1357) A Good Boy

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McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers in six levels, first published between 1836 and 1840.  They were edited by Scottish immigrant William H. McGuffey (1800-1873).  They were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling.  It is estimated that at least 120 million copies of McGuffey’s Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.  Since 1961, they have continued to sell at a rate of some 30,000 copies a year.  Along with teaching children to read, the McGuffey’s Readers also taught science, history, spelling, grammar, religion, and morality.  This reading, entitled “Emulation Without Envy,” is from the 1879 edition of McGuffey’s Eclectic Second Reader.  The ‘second’ does not mean second grade, but second level, and was generally used for children ages 8-10.


     Frank’s father was speaking to a friend one day on the subject of competition at school.  He said that he was sure that envy is not the necessary result of competition at school.

     He had been excelled by many, but he could not remember ever having felt envious of his successful rivals.  “Nor did my winning many a prize from my friend Birch ever lessen his friendship for me.”

      In support of the truth of what Frank’s father had said, a friend, who was present, related an anecdote, which he had observed in a school in his neighborhood.

     At this school, the sons of several wealthy farmers, and others, who were poorer, received instruction.  Frank listened with great attention while the gentleman gave the following account of the two rivals.

      “It happened that the son of a rich farmer, and the son of a poor widow, came in competition for the class.  They were so nearly equal, that the teacher could scarcely decide between them.  Some days one, and some days the other, gained the head of the class.  The top student would be determined by seeing who should be at the head of the class for the greater number of days in the week.

     “The widow’s son, by the last day’s trial won, and maintained his place the following weeks, until the school was dismissed for vacation.

     “When they met again, the widow’s son did not appear, and the farmer’s son being next in excellence, could now have been at the head of his class.  Instead of seizing the vacant place, however, he went to the widow’s house to ask why her son was absent.

     “Poverty was the cause.  She found that she was not able, no matter how hard she tried, to continue to pay for his tuition and books, and the poor boy had returned to day labor for her support.

     “The farmer’s son, out of the allowance of pocket money which his father gave him, bought all the necessary books and paid for the tuition of his rival.  He also permitted him to be brought back again to the head of his class, where he continued for a long time, at the expense of his generous rival.”

     Frank clapped his hands with delight at hearing this story.  Mary came up to ask what pleased him so much, and he repeated it to her with delight.  “That farmer’s boy,” added he, “must have had a strong mind, for my father’s friend, who told the anecdote, said that people of strong minds are never envious; that weak minds are the ones filled with envy.”

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I Peter 2:1  —   Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Galatians 5:26  —  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

I Corinthians 13:4  —  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Luke 6:31  —  (Jesus said), “ Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


Christ has no body now on earth but yours:

Yours are the only hands with which he can do his work;

Yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world;

Yours are the only eyes through which his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

–Teresa of Avila  (1515-1582)