« PreviousContinue »
In countries where the established form of government is monarchy, most of the elementary books used to instruct children in their native language, are calculated to impress on their youthful minds, a prejudice in favour of the existing order of things. National glory (which means the spreading havoc and destruction among other nations), the splendor of monarchy, and the advantages of conquest, are displayed in the most captivating and glowing colours. This fyflem is the result of profound policy. An early bias is thus given to the mind, which in most cases “ grows with its growth,” and often retains its influence to the last stage of decrepitude.
And is not such a system at least as proper and necessary in this country as chewhere? Should not endeavours be used to impress on the rising generation, a respect and reverence for the forms of government under which we live? Our constitutions are all grounded on the right of the citizens to liberty and the security of property, and on the grand principle, that the officers of government, legislative as well as executive, are all the agents of the people, deputed to perform for them those functions which they cannot execute themselves. In every one of them are recognised those grand and sublime truths, the defence of which has rendered so many men illustrious, in the English annals—those principles for which
a Hambden struggled, and a Sydney bled
those principles, in fine, which are to be found in a greater or less degree, through the writings of the best men of all ages and nations.
On this ground, it is presumed that great advantages must accrue from subjecting to the perusal of youth, such a variety of elegant passages, tending to thew in the strongest light the advantages of liberty, of peace, of good order—the dignity of human nature to inspire an abhorrence of war—and to display its tremendous coniequences, in all their native deformity, Itripped of the imposing glofs which artful and interested men have spread over them.
The names of the writers are generally given, partly as a tribute of gratitude towards those whose writings have served to complete this work—partly to facilitate a comparison between the sentiments of men in different ages—and partly with a view of exciting the reader's curiosity to search into their works complete. It is not pretended that a sublime truth
can receive any corroboration from the celebrity of the man who wrote it. The sentiment, that
“ The purest treasure mortal times afford,
“Men are but gilded loam or painted clay," is an eternal axiom, and, whether connected with the name of a Shakespeare or a Blackmore, mult carry conviction to every correct mind. In like manner, the position in page 210,“ No man is better born than another, unless he is born with " better abilities, and a more amiable disposition,” needs not the próp of Seneca's name to command assent.
With these few remarks this small work is submitted to the candour and indulgence of the public, whose decision on its utility shall be acquiesced in by the editor. He may have estimated too highlythe probable beneficial effects of his labour. This is so common an error as to be perhaps a venial one. But whatever may be íts tendency or its success, he can never be deprived of the solid fatisfaction arising from a perfect consciousness of having used his most earnelt endeavours to promote the best interests of his fellow men. M. C.
December 1, 1800.
book, as soon as the pupil is so far advanced as to refleet on what he reads; and that I believe is in an earlier stage than is generally imagined. I concur with you in the importance of inculcating into the minds of young people the great moral and political truths ; and that it is better to put into their hands books which, while they teach them to read, teach them to think also, and to think foundly. I have always believed that Tacitus would be one of the best fchool-books, even while children are learning to read: they could never forget the batred of vice and tyranny which that author inspires You often quote a book, under the title of The Spirit of Defpolism. I never before heard of it ; but it is written with great strength of feeling and conception.
I am with great esteem, Sir,
Your most obed't serv't,
THOMAS JEFFERSON. MR. MATRIT CAREY.
T. MR. MATHEW CAREY.
HAVE, with much pleasure as well as profit, read over
your American Monitor ; and find it to be just such an one as I have long wilhed for. The judicious felection you have made, will undoubtedly have a strong tendency to produce very lasting and falutary effects on the minds of all by whom the leffons there inculcated will be attentively considered.
All those who, for any considerable time, have been engaged in the instruction of youth, well know what great advantages result from teaching them to read and recite such pieces of composition as store their opening minds with just ideas of God, religion, liberty, and patriotism ; that by these lessons their taste for good authors is formed, noble sentiments implanted, virtue exhibited in all her beauty, and vice in all its deformity. To form a selection which should embrace all these objects, a nd be of such a price as might suit the convenience of all, was the talk—and that talk you have, in my opinion, well performed. Convinced that it is well calculated to answer these purposes, I have introduced it into my school, and do warmly recommend it to the consideration of others. I am, Sir,
Your very humble serv't, Philad. 26th Jan. 1801.
JAMES CARSON. ;