Biographical sketches of thirty-three of the most famous characters from the age of the Renaissance in Europe to the late nineteenth century. Included are well-known greats such as Charles V, Solyman the Magnificent, Drake, Raleigh, Richelieu, Louis XIV, Newton, Peter the Great, Washington, Pitt, and Napoleon as well as many others.
WILLIAM PITT, 1ST EARL OF CHATHAM.
It should be carefully noted that this little volume is the fourth and last in a series written for the express purpose of creating a deeper interest in the study of History.
These four volumes are entitled respectively "Famous Men of Greece;" "Famous Men of Rome;" "Famous Men of the Middle Ages;" and "Famous Men of Modern Times."
The very titles of these books convey at once, both to the teacher and the pupil, that the method of teaching History here pursued is by approaching it through the realm of Biography; and it is not too much to say that, in this respect, the previous volumes have been eminently successful.
There is something in life that makes its own personal appeal to life. The living man—be he soldier, sailor, statesman or hero—forms a fixed and abiding center around which the pupil can gather the prominent events of the country to which the man belongs.
The Conquest of Granada, without the presence and interest of Ferdinand and Isabella; the Discovery of America, without the life story of Christopher Columbus; the splendid achievements of Galileo and Newton, apart from the thrilling incidents in the lives of the men who made them; or the mere record of the winning of Italian Independence or of our own Civil War, without some knowledge of Garibaldi and Lincoln; these will not long endure in the mind of the average pupil. But when coupled with the story of the sufferings and struggles, the sorrows and the joys, of the men who were the living heart and soul of these movements, the narratives become infinitely more fascinating, and take a deeper hold upon the mind, memory and heart of each individual student; and this holds true throughout the entire series.
It has been forcibly pointed out in the preface to the earlier volumes of this series, that "the child almost unconsciously identifies himself with these great heroes of the past, finds himself imagining what he would do if placed in a like position, and living their lives over again in his own."
There can be no quicker method of gaining the pupil's attention, and no surer way of holding it, than that which is here attempted; and this is but another way of saying that there is not, and cannot be, any truer or better method of acquainting young people with the great facts of history than that which gives to them a knowledge of the men by whom the history has been made.
The numerous and beautiful illustrations running through all these books will also be of real help in this respect.
The study of history through biography is as natural as is the attainment of growth and strength through the use of proper and nourishing food. The one is the logical outcome of the other.
To feel the thrill of life in history destroys all the dryness and tedium of the study, and is a valuable help to teacher and pupil alike.
These books, following the recommendations of the foremost educators of our times, have been prepared with this end in view; and it is both hoped and believed that they will serve this useful purpose.
Acknowledgments are due from the authors to the Rev. W. F. Markwick, D. D., for valuable assistance in editing and revising the manuscript and in reading the proofs.