« AnteriorContinua »
D'er wayward childhood wouldst thou hold firm rule',
Love too will sink and die'.
When, overtask'd at length,
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and
HARPER & BROTHERS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern Distric. of New York.
The Fifth READER of the “School and Family Series" more fully devel. ops the plan of the author than the preceding numbers. While we have aimed to compile a series of books in every respect adapted to give all needed instruction in the art of reading, we have also endeavored to make them the medium of conveying, in as interesting a form as possible, a large amount of useful knowledge; and it is with a great degree of confidence that all practical educators will acknowledge the possibility of harmonizing these two objects in a reading-book for schools, that the present volume is submitted to them. What better reading-lessons could be given than the numerous poetical extracts which are used to illustrate the lessons in BorANY, where we find such gems as “The Moss Rose” (p. 150); Roscoe's address to “The Camellia” (p. 154); Leigh Hunt's “Chorus of Flowers” (p. 157); Mrs. Southey's “Night-blooming Cereus,” or “Unpretending Worth" (p. 159); Dickens's “Ivy Green” (p. 163); Emerson’s “Rhodora” (p. 171); Mary Howitt's “Corn-fields” (p. 194); that fine moral story of “The Fern and the Moss,” by Eliza Cook (p. 201); and Longfellow's tribute to the “ Drifting Sea-weed” (p. 210)? And why should not Holmes's beautiful description of “The Living Temple” (see p. 85) be both a more useful and a more interesting reading exercise when appropriately made a lesson in PhysioLOGY than when read as an isolated piece, dissevered from its natural connections ? And where can be found better reading exercises than such as we have used to illustrate and give interest to PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, among which are found Mrs. Sigourney's description of “The Coral Insect” (p. 371); Bryant's description of mountain scenery, and of “ The Prairies” (p. 372, 379); Willis Gaylord Clark's address to “The Alps” (p. 375); Prentice's “Mammoth Cave”(p. 384); Coleridge's “Valley of Chamouni” (p.388); Proctor's, and Percival's, and Byron's descriptions of “The Ocean” (p. 394-7); and the several descriptions given of the “Falls of Niagara” (p. 405–7)? Such selections, every one must admit, are far more interesting and instructive when they are used to illustrate, and are themselves illustrated by, important facts and principles in science, than when they appear in miscellaneous collections merely as “Orient pearls at random strung.” It is only when the subjects to which they refer are understood that such pieces are duly appreciated.
As variety, within the limits of good style, and embracing both prose and poetry, is correctly considered an essential requisite a good reading-book for advanced pupils, we may justly urge that the plan of the present work has peculiar advantages in this respect; for not only do the illustrative selections to which we have alluded give great variety to the scientific divisions, but each of these departments of knowledge has a literature of its own ; each has its peculiar words, and its forms of expression, as well as its principles, with which not only every scholar, but every general reader
should be familiar, but none of which would be presented in a miscellaneous reading-book that should omit all notice of the subjects themselves. But, to meet all possible demands for suitable variety, we have given “Miscellaneous Divisions” also, and in these have endeavored to make good whatever may be wanting in the more scientific portions. In Part I. we have given a pretty full elucidation of some of the higher principles of elocution, with abundant examples for illustration; and in Part XI. we have made such a selection of reading-lessons, in great part poetical, as will present, in chronological order, the outlines of Ancient History.
Of the amount of useful knowledge which the plan adopted in these reading-books is calculated to impart, we need only remark that we have aimed to present the leading truths of science in a form as attractive as possible, and have therefore avoided the dry details and technicalities which would have been required in a complete scientific text-book. Our object has been to present a pleasing introduction to science rather than to give any thing like a full exposition of any one department. The great mass of pupils in our schools know nothing whatever of many of the subjects here treated, nor is there any possibility of their becoming acquainted with them by any other method than by the one here adopted. It is thought, if all the pupils in our schools should acquire some knowledge of these subjects while attending to their ordinary reading-lessons, and become interested in the wonderful truths with which they abound, they will, in most instances, be stimulated to seek a farther acquaintance with them, and that che foundations may thus be laid for a wider dissemination of scientific knowledge, and a higher degree of popular education than has hitherto been thought attainable.
We might refer to the Natural History illustrations in the present volume as surpassing any ihing of the kind ever before published in this country; but while their beauty-for which we are indebted to the pencil of a Parsons—will be acknowledged by all, it is their utility, as objects of interest and instruction to pupils, to which we would more particularly call attention; for not only does an accurate and striking illustration of an object often give a more correct idea of it than pages of description, but so maps it upon the memory that, by the most interesting of all associations, the very description itself is indelibly pictured there. The admirable system of “object teaching,” whose principles should be carried throughout the entire educational course of every individual, could scarcely receive better aids than those furnished in the illustrations here given.
For valuable aid in several of the scientific divisions of the present work, it affords me pleasure here, as in the preceding volume, to acknowledge my indebtedness to Prof. N. B. Webster, of Virginia; and while doing this I would take occasion to express the hope that, however much the citizens of different states and sections may differ in their political views, in the sacred cause of science and popular education they may ever be united.
M. Willson. NEW YORK, May 15th, 1861.
[EXPLANATORY. --Those lessons designated by italics, or the authors of which, in wholt