Portrait Gallery

McGuffey's Newly Revised Eclectic Second Reader…

by Wm. H. McGuffey, LL.D.

106Lesson LXII

nail cof '-fin avoid' re-ceive' he-ro'-ic
eyes au'-thor es-teem' ques'tion qual'-i-ty
dread in-vite' lone'ly bravel' ly fa'-vor-ite
truth ly'-ing prat'-tle con'-scious gen'-er-al
pains pleas'-ed con-ceal' thou'-sand ac'-ci-dent
youth hatch'-et chop'-ping trans'-ports re-la'-tions

George and the Hatchet

1. Never, perhaps, did a parent take more pains, than did the father of General Washington to inspire his son George with an early love of Truth. “Truth, George,“ said he, “is the most lovely quality of youth. I would ride fifty miles, my son, to see the boy whose heart is so honest, and whose lips so pure, that we may depend on every word he says.

2. “How lovely does such a child appear in the eyes of everybody! His parents dote on him. His relations glory in him. They praise him before their children, and wish them to follow his example. They often incite him to visit them, and when he comes, they receive him with joy, and treat him as one whose visits they esteem the greatest favor.

3. “But Oh! George, how far from this is the case with the boy who is given to lying! Good people avoid him wherever he goes; and parents dread to see him in company with their children.

4. “Oh, George, my son, rather than see you come to this pass, dear as you are to me, gladly would I assist to nail you up in your little coffin, and follow you to your grave.

5. “Hard, indeed, it would, be to me to give up my son, whose feet are always so ready to run about with me, and whose smiling face and sweet prattle makes so large a part of my happiness. But still I would give him up, rather than see him a common liar.”

6. “Father,” said George, with tears in his eyes, do I ever tell lies?”

7. “No, George; I thank God you do not, my son; and I rejoice in the hope you never will. Whenever, by accident, you do anything wrong, which must often be the case, as you are but a little boy yet, you must never say what is not true, to conceal it, but come bravely up, my son, like a little man, and tell me of it.”

8. When George was about six years old, he was made the owner of a little hatchet, with which he was much pleased, and went about chopping every thing I that came in his way. One day, when in the garden, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a fine young English cherry-tree which he barked so badly as to destroy it.

9. The next morning, the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his favorite tree, came into the house, and with much warmth, asked who was the author of the mischief. Nobody could tell him any thing about it. At this moment, in came George with his hatchet.

10. “George,” said his father, “do you know who killed that fine cherry-tree yonder, in the garden?” This was a hard question; George was silent for a moment; and then, looking at his father, his young face bright with conscious love of truth, he bravely cried out, “I can't tell a lie, father; you know I can't tell a lie. I cut it with my hatchet.”

11. “Come to my arms, my dearest boy!” cried his father, in transports; “come to my arms! you killed my cherry-tree, George, but you have now paid me for it a thousand-fold. Such proof of heroic truth in my son, is of more value than a thousand trees, though they were all of the purest gold.”

Questions. What is this story about? Who was George Washington? What did Mr. Washington teach his son? Did George attempt to conceal what he had done? What should we always do when we have done wrong? How did George's father feel toward him when he had confessed his fault? What did he say to him?

George and the Hatchet, McGuffey's Newly Revised Eclectic Second Reader…, by Wm. H. McGuffey, LL.D., Copyright 1848 by Winthrop B. Smith, Lesson LXII, Pages 106-108, (PDF).