Monday, October 08, 2012
I Detested Greek and Latin
I came home from this school at the end of the first month, with a report which showed that I was ninth in a class of fifteen. That is about the average rank which I generally had. I showed it to my mother, because I had to. I thought she would not like it. To my great surprise and relief, she said it was a very good report. I said I thought she would be displeased because I was so low in the class. "Oh," she said, "that is no matter. Probably the other boys are brighter than you. God made them so, and you cannot help that. But the report says you are among the boys who behave well. That you can see to, and that is all I care about."P. 6:
I was at Harvard College from 1835 to 1839....A philologist did the Latin, and made us hate it, and we should have hated him too, had we not thought of the possibilities of human nature, and that, deep hid in him, there must be something divine. Among them all, I detested Greek and Latin, when we left them at the end of the junior year, and I should never have read a word of either since, if I could help it, but that I had to teach them. Then I regained the natural love of them; "of which," as my great Master says, "in its place."P. 7:
The classical men made us hate Latin and Greek; but the mathematical men (such men! Pierce and Lovering) made us love mathematics, and we shall always be grateful to them.P. 9:
After I left college I was an usher in the Latin School, then under the admirable lead of Mr. Dixwell. I was a teacher of Latin and Greek there for two years. As I have said, the natural fondness for language then came back on me, in teaching the two languages to amiable and bright boys. To some of those boys, therefore, I owe all the pleasure which I have ever since derived from Latin and Greek literature—not to my college teachers, who made me hate the languages.