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The Baldwin Library
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RAN CIS C W OODWORTII,
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WITH TINTED ILLUSTRATIONS.
AUTHOR OF THE DIVING BELL," "THE PEDDLER'S BOY," "Is MId
MARBLE'S CROTCHETS AND ODDITIES," ETC.
PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY.
NEW YORK: J. C. DERBY.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852,
BY PHILLIPS, SAMPSON &x Co.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the District
BILLION & BROTHERS,
No 10 NORTH WILLIAM STRZB T, N. Y.
WRIGHT & HASTY,
Printer, 8 Water Street, Boston.
ABOUT KIT CURIOUS .
THE BOILING SPRINGS .
GIOTTO, THE PAINTER .
MY ANT FAMILY .
THE HIGHLAND CAT .
THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET
THE EARTH'S NORTH POLE .
LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS
LETTER VIII. AOB
PERILS OF THE HUNTERS 96
SNOW AND SLEIGH RIDES 103
THE LILIPUTIANS 112
THE CRYSTAL PALACE 125
WONDERS OF EGYPT 131
THE STRANGER'S GRAVE 149
KIT CURIOUS, WITH HIS CHRISTMAS GIFTS (Frontispiece.)
VIGNETTE TITLE-PAGE 3
THE BOILING SPRING 21
A BREAKFAST FOR THE STARVING FAMILY 65
THE MAMMOTH ICEBERG 88
THE GREAT CRYSTAL PALACE 124
A SIBERIAN SLEIGH RIDE 107
THE NILE AND THE PYRAMIDS 137
WONDERFUL LETTER BAG.
A VERY famous man is Mr. Christo-
pher Curious. I don't mean to say
that he is as widely famous as Isaac
Newton, or William Shakspeare, or
Julius Caesar. But I do mean to say
that he is famous in the circle in
which he moves. To be sure, that
circle is rather a small one, and does
8 KIT CURIOUS.
not embrace a vast number of remarka-
bly great men or great women. The
truth is-I will speak it out-Christo-
pher Curious (we will call him Kit
Curious, if you please, for the sake
of shortness) is mostly famous among
children. I know scores of boys and
girls, who look upon him as one of the
most wonderful men that the world
ever saw. They think, I presume,
that there never was another head so
full of wisdom, as the one which hap-
pened to grow on the shoulders of Kit
Curious. That wisdom will die with
him, is a truth scarcely disputed in
KET CURIOUS. 9
their ranks. You can guess the rea-
son why they think so, can't you,
reader? It is because the old man
never gets tired of entertaining them
with his pleasant and instructive chit-
Still, it must be admitted, let the
judgment of his young friends be what
it may, that Kit Curious, when he trav-
els out of the circle of the little boys
and girls who hang on his words with
such interest, is not set down as a
great man, by any means. He is not
wonderfully learned in Latin and Greek,
or in logic and mathematics. A good
10 KIT CURIOUS.
share of the knowledge he has obtained
has been picked up, here and there, as
a bird picks up seeds in a meadow
that has been recently mowed. Kit
Curious has always been a very great
reader, though, and he strives to store
away what he reads in his memory-
The secret of his popularity with the
little folks is twofold: first, he gener-
ally knows what to talk about, and,
secondly, he knows how to do it. He
is tolerably at home in history. Ask
him the date of any particular event
of importance, and he can generally
KIT CURIOUS. 11
give it, exactly or pretty nearly, with-
out going to look over the book where
the date is recorded.
The old man used to resort to a
rather singular way of showing the
kind feelings of his heart to the lit-
tle folks, every Christmas; and I am
not suie but he has kept up the same
thing to this day, though, perhaps, he
is getting to be too aged for that now.
This is the way he used to manage,
when he was a younger man: Every
year, just before Christmas, he would
buy a great number of small picture
books. On Christmas morning, as soon
12 KIT CURIOUS.
*as he had finished his breakfast, be
would take a walk around the village,
with his pockets brimful of picture
books; and every little boy or girl
whom he met, and who wished him
a "merry Christmas," got one of these
books for a present. I undertook, just
now, to tell you why the children all
loved him. I wonder, by the way, if I
did not neglect one reason for his popu-
larity among the boys and girls. Who
knows but these Christmas presents
had something to do rith the mat-
I don't know that I ought to go any
KIT CURIOUS. 13
further with the history of Kit Curious,
without letting out a bit of a secret in
relation to the name of the man. The
truth is, his name is not Kit Curious,
or any thing like it. Kit Curious is
a nickname, which he got, many years
ago, on account of his being so well
acquainted with almost every thing
strange and wonderful that was going
on or had taken place under the sun.
I shall call him by that nickname, not
only for the same reason, but for quite
another, namely, that I don't want to
tell his real name.
Now please don't tease me to let
14 KIT CURIOUS.
out another secret, and to reveal the
name by which this man was chris-
tened; for I must be silent on this
point. I'll tell you a good deal about
the man; and, by and by, I mean to
give you some of the strange, and won-
derful, and out-of-the-way tit-bits of
knowledge which I have got from him.
"But"--in the language of the old
SBut what's his name, or where's his hame,
I dinna care to tell."
So you must be content to get along
with those threads in his history which
I weave for you.
KIT CURIOUS. 15
Kit Curious, thinking, I suppose,
that I could turn to a good account
the entertaining knowledge I might
get hold of, by making a sort of hash
or minced meat of it, and serving it
up to my young friends, has been wri-
ting me some letters about strange,
and curious, and wonderful things; and
that is the reason why I talk about his
letter bag. Now, my dear young friend,
I am going to give you some of the
contents of those letters, altering them
a little, a very little, as I go along,
whenever I come across any thing
which I think needs some pruning
16 KIT CUOIOUS.
or some explanation. So please lis-
ten, while I open the Letter Bag of
Kit Curious, and read some of his
THE BOILING SPRINGS.
You have studied geography, have
you not? Then you know that there
is such an island as Iceland; and you
know where it is, too. You can turn
to it in a minute, as soon as you find
the map of Europe. Well, on the island
there are some most remarkable springs,
called geysers. They throw up boiling
waters to a great height in the air.
18 THE BOILING SPRINGS.
One of these springs is called the
great geyser. It is somewhat larger
than the rest. It has the appearance,
at a little distance, of a large mound.
When you go up the sides of the gey-
ser, as you can do, if you choose, you
find a large basin at the top. It does
not form a perfect circle, being fifty-six
feet across one way and forty-six the
other. In the centre of this mound
there is a hole, going down into the
bowels of the earth seventy-eight feet.
This pipe is some eight feet in diame-
ter. The hot water rises up through
the pipe, and fills the basin made by
THE BOILING SPRINGS. 19
the mound, and then runs off over
Once in a while, loud reports are
heard, as one stands near the great
geyser; and immediately after the loud
report, the water is thrust up through
the pipe with greater violence than
The water sometimes rises only
twenty or thirty feet; but it very
frequently goes up as high as fifty
and even eighty feet, and it has been
known to go up as high as two hun-
dred feet. I never saw this great boil-
ing spring; but I have often thought
20 THE BOILING SPRINGS.
it must be one of the greatest curiosi-
ties in the world. Why, just think of
it. Here is a column of water almost
as large as the room in which you are
sitting, which is sent up, with a roar-
ing sound, higher than the ridge-pole
of a three-story house. As this column
of water rises, it carries a vast cloud
of vapor along with it.
Large stones are often thrown up in
this vast column. Sometimes visitors
throw stones into the spring, to see
them go up in the air. It now and
then happens, that stones will remain
near the top of the column of water,
THE BOILING SPRINGS. 28
for several minutes. They are kept
there by the force of the water, just as
you may have seen a little ball kept
dancing up in the air, by a jet of wa
ter from an artificial fountain. The
last time I was in Boston, I remember,
I saw a ball kept up in this manner by
a jet, in the front door-yard of the hotel
where I stopped.
There are a great many geysers near
this large one. Some of them are quite
small. The people who live in that
vicinity, it is said, often turn the
smaller springs to good account. They
hang pots and kettles over them, and
24 THE BOILING SPRINGS.
boil water, merely from the heat that
rises from them.
Sometimes one of these boiling springs
will be pretty quiet, and will send the
water up only a short distance. At
such times, if you throw a quantity of
large stones into the spring, you can
make the water rise again, as high as
ever. The geyser acts as if it were
angry because the stones have been
thrown into its throat; and it sputters,
and -hisses, and roars, and spits, at
a great rate. In this respect, it acts
a little like some boys and girls that
I have seen. I will not mention any
THE BOILING SPRINGS. 25
names; but I know of some little folks,
who get vexed at a mere trifle, and
belch out great red-hot words from
their mouths, that will burn every
body who happens to be any where
near the eruption. I don't know that
it would be very safe to stand near the
great geyser, while it has one of these
fits; and yet I am not sure but I would
stand there and risk it, rather than to
be so near to a boy who is boiling over
with anger, as to hear the volleys of
angry words, when they come whizzing
up through his throat. I tell you what
it is, I would rather be out of the way,
26 THE BOILING SPRINGS.
when spiteful words are flying about
my head. I don't like them, and
When the sun shines on these jets
of water, they present a very brilliant
appearance. The water looks as if it
were as white as snow, and rainbows
are seen all about it.
Besides these jets, there are a great
many holes in the earth, through which
the water seldom or never comes up,
but which are continually sending up
hot vapor. The clouds of vapor some-
times thrown out from these holes in
the earth, cover a large space. They
THE BOILING SPRINGS. 27
form a thick cloud, and shut out the
light of the sun.
People get badly scalded, once in a
while, when they are walking around,
among these holes in the earth. Some-
times the holes which are sending up
nothing but vapor, will suddenly let a
stream of water fly from their throats;
and then woe be to the man who is any
where near them, unless he instantly
makes his escape!
The cause of the boiling of these
geysers is no doubt the volcanic fire
in the bowels of the earth in that vi-
cinity. The crust of the earth there is
28 THE BOILING SPRINGS.
very thin, and the volcanic action takes
place much nearer the surface than is
the case with such a volcano as that
of Vesuvius or JEtna.
GIOTTO, THE PAINTER.
IN the latter part of the thirteenth
century, a famous painter lived in
Italy, whose name was Giotto. He
was born in Florence, in the year
1240. Possibly you have not heard
of this man; but I assure you he
was one of the most celebrated paint-
ers of the age in which he lived, and
was honored with the friendship of
30 GIOTTO, THE PAINTER.
Dante, the great poet, and most of
the great men living in Italy at that
I will describe to you the beginning
of Giotto's career as a painter. It
was when he was quite a small boy.
His father, who was a poor man, had
placed the lad with a shepherd, to
take care of a flock of sheep. "Lit-
tle Giotto must do something for a
living," said the old man. "I have
no notion of having him grow up in
idleness; and I think I may as well
make a shepherd of him." Well, the
lad went to live with a shepherd, and
GIOTTO, THE PAINTER. 81
began learning his trade as a shep-
One day, the little fellow took it
into his head to sketch the picture
of a sheep that was lying down near
him. But how was he to make the
sketch? He had no pen, no pencil,
no colors. Necessity is a good school-
master, and necessity, taught little Gi-
otto what to do. He found a smooth
flat stone; and upon this stone, by
the help of a small piece of slate, he
sketched-very rudely and imperfectly,
to be sure-the picture of the sheep.
While he was engaged in this work,
32 GIOTTO, THE PAINTER.
a man came along, on horseback. The
little artist was so busy at his drawing,
that he did not hear the sound of the
horse's feet, and so did not observe the
man, until he had got so near as to see
what was going on. The stranger then
looked at the picture, and was pleased
"Well, my little boy," said he, "that
is pretty well done."
Little Giotto started up, and blushed.
Until that moment, he had not dreamed
that any one was watching him.
The man on horseback proved to be
Cimabue, one of the most famous Ital.
GIOTTO, THE PANTEB. 88
ian painters of that day. "You have
made quite a fair picture of the old
sheep," he repeated, laughing. "Now,
little fellow," he added, "would you
like to know who I am ?"
"Indeed I would," said Giotto.
Have you ever heard of Cimabue ?"
asked the gentleman.
"What! the painter ?"
"Yes, the painter."
"To be sure I have heard of him."
Well, that's my name."
Giotto blushed now, more than ever,
when he looked at the rude picture he
had made on the flat stone, with the
84 GIOTTO, THE PAINTER.
piece of slate. But Cimabue spoke to
him so kindly and seriously, that he
soon felt quite at ease again. "Would
you like to go and live with me?"
asked the great painter. "Would you
like to go and live with me, and learn
to paint sheep, and horses, and even
"I would, sir," said little Giotto, his
eyes flashing with delight, "Indeed I
would, if my father is willing."
"Well, let us go and ask your father,
then," said Cimabue.
They went. Giotto's father, after
some hesitation, consented that his
GIOTTO, THE PAINTER. 35
son should go and live with Ciniabue.
In a few days he went, and com-
menced his studies as a painter.
The pupil improved rapidly. When
he had been with Cimabue a year or
two, he became so well acquainted
with the art of painting, as to aston-
ish every one who knew him. It was
about this time that he played a trick
upon his master, which, perhaps, more
than any other one thing, tended to
establish his reputation as a genius.
The trick was this: His master had
been engaged for some days on a por-
trait of a gentleman. One day, when
36 GIOTTO TIE PAINTER.
the old painter had left the studio for
a short time, young Giotto painted a
fly on the nose of the portrait. Cima-
bue came in, after a while, and seeing
the fly on his painting, tried to brush
it off. But the fly would not be brush-
ed off, of course.
The old man was delighted with the
success of the art-or the artifice,
whichever you please-of his young
pupil, and boasted of it a great deaL
It was not long after the painting of
this fly, before the fame of Giotto
spread all over Europe. One of the
most learned of all the Popes then
G1rITO, THE PAINTER. 8
occupied the Papal chair, and he hon-
ored the young painter with a visit,
and encouraged him by the highest
marks of friendship.
So you see, little boy, that some of
the first steps up the hill of greatness,
are so low that almost any boy can
stand on them. When you look away
up to the top of the hill, it seems to
be a great distance, and you are in-
clined to say, Oh, I never can climb
that hill." But if you improve your
time, and make the most of the ad-
vantage you have, and don't get dis-
couraged, you can climb the hill, step
38 GIOTTO, THE PAINTER.
by step, as well as many others who
have gone up before you. A man's
history is made up, for the most part,
of small incidents. All men, who have
been famous in the world, for great-
ness or goodness, began their career
by doing things which astonished no-
body, and which, in themselves, were
hardly worth noticing. Let this fact
encourage you, my boy, and let it
stimulate you, while you are working
hard over your lessons.
MY ANT FAMILY.
I MUST write you a letter about a
family of ants which I had under my
charge, a little while ago. A family
of ants, please to take notice, my little
friend, not aunts. Some of my aunts
are worth seeing and worth talking
about, doubtless; but it is not of them
that I wish to speak at present.
I have some facts to relate concern-
40 MY ANT FAMILY.
ing some black ants, who lived under
my roof, and came under my careful
notice almost every day, for nearly six
months. You must know how I came
by the ants.
Instead of coal, I bur wood in my
study. Well, one cold day in the
winter, John, the colored man who
works for me sometimes, was sawing
some hickory wood for my stove, when
he came to my door, cap in hand, and
begged me to come with him, as he
had something wonderful to show me.
As I am always wide awake, when
there is any thing very curious to be
MY ANT FAMILY. 41
seen, I needed no urging, and went
immediately to the wood pile with
There I saw a sight, indeed. Many
of the hard sticks of hickory wood had
holes bored in them lengthwise, and
hundreds of ants were packed away
in these holes. Strange as it may
seem, these creatures had bored the
holes in the wood with their forceps.
Some of these holes were two or three
feet long. The ants were of the largest
kind, as black as jet. Do you know
that ants sleep all winter? It is a
fact. Some time in the fall, these
42 MY ANT FAMILY.
large black ants, having dug them-
selves a nice home for the winter in
the hickory-tree, had gone into it, and
had fallen into a state of stupor, from
which they would probably not have
been roused until some time during the
following spring, if they had not come
under my notice.
As the wood was sawed and split,
great numbers of these ants were thus
turned out of their home and scattered
on the side-walk. I gathered up a
handful of them, and carried them into
the house. I did not count them; but
I presume there were upwards of fifty.
MY ANT FAMILY. 48
I knew very well that, unless I shut
the black creatures-up, they would be
running about my room, as soon as
they began to get a little warm, so
that they could have the use of their
limbs. So I put them into a large,
wide-mouthed glass bottle, so clear
that I could easily see through it,
and watch all their motions. It was
about an hour, as near as I can rec-
ollect, before they waked up, and
showed signs of life; and when they
found themselves actually awake, they
behaved something as I should sup-
pose a cat would behave in a strange
44 MY ANT FAMLY.
garret. What were their thoughts I
cannot tell. But, if I may judge of
what was passing in their minds by
their actions, I should certainly con-
clude that they were puzzled by such
thoughts as these: "What does all
this mean ? Am I alive or not ? How
came I here? Where am I? How
did I get out of my snug home in
the hickory tree ? Why did I wake
so soon? Is it spring or not? Who
knows? Why am I cooped up here?
Why, I can't get out. I can see out,
plainly enough. But when I try to
go out, that is quite another matter.
MY ANT FAMILY. 45
Well, well, if this don't beat all the
mysteries that I ever heard of !"
I soon found that the cage into
which I had put my ants was an un-
comfortable one for them. When I
closed the mouth of the bottle, as I
was obliged to do, to keep them from
escaping, they did not seem to like it
at all. So I contrived another house
for them. I got a large glass globe,
such as is used to keep gold fish in,
and fitted up that for their home. The
way I did was this: In the first place,
I sprinkled some earth in the bottom
of the globe. Then I emptied the ants
46 MY ANT FAMILY.
out of the bottle into the large globe,
and closed the mouth of the globe, so
that they could not get out, but still
so that they had a good supply of air
inside. Next I filled the bottle quite
full of moist earth, packed into it close-
ly and firmly. This bottle, thus filled
with earth, I placed inside the glass
globe, and laid it down on its side.
As I supposed, the little creatures,
after getting together, and. consulting
about the matter, concluded to dig
themselves a home in the bottle. I
say they consulted together. You will
laugh at that. But I tell you seriously,
MY ANT FAMILY. 4A
that not only at this time, but often
afterwards, I saw them together, when,
from what they did immediately, I had
no doubt but they had been conversing
with each other, in their way. I found
out that they expressed a great deal,
from time to time, by the motions of
those little horns, called antennae,
which they have, in common with all
the ant race.
After the parley they soon went to
work in earnest, boring holes in the
earth, inside of the bottle. You never
saw more industrious creatures in your
life than these fellows, while they were
48 MY ANT FAMILY.
at work on their new house. They did
not all work, to be sure. There is a
class in every ant family, which seldom
or never do any work, unless there is a
war between two rival families, and
then they fight very savagely. They
are called soldiers. It is only the work-
ers that are engaged in common, every-
day business. The soldiers are larger
than the workers, and more clumsily
built. Their head, too, is larger in
proportion to the rest of their bodies,
than is the case with the workers.
You can generally tell a soldier, from
those who do the work, if you take
MY ANT FAMILY. 49
the trouble to examine them pretty
It took my ants about a day to fit
up their new home to their mind.
While the workers were digging, the
rest of the family were huddled to-
gether, in a heap, outside. I noticed
that the ants did not make their pas-
sages straight through the earth in
the bottle. They dug them with a
good many crooks in them, leading to
different chambers. I had the globe
placed on my table, so that I could
watch all the motions of the ants.
When they had completed their house,
50 MY ANT FAMILY.
they let the rest of the family know
that every thing was ready for them,
and all prepared to go in and occupy
their new home.
There is one member of the family
which I have not yet spoken of, and
I ought not to neglect her, for she
is the most important personage in
the whole family. I told you, a mo-
ment or two ago, that when the work-
ers were busy making their house, the
soldiers were piled up in a heap, by
themselves. When it was time for the
whole family to move into the new
house, I saw what these soldiers had
MY ANT FAMILY. 51
been doing there, by themselves. They
had -been guarding the queen. I had
not noticed her, until the soldiers, one
by one, began to move toward the
mouth of the bottle. They had actu-
ally covered her with their own bodies,
to shield her from harm. The queen
is much larger than the soldiers-more
than three times as large, I should
think. You can't imagine what de-
votion all the ants showed to their
queen. When she was ready to move,
they would not let her walk, but in-
sisted on carrying her to the new house.
After the ants had got comfortably set-
52 MY ANT FAMILY.
tied, they kept in the bottle the greater
portion of the day, though they would
sometimes come out into the open court
formed by the large globe, and at such
times I frequently learned a great deal
I found some winged ants one day,
and placed them inside the globe, in
order to see what sort of treatment
they would receive. In less than ten
minutes after their arrival, they were
all seized and taken into the house.
For a day or two, I was in some doubt
as to what befell them after that. But
my doubt was cleared away one morn-
MY ANT FAMILY. 53
ing, when I turned my eye toward the
door of the ant-house. There lay the
wings of the poor victims. My black
ants had eaten their flying cousins!
The evidence was too strong to be ques-
My ant family increased, after a lit-
tle while, so that I had very nearly
seventy-five in all, according to the
best calculation I could make. The
queen never came out of the door, from
the time she entered it, except when
I (rather too cruelly, perhaps) broke
the bottle and filled it with earth again,
as I did two or three times, in order
54 MY ANT FAMILY.
to give different friends of mine an
opportunity to see the skill my family
showed in making a new house.
I must tell you of a cunning feat
which the family performed one day,
while they were living with me. I
poured some water into the mouth of
the small bottle, as it was lying on
its side. The bottom of the neck, as
it lay, was covered to the depth, per-
haps, of a quarter of an inch. What
will they do now ?" I thought to my-
self. The only way,'of course, in which
an ant could safely get out, while the
water remained there, was to climb up
MY ANT FAMILY. 55
to the ceiling overhead, and so go out
upon the roof. That was the way they
adopted. But they saw that getting
out and in after that fashion was at-
tended with a good deal of trouble, and
they probably saw, too, that it was not
altogether safe, as any one of them
might lose his hold, while he was
crawling along the ceiling, and fall
into the lake below. Well, what do
you think they did to avoid the danger
and the trouble ? You can't guess; so
I might as well tell you at once. After
helping out of the water two or three
young ants, who had fallen in, they set
56 MY AT FAMILY.
themselves to work to get rid of the
lake altogether. Bridging it was out
of the question. They were convinced
of that, I suppose. At any rate, they
did not attempt to throw a bridge over
it. But they did attempt a far wiser
course; and they succeeded. They
held a council, and concluded to fill
up the lake. This they actually did.
A company of them, leaving the house
in the manner I have mentioned be-
fore, came out into the open globe, and
carried grains of earth and dropped
them, one by one, into the lake, until
it was quite filled up, so that they
MY ANT FAMILY. 57
could easily walk into their dwelling on
dry land I
Towards the close of summer, I al-
lowed my ant family to leave their
prison, and choose a home for them-
selves in the garden. But I learned
a great deal from them before that, I
assure you; and I could write a small
book full of stories about them.
THE HIGHLAND CAT;
OR, THE STORY OF THE STARVING FAMILY.
VERY few of my little friends, per-
haps none of them, have ever seen
a family who were dying from star-
vation. True, it is a very common
thing to hear a little boy or girl say,
"I'm almost starved," or "I'm half
starved," or something of the kind.
Perhaps you yourself have used such
THE HIGHLAND CAT. 59
language. But those words, uttered so
carelessly, when they are explained,
only mean "I'm very hungry." To be
in a starving condition, is a terrible
thing; and those who have seen per-
sons die from hunger tell us that it is
one of the most frightful forms in which
death comes to our race.
But I will not dwell unnecessarily
on this point. It is not pleasant to
write about it, and it must be very un-
pleasant to you to read or to hear
about it. The story I have to tell you,
however, is respecting a starving fam-
ily; so that I cannot avoid an allusion
60 THE GHILAND OAT.
to extreme hunger and starvation,
though I will touch lightly upon the
more sad and frightful portion of the
In our country such an incident as
death from starvation is very rare. It
does not often happen. There is a
great deal of suffering, especially in our
large cities, among poor people, in the
winter season. But they do not often
die from hunger. In many parts of
Europe, however, the case is different.
There hundreds die, every year, for
want of food. In Ireland there is a
great deal of suffering, in the winter
THE HIGHLAND CAT. 61
season, among the poorer classes, many
of whom sicken and die from hunger
and cold. In some parts of Scotland,
also, a great many families sometimes
suffer for want of food.
The story I have to tell you is re-
specting a family who lived in the
Highlands of Scotland. They were
wretchedly poor. They could not get
enough to eat to make them comforta-
ble. The father and mother were good,
pious people. They loved their Heav-
enly Father; and when other help
failed, they looked' to him for help.
They lifted up their voices to .him, and
62 TH HIGHLAND CAT.
prayed that he would send them some
food, and keep them and their darling
children from starving. Still no help
came. The father was taken sick, and,
for want of proper food, he grew worse
rapidly, and died. The mother, with a
sad heart, buried her husband. You
might suppose that she gave up in de-
spair, when the father of those children
was taken from her. But she did not
give up. Still she trusted in God, and
still she prayed to him, and begged
him to send help to her and her pre-
cious babes. Stiff with cold, hungry
and weary, the mother, after she had
THE HIGHLAND CAT. 63
laid her husband in the grave, stretched
herself on the mat by the side of her
children, and fell asleep. When she
opened her eyes again, her hope was
almost gone. What had she to hope
for, except in the aid of her heavenly
Father? The nearest house to hers
was two miles off; and the family who
lived there were poor, almost as poor
as herself. What had she to hope for ?
And yet she knelt down and prayed
as usual. Then she thought she would
make one more trial to get food. So
she put on her bonnet, and the old tat-
tered shawl, which had become quite
64 THE HIGHLAND CAT.
worn out in her service, a. d started
to go. But she found herself too weak,
and she sank upon the floor.
It was just at this moment that she
heard one of the children utter a loud
shout of joy. What could be the-cause
of it ? She turned toward the child to
see; and there her eyes fell upon a
sight so strange, that she could hardly
believe it was real. It seemed to her
as if she were dreaming. The old family
cat, who had been absent for some time,
had come into the room, when she
opened the door, and brought with him
a large fish, which he had caught in the
TnME mGHLAND CAr. 6'
brook. The cat dropped the fish be-
tween the children, as they lay on their
bed of straw, and after purring and rub-
bing himself against them for a while,
soon made his way again out of the
house through the open door. It was
not long before the cat returned, bring-
ing with him another fish; and strange
as it may seem to you, he continued to
do so for three days. During this time
he brought that suffering family fish
enough not only to keep them from
starving, but to supply their appetite.
How much longer the cat would have
provided food for this suffering family,
68 THE HIGHLAND CAT.
if they had continued to need his help,
I do not know; for some three or four
days after the first fish was brought to
the house, some kind people, who were
hunting for suffering families, happened
to enter this hovel, and finding out how
much that poor mother needed aid for
herself and children, they supplied them
with food and made them comfortable
for several weeks.
Strange as this story may seem, it
is a true one. These remarkable inci-
dents happened exactly as I have re-
lated them. Do they not teach that
our Father in heaven takes care of his
THE HIGHLAND CAT. 69
children? Do they not show how ap-
propriate is that petition in the Lord's
prayer, "Give us this day our daily
bread ?" Can it need argument or
illustration, that God answers the
prayers of his children, when they look
to him for help?
THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET.
WHAT a curious thing a loadstone is.
In this letter I will tell you something
about it. There are several different
kinds of iron ore, and among them is
one which has the power of attracting
or drawing toward it, iron filings and
little pieces of steel and iron. This is
called a loadstone. The power which
the loadstone has, can be given to bars
THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET. T 1
of steel. All you have to do is to rub
a bar of steel thoroughly on the load-
stone. The bar is then said to be mag-
netized. It becomes a magnet. After
that, if you want to make another mag-
net, you have only to touch another
piece of steel to the bar which has been
rubbed on the loadstone, and that, too,
becomes magnetized. Some years ago,
when I was in the American Museum,
in the city of New York, I saw a very
large loadstone. It was so large and
powerful, that when- a piece of iron,
weighing a pound or two, was made to
touch it, I found it was hard work to
72 THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET.
separate the two. A little girl, who
was with me, tried hard to pull them
apart; but they stuck together so
tight, that she was obliged to give up.
At that time, I took my pen-knife out
of my pocket, and rubbed it on the
large magnet. In a moment, my knife
was magnetized, so that needles would
cling to it. Nor is that the strangest
part of it. The knife has the same
power now that it had when I magnet-
ized it, nearly three years ago. I can
make half a dozen needles cling to it
to-day, just as easily as I could then.
The common shape of the most pow-
THE LOADSTOE, oR MAGeET. 78
erful magnets is something like a horse-
shoe, and they are called horse-shoe
magnets. The power of the magnet is
called magnetism. There are a great
many mysteries about magnetism. We
can tell what the magnet does; but
we know very little about the reason
for its doing as it does.
Here is one of the strange things
about magnetism: If you place any
magnetized bars of steel among iron
filings, they will arrange themselves
around two points in the bar, and these
points will be determined according to
the shape of the bar of steel. These
74 THE LOADSTONE, OB MAGNET.
points-the points around which the
iron filings take their places-are called
the poles of the magnet. Now if you
will hang a small needle by a thread,
and bring it toward either pole of the
magnet, the needle will rush to that
point, and cling closely to the steel.
Then, if you rub the needle on one of
the poles of the magnet, you will find
that it fis itself got the same power
which the mnaj|net has, and that it, also,
has poles of its own.
After this, let one pole of the large
magnet touch the needle, and then let
the other touch it, and you will see that
THE LOADSTONE, OR M AGNET. 75
one attracts or draws the needle, while
the other repels it or pushes it away.
One of these poles is called the north
pole, and the other the south pole. Take
the needle that has been magnetized,
and place it on a pivot, horizontally, or
on a level with the ground, so that it
can turn easily, and it will point'ex-
actly in a north and south line; one
end of the needle will point to the
north, and the other to the* south.
Move it, and let it point in any direc-
tion you choose, and it will go back
again, as soon as you take your fingers
off, and leave it free.
76 THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET.
This is the way the mariner's compass
is made. By the help of this little
simple thing, a ship is guided along
through the ocean, thousands of miles
from the land. While on my way
across the Atlantic ocean, I have stood
for hours at a time, with the man at
the'wheel; and as I have noticed how
carefully he watched the motions of
that little needle, I have thought that
it was one of the most valuable discov-
eries ever made on this globe of ours.
What could we do without it? How
could we ever cross the wide ocean?
What,would all our large ships, sailing
THE LOADSTONE, OR MAGNET.
from this country all over the world, be
worth, if it were not for the magnetic
needle, pointing steadily, as it does, no
matter where the ship is, to the north
pole of the earth?
It is a curious fact, that a magnet
loses not a particle of its power by
giving power to others. A steel bar,
when it has been magnetized, may
magnetize a thousand other bars, and
still be just as powerful as ever.
THE EARTH'S NORTH POLE.
As I have told you something about
the magnetic needle, I don't know but
I ought to say a word or two about the
north pole of the earth. I have said
that one end of the needle, after it is
magnetized, points toward the north
pole. Now you might suppose that
the earth had axles, something after
the fashion of the axles to a cart, and
THE EAkTHS NORTH HOLE. 19
that the north and south poles can be
seen, at opposite sides of the earth,
very much as one can see the two ends
of the axle to the cart. But this is not
the fact. The north and south poles
are only two opposite points on the
globe. If you could get to the north
pole, you would see nothing at all-PA "
markable about it. Perhaps, even, you ^i
would hardly know when you got to it.
It is a strange fact, that after the
sailor reaches the Arctic sea, and comes
near the magnetic pole, his needle
seems to have lost its power. Though
he may have traveled all over the world,
80 THE EARTH'S NORTH POLE.
almost, and wherever he was, that nee-
dle would know in which direction the
north pole was, and always turn toward
it, as if it wanted to go there, when it
comes near the pole, it turns toward it
no longer. And here I ought to tell
you-what, perhaps, you never heard
before-that the magnetic pole of the
earth and the north pole (so called in
geography) are not one and the same.
The point to- which the needle turns is
not the north pole exactly, though
many people suppose it to be. It is a
point some degrees from the north pole.
More than twenty years ago, there
THE EARTH'S NORTH POLE. 81
were two ships sent out by the British
government, the object of which was to
discover, if possible, the northwest pas-
sage from the Atlantic to the Pacific
ocean. The command of these ships
was given to Captain Parry. When
these vessels reached Lancaster Sound,
which lies far northward, as you will
see by looking on your map, Captain
Parry found that the magnetic needle
hardly moved at all. The attraction
toward the magnetic pole had almost
ceased. When Captain Parry's compa-
ny got as far as the latitude of seventy-
two degrees, they saw for the first time,
82 THE EARTHR' NORTH POLE.
that the power of the magnetic pole
was so weak as to be overcome by the
iron in the ship. The needle might
then be said to point to the north pole
of the ship, instead of the magnetic pole
of the earth.
The north pole of the earth-that
point which is just ninety degrees dis-
tant from the equator-has never been
reached. But some years after the voy-
age of Captain Parry, the British flag
was unfurled upon the magnetic pole.
The exact point of this pole was found
out by Captain Ross. If the north pole
is ever reached, it will no doubt be
THaE EARTH' NORTH POLE. .88
found that the needle will act there,
just as well as any where else; for
that spot is a good many miles from
the magnetic pole.
I wish from my heart that somebody
could succeed in reaching the north
pole. If any one should get there, he
would see a great many curious sights,
whether the needle played any of its
strange antics or not. Among other
curious sights, he would get where the
sun never rises or sets 1 Would it not
be wonderful enough, to see the sun,
all day and all night, just about so high
all the time, making a complete circle
84 THE EARTH'S NORTH POLE.
around the heavens? I should like to
know how any body could find out
when it was noon there. I wonder,
too, how the hens would know when it
was time to go to roost. I think, how-
ever, that there are not many hens in
that part of the world. Ice is more
plentiful there, than any thing else, I
LETT ER VII.
LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS.
QuIE a number of voyages have been
made from England, and some from
this country, to the polar seas. Cap-
tain Parry, as I told you in another
letter, commanded one of the expedi-
tions sent there by the British govern-
ment; and if my memory serves me, he
went several times. His account of his
first voyage is exceedingly interesting.
86 LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS.
About the middle of June he entered
Davis' Straits, with his company. They
had not been in the latitude many days,
before they counted more than fifty ice-
bergs. Do you know what an iceberg
is, my friend? It is an immense mass
of floating ice and snow, as large as
many of the hills you see in the coun-
try. Sometimes very large icebergs are
seen floating in the water, which cover
a great many acres. Captain Parry
tells us that the waves dashed against
those he saw, with such fury, as to
throw up the spray more than a hundred
feet; and every time a wave struck one
LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS. 89
of those mountains of ice, it made a
noise like a heavy clap of thunder.
Many of these icebergs have white
bears on them. The bears get from
the land upon the iceberg, while it is
near the shore. But, before they dream
of their being in any danger, the float-
ing island, set in motion by the wind,
moves off, and so the poor bears are
carried out to sea. They often get very
hungry, while they are making these
voyages on an iceberg. It sometimes
happens, that when a native Indian
and his wife are paddling along in their
canoe, in these northern seas, they get
90 LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS.
too near a floating field of ice, and a
half-starved white bear, without so
much as asking if his company would
be agreeable, jumps into the canoe, and
waits for the Indians to paddle him
ashore. If he does not upset the boat
by his weight, as he sometimes does,
there is no harm done. The bear
knows too much to injure the people
who are rowing him toward the land.
He takes his seat in the boat, as quietly
and as orderly as any other passenger
would, and there he sits until the boat
touches the shore, when he jumps out
and takes to his heels, I believe without
LIFE AMONG THE IOEBEGS. 91
offering to thank the Indians who have
done him so great a favot.
You may wonder why the Indians
allow the bear to take such a liberty.
"I'd turn the fellow out of the boat,"
you say to yourself. Well, the Indians
would be very glad to get rid of the
company of such a passenger. But
what can they do? If they offered to
turn the brute out of the boat, it would
no doubt cost them a pretty rough
handling. Just as likely as not, the
monster would give the Indian a hug, if
he offered to touch him, which he would
not forget as long as he lived. So the
92 LIFE AMONG THE ICEBEBRS.
master of the boat concludes that the
wisest thing he can do is just to row
his bearship to the shore.
In the year 1845, Sir John Franklin
was sent to the northern seas, by the
British government. He had two ships
under his command, one of which was
called the Erebus, and the other the
Terror. These vessels were sent out to
search for a northwest passage. They
were very well fitted up, and supplied
with provisions sufficient to feed the
whole company, consisting of one hun-
dred and thirty-eight persons, for three
years. They left England on the 19th
IuFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS. 98
of May. On the 26th of July they were
heard from at Melville Bay. But since
that date, nothing which can be relied
upon has been heard from them. There
can be no doubt that they have all
-perished. How, we cannot tell. The
navigation.in that country is very dan-
gerous, and in any one of many different
ways they may have lost their lives.
Perhaps their vessels were crushed be-
tween two fields of ice, blown together
by the wind; and it may be they
reached the land, and died from hunger
and cold, amid the snows of a polar
winter. Several vessels were sent out
94 LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS.
to search for Sir John Franklin and his
crew, both from England and this coun-
try. Those who went from the United
States had a pretty hard time of it
among the icebergs.
Captain Parry found one iceberg, that
reached one hundred and forty feet
above the surface of the water, and it
was aground in one hundred and twen-
ty fathoms, so that it was more than
eight hundred feet high. It was quite a
mountain, wasn't it? One of Captain
Parry's vessels came very near being
nipped, as the sailors call it; that is,
the ship got between two floating ice-
LIFE AMONG THE ICEBERGS. 95
bergs, and just escaped being crushed
in pieces by them. In this way a ves-
sel in those seas sometimes goes down
in a moment, with all its crew. Were
the vessels of Sir John Franklin lost in
this terrible manner?