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parts of Europe, and has got ashamed of the idleness and ignorance of his people, and ever since, he has been trying to make Turkey more like Christian countries. Just now he has suddenly ordered every child in his kingdom to learn to read, write, and do sums. He is generally obeyed; but whether he is clever enough to force all the idle, stupid, tiresome boys in Turkey to read, write, and cypher, I doubt. I know our Queen could not do it here. If he can, perhaps Jack will see a wonderful improvement when he makes his next voyage. He begins to think that he is better off than if it had been a turkey to eat that the captain offered him.
They brought back lots of raisins and currants for Christmas plum-puddings; and in case people eat too much of them, plenty of rhubarb not the stalks that make tarts, but the red powder that your mother gives you for a sick headache.
Turkey is a country that does not count for much. Indeed, some years, ago, Russia proposed to divide it amongst two or three other kingdoms; but English people don't like to see the weak bullied, and told Russia to keep her distance; and when she would not, the French and we made her—for Turkey could not help herself.
But now that the Sultan has found out that keeping his people in ignorance does not answer, perhaps they will bestir themselves. One hopes they will not go on being Mahometans when they know more about Christian countries, and that alone would set free the poor women. None of you boys, or girls either, know how much you owe to mothers and . sisters, or what roughs you would probably become, if you looked upon them as dolls, to be shut up and never seen nor heard, instead of being as they now are, the comfort of your lives whenever you are sick or in trouble.
ASIA. The large continent of Asia contains half the inhabitants of the globe. The most northern part is Siberia, a dreadfully, cold icy country, to which, as I told you, the Czar of Russia sends his convicts, instead of keeping them in prison. And in Siberia the poor creatures generally die. Towards the middle of Asia you will find China, the place from which all the best china teacups used to come. The Chinese are a queer set of people, and speak a most curious language, very difficult to learn. I read some verses making fun of it, of which I will repeat two lines :
“Go home and tell your mother
I don't believe you Chinamen
Can understand each other." The Chinese hate strangers coming into their country; so we cannot teach them our ways. We get almost all our tea from thence, as well as a great deal of silk. China is called the “Flowery Land,” and our China roses and dahlias came first from thence, besides Chinese primroses and camellias.
The Chinese have a big wall, which they built to keep strangers out; it is 1,500 miles long.
You girls should be thankful that you were not born in China ; for there, little girls' feet are bound
up to prevent their growing; in fact, they are cripples. A Chinese lady's shoe is about big enough for an English child of three years old.
Japan consists of some islands to the east of China. The Japanese used to kill every stranger who set foot on their land; but they have behaved better of late, and are willing to trade with us, and let us have Japanese silks, and fans, and what is called Japan-work—those odd gold figures on a black ground that you see on tea-trays.
In the south of Asia is the great big country of India, which belongs to the English. But you can read plenty about it in the Sixth Standard.
The most interesting country in Asia is Palestine, or the Holy Land. There is the city of Jerusalem, but not the one of which you read in the Bible. The present one was built upon its ruins.
There are the mountains of Lebanon, and Mount Carmel, and Mount Hermon, and the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem. The river Jordan runs through the Sea of Galilee, on to the Dead Sea.
The waters of the Dead Sea have a most horrible taste.
It seems strange that this country, where Christianity was first taught, should not belong to Christians; but the people, like the Turks, believe in the false teaching of a man named Mahomet, who died many years ago.
The Jews expect to return there and possess the place at some future time; now they like to go there to die. To the east of the Red Sea is a country called Arabia. It is, in many parts, a sandy desert, that can only be crossed on camels. The mountains of Sinai and Horeb, of which we read in the Bible, are there. From Arabia we get the best coffee in the world; gum, frankincense, myrrh, and fruits of various kinds. Arabian horses are considered first-rate. The country is inhabited chiefly by wandering tribes of Arabs. About it, as well as about India, you can read in the Sixth Standard.
AFRICA is bounded on the north by the Mediterranean Sea, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the east by the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Africa, owing to the new canal, is now an island. It is the most barbarous and the least known of the continents. The climate is so very unhealthy, that many travellers have died when they were trying to find out something of the middle, or interior as it is called, of the continent. Lately, however, some discoveries have been made of snowy mountains and immense lakes, and you can hardly read more amusing books than the accounts given by some travellers of their adventures. Some people have gone to Africa to hunt, and have brought back wonderful accounts of the strange beasts they have seen. There are very large monkeys, called gorillas, which are dreadfully like human beings. Some people go to Africa to shoot lions; but, in fact, there are plenty of wild beasts there of all sorts. The beasts have hitherto had it pretty much all their own way; and the people are not very much better than the beasts.
The negroes in Africa hunt each other for the purpose of selling those caught as slaves. But there have been other and better travellers than those who went to shoot and to hunt—missionaries, who have left their comfortable homes, and risked their lives to try to civilise the poor savages, and to make Christians of them. Numbers of good men have died in the attempt, but in some parts of Africa they have succeeded. In the Sixth Standard you will read more about their labours.
There are few roads or rivers in Africa by which to travel. People go in caravans—not exactly like those that are to be seen at our wild-beast shows, but of that sort. The Niger is the chief river. Once we sent a steam-boat on its waters, hoping we might find some place on the banks where English farming might be tried. But nearly every man on board died of fever.
In the north of Africa is Algeria, a country belonging to France.
The country through which the River Nile flows, called Egypt, is the most interesting part of Africa, and many English people go to see it. It is the country described in the Bible as the land of the Pharaohs. There you would see the great Pyramids -enormous piles, built, it is supposed, by the kings of Egypt for their tombs. In Egypt are many other magnificent ruins of ancient cities.
In the south of Africa is the Cape of Good Hope, where the climate agrees well with English people.