story in seven succeeding days, to that old porter
Hindbad, of whom I spoke in the beginning. And he
not only tells the stories to Hindbad ; but he gives
him a bag of golden coin every time he has finished a
story of a voyage. I presume that Hindbad thought
them very excellent stories, and would have dearly liked
to hear more of them.
And he is not the only one who has thought them
good. I cannot tell you the half of his wonderful
adventures. Once, when cast away, he comes, with the
sailors who were saved with him, upon another Roc's
egg ; which his companions never having seen one
before commence hewing in pieces. In a moment
the air is darkened ; the great birds, whose nests these
wanderers have disturbed, hang over them like a cloud ;
and when they would escape by taking to their boats,
the birds, like the great Cyclops, take huge rocks, and
sailing in the air above the ships, drop their burden,
and make a wreck of the vessels.
That lucky Sindbad escapes, as he always manages to
do ; but in the new lands to which he is floated upon a
piece of the wreck, he finds one of the strangest of all
his adventures. The trees are beautiful, and the streams
of water ; there are sweet-smelling flowers too ; and in
this country, which seems as if it were altogether only a
pleasant garden, he meets an old man, with long white
beard, and deep-set prying eyes, limping along by the
bank of a stream. Sindbad, at the beckoning of this
droll-looking old man, takes him on his shoulders to help
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. 69
him across the stream. But no sooner is he upon Sind-
bad's back than his legs seem to grow long, and cling
about the poor sailor, and his fingers stretch out into
claws that hold him fast ; and he settles to his place
upon Sindbad's shoulders as if he grew there. Sindbad
stoops for the old man to come down ; but the old man
does not come down : instead of it, he chuckles, and
gives Sindbad a punch in his ribs, and urges him to go
And forward this poor sailor of Bagdad is compelled
to go ; over hill and brook, and through valleys, and past
wide plains, by noon, by night, this terrible old Man
of the Sea keeps his place, and comes near to choking
Sindbad with the tightness of his hug. He makes Sind-
bad stay when he would pluck fruit from the trees ; he
warns him to go faster, when, through fatigue, he halts
and trembles under this terrible load.
Hindbad being a porter and used to carrying bur-
dens on his shoulders, must have listened very wonder-
ingly to this story of a load which could not be shaken
off. Had it been a cask or a box, there would have been
more hope ; but a burden in the shape of a man is a
very hard thing to shake off.
And how was Sindbad rid of him at last ? Why, one
day (after he had carried the old man a week or more),
he saw some empty gourds lying on the ground ; and,
taking one of them, he pressed the juice from some
of the delicious grapes that grew all around into it, and
then hung his gourd upon a tree. The juice turned into
wine after some days, as grape-juice is very apt to do.
And when he came to drink it, being faint with the
continual burden of that horrible Man of the Sea,
70 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
the old man snuffed the wine, and beckoned to Sindbad
to give him a taste of it. And he took another, and an-
other, and another taste, as wine-drinkers when once
started are inclined to do, until at last Sindbad felt the
old man loosening his hold : and he lay down with him :
and the hold was loosened more and more, until the old
man had fallen off from his shoulders in a drunken sleep.
Then Sindbad seized whatever weapon he could find,
stones, I presume, and made an end of his tormentor.
Sindbad does not say so in his story ; but I think this
old Man of the Sea belonged to a dreadful tribe called
Badd-Habbidtz, stray members of which are found very
often in the East nowadays, and sometimes in the West.
If you ever meet one, I advise you not to let him get
settled down on your shoulders.
Sindbad prospers again when once he has shaken
off this obstinate old man : he makes friends in that
beautiful country ; gathers great cargoes of tea and
spices, and sails back with new and richer stores than
ever to the dear old City of Bagdad.
There he lived always afterward in a princely house
(if we may believe those who made the pictures for the
" Arabian Nights " ), and was befriended by the Caliph
Haroun al Raschid, who certainly lived and did a great
many wonderful things whatever may be true of the
voyaging Sindbad and of the porter Hindbad.
Bagdad, too, was a real city, and is a city still. You
will find it on your maps of Asia, lying a little eastward
of the great sandy wastes of Arabia, upon the banks
of the river Tigris, which is a branch of the river
Euphrates, on which, as tradition says, once bloomed
the Garden of Paradise.
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS.
Sindbad must have sailed on his great voyages down
through the Tigris, then through the Euphrates, and
so out into the Persian Gulf. You can go there now
by the same track over
which Sindbad carried
home his treasures. But
I fear you would be dis-
appointed in the city.
You would find low houses
and narrow streets, and a
Turkish governor in red
woollen cap in place of the
great Caliph. You would
find the palaces and grand
temples and hanging gar-
dens ruined, and only be
reminded of the days of
Arabian Nights by the
blazing noonday heats, by
the camels coming in with their burdens, by the waving
palm-trees, and by the tomb, which is still standing, of
the beautiful Zobeide, who was the favorite wife of the
For my part, I am content to stay away from the
Turkish city of Bagdad of to-day. I am sure that the
sight of its outlying valleys whatever herds of sheep
and cattle might be feeding on them would not be
equal to the image I have in mind when I read the Vis-
ion of Mirza ; l and in the city itself, I am quite sure that
I should miss the great stretch of brilliant streets
Ruined Temple at Bagdad.
1 I counsel all my young readers to find and read the delightful paper of Addi-
son's in the Spectator, with this title*
72 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
the jewelled palaces the troops of laden camels the
flashing cimeters the rustle of silks the fair Per-
sians the veiled princesses the Shahs and Schah-
riars the delightful Zobeides, which come into my
thought when I read the " Arabian-Nights " stories of
the times of the magnificent Haroun al Raschid.
tf. Vicar and his Family.
WHO, pray, has not read that delightful old story
about a certain Dr. Primrose, who was Vicar
of Wakefield ? Was it in the Sunday-school library
that we first came upon it ? or was it on the book-
shelves of some darling old aunt who kept it as one of
the treasures of her school-days ? For it is an old book :
our grandmothers read it, and may-be our great-grand-
mothers ; and I think it is quite certain that our grand-
children will read it too.
There are skipping-places in it, to be sure ; such are
some of the long talks about second marriages, which
don't concern young people much ; and such is the page-
long speech about kings and republics and free govern-
ment : but with these taken out, or skipped over, as
well as the Greek, which has no business there, what
a delightful story it is !
One grows into the kindliest sort of companionship
with the good Dr. Primrose and his family, and follows
ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
their fortunes as if they were fortunes of his own, and
never forgets them, let him live as long as he may.
Naturally we don't think as much of Mrs. Primrose
as we do of the Doctor ; but that happens in a good many
families where we love to go. She is a little too proud
of her daughters, who are fine girls, both of them,
and a little too much bent upon holding up her head in
Mrs. Primrose's Fine
Of course it is a very good thing to hold up one's
head, and better still to be able to do so with a clear
conscience ; but we don't like to encounter people who
want to impress everybody they meet with a notion
of their great importance. There was a little of this in
Mrs. Primrose, but not a bit of it in the Doctor.
He was of good fortune when the story opens ; and
besides those two daughters, Sophia and Olivia, had two
sons, George and Moses, as well as a couple of younger
boys, who don't have much to do with the story ; and
for aught that appears, they may be young boys some-
where in England still.
GOLDSMITH'S WORK. 75
Not much happens to interest one while the Doctor is
comfortably rich. He says himself, that the most im-
portant event of a twelvemonth was the moving from the
blue chamber to the brown ; that surely would not con-
cern young fellows who have no moving to do. The son
George does, indeed, fall in love with a very nice girl,
Miss Wilmot, who has a snug fortune of her own ; and
as Miss Wilmot has a strong fancy for George, it is
counted a settled thing between them ; and, indeed, the
marriage-day was fixed.
But Dr. Primrose (I call him Doctor because Mr.
Jenkinson, an important character in the story, always
did, and I am sure if he had lived among our American
colleges he would have been a doctor) Dr. Primrose,
I say, could not get over his love for talk about the
wickedness of second marriages, in which Mr. Wilmot,
the father of the charming Arabella, did not agree with
him ; and as they waxed warm one day, Mr. Wilmot I
dare say, getting the worst of the argument let slip the
fact that the Doctor was a beggar, since the business
man who had been intrusted with his property had
become bankrupt, and had fled from the country.
This was an ugly thing for Mr. Wilmot to say, and a
rough way of pushing his cause ; but it was none the
less true. And this fact and the quarrel broke off the
match ; and son George, in high dudgeon, set off to seek
his fortune otherwheres.
Nor was this the worst : the good Doctor had to leave
his fine house, and take a poor parish in a distant part of
the country, with a cottage so small that there could be
no moving every spring from the blue chamber to the
brown. There were no chambers to move into. But
/6 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
out of this change of home, and the griefs and trials that
came with it, grew all those events which have made the
history of the old Vicar so charming a one that it has
been conned and read in ten thousand households all
over the world.
Can I tell you what those events were in a half-hour
of talk ?
Ah, well ! it will be spoiling one of the tenderest of
stories ; and yet I will try to catch so much of the pith
and of the point of it as shall make you eager to taste
for yourself, and "at first hands," the delicate humor
and the charming flow of that old-fashioned novel of the
Vicar of Wakefield. I call it a novel, though it is as
unlike as possible to the work that our modern novel-
Mr. Burchell and the Squire.
Mrs. Primrose poor woman who had loved to put
on airs in her large house, did not get over the love in
the small house. It is a love that it is hard for anybody
to get over, if they begin once to encourage it. . But the
Doctor, good soul, laughed at her grand dressing and
her eagerness to show off her daughters in the old
finery. She even aims at something like style in going
to church, by rigging up the two plough-horses so that
one should carry the boy Moses and herself with the
two little ones, and the other make a mount for the two
daughters. Of course it was but a sorry figure they
cut, and the Doctor had his laugh at them, though it was
on a Sunday. Yet when a middle-aged woman has an
eye for " style," it is not easy to laugh her out of it ; and
Mrs. Primrose was set on to this and a good many other
like manoeuvres by a hope she had of making conquest
of a certain Squire Thornhill, who was their landlord
and the great man of the neighborhood, and of match-
ing him with one of her daughters. He was of fair age,
lived freely in a grand house, rode to the hounds, and
sent presents of game to the Primrose girls, much to
Mrs. Primrose's "Style."
the delight of their mamma ; who banters Olivia specially
on these attentions, and wonders the Doctor simple
soul cannot see through it all. She has even hopes
of capturing the Squire's chaplain or the man who
passes as chaplain for her daughter Sophia ; who is a
sweeter girl than Olivia, though not so coquettish and
not taking so much after the mother.
/8 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
They say in the neighborhood that Squire Thornhill
is indebted for his easy way of living to the bounty of
an eccentric uncle, not much older than himself, but
more grave, living much in London, not well known
down in the country, but spoken of always with very
The Primrose family, moreover, make the acquaintance
of a Mr. Burchell, whom they meet first, I think, upon
the highway ; and who does good service by saving
Sophia from drowning, when she had fallen, one day,
into the river that ran near by. He is a shabby-genteel
person in appearance, but well instructed, and can talk
by the hour with the Doctor about his hobbies ; and he
brings little gifts for the boys ; indeed, if he had been
rich and better-looking, Mrs. Primrose would have been
half-disposed to favor him as a proper match for Sophia
provided the chaplain should fail her.
A curious thing is, that Mr. Burchell doesn't talk in
the highest terms of Squire Thornhill ; and another
curious thing is, that he avoids any occasion of meeting
him at the Vicar's cottage all which Madame Primrose
places to the account of the poor man's jealousy. Maybe
so ; but the Doctor thought well of him and of his talk,
and so did Moses and the boys ; and it always seemed
to me that Sophia though she never said so looked
kindly on him, and was not so much disturbed by his
lack of fine clothes as Olivia or her mother.
They were all flustered and provoked, however, when
they learned, in an accidental way, that Burchell, by
some talk and letters of his, had prevented the two girls
from carrying out a plan they had formed of going up
to London with a couple of lady friends of Squire
GOLDSMITH'S WORK. 79
Thornhill's. These town ladies had been down to the
country, and paid a visit to the Vicarage, very much to
the delight of Madame Primrose, who could never have
done with admiring their fine feathers and silks. It
would be a splendid thing for the dear girls to go up to
London with them !
The Doctor did not, indeed, think quite so highly of
these town ladies ; but what business had Mr. Burchell
to interfere, arid by his misrepresentations to defeat
what would have been such a pleasure to the girls ?
'Twas a shabby intermeddling in his family affairs ; and
he told Mr. Burchell so with some warmth. And Mr.
Burchell was warm too ; and what business had the
Doctor to be prying into the contents of private letters
of his ? In short, they made a sharp family quarrel of
it with Mr. Burchell, and Burchell took his stick and
walked away. This was the last they saw of him for
a long time.
Did Sophia possibly look after him with a little
yearning and repenting ? I used to ask myself that
question when I read the story in my young days ; but
I don't think she did certainly not at the moment.
Well, the Doctor's money affairs were not getting on
well : I think Madame Primrose and her love for good
style had something to do with it. Good style, as it is
called, has very much to do then, and always, with not
getting on well.
The good folks of the family had sent Moses off to
the Fair to make sale of the colt ; but Moses was horri-
bly cheated, and came back with only a gross of green
spectacles of which, you may be sure, he never heard
the last. The good Doctor thought to mend matters by
80 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
taking the only remaining horse himself. The rogues
would never cheat him: but they did, and very badly
too ; for he brought back only a worthless bit of paper,
which was a draft on Neighbor Flamborough, who had
two bouncing daughters, one of whom Moses was
tender upon. The Vicar had taken this draft from the
man Jenkinson, who had talked Greek with the Doctor,
and praised a book he had written, and so made the
good man believe that he, Jenkinson, was the worthi-
est and most benevolent creature in the world.
Moses had the laugh now. But it was no laughing
time for the family : they were growing poorer and
poorer. Mrs. Primrose's " style" was getting uncomfort-
ably pinched ; and the match with the Squire didn't get
on : so she thought to spur his attentions by setting up a
new claimant for Miss Olivia, in Farmer Williams, who
lived hard by. This had not gone very far, when, one
day, the boys ran in, crying out, " Olivia is gone ! "
And so she had in a coach : it was a runaway of a
very bad kind. Was Burchell the criminal, or who ?
The old gentleman seized his pistols, and would have
made after the wretch, but his wife and poor weeping
Sophy quieted him.
It came out shortly after, that Thornhill was the man ;
and that he had made a mock marriage, and had made
two or three such before. And yet the villain had the
daring to call upon the Doctor with explanations ; but the
good man blazed upon him with all the rage of injured
innocence. The Squire was cool ; for Dr. Primrose
owed him large debts, which there was no means of
Olivia found her way back, broken-hearted, and was
warmly greeted by the father, though she met only a
half-welcome from Mrs. Primrose.
It came to a prison, at last, for the good Vicar ; for in
those days people who could not or would not pay their
debts were clapped into prisons. The family of the
good man would not leave him, but journeyed up to the
town where the jail lay though it was winter weather,
the ground covered in snow, and poor Sophia just recov-
Going to Prison.
ering from a slow fever. The parishioners of the Doctor
would, indeed, have snatched him from the keeping of
the officers of the law, as they set out on their journey ;
but the good Vicar in his earnest way checked them, and
bade them remember that without law there could be no
justice, and they must respect what the law commanded.
82 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
What Happened in Prison.
For a long time Dr. Primrose lay in that dreary jail ;
his family paying him frequent visits, and he by kindly
talk winning upon the company of his fellow-prisoners
among whom happened to be that very Jenkinson wh'o
had so deceived him on his visit to the horse-fair, but
who now at last seemed repentant.
Surely it was a very sorry time for the poor Primrose
family : the father in prison for debts he could find no
means to pay; the oldest son a wanderer none knew
where ; Olivia a poor disgraced creature ; and to add to
the sum of troubles, it is reported that the lawless
Squire Thornhill is to marry the charming Miss Wilmot,
who had been once the promised bride of the poor wan-
dering George Primrose. This seemed enough to break
down all faith in that Providence whose overwatching
care the good Vicar had always preached. Yet still
further griefs were in store : Sophia poor Sophia
in one of her walks into the country, where she hoped
to catch some new strength and bloom, was stolen away
gone, none knew whither. And, as if to crown all,
the wandering vagabond George returns not with
honors, but a prisoner, with shackles upon his limbs.
He has heard of the wrong done his poor sister Olivia ;
in his anger, he has challenged Squire Thornhill to
mortal combat ; he has resisted the servants of that
base master, has cut one down with his sword.
Indeed, it is a sorry group in that prison : the son a
felon ; the Doctor a hopeless debtor ; Olivia disgraced
and broken-hearted ; Sophia gone !
GOLDSMITH'S WORK. 83
That was the place in this old story for tears if
anybody had them ; and a good many did have them ;
and I have no doubt will have them in years to come.
But we fellows didn't stop there for all the crying.
We felt sure something better was to happen. And it
did, it did.
First of all, Sophia was brought back, rescued ; and
who do you think brought her back ? Why, Mr. Bur-
chell, old seedy Burchell ; and the family even to
Mrs. Primrose cannot help thanking the man, not-
withstanding his shabby clothes.
Mr. Jenkinson, too, proves a friend at last is ready
to swear that the marriage of Olivia to Squire Thornhill
was not a mock marriage at all, but a real marriage ; for
he himself had brought the priest who went through the
The good Doctor was enraptured at this ; and Mrs.
Primrose went up and kissed poor, shrinking Olivia
for the first time. (I never liked Mrs. Primrose over-
After this, Miss Arabella Wilmot comes in to see the
poor Vicar, and is much taken aback to find George
there : she blushes, and is disturbed ; for, to tell truth,
she has never loved any one else ; and when occasion
permitted, I dare say she told him so ; for they were
hand in hand, in a corner, before much time had passed.
Squire Thornhill came in, for what reason I don't
know exactly, but got hard looks from everybody ;
most of all from Mr. Burchell, whom he seemed to fear
Can you fancy why he should ? It was all clear
enough presently ; for this Mr. Burchell old, seedy
84 ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS.
Burchell was none other than the famous and wealthy
and eccentric Sir William Thornhill, on whose favor the
reckless young squire was dependent. However, the
uncle let his nephew off easily, but compelled him to
acknowledge publicly his marriage with Miss Olivia.
Then came old father Wilmot, with the story that the
man of business who had run away with the Vicar's
fortune had been captured, and there was good chance
that all his property would be .restored. George, too,
would be cleared from imprisonment : at least, Sir
William Thornhill said he would bring it about ; and
nobody doubted that he would.
Of course the Primrose family had now reason to be
happy ; and they all looked so except Sophia, who wore
a very sad countenance. The truth is, when Mr. Bur-
chell had brought her back to her father, the good
Doctor knowing her preserver only as Mr. Burchell
had told him in his gratitude, that, as he had rescued
her, he deserved to possess her, to which Mr. Burchell
had not made much reply.
But now Mr. Burchell that is, Sir William Thorn-
hill, with all the dignity that should belong to a great
baronet, said that he was glad to see prosperity restored
to this Primrose family; that he had a great respect
for the good Doctor (he didn't say any thing about Mrs.
Primrose) ; that he was glad to see so many happy
faces about him, and that the only exceptions were the
faces of Miss Sophia and Mr. Jenkinson. He thought
Jenkinson deserved well of the Vicar ; and he pro-
posed that the good man should give Sophia to him as
a bride, and he himself, he said, would add a wedding
portion of five hundred pounds.
GOLDSMITH'S WORK. 85
But Sophia's face did not clear up at all : nay, there
were angry tears in her eyes as she vowed with a pitiful,
low voice that she would not have Mr. Jenkinson at
all, never !
"Why, then," said Sir William Thornhill, "I must
take the dear girl myself ; " and with that he snatched
her to his arms.
Could there be a prettier ending to that story of the
Primroses ? No wonder it charmed us ; no wonder it
has charmed thousands.
And what became of Moses ? Why, Moses married
one of the bouncing Miss Flamboroughs, of course.
And I'll warrant you that Mrs. Primrose let everybody
know, within twenty miles round, that her daughter
became Lady Thornhill ; and I will warrant further, that
Sir William never took to his mother-in-law very
strongly, and never enjoyed her gooseberry-wine so
much as when he drank it outside her own house.
And was there really a Dr. Primrose who told this
story about his own family, and about the vanities of his
wife, and who married his daughter to Mr. Burchell
otherwise known as Sir William Thornhill ?
No no no !
It is as little true of any one, as that Master Aladdin
found a lamp which worked the wonders we read of in
the chapter that went before this.
The person who really told this story of Dr. Primrose
was an Irishman, of the name of Goldsmith, who used
to be talked of among those who knew him best as
ABOUT OLD STORY-TELLERS,
"poor Goldy." He was a short, thick-set man, marked