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Historical View of Education, showing its Dignity and its Degradation," are especially commended to the student as re-enforcing the considerations urged in the report reprinted in the present leaflet.
A thorough life of Horace Mann, by Mrs. Mann, occupies the first of the five volumes of the Life and Works; and there is an admirable brief biography by Prof. B. A. Hinsdale in the “Great Educators” series, which contains, in an appendix, an excellent bibliography. The survey of the period, in this little volume, is most discriminating ; and Dr. Hinsdale performs a distinct service in directing attention so intelligently and justly to Mann's forerunners, and especially to James G. Carter, "the one man who did more to cast up a highway for Horace Mann than any other." “To him,” says Henry Barnard, “more than to any other one person be. longs the credit of having first attracted the attention of the leading minds of Massachusetts to the necessity of immediate and thorough improvement in the system of free or public schools.” George B. Emerson rightly bestowed upon him the title of “Father of Normal Schools”; and Dr. Hinsdale pronounces his Letters on the Free Schools of New England “incomparably the best existing mirror of education in New England in the first quarter of this century.” This, and his Essays upon Popular Education, the closing essay of which outlines the modern Normal School, should be read by the student who would understand the situation into which Horace Mann entered, and by the general student of the history of education in America in the nineteenth century.
THE DIRECTORS OF THE OLD SOUTH WORK,
Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ILLUSTRATING NEW ENGLAND HISTORY BY A
SERIES OF ROMANCES LIKE THE WAVERLEY NOVELS. AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT SALEM, 1833.
The history of the United States, from the planting of the several colonies out of which they have sprung to the end of the War of the Revolution, is now as amply written, as accessible, and as authentic, as any other portion of the history of the world, and incomparably more so than an equal portion of the history of the origin and first ages of any other nation that ever existed. But there is one thing more which every lover of his country and every lover of literature would wish done for our early history. He would wish to see such a genius as Walter Scott (exoriatur aliquis), or, rather, a thousand such as he, undertake in earnest to illustrate that early history by a series of romantic compositions “in prose or rhyme,” like the Waverley Novels, the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," and the “ Lady of the Lake," the scenes of which should be laid in North America somewhere in the time before the Revolution, and the incidents and characters of which should be selected from the records and traditions of that, our heroic age. . He would wish at length to hear such a genius mingling the tones of a ravishing national minstrelsy with the grave narrative, instructive reflections, and chastened feelings of Marshall, Pitkin, Holmes, and Ramsay. He would wish to see him giving to the natural scenery of the New World and to the celebrated personages and grand incidents of its earlier annals the same kind and degree of interest which Scott has given to the Highlands, to the Reformation, the Crusades, to Richard, the Lionhearted, and to Louis XI. He would wish to see him clear away the obscurity which two centuries have been collecting over it, and unroll a vast, comprehensive, and vivid panorama of our old New England lifetimes, from its sublimest moments to its minutest manners. He would wish to see him begin with the landing of the Pilgrims, and pass down to the War of Independence, from one epoch and one generation to another, like Old Mortality among the graves of the unforgotten faithful, wiping the dust from the urns of our fathers, gathering up whatever of illustrious achievement, of heroic suffering, of unwavering faith, their history commemorates, and weaving it all into an immortal and noble national literature,- pouring over the whole time, its incidents, its actors; its customs, its opinions, its moods of feeling, the brilliant illustration, the unfading glories, which the fictions of genius alone can give to the realities of life.
For our lawyers, politicians, and for most purposes of mere utility, business, and intellect, our history now perhaps unfolds a sufficiently “ample page.” But I confess I should love to see it assume a form in which it should speak directly to the heart and affections and imagination of the whole people. I should love to see by the side of these formidable records of dates and catalogues of British governors and provincial acts of Assembly,- these registers of the settlement of towns and the planting of churches and convocation of synods and drawing up of platforms,— by the side of these austere and simply severe narratives of Indian wars, English usurpations, French intrigues, Colonial risings, and American independence,- I should love to see by the side of these great and good books about a thousand neat duodecimos of the size of
Ivanhoe,” “ Kenilworth,” and “Marmion,” all full of pictures of our natural beauty and grandeur, the still richer pictures of our society and manners, the lights and shadows of our life, full of touching incidents, generous sentiments, just thoughts, beaming images, such as are scattered over everything which Scott has written, as thick as stars on the brow of night, and give to everything he has written that imperishable, strange charm, which will be on it and embalm it forever. ...
I venture to maintain, first, that such works as these would possess a very high historical value. They would be valuable for the light they would shed upon the first one hundred and
fifty years of our Colonial existence. They would be valuable as helps to history, as contributions to history, as real and authoritative documents of history. They would be valuable for the same reason that the other more formal and graver records of our history are so, if not quite in the same degree.
To make this out, it may be necessary to pause a moment and analyze these celebrated writings, and inquire what they contain and how they are made up. It is so easy to read Scott's Novels that we are apt to forget with how much labor he prepared himself to write them. We are imposed on, startled perhaps, by the words novel and poem.
We forget that any one of them is not merely a brilliant and delightful romance, but a deep, well-considered, and instructive essay on the manners, customs, and political condition of England or Scotland at the particular period to which it refers. Such is the remark of a foreign critic of consummate taste and learning; and it is certainly just. Let us reverently attempt to unfold the process - to indicate the course of research and reflection — by which they are perfected, and thus to detect the secret not so much of their extraordinary power and popularity as of their historical value.
He selects, then, I suppose (I write of him as living; for, though dead, he still speaks to the whole reading population of the world), first, the country in which he will lay the scenes of his action, Scotland, perhaps, or merry England, or the beautiful France. He marks off the portions of that country within which the leading incidents shall be transacted, as a conjurer draws the charmed circle with his wand on the floor of the Cave of Magic. Then he studies the topography of the region,- its scenery, its giant mountains, its lakes, glens, forests, falls of water as minutely as Malté Brun or Humboldt; but choosing out with a poet's eye and retaining with a poet's recollection the grand, picturesque, and graceful points of the whole transcendent landscape. Then he goes on to collect and treasure up the artificial, civil, historical features of the country. He explores its antiquities, becomes minutely familiar with every city and castle and cathedral which still stands and with the grander ruins of all which have fallen familiar with every relic and trace of man and art, down even to the broken cistern which the Catholic charity of a former age had hewn out by the wayside for the pilgrim to drink in. He gathers up all the traditions and legendary history of the place, every story of hopeless love or glory won,” with the time, the spot, the circumstances, as particularly and as fondly as if he had lived there a thousand years. He selects the age to which his narrative shall refer, perhaps that of Richard, or Elizabeth, or Charles the Second, or of the rebellion of 1745 ; and forth with engages in a deep and discursive study of its authentic history and biography, its domestic and foreign politics, the state of parties, the character and singularities of the reigning king and his court and of the prominent personages of the day, its religious condition, the wars, revolts, revolutions, and great popular movements, all the predominant objects of interest and excitement, and all which made up the public and out-of-door life and history of that particular generation. He goes deeper still: the state of society, the manners, customs, and employments of the people, their dress, their arms and armor, their amusements, their entire indoor and domestic life, the rank and accomplishments of the sexes respectively, their relations to each other, the extent of their popular and higher education, their opinions, superstitions, morals, jurisprudence, and police, — all these he investigates as earnestly as if he were nothing but an antiquarian, but with the liberal, enlightened, and tolerant curiosity of a scholar, philosopher, philanthropist, who holds that man is not only the most proper, but most delightful study of man. Thus thoroughly furnished, he chooses an affecting incident, real or imaginary, for his groundwork, and rears upon it a composition which the mere novel - reader will admire for its absorbing narrative and catastrophe; the critic for its elegant style, dazzling poetry, and elaborate art; the student of human nature for its keen and shrewd views of man, " for each change of many-colored life he draws"; the student of history for its penetrating development and its splendid, exact, and comprehensive illustration of the spirit of one of the marked ages of the world. And this is a Waverley Novel !
Perhaps I am now prepared to restate and maintain the general position which I have taken --- that a series of North American or New England Waverley Novels would be eminently valuable auxiliaries to the authoritative written history of New England and of North America.
In the first place, they would embody, and thus would fix deep in the general mind and memory of the whole people, a