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Now, it will not do to say that students, by beginning in this way, get, quite early, beyond the need of it. At any rate, I can testify, from my own experience, that, in spite of the admirable efforts of the schools in "sight-reading," they do not, when they come to Harvard or Cornell. I allow myself in my class-room — keeping well inside of what is said to be customary among college professors — one jest a year. When I first meet the new Freshman class (for I could not bear to leave such precious material wholly to the most perfect assistant), I question them:

"Suppose, now, you are set, as you were at the examination for admission the other day, to tell me the meaning of a sentence in a book you never saw, — say an oration of Cicero, — how do you proceed to get at the writer's meaning?"

There is at once a chorus of voices (for they are crammed for that question, having learned printed directions, as we have seen, in the first books they studied), "First find the — SUBJECT," three-quarters of them say; "PREDICATE," the other quarter.

"Now here," I say to them, "is an unhappy difference of opinion about first principles in a matter of everyday practice, and of very serious importance. Which is right?" They do not know. "Which do you suppose the Romans who heard the oration delivered in the Forum first hunted up, the subject or the predicate?" That little jest, simple as it is, always meets with great success; for it not only raises a laugh (of no value in itself), but it shows at once, even to a Freshman, the entire absurdity of trying to read Latin by a hunting-up first of either his subject or his predicate; and so enlists his sympathy in favor of trying some other way, if any can be shown him. But, at the same time, it proves to me that the method taught at the most critical of all periods, the beginning, is still wrong. Only in late years, and very rarely, does some student answer my question with: "First read the first Latin word without translating it, then the second, then the third, and so on to the end, taking in all the possible constructions of every word, while barring out at once the impossible, and, above all, erring, if anywhere, in the direction of keeping the mind in suspense unnecessarily long, waiting, at least, until a sure solution has been given by the sentence itself."

Yet this is the one method that should everywhere be rigorously used, from the day of the first lesson to the last piece of Latin that the college graduate reads to solace his old age. Only, the process which at first is at every point conscious and slow, as it was not with the Romans, becomes, in Latin of ordinary difficulty, a process wholly unconscious and very rapid, precisely as it was with the Romans. Just when the process would become easy for ordinarily simple Latin, if the training were right from the beginning, I cannot say. In my own experience with college students, all whose habits have to be changed, I find a striking difference to be produced in a single term. And at the end of two years, when the elective work begins, I now find it entirely practicable for the class to devote itself to the study of the Latin literature in the Latin alone, having nothing to do with version into English except at the examinations; and I never had so good and so spirited translation, whether at sight or on the reading of the term, as last week, when, for the first time, I held such an examination at the end of a term spent without translation.

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