Francis C. Woodworth.

The Diving Bell Or, Pearls to be Sought for online

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[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE CRAB.]








With Tinted Illustrations.




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of


"I DON'T KNOW" 119


THE FOX AND THE CRAB (Frontispiece)




The reader, perhaps, as he turns over the first pages of this volume,
is puzzled, right at the outset, with the meaning of my title, _The
Diving Bell_. It is plain enough to Uncle Frank, and possibly it is to
you; but it may not be; so I will tell you what a diving bell is, and
then, probably, you can guess the reason why I have given this name to
the following pages.

If you will take a common glass tumbler, and plunge it into water,
with the mouth downwards, you will find that very little water will
rise into the tumbler. You can satisfy yourself better about this
matter, if, in the first place, you lay a cork upon the surface of the
water, and then put the tumbler over it.

Did you ever try the experiment? Try it now, if you never have done
so, and if you have any doubt on the subject.

You might suppose, that the cork would be carried down far below the
surface of the water. But it is not so. The upper side of the cork,
after you have pressed the tumbler down so low that the upper end of
it is even below the surface of the water - the upper side of the cork
is not wet at all.

"And what is the reason of this, Uncle Frank?"

I will tell you. There is air in the tumbler, when you plunge it into
the water. The air stays in the vessel, so that there is no room for
the water.

"Oh, yes, sir; I see how that is. But I see that a little water finds
its way into the tumbler, every time I try the experiment. How is

You can press air, the same as you can press wood, or paper, or cloth,
so that it will go into a smaller space than it occupied before you
pressed it. Did you ever make a pop-gun?

"Oh, yes, sir, a hundred times."

Well, when you send the wad out of the pop-gun, you do it by pressing
the air inside the tube. Now if your tumbler was a hundred or a
thousand times as large, the air would prevent the water from coming
in, just as it does in this instance. Suppose I had dropped a purse
full of gold into a very deep river, and it had sunk to the bottom.
Suppose I could not get it in any other way but by going down to the
bottom after it. I could go down to that depth, and live there for
some time, by means of a diving bell made large enough to hold me,
precisely in the same way that a bird might go down to the bottom of a
tub of water, in a tumbler, and stand there with the water hardly over
his feet. There is a good deal of machinery about a diving bell, it
is true. But I need not take up much time in describing it. It is
necessary for the man to breathe, of course, while he is in the diving
bell; and as the air it contains is soon rendered impure by breathing,
fresh air must be introduced into the bell by means of a pump, or in
some other way. I am not very familiar with the necessary machinery,
to tell the truth. I never explored the bottom of a river in this way,
and I think it will be a long time before I make such a voyage.

The diving bell has been used for a good many useful purposes - to lay
the foundations of docks and the piers of bridges; to collect pearls
at Ceylon, and coral at other places.

I am not sure but the diving bell is getting somewhat out of use now.
People have found out another way of groping along on the bottom of
rivers and seas. They do it frequently, I believe, by means of a kind
of armor made of India rubber. But so far as my book is concerned, it
is of no consequence whether the diving bell is out of use or not. I
shall use the title, at all events.

If, after my account of the diving bell, you still ask why I choose
to give such a name to the budget I have prepared for you, I can
answer your question very easily.

I think you will find something worth looking at in the budget - not
pearls, or pieces of coral, or lost treasures, exactly, but still
something which will please you, and something which, when you get
hold of it, will be worth keeping and laying up in some snug corner of
your memory box. I say _when you get hold of it_; for the valuable
things I have for you do not all lie on the surface. You will have to
_search_ for them a little. That is, you will have to think. When you
have read one of my stories, or fables, you may find it necessary to
stop, and ask yourself "What does Uncle Frank mean by all this?" In
other words, you will have to use the diving bell, and see if you
can't hunt up something in the story or the fable, which will be
useful to you, and which will make you wiser and better. Now you see
why I have called my book _The Diving Bell_, don't you?



It is Uncle Frank's notion, that it is a good thing to laugh, but a
better thing to think. A great many people, however, old as well as
young, and young as well as old, live and die without thinking much.
They lose three quarters of the benefit they ought to get from
reading, and from what they see and learn as they go through the
world, by never diving below the surface of things. I don't suppose
it is so with you. I hope not, at all events. If it is so, then you
had better shut up this book, and pass it over to some young friend of
yours, who has learned to think, and who loves to read books that will
help him about thinking. No, on the whole, you needn't do any such
thing. Just read the book - read it through. Perhaps you will get a
taste for such reading, while you are going through the book.

I must tell you an anecdote just here. You will not refuse to read
that, at any rate.

Not long ago I was in a book store, looking over some new books which
I saw on the counter, when a fine-looking boy, who appeared to be
about nine years old, came in. He had a shilling in his hand, and said
he wanted to buy a book.

"But what book do you want?" one of the clerks asked.

The boy could not tell what it was exactly. But it was a "funny
book" - he was sure of that - and it cost a shilling.

Well, it finally turned out that the book which the little fellow
wanted was a comic almanac - a book filled with miserable
pictures - pictures of men and beasts twisted into all sorts of odd
shapes - and vulgar jokes, and scraps of low wit.

"Will you let me look at it?" I asked the little boy as the clerk
handed the book to him.

"Yes, sir," said he.

I took the almanac, and turned over some of its leaves. There was not
a particle of information in the book, except what related to the sun,
and moon, and stars, and that formed but a small portion of the
volume. "My son," said I, pleasantly, "what do you buy this book

"To make me laugh," said he.

"But is _that_ all you read books for - to find something to laugh at?"
I inquired.

"No, sir," he replied, "but then this book is _so_ funny. Giles Manly
has got one, and" - he hesitated.

"He has a great time over it," I interrupted, to which the little boy
nodded, as much as to say,

"Yes, sir, that's it."

"Did your father send you after this book?" I asked.

"No, sir."

"Did your mother tell you to get it?"

"No, sir. But my mother gave me a shilling, and told me I might buy
just such a book as I liked."

"Well, my son," said I, "look here. You have heard Giles read some of
the funny things in this almanac, have you not?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you've seen some of the pictures?"

"Yes, sir, all of them."

"Then you know pretty well what the book is?"

"Yes, sir, all about it, and that's what makes me want to buy it."

"Well, you have a right to buy just such a book as you want. But if I
were in your place, I would not buy that book; and I'll tell you why.
There's a good deal of fun in it, to be sure. No doubt you would laugh
over it, if you had it. But you can't learn anything from it. Come,
now, I'll make a bargain with you. Here's a book" - I handed him one of
the _Lucy_ books, written by Mr. _Jacob Abbott_ - "which is worth a
dozen of that. This will make you laugh some, as well as the other
book; and it will do much more and better than that. It will set you
to _thinking_. It will instruct, as well as amuse you. It will sow
some good seeds in your mind, and your heart, too. It will teach you
to be a _thinker_ as well as a reader. It costs a little more than
that almanac, it is true. But never mind that. If you'll take this
book, and give the gentleman your shilling, I'll pay him the rest of
the money. Will you do it? Will you take the Lucy book, and leave the
funny almanac?"

He hesitated. He hardly knew whether he should make or lose by the

"If you will do so," I continued, "and read the book, when you get
through with it, you may come to my office in Nassau street, and tell
me how you was pleased with it. Then, if you say that you did not like
Mr. Abbott's book so well as you think you would have liked the book
with the funny pictures, and tell me that you made a bad bargain, I'll
take back the Lucy book, and give you the almanac in the place of it."

That pleased the little fellow. The bargain was struck. Mr. Abbott's
book was bought, and the boy left the store, and ran home.

I think it was about a week after that, or it might have been a
little longer, that I heard my name spoken, as I was sitting at my
desk. I turned around, and, sure enough, there was the identical boy
with whom I had made the trade at the book store.

"Well, my little fellow," I said, "you've got sick of your bargain,
eh?" "No, sir," he said, "I'm glad I made it;" and he proceeded to
tell me his errand. It seemed that he had been so pleased with the
book, that he "wanted a few more of the same sort," as the razor strop
man says; and his father had told him that he might come to me, ask
me to get all the Lucy books for him.

Now you see how it was with that little fellow, before he read the
book I gave him. He had got the notion that a child's book could not
be amusing - could not be worth reading - unless it was filled with such
nonsense as there was in the "funny book" he called for. He had not
got a _taste_ for reading anything else. As soon as he did get such a
taste, he liked that kind of reading the best; because, besides making
him laugh a little now and then, it put some thoughts into his
head - gave him some hints which would be worth something to him in
after life.

Now, I presume there are a great many boys and girls, who love to read
such nonsense as one finds in comic almanacs, and books like
"Bluebeard," and "Jack the Giant Killer," but who, like the youth I
met in the book store, could very easily learn to like useful books
just as well, and better too, if they would only take them up, and
read them.

Why, my little friends, a book need not be dull and dry, because it is
not all nonsense. Uncle Frank don't mean to have a long face on, when
he writes for young people. He believes in laughing. He likes to laugh
himself, and he likes to see his young friends laugh, too, sometimes.

I hope, indeed, that you will find this little book amusing, as well
as useful; though I should be very sorry if it were not useful, as
well as amusing.






A bee who had chased after pleasure all day,
And homeward was lazily wending his way,
Fell in with a Spider, who called to the Bee:
"Good evening! I trust you are well," said he.


The bee was quite happy to stop awhile there -
He always had leisure enough and to spare -
"Good day, Mr. Spider," he said, with a bow,
"I thank you, I feel rather poorly, just now."


"'Tis nothing but work, with all one's might -
'Tis nothing but work, from morning till night.
I wish I were dead, Mr. Spider; you know
I might as well die as to drag along so."


The Spider pretended to pity the Bee -
For a cunning old hypocrite spider was he -
"I'm sorry to see you so poorly," he said;
And he whispered his wife, "He will have to be bled."


"'Tis true sir," - the knave! every word is a lie -
"That rather than live so, 'twere better to die.
'Twere better to finish the thing, as you say,
Than to live till you're old, and die every day.


"The life that you lead, it may do very well
For the beaver's rude hut, or the honey bee's cell;
But it never would suit a gay fellow like me.
I love to be merry - I love to be free."


"In hoarding up riches you're wasting your time;
And - pray, sir, excuse me - such waste is a crime.
And then to be guilty of avarice, too!
Alas! how I pity such sinners as you!"


Strange, strange that the Bee was so stupid and blind;
"Amen!" he exclaimed, "you have spoken my mind;
I've been very wicked, I know it, I feel it;
The bees have no right to their honey - they steal it.


"But how in the world shall I manage to live?
Should I beg of my friends, not a mite would they give;
'Tis easy enough to be idle and sing,
But living on air is a different thing."


Our Spider was silent, and looked very grave -
'Twas a habit he had, the cunning old knave!
No Spider, pursuing his labor of love,
Had more of the serpent, or less of the dove.


At length, "I believe I have hit it," said he;
"Walk into my palace, and tarry with me.
We spiders know nothing of labor and care;
Come in; you are welcome our bounty to share.


"I live like a king, and my wife like a queen;
We wander where flowers are blooming and green,
And then on the breast of the lily we lie,
And list to the stream running merrily by.


"With us you shall mingle in scenes of delight,
All summer, all winter, from morn until night,
And when 'neath the hills sinks the sun in the west,
Your head on a pillow of roses shall rest.


"When miserly bees shall return from their toils" -
He winked as he said it - "we'll feast on the spoils;
I'll lighten their loads" - said the Bee, "So will I."
And the Spider said, "Well, if you live, you may try."


The Bee did not wait to be urged any more,
But nodded his thanks, as he entered the door.
"Aha!" said the Spider, "I have you at last!"
And he seized the poor fellow, and tied him up fast.


The Bee, when aware of his perilous state,
Recovered his wit, though a moment too late.
"O treacherous Spider! for shame!" said he.
"Is it thus you betray a poor innocent Bee?"


The cunning old rascal then laughed outright.
"My friend!" he said, grinning, "you're in a sad plight.
Ha! ha! what a dunce you must be to suppose
That the heart of a Spider could pity your woes!


"I never could boast of much honor or shame,
Though slightly acquainted with both by name;
But I think if the Bees can a brother betray,
We Spiders are quite as good people as they.


"I guess you have lived long enough, little sinner,
And, now, with your leave, I will eat you for dinner.
You'll make a good morsel, it must be confessed;
And the world, very likely, will pardon the rest."

[Illustration: THE SPIDER'S TRIUMPH.]


This lesson for every one, little and great,
Is taught in that vagabond's tragical fate:
_Of him who is scheming your friend to ensnare,
Unless you've a passion for bleeding, beware_!



Genius, in its infancy, sometimes puts on a very funny face. The first
efforts of a painter are generally rude enough. So are those of a
poet, or any other artist. I have often wished I might see the first
picture that such a man as Titian, or Rubens, or Reynolds, or West,
ever drew. It would interest me much, and, I suspect, would provoke a
smile or two, at the expense of the young artists.

History does not often transmit such sketches to the world. But I wish
it would. I wish the picture of the sheep that Giotto was sketching,
when Cimabue, one of the greatest painters of his age, came across
him, could be produced. I would go miles to see it. And I wish West's
mother had carefully preserved, for some public gallery, the picture
that her son Benjamin made of the little baby in the cradle. You have
heard that story, I dare say.

Benjamin, you know, showed a taste for drawing and painting, when he
was a very little boy. His early advantages were but few. But he made
the most of these advantages; and the result was that he became one of
the first painters of his day, and before he died, he was chosen
President of the Royal Society in London. How do you think he made his
colors? You will smile when you hear that they were formed with
charcoal and chalk, with an occasional sprinkling of the juice of red
berries. His brush was rather a rude one. It was made of the hair he
pulled from the tail of Pussy, the family cat. Poor old cat! she lost
so much of her fur to supply the young artist with brushes, that the
family began to feel a good deal of anxiety for her pussyship. They
thought her hair fell off by disease, until Benjamin, who was an
honest boy, one day informed them of their mistake. What a pity that
the world could not have the benefit of one of the pictures that West
painted with his cat-tail brush.

And then, what a treat it would be, to get hold of the first rhymes
that Watts and Pope ever made. I believe that Watts had been rhyming
some time when he got a fatherly flogging for this exercise of his
genius, and he sobbed out, between the blows,

"Dear father, do some pity take,
And I will no more verses make."

That couplet was not his first one, by a good deal. The habit, it
would seem, had taken a pretty strong hold of him, when the whipping
drew that out of him.

It seems to me that the childhood and early youth of a genius are more
interesting than any riper periods of his life; or rather, that they
become so, when time and circumstances have developed what there was
in the man, and when from the stand-point of his fame in manhood, we
look back upon his early history. What small beginnings there have
been to all the efforts of those who have made themselves masters of
the particular art to which they have directed their attention.

I wonder what kind of a thing Washington Irving's first composition
was. There must have been a first one; and, without doubt, it was a
clumsy affair enough. If I were going to write his history, I would
find those who knew him when he was a mere child, and I would pump
from them as many anecdotes about his little scribblings as I possibly
could, and I would print them, lots of them. I hardly think I could do
the reader of his biography a better service.

I wonder what his first experience was with the editors. These
editors, by the way, are often very troublesome to the young sprig of
genius. Placed, as they are, at the door of the temple of fame, they
often seem to the unfledged author the most disobliging, iron-hearted
men in the world. He could walk right into the temple, and make
himself perfectly at home there, if they would only open the door. So
he fancies; and he wonders why the barbarians don't see the genius
sticking out, when he comes along with his nicely-written verses, and
why they don't just give him, at once, a ticket of admission to the
honors of the world. "These editors are slow to perceive merit," he
says to himself.

Your old friend Uncle Frank once set himself up for a genius. Don't
laugh - pray, don't laugh. I was young then, and as green as a juvenile
gosling. Age has branded into me a great many truths, which, somehow
or other, were very slow in finding their way to my young mind. The
notion that I am a genius does not haunt me now, and a great many
years have passed since such a vision flitted across my imagination.
But I will tell you how I was cooled off, once on a time, when I got
into a raging fever of authorship, and was burning up with a desire to
make an impression on the world. I had written some verses - written
them with great care, and with ever so many additions, subtractions,
and divisions. They were perfect, at last - that is, I could not make
them any more perfect - and off they were posted to the editor of the
village newspaper. I declare I don't remember what they were about.
But I dare say, they were "Lines" to somebody, or "Stanzas" to
something; and I remember they were signed "Theodore Thinker," in a
very large, and as I then thought, a very fair hand.

"Well, did the editor print them, Uncle Frank?"

Hold on, my dear fellow. You are quite too fast. As I said, when the
lines to somebody or something were sent to the editor, I was in a
perfect fever. I could hardly wait for Wednesday to come, the day on
which the paper was to be issued - the paper which was to be the medium
of the first acquaintance of my muse with "a discerning public."

"Well, how did you feel when the lines were printed?"

When they were printed! Alas, for my fame! they were not printed at
all. The editor rejected them. "Theodore's lines," said he - the great
clown! what did _he_ know about poetry? - "Theodore's lines have gone
to the shades. They possessed some merit," - _some_ merit! that's all
he knows about poetry; the brute! - "but not enough to entitle them to
a place. Still, whenever age and experience have sufficiently
developed his genius," - mark the smooth and oily manner in which the
savage knocks a poor fellow down, and treads on his neck - "whenever
age and experience have sufficiently developed his genius, we shall be
happy to hear from him again."

If you can fancy how a man feels, when he is taken from an oven,
pretty nearly hot enough to bake corn bread, and plunged into a very
cold bath, indeed - say about forty degrees Fahrenheit - you can form
some idea of my feelings when I read that paragraph in the editorial
column, under the notice "To correspondents."

I am inclined to think there are a great many little folks climbing up
the stairs of the stage of life, who verily believe that genius has
got them by the hand, leading them along, but who, in fact, are not a
little mistaken. It is rather important that one should know whether
he has any genius or not; and if he has, in what particular direction
he will be likely to distinguish himself.

I don't believe in the old-fashioned notion that people all come into
the world with minds and tastes so unlike, that, if you educate one
ever so carefully, he never will make a poet, or a painter, or a
musician, as the case may be; while the other will be a master in one
of these branches, with scarcely any instruction. But I do believe
there is a great difference in natural capacities for a particular
art; and that some persons learn that art easily, while others learn
it with difficulty, and could, perhaps, never excel in it, if they
should drive at it for a life-time.

Ralph Waldo, a boy who lived near our house, when I was a child, was

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Online LibraryFrancis C. WoodworthThe Diving Bell Or, Pearls to be Sought for → online text (page 1 of 3)