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Now, all this is wrong. It is a frightful source of confusion to prowl about here and there in the sentence in a self-blinded way that would seem pathetic to a Roman, looking at things without the side-lights afforded to him by the order; and, further, it is a frightful waste of time. Take a sentence such as often occurs, e.g., the opening of the third oration against Catiline, delivered before the people. Imagine, now, two scenes: on the one hand the Roman Forum, on Dec. 3, 63 BC, with a mass of men and boys listening to Cicero as he tells the story of the entangling of the conspirators remaining in Rome; on the other, a modern schoolroom, say in the Syracuse High School (though I hope I am about to slander Dr. Bacon), Dec. 3, 1886 AD. In the former case Cicero has the floor, as we say; in the latter case, Dr. Bacon's assistant, book in hand, his pupils before him. Both audiences want to get at the same thing, — what Cicero has to say. In the first scene, Cicero proceeds: —

Rem publicam, Quirites, vitamque omnium vestrum, bona, fortunas, coniuges liberosque vestros, atque hoc domicilium clarissimi imperi, fortunatissimam pulcherrimamque urbem, hodierno die deorum immortalium summo ergo vos amore, laboribus consiliis periculis meis, e flamma atque ferro ac paene ex faucibus fati ereptam et vobis conservatam ac restitutam videtis.(Catil. 3.1)

When he has said that, every soul that has heard him knows precisely what he means. Now change to the Syracuse High School. The teacher says, "first find your subject." So we run on, scenting out a subject: —

Rem publicam, Quirites, vitamque omnium vestrum, bona, fortunas, coniuges liberosque vestros, atque hoc domicilium clarissimi imperi, fortunatissimam pulcherrimamque urbem, hodierno die deorum immortalium summo ergo vos amore, laboribus consiliis periculis meis, e flamma atque ferro ac paene ex faucibus fati ereptam et vobis conservatam ac restitutam videtis.

Well, we are through with the entire sentence, and there is no subject! Of course, then, it is implied in the verb, and that is the 2d person pronoun, in the plural. Next we find our verb. That is, as it happens, the last word, videtis. Then we go back, do we, and find the modifiers of the subject, and then the modifiers of the verb? No, I say to all that. We have already, if we have been rightly brought up, understood everything in that sentence by the time we reach the last syllable of it, without having thought meanwhile of a single English word; and we are as ready in 1886 to go on immediately with the next sentence as we should have been if we had been Romans in the Roman Forum on that day in 63 BC. Or, to put it another way, the boy who, reaching that oration in the course of his preparation for college, cannot understand that particular sentence, and a great many much more difficult sentences in the oration, from reading it straight through once in the Latin, nay, from merely hearing his teacher read it straight through once in the Latin, has been wrongly trained, is wasting time sadly, out of a human life all too short, and, so far from being on the direct way to read Latin with speed and relish, and then to proceed to do so, is on the direct way to drop it just as soon as the elective system of his particular college will allow, and, if he cares for literature, to go into some language in which it is not necessary, first to find the subject, and then the predicate, and then the modifiers of the subject, and then the modifiers of the predicate, and then to do the same thing for the subordinate sentence, or, if there are several subordinate sentences, to do the same thing for each one of them in the order of their importance, and then to put these tattered bits together into a patchwork.

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