Imagens da página

was all carefully adjusted, my dinner in a bright tin pail, my books corded and looped for convenient carriage. The little skiff swung, secured to a willow root by a chain and padlock, to and fro, on the variable eddies of the downward tide. It was soon released, drawn to the slightly shelving beach of sand hard by, where the ferry-boat used to land. My brother took what I then called the “ flat end” of the dory, my father the seat in the middle to use the oars, and directed me to ensconce myself in the “sharp end." A. light shove, a gentle rocking, the turning of the craft, as its bow was pointed for the farther bank, gave me the first sensations of being water-borne I had ever experienced. Each little listing of the boat as it declined from its true level at our leaving the shore made me gasp slightly as if about to be overset; but a few moments dissipated my nervousness, and left me free to enjoy what, to me, was like a sail through the blue ether. Reader, have you ever known a real Merrimac dory, built close by the home of Whittier ? Have you seen the aërial craft just rest on the silvery surface of the wave, and play and whirl under the lightest breath of air ? Have you leaned over its stern as some stout oarsman drew it along the watery way, and then tried to count the colored pebbles on the shallow bottom, all distorted by the wake? Have you sat on its stern seat, and, using the thin paddle, made it follow your slightest movement of wrist or arm ? Have you drifted slowly, on a hot summer's day, along the bank, under the skirt of birches, and alders, and pines, and maples, and hemlocks, and the plundered sassafras, all whose shade was the coolness of a grotto, and whose odors more balmy than citron ? Have you dared, in its frail and buoyant strength, the rapid of the current, and the surge on the bar at the mouth of the stream ? Have you made it your tent on the green shore when benighted on some fishing excursion by torchlight, or caught by the on-coming August shower? Have you anchored, miles from our rocky coast, with naught but its thin bottom between you and a watery restingplace, and hung your expectant line over its gunwale, to entice some thoughtless cod to your waiting tub? If so, put these and all its other attractions together, and you will realize a

part of my delight as I crossed the untried river under the sun's bright glow. School expectations, new outfit, books, fears for the future, home, were naught to me. As one spell-bound, my eyes peered into the deep water that seemed to run from under me, and my imagination called up all forms of narratives I had heard, of strange men across the globe, of fabled beings beneath the waves of ocean, in halls bright with the glories of some mysterious flame, of fishes which could not float in deepest rivers because of their greatness, of groves of coral extending their variogated branches along hundreds of acres on the bottom of the sea.

But my reverie is broken by the boat's touching lightly upon the common landing place. We step out, and it is secured in the usual manner to the trunk of a small tree growing near. Together we ascend the sandy bank, and are soon talking cheerfully upon my new destination. Now it is so soon to be entered upon, I am strangely indifferent to what has been for days the burden of my thoughts.

Master Hewes's " temple of science" stood near the corner of a street running parallel with the river and crossing the “ ferry road," as it was called in those days. A rough board fence enclosed it on two sides, a long carriage-shop formed its rear boundary, and a pretty fence six feet high, entered by an arched gateway of carved pine, formed its street limit. The yard contained one-fourth of an acre. The school-building was of a form unusual in those days, or even at present, being octagonal, and quite high, surmounted by a lantern of glass, through which it was mainly lighted and ventilated. A small porch, on the front and rear faces respectively, gave entrance to the building, and egress into the playground that occupied the rear of the lot and three-fourths of its surface. On entering the front porch one saw on his right a door that led to the cellar, and on the left a closet of good size that contained conveniences for clothing, shoes, umbrellas, and similar articles. The centre of the room as you enter shows you a large stove of soapstone, with a tall pipe issuing from its top, and passing perpen. dicularly upward to the lantern, through whose covering it issues. On four of the sides are desks seating sixteen pupils, four upon a

side. The master has his desk upon the left of the door. The right side contains handsome shelves for a few reference books, some specimens of stuffed skins taken from wild animals, two globes of small size, a telescope, and a quadrant. The floor whereon stand these shelves, as well as the teacher's desk, and those of the pupils, is raised seven or eight inches from the general level, bounded outwardly by the wall, and inwardly, except where the doors open, by a circular sweep, leaving an area of about eighteen feet in diameter. The desks all face the centre of this area, and of course, the pupils are full in each other's sight.

From my description you will have inferred that the full complement of this school was sixteen boys, which was the fact; but sometimes Mr. Hewes took two or more additional ones, and gave them temporary seats on his own face of the octagon. It happened that myself was one of those unlucky supernumeraries, thus awk. wardly made the “ observed of all observers," and presenting an inviting subject for the petty tyranny which seems naturally to be exercised in most schools, over new comers. My companion in distinction, who sat on the other side of the master and near the door, was a boy named Tracy, — Dexter Tracy, — son of a prominent citizen in the town, and a lad that had earned his position by the unusual amount of notice which he elicited when in company with the other pupils in school, or elsewhere.

You may imagine me, shamefaced and timid, at ten years of age, spending my first forenoon among strange scenes and stranger faces, all ignorant of what I was to do, and what was to be my experience, as I thus entered upon active life, and excuse me if I defer its realities to another time.

D. D.


Ar the meeting of the Association of High and Classical School Teachers of Massachusetts, Feb. 26, 1870, Bedford st., Boston, Dr. Taylor, of Andover, gave it as his opinion, that an uninflected language, like the English, is really the best, though a language rich in terminations might have special advantages over one that was

not. Also, in answer to another question, he granted “that the student of the classic authors must make the word-picture of the author's” thought in his own language, and not in that of the text before arriving at its meaning. Dr. Gardner, of Boston, believed “ that the student, except in rare cases, like Prof. Felton for example, did not receive the boasted advantages from the style and thought of classic authors; that it was impossible for two sufficient reasons, — the length of time given to the study, and the immaturity of the student's mind.” Such is the invaluable testimony of these classic Titans.

One newspaper report says, “Dr. Gardner made a terrific onslaught upon both the Greek and Latin, and thonght the time was near at hand when they would be shelved, like Hebrew." True, all but the onslaught. It is worthy of note that so accomplished scholars and teachers as Drs. Taylor and Gardner do not feel called upon in an assembly of educated teachers to glorify the beauties and sublimities of Virgil and Homer, any more than they would offend good taste and sense by arguing the excellences of Milton and Shakespeare to such an audience, however pleasant to unfold their beauties to pupils; they would as soon think of proving that sunshine is pleasant. No one questions the merits of these authors. The only question with regard to them is : How can we give the student in the shortest time the best knowledge of them ? Can the general scholar afford to learn their langnage, ignoring translations, when we have such a translation of Homer as Bryant has given us thus far? bringing the immortal poet within easy reach of all students, and establishing at the same time the great power and flexibility of our own language.

There was no onslaught upon Greek and Latin, — only a manly and indignant utterance against the stale sentimentalism of those who talk about “the student's catching the power and spirit of the original,” and who think they have a duty to perform in upholding the reputation of the classic authors. What is good in the classics is immortal; every one knows that; why argue it? Let us put their creations to the best use. That students should receive high culture under such teachers as Drs. Gardner and

Taylor, studying Greek and Latin, is no mystery. But the success is not due to the dead authors nor their dead language, but to the untiring energy, the indomitable will, perseverance and intense love of labor of the living teacher. They would inspire this same love of work, which is as indispensable in education as in everything else, to secure the highest results, whether they taught Greek

Not that the two last named languages would furnish the same attractive points or useful knowledge, but that the pupils would receive the discipline and habits of industry that would insure their subsequent success in the different walks of life. How can we shorten the various paths, then, that lead to a truly liberal education, becomes the great question of the present day. As an important step we would propose to economize the labor now spent upon the study of English grammar. We would have the pupil learn language - not the philosophy of it — or grammar, only so far as he can make it, by judicious direction of the teacher, for himself. We can see no good reason why our analysis of the language may not be so far simplified as to enable the pupil to understand the terms used, without having a classical education. Why should we have case at all in our language? Is it needed ? The French have - why may not we lay it aside ? How is it to be done? Very easily, if all can agree upon it. Call all possessives, adjectives, which may sometimes be used as nouns, like other adjectives. The only serious difficulty in the way of abolishing case, is the form of six or seven pronouns, but that is no real obstacle, without even admitting the correctness of the Dean's English; for we may call, I, thou, he, we, etc., subject pronouns; me, him, us, etc., object pronouns, if it is thought best to preserve the words, subject and object in analysis, to which there seems to be no great objection. The pupil cannot distinguish between the same word as subject and object, and when told that it, in the sentence, I believe it, is governed by believe in the objective case, and in the sentence, that is it, it is nominative case, he cannot account for the distinction. It is useless to tell him believe is a transitive verb and governs the objective case, unless he is at the same

« AnteriorContinuar »