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OF THE GEOGRAPHY, POPULATION, POLITICS, RELIGION, MILITARY
AND SOCIETY, GF ANCIENT AND MODERN NATIONS.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,
By EDWARD HOPKINS, In the Clerk's office of the District Court of Connecticut
Tae increasing interest which of late years has been felt in regard to educa. tion, among all classes of the community, has given rise to new, and it is believed in many instances, improved methods of advancing this great object. Books havo been written with a special view of imparting instruction to youthful minds, as well as of directing the inquiries and gratifying the curiosity of riper understandings. In these works, so far as they have been elementary, the principle of comparison and classification has extensively prevailed ; particular attention has been paid to the selection and arrangement of topics ; things differing in kind have been kept separate as much as possible ; and, in general, there has been a marked effort to observe the methods of science, and the laws by which the mind is usually governed in the acquisition of knowledge. In this way, ideas correctly arranged, and happily associated, have been communicated to learners and readers, on the various subjects presented to their consideration.*
" Ancient History," to which the reader is here introduced, "may be treated either ethnographically, that is, according to the different nations and states, or synchronically, that is, according to certain general periods of time. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages; both may, however, to a certain extent, be united." This is a remark of Heeren,t
and the last was the arrangement which he adopted in his admirable History of the States of Antiquity, as well as in that which bears the title of the Political System of Europe. In the present volume, the subject has been treated under an ar rangement somewhat similar, both methods being combined, as far as could be done with convenience. The synchronical method, however, predominates, and that almost necessarily, in consequence of the very distinct eras which have been observed in the work. If, therefore, the general reader should experience any inconvenience, or diminution of interest, from the temporary sus. pension of the history of any single nation, he still can pursue the account of such nation in continuity, provided he will take it up in the successive periods, and omit, at the same time, the history of other nations. But it is believed, that the interest arising from the history of individual states, is very little less on this plan, than on the ethnographical, and even that, should it be considerably less, the clearer and more comprehensive views thence derivec, would be an ample indemnification for the loss.
But it is time that the plan of the present work should be more particularly explained. It is briefly as follows. In the first place, political history, or the
• As subservient to the improvements above alluded to, we must acknowledge the agency of
history of states, is given, and the subject is divided into ten penods, each being distinguished by some characteristic trait. The periods are then carried on separately. The important facts of each are stated in large type, and explanations, observations, anecdotes, adventures, and interesting particulars, illustrative of the events, manners, feelings, and opinions of the age, added in the smaller type. The matter in the smaller type is properly ale expansion of that in the larger, or carries on the history merely by tracing its minuter features. At the close of the period, the lives of the illustricus persons who flourished during the same, are introduced, inasmuch as they constitute, in some instances, a portion of the world's political history.
Having in this way gone through the ten periods, then the reader, under th: General Views, is instructed in the geography, politics, religion, military and naval affairs, arts, literature, manners, &c. of ancient nations. By this means he is brought into a close and intimate acquaintance with those communities whose political history he has read, and can picture to himself their manner of living, thinking, feeling, and acting. This latter part of the book includes nearly such a subdivision of the general history of the human race, as Heeren calls “the history of culture, or of humanity, which investigates the history of men as men, without further reference to political relations.” A portion, however, of the first part of the work, particularly the biographical details
, would be included, perhaps, in the professor's definition of the history of culture.
A plan of this kind, it is thought, if faithfully executed, must render history clear and intelligible; give vividness and interest to its various topics ; enable the student to surmount the difficulties arising from dates ; present a general view of the subject that may be easily comprehended and permanent ly established in the memory; and thus lay a strong and lasting foundation for a knowledge of history. The subject is so arranged, that the whole body of ancient history may be reviewed in its progress, embracing under one continuous aspect, the principal nations of the earth. And also, as already men. tioned, the history of any particular nation may be taken up, and contempla ted by itself. The student or reader having once mastered this outline, (if the plan have been executed in any measure answerable to the author's wishes, and to the importance of the subject,) will be qualified to enter upon the perusal of more extended and elaborate works of ancient history. Having the grand features of the subject distinctly arranged in his mind, he will readily class whatever additional facts he may obtain. He may thus accumulate knowledge without danger of confusion, and increase his power of recollection by multiplied associations.
Though the work here presented to the public is especially designed for the purposes of education, it also contemplates the benefit of those individuals to whom the topics of history are not unknown, by refreshing their memory with scenes and incidents, from which they have before experienced pleasure. It is hoped, moreover, that the work has been constructed with such a regard to truth and moral consistency, as to be auxiliary to that purity of manners, refinement of taste, and love of knowledge, of which every famıly ought to be the cherished abode,