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• The Two Pots,' on which he launches out into a whole page of pathos, beginning with The interpreters of these fables deduce from this narrative a caution against incongruous and unequal friendships made between men widely separated from each other by wealth and station,' &c. Few boys would ever read such wordy rhodomontade as this, and fewer still would relish or understand it. The one element of wearisomeness is fatal to its usefulness among young people. Reading,' says Steele, should be to the mind what exercise is to the body, bringing pleasure with health and strength. The virtue we gather from a fable is like the health we get by hunting ; the pursuit that draws us on with pleasure, makes us insensible of the fatigues that accompany it.'* We sadly fear that no one who travels into the land of Æsop with Mr. Townsend will ever be beguiled into forgetting the pains of the journey. Nor, indeed, will he fare much better under the learned guidance of Archdeacon Croxall himself, whose work appears to us to be in indifferent taste and little suited to the youthful reader. But Mr. James has left us nothing to desire in a child's Æsop's Fables, and his book will charm many a young reader, not less with the simple clearness of the text, than the beauty of its illustrations.
While speaking of illustrations we stop for a moment to glance at two quaint, odd, little three-penny books, in 24mo., paper covers, having on the title-page the name of J. Harris, 1815.' They were written expressly for the young people of fifty years ago, and both are types of a distinct class of fiction. The first is entitled 'Virtue and Vice; or the History of Charles Careful and Harry Heedless; showing how the one came to utter beg. gary and shame, and the other to be a great man ;' illustrated with cuts, which must be seen to be thoroughly enjoyed, of which we can give but a single specimen.
Charley and Harry are, respectively, the model Good and Bad Boys. Both are the sons of gentlemen, and brought up in the same way; C. being radically good, and H. radically bad. C. loved to imitate his elders, and to ask their advice; he never climbed trees in quest of birds' nests, never wasted his pocket
* Tatler,' 147.
money, read none but good books, gave crowns away to beggars, never made mud pies, or fell into muddy ditches, sat silent till spoken to, never made dogs' ears in his books, and finally became a great man and rode in his own carriage. H. was the very reverse of all this; being idle and saucy, loving dogs' ears, naughty books, and bad boys who climbed trees and fell into muddy ditches; he ran away from school with Master W. Wilful, fell into the hands of the gipsies, and was nearly starved in the woods; but finally was saved from beggary by Mr. Careful, who met him one day in rags near the Exchange in London. The whole book is written in a pompous . Sandford and Merton' sort of style, which few children would willingly read, and none be the better for if they did. The final sentence at page 63 will suffice as a specimen :-*From this little history our young readers will see the necessity of being good, obeying their parents and friends, minding their learning, being cautious in their actions, and never apt to do things of their heads (sic), when they have the opportunity of consulting their elders.' The good and bad boy are both equally impossible, and on the whole we take Master Charles Careful to be the more disagreeable of the two. Such a mixture of precociousness and cant would be simply intolerable in real life, and no child would ever believe in his existence. The companion volume is of a totally different kind, equally curious in its way, and far more likely to have been read by the little gentlemen and ladies for whose benefit (says Mr. Harris) I have at a great expence got together the largest assortment of instructive and entertaining little books of any other person whom
soever.' It is called "Robin Goodfellow, A Fairy Tale, written by a Fairy for the entertainment of all the pretty little Faies and Fairies in Great Britain and Ire
land. The whole thing is so curious, B
as a child's book, that we must endeaC
vour to give our readers some notion of its contents. Fairy Land exists in the air at a distance of about five feet from this earth,' and is the land of all beautiful and perfect things. Fancy is the king of it, Whim his royal consort, and Imagination their eldest son. • Here is
a map of it, and several contiguous B. The Land of courage. countries.'
Whenever any poor mortal' far divest himself of the gross incumbrance of human nature as to visit these sublime regions' he is met with a hearty welcome, and
A. Fairy Land.
C. The Land of Dumplings.
charmed with all he sees; but, unfortunately, there is a lumbering, heavy fellow, named Stupidity, who presides over the birth of the greater number of mankind, and so strangely benumbs the faculties of their minds that their whole lives are spent in eating, drinking, and sleeping.' The writer of the little book, however, is not one of these · Dumpling folks,' but, under the guidance of Robin, flies away to Fairy Land as lightly as a butterfly to a rose. moment he is in the middle of a fair green field, shining under a silver moon, enamelled with a thousand tiny fragrant flowers, and a purling rill winding across it, 'more elegant than the most pompous cascade of art.' The king rides up in a superb chariot formed of a nut-shell, the court assembles, the cloth, a spider's web bleached with dew, is spread over a small mushroom, and a banquet appears fit to charm the soul of a Lilliputian alderman with dishes of rarest aroma, as
Head of Blue-bottle,
This seems rather light diet; but the accuracy of the description may be relied on, for it is confirmed by the very latest arrival from Fairy Land. The small people who may be seen engaged in all the sports and business of fairy life in ESA's exquisite little book, · Fairy Land and Fairies '—which while attractive to children is well deserving of the notice of the lovers of art for its originality of thought and fancy—these small elves, we say, are stated to be in the habit of partaking of the following dainties :
'A roasted ant that's nicely done,
This a delicious rainbow tart.'
the banquet music continually sounds; Trilletto on the flutebone of a spider; Flurtillo on a fiddle from the hull of an oatgrain, with Blow basto on a bassoon of two small wheat-straws. The presence of a mortal is soon detected; he is stripped, examined, and brought before the King, but, being vouched for by Robin, all goes well. The fairies shower on him acorn-cups of dew, give him a robe of peacock's feathers, reduce him to their own natural size, souse him into the belly of a tulip, and then make him free of Fairy Land—to be a fay or a mortal as he sees fit. The cock suddenly crows, the whole scene vanishes, and Robin and his friend find themselves in the Bookseller's shop, at the corner of St. Paul's Churchyard.'* At this point the whole story changes from the land of absolute fancy to plainest matter of fact. A little girl comes into Mr. H.'s shop to buy a book for her little brother, into whose pocket Robin, being unseen, pops an orange. Next, in come Jacky Juggle and Billy Bilk to buy a pack of cards, which virtuous Mr. Harris refuses to let them have; whereupon Robin slips a halter round the necks of both of them, as typical of their true deserts and future fate. On to the mouth of the next customer, little Miss Pert, he sticks a padlock; and then Robin and his companion fly off to Bartholomew Fair, where, both unseen, they discuss the whole motley crowd of knaves, fools, and idlers, and deal out to some of them such a measure of reproof or praise as befits each case, 'forming a series of useful and pleasing reflections from subjects the most common and familiar;' Robin thus recounting with great glee his pranks among mortals; 'whenever I find a naughty boy beating a good one, I always take care to pinch his ears when he is asleep, or to pull his toes till he roars again ; while the little good boy is sure the next morning to find a penny in his shoe.'
All this may seem to readers of our day a strange and ill-contrived medley for the nursery book-shelves; but, in spite of its cum brous machinery, and heavy, old-fashioned style, it is infinitely better than the dull propriety of Master Good Boy, and his string of mawkish virtues. At least it may serve to take away a child from the constant inspection of himself, his own special goodness or evil, and carry him outside the narrow circle of his own errors, follies, and conceit. It is for no idle or mean purpose that in the mind of a healthy child the fancy and the imagination are among the first of the powers that wake up into active life; and it is a false and narrow spirit that sets to work
Now the shop of Messrs. Griffith and Farran, whence come so many pleasant children's books.
to crush them, or to bar them from natural food. “The chivalrous spirit,' says a deep thinker, “has now-a-days almost disappeared from our books of education.' * He fears that even the popular novels are teaching nothing but lessons of worldliness, with, at most, huckstering virtues which conduce merely to getting on in the world; and for the first time in history the youth of both sexes among educated classes are growing up unromantic. • Catechisms by Pinnock and Co. are,' he thinks, a poor substitute for old romances, whether of chivalry or fairy, which, if not a true picture of actual life, were not a false one; but, far better, since they filled the youthful imagination with pictures of heroic men and heroic women.'t
There can be no doubt of the truth of these words, and it is curious to see to what shifts its opponents have been driven in providing children's books on a totally opposite principle. It is hard to exaggerate the amount of folly displayed in such books, or the mischief they do to thousands of artless, happy minds; but out of a multitude of examples we must now select one or two, to show in some measure how vast the mischief is, and how utterly untrue to life are these books of Fact as prepared for children. First, we have “The Life of a Baby,' a thick 12mo., in paper covers, price sixpence, 'A Strictly Authentic History, with the head of a smirking child opposite the title-page. This baby was a marvel from her birth. When just able to crawl about the nursery floor she didn't like toys, bu loved far better to sit in a rocking-chair, and sing, Jesus, Jesus.' If people sang other songs, she cried out, “No, no!' again repeating the sacred name, and, if that were not enough to arrest the attention of the heedless, adding the name of Christ. Before she was a year old she would lie still in her cot with clasped hands while her father read his Bible; and though she could not say many words' (a year old !) when she saw her parents come in from the shop to breakfast without saying their prayers and reading the Bible, she put out her hand, and cried No, no!' and looked wistfully at the Bible on the shelf. She sat down when her father read the Bible, and when he prayed would kneel and pray at a chair by herself; if left alone for several hours, she spent the time in prayer; she was never weary in church (two years old!), but knelt or sat with clasped hands; nor at the Sundayschool, where she sat gazing at the teacher's face. If she heard
* J. S. Mill.
† The question of how much time should be given to fiction is here left untouched, but it is obvious that books of fact must hold their own due place, if those of fiction are to bear anything but worthless fruit. The two must go hand in hand,