[N. p., ca. 1870]. 2 pages on 2 leaves, lined paper embossed with the Congress device, 9.75 x 7.75 inches. Nearly 400 words in ink in a neat hand. Old pin holes at the head of each leaf; in very good condition. Item #16015
A variation on the story of 12-year-old Eli Rheem, who had the presence of mind to warn a Baltimore and Susquehenna express passenger train from New York of the destruction of a bridge somewhere outside York by fire. The date of the incident is not here given (the author notes "It is fifteen years ago") but as early as 1856 accounts of young Eli's heroism in 1855 were making the rounds and one version (with some textual similarities to this one) was collected in at least one Epes Sargent reader; this version however closes with a fine didactic flourish: "It is a great thing for a boy to learn to be ready in immergency [sic]. – To have his thoughts about him. To do this he must learn to think on profitable subjects. You may never be able to save a railroad train, but you may save precious lives and souls from a fate as terrible. If you can save one boy or man from going in the way of the drunkard, it will be worth a lifetime of honest study and labor." The short coda, "Paying Taxes," imagines a dialogue between two men on the Brooklyn Ferry in which one complains he does not have enough money to pay his taxes; his companion points out that in taking the occasional dram before dinner, it amounts to a loss of thirty-six dollars and fifty cents a year--to which his impecunious companion replies, "Where’s the pledge? That will more than pay my taxes."