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Croyle and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

A New Year's Gift for Sunday Schools

As a labor of love,
To four Sunday Schools,
Each of which will know that it is one of the four
By the initials of
Their friend,


It is an excellent rule, no doubt, children, not to be in a hurry; and
the proverbs, "Take time by the forelock" and "The more haste the
worse speed," are wise proverbs, worth keeping. But occasions occur,
once in a while, when working hastily is a great deal better than not
working at all, and may be working to some purpose too. I remember a
case of this kind. In a certain town, on the forenoon of July 3, 183-,
when "Floral Processions" were novel affairs, a company of ladies and
gentlemen were assembled in a barn-chamber, finishing off and packing
up a lot of moss baskets, and arranging bunches of flowers to be sent
to Boston, to the Warren-street Chapel, by the mail coach at 3
o'clock, P.M. It was about 10 o'clock when one of the party, - suppose
we call him, for convenience just now, Mr. Perseverance, - who had been
looking out of the window, down upon a very little garden, suddenly
turned round, and exclaimed that something might be made prettier than
any thing they had yet done. He told what it was. "It is impossible to
do it now. We must wait till next year," said his friends. "Nothing
like trying: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. No time like
the present," replied Mr. Perseverance, a pertinacious gentleman, who
wanted to "strike when the iron was hot," and carry out his notion
without delay. Accordingly, he caught up two sticks, and nailed them
together, so as to get the right shape. Then he went down town, - the
town being small, he had not far to go, - begged at the bookstore a few
"show-bills," containing the letters he needed for patterns; bought a
sheet of gold paper and half an ounce of gum-arabic, twice as much of
both as he really wanted; people in a hurry are not apt to calculate
very nicely, or be very economical, you know. He carried his articles
back to the barn, and asked a lady to try to cut out a motto he had
selected, and gum it on a ribbon. "But where shall I get the ribbon?"
said the lady. "Oh! find it somewhere," said Mr. Perseverance; "and be
sure and have all ready when I return." There was one spot in the
woods he remembered visiting months before with a boy in his
neighborhood, on which grew another material, indispensable to his
project. He found the lad: they jumped into a chaise; rode two or
three miles to a grove; and, on searching a few moments, found what
they were after, - a plant green in mid-winter as well as in summer,
and prized by everybody who loves Christmas; gathered a bushel of it,
more or less; and got home again before dinner. Meanwhile, the lady,
with others to help her, had been busy; and all were wide awake now,
entering into the spirit of the matter, thinking that the bright idea
of Mr. Perseverance might possibly be accomplished in season. A
splendid bunch of pure white lilies, not quite open, was fastened to
the longest stick, the stems covered with wet paper or moss; then both
pieces of wood were wound round with thick and rich evergreen, leaving
the glorious flowers standing out gracefully, and white as the
new-fallen snow. Next came the motto, in golden letters, on a broad
white satin ribbon, which Mrs. Perseverance had found: it was the belt
of her bridal dress, carefully preserved for several years, and now
devoted to a good cause. The "emblem" was completed and packed just in
time for the coach. "And what was it?" An evergreen cross, with the
lilies at the centre; the ribbon hanging as a festoon from the arms,
and bearing the words -

"_Consider the Lilies_!"

On reaching the city, it was much admired, and attracted a good many
eyes in the show the next day. I believe there has hardly been a
"Floral Procession" since, without a similar device; and among the
banners used at the Warren-street Chapel, is a bright one of silk,
which has on it the cross and the lilies finely painted.

Now, let me tell you why I have sketched this incident as an
introduction to the following pages. On the 24th of December, 1850, a
letter came to me from a friend, asking if I was preparing a tract, as
in former days, for a New Year's Gift, or if I could help him, his
brother and sister teachers, in selecting some fit and cheap book for
all the two hundred children they love to meet every Sunday. At first,
I only thought of answering that I was sorry to say he must look to
somebody else for what was wanted. But I did not quite like to do
this; and, presently remembering the achievement of Mr. Perseverance,
I said to myself, if he got that cross made in a few hours, why cannot
a tract be made in a few days? I consulted the printer, and he agreed
to do all he could. So we went to work immediately, and here are the
"Gems Gathered in Haste."

* * * * *


* * * * *

To show how great evils may be prevented by a little care, and how
much good a child may do, let me begin with the story of


At an early period in the history of Holland, a boy was born in
Haarlem, a town remarkable for its variety of fortune in war, but
happily still more so for its manufactures and inventions in peace.
His father was a _sluicer_, - that is, one whose employment it was to
open and shut the sluices, or large oak-gates, which, placed at
certain regular distances, close the entrance of the canals, and
secure Holland from the danger to which it seems exposed, of finding
itself under water, rather than above it. When water is wanted, the
sluicer raises the sluices more or less, as required, as a cook turns
the cock of a fountain, and closes them again carefully at night;
otherwise the water would flow into the canals, then overflow them,
and inundate the whole country; so that even the little children in
Holland are fully aware of the importance of a punctual discharge of
the sluicer's duties. The boy was about eight years old, when, one
day, he asked permission to take some cakes to a poor blind man, who
lived at the other side of the dyke. His father gave him leave, but
charged him not to stay too late. The child promised, and set off on
his little journey. The blind man thankfully partook of his young
friend's cakes; and the boy, mindful of his father's orders, did not
wait, as usual, to hear one of the old man's stories; but, as soon as
he had seen him eat one muffin, took leave of him to return home.

As he went along by the canals, then quite full, - for it was in
October, and the autumn rains had swelled the waters, - the boy now
stopped to pull the little blue flowers which his mother loved so
well; now, in childish gayety, hummed some merry song. The road
gradually became more solitary; and soon neither the joyous shout of
the villager, returning to his cottage-home, nor the rough voice of
the carter, grumbling at his lazy horses, was any longer to be heard.
The little fellow now perceived that the blue of the flowers in his
hand was scarcely distinguishable from the green of the surrounding
herbage, and he looked up in some dismay. The night was falling; not,
however, a dark winter night, but one of those beautiful, clear,
moonlight nights, in which every object is perceptible, though not as
distinctly as by day. The child thought of his father, of his
injunction, and was preparing to quit the ravine in which he was
almost buried, and to regain the beach, when suddenly a slight noise,
like the trickling of water upon pebbles, attracted his attention. He
was near one of the large sluices, and he now carefully examines it,
and soon discovers a hole in the wood, through which the water was
flowing. With the instant perception which every child in Holland
would have, the boy saw that the water must soon enlarge the hole
through which it was now only dropping, and that utter and general
ruin would be the consequence of the inundation of the country that
must follow. To see, to throw away the flowers, to climb from stone to
stone till he reached the hole, and to put his finger into it, was the
work of a moment; and, to his delight, he finds that he has succeeded
in stopping the flow of the water.

This was all very well for a little while, and the child thought only
of the success of his device. But the night was closing in, and with
the night came the cold. The little boy looked around in vain. No one
came. He shouted - he called loudly - no one answered. He resolved to
stay there all night; but, alas! the cold was becoming every moment
more biting, and the poor finger fixed in the hole began to feel
benumbed, and the numbness soon extended to the hand, and thence
throughout the whole arm. The pain became still greater, still harder
to bear; but still the boy moved not. Tears rolled down his cheeks as
he thought of his father, of his mother, of his little bed, where he
might now be sleeping so soundly; but still the little fellow stirred
not, for he knew that did he remove the small slender finger which he
had opposed to the escape of the water, not only would he himself be
drowned, but his father, his brothers, his neighbors - nay, the whole
village. We know not what faltering of purpose, what momentary
failures of courage, there might have been during that long and
terrible night; but certain it is, that, at day-break, he was found in
the same painful position by a clergyman returning from attendance on
a death-bed, who, as he advanced, thought he heard groans, and,
bending over the dyke, discovered a child seated on a stone, writhing
from pain, and with pale face and tearful eyes.

"Boy," he exclaimed, "what are you doing there?"

"I am hindering the water from running out," was the answer, in
perfect simplicity, of the child, who, during the whole night, had
been evincing such heroic fortitude and undaunted courage.

- Sharpe's Magazine.

* * * * *

I copy these verses for two reasons. They teach trust in God; and they
were written by a gentleman who, I am sure, remembers with pleasure
when he was a scholar in the Sunday School; the request of whose
superintendents induced me to make this miniature book.


We were crowded in the cabin;
Not a soul would dare to sleep:
It was midnight on the waters,
And a storm was on the deep.

'Tis a fearful thing, in winter
To be shattered in the blast,
And to hear the rattling trumpet
Thunder, "Cut away the mast!"

So we shuddered there in silence;
For the stoutest held his breath,
While the hungry sea was roaring,
And the breakers talked with Death.

As thus we sat in darkness,
Each one busy in his prayers,
"We are lost!" the captain shouted,
As he staggered down the stairs.

But his little daughter whispered,
As she took his icy hand,
"Isn't God upon the ocean
Just the same as on the land?"

Then we kissed the little maiden,
And we spoke in better cheer,
And we anchored safe in harbor
When the morn was shining clear.

J.T. Fields.

* * * * *

Here are two anecdotes: one for boys, the other for girls. When you
read the first, remember that all good deeds are not published, and
cherish always the belief that many kind acts are done which are never
put in print to be read by everybody.


This word seldom begins an article in a newspaper, but "cruelty" or
"murder" more often instead. It is a pleasure to record an act of
kindness; painful that we have not frequent opportunities. Yet such an
act made our heart glad, filled it with a new love for our kind, only
a day or two since. A school-girl, about ten years of age, was
passing, with a smaller school-girl in her arms, whom she carried with
much difficulty; for the weather was sultry. Other children were in
company, with books in their hands. The whole party stopped to rest
under the shade of a tree. Just then, a gentleman observed the group.
His attention was particularly attracted by the child, still supported
by the arm of her friend. "What's the matter, my little Miss?" he
inquired, in his kind, soft tone. "She's sick, sir," replied the
friend. "And are you taking her home?" "I'm trying, sir." "How far off
does she live?" "Down by the Long Bridge." "A mile or more! and you
would carry her through the hot sun! no shade on the way either!" "I
must try, sir," answered the school-girl. "No, you must not," said the
kind gentleman, "it would kill both of you." A carriage passed at this
moment. A word and a waving arm caused it to draw up to the pavement.
All the party entered it, and all right merry, except the sick one;
but even she looked up with a faint smile, fixing her large, tender
eyes on the face of the stranger. The driver had been instructed fully
as to his destination, had been paid too, and now drove away. "Poor
little girl!" said the gentleman to himself, in a low voice. "Good
bye, sir!" said all the children, in a high tone.

- Washington News.


An interesting little boy, who could not swim, whilst skating on our
river on New Year's Day, ran into a large air-hole. He kept himself
for a time above water: the little boys, all gathered round the
opening, tried to hand him poles; but the ice continued breaking, and
he was still floating out of reach. Despair at last seized his heart,
and was visible in every face around. At this moment, when, exhausted,
the poor little fellow was about to sink, a brave and generous-hearted
boy exclaimed, "I cannot stand it, boys!" He wheeled round, made a
run, and dashed in at the risk of his own life, and seized the little
boy and swam to the edge of the ice with him: after breaking his way
to the more solid ice, he succeeded in handing him out to his
companions, who then assisted him out. In Rome, this act of heroism
would have insured this brave youth a civic crown. His name is Albert

- Charleston (Va.) Republican.

* * * * *

I know a little girl who has committed this to memory. Let all little
girls and boys who read it do the same, and they will have music worth
listening to in their own hearts.


A little girl, with a happy look,
Sat slowly reading a ponderous book,
All bound with velvet and edged with gold,
And its weight was more than the child could hold;
Yet dearly she loved to ponder it o'er,
And every day she prized it more;
For it said, and she looked at her smiling mother, -
It said, "Little children, love one another."

She thought it was beautiful in the book,
And the lesson home to her heart she took;
She walked on her way with a trusting grace,
And a dove-like look in her meek young face;
Which said, just as plain as words could say,
"The Holy Bible I must obey:
So, mamma, I'll be kind to my darling brother;
For 'little children must love each other.'

I'm sorry he's naughty, and will not play;
But I'll love him still, for I think the way
To make him gentle and kind to me
Will be better shown if I let him see
I strive to do what I think is right;
And thus, when I kneel in prayer to-night,
I will clasp my hands around my brother,
And say, 'Little children, love one another.'"

The little girl did as her Bible taught,
And pleasant indeed was the change it wrought;
For the boy looked up in glad surprise,
To meet the light of her loving eyes:
His heart was full, - he could not speak;
But he pressed a kiss on his sister's cheek;
And God looked down on that happy mother
Whose "little children loved each other."

- Bath Paper.

* * * * *

The two next pieces ought to go together. They resemble each other,
not only in their subjects, but in their beauty also. I hardly know
which is the most interesting.


At Smyrna, the burial-ground of the Americans, like that of the
Moslems, is removed a short distance from the town, is sprinkled with
green trees, and is a favorite resort not only with the bereaved, but
with those whose feelings are not thus darkly overcast. I met there
one morning a little girl with a half-playful countenance, busy blue
eye, and sunny locks, bearing in one hand a small cup of china, and in
the other a wreath of fresh flowers. Feeling a very natural curiosity
to know what she could do with these bright things, in a place that
seemed to partake so much of sadness, I watched her light motions.
Reaching a retired grave, covered with a plain marble slab, she
emptied the seed, which it appeared the cup contained, into the slight
cavities which had been scooped out in the corners of the level
tablet, and laid the wreath on its pure face. "And why," I inquired,
"my sweet child, do you put the seed in those little bowls there?" "It
is to bring the birds here," she replied with a half-wondering look:
"they will light on this tree," pointing to the cypress above, "when
they have eaten the seed, and sing." "To whom do they sing?" I asked:
"to you or to each other?" "Oh! no," she quickly replied, "to my
sister: she sleeps here." "But your sister is dead?" "Oh! yes, sir;
but she hears the birds sing." "Well, if she does hear the birds sing,
she cannot see that wreath of flowers." "But she knows I put it there;
I told her, before they took her away from our house, I would come and
see her every morning." "You must" I continued, "have loved that
sister very much; but you will never talk with her any more, never see
her again." "Yes, sir," she replied, with a brightened look, "I shall
see her always in heaven." "But she has gone there already, I trust."
"No, she stops under this tree till they bring me here, and then we
are going to heaven together." "But she has gone already, my child:
you will meet her there, I hope; but certainly she is gone, and left
you to come afterward." She cast to me a look of inquiring
disappointment, and the tears came to her eyes.

Oh! yes, my sweet child, be it so,
That, near the cypress-tree,
Thy sister sees those eyes o'erflow,
And fondly waits for thee;
That still she hears the young birds sing,
And sees the chaplet wave,
Which every morn thy light hands bring,
To dress her early grave;
And in a brighter, purer sphere,
Beyond the sunless tomb,
Those virtues that have charmed us here
In fadeless life shall bloom.

* * * * *


In yonder village burying-place,
With briers and weeds o'ergrown,
I saw a child, with beauteous face,
Sit musing all alone.

Without a shoe, without a hat,
Beside a new-raised mound,
The little Willie pensive sat,
As if to guard the ground.

I asked him why he lingered thus
Within that gray old wall.
"Because," said he, "it is to us
The dearest place of all."

"And what," said I, "to one so young,
Can make the place so dear?"
"Our mother," said the lisping tongue, -
They laid our mother here.

And since they made it mother's lot,
We like to call it ours:
We took it for our garden-spot,
And planted it with flowers.

We know 'twas here that she was laid;
And yet they tell us, too,
She's now a happy angel made,
To live where angels do.

Then she will watch us from above,
And smile on us, to know
That here her little children love
To make sweet flowerets grow.

My sister Anna's gone to take
Her supper, and will come,
With quickest haste that she can make,
To let me run for some.

We do not leave the spot alone,
For fear the birds will spy
The places where the seeds were sown,
And catch them up and fly.

We love to have them come and feed,
And sing and flit about;
Yet not where we have dropped the seed,
To find and pick it out.

But now the great round yellow sun
Is going down the west;
And soon the birds will every one
Be home, and in the nest.

Then we to rest shall go home too;
And while we're fast asleep,
Amid the darkness and the dew,
Perhaps the sprouts will peep.

And, when our plants have grown so high
That leaves are on the stem,
We'll call the pretty birdies nigh,
And scatter crumbs for them.

For mother loved their songs to hear,
To watch them on the wing:
She'll love to know they still come near
Her little ones, and sing."

"Heaven shield thee, precious child!" methought,
"And sister Annie too!
And may your future days be fraught
With blessings ever new!"

Hanna F. Gould

* * * * *

This is a true story. A little girl received it in a letter from a
very dear friend before it was printed.


So, my dear little friend, you wish for an answer to your letter, and
could not understand that the little feather brush I sent you was a
reply to your loving remembrance, just as if I had written one with
pen and ink. But you were a kind and loving child to transfer the gift
to little Julia, in your pity for her tears. I hope it soothed her
troubled heart, and dried her blue eyes; and you now shall have,
instead, the story which those soft feathers were sent to tell.

One evening last summer, Miss L - - came home from one of her rides,
with a large basket closely covered; and what do you think it
contained? Why, a great anxious mother-hen, all tawny-colored and
white, with thirteen downy little chickens, who were frightened
enough, and wondering where in the wide world they were. We made a
house for them in the green meadow, of a barrel turned upside down;
and they all crept under their mother's wing, and went to sleep. But,
lo! a great storm came in the night, such a pouring rain, such a
blowing gale, - we really feared the tiny things would be drowned! But
a kind neighbor put on his big coat, and went to their rescue. He put
them all together in the basket again, and brought it into the
kitchen, where they got thoroughly warm and dry; after which, they
were taken out to the barn, where they lived a few days very
comfortably. Then one of them disappeared, we never knew where; and
another lamed herself in some way, and, notwithstanding all our care,
she died. But the rest grew up, a healthy and obedient little family,
always ready to eat, and so quick to run with their tiny feet, when
any one appeared at the door, that it was very funny to see them.

Another day, Miss L - - brought home two large chickens; one of them
with a long neck, and a beautiful black crest upon her head, and a
dress of black feathers softer than velvet. Her we named Donna:
sometimes we call her Bella Donna. The other was dressed in white
feathers, some of them tipped with glossy black and brown, but many of
them pure white. She was named Luca. They were shut together for a few
days, until they began to feel at home; then they were set free to
scratch in the barn-yard, and get acquainted with the neighbors'
fowls, when we began to see how different they were in character as
well as dress. Donna holds her head very high, and pays no attention
to any other hens; runs away from us, when we invite her to dinner, no
matter how nice it is; and never will get acquainted, all we can do.
But Luca we love as we should a gentle, timid little girl. Sometimes,
when we open the door, there she stands patiently waiting, and looks
up at us with her bright eye so pleasantly, that we must stop, if ever
so busy, and feed her. Occasionally we hear a gentle sound on the
door-step, which we all know; then some one is sure to exclaim,
"There's Luca," and run to get her something nice to eat. The little
chickens, with Mater their mother, all come rushing, tapping,
perching, chirping at the door, and tease and tap-tap and "yip-p
yip-p" until we quite weary of them. If the door stands open, they fly
up the steps, walk in, look round the room, and pick up any thing they
can find, until we send them away. The moment their tin pan appears,
they are all in a flying huddle, tumble over each other, fly to the
pan, to our shoulders, or anywhere, to get the first mouthful. Old
Mater is ravenous and impolite as the rest, except that she always
waits for her children to get a few mouthfuls first; but not another
hen or chicken must come near them. Luca, patient gentle Luca, often
stands and waits modestly behind; and, if she gets nothing, makes a

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