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and FRIEND OF THE SONS OF TOIL
Published for the Editob by S, W. PARTRIDGE, at the Office of the “British Workman,” No. 9, Paternoster Row, London.
[Price One Penny.
DR. ALEXANDER MURRAY
A celebrated self-taught linguist, was in early life a shepherd. He was born at Dunkitterick, in Galloway, in 1775. His father was a farm servant, and had a numerous family, who were all shepherds, or pastoral farm servants. Alexander had reached his sixth year before he was taught the alphabet. His first instructor was his father, who drew for his son the letters, A. B. C., &c. on the board of an old wool-card with the black end of a burned heather-stem! After this time, I though his school education was very limited, he was constantly making acquisitions to his store of knowledge, spending every penny which he procured from friends or strangers in the purchase of books. By extraordinary application he made himself master of the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French languages, and when, in 1794, the fame of his acquirements gained him admission to the university of Edinburgh, he made a rapid progress also in the Eastern dialects. In 1806 he became assistant to Dr. Muirhead, the Minister of the parish of Urr, and soon afterwards he succeeded him in his pastoral charge. In 1811 he was applied to by the Marquis Wellesley, as the only person in the British dominions qualified to translate a letter written in Geez, from the government of Tigre to his Britannic Majesty, and he performed the task in the most satisfactory way. The following year he was appointed to the chair of oriental languages in the university of Edinburgh, and at the same time received the degree of Doctor of divinity. He died in 1813.
Among the self-educated men of modern times there are few who claim more of our admiration than James Ferguson. He was born in the year 1710, a few miles from Keith, in Banffshire, his parents, as he tells us, being “in the humblest condition of life” (his father was a day labourer), “but religious and honest.” It was his father’s
THE FATHER OF DR. ALEXANDER MURRAY TEACHING HIM THE ALPHABET.
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THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
practice to teach his children himself to read and write—and happy would it be if all fathers felt more interest in the progress of their children, and practically engaged themselves like that worthy man, in the delightful work of instruction. When his elder brothers received their usual lesson, little James secretly listened to what was going on; and whenever lie was alone he would get hold of the book, and work hard in endeavouring to master the lesson which he had thus heard gone over, and would often apply to an old woman in a neighbouring cottage to solve his difficulties. In this way he learned to read tolerably well before his father had any idea that he knew his letters!
When he was about seven years of age, the roof of the cottage having partly fallen in, his father, in order to raise it again, applied a beam resting on a prop, in the manner or a lever, and was thus enabled with comparative ease to produce what seemed to his son a stupendous effect.
The circumstance set our young philosopher thinking; and it was not long before the child, by his own reflections and unaided experiments, actually discovered two of the elementary forces in mechanics—the lever, and the wheel and axle!
Some of James’s early years were spent as a shepherd boy to a neighbouring farmer, and while his flock was feeding around him, he employed himself in making mills, spinning wheels, &c., during the day, and in studying the stars at night, his first astronomical instruments being constructed of horses’ bones that he found on the common!
Having been desired by his master to carry a message to the minister of Keith, he took with him the drawings he had made of the stars, when that gentleman kindly supplied him with a map, and also with compasses, pens, ink, and paper, desiring him to bring him back a fair copy of it. For this pleasant employment, his kind master afforded him sufficient time, and “would often,” says James, “take the flail out of my hands and work himself, while I sat by him in the barn, busy with my compasses, ruler, and pen.” (A beautiful picture this, of a good man, appreciating the worth of knowledge and genius in his servant.) Having finished his map, Ferguson carried it to his minister’s manse, where he met with “Squire Grant,” who offered to take him into his house, and make his butler give him lessons. This butler appears to have been a remarkable character, for Ferguson tells us, “that he was conversant with arithmetic, and mathematics, played on every known musical instrument except the harp, understood Latin, French, and Greek, and could let blood, and prescribe for diseases!”
Ferguson had now attained his 20th year, and very happy must he have been with his friend, the butler, in studying algebra, and decimal fractions, and in constructing globes, maps, and sun-dials; but his happiness was of short duration, for just as he was beginning to study geometry, the butler left his place for another, in the establishment of the Earl of Fife, and poor Ferguson returned home to his father, where he had very little to do, and frequently nothing to eat. He could not however, remain idle, and engaged in the service of a miller, who, finding his servant honest, began to spend all his own time at the alehouse. Here, although living chiefly on oatmeal and water, he remained a year. His next master was a physician, who appears to have acted very tyrannically toward the young man. When next under the parental roof he had a severe illness—and though much reduced by exhaustion, he amused himself by constructing a wooden clock, which kept time tolerably well; the bell on which the hammer struck the hours, being the neck of a broken bottle!
A short time after this he invented a timepiece, or watch, moved by a spring the history of which, in his own words, is extremely interesting, but too long for insertion. He now began to do a little business as a cleaner of clocks; and having attracted the notice of some families of rank and wealth in the neighbourhood, he attempted to draw patterns for ladies’ dresses, in which he soon became quite an adept, and with the money thus gained he had the pleasure of occasionally supplying the wants of his poor father. He next attempted to copy pictures with pen and ink, and then tried his hand at portrait painting; “when I found,” says he, “it was much easier to draw from the life than from any picture whatever, as nature was more striking than any imitation of it.”
He followed this profession for 26 years, and was not only able to support himself, but to gratify his kind heart by contributing largely to the support of his aged parents. He does not, however, appear to have given his heart to painting; for, growing quite tired of drawing pictures, he repaired to London, and found employment as a teacher of mechanics and astronomy.
He soon after published his first work “A Dissertation on the Phenomena of the Harvest Moon.” In 1718, Ferguson began to give lectures on his favourite subjects, which were numerously attended, his Majesty George the Third, then a boy, being occasionally among his auditors. In 1763, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died in 1776, having for many years enjoyed a distinguished reputation both at home and abroad. Of his “Dialogues on Astronomy,” Madame de Genlis says, “This book is written with so much clearness, that a child of ten years old may understand it from one end to the other.”
VALENTINE JAMERAY DUVAL,
A celebrated librarian of the emperor Francis I., of Germany, was almost entirely self-educated. Losing his parents when he was 9 years of age, and being driven from his native place when 13 by the want of employment, he was taught to read in the cell of a hermit to whom Providence conducted him. For several years he lived a hermit-life, his employment being to tend cows, but his thirst for knowledge was deep, and he availed himself of every means for gratifying it. One day, while busy with his maps and charts in the forest, he was found by the young Princes of Lorraine, who being pleased with the evidences of his intellectual industry, offered to secure him instruction in a celebrated seminary of the Jesuits. Here he made rapid progress, and Duke Leopold appointed him his librarian, and made him professor of history in the Academy at Luneville. He died in Vienna, in 1775.
The Swedish painter, was in early life a poor shepherd-boy. His parents were in very humble circumstances, and at nine years of age he was compelled to go out to service, after having received a little instruction in reading and writing at home. For two summers more he served as a shepherd-boy, watching the sheep and cattle as they browsed in the wild pastures of the country, according to the Swedish custom. His taste for painting began to show itself even as early as this. The Swedish almanacs and catechisms were ornamented with rude engravings; and as his means would not allow him to own one of these books, he endeavoured from memory to draw the figures on pieces of bark which he tore from the birch trees. He began also to ornament his father’s cottage with carvings on soft wood and fir bark, among which was an imitation of the altar-piece of the parish church. Having never heard of mixing colors with oil, he discovered for himself a method of using some of the simpler kinds, such as ochre, burnt clay, chalk, and charcoal, in a dry form, as is practised by crayon painters. He used planed board for canvas, and if fortune threw in his way a bit of writing paper, he drew with a pen, using the juice of various berries to color and shade his drawings. While watching his flocks in the fields, he drew figures upon the smooth rocks, using fir-bark for red chalk and charcoal for black. His next step was to apprentice himself to a painter, whom he served for five years. Step by step this extraordinary youth pursued his way, until he gained a proud position in his profession, and was received into the highest society in the land. He died in 1816, aged 70 years.
Whose name so frequently appeared in the newspapers a few years ago, as the leader of the great religious movement in Germany, is the son of a farmer. When a boy, he was employed in tending sheep, and his early education was acquired in the few hours of leisure which that occupation afforded during the winter months. When he was compelled to flee his country, he sought an asylum in England, and is now, we believe, a tutor.
The Ettrick shepherd, was born in the forest of Ettrick, in Selkirkshire, Jan. 25th, 1772. His humble occupation, like that of his ancestors time out of mind, was that of a shepherd; nor was he ever more than half a year at school. At the age of 18, however, he began to amuse himself in stringing rustic rhymes together; and he continued to tend his sheep and to write verses, until it was his good fortune to be noticed by Sir Walter Scott (who had seen some of his poetical efforts), who induced him to attempt something of a more decided character. He produced an “Essay on Sheep,” which won for him the premium given by the Highland Society, and which, added to the success of a volume of ballads he had shortly before published, under the title of “The Mountain Bard,” led him to hope for future fame and profit. He soon afterwards produced his “Forest Minstrel,” which gained him but little in either sense, but the publication of the “Queen’s Wake,” established his fame and gave him the reputation of a popular author. His publications are numerous, and he contributed to some of the Edinburgh periodicals of the highest literary character. In fact, it was from the repeated mention of the “Shepherd” in the Noctes Ambrosianea of Professor Wilson, then publishing in “Blackwood,” that his name attained its chief celebrity. He continued the friend and companion of Sir Walter Scott until the baronet’s death. James Hogg, like Robert Burns, was unsuccessful as a farmer, and died at Altrive Lake, on the Yarrow, in Nov., 1835, leaving his widow and five children wholly unprovided for.
The celebrated Chinese missionary, was during the greater part of his life a shepherd, and his early education was simply that of a Scottish peasant. He was born in the parish of Kennethmont, in Aberdeenshire, in 1775. Like many shepherds who have arisen to eminence, he was fond of reading, and in his secluded life made books his constant companions. He was led, however, to feel that he had higher duties to perform, and about the year 1809, offered himself as a candidate for missionary employment. On his appearing before the presbytery of Aberdeen, the gentlemen were astonished when he presented himself in a highland cap and other articles of dress, little corresponding with aspirations for literary fame, and were disposed to reject his offer. Being asked to pray, however, he addressed God with such humility, fervour, and intelligence that their minds were changed respecting him.
After being a student in the – missionary seminary at Gosport, and manifesting great zeal while there, he went out to be the colleague of Dr. Morrison, in China. Here he assisted in the translation of the Scriptures into that remarkable language, and in opening a way for the introduction of Christianity in that heathen empire. He died in 1822.
A self-instructed man of humble birth, was born at Up Hersborne, in Hampshire, in 1702, and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Being afterwards employed in keeping sheep, he found leisure for study; and his curiosity being excited by the perusal of a tract in which some inaccuracies in the authorised versions of the Bible were pointed out, lie resolved to make himself acquainted with the Scriptures in their original tongues.
With some assistance from a Jew, he acquired a knowledge of Hebrew; he then applied himself to Greek, and next he studied Latin. On settling at Andover, as a schoolmaster, he undertook the extraordinary labour of translating the Bible into English; which work he actually accomplished, and it was printed at the expense of Dr. Fothergill, in 2 vols., folio. He died in 1777.
This lamented poet was born at Little Tulliebeltane, in Perthshire, and was the son of a day labourer. “Ever since I can remember,” says he, “I was a keen and earnest reader. Before I was six years of age, I read every book that came in my way, and had gone twice through my grandmother’s small collection, though I had never been at school. When I had attained my sixth year, I was sent to the parish school, which was three miles distant, and I generally read going and returning. I was sent to the herding at seven years of age, and continued herding all summer, attending school all winter with my ‘fee,’ or wages.” About the time Robert had attained his twelfth year, a book-club was established in a neighbouring village, to which he subscribed. He was also able to pay 1s. 6d. a month, for a month or two, to a bookseller in Perth, for reading. He never went to the herding without a book in his plaid, and when about twelve years of age, being taken from herding, and sent to work in the garden of a neighbouring proprietor, he still maintained his studious habits. He afterwards bound himself apprentice to a grocer in Perth, but while he gave assiduous attention to his business, he unsparingly devoted his leisure hours to study and writing, and in summer was to be found at five o’clock in the morning on the North Inch of Perth—a fine open space on one of the banks of the river Tay, surrounded by books and papers. In 1835, he published a volume of poems and lyrics, and about the same time, with some pecuniary aid, he contrived to open a circulating library at Dundee. He afterwards became editor of the Leeds Times. His untiring labours, however, had ruined a delicate constitution, and he was taken off by consumption, in 1837, in the 24th year of his age. It is no small praise of his poetry, to say that it is allowed by many to surpass in merit anything which Burns wrote at the same age.
A celebrated Greek poet, informs us that he tended sheep on Mount Helicon.
(Notices of Celebrated Shepherds will be continued in the next number).
THE IRREGULARITIES OF MEN OF GENIUS.
The irregularities of men of genius ever find ready apologists amongst the votaries of the world. These talk of nature’s gifts being variously distributed, and of the absence of one excellence being atoned for by the possession of another: thus placing the reins of the universe in the hands of a creature of their own imagination, and impiously conceiving that the right exercise of one endowment can make amends to its Divine Author for the abuse of the remainder.
The Christian moralist reasons in a very different manner, and with him the question is reduced to very narrow limits. Is the man of genius, he asks, a man of God, or is he not? If he is, then he will neither be intemperate nor profane; he will neither be lascivious in his writings, nor profligate in his conduct; he will be a tender husband and a kind father; he will pay every man what he owes him, and conscientiously provide for the wants of his household. But if, on the other hand, he is not a man of God, it is very possible that he may be and do nothing of all this; it is very possible that he may be dissipated and immoral, improvident and destitute of natural affection, and that, not because he is a man of genius, but because he is an unconverted man; not because he has felt the inspiration of poetry or of painting, but because his heart has not been renewed by the Holy Spirit.
The man of genius, while in an unconverted state, is like every other man in a similar condition, the slave of passion and of natural appetite, and if there is anything in his pursuits which leads him much into company, or procures for him any degree of temporal distinction, his failings become so much the more the subjects of remark, and are more readily ascribed by worldly men to the nature of his avocations, than to that depravity of heart which he shaves in common with themselves. But let the same individual become the subject of converting grace; let him embrace with his whole soul the truth as it is in Jesus, and the entire current of his feelings and propensities is changed; he is still the man of genius, the accomplished poet, the skilful artist, or the acute philosopher, but he is also, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!”
O! say what is there in a word?
Ah! much to wound or heal;
The power of many a simple word,
We all have felt or feel.
A word may to the mourner’s breast
Impart a joyous token;
May rouse to deeds and duties blest,
The heart half chill’d and broken.
A word may damp the ardent soul,
And crush the high endeavour;
May bid the painful tear to roll.
And quench bright hopes for ever.
A word may cause impassion’d youth,
Virtue or vice to pursue;
O! then, let each one feel the truth—
How much a word can do.
SIGNS OF PROSPERITY.
(FROM THE CHINESE.)
When spades grow bright,
And idle swords grow dull;
Where jails are empty,
And where barns are full;
Where field-paths are
With frequent feet outworn;
Law court-yards weedy,
Silent and forlorn;
Where doctors foot it,
And where farmers ride;
Where age abounds,
And youth is multiplied;
Where poisonous drinks
Are chased from every place;
Where opium’s curse
No longer leaves a trace;
Where these signs are,
They clearly indicate
A happy people,
And a well-govern’d state.
The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
And feed me with a shepherd’s care;
His presence shall my wants supply,
And guard me with a watchful eye;
My noonday walks He shall attend,
And all my midnight hours defend.
When in the sultry glebe I faint,
Or on the thirsty mountain pant;
To fertile vales and dewy meads
My weary, wandering steps he leads;
Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow,
Amid the verdant landscape flow.
Though in the paths of death I tread,
With gloomy horrors overspread,
My steadfast heart shall fear no ill,
For thou, O Lord, art with me still;
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid,
And guide me through the dreadful shade.
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THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
‘IT’S NOBBUT’ AND ‘NIVVER HEED’
By Dr. BAKER, Inspector of Factories, Leeds.
(Concluded from page 68.)
It’s nobbut a Wasp.
To those who live in the country, and are fond of fruit and flowers, as well as to those who are dwellers in towns, a wasp is an obnoxious creature, because he is well known to carry a sting about him, which he uses on any occasion, when he is ever so little vexed. He is, in fact, a marauder, a bandit, a robber, and like a miller in a crowd, always makes everybody give place to him. He preys upon the industry of others, and cares nothing for their accommodation so long as he is satisfied. He robs the butcher with impunity, the sugar cask of the grocer is his delight, and the finest fruits and flowers of the gardener he makes his own at once. He is a creature without friends; he cannot be taught good manners, or to be sociable. Everybody in fact hates him and avoids him, and kills him when they can.
“It’s nobbut a wasp,” and yet every wasp you see in April or May will be the mother of 30,000 more wasps, if not destroyed, thus immensely multiplying its mischief. Men, women, and children may be alike subject to its venom; and the pain and anguish thus occasioned, will be increased by the knowledge that when there was nobbut one wasp, it might have been prevented.
When I see a child brought up by too indulgent parents, who let it have all its own way, who seldom or never correct it, but permit it to exercise all sorts of airs and grimaces, and to say “I will,” and “you shan’t,” and “I don’t care,” I say to myself, Silly mother! “it’s nobbut a wasp,” but how greatly the venom of that little sting will be magnified when it gets a few years older.
When I notice a young lady with an early appetite for novel reading, and lying long in bed, untidy in her person, and never ready for dinner, who is too late for church on Sundays, and too anxious for gaiety and frivolity on other days of the week, I cannot help saying, “It’s nobbut a wasp,” but alas for the neighbourhood in which she makes her nest, and “He is likely to have a sorry home who marries mamma’s darling.”
When I chance to discover a young gentleman who speaks sharply and unkindly to his parents, who treats them as absolutely old, and their notions as antediluvian in comparison with his own, who calls his father, “the governor,” and his mother, “the old woman,” who spends his evenings in public, whether in music, dancing, or sherry cobbler, I say “It’s nobbut a wasp”; but I add, Ah, my friend, you’ll never know the value of your parents till you’ve lost ’em, and, that, flutter where you will, it will only be to be hunted down as a pest to society, and as one whose company is so be both dreaded and avoided.
When I see a busy sort of person running about with silly tittle tattle, traducing character, inventing stories, and telling them so often as to believe them to be true at last, delighting in recounting actions and sayings, which, if they had been ever performed or said in his or her presence, could only have been said and done in honour and confidence, I say, “Egh, what a wasp!” and as I look I add, “all fetching dogs are carrying dogs”; and having been once stung, I determine that such a person shall never approach me again, either for good or evil.
Finally, when old age is seen to be jealous of the attention paid to youth, instead of encouraging such attentions and directing their results by those of mature experience—unhappy, because the lamp of life is nearly burnt out, and querulous because of the want of that power, which can never be resumed, I say, “Well, it’s nobbut a wasp after all; and remember, winter is coming, when, whether they will or no, all such wasps will disappear in the natural course of events, and when these, at least, will torment us no more.”
In short, my friends, as we owe to our own idleness far more than half the miseries of human life, we have no just right to complain of them.
The fewer wasps there are and the less the bees will be deprived of their means of gathering honey; and though we may not kill human beings as we would wasps, we can certainly make them somewhat scarcer by destroying their nests.
It’s nobbut a Cock Sparrow.
The cock sparrow is the denizen of all countries which have any claim to civilization. His familiar face would welcome us in almost any climate if we were there to meet it. His little twitter, which, without any previous invitation of ours, is heard beneath our roofs, and his knavish look, when he knows he is pilfering our currant frees, and is detected, have made him a well known character everywhere.
As a whole, he is a compound of suspicion and respect, of utility, and yet obnoxious feeling, of regard and dislike. Nevertheless, he is a bird of birds, for he is mentioned in Scripture; and as for me, I would rather there were a hundred sparrows in my garden than no birds, for a garden without birds is like a sea without ships, or a night without stars.
Let us enquire what our friend Mr. Major of Knowsthorpe, that eminent landscape gardener, says of him:
“The sparrow is of essential service in destroying the aphides on the apple tree, the berry bush, and other trees, but more especially in destroying the caterpillars which infest fruit and other trees. When the sparrows are seen hunting over those trees in the spring and summer months, it will be found that they are in search of either the aphides or caterpillars, but more especially the latter. The caterpillars so destructive to the foliage of the berry bush, are mostly kept under in gardens, where sparrows discover them. They also destroy moths and many other kinds of insects.
Mr. Bradey, an intelligent writer, has calculated, that a pair of sparrows, having young to maintain, will destroy 3360 caterpillars in a week; and that that number of caterpillars of the tenthredo kind would, in the same time, strip from thirty to forty moderate sized berry bushes of their leaves, provided the weather proved congenial to their habits.
Let me shew you for a moment the increase also of the aphis, of which, too, the sparrow is the mortal enemy. “So productive is the aphis tribe of insects,” says Reaumur,“ that, by some species of this genus, in five generations, one aphis may be the progenitor of 5,900,000,000 descendants, and it is supposed that in one year there may be twenty generations; so that you see, without the help of the cock sparrow we might have no foliage and no fruit.
But there is not only one kind of aphis or moth or butterfly, or other insect, that he destroys, but many; so that he does us good service in a variety of ways, when and where we least expect it. Beware, therefore, of destroying sparrows; for if you have no sparrows, you will probably have neither gooseberries,raspberries, currants, nor apples.
Ana so also, the caterpillars and aphides of human life are vast and various. As in the vegetable world so with man, they undermine and destroy the earliest vegetation, when it is most impressible and most beautiful; and prevent the sunshine of intellectual improvement from warming it and bringing it to perfection.
And as in the former sase, God has kindly provided the friendly sparrow to keep within reasonable bounds what would otherwise soon become an intolerable plague—so in the latter He has also provided a remedy for the blots which would otherwise characterize mankind. The schoolmaster is the sparrow of our race. He it is who, by bis daily industry and perseverance, ofttimes indeed, turning night into day, destroys the parasites by which human berry bushes are infested; and keeps them free by various counterviews, from the vices and pollutions of the world.
“Its nobbut a cock sparrow.” But he watches where the butterfly lays her eggs, which he knows will germinate in a short period, and overrun the vegetation of early spring; and so the schoolmaster watches the generation of young desires, and nips all those in the bud which are dangerous to the growth of the Christian character.
“It’s nobbut a cock sparrow.” But as from some tender spray he spies the aphis on the underside of some leaf, where sheltered from the rain and sun, and yet warmed and nourished by them, he devours the habitation that covers him, so the schoolmaster looks for the early developement of evil with the good in the bosoms of his pupils; and considering his little flock with parental emotion, he strives, by the application of religious and moral maxims, to override and so to destroy the baser passions of our nature.
“It’s nobbut a cock sparrow!” But he is a gregarious little fellow—most happy when he is in company, and doing good by aggregates; so the schoolmaster, who commences the good work which the various institutes of the country carry on, and which the hands and hearts of benevolence and philanthropy mature; who lays the foundation in good solid ashlar, and then leaves experience to build the engine and science to apply it.
It may be nobbut a cock sparrow, but treat him henceforward with respect and approbation, in return for what he does for you; and when you think of the labour and toils of the schoolmaster—that with all the infirmities of your own nature, with poverty and industry struggling at the door for the right of entry—he is expected to conquer vicious tempers, bad habits, immoral tendencies, which parental discipline oftentimes can not; and not only so, but to absolutely build upon these very foundations, bad as they are— obedience, respect, intelligence, and finally, power, treat him also with respect and goodwill, and though he is nobbut a schoolmaster, don’t forget the benefits he bestows upon you through your children, as well as upon them.
Lastly, though it’s nobbut a cock sparrow, yet, let him animate you at all times by his cheerful and lively motions.
There were three boys sat upon a country gate on a quiet summer’s day, one of whom was supposed to be half-witted, descanting upon the merits of various singing birds, and each in praise of his own particular favorite. “Oh,” said the first, “my favorite singing bird is the robin, for he sings the year out and the year in, and is always so cheerful and sociable, that one cannot help liking him.” “True,” said the second, “but my singing bird is the skylark, for he sings and rises higher and higher, and the higher he goes the louder he sings.”
“Tut, tut,” said the half-wit, “what is your robin and skylark to my singing bird; my singing bird’s the cock sparrow. He isn’t so impudent as the robin, and he doesn’t fly so high as the skylark, but he’s always o’t door stone, and all the day long he says, Cheer up, cheer up, cheer up.
Now, my friends, as “He eats the kernel with the greatest zest, who cracks the nut for himself,”
So, therefore, if the “nobbuts” thus brought under your notice strike you as containing sentiments worthy of your consideration, do not let me hear you say “Nivver heed,” for “Time stays not the fool’s leisure,” and “Nivver heed” never got rich by his own industry.”
Moreover, in these days the want of learning is the greatest of all wants; for, for the want of knowing ourselves better, we shorten our lives; for want of knowing our capabilities, we miss many advantages which we should otherwise gain; for want of a system, we are always lagging behind; and for the want of a little courage, we lose our curiosity and with it the desire to be what God intended us to be, viz. creatures formed to shadow forth His glory in our own intellectual advancement, and the more so, as in that advancement our knowledge of Himself increases.
Therefore, whatever else you do, whenever you are asked to go, whether as children to school, or afterwards to this or that Institute for mutual improvement, don’t let your answer be “Nivver heed, let’s go lake,” for “An idle man is the devil’s play-fellow,” and “The woman that thinks she can keep house better than her mother, will find out her mistake when she begins to try.”
Let me then ask you, will you hereafter save your sixpences for the purpose of securing yourselves an honest independence in after life, like my policeman; or if not that, of providing against bad times and short work; or if not that, of giving you the means of procuring little necessaries, without having to ask for every shilling, or of keeping away clamorous creditors? Or, when you are tempted to spend them in the hope of there being always good times, and of your never being sick, or that you will never grow old or get lamed, will you say “nivver heed?” You may if you like, but remember what poor Richard said, “For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of a horse shoe nail.”
Will you hereafter value minutes, as if they were sovereigns, and put every one out to the best advantage, so that they may bring you in the highest rate of interest, remembering how few you have really to enjoy, and that “doings in a hurry only lead to undoings which benefit nobody,” or will you say “nivver heed,” there will be another day after to-morrow?
My friends, yesterday was, to-day is, and to-morrow may be; but there is no saying whether it will be or not, and “What you want to-day may be of no use to you to-morrow.” Moreover, “He that gets, may keep; but he that only hopes to get, may be disappointed;” for “Hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper,” and “Hope deferred, hangs the heart upon tenter hooks, where it soon breaks.”
Will you henceforward avoid that first pen’north?—-Believe me “ A habit of sly drinking soon leads to living without thinking ; ” and there is but little safety for an easy going mind, except in a track in an opposite direction.
Or, will you say, as you have before said, “Oh, nivver heed, it’s nobbut a pen’north, what harm can it do?”
It can do this. The beginning of a bad habit is like putting on a new coat, to try if it will fit, or accommodating one’s foot to a new shoe, and suffering all sorts of pain and inconvenience to satisfy fashion, or to save the credit of the shoemaker. But when once either of them are on and easy, we become loath to put them off again; and as long as they are comfortable and bearable, we continue to say “nivver heed”—But remember, that “He who wades into the water, intending to go only up to his chin, may suddenly slip in over head ”—and “He starts on a long voyage, who goes to the bottom of the sea.”
Will you hereafter avoid that first quarrel ? knowing that “Anger begins with folly and ends with repentance”—and that “There is no use in making a rod for one’s own back”— Or will you persist in saying, “Nivver heed, nothing will come of it?”
Remember, I pray you, that “The first drop is the surest evidence of rain,” and that he who has once done an injustice, will seek to justify it always by the same means.
“He who does a good thing once, soon makes once into many,” whilst “He who does a bad thing once; had better not have done any, “and it is far better not to do, than to do, and wish it undone.”
Will you remember what I have said about the wasp?
Ah! my friends, in this world, there are many wasps that are not insects! Many smiles which conceal cross purposes; and many a sting lies under the fairest appearances; and it is never a very pleasant thing to find one’s-self in such company.
But, one thing always remains to be done, and it is this, that “He who is not able to drive the wasp away, may take himself away,” and “It is always better to avoid a venom than to cure it.”
And since the number of wasps may be so much diminished, by the pains we take to destroy their nests, when the young are yet harmless, we have only ourselves to blame if we let them multiply; for it would be vain then to say nivver heed, for “Heed we must, when there is no escape Neither need we be much surprised if “After having forgotten the spigot, the barrel should burst.”
Lastly, will you remember the cock-sparrow?
I think I hear you say, “Nivver heed.” Well! if you don’t heed, I don’t; for a better state of things is sure to arise, when the schoolmaster is abroad. And this is true, “That society is often more indebted to his wisdom than to parental care.”
Still, remember, that when nivver heed means “nobody cares,” it lets us down the stream; but when it means “try again,” it is a sentence of good promise.
Let’s away to t’—-Institute.
O, wee’ce ear summat at ’l dew us good. Na’ah, “nivver heed,” let’s away to t’ Oss an Jockey, or
“It’s ower thick;” or “It’s ower dark a neet;” or “It’s ower much trubble;” or “It’s ower far.”
These are the nivver heeds of folly and frivolity.
But when it’s
Ah can’t larn to rede if ah tri ivver sa ard. Be quiet wi thee; wat’s that fur?
Oh! ah don’t noa.
Why, thou es’nt tried ard enuff; try agean.
That’s the nivver heed for me. Nobody ever knew the first “nivver heed” prosper. Nobody ever knew the second “nivver heed” fail. And so you will always find, that the highways of immorality and vice are macadamized by careless indifference, and are very easy to run upon, but they end in disappointment; whilst the byeways of religion and virtue are very difficult to find, and still more difficult to keep when they are found, because of the allurements which are ever being presented to us by the world; but they are, therefore, the more creditable to our resolution when they are kept.
Therefore, to those among you who are determined to throw your chances away, because of difficulties which are apparently in-
Sparrows— not one of them is forgotten before God.” Luke xii. 6.
“That which the cankerworm hath left, hath the caterpillars eaten.” Joel 1. 4.
Uncorrected OCR-PAGE 72
THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
surmountable, but only apparently, determined to fall back in despair, determined to give way to idleness, to be all your lives “nobbuts,” I can only say, that “every tub must stand on its own bottom,” and as every man is the arbiter of his own fortune, so must you be.
But to those of you who, notwithstanding all their advantages and trials, and reverses, and difficulties, are still pushing on to the goal of intellectual excellence, I say nivver heed, push on, what has been done may be done, what will be, shall be. If you will, you may—
“Who follows fortune never should despair,
Faint heart and lagging step ne’er won the fair.
Boldly aspire, push on with heart and soul
Each in his turn will reach the envied goal,
And though the path be rugged, deep, and straight,
And filled with mazes dark and intricate,
Yet the bold lofty summit to attain
Who strives in earnest seldom strives in vain.”
My friends, forgive me if I have trespassed upon your time too long.
I have been nobbut anxious to do you a little good, if but ever so little, and so long as that end is answered, “Nivver heed.”
The discovery, the adoption, and the diffusion of stupifying and intoxicating agents, will form a very extraordinary, if not a very brilliant chapter in the history of man. The mass of such materials annually consumed, the immense portion of the earth’s surface devoted to their cultivation, and the prodigious amount of capital and labour employed in their manufacture and sale, are altogether astounding. The estimated annual consumption of opium is twenty millions of pounds weight; and when it is remembered that a few grains, repeated from day to day, will shatter the strongest nerves, and transform a healthy man into a pithless, cadaverous driveller, some idea’ may be formed of the tremendous quantity of disease, imbecility, and death, self-inflicted upon mankind through the medium of this drug alone. Next on the list come thirty millions of pounds of the cocoa leaf, chewed by ten millions of shrivelled, half-starved South American Indians, who purchase a few hours of vigour and vivacity out of the twenty-four at the expense of a heavy mortgage of gloom and inactivity on the rest. Then to confer on porter and ale their anti-intellectual tendency, there is an annual produce of nearly fifty millions of pounds of hops. The wretched natives of Sumatra and Southern India require a yearly allowance of five hundred millions of pounds of the betel nut. But, leaving the betel, the cocoa, hops, and opium far below it, the overwhelming tobacco Vesuvius swells up to the enormous magnitude of four thousand five hundred millions of pounds a year! If we add to this the seas of wine, rum, brandy, whisky, and other alcoholic liquors that annually flow over the human gullet, and keep up a perpetual, and now rather conspicuous redness on the nose of mankind, we shall be forced to the conclusion that the children of Adam are living a very fast life indeed; and to wonder, not that the sun never sets on the empire of human misery, but rather that a constitution now some six thousand years old, should still be able to bear up against the damaging assaults of so many enemies. Man is the prodigal son of the universe, living the life of a pig, through his own folly and stupidity; and it will require all the efforts of all the reformers to bring him back to the healthful and elevating enjoyments of his father’s house. Glasgow Commonwealth.
THE SHEPHERD BOY’S WAY IN THE WORLD.
The following advertisement appeared in The Times a few weeks ago. “The president and committee of the Kirk by Lonsdale Mechanics’ Institution have safely received the truly valuable gift of books, coins, shells, &c., to the above institution, by one who was an illiterate shepherd’s boy, who drove coal-carts through the town of Kirkby Lonsdale, now more than sixty years ago, and beg he will accept their most grateful thanks.”
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
The Half-Holiday Question, By John Lilwall. 6d. Kent & Co.
Those who want telling facts and arguments on this important topic should purchase this valuable pamphlet from the pen of the Indefatigable Hon. Secretary to the Early Closing Association.
Uncle Sam’s Farm Fence. 6d, Tweedie.
A popular American tale, illustrative of the far famed Maine Liquor Law. Well worthy of perusal.
London Shadows; a Glance at the “Homes” of Thousands. By George Goodwin, F.R.S. 1s. ROUTLEDGE & Co.
The authordeserves the thanks of the nation for bringing to light, so forcibly, some of the dark places of the metropolis.
How to Choose a Wife. 6d. Partridge & Co.
Are you thinking of getting Married? 2d. Jarrold & Sons.
These are, without exception, the best little works on one of the most important relations of life, we have met met with- We strongly recommend them to the perusal of all our unmarried readers.
The Worth of Fresh Air. 2d. Jarrold & Sons.
Both employers and employed do well to note the good counsel here given.
THE SATURDAY HALF-HOLIDAY.
Early closing is the key to the family altar, and the Saturday half-holiday is the key to the Sabbath. The Saturday afternoon is the time for recreation; that is the time for steamboat trips and cheap railway trains, and for opening Crystal Palaces and British Museums. That is the time for throwing open, too, the public gardens with their military bands. Then and there let bishops and baronets be seen walking arm in arm, enjoying the sight of the people innocently enjoying themselves. * * * Yes, the Saturday is the day for preparation. There is something good in every religion, in one sense. Adopt it * * * There is the Jew; I want to be a Jew upon half the Saturday. I do not want to work, and I do not want my fellow-man to work upon half that day. It is a visiting-day on the morrow; not gadding from door to door, from house to house in idle gossip. No. If I am to visit a mighty potentate on earth to-morrow, I will prepare myself to-day. If there is any chance of that great personage returning my visit, and coming into my poor house, I will prepare that home for him. Well, Saturday evening has come. There is visiting on the morrow. The poor working-man visits a mightier Being than any earthly potentate—-he visits God in his own house, his sanctuary; and if he does this as he ought, he will meet his God there, he will hold communion with Him; he will not come empty away.—Professor Miller, Edinburgh, from his admirable lecture, “Labour Lightened, not Lost.” Price 3d. Nisbet and Co., London.
EXTRAORDINARY SAGACITY OF THE ETTRICK SHEPHERD’S DOG, “SIRRAH.”
The celebrated shepherd-poet, James Hogg, had a dog named Sirrah. “He was,” says he, “beyond all comparison, the best dog I ever saw. He was of a surly, unsocial temper, disdaining all flattery, and refused to be caressed; but his attention to his master will never again be equalled by any of the canine race. The first time I saw him, a drover was leading him by a rope; he was hungry and lean; and far from being a beautiful cur. The man had bought him of a boy for three shillings somewhere on the border, and doubtless had fed him very ill on his journey. I thought I discovered a sort of sullen intelligence in his face, notwithstanding his dejected and forlorn situation; so I gave the drover a guinea for him, and appropriated him to myself. He was scarcely then a year old, and knew so little of herding, that he had never turned sheep in his life; but as soon as he discovered that it was his duty to do so, and that it obliged me, I can never forget with what anxiety and eagerness he learned his different evolutions. He would try every day till he found out what I wanted him to do; and when once I made him understand a direction, he never forgot or mistook it again. Well as I knew him, he often astonished me, for when hard pressed in accomplishing the task that he was put to, he had expedients of the moment that bespoke a great share of the reasoning faculty.
About seven hundred lambs, which were once under his care at weaning time, broke up at midnight, and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that the shepherd and a lad could do to keep them together. “Sirrah,” cried the shepherd, in great affliction, “my man, they’re a’ awa.” The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the faithful animal had heard his master’s words — words such as of all others were sure to set him most on the alert; and without more ado he silently set off in quest of the recreant flock. Meanwhile, the shepherd and his companion did not fail to do all that was in their power to recover their lost charge ; they spent the whole night in scouring the hills for miles round, but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could they obtain the slightest trace. “It was the most extraordinary circumstance,” said the shepherd, that ever occurred in my pastoral life.
We had nothing for it (day having dawned), but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock, and knew not what had become of one of them. On our way home, however, we discovered a body of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, and the indefatigable Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief, but still standing true to his charge. The sun was then up; and when we first came in view of them we concluded that it was one of the lambs which Sirrah had been unable to manage until he came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment when we discovered that not one lamb of the whole flock was wanting! How he had got all the divisions collected in the dark, is beyond my comprehension. The charge was left entirely to himself, from midnight until the rising of the sun; and if all the shepherds of the forest had been there to have assisted him, they could not have effected it with greater propriety. All that I can further say, is, that I never felt so grateful to any creature below the sun, as I did to my honest Sirrah that morning.” James Hogg.
Letter from MISS NIGHTINGALE to the Editor.
Castle Hospital, Balaclava, April 7th, 1856.
I have just been informed of the arrival last week, at Scutari, of two trusses, containing a large supply of numbers of the British Workman and the Band of Hope Review.
I beg to offer my best thanks for a contribution which will be most useful to us, and which will be highly valued by the soldiers.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant, Florence Nightingale
Contributions towards further grants for Soldiers and Sailors will be thankfully received by Henry Ford Barclay, Esq., Treasurer to the Gratuitous Circulation Fund, Walthamstow, Essex, or by the Rev. Joseph Kingsmill, Chaplain to the Government Model Prison, Pentonville, London.
SKETCHES FROM REAL LIFE.
BY MRS. C. L. BALFOUR,
We left Patty surrounded by all the sudden misery that had fallen on her master’s family. Her poor mistress had no relations near her, and those who had professed friendship, being mostly poor companions and haunters of “The Friend and Pitcher,” chose either to express their sympathy, surprise, or indignation over their ale, than to offer any aid to the miserable family. It is strange and beautiful to observe how often God manifest Himself in the very weakest of his creatures and sends help in time of trouble, from the most unlikely sources. Patty had been a mere drudge in the household—ordered by all, and considered by none; and yet, when this storm descended, she, the poor bruised reed, stood, when all around were prostrate, Her quiet methodical ways and constant industry were found to be indispensable. Through the first night of wretchedness she had hushed the children, and locked up the house, and by calm entreaty induced her mistress to lay her wearied head upon a pillow, though to sleep there was perhaps impossible. The next morning she obtained the help of a poor man to open the shop; and when from curiosity many towns-people dropped in to make small purchases, Patty was able to serve them without making many blunders, or calling her mistress, whose first anguish could not bear observation. Of course Patty knew nothing of law—but she heard enough during that and many succeeding weeks—and what with having both to work and think, she felt herself, as it were, a new being. Her former sufferings and privations had robbed her of her childhood, her present exertions seemed to put away her girlhood. She learned, for it was town’s talk, that her master and his nephew had been committed to take their trial for robbing the post office. They were conveyed to the county jail to await the assizes. Meanwhile, bills came pouring in from creditors, and the rent being in arrear, the landlord, fearing for his chance, made short work of it, and put in an execution.
At the end of six dismal weeks, the result was, Jasper Smug was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years transportation. His uncle, who was proved to be a wretched dupe, always drunk and incapable, was acquitted, but severely reprimanded—and the stock of the shop and furniture was sold off to pay the creditors. Whether the disgrace was too much for the ruined father and husband to face, or whether he fancied he could retrieve if he tried his fortune elsewhere, on the very day that he left the court house, he borrowed £10 of a man who pitied the wife and helpless family, and with this sum set off as if to return to—-but in reality fled to London, and was supposed to have gone to America, by one of the New York Liners. At all events, he neither came nor wrote to his wife and family.
This accumulation of misery, at length aroused sympathy with the deserted wife, and one of the most ill used of the husband’s creditors advanced enough to enable Mrs. Vineer to take a little stationer’s shop, and commence again in a very small way, hoping by that, and needle-work, to eke out a subsistence. She was very nervous and testy at first, and there were times when in her great anguish of desolation, even the faithful Patty had rebukes rather than commendation. One night, in particular, she was fretful, and she heard, with a kind of harass, Patty singing to the youngest child who was fractious with teething, a verse of a well known hymn. She was calling out “Oh, do leave off that singing,” when the words,
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face”—
struck on her ear. Mrs. Vineer was sitting in the shop, and the door of the back parlour, which was the only other apartment, was half open, and she saw the calm face of the poor girl bent lovingly over the child in her lap as the gentle words softly sung floated through the room, and her heart was touched. “Oh! that poor half crippled girl, who has never known anything but sorrow—who toils for us every day without a murmur, and yet she sings about God’s good providence!” This was a new feeling to the worn and troubled heart. Patty had never said one word about religion, but she had shown her piety in her life, and the scales were falling from eyes that grief and care had blinded. From that time, though there was no undue familiarity on Patty’s part, she and her mistress were friends, fellow helpers in bearing life’s burdens. And hard enough those burdens were, for they worked early and late—in the shop and at needle-work.
One great comfort had been granted to Patty; her brother, Tom, had been taken on board Mr. Drift’s vessel, about a week after the apprehension of the uncle and nephew, and was therefore out of harm’s way, and learning bow to earn an honest, if a laborious livelihood.
(To be continued.)