The Philosopher and Sheet of Paper

A Philosopher thought about a used sheet of paper and what it might have contained. Used, however, it was only useful or burning.

Make certain your first impressions are good ones.


JN Fable 077

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: G.W. Bonner (1828)

A sage Philosopher being one day in a gentleman’s library, saw lying on the table a sheet of paper, which had once been white, but was now blotted and scrawled all over With nonsense and ill-drawn figures. “Ah!” said the sage, “had this sometime spotless paper been committed to the trust and care of proper hands, it might at this time have contained an excellent poem or an accomplished drawing, lessons of morality or doctrines of science, instead of being thus defaced, and rendered worse than useless, by the display of blots and scratches, dirt and fo11y, fit only at present to singe a roasting pullet or to kindle the fire, and the sooner it is destroyed the better.


The infant mind is pure and unsullied, like the fairest white paper, without a stain, and the first impressions it receives, we all know by experience, are the deepest and most difficult to be erased; therefore it becomes more particularly our duty, as we value the future welfare of the child, to be careful of the first instructions and notions which are given to it. Praise children for being pretty, and they will endeavour to set themselves off. Praise them for being good, and they will endeavour to be virtuous. J. N.

JN Fable 077a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: J. Smith (1828)