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GIRL'S FIRST HELP TO READING.
HOW TO LEARN TO THINK.
This ingenious lesson is compiled by Mr. Parker (an author who has done good service in the cause of juvenile literature in the United States). The materials are derived from various sources, but the adaptation of them is at once useful, and suited to our purpose.
I ONCE went to a teacher who said he wished, above all things, that he could teach his pupils how to think. It may seem strange to you, but it is nevertheless true, that few children and few grown people
know how to think. You say this cannot be. Well, let us see how
it is with you.
Did you ever think how curious it is that this world on which we live should be a round ball, moving in its path about the sun once a year, and turning on its axis every day; and that, although we are sometimes afraid of travelling in a steam-boat, or in a stage-coach, we forget that we are always travelling, with immense rapidity, through infinite space, and yet feel no anxiety?
Did you ever think that when the sun goes down, as we term it, and it is night to us, that, on the other half of the globe, the day is just beginning to dawn?
Did you ever think, when sitting under the shade of a tree, in a hot day, whether it had any other uses besides that of giving shade, and what they are?
Did you ever think why heat will convert water into steam, or why water occupies more space after it is frozen than before?
Did you ever think, when learning a hard lesson, and you were very anxious for fear you should not recite it well, that the great object of study is not to recite well and obtain a prize, but to improve your mind, and to lay up a store of useful knowledge?
Did you ever think, when casting up a sum in addition, why it is required to carry one for every ten ?
Did you ever think, when indulging yourself in some forbidden pleasure or amusement, at the expense of your own peace of conscience and of the approbation of your friends, that you were paying a very high price for that which is comparatively worthless ?
I ask these particular questions, merely because they are such as might naturally occur to a thinking mind in the course of its everyday experience.
These questions are asked in a volume, printed a few years ago, called "Lessons without Books;" and by thinking about them you will improve your mind, and find, by degrees, that hard lessons will become easy ones.
To show you how some people can think and reason, even when they have not had the same privileges that you enjoy in going to school, I shall relate two short stories, which I hope will teach you to think and to reason. The first story is taken from a book called "Traits of Indian Character." It is as follows:
Owing partly to his organisation, doubtless, as well as to his mode of living, from his childhood up the senses of the Indian are extremely acute. It is related, in modern times, that a hunter, belonging to one of the western tribes, on his return home to his hut one
day, discovered that his venison, which had been hung up to dry, had been stolen.
After taking observations on the spot, he set off in pursuit of the thief, whom he tracked through the woods. Having gone a little distance, he met some persons, of whom he inquired whether they had seen a little old white man with a short gun, accompanied by a small dog with a short tail.
They replied in the affirmative; and upon the Indian assuring them that the man thus described had stolen his venison, they desired to be informed how he was able to give such a minute description of a person he had never seen.
The Indian replied thus: "The thief I know is a little man, by his having made a pile of stones to stand upon in order to reach the venison from the height I hung it standing on the ground; that he is an old man, I know by his short steps, which I have traced over the dead leaves in the woods; that he is a white man, I know by his turning out his toes when he walks, which an Indian never does.
"His gun I know to be short, by the mark the muzzle made in rubbing the bark of the tree where it leaned; that his dog is small, I know by his tracks; and that he has a short tail, I discovered by the mark it made in the dust, where he was sitting at the time his master was taking down the meat."
The other story which I propose to tell is as follows: A dervise* was journeying alone in the desert, when two merchants suddenly met him. "You have lost a camel," said he to the merchants.— "Indeed, we have," they replied.
"Was he not blind in his right eye, and lame in his left leg?” said the dervise." He was," replied the merchants.—“ Had he lost a front tooth?" said the dervise." He had,” rejoined the merchants.
"And was he not loaded with honey on one side, and wheat on the other ?”—“ Most certainly he was," they replied; “and as you have seen him so lately, and marked him so particularly, you can, in all probability, conduct us to him.”
"My friends," said the dervise, "I have never seen your camel, nor ever heard of him, but from yourselves."-" A pretty story, truly! said the merchants; "but where are the jewels which formed a part of his cargo ?"—"I have neither seen your camel nor your jewels," repeated the dervise.
On this they seized his person, and forthwith hurried him before
* A dervise is a Turkish priest or monk, who professes to be very poor, and to live a simple and quiet life.
the cadi,* where, on the strictest search, nothing could be found upon him, nor could any evidence whatever be adduced to convict him either of falsehood or of theft. They were then about to proceed against him as a sorcerer,† when the dervise, with great calmness, thus addressed the court:
"I have been much amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions; but I have lived long, and alone, and I can find ample scope ‡ for observation, even in a desert.
"I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footsteps on the same route; § I knew that the animal was blind in one eye, because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of its path; and I perceived that it was lame in one leg, from the faint impression that particular foot had produced upon the sand.
"I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth, because, wherever it had grazed,|| a small tuft of herbage was left, uninjured, in the centre of its bite. As to that which formed the burden of the beast, the busy ants informed me that it was corn on the one side, and the clustering flies, that it was honey on the other.”
You see, from these stories which I have now related, how much one may find out himself alone, only by thinking. The great men that have been celebrated for their wisdom and learning have acquired their fame by thinking and reasoning.
It is true that they read and studied much; but all their reading and study would have been but of little use to them had they not thought much, not only of what they had read and studied, but of all that they saw, and all that they heard, and all that was in any way brought to their notice.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON.
SIR ISAAC NEWTON was one of the greatest and most learned men that the world has ever produced. He was a great thinker; and whatever he saw, he endeavoured to find out the cause of it.
One day, as he was sitting in his garden, he saw an apple fall from a tree. He immediately began to think what made the apple fall, and
A judge, or town councillor.
One who pretends to be able to perform things supernatural, or beyond the power of man. || Eaten the grass.
Room, or space. § Way, or road.