Undine (frontispiece) 1897
Undine (frontispiece detail) 1897
Undine (cover and spine) 1897

I found this Victorian Era copy of Undine by Friedrich de La Motte Fouque in the toss away bin on one of my recent book hunts. This copy, published in 1897, is illustrated by Rosie M. M. Pitman. The cover and binding are water damaged but the pages and pictures are in pretty good shape. It appears to be unread since it still has uncut pages. One of my favorite stories about a water nymph who falls in love with a mortal and is gifted with a soul. It’s rather an epic fairy tale which someone aptly described as fairy tale noir. A lovely book with a well rounded and sympathetic heroine. Mischievous and somewhat unseelie water sprite steal a few scenes. There is a later version with Arthur Rackham illustrations. I’ve scanned a few of these less well known interpretations. The detail on the Frontispiece (pictured above) depicts the water sprites who mock Undine for falling in love with a human.

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The Sagacious Goose

The Sagacious Goose

I typed it as it was. (Hopefully) Note: emblematical, eyeing and under tone ?

The Sagacious Goose

Many persons seem to think that a goose is a bird that has neither wit nor wisdom. They laugh at the poor harmless animal and seem to consider it good for nothing but to be stripped of its feathers, for our beds, and to be roasted for our dinners.

Indeed the goose has become proverbial for its stupidity, and emblematical of a dunce; for we often hear a dull boy, or a simpleton of a man, called a goose; and the old proverb says, “If all fools wore white caps, they would look like a flock of geese.”

Now this is doing great wrong to this useful and valuable bird, which after all, has received from its Maker as much wisdom as it wants for its own use, and it sometimes has some left for the use of us owners.

The city of Rome was once saved from destruction by the cackling of a goose, which wisely kept awake when the army of the Gauls was going to attack it, and when all the inhabitants had foolishly gone to sleep.

And the story that I am now going to tell you, gives still stronger proof that a goose is sometimes a more sensible bird than he passes for.

“I have known one,” says Mrs. Hall,–” a snowy gander,–who formed a singular and devoted attachment to a gentleman, and never deserted his side, if he could avoid it.

“When the gentleman rode, the poor bird ran or flew after him. When he walked, it strolled along also; and refused food, even when pressed by hunger, except from his master’s hand.

“At dinner time he used to sit patiently outside of the window that opened upon the lawn, eyeing his protector; and standing first on one leg, and then upon the other.

“But the greatest proof of superior intellect that he evinced, was one afternoon, when following his master through some marshy ground that skirted a neighboring bog; the gentleman, trusting to his knowledge of the dangerous district, did not take heed to his way as he ought and presently found himself sinking into a bog hole.

“The efforts he made to get out, only sunk him deeper, and he must have been inevitably swamped, had he not crossed his fowling-piece over two fallen trees, one on each side of him, and held fast by that, although he had not strength enough to free himself from the thick mud, and the rank, tangled weeds.

“His faithful dog seeing his master in this dilemma trotted off for assistance; and the gander, after walking around him, stretching his neck, and cackling in an under tone, at length raised himself into the air, and flew round and round over his head, making, at the same time, the loudest noise that he could.

“This attracted some turf-cutters to the spot and the gentleman was extricated from the bog, before his servants, alarmed by Rover’s having come home without his master, had time to come to his assistance.

“Nothing could exceed the poor gander’s delight when he saw his friend again at liberty. He rubbed himself, like a cat, against his legs, shook his wings and cackled with much glee, and I can say that, for the remainder of his life, he was treated with that high respect which was due to his eminent services.”

I trust we shall hear no more from silly or mischievous boys, about the stupidity of a goose, until they will tell us how, if they had been in the situation of this gander, they would have contrived better than he did.

Lesson Eighty-Fourth from The Young Reader

The Cats Who Went To Law

Mr. Justice Monkey

Two cats, having stolen some cheese, could not agree about dividing their prize. In order, therefore, to settle the dispute, they went to court, to try the case before Mr. Justice Monkey.

His honor readily consented to hear the cause, and producing a balance, put a part of the cheese into each scale.

“Let me see,” said he; “ay, this lump outweighs the other,” and immediately bit off a large piece in order, he observed, to make them equal. The opposite scale was now become the heaviest, which afforded our judge another reason for a second mouthful.

“Hold, hold,” said the two cats, who began to be alarmed for the event,”give us our shares, and we are satisfied,” returned the monkey, “justice is not; a case of this intricate nature is by no means so soon determined.”

Upon which he continued to nibble first one piece, and then the other, till the poor cats, seeing their cheese gradually diminishing, entreated him to give himself no further trouble, but deliver to them what remained.

“Not so fast, not so fast, I beseech you, friends,” replied the monkey; “we owe justice to ourselves as well as to you: what remains is due to me in right of my office:” upon which he crammed the whole into his mouth, and with great gravity dismissed the court.The scales of the law are seldom poised, till little or nothing remains in either.

Lesson Eigthteenth from The Young Reader

The Cats that went to Law