The school children of Cambridge


The poet, Longfellow, once wrote in his diary, “We have but one life
to live on earth; we must make that beautiful.” The story of this
beautiful life began at his birth in Portland, Me., February 27, 1807.
He was the second of eight children. His father was an honored lawyer
and his mother was a woman of refinement, a descendant of John Alden
of the Mayflower. Henry was a noble, tender-hearted boy. One day when
he went shooting, he killed a robin. The piteous look of the little
fearless thing so pained him that he never went shooting again. The
first book he loved was Irving’s “Sketch-Book.” Its strange stories of
“Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” pleased his fancy. During each
summer he used to visit his Grandfather Wadsworth’s estate of seven
thousand acres, just outside Portland, where they told him tales of
’76. The story of the fight with the Indians impressed him so deeply
that at the age of thirteen he wrote his first poem, “The Battle of
Lovell’s Pond,” which he slipped into an envelope and mailed to a
newspaper, telling no one but his sister. He walked up and down in
front of the printing-office, shivering in the cold, and wondering if
his poem was being put in print. Next morning there was the poem,
signed “Henry.” He read it again and again, and thought it a fine poem.
In the evening he and his father were visiting at a neighbor’s house,
when the neighbor said to Mr. Longfellow, “Did you see the little
poem in to-day’s paper?” “No,” said Mr. Longfellow, “is it good for
anything?” “No,” said the neighbor, “it’s stiff, and it’s all borrowed,
every word; why, your boy there could write much better than that!”
Poor Henry’s heart sank. He hurried home and sobbed himself to sleep
that night. Yet criticism did not discourage this brave boy. He kept
trying, saying, “I will succeed,” and he became the best-loved poet
of the world. At fourteen he graduated from Portland Academy, and at
eighteen from Bowdoin College. After three years’ travel in Europe, he
became professor of modern languages in his alma mater for five years,
and then for eighteen years professor of literature in Harvard, being
succeeded by James Russell Lowell. The school children of Cambridge
celebrated his seventy-second birthday by presenting him with a chair
carved from the wood of the chestnut tree under which stood the village
smithy that he made famous in his poem, “The Village Blacksmith.” The
poet greatly appreciated this gift, and wrote one of his best poems
about it. Each boy and girl who came was allowed to sit in the chair
and each received a copy of a poem that Longfellow wrote. The same year
fifteen hundred children of Cincinnati celebrated his birthday with
recitations from his poems and singing his songs. His marble statue
stands in the “Poet’s Corner,” in Westminster Abbey in London, England.
His grave is in Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge. On his tombstone
is the simple inscription: “Longfellow.” That is enough. There are
few schoolboys in America or England who do not know the story of his
beautiful life, or who have not recited his words in “A Psalm of Life”:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time–

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, may take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the greatest musicians and composers
that ever lived, was born in Salzburg, Germany, January 27, 1756. His
father was a famous violinist. At the age of three little Wolfgang
loved to hear the playing of his sister Maria, who was just five
years older. At four he was able to play minuets and compose little
pieces. At five he played in public, and at six composed a difficult
concerto for a full orchestra. One day before he was seven, his father
was walking in the country with him when they came to a great church
which contained the largest organ Wolfgang had ever seen. “Father,
let me play it,” he said. Well pleased, his father began to blow the
bellows. Wolfgang pushed aside the high stool, stood upon the pedals,
and began playing. Softly at first the deep tones rose, awakening the
stillness of the old church, and then the strains swelled louder and
louder until all who heard marveled that a young child could play such
wonderful music. No wonder the father was proud of his two children.
No wonder the palaces of Europe were opened to them and that they were
petted, admired, and loaded with caresses and presents. The little
boy’s charming appearance and cheerful disposition endeared him to all.
So innocent and natural was his manner that at Vienna he sprang up
into the Empress’s lap and kissed her heartily. In another place when
he slipped upon the polished floor, Marie Antoinette lifted him up,
and he said, “You are very kind. When I grow up I will marry you.” He
always loved his father, and was always gentle and obedient, saying,
“Next after God is my father.” Though so modest, he played without fear
before kings.

Many musicians were jealous of his genius and said, “A trick is being
played on the people.” So one day he was invited to the house of a
famous musician to play before a number of great performers. The old
musician gave him the most difficult piece he had ever written, knowing
Mozart had never seen it, and to the wonder of all, he played it so
splendidly they were convinced of his great genius. But as the envy of
his enemies did not decrease, he was obliged to seek Italy to earn his
living. At Rome he went to the Sistine Chapel to hear the celebrated
“Miserere,” which, on returning home, he wrote down note by note–a
feat which created a great sensation, for the singers were forbidden to
transcribe the music on penalty of dismissal. So delighted was the pope
with him that he presented Mozart with the Order of the Golden Spur.
He played the harp, the organ, the violin, and every instrument in the
orchestra. He composed many operas as well as church music and concert
music. Perhaps the happiest part of his life was when he traveled with
his sister and his beloved father, revealing the wonders of his musical
genius to the great of the earth, not for money or fame, but for the
great pleasure he gave and received from his art.

One day a stranger called on him, requesting him to compose a requiem,
and offering to pay him for this in advance. Mozart worked hard at
it, but when the stranger returned it was not ready, and he paid the
musician some more money in advance for it. When the stranger called
the third time, Mozart was dead; and the requiem still unfinished. When
he died he was very poor, and the few friends he had, because it rained
on the day of his funeral, left him unattended, to be carried to his
grave in a potter’s field. Thus he, who had in his lifetime produced so
much wonderful music, was buried unhonored and unsung, without funeral
ceremony or acclaim. But to-day, not only in Germany but over all the
earth, the music of his immortal name is heard, and his praise is sung.


In the quaint little town of Bergen, in Norway, February 5, 1810, was
born a boy, the eldest of ten children. His father was a chemist, and
his mother a noble, intelligent woman, and they both loved music.
Little Ole Bull would often crawl under the settee or sofa to listen
to the music when his relatives came to his home to sing and practise,
and he was often whipped, when discovered, for being so naughty. He
loved music, and when he was in the field, where he often played
alone, he thought he heard the music of the little bluebells swinging
in the wind, as he lay among the flowers. When he was four years old
his uncle gave him a yellow violin. He kissed it in his delight, and
began to learn the notes at the same time that he did his letters,
and although forbidden to play until after study hours, he often
forgot and was punished both at home and in school. When he was eight
years old a music-teacher was provided, and his father bought him a
new, red violin. That night Ole could not sleep. In his night-dress
he stole to the room where the violin lay, and because it was so red
and so pretty, and the pearl screws smiled at him, he just pinched
the strings, and when it smiled more and more, he had to try the bow,
and then he forgot that it was night and everybody asleep, so he
played, very softly at first, and then he kept on forgetting until
suddenly–crack went his father’s whip across Ole’s back, and the
little red violin fell to the floor and was broken. He said, “I wept
much for it, but it did no good, for the doctor never could make it
well.” But he kept on with his study, and in two years he began to
compose his own music, making his violin sing with the birds and brook,
the roar of the waterfall, the dripping of the rain, and the whispering
of the wind. When Ole was eighteen he went to the University at
Christiania, where he attracted the attention of one of the professors,
who encouraged him to give concerts and later aided him with money
to go to Paris. In that great city no one cared for this unknown
violinist, and he could not get a chance to play. One day when he had
but little money left, an old man who lived in the same house with him
advised the violinist to draw all his money out of the bank, pretending
that it was not safe there. Ole drew his money out, and that night the
old man stole all Ole’s money and clothes, leaving him penniless in
the strange city. In his distress he sought a new home in a house with
a card in the window, “Furnished Rooms to Let.” He went up the steps
and when the woman saw how ill and poor he looked, she said there was
no room. But her little granddaughter said, “Look at him, grandmamma.”
The old lady put on her glasses and saw he looked like her son who had
died, and so she took Ole in and nursed him tenderly through brain
fever. Later little Felice, the granddaughter, became Ole’s wife. A
nobleman asked him to play at a grand concert, where he earned three
hundred dollars. Then he took lessons of some great teachers and made
a tour of the world on which he received great sums for his playing.
In America his audiences went wild with delight. He used to visit the
asylums and hospitals and play for the inmates. All through his life
he tried to help others, not only with his music, but with his money.
His sweet wife and his beautiful children died, and he was left alone,
but he was never too sorrowful or too busy to help the most humble who
came to him. He died at his beautiful home near Bergen, Norway. At
his funeral the rich and great gathered to honor him, and after his
body was lowered into its flower-hung grave, the poor peasants came by
hundreds with their green boughs or sprigs of fern or wildflowers and
filled his grave with them–because they loved him!


Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pa., November 29, 1832.
Her father was a cultured school-teacher and her mother of an old
aristocratic family. Louisa was the eldest of four daughters, whose
happy life she pictures in “Little Women,” herself being “Jo.” She was
a wild, happy-hearted, enthusiastic girl, preferring whistling and
romping and boys’ games rather than girls’. Their home was frequently
visited by such literary people as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, who
were her father’s friends. At eight years of age she wrote this poem of
eight lines:

Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
Fear no harm and fear no danger;
We are glad to see you here,
For you sing, “Sweet spring is near.”
Now the white snow melts away;
Now the flowers blossom gay.
Come, dear bird, and build your nest
For we love our robin best.

Her mother preserved this poem, and told her if she kept on she might
one day be a second Shakespeare. She was fond of telling fairy stories
to amuse her sisters and friends, and often turned the old tales into
little plays which the children acted in a barn. One of these plays
was “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” A squash vine, placed in the barn, was
the bean-stalk, and when it was cut down the boy who played Giant,
would come tumbling down from the hay-loft. At thirteen she wrote the
beautiful poem, “My Kingdom.” After she became a school-teacher she
was always helping somebody, taking care of an invalid or the poor,
or sewing to help her mother. She continued to write stories. Some of
the stories were rejected and the publisher advised her to stick to
her school-teaching. Returning from the Civil War, where she had been
a valued nurse to the wounded soldiers, she presented, through her
father, several short stories to a publisher, who rejected them, with
the advice that she write a story for girls. She thought she could not
do that, and wrote “Little Women” to prove that she could not, but it
is perhaps the best-loved girls’ story ever written. Then she wrote
“Little Men,” of which fifty thousand copies were ordered before it was
printed. She received one hundred thousand dollars for her books. Her
life-desire was now realized in having money enough to make her family
comfortable. Her father died in 1888, and she followed him only three
days after. Miss Louisa May Alcott, besides being a writer, was also an
earnest advocate of woman suffrage and temperance.


Rosa was born in poverty. Her father, an artist too, was compelled to
give drawing lessons, and her mother had to go from house to house
teaching music to assist in supporting their four children. Her mother
dying when Rosa was twelve years old, and her father marrying again,
the gifted girl was sent away to school where she spent most of her
time in drawing funny pictures of her teachers. Later her father taught
her to copy the old masters in the Louvre. When she was seventeen she
determined her life-work–animal painting; but being too poor to buy
models, she would take long walks into the country to study and draw
living animals, and later on kept a sheep on her roof-garden for a
model. At nineteen she sent two pictures to the Fine Arts Exposition,
“Goat and Sheep” and “Two Rabbits,” and others soon followed. When her
father died she took his place as Director of the School of Design for
Girls, and her sister, Juliette, became a teacher in the same school.
She studied eighteen months before painting “The Horse Fair,” which
famous picture was purchased in England for eight thousand dollars,
and later by A. T. Stewart, of New York, and is now in his collection
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Landseer, the great English artist,
said of her “Horse Fair,” “It surpasses me, although it’s a little
hard to be beaten by a woman.” When at her work Rosa Bonheur often
dressed in male attire with a large, white collar. She was always busy,
cheerful, and generous. Her pictures brought her large sums, which she
spent not only in providing for her family and old servants, but in
generously assisting poor students. She had one of the most beautiful
studios in Paris. When Prussia conquered France the Prussian soldiers
were ordered not to disturb Rosa Bonheur or her servants. The poor
idolized this wonderful woman, for she always loved them. She died at
her home May 25, 1899. But through her wonderful works she still helps
us to see the beauty of common things and to feel the poetry in what
might seem the drudgery of life.


Jenny Lind, the “Swedish nightingale,” fills a place all her own among
the world’s great artists of song. Gifted in voice, beautiful in face,
lovely in character, a princess among givers, the guardian angel of the
poor and unfortunate, she was for many years the idol of all classes of
people, adored not simply for her talent, but also as one of the most
perfect of women. She was born in Stockholm, Sweden, October 6, 1820.
Her father was a good-natured man, who enjoyed song, but he was unable
to provide for his family. Her mother was a woman of determination, who
helped care for the family by teaching school. When very small Jenny
showed a love for the singing of birds, and often when she sang to her
pet cat, as it sat with a blue ribbon around its neck in the window,
people in the street used to listen and wonder. One day a lady heard
the child’s voice, and said, “She is a genius; she must be trained.”
At nine she sang before the music-master of the Royal Theater, and he
was moved to tears and at once accepted her, and for ten years she was
educated in singing and elocution at the expense of the government
of Sweden. Jenny began to act and sing in the Royal Theater at ten,
and sang and played continuously until she was twenty. From twelve to
fifteen she sang in concerts, and the Swedish people became very proud
of her. At twenty she was made a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of
Music, and was appointed court singer. The progress in her art led her
to devote four hours or more daily for almost a year in practising the
scales and exercises under a great teacher in Paris. Then she began to
travel through Europe, singing before kings, nobles, and distinguished
people, and to crowded audiences who hailed her as “the first singer
of the world,” and paid enormous prices to hear her. At last she
consented to sing in the United States. When she arrived at New York
thousands were on the dock eager to catch a glimpse of her. Triumphal
arches surmounted by eagles bore the inscription, “Welcome, Jenny Lind.
Welcome to America!” At the first concert, where thousands listened
enchanted to her in Castle Garden in New York, some persons paid as
high as six hundred and fifty dollars for a single ticket. Jenny
Lind’s share for this one concert was nearly ten thousand dollars. She
immediately sent for the mayor of the city and distributed the whole
amount among charitable institutions. Throughout her life she felt that
the money she earned was only hers in trust, as well as her voice. She
said: “It is a great joy and a gift from God to be allowed to earn so
much money and afterward to help one’s fellow men with it. This is the
highest joy I wish for in life.” Everywhere she gave benefit concerts
for charitable institutions or for individuals in need. In New York
alone she gave away forty thousand dollars in charities. When warned
against so much liberality, as some unworthy persons would seek aid,
she always replied, “Never mind, if I assist ten and one is worthy,
I am satisfied.” At thirty-one she married Mr. Otto Goldschmidt,
of Hamburg, an accomplished musician, and they secured a beautiful
residence in England, where they lived most happily for many years,
until her death, November 2, 1887, at the age of sixty-seven. Queen
Victoria, who had often heard her sing and who greatly honored her,
sent a wreath of beautiful white flowers.

Mendelssohn said of her, “I never met so noble, so true, and real an
art nature as Jenny Lind.” N. P. Willis said: “To give away more
money in charity than any other mortal; to be humble, simple, genial,
unassuming, and still be the first of prima donnas; to have begun as a
beggar girl and risen to receive more honor than a queen, this is the
combination that makes the wonder of a dozen heroines in one single


When the Hall of Fame was opened in New York City, George Washington
was found to have the votes of one hundred per cent of the electors,
and Abraham Lincoln came next with ninety-nine per cent. Lincoln, the
great emancipator of four million slaves, and the preserver of the
nation’s unity, came next to Washington, the Father and first President
of his country. In Harden, now Larue County, Ky., February 12, 1809,
he was born and grew up in such poverty as few boys have ever known.
His mother died when the little fellow was very young, so that not
until little Abe was seven years old, and his stepmother, a woman of
energy and intelligence, took charge of the desolate household, did
the shaggy-headed, ragged, barefoot, forlorn lad begin “to feel like a
human being.” From the time he could hold an axe in his little hand he
was expected to work. His father was a lazy, shiftless, “poor Southern
white,” which is the last word in unthrift. He hired out Abe to the
neighbors to plow, dig ditches, chop wood, drive oxen, and “tend the
baby” when a farmer’s wife was busy, keeping all the scanty wages Abe
earned and growling because the lad loved to read when he had finished
his work. Often he came home at night all aching with cold and wet,
not to lounge at leisure as other boys, but while his parents slept,
he rolled another log on the fire to give him light, or by the aid
of a pine-knot stuck in the wall to light the dingy cabin, he read
such books as he could borrow. When sixteen years old, besides being
a rail-splitter and teamster, he was earning six dollars a month by
managing a ferryboat across the Ohio River. Perhaps the turning-point
in his life came when he found two old law-books that had been thrown
away with some rubbish he was hauling. He read these books and stored
up the information they gave. His wide reading enabled him later to
speak eloquently, especially against the slave-trade which he hated.
One day, passing through the great slave-market of New Orleans, and
seeing a girl being auctioned from the slave-block, his soul was so
kindled that he decided then and there, “I’ll knock that thing hard, if
I ever get a chance.” And he did. He was tender-hearted, and nothing
aroused him more than to see a helpless animal or person mistreated.

He was six feet four inches tall, awkward and homely in countenance,
very powerful, a famous wrestler, but he was never known to use his
strength for his own benefit, and while he whipped the bullies that
made him fight, he never picked a quarrel in his life. He served as
captain in the Black Hawk war, and at the age of twenty-two ran for the
legislature and was defeated. He ran a country store in Springfield,
Ill., and failed, but he paid up the last dollar, although this took
him fourteen years to do. He studied law and became a leading lawyer,
admired for his honesty as well as industry. He stood always for peace
if possible, and often persuaded his clients to make up their quarrel
in his office instead of going to law. While he was an attorney,
feeling that his lack of education put him at a disadvantage with
Eastern men who, educated and trained in great colleges, were coming
West, he determined “to be ready for them,” and so undertook a home
course of study in mathematics, logic, and literature. It was hard
work, but he won. He was elected to the Legislature of Illinois, sent
to Congress at Washington, became the leader of the Republican party,
and in 1860 was elected President of the nation. During the terrible
years of the Civil War his hand guided the torn and distracted
country out of the cyclone of hatred and bloodshed into peace and
prosperity. Few souls in history have had fiercer trials than those
through which he passed. His friends grew impatient and found fault,
his enemies jeered, his closest followers doubted, but he could neither
be hurried, delayed, nor swerved from the cause of right he had laid
out for himself. His patience, self-possession, resources, tact,
large-heartedness, and faith in God never failed him.

On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Proclamation of
Emancipation, and by his stroke of the pen set four million human
beings free. No wonder that in many churches in the United States, as
well as in England, Christian people sang “The year of jubilee is come!”

In spite of his lack of early education, his speeches and documents
are among the finest in our history. His Gettysburg address every boy
should know. In his second inaugural address this sentence occurs:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the
right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are
in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have
borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which
may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and
with all nations.”

Just as he was about to enjoy the hard-won victory of peace, an insane
assassin laid low the great emancipator, “a sacrifice upon the altar
of Freedom.” He died April 15, 1865, sincerely mourned by “the boys in
blue” and “the boys in gray” and the States of the nation that he had
saved in union.

Abraham Lincoln will always rank as one of the greatest presidents,
and, as the years roll on, his place in the affection and reverence of
his countrymen becomes more secure. James Russell Lowell wrote this
fitting tribute to him:

Our children shall behold his fame,
The kindly, earnest, brave, far-seeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
New birth of our new soil, the first American.


Horace Greeley was born February 11, 1811, on a small stony farm in
New Hampshire, in a lonely, unpainted house. His parents were very
poor, being unable to feed and clothe and educate their family of seven
children, of whom Horace was the third. His mother, a bright, cheerful,
laughing woman, loved to tell her children stories. When Horace was two
years old he would lie on the floor and look at the words in the Bible
and ask about the letters. At three he went to school, and very soon
learned to read and to spell wonderfully. Before he was six he had read
the Bible, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and every book he could borrow. He
would lie before the fireplace after a hard day’s work on the farm and
read by the light of a pine-knot. When he went to bed, he would tell
his brother what he had been reading or studying, but his brother would
fall asleep while Horace was talking.

When he was thirteen the school-teacher said to Horace’s father, “Mr.
Greeley, your boy knows more than I do. It is no use to send him to
school any more.” He had always wanted to be a printer. One day he
walked twelve miles and was given a trial in a printer’s office. He
learned more in a day than most boys do in a month. The other boys
joked him. They threw ink and type at him. Because Horace’s hair was
light, they got the ink-ball and stained it black. Everybody looked
for a fight, but he good-naturedly washed the ink from his hair, and
became the favorite of all. During the four years he spent learning
his trade he visited his home twice, walking most of the six hundred
miles each way. Later he trudged all the way on foot to New York,
walking along the canal-path, and arrived there with all his clothes
in a bundle carried over his back with a stick, and with but ten
dollars in his pocket. Soon he started the printing of several cheap
newspapers, but he lost money on each of these until, on borrowed
money, he started the New York Tribune, which has been increasingly
successful to the present time. His income from the Tribune was
long above fifteen thousand dollars a year, frequently as much as
thirty-five thousand dollars or more. Subscriptions for his paper were
found in all the North from Maine to Oregon, large packages going to
remote rural districts, and everywhere a personal affection for the
editor was felt. In his editorials he advocated from time to time such
doctrines as protective tariff, national cooperation for the elevation
of labor, total abstinence from intoxicating liquors, and above all,
antislavery. He was elected to Congress, and while there introduced the
first bill for giving small tracts of government land free to actual
settlers. He wrote books, visited Europe, and traveled through America
to California. On his return he wrote, “Go West, young man!” He helped
to nominate Lincoln for president, and later was himself nominated
for president, being defeated by Grant by more than one-half million
majority. One month after this great defeat his wife died, and soon
after he was attacked with brain fever and died November 29, 1872, aged
sixty-one years. Through life his personal peculiarities, careless
dress, and independent manners, had brought upon him endless ridicule,
but his death revealed his high position as a leader of opinion and, as
Whittier called him, “our later Franklin.”


Every boy who loves out-of-door life should know the story of John
James Audubon. He was born on a farm in Louisiana, May 4, 1780. His
parents were French and when very young he was taken to France where he
attended school. His favorite study was of animals and birds. He often
roamed the woods, bringing home birds’ nests and eggs, curious rocks,
and bits of moss. His father bought him a picture-book of birds. The
delighted boy painted these copies, but saw they were not like real
birds. Later he took lessons of the great French painter, David, who
taught him to draw and paint things as they are. Returning to America,
his father gave him a large farm in Pennsylvania where his studies of
birds led him to decide to write a book on bird life, and illustrate
it by his own drawings. This was a great task, but when this young man
decided to do anything he never allowed difficulties to stand in his
way. So he began his work and studied and painted year after year.
He had to live much of the time in the woods, studying how the birds
lived and built their nests. Sometimes he went by boat down the river;
sometimes he went on horseback. Often he tramped alone through the
trackless woods. Many nights he slept out-of-doors. He lost all his
money and was obliged to stop his work and paint portraits and sell his
choice drawings for a living. His heroic wife took up school-teaching
to help him out with his work. One day while traveling he left his
paintings of nearly a thousand birds in a wooden box in the home of
a friend. Two months later, when he returned and opened the box, he
found two large rats had got into the box and cut up all the paintings
with their sharp teeth, making a nest for their young among the gnawed
pieces. He said, “I will make better paintings!” It took him four
long years to complete his pictures, but at last the great book was
completed and published and praised throughout France, England, and the
United States.

The Society for the Protection of Our Feathered Friends was organized
by this great naturalist, who spent the rest of his life for this great
object. At present there are few places where boys and girls have not
heard of Audubon. He died at his beautiful home on the Hudson River,
greatly honored and beloved in France, England, and the United States.


Thomas Alva Edison, the “Wizard of Electricity,” was born in Milan,
Ohio, February 11, 1847. His birthplace was located on the canal.
As there were no railways, it was a very busy little place. Edison
used to spend all his playtime at the shops where the canal-boats
were built, learning all about the tools being used. Thus before he
was seven he began to show his love of machinery. When he was seven
years old his parents removed to Michigan. Edison was already well
advanced in education for a boy of his age, for his mother had been
his careful teacher and companion. They had read and discussed many
books together, especially history, of which he was very fond. Two or
three books on electricity had come into his hands and these he read
with great interest. As his father was poor, it became necessary, when
Thomas was eleven years of age, for him to earn his own living. He
applied for a position as newsboy on the Grand Trunk Railroad, and he
was soon making from four to five dollars a day. When the Civil War
broke out his earnings so greatly increased that he hired another boy,
and had a place fixed up in an express car, in which he placed a small
printing-press and began to publish a paper of his own. He gathered
his news on the train and from agents on the route, often securing the
latest news being telegraphed to the great papers. His papers had a
good sale. Stevenson, the great English engineer, was so pleased with
a copy he bought on the train, and with its editor, that he took one
thousand copies, and thus the _Weekly_ and its editor became known and
quoted in England. He was reading, studying, and experimenting every
moment he could get from his work. But he experimented once too often
when a bottle of phosphorus was jerked out of his hand by the jolting
of the train and instantly the car was in flames. The conductor helped
put out the fire and then deposited the youthful inventor, with his
printing-press, on the platform of the next station. This ended his
laboratory on the train, but he still continued his work, and coaxed
his father to let him fit up a workshop at home, where he experimented
with telegraph instruments, stringing wires on trees, insulating them
with old bottles, and teaching his boy friends the mystery of their
use. He was anxious to learn telegraphy, which he succeeded in doing,
being taught by a telegraph-operator whose little child Thomas had
saved from being killed by a freight-train at the risk of his own life.
He soon secured a night operator’s position, but instead of sleeping in
the daytime, young Edison spent his days experimenting, and so was too
sleepy at night to do his work well. He lost several night positions,
but soon got day-work and continued his experiments. He went from city
to city, but he cared more for the wonders of electricity than the
routine of office work, though his work was always accurate. In Boston
he chanced to buy Faraday’s book on electricity, and at once decided
that life was short, and he had so much to do that he must hustle–and
he has been hustling ever since.

His first invention was an automatic repeater by which messages could
be transmitted without the presence of the operator. Since then his
inventions have been many and important, among them the quadruplex
telegraph, the printing telegraph, the megaphone, the aerophone,
the phonograph, the moving-picture machine, the storage battery,
the incandescent lamp and light system, and the kinetoscope. He has
received patents for more than seven hundred inventions by which daily
life has been made more attractive. Thomas Alva Edison is the foremost
genius of his day, and the modern magician who has made “the fairy
tales of science” as fascinating as “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp,” or
“Boots and His Brothers.”


This is the story of a boy with a magic wand who has made everything
he touched more beautiful and more useful. Even when a little baby, he
would hold flowers in his hands for hours, never harming them. He loved
flowers best of all–better than pets or animals or playthings; better
than anything else in the world except his dear mother with her loving,
smiling eyes. He and his mother were chums. His father loved books, but
his mother loved flowers. While Luther Burbank loved beautiful thoughts
from books, like his father, the flowers, trees, and plants that his
mother loved, attracted him to the fields and orchards. All the time
he longed to help nature. He wondered if he could make weeds useful
and make more and better potatoes grow in each hill. He planted the
potato-seed ball, watched it, picked it up when the dog knocked it down
and, after a great deal of work he had the delicious Burbank potato.

Then, taking the little field-daisy that he found growing by the
roadside, he sent to Japan for daisies from that land, and planted the
two together. The bees carried the pollen from one flower to another,
and after a long time there was the beautiful Shasta Daisy, which is
named for Mount Shasta that is within sight of Mr. Burbank’s home.

He is the fairy godfather of the orchards, for he waves his magic wand,
and year after year his trees bear finer fruit–sweeter oranges, better
plums, larger apricots; and the world is richer for his work.

He teaches the men who help him his magic. They grow tender-eyed, and
their fingers are quick and gentle as they plant the tiny seeds, set
the tender grafts, and nurse the little frail flower-stalks. He is now
a rich man, but he was not always so. When he first left his home in
Massachusetts to go to California, he could get no work, and he was
often hungry. At last he got a place in a hothouse doing the work he
loved–tending flowers and plants. But the poor boy had no money for a
room, and had to sleep in the plant-house. But this place was so damp
he grew ill, and a poor woman, seeing that he was ill because he did
not have the right kind of food, made him drink a pint of milk from
her one cow every day. Luther was afraid he might never be able to pay
her back, but when he got better and was able to work he paid the good
woman for the milk.

When people saw what a wonderful boy Luther Burbank really was, he
had more than he could do. He saved his money, bought a little farm,
and began to invent wonderful ways of doing things. Later he bought a
great nursery, where he loved to experiment with plants and berries and
vegetables. He took the prickly, ugly cactus growing in the desert,
scratching the hands and tearing the clothes, and caused it to shed its
thorns and to put forth flowers and fruit that is good for man and
beast. No wonder he is called the “Fairy Godfather of the Orchards,”
this man with the smiling blue eyes, loving boys and girls next after
the flowers, and loving his mother best of all. What is the magic wand
of the “Flower Magician”? It is “Patient Toil”!


Girls who appreciate the possibility of the higher education of women
in America will hold the name of Mary Lyon in high esteem. She was
born on a stony Massachusetts farm, February 28, 1797. She was not
pretty, but her face was bright and intelligent, and her spirit was
proud, energetic, and helpful. She loved to devise ways by which she
could do the largest amount of work in the shortest time. One day she
said, “Mother, I have found a way to make time.” At school she showed
a wonderfully retentive memory. When Mary was still young, her father
died, leaving the family quite poor. But Mary’s mother with energy,
prudence, and cheerfulness, managed the little farm so as to keep her
children together. Her flowers were the sweetest anywhere. She always
found time to do many kind deeds for her neighbors. Struggling against
poverty, Mary taught school for almost nothing; spun and wove her own
clothes; and studied hard. Her friends thought her foolish to try and
learn so much, saying she could never use it. But deep down in her
heart she felt she was to lift the world toward the higher education of
woman. So she toiled on for years amid hardship, disappointment, and
opposition, for neither the men nor the women of that day approved of
women being educated or speaking in public. When she solicited funds
for her college her friends thought she was unwomanly and a disgrace to
her sex. But her earnest, unselfish, persistent spirit won friends for
her cause, and on October 3, 1836, Mount Holyoke Seminary, the first
school in America for the higher education of women, was founded. She
was at the head of it until her death. Her influence over the young
ladies was wonderful. She was firm but kind, always expecting them to
do right without rules. She was greatly beloved. When she died she was
buried in the seminary grounds and a beautiful marble tablet stands
over her honored grave, on one side of which are the words:

Mary Lyon, the Founder of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, and for
twelve years its Principal; a Teacher for more than thirty-five
years and of more than three thousand pupils. Born Feb. 28, 1797;
Died March 5, 1849.

After her death a paper was found containing seven ways of wasting
time, against which she guarded, as follows:

1. Indefinite musings.
2. Anticipating needlessly.
3. Needless speculations.
4. Reluctance to begin a duty.
5. Not deciding at once in doubtful cases.
6. Musing needlessly on what has been said or done, or what may be.
7. Spending time in reveries which should be spent in prayer.


Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, in 1820. She was the
daughter of an English landowner, who lived on a picturesque estate in
Derbyshire, and who gave her the best education she could secure from
books, school, and travel. As a little girl she showed great interest
in the poor and sick, and was kind to animals. Even the squirrels
on the lawn made friends with her. Often as she sat at her father’s
table with all the good things to eat and the beautiful silver, glass,
and china before her, she would think of the poor and sick who were
without even an orange to quench the thirst of fever. Frequently she
drove with her father’s physician into the country, taking baskets
filled with dainties, often denying herself something that she might
share with others. Everybody loved to have her enter the sickroom, for
her unselfish and helpful nature made her a tender nurse. Until then,
nurses were taken from the same class of women as ordinary domestic
servants. Few realized that nursing was an art to be learned, requiring
intelligence, knowledge, and skill, as well as sympathy and love. But
the devotion of Florence Nightingale changed all this. She was an
accomplished young lady, possessing abundant wealth. She was happy at
home, a general favorite, and the center of an admiring circle. She was
favored with everything that might have made her social and domestic
life full of attractiveness to most young women. But she turned her
back on the gay world that opened to her to tread a path that led to
suffering and sorrow. She went to Germany to take training as a nurse,
beginning at the very start. She learned the use of the washing-cloth,
the scrubbing-brush, and the duster. For three months she was in daily
and nightly attendance on the sick in the German hospital. Returning
to England she gave her time, strength, and means to nursing her
sisters in the Hospital for Sick Governesses in London. Here her health
began to fail, and she returned home to seek the needed rest in her
father’s home of wealth. But a new cry arose for help. The Crimean
war was raging. There was a great want of skilled nurses to relieve
the dreadful sufferings of the wounded soldiers who were lying in the
hospitals. She at once offered her services to her country, and was
sent, with thirty-four other women nurses, reaching Russia on the day
of the fearful battle of Inkerman, November 5, 1854. The hospitals
were filled with sick and wounded soldiers–four thousand suffering
from cholera and other horrors that war brings. Miss Nightingale met
the wounded and dying with smiles and words of cheer. Many of the sick
wept for joy at the first touch of a woman’s hand they had felt for
years. She seemed to be everywhere, superintending the washing of their
clothing, and beds, cooking their food, assisting the chaplain with
his school, furnishing books for the soldiers to read, writing their
letters, saving their money, or sending it to their relatives at home.
How the soldiers loved her! Many of them whom she could not personally
tend kissed her very shadow as it fell on their pillows, as she passed
at night. They called her the “Lady of the Lamp.”

He sleeps! Who o’er his placid slumber bends?
His foes are gone; and here he hath no friends.
Is it some seraph sent to grant him grace?
No! ’Tis an earthly form with human face!

Returning to England at the close of the war she was invited to
Balmoral Castle by Queen Victoria, who gave her a beautiful jewel, an
emblem of her work, with the inscription, “Blessed are the Merciful,”
engraved on one side, surmounted by a crown of diamonds. The English
Government gave her two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which she
used in founding “The Nightingale School of Nurses” in London. The
English soldiers wanted to erect a statue of her in London, and each
promised to give one penny for it, thinking she could not object to a
gift so small from each grateful giver; but she refused to let them do
it, telling them that it would please her more if they would give the
money to the hospitals. She left a record of unselfish devotion to
duty which has enriched the world. She died in 1910, full of years and

On England’s annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,
That light its rays shall cast
From portals of the past.
A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.

–_Longfellow, “Santa Filomena”_


Frances E. Willard was born in Churchville, near Rochester, N. Y. When
she was two years old her family moved to Oberlin, Ohio, and when she
was five, to the beautiful farm in Wisconsin, “Forest Home.” Here she
spent her girlhood, working and playing in the fields with her only
brother and sister Mary. Her father promised each of the children a
library if they would not use coffee or tea until they were twenty-one.
They gladly complied with this condition, because each of them had
a great thirst for knowledge. Frances wrote stories, plays, poems,
and essays at an early age, and at sixteen she won a prize for an
essay on “Country Houses.” At eighteen she entered Milwaukee College,
but with the removal of the family to Evanston, Ill., she entered
Northwestern University, graduating with honors. She first taught a
country school, then became teacher in her alma mater, then a teacher
in Pittsburg Female Seminary, and later preceptress in the Genesee
Wesleyan Seminary, at Lima, N. Y. After a short time of travel in
Europe studying widely and writing for American magazines, she made so
deep an impression in an address delivered at a woman’s missionary
meeting, that she was urged to become a lecturer, which she did with
great success. In 1871 she was elected president of the woman’s college
of her alma mater, and two years later she became dean of the college
and professor of esthetics in the Northwestern University. In 1873 she
gave up her college work to organize the Woman’s Christian Temperance
Union of America, and to begin her twelve years’ campaign with lectures
before four thousand audiences. She was largely instrumental in
securing the enactment of laws in many States of the Union to introduce
physiological temperance and the scientific study of stimulants and
narcotics into the curriculum of the public schools. For years she was
misunderstood; often bitterly criticized, despised, and scorned. But
at last she triumphed! Distinguished philanthropists, reformers, and
citizens of England assembled in the City Temple of London to give her
a reception, and heaped upon her the highest honors, which she modestly
received in the name of the women of America. Beginning with nothing,
in twenty years, single-handed, this noble woman organized the women
of her country into a vast army that extends to village and city, and
State and nation, and to foreign lands, with vast equipment of more
than sixty departments and methods of activity for public agitation,
a system of temperance journals for children and youth for securing
instruction in the public schools upon the nature of stimulants. It
is said Frances Willard was a woman without a fault. Not only in
temperance, but in every good work, did she work for the redemption of
humanity. In an article to girls, she wrote: “Keep to your specialty,
whether it is raising turnips, or painting screens or battle scenes,
studying political economy or domestic receipts. Have a resolute aim.
If I were asked the mission of the ideal woman, I would reply, ‘It is
to make the whole world homelike!’”


David Livingstone was born in Blantyre, Scotland, March 19, 1813. His
father was a traveling tea-merchant who often acted as a colporter,
distributing tracts, and showing a true missionary spirit. His mother
was an active, sunny, loving woman. His home, enriched by little beyond
the bare necessities of life, was happy and brightened by industry,
cheerfulness, love for one another, and faith in God. He was a good boy
to his mother, often helping her sweep and even scrub, “if she would
bolt the door so none of the boys would see him,” because in Scotland
it was thought beneath a man’s dignity to “help the women-folk.” It
was the proud boast of his mother that in his sweeping, “he even swept
under the door-mat.” He loved to climb the hills of beautiful Scotland,
gathering wildflowers, curious stones, and mineral specimens. One day
he climbed the highest tower in the ruins of Bothwell Castle and carved
his name above those of the other boys. When he was ten he was sent to
work as a piecer in a cotton-factory. With a part of his first week’s
wages he purchased a Latin grammar. Although working from six in the
morning until eight at night, he attended night-school from eight to
ten, learning Latin and the sciences. At the age of sixteen he was
familiar with Virgil and Horace and other classical authors. In his
thirst for knowledge he placed his book on the spinning-jenny where
he could read it as he walked back and forth at his work. When he was
nineteen he gave up his work in the winter months to attend Glasgow
University, where he studied Greek, medicine, and theology. He became
deeply interested in missionary work and desired to go to China, but
Dr. Robert Moffat persuaded him to go to Africa by telling him that “on
a clear morning could be seen the smoke of a thousand villages where no
missionary had ever been.” So, in December, 1840, he began the long,
five-months’ trip to the far-off African coast, studying the stars and
taking observations by them, which experience was of great value to him
later when in Africa he was deserted by his guides and had to blaze his
own trail. He traveled inland, first learning the language and then
preaching, healing, and teaching. In the forest one day he shot at a
lion which sprang upon him, caught him by the shoulder, shook him as a
terrier dog does a rat, crushed his arm, and would have ended his life
at once if one of the natives had not appeared and quickly shot the
lion dead. In 1844 David Livingstone married the daughter of Doctor
Moffat. He went back to Scotland several times, where he wrote many
books, one of which made him rich; but he used his wealth in further
work of discovery and the suppression of the slave-trade. In 1863 he
set out on his long search for the source of the Nile, and for seven
long years amid sufferings, massacres, atrocities, disappointments, he
traveled through the jungles of the black continent, until one day, in
1871, Henry M. Stanley, sent out by the New York _Herald_, appeared,
“almost as an angel from heaven.” Stanley, who lived with him in the
same house, boat, and tent for four months, said, “I never found a
fault in him.” Stanley urged him to return, but Livingstone felt his
task was unfinished, and so plunged again into the work, writing to the
New York _Herald_: “All I can add in my loneliness is, may heaven’s
rich blessing come down on every one, American, English, or Turk,
who will help to heal the open sore of the world”–meaning the awful
slave-traffic. Not long after, an attack of pneumonia made him so weak
that he had to be carried to a hut, where his servants left him for
the night. About four o’clock in the morning the boy who lay at the
door keeping watch called in alarm. By the light of the candle still
burning they saw him upon his knees by his bedside, as if in prayer.
Then they knew that he had gone on his last journey, and without a
single attendant. Lovingly his devoted servants embalmed his body and
sent it to England to be buried in Westminster Abbey with the great of
the earth. But his heart they buried by Lake Banguilo, in the land for
whose people he had toiled so long, and for whom he gave up his life.
On April 18, 1874, the great missionary-explorer was laid in his grave
in Westminster Abbey, with sorrow and yet with rejoicing, for they knew
well that his life had not been lived in vain.

Open the abbey doors and bear him in
To sleep with king and statesman, chief and sage–
The missionary, come of weaver kin,
But great by work that brooks no lower wage.

He needs no epitaph to guard a name
Which men shall prize while worthy work is known;
He lived and died for good–be that his fame;
Let marble crumble–this is Living-stone!


The life-story of Charles Haddon Spurgeon is an epic of accomplishment.
The eldest of a family of seventeen children–a true Rooseveltian
family–he was born June 19, 1834, to Rev. John Spurgeon, minister
of the Congregational Church at Kilvedon, Essex County, England, and
his wife, formerly Miss Jarvis. Both parents were earnest, devout,
intellectual people who gave their children all that was possible to
provide on a very small salary. At an early age he went to live in the
home of his grandfather, also a Congregational minister. One day a
visiting minister, struck with the boy’s ability and character, said,
“This lad will preach the gospel to thousands.” Having received a good
education at a private academy at Colchester, at fifteen he became an
assistant school-teacher. One Sunday, when he was sixteen, he visited a
little Methodist church and heard a sermon on the text, “Look unto me
and be ye saved.” This sermon led to his conversion. He said, “I had
been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard the word ‘Look!’ what
a charming word it seemed to me.” At seventeen he became a teacher in a
classical school in Cambridge, and was often in demand for addresses to
Sunday-school children. At eighteen he was known as the “boy preacher,”
and became minister of the Baptist Church at Waterbeach, five miles
from Cambridge, on an annual salary of two hundred dollars. This young
school-teacher also preached at thirteen village stations maintained by
his little church. An address at a Sunday-school anniversary was heard
by a stranger, who was so much impressed by it that he recommended
this young man as the pastor of a famous Baptist church in London,
to which he was called at the age of nineteen. He was so eloquent,
persuasive, straightforward, that he won the hearts of his hearers, and
soon all London and England was talking of the youthful Whitefield.
Within a year the church building had to be enlarged and overflowing
congregations came to hear him in the great Exeter Hall. Then the
enlarged church proved much too small to accommodate the crowds who
flocked to hear him. The Music Hall of Surrey Gardens, an immense
building, was rented, and it was a common thing for him to preach to
ten thousand people at one service. He was ridiculed and caricatured
in merciless ways by newspapers, ministers, and others, but his motto
was, “Drive On! Drive On!” And in his simple and earnest preaching he
drove on. In 1861 the great, classic Metropolitan Tabernacle was opened
for services. It cost one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and seats
five thousand five hundred persons, with standing room for almost one
thousand more. For thirty years, or until his death, he preached in
the great building with every seat and all the available standing-room
occupied. His congregation included all classes–professional men,
tradesmen, dock-hands, soldiers in their bright-red uniforms, men
and women of title, the poor outcast with the shawl over her head,
the blear-eyed drunkard, Chinamen and bronzed Indiamen, and visitors
from America and other lands–all hanging on the words of this most
popular preacher of the world. In appearance he was not a prepossessing
man. He was below the medium height, stout, his short hair brushed
back from a low forehead, small eyes, heavy lips, fat cheeks hanging
over a heavy jaw fringed with a short beard. He looked like a plain,
every-day business man. Instead of a white cravat he wore a little
black tie. His voice was remarkable for its sweetness and purity, as
well as its penetrating power. His language was simple, but a massive
grandeur accompanied his simplicity of speech, which captivated every
listener. There was also a peculiar directness of address that made
every hearer feel that he was the person spoken to as a member of a
family entering into confidence with the father of the household.
Besides being “England’s greatest preacher,” as an archdeacon of
Saint Paul’s Cathedral called him, he was a great philanthropist,
commentator, administrator, lecturer, and writer. An orphanage for boys
was begun in 1867, and one for girls in 1880, at Stockwell, London.
In these orphanages five or six hundred father-less children, from
six to ten years, find a comfortable home and training until they
are fourteen. People of wealth entrusted to him large gifts of money
for this philanthropic work, because they had perfect confidence
in whatever he undertook. He built a Pastor’s College, where poor
young men could receive proper training for their work as ministers
or missionaries. He also edited a monthly magazine, “The Sword and
Trowel”; wrote commentaries; organized a colportage association; and
encouraged his wife’s “Book Fund” to provide free gifts of books for
poor pastors. He wrote and published thirty-seven volumes of sermons
and numberless tracts. He loved to give away Bibles. He was beloved by
all denominations, and his sermons and other works, read and admired
by all classes, have been translated into many foreign tongues. He was
very happy in his home life with his charming wife and twin sons, who
became preachers. “That word ‘home,’” he used to say, “rings like a
peal of wedding bells, only more sweet and low, and it chimes deeper
into the ear of the heart.” After a short illness, this great preacher
and philanthropist died, at the age of only fifty-eight. That wonderful
voice, which for more than forty years had swayed great multitudes with
its fervid eloquence, was heard by a few listeners to say, faint and
low, and almost inarticulate, “I have finished my course. I have kept
the faith.” These words were inscribed on his coffin of olive-wood, the
wood itself symbolic of peace.


Where the bitter winds of the north Atlantic sweep over the coast
of Labrador, and the giant icebergs slowly sail in their opalescent
majesty through the waters of the ocean, like phantom ships or dream
palaces, lies a country inhabited by very poor fisherfolk, who depend
upon the scanty harvests gathered from the waters for their living.
When the “catch” is poor there is much suffering, and the children are
clothed and fed more poorly than usual. The warm, bright days are few,
and there are no swimming holes or long, delightful summer vacations
and picnics for boys and girls.

Far away in merry England under its soft and sunny skies, a boy was
born in 1865–Wilfred T. Grenfell. When he became a young medical
student he heard Dwight L. Moody, the great American evangelist, so
interpret the old, old story of Jesus in terms of loving service
for others, that he resolved to devote his life to the poor and
desolate. With such a vision of love the young physician left his home
and friends, and sailed away up into the North Sea among the poor
fishermen, where there were no doctors to cure them when they were
ill or set their broken bones when the cruel sea dashed them upon the
rocks. Later, when others came to help, Doctor Grenfell decided to
go where no one else cared to go. He again sailed away, this time to
Labrador and the coast of Newfoundland. How cheerless and desolate that
country appears, how far away from England and America! Think of the
coldest day and bitterest storm you ever knew, and that is what Doctor
Grenfell found when he arrived, all alone, and where he has worked
so long and hard to make life happier and to help the poor Eskimos
understand something of the unselfish love of the Christ-life, which
is his ideal. He found them ignorant, poor, and miserable. When they
were ill there was no one to help. When they fell over the mountain
spurs and broke their bones, they must die or be crippled for life,
for no one knew how to put the bones in place. Along three thousand
miles of coast this good man goes in summer in his little steamboat,
fighting the cruel waves, dodging the icebergs, always in peril, but
never caring as long as he can reach the sick and ease their pain
and suffering. In winter the water is frozen, and he must take his
long, perilous journey by sledge. With his teams of dogs hitched to
his stout sledge “Lend-a-hand,” he drives over those snow-covered
fields where there are only tall poles set up to mark a trail, often
being lost in the storms or breaking through the ice into the waters
of half-frozen streams, or being dashed over the side of the steep
path, or being buried under an avalanche of snow from which he must
dig himself and his dogs out. But he is never discouraged. With a keen
sense of humor he sees the funny side of things and in those cheerless,
miserable homes he laughs and tells his experiences, plays with the
little ones, and makes every one around him happy. He is Santa Claus
to the children, and “Good Samaritan” to the man by the wayside. Often
“Lend-a-hand” is his only bed, for although the dogs are trained to
watch for the poles set to mark the path, they sometimes miss them in
the storm, and stray from the trail, and then Doctor Grenfell turns
his sledge up on the side, digs a hole in the snow, lights a fire,
and crawls into his sleeping-bag and spends the night out-of-doors,
while the dogs dig a place in the snow for themselves, to wait for
the morning light to help them to find the lost trail. Through Doctor
Grenfell a hospital has been erected on the coast, where trained
physicians and nurses care for the poor people who are shipwrecked or
who can be taken away from their wretched homes to be cared for. Do you
wonder that the people love this bright, cheerful Englishman, with the
endurance of a man and the tenderness of a woman, who is translating
his life into love, and trying to follow John Wesley’s golden advice in
the simple familiar lines?

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.


Rarely in the history of the world have two great brothers been linked
as closely together as Wilbur and Orville Wright, the pioneers in
aviation. Four years different in age, they grew up together, studied,
experimented, invented, and dared together. Each has an equal claim
to be called the creator of the aeroplane, the Edison of the air, the
dean of birdmen, and even “the first man to fly.” Wilbur may have
been the first actually to rise from the earth in an engine-driven,
“heavier-than-air” aeroplane, but neither of the brothers would ever
make a positive statement about it. They always spoke of themselves as
“Wright Brothers,” or “We.” Wilbur was born near Millville, Ind., April
16, 1867; Orville, in Dayton, Ohio, August 19, 1871. Their father was
a cultured bishop of the United Brethren Church, and their mother was
a college graduate. Both boys graduated from the Dayton public school
and high school, after which they became printers and bicycle dealers
in a dingy, common-place little brick shop. Here fame found them. They
had no idea of flying until 1896, when they read the newspaper report
of the death of Otto Lillienthal, who, after he had made over two
thousand gliding flights in the air, met his death by a fall. In 1900
they became intensely interested in the experiments with air-gliders
then carried on by Professor Langley, Octave Chanute, and others. On
a country road outside of Dayton they began to fly kites and gliders
equipped with an ingenious motive-power method of control. After this
they went to Kitty Hawk, N. C., where a number of sand-dunes made a
suitable place to glide from against the strong, steady winds that
they found necessary for their gliding tests. They studied birds in
flight and found that, in reality, a bird is an aeroplane. The part of
the wings nearest to the body support it in the air, leaving the more
flexible portion at the extremities to flap up and down and act as
propellers. By gliding experiments they also found that the air along
the surface of the earth is continually undergoing a churning movement,
every building, hill, and tree sending up its air wave. In 1903 they
made their first real flight of twelve seconds with their twelve
horsepower aeroplane; in 1904 they increased their flight from one to
five minutes; and in 1905 they made a hundred and fifty flights, making
twenty-four miles through the air in thirty-eight minutes. Desiring
some government to purchase their invention, they offered it to France,
only to be refused. But two years later Wilbur sailed for France, where
he was so successful in flights that the French Government paid him
one hundred thousand dollars; and in Italy and Germany many private
sales were made. Meanwhile Orville was flying his aeroplane at Fort
Meyer in the United States, where he succeeded in selling a machine to
the United States Government for thirty thousand dollars. In one of
his flights Orville received a fall, which broke his thigh and caused
the death of Lieutenant Selfridge, the first victim of power-driven
aeroplanes. How both brothers ever lived through their early flights
is a matter of wonder. A part of the explanation is to be found in
their character. They proved their scientific theories to the last
point. They were always courageous, never reckless. Unstinted praise
should be given them because they have been a conservative influence
in the field of aviation. By precept, example, and command, when they
could command, they fought against the recklessness of performers who
have dared death in unnecessary feats to thrill spectators at a show.
Neither in America nor in Europe did either of them make one curve or
flight for sensational effect. It seems strange that Wilbur should have
died in his bed of typhoid fever, and not have met his death from a
fall. He died in the height of his inventive genius and glory, leaving
his brother Orville to continue the work alone. He left a large estate
as the result of their joint invention. But best of all, he left an
unsullied name. Simple, honest, unaffected, devoted to his art, he
lived, worked, and died as becomes a true man. He was always gentle and
modest, as is his brother. The things he had done never seemed much
to him on account of the things he intended to do. In the record of
American inventions there is no more brilliant chapter than the story
of their marvelous conquest of the air, and no matter what the future
may hold in store, the name and fame of the Wright Brothers will live
with those of Watts, Stephenson, Howe, Arkwright, Fulton, and Edison.

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
Can circumvent, or hinder, or control
The firm resolve of a determined soul,
Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great;
All things give way before it soon or late.
What obstacle can stay the mighty force
Of the sea-seeking river in its course,
Or cause the ascending orb of day to wait?
Each well-born soul must win what it deserves.
Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate
Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves,
Whose slightest action or inaction serves
The one great aim.
Why, even death stands still
And waits an hour, sometimes, for such a will.


Among the “girls who became useful,” none can take a higher rank than
Jane Addams, the founder of “Hull House,” a center which radiates
love and good will into the great city of Chicago. This “Palace of
a Thousand Joys” is a little city of refuge for the homeless and
hopeless, for the man without work, for the overworked mother whose
fretful children can be left to the gentle care of the sweet-voiced
helpers of Miss Addams, for the discouraged mill-girl and factory-hand,
for the old and young of that bustling city.

Miss Addams was born in a home of plenty in Cedarville, Ill., where
her happy childhood was passed without knowing poverty, as she played
with her brother in the free out-of-doors that should be the heritage
of every boy and girl in America. She was not strong, as her spine
was weak, and she had to carry her head on one side. This was a great
sorrow to her, for she was afraid her father, a large, handsome man,
would be ashamed of his plain, crooked girl. But she found her father
was all the more tender to his frail child. He talked lovingly to her
of the equality of all, of the rich and poor, and taught her that the
duty of the rich was to help make life happier for the poor. In this
teaching of her wise, loving father, was laid the foundation of the
life-work of this “Little Sister of the Poor.” She was so sensitive
that once when she had told an untruth she could not sleep until she
had confessed her fault to her father, who said: “I am glad if I have a
little daughter who must tell lies, that she cannot sleep afterward.”

She attended the village school until she went to Rockford to a
seminary, from which she graduated. Afterward she went to Europe
several times, visiting all the great art-galleries. While in London
she went to the East Side, where the poorest of England’s poor live.
She was greatly grieved by the sight of tiny children, half-starved,
with old, wizened faces, toiling from morning until night in the mills
and factories, with never a day to play in the green fields, chasing
the butterflies and gathering wildflowers. In America she saw things
that made her sad–poverty, vice, and sorrow; little children and weak
women with tasks too heavy for them, and with no time for pleasure
or improvement. So when she was traveling in Spain for pleasure, she
suddenly resolved to devote the rest of her life to helping the poor
of her own land. Returning to Chicago, she and her friend, Miss Starr,
took an old house that had once been a handsome home, but was now in
the midst of the poorest part of the city. They fitted it up with
comfortable furniture, hung beautiful pictures brought from Europe on
the walls, and began the work among Chicago’s poor that has resulted in
the celebrated settlement of Hull House. They provided a day-nursery
where little children could be cared for while their mothers were at
work; reading clubs for boys and girls; sewing clubs; a gymnasium; an
art school and kindergarten; entertainments for the children and their
fathers and mothers. Every one is welcome to this bright, cheerful
home, full of love and good will for each and all. The Polish, Italian,
and Jewish children mingle freely together. No creed is thought of
save the creed of Jesus, “A new commandment I give unto you, Love one
another.” The children are told stories, given care when ill, and help
at all times, so that, in the eyes of the world, “Hull House” and “Jane
Addams” now stand together for all that is best and most helpful in
philanthropy and settlement work.

Miss Addams’ service does not cease at the door of Hull House. She goes
about the country talking to thousands of people in the interests of
better laws for children and better wages for women and girls. Do you
wonder that this useful woman is known by the gentle title of “Kind


No fairy tale can be more marvelous than the story of Helen Keller,
the wonderful heroine who overcame insurmountable obstacles before she
could find her way to mingle with her fellow men and attain her place
in the world’s work.

[Illustration: HELEN KELLER]

Until she was almost a year old Helen was like other babies–only
brighter. She talked when she was six months old, walked as early as
one year, and seemed interested in everything her baby eyes saw, and
her ears heard. But a serious illness fell upon this bright little baby
girl, and she was not expected to live. When at last she was out of
danger the light had gone from her beautiful eyes, her tiny ears could
not hear the tender crooning of her mother’s voice, and her little
tongue was still. In darkness and silence she must pass her days, as
if some wicked fairy, had suddenly stolen the greatest treasures of
her life. At first she would lie in her mother’s lap, as she had done
while she was ill, but as she grew older she learned to play with her
little colored girl, Martha Washington, who went everywhere with her.
She was also fond of her little dog Belle. She hunted eggs with Martha
and Belle, through the tall grass, where the nests of the guinea-hens
were, and she always wanted to carry the eggs herself for fear Martha
might fall and break them. When she wished to go on an egg-hunt she
would double up her hands and stoop down, as if she were feeling for
something. She nodded her head for “yes,” shook it for “no,” and
shivered for cold, but she would often become angry because she could
not make herself understood by any one, and had to live in her
dungeon of darkness with all the beautiful things of life shut out.
She grew so unhappy in her loneliness that her parents took her to a
great specialist to learn if anything could be done to restore her
sight, speech, or hearing, but all was hopeless. Dr. Graham Bell, of
Washington, told them what was being done for the blind, deaf, and dumb
children in Boston, in the school for the blind under Doctor Anagnos.
He secured a special teacher, Miss Anne Sullivan, who went to live with
the little “shut-in” girl in her home in Tuscumbia, Ala. With infinite
patience the teacher taught Helen the sign-language, first spelling
the words for things in the little hand. Helen thought this was a new
kind of game, but one day when at the pump the teacher held Helen’s
hand under the spout and spelled w-a-t-e-r as the water poured over her
hand, then Helen knew she was being taught the meaning of words. From
that moment she learned very fast. Then she learned to touch the lips
of the speaker, with her sensitive finger-tips, and she understood what
was said. So Helen Keller came out of her house of bondage into the
wonderful world of knowledge and delight. She could “feel” things. She
could express herself. Others could understand her. She could tell the
color of a flower she held. She learned the blind alphabet, she went to
Perkins Institute for the Blind where she learned to read many books in
the blind language. At last she learned to speak. Then she resolved to
go to college. At length she entered Radcliffe College in Cambridge,
Mass., where she studied and listened to the lectures by having some
one who could hear spell the lecture out into her hand. She learned,
to use the typewriter and make out her lessons. At nineteen, when she
entered college, she had accomplished what many girls of that age, in
possession of all their senses, have not accomplished. She wrote a
book of her life which was published and brought her a great deal of
money. She was a general favorite among her schoolmates. She enjoyed
her life, and was bright, happy, and gay; having no consciousness
of being in any way handicapped. She was fond of fun, and laughed
heartily at the funny side of things. She went to the seashore, having
pleasant times in bathing. Although still shut away in blindness and
in deafness, she lives a courageous life of usefulness in a wonderful
degree, and often entertains audiences by the story of her life. Miss
Sullivan is married, but still lives with her and loves her as when she
was a little girl who depended on her for everything worth having in

Helen Keller, this ambitious, brilliant girl who can neither see nor
hear, has been likened to Napoleon Bonaparte in her ability to overcome
insurmountable obstacles and attain the pinnacle of success through
the exercise of an indomitable will-power and the cooperation of those
who loved and admired the spirit and ambition of her, whom Mark Twain
called the “Marvel of the Twentieth Century,” and of whom Edmund
Clarence Stedman sang:

Mute, sightless visitant,
From what uncharted world
Hast voyaged into life’s wide sea
With guidance scant?
As if some bark mysteriously
Should hither glide with spars aslant
And sails all furled.