were, and still are, indubitably living Latin.