The church and the highlands



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broadening, strengthening and cultivation of their minds by so agreeable and useful a process must necessarily seem in the highest degree desirable. In the past, however, the ob­stacles to such a course were considerable. Lan­guages were systematically taught in an unscientific manner, with the inevitable result that they were either not learned at all, or were acquired in so perfunctory and imperfect a manner as to be practically useless. Who does not remember the old grammars with their verbose instructions and in­terminable reflexions, their formidable array of " exceptions," their numberless " declensions," their hopeless irregularities, and their absurd " conversa­tions " ? In the benighted times of which we speak, to acquire a language by means of book only was a truly formidable undertaking. Indeed, we doubt if it was not almost an impossible one ; for, however perfect in knowledge of the grammatical construction of a language the student might become by dint of his books, his acquaintance with the living speech was bound to prove insufficient, immediately it was submitted to the practical test of a conversation with one


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