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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/270

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282 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Some philosopher of the modern school has announced that a lie plausibly told and strenuously maintained is often more potent than the truth, and this appears to have been the moral axiom by which certain historians of political and social events in this country of ours have been guided in their works.

Of the biographical- enclyclopedias, in which persons of whose existence we never heard are recorded as * 'American Statesman," while George Mason, of Virginia, and many others of almost equal eminence are noticed only as "local politicians," and of the more imposing histtiries of the United States which have obtained general currency, we do not complain, or do no more than point out follies in a passing review. But, of one class of such literature we have com- plained, and have done more than complain, we have rooted it out from our public schools because of its tendency to inculcate false- hoods which were vicious in their intent and pernicious in their consequences. The aphorism is attributed to Fletcher of Saltoun: 4< Let me write the songs of a people, and I care not who makes their Laws." The writers of these meretricious books, with hope of more far-reaching results, might, with more of practical wisdom, say: "Let me write the school books of -a people, and I care not who writes their songs or their Laws."

To no man in the land is the credit for this work of wholesome expurgation in the South more due than to Hunter McGuire.

The engrossing demands of his professional life, on its many sides, as practitioner, operator, instructor, founder and writer, had pre- vented more than a superficial and passing thought, by Dr. McGuire, of the alarming extent and growth of this mischievous evil. It has been stated that while Dr. McGuire was ' spending a vacation at Bar Harbour a few years ago in company with that gallant soldier and gentleman, Captain John Cussons, their talk was of the efforts of Northern writers and their friends to pervert the world's judgment and secure a world verdict in their favor, and yet more, of the threatening danger that success would attend their efforts to secure a verdict from Southern children against their fathers, through the instrumentality of blinded Southern teachers subjects upon which Captain Cussons had already written some trenchant articles. Dr. McGuire then for the first time studied Barnes' History, the most notorious instrument then being used for our injury and the profit of Northern publishers. Some desultory effort had been made in Virginia, during preceding years, for the removal of this book. These gentlemen resolved that on their return to Virginia such a