| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
JOHN GUTENBERG AND THE VOICES
 ONE night John Gutenberg worked until very late at his
press. He was printing a large folio edition of the
Bible in Latin. For weeks he had given all his thoughts
to this great work, and now he was completing the last
sheets. He was worn out with fatigue, but proud of that
which he had accomplished. He leaned his head upon the
framework of his press, and gave himself up to
Suddenly from among the types two voices were heard.
They were speaking in low but earnest tones, and seemed
to be talking about Gutenberg and his invention.
"Suddenly from among the types two voices were heard."
"Happy, happy man!" said the first voice, which was
gentle and sweet and full of encouragement. "Let him go
on with the work he has begun. Books will now be
plentiful and cheap. The poorest man can buy them.
Every child will learn to read. The words of the wise
and the good will be printed on thousands of sheets and
carried all over the world. They will be read in every
household. The age of ignorance will be at an end. Men
will learn to think and know and act for themselves.
 They will no longer be the slaves of kings. And the
name of John Gutenberg, inventor of printing, will be
remembered to the end of time."
Then the other voice spoke. It was a stern, strong
voice, although not unpleasant, and it spoke in tones
of warning. "Let John Gutenberg beware of what he is
doing. His invention will prove to be a curse rather
than a blessing. It is true that books will be
plentiful and cheap, but they will not all be good
books. The words of the vulgar and the vile will also
be printed. They will be carried into millions of
households to poison the minds of children and to make
men and women doubt the truth and despise virtue. Let
John Gutenberg beware lest he be remembered as one who
brought evil into the world rather than good."
And so the two voices went on, one claiming that the
printing press would bless all mankind, the other
saying that it would surely prove to be a curse. John
Gutenberg felt much distressed. He did not know what to
do. He thought of the great harm that might be done
through the printing of bad books—how they would
corrupt the minds of the innocent, how they would stir
up the passions of the wicked.
Suddenly he seized a heavy hammer and began to break
his press in pieces. "It shall not be said
 of me that I helped to make the world worse," he cried.
But as he was madly destroying that which had cost him
so much pains to build, he heard a third voice. It
seemed to come from the press itself, and it spoke in
tones of sweet persuasion.
"Think still again," it said, "and do not act rashly.
The best of God's gifts may be abused, and yet they are
all good. The art of printing will enlighten the world.
Its power for blessing mankind will be a thousand times
greater than its power for doing harm. Hold your hand,
John Gutenberg, and remember that you are helping to
make men better and not worse."
The upraised hammer dropped from his hands. The sound
of its striking the floor aroused him. He rubbed his
eyes and looked around. He wondered if he had been
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