Zumpt’s Latin Grammar -- By: Charles Siedhof

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:15 (Aug 1847)
Article: Zumpt’s Latin Grammar
Author: Charles Siedhof

Zumpt’s Latin Grammar

Charles Siedhof

[A Grammar of the Latin Language, by C. G. Zumpt, Ph. D., Professor in the University, and Member of the Royal Academy of Berlin. From the ninth edition of the original, adapted to the use of English students by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph. D., late of the University of Bonn. London, 1845.]

In order to examine this valuable work from a proper point of view, and to form an estimate of it not merely as a grammar, but also as an indication of the rate of progress made in classical learning, it will be necessary to direct our attention first to other works of a different character, though of a similar design, which preceded it. At a time when nothing was required of the Latin scholar but an ability to write and speak the language as it had been in common use for centuries in the literary world, a lifeless and uniform method, as represented in the Grammar of J. Lange, of which not less than forty-two editions appeared, would meet the demand in elementary instruction. The circle of knowledge was then exceedingly narrow; and besides, the Germans, at that time, possessed no independent national literature. Consequently, reading was rather oft repeated than widely extended; and thus a great intimacy was contracted with the Roman classics, which compensated, in great measure, for the deficiency in

grammatical training. But an age of independent inquiry succeeded; the trammels of tradition were by degrees thrown off; and scholars were disposed to look into the nature of things, each for himself, more fearlessly and searchingly. Now Basedow made his appearance. With a keen glance, he discovered and exposed the defective character and bad influence of a merely mechanical system of education; but by maintaining that nothing except what was of direct practical utility should be studied by the young, he fell into the opposite extreme, which, in the end, would necessarily produce a reaction. According to his view, since language was but the mere expression of thought, it could best be acquired orally. Consequently grammars should be banished from the schools. From this point of view, the venerable Campe could say that the inventor of the spinning wheel deserved to be held in higher estimation than the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It was in allusion to this school that Ernesti said, “the mother-tongue (Frau Muttersprache), becoming proud of her new distinction as mistress, threatens to turn the Latin out of doors.” Here, as in all controversies, there were violent partisans on both sides, fighting desperately for existence, and a third class who acted the part of mediators. The philologists of the old school looked with a friendly eye upon these last, whose aim was not to neglec...

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