I was born at York on the first of March in the sixth year of the reign of King Charles the First. From the time when I was quite a young child, I had felt a great wish to spend my life at sea, and as I grew, so did this taste grow more and more strong; till at last I broke loose from my school and home, and found my way on foot to Hull, where I soon got a place on board a ship.
When we had set sail but a few days, a squall of wind came on, and on the fifth night we sprang a leak. All hands were sent to the pumps, but we felt the ship groan in all her planks, and her beams quake from stem to stern; so that it was soon quite clear there was no hope for her, and that all we could do was to save our lives.
If Youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically, you wouldn't constantly run across folks today who claim that "a child don't know anything." A child's brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult's act, and figuring out its purport.
Up to about its primary school days a child thinks, naturally, only of play. But many a form of play contains disciplinary factor. "You can't do this," or "that puts out out," shows a child that it must think, practically, or fail. Now, if, throughout childhood, a brain has no opposition, it is plain that it will attain a position of "status quo," as with our ordinary animals. Man knows not why a cow, dog, or lion was not born with a brain on a par with ours; why such animals cannot add, subtract, or obtain from books and schooling, that paramount position which Man Holds today.
But a human brain is not in that class. Constantly throbbing and pulsating, it rapidly forms opinions; attaining an ability of its own; a fact which is startlingly shown by an occasional child "prodigy" in music or school work. And as, with our dumb animals, a child's inability convincingly to impart its thoughts to us, should not class it as ignorant.
"Those women over there, probably mothers, bearers of ideas far too voluminous for their modest brains. And the man; a large dwarf or small giant—a young buck with a gelled mop with ideas almost certainly shorter than his hair".
I sang, and thought I sang very well; but he just looked up into my face with a very quizzical expression.
This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out! Try to do so without any coaching! You probably won't, at first, find anything particularly odd or unusual or in any way dissimilar to any ordinary composition. That is not at all surprising, for it is no strain to accomplish in so short a paragraph a stunt similar to that which an author did throughout all of his book, without spoiling a good writing job, and it was no small book at that. By studying this paragraph assiduously, you will shortly, I trust, know what is its distinguishing oddity. Upon locating that "mark of distinction," you will probably doubt my story of this author and his book of similar unusuality throughout. It is commonly known among book-conscious folk and proof of it is still around. If you must know, this sort of writing is known as a lipogram, but don't look up that word in any dictionary until you find out what this is all about.