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Outline of Universal History   By: (1827-1909)

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Designed as a Text book and for Private Reading


George Park Fisher, D.D., LL.D. Professor in Yale University

Inscribed by the author as a token of love and thankfulness to his daughter

C. R. F.


In writing this work I have endeavored to provide a text book suited to more advanced pupils. My idea of such a work was, that it should present the essential facts of history in due order, and in conformity to the best and latest researches; that it should point out clearly the connection of events and of successive eras with one another; that through the interest awakened by the natural, unforced view gained of this unity of history, and by such illustrative incidents as the brevity of the narrative would allow to be wrought into it, the dryness of a mere summary should be, as far as possible, relieved; and that, finally, being a book intended for pupils and readers of all classes, it should be free from sectarian partiality, and should limit itself to well established judgments and conclusions on all matters subject to party contention. Respecting one of the points just referred to, I can say that, in composing this work, I have myself been more than ever impressed with the unity of history , and affected by this great and deeply moving drama that is still advancing into a future that is hidden from view. I can not but hope that this feeling, spontaneous and vivid in my own mind, may communicate itself to the reader in his progress through these pages.

The most interesting object in the study of history is, to quote Dr. Arnold's words, "that which most nearly touches the inner life of civilized man, namely, the vicissitudes of institutions, social, political, and religious." But, as the same scholar adds, "a knowledge of the external is needed before we arrive at that which is within. We want to get a sort of frame for our picture....And thus we want to know clearly the geographical boundaries of different countries, and their external revolutions. This leads us in the first instance to geography and military history, even if our ultimate object lies beyond." Something more is aimed at in the present work than the construction of this "frame," without which, to be sure, a student wanders about "vaguely, like an ignorant man in an ill arranged museum." By the use of different sorts of type, it has been practicable to introduce a considerable amount of detail without breaking the main current of the narrative, or making it too long. By means of these additional passages, and by appending lists of books at the close of the several periods, the attempt has been made to aid younger students in carrying forward the study of history beyond the usual requirements of the class room. I make no apology for the sketches presented of the history of science, literature, art, and of moral and material decline or improvement. Professor Seeley, in his interesting book on The Expansion of England , is disposed to confine history to the civil community, and to the part of human well being which depends on that. "That a man in England," he tells us, "makes a scientific discovery or paints a picture, is not in itself an event in the history of England." But, of course, as this able writer himself remarks, "history may assume a larger or a narrower function;" and I am persuaded that to shut up history within so narrow bounds, is not expedient in a work designed in part to stimulate readers to wide and continued studies.

One who has long been engaged in historical study and teaching, if he undertakes to prepare such a work as the present, has occasion to traverse certain periods where previous investigations have made him feel more or less at home. Elsewhere at least his course must be to collate authorities, follow such as he deems best entitled to credit, and, on points of uncertainty, satisfy himself by recurrence to the original sources of evidence. Among the numerous works from which I have derived assistance, the largest debt is due, especially in the ancient and mediƦval periods, to Weber's Lehrbuch der Weltgeschichte , which (in its nineteenth edition, 1883) contains 2328 large octavo pages of well digested matter... Continue reading book >>

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