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taining narratives, enforcing the first great commandment, supreme love to God, and the conscientious performance of relative duties, are a necessary part of every complete library for youth; and, least of all, should they be excluded from that library which is to instruct the youth of the nation in the theory and practice of virtue.”
“A library of good books," said Hon. HENRY BARNARD in his Rhode Island School Report of 1845, “ selected in reference to the intellectual wants of the old and the young, should be provided in every village. To create a taste for reading should be a leading object in the labors of teachers and lecturers. All that the school, even the best, where so much is to be done in the way of disciplining the faculties,_all that the ablest lecture, when accompanied by illustrations and experiments, can do, towards unfolding the many branches of knowledge, and filling the mind with various information, is but little, compared with the thoughtful perusal of good books, from evening to evening, extending through a series of years. These are the great instruments of self-culture, when their truths are invrought by reflection into the very structure of the mind, and made to shed light on the daily labors of the work-shop. There should be a due proportion of books of science and useful knowledge, of voyages, travels, and biography, and a good supply of judiciously chosen works of fiction. It has been a great mistake heretofore, in selecting books for public libraries, as well as in providing courses of lectures, intended merely for the poorer and working classes, to suppose that scientific and purely useful knowledge should be almost the exclusive objects of attention. The taste for reading and lectures of this character, must first be created, and the ability to follow a continuous train of thought, whether printed or spoken, must be imparted by a previous discipline. This taste and ability are too often wanting. The books and lectures, therefore, should be very interesting, and calculated to create a taste for further reading and inquiry."
JACOB ABBOTT, by the following contrast of three ways of telling the same story, has happily illustrated the narrative and descriptive style of addressing the minds of children through the senses_or, in other words, presenting everything in such a way that it may convey vivid pictures to the mind, and hence leave the most enduring impressions :
“A man had a fine dog, and he was very fond of him ; he used to take a great deal of care of him, and gave him all he wanted ; and, in fact, he did all he could to make him comfortable, so that he should enjoy a happy life.' Thus he loved his dog very much, and took great pleasure in seeing him comfortable and happy.'
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This, now, presents very few sensible images to the mind of the child. In the following form, it would convey the same general ideas,, but far more distinctly and vividly :
“There was once a man who had a large black and white dog, beautifully spotted. He made a little house for him, out in a sunny corner of the yard, and used to give him as much meat as he wanted. He would go and see him sometimes, and pat his head, while he was lying upon his straw in his little house, He loved his dog."
Would you give still more point to the story, let your style be abrupt and striking, and give the reins entirely to the imagination. Suppose the narrator, with a child on each knee, begins thus :
“A man, one pleasant morning, was standing upon the steps of his door, and he said, “I think I will go and see my dog, Towser.'
“ Now, where do you think this dog, Towser, lived ?”
“I don't know,” will be the reply of each listener, with a face full of curiosity and interest.
“ Why, old Towser was out in a little square house which his master had made for him in a corner of the yard. So he took some meat in his hand for Towser's breakfast. Do you think he took out a plate, and a knife and fork ?
« This man was very kind to Towser ; his beautiful, spotted, black and white Towser ;--and when he got to his house, he opened the door, and said :
"Towser, Towser, come out here, Towser.'
“So Towser came running out, and stood there wagging his tail. His master patted him on the head. You may jump down on your hands and feet, and I will tell you exactly how it was. You shall be Towser. Here, you may get under the table, which will do for his house. Then I will come and call you out, and pat you on the head,” etc., etc.
No one at all acquainted with children need be told how much stronger an interest the latter style of narration would excite. And the difference is, in a philosophical point of view, that the former is expressed in abstract terms, which the mind comes to appreciate fully only after long habits of generalization ; in the latter, the meaning comes through sensible images, which the child can picture to himself with ease and pleasure, by means of those faculties of the mind, whatever they may be, by which the images presented by the senses, are perceived, at first, and afterwards renewed through the magical stimulus of language. This is the key to one of the great secrets of interesting children, and in teaching the young generally. Approach their minds through the senses. Describe everything
as it presents itself to the eye and the ear. Where you wish to gain the readiest and most comple access to the heart, these are the doors.
And Mr. Abbott's idea of interesting children by descriptive narrative applies more forcibly to juvenile books, than even to conversation for the former have not the living tones of the human voice to bring to their aid. Books, then, for children, should be eminently suited to their capacities, and written in an earnest, life-like simplicity-true to nature, and true to morality. No dry, tedious homilies will ever attract their attention, or benefit their intellect.
History and Biography. It has been properly remarked, “that individuals preceded nations. The picture of the former is more easily comprehended than that of the latter, and is better adapted to awaken the curiosity, and interest the feelings of a child. Biography should, therefore, form the principal topic of elementary history; and the great periods into which it is naturally and formally divided, and which must be distinctly marked,-should be associated with the names of some distinguished individual or individuals. The life of an individual often forms the leading feature of the age in which he lived, and will form the best nucleus around which to collect in the youthful mind the events of an age or the history of a period.”
“Histories make men wise," says Lord Bacon. “History," says Hon. E. RYERSON, Chief Superintendent of Public Instruction for Upper Canada, “History delineates the events which have marked the progress of mankind. He that knows history adds the experience of former ages to his own. He lives the life of the world. Especially he learns the origin and character of his country's laws and institutions, the sources of its prosperity, and therefore the means and duties required for the advancement of its interests."
“By the study of history, of philosophy, and of the classics," says LIEBIG, “we obtain a knowledge of the intellectual world, the laws of thought, of mental inquiry, and of the spiritual nature of man. Whilst we hold communion with the spirits of the great and good of all ages, we derive from the experience of past centuries the power of soothing and governing the passions, and of softening the heart: we are enabled to comprehend man as he exists at the present time, since his moral nature remains ever the same. We are taught to embellish and present, in the most engaging form, the principles of truth, of justice and of religion, and thus to make the most enduring impression upon the minds of others.”
“It is because God is visible in history,” says BANCROFT, “that its office is the noblest except that of the poet. The poet is at once the interpreter and the favorite of Heaven. He catches the first beam of light that flows from its uncreated source. He repeats the message of the Infinite, without always being able to analyze it, and often without knowing how he received it, or why he was selected for its utterance. To him, and to him alone, history yields in dignity; for she not only watches the great encounters of life, but recalls what had vanished, and partaking of a bliss like that of creating, restores it to animated being. The mineralogist takes special delight in contemplating the process of crystalization, as though he had caught nature at her work as a geometrician; giving herself up to be gazed at without concealment such as she appears in the very moment of exertion. But history, as she reclines in the lap of eternity, sees the mind of humanity engaged in formative efforts, constructing sciences, promulgating laws, organizing commonwealths, and displaying its energies in the visible movement of its intelligence. Of all pursuits that require analysis, history, therefore, stands first. It is equal to philosophy; for as certainly as the actual bodies forth the ideal, so certainly does history contain philosophy. It is grander than the natural sciences; for its study is man, the last work of creation, and the most perfect in its relations with the Infinite."
In studying man, in studying history, we must study representative men, and representative events. In our School Libraries, we need, therefore, works that will tell us, in a truthful, captivating manner, the story of Xerxes, Cyrus, Alexander, Hannibal, Cæsar, and other heroes of ancient times, of the crusades and the middle ages; the revival of, learning; of Great Britain, France, Germany, Norway, and other European countries, whence our fathers migrated; the discovery of the New Yorld by Columbus, whose ungrateful sovereign suffered him to die in chains, persecuted and broken-hearted; of Galileo, the inventor of the telescope, who, when he declared of the earth that “It does move," was imprisoned the closing years of his life for uttering such a supposed impious thought ; of Newton, the discoverer of the laws of gravitation ; of Franklin, who, with his kite, snatched the lightening from Heaven, and demonstrated its identity with the electric fluid ; the settlement and sufferings of the Pilgrim fathers on the bleak shores of New England; the heroic Captain John Smith, the settlement of Virginia, and the romantic story of the lovely Indian Princess, Pocahontas; of Lord Baltimore, who planted the Catholic col. ony of Maryland, of Roger Williams, who, with his persecuted Baptist adherents, founded the colony of Rhode Island, of William Penn, with his Quaker settlement of Pennsylvania, each proclaiming religious liberty and the freedom of conscience;
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of the founding of Georgia by Oglethorpe; the story of De Soto and his steel-clad warriors, while in quest of gold, discovering the Mississippi ; the adventures of Marquette, La Salle and De Tonty; of Washington, Greene, Marion and their compatriots, defending the liberties of their country; of Boone, the early explorer of Tennessee and Kentucky, and of Clark, the gallant conqueror of the great North-West; of Arkwright, the inventor of the spinning jenny, which has added millions to the wealth and trade of England; of Watt, the improver of the steam-engine ; of Whitney, the inventor of the cotton-gin, which has trebled the value of all the cotton lands, in our country, and led to a vast diminution of the cost of the necessary clothing of millions of the human race; of Godfrey and Hadley, the inventors of the quadrant ; of Fulton, Fitch and Rumsey, the inventors of steamboats ; of Morse, the inventor of the electric telegraph ; and the story of the infant settlement and wonderful growth of the States of our Republic, the principles upon which our government is founded, and the hopes upon which its stability rests.
“The chill of penury,” says President BARKER, “ broken health, religious bigotry, the most adverse circumstances, have yielded to the unconquerable will of the youthful devotee of knowledge. Or rather, instead of dispiriting, they have developed the resources, the innate energy of the soul kindled with the celestial fire of genius ; it has risen superior, apparently, to the decree of Providence appointing its allotment; it has spurned its fetters, it has asserted the majesty of intellect, and mankind have, with one voice, admitted the validity of its pretensions. Can we over-estimate the impression which the perusal of the memoirs of such men will produce on the susceptible mind of early youth ?-Will not the example haunt the memory by night, as well as by day?-Will it not inspire emulation, and a generous rivalry—a heroic purpose, ourselves to fill a niche in the pantheon of history ? Was it not thus, that the youthful Themistocles exclaimed, that the trophies of Miltiades would not suffer him to sleep? That Alexander prized above all the
iterature of his age, the Iliad of Homer ; and that, in our day, Napoleon daily perused some portion of Plutarch's Lives. I say it without fear of successful contradiction, that example is the most edifying counsel, the most attractive influence, often the most lucid instruction, ever addressed to the youthful mind. If so, a library enriched with the lives of those who have made themselves a blessing to mankind, by the light of their intelligence and virtue, will instil love of truth and goodness with silent but irresistible energy.” Books of Travel.-Works of this class are full of incident,
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