[To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read”]

[To the introductory page for this book]

The Well-Bred Boy
by a lady of Boston (1844 [1839])

One of the pleasures of early etiquette and conduct of life books is learning not only ideals of behavior, but what people were doing that needed to be corrected. The Well-Bred Boy presents us with the activities of an ideal boy: quiet, respectful, thoughtful. But the anonymous author also is careful to include how a boy shouldn’t act. Having arrived at church, Alfred goes quietly to his pew, “not loitering about the door to chat with other boys, compare their clothes, or giggle and play.” Sitting down for a meal, he waits for others to be seated, takes one of the remaining chairs, and eats only what is placed before him, instead of insisting on a certain chair and calling out to be served the food he likes best.

The Well-Bred Boy is etiquette advice in the form of a novel—not an unusual format for didactic literature. Attempting to lure young readers into nonfiction with the promise of a story has a long history; Samuel Griswold Goodrich used the technique so successfully that his narrator, Peter Parley, was one of the most popular characters in 19th-century literature.

Here, the story is a little less enthralling. Readers follow Alfred through the school day, to church, on a picnic, to a lecture. Alfred is never anything other than thoughtful, obliging, polite, respectful, kind, quiet; and those around him are never anything other than quiet, kind, respectful, polite, obliging, thoughtful. The kind of advice given is useful (plan ahead; don’t procrastinate) and occasionally strange: the admonition not to overeat becomes almost an admonition against drinking alcohol when sweets are involved, as imbibing “a great quantity” of sweets leads to a sort of hangover the next day.

The book’s most interesting aspect is the glimpse of life in white middle-class 19th-century America. Alfred and his friends create a slope for coasting their sleds and arrange to collect snowballs for a snowball fight. The family takes a train trip to the country. Alfred’s sisters have a little party with their friends. Alfred’s friends discuss watching firefighters.

Other sequences are less impressive. When Alfred goes to a lecture on primates, what appears to be the entire lecture is reproduced. When Alfred reads a chapter in his bible, the entire passage is copied into the book. Without this kind of padding, a brief book would have been even briefer.

Like many early books for children, The Well-Bred Boy has a long and eccentric publishing history. Originally published at 94 pages with two full-page illustrations in 1839 (Boston: William Crosby and Co.), it was reprinted in 1844 at 94 pages with only one full-page illustration (Boston: T. H. Carter and Company) and printed again in 1845, apparently from the 1844 plates (Boston: William Crosby). The book was in 1850 paired with its sequel—The Well-Bred Girl—as a sort of gift book with a presentation plate at the front.

In the process, the dropped full-page illustration appears to have been ignored. Stereotype plates appear to have been created from the 94-page 1839 edition; the 94-page 1844, 1845, and 1850 editions are exactly alike, with all missing a leaf comprising pages 73 and 74, though the text is unbroken.

What was on pages 73 and 74? Apparently, the second full-page illustration in the 1839 edition. Parts of two chapters of The Well-Bred Boy were reprinted in Youth’s Companion in 1842: the opening pages (11 February 1842; p. 157) and chapter 7, “The Party of Pleasure” (18 February 1842; p. 161). Youth’s Companion includes an illustration for their reprinting of “The Party of Pleasure” which is missing in the 1844, 1845, and 1850 copies of the book I’ve been able to consult. The Youth’s Companion illustration seems to be the one originally printed on page 73 or 74.

The result is that this transcription is one of my more wide-ranging Frankenbooks: the 1844 edition with the illustration from the February 18 Youth’s Companion inserted as page 73. The few notices and reviews of the book are on a separate page.

The Well-Bred Boy. (Boston: T. H. Carter and Company, 1844)


a boy reads a book in a bedroom

[title page]


an Elizabethan man and boy speak to a shepherd boy


[copyright page]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1844,
By T. H. Carter,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

[p. 5]



The Morning, … 7


The School, … 18


The Evening, … 32


Sunday, … 41


Lectures, … 48


The Sick Chamber, … 59

The Wren and the Bear, … 61

The Story of the Three Brothers, … 66

p. 6


The Party of Pleasure, … 72

Acrostic, … 77


Conclusion, … 82

[p. 7]





Alfred had now reached the age of ten years. He was no longer obliged to sleep in a room under the care of some one older than himself; but his mother had caused a chamber to be fitted up for his own use, and furnished with every thing necessary for his comfort and convenience. He had drawers for his clothes, and these he was expected to keep in nice order. He had shelves for his little library, and on these his books were always found neatly placed, and never lying in disorder about the room. There was a place prepared for every thing, and he had been so well taught, that it was more easy for him to keep

p. 8

every thing in its place than to allow his articles of dress, or his playthings, to remain in disorder about his room.

He was a very careful boy, and his parents, having found by his constant good conduct that they might depend upon him, had intrusted to his care a neat watch, which he wore in the daytime, and placed under his pillow at night. This enabled him to know exactly the time when he was to get up, go to school, and do all that his friends expected and desired him to do. Although he was at an age when some boys would forget to wind up a watch, or would toss it about in play, and ruin it, yet he was so very well bred, and of such an excellent disposition and character, that he never forgot to wind it up at a proper hour, and never made a foolish display of it, by taking it out of his pocket unnecessarily, to show to other boys, and never took pride to himself for being allowed to wear a watch.

In the morning, as soon as he awoke, he looked at his darling watch; for, though he was not proud of it, he was very fond of it, and, finding it was the proper hour for him to

p. 9

get up, he did not allow himself to lie a few moments longer to stretch himself and perhaps fall asleep again, but jumped immediately out of bed, and dressed himself quickly, though not carelessly. He did not stop, while he was dressing, to look at any book, or handle any of his playthings, but went on steadily, washing himself with great care, cleaning his teeth and nails nicely, brushing his hair and his clothes with great exactness. There was a furnace in the cellar of his father’s house, by means of which hot air was carried round into all the apartments, so that, even in winter, his room was so warm that he could do all this with comfort. But little boys who do not enjoy this luxury, if they do not stop to play, but dress themselves as quick as they can, having taken care, the night before, to place all their things so that they can find them easily, can do all that is necessary and proper to enable them to look neat when they enter the breakfast-room, without suffering from cold. Their teeth may chatter a little, and their fingers be rather stiff before they get through their morning labor; but it will do them no hurt,

p. 10

and, if they rub and brush away smartly, they will find it very good exercise.

After Alfred had finished dressing himself, and placed his night-clothes in the place which was prepared for them, he sat down to read a portion of the Bible. His mother had marked several passages which she thought might be useful to him, and the one he turned to, on the morning of the day which I am going to describe, was in the third chapter of First Kings, the fifth verse.

“In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed to thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

“And now, O Lord god, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father; and I am but a little child; I know not how to go out or to come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people, which thou hast

p. 11

chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered for multitude. Give, therefore, thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, that I may discover between good and bad, for who is able to judge this thy so great people?

“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said to him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and has not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment,

“Behold, I have done according to thy word: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

“And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

“And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will

p. 12

lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke; and behold it was a dream.”

After Alfred had finished reading this passage, he sat and thought about it for a few moments. It pleased him very much. He thought it was very good in Solomon, at the moment when he was made king, and when he was tempted to feel proud that he was raised up above the rest of his family and his nation, that then he called himself a little child before God, and humbly prayed him to give him wisdom and judgment.

He thought that this passage was a lesson to him, to teach him what he should pray for; and when, after a few moments, he knelt down to say his morning prayers, he did not do it in a careless, thoughtless manner, merely saying over the words of a prayer, but he begged with his whole heart that God would give him wisdom to know what was his duty, and that he would give him strength to do it, and help him to become not only as good as Solomon, but to follow, as far as it was possible for a weak child to do so, the example of Jesus Christ.

p. 13

Having finished his morning devotion, Alfred walked to the window. It had snowed during the night, and the ground was all over white with snow. It was the first snow of the winter, and Alfred was very glad to see it. He had received from his father as a present, a few days before, a most capital sled, very neatly painted, with the name “Hecla,” after one of Captain Parry’s discovery ships, in large letters on the top. The runners were finely ironed, and it had a very strong rope of exactly the right length.

Alfred ran quickly down stairs; he was about to hasten into the parlor, and tell all the family how glad he was to see the snow, and how he should get out his new sled; but, as he reached the door, he remembered that it was very rude to burst noisily into the room, and perhaps interrupt some one who might be speaking. He therefore opened the door gently, and shut it carefully after him, and did not say a word until he found there was no one speaking. The family were all glad to see Alfred so bright and happy, and his older brother William prom-

p. 14

ised to help him make a coast as soon as school was over in the morning.

Alfred went to the closet, and took down and put on the apron he was accustomed to wear when he ate his meals. He was not ashamed of it, as some silly boys are, for he knew very well he was apt to soil his clothes in eating, and he thought it was much more like a man to appear neat after breakfast was over, than to wear a spotted and dirty jacket, which he could not help doing if he ate his breakfast without an apron. Alfred’s usual seat was very near his father, and he liked very much to sit there, and usually he took his place there when the rest of the family seated themselves at table. But on the morning of which I am speaking, a friend of Alfred’s mother was to breakfast with them, and he found that, when the family seated themselves at the table, some one else was in his place. He waited a moment until he saw those who were older and those who were younger than himself fixed, and then he took the place which seemed most proper for him. He did not immediately call out for the particular thing which he fancied most

p. 15

upon the table, but he waited until his mother, or one of his sisters, asked him what he should like to have. He was careful to observe in what manner his father and mother, and his older brothers and sisters, held their plates when they reached them forward to be helped, and how they managed their knives and forks, that he might do the same. He did not say much at table, but listened to the conversation of those who were older. It was quite entertaining this morning, for the lady who was visiting his mother described some amusing things she had seen at a fancy-ball, the night before.

This was a dancing party, where the ladies and gentlemen had dressed themselves in a manner different from what they usually did. Some ladies were dressed as shepherdesses, and had crooks in their hands like those with which shepherds drive their flocks. Some gentlemen were dressed like knights, and wore shining armor. Some ladies were dressed to represent gypsys, [sic] and pretended to tell fortunes: and one gentleman had a very odd fancy; he was covered with a frame representing a house, with windows

p. 16

and doors painted on the sides of it. As it was not heavy, he supported it on his shoulders, and walked inside it. This made people laugh very much to see a house walking about, and now and then a voice coming out from it. The children laughed much at this description, and at many other funny things which the lady told them she had seen. Some children, when they are at table, are whispering to each other, or talking over some little matters of their own all the time, and do not pay attention to what older people are saying. Perhaps, by their noisy chatter, they prevent older people from talking at all; but if they would be quiet, they would frequently find the conversation very entertaining, because at table it is generally of a light and amusing kind, such as any one can understand.

After he had finished his breakfast, Alfred observed, by the clock in the room, that the hour had come when it was time for him to go to school. He was sorry to leave the agreeable conversation which was going on in the parlor, but he was always very punctual, and never allowed himself to be a moment

p. 17

behind the time. He had prepared all the books he was to take to school, and placed them, before breakfast, in a place where he could take them without a moment’s delay, and he now went quietly out of the room, without making any bustle. He spoke in a low voice to his mother before he left the apartment, and told her he was going to school; he then shut the door after him without noise, and proceeded to prepare himself for school: this he did, carefully tying on his tippet and buttoning up his coat; for though he had not been brought up to be delicate and afraid of the cold, he had been told to dress himself in a proper manner for him, when he was to go out in very severe weather. Having dressed himself properly, he took his books and proceeded on his way to school.

[p. 18]



Though Alfred was careful not to be late at school, he was also careful not to be too early. He had been taught, and he had seen himself, when, at times, he had by accident reached the school before the hour at which it was to begin, that the boys were very apt to get into mischief, to become quarrelsome, and fight, and push each other, and perhaps break windows in the neighborhood, when they collected before school.

Alfred arrived just as the school was opened. He took off his cap and tippet as quickly as possible, placed them where they ought to be, and then sat down to his books. Though Alfred loved to play as well as any of the boys, yet, when he entered the school-room door, he tried to leave all thoughts of his play behind him. He did every thing he could to fix his attention on what he was

p. 19

studying. When he was trying to learn his spelling lesson, he would resolve that he would study each word a certain number of times; he would mark down with his pencil on a piece of paper, or a slate, each time that he studied it, so as to make sure that he got the right number. Sometimes he would resolve that he would not look off his book until he had studied over his lesson a certain number of times, of which he would keep an account with his pencil.

When he was writing, he would make believe that he was teaching another person to write, and that he must form each letter with the greatest care, as, if he did not, the person whom he imagined to be looking on would learn to do them wrong.

When he was doing his sums, he paid the greatest attention to what he was doing, never looked about the school-room, which would make him forget whether he had one to carry or not, but kept his eyes fixed on his slate, and took the greatest pains to make his figures neatly, that he might not mistake one for another, when he came to add up his sums.

p. 20

When the class was called on to recite, he laid aside his slate, or whatever he was using at the time, with as little noise as possible, took his place quietly in the class, listened with the greatest attention to the manner in which the master pronounced the word, if it were the spelling lesson, and if, after all his efforts to get his lesson, he happened to miss, which he sometimes did, he did not cry or show any great marks of vexation, but, thinking he should take better care another time, he would resign his place to the one who had succeeded in spelling the word with a good grace. He was very careful not to say any unkind things to the person who had got above him, such as that he should not let him stay there long, or that it was not fair that he should go up, or other speeches that are sometimes made by passionate and ill-bred boys.

At the recess, when the boys were allowed to go out for a few moments, he was careful not to stamp down stairs with a great noise, and when down run away so far as that he could not return to the school in season, but played pleasantly in the play-ground with the

p. 21

boys, taking care to avoid the disagreeable practices, which he disliked in other boys, of pulling off the caps of their companions, and throwing them over the fence, pulling each other’s hair and ears, &c.; but he, being a thoughtful boy, never did any thing to another which he reflected would be unpleasant to himself. He was also careful to take the part of the little boys, if any of the large ones undertook to tease or trouble them. Alfred was always so pleasant, he knew so many lively games, and was always so ready to help his playmates, and share with them any thing nice he might have, that he was a great favorite among them. They used sometimes to play soldiers in the recess, and as all were willing to be directed by Alfred, they chose him for their captain. He liked to do every thing in an orderly manner, so that he trained the boys into a very smart company of soldiers.

The boys of the school where Alfred went had a very large and convenient play-ground, where they were permitted to go and play at the time of recess. Though they were together but a short time each day, yet Al-

p. 22

fred succeeded in training them to form quite an orderly company of soldiers. He used to march them in order about the play-ground, and the boys became so interested in the diversion, that each furnished himself with a smooth wooden stick, to take the place of a gun; and Alfred drilled them to perform the manœuvres, as he had seen them done by the militia soldiers on the Common. He never allowed them to play sham fight, a game at which boys sometimes get hurt, and are apt to get angry; but he told them that they must try to exercise themselves, and accustom themselves to regular movements, that it might be easier to them to learn to be soldiers when they grew up, as every body should know how to use his gun enough to defend himself and his country, in case he or it should be attacked by lawless people.

At the first sound of the bell which told them the recess was over, Captain Alfred led the way into school, and was followed by the boys in the most orderly and quiet manner. Having become refreshed by the exercise of marching and drilling, they were ready to begin their studies with new diligence, and

p. 23

continued at their various employments until the school was over.

When the school was dismissed, he did not snatch his hat and hurry away, leaving all his things in disorder, but he put his slate and books that were to be left at school carefully into his desk, and those which were to be taken home he placed in his satchel, and without a hurry or bustle, he dressed himself in a proper manner to go into the street, and walked quietly out of the room and down stairs.

“Who’s for the Common?” cried out George Wilkins; “let us make haste up there, and take possession of the coast before other boys gt it.” “I’ll go,” “and I,” said several voices, and they looked toward Alfred, whom they all liked to have with them. “I am going home first,” said Alfred, “to let my mother know that school is over, and see if she wants me for any thing, and perhaps I will join you there in half an hour.” Some of the boys followed the good example of Alfred, while others ran off to play, and it was afterward said among the boys, that James Ramsay missed a fine sleigh-ride by

p. 24

not going home. His father was waiting to take him out, but he did not return at the usual hour. Mr. Ramsay, after waiting a short time, drove round by the school to see if he were detained there for any thing; but, not finding him, and not knowing where to look for him, he was obliged to ask some one else to take his son’s place in the sleigh; and when James, at dinner-time, made his appearance at home, he was vexed to find how much pleasure he had lost, and silently resolved, on another day, to follow Alfred’s example.

Alfred went home, and quietly opened and shut the street door after him: having carefully scraped the snow from his feet on the iron scraper without the door, he wiped them neatly on the mat within. He went into the parlor; but, finding his mother engaged in conversation with a friend, he closed the door again very gently, and went up stairs to tell the person who had the care of the young people in the absence of their mother, that he had returned from school. He carried his books up into his own room, took out those he did not expect to want in the after-

p. 25

noon, and having placed them on his book-shelf, he put into his satchel those he would use in the afternoon, and put the satchel where he could get it handily, when school-time arrived.

After they had despatched their luncheon, Alfred’s brother William told him he was ready to keep his promise and help him make a coast in the back yard. Alfred was very glad to hear this, but he said he was afraid the boys might be expecting him on the Common, and that, as he had told them he might probably meet them there, he would run up, to let them know he could not play on the Common that morning. William thought this was right, and while Alfred went away upon this errand, he proceeded to the yard, and began to make the coast. The snow had drifted into a bank, and William thought he should be able to make a very good coast. When Alfred reached the Common, he found the boys were busily playing. he told them that he was going to play at home that morning, but thinking they might wait for him, he had run up to tell them. They thanked him for his kindness, and two

p. 26

or three of the boys concluded to go home with him and help him and his brother William to finish the coast.

They all worked very briskly; and as there was abundance of snow, and each boy had a good snow-shovel, they made rapid advances, and got the coast formed before a great while. It was not, however, hard enough to bear the sleds; so they pumped a great many pails full of water, and poured them over the coast, and as the day was cold, they thought the water would freeze and make it hard and slippery for the next day. They formed themselves into a line. Three of the large boys stood by the pump, and another near the coast—the other boys at equal distances between. The boy by the pump filled the pail; he handed it to the next, and he to the next, till it reached the coast, when it was poured over it, and the pail handed back. This order pleased the boys, and William told them that this was the way buckets of water were sometimes handed along a line of men to supply the engines with water to put out a fire. If the water were in a place to which the engine could not be brought, it was

p. 27

necessary to pass it along in buckets in some such way. This method was formerly more practised than now, when the water is generally carried through a long tube called a hose.

James Barton, one of the little boys who was at play with Alfred, said he always wanted to run out in the street when the bells were ringing for fire, and he heard the engines going by, but his mother was not willing to let him go. He thought this very hard, for he knew some boys who always went to fires, and they told him they had grand fun in seeing the engines play, and in making as much noise as they pleased.

William told them he used to feel so, but that something happened to him once which had cured him of ever wanting to go out to fires.

“Pray tell us,” said Alfred and James, “what it was.”

“Why, it was a good while ago, Alfred, when I was a little boy, but just big enough to feel as James says he does about fires. One night the bells rang, and a bright light shone into my room, and I thought I would

p. 28

go to the fire. I got up and dressed myself, and went down stairs, but I did not want to go out without asking my mother. I just opened the door of her room, and asked her if I might go to the fire. She was sick at that time, but she answered immediately, ‘No, indeed, dear William, do not think of such a thing; you can do no good, and you may get hurt; I shall feel very uneasy to have you go out.’ Of course I did not think of going after that, but went up stairs and undressed myself, feeling a little disappointed to give up what I thought would have been such good fun; but I soon fell asleep, and did not even dream of the fire.

“The fire was a very large one; it consumed, among other things, the inside of a long building which had been used as a museum, and the wall, which had been made very thin, fell down suddenly and crushed a number of people who were standing by as spectators—among them were five or six boys. You can judge of my grief the next morning when I went to school, to find the dead bodies of these persons, among them some young lads I had known, placed in our school-house,

p. 29

which was near the fire, and where they had been carried until their friends could take care of the bodies. Young as I was, I could not but thank God and my dear mother, that I had been prevented from going out on that sad night, and resolving never to go into the streets on such occasions until I was old enough to render some assistance. I have often since heard persons who belong to the engine companies say that nothing is more annoying and troublesome than a parcel of noisy boys, who do no good, but rather get in the way, and add to the confusion.”

William had but just finished his story, when the first dinner-bell was rung in the house. This was the signal for the boys to leave off play, and prepare themselves for the dinner-table. William told the little visitors that they might come after school at night, and see how the coast came on. They ran off, and Alfred and his brother went into the house. They took care to wash themselves neatly, brush their hair and their clothes, and were already in the parlor when the second dinner-bell rang. Alfred took his seat quietly at the table, did not ask to be helped, or

p. 30

say what he liked best, but took care to make the same use of his napkin, his knife, fork, and plate, that he saw the older people do. He waited until he saw others were helped and ready to begin to eat, and he was very attentive to hand any thing which stood within his reach, and which he saw another person wanted. If he was asked to pass any thing, he took care to do it in a gentle, quiet manner, and did not hurry or make any bustle, lest he should drop or spill the thing which was in his hand. And by being so attentive, he was able, although a little boy, to make himself quite useful.

The conversation that day at table happened to turn upon different manners and customs of eating. Some one spoke of the Chinese, who, instead of knives and forks, carry their food to their mouths by means of two little sticks, which they call chopsticks, and which they know how to balance ingeniously between their fingers.

One gentleman spoke of people in some part of Asia, who, instead of a table-cloth like the one we use, have their table covered all over with a thin sort of cake, something

p. 31

like what is called a flapjack in this country; and, if the guest does not fancy any of the dishes which are on the table, he can console himself by breaking off a piece of the table-cloth, to relieve his hunger.

Alfred, who had sometimes been entertained by seeing the process of frying flapjacks on a griddle in his mother’s kitchen, wondered where they could find a pan large enough to prepare this peculiar sort of table-cloth.

Some of the company expressed a disbelief of the whole story; but the person who had spoken of it said he had read it in a book, and, if it were not true, it was certainly very wrong in the person who made the story to pretend that it was true.

[p. 32]



The school hour arrived before the family had arisen from table. Alfred was sorry to leave the room while such pleasant conversation was going on, but he did not wish to be late at school; so he left the table very quietly, went out of the room without any noise, having just informed his mother that it was school-time.

He had placed his books, which would be wanted in the afternoon, in readiness on his first return from school, so that he found all he wanted easily and without any bustle. He proceeded to school in the same orderly manner as in the morning, kept quite silent all school time, and, by giving all his attention to his lessons, he had time to get them very perfectly.

After school, the boys went to take another look at their coast. They placed some more

p. 33

snow where they saw that it was wanted, and poured some more water upon it, and it looked as if they would have a fine coast in the morning. As there was a little time before dark, they built up a snow man, and fixed him standing at the bottom of the coast. They dug a hole in the snow beside him, and called him the toll-man. They said they would have it for a rule, that every one who missed in coasting, coming down on the side, from steering his sled uneven, or any carelessness, should pay a snow-ball as the fine, by way of toll; and, when the hole got full in this way, they would have a good stock ready for a snow-balling match.

It soon grew dark, and the boys were not sorry to go into the house, as the evening was quite cold. Alfred put his cap in its place, and was so thoughtful as to carry his mittens, and hang them by the nursery fire, that they might be dry before the next morning.

When he entered the parlor, the family were sitting round the fire, conversing, as it was nearly dark. Alfred took a seat in the circle, and listened to the conversation which was going on; he was beginning to find him-

p. 34

self a little sleepy, as his father was talking to another gentleman on the subject of banks and currency, and things which he did not know much about; but, at that moment, the lamps were lighted, and he was able to take a volume of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, which was placed on the book-stand, and amuse himself with reading that until tea-time.

At the tea-table, he showed the same good breeding which he had done at breakfast and dinner. His mother said she had placed on the table, that evening, some cake which had been made from a new receipt, and which she thought would be very good; it was very plump, in very pretty forms, and nicely frosted over. It looked very tempting, and Alfred thought he should like to taste it very much; but he observed that his mother and the rest of the family took bread, or toast, or biscuit, first, and he thought it best to wait until the plate was handed to him. When it came, he found it so very good, that he ate it pretty quickly, and he thought he should like another piece; but his mother did not hand the plate to him again, and he supposed she thought it too rich for him to eat a great deal of, and

p. 35

he did not tease for any more, but asked for a piece of milk biscuit, which he had been often told was better for him than rich cake.

After tea, there was a little dancing. Alfred’s sisters had one or two friends visiting them, and they wished to make up a cotillon; but, on standing up, they found they wanted one more to make up the right number.

They asked Alfred if he would make one of their set. He had but just begun to learn to dance, and did not know much about the figures; he also wanted to read in the Arabian Nights, for he had just got so far in the story of Aladdin as where Aladdin had got shut into the cave, and he wanted very much to read on, and see how Aladdin contrived to get out. But then he knew his sisters would not have so pleasant a cotillon if one had to dance without a partner. He knew they would be willing to excuse him if he should make a mistake, and show him the right way. He knew that no one expected such a little boy as he was to dance very well, but that he should please his sisters by trying to do his best. For these reasons, he put away his book, took off his boots, and put on his

p. 36

slippers, and stood up with them, and did the best he could.

He soon found out the figure of the cotillon, and enjoyed the dance as much as the rest of them.

After they were tired of dancing, they played at acting charades. Two or three went out of the room, and agreed upon some word which they would represent by their actions in such a way that the company could guess it.

The first one was played in this manner:—Maria, Alfred’s sister, came in with a tin pan in her hand. She walked about the room, and talked about it in such a way, that after she had gone out, the company concluded that the part of the word she meant to represent was pan. Next William came in, dressed to look like a rude boy; he was accompanied by Maria, and managed to stumble round in such a way as to tread on her toe. This she made a great fuss about, and complained of it so much that they readily guessed the second syllable to be to[.] The third part was represented by Alfred and William coming in with shovels, and

p. 37

saying that they were in search of gold, and that they ahd been told this was the place to find it. They bustled about with their spades, and talked so much about the gold they expected to find, that it was easy to guess that the third syllable was mine. This was confirmed when all the actors came in, and pretended to talk with each other by signs, and perform what is called a pantomine, or dumb show.

Some one present objected to this, that the real word which they intended to represent was pantomime; but William maintained that it was so often written and spoken in the way they represented it, that it would answer for a charade.

Again they went out, and three came in talking in a very lofty style, and in such a way that the company thought them very grand. After this, Maria, by her actions and a little change in her dress, appeared as Alfred’s mother, and the charade was concluded by one of the young ladies, with the help of a mob cap and a square handkerchief, representing a grandmother.

In these, and some other amusing plays,

p. 38

the evening passed away without Alfred having any time to think about his Arabian Nights. When there was any play in which he could join, his older brother and sisters were always glad to give him an opportunity to do so, because he was always so kind and obliging to them.

In the course of the evening, some refreshments were brought into the room. Alfred did not make haste to help himself from the waiter, but was attentive to watch and see if there were not something he could hand to others, or some way in which he could make himself useful. When, at last, he was helped, he did not eat a great deal, because he had been told it was not good for him to eat a great deal of any thing in the evening. He saw his mother was engaged in conversation, and was not observing him; but this made him the more careful not to eat too much, or to take any thing which he had been told was not good for him, because, if no one was watching him, it was more necessary he should watch himself.

He knew that, though sweets are very pleasant to eat at the time, a great quantity

p. 39

loads the stomach, and often makes the head ache; and to wake up in the morning with a heavy head, and a sick stomach, and a pale face, is paying pretty dearly for having one’s plate filled too often with sweetmeats.

When Alfred saw his bed hour had come, he stole round behind the company to his mother, and bade her good night, and went up to his room. He did not wait to be told what hour it was, and make so much noise in leaving the room as to attract the attention of the company. He knew that this was unpleasant, and might make his sisters’ friends shorten their visit, from feeling that it was later than it really was.

When Alfred reached his room, he brushed his teeth carefully, that he might remove any soil that had remained on them from eating, which, if suffered to remain through the night, he had been told, would injure his teeth, and cause them to rot. In undressing, he placed his clothes in order, so that he could easily reach and put them on. His stockings were turned on the right side; his slippers placed by the side of the bed, so that he might be able to put his feet into

p. 40

them, if he should have occasion to rise in the night. He blew out his own light, and jumped into bed. His mind passed quickly over the events of the day. He thanked his Father in heaven for all the mercies which had surrounded him. If he recollected any thing which he had done, or said, or thought, through the day, which was wrong, he asked God to forgive him, and help him to do so no more; and having commended himself, and all those whom he loved, to the care of Heaven, he sank sweetly to sleep, and remained undisturbed until the rays of the morning sun darted into his chamber, and aroused him to begin another day.

[p. 41]



Sunday was not the tedious day to Alfred that it is to some little boys. Though he was fond of his school, and knew that it was best for him to attend it regularly, yet there is no little boy of his age but must feel, in some measure, the confinement; and he loved Sunday, because he was not obliged to go to school, but could pass the whole of the day with his parents, and his brothers and sisters.

When too young to employ the day in reading, or other exercises most appropriate to it, his mother had not debarred the use of his playthings on this day. She thought children were never so uncomfortable themselves, or so troublesome to others, as when they were unoccupied and idle. She felt that the hours a young child spends in church must be rather tedioous to him, before he is old enough to understand the nature

p. 42

of the service and to join in it. She therefore endeavored to make the time when they were at home as pleasant as she could to them. They were not allowed to indulge in the more noisy, violent sports, which disturb others, but were desired to select the dolls, pencils, blocks, and other quiet plays, which they could enjoy without making a noise or soiling their dress. Their mother, from avoiding making visits, or receiving calls on this day, had more leisure to read to, and converse with, her children. As soon as the children grew old enough to enjoy books, those suitable to the day were put into their hands; they had their lessons to prepare for the Sunday School, and found no difficulty in employing themselves. Alfred, when a very little boy, had formed, in this way, such agreeable associations with the Sabbath, that he once told his mother he really loved Sunday, and it was not all because he had his best clothes on.

He enjoyed the walk to church on a fine pleasant day, with his mother, his brothers and sisters. He thought it was very agreeable to see the streets full of well-dressed

p. 43

people, all walking quietly along, while the bells, in their various tones, and from the different parts of the town, were ringing

“The blest summons to the house of God.”

If he happened, through the care of his kind mother, to have on clothes which pleased him very much, which were of a handsome color and neatly made, he did not feel proud of them, and think he was any better than other boys, whom he perhaps met, who were not so well dressed. If he thought of his dress at all, it was only to be thankful that he had so kind parents, who were willing to provide so well for him, and that God had given to them the power to do it.

If he saw other boys much better or more prettily dressed than himself, he was glad to see what he thought would make them happy, but he felt no trouble because his own clothes were not so handsome. He thought it enough that he was dressed comfortably and neatly; and if he sometimes met a little boy in ragged clothes, who looked as if Sunday made no difference to him, since he had nothing but ragged and dirty clothes for any

p. 44

of the days, he felt very, very sorry for the poor boy, and very thankful that he was so much better provided for.

When he reached the church door, he entered it gently, and proceeded immediately to his father’s pew, not loitering about the door to chat with other boys, compare their clothes, or giggle and play. When the services began, he paid the greatest attention. He rose from his seat at prayer-time, and stood, without twisting and staring about, as quietly as he could, or knelt down, if that were the custom of the place where he was present. During the singing, having found the place, he followed with his eye the hymn which was sung. If the tune were a simple one, and one which, from having sung at home with his sisters, or in the Sunday School, he knew, he would join the singers in a low tone, so that he need not make a disturbance if he did not sing quite right; and thus, by trying to sing the hymn, it was impressed upon his mind, and he could understand and remember it better. When the minister prayed, he tried to attend and to join in the prayer, because he had been told that the

p. 45

minister was not praying for himself alone, but for all those who were present, and that each one should try to join, with his mind, in the prayer which the minister made with his lips.

During the sermon, he paid the greatest attention to what was said. He recollected the place in the Bible from which the minister selected the text. If the sermon was long, or one which he could not understand, he would take up the Bible and read a little in it, that he might arouse himself and prevent his becoming sleepy. When he was a very little boy, and unable to understand the preacher, his mother had allowed him to take a picture-book to church, that he might keep himself awake by looking at the pictures, or a card with a pencil, that he might make marks upon it. His mother thought that the habit of falling asleep in church is apt to be formed by children when very young, in consequence of sitting quite still; and when once formed, it is very difficult to break. She used to tell Alfred that she only allowed him to take his book and pencil because he was a very little boy; that

p. 46

when he was old enough to understand, he would be ashamed to do so, and would also derive pleasure from listening to the minister. He now found it to be so. He had long since given up the practice of taking a book or pencil to church, and he found the more attention he paid, the more he could understand, and church grew more and more pleasant to him as he grew older.

At the end of the service, he was not in a great hurry to go out, but took his cap quietly and repaired to the Sunday School. He took his place without noise, was careful not to talk and play with the other boys, but listened with great attention to what his teacher said to him, and answered as well as he could such questions as were asked him. He tried to join in the singing, listened to, and joined in, the prayer, and paid the greatest attention to all the services.

When the duties of the school were over, and he had returned home at night, he passed the rest of the day in reading or conversation with his parents, and brothers and sisters. The whole occupations of the day were so quiet, he had opportunity to be so

p. 47

much of the time with those he loved best, that he often said that he was sure Sunday was the best day of the week. If it happened to be a rainy day, he did not feel willing to stay at home; but, well guarded with coat and umbrella, he bade defiance to the storm, unless it were a very severe one.

He found it very pleasant, and his mother thought it useful, to employ a part of the time, on Sunday, in committing to memory passages of Scripture, hymns, and other devotional poetry.

The younger children, seeing Alfred and the older ones employed in this way, felt desirous to imitate them, and often laid aside the playthings which they found were only permitted because they were too little to do any thing but play, and tried to follow the example of their elders.

[p. 48]



Alfred sometimes accompanied some members of his family to lectures. He knew, in the day, when he should go out in the evening, and if there happened to be any lesson which he was in the habit of studying in the evening, he took care to prepare it in the course of the day, that it need not be left neglected because he went out.

He took great care to sit still and quiet at the lecture. He generally remained with his mother or sister, instead of taking his seat among a parcel of schoolboys, who sometimes place themselves together at the back part of the room, and by their loud whisperings, giggle, and noise, disturb every body about them. He had heard people complain of the annoyance such boys were to every one near them, and had heard it said that the constables must be directed to look out

p. 49

for such noisy boys, and conduct them out of the room. He thought they must feel very much ashamed to find themselves led out, at what, perhaps, was the most amusing part of the lecture, by a constable with a red pole.

Alfred attended a course of lectures on natural history. He was much amused one evening by hearing a lecture about monkeys. The lecturer said that the monkey tribe was very large, and generally divided by naturalists into three classes. Those which have no tails are called apes; those which have short tails are called baboons; but by far the most numerous division consists of those which have long tails, and which are known by the general name of monkeys.

Some travellers say, that the pongo, a species of the ourang-outang, is exactly like a man, excepting his size. His face is like that of a man, the eyes deep sunk in his head, the hair on each side extremely long, the visage naked and without hair, as also the ears and the hands. The animal is seen to walk on his hinder legs; he sleeps under trees, and builds himself a hut, which serves

p. 50

to protect him against the sun and the rains of the tropical climates, of which he is a native.

He lives only upon fruits, not eating flesh. He cannot speak, although furnished with greater instinct than any other animal of the brute creation. When the negroes make a fire in the woods, this animal comes near and warms himself by the blaze. He has not, however, skill enough to keep the flame alive by feeding it with fuel.

They go together in companies, and if they happen to meet with one of the human species remote from help, they show him no mercy. They even attack the elephant, which they beat with their clubs, and oblige to leave that part of the forest which they claim as their own. It is impossible to take any of these creatures alive, they are so strong. None of this kind, therefore, are taken, except when very young, and then but rarely, when the female happens to leave them behind, for in general they cling to her with legs and arms.

Buffon says that the ourang-outang which he saw walked always upright, even when it carried heavy burdens. Its air was melan-

p. 51

choly, its manner grave, its nature more gentle and very different from that of other apes. He had seen it give its hand to show the company to the door that came to see it, and it would walk about gravely with them, as if one of the society. He had seen it sit at table, unfold its napkin, wipe its lips, make use of the spoon and fork to carry the food to its mouth, pour out its drink into a glass, touch glasses when invited, take a cup and saucer and lay them on the table, put in sugar, pour out its tea, leave it to cool before drinking, and all this without any other instigation than the signs or commands of its master, and often of its own accord. It was gentle and inoffensive; it even approached strangers with respect, and came rather to receive caresses than to offer injuries.

Another naturalist bought two young ones, which were but a year old, but even then sat at table, ate of every thing without distinction, made use of their knife, spoon, and fork, both to eat their meat and to help themselves. They drank wine and other liquors. They were carried on shipboard, and when they were at table, they made

p. 52

signs to the cabin-boys expressive of their wants; and whenever the boys neglected to attend to them as they desired, they instantly flew into a passion, seized them by the arm, bit them, and kept them down. The male was sea-sick, and required attendance like a human creature. He was even twice bled in the right arm, and every time afterward, when he found himself indisposed, he showed his arm, as desirous of being relieved by bleeding.

Mr. Horne, governor of Bombay, had two ourangs sent him, a male and a female; they were scarcely two feet high, but their form was entirely like the human. They walked erect upon their two feet, and were of a pale color, without any hairs on any other part than where mankind generally have them. Their actions were exactly like those of human beings, and their sadness showed how much they disliked their captivity. They made their bed very carefully in the cage in which they were sent on board the ship. The female died on board, and the male showed all the real signs of grief, and took the death of his companion so much to heart

p. 53

that he refused his food, and did not survive her more than two days.

There is an anecdote told of another pair, which were not so affectionate to each other. They were on shipboard; but the male showed great signs of dislike to the female, and frequently treated her so ill that the sailors were obliged to interfere to protect her from his malice. He continued this course for some time: at last, on a certain day, his conduct appeared to change towards poor Mrs. Ourang. He played very kindly with her, and at last induced her to follow him to the mast-head, which she had no sooner reached, than the artful creature gave her a hard push, and threw her into the water, from which she was never recovered, while he returned on deck, and showed great marks of pleasure that he was at last rid of one whom he disliked.

It is said that there are, in Sierra Leone, in Africa, a kind of apes which are strong and muscular, and so very industrious, that, if properly fed and instructed when young, they serve as very useful domestics; they usually walk upright, will pound at the mor-

p. 54

tar, fetch water from the river in a little pitcher, which they carry on their heads; but if care be not taken to receive the pitcher when they return, they let it fall to the ground, and then, seeing it broken, they begin to lament and cry for the loss.

The baboons, though mischievous and ferocious, do not eat flesh. They feed principally on fruits, roots, and corn; they generally keep together in companies, and sally forth to commit their depredations on the neighboring vineyards and orchards. As they are extremely fond of grapes, apples, and ripe fruit, they assemble together in great numbers, and proceed on their enterprise with previous deliberation. The dogs, which are set to watch, do not easily conquer these animals, as they are extremely active, and make dexterous use of their teeth and claws. On these occasions, a part of them enter the enclosure, while one of the company stands sentinel. The rest stand without the fence, a small distance from each other, and form a line, reaching all the way from the enclosure to the rendezvous without, which is generally in some craggy moun-

p. 55

tain. Every thing being thus disposed, the plunderers within the orchard throw the fruit to those without as fast as they can gather it, or, if the wall or hedge be high, to those that sit at the top, and these hand the plunder to those next their side.

There is a kind of monkey called exquima, which is said to be very droll. When they leap from one tree to another on account of the distance, or the trees being separated by a river, their dexterity is very surprising. The whole family form a kind of chain, locking tail in tail or hand in hand, and one of them holding the branch above, the rest swing down, balancing to and fro like a pendulum, until the undermost is enabled to catch hold of the lower branches of some neighboring tree. When the hold is fixed below, the monkey lets go that which was above, and thus comes undermost in turn; but creeping up along the chain, attains the next branches of the tree like the rest, and thus they all take possession without ever coming to the ground. They have the address to break the shells of oysters, to eat them; they feed occasionally upon fish, worms, and insects;

p. 56

but fruit is their general food, and they grow fat when it is ripe, when it is said their flesh is good and exquisite eating.

Travellers say, that the monkey has it in its power to be master of the forest, for there are neither tigers nor lions which can dispute the possession with it; the chief animal it has to fear, and which attacks it both by night and day, is the snake. There are some snakes in those forests of a prodigious size, which wind up the trees where the monkeys reside; and when they happen to surprise them sleeping, swallow them whole before the little animals have time to make a defence.

These, and many other anecdotes of this singular race of animals, amused Alfred very much. On returning home, he talked a great deal about monkeys, and asked a great many questions about them. His father told him he would take him the next morning to see some monkeys which were shown in a menagerie of animals.

Alfred went to bed much delighted with this promise. The next day, after school, he went with his father to see the animals.

p. 57

There were a large number of monkeys, but they were of a small kind, and did not quite answer the expectations which Alfred had formed of them from the lecture the night before. But he remembered the lecturer had said that it was very difficult to procure the larger kinds, and when caught, it was seldom that they bore a long voyage, so that the specimens we see here are apt to be of more hardy but inferior kinds.

The little animals were very droll, however, and amused Alfred very much with their tricks. Alfred did not tease any of the animals by poking sticks at them through the bars of their cages. He thought the poor beasts must be very uncomfortable, to be mewed up in such narrow, disagreeable places, when they were used to living in the open air. And he kept by his father’s side, that he might not make him uneasy if he missed him. He observed the animals very carefully, thinking he would read the descriptions of those he saw in his Buffon when he got home, and ask his father to talk with him about them. As they walked home, his father told him a story of a man who was once fitting out a ship, and after

p. 58

having given in writing some directions to his captain, he desired him to procure for him two monkeys. He did not know very well how to spell; so, instead of writing two, he wrote too, and being in a hurry, he forgot to cross the t, so that the order appeared thus to the captain—“Please to procure for me 100 monkeys.” The vessel was delayed longer than the captain expected, and at last he wrote to the owner—“I have executed all your orders except the last, but I have only been able to procure fifty of the monkeys. I shall do my best to procure the other fifty, but am afraid I shall be obliged to sail without the whole number.” The owner could not think what the captain meant; but at last the ship arrived loaded with seventy-five monkeys, to the great horror of the owner, who did not know what he should do with the mischievous little animals, and, on calling on the captain to explain the matter, the latter showed him his letter, and he found the mistake was his own, and all for not crossing his t, and spelling his too right. “Or, not minding his t’s and two’s, as well as his p’s and q’s,” said Alfred.

[p. 59]



One morning, when Alfred awoke, he found he had a bad headache, and felt very hot and uncomfortable. He rung a bell, the string of which was near the head of his bed; and when some one came to see what he wanted, Alfred said he felt sick, and wished his mother would come up and see him. She found him quite ill, and sent for a doctor to come to visit him. When the doctor came, he wished to look at Alfred’s tongue and throat, and to ask him a great many questions. Alfred felt sick and heavy, and did not like very much to be disturbed; but his mother told him that the doctor could not do any thing for him unless he could carefully examine him, and see what was the matter with him. So he opened his mouth as wide as he could, and the doctor could

p. 60

see well down his throat. He told the doctor exactly how he felt, not describing his feeling as any worse than they really were, that he might be pitied a great deal, nor telling of them as if they were not so bad, that he might escape taking medicine, but the exact truth.

The doctor presently said that Alfred had the measles. This was a troublesome disorder, but not often a dangerous one, and if Alfred was quiet, and did what his friends thought best for him, he would soon be well. Alfred tried to bear the pain he felt as well as he could. He lay quietly, took exactly what his mother and the doctor thought would be best for him. When the worst part of the disease came, and he was all over red, and felt a very disagreeable burning and itching of the skin, he found it very hard to keep quiet and to be patient. But he tried all he could to be still, as his mother told him that fretting and rubbing himself would make him feel worse.

That he might try to forget his bad feelings, he begged his sister to read him a fairy tale out of her old German fairy-tale book.

p. 61

These stories were so odd, they always made him laugh. She consented, and read to him the story of


One fine summer’s day, a bear and a wolf set out to take a walk. They strolled through the woods, and heard a bird singing so sweetly, that the bear said, “Brother wolf, what bird is that who sings so well?” “That is the king of the birds,” said the wolf; “we must bow down before him.” The truth is, it was a wren. “If this is the case,” said the bear, “I wish I could see his royal palace; come, lead me to it.” “This is not so easy as you think,” said the wolf; “you must wait till my lady queen comes home.” Some time after, the queen came back; she had food in her bill for the young folks, for the king also, and she invited her young ones to eat. The bear wished much to go in to see the royal family then, but the wolf held him by the sleeve, and said, “No, you must wait till my lord king and my lady queen have gone out again.”

p. 62

So they took notice where the hole was in which the nest was placed, and walked away. But the bear had no rest till he could see the royal palace, and after a short time he came back again. The king and queen were still out. The bear looked in, and saw five or six young birds lying there. “Is this the royal palace?” said the bear; “a pretty poor sort of a palace, I think, and if you are the king’s children, you are very dishonest children.” When the young wrens heard this they were very angry, and said, “No, indeed, we are not; our parents are very honest people, Mr. Bear, as you shall find out.” The bear and the wolf were frightened; they turned about and went into their dens. But the young wrens kept crying and screaming, and when their parents brought home their supper, they said, “We will not taste the leg of a faly, and we will starve ourselves, until it is made known to the world whether we are honest children or not; for the bear has been here, and he has been speaking ill of us all.”

Then the old king said, “Hold your tongues, and we will make the truth known to the world.” Then the king and the

p. 63

queen flew to the mouth of the bear’s den, and called out to him—

“Grumbling bear, grumbling bear,

War on you we do declare!

Ill words to our young you said,

And the debt now shall be paid.”

Thus war was proclaimed, and the bear invited all the four-footed beasts to take part with him—the ox, the ass, the cow, and every thing that walks upon the earth. The wren called to his help every thing that flies in the air, not only the birds great and small, but the flies, the hornets, the bees, and the musquitoes. [sic]

When the time came that the war was to take place, the wren sent out spies to see what the enemy’s captains were doing. The flies were very cunning spies; they swarmed through the wood, and at last set themselves down on the leaf of the tree under which the orders for the war were given. There was the bear, who called the fox to him, and said, “Fox, you are the most artful of all the animals; you shall be the general, and shall lead us on to battle. What signal will you have for us to follow?”

p. 64

Then said the fox, “I have a fine long, bushy tail, that stands up stiff like a red bunch of feathers: when I lift it up, that is to show that things are going on well; but when I let it fall, take notice, and run away.” When the flies had heard this, they flew off home, and told every word to the king wren.

When the day of battle came,—hurrah! hurrah! on came all the four-footed beasts with great noise, so that the earth trembled and shook. Wren and his army came and filled the air, and there was such a whirling, and flapping, and humming heard, that every body was frightened; and then they stood facing each other.

The wren sent down the hornets, and commanded them to sting the fox on his hind leg, with all their might and main. When the fox felt the first bite, he thought he had knocked his leg against a stump, and he did not mind it, but bravely kept his tail in the air; at the second bite, he let it fall for a moment; but when the third came, he could not bear it any longer, but cried out, and put his tail between his legs. When the beasts saw this, they thought all was lost, and began

p. 65

to run away each one to his hole, and the wrens gained the battle.

Then the king and the queen flew home, and said to their children—

“Children, be gay,

Eat, drink, and play—

The battle is done,

And the wrens have won.”

But the young wrens said, “We will not eat a fly’s leg till the bear comes before the nest and begs our pardon, and says that we are honest children.”

Then the wren flew off to the bear’s hole, and said—

“Grumbling bear, grumbling bear,

To my palace quick repair;

Pardon beg of those within,

Or I’ll break every bone in your ugly skin.”

Then the bear, in great fear, crawled out and begged pardon of the wrens. This comforted them, and they ate and drank, and sat up an hour later than common that night, and had a very merry time.

p. 66

Alfred was quite amused at this odd story of the bear being afraid of the poor little wrens; but he said it was so short that his sister must read him one more; it would make him laugh, and he should forget his uneasy feelings. So she complied with his desire, and read to him


There was once a man who had three sons, and no riches except the house in which he lived. Now, he was willing to give to them the house after he was dead, but he loved them all, one just as well as the other, and he did not wish to give it to one any more than to the others. He did not want to sell his house, for it was the same in which he was born, where his father was born, and where he died, and where his grandfather, and all his ancestors, had lived ever since houses were the fashion; otherwise, he could have sold it, and divided the money between his three sons. At last he thought of a plan, and said to his sons, “go out into the world and learn some trade, and when you come

p. 67

back, he who can do the best piece of work shall have the house.”

This pleased the sons very much. The oldest concluded to be a blacksmith, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master, to teach persons the use of the sword. So he appointed a time when they should come back, and they all set out on their travels. It so happened that each found a very skilful master, who taught him his trade in the most complete manner. The smith shod the king’s horse, and thought to himself, “I am sure I shall get the house after this.” The barber shaved several very grand persons, and thought, “Now I cannot fail; I am sure I shall get the house.” The third got many hard knocks, but he bit his teeth together, and did not worry himself, for he said, “If I mind a hard knock, I shall never get the house.”

When the appointed time came, they all appeared before their father; but they did not know when they should have a chance to show their skill, and so they sat down and chatted together very pleasantly. While they were talking, all at once there came a hare

p. 68

running through the field. “So, so,” says the barber; “here is a chance for me.” Then he took soap and a basin, made his lather till the hare came up, then he soaped him on the full run, and shaved off his mustachios without cutting him at all, or hurting him in the least. “This is doing very well,” said the father; “if the others do not do any thing better, the house shall be yours.” It was not long when a gentleman came by in a carriage, going at full speed. “Now you shall see, father, what I can do,” said the blacksmith. So he sprang up to the carriage, seized off the shoes from one of the horses, and shod him anew while upon the full trot. “You are a smart fellow,” said the father; “you show as much skill as your brother; I do not know to whom I shall give the house.” “Then,” said the third, “let me, father, try my skill.” Just then it began to rain—he drew his sword, and made so many strokes with it, and flourished it about so briskly over his head, that not a drop of rain reached him; and though the rain poured down harder and harder, and at last showered as if the fountains of heaven

p. 69

were open, yet he flourished his sword faster and faster, and remained as dry as if he were sitting under the thickest roof. When the father saw that, he said, “You have shown the greatest wonder of art; the house shall be yours.”

Both the other brothers were pleased. They loved each other so well, they all lived together in the same house, and worked each at his own trade; and, as they were all so skilful, they gained a great deal of money. So they lived on to a great old age together, and when one grew sick and died, the other two grieved so much over him, that they grew sick, and soon died also. Thus these skilful workmen and loving brothers were all laid in the same grave, and none so skilful or more loving have ever been seen since.

Alfred thanked his sister; he thought it was very kind in her to take the trouble to read such a story from the German into English for him; but she was glad to do any thing to make him laugh, and make him forget his pain and uneasiness. Alfred bore all the troubles of his sickness in the best possi-

p. 70

ble manner. If he had medicine to take which tasted badly, he did not stop to think about it, and look at it, and shudder, and turn away; this, he knew, would make it much more difficult for him to get it down; but he opened his mouth wide, gave one good manly swallow, and it was all over. When he began to feel better, he had gruel, and broth, and some things brought him to eat which he did not love very well; but his mother told him it was better for his stomach than his usual food. So he tried to think it tasted good; he knew it had been fixed on purpose for him, and he tried to make the best of it, and found it tasted, on the whole, rather better than he expected.

By behaving in this manner, he spared himself and those about him a great deal of pain, and happily he got well through the disorder, and in a short time was able to return to his usual employments and amusements, and soon forgot all about his sickness, except the kindness and care that his friends showed to him, which made him more desirous to do every thing he could to please them, and repay them for their attention.

p. 71

His sickness had also made him feel what a great blessing health is; and having suffered himself, he was able to feel more deeply for others who were ill, and knew better what he could do to comfort and amuse any one who was suffering from disease.

a boy sits in a chair and reads a book

[p. 72]



When Alfred had recovered from his illness, he went with his family upon a little excursion of pleasure. On a fine pleasant morning they took their seats in a railroad car, which was to convey them to the neighborhood of a farm belonging to a brother of Alfred’s father, where they were to pass the day. The day was very mild and pleasant, and Alfred wished very much that he could have a seat near one of the windows of the car, so that he might see the country through which they were whirled so rapidly along. but most of the seats were filled before Alfred’s family arrived; and just as they were getting in, a family with three or four little children was also taking their seats. “I must have a window,” said one, and “I must sit by the window,” said another; a third began to cry, and Alfred thought it looked very dis-

[p. 73?]

three boys and three girls eat at a table outside a house while a boy helps a girl on a swing

[p. 74 blank?]

p. 75

agreeably to see such a fuss; so he took his seat just where it seemed most handy, and gave up, very cheerfully, the thoughts of sitting by the window.

The noisy children all got fixed at last; but Alfred thought they did not gain much, for the wind blew pretty hard, and twisted one of the girls’ bonnets badly; a cinder got in the eye of another, and the third happened to sit near an elderly lady, who soon complained of the dampness, and had the glass drawn up. Alfred looked out as much as he could from his seat, and contrived to catch a glimpse of one or two things which gave him pleasure. He listened to the conversation of two gentlemen who were sitting near him; one of them was a sea captain, who had just got home, and who was telling some remarkable things he had seen in the course of his voyage. So the time passed very pleasantly with Alfred till the door of the car was opened, and he heard the question, “any passengers for * * *?” At this sound out jumped Alfred and his party, and, standing aside, saw the majestic train pass on with its usual speed.

p. 76

They now walked along through a pleasant road, stopping occasionally to gather wild flowers; and when they began to feel a little tired, a distant view of their uncle’s house made them feel very glad. When they had gone a little farther, they met a party of their cousins coming out to meet them. They all met very joyfully, and all entered together the house of Alfred’s uncle. After having chatted a few moments, the children went off to different parts of the farm, with the companions most near to them in age and taste. The girls went with their cousins to see the flowers, chickens, and play-rooms. The boys went into the barn, inspected the cattle and the pigs, and finally the whole party came together to see the rabbits. They then walked to the garden of a gentleman in the neighborhood, who had a large bed in his garden entirely covered with tulips of every variety of color. He had expended a great deal of time and money on the cultivation of these flowers, and some of them he valued at a very great price. After having admired the tulips for some time, the children returned to the garden of their uncle. He told

p. 77

them, on their way back, that at one time, in Holland, there was a great rage for the cultivation of this flower; that some of the roots sold for immense sums of money, and that some persons grew very rich, and others became poor, in consequence of buying and selling roots of this flower.

They now all went into a fine shady grove, where they were able to amuse themselves in a great variety of ways. There was a fine swing for those who liked that exercise, and room enough for all to jump and run about as much as they pleased. Alfred was very happy; he was willing to join in any play that the others liked, and he proposed several that were pronounced very agreeable;—one of them was called the


All the company sat round in a circle, on the grass, which was very dry and even. Alfred began the play, and said to James, who was next to him, “I have bought at mattress, and I want to change it; what will you give me for my M?” “I will give you

p. 78

a monkey,” said James. “What will you give, Maria, for my A?” “An apple.” “For my T?” “A top.” “For my other T?” “A table.” “What for my R?” “A ruffle.” “My A?” “An arrow.” “My S?” “A stone.” “My other S?” “A shoe.” Having asked all round the circle in this way, and each having given a letter, the one who began must make a sentence out of the words so given.

Alfred said, “The other day I went to visit a friend who had a monkey. He was a very mischievous creature, and also mimicked every thing he saw done. There were some apples on the table; and just as I was helping myself, the pert creature seized my apple out of my hand, and ate it up. In a few moments I began to spin a top which I just discovered, among the playthings of my friend, upon the table in the room. The mischievous monkey, in the mean time, seized hold of a nice ruffle which one of the girls was hemming, and had laid down for a moment while she stepped to the door to see her brother try his new arrow. The monkey had climbed upon the wardrobe, and was pulling

p. 79

and tearing Mary’s ruffle, when I seized up a stone to throw at him and make him throw the ruffle back; but the mischievous creature, instead of throwing down the ruffle, took a shoe which was standing near him, and threw it with such force at my head, that I stumbled back, and should have hurt myself in falling, if there had not been a mattress behind me, on which I fell and saved my head—no thanks to the monkey, however.”

This game was tried with several other words, and afforded considerable amusement. In a short time baskets were brought into the grove, and a table spread, which was covered with nice fruits, cakes, and every thing that was desirable to make a fine feast. Some of the children ate of every thing, and without any discretion; but Alfred was careful, and ate only what he thought his mother would have given him, if she had been there. He was active in helping others, and doing all he could to assist in arranging seats, and making all feel as happy as possible. Some of those young people who had eaten every thing they saw, without any discretion, began soon

p. 80

to feel sick and heavy, and could not play with any spirit, but were forced to lie down upon the grass, and lost all the fun of the afternoon, besides feeling very uncomfortable the next day.

Alfred, and those children who had been careful, and had not eaten too much, had a very agreeable play after dinner. They strolled into a little wood near by, and found some very pretty wild flowers, which they made up into bouquets and garlands. The time now came for them to walk to meet the cars. They took leave of their cousins, and had a very pleasant walk, and arrived a few moments before the bell was heard at a distance. soon the train came thundering and hissing along. It stopped, and the car doors were thrown open. Alfred and his party jumped in; and it so happened that each of the young people was able, this time, to get a window. The wind blew gently; they did not suffer from cinders, and had a very agreeable ride into town. When the train stopped, Alfred kept near the person who was to take care of the young party, until all had

p. 81

got safely out; and then they threaded their way through the busy crowd, and reached home safely—much pleased, though a little tired, with the day’s excursion.

[p. 82]



Alfred was very thoughtful and attentive; he minded so carefully every thing that was said to him, and was really so kind and good, that he almost forgot his own wishes, he was so desirous to please and assist others. Every body loved him, and each one tried to do all in his power to help and give pleasure to one who did so much for his friends. If there was a little errand he could do for his mother or any of her friends, he was always glad to do it. And when he undertook any thing of the kind, he was very attentive to listen to the message which was given him, and thought it well over in his mind, to be sure he remembered it before he started. When he had set out, he never stopped or lingered on the way, to play or look at print-shops, for he was afraid he should forget what he was going to do. If he carried a message, he inquired for

p. 83

the person to whom it was to be delivered; he took off his cap, and repeated what he had to say in a clear, distinct manner, that there might be no mistake; then stopped till he found out if there was to be an answer, and, if there were one, he was very careful to observe what it was, that he might give it correctly to the person who sent him. Having done his business, he took leave politely, and went home without stopping.

He was very respectful and polite to people whom he happened to meet, who were very old. He was fond of talking with aged persons. He knew they had been a great while in the world, and seen a great many things that he had not lived long enough to see; and if they were so kind as to talk to him, he felt very much obliged to them, and listened with great respect. If he had an opportunity to hand a chair, or render any little service to an elderly person, he was always very happy, and he was attentive to watch for such opportunities to make himself useful.

To his father and mother he always showed the greatest attention and respect. He felt

p. 84

how entirely he owed all he enjoyed, and all he had been taught, to their care. To be sure, they sometimes wished him to do things which, at the time, were not quite pleasant, and the reason for which he could not always understand; but always, when he did understand their reasons, he could see that what they did was for the best; he knew they loved him most tenderly, and he trusted altogether to them, knowing that whatever they directed him to do would be right.

To his brothers, and sisters, and companions, he was always kind and gentle; it gave him the greatest pleasure to make them happy; and he never enjoyed himself so well, as when he was doing something to please those dear to him. Some boys, though they really love their brothers and sisters, and would not do any thing seriously to disturb them, yet indulge themselves in little teasing tricks which annoy others, particularly young children. But Alfred was so kind, he was not willing to give pain even for a moment, or in jest.

to the persons whom his parents employed to assist them in the cares of the

p. 85

house and the children, Alfred was always gentle and polite. He saw that they often had to work very hard, and do things that were not very pleasant, that the family might have every thing comfortable and neat about them. He felt very much obliged to them for taking this trouble, and always spoke kindly and gently, and delivered such messages as he was frequently sent with, in a polite and proper manner.

And all these duties he performed carefully, knowing that it was the will of his heavenly Father that he should be a good son, a good brother, and faithful and kind in every relation of life. And he daily prayed that God would give him strength to grow better and better every day.

Alfred had read, in a Life of General Washington, that, at the age of thirteen, that great and good man wrote down in a book a number of maxims, or directions for his conduct in life. Alfred was so pleased with them, that he procured a manuscript book, and wrote down some selections from this work, which was called—

p. 86


1. “Every action in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those present.

2. “in the presence of others, sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.

3. “Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not when others stop.

4. “Turn not your back to others, especially in speaking; jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes; lean not on any one.

5. “Be no flatterer; neither play with any one that delights not to be played with.

6. “Read no letters, books, nor papers, in company, but when there is a necessity for doing it, you must ask leave; come not near the books or writings of any one so as to read them, unless desired, nor give your opinion of them unasked; also, look not nigh when another is reading a letter.

p. 87

7. “Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave.

8. “Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.

9. “When you meet with one of greater quality than yourself, stop and retire, especially if it be at a door or any strait place, to give way for him to pass.

10. “They that are in dignity, or in office, have in all places precedency; but whilst they are young, they ought to respect those that are their equals in birth or other qualities, though they have no public charge.

11. “It is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves, especially if they be above us, with whom in no sort we ought to begin.

12. “Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

13. “In visiting the sick, do not presently play the physician, if you be not knowing therein.

14. “In writing or speaking, give to every person his due title, according to his degree and the custom of the place.

p. 88

15. “Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.

16. “When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it.

17. “Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, presently or at some other time, in what terms to do it; and in reproving, show no signs of choler, but do it with sweetness and mildness.

18. “Take all admonitions thankfully, in what time or place soever given; but afterward, not being culpable, take a place convenient to let him know it that gave them.

19. “Mock not, nor jest at any thing of importance; break no jests that are sharp-biting; and if you deliver any thing witty and pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself.

20. “Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable [sic] yourself; for example is more prevalent than precepts.

21. “Use no reproachful language against any one, neither curse nor revile.

p. 89

22. “Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

23. “In your apparel be modest, and endeavor to accommodate nature, rather than to procure admiration; keep to the fashion of your equals, such as are civil and orderly, with respect to times and places.

24. “Play not the peacock, looking every where ab out you to see if you be well-decked, if your shoes fit well, if your stockings set neatly, and clothes handsomely.

25. “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

26. “Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commendable nature; and in all causes of passion, admit reason to govern.

27. “Be not immodest in urging your friend to discover a secret.

28. “Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and learned men, nor very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant, nor things hard to be believed.

29. “Speak not of doleful things in time

p. 90

of mirth, nor at the table; speak not of melancholy things, as death, and wounds, and if others mention them, change the discourse, if you can. Tell not your dreams but to your immediate friend.

30. “Break not a jest where none takes pleasure; in mirth laugh not aloud, nor at all without occasion. Deride no man’s misfortunes, though there seem to be some cause.

31. “Speak not injurious words, neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none, although they give occasion.

32. “Be not forward, but friendly and courteous; the first to salute, hear, and answer; and be not pensive when it is time to converse.

33. “Detract not from others, neither be excessive in commending.

34. “Go not thither, where you know not whether you shall be welcome or not. Give not advice without being asked, and when desired, do it briefly.

35. “If two contend together, take not the part of either unconstrained, and be not obstinate in your own opinion: in things indifferent, be on the major side.

p. 91

36. “Reprehend not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.

37. “Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of others, and ask not how they came. What you may speak in secret to your friend, deliver not before others.

38. “Speak not in an unknown tongue in company, but in your own language, and that as men of quality do, and not as the vulgar; sublime matters treat seriously.

39. “Think before you speak, pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

40. “When another speaks, be attentive yourself, and disturb not the audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not, nor prompt him, without being desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him, till his speech be ended.

41. “Treat with men at fit times about business, and whisper not in the company of others.

42. “Make no comparisons; and if any of the company be commended for any brave

p. 92

act of virtue, commend not another for the same.

43. “Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard, name not your author always; a secret discover not.

44. “Be not curious to know the affairs of others, neither approach to those who speak in private.

45. “Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.

46. “When you deliver a matter, do it without passion, and with discretion, however, mean the person be you do it to.

47. “When your superiors talk to any body, hearken not; neither speak nor laugh.

48. “In disputes, be not so desirous to overcome, as not to give liberty to each one to deliver his opinion; and submit to the judgment of the major part, especially if they are judges of the dispute.

49. “Be not tedious in discourse; make not many digressions, nor repeat often the same manner of discourse.

50. “ Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

p. 93

51. “Make no show of taking great delight in your victuals; feed not with greediness; lean not on the table, neither find fault with what you eat.

52. “Be not angry at table whatever happens, and if you have reason to be so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there be strangers, for good-humor makes one dish of meat a feast.

53. “Sit not yourself at the upper end of the table; but if it be your due, or that the master of the house will, contend not, lest you should trouble the company.

54. “When you speak of God, or his attributes, let it be seriously, in reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents, although they be poor.

55. “Let your recreation be manful, not sinful.

56. “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”

These maxims Alfred wrote in a very plain hand, and used to read over and over very often.

p. 94

This good little boy has not yet grown up, and it is impossible to say what the course of his life may be. But we may feel very confident, that one who has been so very careful to attend to all the duties, and decencies, and proprieties, of his youth, will not be found wanting in whatever station it may please Heaven to place him. Let all children strive to follow his example, and not only endeavor to perform all the duties that are required of them, but be attentive to mind all the forms and manners considered right and becoming by persons of good taste and judgment. Children can hardly fail to be polite, and to know what to do on every occasion, if they try to maintain kind and affectionate feelings to every one, and always do to others what they should wish to have done to themselves. A kind heart always teaches the truest politeness.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.