THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER
O RIGINALLY a "primer" was a book of private devotions. The earliest books thus named contained devotions for the hours, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, a few psalms, and some simple instruction in Christian knowledge. They date back almost to the time when type-printing was invented. Before that time the only way of producing books had been by laboriously copying them with brush or pen, letter by letter. Learning, and even knowledge how to read, were confined to the very few. But type-printing reduced the cost of books so materially that they were possible in the homes of the people, and it at once became desirable that the rudiments of language should be put within reach of the many who now wished to learn to read. In consequence an alphabet was often included in the little devotional primers, and this led presently to giving the name "primer" to all elementary books for the use of children.
The contents of the old-time primers changed, but for hundreds of years the teaching of religion and reading continued united in them. No other way could have been devised to mould the religious