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BASIS OF GEOGRAPHY.
BY PETER PARLEY,
TALES ABOUT NATURAL HISTORY; THE SEA AND PACIFIC OCEAN, ETC.
FOR THE USE OF FAMILIES.
ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS,
The Sixth Edition.
The idea of embracing, in the compass of this little volume, anything like a tolerable outline of Universal History, would doubtless excite a smile on the lip of a college professor, should he ever condescend to peep into our humble title-page. But let my object be clearly understood, and then I hope the attempt I have here made will not be deemed either ridiculous or presuming.
A work which gives in detail the history of mankind must necessarily be voluminous. It is therefore beyond the utmost stretch of the youthful intellect to compass it; the young reader shrinks back in despair, even from undertaking the task of its perusal. He looks upon the formidable row of octavos, in which such a wilderness of lore is collected, as a maze in which he is sure to get lost, and he therefore prudently resolves to keep clear of it.
Abridgments of general history have been usually liable to still greater objections. They are little more than dry lists of dates, presenting no pictures to the imagination, exciting no sympathies in the heart, and imparting few ideas to the understanding. If, by dint of labour, a meagre chronological table is extracted by the reader, and fixed in the memory, it is of no practical use. It is but a skeleton, without flesh, sinews, or soul; a mass of words, to which the mind can assign no clear definitions.
And yet it is very desirable that every person should, at an early period of life, have imprinted on his mind, in bright and unfading colours, a clear outline of the story of mankind, from its beginning in the plain of Shinar, down to the present hour. The advantages of this are obvious. It makes all subsequent reading and reflection on the subject of history both useful and interesting; it becomes a stimulus to research; it is ever after a clew to guide the inquirer through the labyrinths of historical lore.
The task of preparing a work which may accomplish this desirable object in respect to the young, is doubtless difficult. To steer clear of bewildering diffuseness on the one hand, and repulsive chronological brevity on the other-and at the same time to weave into a few pages, a clear, vivid, and continuous tale of the great human family-one that may be both comprehensible and entertaining to the young reader— demands a nicer understanding of the youthful heart and intellect, and more art in the adaptation of language to simple minds, than can often be at the command of any man. But though the undertaking be discouraging, it is perhaps worth the trial ; if I fail, I do but follow the fortunes of others; if I have not the power to command success, accident may come to my aid,