COPIES of the current number of this publication have been sent to several teachers, and their attention has been called to an article on "Elementary Instruction in Latin," signed D. T. Reiley. It appears to be a very caustic review of Allen's "Latin Primer," a work published over five years ago. This manual of elementary Latin composition has its sentences hauled over the coals one after another with a view to show their blunders, and the article is closed by "seriously asking the question, Whether this is the same Joseph H. Allen whose Latin grammar Harvard University recommends to its students, assuring them that it is sufficient for their preparation to enter on the advanced course of that institution." (The italics are copied from the "A. E. M.") Few could gather from such a question that the Catalogue of Harvard College really says: "No particular text-book in grammar is required; but either Allen's or Harkness's Elementary Latin Grammar will serve to indicate the nature and amount of the grammatical knowledge demanded." Still fewer would conjecture from this question, what all intelligent teachers of Latin in America ought to know, that the book now sold as Allen's Latin Grammar, and alluded to in our Catalogue, is very largely the work of one of our assistant professors, a most accurate scholar, who, with a modesty which will not be appreciated by the majority of contributors to educational magazines, has not cared to have his name appear in the circular of his own college.
These facts are enough to show the unfairness of Mr. Reiley's covert attack on Harvard, even supposing all his strictures on Mr. Allen's Latin were correct. But Mr. R. apparently has yet to learn, what every experienced Latin teacher does learn, that it is very unsafe to say that anything is bad Latin. He certainly has detected some serious mistakes, - one, over which he gets specially exultant, in the conjugation of a verb, - one so very bad that a candid reviewer would have recognized it at once, to use Macaulay's expression on a similar occasion, as a blunder that the greatest scholar might make in haste, and that the veriest school-boy might detect at his leisure. But all the time, while piloting Mr. Allen with great skill, as he thinks, into Charybdis, he has not noticed Scylla picking off some of his choicest recruits. Or, to speak in a way he cannot fail to understand, he has himself made various blunders, quite enough to relieve Mr. Allen, or any other experienced teacher and scholar, from caring a whit for what he says. Our space will only allow us to mention two. Mr. Allen has translated "standing on one foot" by stantem uno in pede, whereon Mr. Reiley pours out several vials of most superior wrath, and all to show that stantem altero pede is the only proper way; that alter and not unus is "one of two," and that the preposition is inadmissible. Now it happens that what is wanted here is not alter, "one as opposed to the other," but unus, "one without the other; one and not two." But the only proper answer, the all sufficient answer, is to refer to Horace (Satires, I. 4, 10): Versus dictabat stans pede in uno, where the editions and dictionaries speak of it as a proverbial expression. Not that stans pede altero might not be used in some cases. If Mr. Reiley were to call on Mr. Allen, we think the result might be thus described: Alanus, stans pede altero, altero Reileium foras extrusit. There is also the brilliant remark that "compulit (instead of coegit) never occurs with an object infinitive in good Latin." E. g. Ovid (Fasti, III. 860): Compulerunt regem jussa nefanda pati.
We shall not be suspected of any wish to palliate any real blunder made by Mr. Allen or by any one else. But when editors of respectable magazines admit into them articles of which the chief aim appears to be a slur at Harvard College, they should see that the task is properly done, - for their own credit. Harvard's will take care of itself.
*J. W. Schermerhorn & Co., 14 Bond Street, New York.