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The age of Elizabeth-Spenser-The Fairy Queen-Its characteristics—MO
Division and Decline of the Roman Empire-The Huns—The Goths--Ala-
ric Subdues Rome-Attila-Theodoric-West and East Goths-Belisa.
rius-Christians and Pagans-Mahomet-The Koran-Progress in Building and Sailing Ships-Spread of Christianity-Spread of Literature and Philosophy-Foundation of Venice-Its Civil Government- The Doge Commerce of Venice-Florence- The Arabs-The Enthusiasm for Literature in the Ninth Century-The Arabic Language--The Pandects of Justinian--France and England - The Magna Charta-Polarity of Magnetized Iron-Constantinople Conquered by the French and Venetians-Abandoned by the Conquerors--Held by the Greeks-Taken hy the Turks-Pro gress of Navigation-Portugal--Commencement of Discoveries-- Madeira Islands-Cape De Verd Islands- The Azores--Passing of the Line-Cape of Good Hope--The Genoese-The Tuscans--Casmo De Medicis-Lorenzo the Magnificent-Columbus' first Voyage of Discovery-The Mediterranean--Columbus-Jealousy of the Portuguese-Henry VII.— The Brother of Columbus --Juan Peres--Isabella-Jealousy of the Spanish--The Fleet of Columbus-Sailing of the Expedition--Irving's Life of ColumbusOjeda---Amerigo Vespucci-Derivation of America-The Fame of Columbus-John Cabot-The Discoverer of the Western Continent-Newfoundland-Sebastian Cabot-South America-Cabral-Brazil-Luther and Calvin-Settlement of America-The Characters of Columbus and Cabot--History of Cortes--Conquest of Montezuma-History of Guatimozin--Cruelty of Cortes-Pizarro--Cruelties of the Spaniards, and Forbearance of the Chil. dren of the Sun-Tupac Amaru-His Execution - The Republics of South America-Queen Elizabeth-Sir Humphrey Gilbert-Takes formal Possession of Newfoundland-Budeius-Gilbert's Ship founders in a Storm - Energy of Sir Walter Raleigh-Amadas and Barlow-Their Character of the Aboriginals of America--Sir Richard Grenville-Governor LaneHerriat-Object of those who first came to this Country--Governor Lane and his Colony return home--Sir Richard Grenville leaves a new colony on the Island of Roanoke--Sir Walter Raleigh introduces the use of To bacco in England-Continues his efforts to settle Virginia-GosnoldJames II.-Elizabeth--Richard Hackluyt-Capt. John Smith-- First Settlement on Manhattan Island-Blok and Christaonse--Monopoly of the States General ---The first Governor-The Government-Trade-First Child horn in America of European Parents-The Waaloons--De Leet's History of the New World-Pirates-Governor Minuit's Deputations to the Governor and Council of Plymouth-Governor Bradford's Reception and Treatment thereof--Courtesy and Good Faith between the Settlements-Von Twiller -Legitimacy of the Settlement acknowledged-The first Settlers--Settlement of Plymouth-Their Early Disaster-Their Arrival and Landing upon Cape Cod-Their Title to the Lands---Reflections upon the Settlement of America-Conclusion.
It is said that the Romans were the first people who set up milestones along their roads into the country, for the benefit of the way. faring man. The wealthy travellers could take guides, when they wanted them, to save themselves labour and trouble, on their excursions; and the professed tourist had skill and science enough to find his way by the great guides of nature,--the rivers and mountains the sun, moon, and stars--and the landmarks set up by his precursors;—but the business man required these speaking stones directly in his way, to guide him on his journey. So, in the paths of knowledge, those who have leisure, and are not under the necessity of measuring time by hours, or distances by time, can course along at will, and find amusement and instruction in every thing they look upon; and the professed scholar knows the tracks of his predecessors in the walks of literature, and can examine all the monuments they have established without fear or anxiety, for he can easily correct his errors, if he should fall into any. But those engaged in the busy scenes of life, and to whom literature is incidental, suffer for want of a few directions in getting the most information from the best sources in the shortest possible time. They are thankful for being directed to the most splendid epochs of human knowledge, and fairly introduced to some of the best authors of any age of intelligence. If there be no royal road to geometry, there is a short cut to a respectable share of knowledge, both ancient and modern.
The few remarks found in this volume are, in furtherance of my purpose, made historical, biographical, and critical, with a view to furnish an outline in the miscellaneous reading of the English scholar. These remarks,—with what success the reader will best judge,-are intended to point out some of the most valuable authors, whose works he may safely peruse, and some of those passages in the progress of human knowledge with which it is necessary to be familiar, in order to give one a reputable standing in this enlightened community.
The time has come when no one can be ignorant, and still respectable. A good share of knowledge is requisite for the daily demands of society, in almost every grade of life. The work-shop, the counting-room, the factory, and even the dancing-hall, as the world goes, must have a portion of modern intelligence, to be respecto able. If the few mile-stones I have set up are rough-hewn, and the directions rudely sculptured, the figures are honest, and the directions safe; they pretend not to point out THE WAY TO BYZANTIUM, but only to the next village.
My arrangement is, in a good degree, historical, in reference to particular eras of literature, rather than to general chronology; but the course I should venture to recommend for the general English reader, would be, to make himself well acquainted with the writers of Queen Anne's reign, as Young, Addison, Swift, Pope, Parnell, Akenside, Chesterfield, and many others, are called ; and from them go up to the earliest ages I have mentioned, and come down to the present day, enlarging the circle of reading until it embraces the best portions of English literature. I begin at this point to form the sweep of the compass of knowledge, for it was an age of taste and pure English.
There are some things in this work I have touched upon before. When I wrote my lectures on American Literature, I had not contemplated this work ; and if I had, I must have given some slight account of English literature, in order to come properly to our own. When I first thought, last winter, of touching upon this wide field of English literature, I engaged my friend, James Nack,
,-a young gentleman known to the community for his virtues, his talents, his acquirements, and his misfortunes, (being deaf and dumb,)—to assist me in the undertaking. On that plan,—if we could have carried it into execution,- our labours would have extended to several volumes; but on consulting those wise in publications, they discouraged the enterprise, and I confined myself to this small volume, giving up all thoughts of going farther; and this was well, for it would have been taking him from the groves of the muses to drudge in the details of literature, and me from profeso sional labours, if not so pleasant, certainly quite as profitable.
It has long been my opinion, that we were greatly deficient in works which might be called directors of youth in the paths of knowledge. I mean those paths which should be pursued, after the elementary course of education has been completed. I agree that the mind should not be in leading strings long, but it should always be under the direction of sound principles and forcible aphorisms. In the course of life there should be no step taken without advice, and no day passed without its duties.
SAMUEL L. KNAPP. NEW-YORK, January, 1832.