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Eric, or Little by Little   By: (1831-1903)

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Eric, or Little by Little, by Rev Canon F.W. Farrar.

This famous book tells the story of a boy at a boarding school on the Isle of Man, which lies between England and Ireland, and within sight of Scotland. The boy succumbs to various forms of ill behaviour, with illicit trips to a bar in the near by town. There are various scary episodes. Overcome with shame at something he has done Eric runs away to sea, which he finds so horrible an experience that when he is next in England he jumps ship, makes his way home, by now very ill, and dies.

Author's Preface (Farrar was Headmaster of Marlborough College).

The story of `Eric' was written with but one single object the vivid inculcation of inward purity and moral purpose, by the history of a boy who, in spite of the inherent nobleness of his disposition, falls into all folly and wickedness, until he has learnt to seek help from above. I am deeply thankful to know from testimony public and private, anonymous and acknowledged that this object has, by God's blessing, been fulfilled.

The fact that new editions are still called for thirty one years after its publication, shows, I trust, that the story has been found to be of real use. I have not thought it right to alter in any way the style or structure of the narrative, but I have so far revised it as to remove a few of the minor blemishes. I trust that the book may continue to live so long and so long only as it may prove to be a source of moral benefit to those who read it.

April 21, 1889.




Ah dear delights, that o'er my soul On memory's wing like shadows fly! Ah flowers that Joy from Eden stole, While Innocence stood laughing by. Coleridge .

"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" cried a young boy, as he capered vigorously about, and clapped his hands. "Father and mother will be home in a week now, and then we shall stay here a little time, and then , and then , I shall go to school."

The last words were enunciated with immense importance, as he stopped his impromptu dance before the chair where his sober cousin Fanny was patiently working at her crochet; but she did not look so much affected by the announcement as the boy seemed to demand, so he again exclaimed, "And then, Miss Fanny, I shall go to school."

"Well, Eric," said Fanny, raising her matter of fact quiet face from her endless work, "I doubt, dear, whether you will talk of it with quite as much joy a year hence."

"Oh ay, Fanny, that's just like you to say so; you're always talking and prophesying; but never mind, I'm going to school, so, hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!" and he again began his capering, jumping over the chairs, trying to vault the tables, singing and dancing with an exuberance of delight, till, catching a sudden sight of his little spaniel Flo, he sprang through the open window into the garden, and disappeared behind the trees of the shrubbery; but Fanny still heard his clear, ringing, silvery laughter, as he continued his games in the summer air.

She looked up from her work after he had gone, and sighed. In spite of the sunshine and balm of the bright weather, a sense of heaviness and foreboding oppressed her. Everything looked smiling and beautiful, and there was an almost irresistible contagion in the mirth of her young cousin, but still she could not help feeling sad. It was not merely that she would have to part with Eric, "but that bright boy," thought Fanny, "what will become of him? I have heard strange things of schools; oh, if he should be spoilt and ruined, what misery it would be. Those baby lips, that pure young heart, a year may work sad change in their words and thoughts!" She sighed again, and her eyes glistened as she raised them upwards, and breathed a silent prayer.

She loved the boy dearly, and had taught him from his earliest years... Continue reading book >>

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