276 Old-time Schools and School-books
Q. Why is farming the beft bufiness a man can do ?
A. Becaufe it is the moft neceffary, the moft helthy, the moft innocent, and moft agreeable employment of men.
Q. Why is farming the moft innocent employment ?
A. Becaufe farmers have fewer temptations to be wicked than other men. They live much by themfelves, fo that they do not fee fo many bad examples as men in cities do. They have but little dealing with others, fo that they have fewer opportunities to cheat than other claffes of men. Befides, the flocks and herds which furround the farmer, the frolicks of the harmlefs lambs, the fongs of the cheerful birds, and the face of nature's works, all prefent to the hufbandman examples of innocence, beauty, fimplicity and order, which ought to imprefs good fentiments on the mind and lead the heart to God.
One of the most popular of the early readers was Caleb Bingham's The American Preceptor, Boston, 1794. The preface declares that —
In making felections for the following work, a preference has been given to the productions of American genius. The compiler, however, has not been wholly confined to America; but has extracted from approved writers of different ages and countries. Convinced of the impropriety of inftilling falfe notions into the minds of children, he has not given place to romantic fiction. The compiler pledges him-felf, that this book contains neither a word nor a fentiment which would u raife a blufh on the cheek of modefty."
Most of the early reading books drew their materials largely from British sources, and American contributions were for a long time mainly from the speeches of the Revolutionary orators. Typical subjects were: Frailty of Life, Benevolence of