John Hopkins's Notions on Political Economy
By Jane Haldimand Marcet
THE miscellaneous character of the following Tracts is accounted for by their having been written at different periods. Some of them were published, with the Author’s permission, about two years ago, by a Society established in Glamorganshire for the improvement of the labouring classes. It will be obvious to the reader, that it is for that rank of life that this little work is principally intended. [From the advertisement for the book]
First Pub. Date
London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman
1st edition. Some essays published earlier as pamphlets
The text of this edition is in the public domain.
AS Hopkins was sitting one evening at his cottage door smoking his pipe, and his children gamboling around him, an old pedlar came up, and offered his little wares for sale; their purchases were small, for small were their means; but as the poor man seemed much tired, they offered him a seat, and some refreshment.—”It is a weary length of way I am come,” said the old man, “and where can I get a night’s lodging?”—”I wish I had one to give you,” replied Hopkins, “but we are overcrowded with the family already; however, there’s a bit of an outhouse behind, where I could make you up a bed of clean straw, with a warm coverlid, if that would serve your turn?”—”Ay, and a blessing to you for it,” replied the pedlar; “and if it will please these young ones, I can tell them a story in return, to wile away the evening.”—Upon this all the children crowded round him, crying out, “A story! a story!”—”I hope it will be a wonderful one,” said Tom, “about giants or
fairies, and such like.”—”Pooh, pooh, nonsense,” cried Jenny; “I like a true story better by half.”—”True or false,” said Hopkins, “I care not, so as there be but some sense in it, that one may learn somewhat by it.”—”Oh, pray,” cried little Betsy, “tell us a pretty story like those in my book of fables; but none of the moral at the end, if you please, that is always so stupid.”—”I fear I shall have a hard matter to satisfy you all,” said the old man: “one is for the marvellous, another for truth, and another good sense, and the little one likes a fable. Well,” said he, “I will do my best to suit your tastes.” So, after clearing his throat, he began thus:—
“A long while ago, when the times were no better than they are now, and perhaps worse for aught I know, a poor labouring man, encumbered with a large family of young children, and finding it every day more difficult to earn wherewithal to maintain them, resolved to go and seek his fortune beyond seas. Several of his neighbours, who felt the same distress, had joined together to sell what little they had, in order to fit themselves out, and pay their passage to one of the foreign colonies, where they were told they might have farms of their own just for a mere nothing; and our goodman Jobson thought he could not do better
than take his wife and family thither. So off they all set for Liverpool, where they embarked for—, I cannot recollect the name of the place; but it matters not, for the poor folks never reached it! When they had been at sea some weeks, far away from land, and nothing but wide waters all around them, there arose a great storm, which drove the ship out beyond all reckoning; and the sailors, do what they would, could never manage her; so she drifted before the wind for several days and nights, and at last struck upon a rocky shore, and was wrecked. The poor folks had much ado to save their lives; they did so, however; and were somewhat comforted when they saw that the land to which they had escaped was a pleasant, fruitful country. They found no inhabitants. So much the better, thought they: we shall have all the land to ourselves; and we may live as happily here as we could do in the colony, if we can but get our farming tools from the wreck, and a few clothes. ‘And some of the pots and pans for cooking,’ cried the women. ‘Oh, pray remember the poor hens in the coop,’ hollowed out one of the children, as the men were trudging off to the wreck to see what they could save. They brought ashore much more than they expected; and, to make short of my story, they settled themselves
pretty comfortably; and in the course of a year each of the families had a neat log-house and a little garden of vegetables: fruit they found in abundance growing wild; and, as it was a hot climate, there were grapes, and figs, and cocoanuts, and a number of fruits, the names of which they did not know. They had sown corn, and had got in a fine crop, enough for them all; but the difficulty was to turn it into flour for bread. They had no other means than by bruising it between two stones, for it could hardly be called grinding; and it took up so much time and labour, that Jobson, who had a large family to feed, found it a hard matter to make all ends meet.”
“Well, but there’s nothing wonderful in this story,” said Tom: “I hope you will come to a ghost, or a giant, or a fairy soon.”
“All in good time, my lad,” replied the pedlar; “youth must have patience with old age; we cannot scamper on so fast as you do; but it’s coming.” Upon hearing this, the children all crowded still closer around him.—”Well, one day as Jobson was taking a stroll over the new country, and thinking how he wished his boys were big enough to assist him in his work, (for he felt well nigh worn out himself,) he came to a valley where he had never been before; a river wound through it, overshaded
with trees: and it was so beautiful, that he could not find in his heart to turn back; so he went on and on, till at last he came within sight of an object that made him start back and shudder.”
“Oh, here it’s coming!” cried Tom, clapping his hands: “what was it? it could not be a fairy, for that would never have frightened him.”
“It was as little like a fairy,” said the pedlar, “as any thing well could be. It was an enormous giant, stretched at his whole length upon the ground. Jobson would have fled; but the giant’s eyes were shut, so that he appeared to be asleep; and he looked so harmless and good humoured, that Jobson stood gazing on him till his fear was nearly over. He was clad in a robe of dazzling brightness where the sun shone upon it, but the greater part was shaded by the trees; and it reflected all their different colours, which made it look like a green changing silk. As Jobson stood, lost in amazement, the giant opened his eyes, and turned towards him with a good humoured smile.”
“Then he was not a wicked giant?” said Betsy.
“Far from it,” replied the old man. “Still, when Jobson saw that he was awake, and
stretching himself as if he was going to rise, he took to his heels; but the giant remained quietly stretched on the grass, and called after him in a tone of voice so gentle, that Jobson was tempted to stop. ‘Fear me not, good man, because I am strong and powerful; I am not cruel, and will do you no harm.’ Jobson hesitated: but the giant looked so kind-hearted, that he felt inclined to trust to his words, and, step by step, he approached. ‘Why should you fear me because of my size?’ said the giant; ‘you are not afraid of yonder hill, which is bigger than I am.’—’Ay, but you are alive,’ replied Jobson, ‘and I have read of giants being very wicked. It is true, I never saw one before. Indeed, till now, I thought they were only idle stories made to amuse children.’—’The wicked giants you have read of are so,’ replied he; ‘but there are real giants in nature, who, far from being inclined to evil, are willing to do all the good to mankind that lies in their power; and I am one of these.’—’Then a deal of good you can do,’ replied Jobson; ‘for you must be as strong as Samson.’—He then began to cast over in his mind what good the giant might do him, seeing he was so ready; for, thought he, if he is willing to work, he can do more in a day than I can in a month; so I’ll e’en make bold to ask him the question. ‘Iam
ready to do any work you will set me; but I must tell you, that, not having been in the habit of working in this desert island, I shall require some teaching in order to know how to set about it.’—’If that is all,’ said Jobson, ‘I can teach you any work you would like to do.’ But a difficulty occurred to him; he concluded that the giant would require to be paid in proportion to the work he did; and he asked, with some anxiety, what wages he would expect. ‘Wages!’ replied the giant, smiling: ‘I cannot expect any; I do not even know what wages mean.’ Jobson was ready to leap for joy at the idea of getting a labourer who could do the work of a hundred men without wages; and he was hurrying away to tell his wife the good news, when the giant said, ‘If you will let me carry you home, it will save you the trouble of walking, and you will be there much sooner.’ Jobson rather hung back; yet not liking to show any distrust of one who was willing to do him so much good, he consented. ‘You may think it strange,’ said the giant; ‘but as I never carried any one before, you must show me how to do it.’—’He seems rather stupid,’ thought Jobson: ‘however, it is well he takes so little upon himself, and is so ready to be taught.’—’Will you mount upon my back? or shall I carry you in my arms?’ continued the giant.
Jobson was very glad to have the option, for he had much rather mount him like a horse, than be carried in his arms like a baby. Besides, if the truth must be told, he was still rather fearful of seeing the giant stand upright, and of being folded in his arms: having, therefore, first saddled him with some planks of wood, to make a comfortable seat, and having cut himself a long pole, which might serve to hasten his pace in case of need, he desired him to take the road homewards. The giant obeyed: he neither walked nor trotted, but glided on so smoothly, that, though he went at a pretty brisk pace, Jobson felt scarcely any motion. In a short time they reached the cottage. But you may imagine the fright of Dame Jobson and all her little crew when they beheld him mounted on such an enormous animal: the children ran screaming away, as if they had seen a wild beast, and the poor woman wrung her hands in despair, and fell a-crying; then she threw herself at the feet of the giant, begging him to set her dear husband at liberty. ‘He is quite free,’ said the giant; ‘I only brought him home to save him the fatigue of walking;—and now, good woman, if there is any thing I can do for you, you need but tell me; for I ask no better than to be busy. The dame courtesied, and trembled, and wiped her eyes, and tried to smile; but she
was so astounded with wonder at the sight of this monstrous giant, and so surprised at his good-nature, that she began to doubt whether she was in her right senses. And when her husband talked to her, and told her all that had passed between them, and how much the giant had promised to do for them, she lifted up her hands and eyes, and said she would try to believe it; but she thought it was only too good to be true. In the mean while, the children, who had scampered away, when they saw their father and mother in friendly talk with the giant, ventured gently to return. ‘Look at his legs,’ cried little Jack; ‘I am sure I could not reach round the calf.’—’If he stood upright, he might gather the cocoa nuts without climbing,’ said Will. As they drew near, they crowded together, as if for defence: but when they saw the giant smile upon them, and heard their father and mother say there was nothing to fear, their terror ceased; for neither father nor mother had ever deceived them, so they had full belief in all they said. Their fright was no sooner over, than they gave way to their curiosity. The giant was still stretched upon the grass; and in a few minutes the little ones were crawling and climbing all over his huge body, and making a playfellow of him.
“In the mean time, the father and mother
were consulting together how they should manage to lodge and board the giant. ‘Why, he will want a room bigger than all our house,’ said the dame, ‘and I’m sure no one can build it but himself: then, as for his food,’ continued she, ‘he will eat us out of house and home; he will devour a plantation of cabbages and a flitch of bacon at a meal.’ This Jobson had never considered; and he began to doubt whether, after all, he had made so good a bargain as he had supposed. ‘We had best go and speak to the giant, wife,’ said he; and accordingly they went to enquire what sort of fare he would want. ‘Nothing more than a draught of fresh water,’ replied he.—’Well, that is very moderate, indeed,’ exclaimed Jobson; ‘neither spirits, nor even malt liquor!’—’Ay, but for your eating, friend,’ quoth the wife, who began to tremble for her kitchen.—’I never eat,’ returned the giant: ‘strong as I am, I require no food, so do not disturb yourselves about that; and as for house-room or bedding, I always lie on the grass when I am not employed.’ You would have thought that Jobson and his wife would have gone wild with joy, when they heard that their powerful labourer worked without board, food, or wages! ‘Why, we shall no longer want for any thing,’ cried they, ‘provided he always keeps in this
good temper, and ready to work.’—’We must not overshoot the mark,’ said his wife, ‘but do what we can to make things agreeable to him.’ So they went and told him they should not think of asking him to do what would fatigue him, and begged he would work only just when he liked. ‘That depends upon you, my good friends; I am ready to work whenever you have work to give me; as for fatigue, I do not know what it means.’—’Indeed!’ exclaimed Jobson and his wife; ‘more and more wonderful! So, then, you want no further rest than your night’s sleep?’—’I never sleep,’ replied the giant; ‘and can as easily work the four and twenty hours round as I can a single minute.’ Jobson was lost in astonishment, and overjoyed at his good luck. They now put their heads together to settle what work they should set the giant to do first. ‘He shall begin by bruising the corn that I am so tired of working at,’ cried Jobson; so he showed him how he used the stones for that purpose. But this proved mere child’s play to the giant; and Jobson thought, if he could but get two large flat stones, such as were used in a mill, the giant would be able to get through much more work. But then the quarry was a long way off; and when they were cut, how could they ever be
got home? ‘They will be no burthen to me to carry,’ said the giant; ‘let us be off.’ Jobson only staid to fetch his tools, which he placed in a sort of large shallow box upon the giant’s shoulders. This served him also for a seat: and carrying the long staff in his hand, away they went to the quarry, where they soon cut the stones, which were placed in the box on the giant’s back, and brought home. When the stones were properly arranged, the giant went to work as steadily as if he had done nothing else all his life. At nightfall the happy couple begged him to leave off and take some rest; but they could not persuade him to do so. They went to bed themselves; but not without first returning thanks to God in their prayers, for having sent them so great a blessing as a labourer who worked both day and night without wanting either food or lodging.”—”And pray what was the name of this wonderful giant?” said Tom, interrupting the pedlar.
Aquafluentes,” replied he.
“Oh, what a long hard name!” exclaimed little Betsy; “I never heard such a name before.”—”Giants have not the same sort of names as we men have,” replied the pedlar; “but I assure you it is a very significant one. However, now let me go on with my story.
“The children were awakened in the night by the noise of the giant grinding the corn; and, frightened at the unusual sound, they called to their mother, who told them what it was. And when she saw her husband quietly sleeping by her side, and thought what a world of labour he was spared, she ejaculated a blessing on their new friend before she again fell asleep. The next morning, Aquafluentes having ground all the corn, asked for more work; and whilst Jobson was thinking what he could set him to, he began to wash the house, and carried away all the dirt and filth in a trice. He then took the children down to the water side, played with them for some time, and began teaching them to swim: this delighted them beyond measure; and when they returned home to breakfast, clean and fresh, and with rosy cheeks and good appetites, they were full of the praises of their playfellow, Aquafluentes. In the mean time, Jobson had settled on a task for him: he had long wished to bring home a large tree which had been blown down in the forest, for the purpose of cutting it into planks, in order to floor his cottage, which got damp and muddy in wet weather; but it was impossible for him either to carry so heavy a burthen, or to cut it into planks. Now nothing was more easy; he slung the tree across the giant’s shoulders,
who brought it home without difficulty. Then Jobson showed him how to use the saw; he soon took to it; and, after some little time, proved a much more exact and regular sawyer than his master. Jobson thought he got on prodigiously with his work; yet he said to himself,—’If I could fasten eight or ten saws together, parallel to each other, with handles at each end, I am sure he would be strong enough to pull them backwards and forwards, and to cut eight or ten planks at once.’ The difficulty was to obtain such a number of saws. Jobson applied to his neighbours, and agreed to provide them with a stipulated quantity of planks in return for the use of their saws. The fame of the laborious giant had spread throughout the colony, and every one was eager to furnish a saw, in order to partake of the benefit of his work. One of the men, who had been bred a carpenter, undertook to arrange the saws in a kind of framework; others dug out a large sawpit. This took some time; but when it was accomplished, and the giant fairly set to work, the whole tree was cut into neat planks in the course of a day.
“After Jobson had paid for the use of the saws, there remained planks enough not only to floor his cottage, but to make a door, a set of shelves, and a good sized table. The carpenter offered
to make these things for Jobson, on condition that he would allow Aquafluentes to grind his corn. This was a bargain advantageous to both parties, and therefore soon agreed upon; and when the rest of the colony saw how comfortable and tidy Jobson’s cottage was become, they set to felling trees in the forest for the same purpose. Then it was necessary to pay Jobson for Aquafluentes’ labour to bring them home and saw them into planks; for it was not to be expected that Jobson should part with the services of such a workman without compensation. Each brought him what he could best spare, or what he thought Jobson most wanted. One came laden with a basket of fish, being part of a draught he had just caught; another brought half of a young kid he had lately snared; another, some wild ducks he had shot; and so they went on, till Jobson’s cottage was so well stored that it might have been taken for the larder of some great inn. One man brought Jobson a purse of money which he had saved from the wreck, and offered to pay him in cash for the use of the giant’s labour. ‘Why, my good fellow, what should I do with your money? it would be of no use to me here; and a guinea would not be half so valuable as these good things which your neighbours have brought me: however, as I have more food
than we shall be able to consume for many a day, I will take your money for once; mayhap, some day or other, it may turn to some use.’ Last of all came a poor widow, who had lost her husband since they were wrecked: she wished much for a floor of planks to keep her children dry and clean; but she had nothing to offer in exchange for the giant’s labour but a basket of potatoes from her little garden. ‘I shall not take your potatoes, Martha,’ cried Jobson, ‘so carry them back again.’—’Alas!’ said the poor widow, ‘I have nothing else to offer: you know how destitute I am. Jackson has kindly promised to cut me down a tree, if I can obtain the giant’s services to bring it home and saw it into planks; and I dare say the carpenter would lend me a hand, some leisure day, to lay down the floor.’—’And do you think I am the only one who will not give a turn to a poor neighbour without reward?’ muttered Jobson, half sulkily. ‘Go your ways, my good woman; bid Jackson cut down your tree; and as soon as that is done, Aquafluentes shall take it in hand.’ The poor woman thanked him with tears in her eyes; and away she trudged with her load of potatoes, which, to her, felt lighter than if she had carried back the basket empty; so pleased
was she to have them to dress for her children’s dinner.
“There were two men still loitering about the door of Jobson’s cottage, who would gladly have got the use of the giant’s services; but, having always been idle fellows, who had done no more than scrape together the bare necessaries of life, they had not a single thing to offer in return. ‘If so, you had as well be gone,’ said Jobson; ‘the giant does not work to encourage idleness, I promise you.’—’What can we do?’ replied one of them; ‘if we have got nothing, we can give nothing.’—’You have, both of you, got a good pair of arms; and if you had made a right use of them, you would not have come empty handed now.’—Jobson’s wife, knowing they had each of them a wife and children, could not but have a fellow feeling towards them,—’you have still got your arms,’ said she; ‘and if you will use them for us for a time, I’ll venture to say my good man will lend you the giant’s services.’—’But,’ said Jobson, ‘whilst we have the giant to work for us, what need have we of the help of others?’—’There is a power of things Aquafluentes cannot do, you well know, Jobson; and have not I many a time heard you say that he does his work so fast, that it’s more than you can do to
get it ready for him; now, why should not you, husband, take your ease a bit, and let others prepare the work for him.’—’That’s true enough,’ replied he; ‘seeing we are so well to do in the world, there’s no manner of reason why I should slave myself. But then,’ added he, ‘I doubt whether I can trust these idle fellows.’—’You may give an eye to them, and see that they mind what they are set about: besides,’ added she, ‘I sadly want a set of large baskets to keep the store of good things our neighbours bring us.’ So it was agreed that the giant was to grind the corn of these two men, on condition that they should do such work in return as Jobson and his wife required. Then one of them was sent to strip off the bark from the trunk of a tree, and place it in the pit ready for the giant to saw; whilst the other was dispatched to gather slips of willow, and make them into baskets.
“It would be endless to relate all the advantages which the colony reaped from the giant’s labour; but, though the benefit was general, Jobson, being master of his services, was by far the greatest gainer by them. This led his neighbours, when they had a leisure day, to stroll about the unknown parts of the country, in hopes of meeting with some other giant, whom they might engage in their service.
Many were the enquiries made of Aquafluentes, whether there were any other giants in the island. ‘I have a brother,’ replied he; ‘but we seldom meet: I love to repose in the vallies; and he, for the most part, frequents the hills.’—’And can he do as much work as you do?’—’Yes,’ replied Aquafluentes, ‘when he is in the humour; but he is more variable in his temper, and now and then is over boisterous. He sometimes overcomes the natural calmness of my temper, and works me up into a rage.’
“The search of the colonists was long fruitless; at length, one day Jackson, climbing a high rock in pursuit of a wild goat, saw a magnificent figure seated upon the summit. He could scarcely distinguish the shape, for his eyes were dazzled by its brightness; but what struck him most were two enormous wings, as large as the sails of a ship, but thin and transparent as the wings of a gnat. Jackson doubted not but that this was the brother of Aquafluentes. Alarmed at the account he had heard of the uncertainty of his temper, he hesitated whether to approach: the hope of gain, however, tempted him: and as he drew nearer, he observed that he also had a smiling countenance; so, mustering up courage, he ventured to accost him, and enquire whether he was the person they had so long been in
search of; and whether he would engage in his service. ‘My name is Ventosus,’ cried the winged giant; ‘and I am ready to work for you, if you will let me have my own way. I am not of the low grovelling disposition of my brother, who plods on with the same uniform pace. I cannot help sometimes laughing at his slow motion, and I amuse myself with ruffling his placid temper, in order to make him jog on a little faster. But then I frequently lend him a helping hand when he is laden with a heavy burthen. I perch upon his bosom, and, stretching out my wings, I move with such rapidity as almost to lift him from the ground.’ Jackson was astonished to hear Aquafluentes accused of sluggishness: he told Ventosus what a prodigious quantity of work he had done for the colony. ‘He is a snail to me, for all that,’ hollowed out Ventosus, who had sometimes a very loud voice; and, to show his rapidity, he spread his wings, and was out of sight in a moment. Jackson was sadly frightened, lest he should be gone for ever; but he soon returned, and consented to accompany Jackson home, on condition that he would settle him in an elevated spot of ground. ‘My house is built on the brow of a hill,’ said Jackson, ‘and I shall place yours on the summit.’—’Well,’ said the giant, ‘if you will get me a couple of millstones, I will grind you as
much corn in one hour as Aquafluentes can in two: like my brother, I work without food or wages; but then I have an independent spirit, I cannot bear confinement, I work only when I have a mind to it, and I follow no will but my own.’—’This is not such a tractable giant as Aquafluentes,’ thought Jackson; ‘but he is still more powerful; so I must try to manage his temper as well as I can.’ His wonderful form and the lightness of his wings excited great admiration. Jackson immediately set about building a house for him on the hill, to grind corn in; and, in the mean time, Ventosus took a flight into the valley, to see his brother. He found him carrying a heavy load of planks, which he had lately sawed, to their proprietor: they embraced each other; and Ventosus, being in a good humour, said,—’Come, brother, let me help you forward with your load; you will never get on at this lazy pace.’—’Lazy pace!’ exclaimed one of the children, who was seated on the load of wood on the giant’s back; ‘why, there is no man who can walk half a quarter as fast.’—’True,’ replied Ventosus; ‘but we are not such little pigmies as you.’ So he seated himself beside the child, stretched out his wings, and off they flew with a rapidity which at first terrified the boy; but when he found he was quite safe, he
was delighted to sail through the air almost as quickly as a bird flies. When they arrived, and the wood had been unloaded,—’Now, brother,’ said Aquafluentes, ‘you may help me back again.’—’Not I,’ replied Ventosus; ‘I am going on, straight forward: if you choose to go along with me, well and good; if not, you may make your way home as you please.’ Aquafluentes thought this very unkind, and he began to argue with his brother; but this only led to a dispute: Aquafluentes’ temper at length grew ruffled; Ventosus flew into a passion; he struggled with his brother, and roared louder than any wild beast. Aquafluentes then lost all self-command, and actually foamed with rage. The poor child stood trembling with fear at a distance: he hardly knew the face of his old friend, so much was his countenance distorted by wrath; he looked as if he could almost have swallowed him up. At length Ventosus disengaged himself from his brother, and flew out of his sight; but his sighs and moans were still heard afar off. Aquafluentes also murmured loudly at the ill treatment he had received; but he composed himself by degrees; and, taking the boy on his back, slowly returned home. Jackson enquired eagerly after Ventosus; and when the child told him all that had happened, he was much
alarmed for fear Ventosus should never return; and he was the more disappointed, as he had prepared every thing for him to go to work. Ventosus, however, came back in the night; and when Jackson went to set him to work in the morning, he found that nearly half the corn was already ground. This was a wonderful performance; yet, upon the whole, Ventosus did not prove of such use to the colony as his brother. He would carry with astonishing quickness; but then, he would always carry his own way; so that it was necessary to know what direction he intended to take, before you could confide any goods to his charge; and then, when you thought them sure to arrive on account of the rapidity with which they were conveyed, Ventosus would sometimes suddenly change his mind, and veer about with the fickleness of a weathercock; so that the goods, instead of reaching their place of destination, were carried to some other place, or brought back to the spot whence they set out. This inconvenience could not happen with regard to grinding corn; but one, of no less importance, often did occur. Ventosus, when not inclined to work, disappeared, and was nowhere to be found.
“The benefit derived from the labour of these two giants had so much improved the
state of the colony, that, not only were the cottages well floored, and had good doors and window-shutters, but there was abundance of comfortable furniture—bedsteads, tables, chairs, chests, and cupboards, as many as could be wished; and the men and women, now that they were relieved from the most laborious work, could employ themselves in making a number of things which, before, they had not time for. It was no wonder, therefore, that the desire to discover more giants was uppermost in men’s minds. In reply to their numerous enquiries, Aquafluentes one day said, with a sigh,—’I know but of one more of our species to be met with in this island, and that is a truant son of my own. It is many years ago since he left me; and, from that day to this, I have never beheld him. His mother was of the tribe of Salamanders, and he always took to her relations more kindly than to mine; and, one sultry day, as he was basking in the sunbeams, he rose up of a sudden and disappeared from my sight.’—’Then there is little chance that any of us should find him,’ cried the colonists; ‘he has probably left the island.’
“Perkins, one of the most enterprising among them, was not wholly discouraged by this account: he returned alone to talk to Aquafluentes about his runaway son; and learnt that
there was reason to believe he had not wholly abandoned the island, as he was known to amuse himself occasionally with bathing in a hot spring which flowed from a rock in a distant valley, where none of the inhabitants had ever been. ‘The fact is,’ said his father, ‘he takes so much after his mother, that he cannot live but in a very high temperature. These waters are boiling hot; but this only increases his vigour.’ Perkins enquired if he was a powerful workman. ‘I can only speak by report,’ replied the father; ‘and from that I should judge that he can do more than I and Ventosus together: the difficulty, however, is to catch him and confine him, for he is just the reverse of Ventosus; he will only work when imprisoned: then, he differs from both of us by being a great feeder.’—’Oh!’ exclaimed Perkins, ‘if so, he loses one of his principal merits; for, if he is near the size of either of you, it will be difficult to satisfy his appetite, and it may cost me as much to procure him food, as I should gain by his labour.’—’Never fear,’ returned the giant, ‘the only food he takes is coals or wood, which he devours burning hot, and the more you give him the better he will work, provided, as I said before, he is imprisoned.’—’But where can we meet with a prison large enough to enclose a giant?’—
‘Why, in regard to his size,’ replied Aquafluentes, ‘though he sometimes reaches up to the skies, he can, at others, be squeezed into a very small compass, and the smaller the space in which you confine him, the harder he will work.’—’Surely he cannot take a pleasure in being imprisoned,’ said Perkins.—’Oh, no!’ replied Aquafluentes; ‘he works only with a view to get free; for he is as fond of his liberty as Ventosus.’—’Well,’ said Perkins, ‘if you will help me, perhaps we might manage to get hold of him.’ Accordingly, the next morning they set out together, Perkins having purchased the services of Aquafluentes by a fine ham which he took to Jobson. As they were on their road, Perkins quietly seated on the back of the giant, he enquired of him by what means he thought they could confine his son, if they should be so fortunate as to meet with him? ‘I have brought a vessel for that purpose,’ said the giant, and showed him a bottle; upon which Perkins fell a laughing, and declared ‘that he believed Aquafluentes was making game of him.’ In a short time they arrived at the hot spring. As they drew near, they observed a great body of vapour rising from the pool.—’Look, look!’ cried Aquafluentes, ‘there he is.’ Perkins looked with great eagerness: he saw nothing but a cloud of
steam. In a few moments, however, this cloud took the form of an enormous giant, whose head reached almost to the clouds: the figure, as it continued slowly rising, became more and more indistinct, till at length it wholly disappeared.’—’There he was, indeed!’ exclaimed Perkins; ‘but he is gone, perhaps fled for ever!’—’ No, no!’ replied Aquafluentes; ‘since we know the spot he haunts, we may be more fortunate another time.’ Another time they came, but no giant was to be seen. ‘So much the better,’ said Aquafluentes; ‘we must prepare to catch him when he rises;’ so he drew out his bottle, which he held with the mouth downwards over the pool, and he gave the cork to Perkins, charging him to thrust it into the bottle, as soon as he saw it filled with vapour. Perkins had much to do to refrain from laughing at the idea of squeezing a giant into a bottle; however, he was too intent on an object of such importance, to venture to give way to his mirth. In a short time the vapour began to arise; Aquafluentes held the bottle inverted over it, where it appeared thickest: it was soon filled, and well corked; but Perkins could not be persuaded that they really were in possession of the long-sought treasure. ‘Well, if he is within the bottle,’ said he, ‘he submits to his confinement with
a very good grace; he is as quiet as a lamb.’—’Never trust to that,’ replied Aquafluentes, ‘he is cool now; but you will see the difference by and by.’ When they got home, Aquafluentes told him to place him in the chimney-corner as near the fire as possible: ‘Heat is his element,’ said he, ‘and unless you contrive to keep him scalding hot, you will do nothing with him.’ Perkins, in order to give his new host complete satisfaction, placed him in a pot of boiling water over the fire, when, to his utter consternation, the cork flew out, and he saw the figure of the giant, of a diminished size, come out of the bottle, and, increasing in dimensions as it arose, make its escape through the chimney. Perkins, quite discomforted, went to relate the disaster to Aquafluentes. ‘What a trick the lad has played you!’ said he; ‘but we will catch him again, depend upon it.’—’What’s the use of catching, if we can’t keep him?’ retorted Perkins. ‘I advise you,’ said Aquafluentes, ‘to see if amongst the things saved from the wreck, there is not an iron or a copper vessel, which would be strong enough to hold him, when he is alive and active, and fit for work.’ Perkins enquired throughout the colony, and at last found a man who had a brass vessel of a cylindrical form, which Perkins purchased with a pair of old shoes. ‘I
defy him to burst this,’ cried Perkins, ‘it is so thick and strong.’—’I have known him crack stouter vessels,’ replied the giant, ‘when he is much heated by passion;’ but, on examining it, he said he thought it would serve their purpose; for he observed, that there was a small opening closed with a little door. ‘He will make nothing of lifting this door,’ cried he, ‘when he is violent; but it is too small for him to escape by. However, it will serve him to vent his wrath, and keep him more temperate.’ The next day off they posted; succeeded in enclosing Vaporoso (for that was his name), as he arose from the boiling pool; and carried him home in triumph.
“When Vaporoso was fairly captured, he was ready to come to terms with his master, and offered to do almost any sort of work he chose to set him to. ‘But,’ said he, ‘it would be beneath my talents to grind corn or to saw planks. I can work a manufacture of cotton or woollen, or raise coals or water out of a mine.’—’As for coals,’ said Perkins, ‘we have such abundance of wood, that we need give ourselves no trouble to get coals; and in regard to mining of any sort, that is quite beyond our reach. But if it were possible to manufacture the cotton that grows in such plenty in this country, it would be a great blessing; for we
are all short of shirts, and our women and children are half naked. So I must consult with the rest of them, and see if it would be possible to build some mills to spin the cotton and weave it.’ This was so desirable a thing, that every one was ready to give his assistance to the best of his ability. The carpenter, the smith, and the wheelwright were of essential service; and, after much toil and trouble, a mill was erected. A manufacturer from Manchester would have laughed at it; but it proved a most valuable treasure to the little colony; which, by the by, continued the pedlar, I ought to have told you, had increased considerably in population, as well as in wealth.”—”Wealth!” interrupted Tom: “I thought you said they made no use of money, and did not care about it.”—”True,” replied the pedlar, “the wealth I speak of was the corn, and cattle, and vegetables, and furniture, and better houses, and boats with which they caught plenty of fish, and other things without number. After a few years had passed over their heads, no one would have known the colony again, so much was it increased and improved. Thanks to Aquafluentes and Ventosus, and, above all, to Vaporoso: not that the people were idle; they had enough to do to prepare work for the
giants, and finish it up after they had performed their part. Thus, the men had to build houses, and to make furniture, and boats, and carts, out of the boards which Aquafluentes sawed. Then they were obliged to raise the corn for Ventosus to grind, and afterwards make it into bread.”—”And the women must have had plenty of work too,” said little Betsy, “after they made cotton, to sew it up into gowns and petticoats for the little girls.”—”Very true, my dear,” said the old man; “and the little girls helped them at this work; for there was a school set up to teach the children to sew, and to read and write; and the poor widow was the mistress of it. Then there was a church built, it was neither very large nor very handsome; but they prayed to God in it as piously and as sincerely as if it had been finer and richer; and never failed to return thanks for the wonderful assistance he had sent them.”—”But pray, what did the men do for coats?” asked Tom; “for theirs must have been worn out in time, as well as the women’s petticoats?”—”Oh!” said the pedlar, “when once the manufacture of cotton was found to answer, another for wool was set on foot; and after that they raised flax, and manufactured linen; and, build as many mills as they would, Vaporoso worked them all. At last they undertook to build a
ship; and then the three giants began to dispute which should take charge of it.—’It cannot move without my assistance,’ said Aquafluentes. ‘Nay,’ said Ventosus, ‘you may support it, but a pretty snail’s pace it will move at, unless I perch upon the deck, and stretch out my wings; and then it will fly upon the surface of the waters.’—’Ay, but it must fly the way you choose to go,’ cried Vaporoso, ‘whilst I can take it in any direction they choose it to go, and at a quicker rate than either of you.’ Aquafluentes was obliged to give up the point; for though he could have carried a vessel as far as the mouth of a river, he had no power to walk on the sea. The other two determined to divide the charge amicably between them. When Ventosus was in a humour to conduct the vessel towards the place of its destination, he was to be captain; but if he grew refractory, the command was to be taken by Vaporoso. The colony had now an opportunity of either returning to England, or seeking the spot where it had at first been their intention to settle; but, during the course of twenty years that they had been established in this desert island, they had improved it so much, and become so attached to it, that they had not the least desire to leave it. Besides, the young people were now growing old; but those who had
been born in the island, or had arrived there at a very early age, were curious to visit England, of which they had heard so much from their parents. They carried thither a cargo of goods, the produce of the island, which they thought would fetch a good price in England, and brought in return such commodities as the colony required. Thus, manufactures and commerce were established in the country, and from that time they went on in an almost uninterrupted course of prosperity. And so now, I am come to the end of my story,” cried the old man, who began to be out of breath with so long a narrative. “And a very pretty story it is,” cried Tom, “with giants in plenty!”—”But I should be glad to know where the sense lies?” said Hopkins; “for as it has not pleased God to give us such helps as you describe, I see no good that can come of setting us a longing for what we can’t get, and so making us discontented with what we have.”
“Are you sure that you have no such helps?” said the old man, with an arch smile. “I could give you an explanation of my tale, but little Betsy would say it was the stupid moral at the end: so I think the children had better go to bed before I proceed.” Betsy and little Jem, who were beginning to yawn, agreed to this;
but the other children all begged leave to stay and hear the explanation.
“Well, then,” cried the old man, “Nature has, in reality, given these gigantic powers to assist the labours of men.” The children looked around in astonishment, as if doubting whether they should not behold one of the giants. “Tell me,” continued he, addressing Hopkins, “who is it turns the mill that saws the wood yonder?”—”No one,” cried Hopkins: “it is turned by a stream of water.”—”And does not that stream of water work, without requiring either food, lodging, or wages?”—”That is true, indeed,” replied Hopkins, scratching his head, as if to make the meaning enter into it the easier. “It is strange that never struck me before.”—”Aquafluentes,” continued the pedlar, “means no other than a stream of running water.”—”Oh, that is the reason,” cried Jenny, “that he cleaned the house, and washed the children, and taught them to swim; but I do not understand how running water can fetch and carry cargoes of wood and other things, as Aquafluentes did.”—”Why, in a boat,” said Tom, “no doubt: don’t you remember they placed a large shallow box on his back, to hold things in: what was that but a boat?”—”Ay, true,” replied Jenny; “and the long pole or staff to make
the giant go on, must have been an oar.”—”Well, it must be confessed,” said Hopkins, “there is as much truth as fiction in your tale.”
“Then Ventosus,” continued the pedlar…”Oh, stop,” cried Tom, interrupting him; “let me try to guess what Ventosus means.” After thinking awhile, he exclaimed,—”I do think Ventosus must be the wind; because, when he quarrels with his brother, Aquafluentes, he makes the waves rage, and swell, and foam. Oh, it is certainly the wind which turns the mill to grind the corn.”—”True,” said Hopkins, thoughtfully; “the wind is another gigantic power in nature, for which we have never thought of being thankful. Well, my good friend,” continued he, “your story has taught me that we possess blessings I little thought of; and I hope it will teach us to be grateful for them. But what is the third power, which is more able than the other two?”—”It is one you know less of,—it is steam; which, confined in the cylinder of the steam-engine, sets all our manufactures in motion. As it rises from boiling water, I have called it the son of water and of fire or heat. It is now, you know, applied to vessels at sea, acting always steadily and regularly, whilst the wind is not under our command.
But, observe,” said the pedlar, “though these powers do so much for men, they do not take the work out of their hands: on the contrary, when the mills or manufactures thrive, they give them more to do. It was the giant Vaporoso that introduced the cotton mills in this village, which gives so much work to all the folks in the neighbourhood; and if Ventosus did not grind the corn, depend upon it there would not be half so much raised; no, nor near so many bakers: for, when men were obliged to bruise their corn themselves, it would take up the time which they can now give to sowing and reaping it.”—”Nor would there be so many floored cottages, and doors, and window shutters, and tables, and chairs,” said Tom (proud to show that he had not forgotten the number of articles mentioned in the tale), “if Aquafluentes had not been such a capital sawyer of wood.”—”Well, but,” said Dame Hopkins, who hitherto had made no remark, for, being busied about her domestic affairs, she had not heard above half the story, “if these giants do but make men work the more, I can’t see what good they do them.”—”Why, wife,” answered Hopkins, “we don’t want to be idle; but we want to earn a comfortable livelihood by our work; and I see now, that, if it were not for the help of these
powers which nature has given us (and we must have been as blind as buzzards not to have observed them before), our cottage would have been unfloored, we should have had neither bedstead to lie on, chair to sit on, or table to eat off; and, what’s worse still, a sad scarcity of bread to set on the table at meals. We have now the produce of our own work and of theirs also; and, as they do a hundred times more work than we can, why, we get a hundred times more food and clothing, and comforts of one kind or other.”
“Ay,” said Jenny; “where should we have got our cotton gowns and petticoats, or you your shirt, Tom, if Vaporoso had not set the cotton mills a-going?”—”Well,” said Hopkins, snuffing up the air, “I smell the smell of supper. I see my good woman has been busy to some purpose.”—”Ay, and it’s all the work of my own hands,” said she: “none of your giants have had any thing to do with it.” But the pedlar, who stood up for the credit of his giants, replied,—”By your leave, mistress, I think you are mistaken. These potatoes could never have been so well boiled without the help of steam; nor would the iron, of which the pot is made, have been so easily got out of the mine, without the use of a steam-engine.”—”I think that truant young giant is the greatest
favourite of yours,” said Hopkins, “of the three.”—”Not when he was running wild about the country,” replied the pedlar; “but, after he was reclaimed, and took to working, he certainly did more than the other two.”—”And, mother, who ground the corn that made this bread?” cried Tom, archly. “And I doubt whether Ventosus had not some hand in bringing this sugar over the seas from foreign parts,” said Hopkins. “Well, well, come in and eat,” cried the good dame, a little angry that she did but half understand the meaning of the story, which seemed to be more attended to than her supper. So they all went in laughing and joking, and sat down to a comfortable meal; which, in spite of all the credit the good dame claimed for her cooking, they declared she could not have brought to table without the help of Aquafluentes, Ventosus, and Vaporoso.