A Tale of Two Heidis

The illustration to the left is from an older book, a full translation.

This first bit of text is from an abridgement, or more accurately, a ‘retelling.’  Read it, picturing the story in your mind (make a movie of it, or a series of book illustrations):

“Clara could hardly control her excitement when she learned of her grandmother’s visit.  She told Heidi all about her and how much fun it would be to have her in the house again.

When the day finally came, even Heidi was excited about Grandma’s visit.  As soon as Heidi saw the old woman, she loved her at once. She saw the kind expression in her eyes and the way her white hair curled in tiny ringlets about her face.  And grandma liked Heidi too.  Despite Miss Rottenmeier’s harsh words, Grandma knew that Heidi was a bright and loving child.

Not long after Grandma arrived, she discovered that while Clara took her afternoon nap, Heidi was left with nothing to do.  The child still had not learned to read and this concerned Grandma.  She could not understand why this was so.  She called Heidi downstairs and asked her to sit next to her while they looked at picture books.  Heidi was happy to have company in the afternoon and liked all the lovely pictures Grandma showed her.  But when they came to a picture of a green meadow with goats and sheep and a young shepherd, Heidi burst into tears. It reminded her of the home she loved so much and Peter and Grandfather, who were now so far away.

Grandma dried her tears and decided to ask her why she had not learned to read.  Heidi confessed that she knew she could never learn to read, since Peter had told her how hard he tried but could never learn either.  Grandmother told her that of course she could learn, and that she must try.  She asked Heidi if she would like to read the story that went with the picture of the green meadow and the animals.  Heidi thought about it for a minute.  How wonderful it would be if she could spend her lonely afternoons reading stories about faraway places!

One morning about a week later, Mr. Usher asked if he could speak with Grandma.  He was invited to her room, where he was greeted in the usual friendly way.

I have something quite remarkable to report, ” he said. “The impossible has happened.  Heidi has learned to read at least.  I never thought I would see the day!”

Grandma smiled.  That evening she gave Heidi the picture book as a present, and Heidi read the story about the meadow to Clara.”


Now, I’m a Charlotte Mason educator.  So I want to suggest you take a moment to narrate the above to yourself.  Draw a picture of it or simply retell it to yourself, picturing it in your head as vividly as possible.

Once you’ve done that (no cheating ,please), read the following, also picturing it in your mind as you read through.  Here is the same section as  found in an original translation on Gutenberg:


The following evening great expectation reigned in the house. Tinette had put on a new cap, Sebastian was placing footstools in front of nearly every armchair, and Miss Rottenmeier walked with great dignity about the house, inspecting everything.

When the carriage at last drove up, the servants flew downstairs, followed by Miss Rottenmeier in more measured step. Heidi had been sent to her room to await further orders, but it was not long before Tinette opened the door and said brusquely: “Go into the study!”

The grandmama, with her kind and loving way, immediately befriended the child and made her feel as if she had known her always. To the housekeeper’s great mortification, she called the child Heidi, remarking to Miss Rottenmeier: “If somebody’s name is Heidi, I call her so.”

The housekeeper soon found that she had to respect the grandmother’s ways and opinions. Mrs. Sesemann always knew what was going on in the house the minute she entered it. On the following afternoon Clara was resting and the old lady had shut her eyes for five minutes, when she got up again and went into the dining-room. With a suspicion that the housekeeper was probably asleep, she went to this lady’s room, knocking loudly on the door. After a while somebody stirred inside, and with a bewildered face Miss Rottenmeier appeared, staring at the unexpected visitor.

“Rottenmeier, where is the child? How does she pass her time? I want to know,” said Mrs. Sesemann.

“She just sits in her room, not moving a finger; she has not the slightest desire to do something useful, and that is why she thinks of such absurd things that one can hardly mention them in polite society.”

]”I should do exactly the same thing, if I were left alone like that. Please bring her to my room now, I want to show her some pretty books I have brought with me.”

“That is just the trouble. What should she do with books? In all this time she has not even learned the A,B,C for it is impossible to instil any knowledge into this being. If Mr. Candidate was not as patient as an angel, he would have given up teaching her long ago.”

“How strange! The child does not look to me like one who cannot learn the A,B,C,” said Mrs. Sesemann. “Please fetch her now; we can look at the pictures anyway.”

The housekeeper was going to say more, but the old lady had turned already and gone to her room. She was thinking over what she had heard about Heidi, making up her mind to look into the matter.

Heidi had come and was looking with wondering eyes at the splendid pictures in the large books  that Grandmama was showing her. Suddenly she screamed aloud, for there on the picture she saw a peaceful flock grazing on a green pasture. In the middle a shepherd was standing, leaning on his crook. The setting sun was shedding a golden light over everything. With glowing eyes Heidi devoured the scene; but suddenly she began to sob violently.

The grandmama took her little hand in hers and said in the most soothing voice: “Come, child, you must not cry. Did this remind you of something? Now stop, and I’ll tell you the story to-night. There are lovely stories in this book, that people can read and tell. Dry your tears now, darling, I must ask you something. Stand up now and look at me! Now we are merry again!”

Heidi did not stop at once, but the kind lady gave her ample time to compose herself, saying from time to time: “Now it’s all over. Now we’ll be merry again.”

When the child was quiet at last, she said: “Tell me now how your lessons are going. What have you learnt, child, tell me?”

“Nothing,” Heidi sighed; “but I knew that I never could learn it.”

“What is it that you can’t learn?”

“I can’t learn to read; it is too hard.”

“What next? Who gave you this information?”

“Peter told me, and he tried over and over again, but he could not do it, for it is too hard.”

“Well, what kind of boy is he? Heidi, you must not believe what Peter tells you, but try for yourself. I am sure you had your thoughts elsewhere when Mr. Candidate showed you the letters.”

“It’s no use,” Heidi said with such a tone as if she was resigned to her fate.

“I am going to tell you something, Heidi,” said the kind lady now. “You have not learnt to read because you have believed what Peter said. You shall believe me now, and I prophesy that you will learn it in a very short time, as a great many other children do that are like you and not like Peter. When you can read, I am going to give you this book. You have seen the shepherd on the green pasture, and then you’ll be able to find out all the strange things that happen to him. Yes, you can hear the whole story, and what he does with his sheep and his goats. You would like to know, wouldn’t you, Heidi?”

Heidi had listened attentively, and said now with sparkling eyes: “If I could only read already!”

“It won’t be long, I can see that. Come now and let us go to Clara.” With that they both went over to the study.

Since the day of Heidi’s attempted flight a great change had come over the child. She had realized that it would hurt her kind friends if she tried to go home again. She knew now that she could not leave, as her Aunt Deta had promised, for they all, especially Clara and her father and the old lady, would think her ungrateful. But the burden grew heavier in her heart and she lost her appetite, and got paler and paler. She could not get to sleep at night from longing to see the mountains with the flowers and the sunshine, and only in her dreams she would be happy. When she woke up in the morning, she always found herself on her high white bed, far away from home. Burying her head in her pillow, she would often weep a long, long time.

Mrs. Sesemann had noticed the child’s unhappiness, but let a few days pass by, hoping for a change. But the change never came, and often Heidi’s eyes were red even in the early morning. So she called the child to her room one day and said, with great sympathy in her voice: “Tell me, Heidi, what is the matter with you? What is making you so sad?”

But as Heidi did not want to appear thankless, she replied sadly: “I can’t tell you.”

“No? Can’t you tell Clara perhaps?”

“Oh, no, I can’t tell anyone,” Heidi said, looking so unhappy that the old lady’s heart was filled with pity.

“I tell you something, little girl,” she continued. “If you have a sorrow that you cannot tell to anyone, you can go to Our Father in Heaven. You can tell Him everything that troubles you, and if we ask Him He can help us and take our suffering away. Do you understand me, child? Don’t you pray every night? Don’t you thank Him for all His gifts and ask Him to protect you from evil?”

“Oh no, I never do that,” replied the child.

“Have you never prayed, Heidi? Do you know what I mean?”

“I only prayed with my first grandmother, but it is so long ago, that I have forgotten.”

“See, Heidi, I understand now why you are so unhappy. We all need somebody to help us, and just think how wonderful it is, to be able to go to the Lord, when something distresses us and causes us pain. We can tell Him everything and ask Him to comfort us, when nobody else can do it. He can give us happiness and joy.”

Heidi was gladdened by these tidings, and asked: “Can we tell Him everything, everything?”

“Yes, Heidi, everything.”

The child, withdrawing her hand from the grandmama, said hurriedly, “Can I go now?”

“Yes, of course,” was the reply, and with this Heidi ran to her room. Sitting down on a stool she folded her hands and poured out her heart to God, imploring Him to help her and let her go home to her grandfather.

About a week later, Mr. Candidate asked to see Mrs. Sesemann, to tell her of something unusual that had occurred. Being called to the lady’s room, he began: “Mrs. Sesemann, something has happened that I never expected,” and with many more words the happy grandmama was told that Heidi had suddenly learned to read with the utmost correctness, most rare with beginners.

“Many strange things happen in this world,” Mrs. Sesemann remarked, while they went over to the study to witness Heidi’s new accomplishment. Heidi was sitting close to Clara, reading her a story; she seemed amazed at the strange, new world that had opened up before her. At supper Heidi found the large book with the beautiful pictures on her plate, and looking doubtfully at grandmama, she saw the old lady nod. “Now it belongs to you, Heidi,” she said.

“Forever? Also when I am going home?” Heidi inquired, confused with joy.

“Certainly, forever!” the grandmama assured her. “Tomorrow we shall begin to read it.”

“But Heidi, you must not go home; no, not for many years,” Clara exclaimed, “especially when grandmama goes away. You must stay with me.”

Heidi still looked at her book before going to bed that night, and this book became her dearest treasure. She would look at the beautiful pictures and read all the stories aloud to Clara. Grandmama would quietly listen and explain something here and there, making it more beautiful than before. Heidi loved the pictures with the shepherd best of all; they told the story of the prodigal son, and the child would read and re-read it till she nearly knew it all by heart. Since Heidi had learned to read and possessed the book, the days seemed to fly, and the time had come near that the grandmama had fixed for her departure.”

Take a moment to think about what you’ve read.  Narrate it to yourself, or in the comments.  Or draw a picture.  Visualize it.  Dwell on the story.  Notice all the richness that is missing- not just the religious references, but the fuller descriptions, the motivation, the heart.

Heidi was not originally written in English, so any version we read in English is going to be a translation. Translations will vary a bit.  However, the first excerpt quoted above is not a translation. It’s not even an abridgement. It’s a complete butchering of the original story, discarding its heart, and leaving the reader with a few loosely disjointed plot scenes.

People often recommend these particular abridgements as being good for young children to begin with- they will then be interested in the original story later.  But why waste their time with this?  Let them read the many wonderful books already suitable for their age and reading level without the butchery, and read Heidi aloud together when they can follow the story (you’ll be surprised how young this might be).


Later I will share another comparison from the story of Heidi. Here you go.

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History of Science, Part II

from An Introduction to the History of Science, by Walter Libby, available free at Gutenberg:

Dr. Wilkins, the brother-in-law of Cromwell, who is regarded by some as the founder of the Royal Society, removed to Oxford, as Warden of Wadham, in 1649. Here he held meetings and conducted experiments in conjunction with Wallis, Goddard, Petty, Boyle, and others, including Ward (afterwards Bishop of Salisbury) interested in Bulliau’s Astronomy; and the celebrated physician and anatomist, Thomas Willis, author of a work on the brain (Cerebri Anatome), and another on fevers (De Febribus), in which he described epidemic typhoid as it occurred during the Civil War in 1643.

In the mean time the weekly meetings in London continued, and were attended when convenient by members of the Oxford group. At Gresham College by 1658 it was the custom to remain for discussion Wednesdays and Thursdays after Mr. Wren’s lecture and Mr. Rooke’s. During the unsettled state of the country after Cromwell’s death there was some interruption of the meetings, but with the accession of Charles II in 1660 there came a greater sense of security. New names appear on the records, Lord Brouncker, Sir Robert Moray, John Evelyn, Brereton, Ball, Robert Hooke, and Abraham Cowley.

Plans were discussed for a more permanent form of organization, especially on November 28, 1660, when something was said of a design to found a college for the promotion of physico-mathematical experimental learning. A few months later was published Cowley’s proposition for an endowed college with twenty professors, four of whom should be constantly traveling in the interests of science. The sixteen resident professors “should be bound to study[Pg 105] and teach all sorts of natural, experimental philosophy, to consist of the mathematics, mechanics, medicine, anatomy, chemistry, the history of animals, plants, minerals, elements, etc.; agriculture, architecture, art military, navigation, gardening; the mysteries of all trades and improvement of them; the facture of all merchandise, all natural magic or divination; and briefly all things contained in the Catalogue of Natural Histories annexed to my Lord Bacon’s Organon.” The early official history of the Royal Society (Sprat, 1667) says that this proposal hastened very much the adoption of a plan of organization. Cowley wished to educate youth and incur great expense (£4,000), but “most of the other particulars of his draught the Royal Society is now putting in practice.”

A charter of incorporation was granted in July, 1662; and, later, Charles II proclaimed himself founder and patron of the Royal Society for the advancement of natural science. Charles continued to take an interest in this organization, devoted to the discovery of truth by the corporate action of men; he proposed subjects for investigation, and asked their coöperation in a more accurate measurement of a degree of latitude. He showed himself tactful to take account of the democratic spirit of scientific investigation, and recommended to the Royal Society John Graunt, the author of a work on mortality statistics first published in 1661. Graunt was a shop-keeper of London, and Charles said that if they found any more such tradesmen, they should be sure to admit them all without more ado.

It was a recognized principle of the Society freely[Pg 106] to admit men of different religions, countries, professions. Sprat said that they openly professed, not to lay the foundation of an English, Scotch, Irish, Popish or Protestant philosophy, but a philosophy of mankind. They sought (hating war as most of them did) to establish a universal culture, or, as they phrased it, a constant intelligence throughout all civil nations. Even for the special purposes of the Society, hospitality toward all nations was necessary; for the ideal scientist, the perfect philosopher, should have the diligence and inquisitiveness of the northern nations, and the cold and circumspect and wary disposition of the Italians and Spaniards. Haak from the German Palatinate was one of the earliest Fellows of the Society, and is even credited by Wallis with being the first to suggest the meetings of 1645. Oldenburg from Bremen acted as secretary (along with Wilkins) and carried on an extensive foreign correspondence. Huygens of Holland was one of the original Fellows in 1663, while the names of Auzout, Sorbière, the Duke of Brunswick, Bulliau, Cassini, Malpighi, Leibnitz, Leeuwenhoek (as well as Winthrop and Roger Williams) appear in the records of the Society within the first decade. It seemed fitting that this cosmopolitan organization should be located in the world’s metropolis rather than in a mere university town. Sprat thought London the natural seat of a universal philosophy.

As already implied, the Royal Society was not exclusive in its attitude toward the different vocations. A spirit of true fellowship prevailed in Gresham College, as the Society was sometimes called. The medical profession, the universities, the churches, the[Pg 107] court, the army, the navy, trade, agriculture, and other industries were there represented. Social partition walls were broken down, and the Fellows, sobered by years of political and religious strife, joined, mutually assisting one another, in the advance of science for the sake of the common weal. Their express purpose was the improvement of all professions from the highest general to the lowest artisan. Particular attention was paid to the trades, the mechanic arts, and the fostering of inventions. One of their eight committees dealt with the histories of trades; another was concerned with mechanical inventions, and the king ordained in 1662 that no mechanical device should receive a patent before undergoing their scrutiny. A great many inventions emanated from the Fellows themselves—Hooke’s hygroscope; Boyle’s hydrometer, of use in the detection of counterfeit coin; and, again, the tablet anemometer used by Sir Christopher Wren (the Leonardo da Vinci of his age) to register the velocity of the wind. A third committee devoted itself to agriculture, and in the Society’s museum were collected products and curiosities of the shop, mine, sea, etc. One Fellow advised that attention should be paid even to the least and plainest of phenomena, as otherwise they might learn the romance of nature rather than its true history. So bent were they on preserving a spirit of simplicity and straightforwardness that in their sober discussions they sought to employ the language of artisans, countrymen, and merchants rather than that of wits and scholars.

Of course there was in the Society a predominance of gentlemen of means and leisure, “free and uncon[Pg 108]fined.” Their presence was thought to serve a double purpose. It checked the tendency to sacrifice the search of truth to immediate profit, and to lay such emphasis on application, as, in the words of a subsequent president of the Society, would make truth, and wisdom, and knowledge of no importance for their own sakes. In the second place their presence was held to check dogmatism on the part of the leaders, and subservience on the part of their followers. They understood how difficult it is to transmit knowledge without putting initiative in jeopardy and that quiet intellect is easily dismayed in the presence of bold speech. The Society accepted the authority of no one, and adopted as its motto Nullius in Verba.

In this attitude they were aided by their subject and method. Search for scientific truth by laboratory procedure does not favor dogmatism. The early meetings were taken up with experiments and discussions. The Fellows recognized that the mental powers are raised to a higher degree in company than in solitude. They welcomed diversity of view and the common-sense judgment of the onlooker. As in the Civil War the private citizen had held his own with the professional soldier, so here the contribution of the amateur to the discussion was not to be despised. They had been taught to shun all forms of narrowness and intolerance. They wished to avoid the pedantry of the mere scholar, and the allied states of mind to which all individuals are liable; they valued the concurring testimony of the well-informed assembly. In the investigation of truth by the experimental method they even arrived at the[Pg 109] view that “true experimenting has this one thing inseparable from it, never to be a fixed and settled art, and never to be limited by constant rules.” In its incipience at least it is evident that the Royal Society was filled with the spirit of tolerance and coöperation, and was singularly free from the spirit of envy and faction.”

Anybody care to narrate?

What struck you as you read?



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Davao Diary: Walking to School and Other Notes

I substituted to read aloud to one of the classes at the library again today, so I am now in my husband’s classroom using the better Wi-Fi. I wish I could set up a nice little recliner in the corner and just hang out all day, and then watch my K-dramas here in the evening, because I am not getting any.={

I have become something of the go-to sub for this particular class, I think.  The librarian knows me and she is basically their language arts teacher for these periods, which happen to coincide with the periods she is needing to be gone for some paperwork and other things.

The library assistant is a volunteer.  She is sometimes able to be there when I am, and sometimes not, and she doesn’t, I think, care to read aloud to the children.   She is also a missionary wife from Korea with 3 young children, two in the school. The last time I read aloud she was there, and she told me she found my reading so interesting she got distracted and didn’t get the books put away because she was listening. I had heard her snicker under her breath at a funny part from over the other side of the stacks. So that’s very gratifying, oh best beloveds.

Also, today is, I think, the third time I have read to this particular class, and they seemed excited to see me when they came in. And *that* is very gratifying, Oh, Best Beloveds.

They come up and talk to me after the story is done, and one favourite young miss (because as soon as the reading is over, she grabs a book and curls up and reads until it is time to go) asked me if I remembered her name. I didn’t, unfortunately, I just remembered she likes to curl up in the rocking chair and read. That seemed almost as good as remembering her name, happily.

Unfortunately, I fear I have not instilled the same sense of fondness in their regular teacher, because I never do finish what I am supposed to do with them in timely fashion and I fear this is annoying to her. I am sure it is. I intend to do better every time, but every week the children have such interesting things to say, so we don’t finish in time.

They are all third culture kids, too, which makes them even more interesting and engaging. They are surprisingly unawkward or bashful about the Cherub. They wave at her when they come in, and they are curious about and interested in her, but as another human being, different from those they have known so far, but very much still another person, not an oddity. It’s hard to explain, but it’s really cool to observe.

To get to school, the Cherub and I walk. If we took a cab it would cost about 1.50, and that seems silly for a 20 minute walk (it’s 10 minutes for my husband, 20 for us). If we took a bike it would be maybe .50 cents, and I would do that if I happened on a free bike soon enough on our walk, but mostly, I don’t. By Bike, this is the kind of thing I mean: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/philippine-land-transportat…

Most of our walk is fine, although the road is uneven in our neighborhood and sometimes we stumble because of that, and this country is blazing hot, so when we arrive I am tomato faced and dripping in sweat.  I lost my umbrella or I would use it like every smart Asian lady, to avoid the heat of the sun.  Today I brought along a cotton scarf and tossed it over my head for relief from the sun, and it worked, in case you wonder.  I often see Filipinos out and about with random things on their heads for sun protection- a wash cloth, a t-shirt, a towel, the t-shirt they were wearing earlier (common attire for young men of a certain age and time of day, basket ball shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt on their heads).

There are also three of four of the men from the neighborhood sitting in the shade outside of the sari-sari store visiting as we walk by.  Half a dozen neighborhood dogs are panting in the shade by the side of the road.  We usually pass a carabao or two (once three of them). It sounds quite rural, and our actual neighborhood is.   But then we turn the corner, leave our area and come to a very busy thoroughfare.  And here there is one short stretch of road that is very, very busy, on a curve, and has no sidewalk, so we have to walk in the street. (or the mud on a rainy day, as we did last week).
In the U.S. this would be a nightmare, and I own I do not love that stretch. But, again, here they drive defensively, not offensively (mostly, I did spy a taxi deliberately bump into a dog that wouldn’t move today). As vehicles round that curve and see us, they slow down, pull far over to the center of the road. Even vehicles coming the opposite direction slow a bit and hug the curb to give the drivers on our side of the road room to give us a wide berth.

Last week we had to take our walk here in between two horrific rain storms. I figured I’d end up with mud splattered all over me, because I didn’t see how vehicles could avoid splashing through mud puddles nearby and splattering some on us- but they did. They slowed down to a gentle roll when puddles near us were unavoidable, even the massive garbage filled dumptruck (which had, we saw as it came nearer, large letters on the front bumper spelling out ‘God bless you.’).

The courtesy behind the wheel remains one of the most delightful differences between there and here to me.

Note 1: yes, there are things I won’t miss when I go home, but I am still very much in observation mode, no place is perfect anyway, and I am a guest. I’ll let people who call this home make the criticisms.

Note 2. Carabao= Water Buffalo

Note 3.  The dog was fine. It was a mere tap, really, and the taxi driver had honked twice already.

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A History of Science


The period from 1637 to 1687 affords a good illustration of the value for the progress of science of the coöperation in the pursuit of truth of men of different creeds, nationalities, vocations, and social ranks. At, or even before, the beginning of that period the need of coöperation was indicated by the activities of two men of pronouncedly social temperament and interests, namely, the French Minim father, Mersenne, and the Protestant Prussian merchant, Samuel Hartlib.

Mersenne was a stimulating and indefatigable correspondent. His letters to Galileo, Jean Rey, Hobbes, Descartes, Gassendi, not to mention other scientists and philosophers, constitute an encyclopedia of the learning of the time. A mathematician and experimenter himself, he had a genius for eliciting discussion and research by means of adroit questions. Through him Descartes was drawn into debate with Hobbes, and with Gassendi, a champion of the experimental method. Through him the discoveries of Harvey, Galileo, and Torricelli, as well as of many others, became widely known. His letters, in the dearth of scientific associations and the absence of scientific periodicals, served as a general news agency among the learned of his time. It is not surprising that a coterie gathered about him at Paris. Hobbes[Pg 100] spent months in daily intercourse with this group of scientists in the winter of 1636-37.

Hartlib, though he scarcely takes rank with Mersenne as a scientist, was no less influential. Of a generous and philanthropic disposition, he repeatedly impoverished himself in the cause of human betterment. His chief reliance was on education and improved methods of husbandry, but he resembled Horace Greeley in his hospitality to any project for the public welfare.

One of Hartlib’s chief hopes for the regeneration of England, if not of the whole world, rested on the teachings of the educational reformer Comenius, a bishop of the Moravian Brethren. In 1637, Comenius having shown himself rather reluctant to put his most cherished plans before the public, his zealous disciple precipitated matters, and on his own responsibility, and unknown to Comenius, issued from his library at Oxford Preludes to the Endeavors of Comenius. Besides Hartlib’s preface it contained a treatise by the great educator on a Seminary of Christian Pansophy, a method of imparting an encyclopedic knowledge of the sciences and arts.

The two friends were followers of the Baconian philosophy. They were influenced, as many others of the time, by the New Atlantis, which went through ten editions between 1627 and 1670, and which outlined a plan for an endowed college with thirty-six Fellows divided into groups—what would be called to-day a university of research endowed by the State. It is not surprising to find Comenius (who in his student days had been under the influence of Alsted, author of an encyclopedia on Baco[Pg 101]nian lines) speaking in 1638 on the need of a collegiate society for carrying on the educational work that he himself had at heart.

In 1641 Hartlib published a work of fiction in the manner of the New Atlantis, and dedicated it to the Long Parliament. In the same year he urged Comenius to come to London, and published another work, A Reformation of Schools. He had great influence and did not hesitate to use it in his adoptive country. Everybody knew Hartlib, and he was acquainted with all the strata of English society; for although his father had been a merchant, first in Poland and later in Elbing, his mother was the daughter of the Deputy of the English Company in Dantzic and had relatives of rank in London, where Hartlib spent most of his life. He gained the good-will of the Puritan Government, and even after Cromwell’s death was working, in conjunction with Boyle, for the establishment of a national council of universal learning with Wilkins as president.

When Comenius arrived in London he learned that the invitation had been sent by order of Parliament. This body was very anxious to take up the question of education, especially university education. Bacon’s criticisms of Oxford and Cambridge were still borne in mind; the legislators considered that the college curriculum was in need of reformation, that there ought to be more fraternity and correspondence among the universities of Europe, and they even contemplated the endowment by the State of scientific experiment. They spoke of erecting a university at London, where Gresham College had been established in 1597 and Chelsea College in[Pg 102] 1610. It was proposed to place Gresham College, the Savoy, or Winchester College, at the disposition of the pansophists. Comenius thought that nothing was more certain than that the design of the great Verulam concerning the opening somewhere of a universal college, devoted to the advancement of the sciences, could be carried out. The impending struggle, however, between Charles I and the Parliament prevented the attempt to realize the pansophic dream, and the Austrian Slav, who knew something of the horrors of civil war, withdrew, discouraged, to the Continent.

Nevertheless, Hartlib did not abandon the cause, but in 1644 broached Milton on the subject of educational reform, and drew from him the brief but influential tract on Education. In this its author alludes rather slightingly to Comenius, who had something of Bacon’s infelicity in choice of titles and epithets and who must have seemed outlandish to the author of Lycidas and Comus. But Milton joined in the criticism of the universities—the study of words rather than things—and advocated an encyclopedic education based on the Greek and Latin writers of a practical and scientific tendency (Aristotle, Theophrastus, Cato, Varro, Vitruvius, Seneca, and others). He outlined a plan for the establishment of an institution to be known by the classical (and Shakespearian) name “Academy”—a plan destined to have a great effect on education in the direction indicated by the friends of pansophia.

In this same year Robert Boyle, then an eager student of eighteen just returned to England from residence abroad, came under the influence of the[Pg 103] genial Hartlib. In 1646 he writes his tutor inquiring about books on methods of husbandry and referring to the new philosophical college, which valued no knowledge but as it had a tendency to use. A few months later he was in correspondence with Hartlib in reference to the Invisible College, and had written a third friend that the corner-stones of the invisible, or, as they termed themselves, the philosophical college, did now and then honor him with their company. These philosophers whom Boyle entertained, and whose scientific acumen, breadth of mind, humility, and universal good-will he found so congenial, were the nucleus of the Royal Society of London, of which, on its definite organization in 1662, he was the foremost member. They had begun to meet together in London about 1645, worthy persons inquisitive into natural philosophy—Wilkins, interested in the navigation of the air and of waters below the surface; Wallis, mathematician and grammarian; the many-sided Petty, political economist, and inventor of a double-bottomed boat, who had as a youth of twenty studied with Hobbes in Paris in 1643, and in 1648 was to write his first treatise on industrial education at the suggestion of Hartlib, and finally make a survey of Ireland and acquire large estates; Foster, professor of astronomy at Gresham College; Theodore Haak from the Pfalz; a number of medical men, Dr. Merret, Dr. Ent, a friend of Harvey, Dr. Goddard, who could always be relied upon to undertake an experiment, Dr. Glisson, the physiologist, author in 1654 of a treatise on the liver (De Hepate), and others. They met once a week at Goddard’s in Wood Street, at the Bull’s Head Tavern in Cheapside, and at Gresham College.

From An Introduction to the History of Science, by Walter Libby, available free at Gutenberg. To be continued


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Hans Brinker and Hans Brinker

Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, Preface
This little work aims to combine the instructive features of a book of travels with the interest of a domestic tale. Throughout its pages the descriptions of Dutch localities, customs, and general characteristics have been given with scrupulous care. Many of its incidents are drawn from life, and the story of Raff Brinker is founded strictly upon fact.
While acknowledging my obligations to many well-known writers on Dutch history, literature, and art, I turn with especial gratitude to those kind Holland friends who, with generous zeal, have taken many a backward glance at their country for my sake, seeing it as it looked twenty years ago, when the Brinker home stood unnoticed in sunlight and shadow.
Should this simple narrative serve to give my young readers a just idea of Holland and its resources, or present true pictures of its inhabitants and their every-day life, or free them from certain current prejudices concerning that noble and enterprising people, the leading desire in writing it will have been satisfied.
Should it cause even one heart to feel a deeper trust in God’s goodness and love, or aid any in weaving a life, wherein, through knots and entanglements, the golden thread shall never be tarnished or broken, the prayer with which it was begun and ended will have been answered.

Great Illustrated Classics Preface:
There is no preface. There is a short two page ‘about the author’ spread, which does mention that she wrote articles about “strong minded, independent women who made a place for themselves in American history,” but dos not refer to her faith or her hopes for the book.

The first chapter in the original:
On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland.
The sun had not yet appeared, but the gray sky was parted near the horizon, and its edges shone crimson with the coming day. Most of the good Hollanders were enjoying a placid morning nap. Even Mynheer von Stoppelnoze, that worthy old Dutchman, was still slumbering “in beautiful repose”.
Now and then some peasant woman, poising a well-filled basket upon her head, came skimming over the glassy surface of the canal; or a lusty boy, skating to his day’s work in the town, cast a good-natured grimace toward the shivering pair as he flew along.
Meanwhile, with many a vigorous puff and pull, the brother and sister, for such they were, seemed to be fastening something to their feet—not skates, certainly, but clumsy pieces of wood narrowed and smoothed at their lower edge, and pierced with holes, through which were threaded strings of rawhide.
These queer-looking affairs had been made by the boy Hans. His mother was a poor peasant woman, too poor even to think of such a thing as buying skates for her little ones. Rough as these were, they had afforded the children many a happy hour upon the ice. And now, as with cold, red fingers our young Hollanders tugged at the strings—their solemn faces bending closely over their knees—no vision of impossible iron runners came to dull the satisfaction glowing within.
In a moment the boy arose and, with a pompous swing of the arms and a careless “Come on, Gretel,” glided easily across the canal.
“Ah, Hans,” called his sister plaintively, “this foot is not well yet. The strings hurt me on last market day, and now I cannot bear them tied in the same place.”
“Tie them higher up, then,” answered Hans, as without looking at her he performed a wonderful cat’s cradle step on the ice.
“How can I? The string is too short.”
Giving vent to a good-natured Dutch whistle, the English of which was that girls were troublesome creatures, he steered toward her.
“You are foolish to wear such shoes, Gretel, when you have a stout leather pair. Your klompen *{Wooden shoes.} would be better than these.”
“Why, Hans! Do you forget? The father threw my beautiful new shoes in the fire. Before I knew what he had done, they were all curled up in the midst o the burning peat. I can skate with these, but not with my wooden ones. Be careful now—”
Hans had taken a string from his pocket. Humming a tune as he knelt beside her, he proceeded to fasten Gretel’s skate with all the force of his strong young arm.
“Oh! oh!” she cried in real pain.
With an impatient jerk Hans unwound the string. He would have cast it on the ground in true big-brother style, had he not just then spied a tear trickling down his sister’s cheek.
“I’ll fix it—never fear,” he said with sudden tenderness, “but we must be quick. The mother will need us soon.”
Then he glanced inquiringly about him, first at the ground, next at some bare willow branches above his head, and finally at the sky, now gorgeous with streaks of blue, crimson, and gold.
Finding nothing in any of these localities to meet his need, his eye suddenly brightened as, with the air of a fellow who knew what he was about, he took off his cap and, removing the tattered lining, adjusted it in a smooth pad over the top of Gretel’s worn-out shoe.
“Now,” he cried triumphantly, at the same time arranging the strings as briskly as his benumbed fingers would allow, “can you bear some pulling?”
Gretel drew up her lips as if to say, “Hurt away,” but made no further response.
In another moment they were all laughing together, as hand in hand they flew along the canal, never thinking whether the ice would bear them or not, for in Holland ice is generally an all-winter affair. It settles itself upon the water in a determined kind of way, and so far from growing thin and uncertain every time the sun is a little severe upon it, it gathers its forces day by day and flashes defiance to every beam.
Presently, squeak! squeak! sounded something beneath Hans’ feet. Next his strokes grew shorter, ending oftimes with a jerk, and finally, he lay sprawling upon the ice, kicking against the air with many a fantastic flourish.

(continued, this is just the beginning)

The first chapter in Great Illustrated Classics:

Long ago, in the 1840’s, on a cold but bright December morning, two children were kneeling on the bank of a frozen canal in Holland. Ice covered that country’s canals all winter long, and skating was the main means of transportation.
The children’s thin jackets barely warmed their shivering bodies, but fifteen year old Hans Brinker and his twelve-year-old sister, Gretel, didn’t pay much attention to the cold, as their numb red fingers tried to fasten “things” onto their feet.

Those strange-looking “things” were were clumsy pieces of wood which Hans had carved into runners. They were pierced with holes into which he threaded strips of rawhide, which tied around their shes and feet. These took the place of regular ice skates, which their poor peasant mother couldn’t afford to buy for them, but which still managed to give Hans and Gretel many happy hours on the ice.

“Come on, Gretel,” Ccalled Hans as he stood up and glided smoothly across the canal, avoiding the peasant women on their way to market and the young men on their way to work.

“I can’t, Hans,” groaned his sister. “My right foot still hurts from where the string cut it the last time I wore the skates.”

“Then tie them higher,” said her brother, intent on the circles he was makig on the ice.

“I can’t! The string is too short!”

“Troublesome girls!” he muttered, throwing his arms up in the air, but skating towards his sister anyway. “You really should have worn your heavy leather shoes, Gretel.”

“Oh, Hans, have you forgotten? Father threw them in the fire.” And tears began trickling down Gretel’s cheeks.

Hans knelt beside his sister. “I’ll fix it,” he said gently as he took off his cap and tore out the ragged lining. He folded it over and made a pad of it, then adjusted it over the top of Gretel’s worn-out shoe and wound the strings around her foot. “We’d better hurry though. Mother will be needing us soon.”
In another moment the two were laughing as hand in hand they flew along the frozen canal. But within moments, Hans’s smooth glides turned into squeaky jerks and he finally lay sprawled on the ice.”

Here is a small section from a later chapter, in the original:
“I hope so, Hans, with all my heart. You are in haste to turn homeward, I see. Promise me that should you need a friend, you will go to my mother in Broek. Tell her I bade you see her. And, Hans Brinker, not as a reward, but as a gift, take a few of these guilders.”
Hans shook his head resolutely.
“No, no, mynheer. I cannot take it. If I could find work in Broek or at the South Mill, I would be glad, but it is the same story everywhere—‘Wait until spring’”.
“It is well you speak of it,” said Peter eagerly, “for my father needs help at once. Your pretty chain pleased him much. He said, ‘That boy has a clean cut; he would be good at carving.’ There is to be a carved portal to our new summer house, and father will pay well for the job.”
“God is good!” cried Hans in sudden delight. “Oh, mynheer, that would be too much joy. I have never tried big work, but I can do it. I know I can.”
“Well, tell my father you are the Hans Brinker of whom I spoke. He will be glad to serve you.”
Hans stared in honest surprise.
“Thank you, mynheer.”

The same section in Great Illustrated Classics:
“I hope so, Hans, with all my heart.. Now start for home immediately and promise me that if you need anything, you[ll go to my mother. She’ll be glad to help you. And plase take a few of these guilders, not as a reward but as a gift from a friend.”

“No, no, sir. I can’t I’ll only take money when I earn it, thought I haven’t had any luck finding work lately.”

“Now that you mention it, Hans, my father needs help right now. He was so impressed with the carving you did on my sister’s chain that he wants you to carve a door for our new summer house. He’ll pay you well.”

“Oh, sir, that would be a joy! I’ve never carved anything so big as a door, but I know I can do to it. And thank you, sir.”

There are around fifty references to God in the original. I do not think one of them made it into this copy.

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