The little mocking bird sang sweetly all the day
Pat Pflieger has explored since 1999 Nineteenth-Century Children & What They Read. We couldn’t be too grateful.
For instance: Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876; Louisa May Alcott: Little Women, 1868; Horatio Alger: Ragged Dick, Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-Blacks, 1867. And some years before, Samuel Goodrich (1793–1860), preferably the extremely popular Peter Parley stories. Most of Goodrich’s books appealed to readers age 10 and up; Peter Parley’s Juvenile Tales 1836, revised 1855, with their large type font and brief stories, evidently were meant for younger readers. With their combination of morality and natural history, they are vintage Parley. The actually revised bits are not clear.
THE LITTLE SAILOR.
Well, here you see are some little folks playing by the side of a pond. There is one boy whose name is Thomas. Then there is his little sister by his side. Her name is Susan. There is another person with a stick in her hand. This is their older sister, Jane, who is so kind as to go with them, and amuse them.
Yes, see, they have got a little boat, with a paper sail, and a little wooden man for a sailor. Now, what do you think that boat is? It is a wooden shoe! In this country we wear leather shoes; but in some other countries they wear shoes of wood. It makes a smart boat, do n’t it?
The sailing of boats in ponds is a very amusing thing; but children should not try such kind of play, unless they have some one to take care of them, as this little boy and girl have.
I once heard of a boy; he was sailing a little boat, made of a chip, by the side of a pond. His foot slipped, and he fell into the water. He had a dog. The dog’s name was Trip. Trip caught hold of his little master, and pulled him out of the water. If Trip had not been there he would have been drowned.
But I have known some boys who have gone in large boats, called ships, such as they go to Europe in, and to Asia, and Africa. Some of these ships are very large; and one of them will hold two hundred men. You remember I have told you about a little soldier. I will now tell you about a little sailor. His name was Thomas; perhaps the same Thomas that you see represented in the picture. Little Thomas was a good boy. He loved his parents and friends, and was beloved by them. Now Thomas had an uncle who was a sailor. He commanded a ship, and had sailed a great many times upon the ocean. He told Thomas what he had seen upon the ocean, and Thomas wanted to go with him. So he asked his parents, and they said he might go. The vessel sailed for China. When you come to study geography, you will learn where China is situated. Now, Thomas saw a great many wonderful things while he was going to China. Perhaps you would like to have me tell you some things that Thomas saw. Well, I will tell you some.
On the ocean he saw a whale playing in the water. Though the whale was as large as a house, it moved very swiftly and very easily. It was strong enough to destroy the largest vessel. But it never did any harm, unless provoked or injured. By and by he saw the little whale-boat creeping towards the whale. It looked like a speck by the side of the monster. The whale did not notice the boat; if he had, he could very easily have rolled over and sunk the men and the boat in the ocean. One of the men in the boat had a long spear in his hand, called a harpoon. The harpoon had a rope tied to it. This sharp instrument he stuck into the whale. The whale tried very hard to get away, but the men held fast to the rope,a nd so the whale was taken and killed. People get oil from whales, such as we burn in our lamps. When you see this oil you will recollect about the whale. Here is a picture of a whale.
Thomas also saw some other curious things while he was going to China. He saw a great serpent, or snake, called the anaconda. This snake is not like one of our snakes; it is as long as a tree, and when it is quiet it looks very much like a large log. Above is a picture of an anaconda. When it is hungry it will sometimes eat large animals as big as deer. The people are very much afraid of the anacondas; but they sometimes are able to kill them. When you get old enough to study natural history, you will learn where these snakes and other curious animals are found.
Thomas at last came to China. I have not time to tell you all the things that he saw in China. But I will tell you one thing. He learned how they get tea. Tea is nothing but the leaf of a shrub; it grows like the leaf of a peach tree or pear tree. The people pick these leaves and dry them, and put them in boxes. These leaves are brought to his country in boxes, and we buy them. This is the way we get our tea. When you come to study botany you will learn all about these things. Thomas staid in China a long time, but at last he returned home to Boston. He had grown a great deal; so much that his father and mother did not know at first that it was Thomas. He told them that it was their son Thomas, and then he told them all that he had seen. They were very glad to find that he had improved so much. Thomas made a good match, and at last became Captain Thomas. But we have got to the end of our walk. So, good bye.