Part 2 out of 3
almost frozen, my poor children; why are you not at the school fete?
This poor boy has no warm socks; come here, my child, warm yourself at
Madelaine thanked her, and led her brother to the stall. The woman was
struck by this, and asked, "Can he not see plainly?"
"He cannot see at all," answered Madelaine, sighing, "he is blind."
"Unfortunate child," said the fruit-woman, and looking around her for
something to please him, (for the compassion of the poor is often active
and thoughtful,) she put a hot baked apple into each of his hands, "this
is good both for cold and hunger," she added, "may God give you a happy
Christmas." Madelaine received a similar present, and the two children
went away, after having thanked the kind woman cordially.
The numerous lights suspended across the windows of the school,
continued to illuminate the dark street. Presently the sound of several
hundred young voices was heard, at first very softly, then swelling
louder and louder, as they joined in singing the praises of their
Heavenly Father, who, by the gift of his Son, has offered salvation to
the children of men. Then the eyes of the blind boy filled with tears of
joy, and he raised his heart in gratitude and praise to the Saviour of
sinners. "Listen," said he, in a low voice, as if afraid of disturbing
the sound, "listen, Madelaine, is it not like angels singing their
hallelujahs around the throne of God? Oh, that I could fly to heaven,
far, far, above this earth!"
"And leave mother and me here below," replied Madelaine, reproachfully.
"No, no," said Raphael, quickly, "I should come back very often to see
you and mother."
"But she will be uneasy about us now," said Madelaine, "so come, let us
return home, and think no more of flying. The children have done
singing." They returned home, and related to their mother all that had
passed. Raphael dreamed only of angels singing, and being in heaven.
Thus he was happy at least in his sleep.
Early the following morning, which was the day before Christmas-day,
Madelaine went to Master Teuzer's to assist in carrying his wares to the
fair. She had already made several turns from the warehouse to the
marketplace, when Teuzer's apprentice said to her, with a malignant joy
which he could ill conceal, "Hark, a policeman is coming to seek you."
Madelaine was greatly frightened, she thought of her absence from
school, and of what her school-fellow had said to her. "To ask for me?"
she stammered, turning pale.
"Yes," replied the boy, "and he said he would be sure to find you."
And this proved but too true, for the next time that Madelaine arrived
with her basket full at Teuzer's stall, she found a policeman waiting
for her. "Put that down" he said gravely, "and follow me."
Madelaine trembled so violently that she was unable to obey, and the
woman who kept the stall for Master Teuzer, and the policeman, were
obliged to support her. "But," asked the former, "what has the poor
child done to be arrested?"
"She will soon know," replied the other, as he led Madelaine away. She
walked beside him in silence, her head hanging down, for she felt too
much ashamed to raise her eyes; but she became still paler, and a
torrent of burning tears ran down her cheeks when she heard harsh voices
saying, "She is a thief: so young and already a thief." Even the
policeman now felt pity for her grief, and to turn her attention from
the remarks of the passers by, he said to her, "Your teacher has
reported you for being absent from school six days without leave. Is it
your mother's fault? for in that case you are free, and I must arrest
"My mother is entirely innocent," answered Madelaine firmly, and looking
up, for she felt some comfort in the thought, that her poor mother would
be spared punishment. Madelaine had not even mentioned to her being
absent from school. The policeman brought her to a lockup house, where
she was put into a large room, already crowded with females, waiting to
be examined for their various offences. Madelaine's heart sunk, when she
looked around upon those into whose society she was thus thrust. Some
were intoxicated, others were gambling, quarrelling, and using profane
and dreadful language. Mixed among these miserable women were several
children, seeing and hearing all this wickedness.
How deeply responsible are those, who instead of trying to reclaim young
offenders, place them in situations were they must inevitably become
Poor Madelaine, like a timid bird, crouched into a corner, where
covering her head with her apron she wept bitterly. "How my mother is
grieving about me," she thought, "and poor Raphael, who will make their
soup to-day? Mother cannot even cut bread, or light the fire, and it is
so cold, they must stay in bed all day. If I could even send them the
six shillings which Master Teuzer paid me to-day, it is of no use here,
and mother would be so glad to have the money to give the landlord, lest
he should turn them into the street, if he does not get any of his
Thus uneasiness tormented Madelaine, the people she was among inspired
her with disgust, she wished to be deaf that she might not hear their
dreadful words. She thought of her teacher who had brought her to this,
she could not have believed him capable of such harshness, she felt sure
the apprentice must have shamefully calumniated her. And so indeed he
had, for feeling jealous of the praise which his master bestowed upon
this modest and industrious young girl, he took this means of removing
her, envious at the idea of her sharing in the Christmas presents, which
his master intended to distribute.
The hours which always flew so rapidly when Madelaine was engaged in her
work, now appeared insupportably long. "How many little cups and plates
could I have painted!" she said to herself. "How many rows of my
stocking I could have knitted. Yes, work is a real blessing, for all the
world I would not be a sluggard."
At noon, large dishes of soup, vegetables, and bread, were brought in,
but although the food was far better than Madelaine was accustomed to,
she could not eat.
The afternoon passed wearily away, at last Madelaine took courage and
approached the barred window which looked into a street, she saw many
people passing, taking home different things intended for Christmas
presents. Pastry-cooks carrying baskets and trays full of sugar plums,
cakes, and all kinds of sweetmeats. Others bearing Christmas
trees--boxes of playthings--rocking-horses--dolls' houses--
hoops--skipping-ropes, and numbers of other delights of children.
As the evening closed in, Madelaine could see the lights burning on the
Christmas trees in the neighboring houses, and could hear the distant
cries of joy of the children as they received their gifts, and as she
thought sadly that she might also have enjoyed the same pleasure at
Master Teuzer's, her tears flowed afresh, and she sunk back into her
corner, where at last sleep, that friend of the poor and afflicted, came
and closed those red and swollen eyes.
Before six on the following morning, the firing of cannon, which
announced Christmas-day, awoke Madelaine from her agitated sleep. At the
same time all the church-bells rang a merry peal. Madelaine alone was
awake; but as she looked around upon her wretched companions, she felt
all the misery of her situation--she thought again of her mother and
brother--of their anguish on her account--and falling upon her knees,
she poured out all her grief to her Father in heaven, and felt comforted
as she remembered that He has said, "Call upon me in the day of trouble,
and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
At eight o'clock the jailer's wife brought in breakfast. Madelaine took
courage to address her, and begged for some employment.
This request surprised the woman; she looked pleased at Madelaine, and
said, "Work? yes, I have plenty; if you will promise not to run away,
and to be very industrious, you can help me scour the coppers."
Madelaine promised readily, and following the woman into the yard, felt
less miserable when she found herself in the open air. The jailor's wife
silently observed her for some time as she worked, and then coming to
her with a large piece of white bread and butter, she said, "One can
easily see that this is not the first time you have done this work; you
might well engage yourself as a servant. Stay, eat a little, and rest
Just as Madelaine was thanking her for this kindness, a crowd of people
hurried into the court, speaking loudly.
"He ought to be punished," cried one, angrily.
"Severely," exclaimed several others.
"Another child run over," said one man to the constable on guard.
"But who is this boy who has ventured all alone into the street, blind
as he is?" asked another.
These words struck Madelaine to the heart. She threw down her bread and
rushed into the crowd, which opened before her, and let her see the
blind Raphael carried by two men, pale as a corse, his right arm hanging
down, and the broken bone showing through the skin.
"Oh, Raphael! my Raphael!" cried Madelaine in agony.
At this well-known voice, a ray of pleasure brightened the face of the
boy; he stretched out his left arm to draw her towards him, and hiding
his face in her bosom, he said, sobbing, "Mother is dying, and
Jacot--and I--dying of grief."
"But," said Madelaine, "how have you come here? How were you run over?"
"Mother was so unhappy, and never ceased crying about you; she would
have come to look for you but she was too weak. Since yesterday, Jacot
has had no seed; we gave him a few crumbs, but he does not sing, and
mother said he sits quite still upon his perch, and that he will die. In
my grief I came out to search for you, and to beg some seed for Jacot. I
walked along by the houses for some time very well, but when I was
crossing a street, a carriage came past at full gallop, threw me down,
and the wheel went over my arm."
Madelaine shuddered as she looked at the arm, and said, "poor Raphael!
you are in great pain."
"Yes," he replied, "but if you will only come home, and if Jacot does
not die, then I can bear the pain."
"His arm must be set without delay," said one of the spectators, "it is
"The boy must be taken to the hospital," observed another.
"No, oh no!" cried Raphael in agony, and holding his sister firmly, "I
will stay with Madelaine, with my mother, and Jacot."
"Compose yourself," said Madelaine, "I will stay with you."
"That cannot be," interrupted the jailor, "you have not yet been
examined, but your brother will not remain long here." Saying these
words, he tried to disengage Madelaine from her brother. Raphael
screamed, and tried with all his strength to hold her.
There was a murmur among the crowd; threatening words were spoken
against the police. At this moment a gentleman came forward, and
addressing Raphael in a kind voice, said, "Do not torment yourself, my
child, you are only going to the hospital to have your arm set. If you
do not like to remain there, you can return home. In a few hours your
sister will be at liberty, and then she can remain with you; and I will
go immediately to your mother and tell her all that has happened."
"But my bird?" said Raphael.
"I will take him a large bag of canary-seed," replied this good man.
Raphael's heart was relieved of a great burden; his features became
calm, and in a voice of deep feeling, he said, "A thousand thanks, dear,
Madelaine and the people joined in thanking and blessing this benevolent
man, who went directly to do as he had promised. In the meantime, a
litter had been brought, Madelaine helped to place her brother upon it,
then kissing him tenderly, she returned weeping to her work.
Madame Tube had already shed many bitter tears for her daughter--she
shed many more when she heard of Raphael's misfortune. When the unknown
gentlemen told her of it, anguish prevented her speaking; but looking
about the room she at last found the handle of an old broom, which she
held as a support between her trembling hands, and set off for the
Thus, the stranger was obliged to feed the bird, and shutting up the
house, he gave the key to the landlord; then he ran after Madame Tube,
who could get on but slowly with her swelled feet. The people who passed
saluted this gentleman, and named him the king's minister.
Notwithstanding, he did not appear the least ashamed to give his arm to
this poor woman, and to accompany her to the hospital, where, thanks to
his presence, admittance was soon granted to her. Raphael was already
there, waiting for the surgeon, who had not yet arrived, and looked
delighted to hear his mother's voice, and receive her tender caresses.
When the surgeon came, he cut away the sleeve of Raphael's jacket and
shirt, and then called some men to assist him while he set the bone. The
pain was dreadful--every cry of her child pierced the heart of Madame
Tube, who fainted during these cruel moments. At last the arm was set
and bandaged; the severest pain was over, and Raphael was laid upon a
bed, where his mother watched him through the night. He soon became
restless--the fever was very high, and he was with difficulty prevented
from turning and injuring his broken arm again. Towards morning the
fever abated a little. Madame Tube had not slept for an instant--she had
not thought of eating or drinking--and now feeling quite exhausted, she
determined to return home and take a few hours repose. On her way
thither she remembered having left her door open, and feared that all
her little property might have been stolen. She was re-assured on
finding the door locked, and thinking the landlord had done her this
kindness, she went to him for the key.
On seeing her, he appeared astonished, and said, that as she had stayed
away so long, he had let the room to a fruiterer, who wanted to put
fruit there, and had already taken possession, he added, that he had
seized her goods to be sold by auction for the rent she owed him.
Madame Tube clasped her hands in despair, praying to be supported under
this new trial, she turned from the hard-hearted man, and with
difficulty retraced her steps to the hospital. There she found Madelaine
released, and nursing her brother. Madame Tube obtained permission to
occupy one of the beds until her son could be removed; and Madelaine
felt thankful to be able to go out and purchase a little food for her
mother with the money she had earned at Master Teuzer's; she also hired
a little room instead of their former one, but she was obliged to pay a
month's rent in advance, which left her but a few pence.
"Lot 47," cried the auctioneer, "a padlock and key."
"Gentlemen, will you make an offer, the padlock is still very good, and
no doubt cost at least a shilling. Who will bid?"
"Two-pence," answered a voice.
"Two-pence," repeated the auctioneer, "once. Two-pence, twice. Will no
one bid higher? It is going for nothing, the key is worth more. Have you
While the auctioneer continued to invite the bystanders to offer more,
the door opened, and Madame Tube entered, with Madelaine and Raphael,
who held his arm in a sling. They stopped timidly at the entrance, when
Raphael entreated his sister to lead him once more to Jacot. "Let me
take leave of him," he said. They made their way through the crowd to
where the cage was placed.
"Jacot," spoke Madelaine, in a low voice, as she raised a corner of the
handkerchief which covered the cage. The bird chirped at the sound of
the well-known voice.
"Do not touch that cage," said a constable, roughly, and Madelaine let
fall the handkerchief. At this moment, "Lot 42. A canary and cage," was
called, "a charming little bird," continued the auctioneer, "yellow as
gold, and sings like a nightingale. How much for the canary?"
Raphael's heart beat violently, Madelaine hastened to count the money
she had left. "Courage," she whispered to Raphael, "make an offer
stoutly, you can go to ten-pence, and perhaps they will let you have it
out of compassion."
"Six-pence to begin with," said the constable.
"Seven-pence," cried another voice.
"Eight-pence," stammered poor Raphael.
"Nine-pence," replied the other.
"Ten-pence," said Raphael, gasping for breath.
The attention of those around was attracted to the poor boy, who with
his arm in a sling, and pale as death, had his blind eyes turned towards
the auctioneer, his countenance expressing intense anxiety.
A short but profound silence succeeded, then a number of questions were
asked, the history of the poor child was told, every one felt moved with
compassion, and no one would bid again for the bird, which was knocked
down to Raphael for ten-pence.
Madelaine placed the cage in his hand, her eyes beaming with joy; he
pressed it closely as a treasure without price, then quite overcome, he
As soon as the poor family had quitted the room, the sale of the other
miserable articles continued, and last of all the old picture which used
to serve to stop up the window, was sold at a high price to an artist,
it having been discovered to be a painting of considerable value.
"WHEN DISTRESS IS GREATEST, HELP IS NEAREST."
By prayers and entreaties, Madame Tube had obtained her bed and some
indispensable articles from the constable; but in their new habitation
they had neither table, chair, bread, wood, or candle--neither had they
any clothing but what they wore--and yet they felt happy--happy at being
together again; they seemed to love each other more than ever, and felt
thankful that although so very poor, they had the comfort of not being
obliged to live with strangers, or with the wicked. Raphael was
delighted to have his bird, and his mother and sister rejoiced at his
happiness; but the question now was, What to do? How to live? The bird
was there, it is true, but there was no seed for him. This caused Madame
Tube to say, "After all we have been foolish to give our last ten-pence
for Jacot--we shall suffer for want of it, and in the end the bird will
die of hunger. Yes, my Raphael, it is not well to attach our hearts so
much to any earthly thing--sooner or later it is taken from us, and then
we are miserable. Let us then set our affections on things above, and
not on those of the earth."
Thus spoke Madame Tube, while Raphael caressed his bird.
Then Madelaine jumping up suddenly, exclaimed, "I must go immediately to
my teacher--I cannot bear that he should think so ill of me." She ran
off, and in about half-an-hour returned. "Mother, mother," she cried,
"all is right, and I am quite happy. The teacher is _so_ grieved
that he should have listened to the falsehoods which that wicked
apprentice told of me; and see, dear mother, the beautiful present he
has given me." So saying, she took from her apron a large parcel,
containing a new Bible nicely bound. Her eyes sparkled with joy as she
said, "Now, Raphael, I can read so many beautiful stories to you."
"May the blessing of God enter our house, with his Word!" said Madame
They were all silent for a few moments, when Madelaine spoke, "I ought
also to go to good Master Teuzer, mother--I am sure he will employ me
She went, and after a considerable time returned, knocked at the door,
and called to her mother to open it--she entered quite loaded. Her
mother looked on in astonishment as she spread before her a large cake,
apples, nuts, oranges, several pairs of warm stockings, a knitted
jacket, and four shillings. "All these are given by kind Master Teuzer,"
said Madelaine, "he has been from home, and did not hear any thing of
our distress, but he kept all these Christmas presents for me, and I am
to work with him as often as I can, and the wicked apprentice is sent
away:" and pulling Raphael along with her, she danced about the room.
The sun had set, and it was already almost dark, when several gentle
knocks were heard at the door, the children were frightened lest some
new misfortune was coming, but it was not so. Five children, three girls
and two boys, between the ages of four and thirteen, entered timidly.
They remained standing silently, and looking at the door as if they
expected some one. Madame Tube and her children were much astonished at
such an unexpected arrival, but in a few minutes a servant entered,
carrying two heavy baskets. "Well?" she cried to the children, as she
put down her heavy load. Upon this the two boys advanced towards
Raphael, and leading him into a corner, dressed him in a suit of their
own clothes, which although they had been worn, were still strong and
good; they also gave him a new pair of strong boots and cloth cap. In
the meantime their sisters had given Madame Tube and Madelaine warm
gowns, flannel petticoats, and shoes. All this was done in silence--on
the one side from timidity--on the other from astonishment.
At last the servant said, "It is as dark as a dungeon here--where
Christmas presents are giving, there should be light to see them;" and
taking from one of her baskets a large parcel of candles, a match, and
two candlesticks, she soon illuminated the little chamber. Then the
young visitors began to empty the baskets, and with delighted looks
spread before the poor family a large loaf of bread, a piece of beef
ready cooked, a cheese, butter, coffee, sugar, rice, salt, some plates,
knives and forks, cups and saucers, a coffee-pot, saucepans, and a
Madame Tube was overwhelmed. She said, "You must be mistaken, these
things are not intended for us, they are for some other people."
The children smiled at each other, but the servant answered, "All are
really for you, Madame Tube; the children have thought of nothing else
but the pleasure of giving them to you--they have talked of it day and
"May we come in?" asked a voice at the door. It opened, and a gentleman
entered; a sweet-looking lady was leaning on his arm. "May we also see
the gifts?" he said.
"Papa, mama," exclaimed the children, joyously, as they surrounded their
"And how are you, Madame Tube?" inquired the gentleman; "do you feel
better? Christmas week has been a sad one for you, we will hope that the
new year is about to open more brightly."
The gentleman's face was not unknown to Madame Tube; she reflected a
moment, and then recollected it was the king's minister, who had
accompanied her to the hospital. Madelaine also recognised the
benevolent man, and the blind boy knew his voice the moment he spoke.
They all surrounded their noble benefactor and thanked him with tears of
gratitude; but he stopped them by saying, "My children wished to have
this pleasure--it is they who have collected all these little
things--and is it not true," he continued, turning to his children,
"that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving?"
"Oh, yes, yes," they replied eagerly, "never in our lives before have we
felt so happy."
Their father smiled, and added, turning to Madame Tube, "To-morrow a
load of wood will arrive for you--I have mentioned your sad story to
some of our town's people, and have already received much help, which I
will lay out to the best advantage for your most pressing wants. And now
I am sure Madame Tube has need of repose, so we will wish her good
night, and a happy New Year."
Thus in the midst of thanks on one side, and good wishes on the other,
Shortly afterwards, a young man entered, and advancing to Madame Tube,
said, "The auctioneer has sent me to inform you that your old oil
painting sold for eight pounds, and he sends you seven pounds which
remain for you after paying Mr. Duller his rent." He handed her the
money, and wishing her good night, left the room.
So many unexpected events were almost too much for Madame Tube, she felt
overcome, but falling on her knees, "Come, my children," she said, "let
us thank God, for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. He hears
the young ravens when they cry to him for food, and he has heard our cry
and has helped us." The children joined in her heartfelt thanksgivings,
and the Lord made his face to shine upon them and gave them peace. The
children soon fell asleep with these happy feelings, but before Madame
Tube lay down, she gazed long at her children. Never had she seen her
Raphael look so well, a delicate red tinged his cheek, and a happy smile
played around his mouth; and kissing him gently she thought how
willingly she would give up all else to restore to him his sight.
In the midst of the silence of the night, the cathedral clock struck
twelve, the old year with its griefs and sorrows had disappeared. The
New Year had commenced, bringing with it joy and hope. "Cast all thy
care upon him who careth for thee," murmured Madame Tube, as she laid
her head on her pillow, and slept in peace.
THE WONDERS OF THE EYE.
Madame Tube had been relieved from great suffering, she was now
comparatively at her ease; but it was not in the power of her benevolent
friends to relieve her from bodily suffering, nor to restore Raphael's
sight. What an inestimable blessing is health, and how seldom is its
value acknowledged until it is lost.
As for Madelaine, she enjoyed perfect health, which she chiefly owed to
her habits of early rising, cleanliness, and activity. She left nothing
undone to comfort her mother in her suffering, and to cheer her brother;
and for this she had a constant resource in her Bible, the magnificent
promises and heavenly consolations of which, soothed and comforted her
mother, while Raphael was edified and delighted by the beautiful
histories and parables that were read to him.
One day, when she had just finished reading the miracle of the blind man
receiving sight, she said, "Ah! Raphael, I would go to the end of the
earth, if I could obtain that blessing for you."
"But I would not let you go," he replied, "you must never leave us
again, and besides I cannot fancy that sight is such a _very_
precious thing--describe to me what it is."
"I will explain it as well as I can," answered a stranger, who had
entered unperceived, with the king's minister. Raphael was going to run
behind the stove, but the minister prevented him. "Stay, my dear boy,"
he said, kindly, "this gentleman is the king's physician, and he wishes
to be of use to you and your mother, it is with that view he has come
"You wish to know what sight is, my boy," said the doctor. "The wisest
men cannot tell exactly, but I will try to explain it to you in some
degree. The eye is most wonderfully formed, it resembles a round mirror,
on which, all objects, whether near or distant, are reflected--this
mirror is called the crystal, and is scarcely so large as a cherry
stone, and yet the largest objects as well as the smallest, are exactly
reflected on it; for example, our cathedral, with its fine towers, its
doors, and windows; how impossible would it be for the most skillful
painter to represent these on so small a space as the pupil of the eye;
but God has so formed that wonderful organ, that it can receive the
reflection of the whole in an instant."
"How wonderful!" exclaimed both mother and daughter, who had listened
with much greater interest than Raphael, who could not understand what
was said in the least.
"But why is it," asked Madelaine, taking courage, "that my brother
cannot see? Why are not objects reflected upon his eyes as they are upon
"My child," replied the doctor, "light is a necessary condition for
sight, and this is what your brother's eyes want, because there is a
thick skin formed over them, which excludes all light." The physician
then examined Raphael's eyes carefully, and found the cataract (as this
skin is called) nearly ripe.
"My advice," he said to Madame Tube, "is, that you and your son should
go, as soon as the weather is warm enough, to Toeplitz for the benefit
of the baths, which will be of much service to you both; and I shall see
you there in the course of the summer."
The poor family warmly thanked the physician, and the king's minister,
who then took leave, the latter promising to provide means for the
THE JOURNEY AND THE BATHS.
As soon as summer had arrived, the minister sent a comfortable
_char-a-banc_ a sort of jaunting car, to convey Madame Tube and her
children to Toeplitz; he also sent her a present of money for her
Madame Tube and Madelaine were delighted with the beautiful scenery
through which they passed. When they had reached the top of the Saxon
Erzgebirge, and had descended on the Bohemian side, they were charmed
with all they saw. Blue mountains, across which light clouds floated,
surround the flowery valley in which Toeplitz is situated. Rocks peeped
out from amidst the dark pines on the wooded declivity of the mountain,
inviting the traveller to enjoy the magnificent view. On the other side
(gloomy as was the age in which it was built,) rose proudly the ruined
towers of the strong-hold of some warrior chief. From the valley rose
the blue smoke of the huts of a little hamlet, while the sweet chimes of
the village church floated through the pure, sweet morning air. Passing
under a green arch of lime-trees, they reached the pretty town of
Toeplitz, where they soon engaged a little apartment. Having rested for
some hours, they went out to view the wonderful waters which God in his
goodness has provided for the relief of suffering humanity. Great was
their astonishment to see in several places the springs bubbling up
boiling out of the earth, and this astonishment was increased, when they
remembered that from time immemorial without interruption, in winter as
in summer, these health-restoring waters flow always equally abundant,
and hot; prepared in the bosom of the earth. Here thousands come in
search of health, arriving on crutches, or carried by their attendants
to the baths; at the end of a few weeks they are able to walk without
support. Madame Tube soon found benefit, each bath strengthened her, and
relieved the pain from which she had so long suffered.
Madelaine led Raphael daily to the spring for the eyes, where much
sympathy was excited for the children among the visitors, who observed
their neat, although poor dress, and their modest behavior. One day, as
Madelaine was applying the water to her brother's eyes, and looking at
him with the deepest anxiety, a gentleman stopped and asked if the
little boy had weak eyes.
Madelaine's soft eyes filled with tears as she answered, "My brother is
quite blind, sir."
"In that case, these waters will be of no use to him, but something else
may be done," he added; then asking Madelaine's name and address, he
left them. They then returned home, and related to their mother what had
In about an hour after, their kind friend the physician from Dresden,
entered the room, accompanied by the unknown gentleman, who proved to be
the Prince Royal of Wurtemberg, who had just arrived with his physician
The doctor having examined Raphael's eyes once more, fixed the following
Thursday for the operation. The Prince spoke kindly to Madame Tube, and
promising to see her again, left the room, followed by the doctor.
Thursday was come--before the sun had risen from behind the mountains,
Madelaine was up, hope and anxiety had kept both her and her mother
awake nearly the whole night.
Madelaine arranged the little room with the greatest care and neatness.
She then washed and dressed herself. Gladly would she have done the same
for her brother, but the doctor had forbidden anything which would cause
him the least excitement. Nine o'clock was the hour fixed for the
operation: at six Madelaine was ready. She then joined with her mother
(for Raphael still slept) in earnest prayer, for God's blessing on the
work about to be done. After these fervent supplications, Madelaine
asked her mother's permission to go to the fields to gather a bouquet of
wild flowers. She returned some time before the doctor arrived. He
entered the room as the clock struck nine, accompanied by an assistant,
their appearance produced some agitation in the family; but the doctor
entered into conversation on indifferent subjects for a while, before he
spoke of the object of his visit.
He then said, "My dear friends, I do not know whether I can entirely
fulfil my promise of operating on this little boy's eyes to-day. I must
first try whether he will remain still when the instrument touches his
eyes. Come then, my little fellow, be firm." He led Raphael to the
window, and desiring him to open his eyes wide, asked, "Does that hurt
you?" as he passed the instrument across his eye.
"Not at all," replied Raphael.
"That is well," rejoined the doctor. Then calling his assistant to him,
they commenced the operation; after a considerable time, during which
Madame Tube and Madelaine suffered intense anxiety, Raphael suddenly
cried out. "Why did you cry out?" asked the doctor calmly, as he covered
the eye, "it is impossible that could hurt you."
"It did not exactly hurt me," answered Raphael, in a trembling voice,
"but it felt in my eye as if--" He stopped and tried in vain to express
what he felt. "I understand," said the doctor, "and I am satisfied by
this that the operation will succeed. We will now leave you to rest
until to-morrow." Then giving strict orders to Madame Tube that the
covering should not be removed from the eye, the doctor took his leave,
expressing at the same time every hope of the happy termination of the
At the appointed hour next day the doctor arrived, and completed the
operation; then having the room very much darkened, he permitted the
covering to be removed, when Raphael exclaimed in delight, "Oh! I see
many things, many things."
The impression which these words produced on his mother and sister, was
inexpressible. With cries of joy they rushed towards him, saying, "God
be praised! God be praised!"
"My son, my son, thou art doubly given to me," ejaculated his mother,
"Are you my dearest mother?" asked Raphael, as she folded him in her
arms. "Now at last I shall learn to know your dear features."
"Raphael, Raphael," said Madelaine, sadly, "have you quite forgotten me?
let me at least see your eyes that are no longer dead." He turned
quickly towards her, and both wept for joy in each other's arms.
"Now, it is enough," said the doctor, "it is only by degrees that he can
become accustomed to the light, and for this reason, my boy, you must
remain blind for a few days longer;" he replaced the bandage and added,
"whenever this is taken off, the room must be darkened, as the light
must be admitted only by degrees, until his eyes are accustomed to it.
Neglect of this precaution would deprive him of sight for ever."
Madame Tube promised to be careful, then seizing the doctor's hand,
"Permit me," she said, "to kiss the hand which has, with God's blessing,
restored sight to my child. I cannot reward you for this noble action.
May God give you his choicest blessings!"
"Oh! good, kind gentleman," broke in Madelaine, "how happy you have made
us all; if I could but express all I feel; but I am too ignorant, I can
only thank you a thousand times."
"And I," said Raphael, "I can only thank you now, but I will pray for
you, my benefactor. When I rise in the morning, when I lie down at
night,--when I look around me on this beautiful world, I will always
think of you, and ask God to bless you."
"It is enough, enough," said the doctor, "I am very happy that I have
been successful." As he spoke, his countenance beamed with benevolence,
and doubtless the heartfelt thanks and prayers of the poor family, and
the consciousness of having performed a kind action, gave him most
sincere pleasure. He quitted the little room, followed by silent
THE ENJOYMENT OF SIGHT.
A new world was now open to Raphael--hearing and taste were before his
greatest pleasures, but now he forgot every thing in the enjoyment of
sight. The first time the bandage was removed from his eyes, he amused
his mother and sister by trying to reach the bouquet of forget-me-nots,
which was at the further side of the room. He was quite astonished to
find his hand did not reach it. His mother, who had remarked this said,
laughing, "My dear Raphael, you are like a little infant who stretches
out its hands towards every object it sees, whether near or distant."
When the thick curtain was withdrawn, Raphael would have put his head
through the window, had not his mother prevented him and when shown the
glass, he was all amazement.
One day he said to Madelaine, "There is some one looking at us through
that little window there; who is it that lives so very near us?"
Madelaine looked at him, and laughed with all her heart. "It is the
looking-glass," she answered, "and that person is no other than
But Raphael would not believe her until his mother took down the
looking-glass to convince him. He looked behind it, expecting to find
some one there. "Ah," said his mother to Madelaine, "we shall have many
curious questions to answer our Raphael, before he becomes acquainted
with the world in which he lives."
After sunset, Madame Tube prepared to take a walk with her children. She
turned to the road which led to the nearest hill. They proceeded but
slowly, for Raphael stopped continually to ask the meaning of something
new to him. The smoke from the chimneys--the water at the springs--the
trees with their thick trunks and delicately formed leaves--all were to
him new wonders. His mother must tell him the name of every little
fly--of the commonest weed--and even of each stone; but when he came in
sight of the majestic mountains, his astonishment knew no bounds. "What
an immense time it must have taken to make such mountains!" he
"The most powerful king," replied his mother, "were he to employ
millions and millions of men, could not raise such; but God is the
All-powerful King, who is wonderful in all his works, from the least to
the greatest--from the smallest flower to the glorious sun which is just
setting. Look, Raphael, what a magnificent bed he has--those purple
clouds with their splendid border, like a fringe of gold."
"Is the sun very far from us?" inquired Raphael.
"Very far," replied his mother; "millions and millions of miles are
between us and the sun."
"Turn round," said Madelaine, laughing, to her brother, "you will see a
beautiful balloon rising." Raphael turned quickly, and beheld a large
silver ball rising slowly and majestically above the mountains. It was a
Raphael was enchanted; at last he said, "What is it? who has made such a
beautiful thing? But the people do not appear to be aware of it--they
are walking quietly along as if they did not see it."
"They see it very well," said his mother, but they have seen it so often
they do not care for it."
"Not care for it," cried Raphael, "I should never be tired of such a
glorious sight; and I should prefer remaining here, where I can see it,
to going home to Dresden."
"Be comforted," said his mother, "you will see it rise many times every
month at home as well as here; for that which you consider so
extraordinary an object, is the moon."
Raphael shook his head, "When I was still blind," he replied, "I have
several times walked out with you and Madelaine in the evening, and I
have often heard you say the moon is rising, but in quite an indifferent
tone, as if the moon were but a farthing candle; therefore I can
scarcely believe that this wonderful ball is the moon."
"He is right," said his mother, "habit renders us almost ungrateful for
the blessings which surround us. Look still higher, my son," she
continued, "contemplate the innumerable stars and the Milky Way, with
its millions of worlds."
Raphael raised his head and looked, and looked until his eyes filled
with tears of emotion and delight; then falling on his mother's neck, he
murmured, "How good, and great, and glorious, is God!"
Soon after they turned towards the town; but Raphael was led by his
mother and sister, for he still kept his eyes fixed on the heavens; and
when it was time for him to go to bed, he went to the window to look
once more at the silver moon, saying, "Now for the first time I
understand this blessing: 'The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and
be gracious unto us. Amen'"
Some days after this, as Madame Tube and her children were walking in
the gardens of the palace, they met the Prince Royal, accompanied by the
good physician, whose name was Wundel. Raphael ran joyously up to them,
and kissing Dr. Wundel's hand, said, "How happy you have made me."
The Prince answered Raphael, "You are happy, indeed, to have recovered
your sight; but have you nothing more to desire?"
"Nothing," replied Raphael, "unless I could show my gratitude to the
"Good boy," said the Prince, "let me do it in your place." He drew from
his finger a brilliant ring, which he presented to Dr. Wundel "I thank
you in the name of this child," he added, "and beg of you to wear this
ring in remembrance of him." Then giving ten guineas to Madame Tube, he
turned again to Dr. Wundel, observing, "I can give them but a few pieces
of gold, but you have been the means of restoring sight."
After the Prince and Dr. Wundel had left them, Madame Tube said to her
children, "How many benevolent men we have met with! Master Teuzer; the
king's minister; Dr. Wundel, and the Prince Royal--and only two who
sought to injure us--our landlord, and Teuzer's apprentice."
"Mother, mother," cried Madelaine, much excited, and pointing to the
road; "there he is, there he is."
"Who, where?" asked her mother.
"Teuzer's apprentice; that wicked Robert."
It was he indeed, handcuffed, and accompanied by several
repulsive-looking men, also handcuffed, and guarded by armed police.
"What have these men done?" asked Madame Tube, of a spectator.
"They are smugglers," he replied, "and when taken, they fought
desperately, and have wounded several of the police. They are now going
"Remark," said Madame Tube to her children, "how true it is, that sooner
or later, all evil is punished. But how did Robert happen to join the
"Master Teuzer sent him away at Christmas," replied Madelaine, "in
consequence of the shameful falsehoods he spread--his next master
discovered that he sold his goods and retained the money--after leaving
him, I suppose, he joined the smugglers."
Madame Tube was now so much recovered, that she wished to return to
Dresden. Raphael longed to see his Jacot, which had been left in Master
Teuzer's charge; and Madelaine felt anxious to return to school, and to
her occupation of painting. Consequently, early in the following week
was fixed for their departure. On the appointed day the
_char-a-banc_ came to convey Madame Tube and her children back to
Dresden; how greatly her enjoyment was enhanced by Raphael's delight at
all he saw during the journey. They were warmly welcomed by their kind
friends at Dresden, who had, during their absence, fitted up their
little apartments comfortably.
Madelaine returned to school, and had the happiness of taking her
brother with her there. Some years after, Raphael devoted his recovered
sight to painting, for which he showed great talent. When he had arrived
at a great degree of perfection in this beautiful art, he painted a
picture of _Christ Restoring the Blind to Sight_. Large sums were
offered him for this _chef-d'oeuvre_, but he rejected them all, and
sent the picture to Dr. Wundel, who showed his beautiful present to the
Prince Royal. Raphael's gratitude pleased the Prince even more than the
picture; he immediately named him his painter, and allowed him a
considerable salary, which Raphael had the inexpressible happiness of
sharing with his beloved mothers and no less beloved and fondly
BOY AND THE BOOK
The Little Printer
Can English boys and girls living now in the nineteenth century, carry
their minds back so far in time as to the period when our Henry the
Fourth was reigning in England, and can they travel in thought so far
distant as to the country called Germany, and picture to themselves the
life of a little boy at that time and in that country? If so, we will
tell them something of the life of Hans Gensfleisch, the only son of a
poor widow, who lived about the beginning of the fifteenth century, not
far from Mainz, or Mayence, a city built on the banks of the river
Rhine, about half-way between its source and the sea. The father of Hans
had been a dyer, and had at one time carried on rather a thriving
business in Mainz; but after his death Frau Gensfleisch had gone with
her son to live at a little village called Steinheim, about three miles
from the city walls, where, on a few acres of land, bought with her
husband's savings, and laid out partly as garden, and partly as field
and vineyard, she contrived to live with this, her only child. Hans and
his mother cultivated the little garden, sowed their own crops of barley
and flax in their little fields, and tended and trained the vines in
their small vineyard. Strong and active, and fond of employment, the
life of the little Hans was one long course of busy industry, from the
sowing of seeds in Spring to the gathering in of their small vintage
late in the Autumn. And in the long winter nights, there was always too
much to do within the cottage walls, by the light of their pine wood
fire, for him ever to find the time hang heavy on his hands. One night
he would be busy helping his mother to comb and hackle her little store
of flax; on another he would mend the net, with which he at times
contrived to catch his mother a river fish or two for supper; and it
would be _play_ to him when nothing else was wanting his help, to
go on with the making of a cross-bow and arrows with which he intended
some day to bring down many a wild duck or wood-pigeon.
The principal occupation of Hans was, however, to assist his mother in
carrying on some part of her husband's former trade; she having become
acquainted with many of the secrets of the art by which colors could be
extracted from plants and mineral substances, so as to give to wool,
flax, and silk, bright and unchanging colors. In those days such
operations, instead of being carried on in large factories and
workshops, and by wholesale as it were for the manufacturer of the
material, were often done just as people wanted any one particular
article of dress to be of a particular color. For instance, a woman who
had fashioned for her husband a rudely knitted vest of wool of her own
spinning; would bring the rather dingy garment to Frau Gensfleisch to
have it made red or blue, so that, worn under his brown leather jerkin,
it might look smart and gay;--or the young hunter, on going to the
chase, would come to her to have the tassels of his bow or horn made
scarlet or yellow;--or the knight equipping himself for war would send
to her the soiled plume of his helmet, to be made of a brilliant
crimson--to say nothing of the knight's lady, who, as she sat at home in
her dismal castle, with little else to amuse her but the embroidery
frame, would be forever sending down her maidens and serving-men into
the valley with skeins of wool and silk, to be dipped into Frau
Gensfleisch's dye-pots, and brought back to her of every color of the
rainbow. In this way Hans' mother continued to make a comfortable
living, and Hans himself was a very important help to her, in the
carrying on of her little art.
It was Hans' business to collect the numerous herbs and plants that his
mother required for the different colors. He not only knew well which
plants would produce certain colors, but knew where they could be found,
and at what seasons they were fit for use. Of some he carefully
collected the blossoms when fully expanded in the mid-day sun--of others
the leaves and stalks--while in many the coloring matter was to be
extracted from the roots, which Hans would carefully dig up, knowing
well by the forms of the leaves above ground, the kind of root that grew
beneath the soil.
This kind of knowledge which Hans had been picking up ever since he was
a very young child, made him at twelve years old a most useful little
personage, and although he had never learned to read or write, or even
been in a school, yet he could not by any means, be called ignorant, for
he not only observed and remembered all that came in his way, but he
turned his knowledge to the best account, by making it of use to himself
We say that Hans could neither read nor write, but it must not therefore
be thought that such acquirements were not valued in those days; on the
contrary, it was considered at that time one of the very best and most
desirable things in the whole world to be able to read, and one of the
cleverest things in the world to be able to write; while he who was so
happy as to be the possessor of a book, was esteemed one of the most
fortunate of human beings.
This may seem strange to you little girls and boys, my readers, who ever
since you were born have been surrounded with books of all sizes and
shapes, and on all sorts of subjects, from the books of grown-up people
that you could not understand, down to your most favorite story book
that you do understand and like so well as to read again and again.
We must, however, remind you, that books in those days were very
different things from what they are now, and their great value arose
from the fact that they were all written with pen and ink upon
parchment; for although a kind of paper had been made at that time, it
was not commonly used; and it was only after weeks and months of careful
labor, that one of these written books could be produced, so that it is
no wonder that a great value was set upon them. A book too was so
prized, that people liked to ornament it as much as possible, and many
of these written or manuscript books, which means _written by
hand_, had not only beautiful pictures in them, but were bound in
rich bindings, sometimes silk embroidered with gold and silver thread,
and sometimes even the backs were of beautifully carved ivory, or
adorned with filagree work, and pearls, and precious stones.
We value books in our time, but we do not ornament them so very much,
because we would rather have twenty interesting books on our shelves to
read by turns, than one precious volume locked up with clasps, and kept
in a box only to be taken out on particular occasions; and instead of a
man spending half his life over the writing of such a book, letter by
letter, word by word, and page by page, a man who in the course of a
little time has set the small metal letters together, which we call
printing types, so as to form a number of pages, can print those pages
if he likes on ten thousand sheets of paper, which will form a part of
ten thousand books of the same kind, and which when finished can be read
by _ten times ten thousand_ human beings!
But we will return to little Hans. We have said that he lived not far
from the town of Mainz, in Germany, and we must mention that one of the
most pleasant things he had to do in his little life was to pay a visit
occasionally to this great town and see all the busy and wonderful
things that were going on there. Mainz was a rich and important town at
that time, and was governed by an Archbishop, who was called an Elector,
because he was one of those who had the right of choosing an Emperor for
Germany, when one was wanted. Many Princes had also this right, but the
Archbishop of Mainz had the particular privilege of setting the crown on
the new Emperor's head, when he was crowned in the neighboring city of
Frankfort. Besides seeing all that was going on at Mainz, and purchasing
the different things that his mother wanted in the market, Hans' great
delight was to pay a visit to an uncle, who lived in the monastery of
St. Gothard, near the great cathedral.
This uncle was a monk, and called Father Gottlieb, and was considered at
that time a very learned man. He was good as well as learned, and full
of kindness to his little nephew Hans, who, from having so early lost
his own parent, looked up to Uncle Gottlieb as a real father, and loved
him as one.
A monastery, I must tell you, was a place where a number of men lived
together away from the rest of the world, in order, as they thought, to
devote themselves more to the service of God, than if they were mixed up
with the business and pleasure of life. Whether they were right or wrong
in so doing, we will not now stop to inquire, but we must point out that
this custom had at that time a great many advantages, and certainly
enabled these monks to do a great deal of service to their
fellow-creatures. One of the most important of these services was with
regard to the making of books, such as we have before described. It was
in these monasteries, or houses of monks, that nearly all the books of
those times were written or transcribed, and a number of the monks were
always employed, if not in writing books, at all events in making copies
of those which had been written before. A room called the Scriptorium,
or writing-room, was to be found in every monastery, and most of the
monks could either write or read, and were looked upon in consequence as
very learned and wise. This made the visits of little Hans to his uncle
very pleasant. There was nothing he thought so great a treat as to have
something read to him out of one of Father Gottlieb's books, for he
possessed two of these precious volumes. One was a copy of the book of
Genesis, the first book in the Bible, you know, and the other was a
history of the lives of some of the holy men that have been called
saints by the Catholics. Seated on a low stool at his uncle's knee, Hans
could have listened for hours to stories of the patriarchs Abraham, and
Jacob, and Joseph, which Father Gottlieb slowly read from the pale
written volume; but the duties of the convent allowed him only short
portions of time, in which, shut up in his own little room or cell, he
could entertain his dearly loved nephew; and often when both were so
engaged he had to jump up at the sound of a bell calling him to prayers,
and then, hastily locking up the precious volume, he would kindly stroke
the boy's curly head, and with a message to his mother, bid him
farewell. At other times he would take Hans into the beautiful chapel
belonging to the monastery, and show him its gaily adorned altars, and
curious images; and once or twice Hans got a peep into the Scriptorium,
or writing-room, were the monks were at work over their sheets of
parchment, writing so carefully one after another the curiously formed
letters which were then in use, and which are still used in the printed
books of Germany. Being read to, and finding what pleasure arose from
being able to read, and seeing so much of book-making and writing, made
little Hans wish very much to be able to read and write. A few years
before, he had thought that nothing could be so grand or nice as to be a
knight and go to the wars, and he would make himself a helmet of rushes,
and with a long willow wand in his hand for a spear, and his cross-bow
slung at his back, he would try to fancy himself a warrior, and set off
in pretence to the Holy Land, to fight against the Turks; but latterly
he had begun to think that he should like nothing so well as to be able
to read and write like Father Gottlieb, and the rest of the monks, and
it was a great delight to him, when his uncle allowed him to take in his
own hands one of the precious volumes to pick out the different letters
and learn their names.
What brought Hans at this time very often to the monastery, was, that
his uncle, whose turn it was to be purveyor or provider for the convent,
had employed his mother to make what they called writing color or dye,
for the copyist. This was, of course, something the same as what we call
_ink_ and it so happened that Frau Gensfleisch was in possession of
a secret by which a black dye could be made, which would not turn brown
with time, as that of many of the manuscripts. Every ten days or
fortnight, therefore, it was Hans' business to take to the convent a
small flask of the valuable fluid, which his mother had carefully
prepared, from certain mineral and vegetable substances, and it was no
fault of his, if he did not on each occasion, somehow or other, add to
his own stock of knowledge; getting at one time perhaps a verse or two
read by his uncle, which finished the history of Joseph, or puzzling out
for himself the difference between the shape of a C and a G, till he
could quite distinguish them; or being told by his uncle some wonderful
legend or history connected with the paintings and carvings on the walls
of the convent; so that it may be said that the education of little Hans
was slowly proceeding in those matters, which at that time was
considered learning and science. In the midst of all his other
employments which did not require thought, Hans' mind would be occupied
with this new knowledge; and as he worked in the garden, or weeded and
dressed the vines in their little vineyard, the remembrance of the
stories Uncle Gottlieb had read to him or told him, would come into his
mind, and the pictures he had shown him appear as it were before his
eyes. At night too, as he sat by his mother's spinning-wheel, he would
try to trace on the sanded floor the letters he had learned from the
books, or begging a drop of black dye, he made attempts with a pointed
stick to mark them on the wooden table. Wherever he was, in fact, and
whatever he was about, letters would dance before his eyes, and his
former hopes of being a famous hunter or warrior when he grew up were
all lost in the one great hope, which now filled his mind, of one day
becoming a learned copyist or scribe. Such was the change that had taken
place in the mind of little Hans, when, on visiting the convent one day,
he found to his great dismay that his good uncle had gone on a journey
to the city of Frankfort, which lay some thirty or forty miles off, upon
the banks of the same river Maine, which just by Mainz empties its
waters into the Rhine. It was the time of the great Frankfort Market or
Fair, and Father Gottlieb had gone there to purchase for the convent all
that was wanted for the next year. He had gone up the river in a boat
with a party of monks and merchants, and was not expected to return
until the next week, as he would wait to bring with him all the
merchandise he purchased. It was a great trial to Hans to have another
whole week to wait before he saw his dear uncle again, but then what a
pleasure had he in his next visit to the convent; not only Uncle
Gottlieb to see, but all the beautiful and wonderful things which he had
brought back from the Frankfort Fair, and his own present to receive
too, which the kind uncle had not forgotten amid all his bustle and
business. This was no less than a knife--the first that Hans had ever
possessed of his own. It had a pretty stag's-horn handle and a green
leather sheath, so that, stuck in his girdle, it looked quite like that
of a real woodsman or hunter, and made Hans not a little proud.
Then what wonderful things had not his uncle to relate of the large and
rich city of Frankfort. Of all the beautiful works in gold and silver
with which the shops were filled; of the grand old hall where the
Emperors were elected and the chapel in which they were crowned; and
then of the curious people called Jews, who live in such numbers in one
part of the city, who did not worship Christ or the virgin, and were the
same people whom he had heard about in the stories of Jacob and Joseph.
Long after his usual time did Hans stay listening to all these matters,
and it was nightfall ere he got back again to his mother's cottage with
his present to her of a piece of fine cloth for a new head coif, which
Father Gottlieb sent her.
For many days Hans could think of nothing but his new knife, and well
pleased was he to show it to his young companions, many of whom had
never before seen so polished a piece of iron. In his herb-gatherings
for his mother, too, how useful it was to him in cutting through the
tough stalks of some of the plants and in digging up the roots; and what
fine things it enabled him to cut and carve for his mother,--new comb
for her flax amongst other things, and a spoon to stir her pots of dye.
He grew very expert in using his knife, and cutting and carving with it
almost put out of his head his dearly beloved letters that he had taken
such pains to learn.
It happened, however, one day, that after having been some hours out on
the hills, behind his mother's cottage, collecting a quantity of acorns
and oak-galls, which his mother required to make her black dye or ink, a
very violent storm came on, which obliged him to take shelter under a
large spreading beech tree, behind whose trunk he crept while the wind
and hail beat fiercely down. The storm lasted long, and to amuse himself
Hans began to exercise his carving powers upon the smooth bark of the
beech tree which sheltered him.
He carved some letters upon it; cutting away the bark of the beech and
leaving the letters white. Some he cut deep into the wood in sharp
furrows like the letters on a seal. Then he tried cutting away the bark
and leaving the letters stand out _in relief_ as it is called, from
the tree, like the letters on the impression of a seal. This was the
prettiest way of all, and he began to carve the letters of his own name.
The word _Hans_ he could manage very well, for he knew well the
letters which formed it, and he got on very well with the rest of his
other name as far as _Gens_,--but here, alas! he was stopped, for
he did not know how to make an F. He had learned how his name was spelt,
but it had never occurred to him before to write it; but it did not
matter--he was going the very next day to the convent, and he would
learn how an F was made, and then too he could also make himself sure of
the C, which he had always a difficulty in distinguishing from G, as he
had never learnt the alphabet in proper order. The next day accordingly,
on visiting the convent, after delivering his flask of ink, he asked his
uncle to show him once more the different letters which he did not yet
know perfectly; and his uncle not only did this, but on a strip of old
parchment he kindly wrote down all the letters from A to Z, so that at
any time Hans could use it as a copy when he wanted to put letters
together so as to make words.
Hans was greatly delighted. It seemed to him now as if he had got
possession of a key which locked up a great deal of valuable knowledge,
for his alphabet would not only help him to write but to read also. He
could not rest that evening, even before he had taken the bowl of milk
and piece of black bread that his mother had left for his supper, till
he had climbed the hill to the great beech tree, and carved upon it the
other letters of his name. When finished, his name reached half round
the tree, and each letter was nicely formed and neatly cut. All the
lines were straight, and the little points were all sharp and clear.
Written in those (to us) old-fashioned letters it looked perhaps
something like this:--
[Illustration: hans gensfleisch]
Hans wished his mother could but see it!
"Do mother, I pray thee, come up the hill as far as the great beech
tree," said he one evening as he thought of his nice piece of writing;
"I want to show thee how strangely the elves have marked the bark." This
he said in jest, hoping to entice his mother to see the wonder.
"Nay, child," said she, "my old bones are too stiff for climbing
now-a-days, and nought that the elves can do can make me wonder, seeing,
as I do, all the strange new things that are coming every day into the
world." And it was In vain that Hans tried to persuade her.
Some days after this, however, Hans on paying a visit to the tree and
finding that the white wood of the beech, from which he had peeled away
the bark, was becoming brown, so that the letters no longer looked out
plain and distinct, the thought came into his head of cutting each of
these raised letters away from the tree and taking them home. He did
so--slicing them carefully off, so that they were not split or broken,
and he was thus able to carry home to his mother, as she would not come
to see them, this first specimen of his own writing.
We shall see how the carrying home of those letters was afterwards to
influence the fate of Hans Gensfleisch--and of the whole world!
Proud was Hans that evening, when after his frugal supper was over, he
swept away the crumbs from off their little table, and arranged side by
side the letters of his name before his astonished mother--so that when
she compared them with his name upon the slip of parchment which was the
register of his birth, she could see that it was really and truly her
son's name that the curious signs signified. She thought her Hans very
clever, and she was pleased. We are not sure that Hans did not think
himself very clever too!
Hans put his letters carefully away in an old leather pouch which had
once belonged to his father, and often after his day's work was done
would he pull them out and arrange them on the table or on the hearth
before the fire. He soon found out that besides making his own name, he
could put together several other words which he had learned to spell.
Out of the letters which formed Hans Gensfleisch, for instance, he could
make the word _fisch_ which is the German for fish--_lang_,
long--_schein_, shine; and it was a great delight to his mother as
well as to himself, when he found too that he could put together the
letters of her name, _Lischen,_ just as they were also written on
the parchment register of his birth.
But he had other discoveries still to make with regard to his letters;
for one evening it so happened that as his mother was busy over a
boiling of ink that he was to take the next day to Mainz, and had put
some of it out in a sort of saucer or bowl upon the table to cool, Hans
in playing with his letters let one of them fall into the black color,
and pulling it hastily out again he popped it on to the first thing that
lay near, which happened to be a piece of chamois leather which was
stretched out after being cleaned ready for dyeing.
Scarcely had the letter laid an instant on the white leather than Frau
Gensfleisch, turning round, saw with dismay the mischief that was
done;--a large =h= was marked upon the chamois skin!
"Ah Hanschen! Hanschen!" cried she, "what art thou about--thou hast
ruined thy poor mother. See, lackaday! the lady of Dolberg's beautiful
chamois skin that was to be dyed of a delicate green for her ladyship's
slippers. See the ugly black marks that thou hast made upon it! This
comes of all thy letter making and spelling of words and names. Away
with the useless--things! Thou canst do better with thy knife and thy
time than to be bringing thy mother thus into trouble." And in her anger
the Frau Gensfleisch swept the precious letters off the table and threw
them into the fire.
Hans started forward in dismay to save them but it was too late. One
=g= alone remained of his treasured letters, but it was enough. He
had his knife and he could make others--and more than that, there was
left with him a valuable thought. The impression left on the white
chamois skin by the blackened letter had caused a new idea to flash into
his mind--the idea of Printing. On that evening, and in that little
cottage, in fact, the _invention of Printing_ took place.
It was something to have a lucky thought come into one's mind, but it is
quite another thing to have patience and industry and perseverance
enough to put that thought into action as it were, and make it turn to
profit and use. Luckily for Hans and for the world, he had these good
qualities even when thus a little boy, and from that time he made it the
business of his life to turn the thought to good account. We do not say
that the little boy Hans Gensfleisch could at that time foresee any but
a very small part of the good which might arise out of the invention of
printing. He could not possibly tell before-hand, how through its means,
knowledge would be spread all over the face of the earth, nor that that
book which was then only to be found in convents and monasteries--locked
up and rarely opened--read by a few learned monks, and seldom or ever
read to the people;--that this book, or the Bible, would through the
invention of Printing, be distributed all over the world, and that rich
and poor, wise and simple, young and old, would be able to possess it,
and read it, and learn from it the Word of God:--he did not foresee
this; but he saw that there might be an easier and a quicker way of
making books, and this he felt would be a good and useful thing to bring
about, and he resolved that he would do it. He saw that instead of
spending so much time in shaping over and over again the same letters,
that it would be a great saving of trouble, if letters were to be carved
out of wood or any other hard substance, and then blackened with ink and
pressed or _imprinted_ on the parchment, for then the same letters
could be used many times in making different words in different books.
Hans saw this plainly. He was sure of it, and he was almost sure that no
one had ever thought of it before. With a very natural feeling, and
certainly not a wrong one, he determined that it should be himself who
should bring about this new method of writing. He would keep it secret
from every one until he could _prove_ that it was a great and
In the meantime, however, he had much to do. First, he must learn to
read and spell, and then he must also be able to write well, so as to
shape all the letters correctly when he carved them. From that time Hans
lost no more time in play. His cross-bow was laid aside, and he seldom
or never joined the other boys of the village in their games of running
and wrestling, nor did he follow the hunters to the chase on the hills
as he had been accustomed to do, or spend time in loitering with his net
along the river side. Instead of all this, he would go on every possible
pretext into the town and to the monastery to visit his uncle and get
all the knowledge he could. And after some time he told his uncle of his
great wish to learn to read and to become a scribe, and begged him to
persuade his mother to let him follow out his wish.
Father Gottlieb was pleased with the boy's earnest desire. He was good
and pious, and when he saw how full of this high hope was the mind of
the young boy, he said, "It is the will of God. He makes the humblest of
us tools for the furtherance of his wise designs. His will be done!" And
he talked to the Frau Gensfleisch upon the matter, and though he did not
think it right to tell her that her son might one day become a great and
learned man, yet he persuaded her that it would be wrong to oppose the
earnest wishes of Hans who had always been a good, and dutiful, and
loving son; and so it was settled between them that henceforth a part of
the widow's savings were to pay for the labor which was required for the
field and garden, and that Hans was to come to the convent every day to
be taught by the monks to read and write.
Henceforward Hans was to be a scholar, and his joy indeed was great.
We must pass quickly over several years of the time during which Hans
Gensfleisch was going through the tedious operation of learning to read
and write. We can all of us remember it to be tedious, but in those days
it was so even more than now; since there were no such things as
spelling books, and children's story books to help on the young scholar,
and the letters were not as plainly written, nor of such a simple form
as our English letters. Hans' reading and spelling book was, perhaps,
some musty old parchment manuscript, discolored by age; and he had to
pore over it whole hours and days, before he could make out the meaning
of a simple page. The monks who had to teach him, too, were not all of
them so patient and kind as Father Gottlieb, his uncle, whose duties in
the convent did not often allow him to be his young nephew's instructor;
and there were hours and days when Hans grew sadly wearied of the task
he had undertaken, and his resolution would waver and falter. Instead of
being shut up in that close cell in the convent, where the small and
high window allowed only a tiny piece of sky to be seen, and where fresh
air scarcely ever entered; how much pleasanter would it be, he often
thought, to be out and away on the hills with his bow, or armed with his
knife herb-gathering for his mother. His bright vision of being the one
who should make books in a new and quick method grew dim in his mind,
and other ways of living seemed better and happier. But then again, at
such times it would perhaps happen that his uncle would send for him to
his own cell, and would make him read to him that he might see his
improvement, and would praise him for his progress, and encourage him to
go on; so that Hans' very heart would glow within him, and fresh zeal
and courage come to him again, and he would go back to his work
refreshed, and pleased, and hopeful as before.
At times, too, it would happen that he had something given him to read
to the monks, which interested him very much; some portion of the
history of a saint, perhaps, or a curious legend, so that no trouble was
too great in deciphering the crabbed writing, provided that he could
only get to the end of it, and make out all the sense; and he would
carry home the story in his head, and entertain his mother with it over
their evening meal. Then all this time, too, was he busy carving with
his knife, out of the hardest wood he could find, a stock of letters,
with which, when an occasion offered, he meant to make trial of
_imprinting_ whole sentences with ink. He did this secretly. He
feared to vex his mother, and run the risk of his letters being burned
as before, and he feared, too, that some one might find out his plan,
and make use of it before he was ready prepared to show it as his own.
All this kept him silent and reserved, and he nourished within his mind
many thoughts and hopes that no one knew of or suspected. To his mother
he was ever kind and good, and as of old, he would in all his leisure
hours gladly help her in her little household affairs, and in the
preparation of her dye, and while doing the latter, he would also make
trial of different kinds of ink that might be better for his letter
imprinting than the thin ink used by the copyist. He saw that a thicker
and more sticky kind of ink would be wanting for this purpose, and he
endeavored to find some substance that would produce this stickiness and
thickness. And thus was he ever preparing himself for the time when he
could bring everything to bear on the great plan which he cherished in
his mind; and in the meanwhile he grew up to be a man.
No longer a boy, at the age of eighteen Hans had not only learned to
read and write well his native language, but had also learned the Latin
tongue, which it was at that time quite necessary for him to know,
seeing that many of the books then written were in that language. He
came to be looked upon as a most learned youth, and the monks who had
taught him, thinking that he would be a credit to their convent, were
anxious that he should join them and become a monk like themselves,
devoting the rest of his life to copying manuscripts and writing books.
But this would not have suited at all with the purpose of Hans, and he
knew that he could be much more useful when out in the world than shut
up all his life writing in the convent. It grieved him to disappoint his
good uncle, who had always hoped that he would become a monk, but he
knew that he was right in refusing, and this made him strong and firm.
Hans was not always faithful, however, at this time to his good
purposes, and we must confess the acquaintanceship of some gay young
companions led him into some difficulties and dangers. He had one very
favorite friend, who, like himself, had been a scholar in the convent,
and this Conrad, for so he was called, being the son of a rich burgher
in the town, Hans was led into companionship with many gay and
thoughtless youths, who spent much of their time in feasting and
pleasure taking, and who were not like Hans accustomed to labor from
morning till night, and live on simple fare. And not only did Hans,
through the means of his friend Conrad, fall in the way of pleasure
taking, as we have said, but was also brought into a good many quarrels
and disputes, which otherwise he would not have been exposed to. At this
time it happened that there was in most towns two classes of people, who
were more distinct from each other than they are now-a-days. These were
the nobles or gentlemen, and the burghers or trades-people. Instead of
living peacefully together, and serving one another, these people were
continually quarrelling; the nobles trying to oppress the burghers, and
the burghers in their turn ever trying to resent the oppressions of the
nobles. With the youths, especially in the town of Mainz, a continual
warfare was always going on. The sons of the rich nobles being proud,
and not liking to hold companionship with the sons of the burghers; and
seeking on every occasion to vex and annoy them; and the latter, since
they were rich, thinking that they had a right to the same pleasures and
privileges as those of nobler birth, and being determined to stand up
for them; so that their disputes would not unfrequently end in fighting
It would have been easy for Hans, who was only the son of a poor and
humbler cottager, to have kept out of the way of these noble youths, and
he was far from being of a quarrelsome disposition; but it so happened
that he was often mixed up in the quarrels of his friend Conrad, who
being very generous and kind to him, Hans thought himself obliged to
take his part and defend him when any strife arose.
All this turned out very unfortunately for Hans Gensfleisch, as it was
the occasion at last of his being obliged to leave his native city, and
be absent for many years from his poor mother.
One evening, it happened that a party of youths were entertaining
themselves in a place called the Tennis-court, where a particular game
of ball was played, which was a favorite amusement among the youths of
that time. The greater number of the players on this occasion were
burghers' sons, and among them Hans and Conrad, who were very expert at
the game. Presently a party of nobles came up, who were vexed to find
the place so occupied. They accordingly placed themselves so as to
observe the game, and amused themselves with making rude remarks on the
burgher youths and with laughing at their gestures and dress.
"See the fine gentlemen," said they, "how daintily they handle the ball!
Better for them to keep to measuring silk or dealing out spices in their
fathers' shops, than try their skill here." "And the learned scholars,
too," said another, "they ought to stick to their musty parchments and
books, and not amuse themselves with such idle games as these."
Then one of them, on observing Hans, exclaimed, "See, too, the dyer's
son, with his rusty black jerkin. 'Tis a pity he does not dip it in one
of his old mother's dye-pots, if he would have himself pass for a
Conrad overheard this last remark and was very angry. A scornful
allusion to his friend was almost more than he could bear. It was his
turn to throw the ball, and scarce knowing what he did, he threw it with
force in the direction of the group of young nobles, and it struck one
of them on the temple. The youth drew his sword, (for at that time it
was common for the sons of nobles to wear them as ornaments), and ran
fiercely at him. Hans sprang forward to defend his friend and placed
himself before him. He had no weapon but his knife, and in defending his
friend with this, it so happened that he wounded the youth severely in
A cry arose of "To prison with the assassin!" and it was with difficulty
that Hans could make his escape from out of the crowd which ran up from
all sides to see what was passing and take part in the affray. He
succeeded, however, in getting to the house of his friend, which was
near at hand, and here he was soon followed by Conrad, who was in great
distress. He said that the wound of the young man being found to be
dangerous, the officers of justice were already in search of Hans. He
advised him to leave the town immediately and to make the best of his
way to Worms, which is a town also on the banks of the Rhine, south of
Mainz. Here lived friends of his father, who would, he said, be ready to
receive him, and he furnished him with money for the journey. It was
nightfall, and wrapped in a cloak which was lent to him by Conrad, Hans
crept through the darkest and most retired streets until he reached the
convent, in order that he might relate his unfortunate adventure to his
uncle and take leave of him.
Not without much shame and sorrow had Hans to acknowledge to the good
father how he had neglected his oft-repeated cautions and advice, and it
was indeed a grief to his uncle to find into what dangers and
difficulties Hans had fallen, which would thus oblige him to leave his
friends and protectors and suddenly go forth alone into the world. He
reproached him severely for having gone into the company of riotous and
quarrelsome youths, and pointed out to him that as a monk he would have
been saved from all such dangers and temptations. He recommended him,
however, to repair immediately to a convent of monks in the town of
Worms, of which the superior, or chief monk, was known to him, and
giving him a letter of recommendation, he hoped that he might by this
means get employment as a scribe. With much good advice, and many
prayers for his safety, Father Gottlieb bade him farewell, laying his
hands on his head and bestowing on him his parting blessing. Hans had
now to take leave of his poor mother, and he turned his steps with a
heavy heart towards her cottage. Grieved was he indeed to tell her all
that had befallen;--how that he had shed the blood of a fellow creature,
and that he must leave her, when to return he knew not.
Frau Gensfleisch wept long and sore. She knew not what she should do
without her Hans. It was like tearing the life from out her body, she
said. Old as she was, who could tell that she should ever see him again.
Where would his wanderings end? What would become of him in the strange,
wide world into which he was thus thrown without guide or guard? While
she lamented, however, she hastily made a number of little preparations
with motherly care, to preserve him from want and to secure his comfort.
A bundle of clothes put together, a knapsack with bread and pieces of
dried meat and cheese, and a purse with all the money that she possessed
in the world, which she insisted on his taking.
"I will come back to thee, mother," said Hans, in a tone of more
cheerfulness than he really felt. "I will come back to thee again, and
see if I shall not one day become rich and great,--see if thou wilt not
have reason to be proud of thy Hanschen."
His mother shook her head. She could then only feel that she was losing
his daily care and presence, and that the future was all uncertain. But
she was at the same time pleased to see him of good cheer, and that his
courage and spirit did not forsake him. She promised to find out if the
young man whom he had wounded recovered, and to discover some means of
sending him word when he might return in safety; and with many embraces
and blessings, and parting words of love he went away.
Hans had not gone far, however, before turning his thoughts to the
future, and thinking of what had been his former hopes and intentions,
he all at once remembered the little bag of letters which he had some
years before carved out of wood, and which hung in the back room of the
cottage. He called to mind all the schemes and visions which of old he
had formed over these letters, and he thought to himself that now,
perhaps, was come the right time for turning them and all his acquired
knowledge to account. He determined to go back and fetch his letters;
and he thought it best to do so unknown to his mother, so that he might
not renew in her the sorrow of parting; retracing then his steps, he got
over the hedge which divided his mother's little garden from the road,
and softly opening the door that led to the little room in which he had
been accustomed to sleep, and where he had kept his treasured letters,
he took the little pouch from the nail on which it hung, and was
hastening away--when the sound of his mother's voice struck his ear. She
was weeping--but in the midst of her tears was she also praying for her
son. "Oh, good Lord," she said, "protect my child from the dangers of
the world. Let him not again sin against thy laws. Be thou to him a
shield, a fortress of defence, and let him love thy word and law.
Preserve him, I pray thee, to me good and pure, and let my eyes behold
my child again, ere they are closed in death."
Hans was deeply moved by these words of his poor forsaken mother, and he
also prayed. He prayed that her hopes might be fulfilled; and that he
might be a comfort and a blessing to her old age; and he said to
himself, that he would henceforth lead a life of usefulness and peace;
and so he went forth, strong in purpose, yet full of tenderness and
After this parting, many years passed over Frau Gensfleisch's head ere
she beheld her son again; and few and far between were the tidings of
him that reached her cottage. Long and weary years were they to her; and
the hope so long deferred of seeing him again made, indeed, her heart
grow sick. Many and many a time would she go on foot into the town to
make inquiries of Father Gottlieb as to whether aught had been heard of
the absent one; and if by chance she was told of some traveller who had
come into the town from the south, she would go there though ever so
weak and weary, and never rest until she had found the stranger out, to
question him herself about all the youths whom he might have fallen in
with, in the hope that her Hans might have been one of them.
Through Father Gottlieb she heard of his safe arrival at Worms; and
these tidings came written on a slip of parchment by Hans himself, and
was brought by a travelling monk who was going about to collect alms,
and who called at the convent of St. Gothard in Mainz. In return, Frau
Gensfleisch got one of the monks to write for her a letter, in which she
told Hans of the recovery of the youth whom he had wounded, and begged
him to return to her. This letter was given into the charge of the same
monk, who, after visiting several other cities, was likely to return to
Worms; but as it did not bring Hans home again, no one felt sure that it
had ever reached him.
Several years passed without any more tidings of her son reaching Frau
Gensfleisch, until there called at her cottage one day a pilgrim who was
returning from the Holy Land, and was on his way to the city of Treves,
to which he was taking some holy relics. He brought to Frau Gensfleisch
a small bag of silver coin, as much in value as the money she had given
to Hans at his departure. The pilgrim told her it was sent by a youth in
the town of Strasburg, who sent with it love and greeting, and directed
him where to find her cottage. The pilgrim had forgotten the name of the
youth, he said, but that he had marked the little bag with a mark that
he was sure his mother would know; and sure enough she did; for there on
the leather had been imprinted the very same letter =g= which Hans
had saved from the fire, when his other letters were burnt. Frau
Gensfleisch knew by this that the money came from Hans, and her heart
beat for joy at the knowledge that he was well and rich, and above all
that he had not forgotten her.
Years rolled on, and the mother and son had never met again; when one
summer evening of the year 1438, a traveller, who had that morning
arrived in the town of Mainz, passed out of it towards the little
village of Steinheim. He was weary and way-worn; his clothes soiled and
dusty with long travel, and his cheeks tanned from long exposure to the
sun. Upon his back he bore a knapsack, and under his arm he carried a
large and carefully wrapped packet. As he reached the little hill at the
foot of which the village lay, he paused to look around him; and he
looked not as one who beholds for the first time a beautiful view,
taking in at a glance the whole picture which was spread before him; but
seeking out rather each well remembered object that was connected with
the past years of youth and childhood. Stretching from the north, and
far away to the west, was a long and wavy chain of hills, behind which
the sun was setting in a bright blaze of gold and red. How often had the
traveller seen such a sunset behind the blue summits of those hills
before! Flowing yet nearer to him was the noble river Rhine, winding
onward to the north, and bearing on its bosom many a little skiff which
scudded quickly before the evening breeze, or raft of timber which
floated slowly down its stream. How often had the stranger sailed in
such little barks upon its surface, or bathed and fished in its waters!
At his feet lay the little cluster of cottages which formed the village
of Steinheim; and amid its clustering trees and vineyards, it was not
fancy, perhaps, that led the traveller to think that he could
distinguish one roof from all the rest, and one patch of vines from out
the other larger vineyards. He passed on with quickened steps; but as he
approached the cottages, he found--not like the distant mountains or the
wide river--that much was new and changed. Houses and cottages had
sprung up where fields of barley and flax had grown, and a new church
stood where once a barn had been. He sought out the little cottage that
once he had known so well. Alas! it was strangely changed. A stone wall
supplied the place of the old briar-hedge, and shrubs had grown up into
trees, shadowing the door and window, whilst moss and ivy covered the
walls and roof. With a trembling hand he knocked at the lowly door. The
lattice was opened, and a strange face came to answer his inquiries.
"Does not the Frau Gensfleisch live here?" asked the stranger with a
"The Frau Gensfleisch," said the woman; "nay, my good friend, the Frau
Gensfleisch has left our village this many a day. Maybe she lives now in
the town, or maybe she is dead; I cannot tell thee which."
The traveller turned away.
Frau Gensfleisch, however, was not dead. Finding that the care of her
little fields and vineyard was more than she was able to manage in her
declining years, she sold her cottage and land, and returned into the
town of Mainz to live, so that she might be near the Father Gottlieb,
who was now the only relation she had left besides her absent son. To
the good Father she could at least talk about Hans, and he was able
sometimes to cheer her fading hopes, by telling her that the day might
yet come when Hans would return to spend the rest of his life with her.
She lived in a dark and narrow street, and seldom went from home except
on certain days, when, as of old, she would take a flask of her ink to
the convent for the use of the monks, who were still, as during the
childhood of Hans Gensfleisch, busied over their endless copying and
writing. It was on the morning of the day on which the traveller we have
spoken of above had inquired after her at her old cottage, that a
message came to her from Father Gottlieb to say that she must come to
the convent with all speed, to hear some tidings of her son, which had
been brought by a traveller from the south. With a beating heart she
went, and from the Father Gottlieb she heard that a learned scribe had
come that day into the town who had known her son in the city of
Strasburg. This scribe had brought with him a most wonderful book, and
all the town was filled with surprise and curiosity to hear that this
volume, which was a copy of the Bible, had been written by one man--the
traveller himself--and that in its production he had used neither pen,
nor style, nor reed, but had _imprinted_ it with ink in some
unknown way, which had caused the writing to be more regular and even,
and plainer to read than that of any manuscript which had ever been seen
or heard of. The whole town was talking of the book, and the wonder of
the people was even greater still when the traveller said that he could
at will produce many such books as this, and that each should be so much
alike the other, that not one letter--not one jot or one tittle of a
letter should be different. Frau Gensfleisch listened in wonder,--but
wonder was lost in hope, for she said to herself, "This man has known my
Hans, for he too could imprint letters;" and she eagerly inquired his
Father Gottlieb said that the name of the stranger was Johann Gutenberg,
and that he was tall and dark, and spoke with a northern tongue. He
promised Frau Gensfleisch, however, that she should see him and question
him herself about her son, as soon as the stranger returned from the
palace of the Archbishop, where had gone to exhibit his wonderful book,
and he left her in his cell, promising to return and fetch her when the
stranger should arrive.
Frau Gensfleisch sat in silence and alone for two heavy hours. She heard
bell after bell rung, which summoned the monks to their prayers or to
their meals. And many a passing footstep made her cheeks flush and her
pulse quicken, as she said to herself, "Now, I shall hear about my son;"
and she repeated over to herself all the questions that she would ask
and the messages she would send, in case the stranger really knew her
Hans; when at last the door of the cell was unlocked and the Father
He said he would take her to the apartment of the Superior, to which the
traveller had been summoned on his return from the Archbishop, and there
she could wait until he had time enough to speak with her about her son.
When Frau Gensfleisch entered the room of the Superior, a crowd of monks
was so gathered round the stranger that she could see neither his face
nor form. He was opening out his wonderful volume, and the curious monks
pressed eagerly round him. Loud and long were their exclamations of
surprise as the book was opened, and page after page displayed. It was
wonderful--it was marvellous--It was not like the work of hands, they
said no scribe or copyist would write each letter so like another, and
they said it must be done by magic, for that no mortal hands could write
so wonderfully plain and exact and regular; and they questioned the
stranger about his method of _imprinting_ but he replied to all
their questioning, "It is not magic, holy fathers, but it is patience
which hath done it."
Scarcely had these words been uttered, when catching the ear of Frau
Gensfleisch, she started from her seat, and pushing aside the monks, who
stood around the stranger, she made her way up to him, and she said, as
she laid hold of his cloak and looked him in the face, "Stranger, what
is thy name--what is thy true name? Is it not Hans Gensfleisch--wert
thou not born here--art thou not my son?" And as she spoke she grasped
eagerly both his hands.
The stranger paused, and a pang as if of sorrow seemed to pass across
his brow, as he saw the weakness and infirmity of her who stood
trembling before him. The years which had passed over his own head and
had changed him from the slender youth into the strong and healthy man,
had indeed laid a sore and heavy hand on her, who all this time had been
left alone and unprotected, bowed down with sorrow and infirmity. He
reproached himself for his long absence and neglect. Then falling on her
neck, he embraced her long and tenderly, and he said, "Mother, I am
indeed thy Hans!" and then turning to the wondering monks, "Yes, holy
fathers, I am the Hans Gensfleisch, who was in this convent taught to
read and write. When but a child, it was chance which first gave me the
thought of thus imprinting books, but long years of patience and
industry have been needed ere I could bring it to perfection." Then to
his mother, he said, "I will leave thee no more. Too much of my life has
been passed away from thee--but now shalt thou have thy son again to
cheer thy last days and to make thee happy."
And happy indeed was Frau Gensfleisch, and she needed no promises from
her son to assure her of the joy and comfort which his care would secure
her for the few remaining years of her life. One thing alone displeased
her, which was that he should have adopted a name different from that by
which he had been known in childhood, but when he told her of the
ridicule which had followed him wherever he went, when his strange name
of Gensfleisch was heard, she was reconciled; especially when he
reminded her too, that the name which he had taken, was one which
belonged to his family and to which he had some claim; and when in
future she would hear her son called by his name of Gutenberg, and was
told that that name was become known not only all over Germany, but in
strange and distant lands, she would say, "Yes, Gutenberg--it soundeth
well. It is a goodly name,--but he is still my Hans, my own son Hans!"
And Father Gottlieb, too, when they talked to him of the fame which his
nephew had gained, and how that his native town felt proud that one of
her citizens should had discovered and made perfect so wonderful and
useful an art, so that he was looked upon as a great and famous man--the
good Father would thank God that the fame and the greatness he had
gained stood not in the way of his being likewise a duteous, loving son,
and a good and pious man.
* * * * *
And thus our _story_ ends--but we will venture to add something of
the _history_ of Johann or John Gutenberg. Nothing, we believe, in
the foregoing story is contrary to _what is known_ of the real
history of the first inventor of printing, and it is certain that after
his return from Strasburg to his native city in the year 1438, he
established a printing-press in Mainz, and produced from it many printed
books, principally in Latin. He had for some time as a kind of partner
in his art, a man of the name of Faust, or Fust, the son of a goldsmith
of Mainz, who afterwards separating from Gutenberg went to Paris, where
he printed books, and in consequence was persecuted as a magician or
sorcerer; so wonderful was it thought to produce books so easily, and so
much like each other.
Gutenberg was afterwards assisted in the carrying on of his printing by
a rich burgher of Mainz of the name of Conrad Hammer, whom we may
suppose to have been the early friend through defence of whom he was
obliged to fly from home.
Shortly after the invention of printing, it would appear that paper was
made in sufficient perfection to be employed instead of parchment in the
formation of books. A celebrated Latin Bible, printed by Gutenberg in
1450, of which a very perfect copy is to be seen in the public library
at Frankfort, is beautifully printed on paper: and it must strike every
one with astonishment that such great perfection could have been
attained in so short a time in so difficult an art--especially when we
call to mind that each of the little letters with which it was printed,
had to be carved separately out of wood, since metal letters or
_type_ were not used till a few years later. The printing, too, is
remarkably clear, distinct, and regular, and is a striking proof of the
extraordinary skill and industry--and as he himself says in our story,
patience--which must have been employed over it.
The great superiority of printing over writing was so generally felt and
acknowledged, that before the end of the century in which Gutenberg
lived, printed books began to be common, and in the year 1471, an
Englishman of the name of Caxton, introduced the art into England, and
set up a printing press in Westminster.
We have alluded to the advantages we enjoy in our days from the
_commonness_ of books, and from the knowledge which by their means
is spread all over the world; and the sense of this advantage has led
people to feel a great interest in all that concerned the inventor or
discoverer of printing.
The city of Mainz especially, has always felt proud that he was born
there, and, about two hundred years after his death, erected a statue to
him in one of their streets. In 1837, however, another and a finer
statue in bronze was erected, and the people of the town celebrated the
event with all kinds of rejoicings and festivities. They liked to do
honor to their ingenious and useful citizen, even though he had been
dead nearly four hundred years, and they hung garlands of flowers on his
statue, and had music and processions and illuminations--all to
celebrate the memory of the son of the poor widow Gensfleisch.
No one who then looked upon the beautiful bronze statue of Gutenberg, or
sees it now as it stands in the middle of the city of Mainz, can doubt
for a moment that such a patient, persevering, and ingenious man, the
inventor of such a great and useful an art, deserves better to have a
statue raised to his memory, than any hero, king, or conqueror, that has
ever yet existed.
[Footnote 1: The German for Mistress]
[Footnote 2: The style was a pointed instrument made of metal, and used
for writing with by the ancients. Pens made of reeds were also used.]
[Footnote 3: In English _Gooseflesh_.]
THE CRYSTAL PALACE
A Story for Boys and Girls
"I wish the holidays, were here!" said Frank Grey, to his school-fellow,
George Grant, "for I want so much to see 'The Crystal Palace;' and I
know Grandma will take me, if I ask her."
"Ah! it must be a jolly place, I'm sure," said George; "but _I_
shall never see it, I dare say."
"Why not?" asked Frank; "just tell _your_ Grandmother, and she will
take you, too."
"But I have no Grandmother," said George, despondingly; "I never had, as
long as I can recollect."
"Oh! then I don't know what you are to do, I'm sure," said Frank;
"unless you have an aunt or uncle who will take you: for you have no
mother, have you?"
"Why, certainly, I have," replied George, laughing, "and a father, too;
but then he is always busy in the factory; and mother, she is mostly
poorly, or shut up in the nursery with the little children, and often
says, she's sorry that she has neither time nor strength to take me
"That's rather vexing, though," said Frank, shaking his curly head. "I
think I should not like to change with you; but that's not bragging, is
"Why, no; what made, you think of that?" asked George, astonished.
"Because grandma has often told me, that to _boast_ is rude,
unkind, and wicked," replied Frank.
"Ha, ha! how very odd!" cried George; "whatever could she mean?"
"I know," said Frank.
"Then, tell me; do."
"No, no; for you will only laugh, and then I shall feel vexed; so, say
no more about it," returned Frank.
"But I will not laugh, upon my word," said George, who felt his
"Well, then," said Frank, looking a little shy; "she says, that it is
_rude_, because it seems as if I thought myself above my
schoolfellows; and it is _unkind_, because, by doing so, I pain
their feelings; and it is _wicked_, because God expects us to be
humbly thankful for all the good things He gives us; and not to bride
ourselves upon them, in the least."
"I can't see any good in it," said George. "I know, that I am very proud
to show _my_ presents, when I get any; and I see no harm in it, I'm
"But my grandma knows more than you about it, a great deal," said Frank;
"and so she shall tell you, when you see her; for I mean to ask her, if
you may go with us, to see 'The Crystal Palace.'"
"Oh no; I think you had better not; she might be angry if you did," said
George, with a look that plainly contradicted what he said.
"Why, bless you, grandma's never angry," said Frank, laughing at the
very thought; "for she's the very kindest, dearest grandma in the world,
I do believe; and says, she never likes to disappoint me, when I ask for
what is _right_"
"I wish I had a grandma like her," said George, pouting; "for then I
should see every sight in London; I would teaze her till I did. I often
try to do so now; but mother looks as if she soon would cry, and bids me
say no more about it; for that she has neither time nor strength to take
"Dear me; I would not ask her then," said little Frank: "because fatigue
might make her worse, you know; and then, how very sorry you would