with the spellings and punctuation but not the italicization of the original
Paedagogica Index Note and Textual data
of a Practical Grammar
An Enquiry after a more easie and certain help
to the Construing and Pearsing of AUTHORS;
and to the making and speaking of Latine.
Containing a Set of Latines
answerable to the most Fundamental Rules of Grammar,
and delivered in an easie Method for the first beginners to make Latine,
at their entrance on the Rules of Construction.
Teacher of the Free-School of Q. Elizabeth at Dedham in Essex.
—Quantum vertice ad auras.
Aetherias, tantum radice in Tartara tendit.
London, Printed by D. Maxwel, and are to be sold by Charles Adams at the Talbot in Fleetstreet. 1660.
It must not be denied, That the present Age hath brought to light, great helps to the Instruction of Youth in the Latine Tongue: For those who in Forein parts have invented means for the expediting of this, it may suffice to instance in that great Regulator of School Policy, who hath much matured the Learning of Tongues, the Reverend and Singularly Ingenious Comenius. At home divers happy pieces have been published; with all which, it might farther conduce to the facilitating that employment, if the work of making Latine were put into an orderly and artificial course: Which seems to have been left too much at large, not with us onely, but in other parts, as far as I can understand. I hope it will be approved to the Judicious Reader, that this Labor is not unnecessary, if he shall with me reflect,
I. That there are wholly wanting assistances of Technical Books which might draw on Children to the exercise of the several or most principal operations of Grammar in train; for translating out of the Vulgar into Latine. It would turn to better account, if, as the Children are intrusted with any stock, they were required to trade with it; and were directed orderly to refund it in practice.
II. that it is more difficult to learn the Reason of the Latine Tongue by pearsing of Authors, then by making Latines; the Investigation of the Theam from the Obliques, being far more various then the descending from the Theam to the Obliques by certain and uniform Characteristicks.
III. That it is evident by an Induction of the several Arts, amidst which we converse: That as without the direction of a Master, it is difficult by bare practise to arrive to the perfection or truth of Art: So neither is it much riddance, if a Master should couch in writing the several operations of his whole Art, and exact of his Novice, to commit it all to memory, an end, before he fall to practise any particulars of it, and thereby to understand them: But the most easie, speedy, and familiar way is, after very short, general Instructions, concerning the terms of that Art premitted, if the Learner put his hand to the work; that particular Problemes be laid down in a clear direction; this followed with manifold working, that reviewed and polished with continual correction. Thus the understanding will run parallel with the memory; for we then onely know a rule of working, when we can do the work.
IV. To distribute Grammar into Problemes, makes it more comprehensible to a narrow-sighted understanding, and more portable for the weak memory of a Childe; that strength may in a convenient time remove a Sack of Corn into a Store-house, if it be parcelled into proportionable burthens; which can in no time carry it away, by heaving to lift at once, that which is a burden over-proportioned to it.
V. This may be some defence for the seeming compass that this method carries the Learner about; for the attainment of Arts and Sciences, is well compared to the climbing of a steep Hill. Our fancy may contrive to spring up perpendicularly, but it will be found the most feasible and easie way to gain the top by a spiral ascent.
VI. Hereby different capacities are comprehended, quicker apprehensions will be informed and confirmed, and brought to a habit of ready working; while the flower are not discouraged, nor wholly left behinde: Some wits are of a more yielding, others of a more sturdy matter. Now each single instance propounded to be wrought, is as a knock of a Hammer, to rivet into the understanding and memory, that rule, upon which it depends in the working: And the several heads of sense serve the more to clench it down.
VII. Nor is it any real compass that this method takes more than others, if we consider the perpetual parts and repetitions used in learning the Grammar; for to work by the same rule in forty examples, is less tedious both to Master and Scholar, and makes more to the understanding that rule, and is not longer then to repeat and hear the rule forty times over.
VIII. Yet because wits are not of equal acuteness, and some do more readily apprehend the propounded rule than others can. If a single pupil be instructed, when he sufficiently perceives the operation, and the particular cases of it are salved, it matters not, that he be detained to pass through all those proofs, that are here offered (which yet would be not without profit to him) but he may speed on to the following Fundamental Canons, and there will be no abruptness in such proceeding onely, if the rule be carried before in the understanding; the best expedition for Forms is, that upon discovery of differing parts they be not unequally matched: So that the prudence of the Master may make it neither too long, for the more quick, nor too short, for the more slow. And as the received method is a means to discover the inequality of memories, so this will be helpful to try the quickness of apprehensions.
IX. That the examples are not very coherent, not classical, but plain, and the way hath somewhat of new in it; these several Objections admit a distinct solution, not very difficult to be found out; the first onely must be excused, the latter three defended and owned. Indeed it were to be approved, that besides the truth of Rule, a constant harmony of Sense might run through the whole body of examples in the Art: For then the minde would be less distracted, and dwell more willingly upon its work, and the intention of the instances more evident. If it be narrowly looked into, this hath been attempted in the present Scheam (however the difficulty of the matter, with the inability of the Author, may have occasioned a coming short of what may be in this point imagined and desired,) so that a disjoyned conformity, and grateful variety, have been aim'd at in the whole; the heads of Sense being drawn from the World, Natural, Artificial, or Moral: Neither are they yet more unsuitable to one another, then the examples, throughout the received Grammar. Now that this might be effected, it was secondly proper to cast a set of Sentences, rather then to no advantage, ambitiously to collect them from the Authors of Latine. Why must it be stood upon to attest the constant and ordinary expressions of the Tongue from the pure Writers? or what are Tully, Seneca, Terence, Virgil, Ovid, to him that enters on his Accidents? Is not the Masters authority to him more known and more important? Aristotle saith rightly, The Learner must believe. I have herein asserted freedom to Grammar, which the Writers of other Arts take to themselves, and Comenius the great advancer of Didacticks does ordinarily challenge. These were thirdly, calculated for the weakest capacities of raw and tender beginners to be familiar in Sense and Analogious (ordinarily) in construction, and laid even one by another in an orderly contexture, wherein nothing sublime or profound, nothing anomalous, nothing preposterous, might trouble the yong Learner; and if this be blamed, with as just reason may a Nurse or Mother be blamed, who should remove out of the way whatever might be occasion of stumbling to her childe that is upon practicing to go alone. No ground is plain enough to preserve Children from knocks at that time, nor can any method be so clear, but Novices will at first be apt to mistake, till they be set upright; the charge must here lie rather after an information, whether it be plain enough. Fourthly, If upon an inquiry it appear to design somewhat unattempted hitherto by the several compilers of Grammar, whether at home or abroad, this will vindicate the Author from the imputation of a Pagiary: Indeed here is offered at an artificial Systeme of Vulgars (as some term them) or (exercises of Translation from the Mother Tongue into Latine; therefore by others from the opposite term called) Latines (as what they are to be made.) The whole care of this hath hitherto been left to the leasure of Masters, who are either put to the trouble of perpetual dictating Latines, proper to the proficiency of those Forms which they instruct, or else to put them to some English Author, and exact of them to translate tasks out of it; which is at once to lay the whole weight of the Latine Grammar, upon a beginners shoulders: We bring them to pearse Latine, by leading them through Sententiae Pueriles, and Pueriles Confabulatiunculae, and Corderius Colloquies, and so to Esops Fables, Cato's Distichs, Terence, and the easier pieces of Ovid and Tully. Ought not the same condescension to be used in requiring the Work from them? Should they be at once, at the very first engaged upon the whole work of Grammar promiscuously? Allowing, that they have the whole body of Grammar in their memories; yet if they have it not in their understandings, it is but like a cash committed to their keeping, locked up, they should be accountable onely for so much, as is intrusted to them under their own Key: Now a single example does very difficultly open to so yong beginners a general rule, but manifold practise sliding from the Vulgar to the Latine Tongue, is a more certain and ready Key. And besides this difficulty to the Learner, promiscuous Latines are an insufficient proof of Grammar skill: They are unequitable to the yong Student, and inadaequate to the work. Contingent practice cannot without a great tract of time, let one into a full knowledge of any Art, nor does it then certainly. These two Reasons may serve to maintain the Introduction of the Latine Praxis to be proved by the rule, concurrently with the English: by which Analysis and Genesis of Latine, it may become familiar to them to ascend from the Obliques, to the Theame, and to descend from the Theam to the Obliques, as a Seaman attains by Custom to run up and down the Ladder of a Mast, which would be difficult to one not practised to it: Nor is this method considerably differing from the received way in Schools; but onely a superinducing of a farther help which may appear to have been wanting in carrying them on in the received Authors.
X. What I apprehend a more material Objection, is, That though my liberty in conceiving examples be allowed, though the way be granted pleasant, because more coherent than ordinary, easie, and so far new, as is not abhorrent from, but subservient unto the received order of Teaching: Yet these proceedings, while they indulge the ease of the Learner, lead him by fallible way-marks, when he lanches into an Author, he shall not finde those measured uniform Clauses, those entire Sentences, those Analogous parts; another face of Oration will present it self. He must engage with language in a stile different from the English composition. Which way will our yong practitioner in Latine, now turn himself? If the artificial and umbratile method fail in encounters with natural language, it delights fairly; but inconveniences foreseen are in a fair way to be prevented. The way-marks of the Latine language, are the terminations of Noun and Verb, principally with other accidents of the Tongue, which are more evidently propounded, and rendred more familiar by use in this method. The easiness which arises from suiting the Clauses under their Rule, from giving entire Sentences, from picking out Regular Parts of the Sentence, from putting a composition commensurate to the known order of our Native Tongue, onely prepare the Learner to be acquainted with, and prompt in the Declensions and Conjugations, by passing on without rubs. It hinders not that a childe may grow up to travel in rugged ways, who hath learned to set his steps upon the smoothest pavement, and from before whom, at first, all causes of stumbling have been studiously removed; yet even this formality is endeavored to be taken of, by throwing several Sentences under their proper Rule, into an arbitrary order in Verses, by subjoyning observations concerning the peculiar composition of the Latine Tongue, by drawing up the Anomalies into a Synoptical Table, by advising the Learner of the usual abridgements of Sentences (especially when he is carried on to look into the construction of Zeugmatical Periods) by summing up divers Rules into one Recapitulatory Practise (whereby those contrived equalities fall off, and onely the Rule sticks by.
XI. Now, though it be admitted, that this course is profitable to the Learner of Latine; it will not therefore follow, that a like innovation would be as useful in learning the Greek, because there is a disparity of Reason. This is taken up by Children, and those wholly unacquainted with the Art of Grammar; that is superadded to them grown more adult, and well versed in the Latine Grammar, especially when the Accidents of the Latine are far more incommensurate to the English, then those of Greek are to Latine.
XII. The onely Postulate of this Method is that the Scholar be able to write; who shall do well to have a Dictionary of his own; and is further desired to get a Paper-Book, wherein to enter his Latines fair after correction; that so he may have by him a Sententiae Pueriles, which he may frequently read with understanding and delight, as being of his own making.
XIII. The desired benefit of it is, that the industrious Student may understand Grammar; and with ease pass on unto, and with speed and profit pass through the received Authors.
XIV. I finde by a Book newly published and come to my hand, that a like design hath been contrived and successfully practised by Mr. Charls Hool. I have reason to be much confirmed by the testimony of so worthy an Author; whom, though by face unknown, yet from his Translations seen by me, and the Preface to Cato's Distichs, I have honored not onely as candid and industrious, but acutely judicious in Didacticks: Not that I should pass by his being experienced in Teaching, who was (as I collect from his New Discovery of the old Art of Teaching School) a School-Master, before I was a School-Boy. In the last mentioned Book, Page 57, 58, also 118, 119, 120. his notion concerning such like Scheam, and his progress and practise in it, are exprest. I promise my self, when I shall attain to see his pieces of this nature published, that the defects in this essay may be much redressed: And this my attempt may confer, if nothing of light or strength to the work, yet the weight of a witness to the way.
XV. I can safely from experience testifie, concerning the one part of this Work, that is, the Train of Englishes to be done into Latin, that hereby without much tediousness either of Scholar or Teacher, the attentive Learner; hath with speed and ease been let in to a steady skill of making Latine; and do perceive with evidence, the contexture of the Latine stile. What is farther contributed hereto by the other Additionals, the Work not being published through want of Copies, I could not make tryal. The Reasons of adding them, have been above mentioned.
The Introductory Epistle to Methodi Practicae Specimen by Christopher Wase is presented here not only as an interesting document from the history of Latin pedagogy, but also as a stimulus to re-think our own approaches to the teaching of the language today. Latinists still must ask what pedagogical methods and instruments are most likely to lead their students to the fullest possible mastery in the shortest possible time. Wase's practical experience, and his experiments, should not be discounted by our age.
There is a facsimile of this work available in the series English Linguistics: 1500-1800, Selected and Edited by R. C. Alston, No. 361 (Menston, England: The Scolar Press Limited, 1972). This html-version at the Latin Teaching Materials site at Saint Louis University updates the typography and formating of the original and makes it available to a wider audience. I have thought it best to retain Wase's antiquated spelling but not to include his rampant italicization.
The terminology is for the most part readily understandable, but note that the Oxford English Dictionary defines the philological term Theam (theme) as "the inflexional base or stem of a word, consisting of the 'root' with modification or addition." Oblique designates a "case of a noun other than the nominative or the vocative (or, occasionally, the nominative, vocative, and accusative)."