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

Robert Merry’s Miscellany
by Samuel Griswold Goodrich (1839)

By the time Robert Merry’s Miscellany appeared, Samuel Griswold Goodrich was famous for the creation of “Peter Parley,” a character so popular that his name was appropriated by other publishers to sell books not created by Goodrich.

Thus, Robert Merry. Irritated by the appropriation, in 1839 Goodrich took charge, “killing” his old character in a book titled Peter Parley’s Farewell and copyrighting several unauthorized books published with Parley’s name on them. He also created “Robert Merry,” whose name appeared on two works published by Samuel Colman.

The first work was Robert Merry’s Miscellany, a small anthology bound in yellow paper intended to be the first issue of a periodical to be published six times a year, at $1.50. “If successful,” the prospectus promises, “it will be continued with spirit, no pains being spared to render it, in print, paper, embellishments, entertainment, interest and adaptation to children and families, superior to anything of the kind yet undertaken in the United States.”

It … wasn’t. The Miscellany appears not to have been advertised or noticed in other periodicals. It’s unmentioned in any work on Goodrich and/or his publications before the 21st century or in any list at all of early American publications. Even Goodrich, himself, appears to have forgotten its existence: it doesn’t appear on a list he prepared for his Recollections of a Lifetime. In fact, there are only two copies of the Miscellany known to exist—not unusual for a paperbound work for children, who can be ferociously hard on their books. Still, it’s an important work in the history of American periodicals, because it led to Robert Merry’s Museum, one of the premier 19th-century magazines for children.

Actually, Robert Merry’s Miscellany IS Robert Merry’s Museum: almost the entire work appeared in issues of the Museum during the first year of publication. The articles are scattered through the first four issues of the magazine. Six of the seven full-page illustrations appear in the Museum. Elements of the engraved title page are used to illustrate Robert Merry’s reminiscences, and the little boy with the large book who graces the cover of the Miscellany sits on page 30 of the Museum’s first issue.

Interestingly, two of the pieces not reprinted in the Museum are “Plan of a Ship for Sailing in the Air” and the accompanying illustration—which are themselves likely why a copy of the Miscellany is preserved in the library of the Smithsonian’s National Aeronautics and Space Museum. The “air-ship” described is the Eagle, built in 1834, but never flown. Pictured in the accompanying illustration, with its steering paddles it’s a charming object that looks a little un-air-worthy. The illustration in the Miscellany has a complicated history: it’s evidently re-engraved from one of the British publications that so frustrated Goodrich—page 403 in Tales About Great Britain and Ireland, by “Peter Parley” (London: Thomas Tegg and Son, 1836)—which was, itself, copied from a lithograph; see the image online at the website of the Aeronautics and Space Museum.

When the pieces in the Miscellany were reprinted, no changes were made. The chapters here of the “Life and Adventures of Robert Merry” appeared in the first issue of the Museum. Here left unfinished, in the Museum the serial becomes a moralistic version of Goodrich’s childhood, as harum-scarum Robert Merry befriends a character based on Sarah Bishop—a hermit who visited Goodrich’s family—and learns valuable lessons about life. The incident of Merry’s first day of school with Mistress Sally St. John is based on Goodrich’s first day with Aunt Delight Benedict, which included some backtalk to the schoolmistress, but didn’t lead to Goodrich being excused from school.

The Miscellany is less a magazine than it is a giftbook, reminiscent of The Token, which Goodrich published from 1828 to 1842. Like the Token, the Miscellany includes poetry, fiction, descriptions of intriguing places, and essays, studded with full-page illustrations. Here the pieces are shorter, with dozens of single-paragraph anecdotes untaxing to the reader. Even pieces based on fact include a bit of moralizing. Information on birds is mingled with what they symbolize to people. The pieces on the sun and the moon give few facts, but dabble in morality. One of the overarching themes is ambition, with Robert Merry’s lack of it seen as a character flaw. Lack of ambition is a flaw in life, too, we are assured in “Professions and Trades”; it’s good to be contented with a little if that’s all one can earn, but contentment with the basics of life is wrong if one is able to earn more: “If a person cannot, by all his industry, earn more than the bare necessaries of life, it is right to be contented; but, if he can easily earn money to buy comfortable food, comfortable clothing, and other means of comfort and rational enjoyment, it is wrong to be contented with the bare necessaries of life.”

Why didn’t the Miscellany succeed? Price may have been a problem: at $1.50 a year, the price was considerably higher than the 50¢ to $1 most American children’s periodicals charged for a year’s subscription. That the Miscellany was an awkward combination of a magazine and a giftbook also may have worked against it; as a magazine published every other month, it appeared too infrequently (most periodicals were weekly or monthly), and while it included an appropriate number of illustrations for a giftbook, magazine readers expected more.

That Goodrich’s name wasn’t on it also may have kept the Miscellany from succeeding. Certainly the book included works by him, including Robert Merry’s childhood and “My First Whistle.” By 1839, Goodrich was a hugely popular writer for children, and it’s odd that his name is nowhere in the book. In fact, the Miscellany is all Colman, all the time. Goodrich’s books are advertised on the back cover of the Miscellany, but the covers are actually advertising Colman’s offerings. The Miscellany is copyrighted by Colman, as is another work with Robert Merry’s name on it: Robert Merry’s Annual for 1840, a collection of uncredited poems, dialogs, and stories caged in wide, decorative, page-filling borders which Colman copyrighted in 1839—the year the Miscellany was published. Did Colman own the rights to the name ”Robert Merry”? or had he appropriated it from Goodrich? A paragraph in December 1841 on the founding of Parley’s Magazine claims that Colman purchased the right to use Peter Parley’s name on the magazine—an assertion that Goodrich was swift to contradict. Goodrich also was apparently swift to sue: on 5 January 1841 he sued Colman in the New York City Court of Common Pleas. Unfortunately for researchers, neither party in the complaint appeared, and the matter was dropped. The timing, however—the year after the appearance of Robert Merry’s Annual and the month before the first issue of Robert Merry’s Museum—is intriguing; perhaps Goodrich was asserting his claim to the character of “Robert Merry” and to what he, himself, had written, both of which were about to appear in magazine form.

Pieces in the Miscellany also appeared elsewhere. “Who Made It?” was reprinted from a work published by Morton & Griswold of Louisville, Kentucky, which was in 1839 publishing readers copyrighted by Goodrich. The poem doesn’t appear by its title in the 1839 edition of the Third Reader for the Use of Schools, but does in a revised edition from 1847.

Pieces reprinted in Robert Merry’s Museum include the following: Illustrations: Frontispiece (“The Sociable Weavers”; February 1841: 2) “The Sailor’s Family” (February 1841: 21); “The Groom & the Horse” (February 1841: 23); “Bank Swallows” (February 1841: 16); “The Eagle Owl” (February 1841: 6); “Spectre of the Brocken” (April 1841: 79). Text: “Introduction” (Jan 1841: 9-15); “Origin of Words and Phrases” (March 1841: 35; August 1841: 43-44); “The Sailor’s Family” (February 1841: 21-23); “Anecdote of Franklin” (March 1841: 63); “My First Whistle” [poem by Goodrich] (February 1841: 4); “The Groom and the Horse” (February 1841: 23); “The Human Frame Likened to a House” [poem] (February 1841: 18); “The Fighting Business” (March 1841: 62-63); “The Sociable Weavers” (February 1841: 2-3); “How to Sleep in Snow” (March 1841: 62); “Plan of a Ship for Sailing in the Air”; “Swiftness of Birds” (February 1841: 31); “A Brave Irishman” (February 1841: 31); “Searching for Hidden Gold” (February 1841: 31); “John Steady and Peter Sly” (March 1841: 38-40); “Peach Seeds” (March 1841: 37); “Swallows” (February 1841: 15-18); “About Labor and Property” (February 1841: 3-4); “Ingenious Excuse of a Schoolboy” (March 1841: 63); “Origin of ‘The House that Jack Built’ ” (February 1841: 7-9); “The Insincerity of Flattery” (March 1841: 43); “Owls” (February 1841: 5-7); “Attachment to Our Country” (March 1841: 42); “The Child and the Violets” [poem] (April 1841: 62); “Life and Adventures of Robert Merry” (chapters 1-4; unfinished; Jan 1841: 9-15); “Plain Dealing” (February 1841: 26); “The Spectre of the Brocken” (April 1841: 79-80); “Night” (April 1841: 101-102); “The Moon” (June 1841: 173); “Professions and Trades” (March 1841: 94-95); “Monument of Affection” (February 1841: 31); “Ready Wit” (February 1841: 31); “Keen Satire” (March 1841: 63); “Contentment” (March 1841: 50); “Talking to One’s Self” (March 1841: 63); “Being Behindhand” (March 1841: 63); “A Child’s Affection for a Kitten” (February 1841: 30); “A Musical Mouse” (February 1841: 30); “Travelling Cats” (February 1841: 30); “A Musical Pigeon” (February 1841: 31).

This transcription includes images of the front cover from the copy of the Miscellany at the National Aeronautics and Space Museum in Washington, District of Columbia, which is lacking in my copy. The yellow of the covers is an approximation of what appears to be their original color. Because scanning the pages would further damage the book, most of the illustrations are quick snapshots not intended for reproduction, but to show what they look like. I haven’t included an image of the flyleaf of my copy, which was presented a student for outstanding work: “This certifies that Miss Rebecca has obtained the head of the class for two months.” I hope Rebecca enjoyed her prize as much as I have.

Robert Merry’s Miscellany, by Samuel Griswold Goodrich. (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839)

[cover p. 1; front cover]


small child, large book

No. 8, Astor House.

[cover p. 2; inside front cover]


Introduction … 3

Origin of Words and Phrases … 6

The Sailor’s Family … 7

Anecdote of Franklin … 9

My First Whistle … 10

The Groom and the Horse … 11

Conundrum … 11

The Human Frame likened to a House … 12

The Fighting Business … 12

The Sociable Weavers … 13

How to Sleep in Snow … 14

Plain of a Ship for Sailing in the Air … 15

Swiftness of Birds … 15

A Brave Irishman … 16

Searching for Hidden Gold … 16

John Steady and Peter Sly … 17

Peach Seeds … 22

Swallows … 23

Origin of the Word Dun … 26

About Labor and Property … 27

Ingenious Excuse of a Schoolboy … 28

Origin of “The House that Jack Built” … 29

The Insincerity of Flatterers … 31

To the Toads … 32

Owls … 33

Attachment to our Country … 35

The Child and the Violets … 36

Life and Adventures of Robert Merry … 37

Plain Dealing … 48

The Spectre of the Brocken … 49

The Sun … 51

Night … 52

The Moon … 53

Professions and Trades … 55

A Morning Walk to see the Sparrows … 58

Who made it? … 59

Monument of Affection … 60

Ready Wit … 61

Keen Satire … 61

Contentment … 61

Talking to One’s Self … 62

Being Behindhand … 62

A Child’s Affection for a Kitten … 63

A Musical Mouse … 63

Travelling Cats … 64

A Musical Pigeon … 64

hand pointing down  hand pointing down  hand pointing down  hand pointing down  hand pointing down  hand pointing down

This number of “Robert Merry’s Miscellany” is intended as a sample to the public, and an experiment on the part of the publishers. If successful, it will be continued with spirit, no pains being spared to render it, in print, paper, embellishments, entertainment, interest and adaptation to children and families, superior to anything of the kind yet undertaken in the United States.

It is proposed to bring about six numbers a year, making two annual volumes; price of each number, TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.

hand pointing right Persons to whom this number is sent, will confer a favor by giving their friends an opportunity to examine it.

hand pointing right The names of subscribers are solicited: any aid rendered to the work will be gratefully acknowledged. All communications to be addressed to

No. 8, Astor House, New York.

[blank page]


a huge nest with many entrances encircles the trunk of a tree

[blank page]

[engraved title page]

a border with two pictures of Robert Merry, an eagle, a steamship, Egyptian pyramids, a sailing ship, a church, and a lion; text below

8 Astor house.

[p. 1; title page]


small child, large book

No. 8, Astor House.

[p. 2; copyright page]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
Samuel Colman,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of New York.

[p. 3]



I am inclined to think, that, among the various pleasures of life, talking is one of the greatest. Eating and drinking are very good things, especially when one is hungry and thirsty, and has a good meal before him. But they are very short in their duration. The heartiest supper is over in a few minutes, and drinking, in as many seconds. Beside, these are selfish pleasures, and afford only the single satisfaction of an immediate appetite. But talking is not confined to self, nor is it limited to the body. It exercises the mind, and extends alike to the speaker and the listener.

The love of talking exhibits itself in very infancy. The little prattler, even before he can speak words, tries to amuse you with his inarticulate gabble. And, when he has learned a word, with what glory does he repeat it to you! A young soldier touches off a cannon with less exultation, than the infant pronounces his first articulate syllable.

And then, look at a group of children! How eager are they to speak to each other! How their little tongues rattle! Sometimes all will speak at once, whether anybody listens or not. It is often hard to get a word in edgewise among such a set of orators.

Suppose some child has been away, and comes home with a piece of news. How does he rush into the room, scarcely taking time to

p. 4

hang up his hat or cap, and, with staring eyes and ruddy cheeks, set forth the wondrous tale! Suppose a child has seen something new, as a lion or an elephant; how does he talk of it to his companions! Or, suppose he has been rambling in the woods, and has seen an eagle, or a gray squirrel, or a woodchuck,—something he had never seen before,—how eager is he to talk about it!

Thus it is with the young; they love to talk of things that interest them; and thus it is with those who have passed from the morning of life toward its setting sun. It may be that old people are less talkative than young ones; but still we all love to speak to others of that which excites our own feelings, or occupies our minds. Talking, then, is one of the great pleasures of life, and God has no doubt made it so for good and wise purposes. How large a portion of the happiness of life would be cut off, if we were all dumb!

For myself, I was a great rattler in youth, and, even now that my hair is grizzled with years, I must confess, that I am not greatly altered in this respect. My life has been a varied one, and I have seen a good deal of the world. I cannot pretend to be so great a traveller as Peter Parley, nor can I match him in telling stories to babies. But still, give me a good listener, and I can talk from sunrise to sunset.

I love better to talk to youth than to others. Those who are from eight to sixteen years old, are my chosen friends. I can always find some way of entertaining them. Several bright-eyed girls and boys are in the habit of coming to see me, and I tell them my long stories. They come again and again, and I infer that they are pleased with them. I tell them sometimes of giants and fairies; but it is curious, that, while most young people prefer these tales of fancy, I succeed much better in pleasing my listeners by talking to them about things that really exist, or have really happened. Truth, after all, is more attractive than fiction, if it is only dressed in a proper guise.

p. 5

My own adventures seem to give my listeners the most pleasure, for I have been all over the United States; have been a soldier, and seen service; have been a pedler, and travelled thousands of miles on foot; have met with strange accidents and hairbreadth escapes from danger; and have had my share of what is called hard luck. Still, I have reason to thank Heaven, that my heart is happy, and my mind cheerful. I love sunshine as well as when I was a boy, and see much more occasion to laugh than to cry. I have indeed my serious moods, for there are some subjects that demand seriousness and reverence. Religion claims some of our time, and much of our thought. The Sabbath is with me a day of solemn reflection and prayer. I bend over the Bible, with a feeling that I am listening to the voice of God. These things make me serious, but not sad. As the sun seems to shine brighter, when it comes out from a cloud, so my heart is ever more serene and cheerful, for its communion with holy things.

But this is enough for an introduction. I am now going to talk on paper, if I can get any readers. I shall try to make my pages interesting. I shall give my own history and adventures, in a series of chapters. I shall tell of birds and beasts; of stones and flowers; of remarkable men and women, that have lived in by-gone days; of great events that have happened in other times; of countries and nations, and wonderful things, that are to be found in different parts of the world; and I shall also tell some tales of fancy, that may, perhaps, instruct as well as amuse. I shall talk a great deal aobut our own country. I shall deal in fables, and allegories, and rhyme, and, in short, shall try to serve up a variety of things for the pleasure and profit of my readers. As I before said, I have been a pedler, and dealt a good deal with young people, and I ought to know how to make up my pack so as to please them.

p. 6


A tailor of Samarcand, a city of the east, chanced to live near a gate that led to the public burying-place; and, being a fanciful fellow, he hung up by his shopboard a little earthen pot, into which he dropped a small stone, whenever a corpse was carried by. At the end of every moon, he counted the contents of the pot, and so knew the number of the deceased. At length, the tailor died hismelf, and, some time after, a person unacquainted with his decease, observing his shop to be deserted, inquired what had become of him. “Oh,” said a neighbor, “the tailor has gone to pot, as well as the rest!” And this is the origin of the phrase, “to go to pot.”

Few words have so remarkable a history as the familiar word “bankrupt.” The money-changers of Italy had, it is said, benches or stalls in the burse or exchange, in former times, and at these they conducted their ordinary business. When any of them fell back in the world, and became insolvent, his bench was broken, and the name of broken bench, or banco rotto, was given him. When the word was first adopted into the English, it was nearer the Italian than it now is; being bankerout, instead of bankrupt.

Though any man can put his pony to the canter, few are able, in general, to explain the word by which they designate the animal’s pace. The term canter is a corruption, or rather an abbreviation, of a Canterbury gallop, which signifies the hand gallop of an ambling horse. The origin of the phrase is as old as the days of the Canterbury pilgrims, when votaries came at certain seasons to the shrine of Thomas à Becket in that city, from all parts of the nation. Mail-coaches and railroads being then unknown, the pilgrims travelled on horseback, and from their generally using easy, ambling nags, the pace at which they got over the ground came to be called a Canterbury gallop, and afterwards a canter.

[blank page]


a woman sits with two small children in a ruined stable

p. 7


There once lived in Ireland a sailor, who had a wife and one child. He was poor, but still he provided a small house for his family, had it decently furnished, and, as he always brought them money when he came home from his voyages, they were quite comfortable.

He was very fond of his little boy, and he, too, was very fond of his father. The sailor used to go in a ship to the West Indies, and, when he returned, he always brought back some nice oranges and other good things for his little son.

Well, the Irishman, whose name was Kelly, had once been gone on a voyage to the West Indies for several months, and his family were expecting every day that he would return. Whenever the door was opened, the boy looked up to see if it was not his father who had come.

Four months passed away, and no news came. And now Mrs. Kelly had become very much afraid that something had happened to her husband. She feared that the vessel had been cast away upon some rocky shore, or that it had sunk in the deep sea, or that some other misfortune had occurred, by which her husband had perished.

The boy, too, became very uneasy, and was every day expressing his wonder that his father did not come back. At length a man, who lived near by, came into the house, and told Mrs. Kelly that he had brought sad news. He then went on to tell her, that the vessel, in which her husband sailed, had been driven ashore in a gale of wind, and dashed to pieces upon a rocky island, and it was supposed that all on board had perished.

Some persons from another vessel had landed upon the island, and found papers and pieces of the wreck upon the shore, by which

p. 8

they knew it was the vessel in which Kelly had sailed. The island was small, and there was no person upon it.

This was sad intelligence to the poor sailor’s wife, and it was long before she could find it in her heart to break the news to her child. When he heard it, he shed many tears, and peace returned no more to the sailor’s home.

Being deprived of the assistance of her husband, Mrs. Kelly was obliged to make great exertions to support herself and child with comfort. She was, however, very industrious, and, for a time, she got along pretty well.

At length she was taken sick, and a little girl was added to her family. When she was partially recovered, she found herself poor, and a good deal in debt to her landlord. He was a cruel man; he took away her furniture for what she owed him, and then turned the widow and her family into the street.

The poor woman was still unwell; and it was with great difficulty that she walked about a mile to the house of a farmer, whom she knew, hoping that he would render her assistance. But he would give her nothing.

She was now in great distress, and did not know where to find even shelter. Sad, sick, and almost broken-hearted, she crept toward a stable, and sat down upon some straw. Here she remained for some time, with her infant in her arms, and her boy’s head resting on her lap.

Where could she now look for aid? She had no friends, from whom she could expect assistance. At length her thoughts turned to that good Being, who is ever the friend of the poor and the distressed. To him she prayed fervently, and so deeply was her mind absorbed in this act of devotion, that she did not notice a man who at the moment was passing by, on the public road.

He was on foot, and seeing the woman and her children, stepped toward them, to observe them more carefully. When Mrs. Kelly

p. 9

had finished her petition and opend her eyes, the man was standing before her.

She instantly perceived that he was a sailor, and that his countenance bespoke amazement; and then it struck her that he seemed to bear a wonderful likeness to her lost husband. At length he spoke her name, and the poor woman, betwixt fear and joy, would have fallen through faintness to the ground. Kelly supported her, for it was he!

When she recovered, mutual explanations took place. She told her story, and he related his, which was this. The ship in which he sailed was wrecked upon the island, and all perished save himself and two others. These were taken off the island, by a vessel going to the East Indies. As soon as he could, he left this ship, and got into a vessel that was going to England, and thus, after an absence of eight months, returned to his country. I need not describe the happiness that now filled again the hearts of the sailor’s family.


While Franklin was Ambassador to the English court, a lady, who was about being presented to the King, noticed his exceedingly plain appearance, and inquired who he was. “That, Madam,” answered the gentleman upon whose arm she was leaning, “is Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the Ambassador from North America.” “The North American Ambassador so meanly dressed!” exclaimed the lady. “Hush, Madam, for Heaven’s sake!” whispered the gentleman; “he is the man that bottles up thunder and lightning!” I suppose my readers all know, that Dr. Franklin was the inventor of lightning-rods, by which the lightning is drawn off from buildings, and thus rendered harmless. It was this that gave rise to the humorous reply of the aforesaid gentleman.

p. 10


Of all the toys I e’er have known,

I loved that whistle best;

It was my first, it was my own,

And I was doubly blest.

’T was Saturday, and afternoon,

That school-boys’ jubilee,

When the young heart is allin tune,

From book and ferule free.

I then was in my seventh year;

The birds were all a singing;

Above a brook, that rippled clear,

A willow tree was swinging.

My brother Ben was very ’cute,

He climbed that willow tree,

He cut a branch, and I was mute

The while with ecstasy.

With penknife he did cut it round,

And gave the bark a wring;

He shaped the mouth and tried the sound,—

It was a glorious thing!

I blew that whistle, full of joy,

It echoed o’er the ground;

And never, since that simple toy,

Such music have I found

I ’ve seen blue eyes and tasted wines,

With manly toys been blest,

But backward memory still inclines

To love that whistle best.


a horse and a man

[blank page]

p. 11


A groom, whose business it was to take care of a certain horse, let the animal go loose into a field. After a while, he wanted to catch him, but the brute chose to run about at liberty, rather than be shut up in the stable; so he pranced round the field and kept out of the groom’s way. The groom now went to the granary, and got the measure with which he was wont to bring the horse his oats. When the horse saw the measure, he thought to be sure that the groom had some oats for him; and so he went up to him, and was instantly caught and taken to the stable.

Another day, the horse was in the field and refused to be caught. So the groom again got the measure, and held it out, inviting the horse, as before, to come up to him. But the animal shook his head, saying, “Nay, master groom, you told me a lie the other day, and I am not so silly as to be cheated a second time by you.”

“But,” said the groom, “I did not tell you a lie; I only held out the measure, and you fancied that it was full of oats. I did not tell you there were oats in it.”

“Your excuse is worse than the cheat itself,” said the horse. “You held out the measure, and thereby did as much as to say, ‘I have got some oats for you.’ ”

Actions speak as well as words. Every deceiver, whether by words or deeds, is a liar; and nobody, that has been once deceived by him, will fail to shun and despise him ever after.


Why is it ridiculous for a Doctor of Divinity to play the violin? Because he is then a fiddle D. D.

p. 12


Man’s body ’s like a house: his greater bones

Are the main timbers; and the lesser ones

Are smaller joists; his limbs are laths daubed o’er,

Plastered with flesh and blood; his mouth ’s the door;

His throat ’s the narrow entry; and his heart

Is the great chamber, full of curious art.

His stomach is the kitchen, where the meat

Is often put, half sod, for want of heat.

His spleen ’s a vessel nature does allot

To take the scum that rises from the pot;

His lungs are like the bellows, that respire

In every office, quickening every fire;

His nose the chimney is, whereby are vented,

Such fumes as with the bellows are augmented;

His eyes are crystal windows, clear and bright,

Let in the object, and let out the sight;

And as the timber is, or great or small,

Or strong, or weak, ’t is apt to stand or fall.


“What are you thinking of, my man?” said Lord Hill, as he approached a soldier, who was leaning in a gloomy mood upon his firelock, while around him lay mangled thousands of French and English; for it was a few hours after the battle of Salamanca had been won by the British. The soldier started, and after saluting his General, answered, “I was thinking, my Lord, how many widows and orphans I have this day made for one shilling.” He had fired six hundred bullets that day, and his pay was a shilling a day.

p. 13


Men find it convenient to devote themselves to different trades. One spends his time in one trade, and another in another. so we find the various kinds of birds brought up and occupied in different trades. The woodpecker is a carpenter, the hawk a sportsman, the heron a fisherman, &c. But in these cases we remark, that the birds do not have to serve an apprenticeship. It takes a boy seven years to learn to be a carpenter; but a young woodpecker, as soon as he can fly, goes to his work without a single lesson, and yet understanding it perfectly.

This is very wonderful; but God teaches the birds their lessons, and his teaching is perfect. Perhaps the most curious mechanics among the birds, are the Sociable Weavers, found in the southern part of Africa. Hundreds of these birds, in one community, join to form a structure of interwoven grass, (the sort chosen being what is called Boshman’s grass,) containing various apartments, all covered by a sloping roof, impenetrable to the heaviest rain, and increased year by year, as the increase in numbers of the community may require.

“I observed,” says a traveller in South Africa, “a tree with an enormous nest of these birds, to which I have given the appellation of Republicans; and, as soon as I arrived at my camp, I despatched a few men with a wagon to bring it to me, that I might open the hive and examine the structure in its minutest parts. When it arrived, I cut it to pieces with a hatchet, and saw that the chief portion of the structure consisted of a mass of Boshman’s grass, without any mixture, but so compact and firmly basketed together as to be impenetrable to the rain. This is the commencement of the structure; and each bird builds its particular nest under this canopy, the upper surface remaining void, without, however being useless; for,

p. 14

as it has a projecting rim and is a little inclined, it serves to let the water run off, and preserves each little dwelling from the rain.

“The largest nest that I examined was one of the most considerable I had anywhere seen in the course of my journey, and contained three hundred and twenty inhabited cells, which, supposing a male and female to each, would form a society of six hundred and forty individuals. Such a calculation, however, would not be exact. It appears, that in every flock the females are more numerous by far than the males; many cells, therefore, would contain only a single bird. Still, the aggregate would be considerable; and,f when undisturbed, they might go on to increase, the structure increasing in a like ratio, till a storm, sweeping through the wood, laid the tree, and the edifice it sustained, in one common ruin.”


The manner in which Captain Ross’s crew preserved themselves, after the shipwreck of their vessel, was by digging a trench in the snow when night came on; this trench was made large enough to contain seven people; and there were three trenches, with one officer and six men in each. At evening, the shipwrecked mariners got into bags, made of double blanketing, which they tied round their necks, and thus prevented their feet from slipping into the snow while asleep; they then crept into the trenches and lay close together. The cold was generally sixty-four degrees below the freezing-point of Fahrenheit; but in January, 1831, the mercury was ninety-two degrees and a half below the freezing-point.

[blank page]


two balloons; one has a rudder and four moveable fins visible

p. 15


An ingenious man in England has lately contrived a ship, by which he proposes to sail in the air, from one city of Europe to another. It is one hundred and sixty feet long, fifty feet high, and forty feet wide. It is filled with gas; thus it is very light, and rises into the air of itself, carrying up a car, attached to it by means of a netting. This car hangs below the ship, and is designed to carry seventeen persons. In a common balloon ballast is thrown out if the balloon is wanted to go higher, and gas is let out when the balloon is required to descend; but in this air-ship there is said to be a contrivance like that of a fish, by which the car part is made heavier or lighter.

This aërial ship is a very curious thing, but I do not believe it will succeed. If it should ever sail over from England to our country, I will tell you of it.


A vulture can fly at the rate of one hundred and fifty miles an hour. Observations on the coast of Labrador convinced Major Arkwright, that wild geese could travel at the rate of ninety miles dan hour. The common crow can fly twenty-five miles, and swallows ninety-two miles, an hour. It is said, that a falcon, belonging to Henry the Fourth, was discovered at Malta, twenty-four hours after its departure from Fontainebleau. If true, this bird must have flown, for twenty-four hours, at the rate of fifty-seven miles an hour, not allowing him to rest a moment during the whole time.

p. 16


An Irishman, who was a soldier of the Revolution, and, of Warren’s brigade, was suddenly stopped near Boston by a party, during a dark night; a horseman’s pistol was presented to his breast, and he was asked to which side he belonged. The supposition, that it might be a British party, rendered his situation extremely critical. He replied, “I think it would be more in the way of civility, just to drop a hint which side you are pleased to favor.” “No,” testily said the first speaker; “declare your sentiments, or die!” “Then I will not die with a lie in my mouth. American, to extremity! Do your worst, you spalpeen!” The officer replied, “We are your friends; and I rejoice to meet with a man so faithful to the cause of his country.”


Kidd was a famous sea robber on the American coast, and many people believe that he buried large pots or chests of gold, somewhere along the shore. A number of laborers, believers of this legend, at work in a field, accidentally discovered, upon the top of a large stone, an inscription in ancient characters, which, on deciphering, read as follows:

“Take me up, and I will tell you more.”

Eager for the money, and entertaining no doubt of their being close upon it, they immediately set about raising the stone. After tugging and toiling several hours, they finally succeeded, and with some difficulty read on the bottom:

“Lay me down as I was before.”

p. 17


Peter. Ho, John, don’t stumble over that log! I don’t think it a good plan to study my lessons as I go to school.

John. Nor I; but I am in such a scrape.

Peter. What ’s the matter?

John. Why, I believe I have got the wrong lesson.

Peter. I guess not. Let me see; where did you begin?

John. Here, at the top of the page; and I learned over three leaves, down to the end of the chapter.

Peter. Well, that ’s all right.

John. Are you sure?

Peter. Certain, as can be.

John. Well, now! I am half glad and half sorry[.] Only think; there is poor George Gracie has been getting the wrong lesson. I came by his window, and there he was, fagging away; and, when we came to talk about it, we found we had been studying in different places. But he was so sure he was right! so I thought I must be wrong.

Peter. I know it; I know all about it.

John. Why! did you tell him wrong?

Peter. No, no; I never tell a lie, you know. But yesterday, when the master gave out the lesson, George was helping little Timothy Dummy to do a sum; so he only listened with one ear, and the consequence was, he misunderstood what the master said; and then he began groaning about such a hard lesson, as we were going home; I laughing to myself all the time!

John. What! did you find out his blunder and not set him right?

Peter. Set him right! Not I. I scolded about the hard lesson, too.

p. 18

John. There, that ’s the reason he was so positive. He said you had got the same lesson he had.

Peter. But I never told him so; I only let him think so.

John. Ah, Peter, do you think that is right?

Peter. To be sure it is. Don’t you know he was at the head of the class, and I am next, and if I get him down to-day, I am sure of the medal? A poor chance I should have had, if he had not made such a blunder.

John. Lucky for you, but every unlucky for him; and I must say, I don’t call it fair behavior in you, Peter Sly!

Peter. I don t care what you call it, John. It is none of your affair, as I see; let every fellow look out for himself, and the sharpest one will be the best off.

John. Not in the end, Peter. You are in at the great end of the horn, now; for, by one trick or another, you are almost always above the rest of us. But if you don’t come out at the little end, and come out pretty small too, I am mistaken, that is all. Here comes poor George, and I shall spoil your trick, Mr. Peter.

Peter. That you may now, as soon as you please. If he can get the right lesson decently in half an hour, he is the eighth wonder of the world. I shall have him down, I am sure of that.

(Enter George Gracie.)

John. Here, George, stop a minute; here ’s bad news for you.

George. What ’s the matter?—no school to-day?

John. School enough for you, I fancy. You have been getting the wrong lesson, after all.

George. Oh, John, John! don’t tell me so!

John. It ’s true; and that sneaking fellow, that sits whittling a stick, so mighty easy, he knew it yesterday, and would not tell you.

George. Oh, Peter! how could you do so!

Peter. Easily enough. I don’t see that I was under any obligation to help you to keep at the head of the class, when I am the next.

p. 19

George. But you know you deceived me, Peter. I think it would have been but kind and fair to tell me my mistake, as soon as you found it out; but, instead of that, you said things that made me quite sure I was right about the lesson.

Peter. But I did not tell you so; you can’t say I told you so. Nobody ever caught me in a lie.

John. But you will lie;—you will come to that yet, if you go on so.

Peter. Take care what you say, Sir!

George. Come, come, John; don’t quarrel with him. He will get the medal now; and it is a cruel thing too; for I sat up till eleven o’clock, last night, studying; and he knew that my father was coming home from Washington to-night, and how anxious I was to have the mdeal. But it can’t be helped now.

Peter. Poor fellow! don’t cry! I declare there are great tears in his eyes. Now it is a pity, really.

John. For shame, Peter Sly, to laugh at him! You are a selfish, mean fellow, and every boy in school thinks so.

George. Come, John; I must go and study my lesson as well as I can. I would rather be at the foot of the class, than take such an advantage of anybody.

(Exit George.)

Peter. The more fool you! Now, he will be in such a fluster, that he will be sure to miss in the very first sentence.

John. There is the Master, coming over the hill; now if I should just step up to him, and tell him the whole story!

Peter. You know better than to do that. You know he never encourages tale-bearers.

John. I know that, very well; and I would almost as soon be a cheat as a tell-tale, but the Master will find you out, yet, without anybody’s help; and that will be a day of rejoicing to the whole school. There is not a fellow in it, that don’t scorn you, Peter Sly.

Peter. And who cares, so long as the Master—

p. 20

John. Don’t be quite so sure about the Master, either; he never says much till he is ready. But I have seen him looking pretty sharply at you, over his spectacles, in the midst of some of your clever tricks. He will fetch you up, one of these days, when you little think of it. I wish you much joy of your medal, Mr. Peter Sly. You got to the head of the class, last week, unfairly; and if your medal weighed as much as your conscience, I guess it would break your neck.     (Peter sits whittling, and humming a tune.)

Peter. Let me see. I am quite sure of the medal in this class; but there ’s the writing! John Steady is the only boy I am afraid of. If I could hire Timothy Dummy to pester him, and joggle his desk till he gets mad, I should be pretty sure of that, too.

(Enter Master, taking out his watch.)

Master. It wants twenty minutes of nine. Peter Sly, come to me. I want to have some conversation with you, before we go into school.

Peter. Yes, Sir.—What now? he looks rather black. (Aside.)

Master. For what purpose do you imagine I bestow medals, once a week, on the best of my scholars?

Peter. To make the boys study, I believe, Sir.

Master. And why do I wish them to study?

Peter. Why,—to please their parents, I suppose, Sir.

Master. I wish them to study for the very same reason that their parents do; that they may get knowledge. I have suspected for some time, that you labor under a considerable mistake about these matters. You take great pleasure, I presume, in wearing home that piece of silver, hanging round your neck; and your mother takes pleasure in seeing it.

Peter. Yes, Sir; she does.

Master. And why? What does the medal say to her? Of what is it a sign?

Peter. Why, that I am the best scholar in my class.

p. 21

Master. Is that what it says? I think it only shows, that you have been at the head of the class oftener, during the week, than any other boy.

Peter. Well, Sir; then, of course, she must think me the best scholar.

Master. She would naturally think so, for so it ought to be. But you know, Peter Sly, and I know, that a boy who ahs no sense of honor, no generous feelings, no strictness of principle, may get to the head of his class, and get medals for a time, without being the best scholar. You know how such a thing can be accomplished, do you not? and how the medal may be made to tell a falsehood at home? (Peter hangs his head in silence.) Shall I tell you how I have seen it done? By base tricks; by purposely leading others into mistakes; by taking advantage of every slip of the tongue; by trying to confuse a boy, who knows his lesson sufficiently well, but is timid; by equivocations that are little short of lies, and are the forerunners of unblushing lies. Now, Sir, a boy who does these things, is so weak-minded that he cannot see the proper use of medals, and thinks he is sent here to get medals, instead of being sent to gain knowledge to prepare him for active life; and, under this mistake, he goes to work for the empty sign, instead of the thing itself. That shows folly. Then he becomes so intent on his object, as to care not by what unjustifiable means he obtains it. Have I any boy, in my school, of this description? Do you know the picture?

Peter. Yes, Sir; but, forgive me. I did not think you ever observed it.

Master. The artful are very apt to believe themselves more successful than they really are. So you concluded you had deceived me, as well as wronged your companions! Your tears are unavailing, if, by them, you think I shall be persuaded to drop the subject here. You must be publicly disgraced.

p. 22

Peter. What, Sir! When I have not told a lie?

Master. You have not spent a day in perfect truth for weeks. I have watched you in silence and closely for the last month, and I am satisfied, that you have not merely yielded occasionally to a sudden temptation, but that deception is an habitual thing with you; that, through life, you will endeavor to make your way by low knavery if I do not root the mean vice out of you, and so save you from the contempt of men and the anger of God. Rest assured, your Maker looks on your heart as that of a liar.—Go into school; and as I am convinced, from reflecting on several circumstances which took place, that you had no just claim to the very medal yu now wear, take your place at the foot of your class. The reasons of your degradation shall be explained in presence of all the scholars. I use the principle of emulation in my school, to rouse up talent and encourage industry; but I watch against its abuse. I endeavor to unite with this principle a noble and unwavering love of truth, and generous, honorable feelings; and am happy to say, that, except yourself, I have no cause to doubt of having succeeded. I know not one of your companions, who would spurn from his heart the base manœuvres which you adopt; and, before this day is over, they shall have fresh motives to value fair dealing. You must be made an example of; I will no longer permit you to treat your schoolmates with injustice, or so as to injure your own soul. Go in.


A gentleman having given a quantity of peaches to some foreign laborers on a railroad, in the vicinity of one of our cities, one of them was asked how he liked them. He said the fruit was very good, but the seeds scratched his throat a little when he swallowed them.

[blank page]


a cliff with an ivy-covered house on top; swallows nest in the cliff

p. 23


Of these birds there are several kinds, but I am going to speak of only one or two of them now. The common barn swallow is one of the most interesting. It does not come much among us at the north, till the settled warm weather of May. A straggler now and then appears before, which has led to the adage, “One swallow does not make summer.”

The flight of the swallow is often low, but distinguished by great rapidity, and sudden turns and evolutions, executed as if by magic. Over fields and meadows, and the surface of pools and sheets of water, all the day may this fleet, unwearied bird be seen skimming along, and describing, in its oft-repeated circuit, the most intricate mazes. The surface of the water is indeed its delight; its insect food is there in great profusion; and it is beautiful to observe how dexterously it skims along, and with what address it dips and emerges, shaking the spray from its burnished plumage, as, hardly interrupted by the plunge, it continues its career. Thus it feeds, and drinks, and bathes upon the wing.

The swallow breeds twice a year, and constructs its nest of mud or clay, mixed with hair and straw; the clay is tempered with the saliva of the bird (with which nature has supplied it) in order to make it tenacious and easily moulded. The shell or crust of the nest thus composed, is lined with fine grass or feathers, firmly fixed against the rafters of barns or out-houses; and the writer knows that a pair yearly built in the rafters of a wheelwright’s shop, undisturbed by the din of the hammer or the grating of the saw. The propensity which these birds, in common with their family, exhibit to return to the same spot, and to build in the same barn year after year, is one of the most curious parts of their history. During their sojourn in foreign climes, they forget not their old

p. 24

home, the spot where they were bred, the spot where they have reared their offspring; but, as soon as their instinct warns them to retrace their pilgrimage, back they hasten, and, as experiments have repeatedly proved, the identical pair that built last summer in the barn, again take up their old quarters, passing in and out by the same opening.

It is delightful to witness the care which the swallow manifests towards her brood. When able to leave the nest, she leads them to the ridge of the barn, where, settled in a row, and as yet unable to fly, she feeds them with great assiduity. In a day or two they become capable of flight, and then they follow their parents in all their evolutions, and are fed by them while on the wing. In a short time they commence an independent career, and set up for themselves.

The notes of the swallow, though hurried and twittering, are very pleasing; and the more so as they are associated in our minds with ideas of spring, and calm serenity, and rural pleasure. The time in which the bird pours forth its melody is chiefly at sunrise, when, in “token of a goodly day,” his rays are bright and warm.

“The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,

The swallow, twittering from the straw-built shed,”

unite alike to call man from his couch to rest, to praise “the God of seasons as they roll.”

After the work of rearing the young, ere autumn sears the leaf, the swallow prepares to depart. Multitudes from various quarters now congregate together, and perch at night in clusters on barns or the branches of trees, but especially among the reeds of marshes and fens, round which they may be observed wheeling and sinking and rising again, all the time twittering vociferously before they finally settle. It was from this circumstance that some of the older naturalists supposed the swallow to become torpid and remain submerged beneath the water during winter, and to issue forth from its liquid

p. 25

tenement on the return of spring; a theory utterly incompatible with reason and facts, and now universally discarded. The great body of these birds depart about the end of September.

The Holy Scriptures make frequent allusions to this interesting bird. Jeremiah, reproaching the Jews for their turning away from God, alludes to the swallow as obeying His laws, while they who have seen his glory rebelled: “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord,” viii. 7.

The Psalmist notices the partiality of this bird for the temple of worship, the sanctuary of God: “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” Psalm lxxxiv. 3. Hezekiah, king of Judah, wrote of himself, “Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter.” Is. xxxviii. 14. In these casual notices we at least trace out that the habits, migration, and song of the swallow, were known to the inspired writers, a circumstance of no little value, since a false assertion that the facts of natural history are not correctly stated in the Bible has long been among the weak engines used by the infidel against the validity of that book, “which maketh wise unto salvation.”

The Sand Martin, or Bank Swallow, is a most curious bird, of this family. It is the least of the tribe, and the first to arrive, appearing a week or two before the swallow, and often while the weather is severe. Its flight is vacillating, but it is equally fond of skimming over the surface of the water. This bird, unlike its race, mines deep holes in sand or chalk cliffs, to the depth of two feet or even more, at the extremity of which it constructs a loose nest of fine grass and feathers, artificially put together, in which it rears its brood.

The sand martin is of a social disposition; hence flocks of them

p. 26

unite to colonize a favorite locality, such as a precipitous bank or rock, which they crowd with their burrows. Professor Pallas says, that on the high banks of the Irtish, their nests are in some places so numerous, that, when disturbed, the inmates come out in vast flocks and fill the air like flies; and, according to Wilson, they swarm in immense multitudes along the banks of the Ohio and Kentucky. What, it may be asked, are the instruments by which this little creature is able to bore into the solid rock, and excavate such a chamber? Its beak is its only instrument. This is a sharp little awl, peculiarly hard, and tapering suddenly to a point from a broad base; with this tool the bird proceeds to work, picking away from the centre to the circumference of the aperture, which is nearly circular; thus it works round and round as it proceeds, the gallery being more or less curved in its course, and having a narrow funnel-shaped termination. The author of “The Architecture of Birds” informs us, that he has watched one of these swallows “cling with its sharp claws to the face of a sandbank, and peg in its bill, as a miner would do his pickaxe, till it had loosened a considerable portion of the sand, and then tumbled it down amongst the rubbish below.”


The word dun first came in use, it is said, during the reign of Henry the Seventh of England. It owes its birth to an English bailiff, by the name of Joe Dun, who was so indefatigable and skilful at his business of collecting debts, that it became a proverb when a person did not pay his debts, “Why don’t you Dun him?” that is, “Why don’t you send Dun after him?” Hence originated the word, which has so long been in universal use.

p. 27


All the things we see around us belong to somebody; and these things have been got by labor or working. It has been by labor, that every article has been procured. If nobody had ever done any labor, there would have been no houses, no cultivated fields, no bread to eat, no clothes to wear, no books to read, and the whole world would have been in a poor and wild state, not fit for human beings to live happily in.

Men possess all things, in consequence of some person having wrought for these things. Some men are rich, and have many things, although they never wrought much for them; but the ancestors, or fathers and grandfathers, of these men, wrought hard for the things, and have left them to their children. But all young persons must not think that they will get things given to them in this way; all, except a few, must work diligently when they grow up, to get things for themselves.

After any one has wrought to make a thing, or after he has a thing given to him, that thing is his own, and no person must take it from him. If a boy get a piece of clay, and make the clay into a small ball or marble to play with, then he has labored or wrought for it, and no other boy has any right to take it from him. The marble is the property of the boy who made it. Some boys are fond of keeping rabbits. If a boy have a pair of these animals, they are his property; and if he gather food for them, and take care of them till they have young ones, then the young rabbits are his property also. He would not like to find, that some bad boy wished to take his rabbits from him. He would say to the bad boy, “I claim these rabbits as my property; they are mine. You never wrought for them; they are not yours.” And if the bad boy still would take the rabbits, then the owner would go to a magistrate, and tell him of

p. 28

the bad boy’s conduct, and the bad boy would be punished. All things are the property of some persons, and these persons claim their property in the same way that the boy claims the marble that he has made, or the rabbits that he has reared. It is very just and proper that every person should be allowed to keep his own property; because, when a poor man knows that he can get property by working for it, and that no one dares to take it from him, then he will work to have things for his own use. If he knew that things would be taken from him, then he would not work much, and perhaps not at all. He would spend many of his days in idleness, and live very poorly.

When one person wishes to have a thing which beongs to another, he must ask permission to take it, or he must offer to buy it; he must never, on any account, take the thing secretly, or by violence, or by fraud; for that would be stealing, and he would be a thief. God has said, “Thou shalt not steal;” and every one should keep his hands from picking and stealing. Some boys think, that, because they find things that are lost, they may keep these things to themselves. But the thing that is found is the property of the loser, and should be immediately restored to him without reward; it is stealing to keep it.


A country schoolmaster once having the misfortune to have his schoolhouse burnt down, was obliged to remove to a new one, where he reprimanded one of his boys who mis-spelled a number of words, by telling him, that he did not spell as well as when he was in the old schoolhouse, “Well, thome how or other,” said the urchin with a scowl, “I can’t ethackly get the hang of thith eere thkoolhouth.”

p. 29


The following curious article, shows that the popular legend of “The House that Jack built,” is of ancient date, and derived from the Jews. That famous story is in fact only an altered translation of an ancient hymn, conceived in the form of a parable, sung by the Jews at the feast of the Passover, and commemorative of the principal events of the history of that people. The original, in the Chaldee language, is known to scholars; and, as it may not be uninteresting to my readers, I will furnish the literal translation, which is as follows.

1. A Kid, a Kid, my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

2. Then came the Cat, And ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

3. Then came the Dog, And bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

4. Then came the Staff, And beat the Dog, That bit the cat, That ate the Kid, that my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

5. Then came the Fire, and burned the Staff, That beat the Dog, That bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

6. Then came the Water, And quenched the Fire, That burned the Staff, That beat the Dog, That bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

p. 30

7. Then came the Ox, And drank the Water, That quenched the Fire, That burned the Staff, That beat the Dog, That bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

8. Then came the Butcher, And slew the Ox, That drank the Water, That quenched the Fire, That burned the Staff, That beat the Dog, That bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

9. Then came the Angel of Death, And killed the Butcher, That slew the Ox, That drank the Water, That quenched the Fire, That burned the Staff, That beat the Dog, That bit the Cat, That ate the Kid, That my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

10. The came the Holy One, blessed be he!

9. And killed the Angel of death,

8. That killed the Butcher,

7. That slew the Ox,

6. That drank the Water,

5. That quenched the Fire.

4. That burned the Fire,

3. That beat the Dog,

2. That bit the Cat,

1. That ate the Kid that my Father bought for two pieces of money.

A Kid, a Kid.

The following is the interpretation.

1. The Kid, which was among the Jews one of the pure animals,

p. 31

denotes the Hebrews. The Father by whom it was purchased is Jehovah, who is represented as sustaining this relation to the Hebrew nation. The two pieces of money signify Moses and Aaron, through whose mediation the Hebrews were brought out of Egypt.

2. The Cat denotes the ancient Assyrians, by whom the ten tribes were carried into captivity.

3. The Dog is symbolical of the ancient Babylonians.

4. The Staff signifies the Persians, a powerful nation of antiquity.

5. The Fire indicates the Grecian empire, under Alexander the Great.

6. The Water betokens the Romans, or the fourth of the great monarchies, to whose dominion the Jews were subjected.

7. The Ox is a symbol of the Saracens, who subdued Palestine and brought it under the Caliphs of Bagdad.

8. The Butcher that killed the Ox, denotes the Crusaders, by whom the Holy Land was wrested out of the hands of the Saracens, for a time.

9. The Angel of Death signifies the Turkish power, by which the land of Palestine was taken from the Crusaders, and to which it is still subject.

10. The commencement of the 10th stanza is designed to show, that God will take signal vengeance on the Turks, immediately after whose overthrow the Jews are to be restored to their own land, and to live under the government of the long-expected Messiah.


“What little ugly looking, red-headed monster is that, playing among those children?” “That, madam, is my eldest son!” “Indeed! you don’t say so; what a beautiful little cherub it is!”

p. 32


Ye sober, honest, speckled things,

A shame it seems to me,

The haughty poets ne’er will give

A single line to thee.

Full well I know you cannot boast

Features and forms of grace;

Nor step you like the antelope,

With agile, easy pace.

Nor do your notes oft glide along

In a stream of melody;

Nor are you troubled, if your tones

Rather discordant be.

What though ye have not ear or voice

Like to the nightingale?

You lay I list with untired ear,

It tells so glad a tale.

Thus saith your early song: “The winds

Are chill, but do not fear;

The ice breaks up, the young buds swell,

And May,—sweet May, is near.”

And soon it comes; the bees are out!

The flowers spring from the ground!

Oh, who can sleep? all nature wakes,

And birds are singing round.

Few concerts can delight me more

Than that of toads and frogs;

For what tells more of waking life

Than the music of the bogs?

[blank page]


a large owl looks at you

p. 33


It has been remarked, that, as mankind apply themselves to various trades and pursuits, some being carpenters, some house-builders, some hunters, some fishermen, so we find that the animal tribes appear to be severally devoted to various professions. And, as we find among men, bold, open pirates, who rob by day, and secret thieves, who plunder by night; so, among animals, we find those that seem to have taken up similar vocations.

The eagles, for instance, are daylight robbers, and it is wonderful to observe, how ell adapted they are for the life they are designed to lead. They are strong of wing, with powerful talons to grasp their prey, and a sharp, hooked beak, calculated like the knife of a butcher to cut their food in pieces. Their eye is keen and long-sighted, so that they can mark their victim afar off; and their flight is swift, so that they may strike down upon it with certainty. Thus qualified to pursue a life of rapine and plunder, their very air and bearing corresponds with their profession. They have a bold, haughty, and merciless look. The description in the thirty-ninth chapter of Job, portrays the character of these birds in a few sentences, and it is impossible to mend the description: “Doth the eagle mount up at thy command,” saith the inspired writer, “and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones, also, suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is shee.”

Thus, if the eagles are the open, daylight robbers, the owls are the secret thieves and plunderers by night. And it is interesting to observe, how well these creatures also are fitted for their vocation. In order to see at night, they need large eyes, and, accordingly, they have large heads to accommodate these organs. Their business is

p. 34

to steal upon their prey in the darkness and silence of the night. Accordingly, they are covered with an abundance of light, yielding feathers, so that they may glide through the air on a noiseless wing, and come upon their victim unheard and unsuspected. If you have ever seen an owl at evening, or during a cloudy day, (for it is seldom that they venture abroad in the sunshine,) you must have noticed, that he skims along as if he were almost as buoyant as a soap-bubble. How different is this from the whistling rush of the pigeon, or the whirring flight of the partridge!

Among the owls there are at least fifty kinds; and, taken all together, they are a most curious and interesting family. Among these the largest is the great eagle owl, which is found in Europe. Its home is among the deep recesses of mighty forests, and the clefts of rocks amidst the mountains. From its lonely retreat, where it reposes in silence during the day, it issues forth, as the dusk of evening throws a yet deeper gloom over the dark pine forest or rocky glen, to prowl in quest of prey. On silent wing it skims through the wood, and marks the fawn, the hare, or the rabbit, nibbling the herbage. Suddenly wheeling, it sweeps upon the unsuspecting victim, and, if not too large, bears it off in its talons. Other and less noble game is also to be reckoned as its prey, such as rats, mice, squirrels, and frogs; these are swallowed entire, after being merely crushed into a mass, by the efforts of the bill; the bones, skins, feathers, or hair, rolled into a ball, are afterwards ejected from the stomach.

In our American forests, we have an owl very similar to the one I have described, both in looks, size, and habits. These large owls seldom approach the abodes of men, but the little barn owl is more familiar. He often takes up his residence in a barn, and, hiding in some nook by day, sallies forth at night, making prey of such little animals as he can find. He is very useful in destroying rats and mice. Mr. Waterton says, that he has seen one of these little owls bring a mouse to its nest of young ones, every twelve or fifteen minutes

p. 35

during the evening. It is also stated, that this bird will sometimes take up its residence in a pigeon-house, and live there, without giving the pigeons the least disturbance, or even taking their young ones.

The ancients called the owl the bird of wisdom, because he looked so sober and solemn. Many superstitious people now-a-days look upon them with foolish dread. The owl is frequently mentioned in the Bible; but the most interesting allusion is that of Isaiah, Chap. xiii., in which the prophet foretells the coming destruction and desolation of Babylon, then a great and powerful city. His words are, “Wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there.” This prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Many years after the time of Isaiah, Babylon was destroyed, and the place became a scene of desolation. Travellers tell us, that now the place is surrounded with caverns, which are the refuge of jackals and other savage animals, and that in these cavities there are numbers of bats and owls.


When Gulliver was in Lilliput, he lay down to sleep. In the morning he found himself fastened down to the earth by a thousand little cords, which the Lilliputians had thrown over him Every man is thus attached to some spot on earth by the thousand small threads which habit and association are continually throwing around him. Of these, perhaps, one of the strongest is that which makes us love the place where our fathers are entombed. When the Canadian Indians were once solicited to emigrate, “What!” they replied, “Shall we say to the bones of our fathers, ‘Arise, and go with us into a foreign land’?”

p. 36



“Oh, mother, mother!” said the child,

“I saw the violets blue;

Thousands were there, all growing wild;

Mother, I tell you true.

They sat so close upon the ground,

Here and there, and all around,

It seemed as if they had no stems,

And all the grass was strown with gems.


“ ‘Whence came ye, flowers?’ I asked them all;

They would not say a word;

Yet something seemed to hear my call,

And near me was a bird.

I turned mine eye,—he flew away,—

Up he went with joyous lay;

And seemed to sing, as high he flew,

‘From yonder sky came violets blue.’ ”


The mother answered thus the child;

“The bird did tell you true;

These pretty violets, low and wild,

Of heaven’s own azure hue,

Though here they have their bloom and birth,

And draw their sustenance from earth,—

Still One, who fills immensity,

Made these sweet flowers for you and me.”

p. 37



About my Birth.—The Death of my Parents.—My first Journey.—My wonder at seeing the Country.—Lambs.—I find out where Milk comes from.—Reflections and good Advice.

I was born in the city of New York, about the year 1790. My parents were both English people. At first, they were in poor circumstances, but my father became a merchant, and acquired some property. He died, however, in the midst of success; and, in a few months after, my mother followed. I was thus left an orphan, at the age of six years, but with a fortune of about ten thousand dollars.

My mother had a brother living in the small town of Salem, situated upon the western border of the State of New York, and touching the line of Connecticut. He kept a tavern; and, as it was upon the great road that was then the route between Boston and New York, he had a good situation and a thriving business.

To the care of this uncle I was committed by my mother’s will, and, immediately after her death, I was taken to my uncle’s residence. I had never been out of the city of New York, and had never seen the country. I had supposed the world one great city, and never fancied that there were hills, and forests, and rivers, and fields, without any houses. I still remember my journey from New York to Salem very well. I remember that the sight of so many new things, put the recollection of my father and my mother out of my mind, and banished the sorrow I had felt at seeing my parents laid into the coffin, and carried away, to return to me no more. I was delighted at every thing I saw, and particularly remember some

p. 38

lambs that I saw playing on a hill-side. They were scampering about, jumping from rock to rock, and chasing each other at full speed. I had never seen a lamb before, and I thought these the prettiest creatures that were ever made. I have since seen lions and tigers, and many other strange creatures; but I have never met with any animal, that excited in me half the admiration that I felt, when I saw those little lambs.

I suppose some of my young friends in the country will laugh at what I am now going to tell them; but it is nevertheless true. As I was going from New York to Salem, we stopped one night at a small inn. When we arrived at this place, the sun was an hour high, and I had some time to play about the house. As I was running about, peeping at every new and strange thing, I saw some cows in the barn-yard. I had seen cows before, but still I went up to the gate, and looked through, and there I saw a woman, sitting upon a little stool, ad milking one of the cows. Now I had never seen a cow milked before, nor, indeed, did I know where milk came from. I had not thought about it at all. If I had been asked the question, I should probably have said, that we got ilk as we do water, by pumping it from the cistern, or drawing it out of the well.

I looked at the woman for some time, wondering what she could be about. When she had done, she came out of the yard, and I saw that her pail was full of milk. “What is that that you have got?” said I. “It is milk,” said the woman. “Where did you get it?” said I. “I got it from the cow, you little simpleton!” said the woman; and then she went into the house.

I did not like to be called a simpleton, for I had come all the way from the great city of New York, and supposed that I knew every thing. I soon found, however, that I was ignorant of many useful things that children of my age in the country were well acquainted with.

The little incident, however, that I have just related, was not

p. 39

without its use to me. It set me a thinking about other things, and I began to ask questions about every article of food and dress,—where they came from, and how they were made; and, in this way, I obtained a great deal of knowledge. I would recommend it to my young readers to follow my example in this respect. They will find it very amusing to study into these matters. Let them one day inquire about hats, what they are made of, where the materials come from, how they are obtained, and how they are wrought into hats. Another day, let them take up the subject of coats, and learn all about the cloth, the buckram, silk, twist, and buttons, that are used in making them. So let them go through with dress, and then they may inquire about bread, and other articles of food, and then they may learn all about the furniture in the house. From this subject, they may go on and learn how houses are built. I can assure my young readers, that, in this way, they may spend their time very pleasantly, and become well acquainted with all those useful things with which we are surrounded. If I had done this before I went to Salem, I should have known where milk came from, and not been called simpleton by a milkmaid.


Wise Observations.—Story of the Hat.

I fancy that some of my readers imagine, that it would be a dull business to study into the history of hats and coats, bread and butter, and such other common-place things. But there is an old proverb which says, “Look ere you leap;” and another which says, “Think twice and speak once.” These admonish us never to be over-hasty in speaking or acting; and, on the present occasion, I

p. 40

shall endeavor to show, that this good rule has been transgressed by those who despise my advice about hats and coats, bread and butter.

Here, Philip, give me a hat; let it speak for itself. Come, old hat, tell us your story; tell us what you are made of; where the materials of which you are made were obtained, how they were put together, and the price at which you were sold. Come, old beaver, speak out. What! dumb? Not a word? Then I will speak for you. So here is

The Story of the Old Hat, supposed to be told by Itself.

“I am made partly of wool, which is the hair of sheep, and partly of furs, of different kinds. There is some beaver’s fur, some musquash’s, and some wildcat’s fur in me.

“I suppose that everybody knows how we get wool,—by shearing it from the sheep’s back; but we do not get furs in the same way. Musquashes, beavers, and wildcats are not tame, like sheep, and they will not let you take them into a barn, and shear off their nice, soft fur. These creatures live far away from the abodes of men; they seek the distant solitudes, beyond the hills and mountains, and those who catch them must go to find them in these wild retreats.

“Sometimes, it is true, a beaver is found nearer to our houses, and now and then a wildcat, that has strayed from his native forest, is found in the neighboring woods. The musquash builds his habitation on the banks of streams, and is not very uncommon even in districts frequented by man.

“But these animals are, on the whole, so scarce, that, in order to obtain a supply of their fur, a great many hunters and trappers spend their time in roaming through the mountains, valleys, and prairies of the far west, in order to obtain them. These people meet with a great many strange adventures. Sometimes they will

p. 41

follow the branch of a river for five hundred miles, in a boat, during which time they will not meet with a human habitation, save the wigwams of the Indians. Sometimes they will sleep at night upon the ground, with no covering but a blanket; sometimes they will meet with a party of Indians, and have a fight with them. Sometimes they will meet with friendly Indians, who receive them into their lodges, and entertain them kindly; sometimes they are confronted by a grizzly bear, who places himself in their path, and must receive at least a dozen bullets in his breast, before he is killed. Sometimes they will roam over wide deserts, and suffer very much for want of water. Sometimes they will be in the midst of a vast prairie, the grass of which is on fire, and they have often the greatest difficulty to escape from the flames. Sometimes they are robbed of all their furs by hostile Indians, and sometimes they meet with Indians who sell them large quantities of fur.

“After a great many cares, and trials, and dangers, and often after an absence of two years, the fur-hunter comes back with his load of skins; and a pretty figure he is. The clothes he carried with him are worn out and he is now attired in the skins of various wild beasts. On his head you see the grizzled fur of a raccoon, with his tail hanging down behind. His coat is made of a wolf’s skin, and his vest of the skin of an otter. But his trowsers are the drollest part of his attire. They are made of a bear’s skin, and each leg looks like a great shaggy, black dog, standing upright. Altogether the hunter is a most curious object. He looks like three or four animals all sewed into one.

“What a great variety of adventures has this man met with in his wanderings of two years. How many pleasant stories could he tell, if he would sit down of a long winter night, and recount all that happened to him; all about the bears, the foxes, the wolves, and the wild Indians that he saw. How much this poor man must have suffered; what toil, hunger, thirst, danger, and privation; and all

p. 42

this, that master Philip might have a hat; all this to get furs to make hats of.

“The wool and fur being obtained, these are prepared by the hatter, who, in the first place, makes a sort of cap, shaped something like a sugar loaf. This is then soaked in hot water, and, being put upon a block, the crown is made of a proper shape. The whole is stiffened with gum, colored, dressed, put in boxes, and sent to the hat-seller. The price paid for me was two dollars. Philip has worn me for about a year, but I am in a sad condition. The hole in my crown was made by a stick, which went through me one day when Philip threw me at a red squirrel on the fence. The rent in my brim was caused by a saucy fellow, that tried to pull me off, one day; but I chose to be torn, rather than see Philip insulted by having his hat knocked off; for, though the boy has his faults, I like him better than anybody else.”

Such is the story of the hat; my object in giving it to you is, to show, that the commonest article of daily use has its history, if we will only inquire into it.


Arrival at my Uncle’s.—The Village.—Bill Keeler.—My first Day at School.—Trouble.

I must now return to the story of myself. The morning after I left the little tavern where I discovered how milk was obtained, we proceeded on our journey, and at evening arrived at my uncle’s house. It was an old-fashioned building, painted red, with a large sign swinging in front, upon one side of which was the picture of a

p. 43

stout barn-yard cock, and on the other side was the head of a bull. So my uncle’s tavern went by the name of the “Cock and Bull.”

I soon became acquainted with the family, and in a few weeks was quite familiar with the main street and all the by-lanes in the village. My uncle had no children, but there was living with him a boy about ten years old, by the name of Bill Keeler. He became my principal companion, and, being a very knowing sort of lad, gave me an insight into many things, which I could not otherwise have understood.

After I had been at my uncle’s about six months, it was concluded to send me to school. I was now seven years of age, but, strange as it may seem to boys and girls of the present day, I did not know my letters, and, what is more remarkable, I had a great dislike to the idea of going to school. I believe it is the case, that all people who grow up ignorant acquire a settled dislike to learning and learned people. As an owl can see best in the dark, because the light seems to put his eyes out, so ignorant people love ignorance and darkness, because truth and knowledge offend and distress them. I mention these things as a warning to my reader against growing up in ignorance, and thereby becoming a lover of darkness, rather than light.

Well, I went to school for the first time, and I remember all about it to this day. The schoolhouse was situated in a large space, where four roads met. It was a bleak and desolate hill-side, partly covered with heaps of stones, thrown out of the path, or gathered from the neighboring fields. There were a few groups of tangled briers and stunted huckleberry bushes amid these heaps of stones. On the lower side of the hill, there was an old gnarled oak growing out of a heap of splintered rocks, at the foot of which there bubbled forth a small stream of pure water. This fountain went by the pretty name of “Silver Spring.”

Bill Keeler led me into the school, which was then kept by Mis-

p. 44

tress Sally St. John. She looked at me through her spectacles, and over her spectacles, and then patted me on the head, told me I was a good boy, and sent me to a seat. In about an hour I was called up, the spelling-book opened, and the alphabet being placed before me, the mistress pointed to the first letter, and asked me what it was.

I looked at the letter very carefully, and then gazed in the face of Mistress St. John, but said nothing. “What ’s that,” said she, peremptorily, still pointing to the first letter of the alphabet. Now I hadn’t been used to being scolded, and therefore felt a little angry at the manner in which the school-mistress addressed me. Beside, at that moment I saw Bill Keeler at the other end of the room, looking at me with a saucy twinkle in his eye, which made me still more angry.

“What ’s that?” again said the school-mistress, still sharper than before. It was time for me to do something. “I ’ll not tell you!” said I. “Why not,” said the school-mistress, greatly amazed at my conduct. “Because I didn’t come here to teach you your letters; but I came here to learn them.”

The school-mistress shut up her book. Bill Keeler rolled up his eyes, and made his mouth into a round O. “Go to your seat!” said the school-mistress. I turned to go. “Stop!” said the school-mistress, fetching me a slap on the side of the head; at the same moment she opened the book, and again presented the alphabet to my view. “Look, there!” said she, pointing with her finger to the top letter; “do you see that?” I answered, “Yes.” “Well, that ’s A,” said she. “That ’s A?” said I, doubtingly. “Yes,” said the mistress sharply. “I don’t believe it!” said I. “Why don’t you believe it?” said she. “Because I never heard of it before,” I replied. “Go to your seat!” said the school-mistress; and away I went.

Such was my first day’s schooling. In the evening, Mistress

p. 45

St. John called upon my uncle, and told him I was the most stupid creature she ever saw, and very ill-mannered beside; and she hoped I would by no means be permitted to come again to her school. My uncle was greatly offended, not with me, but with the school-mistress. He declared I should not go near her again; and, for more than a year, I was permitted to amuse myself in my own way. I was greatly pleased with all this at the time, but I have since often thought how severely I was punished for my ill behavior at school. For more than a year, I was left to run about in idleness, getting bad habits, and losing the precious time that should have been devoted to the acquisition of knowledge. Thus it always happens, that, soon or late, we are made to suffer for our misconduct.


About Bill Keeler.—The Fox Trap, and Mistress Sally St. John.—A Hunting Excursion.—Extraordinary large Game!—A remarkable Story to come.

The little town of Salem was situated at the foot of a mountain, consisting of wild and broken ridges, forming the boundary between the States of New York and Connecticut. Being now almost entirely at liberty, I spent a great part of my time in rambling among the mountains. In these excursions, Bill Keeler was my almost constant attendant. My uncle, disposed to humor me in every thing, allowed me to dispose of my time as I chose, and permitted Bill to leave his work or school, whenever I desired his company, and this was almost every day.

This boy was, in general, very good-natured. He was ingenious in making whistles, and setting snares and traps for quails, partridges, and rabbits; in cutting fish-poles, attaching the hook to the line,

p. 46

digging worms for bait, and putting the bait on the hook. He had also a knack of putting the hook and line into the water in such an insinuating manner, that he always caught more and bigger fish than any one else. He was a dexterous swimmer, expert in strapping skates, formed the best flying kites in the village, made bows and arrows to perfection, and could gather more chestnuts, butternuts, and shagbarks, than any boy in the town.

All these various accomplishments rendered Bill Keller a delightful companion to me, who, having been brought up in the city, had little acquaintance with those arts, so well understood by boys in the country. He was particularly devoted to me, partly because of his good nature, and partly because my uncle was so indulgent to me, that all around had caught his habit of yielding to my wishes.

But although Bill was thus clever, and thus obliging to me, he was so restless and enterprising, as always to be in some scrape or other. One day, he had seen the burrow of a woodchuck in a field behind the house of Mistress Sally St. John. So he took a large fox-trap, and sunk it to the level of the ground, in the very path where the woodchuck was accustomed to go. He then sprinkled it over with earth, so as to make it appear as if no trap was there. Next morning, pretty early, Bill went to see his trap, expecting of course to find that he had caught the woodchuck. But what was his dismay, on approaching the place, to find Sally St. John herself, standing bolt upright, screaming and piping with all her might, and throwing up her hands in despair! Bill went near enough to see that she had one foot fast in the trap. He then turned about, and left the poor school-mistress to be extricated by her neighbors. For this Bill got a sound flogging from my uncle, but he felt well compensated by being released from school for a month; for, during that period, poor Sally was too lame to resume her duties at the schoolhouse.

My companion’s next exploit was equally serious. If there was

p. 47

anything on earth that he loved better than another, it was gunpowder. Why he had such a fancy for it, I cannot tell, unless because it was a noisy, tearing, dangerous thing, like himself. But be this as it may, he spent more than half the little money he could get in buying it. Every day he was touching off some old pistol-barrel, rammed full of powder; or he was trying to split a pepperidge log with it, by filling some knot-hole, and exploding it. But his greatest delight was to get my uncle’s gun, one of the real old “King’s arms,” taken at the battle of Princeton, and go forth with as big a feeling in him as that which inspired Nimrod, the first hunter that history tells about.

Well, one afternoon he got the gun, and he and I went among the mountains to hunt for something. Pretty soon we saw a squirrel, but Bill was so intent on killing a bear, a raccoon, or some large animal, that he scorned to shoot a squirrel. So we went on, and met with various kinds of small game, but none worthy of the attention of my heroic friend. We proceeded for some time, and finding no large game, Bill determined to shoot a squirrel if he could meet with one. But no squirrel was now to be seen. He gradually lowered his pretnesions, until, at length, he was so anxious to shoot something, that he drew up at a wren, and was on the point of discharging his piece at it, when the bird flew away, and we saw no more of it.

It was now evening, and we were at a considerable distance from home. We walked along as fast as we could, and Bill, who was never out of spirits, beguiled the time by telling what he would have done, if something had fallen in his way. “If a wolf had come along in the woods,” said Bill, drawing up the old piece, and taking aim at a mullen stalk, “and if he had come near enough, how I would have peppered him!”

Just at that instant we heard a rustling sound in a meadow, that we were passing. It was too dark to see distinctly, but Bill peeped

p. 48

through the rail-fence, and, saying to me with an emphatic whisper, “Be still; I see one!” he cocked the gun and brought the heavy old piece to a level with his eye. After a long, portentous aim, during which I winked so hard as nearly to put my eye out, whang! it went, and Bill was stretched backward upon the grass in an instant, by the kicking of the gun. He very soon got up, however, and jumped over the fence to pick up his game. He was gone but a minute, and when he came back he only said, “Well, I peppered him!” “Peppered what?” said I. “No matter,” said he; and that was all I could get out of him. But the next morning one of Deacon Kellogg’s cows was found in a thicket, shot through the head, and dead as a hatchet! Bill was obliged to confess, and my uncle settled the affair by paying thirteen dollars and forty-two cents. It was not till several years after, that Bill would tell me what he took the cow for when he fired at her. He then said, that his fancy was so full of shooting a wolf, and he was so ravenous to shoot something, that he really took the poor old cow to be a wolf, or a creature very like one.

The next event of my life, that seems worth recording, was very interesting to me. But I must reserve the story for another chapter.

To be continued.


An impertinent fellow asked Lord Guilford, who that plain lady was before him. “That lady,” said his lordship, “ is my wife. It is true, she is a plain woman, I am a plain man, you are a plain dealer, and that is the plain truth.”


small figures stand on a mountain, looking at their huge shadows cast on fog

[blank page]

p. 49


I will now tell you of certain strange appearances, which are sometimes produced by clouds, operating like mirrors, and reflecting upon the sky the images of things on the earth.

In Germany, there is a range of elevations, called the Hartz Mountains. The Brocken is the loftiest peak, and is said to be about three fourths of a mile high. The view from the top of it is so extensive as to embrace a tract of land, inhabited by more than five millions of people.

Now these reflecting clouds of which I have spoken, sometimes collect around this mountain, and bear a very distinct shadowy image of whatever may be on the summit of the Brocken, when the sun is rising. It is remarkable, that this image is greatly magnified, so that if a man is on the mountain, his figure upon the cloud is as tall as a steeple. The best account of this image is given by a very learned Frenchman, called Hauy. He visited the place in 1797. I give his own account of what he saw, which is as follows:

“After having come here for the thirteenth time, I was at length so fortunate as to have the pleasure of seeing the spectre. The sun rose about four o’clock, and the atmosphere would permit me to have a free prospect of the southwest, when I observed at a very great distance, toward one of the other mountains, what seemed like a human figure, of a monstrous size. A violent gust of wind having almost carried off my hat, I clapped my hand to my head, and the colossal figure did the same.

“The pleasure which I felt at this discovery can hardly be described; for I had already walked many a weary step, in the hopes

p. 50

of seeing this shadowy image, without being able to gratify my curiosity. I immediately made another movement by bending my body, and the colossal figure before me repeated it. I was desirous of doing the same thing once more, but my colossus had vanished. I remained in the same position waiting to see whether it would return, and, in a few minutes, it again made its appearance on the mountain.

“I paid my respects to it a second time, and it did the same to me. I then called the landlord of the Brocken, and, having both taken the same position, we looked towards the mountain, but saw nothing. We had not, however, stood long, when two colossal figures were formed in the same situation, which repeated our compliments by bending their bodies as we did, after which they vanished.

“We retained our position, kept our eyes fixed on the same spot, and, in a little while, the two figures again stood before us, and were joined by a third, which was most likely the double reflection of one of us. Every movement that we made by bending our bodies these figures imitated, but with this difference, that the phenomenon was sometimes weak and faint, and sometimes strong and well defined.”

There are many other interesting stories relating to these reflecting clouds, but I have not room to tell them here. You will find them in a little book that is now preparing for the press, entitled, “Wonders of the Earth, Sea, and Sky,” from which I have been permitted to copy this account of the engraving that accompanies it.

p. 51


The sun is rising. Did you ever think of the many benefits produced by the sun? Let us go upon the top of a hill, and see the sun rise, and consider, for a moment, the effects that are produced.

Do you see that the darkness, which had fallen over the whole face of nature, is gone? Do you see, that even the valley is filled with light? Does not all this remind you of God, who said, at the beginning of the world, “Let there be light, and there was light”?

Light, then, spread over the land, is one of the first effects of the sun’s rising. And do you see, that the birds are all broad now, singing their songs, and seeking their food? How happy they appear to be! And do you not feel happy too? Does not every thing seem happy to see the light, and feel that day has come once more?

Do you observe that vast sheet of white vapor, that is rising from yonder valley? It is rising in consequence of the warmer air, that is produced by the rising of the sun. Do you not feel, that the shining of the sun upon you makes you warmer?

Warmth, then, diffused over the earth, is another effect produced by the rising of the sun. And how pleasant is this warmth! But do you know, that if it were not for the warmth of the sun, the trees and plants and flowers would not grow? Do you know, that, without this warmth, all the earth would be covered with ice, and that all men and animals would die?

You see, then, how important the sun is, and how great are the benefits of the light and heat which it sends abroad over the world. Let us be thankful to God every morning for the light and heat of the sun. These are the sources of life to every thing that grows, or feels.

p. 52


The sun is setting in the west. It seems to go down behind the hills. Darkness is creeping over the valleys. The birds have ceased their song, and are gathering into the forest or the thick branches of the trees.

The hen has gone to her shelter, and gathered her chickens under her wing. The flies and gnats and butterflies are gone to their rest. The cows and sheep have lain down to their repose.

Stillness seems to have come over the world. The sun has set. It is dark. It is getting chill and damp. It is night.

Do you see those little shining points in the sky? What are they? We call them stars, but they are worlds far away, and probably they are covered with trees, and hills, and rivers, and cities, and people.

We cannot go to them, nor can any one come from them to tell us about them. They are God’s worlds, and they are no doubt as useful as they are beautiful.

How wonderful is night! How fearful would it be, if it were to last for ever! But we know that the sun will come to-morrow, to give us its cheerful light and heat. Let us go to rest, then, for night is made for sleep.

But let us first think of that great and good Being, who has made all these wonders of nature. Let us put our trust in Him. In his care we are safe. But we must ask his protection, and seek his forgiveness for all our faults.

Oh, how fearful would it be if there were no God! How sad would it be, if God were not our friend! How sad would it be, if we were to be unkind to others, and to feel that He might not be kind to us! How sad would it be, if we were so wicked as to feel afraid of Him, the best and kindest of all beings!

p. 53

This would indeed, be dreadful. But we may all be good if we try to be so. Even if we have done wrong, we may go to Him, and ask his forgiveness; and if we ask sincerely, He will not refuse it.

Did you never disobey your father or mother, and, having done so, have you not begged their pardon? And, having done this, have you not been forgiven? And is not this forgiveness pleasant to the heart? Let me tell you, that God is as ready to be kind and forgiving to his children, as parents are to be so to theirs.

Let no fear of God, then, prevent your loving Him, praying to Him, or asking his forgiveness. The more you have sinned, the more careful you should be to look up to Him, and pray to Him, and ask his counsel and pardon. Those who have been most wicked, have most reason to love God; for his kindness is great enough to pardon even them.


The stars are so distant that they seem to be very small; but the moon, though really less than the stars, is nearer, and therefore appears to be larger.

It is a very interesting object, and is even more talked about than the sun. At one time it seems like a silver bow, hung in the west. It increases in size, till it looks like a large bowl. It grows larger and larger, till it is quite round, and is then fancied by some people to resemble a mighty green cheese.

The moon does not shine at all times. Even when it is in the sky above us, it gives no light during the day, for the sun is so much brighter, that it appears quite dim. And often at night it is hidden behind the earth, and gives us no light.

But, when it does shine at night, it is indeed beautiful. We

p. 54

cannot look at the sun with the naked eye, for it is too bright. But we can look at the moon, and, though it seems almost like a ball of melted metal, yet we can see figures upon it.

Some persons imagine, that they can see the face of a man in the moon, and others that they can spy the figure of a crooked old woman. But those, who have looked at it with telescopes, tell us, that it is a world, with mountains, and rivers, and valleys upon its surface. There is very little doubt that animals and people live upon it.

Would it not be pleasant, if we could sail through the air, and go up to the moon, and come back and tell the people of this world what sort of place the moon is, and what kind of folks the moonites are?

But this cannot be. We may travel by railroads over the land, and by ships across the waters of this world, but we have no ladder long enough to reach to other worlds. We must therefore, for the present, stay where we are and be content.

But I was talking of the moon. Can you tell me, why a dog will often bark at it almost all night? If you can, you can do more than any one else.

But you may ask, what good the moon does to us. In the first place, it is very beautiful, and gives us great pleasure. It is also useful, as it frequently shines at night, and seems to relieve us partly from the darkness. The landscape is often charming when viewed by moonlight, and water never looks so lovely as when the moon is shining upon it.

Beside this, the moon causes that ebbing and flowing of the ocean, called the tides. These keep it from being stagnant and prevent its becoming putrid. Were it not for the moon, the whole ocean would be unfit for the fishes that live in it, and they would all die. Men and beasts too, would also perish from the unhealthiness of the land, were not the sea kept pure by the tides.

p. 55


People live by working for money to get food, clothes, houses, and all the other things which they need or would like to have. If they did not work, all the food that has already been produced, would soon be eaten up, all the clothes would be worn out, and every thing else would decay; so that the inhabitants of town, and also those of the country, would be starved, and die very miserably.

The necessity for each person’s working at some kind of honest labor, is an obligation laid on us by the Creator; and it is a sin to live in idleness, without a desire to work. We are also far more happy when we are working, than when we are idle; and this in itself ought to cause us to follow a course of active industry.

As children are not able to work, they are supported for a number of years by their parents; but, when they grow up, they are expected to go and work for themselves. Some young persons are so ignorant, or have such bad dispositions, that they think it would be pleasant for them to live always by their parents, or others’ working for them, and so remain idle all their days. They do not seem to care how much they take from their fathers or their mothers, who are sometimes so greatly distressed with the conduct of their children, that they die of grief. This is very cruel and sinful conduct of these young persons, which no boy or girl should imitate. It is the duty of all who have health and strength to labor for their own support.

In this large world there is room for all persons to work at some kind of useful employment. Some are strong in body, and are fitted for working in toilsome professions; others are less strong in body, but have active minds, and they are suited for professions in which little bodily labor is required. Thus, every young person chooses the profession for which he is fitted, or which he can con-

p. 56

veniently follow. Young persons cannot, in all cases, follow the business they would like; both boys and girls must often do just as their friends advise them, and then trust to their own industry.

As some choose to be of one profession, and some of another, every profession, no matter what it be, has some persons following it as a means of living, and all assisting each other. The tailor makes clothes, the shoemaker makes shoes, the mason builds houses, the cabinet-maker makes furniture, the printer prints books, the butcher kills animals for food, the farmer raises grain from the fields, the miller grinds the grain into flour, and the baker bakes the flour into bread. Although all these persons follow different rades, they still assist each other. The tailor makes clothes for all the others, and gets some of their things in return. The shoemaker makes shoes for all the others, and gets some of their things in return; and, in the same manner, all the rest exchange their articles with each other. The exchange is not made in the articles themselves, for that would not be convenient; it is made by means of money, which is to the same purpose.

Many persons in society are usefully employed in instructing, amusing, or taking care of others. Schoolmasters instruct youth in schools, and tutors and governesses give instruction in private families. Clergymen instruct the people in their religious duties, and endeavor to persuade them to lead a good life. Authors of books, editors of newspapers, musicians, painters of pictures, and others, delight and amuse their fellow-creatures, and keep them from wearying in their hours of leisure.

Unfortunately, some people, both old and young, are lazy or idle, and will not work at regular employment, and others spend improperly the most of the money which they earn. All these fall into a state of wretchedness and poverty. They become poor, and are a burden on society. Other persons are unfortunate in their business, and lose all that they have made, so that they become poor also.

p. 57

Persons who suffer hardships of this kind should be pitied, and treated with kindness, by those who are able to help them. Many persons, besides, become poor by old age and infirmity, and it is proper that they should be taken care of and supported. A beggar is a poor person, who does not feel ashamed to seek alms. Any one who is able to labor for a subsistence, should feel ashamed either to beg or to be classed among the poor.

God has taken care, that the wants of all persons who labor, and lead a regular life, shall be satisfied. These wants are few in number, and consist chiefly of air, food, water, warmth, and clothing. Some of these we receive freely, but others we receive only by working for them. Some persons are contented if they can work for the bare necessaries of life. If they can get only as much plain food and coarse clothing, as will keep them alive, they are contented. If a person cannot, by all his industry, earn more than the bare necessaries of life, it is right to be contented; but, if he can easily earn money to buy comfortable food, comfortable clothing, and other means of comfort and rational enjoyment, it is wrong to be contented with the bare necessaries of life.

It is the duty of every one to try to better his condition by skill and industry in any kind of lawful employment. Let him only take care to abstain from indulgence in vicious luxuries. One of the most vicious of luxuries is spirits, or liquors, which some people drink to make themselves intoxicated, or drunk. When a person is in this debased condition, his senses and intellect are gone, and he does not know what he is doing. He cannot walk, but staggers or rolls on the ground, and is a horrid spectacle to all who see him. Drunkenness is an odious vice, which leads to great misery and poverty; and the best way to avoid falling into it, is to abstain from tasting or using any spirits or intoxicating liquors.

p. 58


It is a pleasant thing to walk about and notice the trees, the fields, the birds, and the flowers. But let me tell you a method by which you can very much increase the pleasure of these walks.

The plan is this; instead of looking at a great many things, strive to study into each particular thing, so as to understand all about it. To give you an example, suppose you take hold of my hand, and let us take a walk on a fine summer morning.

Well, there are many things to look at and admire. But let us to-day particularly study the little sparrows that we see flying across the path, or chirping among the bushes and trees. At first, they appear to be all of one kind, but, on examination, we shall find five or six different kinds.

Some of them sing sweetly, and love to build their nests in the lilach [sic] bushes beneath our windows, while others have only a short chirp, and love to dwell in the grass fields. Others seek solitary dells, and rear their young ones quietly there.

Then, all these birds have different airs and manners. Some are familiar, and seem to say, “Good morning,” as you go by; others skulk in the bushes, and seem to say, “Get you gone!” Then again they have different nests, and eat different food; and they come at different times, and leave us at different seasons. Now these are some of the curious and interesting things to be learned about sparrows,—birds which are among the smallest and most common of the feathered tribe.

Then there are other birds to study about; the robins, the bluebirds, the woodpeckers, the doves, and many others. They have each a pleasant story to tell, if you will study into it, and listen to their songs, and watch their ways.

p. 59


The following is copied from a book for children, about to be published by Morton & Griswold, of Louisville. We insert it with the consent of the publishers.

“Seest thou the spider, weaving now his net,

So nicely made and all so nicely set?

Who made it?

Hearest thou the cricket, singing in the ground,

When evening comes and all is still around?

Who made it?

Seest thou the insect, dancing in the air

Of joyous summer, free from every care?

Who made it?

Seest thou the violet, springing from the earth,

Waked like a blooming infant into birth?

Who made it?

Seest thou the bud, on yonder bending bower,

Opening its leaves and putting forth its flower.

Who made it?

Sees thou the squirrel, on yon tall oak tree,

Gnawing his nut or sporting merrily?

Who made it?

Sees thou the bird, that swings on yonder spray,

Or cleaves the air, singing some roundelay?

Who made it?

Sees thou the mountain, lifting high its head,

And with a glorious robe of azure spread?

Who made it?

p. 60

Sees thou yon river, dashing down the height,

Its waters breaking into waves of light?

Who made it?

Sees thou yon ocean, with its breast of green,

Its depths unfathomed, and its shores unseen?

Who made it?

Sees thou yon orb of fire, that brings the morn,

And, parting, leaves us wrapped in night forlorn?

Who made it?

Sees thou yon sky, a seeming sea of night,

Where stars are set and planets wheel their flight?

Who made it?

Who made these things, and all this rolling earth?

’T was God alone that brought them into birth;

He, who the spider and the insect made,

Reared the blue violet, and the flower arrayed;

Poured the swift river down its rocky bed,

Heaped up the mountain, and the ocean spread;

Who built the world and gave it day and night;

He is the God of earth and heaven, of life and light!”


There is a monument near Copenhagen, erected by Count Schimmelman, called “The Weeping Eye.” That nobleman’s grief for the death of his wife was so excessive, that he caused a statue to be erected over a spring, and made the water spout from the eye, as a continual flood of tears. This was intended as a lasting symbol of his grief.

p. 61


A countryman the other day, for information, asked an Hibernian, who was busily engaged in the street driving down stones, “Pat, when will you get this street done?” “How did you know my name was Pat?” inquired the Irishman. “Why I guessed as much.” “Then,” replied Pat, “since you are good at guessing, you may guess when the street will be finished.”


“You saved my life on one occasion,” said a beggar to a captain, under whom he had served. “Saved your life,” replied the officer, “do you think that I am a doctor.” “No,” answered the man, “but I served under you in the battle of —, and when you ran away, I followed, and thus my life was preserved.”


A gentleman, it is said, had a board put on a part of his land, on which was written, “I will give this field to any one who is really contented;” and when an applicant came, he always said, “Are you contented?” The general reply was, “I am!” “Then,” rejoined the gentleman, “why do you want my field?”

p. 62


Earl Dudley possessed in a remarkable degree the unpleasant habit of talking to himself. On one occasion he was driving his cabriolet across Grosvenor Square, in London, in his way to Park Lane, when he overtook an acquaintance, of the name of Luttrell. It was raining quite fast, and his Lordship good-naturedly invited the pedestrian to ride. They drove on till they had nearly arrived at Lord Dudley’s mansion, where, Mr. Luttrell giving no hint of wishing to alight, the Earl unconsciously exclaimed aloud, what many would have though under similar circumstances, “Plague on this fellow, I suppose I must ask him to dine with me.” How often, instead of flattering speeches and soothing compliments, should we hear unpleasant and reproachful remarks, if people were in the habit of thinking aloud like Lord Dudley.


An idle fellow complained bitterly of his hard lot, and said, that he was born on the last day of the year, the last day of the month, and the last day of the week, and he had always been behindhand. He believed it would have been a hundred dollars in his pocket, if he had not been born at all.

p. 63


A short time since, a little girl, daughter of Mr. Alexander Rice, lost her life through her affection for a kitten. She had followed a small boy to the river, weeping bitterly because he was about to drown a kitten for which she had formed a strong attachment; and no sooner was it tossed into the water, than the agonized child took off its shoes, and, raising its clothes, walked into the river with a firm and determined step, towards the object of her daring and affection; but, before reaching it, she suddenly sank into deep water, and her gentle spirit returned to the God who gave it.


One evening, as some officers on board a British man-of-war were seated round the fire, one of them began to play a plaintive air on a violin. He had scarcely played ten minutes, when a mouse, apparently frantic, made its appearance in the centre of the floor. The strange gestures of the little animal strongly excited the attention of the officers, who, with one consent, resolved to let it continue its singular actions unmolested. Its exertions now appeared to be greater every moment; it shook its head, leaped about the table, and exhibited signs of the most ecstatic delight. It was observed, that in proportion to the gradation of the tones to the soft point, the feelings of the animal appeared to be increased. After performing actions, which so diminutive an animal would, at first sight, seem incapable of, the little creature, to the astonishment of the spectators, suddenly ceased to move, fell down, and expired, without evincing any symptoms of pain.

p. 64


A lady residing in Glasgow, Scotland, had a handsome cat sent to her from Edinburgh; it was conveyed to her in a close basket, and in a carriage. She was carefully watched for two months, but, having produced a pair of young ones at the end of that time, she was left at her own discretion, which she very soon employed in disappearing with both her kittens. The lady at Glasgow wrote to her friend in Edinburgh, deploring her loss; and the cat was supposed to have formed some new attachment, with as little reflection as men and women sometimes do.

About a fortnight, however, after her disappearance at Glasgow, her well known mew was heard at the street door of her old mistress in Edinburgh, and there she was, with both her kittens! they in the best state, but she very thin. It is clear, that she could carry only one kitten at a time. The distance from Glasgow to Edinburgh is forty miles; so that, if she brought one kitten part of the way, and then went back for the other, and thus conveyed them alternately, she must have travelled one hundred and twenty miles at least. Her prudent must likewise have suggested the necessity of journeying in the night, with many other precautions for the safety of her young.


Bertoni, a famous instructor in music, while residing in Venice, took a pigeon for his companion, and, being very fond of birds, made a great pet of it. The pigeon, by being constantly in his master’s company, obtained so perfect an ear for music, that no one who saw his behavior could doubt for a moment of the pleasure the bird took in hearing him play and sing.

[cover p. 3; inside back cover]


Parley’s Common School History.

hand pointing right This work has been introduced into the leading schools of Massachusetts, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., &c. It has been published in England, and has met with the most decided approbation there, as well as in this country. It is believed to be the only compend of General History, proper to be introduced into common schools.

Parley’s Bible Gazetteer, with numerous Illustrations, Views of Cities, &c.

Parley’s Astronomy, for Families.

Parley’s Zoology, or Dictionary of Animals.

Parley’s Dictionary of the Bible, with numerous Illustrations.

Parley’s Bible Geography, particularly suited to Sabbath Schools, and highly recommended.

Parley’s Book of Poetry; an interesting Collection, very neatly got up, with Engravings.

[cover p. 4; back cover]



“A noble work.—The author speaks to Americans and Christians in a dignified and powerful manner, and it deserves the consideration of all.”

N. Y. Evangelist.

2 vols. royal 16mo.

A gift for every Season.

Original—with Twenty spirited Engravings on Wood.

Making an interesting Volume of Travels. With 40 Cuts.

Revised Edition.

An excellent Work for Families.

New Works for Youth, .... In Preparation.

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.