People and Customs in Different Countries

Children's Literature

Transcription of Primary Source

People and Customs

There are a very great many different countries in the world, and almost every country is inhabited by a people differing in manners and habits, language, religion, dress, &c, &c. On our first page is the picture of an American, who is dressed according to the custom of the country. By comparing him with the other men in this book, you will see how very different they all look. Each one has a dress peculiar to his own nation, by which he is known almost as readily, as by his language or complexion. Most nations wear the same style of dress from one age to another, excepting the French, English, and Americans.


Look at this man in the picture, my good little children. He is an ITALIAN - which means he was born in a country called Italy. Italy is situated in the southern part of Europe. On the picture, almost behind the man, you see there is a burning mountain. It is called Vesuvius - and will sometimes burn for a great while, and throw up burning stones and earth, which runs like a river of water, and destroys every thing that lies in its way. But Italy is a beautiful country - and the climate is one of the most agreeable in the world.

You will see that the man represented in the picture, is carrying a board before him, all filled up with images of men, and lions, and birds, and dolls, and of almost every thing else that you can think of. These he is trying to sell for good little children; and if you are good till he comes along again, perhaps our parents or friends may be kind enough to buy one of these beautiful things for you. But whether they buy one for you or not, you must always recollect that nothing is lost by being good; while every thing, happiness, character, and peace of mind too, are all lost by being naughty.


This is a picture of a LAPLANDER. O dear, what singular looking shoes he has got. They are snow-shoes, or shoes made to walk on the snow with; for during the long, cold Lapland winter, the snow is very deep, and if the people did not use shoes of this kind, to keep them from sinking into the snow, they would not be able to leave home at all. These shoes are sometimes six feet long, and six or eight inches broad in the middle, tapering to a point at both ends. But with these, they can travel a great deal, and some of them can get along pretty quick with them - although I guess your old friend Uncle Oliver would make but rather slow movements with such awkward looking things fastened to his feet.

Look at that man's dress, too: how very singular it all is! You will see that it is made of the skins of sheep, and other animals, the woolly side of which is turned out; giving the man a very frightful appearance. O, what a cold, unpleasant country it must be, where they have to travel in the way that man is, and to dress in skins as he is! And yet, the little Lapland boys and girls think there is no country so good as theirs - no place so agreeable as their home.

The Laplanders do not live in houses like ours; but in huts made of a kind of cloth, raised upon six or eight poles, making a room about as big as Uncle Oliver's kitchen. This is a very cold place to live in during their severe winters; but then they build a fire in the Middle of it, and in this way make out to keep themselves warm; although to do this they let all the smoke from the fire come into the room (for they have no chimney to let it out), and so always have a smoky house.

When two Laplanders meet, and they wish to salute each other, as we do when we shake hands, they touch their noses strongly against each other. Are they not a very singular people?


On the next page is the picture of an INDIAN. See - he has his bow and arrow in his hand. The Indians used to live almost all over America, before the white people came - and used to live in tribes. Some tribes were very large, and were governed by a chief or by a number of chiefs; who used to meet together around their Council fires, and decide upon the affairs of the tribe or nation. The Indians, generally, were a bold, fearless, and independent people. They live principally by the chase - which, with war, constitutes almost the only labor of the men. The women do all the work; such as raising the corn, carrying the burdens, and taking care of the families - and I dare say some of my little readers have seen the squaws (that is, the women) walking along with a heavy load, while the Indians go along without carrying a single thing beside their bow and arrow. I do not like to see them going in this way at all - it does not look right to see the women do all the hardest work.

You will see on the picture, a canoe on the water, in which are three other Indians. Canoes are round boats dug out of logs, which the Indians use a great deal, for they have no boats such as the white people use.

The Indians, like many other savage people, are remarkable for their hospitality. The stranger is always welcome to the best provisions in their wigwams, and is treated with the utmost respect and attention, as long as he wishes to remain with them.

They are, however, very cruel to their enemies, and in time of war try to see how many different ways they can invent to torment their prisoners. Nothing is too cruel for them.


This is the picture of a CHINESE. What a very curious dress for a man! Did you ever hear much about China, the country where these people live? It contains more than five millions square miles, and has nearly two hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants. There are as many of these people live all the time in boats on the water, as are in all the state of New-York. Oh, how strange it must seem to live all the while in their small boats and only to go on land once in a very long time!

Almost all our tea come from China. The man in the picture, you will see, has a sprout of the tea-plant in his hand. This they raise with the greatest care; and when the leaves are old enough they pick them, lay them on boards to dry; and at last put them up in square boxes, so that the tea may be sent away. These boxes are all marked over with strange looking characters. - But the Chinese people can read these marks just as easy as our people can read the A B C. If you have never seen one of these boxes, such as the tea comes in, if you ask Mr. Smith to let you look at one, the next time you go to his store, he will show you all about it.

The Camel is the usual beast of burthen in China. On the next page is a picture of one. With him the people plough, and travel, and do almost every thing, just as we do with the horse. Among the wild animals there is the Elephant, (see how gentle and peaceable he looks,) the rhinoceros, the tiger; a good many kinds of monkeys, the deer, wild boar, foxes, &c.

In China they have a great wall, built of brick and stone, which is three times as long as all the state of New-York. In China, the women all have very small feet, for in order to make them small, they are put in hard shoes.


Peculiar -

Singular - 

Severe - 

Burdens -

Hospitality -


Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
People and Customs in Different Countries
16 pages, illustrated. From the series Uncle Oliver's books for children.
Oliphant & Skinner
American Antiquarian Society
Catalog Code: 
CL-Pam P4195 C987 1837