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taught during the winter season, and in summer supported himself by his trade. He studied mathematics and Latin under the direction of Rev. Hubbell Loomis, the minister of his native town. Through the influence of that gentleman, the Rev. Abiel Abbott was induced to secure for Sparks a scholarship at Phillips' Academy, Exeter, N. H., on a charitable foundation, which gave him education and home, free of cost. He entered the academy in 1809, completed his term in 1811, and being assisted to a scholarship at Harvard College by President Kirkland, he entered that institution the same year. To meet his college expenses, he left his class, and went to Havre de Grace, Md., to teach. Having replenished his parse, he returned to Harvard, and graduated in 1815, with one of the highest honors. After graduating, he taught school in Lancaster, Mass., for a short time, then began the study of theology at the Cambridge school. Shortly after, he was appointed Tutor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard, which office he filled two years, prosecuting, at the same time, his theological studies, and also editing the North American Review, of which he was one of the original founders, in 1815. In 1819 he was ordained as minister of the Unitarian church at Baltimore, Md. During his residence in Baltimore, he established and edited the Unitarian Miscellany, being himself its largest contributor.
His health failing, be resigned his pastorate, returned to Boston and purchased the North American Review, which he edited for seven years. Afterward he devoted himself chiefly to historical authorship. His contributions to American historical literature, probably exceed in bulk those of any other writer, and they are characterized throughout by careful preparation and candid treatment.
The principal works of Mr. Sparks are “The Life of John Ledyard,” the American traveller ; the Washington papers, with a life of the writer, in twelve octavo volumes; “The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution,” in twelve volumes ; “ The Life of Gouverneur Morris,” in three volumes ; "A Library of American Biography," in two series, one of ten volumes, and one of fifteen volumes ; "The Works of Benjamin Franklin,” in ten volumes ; and “Correspondence of the American Revolution," in four volumes. From 1839 to 1849, Mr. Sparks was Professor of History in Harvard College, and president of that institution from 1849 to 1852. His last historical work was published in 1854. Since that time he has quietly enjoyed the rewards of his abundant labors. His life was eminently successful, and made so by elevated aims, untiring industry, and unswerving moral integrity.
W A NTED by the teachers of the land—an economical substitute for
W blackboard and crayon, whịch, with all the advantages which these possess, shall combine another desideratum- freedom from dust.
So writes a correspondent, who has doubtless learned by dear experience that chalk-dust, though light, is no trifling matter. It may be sneezed at, but it can not be coughed down. It has made its mark and market, and it will continue to be a necessary nuisance in the school-room until something better is made to take its place on the blackboard, we mean, not in the air. It is not an inconvenience merely. Not a few teachers have been driven from the profession with weakened lungs and ruined health, caused by the continual breathing, in the school-room, of the allpervading particles of chalk. The effect of this irritating substance upon the throat and lungs of children must be even more injurious.
Here is an opportunity for some enterprising Yankee to do a good thing for the world—and for himself. If there is such an anomaly as a teacher who would be rich, we say to him: "Supply this want, and a fortune is sure." And for honor, the lucky inventor will outrank the author of the latest edition of the multiplication table or even the author of the last “New Grammar.”
THE GERMAN METHOD OF TEACHING GEOGRAPHY.
Bentix, March 16, 1806. THE same contest which is going on in American schools respecting
1 the relative value of the “ Object Method," and that which has been in vogue from time immemorial, is in progress in the German schools, and with the growing conviction that this so-called new method (as old, by the way, as Aristotle) is the one which is best adapted to meet educational wants. In the application of this method to most studies, the Germans have not made greater progress than we, and it is to Switzerland that both countries must look to find examples of its most effective working. Yet in the science of geography, I think the Germans have worked out a system of great excellence and applicability; and as a friend of my own is carefully studying this system, and is preparing a series of text-books based upon it, I can not do better, it may be, than to devote this letter to the subject.
I need hardly say that the great leader in this department of science, during the present century, is the distinguished professor in Berlin University, not many years dead, whose name has often been alluded to in this series of letters, Carl Ritter. Not that he has ever prepared a textbook, or series of text-books, on geography, for the use of the schools of Germany: and the volume published recently by Lippincott, and bearing his name, though prepared for the use of our higher seminaries, and admirably adapted, by its clearness and conciseness, for their needs, contains merely the substance of one of the courses of lectures which he delivered before the Berlin University. Nor is there, strange as it may seem, a single geographical text-book published in Germany which is adapted to the wants of schools ; and what is learned must be learned by observation alone. I have remarked, in another letter, that the favorite method of instruction in this country is not by means of a text-book, it is by means of oral instruction Books are published for the use of teachers, and not for that of scholars. It is so in all departments of learning, and in geography the uniform rule is followed. So, if the reader of this letter were to come to Germany, and to ask for the most approved schoolbooks on geography, he would be shown the thick works of Kloden or Daniel, costing several dollars, and numbering thousands of pages. Each of these works he would find an exhaustless storehouse of geographical facts : and in Daniel's he would discover great scientific method, and historical as well as geographical worth. But neither of these standard works wonld realize his idea of a school text-book. The void is filled in this way, however. Geographical teachers procure these works, and from them they draw the matter wbich they wish to communicate to their classes. Admirable atlases are published for the use of schools, some of them far surpassing any that are in use in America, and having, like Kiepert's and Sydow's, a world-wide reputation. But the instruction is communicated in the lecture form, oral, familiar, often thorough. Just as medi. cine is taught in our medical colleges, and as theology is taught in our tbeological seminaries, so is geography taught to the youngest classes in German schools. The teachers here ridicule the American method of committing to memory the words of a text-book ; and, so far as the slavish adherence to the mere written form given in our text-books is concerned, their criticism is just. I do not think their objections to the system of using books just and valid, however, if the books are used simply to communicate facts, and are not to be committed to memory. One great excellence in our system is, that it necessitates a period of preparation. The German method does not : the scholar merely listens to a pleasant, familiar lecture, and remembers as much of it. as he can.
But it is in another thing that we can learn of the German teachers; and it is this which the series of works contemplated will aim to sapply. It is the adaptation to the growing powers of mind in youth, and the gradual and natural process of unfolding which goes on. This, as I havo said. is laid down in no text-book : and I have learned the method entirely from observing its application in the schools, and from conversation with the teachers themselves.
The first stage is to familiarize the children with the geography of their own homes. And not the geography alone, but the natural history of the Beighborhood in which they live. If the school is in a village, the pature of hills, plains, brooks, rivers, mountains, lakes, the sea,, whatever there is in sight is made perfectly familiar to them. This is done not alone, but in connection with a rudimental instruction regarding the animals, wild and domesticated, the fowls, the fish, the insects-all the forms of life which abound. In one word, wbat we call the object-method, applied in reference to the outward world, is made to include the rudimental geographical forms, and whether the scholar lives in the country or city, he is compelled to interpret almost every object which the study of continents brings into notice, by the familiar scenes within a few miles of his father's dwelling. With blackboard and chalk, or with paper and pencil, he is obliged to begin, even then, the drawing of maps, designating, in a rude and childlike way, the most prominent features of the landscape, or if he live in tie city, taking some well-known suburban locality, and reducing it to cortographic shape.
Thus the foundation is broadly and thoroughly laid : the vocabulary of geographical terms is acquired, and the first steps in map-drawing taken before the pupil is conscious that he has embarked upon the study of the science of geography. When the first steps are fairly taken ; when all the preliminaries are arranged ; when the use of relief maps has made him familiar with the aspect of the globe, and he has learned that great countries are made up of the same elements which he can see from the window of his own school-room, he is considered ready for a second step.
This is done primarily, through means of a physical atlas ; nothing elaborate, but simple, clear, and intelligible. A country, North America, for example, is laid before the scholar, and the only marks which it bears are those which indicate the mountains. These, of course, are shaded so as to readily indicate their magnitude and general extent. The teacher discusses the great primary subject of highland and lowland, and then shows their influence upon the course and size of rivers. It is the scholar's next task to insert these, and thus to make the map more complete. In all this, of course, the home, with its brooks, or its rivers, is kept in view as the key to the interpretation of the larger scene. When this map is done, then another is laid before the pupil, containing the rivers, but not the mountains ; the latter are carefully inserted, and the mutual play of mountains and rivers is in close method carefully studied and understood. The map is then carried forward, till, as a physical map, it is understood. Small countries are studied in the same way; and Switzerland is not considered as studied till the whole course of its valleys has been followed, and reciprocally the valleys and streams being given, the mountain knots have been filled in. I need not say that the countries nearer the children's home are those which are stadied with the greatest care, and that Germany is here the central point of interest, as the United States would be with us.
W. L. G.
NEW YORK, 1866. M R. EDITOR_The injuries which we receive from our fellow-men,
M in consequence of their ignorance, it is customary to forgive, however much we may regret that men are frequently so rash and meddlesome in regard to matters which they do not fully understand. But truth itself sometimes requires vindication...
The contemptuous synopsis which the critic has given of Kerl's "First Lessons in English Grammar," in the December number of the Monthly, is neither full nor fair ; and he seems to have entirely misconceived the simple and logical skeleton of plan which underlies the work. Of course, a small grammar can not present much new matter. There is but little room for invention in regard to go, went, gone; he, his, him, etc. Whatever of improvement such a treatise contains, must be chiefly in the mode of presenting the subject; and in this respect the criticised book is certainly new and original.
Every one acquainted with grammar, knows that there is a great difference between definitions and such matter as the conjugation of verbs and the declension of pronouns. A corresponding distinction has, therefore, been made in the book. Of definitions, there are given only about a hundred, which would make six or seven pages in all, if printed together; and these definitions are so fully explained, and made so practical by means of illustrations and exercises, that fifty-five pages are devoted to the subject. The critic, himself, admits that the “ definitions are generally faultless, and the illustrations apt." And they are not, as he says, excessive in number ; because they are all needed for the subsequent part of the work. A man would be foolish to make the lower part of his house inadequate for upholding the superstructure.
The participle is a mixed part of speech ; and it is easier to see some elements of its nature, than to comprehend at once its full meaning. For this reason, participial nouns are defined in connection with nouns, and participial adjectives in connection with adjectives, before participles themselves are fully defined. In the sentence,“ Sleighing is a pleasant recreation, even in the midst of falling snow,” it is easier to see that sleighing is a word used as the name of something, and that falling is a word used to describe something, than to comprehend the full nature of participles.
Most grammarians have made a botch of infinitives and participles. Having, being, and having been, are used as auxiliary participles to other participles, just as principal finite verbs have their auxiliaries. When the critic understands why there are but five personal pronouns, and yet a much greater number in the declension, and why compound personal pronouns are still porsonal pronouns, he will probably comprehend the apparent discrepancy between the classification of participles and infinitives, and their forms as given in the conjugation.
The critic's remark about accent, syllables, and words has some force; but every child that begins the study of grammar is supposed to 'have studied the spelling-book, and to have learned there what words and syllables are.
The definitions which Mr. Kerl has given of personal pronouns and relative pronouns, are both improvements on the old definitions. The chicf use of personal pronouns, in language, is to distinguish "speaker, spoken to, and spoken of.” The ordinary definition of relative pronouns--that a relative is one which connects clauses—is often not true. In Bry. ant's address to the sea-breeze, “Spirit that breathest through my lattice," etc., the relative pronoun joins a descriptive or dependent clause to an independent nominative.
In the classification of verbs, there is an inherent difficulty. The old classification is very faulty, and is now generally rejected. When I say