« ZurückWeiter »
it is considered, that it is the bounden duty of every citie zen, to afford his aid, however small it may be, not only to the political government under which we may live, but to the several departments of learning, which form the constituent parts of national greatness.
Republican America possesses ample resources within its territory, to furnish its citizens with subjects, calculats ed as well for mental, as for physical contemplation and improvement. It is a libel upon the genius and talents of the American people, to assert, as it has become fashionable beyond the Atlantic to do, that human intellect moves in a retrograde direction among them,
If it be considered as an object commensurate with the duty of the patriot, to afford encouragement and support to the physical powers of his country, whereby its internal resources may be brought into action, and conduce id the national welfare, it will surely not be controverted, that the same attention bestowed upon the intellectual energies of his native or adopted land, is deserving of equal commendation.
Impressed with a belief, that a work of a nature altogether similar to the present one, has hitherto been a desideratum in the U. States, the Compiler may at least claim the merit of originality in its design, if not in the matter employed in its execution. By a concentration of portions of those writings, which have been produced in the new world, he would indulge the hope of having, in some measure, promoted the cause of literature, wbich has too. frequently been considered as receiving its chief, or only support, from the inhabitants of the other hemisphere. In the execution of this design, he has been careful to select only from such writers as have acquired a name among the literati of their country; to the extension of whose well-earned fame, he is anxious to contribute his mite. This expression of his sentiments may perhaps be thought by some to proceed from presumption and arrogance : “ for how,” it may be asked, “ will the fame of an author, be rendered more brilliant, or acquire more perpetuity, through the medium of a common school book po To this anticipated question, it will be suficient to reply, that, however hurble may be the design of this compilation, the materials employed in its execution being deriva
eư from the resources which have been afforded by eminent native talents, it will probably acquire from this circumstance, some degree of merit, and pretension to a favorable reception from those who are possessed of real patriotism.
It is too frequently the case; in every country, that the mental labours of men are held in esteem but a short time after they have been presented to the public eye; and that, however great may be their merit, they soon become the neglected inmates of the escritoir, to make way for more recent, though less valuable productions. This inattention to, and neglect of merit, it behooves every friend of learning to discountenance ; and, by throwing his individual exertions into the general stock; contribute to the formation, if not of an original, at least of a borrowed fund, whence youthful adventurers in literary enterprize, may expect to derive some assistance in the
prosecution of their laudable attempts. The plan which is now submitted to public opinion, it is hoped by its designer, will tend as much to the attainment of this object, as any other of so humble a character could be supposed to contribute. The rising generation, having placed before them, in the course of their elementary studies, the writings of those, to whom their fathers willingly awarded the need of applause, will be induced to ingraft the respect and veneration due tó virtue and talents, on the knowledge which they will be gradually acquiring in the several branches of learning. Added to this consideration, it may be presumed, that, as the youthful mind is naturally disposed to admire every thing which bear's the stamp of devotion to liberty and honour, the compend that this work affords, of incidents connected with the early political, as well as literary history of their country, will contribute to keep alive a spirii of virtuous indignation against tyrannical oppression, and to excite feelings of pity and admiration, for distressed virtue and successfuł patriotism.
Thus, a work which was originally intended for the ordinary use of the young student, in the incipient stages of his education, may tend to excite in him an emulation to equal the merits of the sages, patriots, and lierocs, to whom his country is so much indebted ; and while he peruses the pages, which contain the memorials of their exer
tions in the cause of political and mental independence, the remembrance of their worth and services will be stamped indelibly on his mind.
After this brief exposition of the motives to which the ensuing pages owe their origin, it might, perhaps, be consistent
with prudence, to leave them to the judgement of the public, without any further prefatory observations. It may, however, be considered a matter of formality, if not of necessity, to state cursorily the outlines of the plan which has been pursued, with regard to the selection and arrangement of the different subjects included in the work. In the choice of the subjects, a departure from the system generally adopted by compilers, has been ventured upon; and it rests with popular opinion, (to which tribunal the reapers, as well as gleaners, of the literary harvest must consider themselves amenable) to decide whether the innovation is justified by its probable beneficial effects.
Biographical notices of men, eminent for their learning, virtue, or patriotism, it is to be presumed will add somewhat to the merits of a book, which is solely intended for the use of young students. The introduction of this spe. cies of writing, may not only tend to perpetuate the names of those, to whom America ascribes her existence in the list of independent and enlightened nations, but it may incite the inquisitive and ingenuous youth, to imitate, as well as to admire, their actions. The same results may be anticipated from the introduction of epistolary matter; and circumstances, in themselves important, and deriving additional interest from the periods in which they transpired, may be preserved from the oblivion to which they would be exposed, were they to rely for transmission to posterity, on the transitory nature of epistolary communication.
In the arrangement, as well as selection, of the several subjects, due regard has been paid, both to the conveni. ence and improvement of the reader. The order in which the various topics appear, will, it is expected, lead to beneficial effects, by strengthening the tender mind of the sc!olar, and gradually rendering it capable of undergoing the fatigue incident to the more advanced essays of mental power. While this consequence is resulting from
an application to the useful and necessary subjects, which are presented to bis attention, in the introductory part of this volume, the relaxation which is sought from dull and monotonous occupations, will be afforded, by the lighter and more attractive objects, which the design of a miscellany left room to introduce.
In the poetical department, the materials to which recourse has been had, are necessarily limited. The American muse has not yet furnished the adınirers of the more sublime flights of imagination, with many opportunities of indulging their tastes. From the few whom she has led to the elevated and flowery regions of Parnassus, a selection has been made, embracing as large a range as the paucity of materials would admit; and no little pains have been taken, to render the introduction of the bard's labours, as consistent with the nature of the present work, both with regard to useful instruction, and pleasing recreation, as the art of poesy will permit.
Little further, of an introductory nature, would appear to be necessary. It may, therefore, suffice to observe, that, if the Compiler cannot command the approbation of those to whom his book is submitted, he has at least assid. uously endeavored to deserve it. To the candid and lib. eral part of the community, this will be sufficient to those of a different character, no appeal is made.