Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX.—No. II. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs)
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APPENDIX.—No. II. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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Successful Application of the new System to Language-learning, in the case of the Great School, called the High School,*Edinburgh: as reported in a Letter to Mr Fox, from James Pillans, Esq., Rector of that School. From the Report of the British and Foreign School Society, Anno 1814, p. 57.
“You will not expect that I should detail the difficulties I encountered in establishing and applying the Monitorial System to the business of my class, nor the steps by which I have been rising, up to the present moment, from one degree of efficiency to another. To do so would extend my letter to an immoderate length; and though it might be interesting, and not unimproving to a person engaged in the same occupation, it would be a fitter subject for vivâ voce communication with him. Since I entered on my office, scarce a week has passed without suggesting some improvement in my arrangements, all tending to one point, viz. to stimulate and employ to purpose the various faculties of two hundred boys, differing widely both in acquirement and capacity; to insure attention, by excitements at once strong and honourable; and to exclude that languor and listlessness, arising partly from want of motive, and partly from the physical misery of being so long in a sitting posture, which most of us may remember to have been the great sources of the unhappiness we experienced at school.
“The branches of knowledge taught in my Class, the boys of which are in general somewhere between twelve and fourteen years old, are Latin, Greek, and Ancient, mixed with a little Modern Geography. The Greek and Geography are happy innovations of my predecessor; for the School, by its foundation, is entirely for Latin, and Dr Adam’s introduction of elementary Greek in 1772 was violently opposed by no less a man than Dr Robertson the historian. I mention this circumstance, because it will account for the unreasonably small proportion of time given to these two important objects.
“In the Latin Class, which meets at nine every morning, consisting of very nearly two hundred boys, the general business of the day (subject to variation, according to the period of the season and progress of the pupils,) is as follows:—A portion of a Latin poet, from thirty-five to forty-five lines of Virgil, Horace, &c., and a nearly equal portion of Livy, Cicero, or Sallust, are to be parsed and translated: a portion of Dr Adam’s Grammar, alternating daily with his Antiquities, is examined upon: these lessons have been all prescribed; that is, the last word mentioned, but no assistance given, the day before. The order of business is this: immediately after prayers at nine, the whole class forms into twenty divisions, under their respective Monitors, in the Great Hall, and the Cicero and Horace lessons are construed by the nine boys of each division; the duty of the Monitor being, 1. To take care that every boy shall construe a portion of the new lesson; 2. To see that his division understand the syntax and construction of the passage; 3. To take care that the right meaning be always given to the passage in all its parts; and, 4. To mark on a slip of paper the names of the boys who fail in saying. The Grammar lesson is also said to the Monitors. The boys of each division, on the other hand, are instructed to note any false interpretation which the Monitor may allow to pass, and reserve it for an appeal afterwards. When this construing and saying have been got through, the signal for removing into the Class-room being given, the Divisions, which have hitherto been arranged in the recesses of the windows of a large hall, move in regular and rapid order up stairs, and take their seats in the general Class, where, whatever is said, is addressed to all the boys. I then proceed to ask if there be any appeals, i. e. if there be any boys who think they can prove that the Monitor has allowed an erroneous translation to pass uncorrected in the Division. From four to a dozen boys generally rise in succession; and if they make good their point, they take place, each in his division, of those who have not observed the blunder, and the Monitor himself loses a place. This system binds both Monitor and pupil to careful preparation at home; the former, from the fear of detection and exposure by a boy far below him in the class; the latter, both by the infallible certainty of his being called on to say, and reported if he fail; and by the honourable desire of rising in the class, and proving that he knew the lesson better than the Monitor. Further advantage of the liberty of appeal is, that it generally brings forward into discussion the difficult passages (for it is these of course that are appealed upon;) and they being settled beforehand, a more perfect understanding of the lesson is secured, and the necessity of saying it over very frequently is avoided. Sometimes I vary this mode, by making the Monitors themselves, i. e. the twenty highest boys, construe one or both lessons, each to his own Division, who are all on the alert to detect a blunder, with a view of making an appeal. Whether the Monitor or Division is to construe, is always a secret till the moment before they begin, when I give out from the pulpit the order of business. After the appeals are concluded, the lessons are construed to me by boys whom I call at random, generally by some of those who have failed below stairs. These I know from the bills or slips of paper, which, by this time, are collected from each Monitor, strung on a wire, and subjected to my inspection. In this translation, questions are put by the Master on points of Geography, History, Antiquities, derivations of words, and niceties of construction and expression; and a freer and more elegant version is required. Every opportunity is also taken, suggested by the classical passages, to give useful information, and to insinuate moral and religious instruction. This, with the examination on Adam’s Antiquities, which I always reserve for the general business, occupies the remaining time till eleven, when there is an interval of an hour, and is resumed from twelve till a quarter or twenty minutes past one, when the Divisions form to construe the lessons again, with this difference, that, instead of a literal, a free translation is expected; and all the information and illustrations, which have been given in the course of the day, are expected now to be forthcoming at the question of the Monitor, and the places depend upon their aptitude in answering. The written exercises, of which there are generally two per week, are of various kinds, chiefly translations from Latin into English, and from English into Latin, which are also examined and corrected by the Monitor, who makes his remarks, and adds his initials, that he may be responsible. The best and worst are shown up, and places determined accordingly. The exercises for the higher parts of the Class are Latin verses, occasionally English verses, Analyses or Abridgments of what authors they have read in the class, in English and in Latin, &c., and these are shown up to the Master directly, and corrected by him. Select passages of the classics are said by heart on Saturdays, to the Monitors in the first instance, that every boy may be called on, and they report the failures. In the business of the Division the Monitor has the power of putting a boy up or down, according to the figure he makes, always subject to an appeal from his decision to the Master, if the boy thinks himself aggrieved.
“The Greek class, according to the arrangement I found in the School, met only three hours a-week. I have lately contrived to assemble it an hour every day, except Saturday. The business here is more elementary, consisting of accurate saying by heart of a portion of Greek Grammar, and minute parsing of a short lesson in Dalzel’s Analecta Minora. The more advanced part of the Class read Homer and Xenophon. In order to remedy the inconvenience of having so short a time for Greek, it is proposed, as a voluntary exercise to the higher boys, to read and show up every second Monday what are called Private Studies; that is, if a boy, after preparing all the lessons thoroughly, finds he has still some leisure time, he employs it in reading Homer without a translation, making out what he can; and what he cannot, marking as difficulties to be resolved. On the day appointed he mentions the number of lines he is ready to be examined on, and states his difficulties for solution, which is given either by the Master, or by some of his school-fellows who have conquered them. In this way, and with no other stimulus but having the number of lines read by each publicly mentioned, and obtaining an hour’s play, there are boys now in the Class who are in the habit of showing up from nine hundred to twelve hundred lines within the fortnight.
“The Greek class consists of about one hundred and forty-five, and the lessons are said here too by Divisions. The Greek Monitors generally remain for twenty minutes at eleven; and it being then ascertained that they are masters of the lesson, they hear and report on their Divisions from two till half after two, when the lessons are heard up stairs, and the Monitors dismissed sometimes a little before three as a reward.
“The Geography class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at two o’clock. The course of instruction in this branch is, 1st, to give some illustrations of the general facts with regard to the Solar System; then to go over pretty rapidly the geography of the four quarters, taking merely the outlines; and, lastly, to descend to minute and particular descriptions of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, from Gibraltar, by France, Italy, Greece, shores of the Baltic, Asia Minor, &c., back to the Straits: then the British Islands. Ancient and Modern Geography are united. A sketch or outline of each country is drawn by the Master on a black board with white chalk; the mountains are represented in green, and the rivers in blue. In this state the board is first presented to the pupils, and the Master, with a rod, explains the physical features of the country, points out and names the leading ranges of mountains, and the rivers that fall from them. The board as yet presenting so little detail, the eye, and the mind through the eye, readily takes in and retains the information. At this stage, also, the length, breadth, longitude, latitude, and boundaries are fixed. The next lesson presents the towns, (drawn thus ‡‡ in pink chalk,) which are to be found on the rivers already learned, descending from the source to the mouth. These towns are demonstrated by the Master in the same way, care being taken to mention at the time some striking facts respecting the situation, inhabitants, history, or neighbourhood of each, which may be associated with its name and position on the board. Having thus made out a sort of skeleton or frame-work of the country, by presenting, in striking relief, without those details which confound the eye in maps, the great physical features, the next object is to mark out in dotted lines the artificial divisions: and when these are well fixed, the remaining towns of importance, whose position is not indicated by rivers, are referred to the province or shire, and associated again with those already known. The situations of great battles are pointed out by a cross in red chalk. The object being to make a strong impression on the eye, and to set the imagination and conception to work, the chalks being of different colours is a circumstance not to be despised. When the board-draught is thus completed, maps are directed to be so constructed as to be as nearly as possible copies of it; that is, all the positions, &c. accurately laid down, but no names given. The drawer of the map must be quite au fait in naming every place in his own sketch; and if it be thought deserving of that honour, it is mounted on thick pasteboard, and hung up in view of his school-fellows. He is employed, too, as Monitor, to teach the geography of his own map to other boys who have either done worse maps, or none at all; and thus, in many ways, the information he has got is riveted in his memory. The book used for the Geography class is Dr Adam’s Summary: but as, from its size and multifarious contents, it is better adapted for reference than committing to memory, I have printed for the use of the Class a few pages of Outlines, containing a mere list of names, arranged on the plan I have explained; and this being in their hands serves to recall the information conveyed.”
[* ] In this School the number of the scholars has usually been between five hundred and six hundred. The School is divided into five classes: each class occupies a separate room. The head class, which is the most numerous, is under the immediate charge of the Head Master, styled Rector. To each of the others there is a separate Master, who is independent, or nearly so, of the Rector.
From one of these Masters an account not less encouraging, in relation to his class, will form the matter of the next article.