Page images

children being able to speak and write their respective languages, with facility and correctness, proves that the present mode of teaching Latin in the English schools is bad, we cannot perceive. The same observation might be made of Chinese, Sanscrit, or any of the Oriental languages. That some boys of thirteen may have an antipathy to Latin after five years' study, or that some boys may be improperly taught, or that there may be some bad schools in the United Kingdoms, no one will deny; but that does not certainly prove, that the present system is so iniserably defective as Mr. H. represents ;

or that the dislike which idlers may have for study, is to be attributed to that cause.

“An adult, in the attainment of a foreign language, is as a child with regard to its own language; words, and their meaning, are first to be acquired, and not the laws by which these words are connected; and if his position were. the same, if the means were only equal, his progress would surely be superior, but the contrary is confessedly the fact.Here we must disagree with Mr. Hamilton. The

person wishing to learn a foreign language, is by no means in the same relative situation as a child to his own. In the latter case, the mind is free from any ideas, and therefore whatever are presented to it, enter with the greatest facility; but, in the former, it is different: the mind has already been stored with the ideas of one language, and therefore the introduction of another must inevitably cause great difficulties, from the opposition of the old to the new. From the acquirement of one language, the rules of the grammar of that language must have been learned, or the student's knowledge is very limited. These rules point out a particular formation and arrangement of sentence, and a peculiarity of concord. Now, when he comes to learn another language, if any difference exists between his mother tongue, or the first language he has acquired, and the one of which he wishes to render himself master in the formation and arrangement of sentences, or in the peculiarity of sounds, how can he comprehend, much more learn, that language, without being first acquainted with its grammar? For instance, how can the native of this or any neighbouring country comprehend the agreement of a Greek neuter plural with a verb singular? This is contrary to all the principles of concord, he knows, between the nominative and the verb; and, therefore, unless he is previously made acquainted with the grammar, on which this circumstance must depend, he cannot understand it.

Mr. Hamilton amplifies on the abové principle, and then gives us the proofs of the success he has met with in London. These are arranged in such an ingenious manner, that at first view one would be led to imagine we had furnished a complete answer to all objections. He produces a certificate from fifteen gentlemen, who had made the progress promised in ten lessons; and also a report of an examination, which took place in presence of Dr. Herdman and other persons. In addition to these, a certificate, from the same fifteen gentlemen, acknowledging their satisfaction at the advancement made in the second section. This certainly appears very candid. But, since these fifteen gentlemen were so pleased with Mr. Hamilton's exertions during the first two sections, it is strange they did not proceed to the third and fourth. And, if they proceeded to the third and fourth, it is still more strange that, since they could give the certificate of the first and second, they could not, or would not, give a certificate of the third and fourth. These certificates relate only to the French language. Mr. Hamilton teaches seven. Strange, that no pupils in the other six should have been obtained by Mr. Hamilton; and, if such persons have been obtained, stiil more strange that they should refuse, or at least not pay, the tribute due to his great exertions. The first and third certificates are by the fifteen gentlemen themselves, and they express satisfaction at their improvement. We wish not to make any remark on these gentlemen's talents ; we have no doubt that they made as much improvement as the system, by which they were taught, would permit; but this we will say, that a pupil himself is the very worst person in the world to consult as to his progress. His opinion will, of course, for a much longer time than during

the first ten or twenty lessons, be the opinion of his master. This master is Mr. Hamilton; and thus we have these gentlemen employed as conduit-pipes, through which Mr. Hamilton's opinions flow. Then, as to the examination of these gentlemen on the first ten lessons, before Dr. Herdman, and an assembly formed for the purpose. The language, on which they were examined, was French. Was there any native of France present? If there was, it has not been mentioned. And, if there was, would Mr. Hamilton have omitted to mention it? We think not. So that, whether the accent with which the words were pronounced was as they ought, in the opinion of a Frenchman, or merely as they ought in the opinion of an Englishman, we are not informed. That the latter was the fact, is much more probable than the former. Pronunciation may be of no importance in the estimation of Mr. Hamilton, and therefore it is most likely that the inscription to be found on the second volume of Chambaud's Dictionary, will be, according to him, the proper object of his pupils' attention; namely, English

French.” But take the opinion of the pupils themselves on their progress in the first and second sections, it is but the opinion formed by persons of their own talents; and, therefore, if Mr. Hamilton's intention really was to give the convincing proofs he professes, he must produce something better worthy of the name.

Mr. Hamilton commences his Appeal by informing us that the number of pupils under his tuition, and that of his partners, exceeds one thousand; and thus proceeds :

“No reclamation, no complaint has hitherto been heard of on the part of the pupils; no instance of failure pointed out by the host of enemies its success has created.”

This, we submit, is no proof of the system producing all the benefits represented.' Those who have become his pupils, for the reasons we have before remarked, will not, for a considerable time, be aware of their deficiency, in the particular language they are endeavouring to learn. And, when they have discovered that their progress is not what they might fairly have expected from the promises held out to them, something like shame at having been duped, would prevent the acknowledgment. And if not that feeling, a carelessness to make the fact known to the public, would have a similar effect. We hope Mr. Hamilton will not consider us among the number of his enemies : for, we assure him, that we have no feeling towards him inimical to his interests. If the progress he promises is founded in reality, let Mr. Hamilton bring forward good proofs, and such as may fairly be considered as satisfactory, and we shall be happy to applaud him as he deserves.

Mr. Hamilton then professes his intention to answer some of the objections which have been made to him by his opponents. The works of the latter we have not seen, and, therefore, cannot judge of their merits; but this we can very clearly perceive, that Mr. H. has, with all the ingenuity of a special pleader, avoided the main objections, and availed himself of a few verbal inaccuracies only, on which he has formed his main arguments.

Mr. Hamilton observes, with regard to the number of places in which his system has been introduced, “Cambridge, with a liberality as honourable to herself as to the system, has permitted its introduction for the modern languages; several French and German classes are now in activity among the members of that University, and it would doubtless have been adopted for the learned languages also, had instruction in those languages been needed there.”. How is it that Mr. Hamilton has not given us some proof of the public acknow



ledgment on the part of the University of the excellence of his system? Surely it must be more important for Mr. Hamilton's interests and fame, that he should print an acknowledgment from so high a literary body, than the certificate of fifteen unknowns who have taken ten lessons.

We have now gone through the statement of Mr. Hamilton's system, and his appeal; and, as far as we were able, have avoided being entangled in the labyrinths which his ingenuity had formed. The skill he has displayed in mingling good premises with fallacious conclusions, has rendered it very difficult to answer some parts of his exposition. The two main principles on which this system is founded, if we understand his own words, seem to be explanation and repetition. That explanation is necessary, in order to place the pupil fully in possession of those canons which are to guide him in the acquirement of a language, we shall acknowledge; but that explanation can so imprint those canons on his mind, that getting by heart will become unnecessary, we shall certainly deny. That repetition, on the part of the master, may be necessary to give the pupil a proper knowledge of pronunciation, we will not dispute; but that a Dictionary will thus be rendered unnecessary, we can by no means admit. These appear the main questions at issue. Mr. Hamilton's reasoning, as we find it in the statement here referred to, does not satisfy our minds of the soundness of his view; but possibly, in some others of his works, we shall discover more weighty arguments, and, on a future occasion, we shall endeavour to examine them. At present, however, our limits will not permit it.

A Treatise on the Principles of the Usury Laws; with Dis.

quisitions on the Arguments adduced against them by Mr. Bentham and other Writers, and a Review of the Authorities in their favour. By Robert Maugham.—London, Longman and Co. 1824.

The public attention has been for some years past attracted to the laws regulating the interest of money, as well by the publications of Mr. Bentham and others, as by the attempts which have been made in the House of Commons to procure their abolition or modification. The subject is confessed by all parties to be one of great practical importance; and while, on the one hand, the folly of retaining an obsolete system of law has been strongly dwelt upon, the possible evils of inconsiderate and hasty legislation have been urged with equal zeal upon the other.

The laws of usury have undergone several changes. A brief historical sketch of these is given in the pamphlet before us.

“ Before the specific provisions by statute, the laws relating to usury were entirely probibitory, and confined to its punishment, either canonically as a sin, or civilly as a crime. The effects of a usurer, after his death, according to the ancient law, belonged to the king. Inquisi. tions were beld upon persons dying in this offence; and, if the fact was proved, the personal effects were seized, the heir was disinherited, and the land reverted to the feudal lord. Reformation and penitence, however, saved the culprit's property; and it was only when he died au usurer that his effects could be confiscated. (Glan. lib. vii. 16.)

By the Statute of Merton, (20 Henry III. chap. 5,) usury was put under particular restraint in favour of minors. In the reign of Edward I., by the Statute de Judaismo, all usury was absolutely prohibited. There were three Acts also passed during the time of Henry VII., in which the term usury' is applied to all loans upon interest, and prohibited under certain penalties.

“Down to the middle of the sixteenth century, such was the state of the law of England on this subject.

“ In this early stage of our national commerce, in the 37th year of King Henry VIII., an Act was passed, by which interest was per. mitted at ten per cent. At that time both manufactures and trade were comparatively in their infancy, and the difficulties and hazard which accompanied their operations naturally enhanced the amount of profit, and we find that the legal rate of interest was correlative."

“Though the taking of interest was entirely forbidden by the 5th and 6tb of Edward VI. it was again legalized by the 13th of Elizabeth, and limited to ten per cent.

“ In the year 1624, (just two hundred years ago,) the interest was reduced to eight per cent. by the statute of 21 James I.; and this reduction, being about eighty years after the Act of Henry VIII., appears to have corresponded with the progressive prices of commercial and landed property.

“ We then pass to the 12th of Charles II. in the year 1661. In the intermediate period, of thirty-seven years only, Great Britain had acquired several colonial possessions, and her commercial capital had increased with rapid steps. The rate of profit had naturally fallen, and usance was limited to six per cent.

“In the year 1714, after the lapse of fifty-three years, when capital was still further extended, and profits still further reduced, the legal rate of interest was fixed, by the 12th of Anne, at five per cent., the amount at which it has ever since remained.”

The author of the present publication is an advocate for the continuance of the laws. After some preliminary obser

« PreviousContinue »