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Great Mysteries and Little Plagues   By:

Great Mysteries and Little Plagues by John Neal

First Page:

GREAT MYSTERIES

AND LITTLE PLAGUES.

BY JOHN NEAL.

BOSTON: ROBERTS BROTHERS. 1870.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by ROBERTS BROTHERS, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Dist. of Massachusetts.

STEREOTYPED BY REGAN & LEADBEATER, 55 Water Street.

[Illustration: CHILDREN WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

"I'll give oo a kith if oo want one!"]

PREFACE.

I hate prefaces; and the older I grow, the more I hate them, and the more unwilling I am to transgress in that way with my eyes open.

But something must be said, I suppose, if only by way of an advertisement, or warning.

When I had finished what one of my daughters persists in calling my "NAUGHTY BIOGRAPHY," and the other, "PERSONALITIES" while my hair has grown visibly thinner, I will not say under what kind of domestic remonstrance from another quarter, and a very amiable, though witty somebody writes it " Maundering Recollections" I had an idea that, if I went further, I might be found "painting the lily, gilding refined gold," etc., etc., and so I pulled up for the present.

But this little book was already under way. I had promised it, and such promises I always keep and for the best of reasons: I cannot afford to break them.

When I turned out the original of "Children What are they good for?" some forty years ago, or thereabouts, I had never met with, nor heard of, anything in that way. Children were overlooked. Their droppings were unheeded out of the nursery. But now, and in fact very soon after my little essay appeared in the "Atlantic Souvenir," if I do not mistake, the papers and magazines, both abroad and at home, were continually brightened up with diamond sparks and with Down easterly or "Orient pearls, at random strung," which seemed to have been picked up in play grounds, or adrift, or along the highway; and itemizers were seen dodging round among the little folks, wherever they were congregated, or following them as the Chinese follow a stranger, if they see him make wry faces.

For amusement only, and to keep myself out of mischief I hope I have succeeded just after the fire, not having much to do beyond twirling my thumbs, and trying to whistle "I cares for nobody, and nobody cares for me," I began collecting such as fell in my way.

My first idea was to call them "KINDLING STUFF," or

"OVEN WOOD," as characteristic, if not of them, at least of the compiler; but finding the collection grew upon me, and myself growing serious, I adopted "PICKINGS AND STEALINGS," which, on the whole, I think still more characteristic, beside being both suggestive and descriptive.

"GOODY GRACIOUS, A FAIRY STORY," I wrote for the purpose of showing and proving that fairy stories need not be crowded with extravagant impossibilities, to engage the attention of our little folks; and that if they are so contrived as to seem true, or at least possible, they need not be unwholesome. Am I wrong?

And furthermore saith not, as Jacob Barker used to write, at the bottom of his letters,

"Your respected friend,"

J. N.

CONTENTS.

I. CHILDREN WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

II. GOODY GRACIOUS! AND THE FORGET ME NOT.

III. PICKINGS AND STEALINGS.

CHILDREN WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?

The child is father of the man. Men are but children of a larger growth. How often do we meet with this array of words! Yet how insensible we are to the profound philosophy they enwrap. Sublime and astonishing truths! Uttered every day in our hearing, set before our eyes at every step of our journey through life, written over all the monuments of Earth, upon the pages and banners of all History, upon the temples and the pyramids, the palaces and the sepulchres of departed Nations, upon all the doings of the Past and the Present, as with unextinguishable fire, and sounding forever and ever in the unapproachable solitudes of the Future! Yet heard with indifference, read without emotion, and repeated from mouth to mouth, day after day and year after year, without a suspicion of their deep meaning, of their transcendent importance, of their imperishable beauty... Continue reading book >>




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