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قراءة كتاب A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

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‏اللغة: English
A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

A Brief Account of the Educational Publishing Business in the United States

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

with him at a time. How can he so handle matters that nothing will be destroyed, because he cannot leave the fox and the goose together, nor can he leave the goose and the corn.

The next was an example, the solution of which might possibly be of practical help to distressed husbands:

Three jealous husbands, each with a wife, meet on a river bank. How are they to cross so that none of the wives is left in the company of one or two men unless her husband is also present?

As poor, from our point of view, as most of these old Arithmetics were, George Washington cordially recommended Pike’s as “of great assistance to children desiring to learn the art of figuring.” The pages in many of these early books were printed like those in the Adams, a copy of which I am able to show you, issued in 1814 at Keene, N. H. The text matter, as you see, occupies but a small part of the page, the rest being left to be filled with the solutions of problems that the children had first worked out on smooth shingles, scraps of paper, or slates, and then copied neatly on the pages where the solutions belonged. All these printed books were, of course, a great improvement over the Master’s notebook of an earlier time, from which rules and problems were copied by the children, they not possessing a printed text.

Note.—(1) In the library of Mr. George Plimpton are more than 300 different Arithmetics printed before 1601, the largest collection ever brought together.

Note.—(2) These old arithmeticians are responsible for what we know as the one-sixth discount, for they advertised their books at, say, $10.00 the dozen, the single copy $1.00.

Note.—(3) They were the pioneers in collecting and printing before the prefaces of their books, as Adams did before his preface, complimentary testimonials of their books—a practice that the modern publisher would hardly dare to follow.

If the text matter of the early Readers was in many cases gruesome and distressing in its effect upon the youthful mind, and the explanations, rules, and problems in early Arithmetics were at times ludicrous and extremely puzzling, it is also the fact that much of the text printed in the first American Geographies was ridiculous because the writers frequently indulged their imaginations at the expense of geographical fact. Let me quote two or three examples showing how imagination played havoc with the truth. Dwight’s Question and Answer Geography, printed at Hartford in 1798, contains the following:

Q. What are the customs and diversions of the Irish?

A. There are a few customs existing in Ireland peculiar to this country; these are their funeral howlings and presenting their corpses in the streets to excite the charity of strangers, their convivial meetings on Sunday, and dancing to bagpipes, which are usually attended with quarreling.

Even the scholarly Morse, the author of the first Geography printed in the United States, indulges in some picturesque flights of imagination, as when he writes that the great men of the Friendly Islands “are fond of a singular kind of luxury, which is, to have women sit beside them all night, and beat on different parts of their body until they go to sleep; after which, they relax a little of their labour, unless they appear likely to wake; in which case they redouble their exertions, until they are again fast asleep.” A careful reading of Mariner’s Account of the Friendly Islands, a book published by John Murray & Sons in London in 1817, thirty-four years after Morse published his first Geography, reveals no account of any such custom, and Mariner lived in the Friendly Islands for a number of years.

Adams declares in his Geography, published in 1814, that “the White Mountains are the highest, not only in New Hampshire, but in the United States.” Of course he was