Saturday, March 4, 2017


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)  
SEPTEMBER 30, 1659. - I, poor miserable Robinson
Crusoe, being shipwrecked during a dreadful storm in the
offing, came on shore on this dismal, unfortunate island,
which I called ‘The Island of Despair"; all the rest of the
ship’s company being drowned, and myself almost dead.
All the rest of the day I spent in afflicting myself at the
dismal circumstances I was brought to - viz. I had neither
food, house, clothes, weapon, nor place to fly to; and in
despair of any relief, saw nothing but death before me -
either that I should be devoured by wild beasts, murdered
by savages, or starved to death for want of food. At the
approach of night I slept in a tree, for fear of wild
creatures; but slept soundly, though it rained all night.
OCTOBER 1. - In the morning I saw, to my great
surprise, the ship had floated with the high tide, and was
driven on shore again much nearer the island; which, as it
was some comfort, on one hand - for, seeing her set
upright, and not broken to pieces, I hoped, if the wind
abated, I might get on board, and get some food and
necessaries out of her for my relief - so, on the other hand,
it renewed my grief at the loss of my comrades, who, I
imagined, if we had all stayed on board, might have saved
the ship, or, at least, that they would not have been all
drowned as they were; and that, had the men been saved,
we might perhaps have built us a boat out of the ruins of
the ship to have carried us to some other part of the
world. I spent great part of this day in perplexing myself
on these things; but at length, seeing the ship almost dry, I
went upon the sand as near as I could, and then swam on
board. This day also it continued raining, though with no
wind at all.Read More

Friday, March 3, 2017


KING HENRY, the Handsome Scholar, had
one son named William, whom he dearly loved. The
young man was noble and brave, and everybody
hoped that he would some day be the King of
One summer Prince William went with his
father across the sea to look after their lands in
France. They were welcomed with joy by all their
people there, and the young prince was so gallant
and kind, that he won the love of all who saw him.
But at last the time came for them to go back
to England. The king, with his wise men and brave
knights, set sail early in the day; but Prince William
with his younger friends waited a little while. They
had had so joyous a time in France that they were in
no great haste to tear themselves away.
Then they went on board of the ship which
was waiting to carry them home. It was a beautiful
ship with white sails and white masts, and it had
been fitted up on purpose for this voyage.
The sea was smooth, the winds were fair and
no one thought of danger. On the ship, everything
had been arranged to make the trip a pleasant one.
There was music and dancing, and everybody was
merry and glad.
The sun had gone down before the whitewinged
vessel was fairly out of the bay. But what of
that? The moon was at its full, and it would give light
enough; and before the dawn of the morrow, the
narrow sea would be crossed. And so the prince, and
the young people who were with him, gave
themselves up to merriment and feasting and joy.
The earlier hours of the night passed by; and
then there was a cry of alarm on deck. A moment
afterward there was a great crash. The ship had
struck upon a rock. The water rushed in. She was
sinking. Ah, where now were those who had lately
been so heart-free and glad?
Every heart was full of fear. No one knew
what to do. A small boat was quickly launched, and
the prince with a few of his bravest friends leaped
into it. They pushed off just as the ship was
beginning to settle beneath the waves. Would they
be saved?
They had rowed hardly ten yards from the
ship, when there was a cry from among those that
were left behind.
“Row back!” cried the prince. “It is my little
sister. She must be saved!”
The men did not dare to disobey. The boat
was again brought alongside of the sinking vessel.
The prince stood up, and held out his arms for his
sister. At that moment the ship gave a great lurch
forward into the waves. One shriek of terror was
heard, and then all was still save the sound of the
moaning waters.
Ship and boat, prince and princess, and all the
gay company that had set sail from France, went
down to the bottom together. One man clung to a
floating plank, and was saved the next day. He was
the only person left alive to tell the sad story.
When King Henry heard of the death of his
son, his grief was more than he could bear. His heart
was broken. He had no more joy in life; and men say
that no one ever saw him smile again.
Here is a poem about him that your teacher
may read to you, and perhaps, after a while, you may
learn it by heart.

The bark that held the prince went down,
The sweeping waves rolled on;
And what was England’s glorious crown
To him that wept a son?
He lived, for life may long be borne
Ere sorrow breaks its chain:
Why comes not death to those who mourn?
He never smiled again.
There stood proud forms before his throne,
The stately and the brave;
But who could fill the place of one,—
That one beneath the wave?
Before him passed the young and fair,
In pleasure’s reckless train;
But seas dashed o’er his son’s bright hair—
He never smiled again.
He sat where festal bowls went round;
He heard the minstrel sing;
He saw the tourney’s victor crowned
Amid the knightly ring.
A murmur of the restless deep
Was blent with every strain,
A voice of winds that would not sleep—
He never smiled again.
Hearts, in that time, closed o’er the trace
Of vows once fondly poured,
And strangers took the kinsman’s place
At many a joyous board;
Graves which true love had bathed with tears
Were left to heaven’s bright rain;
Fresh hopes were born for other years—
He never smiled again!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)  

WHEN I waked it was broad day, the weather clear,
and the storm abated, so that the sea did not rage and swell
as before. But that which surprised me most was, that the
ship was lifted off in the night from the sand where she lay
by the swelling of the tide, and was driven up almost as far
as the rock which I at first mentioned, where I had been
so bruised by the wave dashing me against it. This being
within about a mile from the shore where I was, and the
ship seeming to stand upright still, I wished myself on
board, that at least I might save some necessary things for
my use.
When I came down from my apartment in the tree, I
looked about me again, and the first thing I found was the
boat, which lay, as the wind and the sea had tossed her up,
upon the land, about two miles on my right hand. I
walked as far as I could upon the shore to have got to her;
but found a neck or inlet of water between me and the
boat which was about half a mile broad; so I came back
for the present, being more intent upon getting at the
ship, where I hoped to find something for my present
A little after noon I found the sea very calm, and the
tide ebbed so far out that I could come within a quarter of
a mile of the ship. And here I found a fresh renewing of
my grief; for I saw evidently that if we had kept on board
we had been all safe - that is to say, we had all got safe on
shore, and I had not been so miserable as to be left entirety
destitute of all comfort and company as I now was. This
forced tears to my eyes again; but as there was little relief
in that, I resolved, if possible, to get to the ship; so I pulled
off my clothes - for the weather was hot to extremity -
and took the water. But when I came to the ship my
difficulty was still greater to know how to get on board;
for, as she lay aground, and high out of the water, there
was nothing within my reach to lay hold of. I swam round
her twice, and the second time I spied a small piece of
rope, which I wondered I did not see at first, hung down
by the fore-chains so low, as that with great difficulty I got
hold of it, and by the help of that rope I got up into the
forecastle of the ship. Here I found that the ship was
bulged, and had a great deal of water in her hold, but that
she lay so on the side of a bank of hard sand, or, rather
earth, that her stern lay lifted up upon the bank, and her
head low, almost to the water. By this means all her
quarter was free, and all that was in that part was dry; for
you may be sure my first work was to search, and to see
what was spoiled and what was free. And, first, I found
that all the ship’s provisions were dry and untouched by
the water, and being very well disposed to eat, I went to
the bread room and filled my pockets with biscuit, and ate
it as I went about other things, for I had no time to lose. I
also found some rum in the great cabin, of which I took a
large dram, and which I had, indeed, need enough of to
spirit me for what was before me. Now I wanted nothing
but a boat to furnish myself with many things which I
foresaw would be very necessary to me.
It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to
be had; and this extremity roused my application. We had
several spare yards, and two or three large spars of wood,
and a spare topmast or two in the ship; I resolved to fall to
work with these, and I flung as many of them overboard
as I could manage for their weight, tying every one with a
rope, that they might not drive away. When this was done
I went down the ship’s side, and pulling them to me, I
tied four of them together at both ends as well as I could,
in the form of a raft, and laying two or three short pieces
of plank upon them crossways, I found I could walk upon
it very well, but that it was not able to bear any great
weight, the pieces being too light. So I went to work, and
with a carpenter’s saw I cut a spare topmast into three
lengths, and added them to my raft, with a great deal of
labour and pains. But the hope of furnishing myself with
necessaries encouraged me to go beyond what I should
have been able to have done upon another occasion.
My raft was now strong enough to bear any reasonable
weight. My next care was what to load it with, and how
to preserve what I laid upon it from the surf of the sea; but
I was not long considering this. I first laid all the planks or
boards upon it that I could get, and having considered
well what I most wanted, I got three of the seamen’s
chests, which I had broken open, and emptied, and
lowered them down upon my raft; the first of these I filled
with provisions - viz. bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five
pieces of dried goat’s flesh (which we lived much upon),
and a little remainder of European corn, which had been
laid by for some fowls which we brought to sea with us,
but the fowls were killed. There had been some barley and
wheat together; but, to my great disappointment, I found
afterwards that the rats had eaten or spoiled it all. As for
liquors, I found several, cases of bottles belonging to our
skipper, in which were some cordial waters; and, in all,
about five or six gallons of rack. These I stowed by
themselves, there being no need to put them into the
chest, nor any room for them. While I was doing this, I
found the tide begin to flow, though very calm; and I had
the mortification to see my coat, shirt, and waistcoat,
which I had left on the shore, upon the sand, swim away.
As for my breeches, which were only linen, and openkneed,
I swam on board in them and my stockings.Read More


Look into those they call unfortunate,
And, closer view’d, you’ll find they are unwise.–Young.
Let wealth come in by comely thrift,
And not by any foolish shift:
‘Tis haste
Makes waste:
Who gripes too hard the dry and slippery sand
Holds none at all, or little, in his hand.–Herrick.
Let well alone.–Proverb.
HOW MUCH REAL comfort every one might enjoy if he would be contented
with the lot in which heaven has cast him, and how much trouble would be
avoided if people would only “let well alone.” A moderate independence, quietly
and honestly procured, is certainly every way preferable even to immense
possessions achieved by the wear and tear of mind and body so necessary to procure
them. Yet there are very few individuals, let them be doing ever so well in
the world, who are not always straining every nerve to do better; and this is one
of the many causes why failures in business so frequently occur among us. The
present generation seem unwilling to “realize” by slow and sure degrees; but
choose rather to set their whole hopes upon a single cast, which either makes or
mars them forever!
Gentle reader, do you remember Monsieur Poopoo? He used to keep a small
toy-store in Chatham, near the corner of Pearl Street. You must recollect him, of Read More


AT one time the Danes drove King Alfred
from his kingdom, and he had to lie hidden for a
long time on a little island in a river.
One day, all who were on the island, except
the king and queen and one servant, went out to
fish. It was a very lonely place, and no one could get
to it except by a boat. About noon a ragged beggar
came to the king’s door, and asked for food.
The king called the servant, and asked, “How
much food have we in the house?”
“My lord,” said the servant, “we have only
one loaf and a little wine.”
Then the king gave thanks to God, and said,
“Give half of the loaf and half of the wine to this
poor man.”
The servant did as he was bidden. The beggar
thanked the king for his kindness, and went on his
In the afternoon the men who had gone out
to fish came back. They had three boats full of fish,
and they said, “We have caught more fish to-day
than in all the other days that we have been on this
The king was glad, and he and his people were
more hopeful than they had ever been before.
When night came, the king lay awake for a
long time, and thought about the things that had
happened that day. At last he fancied that he saw a
great light like the sun; and in the midst of the light
there stood an old man with black hair, holding an
open book in his hand.
It may all have been a dream, and yet to the
king it seemed very real indeed. He looked and
wondered, but was not afraid.
“Who are you?” he asked of the old man.
“Alfred, my son, be brave,” said the man; “for
I am the one to whom you gave this day the half of
all the food that you had. Be strong and joyful of
heart, and listen to what I say. Rise up early in the
morning and blow your horn three times, so loudly
that the Danes may hear it. By nine o’clock, five
hundred men will be around you ready to be led into
battle. Go forth bravely, and within seven days your
enemies shall be beaten, and you shall go back to
your kingdom to reign in peace.”
Then the light went out, and the man was
seen no more.
In the morning the king arose early, and
crossed over to the mainland. Then he blew his horn
three times very loudly; and when his friends heard it
they were glad, but the Danes were filled with fear.
At nine o’clock, five hundred of his bravest
soldiers stood around him ready for battle. He
spoke, and told them what he had seen and heard in
his dream; and when he had finished, they all
cheered loudly, and said that they would follow him
and fight for him so long as they had strength.
So they went out bravely to battle; and they
beat the Danes, and drove them back into their own
place. And King Alfred ruled wisely and well over all
his people for the rest of his days.


MANY years ago there lived in England a wise
and good king whose name was Alfred. No other
man ever did so much for his country as he; and
people now, all over the world, speak of him as
Alfred the Great.
In those days a king did not have a very easy
life. There was war almost all the time, and no one
else could lead his army into battle so well as he.
And so, between ruling and fighting, he had a busy
time of it indeed.
A fierce, rude people, called the Danes, had
come from over the sea, and were fighting the
English. There were so many of them, and they were
so bold and strong, that for a long time they gained
every battle. If they kept on, they would soon be the
masters of the whole country.
At last, after a great battle, the English army
was broken up and scattered. Every man had to save
himself in the best way he could. King Alfred fled
alone, in great haste, through the woods and
Late in the day the king came to the hut of a
woodcutter. He was very tired and hungry, and he
begged the woodcutter’s wife to give him something
to eat and a place to sleep in her hut.
The woman was baking some cakes upon the
hearth, and she looked with pity upon the poor,
ragged fellow who seemed so hungry. She had no
thought that he was the king.
“Yes,” she said, “I will give you some supper
if you will watch these cakes. I want to go out and
milk the cow; and you must see that they do not
burn while I am gone.”
King Alfred was very willing to watch the
cakes, but he had far greater things to think about.
How was he going to get his army together again?
And how was he going to drive the fierce Danes out
of the land? He forgot his hunger; he forgot the
cakes; he forgot that he was in the woodcutter’s hut.
His mind was busy making plans for to-morrow.
In a little while the woman came back. The
cakes were smoking on the hearth. They were
burned to a crisp. Ah, how angry she was!
“You lazy fellow!” she cried. “See what you
have done! You want something to eat, but you do
not want to work!”
I have been told that she even struck the king
with a stick; but I can hardly believe that she was so
The king must have laughed to himself at the
thought of being scolded in this way; and he was so
hungry that he did not mind the woman’s angry
words half so much as the loss of the cakes.
I do not know whether he had anything to eat
that night, or whether he had to go to bed without
his supper. But it was not many days until he had
gathered his men together again, and had beaten the
Danes in a great battle.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


THERE was once a great king of England who
was called William the Conqueror, and he had three
One day King William seemed to be thinking
of something that made him feel very sad; and the
wise men who were about him asked him what was
the matter.
“I am thinking,” he said, “of what my sons
may do after I am dead. For, unless they are wise
and strong, they cannot keep the kingdom which I
have won for them. Indeed, I am at a loss to know
which one of the three ought to be the king when I
am gone.”
“O king!” said the wise men, “if we only knew
what things your sons admire the most, we might
then be able to tell what kind of men they will be.
Perhaps, by asking each one of them a few
questions, we can find out which one of them will be
best fitted to rule in your place.”
“The plan is well worth trying, at least,” said
the king. “Have the boys come before you, and then
ask them what you please.”
The wise men talked with one another for a
little while, and then agreed that the young princes
should be brought in, one at a time, and that the
same questions should be put to each.
The first who came into the room was
Robert. He was a tall, willful lad, and was nicknamed
Short Stocking.
“Fair sir,” said one of the men, “answer me
this question: If, instead of being a boy, it had
pleased God that you should be a bird, what kind of
a bird would you rather be?”
“A hawk,” answered Robert. “I would rather
be a hawk, for no other bird reminds one so much
of a bold and gallant knight.”
The next who came was young William, his
father’s namesake and pet. His face was jolly and
round, and because he had red hair he was
nicknamed Rufus, or the Red.
“Fair sir,” said the wise man, “answer me this
question: If, instead of being a boy, it had pleased
God that you should be a bird, what kind of a bird
would you rather be?”
“An eagle,” answered William. “I would
rather be an eagle, because it is strong and brave. It
is feared by all other birds, and is therefore the king
of them all.”
Lastly came the youngest brother, Henry, with
quiet steps and a sober, thoughtful look. He had
been taught to read and write, and for that reason he
was nicknamed Beauclerc, or the Handsome Scholar.
“Fair sir,” said the wise man, “answer me this
question: If, instead of being a boy, it had pleased
God that you should be a bird, what kind of a bird
would you rather be?”
“A starling,” said Henry. “I would rather be a
starling, because it is good-mannered and kind and a
joy to every one who sees it, and it never tries to rob
or abuse its neighbor.”
Then the wise men talked with one another
for a little while, and when they had agreed among
themselves, they spoke to the king.
“We find,” said they, “that your eldest son,
Robert, will be bold and gallant. He will do some
great deeds, and make a name for himself; but in the
end he will be overcome by his foes, and will die in
“The second son, William, will be as brave
and strong as the eagle but he will be feared and
hated for his cruel deeds. He will lead a wicked life,
and will die a shameful death.
“The youngest son, Henry, will be wise and
prudent and peaceful. He will go to war only when
he is forced to do so by his enemies. He will be
loved at home, and respected abroad; and he will die
in peace after having gained great possessions.”
Years passed by, and the three boys had
grown up to be men. King William lay upon his
death-bed, and again he thought of what would
become of his sons when he was gone. Then he
remembered what the wise men had told him; and so
he declared that Robert should have the lands which
he held in France, that William should be the King
of England, and that Henry should have no land at
all, but only a chest of gold.
So it happened in the end very much as the
wise men had foretold. Robert, the Short Stocking,
was bold and reckless, like the hawk which he so
much admired. He lost all the lands that his father
had left him, and was at last shut up in prison, where
he was kept until he died.
William Rufus was so overbearing and cruel
that he was feared and hated by all his people. He
led a wicked life, and was killed by one of his own
men while hunting in the forest.
And Henry, the Handsome Scholar, had not
only the chest of gold for his own, but he became by
and by the King of England and the ruler of all the
lands that his father had had in France.