302 Old-time Schools and School-books
of the early district-school period. Rules were omnipresent in it. There was indeed a rule for nearly every page, and many of them were calculated to tax the understanding of a pupil severely to grasp their meaning. Some of the problems, too, required for their mastery a great deal of genuine mathematical capacity.
A majority of the district-school pupils, including practically all the girls, ciphered only through the four fundamentals of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, with a short excursion into vulgar fractions. They won distinction among their mates if they penetrated into the mysteries of the Rule of Three ; and to cipher through " Old Pike ,: was to be accounted a prodigy.
The manuscript of this first American arithmetic was ready in 1785, and after the manner of early school-book authors, both in this country and in England, " Nicholas Pike, Esq.," submitted it in that form to various worthies to get their opinions as to its merits. They responded with polite commendations, which, as was usual, were printed in the book. For many years after the volume was issued, it held the foremost place among text-books of its class. A preface in 1793 to an abridged edition, especially prepared for use in the public schools, speaks of the larger book as " That celebrated work, which is now ufed as a claffical book in all the Newengland Univerfities.,,
Here are a few items from the table of contents that will give some idea of the ground Pike attempted to cover; —