Title: The History of Little King Pippin
Author: Thomas Bewick
Release date: May 12, 2009 [eBook #28768]
|Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/historyoflittlek00bewiiala
Would you be learned, good, and great,
Our Hero strive to imitate;
For Merit was the only Thing
That made poor Pippin's Son a King.
Printed by F. Houlston and Son.
Peter Pippin was the son of Gaffer and Gammer Pippin,
Who liv'd at the Ivy-house under the hill,
And if they are not gone, they live there still.
This is the house, and a pretty little snug place it is, and there is Peter and his father and mother at the door. Daddy, says Peter, I wish I could have another pretty little Picture-Book, for I have read Mrs. Lovechild's Golden Present so often, that I can repeat it without book. I am very glad to hear it, Peter, says his father, and I wish I could afford to buy you books as fast as you can learn them. I have been saving a penny a week these five weeks, to buy the LADDER to LEARNING for you: well then, says Peter, I have got a penny, which was given me this morning by Miss Kitty Kindness, so that will make sixpence: O dear, I should like vastly to have the Ladder to Learning, and you shall see [Pg 7]how fast I will climb up it; pray give me your fivepence, rather, and I will run to Farmer Giles with it directly, and desire him to bring it down for me, when he goes to Town next week; and away he ran to Farmer Giles, and gave him the money to buy the Ladder to Learning. You can't miss the shop, says Peter, it is just in the midst of the Town, the only place where all the pretty little books are sold: for, though Peter had never been in Town, he knew as well as could be, where his old friend the Publisher lived.
Now a great many silly boys would have spent that penny in apples or gingerbread, or some such trash, and when they had eaten it, what would they have been the better for it? Why nothing at all; but Peter did not lay out his money in such an idle manner; whenever he got a penny, he bought food for his mind, instead of his belly, and you will find he afterwards reaped the benefit of it.
Well, the next week Peter had his new book, and here he sits reading it under the hedge, where he was sent to keep away the crows from Farmer Giles's corn; and you see he neither neglected his book nor his work.
Away, Away, John Carrion Crow,
Your Master hath enow
Down in his Barley Mow.
See how he makes them fly, and as soon as[Pg 8] they are gone, out he whips his little book, and reads till they come back again; for Gaffer Pippin, being but a poor labouring man, could not afford to keep Peter at school; so he was obliged to go out to work, though he was but six years old.
But good fortune is generally attendant on good and virtuous actions, and so it happened to Peter, who was certainly one of the best boys in the whole country; he always did what his father and mother bid him, not only without murmuring, but with pleasure in his countenance; he never went to bed, or got up in the morning, without kneeling down by his bed-side to say his prayers; nor was he ever[Pg 9] known to tell a fib, or say a naughty word, or to quarrel with his play-fellows.
As he was coming home from work one evening, wishing for another new book, he could not help crying, because he had no money to buy one; so being met by Lady Bountiful, whose country seat was but a small distance from the little Ivy-house, she asked him what he cried for? Peter was afraid to tell at first, lest she should be angry with him; but her Ladyship insisted on knowing, and Peter was determined never to tell a fib, so out came the truth. Well, says she, Peter, you need not have been ashamed to tell me, there is no harm in it; dry up your tears. I know you are a good boy, very dutiful to your parents,[Pg 10] and obliging to every one, and since I find you are so desirous of improving your mind, you shall not be deprived of the benefit of education because you are poor; so do you and your father come to me to-morrow morning, and I will see what I can do for you. Peter returned her Ladyship a great many thanks, made one of his best bows, and ran home whistling and singing as merry as a grig. As soon as he got within side the door, Good news, good news, says he, father; you and I are to go to Lady Bountiful's to morrow-morning; I believe her Ladyship is going to put me to school: Peter's head was so full of it, that he scarce slept a wink all the night, and he got up the next morning at four o'clock, put on his Sunday[Pg 11] clothes, washed his face and hands, combed out his hair, and looked as brisk as a bee; and about six o'clock, away his father and he trudged to Lady Bountiful's; as soon as they arrived, they were ordered into her Ladyship's parlour. Well, says she, Gaffer Pippin, since you cannot afford to put Peter to school, I will send him at my own expence: so carry this letter to Mr. Teachum the Schoolmaster, and he will be taken as much care of as if he were my own son. A thousand blessings on your Ladyship, says the old man, I hope God Almighty will reward you for your goodness to my poor boy. It is no more than Peter deserves, says her Ladyship, and as long as he continues such a good boy, he shall not want a friend; but make haste away with him, Gaffer Pippin, or you will not get there before it is dark, for they had near twenty miles to walk: so taking Peter in his hand, they set off towards the school; but they had not walked above a mile or two, before they were overtaken by a gentleman's coach, which stopped as soon as it came up with them, and the gentleman looking out, asked if that was not little Peter Pippin, whom he had heard was such a good boy? Yes, Sir, replied Gaffer Pippin, it is. Indeed, says the gentleman, I thought so, from that good nature so visible in his countenance: pray, how far are you going? To Mr. Teachum's School, Sir, replied Peter. A very fortu[Pg 12]nate meeting, says the gentleman, I am going to the very same place with my two sons, so you shall ride with them in my coach; you need not trouble yourself to go any farther, Gaffer Pippin; I will take care of your son: so thanking the gentleman for his kindness, and bestowing his blessing on Peter, the old man returned home to his work. As soon as Peter was seated in the coach, the gentleman informed him, he was going to a school where he would meet with kind usage and good entertainment: you live very well, says he to his son, don't you, Tommy? Yes, Sir, very well, replied Tommy, we have apple-pie two or three times a week; then I dare say, you know how to spell apple-pie, don't you, Tommy? O yes, Sir, ap-pel-pey. And how do you spell it, Billy? says he to his other son, ap-pel-pye. And how do you spell it, Peter? ap-ple-pie, Sir: that's right, you are a good boy, and there is a sixpence for you; and as for you two dunces, I will take care you shall neither of you have another bit of apple-pie, till you know how to spell it; and he was as good as his word; for though all the rest of the boys had apple-pie the next day for dinner, neither of them were suffered to eat a bit, because they had not learned to spell it; so they were obliged to sit and look at the rest, like two blockheads as they were.
The same affable behaviour which had gain[Pg 13]ed him the esteem of all his acquaintance at home, soon made little Peter equally respected at school; nay, all the good boys were so pleased with the sweetness of his temper, and the good advice which he always gave them, when any quarrel or disagreement happened between them, that they came to a resolution to elect him their King, by the title of the King of the Good Boys, and he was always afterwards called LITTLE KING PIPPIN, (so we shall give him the same title through the remainder of the history:) and all disputes between them, of whatever nature, were referred to his decision; and so great was their respect for their King, and so just were his determinations on these occasions, that they were always sub[Pg 14]mitted to without murmuring or repining: as a badge of distinction for their new king, they made a general subscription, and bought him a fine cap ornamented with a white feather, and round it was engraved in letters of gold, "Peter Pippin, King of the Good Boys." A few days after Peter was chosen King, as George Graceless, Neddy Neverpray, and two or three other boys, as naughty as themselves, were playing at marbles in the church-yard, George Graceless's brother Jack, who was a very good-natured little boy, happened to stop his brother George's marble by accident, upon which he flew into a violent passion, took the Lord's name in vain, called his brother a fool, and made use of a great many other[Pg 15] wicked expressions, which so shocked Little King Pippin, who was sitting on a tomb-stone, just by, reading Mrs. Winlove's Lectures, that he could not forbear speaking to little Graceless; pray, Master Graceless, says he, do you know the consequence of these shocking expressions? did you never read in your Bible, that "Whosoever calleth his brother a fool, is in danger of hell fire?" and don't you know, that one of the commandments says, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain?" Where can you expect to go when you die? Pooh, says little Graceless, don't tell me any of your nonsensical stuff about dying, I have many a good year to live yet; do you mind your reading, and let me alone to my play. Oh fy, oh fy, Master Graceless, says Little King Pippin, God Almighty, if he pleased, could strike you dead, this moment, and however secure you may think yourself, be assured,
There's not a sin that you commit,
Nor wicked word you say,
But in God's dreadful book 'tis writ
Against the judgment day.
There's not a fib that e'er was told,
[Pg 16]Or evil thought arose,
But in that book is safe inroll'd,
As that day will disclose.
Shah, says he, I am not afraid of that, and away he went singing,
Let us be merry and gay,
And drive away care and sorrow,
We'll laugh and sing to-day,
And talk about death to-morrow,
as thoughtless and unconcerned as if he had done nothing amiss; and now the clock striking two, which was the hour for returning to school, Billy Meanwell, Sammy Sober, Bobby Bright, Tommy Telltruth, and all the rest of the good boys, with Little King Pippin at their head, ran as fast as they could, to try who should get into the school first; but George[Pg 17] Graceless and his companions, being on the other side of the church, saw nothing of their running into school, and their minds were so taken up with play, that they never heard the clock strike, and continued playing so long till they were afraid to go in; so at last they agreed to play truant, and they all went together a bird's nesting. The first nest they found was a poor little Robin Redbreast's, which one of them, whose name was Harry Harmless, and who was not so hard-heated as the rest, (indeed his chief fault was keeping company with these wicked boys,) persuaded them not to destroy; for, says he, a Robin Redbreast is such a pretty innocent bird, that[Pg 18] I can't find in my heart to do it any harm, and it was that good-natured bird that covered over the poor little Children in the Wood with leaves, when they were starved to death: Pooh, says George Graceless and Tom Tiger, what signifies talking such stuff as that, and down they pulled the poor Robin's eggs, nest and all, and left the pretty little bird making such piteous moans, as would have melted a heart of stone; but they turned a deaf ear to his tender cries, and went on destroying every nest they could find, without paying any distinction to the most innocent of the feathered race: at last they came to a turtle dove's nest, which was on the top of a great high tree that hung over a deep river; George Graceless, always the most forward to undertake any dangerous or mischievous exploit, directly pulled off his coat and waistcoat, and climbed up the tree, but just as he got to the top, and was stretching out his wicked hand to take away the turtle dove's eggs, crack goes the limb, and down he fell into the river! oh save me, save me, I shall be drowned; oh, that I had attended to the good advice of Little King Pippin, cried he, and with these words, down he went to the bottom, and was never seen more. The rest of his companions began now to see the folly and wickedness of neglecting their books for idle mischief, and heartily repented that they[Pg 19] had not stayed at school instead of playing truant; but dreading to appear before their master, both on account of their own naughty behaviour, and the melancholy accident which had happened to George Graceless, they strolled about from one field to another, till it was quite dark, and then went and laid themselves under some bushes in an adjacent wood, where they fell asleep; but alas! their sleep was very short, for in less than an hour, they were awakened with such terrible howlings of wild beasts as was scarce ever heard, tigers, wolves, and lions, hunting for their prey, with eyes that glared like balls of fire, rushed by them every instant: in this dreadful situation, expecting every moment to be torn in pieces, Harry Harmless requested them all to betake[Pg 20] themselves to prayer to God Almighty to guard and protect them from the terrible dangers which now surrounded them. But oh, shame to tell, not one of them, except Harry Harmless himself, could repeat, or indeed had ever learned a single prayer; upon which, Harry, justly concluding, that those naughty boys who had so totally neglected their duty to their Creator, could have no claim whatever to his protection, thought he should be in more safety alone than in such wicked company, therefore moved to a distance from them, and kneeled down to prayer by himself; and he had not left them but a few minutes before two monstrous lions came and devoured every one of them: after they had eaten these wicked[Pg 21] boys, they went up to Harry Harmless, but instead of devouring him, as they had the others, they seemed as fond of him as a dam of her young, licked his face and hands with their tongues, and then lay down quietly upon the ground by his side: for God Almighty had heard his prayers, as he always will those of all good little boys and girls, and had converted the natural rage and fierceness of these dreadful beasts into the meekness and gentleness of lambs. When morning came, Harry found he had wandered so far from home, that he could not tell which way to return, but as he was sitting on the side of a bank, reflecting on the danger and folly of keeping such naughty company, and the many wicked ways little boys are too often undesignedly led into by that means, he was surprised by the neighing of a horse, and looking round, there was the prettiest milk-white little creature galloping towards him that ever was seen, with a little bridle on, and a saddle and stirrups on his back, and running directly up to Harry, he fell down on his knees, seemingly to invite him to get on his back; Harry was almost afraid to trust himself on the little horse at first, but recollecting that the same Almighty hand which had rescued him from the paws of the lions, could protect him from every other danger, he mounted on his back, and[Pg 22] he was no sooner seated, but the pretty little thing galloped away with him as fast as he could run, and never stopt till he brought him within a little distance of his home; when dropping down again on his knees, in the same manner as when he took him up, Harry imagining it to be a signal for him to dismount, immediately alighted, and letting go the bridle, the little white horse set off neighing and galloping, as when he first found him, and was out of sight in an instant. As soon as the account of the unhappy death of George Graceless and his companions was made known to their master, he was obliged to dispatch a messenger to inform their parents, and the shocking news had such a melancholy effect[Pg 23] on George Graceless's papa and mamma, that they both died of a broken heart within a month afterwards; and the parents of the other naughty boys were so greatly afflicted with their loss, that it rendered the remainder of their lives miserable. Such were the fatal consequences of these naughty boys neglecting that duty which every one owes to his Maker; and which, above all things, should never be forgotten; for, had they learned their prayers, and said them every evening and morning, they would not have been at a loss to have repeated them when they were surrounded by the wild beasts; and then, no doubt, God Almighty would have saved them, as well as Harry Harmless; and instead of being the means of breaking their parents' hearts, they might have lived to have been the comfort and support of their old age, and perhaps have become as great men as you will find Little King Pippin did.
As Little King Pippin grew in years he rose in the esteem of every one who knew him, and his acquaintance was courted by all the good boys in the school, who frequently invited him, at the request of their parents, to spend the holidays with them. Among others, he went one Christmas with the son of Sir William Worthy, a wealthy London merchant. This gentleman, in whom merit always found[Pg 24] a friend, was so highly pleased with the engaging affability of King Pippin's disposition, as well as the great proficiency he had made in the several branches of learning, that he thenceforward took him under his protection, and as soon as he arrived at a proper age, placed him in his counting-house, in which situation be conducted himself so much to Sir William's satisfaction, that, having occasion to send out a person to superintend some plantations which he possessed abroad, King Pippin was fixed on for that purpose. A ship being provided, and every thing in readiness for the voyage, after taking a most affectionate leave of his parents and friends, he set sail for these plantations, which were situated in one of the West India[Pg 25] islands. About a fortnight after their departure, they had the misfortune to lose the Captain's son, a little boy about eight or nine years of age, who fell from the ship's side, when she was under full sail, and was drowned. This melancholy accident is another striking instance of the unhappy consequences of children's disobedience to their parents. The little boy, here alluded to, used frequently to get on the outside of the ship, and let himself down by a rope to paddle in the sea; he had been several times detected by his papa, in playing those frolics; and as often reproved for it, and warned of the danger, but to little purpose; for he was one of those headstrong undutiful children (of whom I fear there are too many) who, as soon as they are out of their parents' sight, forget the good advices and prudent cautions which have been given them, and pursue each idle fancy that enters their heads, without once considering either the folly or danger of it, till they are convinced, by fatal experience, that their parents are much more capable of judging what is proper for them than they are for themselves.
After this accident, they proceeded on their voyage for several weeks, with very favourable weather, and had got so near their destined harbour, that they expected to have made it the[Pg 26] next day, but in this they were unhappily disappointed; for about ten o'clock in the evening they were overtaken by the most violent storm that the oldest sailor on board had ever remembered. The waves, which broke mountains high over the ship, washed several of the sailors overboard, and the rest were so dispirited and fatigued, that they were obliged to let the ship drive at the mercy of the wind and waves.
The next morning, as soon as it was light, they perceived that the ship was carried towards the land with the greatest rapidity; and, as they every moment expected, about nine o'clock she struck upon a rock; the boat was immediately hoisted out, and every one on board crowded into her, except King Pippin, who imagining, that being overloaded, she could not possibly reach the shore, preferred remaining on the wreck. A very short time convinced him, that his suspicion was too well grounded; for before the boat was out of sight, she overset, and every one on board perished.
In this dangerous situation, expecting that the ship would go to pieces every moment, he continued till the afternoon, when the storm began to abate, and the sea became tolerably calm, and by the ebb of the tide the ship was[Pg 27] much nearer the land than when she first struck. King Pippin now conceived hopes of gaining the shore, by means of a raft which he had constructed in the best manner he could; and, furnishing himself with such things as he thought might be useful to him on shore, he let down his raft into the sea, and placing himself on it, began to paddle towards the land; he had proceeded about a mile with great difficulty, when a sudden gust of wind instantly overset his whole cargo, and he was obliged to swim near a mile farther before he could reach the shore.
After returning thanks to God Almighty for his great goodness towards him, in preserving[Pg 28] him alone of the whole ship's crew, King Pippin began to consider in what manner he should spend the night, which now drew on apace. Not knowing but there might be wild beasts on the island, he was for some time at a loss how to secure himself, till recollecting he had read, that Robinson Crusoe, when he was cast away on an uninhabited island, had spent the night on the top of a thick tree, he had recourse to the same method, and after the great fatigue he had undergone, slept very soundly till morning, when he descended from his new lodging, and walked several miles about the island, to discover if it was inhabited, but not being able to find the least traces of any human creature, he returned towards the sea-side, in hopes that some of the ship's provisions might be driven on shore; in this too, however, he was disappointed, and hunger obliged him to set about inventing a snare for taking some of the goats, of which he had seen great numbers in his morning walk, but they were so exceeding wild, that it proved a very laborious task, and employed the greatest part of King Pippin's time during his stay on the island; indeed he was sometimes so unsuccessful, that a few vegetables alone were his only sustenance for days together. Some months after he had been cast away on this[Pg 29] solitary place, being one day greatly fatigued, by a fruitless pursuit of some of these goats, he sat himself down on the side of a hill, and looking with desponding eyes towards the sea, he flattered himself that he saw something like a sail at a great distance; after gazing attentively for several hours, without once suffering his attention to be diverted from the wished for object, he was at last, to his unspeakable joy, convinced that it was a ship, and that she was making directly for the land: about five o'clock in the evening, they came to anchor at a small distance from the shore, and having hoisted out their boat, rowed directly into a little creek near the edge of a wood, where King Pippin, having descended from the hill, had concealed himself: as soon as they had landed, perceiving as well by their dress as their language, that they were his countrymen, he discovered himself to them, and was received with the greatest kindness and humanity; and to add to the happiness of his delivery, he found upon enquiry, that they were going to the same island for which he had been originally bound, but had been driven so far out of their course by a violent storm which they had encountered a few days before. Having repaired their vessel, and procured such refreshments as the place afforded,[Pg 30] in about a week they again set sail, and arrived at their destined port without any farther accident.
Immediately upon their arrival, King Pippin took upon him the care of Sir William Worthy's estate, and adopted such prudent regulations in the management of it, as rendered it in a few years almost double in its value; in return for which care and assiduity, he was taken into partnership by Sir William. This good fortune, however, did not fill his mind with that pride and ostentation too frequently attendant on success in life; King Pippin still continued the same engaging respect to his acquaintance, and the same courteous affability to his inferiors, which had marked his character in every sphere of life, nor did it pass unrewarded; for the governor of the island falling a sacrifice to those pestilential diseases which are common to hot climates, the inhabitants unanimously joined in a petition to the King requesting him to appoint King Pippin his successor to the government, recommending him as a person, endowed with every qualification requisite to the happiness of his subjects. Though virtue is generally a poor recommendation at court, in this instance it succeeded, and King Pippin was immediately appointed to the government of the island.[Pg 31]
It would fill a volume to relate the numerous acts of justice, humanity, and benevolence, performed by him during his government; suffice it therefore to say, that under so good a governor, the people enjoyed freedom, plenty, content, and happiness.
HOULSTONS, PRINTERS.[Pg 32]