At the top of the hill he stopped to rest. But as he was thinking of all his good luck that day, he heard someone calling his name. He looked up and saw only a green parrot sitting in a tree. Then you gave it for a cow, and the cow for some bagpipes, and the bagpipes for some gloves, and the gloves for a stick which you might have cut by the roadside. He threw the stick at the bird with all his might. But the bird only answered, "You're a dunce!
Vinegar went on slowly, for he had many things to think about. His wife was standing by the roadside, and as soon as she saw him she cried out, "Where's the cow? Vinegar; and then he told her the whole story. I have heard she said some things he liked even less than what the bird had said, but that is between Mr. Vinegar, and really nobody's business but theirs. The Frogs and the Well Aesop The prudent person looks before leaping. Two frogs lived together in a marsh.
But one hot summer the marsh dried up, and they left it to look for another place to live in, for frogs like damp places if they can get them. By and by they came to a deep well, and one of them looked down into it, and said to the other, "This looks a nice cool place. Let us jump in and settle here. Supposing this well dried up like the marsh, how should we get out again? We should know that too much of anything, even a good thing, may prove to be our undoing, as this old tale shows. We need to recognize when enough is enough.
There was once a fisherman who lived with his wife in a poor little hut close by the sea. One day, as the fisherman sat on the rocks at the water's edge fishing with his rod and line, a fish got caught on his hook that was so big and pulled so stoutly that he captured it with the greatest difficulty. He was feeling much pleased that he had secured so big a fish when he was surprised by hearing it say to him, "Pray let me live. I am not a real fish. I am a magician. Put me in the water and let me go. The fisherman returned to his little hut and told his wife how he had caught a great fish, and how it had told him it was a magician, and how, when he heard it speak, he had let it go.
Do go back and tell the fish we want a comfortable house. However, as his wife had bidden him to go, he went; and when he came to the sea the water looked all yellow and green. He stood on the rocks where he had fished and said, "Oh, man of the sea! Come listen to me; For Alice my wife, The plague of my life, Hath sent me to beg a gift of thee! She does not like living any longer in our little hut. She wants a comfortable house.
Everything went right for a week or two, and then the wife said, "Husband, there is not enough room in this house, and the yard and garden are a great deal smaller than they ought to be. I would like to have a large stone castle to live in. So go to the fish again and tell him to give us a castle. We ought to be content with a good house like this. Go along and try. He stood on the rocks at the water's edge and said, "Oh, man of the sea!
The next morning when they awoke it was broad daylight, and the wife jogged the fisherman with her elbow and said, "Get up, husband; bestir yourself, for we must be king and queen of all the land. I would not be king even if I could be. The sea was muddy and streaked with foam as he cried out, "Oh, man of the sea! Then he entered the palace and there he found his wife sitting on a throne, with a golden crown on her head, and on each side of her stood six beautiful maidens. Now we shall never have anything more to wish for. I am queen, 'tis true, but I begin to be tired of it.
I think I would like to be pope next. There is but one pope at a time in all Christendom. The fisherman was frightened, but nevertheless he obeyed his wife and called out, "Oh, man of the sea! And now you must be content, for you can be nothing greater.
Children's Book of Virtues
Then they went to bed; but the wife could not sleep because all night long she was trying to think what she should be next. At last morning came and the sun rose. Cannot I prevent the sun rising? Go to the fish at once! The fisherman trembled so that his knees knocked together, and he had hardly strength to stand in the gale while he called to the fish: So the man returned, and the palace was gone, and in its place he found the dark little hut that had formerly been his dwelling, and he and his wife have lived in that little hut to this very day.
The Magic Thread Too often, people want what they want or what they think they want, which is usually "happiness" in one form or another right now. The irony of their impatience is that only by learning to wait, and by a willingness to accept the bad with the good, do we usually attain those things that are truly worthwhile. Once there was a widow who had a son called Peter.
He was a strong, able boy, but he did not enjoy going to school and he was forever daydreaming. There's plenty of time for that. Being grown up isn't all fun, you know," his teacher said. But Peter found it hard to enjoy whatever he was doing at the moment, and was always hankering after the next thing.
In winter he longed for it to be summer again, and in summer he looked forward to the skating, sledging, and warm fires of winter. At school he would long for the day to be over so that he could go home, and on Sunday nights he would sigh, "If only the holidays would come. She was as good a companion as any boy, and no matter how impatient Peter was, she never took offense. Often he wandered through the forest, dreaming of the future.
Sometimes he lay down on the soft forest floor in the warm sun, his hands behind his head, staring up at the sky through the distant treetops. One hot afternoon as he began to grow sleepy, he heard someone calling his name. He opened his eyes and sat up. Standing before him was an old woman. In her hand she held a silver ball, from which dangled a silken golden thread. But if you wish time to pass more quickly, you have only to pull the thread a little way and an hour will pass like a second. But I warn you, once the thread has been pulled out, it cannot be pushed back in again.
It will disappear like a puff of smoke. The ball is for you. But if you accept my gift you must tell no one, or on that very day you shall die. Now, say, do you want it? It was just what he wanted. He examined the silver ball. It was light and solid, made of a single piece.
The only flaw in it was the tiny hole from which the bright thread hung. He put the ball in his pocket and ran home. There, making sure that his mother was out, he examined it again. The thread seemed to be creeping very slowly out of the ball, so slowly that it was scarcely noticeable to the naked eye. He longed to give it a quick tug, but dared not do so. The following day at school, Peter sat daydreaming about what he would do with his magic thread. The teacher scolded him for not concentrating on his work. If only, he thought, it was time to go home. Then he felt the silver ball in his pocket.
If he pulled out a tiny bit of thread, the day would be over. Very carefully he took hold of it and tugged. Suddenly the teacher was telling everyone to pack up their books and to leave the classroom in an orderly fashion. He ran all the way home. How easy life would be now! All his troubles were over. From that day forth he began to pull the thread, just a little, every day. One day, however, it occurred to him that it was stupid to pull the thread just a little each day.
If he gave it a harder tug, school would be over altogether. Then he could start learning a trade and marry Liese. So that night he gave the thread a hard tug, and in the morning he awoke to find himself apprenticed to a carpenter in town. He loved his new life, clambering about on roofs and scaffolding, lifting and hammering great beams into place that still smelled of the forest. But sometimes, when payday seemed too far off, he gave the thread a little tug and suddenly the week was drawing to a close and it was Friday night and he had money in his pocket.
Liese had also come to town and was living with her aunt, who taught her housekeeping. Peter began to grow impatient for the day when they would be married. It was hard to live so near and yet so far from her. He asked her when they could be married. That night Peter could not sleep. He tossed and turned restlessly. He took the magic ball from under his pillow. For a moment he hesitated; then his impatience got the better of him, and he tugged at the golden thread.
In the morning he awoke to find that the year was over and that Liese had at last agreed to marry him. Now Peter felt truly happy. But before their wedding could take place, Peter received an official-looking letter. He opened it in trepidation and read that he was expected to report at the army barracks the following week for two years' military service. He showed the letter to Liese in despair. But the time will pass quickly, you'll see. There are so many things to do in preparation for our life together.
Once Peter had settled into life at the barracks, however, he began to feel that it wasn't so bad after all. He quite enjoyed being with all the other young men, and their duties were not very arduous at first. He remembered the old woman's warning to use the thread wisely and for a while refrained from pulling it. But in time he grew restless again.
Army life bored him with its routine duties and harsh discipline. He began pulling the thread to make the week go faster so that it would be Sunday again, or to speed up the time until he was due for leave. And so the two years passed almost as if they had been a dream. Back home, Peter determined not to pull the thread again until it was absolutely necessary. After all, this was the best time of his life, as everyone told him. He did not want it to be over too quickly. He did, however, give the thread one or two very small tugs, just to speed along the day of his marriage.
He longed to tell Liese his secret, but he knew that if he did he would die. On the day of his wedding, everyone, including Peter, was happy. He could hardly wait to show Liese the house he had built for her. At the wedding feast he glanced over at his mother. He noticed for the first time how gray her hair had grown recently. She seemed to be aging so quickly. Peter felt a pang of guilt that he had pulled the thread so often. Henceforward he would be much more sparing with it and only use it when it was strictly necessary. A few months later Liese announced that she was going to have a child.
Peter was overjoyed and could hardly wait. When the child was born, he felt that he could never want for anything again. But whenever the child was ill or cried through the sleepless night, he gave the thread a little tug, just so that the baby might be well and happy again. Business was bad and a government had come to power that squeezed the people dry with taxes and would tolerate no opposition. Anyone who became known as a troublemaker was thrown into prison without trial and rumor was enough to condemn a man. Peter had always been known as one who spoke his mind, and very soon he was arrested and cast into jail.
Luckily he had his magic ball with him and he tugged very hard at the thread. The prison walls dissolved before him and his enemies were scattered in the huge explosion that burst forth like thunder. It was the war that had been threatening, but it was over as quickly as a summer storm, leaving behind it an exhausted peace. Peter found himself back home with his family. But now he was a middle-aged man. For a time things went well and Peter lived in relative contentment. One day he looked at his magic ball and saw to his surprise that the thread had turned from gold to silver.
He looked in the mirror. His hair was starting to turn gray and his face was lined where before there had not been a wrinkle to be seen. He suddenly felt afraid and determined to use the thread even more carefully than before. Liese bore him more children and he seemed happy as the head of his growing household. His stately manner often made people think of him as some sort of benevolent ruler. He had an air of authority as if he held the fate of others in his hands. He kept his magic ball in a well-hidden place, safe from the curious eyes of his children, knowing that if anyone were to discover it, it would be fatal.
As the number of his children grew, so his house became more overcrowded. He would have to extend it, but for that he needed money. He had other worries too. His mother was looking older and more tired every day. It was of no use to pull the magic thread because that would only hasten her approaching death. All too soon she died, and as Peter stood at her graveside, he wondered how it was that life passed so quickly, even without pulling the magic thread. One night as he lay in bed, kept awake by his worries, he thought how much easier life would be if all his children were grown up and launched upon their careers in life.
He gave the thread a mighty tug, and the following day he awoke to find that his children had all left home for jobs in different parts of the country, and that he and his wife were alone. His hair was almost white now and often his back and limbs ached as he climbed the ladder or lifted a heavy beam into place. Liese too was getting old and she was often ill. He couldn't bear to see her suffer, so that more and more he resorted to pulling at the magic thread. But as soon as one trouble was solved, another seemed to grow in its place. Perhaps life would be easier if he retired, Peter thought.
Then he would no longer have to clamber about on drafty, half-completed buildings and he could look after Liese when she was ill. The trouble was that he didn't have enough money to live on. He picked up his magic ball and looked at it. To his dismay he saw that the thread was no longer silver but gray and lusterless.
He decided to go for a walk in the forest to think things over. It was a long time since he had been in that part of the forest. The small saplings had all grown into tall fir trees, and it was hard to find the path he had once known. Eventually he came to a bench in a clearing. He sat down to rest and fell into a light doze. He was woken by someone calling his name, "Peter! She looked just as she had on that day, not a day older.
She smiled at him. I have never had to suffer or wait for anything in my life. And yet it has all passed so quickly. I feel that I have had no time to take in what has happened to me, neither the good things nor the bad. Now there is so little time left. I dare not pull the thread again for it will only bring me to my death. I do not think your gift has brought me luck. Then I could have relived the things that went badly. Do you think that God allows us to live our lives twice over?
But I can grant you one final wish, you foolish, demanding man. At length he said, "I should like to live my life again as if for the first time, but without your magic ball. Then I will experience the bad things as well as the good without cutting them short, and at least my life will not pass as swiftly and meaninglessly as a daydream.
Then he sat back and closed his eyes with exhaustion. When he awoke he was in his own bed. His youthful mother was bending over him, shaking him gently. You will be late for school. You were sleeping like the dead! I dreamed that I was old and sick and that my life had passed like the blinking of an eye with nothing to show for it.
Not even any memories. Now hurry and get dressed. Liese is waiting for you and you will be late for school. Soon he would see his friends and classmates, and even the prospect of lessons didn't seem so bad. In fact he could hardly wait. The Midas of mythology is usually identified by scholars with a king of ancient Phrygia now Turkey who ruled in the eighth century B. The early Greeks believed Phrygia to be a land of fabulous wealth. Once upon a time there lived a very rich king whose name was Midas.
He had more gold than anyone in the whole world, but for all that, he thought it was not enough. He was never so happy as when he happened to get more gold to add to his treasure. He stored it away in great vaults underneath his palace, and many hours of each day were spent counting it over. Now King Midas had a little daughter named Marygold.
He loved her devotedly, and said: She loved her garden, her flowers and the golden sunshine more than all her father's riches. She was a lonely little girl most of the time, for her father was so busy planning new ways to get more gold, and counting what he had, that he seldom told her stories or went for walks with her, as all fathers should do. One day King Midas was down in his treasure room. He had locked the heavy doors and had opened up his great chests of gold. He piled it on the table and handled it as if he loved the touch of it.
He let it slip through his fingers and smiled at the clink of it as if it had been sweet music. Suddenly a shadow fell over the heap of gold. Looking up, he saw a stranger dressed in shining white smiling down at him. King Midas started up in surprise. Surely he had not failed to lock the door! His treasure was not safe! But the stranger continued to smile. Are you not satisfied? I often lie awake through the long night planning new ways to get more gold. I wish that everything I touch would turn to gold. Nothing could make me so happy. Tomorrow morning when the first rays of the sun fall through your window you shall have the golden touch.
King Midas rubbed his eyes. He put out his hand and touched the covers of his bed. Just at that moment the first rays of the sun came through the window. The covers on which King Midas's hand lay became pure gold. He sprang out of bed and ran about the room touching everything. His dressing gown, his slippers, the furniture, all became gold.
He looked out of the window through Marygold's garden. He went down into the garden touching all of Marygold's flowers, and changing them to gold. He went back into his room to wait for his breakfast; and took up his book which he had been reading the night before, but the minute he touched it, it was solid gold.
King Midas put it back on the plate. He took a roll from the plate, but that, too, became gold. He took a glass of water in his hand, but that, too, became gold. She was crying bitterly, and in her hand was one of her roses. See what has happened to all my roses! They are stiff, ugly things! Do you not think they are more beautiful than they were? They won't grow anymore. I like roses that are alive.
She threw her arms about him, and he kissed her.
The Book of Virtues
But he suddenly cried out in terror and anguish. When he touched her, her lovely little face became glittering gold, her eyes could not see, her lips could not kiss him back again, her little arms could not hold him close. She was no longer a loving, laughing little girl; she was changed to a little golden statue. King Midas bowed his head and great sobs shook him. Looking up he saw the stranger standing near him. How can you ask? I am the most miserable man living! King Midas could not answer.
King Midas sprang up and ran to the river. He plunged into it, and then he dipped up a pitcher of its water and hurried back to the palace. He sprinkled it over Marygold, and the color came back into her cheeks. She opened her blue eyes again. Never after that did King Midas care for any gold except the gold of the sunshine, and the gold of little Marygold's hair. The Fox and the Crow Aesop Vanity is largely a matter of self-control, or lack thereof.
Others may try to feed our ego, but it is up to us to constrain it. A coal-black crow once stole a piece of meat. She flew to a tree and held the meat in her beak. A fox, who saw her, wanted the meat for himself, so he looked up into the tree and said, "How beautiful you are, my friend!
Your feathers are fairer than the dove's. If so, you must be the queen of birds. Down fell the piece of meat. The fox seized upon it and ran away. In this famous tale, he proves to be a man who knows how to control his pride. It is a good lesson for all who aspire to high office. Long ago, England was ruled by a king named Canute. Like many leaders and men of power, Canute was surrounded by people who were always praising him. Every time he walked into a room, the flattery began.
One day he was walking by the seashore, and his officers and courtiers were with him, praising him as usual. Canute decided to teach them a lesson. Do you think it will stop if I give the command? Sea," cried Canute, "I command you to come no further! Waves, stop your rolling! Surf, stop your pounding!
The Book of Virtues | Book by William J. Bennett | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster
Do not dare touch my feet! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! The tide came in, just as it always did. The water rose higher and higher. It came up around the king's chair, and wet not only his feet, but also his robe. His officers stood about him, alarmed, and wondering whether he was not mad. Perhaps you have learned something today. Perhaps now you will remember there is only one King who is all-powerful, and it is he who rules the sea, and holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand.
I suggest you reserve your praises for him. And some say Canute took off his crown soon afterward, and never wore it again. The colossal stone head of a statue of Rameses lies on the ground at his mortuary temple in western Thebes, and the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus described a funeral temple bearing an inscription much like the lines in Shelley's poem. Remembering Ozymandias is a great way to control our vanity, especially as we climb the ladder of success. It makes a striking contrast with the story of King Canute. I met a traveler from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed: And on the pedestal these words appear: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away. Phaeton Adapted from Thomas Bulfinch The feeling of youth, Joseph Conrad said, is the feeling of being able to "last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men. Here is one of Ovid's grandest stories. It tells of the rashness of youth and reminds us of the need for the governing prudence of parents.
Phaeton was the son of Phoebus Apollo and the nymph Clymene. One day a schoolfellow laughed at the idea of his being the offspring of a god, and Phaeton went in rage and shame to his mother. The land of the Sun lies next to ours. The palace of the Sun stood reared on lofty columns, glittering with gold and precious stones, while polished ivory formed the ceilings, and silver the doors. Upon the walls Vulcan had represented earth, sea, and skies with their inhabitants. In the sea were the nymphs, some sporting in the waves, some riding on the backs of fishes, while others sat upon the rocks and dried their sea-green hair.
The earth had its towns and forests and rivers and rustic divinities. Over all was carved the likeness of the glorious heaven, and on the silver doors were the twelve signs of the zodiac, six on each side. Clymene's son climbed the steep ascent and entered the halls of his father. He approached the chamber of the Sun, but stopped at a distance, for the light was more than he could bear. Phoebus, arrayed in a purple vesture, sat on a throne, which glittered as with diamonds. On his right hand and his left stood the Day, the Month, and the Year, and, at regular intervals, the Hours. Spring stood with her head crowned with flowers.
Summer stood with garment cast aside and a garland formed of spears of ripened grain. And there too were Autumn, her feet stained with grape juice, and icy Winter, his hair stiffened with hoarfrost. Surrounded by these attendants, the Sun, with the eye that sees everything, beheld the youth dazzled with the novelty and splendor of the scene.
To put an end to your doubts, ask what you will, and the gift shall be yours. I call to witness the dreadful river Styx, which we gods swear by in our most solemn engagements. Now he realized his dream could come true. You ask for-something not suited to your youth and strength, my son. Your lot is mortal, and you ask what is beyond a mortal's power.
In your ignorance, you aspire to do what even the other gods themselves may not do. None but myself may drive the flaming car of Day. Not even Jupiter, whose terrible right arm hurls the thunderbolts, would try it. The middle part of the journey takes me high up in the heavens, and I can scarcely look down without alarm and behold the earth and sea stretched beneath me.
The last part of the road descends rapidly, and requires the most careful driving. Tethys, the Ocean's wife, who is waiting to receive me, often trembles for me lest I should fall headlong. Add to all this, the heaven is all the time turning round and carrying the stars with it. I have to be perpetually on my guard lest that movement, which sweeps everything else along, should also hurry me away.
What would you do? Could you keep your course while the sphere was revolving under you? Perhaps you think there are forests and cities, the abodes of gods, and palaces and temples along the way. On the contrary, the road runs through the midst of frightening monsters. You pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of the Archer, and near the Lion's jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches its arms in one direction and the Crab in another.
Nor will you find it easy to guide those horses, who snort fire from their mouths and nostrils. I can scarcely govern them myself when they resist the reins. Recall your request while yet you may. Do you want proof that you are sprung from my blood? I give you proof in my fears for you. Look at my face -- I would that you could look into my heart, and there you would see a father's cares. Ask and you shall have it! But I beg you not to ask this one thing. It is destruction, not honor, you seek.
You shall have it if you persist. I swore the oath, and it must be kept. But I beg you to choose more wisely. So, having resisted as long as he could, Phoebus at last led the way to where the lofty chariot stood. Its wheels were made of gold, its spokes of silver. Along the yoke every kind of jewel reflected the brightness of the sun. While the boy gazed in admiration, the early Dawn threw open the purple doors of the east, and showed the pathway strewn with roses.
Phoebus, when he saw the Earth beginning to glow, and the Moon preparing to retire, ordered the Hours to harness the horses. They obeyed, and led the steeds from the lofty stalls, well fed with rich ambrosia. Then the Sun rubbed his son's face with a magic lotion which made him able to endure the brightness of the flame.
He placed the crown of rays on his head and sighed. Spare the whip and hold the reins tight. The steeds need no urging, but you must labor to hold them back. Do not take the straight road through the five circles of Heaven, but turn off to the left. Avoid the northern and southern zones, but keep within the limit of the middle one. You will see the marks of the wheels, and they will guide you. The sky and the earth both need their due share of heat, so do not go too high, or you will burn the heavenly dwellings, nor too low, or you will set the earth on fire. The middle course is the safest and best.
Night is passing out of the western gates, and we can delay no longer. Or better yet, take my counsel and let me bring light to the world while you stay here and watch in safety. The horses filled the air with their fiery snortings and stamped the ground impatiently. The barriers were let down, and suddenly the boundless plain of the universe lay open before them.
They darted forward and sliced through the clouds, into the winds from the east. It wasn't long before the steeds sensed that the load they drew was lighter than usual. As a ship without ballast careens and rolls off course on the sea, so the chariot was dashed about as if empty. The horses rushed headlong and left the traveled road. Phaeton began to panic. He had no idea which way to turn the reins, and even if he knew, he had not the strength.
Then, for the first time, the Big Bear and the Little Bear were scorched with heat, and would have plunged into the water if possible. The Serpent, which lies coiled around the pole, torpid and harmless in the chill of the heavens, grew hot and writhed in angry fury. When the unhappy Phaeton looked down upon the earth, now spreading in the vast expanse beneath him, he grew pale, and his knees shook with terror. In spite of the glare all around him, the sight of his eyes grew dim.
He wished he had never touched his father's horses. He was borne along like a vessel driven before a storm, when the pilot can do no more than pray. Much of the heavenly road was behind him, but much more still lay ahead. He found himself stunned and dazed, and did not know whether to hold the reins or drop them.
He forgot the names of the horses. He was horrified at the sight of the monstrous forms scattered across the heaven. The Scorpion, for instance, reached forward with its two great claws, while its poisonous stinger stretched behind. Phaeton's courage failed, and the reins fell from his hands. The horses, when they felt the reins loose on their backs, dashed headlong into the unknown regions of the sky. They raced among the stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places, now up in the high heaven, now down almost to earth.
The Moon saw with astonishment her brother's chariot running beneath her own. The clouds began to smoke, and the mountain tops caught fire. Fields grew parched with heat, plants withered, and harvests went up in flames. Cities perished, with their walls and towers, and whole nations turned to ashes. Phaeton beheld the world on fire, and felt the intolerable heat.
The air was like the blast of a furnace, full of soot and sparks. The chariot glowed white-hot and veered one way, then another. Forests turned to deserts, rivers ran dry, and the earth cracked open. The sea shrank and threatened to become a dry plain. Three times Neptune tried to raise his head above the surface, and three times he was driven back by the fiery heat.
Then Earth, amid the smoking waters, screening her face with her hand, looked up to heaven, and in a trembling voice called on Jupiter. Let me at least fall by your hand. Is this the reward of my fertility? Is it for this that I have given fodder for cattle, and fruits for men, and incense for your altars? And what has my brother Ocean done to deserve such a fate? And look at your own skies. The very poles are smoking, and if they topple, your palace will fall. If sea, earth, and heaven perish, we fall into ancient Chaos.
Save what remains from the devouring flame. Take thought, and deliver us from this awful moment! But Jupiter heard her, and saw that all things would perish if he did not quickly help. He climbed the highest tower of heaven, where often he had spread clouds over the world and hurled his mighty thunder.
He brandished a lightning bolt in his hand, and flung it at the charioteer. At once the car exploded. The mad horses broke the reins, the wheels shattered, and the wreckage scattered across the stars. And Phaeton, his hair on fire, fell like a shooting star. He was dead long before he left the sky. A river god received him and cooled his burning frame.
The notebook apparently dates from about , when George was fourteen years old and attending school in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Inside, in George's own handwriting, we find the foundation of a solid character education for an eighteenth-century youth: Most of the rules are still delightfully applicable as a modern code of personal conduct. On the assumption that what was good enough for the first president of the United States is good enough for the rest of us, here are fifty-four of George Washington's "Rules of Civility. Every action in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those present.
In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming voice, nor drum with your fingers or feet. Speak not when others speak, sit not when others stand, and walk not when others stop. Turn not your back to others, especially in speaking; jog not the table or desk on which another reads or writes; lean not on anyone. Be no flatterer, neither play with anyone that delights not to be played with.
Read no letters, books, or papers in company; but when there is a necessity for doing it, you must ask leave. Come not near the books or writings of anyone so as to read them unasked; also look not nigh when another is writing a letter. Let your countenance be pleasant, but in serious matters somewhat grave. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy. They that are in dignity or office have in all places precedency, but whilst they are young, they ought to respect those that are their equals in birth or other qualities, though they have no public charge.
It is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves, especially if they be above us, with whom in no sort we ought to begin. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive. In visiting the sick do not presently play the physician if you be not knowing therein.
In writing or speaking give to every person his due title according to his degree and the custom of the place.
Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art he himself professes; it savors of arrogancy. When a man does all he can, though it succeeds not well, blame not him that did it. Being to advise or reprehend anyone, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, presently or at some other time, also in what terms to do it; and in reproving show no signs of choler, but do it with sweetness and mildness.
Mock not nor jest at anything of importance; break no jests that are sharp or biting; and if you deliver anything witty or pleasant, abstain from laughing thereat yourself. Wherein you reprove another be unblamable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precept. Use no reproachful language against anyone, neither curses nor revilings.
Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of anyone. In your apparel be modest, and endeavor to accommodate nature rather than procure admiration. Keep to the fashion of your equals, such as are civil and orderly with respect to time and place. Play not the peacock, looking everywhere about you to see if you be well decked, if your shoes fit well, if your stockings set neatly and clothes handsomely. Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company. Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of tractable and commendable nature; and in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.
Be not immodest in urging your friend to discover a secret. Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grown and learned men, nor very difficult questions or subjects amongst the ignorant, nor things hard to be believed. Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth nor at the table; speak not of melancholy things, as death and wounds; and if others mention them, change, if you can, the discourse.
Tell not your dreams but to your intimate friends. Break not a jest when none take pleasure in mirth. Laugh not aloud, nor at all without occasion. Deride no man's misfortunes, though there seem to be some cause. Speak not injurious words, neither in jest or earnest. Scoff at none, although they give occasion. Be not forward, but friendly and courteous, the first to salute, hear and answer, and be not pensive when it is time to converse.
Detract not from others, but neither be excessive in commending. Go not thither where you know not whether you shall be welcome or not. Give not advice without being asked; and when desired, do it briefly. If two contend together, take not the part of either unconstrained, and be not obstinate in your opinion; in things indifferent be of the major side. Reprehend not the imperfection of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.
Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of others, and ask not how they came. What you may speak in secret to your friend deliver not before others. Speak not in an unknown tongue in company, but in your own language; and that as those of quality do, and not as the vulgar. Sublime matters treat seriously. Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly. When another speaks, be attentive yourself, and disturb not the audience.
If any hesitate in his words, help him not, nor prompt him without being desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech be ended. Treat with men at fit times about business, and whisper not in the company of others. Make no comparisons; and if any of the company be commended for any brave act of virtue, commend not another for the same. Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard, name not your author always.
A secret discover not. Be not curious to know the affairs of others, neither approach to those that speak in private. Undertake not what you cannot perform; but be careful to keep your promise. When you deliver a matter, do it without passion and indiscretion, however mean the person may be you do it to. When your superiors talk to anybody, hear them; neither speak or laugh. In disputes be not so desirous to overcome as not to give liberty to each one to deliver his opinion, and submit to the judgment of the major part, especially if they are judges of the dispute.
Be not tedious in discourse, make not many digressions, nor repeat often the same matter of discourse. Speak no evil of the absent, for it is unjust. Be not angry at table, whatever happens; and if you have reason to be so show it not; put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish a feast. Set not yourself at the upper end of the table; but if it be your due, or the master of the house will have it so, contend not, lest you should trouble the company.
When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously, in reverence and honor, and obey your natural parents. Let your recreations be manful, not sinful. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience. Boy Wanted Frank Crane This "want ad" appeared in the early part of this century. This boy is wanted everywhere. The family wants him, the school wants him, the office wants him, the boys want him, the girls want him, all creation wants him.
The Cattle of the Sun Retold by Andrew Lang Times of plenty call for one kind of self-discipline as in the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs. Times of hardship call for other sorts of self-restraint. During tough times, people are tempted to put aside social and moral codes. In this episode from Homer's Odyssey, the crew of Odysseus Ulysses does not have the self-control to pass a tough test. The ship swept through the roaring narrows between the rock of Scylla and the whirlpool of Charybdis, into the open sea, and the men, weary and heavy of heart, bent over their oars, and longed for rest.
Now a place of rest seemed near at hand, for in front of the ship lay a beautiful island, and the men could hear the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cows as they were being herded into their stalls. But Ulysses remembered that, in the Land of the Dead, the ghost of the blind prophet had warned him of one thing. If his men killed and ate the cattle of the Sun, in the sacred island of Thrinacia, they would all perish. So Ulysses told his crew of this prophecy, and bade them row past the island. Eurylochus was angry and said that the men were tired, and could row no further, but must land, and take supper, and sleep comfortably on shore.
On hearing Eurylochus, the whole crew shouted and said that they would go no further that night, and Ulysses had no power to compel them. He could only make them swear not to touch the cattle of the Sun God, which they promised readily enough, and so went ashore, took supper, and slept. Please try again later. Alice Ceballos Top Contributor: I purchased this book when I decided to do a unit on character traits for our home school.
I have an 8 year old and a 12 year old autistic child. Both enjoy this book very much. It is a very nice hard cover book that has entertaining stories that focus on good morals and values. There are poems, Aesop's fables, and stories from around the world that show children traits such as kindness, honesty, and responsibility.
The illustations in the book are also remarkable. This is a must have book for anyone with small children. I grew up on the unabridged version of this book and read many of the stories to my kids as well.
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This hardback version is not the entire works, just an FYI, but does have some good ones, including "Please". I am using this book to have have all of my kids' teachers sign it, akin to the thing that father did with "Oh the Places You'll Go" While the morals are of course the main draw, I have also particularly enjoyed that my kids hear some really well written stories.
Some of the phrasing is old fashioned, which has been a great learning point. Nicely presented and much needed for this generation as well as many to follow. It is refreshing to see some timeless manners and values still being published today. We actually thought this was an old book and was pleasantly surprised to learn it is a newer published book.
I totally recommend this book to anyone who wants to raise their children with "virtues". I find this book especially useful for a little boy! After the first read of this book, this is a new family favorite! Its our new nighttime ritual! I have been able to use several stories as a way to illustrate, highlight and teach the importance of different virtues.
The stories are easily relatable to and enjoyable to my 3 year old. If you're pregnant, have a baby, or have a child or children I recommend to get this book and read it right away! One person found this helpful. This a was gentle way to introduce virtues to my child. The pictures in the books are amazing. The story are perfect. I think we read this book two months ago, and my son is still quoting from it. I had this book as a child, and I can honestly read them and feel how they did help me develop the values they teach, of course mine was destroyed because I was so in love with it and brought it everywhere!
My seven year old loves the stories in this book I did make sure to "correct" the portrayal of Genghis Khan in one of the stories since it's more than a gross misinterpretation to portray him as a man of virtue even if he was just a vehicle through which a moral message was told. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful.
I bought two of these for my grandchildren and our friend's children. Each story teaches a moral lesson. Children will turn a deaf ear to lectures from parents about poor choices. However, this book does a beautiful job of teaching time honored values and morals in a story format that children find very appealing.
Instead of preaching and lecturing, this book tells many wonderful stories of how other children have chosen to do the right thing, even if it was not an easy thing to do. The stories in this book give parents and caregivers wonderful opportunities to talk about right and wrong, good and bad, and having empathy for others. It is nicely illustrated too! See all reviews.
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