Imágenes de páginas



EAR CHILDREN,—You all like to

hear about something that has really happened; and although the following anecdote has not the charm of being wonderful, it is quite true. Two winters ago, when

the ground was covered with snow,

icicles hanging from the trees, and Duddingstone's old loch looking bright with its groups of merry skaters, little people in Edinburgh thought it was glori

ous weather ; but the aged drew their warm wrappings more closely round them, while the

infirm rested near the warm glow of a winter's fire, and contented themselves by admiring the snowy landscape from the window. It is in winter that the poor feel their wants most keenly; and the half-clad child, who pines with hunger and cold, will lack strength and spirit to cross that famous slide, while you, happy little boy or girl, are running over it scores of times.

Piercing was the wind one winter's morning last year, for snow had fallen in the night, covering the doorsteps and pavement with countless flakes. A gentleman was leaving his house, when a little urchin in ragged garb stepped forward, broom in hand, and eagerly asked permission to sweep away the snow.

You are a very little sweeper,' said the gontleman; 'do you think you can manage such work in this cold morning ?'

'Try me, sir ; do try me,' said the boy.

Very well,' replied the gentleman kindly. Work away; and after you have finished, you shall have some money


your breakfast.'



“Oh, thank you, sir !' almost gasped the little sweeper.

And in a very short time the doorsteps had lost their white carpet, while a broad pathway had been cleared on the pavement leading from the house. The laughing eyes of several youngsters watched the little fellow from the windows; and no sooner was his busy work completed, than he was admitted to a warm kitchen, where, seated near a blazing fire, he did ample justice to his breakfast.

The pleasure of giving food to the hungry was abundantly realized in the happy home that morning; and after our little friend had finished his meal, he was brought up stairs to talk to the lady. Nor did he leave before he had received a silver coin of his very own ;' while below his arm he was hugging a precious bundle, which contained an entire suit of clothes. 'Fortunate sweeper!' you are saying. Yes, dear children ; but his story was a sad one. He had no mother to care for him, and his father was sick, while they lived in a miserable room in the Old Town.

Beggars sometimes tell us such tales, and we fear they are not true; but there was an apparent sincerity in this poor boy's statements which interested his listeners greatly. And as he ran briskly from the door, the children hoped that they might see the nice little boy again. The morning hours passed away, and the bright rays of the midday sun were melting the snow in the garden and on the trees; but the ice on the lochs was still frozen, and the anticipated pleasures of a day's skating were great. One o'clock struck, and a loud ring came to the door-bell, while a servant entered the drawing-room to say that the boy who was in the house in the morning had returned, and 'wished to see the lady.'

• What can it be, mamma ?' exclaims more than one


eager voice.

"We shall hear presently,' she replies, as she hastens down stairs.

There stood the little sweeper, dressed in comfortable clothing, his face washed, and the uncombed locks which formerly stood on end,-reminding one of the old pictures of Giant Despair in the Pilgrim's Progress,—were now beautifully brushed and quite smooth. Altogether, the change in his appearance was marvellous.

Well, my little fellow, have you come to show us your new clothes ?' said his benefactress. “No, ma'am,' he replied. I like you to see them, and

' the little gentleman who gave them to me; but it was not for that I came.' He then produced a pretty ivory tablet and pencil-case, saying, 'Them things was in the pocket of the jacket, ma'am ; but, you see, father teached me out of the good Book that it is wrong to keep what does not belong to me, so I have brought them back.'

'Oh, how stupid of me to leave my nice present in the pocket, mamma!' said the little donor in a loud whisper ; but is not that an honest boy ?'

Yes, dear children, the little sweeper acted honestly. He did what was right, and we may learn a bright lesson from the earnest heed which he gave to God's blessed word. You may be sure that the kind lady approved of his conduct, encouraging him to continue in the study of the Bible, and telling him that there he would find stories of Samuel and Timothy—those holy children, who, in boyhood's years, were ever listening to their heavenly Father's voice.

We would like to tell you that this poor child was becoming wise and good ; but with last year's snow he disappeared, and now we cannot say where he is. Yet we know that He who careth for the little birds, sheltering them in the winter's storm, will watch over him; and remember, dear children, there is none so safe as he whom God is keeping.

M. M. C.

[ocr errors]

114 An Egyptian Desert Snail in the British Museum.





ATURALISTS are persons who have

eyes,' in the sense employed by Mrs Barbauld, in her charming narrative called 'Eyes and no Eyes.' Who that has read the story of the country walk in Even

ings at Home, can forget the boy who found such delight in observing birds and other living things? The boy was a collector. Most naturalists are collectors.

The late Mr Charles Lambe of Beau

port, Sussex, travelled in the East about 1845 and in the early spring of 1846. In that year, as I well remember, he presented many specimens to the British Museum. Among them were some land-shells from Egypt. Dr Baird, a very careful man, took these specimens, cleaned them, placed them on small boards, and registered them.

The Doctor so treated a small specimen of a species of snail called by naturalists Helix maculosa or Helix desertorum, ticketing it with the numbers 46. 3. 25. This referred to the year and month when the specimen was entered in his book. The shell was put in its proper systematic place in the collection, beside some hundreds of other species of the family. If

you look at the foot of a hedge, or among loose stones with herbage near them, say an old stone wall

, you may get plenty of our large mottled species, the Helix aspersa. In similar places you may find the beautiful small-banded one, so much liked by the mavis or song-thrush. These



[ocr errors]

snails in winter retire, like reserved men and women, into their stiff, hard shells, and cover over the mouth of their retiring place with a close door, which keeps out heat and keeps in their moisture. This epiphragm--soft or coriaceous in the snails ; hard, bony, or calcareous, as in the operculum, or cover-lid, of many shells-is one of these “all things' which is intimately connected with the economy and habits of the creature. In this state of hybernation, Egyptian desert snail—'46. 3. 25'-was gummed down by Dr Baird. Snail '46. 3. 25' was exhibited, and perhaps glanced at or never noticed, by thousands of people—say 15,000 or 20,000 a weekduring the year 1846, the year when the present Emperor of France escaped from Ham.

The snail slept through 1847, that frightful year when Ireland was visited by famine and pestilence, and gold was discovered in California. That year Sir James Simpson, Bart., set himself to sleep with chloroform. The snail slumbered at the very moment when that genial, able Edinburgh Medical Professor made that final experiment, the result of which promotes the comfort of millions, and rendered surgery and even pain bearable. The ten millions granted by Parliament, to relieve the famine, returned in increased wealth over the world, while a scientific discovery soothed it. There was the blessing that maketh rich. The snail was actually sleeping when the great revolution of the French broke out, which dethroned Louis Philippe, and made a king and queen flee to our calm shores, under the homely names of 'Mr and Mrs Smith !' The present Pope escaped in the garb of a gentleman's servant, and Louis Napoleon, whom I remember sitting that year consulting a book in the King's Library, was chosen President of the French Republic. The Queen visits Ireland in 1849—would that she was counselled to do so oftener !—when Helix '46. 3. 25' was sticking on its board in the Museum. The snail was affected not by the formal dethronement of the Pope, nor by the occu

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »