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The Caxtons — Volume 02 by Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton
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new-fashioned authorities in education who have, more lately, spread
pretty numerously amongst us, and would have given, perhaps, a dangerous
shake to the foundations of our great classical seminaries, if those
last had not very wisely, though very cautiously, borrowed some of the
more sensible principles which lay mixed and adulterated amongst the
crotchets and chimeras of their innovating rivals and assailants.

Dr. Herman had written a great many learned works against every pre-
existing method of instruction; that which had made the greatest noise
was upon the infamous fiction of Spelling-Books: "A more lying,
roundabout, puzzle-headed delusion than that by which we Confuse the
clear instincts of truth in our accursed systems of spelling, was never
concocted by the father of falsehood." Such was the exordium of this
famous treatise. "For instance, take the monosyllable Cat. What a
brazen forehead you must have when you say to an infant, c, a, t,--spell
Cat: that is, three sounds, forming a totally opposite compound,--
opposite in every detail, opposite in the whole,--compose a poor little
monosyllable which, if you would but say the simple truth, the child
will learn to spell merely by looking at it! How can three sounds,
which run thus to the ear, see-eh-tee, compose the sound cat? Don't
they rather compose the sound see-eh-te, or ceaty? How can a system of
education flourish that begins by so monstrous a falsehood, which the
sense of hearing suffices to contradict? No wonder that the horn-book
is the despair of mothers! "From this instance the reader will perceive
that Dr. Herman, in his theory of education, began at the beginning,--he
took the bull fairly by the horns. As for the rest, upon a broad
principle of eclecticism, he had combined together every new patent
invention for youthful idea-shooting. He had taken his trigger from
Hofwyl; he had bought his wadding from Hamilton; he had got his copper-
caps from Bell and Lancaster. The youthful idea,--he had rammed it