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But his wits would do honour to this age,
1. CoNSTRUCTIVE EXERCISEs for Teaching the Elements of the Latin Language on a System of Analysis and Synthesis; with copious Vocabularies. By John Robson. London: Taylor & Walton, 1846.
WE should not think it advisable to direct the attention of the readers of the Classical Museum to a volume of Latin Exercises, unless such a work were distinguished either by novelty of plan or superiority of execution. Mr. Robson's book fulfils both these conditions. It is intended for the use of pupils who have no previous knowledge of the language, and its great object is to give from the very beginning an analysis of every part of the language, accompanied with a sufficient number of examples to impress the rules indelibly upon the memory. Thus the first exercise contains the rules for the formation of the nominative and accusative cases of nouns and of the third person singular of the present tense of verbs, and is followed by twenty short English sentences to be translated into Latin. Beginning in this simple manner, the author gradually proceeds through the whole of the inflections, giving, as he goes along, all the most important rules of syntax; so that by the time the pupil has finished the book, he cannot fail to have learnt, by the numerous exercises he has written, all the principal inflections and grammatical peculiarities of the Latin language. In this way theory and practice go hand in hand, and we can imagine no better plan for obtaining a thorough knowledge of the language. At the same time, we think that the pupil ought by no means to be confined to the writing of these exercises; but after he has learnt the leading inflections from some compendious grammar, he should at once begin reading some easy Latin author; for if he be debarred from reading any writer till he has finished all the exercises, his work must of necessity become intolerably dull and tedious. With respect to the manner in which Mr. Robson has executed his work, we are glad to be able to speak of this part of his labours with almost unqualified praise. He displays an accuracy of scholarship which does the highest credit to himself and to the institution to which he belongs, and which contrasts most favourably with the loose scholarship which is conspicuous in some of the most popular Latin Exercise Books of the present day. The only drawback to Mr. Robson's explanations is, that they are occasionally more adapted to an advanced scholar than to a youth, and are certainly quite unsuitable to a boy just beginning to learn Latin. Thus, for instance, it would be a sad puzzle to most boys to tell them, as Mr. Robson does, “that the present perfect had originally a suffix is or er,” and if true, which we much doubt, would for all practical purposes be quite a useless piece of learning. But perhaps remarks of this kind are introduced, more for the use of the teacher than the learner. To give our readers an opportunity of judging for themselves of the clear and admirable manner in which Mr. Robson explains some of the difficulties of the Latin language, we copy his account of the Gerund and the Ablative Absolute. Thus he writes of the Gerund:—
“The GERUND is a neuter abstract substantive, declined in the singular only, which is derived from verbs by suffixing to the imperfect C.F. ndo when it ends in a or e, and endo when it ends in i, u, or any consonant : as, C.F. &ra ‘plough, GERUND ara-ndo 'ploughing;' c.F. müni ‘fortify, GERUND muni-endo ‘fortifying; c.f. cap(i), GERUND căpi-endo “tak-ing;' C.F. deponent cona ‘attempt, GERUND cona—ndo ‘attempt-ing.’
“The gerund corresponds to the class of English verbals which end in ing, and express the signification of verbs abstracted from all the notions of person, time, and mood, which are connoted by the verbs themselves: in this respect, then, the gerund resembles the infinitive, but differs from it in being declinable, and in having no variety of form expressive of the incomplete or completed state of the action.
“The gerund cannot be the subject (nominative or accusative) of
any verb but es, with all the tenses of which it may be employed; and when it is so, is always connected with a word (expressed or understood) in the datire case. Its meaning with és may be variously expressed in English, and very often by the verbs “ought, ‘must, ‘be, ‘have, followed by the infinitive corresponding to the Latin verb from which the gerund is derived. The following examples will make this subject clear, and shew how these freer modes of translating the gerund are derivable from its literal meaning: and it is to be especially observed that the significations here assigned, implying duty, necessity, propriety, are not expressed by the gerund alone, but only when it is used with the verb és ; so that such translations can never be given of the gerund in any case but the nominative or accusative. “1. Römänis concedendum non est: literally, ‘ Giring way is not for the Romans, i.e. “it is not the duty or part of the Romans to give way ;' or, more freely still, “the Romans ought not to (or must not) give way.' “2. Milités dirãrunt (sibi) in fluctus desiliendum (essé): literally, “The soldiers said leaping down into the waves was for them, i. e. ‘said they had to leap down, or ‘were compelled to leap down.”
The following is his explanation of the Ablative Absolute:
“The word ‘absolute' means ‘loosened from," i.e. ‘not connected with ; and when employed in grammar, serves to describe words which stand alone in a sentence, not being connected with, or dependent upon any other words in it: they therefore really form no part of the sentence, but may be omitted without interfering with its construction. Thus, in the sentence, “The storm having ceased, the travellers pursued their journey,' the words, “the storm having ceased,’ are absolute.
“Since, then, words so employed are not dependent upon any other word, it would, a priori, appear difficult to decide in what case they should be put, or whether they ought not to remain in the uninflected state, that is, whether their crude forms ought not to be used; and this would, perhaps, better express their relation to the sentence than the method actually adopted. But as it happens that, in the great majority of cases, words used absolutely serve to define the time at which what is stated in the sentence took place, it was natural that they should be subjected to the same rule as words expressive of a precise point of time; and this was accordingly done both in Latin and in Greek.
“Now the general rule of the Latin language is, that words describing a precise point of time are put in the ablative case; and hence that became the absolute case in Latin.
“The absolute construction is used much more frequently in Latin than in most other languages, in consequence of the deficiency of participles, which renders it necessary, as will presently be shewn, to use various indirect and circumlocutory modes of expression; and of these the principal one is the ablative absolute. “The cases in which it is employed may be arranged in two classes: 1st, When the words so expressed are in signification attached neither to the subject nor the object of the sentence, but to the verb ; in which class of cases the absolute construction is not peculiar to Latin, but must necessarily be used in English also, unless the words be formed into a relative sentence, connected with the main one by some relative conjunction, as is frequently done; and in certain cases this is the ne– cessary mode of expression in Latin (vide next Rule.) 2d, When the words so expressed are in signification attached to the subject; in which case they may generally be translated into English by a perfect participle active, agreeing with the subject, and having an accusative case dependent on it; for in such instances the ablative absolute is a substitute for that participle, which is, as has been already stated, wanting in Latin, except with deponent verbs. “When the ablative absolute qualifies the verb, it may consist of a noun or pronoun, with, 1st, a perfect participle passive; 2d, an imperfect participle active; or, 3d, without any participle. “In the other class of cases the perfect participle passive always forms a part of the absolute construction.
1. “The hostages having been delivered up, Caesar hastened into the territories of the Ambiani:” or, “when the hostages had been delivered up, Caesar,” &c. Obsidibits träditis, Castir in finés Ambiánórum contendit.
2. “No enemy hindering or delaying the march, he led the legion through into the province:” or, “as no enemy hindered or delayed the march." Nulld hosté prohibenté aut itér démöranté, légionem in prävinciam perdurit.
3. “Cneius Pompeius and Marcus Crassus (being) consuls:” or, “in the consulship of Cn, Pompeius and M. Crassus.” Cnéió Pompää, Marcó Crassú considibás.
“N.B.-This last class of cases occurs chiefly with proper names and words denoting offices : the imperfect participle of Čs not being in common use was not expressed, but its equivalent must be inserted in the translation.
1. “Caesar, the army having been landed, and a place suitable for the camp having been taken, hastens towards the enemy;" or, “Caesar having landed the army, and taken a place,” &c. Caes&r, exposità exercitu, ac loco castris idonč5 capto, ad hostés contendit. “That in such cases the ablative absolute is merely a substitute for a perfect participle active, is shewn by the fact that sentences frequently occur in which a perfect participle active (derived from a deponent verb) is used agreeing with the nominative, and directly afterwards, in the same sentence, the ablative absolute: as, 2. “The enemy having tarried a little while before the town, and having laid waste the lands of the Remi, all the villages and buildings having been set on fire (i.e. and having set on fire all the villages and buildings), hastened to Caesar's camp.” Hostés paullispér Špiad oppidum morātī, agrösqué Rémorum dépêpièláti, omnibits vicis aedificiisqué incensis, ad Caesaris caströ contenderunt." “CAUTIONs to be attended to in translating the following Exercises: “1. Words which refer either to the subject or to the object of the sentence must be made to agree with them, and cannot therefore be translated by the ablative absolute : except, “2. When a perfect participle actice in English agrees with the subject, and has an accusative case dependent on it, it must be translated by the perfect participle passive agreeing with the word dependent on it (in English), and the two words must be in the ablative case: unless there is a deponent verb in Latin corresponding in meaning to the English verb; in which case the sentence must be translated literally, by the perfect participle agreeing with the subject, and having an accusative case dependent on it. (Wide the last example.)”
We cannot conclude this notice without expressing our hope that Mr. Robson's work will soon be extensively used in our schools. The fact that it adopts the crude form system, as it is called, will present a difficulty in some quarters; but this difficulty is more imaginary than real, as any master will soon convince himself by an actual use of the book.
* “It is evident that, as, for want of a perfect participle active, the Romans were compelled to use the passire construction, this change left the words so expressed independent of the rest of the sentence. In the last example, the words “all the villages and buildings” are, in English, in the accusatire case, governed by the participle “having set
on fire;” but when this participle is changed into the passive “having been set on fire,” which agrees with the substantives, they are no longer in the accusative case; and the whole phrase, not being connected with any part of the sentence, is necessarily expressed absolutely.”