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Gilblas, who, at that time, happened to be hungry, it was discovered, after much and mature consultation, that the poor famished Santillane could have some hashed mutton, and a fowl, for dinner. Accordingly, quoth Gilblas, in due time came the dinner, which I, forthwith, discussed ; and the landlord brought in his bill, wherein I assure you, the fowl was not forgotten.
N. B. We have great reason to believe that this same fowl was a goose.
Mr. Dufief concludes his preface by saying that, “ upon the whole, the present edition possesses advantages, which I could not have expected in the commencement of it.”
We, cannot but congratulate M. Dufief on the “ advantages, which this present edition possesses,”-and we, also, sincerely hope, that these advantages will be greater than we ourselves expect “in the commencement of it"-although to say truth, our expectations, at present, are very moderate.
And, now, we enter, with all due reverence and awe upon that wonderful wonder of wonders—The Preliminary Discourse ; concerning which M. Dufief, himself, speaks so highly in his preface ; and which he so earnestly presses upon the attention of the learned and the curious.
This preliminary discourse is ushered in by the following important observation, which is, to the full, as new as it is profound.
“Those, who, as observers of men and things consult the historic page, have discovered, that trifling incidents often give birth to events and revolutions of the highest influence on the condition of mankind.”
Having thus prepared the reader for what mighty matters he is to expect, when the great mysteries of M. Dufief and of Nature are unfolded to view, N. G. D. informs us that a fortuitous circumstance first directed the observing spirit of Locke toward the human understanding-" that the apple falling from a tree awakening the exploring powers of Newton, and gradually leading to the investigation, and afterwards, to the glorious discovery of the eternal laws, that govern the universe naturally presents itself in this review,”—and that in like manner,—(that is to say, Messrs Locke, Newton and Dufief VOL. II.
were alike impelled, &c.)“ trivial circumstances first led N. G. D. to bring forth this work, “ in which”-to use M. Dufief's own words; and where shall we find any
other words sufficiently qualified to do justice to his own sublime discoveries ?-" in which the true method of acquiring languages is pointed out; a method, hitherto altogether unknown; a method, in a word, which follows Nature's process. itself, which is the most expeditious, that can be devised, and which is applicable to all languages.”
It appears, from this preliminary discourse, that these were the « trivial circumstances” which led M. Dufief to the manufacturing of the marvellous book, which is the subject of our present consideration ;-namely,—That N. G. D. came to Philadelphia in 1793, and was extremely anxious to learn the English language; to accomplish which purpose he bought "the three great English historians, Thomson and Milton, and two grammars, Boyer's dictonary (in quarto), and Sheridan's dictionary ;-that he had just agreed with an English teacher, to begin, as is usual, a course of grammar, and grammatical exercises on the rules," that the yellow fever drove him from Philadelphia to Princeton ; that in the hurry of his flight, and in the greatness of his fear, he left his two grammars behind him ; for which, however, he wrote to Philadelphia, but in vain, all communication with that unfortunate city having been forbidden. M. Dufief, then, in the true spirit of pathos, adds,-“I was more sensibly affected by this omission, (the loss of two English grammars) than by all the misfortunes, that had befallen me in the French Revolution.”
After giving up several days to listlesness, and irresolution, however N. G. D. taught himself English by “the succesful and amazingly quick method, which Nature kindly dictated,"--which method, he says, has impressed him with the genius and analogy of the English language.”
This marvellous method M. Dufief, “after considering the operations of the understanding," tells us, is—“to acquire whole sentences, the words of which are already connected together, rather than solitary words, without any connection or interest.”.
M. Dufief adds in a note, these words,—“ In pursuing this plan, I, unwittingly, followed the advice of D'Alembert, who, in his posthumous works, printed at Paris, in 1799, makes this remark:-“Would you acquire a language speedily, and are you possessed of memory? get a dictionary by heart, if you can; and read a great deal.”
And this is the new, the expiditious mode of learning a language! the mode that is to supplant and annihilate the grammatical method of teaching, which “ the ignorance and the prejudice of mankind have so long induced people to pursue.” To learn grammar rules, it seems, is tedious and disgusting ; therefore, say M. D'Alembert and M. Dufief,– "get a dictionary by heart, and read a great deal.”
But what child, in his senses, could be prevailed upon to get a dictionary by heart? That father must be far
indeed, who could see, without a tear, his child, even reading a dictionary; how much more, then, would it grieve him to see his boy lumbering his head by getting a dictionary by heart? Besides, we know, that it is not in the nature of things, that. children shall “ read a great deal;” it is nesessary that their tasks be short, and simple, and that they be allowed to delight themselves, and to promote their health and growth by spending a great portion of their time in bodily amusements, and bodily exercises.“ Get a dictionary by heart," however, say Messrs. D'Alembert and Dufief, and “ you will acquire a language speedily."
It will readily appear, from what has been already said, that N. G. Dufief's new and expeditious method of teaching the French language is to make his unhappy pupils get off a great number of French phrases by rote ;—that is, committing to memory a given number of words, to which they attach no definite meaning, and which they do not understand. Neither does M. Dufief deny this; but rather glories in his having discovered such a very simple method of teaching; his words are—“ The pre-eminence of this method (thereby meaning the phrase method) as I now perceived, was so powerfully supported by reason, that I formed an unalterable resolution to adhere to it; to make it prevail by every mean
my power; and utterly to renounce the trite jargon of the
schools ; thus I once more adopted, what graybeard prejudice calls Rote, and what it is welcome still to call so; but which is the only method, by which mankind acquire their native tongue.”
N. G. Dufief is next so obliging as to inform us, that he had written a book called “ The Grammatical Companion,” which was good for nothing"; in which instance, we, by no means doubt the accuracy of M. Dufief's judgment; but that “he had obtained a larger subscription than was necessary to defray the expense of printing; and, which, of course, in the event of publication, left a balance highly acceptable in his favour."
“ The approving voice of some to whom the work had been submitted, and the flattering hopes of success,” (although Mr. Dufief, himself confesses, that the book was naught; no doubt its wit, as Falstaff says was as thick as Tewksbury mustard,) “ which they held out to me, were additional motives of encouragement: to extricate myself, however,” (continues this great philosopher,) “ from the labyrinth into which these circumstances had involved me, and to put an end to the conflict between my principles and my interest, in the moment of enthusiasm for Condillac and true philosophy, I committed the grammatical companion to the flames, regardless of my time
labour.” Bravo, bravo, N. G. Dufief! what a sacrifice! what a sublime effort of morality, not to publish a book, which he knew to be founded on “ erroneous principles.” Such an amazing effort, surely entitles M. Dufief to the same appellation, that he bestows upon M. Marmontel, namely that of “the virtu . ous French moralist.”
After the successful termination of “ this conflict between his principles and his interest,” he says that “ Far from proposing, at that time, to publish a work on language,” (Q. is this a work on language, which we are now reviewing?
« I shrank from the undertaking: I was resolved, however, to investigate the subject; and in reflecting on the human understanding,” (true, indeed ; for very few people have cast greater reflections upon the human understanding, than has N. G. Dufief)" and the influence of signs upon it, which was principally suggested to me by Condillac,” (poor Condillac!!!)
" I became convinced, that no one can have pretentions to the character of a grammarian, without being previously, a metaphysician ; that is to say, without being capable of analyzing the faculties of the soul, and tracing the ideas to their very source."
All this, of course, means, if it mean any thing, that N. G. Dufief is, “capable of analyzing the faculties of the soul, and tracing the ideas to their very source.”
And, in order to prove that he is so capable, M. Dufief subjoins the following note. “ True grammar is, in fact”(only observe how scrupulous N. G. D. is as to the matter of fact)—“the continuation of the science of ideas, this will be admitted, when the mist, which envelopes education shall have been dispelled."
Now as the mist which envelopes our education is not yet dispelled” we shall consider it as a great favour done unto us, if M. Dufief will condescend to explain to us what he means by—“ grammar being in fact, the continuation of the science of ideas.” -Nay, we shall consider it as no small obligation conferred upon us, if N. G. D. will stoop from the loftiness of his "abstracted and analytical” intellect, to inform us what he means by—“the science of ideas.”
Of this note, and of its meaning and import, we are not ashamed to profess ourselves utterly ignorant, and shall with all due thankfulness receive from M. Dufief, or from any one else aught that may tend to throw the least light upon an assemblage of words, which is to us, at present, as full of darkness and of obscurity, as are chaos and old night ; as free from the imputation of sense, as they are of wit and merriment,
(To be continued.)
An INQUIRY into the present state of the foreign relations of the
Union, as affected by the late measures of Administration, Published by Bradford, Philadelphia; Brisban and Brannan, New-York; Andrews, Boston ; and the principal Book-sel
lers in the United States.—1806. A
MIDST the shaking of the nations all around us ; at this
awful and portentous hour, when the fashion of this