The humours of little
folks, fresh and original, and invariably of the unconscious variety,
and their quaint savings, unrehearsed and uttered regularly without
regard to effect--though with merciless honesty often
form a never-palling treat; and every man and woman who has reared a
family, or has had joy in the society of other people's children, has
his and her own budget, comprising tit-bits at once interesting,
startling, and amusing. When occasion has saved us from the foolishly
doting parent who is everlastingly prosing about the very clever things
his own little Johnnie has said or done, I have seldom found greater
enjoyment of a mixed company than when the queer sayings of children
went round the board. and we had "recollections" by suggestion, of
things which perhaps had been better left unsaid, as also of things
which had been more agreeably expressed if differently worded yet all so
honestly set forth that even the victims could not help but enjoy them
in some measure. Children accept all statements so implicitly, and, with
their quick-working wits, they reason so straightforwardly, that the
application when voiced comes at times with a bang sufficient to take
one's breath away.
Given this and that,
however, an application is unavoidable. As lief set fire behind powder
in a gun and expect there will be no report. A mite of five, thus, will
on occasion utter a syllogism that would not discredit a professor of
logic, or will put a question to which a whole college of theologians
might not venture an answer. A little lady of my acquaintance who had
not yet seen her fourth birthday, was one morning told by her mother
that she could not get out to play--the frost was too severe. "Who makes
the frost, ma? was asked. "God, dear." "What does He make frost for?"
"To kill the worms." "And why does He make worms, and has to make frost
to kill them?" This was a sufficient poser, but the mother continued,
"The worms have to be killed, else they would eat the roots of all the
plants and flowers." The little lady reflected, then gravely asked, "But
does God kill the wee chicky worms that never eated any roots?" The
mother did not answer, but looked now even more grave than the child.
The same little miss was listening one evening to a newspaper report
being read, which told how a man in a storm of wind had been blown with
a ladder from a house-top in Glasgow, and was killed. "Who makes the
wind? she asked sharply. She was told. "And does God make the bad winds
that kills the mans?" was demanded. There was no reply; but she read the
silence as meaning "yes" and turning to leave the room she muttered more
to herself than otherwise, "When I die and go to Heaven I'll not sit
beside God." When repeating the Pater-noster one evening she
stuck at the first sentence, and wanted to know "If God is our Father in
Heaven who is our Mother in Heaven?" But the mother was saved this time
by the interposition of the little one's elder brother, who, with stern
emphasis, exclaimed, "Stupid! God's wife of course." A little
boy-relative of that girl returned from school one day, while he was but
a pupil in the infant department, and stepping proudly up to where his
father was seated, "Pa,'' he exclaimed, "I am the cleverest boy in the
class." "Indeed," returned the parent, I am proud to hear that; but who
said it?" "The teacher." ''If the teacher said so, it surely must be
true. What did she say, though?'' "She said stand up the cleverest boy
in the class, and I stood up.'' The same little fellow was on the way to
school with a friend one morning, towards the end of December, when the
two were attracted by the appearance of a sweep on the chimney of a
neighbouring building. I keen what that man's doin' up there,' he
asserted; "he's sweepin' the lums for Santa Claus to get doon."
recalls the story I once heard of a little man in the Carse of Gowrie.
It happened one evening towards the close of the year, as he was
preparing for bed, and was sitting by the fire with his first liberated
stocking in his hand, that he looked over to his mother, and "Mither,"
he asked, ''will I get a pair o' new stockin's before Christmas?"
"Maybe, laddie; but what gars ye speir?" "Because"----and he spoke
mournfully, as he stuck his fingers through a large hale in the
toe----"if Santa Claus puts onything intil thir anes, it'll fa.' oot."
How cleverly they reason, you see! "Bring me a drink o' water. Johnnie,'
was the order delivered to a Perthshire farmer to his little son one day
a good many years ago. The boy went to do as he was asked, but the
water-stoup had been nearly empty, and, as he was approaching his parent
with the liquid, he paused and peered doubtfully into the hand-vessel,
then, as if suddenly inspired by a happy thought, "Will I put meal in't,
father?" he asked. "No." "Oh, weel, then"--and he turned to go hack--"ye'll
need to wait till somebody gangs to the well." But to return to children
I have known for yet one or two more illustrations. I was at a tea-table
one afternoon where the company was mostly composed of the smaller fry,
and an incident, important to all, was mentioned, which had happened
some seven or eight years before. Several of the older children
declared, truthfully that they remembered it quite well. "So do I mind
o' it," asserted a little fellow about five. "How could on mind o' it?"
questioned scornfully an older brother; ''you wasna born at the time."
"I ken," as scornfully returned the younger theologian; "I was dust at
the time; but I mind o' it wee! enough." Here is the verbatim copy of a
letter written since by the hand of that same boy— in a country village
in Perthshire—where he has been staying continuously for several years,
and addressed to his father in Glasgow:— "Dear Pa, The Rabbits is all
dead. Worried with dogs. The gold fishes is dead. Died with the cold.
The cat has had kittens, four of them, and the rest of us is all well."
The remark of a prominent Scottish novelist who recently passed the
epistle through his hands was—"That's style, the most crisp and
picturesque. And then—, the rest of us how beautifully innocent!
The little girl of a friend of mind--while
still of very tender years—was first taken to church by her aunt. On the
way home, and soon after leaving the portals of the sacred edifice, she
looked up solemnly in her guardian's face, and, "Auntie," she asked,
"was yon God on the mantel-piece?" She referred doubtless to
the minister in the pulpit. Don't think of irreverance, my reader! The
child, in its atmosphere of perfect innocence, knows not the word. And
bear that in mind further when I tell voce of a little boy and girl -
both of whom I know well - who were having a walk with me one Sunday in
early Autumn, when suddenly a railway train appeared in view. A train on
Sunday! They were staggered by the sight; and the boy demanded to know
why it should be there. "Oh, I know claimed the girl, after some
reflection; "it'll be God coming back from his holidays." The question,
"Can prayer be answered?" may be often discussed by grown-up minds. It
is never raised by the children. No doubts trouble them in that
relation. They are quite certain they will get what they ask for.
Perfect confidence in that alone could have made it possible for a
certain little miss, who, when being put to bed in a tired condition,
and asked to say her prayer, began:
"This night I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord-------
then gave a long, loud yawn, and added, 'Oh
God, I am awfully sleepy—you know the rest'' making thus, in her rude
simplicity, a finely trustful and beautiful prayer. "Give us each day
our daily bread,'' was the honest petition of a little fellow who,
however, recalling probably some recent violent experiences, immediately
added---' but dinna let our Lizzie bake it." An elaborately-trained
little fellow who had nightly to pray for blessings on "mamma, and papa,
grandpapa, and grandmamma," and all his uncles, his aunts, and his
cousins, committing each by name, after exhausting the catalogue one
evening, heaved a heavy sigh and exclaimed wearily, "Oh, dear, I wish
these people would pray for themselves, for I am so tired of praying for
A little girl, whose baby brother had died,
was told that he had gone to Heaven, and that night she refused to
pray—"'Take me to Heaven for Jesus' sake"--because, as she said, "I
don't want to go to Heaven, I want to stay here, with ma, and pa, and
dolly." Were all prayers as honest, many of them, I suspect, would be
much shorter than they are.
I have heard of a little boy who was
continually being told that he should be good.
"And if I am gooder, and gooder," he asked,
"what will I be?"
"Oh, you will be a little angel."
"But I don't want to be an angel," he
retorted; "I want to be an engine-driver." They are never else than
frank in their statements. A mother who suffers from severe headaches,
said to her little girl about eight, one day not long ago, "What would
you do, Lottie dear, if your darling mother was taken away from you---if
she died?" "Well, mother," was the little one's startling answer, "I
suppose we would cry at first —then we would bury you and then we would
come home and take all the money out of your pocket." Now, while it is
possible that something else might also the done, it is almost certain
yea, it is certain, without doubt, that all these ceremonials, however
reluctantly, would, in turn, be duly performed.
From a story bearing on death to one
relating to birth is a transition not so unnatural as may at the first
blush appear. And births are affairs ever of prime interest to children.
Not many years ago, it happened in a village in Perthshire that twins
arrived in a family, and next day one of the little misses of the house,
was out on the street playing, when a neighbouring lady came up to where
she was, and "So you've got two little babies at home. Bizzie," she
remarked. "Yes,'' responded the little one very solemnly; "and do you
know, my father was away at Edinburgh when the doctor brought them. But
it was a good thing my mother was in; for if she hadna, there would have
been naebody in the house but me, and I wadna have kent what to do wi'
them." "They tell this delightful story of the little daughter of
Professor Van Dyke, of the Philadelphia University:--
"Papa, where were you born?"
"In Boston, my dear."
"Where was mamma born?"
"In San Francisco."
°And where was I born?"
"Well, pap, isn't it funny how we three
people got together?"
And that now recalls another which Mrs.
Keeley, the actress, tells of a tradesman's little boy who was often
taken to stay with his grandmother and grandfather—the latter a very
feeble old man, bald and toothless. This little fellow was told that his
father and mother had "bought" a nice new baby brother for him. The
little man was much interested by the news. and was taken to see the new
arrival. He looked at it with astonishment for a few seconds, then
remarked —"Why, he's got no hair, father!" This was at once admitted.
"And he's got no teeth," observed the boy again, touching another fact
which could not be denied. Then a long and thoughtful pause ensued,
after which the little critic (who had probably been comparing the baby
with his grandfather), observed confidentially--"I'll tell you what,
father, if they called him a new baby, they've taken you in. -- he's an
old 'un! '' You cannot easily get round children. And it is almost
impossible to suppress them. As touching this fact an excellent story is
told of our present King and his sister, the late Empress of Germany,
when they were boy and girl. Lord ----, who had a deformed foot, was
invited to Osborne: and before his arrival the Queen and Prince Albert
debated whether it would be better to warn the Prince of Wales and the
Princess Royal of his physical calamity, so as to avoid embarrassing
remarks, or to leave the matter to their own good feeling. The latter
course was adopted. Lord -- duly arrived. The foot elicited no remark
from the Royal children, and the visit passed off with perfect success.
But next day the Princess Royal asked the Queen. "Where is Lord -- ? "He
has gone back to London, dear." "Oh, what a pity! He had promised to
show Berty and me his foot!" The enfants terrible had wilily
caught his lordship in the corridor, and made their own terms.
There is pleasure in telling that story were
it but for the revelation it affords of how the children of Kings and
Queens are animated by the same curiosities, and may act at times so
like the children of the commonality. That Royalty again may be moved by
the action or word of a child of common birth we have many pleasing
proofs. One is pat. A late King of Prussia, while visiting in one of the
villages of his dominion, was welcomed by the school children. Their
sponsor made a speech for them. The King thanked them. Then, taking an
orange from a plate, he asked—"To what kingdom does this belong?" "The
vegetable kingdom, sire," replied a little girl. The King next took a
gold coin from his pocket, and holding it up, asked "And to what kingdom
does this belong?'' ''To the mineral kingdom,'' was the reply. "And to
what kingdom do I belong, then?" asked the King. The little girl
coloured deeply; for she did not like to say the "animal kingdom,'' as
he thought she would, lest His Majesty should be offended. But just then
it flashed upon her mind that "God made man in his own image," and
looking up with brightenning eye, she said -"To God's Kingdom, sire."
The King was moved. A tear stood in his eye. He placed his hand on the
child's head, and said, most devoutly—"God grant that I may be accounted
worthy of' that Kingdom.'' Thus did the words of a common child, you
see, move the heart of a King.
But, oh, we are all the same. It is only the
environment that is different. And the distinction there even is not so
great as one, not knowing, may be disposed to imagine. In high and low
life alike, anyway, the children, we know, are free; and all alike are
susceptible of eccentricity. What a fine confession of this the Princess
of Wales made not long ago when, as Duchess of York, she was addressing
a Girls' Society in London. As a school-girl, she said, she disliked
geography; of which, she added, she was very ignorant. Once she was set
to draw an outline map of the world from memory. "On showing it to my
governess," said the Princess, "she said in quite an alarmed
manner—`Why, you have left out China! Don't you know where it is?'
'Yes,' I replied, very stubbornly, but very loyally, 'I know where it
should be, but I am not going to put it in my map. The Queen is angry
with China now, so it has no right to have a place in the world at all.'
The spirit of exclusiveness manifested by the little laxly might readily
be quarrelled with in some quarters but surely the act gives promise of
a Queen who, like her to whom she was loyal, will, when her glory
commeth ---though, may it be far distant --prove the bride of every
The somersaultie cleverness to which a child
will get out of an awkward situation has been often revealed, but seldom
with more humour than in the two succeeding illustrations. A minister
returning from church towards the manse on a Sunday, came suddenly on a
boy leaning earnestly over the parapet of a bridge with a short rod and
a long string having a baited hook on the far end, by which he was
trying his luck in the burn beneath. "Boy," he exclaimed severely, "is
this a day on which you should be catching fish?" "Wha's catchin' fish?"
drawled the budding Isaac Walton; "I'm joist tryin' to droon this worm."
The next boy was yet cleverer—alike in fishing and in speech. He had
several trout dangling from his hand by a string when he met the
minister abruptly in a quick bend of the road. There was no chance of
escape; but his ready wit saved him. He walked boldly forward. and
taking the first word as the two were about to meet, he dangled the
trout-hand high, looked the minister square in the face, and exclaimed,
"That sorts them for snappin' at flees on the Sabbath!" and passed
hence, leaving his anticipated accuser flabbergasted.
Ruskin says of children: "They are forced by
nature to develop their powers of invention, as a bird its feathers of
flight;" and we might add, remarks another writer, "that the inventive
faculty, like a bird, is apt, when fully grown, to fly away. Then, when
their own imaginative resources begin to fail them, one observes
children begin to read books of adventure with avidity at the age, say,
of ten or twelve years. Before that, no Rover of the Andes or Erling the
Bold can equal the heroic achievement they evolve from their inner
consciousness." who, for instance, could hope to ''put a patch'' on
these two little boys which spent a snowy day during the Christmas
holidays tiger-shooting; in their father's dining-room and as one,
making his cautious way among the legs of the dinner-table, for the
nonce a pathless jungle, was hailed by the other with, "Any tigers
there, Bill? he answered gloriously: "Tigers?: I'm knee-deep in them!"
That excellent story recalls to me another,
not unlike it. Also of a Christmas time. The children had asked
permission to get up a play, and it had been granted on the condition
that they did it all themselves without help or hint. As the eldest was
only ten they accepted the condition with alacrity, for young children
hate to be interfered with and hampered by their elders. When the
evening came and the family and audience had collected, the curtain was
drawn back and revealed the heroine (aged nine). who stated with
impassioned sobs that her husband had been in South Africa for the last
three years, but that she was expecting his return. Truly enough the
Hero (aged ten) entered, and proceeded, after affectionate but hasty
greetings, to give his wife an eloquent account of his doings, the
battles he had fought, the Boers he had killed, and the honours he had.
When he at last paused for breath, his wife
rose, and taking his hand led him to the back, where a short curtain
covered a recess.
"I, too, dear," she said proudly, "have not
And pulling back the curtain she displayed
six cradles occupied by six large baby dolls!
And that again recalls another, quite in the
same line. One day a gentleman walking down a street observed a little
boy seated on a doorstep. Going up to him, he said, "Well, my little
chap, how is it you are sitting outside on the doorstep, when I see
through the window all the other young folks inside playing gauges and
having a good time? Why aren't you inside joining in the fun?'' ''I
guess, stranger, that I'm in this game," replied the boy. "But how can
you be, when you are out on the doorstep, and the others are all
inside?" "Oh, I'm in the show right enough. You see, we're playing at
being married. I'm the baby, and I'm not born yet!"
The Late Dr. Norman McLeod—the great
Norman—rejoiced in telling a story about two ragged children whom he
found busy on the side of a country road one day, working with some
stiffened mud, which they had carefully scraped together. "What's this
you are making?" he asked. One of the children replied that it was a
kirk. "A kirk! Ay, and where's the door?" "There it's." "And the
pulpit?" "That's it." "And the minister?" The little one hesitated, then
replied, very innocently—"We hadna dirt enough left to mak' a minister."
The minister, of course—and the weaker his
character he should be the more careful—must always approach children
with caution if he hopes to come out of the interview with his
reputation unscathed. I have heard or read of a member of the cloth—a
supreme egoist who was visiting at a house when but the mother and her
little girl a mere child were at home. As the self-esteemed great man
was holding the mother in conversation, he noticed with pride that the
child. who reposed on the hearthrug with a school-slate tilted on her
knee, was making furtive glances up at his face, and returning her
attention regularly to the slate, on which she kept scrawling with a
pencil. When at length she stopped and looked serious, ''Well, my dear,"
he exclaimed, "have you been trying to draw my portrait?'' She did not
reply, "Come," he continued, coaxingly, "You must let me see it." "Oh,''
interposed the proud mother, "she's awfu' clever at the drawin'.'' This
made the minister still more eager to see the work, and he repeated his
request for an exposure; but the child clutched the slate only more
tightly to her breast and did not look up. "She's aye sae shy, ye ken,"
interceded the mother, as she reached her hand to procure the work of
art by main force. It was then the little one found her tongue, and she
exclaimed—"Oh, it wasna very like him, and I just put a tail till't, and
ca'd it a doggie." The denouement leaves nothing to be desired.
Dean Ramsay, to whom his country Owes so
much for the elucidation of its characteristics, tells humorously of the
elder of a kirk having found a little boy and his sister playing marbles
on Sunday, and put his reproof not at all in judicious form by
exclaiming - "Boy, do you know where children go who play marbles on the
Sabbath-day?" Not in judicious form, truly, for the boy replied, "Ay,
they gang down to the field by the water below the brig." "No." roared
out the elder, "they go to hell, and are burned." Worse than ever —for
the elder—for the little fellow, really shocked, now called to his
sister, "Come awa', Jeanie, Here's a main swearin' awfu'."
"Among the lower orders in Scotland humour
is found, occasionally, very rich in mere children," observes the Dean,
"and I recollect a remarkable illustration of this early native humour
occurring in a family in Forfarshire, where I used in former days to be
very intimate. A wretched woman, who used to traverse the country as a
beggar or tramp, left a poor half-staved little girl on the road-side
near the house of my friends. Always ready to assist the unfortunate,
they took charge of the child, and as she grew a little older they began
to give her some education, and taught her to read. She soon made some
progress in reading the Bible, and the native odd humour of which we
speak began soon to show itself. On reading the passage which began
'Then David rose,' etc., the child stopped and looked up knowingly to
say, `I ken wha that was,' and being asked what she could mean, she
confidently said, 'That's David Rowse the pleuchman. And again, reading
the passage where the words occur, 'He took Paul's girdle,' the child
said, with much confidence, 'I ken what he took that for and on being
asked to explain, replied at once, `To bake his bannocks on.'
Among less than a dozen examples in all of
child humour, the good Dean has yet another worth telling, which he
says, used to be narrated by an old Mr. Campbell of Jura, who told the
story of his own son. The boy, it seems, was much spoilt by indulgence.
In fact, the parents were scarce able to refuse him anything he
demanded. He was in the drawing-room on one occasion when dinner was
announced, and on being ordered up to the nursery he insisted on going
down to dinner with the company. His mother was for refusal but the
child persevered and kept saying, "If I dinna gang. I'Il tell yon.'' His
father then, for peace sake, let him go. So he went, and sat at the
table by his mother. When he found every one getting soup and himself
omitted, he demanded soup and repeated, "If I dinna get it, I'll tell
yon." Well, soup was given, and various other things yielded to his
importunities, to which he always added the usual threat of "telling
yon." At last, when it came to wine, his mother stood firm, and
positively refused, as "a bad thing for little boys," and so on. He then
became more vociferous than ever about "telling yon;" and, as still he
was refused, he declared, Now I'll tell yon," and at last roared out—`My
new breeks are made oot o' the auld curtains!"
That, however, is not the most delectable of
child stories. We prefer the ideas of the little folks within the region
of philosophy. When, for example, they want to know "Whaur div' a' the
figures gang when they're rubbit oot?" and ask such questions as "Where
does the dark go when the light comes?" "Was it not very wrong of God
not to make Cain good as well as Abel?" or, "If it be true that some of
the stars are bigger than this earth, how do they not keep the rain off?
"I say, father,'' asked a little fellow as
he raised his eyes off his home lesson, "Who invented the multiplication
table?" "Oh, I don't know," he was answered; "it was Invented long ago;
"Well, I was thinking if the gentleman that
invented it didn't know it already, he must have had a tough job; and if
he did know it, what was the good of him inventing it at all?"
It was a cloudy and moonless night when a
little fellow was taken out by his mother, who went to call for a
friend. "Mamma," he exclaimed, looking up, "I expect God's been very
busy this evening, for I see He has forgotten to hang the stars out."
She was a very small Miss who went to church
alone one day, where an organ had recently been introduced. As she stood
gazing about just within the door, an elder approached, and asked where
she would prefer to sit. "Well," she said pertly, "if there's a monkey,
I would like to be near the organ; but if there's no' a monkey, I'll
just sit onv place."
A pretty good story is related of one of
Governor Tilton's staff. It is said that when the individual referred to
first presented himself en militaire to his wife and little
daughter, the latter, after gazing at him for a few minutes, turned to
her mother, and exclaimed "Why, Ma, that's not a real soldier — it's
Pa!". Equally observant was another youngster, who was sent by his
parent to take a letter to the post-office and pay the postage on it.
The boy returned highly elated, and said: "Father, I seed a lot of men
putting letters in a little place; and when no one was looking, I
slipped yours in for nothing." We hardly know whether the father would
laugh or storm over this unconscious attempt to defraud the revenue. But
Two little London girls who had been sent by
the kindness of the vicar's wife to have "a happy day in the country,"
narrating their experiences on their return, said, "Oh, yes, mum, we did
'ave a happy day. We saw two pigs killed and a gentleman buried."
It is the rare that fascinates. Many years
ago, I was living in a house where, on an evening, a little Miss was
toiling over her school-lesson, and declaiming loudly,
"The—sow—has—pigs." Being a city child, I wondered whether she knew of
what she was reading, and asked, "Did you ever see a sow and pigs,
Mary?" "No," she replied smartly, "but when I was going to the school
the day, I saw a policeman getting his photograph taken."
But speaking here of London children,
reminds me of two London stories which should not be omitted. So here:
Two small boys walking down Tottenham Court
Road, passed a tobacconist's shop. The bigger remarked—"I say, Bill,
I've got a ha-penny, and if you've got one too, we'll have a penny smoke
Bill produced his copper, and Tommy, diving
into the shop, promptly re-appeared with a penny cigar in his mouth.
The boys walked side by side for a few
minutes, when the smaller mildly said, "I say. Tom, when am I to have a
puff? The weed's half mine."
"Oh, you! Shut up," was the business-like
reply. I'm the chairman of this company, and you are only a shareholder.
You can spit.''
That is the first. The second, though less
precocious, is yet more enjoyable. Besides, we know it is true, while
the other—well, it is not above suspicion.
One day, when seeking a model, Miss Dorothy
Tennant (now Mrs. H. M. Stanley) discovered a likely subject in the
shape of a crossing-sweeper; and, while conducting him to Richmond
Terrace, she met her family's old friend, Mr. Gladstone. Greatly moved
by her companion, he exclaimed "Who's your friend?"
Then and there the crossing-sweeper, much to
his dismay, was presented to the "People's William."
On entering the Tennant mansion, the urchin
was tremendously impressed by the liveried servant who had opened the
door, and after looking back at him several tines, whispered
mysteriously to his kind hostess:
"I say, miss, why does your big brother wear
Always thoughtful, Miss Tennant first led
her charge to the servants hall, where she sat beside him as he played
havoc with the well-filled dishes placed before him. At the conclusion
of his repast, Miss Tennant asked the boy how he liked it.
"Proper," replied the crossing-sweeper; ''Yer
mother do cook prime!"
London having yielded its quota, the "Second
City" may be again drawn upon.
A little boy of tender years was sitting on
the doorstep of a house in Bridgeton, there, the other morning, crying
bitterly, when a girl of about the same age accosted him, and the
following conversation was overheard: —'What are ye greetin' for laddie?''
she inquired, in sympathetic tones. "Did onybodv hit ye?" "N-n-na,"
sobbed the boy. "Then, what is't ye're greetin' for?" the little damsel
went on. "'Cause my wee brither's gane to heaven," exclaimed the little
fellow, bitterly, between his sobs. "Oh!" ejaculated the girl; and then,
after a pause, ''but ye shudna greet like that—maybe he hasna."
Another. Recently a little fellow came home
from school crying bitterly, and altogether manifesting great sorrow.
"What's the matter, Geordie," sympathetically inquired his mother, ''has
onybody been hittin' ye?" "N-n-no." answered the boy between his sobs.
"Then, whiat are you crying about '' she went on.
Boo! hoo! wee Sammv Sloan's faither an'
mither hae flitted to Coatbrig!" "Tuts, laddie, dinna greet about
that,'' she exclaimed, re-assuringly, "there's plenty mair laddies bidin
in the street besides Sammy Sloan that ye can play wi'". "I ken that,''
said Geordie, with another sob, but he was the only yin I could lick."
Children, really, as we have been revealing
so frequently here, have the fresh and original notions of things, and
are always frank enough to give them voice.
A little boy was reading the story of a
missionary having been eaten by cannibals. "Papa," he asked, "will the
missionary go to heaven?" "Yes, my son," replied the father. "And will
the cannibals go there, too?" queried the youthful student. "No," was
the reply. After thinking the matter over for some time, the little
fellow exclaimed—"Well, I don't see how the missionary can go to heaven
if the cannibals don't, when he's inside the cannibal!."
One Sunday evening, while sitting on his
mother's knee listening to the story of Jonah being swallowed by the
whale, a little fellow looked up seriously into her face and asked, "Ma,
did Jonah wear his slippers in the whale's belly? Because, if he didna.
the tackets in his boots wad tear a' its puddin's.''
Dr. John Ker of Edinburgh, in his recently
published volume of reminiscences--Memories Grave and Gay--tells of how
"in a Banffshire manse one Sunday evening, all the family were sitting
quietly reading in the drawing-room, when the youngest boy, with a
laudable thirst for knowledge, went up to his mother and asked a
question, for the answer to which she referred him to me. Coming up to
me, he said "'Mr. Ker, is it true that the devil goes about like a
"It must,' I replied, "be true, for it is in
This was followed by another question which
I did not attempt to answer:-
"Then, wha keeps his fire in when he's gaun
"Do you know mamma, I don't believe Solomon
was so rich after all" observed a sharp boy to his mother, who prided
herself on her orthodoxy. "My child!" she exclaimed in pious horror,
"what does the Bible say?" "That's just it," he answered. "It says that
`Solomon slept with his fathers.' Now, surely, if he had been rich he'd
have had a bed to himself."
A father once said to a little boy, not so
obedient as might be desired, "Everything I say to you goes in at one
ear and out at the other." "Is that what little boys has two ears for,
daddy?" asked the child, quite innocently.
Engaging his tender "hopeful" in the wonders
of astronomy---"Men have learned the distances of the stars," observed
the father; "and, with their spectroscopes, found out what they are made
of:" "Yes," responded the boy admiringly; "and isn't it strange, pa, how
they found out their names too!"