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Scotch Stories and Lectures, Humorous and Amusing
A Little Bit to the Bargain for the Children


UNCLE JOHN.

A STORY

Some time ago a very worthy gentleman, whom we shall merely call Uncle John, was spending the day with a number of his young friends, when there had been a great deal of romping and sport Uncle John called his young mends around him, and said—“If you will now listen to me, I will give you a few words of good advice.” Tom, rather a forward boy, answered—“What would you think of us giving you a few words of good advice? ”

“If you were able to do so,” said Uncle John, “it would give me great pleasure to listen to you; but you young people have neither knowledge nor experience, and so cannot advise your elders.”

“You mean,” said Tom, “that boys and girls are both ignorant and stupid.”

“I mean,” said Uncle John, “something very like that.”

“Prove it,” shouted Tom, and the whole circle of boys and girls repeated "Prove it.”

Uncle John very coolly replied—“It may be very true that boys and girls, having neither knowledge nor experience, are both ignorant and stupid, and yet be very difficult to prove. It is not always easy proving the truth. Take an example,” continued Uncle John. “You all see that my coat is blue. Now, it would be very difficult for me to prove that my coat was blue in certain circumstances. If, for instance, I was speaking to a number of men and women, or boys and girls, who were blind, it would be very difficult for me to prove to them that my coat was blue. Now, it is nearly as difficult to prove to young people that they have neither knowledge nor experience. But,” added Unde John, “if you will give me your attention, I will do my best to prove that even clever boys and girls are both ignorant and stupid, when compared with men and women of mature judgment.”

“Go-a-head,” shouted Tom; and Uncle John proceeded:—

“You are all at least ten years younger than I am. Well, you cannot see the difference my ten additional years makes in my knowledge and experience; but you are each of you ten years older than the baby at home—the dear little darling duck of a baby, with its fat little arms, its bright little eyes, and its sweet little mouth.

What a jewel of a creature the baby is; and yet what a stupid little thing it is! It would catch as readily at a piece of red-hot iron as it would at a stalk of red rock; it would walk as readily over the quay into the river as it would walk over the carpet; it would give its little hand to the gorilla as readily as to its own grandfather. What a stupid little thing the baby is! You can all see how stupid the baby is, compared with boys and girls like you. Well, now, I would have you believe what you will feel in a few years is true—viz., that boys and girls of ten or twelve years of age are nearly as apt to do stupid things as the baby, and are as much m want of care and counsel from their seniors as the baby is in want of care and counsel from its nurse.”

Master Tom answered—“ We admit, uncle, that baby is stupid, and that boys and girls are not very wise; yet we don’t think ourselves in the least likely to do anything like catching red-hot iron, walking over the quay, or shaking hands with a gorilla. So, if you please, uncle, tell us some of the very stupid things that we boys and girls are likely to do.”

“You are all,” said unde John, 44 very apt to undervalue your present opportunities of improvement, and to allow your valuable time to slip past without acquiring those educational treasures, the want of which you will find a source of regret all through life. I will give you as bright an illustration of this sombre fret as I can. Look there,” said unde John, pointing to a very handsome girl,—“ the first day that Miss Mary was sent to the dancing-school, the master had so much difficulty in learning her the positions, and she was so awkward at one, two, three, and a hop, that when she came home she cried bitterly, and wanted never to be sent back to the dancing-school. Had her wish been granted, when she grew up to be a fine young lady, with a tremendous crinoline, and was invited to an evening party where there was dancing, when a very fine young man came up to her, and, in the softest tones, said, 4 Will you, Miss, honour me by dancing the next set with me?’ she would have to answer, 4No, sir; thank you; I cannot dance.’ She would then, I think, feel that she had been very stupid in neglecting to learn that ornamental branch of education. And there is Miss Jane, with her music; if she were to get her own way she would rarely open the piano, for she says she 4just hates to practice;’ and so, when Bhe became a fine young lady, and was asked, at an evening party, to favour the company with a little music, she would have to Say, in apologetic tones, 41 only play a little by the ear.’ She would then treat the company to 4 Jing-a-Ring,’ ‘We’re a’ noddin’, nid, nid, noddin’,’ and perhaps "Duncan Gray." She would then have to say, ‘That’s my entire stock.’ She would feel that she had been very stupid in not doing her best to learn her music. I take,” said uncle John, 44 these lighter branches to illustrate my idea, merely because I know you like better to hear about music and dancing than about the more important branches of education. Master Tom there is often so busy with his play that he bribes a companion to work his accounts for him. Ii he does not give up this, and become expert in this branch of learning, he need never, during his entire life, make application for an important mercantile situation. He will perhaps have to stand with a burden on his back as a porter, until the expert at accounts furnishes him with an invoice. John there thinks grammar and composition a bore. Well, he will never do for a secretary to a Prime Minister.

The fact is, boys and girls, there can be nothing more stupid than your allowing the years of your youth to slip away without your arming yourselves with every educational weapon within your reach. You mil find them all necessary in fighting the battle of life. My counsel to you then is, that in whatever position of life you may be placed, you be very diligent in striving to learn all in your power. All knowledge and skill acquired in early youth goes on producing good fruit all through life. I shall illustrate this Dy telling you an incident in my own life. Some ten years ago I was one of a number who became each possessed of a little plot of garden ground. In laying off my little plot it was suggested to me by a friend that I should, as ne had done, plant a number of fhiit trees. I smiled at the idea, and told my friend that it would be a long time before he could furnish apples for a Hallowe’en party. I planted no fruit trees. Well, last season I visited my friend. He led me into his garden, and there it was, having in ten years become quite ah orchard, abundantly supplied with apples, pears, and plums, all of the most tempting description. I have now planted fruit trees, but I will always be ten years behind my wiser friend. Now, I would have you take a hint from my folly, and plant the seeds of all knowledge as early as possible ; for you may depend upon it, all such seeds produce fruits far sweeter and more important to humanity than the juiciest apples, the sweetest pears, and the most inviting plums. If, then, at any time you feel your tasks dry and irksome, say to yourselves—This is the planting, the gathering of the fruit will come in due course. Remember this, boys and girls, men and women are needed all over the world to fill important situations, and who can tell the path of glory that may open to you. Almost all our great ones have sprung from the humblest ranks of life. What, then,” said Uncle John, by way of peroration, “is to prevent you from becoming eminently useful ana great in the annals of honest fame?”

Master Tom promptly stepped forward and proposed the thanks of the company to Uncle John.

THE FOUR BOYS.

A STORY.

Once upon a time there were four boys. They had all, save one, very fanny : they called the first one Rip, the second Trip, and the third Dip, while the fourth bore the common name of John. Well, Rip, Trip, Dip, and John all set out to push their fortunes. Each wanted to get “ a good and beautiful wife, a fine house and garden, and plenty of money.' ”Well, they had reached an important stage of their journey, a place called “Fair Start,” from which they had a full view of the beautiful “Vale of Years.” As they were admiring the scenery, a very wise old man, called Knowledge or Wisdom, came up to them, and told them that he had a spy-glass, called “The lives of Other Men,” by looking through which they could discern their own future fortunes.

Rip, Trip, and Dip all cried at once—“Oh! let me see through the spyglass."

The old man, however, put the glass into John’s hands, and told him to look through it, and tell the others what he saw.

John put his eye to the glass, and at once exclaimed—“ How charming! I see in the not very distant future beautiful houses with splendid gardens, charming ladies, and troops of lovely children.”

“These,” said Wisdom, “are the prizes you may win: they will certainly be yours in a very short time if you go straight to them by the paths of rectitude.”

“We know the paths of rectitude,” said the boys, “so let us start at once.”

Wisdom told them that haste was a bad thing, and if they would have patience and listen to him, he would give them a few directions, which, if they did not forget, would assist in keeping them in the path of rectitude. “First, then,” continued Wisdom, “on all occasions you must * tell the truth, and shame the devil; ’second, you must never forget that ‘time lost can never be recalled;* and third, when offered strong drink, you must ever remember ‘he only is certainly safe who refuses the first glass.’”

While Wisdom was still talking, Rip stole away, quite confident that he knew and could keep the path of rectitude without much advice from old Wisdom. Rip was not far on his way until he was overtaken by a very pleasant companion, who spoke with a very sc ft and winning voice. He told Rip that he would have very great pleasure in bearing him company. Rip, he said, walked so handsomely—he had evidently been at the dancing-schooL Ripwas delighted with his new companion—he was so very pleasant. He asked Rip if he had got his carte de visite taken, for he was sure he would make a very pretty picture—Rip, he said, was so handsome.

Rip was quite in love with his friend, and they were getting along very pleasantly, when they saw, lying right in their path, a large ana beautiful package of mixed confections. They were packed in a transparent wrapper, through which they shone most temptingly.

“How lucky are we,” said Rip’s friend, “to find such a splendid package of sweeties; won’t we have a feed! ”

Rip answered—“ But they do not belong to us; some one has lost them; we must return them to the proper owner.”

“I don’t think that is in the least likely,” said Rip’s friend. “ Don’t you know that they that lose seek, and they that find keep?” “ It is not honest,” said Rip.

“Hold up your mouth,” said his friend; “these sweeties could never find their way into a more handsome mouth than yours.” “Here,” he added, “I do declare the end of the package is open.” While he was speaking he thrust a large almond, into Rip’s mouth. It was very sweet, so Rip had no objection to another. As they were both demolishing the “mixtures,” a little girl came up and asked them if they had seen by the way a transparent package of mixtures which she had been taking to a poor little lame boy, but had dropped as she had been running along.

“My pretty little girl,” said Rip’s friend, “we did not see them, as sure as death—ask at him.”

Rip here forgot to “tell the truth, and shame the devil.” He told the girl he had not seen the sweeties, and, with the lie in his throat, passed on with his wicked companion. They were quite off the path of rectitude now. Rip was rather down in spirits, when his companion rallied him by pointing to a charming arbour down one of “ the leafy lanes of sin,” where there were very tempting fruits for sale. The two drew near the stall; the fruits—figs, grapes, and peaches—were most inviting. The old man who kept the stall was sound asleep. Rip’s friend pointed to him with a knowing look, and then pointed to the peaches. He then filled his own pockets, and also the pockets of Rip, with peaches and grapes, and silently pulled Rip into a dark path which led through a wood. Here the two partook freely of tne stolen fruit, and were about to start on their journey, when a very bright, sharp, rather forward boy, called Evidence, came up to them. He said, “You are looking very innocent there, but I saw you pick up the package the girl lost, and I likewise saw you stealing the fruit; so the first chance I get I will tell on you.” Rip was terrified; his companion gave him a knowing wink, and whispered in his ear, “Never fear; we will do for him.”

The three boys went on their way. They reached a little bridge which spanned a deep river. Here Rip’s friend told the sharp little boy to look over the bridge and he would see in the water most beautiful gold fish. The boy aid so. When his head was down and his eyes fixed on the stream, Rip’s friend signed to him to seize one of the boy’s legs while he laid hold on the other. Rip did so, and the two plunged the poor' little fellow into the river, bidding him tell the fishes who stole the fruit. Rip’s friend, who was a wicked spirit, now threw off his mask, and looking at Rip with a fiendish chuckle, said, “Liar, thief, and murderer, you can never return to the path of rectitude; you are mine for ever.” Poor lost Rip was seen no more.

Trip followed fast on the heels of Rip. He, too, was met by the spirit of flattering vice, but when led a little off the path of rectitude he regained his footing by “telling the truth, and shaming the devil.”

While, however, he kept the path of rectitude, he moved along at a rather sluggish pace; for the silliest trifles he would spend whole hours of his precious time. “Procrastination” was his bosom friend. He was an inveterate player at bowls, draughts, and wearied for frost that he might enjoy the “curling.” He, m the frivolous enjoyments of the moment, forgot that “ time lost can never be recalled,” —his sun set before he had got half-way to the objects he might have easily attained. He spent all the rest of his time in a place called “Stick-in-the-Mud.”

Dip had more sense than either of his companions, Rip and Trip, and so he pushed on through the Vale of Years. On all trying occasions he <(told the truth, and shamed the deviL” When asked to loiter by the way, he promptly exclaimed—“ Time lost can never be recalled! ” and went nght on his journey. He had his prize full in view; he was quite sure of a charming wire, a tine house and garden, and plenty of money. As he was rattling along he was overtaken by a rather jolly gentleman, who told him that if he would every now and then take “a good glass” of the “strong stuff,” he would get on twice as fast. Dip listened to this advice; he forgot that ‘‘he only is certainly safe who refuses the first glass/'—he tasted, liked drink, and l>egan to sing—

"The night is ours, then strew with flowers
The moments as they roll;
If any pain or care remain,
Let's drown it in the bowL"

Poor Dip forgot himself so far that, for all his smartness, truthfulness, and energy, he became a grovelling sot, spent all his time in “Fuddler’s Row,” and died, while yet quite young, in a tit of delirium tremens.

John was the only one of the number who acted the wise part. Long after Rip, Trip, and Dip had started on their journey he lingered behind with old Wisdom, and received from the good old man much additional counsel for his guidance through the Vale of Years; and so, when he started on his journey, he recognized at once all the tempting spirits of sin. On every occasion he “ told the truth, and shamed the deviL” He never forgot that “time lost can never be recalled,” and acted on all occasions, when offered strong drink, as believing “that he only is certainly safe who refuses the first glass. ” John, while yet a youth, gained all the objects of his ambition—a charming wife, a fine house and garden, and plenty of money. He has now two very pretty babies.

Now, my children, which of these boys should be your example? John, certainly. When tempted to tefi a lie, you must “tell the truth, and shame the devil.” When asked to spend your time in idle nonsense, you must never forget that “time lost can never be recalled;” and when offered strong drink, you must always refuse it, saying, “He only is certainly safe who refuses the first glass.” If you do so, I am quite sure I will yet drink tea with a great many of you when you have charming wives, fine houses, beautiful children, and plenty of money.


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