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upper years can work up good reports upon collateral topics. These are best presented orally from blackboard synopses, and sometimes the class
be required to copy these outlines and be held responsible for the topic; but as the chief benefit accrues to the one who prepares the recitation, the topics, however important, should not be essential to the continuity of the study.
It might be noted that such topics as a consideration of the causes of the Norse migrations and of their success in other countries, in connection with the Norman conquest of England, prepared by the whole class with full statement of their authorities, and with all the time needed, afford excellent and wholly unobjectionable examinations-a true test of ability in the study.
Another more important field for individual effort is to be found in the exercise of the historical imagination. Let the pupil during the term absorb everything he can about some one period, and then try to reproduce some leading event or character of that period from the inside, with local coloring in names, terms, and ideas. A dialogue between Socrates and Xantippe, an address by a revolted Helot to his compatriots, a Persian captive's views of Greek institutions, a Norman's account of the return of Godwin and his welcome by the great Witan, are among the topics I have known treated successfully by children thirteen to sixteen years old. Some pupils, of course, utterly deficient in dramatic instinct, must be allowed to sum up their study from the standpoint of a reviewer, not an actor.
Doubtless college students can do all this better; but at the risk of being accused of recommending university methods for children, I would insist that high-school students with proper training can do such work profitably.
For the individual reports upon short topics, and still more for this work last mentioned, the pupils should not be given specific references, as in the daily work. Here they have an opportunity to practice that art of reading that consists in judicious skipping-to learn to use indexes and catalogues, and to run down a subject in a library. At first they need guidance; but there is no reason why the average high-school student should not acquire this desirable element of power to a greater degree than the average college student has done in the past.
Effective library work requires some system of “reserve” libraries, in which the books most needed may be kept easily and constantly accessible, without the intervention of glass doors or librarians; but the details of the system must vary with the size of the school.
A library for historical work should contain not only the standard modern works, but, even more indispensably, from the laboratory standpoint, contemporary authorities. To illustrate: For Greek and Roman history, Herodotus, Homer, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Livy, Tacitus, Plutarch, Cicero; for English history, Bede, the Anglo-Saxon and other chronicles, the diaries of Pepys and Evelyn, volumes of charters, and such works as F. York Powell's English History from Contemporary Sources.
Historical fiction, of course, will be given a prominent place both in the
library and the class-room. Historical novels are probably best read in groups, even though some periods be wholly neglected. For instance, I would rather a pupil should read and compare Kingsley's Hereward, and Bulwer's and Tennyson's Harolds, than that he should read three times as many volumes without special relationship. For one thing, he is more apt to perceive that a novel is something more than a story, and is to be read for something more than to find how it comes out. A proper use of fiction, indeed, may best rid the pupil of the haunting idea that history is mainly valuable for the information it contains. He may not come to think it a compliment to call a history a work of the imagination, but he should learn that all great histories do contain the poetic element in large measure; that they are, in a true sense, imaginative, and inspired and pervaded by great ideas; that those histories are worth his reading that widen his views of life and of man's destiny, that make his pulse beat higher, and incite him to noble action; so that he will turn away from the book-agent's compendiums of useful information, to the Motleys and Carlyles, whose works belong, like the great poems and novels and Bibles of the world, to the literature of inspiration and power.
This may involve work in literature, but one of the incidental purposes of historical study is to open up the world of books. It pays both from a historical and literary standpoint for the teacher to give two or three short bibliographical talks early in each term, chiefly, of course, about the works accessible in school, city, or Sundav-school libraries. It goes without saying, that this and all other library work will help free the pupil from the too common idolatry of print; though the teacher is bound to see that it does not, on the other hand, lead to a carping conceit.
The pupil should acquire also some comprehension of the different kinds of historical evidence, and of the value of indirect testimony. He should understand, for example, why the Iliad gives us fuller and more reliable knowledge of the social and political life of the Heroic age, in all that we care about, even if Achilles never lived and sulked and fought, and though Hector's body was never dragged around the walls of lofty Troy, than could have been given in any express treatise upon Argive polity by the most conscientious Hellenic Dry-as-Dust of the year 1000 B.C.- if there had been one. He should realize, too, something of the history of historical writing — from the old legends and ballads, through the barren chronicle and romantic tale, up through the special pleading of a Clarendon, a Gibbon, Hume, or Macaulay, to the conscientious, judicial, scientific researches of a Stubbs or a Green; all the better, of course, if clothed in the poetic imagery of a Freeman or Carlyle.
Besides all these intellectual and esthetic ends, and the broader culture that comes from the realization that “beyond the Alps there are men also,” the study has high ethical value. It gives the youth lofty ideals, animates him with heroic conceptions, and makes for him a vast Westminster Abbey of every land; it broadens his sympathies, and fosters a wider love of his kind. It is the special function of historical study to replace the lower, false patriotism, that “easiest virtue for a selfish man,” with the lofty sentiment of Marcus Aurelius: “As an emperor, I am a Roman; but as a man, I am a citizen of the whole world.”
At the same time a true patriotism will be inculcated. The boy will learn that history is not a dead subject; that it is being made daily. He will see more or less clearly that the economic problems of Solon and Numa are not isolated and unmeaning to us, but that they are bound indissolubly, along with the struggles of the old trade guilds, of Wat Tyler and the English peasantry, of the Jacquerie and the French revolution, to the questions of to-day. It is true, the danger in a little historical knowledge lies in false and superficial analogies, and young students should be trained to habits of learing difficult problems for further light and maturer judgment. Debates, even when the truth is aimed at, are dangerous weapons, but they may be used to give pupils a realizing sense of how easily special pleaders become convinced of the justice of their own side, whether that side be assigned them as pupils by a teacher, or as citizens by the managers of their political party.
A little can be done, then, to fit pupils to grapple with political problems, at least in training to more deliberate judgment, and in giving them that base line in historic development, for want of which many would-be statesmen founder about so piteously. And for all pupils the study will cultivate and intensify a love of country and of our institutions, and place this true patriotism upon a sounder basis than that from which the too prevalent blatant jingoism of young America sprouts. They will learn that to-day rests upon yesterday; that Greek political isolation gave way to Roman consolidation, which in time has been succeeded by Teutonic organization; and that our own history did not begin with the Declaration of Independence, or even with the Pilgrims, but that we may count as kin in blood and political life the old Herman preserving Teutonic liberty from the legions of Varus, along with Eliot, Hampden, and Cromwell, maintaining it against the usurping Stuarts as truly as Hooker, Washington, and Lincoln, who planted and defended it in this new home. Village selectmen, the village green, the village pound, the very names town and hamlet, and the picket fence about his father's door, the boy should see full of historical significance; and he should be able to follow them back in unbroken continuity beyond Alfred, beyond Hengist, to the obscurity of the old Saxon forests and morasses. And the town meeting in particular, preserved for its vigorous growth in New England by a series of transplantings and happy providences, he should be taught love and revere, not only for what it has been, but for what it still is -- the best school and truest safeguard of democratic institutions.
These are some of the things that can be accomplished in high-school history. It prepares for further work; it has practical, disciplinary, literary, and culture values. The analysis is not complete or exclusive; but is it not enough to give us hope that more attention may be given this neglected study? A few words as to time and order. In a four-years course, history may fairly claim a place through the whole curriculum, at least for those students whose school-life is to close with the high school; although for half the time the recitations may profitably alternate with those in some other culture subject, like literature. With a fair preparation granted, Greek and Roman history is probably the best starting-point for the high school, because for high-school purposes it is simpler than modern history. It should be followed, I think, by a topical survey of mediæval, and of the more important movements of modern history, to furnish the background for English history, a year in which leads up naturally to a year in United States history and civics — the crown of the course. The important principle is that the teacher select some periods in all this work for special study, exhaustive study from the high-school standpoint, no matter by how narrow a road the intervals be bridged, if only it be firm.