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"a short account of the institutions of our ancestors both
LINCOLN, EDMANDS & Co. BOSTON; HOGAN & THOMPSON, PHILADEL-
PHIA; O. STEELE, ALBANY; D. F. ROBINSON & Co. HARTFORD; DUR-
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1834, by Eliza ROBBINS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of thi, Southern District of the State of New-York.
OUTLINES OF HISTORY, and other elementary books, for the use of schools and young persons, so abound, that it would seem new ones could not be much needed; and yet the new ones are needed, if they could be composed, adopted, and used, upon new, or rather, disregarded principles. “I know nothing we more want in this country, [England,] than good class-books for the use of popular schools,- books that shall exercise the judgment, and teach children to reflect. Such works should be written by a person of philosophical mind, practised in education, and linked to no exclusive system,”* says Mr. Bulwer, in relation to his country. It cannot be presumed that England is worse furnished than America in this article.
We still retain in our schools, Goldsmith's Histories of Greece and England, and why should we not? The style of Goldsmith is the least censurable, the most beautiful in English prose: but style is only form. What truth is conveyed to the mind in these elegant compends? In a late number of the English Quarterly Journal of Education, are the following remarks upon Goldsmith's Greece: “When a boy has read this history of Greece, has he got any notion whatever of the Greeks except that they were always fighting To say nothing of their religion and domestic life, their morals and philosophy, and the remains of their arts, the results of the last surrounding us in most of the public buildings in our considerable towns, is a strange way of writing their history. Its insufficiency to teach what it professes to teach is a reason for the disuse of it.”
A history of England upon such a plan, leads to the same conclusion as that deduced from the history of Greece. The English have not always been fighting; and with all their imperfections, they are the people upon whom the moralist and the Christian looks with as much complaeency and hope as upon any on the earth. Their recorded history is a happy illustration of the Providence of God. It shows that barbarous usages in people, and arbitrary principles in governments, work their own cure, and gradually give place to better manners and wiser policy, and moreover, that true civilization is fostered and perfected by religion and mutual charities among men.
The writer feels as if she contributed a useful service to education by introducing to the schools an English history more comprehensive than those with which she is familiar, and free from some of their defects. The volume to which these remarks are prefixed, was taken in its selection and arrangement of facts from Mrs. Markham's History of England. The writer knows not whether Mrs. Markham belongs to the fictitious family of David Blair, and other compend-makers; but this she conceives is as good a book of English history as can be made in one volume. There is our difficulty: our school books must be so cheap and so brief, that they cannot be good enough for their purpose. They must be all letter, and no spirit. In composing them, we must avoid all amplification, ali inference; we must not address the reason; we have only so many pages to fill with facts. The conversations of a mother and her children, which were in the original work, have been omitted in this; and this history is purely English. The details of the American revolutionary war are principally left to American history. The part taken by the English in French affairs, from 1793 to 1815, is less amplified than might seem desirable. The history of continental Europe, for forty years, is a sub
* England and the English.
ject of itself; and the great episode of the Bonapartes, belongs rather to that than to England. The history of British India, exhibits the grandest relation to England of any associated interest we know of. The immense population now sunk in ignorance and idolatry in direct communication with, and in subjection to Britain, coming within the radiation of her religion, her laws, and institutions, affords a prospect that might profitably be opened to the young reader. The limits of these pages closed this section of the history, and it is only mentioned that one volume did not restrict the writer's views of this subject, though the necessity of writing no more set a boundary that could not be passed, to this exhibition of English institutions, English character, and the prospective influence of English mind upon the welfare of the civilized world.
This history traces the progress of civilization in England, and teaches nothing false in principle, nor is it encumbered with unimportant facts. The writer has always endeavored to make her books explain themselves; but no book can be reduced in its best use to ready made ques. tions and answers. It requires a comment, both on words and facts. When a teacher comes to the phrase," he mortgaged his dominions," or to the words“ garrison," "siege,” and countless
more, he or she will do well to stop and explain the nature of pledges, and those usages of war and peace, which are suggested, not described, in an abstract of history. The soul of instruction is the moral use,-not only the moral use of it which the pupil may or may not make, but the use which the teacher makes. He must enlighten the moral sense of the young student. He may compare men of opposite views and influence: Alfred with other English kings; Cromwell and Charles I.; the duke of Marlborough and sir Isaac Newton; the same man with himself, under different circumstances; the men of one age with the men of another, and inquire wherein they are alike, and what has made them to differ. He may ask his pupil why such an action is worthy, and another unworthy, and whether it can or cannot be imitated by persons in other conditions. Read what Mr. Locke says upon the abuses of history:
“The stories of Alexander and Cæsar, farther than they instruct us in the art of living well, and furnish us with observations of wisdom and prudence, are not one jot to be preferred to the history of Robin Hood, or the Seven Wise Masters. I do not deny but history is very useful, and very instructive of human life; but if it be studied only for the reputation of being a historian, it is a very empty thing; and he that can tell all the particulars of Herodotus and Plutarch, Curtius and Livy, without making any other use of them, may be an ignorant man with a good memory, and with all his pains hath only filled his head with Christmas tales. And which is worse, the greatest part of history being made up of wars and conquests, and their style, especially the Romans, speaking of valor as the chief, if not the only virtue, we are in danger to be misled by the general current and business of history, and looking on Alexander and Cæsar, and such like heroes, as the highest instances of human greatness, because they each of them caused the death of several hundred thousand men, and the ruin of a much greater number, overrun a great part of the earth, and killed the inhabitants to possess themselves of their countries-we are apt to make butchery and rapine the chief marks and very essence of human greatness."
The use of history is to fix principles, to entertain innocently, to illustrate truth. Other uses, without these, particularly mechanical recitation, are nothing at all. Until reason and the moral judgment are employed upon books that describe human affairs, it is of small consequence what the book is. It is earnestly wished that this may be destined to such an application.
AUTHOR OF POPULAR LESSONS. New-York, January, 1834.