To Reynolds Chapman
Jany 25 1821
I recd. yours of the 16th.1 some days ago. Particular engagements have prevented an earlier answer.
Different plans for reading history have been recommended. What occurs as most simple & suitable, where the object is such as you point out, is to begin with some abridgement of Genl. History. I am not sure that I am acquainted with the best; late ones having been published wch. I have not seen. Millots history ancient & modern translated from the French2 would answer well enough. The work is not large, and might be preceded or accompanied by Colvins historical letters now publishing at George Town, in a single volume.3 After this outline, Humes History of England4 & Robertsons Hist: of Scotland5 might follow: Then Ramsay’s history of the U.S. & of the American Revolution;6 and Burkes Histy. of Virga. continued by Jones, & Gerardin’s.7 This course being ended, particular histories of different Countries according to leisure & curiosity might be taken up: such as Goldsmith’s history of Greece, do. of Rome8 preceded or accompanied by Tooks Pantheon.9 Robertsons history of America10 would also deserve attention. This fund of information, with a competent knowledge of Geography, would prepare the mind for reading with advantage, the Voyages round the world and the most intelligent travels into the most interesting countries. Geography is a preliminary in all cases to a pleasing & instructive course of historical reading. That & Chronology, have been called the two eyes of History. Geography might be called the right one.
No studies seem so well calculated to give a proper expansion to the mind as Geography & history; and when not absorbing an undue portion of time, are as beneficial & becoming to the one sex as to the other.
1. Letter not found.
2. Claude François Xavier Millot, Elements of General History. … Part First. Ancient History (2 vols.; Worcester, Mass., 1789; Evans 21965) and Millot, Elements of General History. … Part Second. Modern History (3 vols.; Worcester, Mass., 1789; Evans 21966).
5. William Robertson, The History of Scotland, during the Reigns of Queen Mary and of King James VI. until His Accession to the Crown of England … (2 vols.; Philadelphia, 1811; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 23824). This was the first American edition, taken from the sixteenth London.
7. See ibid., 355 n. 4.
8. Oliver Goldsmith, The Grecian History, from the Earliest State to the Death of Alexander the Great (2 vols. in 1; Washington, [Pa.], 1800; Evans 37531), and Dr. Goldsmith’s Roman History … (Philadelphia, 1795; Evans 28755).
9. François Pomey and Andrew Tooke, The Pantheon, Representing the Fabulous Histories of the Heathen Gods and Most Illustrious Heroes …, 6th ed. (London, 1713).