226 Old-time Schools and School-books
than most books of the period. It had a good deal of variety and sparkle, and the author in enumerating its virtues in his preface says that with it " Parents who have little skill in teaching can learn their children to read, where there are no schools, and adults with little assistance can learn by themselves." He does not begin the lessons with the alphabet as was usual in books of this sort. Instead, he requires the pupils " to learn letters only to make out definite words." The lessons start with a picture of a rat, and the author directs the teacher to " gather all the a, b, c, and a, b, ab scholars round him, and ask them, c What is the first picture?' c A rat,' say they. c Well, here is his name under him. You are now to learn to read his name.' Then they were drilled to recognize the three letters that formed the word.
On looking along through the book it is noticeable that the statements and questions in the lessons are often trivial and irrelevant, and the happy-go-lucky way in which several subjects are introduced and mixed up in the same lesson must have proved rather confusing to the youthful mind. For instance, this picture of a melancholy-looking mule is accompanied by the remarks that —
Mules are good to pull. Mules are mute. They make no noise. Use the mule well.