Eyes and No Eyes, and Other Stories by Aikin, Barbauld, Marcet, and Taylor



Edited with Introduction and Notes






Copyright, 1900,
By D. C. Heath & Co.
Printed in U. S. A.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in “Over the Teacups,” says of the story “Eyes and No Eyes”:—

“I have never seen anything of the kind half so good. I advise you, if you are a child anywhere under forty-five, and do not yet wear glasses, to send at once for “Evenings at Home,” and read that story. For myself I am always grateful to the writer of it for calling my attention to common things.”


Whatever will stimulate the observing tendencies of the young cannot but be of value to them. “Eyes and No Eyes” does this in a delightful way. The story is so natural that the child is wrapped up in it, and so it makes a deep impress upon him. Much less could be accomplished by simply telling him to observe, or lecturing upon the value of keeping one’s eyes open. But when the reader sees how much more William gets out of his walk than Robert, and what marvellous things exist everywhere if one is on the lookout for them, he is himself incited to examine with greater care the many more or less ordinary things he has neglected heretofore. William and Robert become very real individuals to the child, and there is no doubt which of them he will choose to emulate. The author relies upon the force of concrete example to determine the conduct of children, and this is certainly sound in theory and endorsed by experience.

The story is told in a very agreeable style, which is at once attractive and affords a good model for imitation. The dialogue gives an opportunity to present information without its seeming dry and didactic.


“The Three Giants” cannot be too highly commended. I find children are greatly interested in it, and they get a valuable lesson which they could not gain quite so well in any other form. The story has that literary touch which marks it as of permanent value.

The story of “A Curious Instrument” will offer the child a good chance to try his imaginative wings, so to speak, and will also afford him a useful lesson. It cannot but be desirable for the young to begin early to think upon the wonderful construction of the human body, although they must not be carried into the detailed anatomy too far. The child must rather be led to see how marvellously efficient the various organs of his body are, and what they accomplish to promote his welfare. The object here indicated is attained very well in this story; the child’s curiosity is greatly stimulated to find out what the wonderful instrument can be, and this leads him to appreciate the uses to which it may be put. In this way he gains useful knowledge while being pleasantly entertained.

“Travellers’ Wonders” will excite hardly less curiosity in the reader than “A Curious Instrument.” He marvels that any people can do as they are said to in the story; and when he discovers that they dwell all about him, it is a revelation to him. He usually does not think upon these familiar topics; he takes them all as matters of course. But it is a good thing for him [viii]to view them in another light once in a while; and there could hardly be any more effective means of getting him to do this than is illustrated in this selection. Formal lessons do not get the hold upon the child that a dramatic story of this sort does,—one that sets him to solving a puzzle. There is really no exercise that so stimulates the mind of the young as something of the puzzle character; and when the outcome of the puzzle is profitable, it makes a valuable method of teaching.


University of Wisconsin


“Well, Robert, where have you been walking this afternoon?” said Mr. Andrews, to one of his pupils at the close of a holiday.

Robert. “I have been, sir, to Broom Heath, and so around by the windmill upon Camp Mount, and home through the meadows by the riverside.”

Mr. A. “Well, that’s a pleasant round.”

Robert. “I thought it very dull, sir; I scarcely met with a single person. I had rather by half have gone along the turnpike road.”

Mr. A. “Why, if seeing men and horses is your [2]object, you would indeed be better entertained upon the high road. But did you see William?”

Robert. “We set out together, but he lagged behind in the lane, so I walked on and left him.”

Mr. A. “That was a pity. He would have been company for you.”

Robert. “Oh, he is so tedious, always stopping to look at this thing and that. I had rather walk alone. I dare say he is not home yet.”

Mr. A. “Here he comes. Well, William, where have you been?”

William’s Walk
William. “Oh, sir, the pleasantest walk! I went all over Broom Heath, and so up to the mill [3]at the top of the hill, and then down among the green meadows by the side of the river.”

Mr. A. “Why, that is just the round Robert has been taking, and he complains of its dullness, and prefers the high road.”

William. “I wonder at that. I am sure I hardly took a step that did not delight me, and I brought home my handkerchief full of curiosities.”

Mr. A. “Suppose, then, you give us some account of what amused you so much. I fancy it will be as new to Robert as to me.”

William. “I will, sir. The lane leading to the heath, you know, is close and sandy, so I did not mind it much, but made the best of my way. However, I spied a curious thing enough in the hedge. It was an old crab-tree, out of which grew a great bunch of something green, quite different from the tree itself. Here is a branch of it.”

Mr. A. “Ah! this is mistletoe, a plant of great fame for the use made of it by the Druids of old in their religious rites and incantations. It bears a very slimy white berry, of which birdlime may be made. It is one of those plants which do not grow in the ground by a root of their own, but fix themselves upon other plants, whence they [4]have been humorously styled parasitical, as being hangers-on or dependants. It was the mistletoe of the oak that the Druids particularly honored.”

William. “A little farther on I saw a green woodpecker fly to a tree and run up the trunk like a cat.”

Mr. A. “That was to seek for insects in the bark, on which they live. They bore holes with their strong bills for that purpose, and do much damage to the trees by it.”

William. “What beautiful birds they are!”

Mr. A. “Yes; they have been called, from their color and size, the English parrot.”


William. “When I got upon the open heath, how charming it was! The air seemed so fresh, and the prospect on every side so free and unbounded! Then it was all covered with gay flowers, many of which I had never observed before. There were at least three kinds of heath (I have got them in my handkerchief here), and gorse, and broom, and bell-flower, and many others of all colors, that I will beg you presently to tell me the names of.”

Mr. A. “That I will readily.”

William. “I saw, too, several birds that were new to me. There was a pretty grayish one, of the size of a lark, that was hopping about some great stones; and when he flew he showed a great deal of white above his tail.”

Mr. A. “That was a wheatear. They are [6]reckoned very delicious birds to eat, and frequent the open downs in Sussex, and some other counties, in great numbers.”

William. “There was a flock of lapwings upon a marshy part of the heath that amused me much. As I came near them, some of them kept flying round and round just over my head, and crying ‘pewit’ so distinctly one might fancy they almost spoke. I thought I should have caught one of them, for he flew as if one of his wings was broken, and often tumbled close to the ground; but, as I came near, he always made a shift to get away.”

Mr. A. “Ha, ha! you were finely taken in, then! This was all an artifice of the bird’s to entice you away from its nest; for they build upon the bare ground, and their nests would easily be observed, did they not draw off the attention of intruders by their loud cries and counterfeit lameness.”


Turf Cutting
William. “I wish I had known that, for he led me a long chase, often over shoes in water. However, it was the cause of my falling in with an old man and a boy who were cutting and piling up turf for fuel, and I had a good deal of talk with them about the manner of preparing the turf, and the price at which it sells. They gave me, too, a creature I never saw before,—a young viper which they had just killed, together with its dam. I have seen several common snakes, but this is thicker in proportion and of a darker color than they are.”


Remains of a Roman Camp at Silchester, England
Roman Camp Plan

Mr. A. “True, vipers frequent those turfy, boggy grounds and I have known several turf-cutters bitten by them.”

William. “They are very venomous, are they not?”

Mr. A. “Enough so to make their wounds painful and dangerous, though they seldom prove fatal.”

William. “Well, I then took my course up to the windmill on the mount. I climbed up the steps of the mill in order to get a better view of the country round. What an extensive prospect! I counted fifteen church steeples, and I saw several gentlemen’s houses peeping out from the midst of green woods and plantations; and I could trace the windings of the river all along the low grounds, till it was lost behind a ridge of hills. But I’ll tell you what I mean to do, sir, if you will give me leave.”

Mr. A. “What is that?”

William. “I will go again, and take with me Carey’s country map, by which I shall probably be able to make out most of the places.”

Mr. A. “You shall have it, and I will go with you, and take my pocket spying-glass.”

William. “I shall be very glad of that. Well, a thought struck me, that as the hill is called Camp Mount, there might probably be some remains of ditches and mounds with which I have read that camps were surrounded. And I really believe I discovered something of that sort running round one side of the mount.”


It was a Large Water-rat

Mr. A. “Very likely you might. I know antiquaries have described such remains as existing there, which some suppose to be Roman, others Danish. We will examine them further when we go.”

William. “From the hill I went straight down to the meadows below, and walked on the side of a brook that runs into the river. It was all bordered with reeds and flags and tall flowering plants, quite different from those I had seen on the heath. As I was getting down the bank to reach one of them, I heard something plunge into the water near me. It was a large water-rat, and I saw it swim over to the other side, and go into its hole. There were a great many large dragon-flies all about the stream. I caught one of the finest, and have him here in a leaf. But how I longed to catch a bird that I saw hovering over the water, and every now and then darting down into it! It was all over a mixture of the most beautiful green and blue, with some orange color. It was somewhat less than a thrush, and had a large head and bill, and a short tail.”

Mr. A. “I can tell you what that bird was—a kingfisher, the celebrated halcyon[A] of the ancients, [12]about which so many tales are told. It lives on fish, which it catches in the manner you saw. It builds in holes in the banks, and is a shy, retired bird, never to be seen far from the stream where it lives.”

[A]Halcyon: the halcyon was said to lay her eggs in a nest built on the sea during calm weather. Hence, halcyon days,—”days of repose.”

William. “I must try to get another sight at him, for I never saw a bird that pleased me so much. Well, I followed this little brook till it entered the river, and then took the path that runs along the bank. On the opposite side I observed several little birds running along the shore, and making a piping noise. They were brown and white, and about as big as a snipe.”

Mr. A. “I suppose they were sand-pipers, one of the numerous family of birds that get their living by wading among the shallows, and picking up worms and insects.”

William. “There were a great many swallows, too, sporting upon the surface of the water, that entertained me with their motions. Sometimes [13]they dashed into the stream; sometimes they pursued one another so quick, that the eye could scarcely follow them. In one place, where a high, steep sandbank rose directly above the river, I observed many of them go in and out of holes with which the bank was bored full.”

Mr. A. “Those were sand-martins, the smallest of our species of swallows. They are of a mouse-color above, and white beneath. They make their nests and bring up their young in these holes, which run a great depth, and by their situation are secure from all plunderers.”


William. “A little farther on I saw a man in a boat, who was catching eels in an odd way. He had a long pole with broad iron prongs at the end, just like Neptune’s trident, only there were five instead of three. This he pushed straight down among the mud in the deepest parts of the river, and fetched up the eels sticking between the prongs.”[B]

[B]Neptune: the god of the sea, always represented with the trident or three-pronged fork, anciently used by fishermen.

Mr. A. “I have seen this method: it is called the spearing of eels.”

William. “While I was looking at him a heron came flying over my head, with his large flapping wings. He lit at the next turn of the river, and I crept softly behind the bank to watch his motions. He had waded into the water as far as his long [15]legs would carry him, and was standing with his neck drawn in, looking intently on the stream. Presently he darted his long bill as quick as lightning into the water, and drew out a fish, which he swallowed. I saw him catch another in the same manner. He then took alarm at some noise I made, and flew away slowly to a wood at some distance, where he alighted.”

Mr. A. “Probably his nest was there, for herons build upon the loftiest trees they can find, and sometimes in society together, like rooks. Formerly, when these birds were valued for the amusement of hawking,[C] many gentlemen had their heronries, and a few are still remaining.”

[C]Hawking: catching birds by means of trained hawks.


William. “I think they are the largest wild birds we have.”

Mr. A. “They are of a great length and spread of wing, but their bodies are comparatively small.”

William. “I then turned homeward across the meadows, where I stopped awhile to look at a large flock of starlings, which kept flying about at no great distance. I could not tell at first what to make of them, for they rose all together from the ground as thick as a swarm of bees, and [17]formed themselves into a kind of black cloud, hovering over the field. After taking a short round they settled again, and presently rose once more in the same manner. I dare say there were hundreds of them.”

Mr. A. “Perhaps so; for in the fenny countries their flocks are so numerous that they break down whole acres of reeds by settling on them. This disposition of starlings to fly in close swarms was observed even by Homer, who compares the foe flying from one of his heroes to a cloud of starlings retiring dismayed at the approach of the hawk.”

William. “After I had left the meadows, I crossed the corn-fields on the way to our house, [18]and passed close by a deep marl-pit. Looking into it I saw in one of the sides a cluster of what I took to be shells, and, upon going down, I picked up a clod of marl, which was quite full of them; but how sea-shells could get there, I cannot imagine.”

Mr. A. “I do not wonder at your surprise, since many philosophers have been much perplexed to account for the same appearance. It is not uncommon to find great quantities of shells and relics of marine animals even in the bowels of high mountains, very remote from the sea. They are certainly proofs that the earth was once in a very different state from what it is at present. When you study geology you will know more on this subject.”

William. “I got to the high field next our house, just as the sun was setting, and I stood looking at it till it was quite lost. What a glorious sight! The clouds were tinged with purple and crimson and yellow of all shades and hues, and the clear sky varied from blue to a fine green at the horizon. But how large the sun appears just as it sets! I think it seems twice as big as when it is overhead.”

Mr. A. “It does so; and you may probably have observed the same apparent enlargement of the moon at its rising.”


William. “I have; but pray what is the reason of this?”

Mr. A. “It is an optical deception, depending upon principles which I cannot well explain to you till you know more of that branch of science. But what a number of new ideas this afternoon’s walk has afforded you! I do not wonder that you found it amusing; it has been very instructive, too. Did you see nothing of all these sights, Robert?”

Robert. “I saw some of them, but I did not take particular notice of them.”

Mr. A. “Why not?”

Robert. “I don’t know. I did not care about them, and I made the best of my way home.”

Mr. A. “That would have been right if you had been sent with a message; but as you only walked for amusement, it would have been wiser to have sought out as many sources of it as possible. But so it is one person walks through the world with his eyes open, and another with them shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge the one acquires above the other. I have known sailors who had been in all the quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses they frequented in the different ports, and the price and quality of the liquor. On the other hand, a Franklin could not cross the [20]Channel,[D] without making some observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant, thoughtless youth is whirled throughout Europe without gaining a single idea worth crossing a street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every ramble in town or country. Do you, then, William, continue to make use of your eyes; and you, Robert, learn that eyes were given you to use.”

[D]The English Channel: the shortest sea trip by which it is possible to leave England. It divides that country from France.


The Three Giants at Work

Once upon a time, a poor man who had a large family left England to go and see if he could find a better living for himself across the seas. There were many others on board the ship, and for a time all went well; but when they were nearing the end of their journey, a great storm arose. The winds blew, the waves rose and roared, and broke upon the ship; and at last they were very glad to be able to let her drift aground on the nearest land, which they found to be an island on which no one was living.

They all got safely to shore; and as the ship was broken up by the [23]wind and the waves, they were able to get many planks, and nails, and other useful things from the ship, and from its cargo, with which they built themselves houses, made spades and ploughs, so that they were not so badly off after all. They had plenty of corn to last them until they could grow some more, and for a time all went well. But after they had got a good crop of corn, they had to grind it into flour, and this took a long time. There were no flour-mills on the island, and John Jobson—for that was the name of the laboring man—had to spend hours every day grinding the grain into flour for his wife and family to eat.

One day, after he had been grinding until his back ached and his arms were very tired, he began to be in despair. If it took him so much time grinding his grain, he would have no time left to look after the little farm which he had laid out. His little boys, although they had great appetites and ate as much bread as their mother could make out of the flour which their father ground between the two millstones, were not strong enough to help him. All the other settlers were just in the same position. They had no machines to do any work for them. Everything had to be done with their hands. There were no people to hire as servants; and if there had been, they could not have paid them any [24]wages, for they were poor and had no money. So Jobson became very down-hearted, and not knowing what to do, thought he would take a stroll in the country and think over things.

He climbed up some rising ground, and walked a long way among the hills, wondering what on earth he should do if he could get no help. He was going up a little valley, which turned suddenly, and there to his great astonishment he saw a monstrous Giant. He was terribly scared, and would have run away as hard as he possibly could, but on taking a second look at the giant he saw that he was asleep. Jobson looked again, and wondered at the immense size of the giant. He could hardly see to the end of him, and he saw that he was enormously strong; yet he looked so harmless and good-humored, that Jobson stood gazing on him till his fear was nearly over. He was clad in a robe of dazzling brightness where the sun shone upon it, but the greater part was shaded by the trees; and it reflected all their different colors, which made it look like a green changing silk. As Jobson stood, lost in amazement, the giant opened his eyes, and turned towards him with a good-humored smile.

As soon as Jobson saw him open his eyes he started to run again, feeling sure that he could have no chance if so huge a giant were to catch him; but as he ran the giant spoke. He was still [25]lying down on his back in the grass, and his voice was gentle and kind.

“Do not be afraid,” he said. “I will do you no harm.”

“But you are so big,” said Jobson, looking timidly at the giant, and making ready to run the moment the giant stirred.

But the giant did not stir. He said, “Yes, I am very strong and very big, but I will do you no harm.”

As he still lay and smiled kindly, Jobson came nearer to him, and at last all fear began to leave him. Then he asked the giant who he was.

“My name,” said the giant, “is Aquafluens.”

“And where do you live?” said Jobson.

“I live in the island. I have always lived here, long before you came.”

“Then does it belong to you?” said Jobson, fearing that the giant might treat him as a trespasser.

“I do not know,” said the giant. “What does ‘belong’ mean?”

Jobson thought it was a queer question, but said nothing. Then Jobson began to think whether it might be possible to get this good-natured giant, who seemed so strong, to help him in his work. “Do you ever work?” he said to the giant.

“Oh yes,” said he; “I can work if you will set [26]me work to do. I like it. All work is play to me.”

Then Jobson’s heart was glad within him, and he thought to himself, “Here is one who could grind all my corn with his little finger, but dare I ask him?” So he thought for a time, and then he said, “You said you would work for any one?”

“Yes,” said Aquafluens, gently, “for any one who will teach me to work.”

“Then,” said Jobson, “would you work for me?”

“Yes,” said the giant; “if you will teach me.”

“But what wages must I pay you?” asked Jobson.

Then the giant laughed, and said, “What queer words you use. You say ‘belong.’ What does ‘belong’ mean? I do not know. You say ‘wages.’ What are ‘wages’? I have never heard of them.”

At this Jobson thought the giant must be mad, and he was a little afraid; then again he thought to himself, “Perhaps he is not mad, but only weak in his head. Giants, they say, are often not very wise.” So he tried to explain. “What shall I give you if you work for me?”

“Give me?” said the giant; “what a joke! You need give me nothing, I will work for you for love.”

Then Jobson could hardly believe his ears, but [27]he thought he would go home at once and tell his wife the good news, that he had got a great, strong giant who would work for him for nothing.

“Where are you going?” said the giant.

“I am going home to tell my wife.”

“Had you not better let me carry you?” said the giant.

Then Jobson was frightened in his heart. “Perhaps if I say yes the giant will swallow me alive.” But he did not tell him so.

“How can you carry me?” said he.

“I can carry you any way you like,” said the giant, “so long as the road goes down hill.”

“Oh, it is down hill all the way!” said Jobson.

“Then,” said he, “you must get upon my back, and I will carry you there as quick as you like.”

Jobson was afraid, for when he came to look at the giant’s back, and put his hand upon it, it sank right in; then he saw that the skin was so soft that, when you pressed upon it, it gave way under your hand, or your foot, and you seemed to sink right into the giant’s back. So Jobson was terrified, and screamed as he pulled his hand out of the hole that he had made in the giant; but to his surprise the hole closed up, just as if he had never thrust his hand in. But his hand was wet with the giant’s blood. It was such queer blood; it was quite cold, and it had no color.


Then the giant said, “That will never do, for you are so small and so heavy for your little size, that you would sink into me if you tried to sit on my back.”

“But what can I do?” said Jobson. The giant took a tree-trunk which was lying close at hand, and put it on his shoulder. “Now,” said he, “jump onto this trunk, and I will carry you safely.”

Riding Tree-trunk
Jobson was very frightened when he sat on the log, for he thought nothing would be more likely than for the log and himself to sink out of sight in the giant’s body, but he soon found that although the log sank in a little way, it did not sink in far enough for him to touch the giant’s [29]body with his feet. He was very glad, for he felt all wet and cold where his arm seemed to have gone through the giant’s skin. “You had better have a pole with you to steady yourself with.” Jobson picked up a long stick, and climbed up once more onto the giant’s shoulders, where the great log lay; he seated himself, and waited with terror for the giant’s movement. He thought that if he had seven-league boots he might throw him up into the air. He would fall off, he was sure; but, to his great surprise, the giant neither jumped, nor stepped, nor ran; he seemed in the strangest way to glide, without making any noise, down the valley, across the hill to the place where his cottage stood. When they came within sight of the cottage his wife and children were standing on a little hillock looking for him, and when they saw him seated on the shoulders of this strange monster they nearly had a fit with fright. The children ran into the house, and the wife fell at the feet of the great giant, saying, “Have mercy on my poor husband!” But the giant laughed and lay down on the grass: then Jobson jumped off the trunk and told his wife of the glad news, that this was a good giant, and that he would do all their work for them. The children came out of the house and looked timidly at the monster, who, as soon as he had lain down, closed his eyes and seemed to be sound asleep.


Jobson went into the house to tell his wife all of the wonderful story of the giant, but his wife did not seem to like the idea of employing the giant.

“But he will work for nothing, wife,” said Jobson.

The wife shook her head. “That is all very well,” she said; “but think of the food he will eat. He would swallow all the food we have in the house for breakfast, and we should starve.”

The husband scratched his head, and said he had never thought of that. “But,” he said, “let us go and ask him how much food we must give him.”

“And what drink he will want, and where will you put him up?” said the wife.

Jobson began to believe that his workman was not such a good bargain after all.

So when they drew near to the giant, he opened his eyes and asked what was the matter.

Jobson said they were afraid they would not be able to put him up in their house, as he was too big to enter at the door.

“Oh,” said the giant, “that does not matter, for I never live in a house. I will simply sleep here in the grass under the sky.”

“But,” said Jobson, “we are afraid that we shall not be able to feed you.”

“Feed me?” said the giant, laughing, with a [31]little ripply murmur that shook all his body. “Who asked you for any food? I never eat anything.”

Then Jobson’s wife was frightened, and said she was afraid that there must be something uncanny about him. But Jobson went on asking:—

“What do you drink?” said he.

“Only fresh water,” said the giant.

Jobson was very pleased, and looking in triumph at his wife, said to him:—

“And how much work can you do in a day?”

“As much as you like,” said the giant.

“But I mean,” said he, “how many hours will you work?”

“As many hours as there are on the face of the clock,” said the giant.

“You mean twelve,” said the wife.

“No,” said the giant. “I mean all the hours that are in a day.”

“What!” said Jobson, “never stop night or day? And do you never sleep?”

“When I have nothing to do,” said the giant, “I sleep, but as long as you give me work I will go on working.”

“But do you never get tired?” said Jobson.

“Tired!” said the giant, “I don’t know what that is. That is another funny word. What a queer language you speak. What is being tired?”

Then Jobson looked at his wife and his wife [32]looked at him, and they said nothing for a little time. Then they asked him when he was ready to begin.

“At once,” he said; “as soon as you have put things right for me.”

“What things?” said they.

“I told you I can only work going down hill. If you want me to work hard you must let me have some place that is very steep, and make a step ladder for me to go down on. If you will fix a wheel with steps on it, so that I can step on the steps and make the wheel go round, I can do anything you like.”

“Could you grind corn?” said Jobson’s wife.

“I can grind stones,” said the giant, laughing.

So Jobson and his wife set about building a mill with a step wheel for the giant. They connected a big wheel for the giant to step upon with grindstones on the inside of the mill, so when the giant stepped upon the wheel outside, he made the millstones inside go round and round and grind the wheat. When it was all finished they came to the giant and asked him if he was ready to begin.

“Yes,” he said.

“Begin then,” said Jobson.

And the giant slowly and steadily stepped first on one step of the wheel and then on another until it began to go round and round, and the millstones went round and round, and so it went [33]on until the whole of a sack of corn was ground into flour, and still the giant went on, and on, and on.

“Are you not tired?” said Jobson to him.

“I don’t know what you mean,” said he.

“Well, now,” said Jobson, “do you think you could get me some stones from the quarry?”

“Easily,” said the giant. “But what have I to carry them in?”

Then Jobson made a long box and put it upon the giant’s back; but he found that it was not so easy going, for the road was quite flat, and over and over again the giant stopped. He could go very well down hill, but on level ground he needed to be poked along with a long pole which Jobson carried. When it came to the least down hill, he went as quick as could be. This bothered Jobson a great deal, for he saw that if the giant could only go down hill, he could not be nearly so useful as if he could go both ways. So he spoke about it to the giant once, and he laughed and said: “Hum! you must get my brother, he could help me to go as quick along the level ground as I do when I am going down hill; but even he could not make me go up hill. Is there not plenty of work I can do without that?”

“Certainly,” said Jobson; and soon he had the giant set to work to make all kinds of things.



When he had ground all the corn, they took away the millstones and fixed up a saw which had come ashore from the wreck. They found that the giant could saw wood as well as he could grind corn. They asked him if he would bring down the trees from the hills, with which they could make planks to floor their cottage.

“Nothing is easier,” said the giant; and when the logs came down, he sawed them all up into planks, and soon the Jobsons were so comfortable that they not only had enough planks for themselves, but they had more than they wanted, so they gave them to the neighbors. Every one was very anxious to find out if there were any more giants in the island, because they could see that Giant Aquafluens was more useful than twenty men. He never ate, he never slept, he only drank cold water, and day and night he would go on working as regularly as if he were a machine. Only, when the sun got very hot, and he could not get any water to drink, his strength seemed to wither away, but a good heavy shower of rain set him up in time, and then he would work away as hard as ever.

One day Jobson asked him where this brother of his could be found. “You will find him usually on the hilltops,” said Aquafluens; “but occasionally he comes sweeping down, and disturbs me in the grass where I am lying.”

“Can he do as much work as you?”


Winged Giant
“When he Is in the humor, but sometimes he is not; and sometimes he gets into a frightful temper, until you think he is going to destroy everything. He even gets me mad sometimes,” said Aquafluens.

At this Jobson was silent, and wondered greatly, for he had never seen his good giant in a passion. He told all this to a neighbor called Jackson, who was very anxious to have a giant of his own; and no sooner did he hear that the stormy-tempered brother of Aquafluens lived on the hilltops, than he went out into the mountains to see if he could find him.

At length, one day, Jackson, climbing a high rock, saw a magnificent figure seated upon the summit. He could [37]scarcely distinguish the shape for his eyes were dazzled by its brightness; but what struck him most were two enormous wings, as large as the sails of a ship, but thin and transparent as the wings of a gnat. Jackson doubted not but that this was the brother of Aquafluens. Alarmed at the account he had heard of the uncertainty of his temper, he hesitated whether to approach. The hope of gain, however, tempted him, and as he drew nearer he observed that he also had a smiling countenance. So mustering up courage he ventured to accost him, and inquire whether he was the person they had so long been in search of, and whether he would engage in his service.

“My name is Ventosus,” cried the winged giant, “and I am ready to work for you, if you will let me have my own way. I am not of the low disposition of my brother, who plods on with the same uniform pace. I cannot help sometimes laughing at his slow motion, and I amuse myself with ruffling his placid temper, in order to make him jog on a little faster. I frequently lend him a helping hand when he is laden with a heavy burden. I perch upon his bosom, and stretching out my wings I move with such rapidity as almost to lift him from the ground.”

Jackson was astonished to hear Aquafluens accused of sluggishness; he told Ventosus what [38]a prodigious quantity of work he had done for the colony.

“He is a snail compared to me, for all that,” holloed out Ventosus, who had sometimes a very loud voice; and to show his rapidity he spread his wings, and was out of sight in a moment.

Jackson was sadly frightened, lest he should be gone forever; but he soon returned, and consented to accompany Jackson home, on condition that he would settle him in an elevated spot of ground.

“My house is built on the brow of a hill,” said Jackson, “and I shall place yours on the summit.”

“Well,” said the giant, “if you will get me a couple of millstones, I will grind you as much corn in one hour as Aquafluens can in two. Like my brother, I work without food or wages; but then I have an independent spirit, I cannot bear confinement; I work only when I have a mind to it, and I follow no will but my own.”

“This is not such a tractable giant as Aquafluens,” thought Jackson; “but he is still more powerful, so I must try to manage his temper as well as I can.”

His wonderful form and the lightness of his wings excited great admiration. Jackson immediately set about building a house for him on the hill to grind corn in, and meanwhile, Ventosus [39]took a flight into the valley to see his brother. He found him carrying a heavy load of planks, which he had lately sawed, to their proprietor. They embraced each other, and Ventosus, being in a good humor, said, “Come, brother, let me help you forward with your load, you will never get on at this lazy pace.”

“Lazy pace!” exclaimed one of the children, who was seated on the load of wood on the giant’s back; “why, there is no man who can walk half or quarter so fast.”

“True,” replied Ventosus; “but we are not such pygmies as you.”

So he seated himself beside the child, stretched out his wings, and off they flew with a rapidity which at first terrified the boy; but when he found he was quite safe, he was delighted to sail through the air almost as quickly as a bird flies. When they arrived, and the wood had been unloaded, Aquafluens said, “Now, brother, you may help me back again.”

“Not I,” said Ventosus; “I am going on, straight forward. If you choose to go along with me, well and good; if not, you may make your way home as you please.”

Aquafluens thought this very unkind, and he began to argue with his brother; but this only led to a dispute. Aquafluens’ temper was at length ruffled; Ventosus flew into a passion: he [40]struggled with his brother, and roared louder than any wild beast. Aquafluens then lost all self-command, and actually foamed with rage. The poor child stood at a distance, trembling with fear. He hardly knew the face of his old friend, so much was his countenance distorted by wrath; he looked as if he could almost have swallowed him up. At length, Ventosus disengaged himself from his brother, and flew out of his sight; but his sighs and moans were still heard afar off. Aquafluens also murmured loudly at the ill-treatment he had received; but he composed himself by degrees, and, taking the boy on his back, slowly returned home.

Jackson inquired eagerly after Ventosus, and when the child told him all that had happened, he was much alarmed for fear Ventosus should never return; and he was the more disappointed, as he had prepared everything for him to go to work. Ventosus, however, came back in the night, and when Jackson went to set him to work in the morning, he found that nearly half the corn was already ground. This was a wonderful performance. Yet, upon the whole, Ventosus did not prove of such use to the colony as his brother. He would carry with astonishing quickness; but then he would always carry his own way; so that it was necessary to know what direction he intended to take, before you could confide any goods to his charge; and then, when you thought them sure to arrive on account of the rapidity with which they were conveyed, Ventosus would sometimes suddenly change his mind, and veer about with the fickleness of a weathercock; so that the goods, instead of reaching their place of destination, were carried to some other place or brought to the spot whence they set out. This inconvenience could not happen with regard to grinding corn; but one of no less importance often did occur. Ventosus, when not inclined to work, disappeared, and was nowhere to be found.



The benefit derived from the labor of these two giants had so much improved the state of the colony that not only were the cottages well floored, and had good doors and window-shutters, but there was abundance of comfortable furniture—bedsteads, tables, chairs, chests, and cupboards, as many as could be wished; and the men and women, now that they were relieved from the most laborious work, could employ themselves in making a number of things which before they had not time for. It was no wonder, therefore, that the desire to discover more giants was uppermost in men’s minds.

They were always asking Aquafluens about where they could find another giant, for he was ever with them and never flew away, so they could [43]always ask questions; while Ventosus used to fly away and disappear if they bothered him with questions which he did not like to answer.

They hunted high and low for more giants, but they found none. The heart of Aquafluens was grieved within him, that they should seek so much for a giant that did not need always to go down hill. So one day, after much doubt, he told Jobson that there was another giant who was stronger than he, and much more constant and regular in his work than Ventosus, who was here to-day and away to-morrow, and whom you could never be sure of. This giant was the strongest of all giants, but he was also dangerous.

“I will then have nothing to do with him,” said Jobson.

“Well,” said Aquafluens, “if you know how to manage him he will work for you.”

“Can he go up hill?” said his little boy.

“As easily as I can go down,” said Aquafluens.

“And who is this giant?” said Jobson.

“Alas,” said Aquafluens, mournfully, “he is my own son.”

“Where is he?”

“You can only bring him by a charm, and if you are not very careful, he may burst out and kill you.”

“Is he so very violent?” said Jobson.

“Very. His breath is scalding hot, and he is [44]a more expensive giant than either my brother or myself.”

“Must you pay him, then?” said Jobson’s wife.

“He will work without pay, but he needs to be kept hot. He will not work at all unless he is seated right on the top of blazing coals.”

“What a funny giant!” said Jobson’s little boy. “Does he not burn up?”

“No, the hotter you make the fire the stronger he grows, but when the fire grows cold, all his strength seems to die.”

The Jobsons had a long talk over this, and decided that they had better not have anything to do with this strange giant. But once, when they wanted a great deal of heavy stones carried up the hill, they were driven to ask Aquafluens if he would tell them the charm.

“Yes,” said he; “it is very simple, but you must not be afraid.”

“No,” said they, “we will not be afraid.”

“Then take a little of my blood.”

“Never!” said Jobson’s wife.

“No, you do not need to be afraid,” said Aquafluens; “you only need to take a very little.”

“And what must we do with it?”

“You must put it into an iron pot, and then put it on the fire.”

They were very loth to do this; but at last, their need being great, they did so. They were [45]relieved to find that the taking of his blood did not seem to hurt the good, kind giant, and then they put the pot on the fire, and waited to see what would happen. After a time, they heard a singing noise, and they began to be frightened. At last out of the pot there came a cloudy vapor, which rose higher and higher and higher, until it went away. But they saw no giant.

So they went to Aquafluens, and told him that the charm would not work. He asked them what they had done, and they told him, and he said, “But did I not tell you my son would never work unless you put him in prison? I will give you some more of my blood, and you must put it in an iron pot and put the lid on, and fasten it down tight, and then see what will happen.”


The Coming of Vaporifer

So they did as the good giant said. They took some more of his blood, put it into the iron pot, and put on a heavy lid, and fastened it on tight, then they put it on the blazing fire, and waited. This time they were terribly frightened, for after a time the iron pot burst into a thousand pieces, and blew all over the place, hurting Jobson’s wife on the head, and cutting Jobson’s hand. So they ran away frightened and told Aquafluens.

“Ah,” he said, “I told you my son was a dangerous child, but he is very strong, and if you give him nothing to do he does mischief. So you must give him a handle to turn. If you do that, he will not burst anything, but will turn the handle as hard as ever you like.”

And they did just as the giant told them, and they found that everything happened just so, for the new giant, whose name was Vaporifer, was a strong and willing worker. Up hill and down dale made no difference to him. He could carry and do everything they gave him to, but they must keep him hot, and they must give him a wheel to turn. If at any time he stopped they had to let him get out, otherwise, if he had no wheel to turn, and could not get out, he would blow his prison to pieces.


Vaporifer at Work

Thus it came to pass that Ventosus was wanted very little, for Jobson and his friends liked Vaporifer, who was regular and steady in his ways, and could be relied upon always to do what was wanted.

Aquafluens was still the most useful and the cheapest of all the giants, but his son Vaporifer was much stronger and more handy than his father. Nor was there any limit to what he could do if only they would give him plenty of heat and always let him have a wheel to turn.

Now, then, who do you think were these three giants? Perhaps you have already guessed from their names, and from their description. The first giant, Aquafluens, is the great giant of running water, which will always run down hill, but which comes to a standstill on level ground, and cannot go up hill, no matter what happens. It is this great giant which turned all the water-mills, which ground the corn, and sawed the wood, and did all manner of work. Ventosus, his brother, is the wind which bloweth whither it listeth, and sometimes, lashes the water into stormy waves. While as to that of Vaporifer, you surely understand that it is nothing else but steam. These three giants are real giants who are still doing their work day by day, and every day. There are no servants of man who have worked so cheaply, so untiringly, and so well.


Travellers’ Wonders
One winter’s evening, as Captain Compass was sitting by the fireside, with his children all around him, little Jack said to him, “Papa, pray tell us some stories about what you have seen in your voyages. I have been vastly entertained, while you were abroad, with Gulliver’s Travels, and the Adventures of Sinbad, the Sailor, and I think as you have gone round and round the world, you must have met with things as wonderful as they did.”

“No, my dear,” said the captain, “I never met with Lilliputians or Brobdingnagians, I assure you, nor ever saw the black loadstone mountains [51]or the valley of diamonds, but, to be sure, I have seen a great variety of people, and have noticed their different manners and ways of living; and if it will be any entertainment to you, I will tell you some curious things that I have observed.”

“Pray do, papa,” cried Jack and all his brothers and sisters; so they drew close round him, and he began as follows:—

“Well, then, I was once, about this time of the year, in a country where it was very cold, and the inhabitants had much ado to keep themselves from starving. They were clad partly in the skins of beasts, made smooth and soft by a particular art, but chiefly in garments made from the outward covering of a middle-sized quadruped which they were so cruel as to strip off his back when he was alive. They dwelt in habitations part of which was sunk underground. The materials were either stones or earth hardened by fire; and so violent on that coast were the showers of wind and rain that many of the roofs were covered all over with stones. The walls of their houses had holes to let in light, but to prevent the cold air and wet from coming in, they were covered by a sort of transparent stone made artificially of melted sand or flint. As wood was rather scarce, I know not what they would have done for their fires had they not discovered in [52]the bowels of the earth a very extraordinary kind of stone which, when put among burning wood, caught fire and flamed like a torch.”

“Dear me,” said Jack, “what a wonderful stone! I suppose it was like the things we call fire-stones, that shine so when we rub them together.”

“I don’t think they would burn,” replied the captain; “besides, these are of a darker color.

“Well,—but their diet was remarkable,—some of them ate fish that had been hung up in the smoke till it was quite dry and hard; and along with it they ate either the roots of plants, or a sort of coarse black cake made of powdered seeds. These were the poorer class. The richer had a kind of cake which they were fond of daubing over with a greasy matter, that was the product of a large animal which lived among them. This grease they used, too, in almost all their dishes, and when fresh it really was not unpalatable. They likewise devoured the flesh of many birds and beasts when they could get it; and ate the leaves and other parts of a number of kinds of vegetables growing in the country, some absolutely raw, others variously prepared by the aid of fire. Another great article of food was the curd of milk, pressed into a hard mass and salted. It had so rank a smell that often persons of weak stomachs could not bear to come near it. For drink they made great use of the water in which certain [53]dry leaves had been steeped. These leaves, I was told, came from a great distance. They had likewise a method of preparing a liquor of the seeds of a grass-like plant steeped in water, with the addition of a bitter herb, and then set to work or ferment. I was prevailed upon to taste it, and thought it at first nauseous enough, but in time I liked it pretty well. When a large quantity of the mixture is used, it becomes perfectly intoxicating. But what astonished me most was their use of a liquor so excessively hot and pungent that it seems like liquid fire. I once got a mouthful of it by mistake, taking it for water, which it resembles in appearance, but I thought it would instantly have taken away my breath. Indeed, people are not infrequently killed by it; and yet many of them will swallow it greedily, whenever they can get it. This, too, is said to be prepared from the seeds above mentioned, which are harmless and even valuable in their natural state, though made to yield such a pernicious juice. The strangest custom that I believe prevails in any nation, I found here, which was that some take a mighty pleasure in filling their mouths full of smoke; and others in thrusting a nasty powder up their nostrils.”

“I should think it would choke them,” said Jack.

“It almost did me,” answered his father, [54]”only to stand by while they did it—but use, it is truly said, is second nature.

“I was glad enough to leave this cold climate; and about half a year after I fell in with a people enjoying a delicious temperature and a country full of beauty and verdure. The trees and shrubs were furnished with a great variety of fruits which, with other vegetable products, constituted a large part of the food of the inhabitants. I particularly relished certain berries growing in bunches, some white and some red, of a very pleasant sourish taste, and so transparent that one might see the seeds at their very centre. There were whole fields full of odoriferous flowers, which they told me were succeeded by pods bearing seeds that afforded good nourishment to man and beast. A great variety of birds enlivened the groves and woods, among which I was greatly entertained by one that without any teaching spoke almost as articulately as a parrot, though it was only the repetition of a single word. The people were gentle and civilized, and possessed many of the arts of life. Their dress was very various. Many were clad only in a thin cloth made of the long fibres of the stalk of a plant cultivated for the purpose, which they prepared by soaking in water and then beating with large mallets. Men wore cloth woven from a sort of vegetable wool, growing in pods upon bushes. [55]But the most singular material was a fine glossy stuff, used chiefly by the richer classes, which, as I was credibly informed, is manufactured out of the webs of caterpillars—a most wonderful circumstance, if we consider the immense number of caterpillars necessary to the production of so large a quantity of stuff as I saw used. The people are very fantastic in their dress, especially the women, whose apparel consists of a great number of articles impossible to be described, and strangely disguising the form of the body. In some instances they seem very cleanly, but in other cases the Hottentots can scarce go beyond them, particularly in the management of their hair, which is all matted and stiffened by the fat of swine and other animals mixed up with powders of various colors and ingredients. Like most Indian nations, they wear feathers in their headdress. One thing surprised me much, which was, that they bring up in their homes an animal of the tiger kind, with formidable teeth and claws, which, notwithstanding its natural ferocity, is played with and caressed by the most timid and delicate of their women.”

Odd Items
“I am sure I would not play with it,” said Jack.

“Why, you might get an ugly scratch with it if you did,” said the captain.

“The language of this nation seems very harsh and unintelligible to a foreigner, yet they converse with one another with great ease and quickness. [56]One of the oddest customs is that which men use on saluting each other. Let the weather be what it will, they uncover their heads and remain uncovered for some time if they mean to be extraordinarily respectful.”

“Why, that’s like pulling off our hats,” said Jack.

“Ah, ha! papa,” cried Betsy, “I have found you out. You have been telling us of our own country, and what is done at home, all the while.”

“But,” said Jack, “we don’t burn stones, or eat grease and powdered seeds, or wear skins and caterpillar’s webs, or play with tigers.”

“No?” said the captain. “Pray, what are coals but stones; and is not butter grease; and corn, seeds; and leather, skins; and silk, the web of a kind of caterpillar? [57]and may we not as well call a cat an animal of the tiger kind, as a tiger an animal of the cat kind?

“So if you recall what I have been describing, you will find, with Betsy’s help, that all the other wonderful things I have told you of are matters familiar among ourselves. But I meant to show you that a foreigner might easily represent everything as equally strange and wonderful among us as we could do with respect to his country; and also to make you sensible that we daily call a great many things by their names without ever inquiring into their nature and properties; so that in reality it is only their manners and not the things themselves with which we are acquainted.”


A Curious Instrument

A gentleman, just returned from a journey to London, was surrounded by his children eager, after the first salutations were over, to hear the news; and still more eager to see the contents of a small portmanteau, which were one by one carefully unfolded and displayed to view. After distributing among them a few small presents, the father took his seat again, saying that he must confess he had brought from town, for his own use, something far more curious and valuable than any of the little gifts they had received. It was, he said, too good to present to any of them; but he would, if they pleased, first give them a brief description of it, and then perhaps they might be allowed to inspect it.

The children were accordingly all attention, while the father thus proceeded: “This small instrument is made in the most perfect and wonderful way, and everything about it is very delicate and beautiful. Because of its extreme delicacy it is so liable to injury that a sort of light curtain, adorned with a beautiful fringe, is always provided, and so placed as to fall in a moment on the approach of the slightest danger. Its external [60]appearance is always more or less beautiful, although in this respect there is a great diversity in the different sorts. If you should examine the inside you would find them all alike, but it is so curious, and its powers so truly astonishing, that no one who considers it can suppress his surprise and admiration. By a slight and momentary movement, which is easily made by the person it belongs to, you can ascertain with considerable accuracy the size, color, shape, weight, and value of any article whatever. A person having one is thus saved from the necessity of asking a thousand questions, and trying a variety of troublesome experiments, which would otherwise be necessary; and such a slow and laborious process would, after all, not succeed half so well as a single trial of this very useful article.”

George. “If they are such very useful things I wonder that everybody, who can at all afford it, does not have one.”

Father. “They are not so uncommon as you may suppose; I myself happen to know several individuals who possess one or two of them.”

Charles. “How large is it, Father? Could I hold it in my hand?”

Father. “You might; but I should not like to trust mine with you!”

George. “You will be obliged to take very great care of it, then?”


Father. “Indeed I must: I intend every night to enclose it within the small screen I mentioned; and it must besides be washed occasionally in a certain colorless fluid kept for the purpose. But, notwithstanding the tenderness of this instrument, you will be surprised to hear that its power may be darted to a great distance, without the least injury, and without any danger of losing it.”

Charles. “Indeed! and how high can you dart it?”

Father. “I should be afraid of telling you to what a distance it will reach, lest you should think I am jesting with you.”

George. “Higher than this house, I suppose?”

Father. “Much higher.”

Charles. “Then how do you get it again?”

Father. “It is easily cast down by a gentle movement, that does it no injury.”

George. “But who can do this?”

Father. “The person whose business it is to take care of it.”

Charles. “Well, I cannot understand you at all; but do tell us. Father, what it is chiefly used for.”

Father. “Its uses are so various that I know not which to specify. It has been found very serviceable in deciphering old manuscripts, and, indeed, has its use in modern prints. It will assist us greatly in acquiring all kinds of knowledge; [62]and without it some of the most wonderful things in the world would never have been known. It must be confessed, however, that very much depends on a proper application of it, since it is possessed by many persons who appear not to know what it is worth, but who employ it only for the most low and common purposes without even thinking, apparently, of the noble uses for which it is designed, or of the great joy it is capable of affording. It is, indeed, in order to have you fully appreciate its value that I am giving you this description.”

George. “Well, then, tell us something more about it.”

Father. “It is very penetrating, and can often discover secrets which could be detected by no other means. It must be said, however, that it is equally prone to reveal them.”

Charles. “What! can it speak, then?”

Father. “It is sometimes said to do so, especially when it happens to meet with one of its own kind.”

George. “What color are these strange things?”

Father. “They vary considerably in this respect.”

George. “What color is yours?”

Father. “I believe of a darkish color, but, to confess the truth, I never saw it in my life.”


Both. “Never saw it in your life!”

Father. “No, nor do I wish to; but I have seen a reflection of it, which is so exact that my curiosity is quite satisfied.”

George. “But why don’t you look at the thing itself?”

Father. “I should be in great danger of losing it if I did.”

Charles. “Then you could buy another.”

Father. “Nay, I believe I could not prevail upon my body to part with it.”

George. “Then how did you get this one?”

Father. “I am so fortunate as to have more than one; but how I got them I really cannot recollect.”

Charles. “Not recollect! why, you said you brought them from London to-night.”

Father. “So I did; I should be sorry if I had left them behind me.”

Charles. “Tell, Father, do tell us the name of this curious instrument.”

Father. “It is called—an EYE.”


The first of these stories is reprinted from the well-known “Evenings at Home, or the Family Budget Newly Opened,” by Dr. John Aiken and his sister Mrs. Barbauld, which is a survival from a very dreary period in the history of books for children. Except lesson books, books of manners, morals, and religion, the printing press had done little for youth until about the middle of the eighteenth century, and for long years after that no book was thought to be suitable for children’s reading unless it contained many pills of information and so-called “useful knowledge,” gilded over with more or less of fancy and imagination. These books were generally of the driest and most uninteresting character, but Dr. Aiken and his sister Mrs. Barbauld were among the two or three writers who succeeded in making their stories more vivid and real, and their men, women, and children seem more like actual living people, than did most of their contemporaries. There is a human interest in some of their stories which has charmed each successive generation of men and women that has come upon the scene since they were written, and unless the child-mind changes very much, will continue to do so for many generations to come.[E]

[E]Dr. Aiken was born in London in 1757, and Mrs. Barbauld in 1743. The former died in 1822, and the latter in 1825.

There are many walks in our vast country quite as full of interest in sights and sounds as that over Broom [65]Heath, “among the green meads by the side of the river,” and there are many boys who go through them in just the same way as William and Robert took their walk. Let our Roberts take a lesson from our Williams, and our Williams go on cultivating the habit of observing and remembering what they see.

Professor Archibald Geikie, in his work on the “Teaching of Geography,” page 54, makes the following interesting remarks as to the pedagogical value of the story of “Eyes and No Eyes”:—

“It is worth a thousand educational treatises. Never shall I forget the impression it made on me when, as a young boy, I first came upon it. Every step of William’s walk was to me a subject of engrossing interest; I tried myself to make similar observations, and was delighted in particular to recognize the movements of a lapwing in a succeeding country ramble. To this day, such is the permanence of early associations, the swoop and scream of that bird overhead brings back to me these first impressions of boyhood, and reminds me of my lifelong debt to the ‘Evenings at Home.’ The story ought not only to be known to the teacher; he should make it thoroughly familiar to his pupils as soon as they are of an age to understand and enjoy it.

“The contrast between the two boys in this story is one which may be found in every schoolroom. Unless a teacher actually tries the experiment, he can scarcely imagine the extraordinary differences in power of observation, not so much between clever and dull pupils, for that might be looked for, as among those who are bright and forward in the general work of the school. Of two clever boys, the one who has the quicker perception of things around him is more likely to succeed in [66]life. But the chances of the other may be vastly improved by early training. And it is this training, so little provided for by the ordinary school work, that the teacher should do all in his power to secure.”

Charles Kingsley says: “When we were good, a long time ago, we used to have a jolly old book called ‘Evenings at Home’ in which was a great story called ‘Eyes and No Eyes,’ and that story was of more use to me than any dozen other stories I ever read;” and what Oliver Wendell Holmes thought of the story is printed at the beginning of the book.

To turn to the other stories in the book, “The Three Giants” is from “Tales of Political Economy,” by Mrs. Marcet (1769-1858), and has long been a favorite with children. Slight changes have been made in order to simplify it, and to confine the attention solely to the leading idea. “Travellers’ Wonders” is also from “Evenings at Home,” and in reading it one might almost imagine Captain Compass was thinking of a visit to the United States when he unfolded his budget of wonders to his listening family. “A Curious Instrument” is by Jane Taylor (1783-1824), who wrote many books for children in conjunction with her sister Ann. The sisters are best known, perhaps, by their “Original Poems” and “Hymns for Infant Minds.”