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Every book that is ushered into the world, is a mental experiment of the writer, to as certain the taste, and to obtain the judgement of the community; and the author can only be certain of one thing, and that is, of his intentions in his publication. Of my intentions, I can only say, as, perhaps, I have a dozen times said in the course of my work, they were to exhibit to the rising generation something of the history of the thoughts and intellectual labours of our forefathers, as well as of their deeds. There is, however, an intimate connexion between thinking and acting, particularly among a free and an energetick people. My plan, when I commenced my researches, was an extensive one, and I gathered copious materials to carry it into effect. For several years past, I have had access to libraries rich in American literature; but when I sat down to work up the mass I had collected, the thought suggested itself to my mind, that no adequate compensation could ever be reasonably ex. pected for my pains; and then the consciousness that I was in some measure trespassing upon my professional pursuits, went far to quench my zeal, and to chase away my visions of literary reputation. Still, I could not be persuaded to relinquish altogether my design, and I therefore set about abridging my outlines, dispensing with many of my remarks, and giving up numerous elaborate finishings I had promised myself to make in the course of my work. And another thought struck me most forcibly, that a heavy publication would not be readily within the reach of all classes of youth in our country, but that a single volume of common size, in a cheap edition, might find its way into some of our schools, and be of ser. vice in giving our children a wish to pursue the subject of our literary history, as they advanced in years and in knowledge. The instructors of our youth, when true to their trust, form a class in the community that I hold in respect and esteem, and they will pardon me for making a few remarks to them. Your calling is high, I had almost said holy. To your intelligence,
patience, good temper, purity of life, and soundness of principles, parents look for the forming of healthy, vigorous minds, in their children. If you cannot create talents, you can do something better ; you can guide the fiery, and wake up the dull; correct the mischievous, and encourage the timid. The temple of knowledge is committed to your care; the priesthood is a sacred one. Every inscription on the walls should be kept bright, that the dimmest eye may sce, and the slowest comprehension may read and be taught to understand. Your task is great, and every member of the community, who is able to give you any assistance, should come to your aid in the great business of instruction. In this way much has been done ;-much, however, remains to be done. The elements of learning have been simplified, and thousands of children have been beguiled along the path. way of knowledge, who never could have been driven onward. Geography has been made easy and fascinating, and the elements of natural philosophy very pleasant; and what was once difficult and harsh to young minds in many studies, has become attractive. History, both sacred and profane, has assumed new charms as it has been prepared for the school-room; I speak of the history of other countries, nct of our own. We have very good histories, narrative, political, military, and constitutional; but I know none, as yet, that can be called literary-meaning by the term, a history of our literature, and of our literary men; and probably it will be a long time before we shall have such an one as we ought to have. Our Sismondis, D'Israelis, are yet to arise. You will struggle in vain to make American history well understood by your pupils, unless biographical sketches, anecdotes, and literary selections, are mingled with the mass of general facts. The heart must be affected, and the imagination seized, to make lasting impressions upon the memory.
One word to your pride :-you are aware that it has been said by foreigners, and often repeated, that there was no such thing as American literature; that it would be in vain for any one to seek for proofs of taste, mind, or information, worth possessing, in our early records; and some of our citizens, who have never examined these matters, have rested so quietly after these declarations, or so faintly denied them, that the bold asserters of these libels have gained confidence in tauntingly repeating them. The great epoch in our history -the revolution of 1775—seemed sufficient, alone, to many of the present generation, to give us, as a people, all the celebrity and rank, among the nations of the earth, we ought to aspire to, without taking the trouble to go back to the previous ages of heroick virtue and gigantick labours. Many of the present generation are willing to think that our ancestors were a pious and persevering race of men, who really did possess some strength of character, but, without further reflection, they are ready to allow that a few pages are "ample room and verge enough” to trace their character and their history together. I have ven. tured to think differently, and also to flatter myself, that, at the present day, it would not be a thankless task to attempt to delineate some of the prominent features of our ancestors in justification of my opinion. This errour can only be eradicated by your assistance, and that by instilling into the minds of our children, in your every-day lessons, correct information upon these subjects;—and while you lead your pupils through the paths of miscellaneous and classical literature-and, at the present day, even the humblest education partakes of much that is of a classical nature-be it your duty, also, to make them acquainted with the minutest portions of their country's history. No people, who do not love themselves better than all others, can ever be prosperous and great. A sort of inferiority always hangs about him who unduly reverences another. If "know thyself,” be a sound maxim for individual consideration, " think well of thyself," should be a national one. Patriotism and greatness begin at the maternal bosom, are seen in the nursery and primary school, and quicken into lite in every advancing stage of knowledge. Guardians of a nation's morals, framers of in. tellectual greatness, show to your charge, in proper lights, the varied talent of your country, in every age of her history; and inscribe her
glories of mind, and heart, and deed, as with a sun-beam, upon their memories.
New York, Nov. 1829.
The faculty of speech the prerogative of man; and eloquence at all times his
boast. The eloquence of Aaron. Its uses in all times and nations. In-