LISTEN to the water mill through the live long

How the clanking of the wheel wears the hours away. 

Languidly the autumn wind stirs the greenwood leaves,

From the fields the reapers sing, binding up the sheaves. 

And a proverb haunts my mind, like a spell is cast! 

"The mill will never grind with the water that has passed."

Take the lesson to thyself, loving heart and true; 

Golden years are fleeting by youth is passing, too. 

Learn to make the most of life, lose no happy day 

Time will never bring thee back chances swept away. 

Power, intellect, and strength may not always last: 

"The mill will never grind with the water that has passed."

Oh, the wasted hours of life, that have drifted by! 

Oh, the good we might have done lost without a sigh! 

Love that once we might have saved, with but a single word! 

Thoughts conceived, but never penned, perishing unheard! 

Take this proverb to thine heart, take and hold it fast: 

"The mill will never grind with the water that has passed."


WHAT do you suppose," said papa, " that the boy in the picture is doing?"

 "He's playing with the tea-kettle," replied Lucy. 

And Johnny, who is a little more observing, said, "He's holding the tongs over the nozzle to make the cover dance;" for Johnny had done the same thing himself. 

"Yes," said papa, "and he is learning a great lesson from that teakettle."

"What kind of a lesson?" asked Lucy. 

"I always thought lessons had to be learned from books, and I don't see any book."

"Ah!" said papa, "some of the grandest lessons ever taught have been learned without books. That boy is James Watt; and instead of playing with the tongs and teakettle, as you thought, he is learning a lesson about the power of steam. That old black teakettle, smoked by the open fire, is to the studious, thinking boy, the germ of the mighty steam engine."

"Oh, yes! " cried Johnny, "I read about that in my reader; and when the neighbors thought he was idling his time away by the fire, he was studying out great improvements in steam power.

 "Yes," said papa, "and when you ride on the cars or on a steamboat, or see the ponderous machinery driven by the steam engine, you can look back in imagination to the boy by the fire, and the teakettle on the hearth, as the starting-point of it all."

"But," inquired Lucy, who was still troubled about the lesson without books, 

"How did the teakettle teach him a lesson?"

"I am glad you asked that question," replied papa, "for I want my children to form the habit of learning by observation. The boy had often seen the lid of the teakettle lifted by the steam, and he reasoned that there must be much power in it. When he held the blade of the tongs over the nozzle, he found that the cover was lifted with much more force; and so he reasoned that confined steam was more powerful than free steam."

"Is this steam confined to the engine?" inquired Lucy.

"Yes, until it has done its work. The steam you see escaping in puffs has exerted its force in pushing the piston of the engine, and is then free to escape into the air. The great roaring fire under the boiler keeps making more steam from the water, and so the engine is kept running."

"And so," said Johnny, "we can ride on the lightning express, instead of the stagecoach, because James Watt studied the teakettle when people thought he was playing with it."

"Yes," returned papa, "and did you ever think what a power for good the steam has become? It carries the preachers of God's truth from State to State, and from country to country; it drives the presses on which the papers, tracts, and books are printed, and the machinery by means of which they are bound, and then it propels the cars and the steamships that carry them to thousands of readers all over the world."

"I never thought of that before," said Johnny.

"Well," said papa, "I hope you will learn to think on all subjects that are worthy of thought; for thinking, united to earnest work, has given us nearly all the inventions which add so much to our happiness and do so much good in the world.”

W. C. G.