Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885, March 01, 1879, Page 56, Image 8

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    : i-i.-jui.iJBI
How miuiy popular beliefs, even though
supported by great names, Imvo to give
way to the stern facts of the statistical
table! For years the American people
have willingly believed that the Indians
are gradually disapearing, and School,
craft has expressed the belief in these
"I will wenp for a season, In Illiterates fed.
For my kindred nro gone to the hills of the tlend;
But they died not of hunger, or lingering decay
Thohand of the white inun hath swept them away.',
Hut, unfortunately for the truth of these,
as well as of equally beautiful lines by
other poets, a prominent official of the
National Board of Education has proved
from statistics that the long cherbhed
theory must, be greatly modi lied and
probably abandoned altogether. M.
This is an age of close and original
investigation. While shams are being
mercilessly exposed, nothing else, how.
ever time honored it may be, is exempt
from the critical examination of the icono
clast. A notable phase o( this movement
of the age is the zeal with which the many
stories that have delighted us in child
hood are attacked and their authenticity
dissipated. The keynote to this warfare
is evidently the determination to spare
nothing that cannot withstand the sever
est scrutiny.
The story of William Tell, after it has
long held an honored place in cur school
readers, has been formally condemned as
a myth by a scientific society of Geneva.
The romantic story of the saving of John
Smith's life by Pocohontns has shared a
similar fate, and it is also declared that
George Washington never ruined a cherry
tree with his hatchet.
When, about thirty years since the mi.
thenticity of Shakespeare was first seri
ously doubted, the presumptuous sceptic
was regarded witli astonishment. But (lis
belief in this gained ground and men arc
not now wanting who dismiss, with the
assumption of positive certainly, the idea
Hint Shakespeare wrote the immortal
plays that bear his name.
In how short a lime will it be denounced
as an absurd fiction that Henry Wilson
was ever a shoemaker? If we mistake
not, the story of Gen. Putnam's adventure
with the wolf has already been assailed.
Now, gentlemen, do you not carry the
matter a little too far? We should not
receive as true everything that history
tells, but if all records and traditions are
to be subjected to the most rigid tests, we
fear that but a mere trille will remain for
the historical sceptic to receive as authen
tic. Many historical events may bo true
although no longer capable of absolute
proof. Historical precedents lose their
regulative influence in proportion as their
foundations are undermined.