The Dawn of History: An Introduction to Pre-Historic Study

Charles Francis Keary The Dawn of History: An Introduction to Pre-Historic Study
Рік видання:
2016 р.
Project Gutenberg
Charles Francis Keary
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The present edition of the Dawn of History is a considerable enlargement upon the former one, as may be judged from the fact that the former, including the Appendix, contained only 231 pages, whereas the present edition contains 357. These enlargements have chiefly affected the first four chapters with the ninth and tenth, and, generally speaking, the chapters for which the editor is wholly responsible. He felt himself quite incapable of improving chapters eight, eleven, and thirteen, which can hardly fail to be recognized as the best in the volume; and, unhappily, the hand which wrote them—that of Annie Keary—is no longer able to revise or alter. Some slight corrections therefore have been made, in accordance with the advance of these branches of study during recent years, but nothing more. No more were needed, for (in the case of the chapters on writing, for example) further research has only tended to establish more firmly the conclusions here accepted. The chapters on early social life (vi., vii.), again, did not seem to the editor to require more than slight corrections.

In the chapters dealing with religion and mythology, it was not to be expected that the writers could avoid treading upon controversial ground; but as almost every proposition upon these matters is disputed by some one, it was not possible to adopt the plan of putting forward only those facts and theories which may be considered as established. Some disputed points are discussed in the Appendix. Even on the subject of language the views of one (small) school of philologists had to be relegated in like manner to the Appendix.

So far for the character of the alterations upon the first edition. The new matter introduced, whenever it has not been of the nature of a correction of the old, has been aimed in the direction of making more clear the processes through which the human mind has gone in the acquisition of each fresh capacity—more clear the extent to which each successive phase of pre-historic life has been built upon the preceding phase—more clear the process by which mankind seems to have gone through the stages of language-formation, and so forth. This has been the direction in which the editor has sought to improve upon the earlier edition: rather than in loading his pages by a greater accumulation of facts, to make the relationship of the various facts to one another plainer and more easy to remember; in one word, to appeal to the reason much more than to the memory.

This is by no means the principle on which a great majority of introductions and manuals seem to have been written, but upon a principle almost the reverse of this.

Finally, it has never been lost sight of, that the present volume is meant to leave the reader, so to say, at the door of history. It is not designed to be an anthropology, or a history of the growth of faculty among mankind at large, but only a pre-historic study, an account of the ascertainable doings and thoughts on the part of the people who have gone to make up the historic races of the world. Even the stone-age civilization is treated, not as a phase of culture in the abstract, but as an element of the growth in culture of the historic nations of our planet.

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