Short stories for little folks, or, Little tales calculated to excite juvenile minds to the love and practice of virtue

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Short stories for little folks, or, Little tales calculated to excite juvenile minds to the love and practice of virtue (c. 1795–1804)

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3234088Short stories for little folks, or, Little tales calculated to excite juvenile minds to the love and practice of virtuec/1795-1804

Calculated to promote the Interests of Reli-
gion, Virtue, and Humanity.

No. XV.


Little Folks:


Little Tales,


To excite Juvenile Minds to the Love
and Practice of Virtue.

Train up a Child in the way he ſhould go, and when
he is old he will not Depart from it.


Printed by G. Miller:—at whoſe Shop may be had a variety of
Pamphlets, Ballads, Children's Books, Pictures, Catechiſms, &c.





Delightful taſk! to rear the tender thought
To teach the young idea how to ſhoot,
To pour the freſh inſtruction o'er the mind,
To breathe th' enliv'ning ſpirit, and to fix
The gen'rous purpoſe in the glowing breaſt.

Affection to Parents.

AN amiable youth was lamenting, in terms of the ſincereſt grief, the death of a moſt affectionate parent. His companion endeavoured to conſole him by the reflection, that he had always behaved to the deceaſed with duty, tenderneſs and reſpect. So I thought, replied the youth, whilſt my parent was living; but now I recollect with pain and ſorrow, many inſtances of diſobedience and neglect, for which, alas! it is too late to make atonement.

Tenderneſs to Mothers.

MARK that parent hen! ſaid a father to his beloved ſon. With what anxious care does ſhe call together her offſpring, and cover them with her expanded wings? The kite is hovering in the air, and diſappointed of his prey, may perhaps dart upon the hen herſelf, and bear her off in his talons!

Does not this fight ſuggeſt to you the tenderneſs and affection of your mother? Her watchful care protected you in the helpleſs period of infancy, when ſhe nouriſhed you with her milk, taught your limbs to move, and your tongue to liſp its unformed accents. In childhood ſhe has mourned o-over your little griefs; has rejoiced in your innocent delights; has adminiſtered to you the healing balm in ſickneſs; and has inſtilled into your mind the love of truth, of virtue, and of wiſdom. Oh! cheriſh every ſentiment of reſpect for ſuch a mother. She merits your warmeſt gratitude, eſteem and veneration.

Parental Affection.

EARLY in the morning, the man at the maſt head of the Carcaſe, gave notice, that three bears were making their way very faſt over the ice, and that they were directing their courſe towards the ſhip. They had without queſtion, been invited by the ſcent of the blubber of the ſea-horſe, killed a few days before, which the men had ſet on fire, and which was burning on the ice at the time of their approach. They proved to be a ſhe bear and her two cubs; but the cubs were nearly as large as the dam. They ran eagerly to the fire, and drew out from the flames part of the fleſh of the ſea-horſe, that remained unconſumed, and eat it voraciouſly. The crew from the ſhip threw great lumps of the fleſh of the ſea-horſe, which they had ſtill left, upon the ice, which the old bear fetched away ſingly, laid every lump before her cubs as ſhe brought it, and dividing it, gave each a ſhare, reſerving but a ſmall portion to herſelf. As ſhe was fetching away the laſt piece, they levelled their muſkets at the cubs, and ſhot them both dead; and in her retreat they wounded the dam, but not mortally.

It would have drawn tears of pity from any but unfeeling minds, to have marked the affectionate concern expreſſed by this poor beaſt, in the dying moments of her expiring young. Though ſhe was ſorely wounded, and could but juſt crawl to the place where they lay, ſhe carried the lump of fleſh ſhe had fetched away, as ſhe had done others before, tore it in pieces, and laid it down before them; and when ſhe ſaw that they refuſed to eat, ſhe laid her paws firſt upon one, and then upon the other, and endeavoured to raiſe them up: all this while it was pitiful to hear her moan. When ſhe found ſhe could not ſtir them, ſhe went off, and when ſhe had got at ſome diſtance looked back and moaned; and that not availing her to entice them away, ſhe returned and ſmelling round them, begun to lick their wounds. She went off a ſecond time as before, and having crawled a few paces, looked again behind her, and for ſome time ſtood moaning. But ſlill her cubs not riſing to follow her, ſhe returned to them again, and with ſigns of inexpreſſible ſoundneſs, went round one, and round the other, pawing them, and moaning. Finding at laſt that they were cold and lifeleſs, ſhe raiſed her head towards the ſhip, and growled a curſe upon the murderers, which they returned with a volley of muſket balls. She fell between her cubs, and died licking their wounds.

Can you admire the maternal affection of the bear, and not feel in your heart the warmeſt emotions of gratitude, for the ſtronger and more permanent tenderneſs, you have ſo long experienced from your parents?

The Folly of crying upon Trifling occaſions.

A LITTLE girl, who uſed to weep bitterly for the moſt trifling hurt, was one day attacked by a furious dog. Her cries reached the ſervants of the family; but they paid little attention to what they were ſo much accuſtomed to hear. It happened however very fortunately that a countryman paſſed by, who with great humanity, reſcued the child from the devouring teeth of the dog.

Silence and Reſerve reproved.

SOPHRON was frequently the companion of Euphronius in his various journeys. He was a youth of obſervation, but indulged too much a natural reſerve of temper. His brothers and ſiſters complained that he who ſo often enjoyed amuſement himſelf, ſhould contribute ſo little to the general entertainment of the family. At firſt they intended to petition their father to carry him no more abroad; but a good natured ſtratagem anſwered better the purpoſe of reproof. They agreed that each ſhould purſue, for a few days, a conduct ſimilar to that of Sophron. One viſited the magnificent Muſeum of Mr. Lever at Alkrington; another went to a very diverting comedy; and a third failed, with a party, upon the Duke of Bridgwater's Canal, and viewed all the wonders of that ſtupendous undertaking. But when they returned home, the chearful communications of friendſhip were ſuppreſſed; and the uſual eagerneſs to diſcloſe all which they had ſeen, was converted into ſilence and reſerve. No ſocial converſe enlivened the evening hours, and the ſprightlineſs of youth gave place to mute ſolemnity. Sophron remarked the change with ſurpriſe and ſolicitude. He felt the loſs of that gaiety and unreſerved intercourſe, which he ſeldom promoted, but of which he loved to participate. And when the deſign of his brothers and ſiſters were explained to him, he candidly acknowledged, and promiſed to amend his fault.

The Honour and Advantage of a constant
adherence to Truth.

PETRARCH, a celebrated Italian Poet, who flouriſhed about four hundred years ago, recommended himſelf to the confidence and affection of Cardinal Colonna, in whoſe family he reſided, by his candour and ſtrict regard to truth. A violent quarrel occurred in the houſhold of this nobleman, which was carried ſo far that they had courſe to arms. The Cardinal wiſhed to know the foundation of this affair; and that he might be able to decide with juſtice, he aſſembled all his people, and obliged them to bind themſelves by a moſt ſolemn oath on the Goſpels, to declare the whole truth. Every one, without exception, ſubmitted to this determination; even the Biſhop of Luna, brother to the Cardinal, was not excuſed. Petrarch, in his turn, preſenting himſelf to take the oath, the Cardinal cloſed the book, and ſaid, "As to you Petrarch, your word is ſufficient."

A Story ſimilar to this is related of Zenocrates, an Athenian Philoſopher, who lived three hundred years before Chrift, and was educated in the ſchool of Plato. The people of Athens entertained ſo high an opinion of his probity, that one day when he approached the altar to confirm by an oath the truth of what he had aſſerted, the judges unanimouſly declared his word to be ſufficient evidence.

Cruelty to Insects.

JACOBUS indulged himſelf in the cruel entertainment of torturing and killing flies. He tore off their wings and legs, and then watched with pleaſure their impotent efforts to eſcape from him. Sometimes he collected a number of them together, and cruſhed them at once to death; glorying, like many a celebrated hero, in the devaſtation he committed. His brother remonſtrated with him, in vain, on this barbarous conduct. He could not perſuade him to believe that flies are capable of pain, and have a right, no leſs than ourſelves, to life, liberty, and enjoyment. The ſigns of agony, which when tormented, they expreſs by the quick and various contortions of their bodies, he neither underſtood nor would attend to.

Alexis had a microſcope; and he deſired Jacobus, one day, to examine a moſt beautiful and ſurpriſing animal. Mark, ſaid he, how it is ſtudded from head to tail with black and ſilver, and its body all over beſet with the moſt curious briſtles! The head contains a pair of lively eyes, encircled with ſilver hairs; and the trunk conſiſts of two parts, which fold over each other. The whole body is ornamented with plums and decorations, which ſurpaſs all the luxuries of dreſs, in the courts of the greateſt princes. Jacobus was pleaſed and aſtoniſhed with what he ſaw, and impatient to know the name and properties of this wonderful animal. It was withdrawn from the magnifier; and when offered to his naked eye, proved to be a poor fly which had been the victim of his wanton cruelty.

Selfish Sorrow reproved.

IT was a holiday in the month of June, and Alexis had prepared himself to set out, with a party of his companions, upon a little journey of pleasure. But the ſky lowered, the clouds gathered, and he remained for some time in anxious suspense about his expedition; which at laſt was prevented by heavy and continued rain. The disappointment overpowered his fortitude; he burſt into tears; lamented the untimely change of weather; and sullenly refused all consolation.

In the evening the clouds were dispersed; the sun ſhone with unusual brightness; and the face of nature seemed to be renewed in vernal beauty. Euphronius carried Alexis into the fields. The ſtorm of paſſion in his breaſt was now ſlilled; and the serenity of the air, the muſic of the feathered songſters, the verdure of the meadows, and the sweet perfumes which breathed around, regaled every sense, and filled his mind with peace and joy.

Don't you remark, said Euphronius, the delightful change which has suddenly taken place in the whole creation. Recollect the appearance of the scene before us yeſterday. The ground was then parched with a long drought; the flowers hid their drooping heads; no fragrant odours were perceived; and vegetation seemed to cease. To what cause muſt we impute the revival of nature?—To the rain which fell this morning, replied Alexis, with a modeſt confuſion. He was ſtruck with the selfiſhness and folly of his conduct; and his own bitter reflections anticipated the reproofs of Euphronius.

The Fallacy of External Appearance.

IS there any hidden beauty, said Alexis to Euphronius, in that duſky, ill ſhaped ſtone, which you examine with so much attention? I am admiring the wonderful properties, not the beauty, replied Euphronius, which it poſſeſſes. It is by means of this ſtone that the mariner ſteers his trackless course through the vaſt ocean; and without it the spices of the Eaſt, the mines of Peru, and all the luxuries which commerce pours into Europe, would for ever have remained unknown.—The curioſity of Alexis was excited, and he was impatient to learn in what wonderful manner such advantages could be derived from a subſtance, apparently of so little value.---This magnet or loadſtone, for it is known by both names, said Euphronius, imparts to iron the property of settling itself, when nicely balanced, in a direction nearly North and South. The ſailor is therefore furniſhed with an unerring guide in the midſt of the ocean. For when he faces the North, the Eaſt and Weſt are readily aſcertained, the former lying to his right, and the latter to his left hand. And from theſe four points, all the ſubdiviſions of the mariner's compaſs are formed. The figure of a ſtar, which you ſo often draw upon paper, will give you a clear idea of the compaſs. Make yourſelf a maſter of it; and from the preſent inſtance of your want of knowledge, learn a becoming modeſty in the judgements which you form concerning the productions of nature. The whole creation is the workmanſhip of an Omnipotent Being; and though we cannot always trace the marks of harmony, beauty, or uſefulneſs, yet doubtleſs to the eye of a ſuperior intelligence, every part of it diſplays infallible wiſdom, and unbounded goodneſs.

We too often judge of Men by the Splendour, and not by the Merit of their Actions.

ALEXANDER demanded of a Pirate, whom he had taken, by what right he infeſted the ſeas? By the ſame right, replied he boldly, that you enſlave the world. But I am called a robber, becauſe I have only one ſmall vefſel: and you are ſtyled a conqueror becauſe you command great fleets and armies.

The Pert and the Ignorant are prone to

AGENTLEMAN, of a grave deportment, was buſily engaged in blowing bubbles of ſoap and water, and was attentively obſerving them as they expanded and burſt in the ſunſhine. A pert youth fell into a fit of loud laughter at a ſight ſo ſtrange, and which ſhewed, as he thought, ſuch folly and inſanity.—Be aſhamed, young man, ſaid one who paſſed by, of your rudeneſs and ignorance. You now behold the greateſt Philoſopher of the age, Sir Iſaac Newton, inveſtigating the nature of light and colours by a ſeries of experiments, no leſs curious than uſeful, though you deem them childiſh and inſignificant.

Idleneſs and Irreſolution.

HORACE, a celebrated Roman Poet, relates that a country man, who wanted to paſs a river, ſlood loitering on the banks of it, in the fooliſh expectation that a current ſo rapid would ſoon diſcharge its waters. But the ſtream ſtill flowed, increaſed perhaps by freſh torrents from the mountains; and it muſt for ever flow, becauſe the ſources from which it is derived are inexhauſtible.

Thus the idle and irreſolute youth trifles over his books, or waſtes in play his precious moments; deferring the taſk of improvement, which at firſt is eaſy to accompliſh, but which will become more and more difficult, the longer it is neglected.

Sloth contraſted with Induſtry.

THE Sloth is an animal of South America, and is ſo ill formed for motion, that a few paces are often the journey of a week; and ſo indiſpoled to move, that he never changes his place, but when impelled by the fevereſt ſtings of hunger. He lives upon the leaves, fruit, and flowers of trees, and often on the bark itſelf, when nothing beſides is left for his ſubſiſtence. As a large quantity of food is neceſſary for his ſupport, he generally ſtrips a tree of all its verdure in leſs than a fortnight. And being then deſtitute of food, he drops down, like a lifeleſs maſs, from the branches to the ground. After remaining torpid ſome time, from the ſhock received by the fall, he prepares for a journey to ſome neighbouring tree, to which he crawls with a motion almoſt imperceptible. At length arrived, he aſcends the trunk, and devours with famiſhed appetite, whatever the branches afford. By conſuming the bark he ſoon deſtroys the life of the tree, and thus the ſource is loſt from which his fuſtenance is derived.

Such is the miſerable ſtate of this ſlothful animal. How different are the comforts and enjoyments of the induſtrious Beaver? This creature is found in the northern parts of America, and is about two feet long and one foot high. The figure of it ſomewhat reſembles that of a rat. In the months of June and July the Beavers aſſemble, and form a ſociety which generally conſiſts of more than two hundred. They always fix their abode by the ſide of a lake or river; and in order to make a dead water in that part which lies above and below, they erect with incredible labour, a dam or pier, perhaps fourſcore or a hundred feet long, and ten or twelve feet thick at the baſe. When this dike is completed, they build their ſeveral apartments, which are divided into three ſtories. The firſt is below the level of the mole, and is for moſt part full of water. The walls of their habitations are perpendicular, and about two feet thick: If any wood project from them, they cut it off with their teeth, which are more ſerviceable than paws. And by the help of their tails, they plaiſter all their works with a kind of mortar, which they prepare of dry graſs and clay mixed together. In Auguſt or September they begin to lay up their ſtores of food; which conſiſt of the wood of the birch, the plane, and of ſome other trees. Thus they paſs the gloomy winter in eaſe and plenty.

These two American animals, contraſted with each other, afford a moſt ſtriking picture of the bleſſings of induſtry, and the penury and wretchedneſs of ſloth

Honeſty and Generoſity

A POOR man, who was door-keeper to a houſe in Milan, found a purſe which contained two hundred crowns. The man who had loſt it, informed by a public advertiſement, came to the houſe, and giving ſufficient proof that the purſe belonged to him, the door-keeper reſtored it. Full of joy and gratitude, the owner offered his benefactor twenty crowns, which he abſolutely refuſed. Ten were then propoſed, and afterwards five: but the doorkeeper ſtill continuing inexorable, the man threw his purſe upon the ground, and in an angry tone cried, I have loſt nothing, nothing at all, if you thus refuſe to accept of a gratuity." The door-keeper than conſented to receive five crowns, which he immediately diſtributed amongſt the poor.


CYRUS, when a youth, being at the court of his grandfather Cambyſes, undertook one day to be the cup-bearer at table. It was the duty of this officer to taſte the liquor before it was preſented to the king. Cyrus, without performing this ceremony, delivered the cup in a very graceful manner to his grandfather. The king reminded him of his omiſſion, which he imputed to forgetfulneſs. No, replied Cyrus, I was afraid to taſte, becauſe I apprehended there was poiſon in the liquor: For not long ſince, at an entertainment which you gave, I obſerved that the lords of your court, after drinking of it, became noiſy, quarrelſome,and frantic. Even you, Sir, ſeemed to have forgotten that you were a king.

A Generous Return for an Injury.

WHEN the great Conde commanded the Spaniſh army, and laid ſiege to one of the French towns in Flanders, a ſoldier being ill treated by a general officer, and ſtruck ſeveral times with a cane, for ſome diſreſpectful words he had let fall, anſwered very coolly, that he ſhould ſoon make him repent of it. Fifteen days afterwards, the ſame general officer ordered the colonel of the trenches to find a bold and intrepid fellow, to execute an important enterpriſe, for which he promiſed a reward of a hundred piſtoles. The ſoldier we are ſpeaking of, who paſſed for the braveſt in the regiment, offered his ſervice, and going with thirty of his comrades, which he had the liberty to make choice of, he diſcharged a very hazardous commiſſion, with incredible courage and good fortune. Upon his return the general officer highly commended him, and gave him the hundred piſtoles which he had promiſed. The ſoldier preſently diſtributed them amongſt his comrades, ſaying he did not ſerve for pay, and demanded only that if his late action ſeemed to deſerve any recompenſe, they would make him an officer. And now, ſir, adds he to the general officer, who did not know him, I am the ſoldier you abuſed ſo much fifteen days ago, and I then told you I would make you repent of it. The general officer in great admiration, and melting into tears, threw his arms around his neck, begged his pardon, and gave him a commiſſion that very day.

The Paſſions ſhould be governed by Reaſon.

SOPHRON and Alexis had frequently heard Euphronius mention the experiment of ſtilling the waves with oil, made by his friend Doctor Franklin. They were impatient to repeat it; and a briſk wind proving favourable to the trial, they haſtened, one evening to a ſheet of water in the pleaſure grounds of Eugenio, near Hart Hill. The oil was ſcattered upon the pool, and ſpread itſelf inſtantly on all ſides, calming the whole ſurface of the water, and reflecting the moſt beautiful colours. Elated with ſucceſs the youths returned to Euphronius, to enquire the cauſe of ſuch a wonderful appearance. He informed them that the wind blowing upon water which is covered with a coat of oil, ſlides over the ſurface of it, and produces no friction that can raiſe a wave. But this curious philoſophical fact, ſaid he, ſuggeſts a moſt important moral reflection. When you ſuffer yourſelves to be ruffled by paſſion, your minds reſemble the puddle in a ſtorm. But reaſon, if you hearken to her voice, will then, like oil poured upon the water, calm the turbulence within you, and you to ſerenity and peace.

Scepticiſm condemned.

SOPHRON aſſerted that he could hear the ſlighteſt ſcratch of a pin at the diſtance of ten yards. It is impoſſible, ſaid Alexis, and immediately appealed to Euphronius, who was walking with them. Though I don't believe, replied Euphronius, that Sophron's ears are more acute than yours, yet I diſapprove of your haſty deciſion concerning the impoſſibility of what you to little underſtand. You are ignorant of the nature of ſound, and of the various means by which it may be encreaſed, or quickened in its progreſs; and modeſty ſhould lead you, in ſuch a caſe to ſuſpend your judgment till you have made the proper and neceſſary inquiries. An opportunity now preſents itſelſ, which will afford Sophron the ſatisfaction he deſires. Place your ear at one end of this long rafter of dale timber, and I will ſcratch the other end with a pin. Alexis obeyed, and diſtinctly heard the ſound; which being conveyed through the tubes of the wood, was augmented in loudneſs, as in a ſpeaking trumpet, or the horn of the huntſman.

Scepticism and credulity are equally unfavourable to the acquiſition of knowledge. The latter anticipates, and the former precludes all enquiry. One leaves the mind ſatisfied with error, the other with ignorance.


MENDACULUS was a youth of good parts, and of amiable, diſpoſitions; but by keeping bad company he had contracted, in an extreme degree, the odious habit of lying. His word was ſcarcely ever believed by his friends; and he was often ſuſpected of faults, becauſe he denied the commiſſion of them, and puniſhed for offences, of which he was convicted only by his aſſertions of innocence. The experience of every day manifeſted the diſadvantages which he ſuffered from the habitual violation of truth. He had a garden ſtocked with the choiceſt flowers; and the cultivation of it was his favourite amuſement. It happened that the cattle of the adjoining paſture had broken down the fence; and he found them trampling upon, and deſtroying, a bed of fine auriculas. He could not drive theſe ravagers away, without endangering the ſtill more valuable productions of the next parterre; and he haſtened to requeſt the aſiſtance of the gardener. "You intend to make a fool of me," ſaid the man, who refuſed to go, as he gave no credit to the reation of Mendaculus.

One froſty day, his father had the misfortune to be thrown from his horſe, and to fracture his thigh. Mendaculus was preſent, and was deeply affected by the accident, but had not ſtrength to afford the neceſſary help, He was therefore obliged to leave him, in his painful condition on the ground, which was at that time covered with ſnow; and, with all the expedition in his power, he rode to Mancheſter, to ſolicit the aid of the firſt benevolent perſon he ſhould meet with. His character as a liar was generally known; few to whom he applied paid attention to his ſtory; and no one believed it. After loſing much time in fruitleſs entreaties, he returned with a ſorrowful heart, and with his eyes bathed in tears, to the place where the accident happened. But his father was removed from thence: A coach fortunately paſſed that way; he was taken into it, and conveyed to his own houſe, whither Mendaculus ſoon followed him.

A lusty boy, of whom Mendaculus had told ſome falſhoods, often way-laid him as he went to ſchool, and beat him with great ſeverity. Conſcious of his ill deſert, Mendaculus bore, for ſome time, in ſilence his chaſtiſement; but the frequent repetition of it at laſt overpowered his reſolution, and he complained to his father of the uſage which he met with. His father, though dubious of the truth of this account, applied to the parents of the boy who abuſed him. But he could obtain no redreſs from them, and only received the following painful anſwer: "Your ſon is a notorious liar, and we pay no regard his aſſertions." Mendaculus was therefore obliged to ſubmit to the wonted correction till full ſatisfaction had been taken by his antagoniſt for the injury, which he had ſuſtained.

Such were the evils in which this unfortunate youth almoſt daily involved himſelf by the habit of lying. He was ſenſible of his miſconduct, and began to reflect, upon it with ſeriouineſs and contrition. Refolutions of amendment ſucceeded to penitence; he set a guard upon his words; ſpoke little, and always with caution and reſerve; and he ſoon found, by ſweet experience, that truth is more eaſy and natural than falſhood. By degrees the love of it became predominant in his mind; and ſo ſacred at length did he hold veracity to be, that he ſcrupled even the leaſt jocular violation of it. This happy change reſtored him to the eſteem of his friends; the confidence of the public; and the peace of his own conſcience.

Gratitude and Piety.

ARTABANES was diſtinguiſhed with peculiar favour by a wiſe, powerful, and good prince. A magnificent palace, surrounded with a delightful garden, was provided for his reſidence. He partook of all the luxuries of his ſovereign's table; was inveſted with extenſive authority; and admitted to the honour of a free intercourſe with his gracious maſter. But Artabanes was inſenſible of the advantages which he enjoyed; his heart glowed not with gratitude and reſpect; he avoided the ſociety of his benefactor, and abuſed his bounty.—I deteſt such a character, ſaid Alexis, with generous indignation! It is your own picture which I have drawn, replied Euphronius. The great Potentate of heaven and earth has placed you in a world which diſplays the higheſt beauty, order, and magnificence; and which abounds with every means of convenience, enjoyment, and happineſs. He has furniſhed you with ſuch powers of body and mind as give you dominion over the fiſhes of the ſea, the fowls of the air, and the beaſts of the field. And he has invited you to hold communion with him, and to exalt your own nature by the love and imitation of his divine perfections. Yet have your eyes wandered with brutal gaze over the fair creation, unconſcious of the mighty hand from which it ſprung. You have rioted in the profuſion of nature, without one ſecret emotion of gratitude to the ſovereign diſpenſer of all good. And you have ſlighted the glorious converſe, and forgotten the preſence of that Omnipotent Being, who fills all ſpace, and exiſts through all eternity.


Printed by G Miller, Dunbar.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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