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The present volume is only intended as a partial remedy of the evils attending both these modes of teaching history. By impressing the mind vividly with a few prominent subjects, several important things may be accomplished; the interest of the reader may be enlisted ; a certain amount of useful information may be stored in the memory; and a number of positions may be established, which will operate like guideboards, ever after, to direct the inquirer through the labyrinths in which an extended narrative is sure to inclose him.
This portion of the Old World occupies the northwestern corner of the Eastern Continent, of which it forms a little more than one eighth part.
Its extent is 3,900,000 square miles, being about twice that of the United States. Its present population is estimated at 230 millions, or about one fourth 'part of the population of the globe. Its name is derived from Europa, daughter of an ancient king of Tyre.
Though the last portion of the Continent to be settled, Europe is the first in respect to the intelligence, skill, wealth, and power of its inhabitants. It has, in fact, long been the seat and centre of civilization, from which light and knowledge have radiated over the world. At no period of human history, has any country displayed such progress in the arts, such advances in science, such diffusion of knowledge, as are now witnessed among the leading nations of Europe. Neither Greece nor Rome, in their highest pitch of glory, rivalled, in any considerable degree, the spectacle of political, military, religious, and social exaltation presented by a single European power - that of Great Britain at the present day.
It is generally admitted, that Asia was the cradle of the human family, and that Europe, as well as Africa, received its first inhabitants from that quarter. But the history of the first settlements in Europe must ever remain shrouded in obscurity. “About 2000 years before Christ, certain bands of emigrants from the Asiatic borders of the Mediterranean Sea began to visit Greece, which they found already occupied by various tribes of savages. These were called Pelasgians, and lived in caves, fed upon roots and wild fruit, and clothed themselves in the skins of wild beasts.
About 752, B. C., we are told that Romulus founded Rome, in the centre of Italy ; but already the country around was occupied by various tribes, and one of these, the Etruscans, who possessed the territory now called Tuscany, had made considerable progress in civilization. About five centuries previous to the Christian era, the Carthaginians had colonies in Spain,