I read a remarkable book yesterday. It is called “The Matchlock Gun,” and was written by a guy named Walter Edmunds. It was awarded “The American Library Associations’ Most Distinguished Contribution to Children’s Literature,” in 1941. It is an illustrated kids book, written at about the 4th grade level. Imagine, a kids’ book about a GUN.
It gets better.
Anyway, the story takes place during the French and Indian Wars, and is about a Dutch family who live in upstate New York. The main character is a 10 year old boy named Edward. He lives in a small cabin with his mother, father and younger sister. His father keeps a musket hanging on pegs above their door, and above their fireplace they have an heirloom of his mothers. It is a Spanish Matchlock Gun, that once belonged to her grandfather. Edward is fascinated by it.
A matchlock gun is a very primitive gun that has no ignition device. No hammer or flint. To fire it, you literally touch a match to a hole in the barrel, opposite the business end, just like firing an old pirate cannon. Hence the name “Matchlock”.
The matchlock gun of Edward’s Mother is a massive thing, longer than Edward is tall and so heavy that he cannot hold it without one end or the other resting on the ground. It has ornate brass-work and a big blocky wooden stock. The muzzle is bell-shaped like a Blunderbuss. It is really as much of a small cannon as it is a gun.
So the story progresses with Edwards father being called to support the militia because the French and Indians are attacking the settlements. Edwards mother becomes concerned when she sees the smoke of burning settlements in the distance and realizes that the Indians have gotten past the militia and into their valley. She realizes she has to defend her home and children. First she uses an axe and chops a small hole in the wall of the cabin onto the front porch, or stoop. The hole is just big enough to stick a gun barrel through. (do you see where this is going)
She and Edward take the Matchlock gun down from over the fireplace and carry it to the table. They have no idea how to load the gun, but since it is considerably bigger than the father’s musket, they pour a double charge of gunpowder in. They drop in a couple of musket balls, and realizing the gun holds much more, they fill it with nails and brass buttons. They use a piece of writing paper to wad the load down. After tamping the load they prop the gun up on the table with flat irons so that the muzzle sticks out of the hole in the wall and points at the front porch.
She places a lit candle by the gun and then tells Edward that she is going out to look for Indians. She instructs him that if she runs on the porch and shouts his name, he is to touch the candle flame to the matchlock and fire the gun.
She then goes out and watches for Indians, leaving Edward sitting by the table with the candle and the big gun. Sure enough she see five braves approaching the cabin. She runs to the house but misjudges the distance and they almost catch her. One throws a tomahawk and buries it in her shoulder as she flees. (this is all beautifully illustrated by the way). She collapses on the porch with the Indians mere steps behind her and intent on killing her. She yells “Edward!” He grabs the candle and sticks the flame to the barrel, firing the gun. A tremendous explosion results and he is thrown across the cabin and knocked unconscious.
His little sister wakes him and their cabin is aflame, on fire from the discharge of the gun. They go outside to help their mother and four indians are scattered on the ground dead. They remove the tomahawk from their mothers back and try to bandage her. Edward runs back into the burning house to save the matchlock gun. About then their father comes riding in with the militia.
OK, this seems ridiculous by today’s standards. You will never find this book on the shelves of a public school classroom. But again, this won “The American Library Associations’ Most Distinguished Contribution to Children’s Literature,” in 1941!
I think it should be on the shelves of classrooms.
I think this book teaches the mentality that no matter what, be self-sufficient, and most of all, do not allow yourself to be a victim. A generation of Americans grew up reading this book. They were probably the last generation to have instilled in them the mindset of self-reliance and the refusal to be a victim.
Now here is a thought for you. Think how differently the outcome might have been if this book had remained on the shelves of classrooms in New Orleans. Maybe the citizens would not have sat idly by while the sewage rose up to their necks and cried, “Oh me oh my! Where is the government to save me!”
I tell you what I am going to do. I am going to search for my own copy of this book. I am going to buy a box full of copies and give them to my friends in the hope they will read it to their children. In the hope we will breed a new generation of self-sufficient, non-victims to pick up the pieces that today’s generation of worthless, government-tit sucking, liberal, socialist sheep leave behind.