Preface to Thomas Peacock's Tutor's Assistant

Thomas Peacock was George Peacock's father. He wrote two books, both mathematics texts, namely The tutor's assistant modernised (1791) and The Practical Measurer (1798). Both books were popular and ran to several editions which contain further material. We give below the Preface to The Practical Measurer. However, first we give its full title:

Thomas Peacock, The tutor's assistant modernised: or, A regular system of practical arithmetic: comprising of all the modern improvements in that art, that are necessary for the man of business and the practical scholar (1791).

My primary intention for composing the following sheets, was, that I might have a book of Arithmetic, comprising a system of rules and examples adapted to the capacity of young scholars, containing the most useful improvements in that art, and fitted for the schoolmaster and man of business. When it was finished. and ready for the press, I thought it might be useful to others, as well as myself, who are engaged in the arduous task of educating youth. This induced me to give it to the public. How far my system may merit the countenance of my brother schoolmasters, and the approbation of the public, time only can determine. I aspire not after fame. Placed in an obscure corner, my highest ambition is to discharge the manifold duties of my profession with integrity, and to do all the service I possibly can to my flock, my pupils, and my own family.

I have studied to express the rules with perspicuity and conciseness, and to illustrate each particular rule with examples adapted to the capacities both of the young tyro, and the more adult scholar. Such observations as were not so immediately necessary to the pupil, I have thrown into the notes, and I have added a few hints to the teacher, under the title of remarks. I have arranged the materials as methodically as I could, omitted every unnecessary rule and remark, and completed the whole in as narrow a compass as the nature of my plan would permit. Whenever any hint struck me, in the course of twenty years experience, I endeavoured to make it my own: fully sensible that the best mode of improvement is to adopt every useful observation we can collect, from every friend we converse with, and from every book that falls into our hands.

To point out the defects of other publications, and the merits of my own, would be to assume a most ungrateful task. Such as it is I give it to the public, and will only beg leave to add, that any friendly hint for the future improvement of the work will be most gratefully acknowledged.

Thomas Peacock
Denton, near Darlington
March 21, 1791.

Last Updated January 2015