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The Period of the French Revolution
> Exemplary Compilations
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.
§ 5. Exemplary Compilations.
It is accompanied by a woodcut of an orange. This cut and its fellows did duty elsewhere, in another
Little Book for Little Children,
also by Thomas White (not dated; the frontispiece, however, is a portrait of queen Anne). Here, too, is a mixture of education and amusementa cut of a hornbook, some spelling lessons, alphabetical rimes and riddles. The volume is notable for the first appearance in print of
A was an Archer,
and the lines displaying the errors of misplaced punctuation, beginning I saw a Peacock with a fiery Tail. Practically contemporary with this was
The Childs Weeks-Work,
by William Ronksley (1712). It is the best of all these early attempts to purvey pleasure with profit duly mixt, though there is more profit than pleasure in it. Its simplicity of method and absence of dogmatic frenzy are remarkable. In four successive series of lessons, each calculated to occupy a week, it runs up to words of four syllables. A monosyllabic verse may be quoted:
Hear you a Lark?
Tell me what Clerk
Can match her. He that beats
The next Thorn-bush
May raise a Thrush
Would put down all our lays.
Finally, perhaps the most popularor, at any rate, most widely readof all these oppressive compilations was James Janeways
Token for Children: being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of several young Children
(?1720): a supreme example of morbid and gloating piety. The title conveys its scope. It was not alone; three or four works like it can be discovered; but it was the most highly coloured.
A more polished typeindeed, pietists might have said a politely immoral typeis the Chesterfield of the seventeenth century,
A Ladys Gift
(1688, published without authorisation, often reprinted). Halifaxthe trimmercould write admirable English, and, if his
Advice to a Daughter
(the sub-title) is worldly, it is, also, honest and sensible. It had other counterparts in the next century besides Chesterfields
Letters. Advice to a Young Nobleman, Letters from a Tutor to his Pupils
and similar works carried out the gentlemanly ideal of making the best of this world without either despising or making too much of the next.
Works of these types were, if not common, at any rate not unique. They are not, perhaps, in the direct succession of pure childrens literature: they are but the unennobled ancestors. But they deserve not to be forgotten by the historian. The more authentic pedigree follows a line of less unmixed descentlines, rather, for the family has, at first, three branches. The older branches are among the oldest forms of literature preserved to us: the cadet branch is fathered by two eminent men.
INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS