Produced by David Garcia and PG Distributed Proofreaders. Produced
from page scans provided by the Internet Archive and University of
THE MORAL PICTURE BOOK
[Illustration: THE MORAL PICTURE BOOK: PRAYER]
* * * * *
John Cooper was a little boy, whose father and mother lived in a cottage
on one side of a village green. He was his parents' only child, so that
he had no brothers nor sisters to play with. But he had a dog of which
he was very fond, and he used sometimes to play with other children on
the green. Tom Jones was one of the boys that played with John Cooper.
One day he asked John Cooper to go for a long walk with him, instead of
going to school. John at first would not consent, but at last he gave
way and went with Tom, taking Carlo with him.
There was a pretty stream of water that ran along one side of the green,
and then passed through a wood in a winding course. In some places it
was rather broad and deep, and in other places it was shallow, and ran
murmuring over the stones at the bottom. Tom said that it would be very
pleasant to go along the stream, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on
the other, far into the wood, and to look for birds' nests. The sun was
shining very brightly, the trees were in full leaf, the grass was thick
and green, sweet flowers were blooming on all sides, butter-flies and
dragon-flies sported in the sunshine, and birds were singing on every
bush and tree. All things seemed to be joyful, and the two boys started
off briskly, with Carlo after them.
But of this party, the only one that was truly happy, was Carlo. He had
nothing to do but to obey his master, and this he had done when John had
called him away from his home. John tried to raise his own spirits, and
ran, and jumped about, and romped with Carlo. But he could not forget
that he had done wrong, that he ought to have been at school, and that
he should grieve his kind parents when they knew what he was now doing.
The thought of this would come into his mind, and kept him from being
happy. As for Tom Jones, he seemed merry enough, though he not only knew
that he was doing wrong himself, but that he had led John into mischief.
He tried to forget this, and laughed and shouted with all his might; but
it was in vain, and he had bitter feelings at the bottom of his heart
all the time.
They went on rambling till they had got more than a mile into the wood.
The stream here was wide and deep. On one side of it there grew an old
willow, and in one of the branches of this, they saw a wren's nest. As
Tom was the stronger boy of the two, it was agreed that he should help
John up to the branch, so that he might reach the nest. John got upon
the branch, and he had put out his hand to take hold of the nest, when
the branch broke off, and down he fell into the water. Tom laughed at
this, for he knew that the stream was not deep enough to drown him: but
Carlo rushed in and dragged his master by the clothes towards the bank.
John scrambled out, but he was covered with mud. Tom helped him to take
off his clothes, and clean off the mud and dry them; but with all they
could do, John was still in a sad mess, and as it was now late in the
day, he turned to go home with a heavy heart.
When he reached the cottage, he found his father and mother in great
alarm, as they could not think what had become of him. When they found
out what had taken place, their alarm was changed into grief, on account
of the son whom they loved so much, having done wrong. John himself
cried a great deal, and said that he was more vexed because he had
caused them grief, than he should have been, if they had scolded and
whipped him. His mother told him that she left it to his own heart to
scold him, and that he should go to his bed-room and pray to God on his
knees to forgive him, as she had taught him to pray.
John did as she bade him, and he prayed to God with all his heart.
He then went to sleep with a quiet mind; and when he awoke the next
morning, he prayed again that God would give him strength to do his
duty, and to stand firm when he should be tempted again as he had been
by Tom Jones. He then read a chapter in the Bible to his mother, and
went to school. His master kept him in, and gave him only a piece of
bread and a cup of water for dinner. But he did not suffer nearly so
much from this as he had done from having grieved his dear parents; for
he had before this been brought to repent, and he felt that God, and
his father and mother, had forgiven him.
John Cooper never again grieved his father and mother by doing wrong,
and never forgot the lesson he had learned, when Tom Jones led him
astray, as long as he lived.
[Illustration: SUNDAY MORNING]
When John Cooper became a man, there were bad times, and he could not
get a living at the trade to which he had been brought up: so he went
for a horse-soldier. And before he went, his father and mother gave him
their blessing, and he prayed with all his heart that God would bless
the old people, and preserve them; and said he would let them have as
much of his pay as ever he could.
It was a sad day for him and his parents when he went away. They had
never been parted for so long a time before, and he was now going to
India, from whence he could not return for some years. But they could
not help it; so they all said that it was God's will that they should
part, and it was their duty to bear it as well as they could.
After John was gone, the old people never missed a day but they prayed
to God to keep their son, both in his soul and body, from all evil. They
were very poor, and were now too old to work much; but with what they
got of John's pay, they had enough just to live upon, and above all they
had thankful hearts, which made them happy. Yet they often wished for
John's return; sometimes too they were fearful lest he should be killed
or wounded in the wars; but when they felt thus, they always tried to
put their trust in God.
When John had been away ten years, he came back one day, safe and sound,
as his father and mother were standing at the door of the cottage. You
may judge how they all felt, and how many questions his fond mother
asked him, as to where he had been, and how he had got on.
The next day was Sunday, and both John and his parents were glad of it,
for they wished to go to church to offer up their thanks to God, who had
kept John safe through many dangers, had saved the lives of the old
people, and had now brought them to each other again.
It was a fine bright morning in Spring, just such a one as it had been
nearly twenty years before, when Tom Jones had tempted John Cooper to
keep away from school, and to go into the wood to take birds' nests.
John did not forget that day; and when it came into his mind, he could
not help thinking of the changes that had taken place since.
He went to church, and you may be sure that he and the old man and woman
gave thanks to God with all their hearts, for the mercy he had shewn to
* * * * *
Mary Jones was a poor woman whose husband had gone to sea on a long
voyage. She lived in a house by the road side, and got her living by
washing. She had two little boys, who were her great comfort, and whom
she used to call Ned and Tom.
For some time after her husband had left, she got on very well, and was
able to send the boys to school: but she caught a fever and was forced
to keep her bed. Her neighbour, Sarah Smith, was very kind to her, and
used to come to the house every morning and evening to do what she could
to help her. But she was a poor woman, and could not afford to give Mary
Jones anything that cost money; so poor Mary was forced to part with a
great many things that she might get food.
Ned and Tom at this time took turns to go to school. Tom used to go to
school one day, while Ned waited on his mother; and the next day Ned
went to school and Tom staid at home. One morning when Ned was going to
school, the thought of his poor mother pressed hard on his heart; and
after he had gone a little way, he burst out crying.
He had not gone far along the narrow lane towards the school, when two
young ladies met him and asked him why he was crying. He told them that
he was thinking of his poor sick mother. The ladies then asked him his
name and where he lived, and said they would go and call upon his
mother. He thanked them and dried up his tears, and went on to school
with a much lighter heart.
Soon after he reached home in the evening, the two kind ladies came to
his mother's house with a foot-boy, who brought a basket filled with
bread and meat, and some things fit for the poor sick woman.
They told Mary Jones how they had met Ned in the lane, and what he had
told them; and she thanked them for what they had brought, and said that
she hoped God would bless them for their goodness to her. They then
asked about Ned and Tom, and said they would get their father to do what
he could for them.
The young ladies then went home, told their father and mother what they
had seen and heard, and thanked God that they had been able to make a
poor woman and her two sons happy.
* * * * *
There was a poor woman named Rachel Jenkins, who lived in a very little
cottage at some distance from any other house. She was a widow, and very
poor, but she was very clean and careful; so that her cottage had always
a look of neatness and comfort. She used to spend most of her time in
She had one son, whose name was Harry. He was twelve years old, and used
to carry a basket filled with tapes and thread, pins and needles, and
other things of that sort, which he sold to people who lived near. He
used to go out in the morning and return in the evening; and you may be
sure his mother was always glad when the time came for him to come home.
One evening, as he was on his way home, about half a mile from his
mother's house, he saw an old man sitting by the way-side, who was very
tired, and seemed as if he was not able to walk any further. His hair
was quite white, and his face and hands were thin and wrinkled.
Harry said to him in a kind voice, "You seem tired, father; have you got
much further to walk." The old man told him that he had to go to the
next town, which was twelve miles further; but that he was so tired, he
was sure that he should not be able to get there that night. On this,
Harry said, "I wish you would go home with me; for I am sure my mother
would be very glad that you should sleep in our house." The old man
thanked him and said he would go with him. So he rested his hand upon
Harry's shoulder, and walked slowly towards the house. Harry's mother
met them at the door; and when Harry had told her how he had met with
the old man, she said she was glad to see him, and asked him to walk in
to take some tea.
After tea, the old man told Sarah Jenkins that he was going to see his
son, who was laid up in a hospital in the town to which he was going.
His son was a soldier, and had been in the West Indies for some years;
but he caught the yellow fever, and was sent home sick.
The next morning the old man went on his way, and blessed Sarah Jenkins
and Harry, because they had done good to him who could make no other
return than to thank them and pray for them.
* * * * *
When I was a girl, Sunday evening used to be the part of the week that I
loved best; and I liked it better in Winter than in Summer. We used to
sit round a blazing fire; my mother used then to teach my little brother
Tom to say his prayers, and my father used to teach me to read in
Pilgrim's Progress, or some such book; while my brother John sat near
reading some book or other that was fit for a Sunday, with his dog
Hector lying at his feet.
My dear old grand-father was then alive, and he would sit at the table
with the large old family Bible before him for the whole evening.
As I look back upon the pleasant picture in my mind, my eye fills with
tears. I cannot help thinking of what has become of the faces that were
then so full of smiles and gladness. My grand-father went to the grave
first, but he died in a good old age; and though we mourned to lose him
whom we had all loved so much, we could not help feeling that it was a
happy change for him, as he could hardly see or hear. Next to him, my
poor little brother Tom fell ill of the typhus fever, and God took him
to heaven in the budding of his child-hood. Only a year or two ago, my
father gave me his dying blessing, and was then a very old man. My
mother now survives, though very old; and my two sisters, Mary and
Elizabeth, who were then lively girls, are living, and are the mothers
of families. My brother John, a middle-aged man, is the Captain of a
ship, being now far away on a voyage; and he has left behind him a wife
and two boys, the youngest of whom is as old as he was at the time I
have spoken of. I am almost an old woman; though on these happy evenings
that I was speaking of, I was the youngest but one.
You, my little friends, will, perhaps, some day have to look back upon
such changes as I have seen. The thought that they will come upon you
need not make you sad, but it should make you good, and cause you to
resolve to do your duty and to serve God. If you do so, when you get as
old as I am, you will find that if age brings its cares and sorrows, it
also brings surer and even brighter hopes of a life beyond the grave.
[Illustration: SUNDAY EVENING]
* * * * *
John Davis and his wife were very poor people, but as they worked very
hard, they could just get a living for themselves. John worked for a
farmer in the parish, and his wife took in needle-work.
They did pretty well, when John had work; but for nearly two years
John's master could not employ him always, and he was brought almost to
distress. But his wife always used to keep up his spirits by saying, "Be
content, and thank God if you can but live; brighter hours will come."
Sometimes John was quite spirit-broken, and said he should leave home
and try to get work somewhere else. He was forced to sell some of his
goods to buy food, and did not know which way to turn. But his wife
never failed to wear a cheerful face, and used to be always saying to
him, "Do your best, and be content to take what God appoints."
John loved his wife very much; but he was sometimes half vexed because
she was never sad like he was. He would tell her that it was a very good
thing to be cheerful and happy when they could get a good living. She
then used to say to him, that there was no virtue in being content when
all was going on well; and that the proper time to try to be cheerful
was, when things were going amiss.
At last, better times came. John got into work on the estate of a rich
man who lived near; and as he was a very honest man and knew his work,
his master soon put him in a place of trust, raised his wages, and gave
him a good house to live in.
John had by this time got five children, and he could no longer deny
that he had reason enough to be a happy man. You may see him and his
wife and children in the picture, enjoying a fine Summer's evening in
front of their house.
I knew John when I was young, and he was always ready to say how much
was due to his good wife. He told me that he owed all his good fortune
to her cheerful spirits and good advice to him; and added, that now he
was well off he found the truth of what she had told him, that the
proper time to try to be cheerful was, when things were going amiss. I
have never forgot that lesson, and I hope I never shall; and I beg my
young friends to keep in mind that 'Contentment is a constant feast.'
* * * * *
"There is work enough in the world for every one to do something. There
is no proper place for idle people." This is what old Michael the basket
maker used to say to his children; and as they grew up, they found
reason enough to thank him for the lesson.
Michael had been a sailor in his youth, but when he married, he settled
in a country place, and took up the trade of a basket maker. At first,
he could hardly get money enough to buy rods: but by working very hard,
he soon got money and credit too. No one in the village was now up
before Michael, and most people went to bed before he left off work.
Small as was the sum of money that he could earn in a week, he would
always put by something, if it was but a penny. Every month he put these
savings into the savings' bank; and in the course of the first six
years, he found he had got twenty-five pounds.
By this time he had got two children, and the eldest was old enough to
learn to read. She used to sit by him with her book as he worked, and he
taught her when she wanted help. His wife was in the mean time doing
something in the house, or working for some of the farmers who lived
Michael now bought a cow and two pigs, and made some profit by them. In
six years more he bought the cottage he lived in; and twelve years after
this, that is twenty-four years after he was married, he rented a little
farm. By this time he had seven children; and as he had made his cottage
larger, they all lived at home and helped him. His eldest boys worked at
the farm, and the girls milked the cows and made the butter, under the
care of their mother, and kept the poultry.
As for Michael himself, though he was well off, he kept on his old
trade, and went on in his old habits. The last time I saw him before I
left the place in which he lived, he was teaching his youngest child to
read while he was at work, just as he had taught his eldest.
I have often thought of Michael's words, "There is no place in the world
for idle people."
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