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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31

Zaba's Method of Studying Universal History

Zaba's Method of Studying Universal History.

Locke, the eminent English philosopher, said, "Memory is, as it were, the store-house of our ideas; for the narrow mind of man, not being capable of having many ideas under view and contemplation at once, it was necessary to have a repository to lay up those ideas, which at another time it might make use of. A methodical arrangement of the contents of such a repository enables its owner to find any article that he may require, with the utmost readiness!' Precisely, my method is calculated to arrange that very store-house in such an orderly manner as to enable its owner to find, with the utmost readiness and quickness, the required article. Such an advantage, surely, is worth possessing, even at the cost of extra trouble and application page 4 Let us consider only the number of subjects, both in science and literature, each voluminous and full of interest. The sphere of the human mind is not sufficiently large, nor life sufficiently long, to grapple with the many difficulties obstructing the pursuit of knowledge. But, as steam and telegraph help us in a certain degree to obtain victory over time and distance, in like manner, means should be found for accelerating the march of our progress in the acquisition of knowledge. For instance, the subject of Universal History demands close attention, both in the collection of facts and in their arrangement according to the order of time at winch each of them took place.

As no one can be admitted within the precincts of the philosophy of History without having his mind well stored with facts, which constitute the links of a chain of ideas, therefore, the knowledge of facts and of chronology becomes an absolute necessity. On that very account, the study of Universal History taxes the mind severely. Few indeed are successful, and even they, after long and unabated perseverance, feel the want of some guide to lead them on from point to paint.

Many an attempt was made to supply this want. The ingenuity of man did not remain inactive in devising plans for so important a purpose. Each small contribution to the common stock of human knowledge should receive its due attention; and I claim no other favor for any Method. It is simple—practical in its application, and admirably adapted to the study of Universal History in particular. It offers many advantages to the student of History. He is enabled ho examine, year by year, or century by century, without the least deviation from the order in which the events occurred. Order in the arrangement of thoughts, and in the classification of ideas, would give him an easy command over the whole subject, however voluminous. As the object of this book is simply to teach the Method, I will not unnecessarily swell its proportions. Let us, therefore, at once proceed to the explanation of it, and the manner in which the learner is to acquire it.

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The following Diagram forms the basis of the Method:


It is a square or, to make my explanation more familiar let us suppose that it is a bookcase, containing, ten shelves. Each shelf is divided into ten equal partitions, which run from left to right, as the Diagram shows. We have therefore, one hundred partitions enclosed within the square. In the application to the study of History, each partition represents one year. Consequently, on each shelf there are ten years and the whole forms One Century. Each year is subdivided into nine compartments, which arc also read from left to right. And these compartments convey to us each a distinct notion of tine character of the event which took place in that year. The meaning of the Symbols located in the compartments is as follows:

1st.—War. E. Battle. Civil War. 2nd.—Conquest. Acquisition by Treaty or Marriage. Loss. 3rd.—Calamities, Plagues, Fire, Persecution. E Destruction by Earthquakes. Destruction by War. 4th.—Eminent Men. E Women. Birth. Death. 5th.—Sovereign Division of Sovereign Power. Emperors of the East.

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6th, _ Geographical Discovery. _ Scientific Discovery. x Industry. 7th, _ Parliament, Diet, Council, Congress. _ Enactment of a Law. x Publication of a Book. 8th, _ Revolution. _ Uusuccessful Insurrection, Riot. x Conspiracy. 9th, _ Peace. _ A Treaty concluded in Time of Peace. x A League.

Besides the above nine compartments, there is one Symbol more—which is placed within the year like a border, box to represent remarkable events having no specific reference to the nine compartments.

After the explanation of the shelves, their partitions, and the Symbols of each compartment, the attention is drawn, first, to the horizontal line, which divides the Diagram into two equal parts, and is called the Middle Line. In the flight of our observations, that line will be a resting point, from which our survey o the localities on each side of it will be easier and quicker. Secondly, the perpendicular line, which divides the shelves into two equal parts, leaving five years on each side, is of the utmost importance, Indeed, the eye should be always kept on that line, which is called the Central line, as it will give us the fullest command over the whole Diagram, and enable us to convert rapidly each locality into the number it represents.

The following Diagram demonstrates the utility of that rule:


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As we cast our eye upon the fifth partition of the first shelf, which is on the left side of the central line, and look down to the bottom of the line, we see that each partition of each shelf, occupying the some position, represents the number 5. Thus, on the first shelf will be simply 5; on the second, 5 also; but we must add to it the whole first shelf, namely, 10—it will be 15; on the third, 25, etc. Hence, if a symbol is placed in any of those partitions, we perceive at a glance that it is 5, to which it is necessary to add the number of complete shelves above it. On the other side of the central line are all the sixes. Then, on the left side of the central line, as we recede from it, are 4, 3, 2, 1; and after the sixes, going forward, 7, 8, 9, 10. The plainness of this arrangement speaks for itself. In order that the learner should not loose sight of the Central line, which will aid him principally in being able to call at will the Diagram before his mind's eye, the rules of the exercise are framed to suit the object in view—and the beginners should literally adhere to them. Thus, though History will be the subject of our study, let it be looked upon, not as the end, but the means for the acquisition of the knowledge of the method. Consequently, no anxiety should be felt to retain in memory, by its ordinary grasp, either the names of events or the dates in connection with them. Instead of that, concentrate your attention upon the localities, the symbols, their color and form. In the course of lessons, localities should never be mentioned by the number they happen to represent, but in reference to the position they occupy relatively to the central line. By these means the arrangement of the Diagram will in is short time become familiar; and the mind, assuming its form, will keep the store-house of thoughts and ideas in perfect order.

Now, let us give a practical illustration of the manner in which the study is pursued. The learner is provided with a board, containing a sufficient number of plain diagrams to form out of them a Historical Chart of the nineteen centuries of the Christian era; also, with a box of large and small crystals of various colors. In the first page 8 century (see the Historical Chart) three colors are required Black, for the History of the Roman Empire; Blue, for the History of the Christian Church; Red, for British History. A Diagram of the first century, filled with the symbols, is placed before him with a key, giving explanation of their meaning and the names of events. Then commence as follows: First, we name the color; next, the shelf; then the partition, or its relative position to the central line; finally, the compartment. Symbol after symbol is to be copied with crystals upon the board of plain diagrams. First, what color? a small black—on what shelf? It being on the right side of the central line (for counting is of course done from left to right), and as the mention of the numbers should be suppressed, we shall therefore say, one beyond the central line. Now, in which compartment ? Second compartment. Its meaning? Conquest: black color? Roman history; read; a conquest was made by the Romans. We require now to know, what conquest? The key supplies the name: Judea. That name is attached to the symbol, and its reading will be complete: a conquest was made by the Romans of Judea. The number of locality G, in the year G. What do we see next? a small black. On what shelf on the same shelf; what partition, and its relative position to the central line The position is indicated by the number of partitions distant from the central line. It will be therefore said: four beyond the central line. In which compartment I first. Its meaning? war; but, as the form of the symbol occupies half only of that compartment, it is a battle; therefore, it is a battle fought by the Romans. With whom? The name is added from the key: with Herman, a German prince; year? 9. Again, a small black: on the second shelf, in which partition It being on the left side of the central line, counting from right to left, it will be said: two before the central line. Consequently, all distances on the left side of the central line will be called before; and on the right side, beyond the central line.

Let us return to our last symbol. We have said, two page 9 before the central line—which compartment? in the fifth compartment—its meaning? Sovereign—a Roman sovereign—name I Tiberius. Tiberius began to reign in the year? read as you see, without diverting your attention by thinking of number: locality shows plainly 14. Again, another small black on the same shelf, four beyond the central line, in the fourth compartment. Its meaning? eminent man—it being a straight cross—it means, death of au eminent man. Name? Germanicus. Year? 19. Next, a small black, on the third shelf, one beyond the central line, in the fourth compartment; name, Pontius Pilate, in the year 26, was made Governor of Judea, which is above his head on the first shelf, by Caesar Tiberius, who rests on the second shelf. Further, large blue, five beyond the central line; or, for shortness, it may be said, at the end of the same shelf. Blue? History of the Christian Church; large symbol? remarkable event; name? Baptism of Christ; year, 30. Who was then Governor of Judea? We retrace our steps, and stop at the symbol occupying the fourth compartment on the same shelf: Pontius Pilate; year, 26. Who was then Caesar? We go back, and stop at the symbol occupying the fifth compartment on the second shelf: Tiberius; year, 14.

Thus we acquire a habit of order in the arrangement of our thoughts. In that manner we pursue our study to the end of the first century. Then the crystals are removed, and the same process repeated twice or three times. After half a dozen lessons the learner should examine himself, not in the dates and names of the events, but whether he can see mentally the organization of the diagram and the color and form of the symbols, also their relative position to the Central line. No sooner can his mind realize all this, than his memory will become quick and ready, and the progress in the acquisition of knowledge will be rapid, easy, and free from any mist or confusion. As soon as the eye is sufficiently familiar with the first century, extend the practice to the second: and so on, until you embrace the whole range of the chart. Beginners generally feel some doubt page 10 as to the possibility of their recollecting the names of the events; but without entering into any explanation of the invisible Workings of the human mind, I can speak from experience, that seeming difficulty will imperceptibly disappear, if the learners strictly adhere to the rules laid down.

As to the history before the Christian Era, the computation of time will depend upon the point from which it will be started. For example, if we wish to know how many years before the Christian Era the triumvir of Julius Caesar existed? in that case the century in which we find Caesar is the first century before Christ—and the last year of the said century will be the first year before Christ—consequently, We reverse the order of things, counting from right to left, and climb up to the point required. But when we wish to ascertain how many years after the foundation of Rome? then, we start from the foundation of Rome, and our course will be a continuous descent until we arrive at Julius Caesar—that is to say, our counting will be like in the Christian Era from left to right.

In conclusion, I consider it my sacred duty to do justice to the memory of my deceased friend and companion of arms, General Bern, who together with me, devoted his literary talents to this subject—But from 1848, the work was left to me alone, and I hope to have succeeded in rendering this method practical as to its extensive application in the province of education.

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