Read CHAPTER V of More Seeds of Knowledge / Another Peep at Charles, free online book, by Julia Corner, on


“Papa,” said Charles, “I should like to know what a missionary is.”

“Your desire can very easily be gratified,” replied his papa; “but what has made you think of missionaries just now?”

“Because I read in the newspaper, this morning, that the day before yesterday there was a great crowd at St. Katharine’s docks to take leave of a missionary who was going to one of the South Sea islands; and it said that a great deal of money had been given to him, and that when the ship began to sail, all the people waved their hats, and wished him success. Now I want to know what he was going for, and why every body was so glad?”

“Then I will tell you, Charles. Missionaries are good and religious men, who go out to different parts of the world, on purpose to benefit those poor ignorant creatures whom we call savages, by teaching them religion, and also such arts as they are capable of learning.”

“That is very kind of them,” said Charles; “for it cannot be very pleasant to live among savages.”

“No, my dear; but these good men do not consider what is pleasant, they only consider what is right; and that is the proper way to think, is it not?”

“Oh yes, papa, I know that we ought all to do what is right, whether it is pleasant or not.”

“Certainly, Charles, and in the end it is sure to be the most pleasant, because it is a great pleasure to know that we have done what is right. But we were talking of missionaries. For several hundred years the people of England and Germany, and other Christian countries, have considered it a part of their duty to teach the Christian religion in all parts of the world; for in many nations, Charles, they are so ignorant that instead of praying to God, they worship images, which they make themselves.”

“They are very wicked, then?” said Charles.

“No, they are not wicked,” replied his papa, “because they know no better; they do what they believe to be right; and as long as we do what we think is right, we cannot be wicked, although we may be mistaken.”

“Then the missionaries go to teach them better, I suppose?” said Charles.

“Yes, my dear, these good men are so anxious to do good to their fellow creatures, that they do not mind the difficulties and dangers they meet with; and it is no easy matter I assure you Charles, for many of them have been cruelly murdered by the barbarians they were trying to instruct.”

“Poor men,” said Charles, “how sorry I am for them; but why do any more of them go, papa, if they are so badly treated?”

“Because though some have been unfortunate, others have done a great deal of good; for instance, the missionary you read about this morning, went out a great many years ago to some of the South Sea islands, which he found inhabited by savages who knew nothing, and lived more like wild beasts than men; but he contrived to make friends of them, and has taught them to build houses, cultivate the earth, build ships, and make many useful articles of furniture, and tools to dig and plant the ground; and although all these things are of a very rough kind, it is better than not knowing how to make them at all, you know.”

“To be sure it is,” replied Charles; “besides, perhaps they will go on making them better and better, till at last they will make very good things indeed.”

“Yes, my boy, that is the right way, not only with the savages, but with ourselves: When once we know the manner of doing a thing, we may then improve upon it as much as we can, the same as with your writing, each copy ought to be done better than the last.”

“But now you have not told me why they have given money to the missionary, papa.”

“Because he has come to England to buy clothes, tools, seeds, and other things for the use and improvement of the South Sea Islanders. The English people are always ready to assist in any good work; and so numbers of persons have given money, till it has amounted to several hundred pounds, which has enabled the good missionary to take back with him a large store of useful articles.”

“Well, that is an excellent plan,” said Charles, “I should not wonder if these poor savages in time become very clever fellows, and make their island a capital place, and all through this good missionary.”

“Yes, Charles, so we see how much may be done by one person alone, if he will take the pains. But there is one thing that the missionary has taught the savages, which is better than all the rest; he has taught them to know that there is a God, who made the world, and all that is in it, and that those who love him, and keep his commandments, will be rewarded in the world to come.”