"Perhaps it would help you, to get Johnson's dictionary, my dear boy, and read the quotations, by which he illustrates the meaning of words."

“I have done that already, but his quotations are so grand that I do not feel any wiser than before, and my tutor will be sure to ask the meaning of the words. Indeed I shall never remember how to spell them till I understand them a little better. Oh dear, how I hate spelling! there seem no rules for it either, if there were, one might hope to learn it in time."

“However, as the education of a gentleman cannot be deemed complete, till he can spell correctly, perhaps it will be more expedient to try and conquer the difficulty, than to lament its existence. Shall I try to assist you ?”

“ Indeed I shall be thankful if you can spare time; here's a list of unpronounceable words."

“A Latin and Greek scholar like yourself, will soon master this, Henry. Most of these words are derived from those languages, and therefore your acquaintance with them ought to afford some assistance. Then if you just illustrate them for yourself it will fix them in your memory.”

“When you were at the glass works the other day, you saw how important it was that the heterogeneous materials should be so thoroughly mingled as to produce a substance homogenous throughout. The story of the transmigrations of Indur in your favorite · Evenings at Home,' affords a good illustration of the psychological doctrine of the metemsychosis."

“Dear me! Miss H. how much more interesting this plan makes this stupid lesson.”

“ It is always dull to learn like a parrot; therefore if you have a number of isolated words to commit to memory, it is best to group some ideas, or associations with them, and they may then serve as pegs to attach a variety of useful lessons, besides assisting your orthography.”

“Now here is another tiresome lesson ; Grammar, Miss H.”

“ Ah grammar!" repeated Emma, “whenever I write a dictionary I will put down,

Grammar ; a dry study, made drier still by Lindley Murray."

All the young people laughed at little Emma's description, and yet seemed disposed to sympathise in it, till Miss H. asked,

Have you never thought what a wonderful thing it is that all the thousands and thousands of words in the English language can be expressed by the simple changes of twenty-six small marks?”

“But can they Miss H. ?" enquired Emma.

“Surely: we have but twenty-six letters in our alphabet, and that is one more than our French neighbours use."

"I am often surprised,” said Henry, “to perceive how many words I can make out of the letters which compose just my own name."

“Well, your spelling lesson is but the same amusement on a larger scale. Then, again, is it not an interesting fact, that all these words can be arranged into such a very few clusters: only nine ?"

“It must be rather entertaining to sort all the words into those clusters, I think,” rejoined Emma.

“ Yet, this constitutes the dry grammar,' which is so often despised by ignorance, or hated by indolence."

“I do not wish to be either ignorant or indolent,” declared Henry in an animated tone, “ so I will sort out my words as well as I can, and marshal them even into the cases, moods, and tenses, which often perplex me in parsing."

“ The study of grammar in two or three different languages at the same time gives you an interesting peep at the similarity of the means adopted for the interchange of human thought. Similar sorts of words are requisite, however differently they may be combined or fitted on to each other. In some languages a slight change in the termination effects important alterations in the meaning of the word; in others, a syllable is prefixedor fresh terms added to define the wishes clearly."

“I can understand the use of geography, because I mean to be a traveller when I grow up, and shall want to know my way about the world : but what is the use of the globes to me—the celestial globe especially ?”

“In your voyages across the ocean, my dear, you will certainly need some acquaintance with the sun and stars to guide you, and as our earth is but one among a system of planetary


bodies in constant revolution, you cannot accurately judge of your situation by noticing the stars, without in some degree comprehending our own planet's relation to its companions, and central orb."

“Oh, but I shall expect the captain to do all this for me!”

“A few years ago, my dear, a scientific expedition was undertaken ; but one experienced officer after another sickened and died, so that the whole crew were dependent upon the knowledge and skill of a gentleman, who gladly used it to steer the vessel in to safety.”

"Ladies do not have to guide ships across gloomy oceans;" said Marianne,“ I cannot see why you teach us the use of the globes."

“We cannot foresee how you may be circumstanced in after life, my dear, but even supposing you were never called upon to exercise

your wisdom for your own, or other people's safety; is there po pleasure in learning our true place in the universe, and being acquainted with our companion-worlds ? "

Oh, yes! I like that very much." “ It is useful to realize the vast extent of the prospect we gain on a fine starry night; and if we confine our attention to our own little world, it teems with wonderful objects well worth study. In a humble measure we may individually notice, compare, and reason out, the same great truths which philosophers have discovered as pervading all creation--regulating a planet's course, and adjusting the lenses of a spider's eye.”

· Really, Miss H., to think of such very different things having any connection ?”

“Your separate lessons, my dear children, are all so many parts of a great whole. While the mind is ignorant and immature, it cannot comprehend all wisdom. Even the wisest of men who knew all the beasts of the field, and all the plants of the earth, proved himself lamentably ignorant upon some points, or he would not have been so easily beguiled into idolatry; but life is so much too short to acquire all knowledge, that the least we can do is to learn whatever opportunity permits.”

“ It seems rather tiresome that one has to learn the same things that those who lived before us did. If we could be born


with all the knowledge of our parents and teachers, and then go on adding to their stock, how pleasant that would be.”

“Nay,” replied Miss H., smiling, “it is often the knowledge of our ancestors' failures which teaches their children some of their most valaable wisdom, especially of moral knowledge."

“Well, for my part, I shall be most heartily glad when lessons are done with,” said Matilda, “they are always interrupting my favorite pursuits."

“And when do you expect to have done with lessons, my dear girl?" inquired Miss H.

“Oh when I am quite grown up to be sure! the only trouble then will be parting with you, Miss H., but perhaps papa and mamma will persuade you to stay with us, and do nothing but amuse yourself.”

“Thank you, my love, but much as I love you all, I am afraid having nothing to do would not fully secure my happiness.”

Matilda looked amazed; this was her climax of imaginary bliss, and she smiled incredulously, when her governess went on to remark,

“I trust, Matilda, by the time you are emancipated from these small demands upon your mental powers, you may possess wisdom enough to gather your own lessons from surrounding circumstances. The very term education signifies to educe, to draw out of. You admired the convenient furniture of your uncle's new house the other day, with the well chosen variety of interesting objects you saw in his cabinet; but if the rooms had been empty, and the drawers of the cabinet only filled with rubbish, you would have derived neither pleasure nor profit from inspecting them. Now the lessons you all learn in school, and which some of you deem so dull and tiresome, are the furniture and adornments of your minds, some not particularly handsome or interesting—more adapted for use than for shew, like the tables and chairs, grates and windows, of the new house; others, ornamental accomplishments, pleasing to the eye or the ear. Some lessons such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, are indispensable to your usefulness; others, such as astronomy, geography, and music, ministering to your own or other people's enjoyment."

-“Are all my lessons useful, Miss H.?" interposed Henry at this point of the discussion.

"I hope so, my dear boy. It would be a pity to burden your youthful mind with any useless lumber, or any injurious trash.”

“ Well, there is Euclid. And our tutor always says that mathematics strengthen the mind, but I think they only weaken mine, I feel so tired and stupid over them. If I could tell what use they would be to me, there would be some encouragement to fag hard at the sines and co-sines which puzzle me so much."

“ With all your ingenuity in modelling, Henry, I should have thought you would feel greatly interested in geometry. I observe your little rule and compasses are in constant requisition during play-hours."

“ Yes, you know, I want to measure my work, and make sure that each part fits the other.”

“But you plan it all first in your head, or upon your slate, do you not ?"

“ Yes, Miss H."

“ And do you not find Euclid's demonstrations very helpful in determining the size of your circles, ovals, or triangles, when you are thinking over your pretty models? I fancy mathematics had a good deal to do with that nice little screw propelling boat, which works round your light-house so accurately when wound up."

“Ah, indeed, I could not get on without some of the simple problems."

“Just so, my dear boy, in astronomy, as we cannot reach the heavenly bodies to measure them, we must depend upon mathematical certainties to understand their movements, and mutual relationships ; and it is because the same truths are as applicable to large as to small bodies—to a great, or a little space, that science can pronounce so surely upon such vast regions.”

“I will try and prove Master Euclid in my work-room, then, particularly when his deep arguments provoke me. I see you will soon prove all our lessons are excellent, Miss H.”

“It would give me great pleasure to do so,” replied Miss H. " but after all, spelling, and geography, and grammar, only furnish the head; other lessons are needed to form the

« 前へ次へ »