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in which we do not see an adequate resemblance. Mrs. R. then proceeds to account for the fact thus assumed, by stating that the paintings that illustrate our own history are very few when compared with those of antiquity,' and that the remembrance of every memorable action of old was perpetuated by temples and triumphal arches:' -- thus taking it for granted that these young persons, who are engaged in the study of the rudiments of history, must be perfectly well acquainted with the pictures of the antient masters, and with the ruinous records of the heroes of old. The next sentence in the preface. contains all the explanation that is given of the method proposed.
. Objects that are seen make a more lasting impression on the mind than the mere RECITAL of facts: it has therefore been my aim in the composition of the symbols or hieroglyphics, to embody, as it were, the most striking incidents recorded in the annals of our country: and, as the ingenuity and penetration of the student is [are] exercised in discovering the meaning of the symbolical representation, the fact itself, with all its connecting associations, becomes more forcibly impressed upon the memory.'
Thus, then, according to this train of argument, the impression which has been produced with regard to antient history by poetry, painting, and sculpture,' is to be effected in English history by symbols and hieroglyphics.' Let us see how this is to be accomplished.
In the advertisement is a Key to the Symbols,' which, after having stated that . a nation collectively is represented by a small flag on which is depicted a symbolic figure,' such as a lion for the English, a thistle for the Scotch, and a leek for the Welsh, contains among others the following explanations: - The Roman standard is the eagle, with S.P.Q.R. The Saxons are represented by the old Saxon letter S on a white ground. The Danes by a D on a field azure.' The Normans by an 2 on a field vert :' so that the boyish student must. have a little knowlege of heraldry also, as these symbols are not coloured.
"The English individual is designated by an upright line, sure mounted with an oak leaf: if a diagonal line crosses it, it is a knight or noble. The triple lines are females. Kings and queens are distinguished by crowns. Princes and princesses have a small crescent reversed on the top of a perpendicular line. An upright line with a death's-head is an assassin."
The method being thus simply detailed, we proceed to the work itself. It consists of 40 plates, each of which is divided into compartments, (generally about nine in number,) and in
each cornpartment is a symbolic representation of an insulated fact in the history of England. The letter-press is arranged in sections, each section recording a particular fact, the title of which is placed at its head, with a reference to the figure representing the subject in the preceding plates; and in many instances an "explanation of the symbols is prefixed. In order to shew the effect of all this, we will take at random one of the figures. In the reign of Richard II. is a section intiiled · Queen Anne's intercession for Burley :' a subject, by 16 way, scarcely interesting enough to justify the labour of decyphering an hieroglyphic. The diagram to which it refers is headed 1388, and consists of two figures; one is an upright line surmounted with an oak-leaf,' - something like the mast of a ship, — crossed by a diagonal line, which may be compared to one of the yards across the mast; - the other is a triple line,' bent into a sort of obtuse angle, and surmounted by a crown; --- resembling in some degree a broken flag-staff with the ropes attached to it. The explanation is, “Anne, Queen of Richard II. pleading before the Duke of Gloucester for the life of Sir Simon Burley.' — The questions naturally arise, how two lines — the one upright and the other bent— can by any possibility designate in an intelligible manner an historical fact; and how the upright line is to be recognized by the most ingenious pupil as the Duke of Gloucester, any more than another line in a similar position, of which there are several hundreds: or how the triple line can be known for the queen of Richard II., rather than for the Queen Elgiva, who in the 6th figure of plate 2. is represented in exactly the same form? We confess that we are puzzled in seeking the advantage possessed by these symbols, compared with the more natural and pleasing mode of representing events in pictures; and in ascertaining why this two-guineabook is to be preferred to the more interesting and useful tract of Mrs. Trimmer, price about two shillings.
The suggestion of the idea of this work is attributed to Mr. Von Feinagle, who delivered some years ago a series of lectures on Mnemonics, of which an unauthorized and imperfect account was noticed in our Review for May 1813: but surely a wide difference exists between learning, by such means as are here described, events of which the pupil is at first wholly ignorant, and fixing in the memory the date of facts which are supposed to be already known. The system of the Professor, moreover, was not intended to convey the instruction, but to methodize and fix that knowlege which had been already acquired.