MacMillan's Reading Books
Part 1 out of 6
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Frank van Drogen and PG Distributed
_For Ordinary Pass_.
Improved reading, and recitation of not less than seventy-five lines of
N.B.--The passages for recitation may be taken from one or more standard
authors, previously approved by the Inspector. Meaning and allusions to
be known, and, if well known, to atone for deficiencies of memory.
_For Special Grant (Art. 19, C. 1)._
Parsing, with analysis of a "simple" sentence.
_For Ordinary Pass_.
Reading, with expression, a short passage of prose or of poetry, with
explanation, grammar, and elementary analysis of simple sentences.
Specific Subject--English literature and language, 2nd year. (_Art. 21
and Schedule IV., Scotch Code._)
Three hundred lines of poetry, not before brought up, repeated; with
knowledge of meaning and allusions, and of the derivations of words.
PREFACE TO BOOK V.
This seems a fitting place in which to explain the general aim of
this series of Reading Books. Primarily, it is intended to provide a
systematic course for use in schools which are under State inspection;
and, with this view, each Book in the series, after the Primer, is drawn
up so as to meet the requirements, as set forth in the English and
Scotch codes issued by the Committees of Council on Education, of the
Standard to which it corresponds.
This special adaptation will not, it is hoped, render the series less
useful in other schools. The graduated arrangement of the books,
although, perhaps, one to which every teacher may not choose to conform,
may yet serve as a test by which to compare the attainments of the
pupils in any particular school with those which, according to the
codes, may be taken as the average expected from the pupils in schools
where the Standard examination is, necessarily, enforced.
The general character of the series is literary, and not technical.
Scientific extracts have been avoided. The teaching of special subjects
is separately recognised by the codes, and provided for by the numerous
special handbooks which have been published. The separation of the
reading class from such teaching will prove a gain to both. The former
must aim chiefly at giving to the pupils the power of accurate, and,
if possible, apt and skilful expression; at cultivating in them a good
literary taste, and at arousing a desire of further reading. All
this, it is believed, can best be done where no special or technical
information has to be extracted from the passages read.
In the earlier Books the subject, the language, and the moral are all
as direct and simple as possible. As they advance, the language becomes
rather more intricate, because a studied simplicity, when detected
by the pupil, repels rather than attracts him. The subjects are more
miscellaneous; but still, as far as possible, kept to those which can
appeal to the minds of scholars of eleven or twelve years of age,
without either calling for, or encouraging, precocity. In Books II.,
III., and IV., a few old ballads and other pieces have been purposely
introduced; as nothing so readily expands the mind and lifts it out of
habitual and sluggish modes of thought, as forcing upon the attention
the expressions and the thoughts of an entirely different time.
The last, or Sixth Book, may be thought too advanced for its purpose.
But, in the first place, many of the pieces given in it, though selected
for their special excellence, do not involve any special difficulties;
and, in the second place, it will be seen that the requirements of the
English Code of 1875 in the Sixth Standard really correspond in some
degree to those of the special subject of English literature, formerly
recognised by the English, and still recognised by the Scotch Code.
Besides this, the Sixth Book is intended to supply the needs of pupil
teachers and of higher classes; and to be of interest enough to be read
by the scholar out of school-hours, perhaps even after school is done
with altogether. To such it may supply the bare outlines of English
literature; and may, at least, introduce them to the best English
authors. The aim of all the extracts in the book may not be fully
caught, as their beauty certainly cannot be fully appreciated, by
youths; but they may, at least, serve the purpose of all education--that
of stimulating the pupil to know more.
The editor has to return his thanks for the kindness by which certain
extracts have been placed at his disposal by the following authors
and publishers:--Mr. Ruskin and Mr. William Allingham; Mr. Nimmo (for
extract from Hugh Miller's works); Mr. Nelson (for poems by Mr. and Mrs.
Howitt); Messrs. Edmonston and Douglas (for extract from Dasent's "Tales
from the Norse"); Messrs. Chapman and Hall (for extracts from the works
of Charles Dickens and Mr. Carlyle); Messrs. Longmans, Green, and Co.
(for extracts from the works of Macaulay and Mr. Froude); Messrs.
Routledge and Co. (for extracts from Miss Martineau's works); Mr. Murray
(for extracts from the works of Dean Stanley); and many others.
INCIDENT IN THE LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON _Warner's Tour in the Northern
THE OLD PHILOSOPHER AND THE YOUNG LADY _Jane Taylor_
BARBARA S---- _Charles Lamb_
DR. ARNOLD _Tom Brown's School Days_
BOYHOOD'S WORK [ditto]
WORK IN THE WORLD [ditto]
CASTLES IN THE AIR _Addison_
THE DEATH OF NELSON _Southey_
LEARNING TO RIDE _T. Hughes_
MOSES AT THE FAIR _Goldsmith_
WHANG THE MILLER [ditto]
AN ESCAPE _Defoe's Robinson Crusoe_
NECESSITY THE MOTHER OF INVENTION [ditto]
LABRADOR _Southey's Omniana_
GROWTH OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY _Robertson_
A WHALE HUNT _Scott_
A SHIPWRECK _Charles Kingsley_
THE BLACK PRINCE _Dean Stanley_
THE ASSEMBLY OF URI _E.A. Freeman_
MY WINTER GARDEN _Charles Kingsley_
ASPECTS OF NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN COUNTRIES _John Ruskin_
COLUMBUS IN SIGHT OF LAND _Washington Irving_
COLUMBUS SHIPWRECKED [ditto]
ROBBED IN THE DESERT _Mungo Park_
ARISTIDES _Plutarch's Lives_
THE VENERABLE BEDE _J.R. Green_
THE DEATH OF ANSELM _Dean Church_
THE MURDER OF BECKET _Dean Stanley_
THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH _J.R. Green_
THE BATTLE OF NASEBY _Defoe_
THE PILGRIMS AND GIANT DESPAIR _Bunyan_
A HARD WINTER _Rev. Gilbert White_
A PORTENTOUS SUMMER [ditto]
A THUNDERSTORM [ditto]
CHARACTER OF SIR WALTER SCOTT _J. Lockhart_
MUMPS'S HALL _Scott_
THE PORTEOUS MOB [ditto]
THE PORTEOUS MOB (_continued_) [ditto]
JOSIAH WEDGWOOD _Speech by Mr. Gladstone_
THE CRIMEAN WAR _Speech by Mr. Disraeli_
NATIONAL MORALITY _Speech by Mr. Bright_
THE PLEASURES OF A LIFE OF LABOUR _Hugh Miller_
THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS _Rev. Gilbert White_
THE BATTLE OF CORUNNA _Napier_
BATTLE OF ALBUERA _Napier_
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE AT BALAKLAVA _The "Times" Correspondent
AFRICAN HOSPITALITY _Mungo Park_
ACROSS THE DESERT OF NUBIA _Bruce's Travels_
A SHIPWRECK ON THE ARABIAN COAST _W.G. Palgrave_
AN ARABIAN TOWN _W.G. Palgrave_
THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL _Sir Thomas Malory_
VISIT TO SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY'S COUNTRY SEAT _Addison_
THE DEAD ASS _Sterne_
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH _H.W. Longfellow_
MEN OF ENGLAND _Campbell_
A BALLAD _Goldsmith_
A PSALM OF LIFE _H.W. Longfellow_
THE ANT AND THE CATERPILLAR _Cunningham_
REPORT OF AN ADJUDGED CASE _Couper_
THE INCHCAPE BELL _Southey_
BATTLE OF THE BALME _Campbell_
THE CHAMELEON _Merrick_
A WISH _Pope_
A SEA SONG _Cunningham_
ON THE LOSS OF THE 'ROYAL GEORGE' _Cowper_
RULE BRITANNIA _Thomson_
ANCIENT GREECE _Byron_
THE TEMPLE OF FAME _Pope_
A HAPPY LIFE _Sir Henry Wotton_
MAN'S SERVANTS _George Herbert_
VIRTUE _George Herbert_
DEATH THE CONQUEROR _James Shirley_
THE PASSIONS _Collins_
THE VISION OF BELSHAZZAR _Byron_
YE MARINERS OF ENGLAND _Campbell_
A SHIPWRECK _Byron_
THE HAPPY WARRIOR _Wordsworth_
THE TROSACHS _Scott_
LOCHIEL'S WARNING _Campbell_
REST FROM BATTLE _Pope_
THE SAXON AND THE GAEL _Scott_
THE SAXON AND THE GAEL _(continued)_ _Scott_
THE WINTER EVENING _Cowper_
HYMN TO DIANA _Ben Jonson_
THE VILLAGE _Goldsmith_
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE _Shakespeare_
IL PENSEROSO _Milton_
Throughout this book, and the next, you will find passages taken from
the writings of the best English authors. But the passages are not all
equal, nor are they all such as we would call "the best," and the more
you read and are able to judge them for yourselves, the better you will
be able to see what is the difference between the best and those that
are not so good.
By the best authors are meant those who have written most skilfully
in prose and verse. Some of these have written in prose, because they
wished to tell us something more fully and freely than they could do if
they tied themselves to lines of an equal number of syllables, or ending
with the same sound, as men do when they write poetry. Others have
written in verse, because they wished rather to make us think over
and over again about the same thing, and, by doing so, to teach
us, gradually, how much we could learn from one thing; if we think
sufficiently long and carefully about it; and, besides this, they knew
that rhythmical or musical language would keep longest in our memory
anything which they wished to remain there; and by being stored up in
our mind, would enrich us in all our lives after.
In these books you will find pieces taken from authors both in prose and
verse. But of the authors who have made themselves famous by the books
which they have written in our language, many had to be set aside.
Because many writers, though their books are famous, have written so
long ago, that the language which they use, though it is really the same
language as our own, is yet so old-fashioned that it is not readily
understood. By and by, when you are older, you may read these books, and
find it interesting to notice how the language is gradually changing; so
that, though we can easily understand what our grandfathers or our great
grandfathers wrote, yet we cannot understand, without carefully studying
it, what was written by our own ancestors a thousand, or even five
hundred, years ago.
The first thing, however, that you have to do--and, perhaps, this book
may help you to do it--is to learn what is the best way of writing or
speaking our own language of the present day. You cannot learn this
better than by reading and remembering what has been written by men,
who, because they were very great, or because they laboured very hard,
have obtained a great command over the language. When we speak of
obtaining a command over language we mean that they have been able to
say, in simple, plain words, exactly what they mean. This is not so easy
a matter as you may at first think it to be. Those who write well do not
use roundabout ways of saying a thing, or they might weary us; they
do not use words or expressions which might mean one or other of two
things, or they might confuse us; they do not use bombastic language, or
language which is like a vulgar and too gaudy dress, or they might make
us laugh at them; they do not use exaggerated language, or, worse than
all, they might deceive us. If you look at many books which are written
at the present day, or at many of the newspapers which appear every
morning, you will find that those who write them often forget these
rules; and after we have read for a short time what they have written,
we are doubtful about what they mean, and only sure that they are trying
to attract foolish people, who like bombastic language as they like too
gaudy dress, and are caring little whether what they write is strictly
true or not.
It is, therefore, very important that you should take as your examples
those who have written very well and very carefully, and who have been
afraid lest by any idle or careless expression they might either lead
people to lose sight of what is true, or might injure our language,
which has grown up so slowly, which is so dear to us, and the beauty of
which we might, nevertheless, so easily throw away.
As you read specimens of what these authors have written, you will find
that they excel chiefly in the following ways:
First. They tell us just what they mean; neither more nor less.
Secondly. They never leave us doubtful as to anything we ought to know
in order to understand them. If they tell us a story, they make us feel
as if we saw all that they tell us, actually taking place.
Thirdly. They are very careful never to use a word unless it is
necessary; never to think a word so worthless a thing that it can be
dragged in only because it sounds well.
Fourthly. When they rouse our feelings, they do so, not that they may
merely excite or amuse us, but that they may make us sympathise more
fully with what they have to tell.
In these matters they are mostly alike; but in other matters you will
find that they differ from each other greatly. Our language has come
from two sources. One of these is the English language as talked by our
remote ancestors, the other is the Latin language, which came to us
through French, and from which we borrowed a great deal when our
language was getting into the form it now has. Many of our words and
expressions, therefore, are Old English, while others are borrowed from
Latin. Some authors prefer to use, where they can, old English words and
expressions, which are shorter, plainer, and more direct; others prefer
the Latin words, which are more ornamental and elaborate, and perhaps
fit for explaining what is obscure, and for showing us the difference
between things that are very like. This is one great contrast; and there
are others which you will see for yourselves as you go on. And while
you notice carefully what is good in each, you should be careful not to
imitate too exactly the peculiarities, which may be the faults, in any
* * * * *
INCIDENT IN THE LIFE OF DR. JOHNSON.
During the last visit Dr. Johnson paid to Lichfield, the friends with
whom he was staying missed him one morning at the breakfast-table. On
inquiring after him of the servants, they understood he had set off from
Lichfield at a very early hour, without mentioning to any of the
family whither he was going. The day passed without the return of the
illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account,
when, just before the supper-hour, the door opened, and the doctor
stalked into the room. A solemn silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody
daring to inquire the cause of his absence, which was at last
relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following
manner:--"Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my departure
from your house this morning, but I was constrained to it by my
conscience. Fifty years ago, madam, on this day, I committed a breach of
filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has
not till this day been expiated. My father, as you recollect, was a
bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending Lichfield
market, and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day.
Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty
years ago, to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place. But,
madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my father a
refusal. To do away the sin of this disobedience, I this day went in a
post-chaise to Lichfield, and going into the market at the time of high
business, uncovered my head, and stood with it bare an hour before the
stall which my father had formerly used, exposed to the sneers of the
standers-by and the inclemency of the weather--a penance by which I
hope I have propitiated Heaven for this only instance, I believe, of
contumacy towards my father."
Warner's _Tour in the Northern
[Notes: _Dr. Samuel Johnson_, born 1709, died 1784 By hard and unaided
toil he won his way to the front rank among the literary men of his day.
He deserves the honour of having been the first to free literature from
the thraldom of patronage.
_Filial piety_. Piety is used here not in a religious sense, but in its
stricter sense of dutifulness. In Virgil "the Pious Aneas" means "Aneas
who showed dutifulness to his father."]
* * * * *
THE OLD PHILOSOPHER AND THE YOUNG LADY.
"Alas!" exclaimed a silver-headed sage, "how narrow is the
utmost extent of human knowledge! I have spent my life in acquiring
knowledge, but how little do I know! The farther I attempt to penetrate
the secrets of nature, the more I am bewildered and benighted. Beyond
a certain limit all is but conjecture: so that the advantage of the
learned over the ignorant consists greatly in having ascertained how
little is to be known.
"It is true that I can measure the sun, and compute the distances of the
planets; I can calculate their periodical movements, and even ascertain
the laws by which they perform their sublime revolutions; but with
regard to their construction, to the beings which inhabit them, their
condition and circumstances, what do I know more than the clown?--
Delighting to examine the economy of nature in our own world, I have
analyzed the elements, and given names to their component parts. And
yet, should I not be as much at a loss to explain the burning of fire,
or to account for the liquid quality of water, as the vulgar, who use
and enjoy them without thought or examination?--I remark, that all
bodies, unsupported, fall to the ground, and I am taught to account for
this by the law of gravitation. But what have I gained here more than
a term? Does it convey to my mind any idea of the nature of that
mysterious and invisible chain which draws all things to a common
centre?--Pursuing the track of the naturalist, I have learned to
distinguish the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral kingdoms, and to
divide these into their distinct tribes and families;--but can I
tell, after all this toil, whence a single blade of grass derives its
vitality?--Could the most minute researches enable me to discover the
exquisite pencil that paints the flower of the field? and have I ever
detected the secret that gives their brilliant dye to the ruby and the
emerald, or the art that enamels the delicate shell?--I observe the
sagacity of animals--I call it instinct, and speculate upon its various
degrees of approximation to the reason of man; but, after all, I know as
little of the cogitations of the brute as he does of mine. When I see a
flight of birds overhead, performing their evolutions, or steering
their course to some distant settlement, their signals and cries are
as unintelligible to me as are the learned languages to an unlettered
mechanic: I understand as little of their policy and laws as they do of
"Alas! then, what have I gained by my laborious researches but an
humbling conviction of my weakness and ignorance! Of how little has
man, at his best estate, to boast! What folly in him to glory in his
contracted powers, or to value himself upon his imperfect acquisitions!"
* * * * *
"Well!" exclaimed a young lady, just returned from school, "my education
is at last finished: indeed, it would be strange if, after five years'
hard application, anything were left incomplete. Happily, it is all over
now, and I have nothing to do but exercise my various accomplishments.
"Let me see!--as to French, I am mistress of that, and speak it, if
possible, with more fluency than English. Italian I can read with ease,
and pronounce very well, as well at least, and better, than any of my
friends; and that is all one need wish for in Italian. Music I have
learned till I am perfectly sick of it. But, now that we have a grand
piano, it will be delightful to play when we have company. And then
there are my Italian songs, which everybody allows I sing with taste,
and as it is what so few people can pretend to, I am particularly glad
that I can. My drawings are universally admired, especially the shells
and flowers, which are beautiful, certainly: besides this, I have a
decided taste in all kinds of fancy ornaments. And then, my dancing and
waltzing, in which our master himself owned that he could take me no
farther;--just the figure for it certainly! it would be unpardonable
if I did not excel. As to common things, geography, and history, and
poetry, and philosophy, thank my stars, I have got through them all! so
that I may consider myself not only perfectly accomplished, but also
thoroughly well informed.
"Well, to be sure, how much I have fagged through; the only wonder is
that one head can contain it all!"
[Note: "_Blackstone's Commentaries_" The great standard work on
the theory and practice of the English law; written by Sir William
* * * * *
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.
Under a spreading chestnut tree,
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter's voice
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!
[Notes: _Henry Wadsworth Longfellow_, one of the foremost among
contemporary American poets. Born in 1807. His chief poems are
'Evangeline' and 'Hiawatha.'
_His face is like the tan. Tan_ is the bark of the oak, bruised and
broken for tanning leather.
_Thus at the flaming forge of life, &c._ = As iron is softened at
the forge and beaten into shape on the anvil, so by the trials and
circumstances of life, our thoughts and actions are influenced and our
characters and destinies decided. The metaphor is made more complicated
by being broken up.]
* * * * *
MEN OF ENGLAND.
Men of England! who inherit
Rights that cost your sires their blood!
Men whose undegenerate spirit
Has been proved on land and flood:
By the foes ye've fought uncounted,
By the glorious deeds ye've done,
Trophies captured--breaches mounted,
Navies conquer'd--kingdoms won!
Yet remember, England gathers
Hence but fruitless wreaths of fame,
If the virtues of your fathers
Glow not in your hearts the same.
What are monuments of bravery,
Where no public virtues bloom?
What avail in lands of slavery
Trophied temples, arch, and tomb?
Pageants!--let the world revere us
For our people's rights and laws,
And the breasts of civic heroes
Bared in Freedom's holy cause.
Yours are Hampden's Russell's glory,
Sydney's matchless shade is your,--
Martyrs in heroic story,
Worth a thousand Agincourts!
We're the sons of sires that baffled
Crown'd and mitred tyranny:
They defied the field and scaffold,
For their birthrights--so will we.
[Notes: _Thomas Campbell_, born 1777, died 1844. Author of the
'Pleasures of Hope,' 'Gertrude of Wyoming,' and many lyrics. His poetry
is careful, scholarlike and polished. _Men whose undegenerate spirit,
&c._ In prose, this would run, "(Ye) men whose spirit has been proved
(to be) undegenerate," &c. The word "undegenerate," which is introduced
only as an epithet, is the real predicate of the sentence.
_By the foes ye've fought uncounted_. "Uncounted" agreeing with "foes."
_Fruitless wreaths of fame_. A poetical figure, taken from the wreaths
of laurel given as prizes in the ancient games of Greece. "Past history
will give fame to a country, but nothing more fruitful than fame, unless
its virtues are kept alive."
_Trophied temples, i.e.,_ Temples hung (after the fashion of the
ancients) with trophies.
_Arch, i.e_., the triumphal arch erected by the Romans in honour of
_Pageants_ = "these are nought but pageants."
_And_ (for) _the beasts of civic heroes_. Civic heroes, those who have
striven for the rights of their fellow citizens.
_Hampden, i.e_., John Hampden (born 1594, died 1643), the maintainer
of the rights of the people in the reign of Charles I. He resisted the
imposition of ship-money, and died in a skirmish at Chalgrove during the
_Russell, i.e_., Lord William Russell, beheaded in 1683, in the reign
of Charles II. on a charge of treason. He had resisted the Court in its
aims at establishing the doctrine of passive obedience.
_Sydney, i.e.,_ Algernon Sydney. The friend of Russell, who met with the
same fate in the same year.
_Sydney's matchless shade_. Shade = spirit or memory.
_Agincourt_. The victory won by Henry V. in France, in 1415.
_Crown'd and mitred tyranny_. Explain this.]
* * * * *
On the noon of the 14th of November, 1743, just as the clock had struck
one, Barbara S----, with her accustomed punctuality, ascended the long,
rabbling staircase, with awkward interposed landing-places, which led to
the office, or rather a sort of box with a desk in it, whereat sat the
then Treasurer of the Old Bath Theatre. All over the island it was the
custom, and remains so I believe to this day, for the players to receive
their weekly stipend on the Saturday. It was not much that Barbara had
This little maid had just entered her eleventh year; but her important
station at the theatre, as it seemed to her, with the benefits which she
felt to accrue from her pious application of her small earnings, had
given an air of womanhood her steps and to her behaviour. You would have
taken her to have been at least five years older. Till latterly she had
merely been employed in choruses, or where children were wanted to fill
up the scene. But the manager, observing a diligence and adroitness in
her above her age, had for some few months past intrusted to her the
performance of whole parts. You may guess the self-consequence of the
* * * * *
The parents of Barbara had been in reputable circumstances. The father
had practised, I believe, as an apothecary in the town. But his
practice, from causes for which he was himself to blame, or perhaps from
that pure infelicity which accompanies some people in their walk through
life, and which it is impossible to lay at the door of imprudence,
was now reduced to nothing. They were, in fact, in the very teeth of
starvation, when the manager, who knew and respected them in better
days, took the little Barbara into his company.
At the period I commenced with, her slender earnings were the sole
support of the family, including two younger sisters. I must throw
a veil over some mortifying circumstances. Enough to say, that her
Saturday's pittance was the only chance of a Sunday's meal of meat.
This was the little starved, meritorious maid, stood before old
Ravenscroft, the treasurer, for her Saturday's payment. Ravenscroft was
a man, I have heard many old theatrical people besides herself say, of
all men least calculated for a treasurer. He had no head for accounts,
paid away at random, kept scarce any books, and summing up at the week's
end, if he found himself a pound or so deficient, blest himself that it
was no more.
Now Barbara's weekly stipend was a bare half-guinea. By mistake he
popped into her hand a whole one.
Barbara tripped away.
She was entirely unconscious at first of the mistake: God knows,
Ravenscroft would never have discovered it.
But when she had got down to the first of those uncouth landing-places
she became sensible of an unusual weight of metal pressing her little
Now, mark the dilemma.
She was by nature a good child. From her parents and those about her she
had imbibed no contrary influence. But then they had taught her nothing.
Poor men's smoky cabins are not always porticoes of moral philosophy.
This little maid had no instinct to evil, but then she might be said
to have no fixed principle. She had heard honesty commended, but never
dreamed of its application to herself. She thought of it as something
which concerned grown-up people, men and women. She had never known
temptation, or thought of preparing resistance against it.
Her first impulse was to go back to the old treasurer, and explain to
him his blunder. He was already so confused with age, besides a natural
want of punctuality, that she would have had some difficulty in making
him understand it. She saw _that_ in an instant. And then it was such a
bit of money: and then the image of a larger allowance of butcher's meat
on their table next day came across her, till her little eyes glistened,
and her mouth moistened. But then Mr. Ravenscroft had always been
so good-natured, had stood her friend behind the scenes, and even
recommended her promotion to some of her little parts. But again the old
man was reputed to be worth a world of money. He was supposed to have
fifty pounds a year clear of the theatre. And then came staring upon her
the figures of her little stockingless and shoeless sisters. And when
she looked at her own neat white cotton stockings, which her situation
at the theatre had made it indispensable for her mother to provide for
her, with hard straining and pinching from the family stock, and thought
how glad she should be to cover their poor feet with the same, and how
then they could accompany her to rehearsals, which they had hitherto
been precluded from doing, by reason of their unfashionable attire,--in
these thoughts she reached the second landing-place--the second, I mean,
from the top--for there was still another left to traverse.
Now, virtue, support Barbara!
And that never-failing friend did step in; for at that moment a strength
not her own, I have heard her say, was revealed to her--a reason above
reasoning--and without her own agency, as it seemed (for she never felt
her feet to move), she found herself transported back to the individual
desk she had just quitted, and her hand in the old hand of Ravenscroft,
who in silence took back the refunded treasure, and who had been sitting
(good man) insensible to the lapse of minutes, which to her were anxious
ages; and from that moment a deep peace fell upon her heart, and she
knew the quality of honesty.
A year or two's unrepining application to her profession brightened up
the feet and the prospects of her little sisters, set the whole
family upon their legs again, and released her from the difficulty of
discussing moral dogmas upon a landing-place.
_Essays of Elia_, by CHARLES LAMB.
* * * * *
"Turn, gentle Hermit of the dale,
And guide my lonely way
To where yon taper cheers the vale
With hospitable ray.
"For here forlorn and lost I tread,
With fainting steps and slow,
Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
Seem lengthening as I go."
"Forbear, my son," the Hermit cries,
"To tempt the dangerous gloom;
For yonder faithless phantom flies
To lure thee to thy doom.
"Here to the houseless child of want
My door is open still;
And, though my portion is but scant,
I give it with good will.
"Then turn to-night, and freely share
Whate'er my cell bestows;
My rushy couch and frugal fare,
My blessing and repose.
"No flocks that range the valley free
To slaughter I condemn;
Taught by that Power that pities me,
I learn to pity them:
"But from the mountain's grassy side
A guiltless feast I bring;
A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied,
And water from the spring.
"Then, pilgrim turn; thy cares forego;
All earth-born cares are wrong:
Man wants but little here below,
Nor wants that little long."
Soft as the dew from heaven descends
His gentle accents fell:
The modest stranger lowly bends,
And follows to the cell.
Far in a wilderness obscure
The lonely mansion lay,
A refuge to the neighbouring poor,
And strangers led astray.
No stores beneath its humble thatch
Required a master's care;
The wicket, opening with a latch,
Received the harmless pair.
And now, when busy crowds retire
To take their evening rest,
The Hermit trimm'd his little fire,
And cheer'd his pensive guest;
And spread his vegetable store,
And gaily pressed, and smiled;
And, skill'd in legendary lore,
The lingering hours beguiled.
Around, in sympathetic mirth,
Its tricks the kitten tries,
The cricket chirrups on the hearth,
The crackling faggot flies.
But nothing could a charm impart
To soothe the stranger's woe;
For grief was heavy at his heart,
And tears began to flow.
His rising cares the Hermit spied,
With answering care oppress'd;
And, "Whence, unhappy youth," he cried,
"The sorrows of thy breast?"
"From better habitations spurn'd,
Reluctant dost thou rove?
Or grieve for friendship unreturn'd,
Or unregarded love?"
"Alas! the joys that fortune brings
Are trifling, and decay;
And those who prize the paltry things,
More trifling still are they."
"And what is friendship but a name,
A charm that lulls to sleep;
A shade that follows wealth or fame,
But leaves the wretch to weep?"
"And love is still an emptier sound,
The modern fair one's jest;
On earth unseen, or only found
To warm the turtle's nest."
"For shame, fond youth, thy sorrows hush,
And spurn the sex," he said;
But while he spoke, a rising blush
His love-lorn guest betray'd.
Surprised he sees new beauties rise,
Swift mantling to the view;
Like colours o'er the morning skies,
As bright, as transient too.
The bashful look, the rising breast,
Alternate spread alarms:
The lovely stranger stands confess'd
A maid in all her charms.
And, "Ah! forgive a stranger rude--
A wretch forlorn," she cried;
"Whose feet unhallow'd thus intrude
Where Heaven and you reside."
"But let a maid thy pity share,
Whom love has taught to stray;
Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
Companion of her way."
"My father lived beside the Tyne,
A wealthy lord was he;
And all his wealth was mark'd as mine,
He had but only me."
"To win me from his tender arms
Unnumber'd suitors came,
Who praised me for imputed charms,
And felt, or feign'd, a flame."
"Each hour a mercenary crowd
With richest proffers strove:
Amongst the rest, young Edwin bow'd,
But never talk'd of love."
"In humble, simple habit clad,
No wealth nor power had he:
Wisdom and worth were all he had,
But these were all to me.
"And when, beside me in the dale,
He caroll'd lays of love,
His breath lent fragrance to the gale,
And music to the grove.
"The blossom opening to the day,
The dews of heaven refined,
Could nought of purity display
To emulate his mind.
"The dew, the blossom on the tree,
With charms inconstant shine:
Their charms were his, but, woe to me,
Their constancy was mine.
"For still I tried each fickle art,
Importunate and vain;
And, while his passion touch'd my heart,
I triumph'd in his pain:
"Till, quite dejected with my scorn,
He left me to my pride;
And sought a solitude forlorn,
In secret, where he died.
"But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
And well my life shall pay:
I'll seek the solitude he sought,
And stretch me where he lay.
"And there, forlorn, despairing, hid,
I'll lay me down and die;
'Twas so for me that Edwin did,
And so for him will I."
"Forbid it, Heaven!" the Hermit cried,
And clasp'd her to his breast:
The wondering fair one turn'd to chide--
'Twas Edwin's self that press'd!
"Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
My charmer, turn to see
Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
Restored to love and thee.
"Thus let me hold thee to my heart,
And every care resign:
And shall we never, never part,
My life--my all that's mine?
"No, never from this hour to part,
We'll live and love so true,
The sigh that rends thy constant heart
Shall break thy Edwin's too."
[Notes: _Oliver Goldsmith_, poet and novelist. The friend and
contemporary of Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds. Born 1728, died 1774.
This poem is introduced into 'The Vicar of Wakefield,' and Goldsmith
there says of it, "It is at least free from the false taste of loading
the lines with epithets;" or as he puts it more fully "a string of
epithets that improve the sound without carrying on the sense."
"_Immeasurably spread_" = spread to an immeasurable length.
_No flocks that range the valleys free_. "Free" may be joined either
with flocks or with valley.
Note the position of the negative, "No flocks that range," &c. = I do
not condemn the flocks that range.
_Guiltless feast_. Because it does not involve the death of a
_Scrip_. A purse or wallet; a word of Teutonic origin.
Distinguish from scrip, a writing or certificate, from the Latin word
_scribo_, I write.
_Far in a wilderness obscure_. Obscure goes with mansion, not with
_And gaily pressed_ (him to eat).
_With answering care_, i.e., with sympathetic care.
_A charm that lulls to sleep_. Charm is here in its proper
sense: that of a thing pleasing to the fancy is derivative.
_A shade that follows wealth or fame_. A shade = a ghost or phantom.
_Swift mantling_, &c. Spreading quickly over, like a cloak or mantle.
_Where heaven and you reside_ = where you, whose only thoughts are of
_Whom love has taught to stray_. This use of the word "taught" for
"made" or "forced," is taken from a Latin idiom, as in Virgil, "He
_teaches_ the woods to ring with the name of Amaryllis." It is stronger
than "made" or "forced," and implies, as here, that she had forgotten
all but the wandering life that is now hers.
_He had but only me_. But or only is redundant.
_To emulate his mind_ = to be equal to his mind in purity.
_Their constancy was mine_. This verse has often been accused of
violating sense; but, however artificial the expression may be, neither
the sense is obscure, nor the way of expressing it inaccurate. It
is evidently only another way of saying "in the little they had of
constancy they resembled me as they resembled him in their charms."]
* * * * *
We listened, as all boys in their better moods will listen (ay, and men
too, for the matter of that), to a man whom we felt to be, with all his
heart and soul and strength, striving against whatever was mean and
unmanly and unrighteous in our little world. It was not the cold, clear
voice of one giving advice and warning from serene heights to those who
were struggling and sinning below, but the warm, living voice of one who
was fighting for us, and by our sides, and calling on us to help him and
ourselves and one another. And so, wearily and little by little, but
surely and steadily on the whole, was brought home to the young boy,
for the first time, the meaning of his life: that it was no fool's
or sluggard's paradise into which he had wandered by chance, but a
battle-field ordained from of old, where there are no spectators, but
the youngest must take his side, and the stakes are life and death. And
he who roused this consciousness in them showed them, at the same time,
by every word he spoke in the pulpit, and by his whole daily life,
how that battle was to be fought; and stood there before them, their
fellow-soldier and the captain of their band. The true sort of captain,
too, for a boy's army, one who had no misgivings, and gave no uncertain
word of command, and, let who would yield or make truce, would fight
the fight out (so every boy felt) to the last gasp and the last drop of
blood. Other sides of his character might take hold of and influence
boys here and there, but it was this thoroughness and undaunted courage
which more than anything else won his way to the hearts of the great
mass of those on whom he left his mark, and made them believe first in
him, and then in his Master.
It was this quality, above all others, which moved such boys as Tom
Brown, who had nothing whatever remarkable about him except excess of
boyishness; by which I mean animal life in its fullest measure; good
nature and honest impulses, hatred of injustice and meanness, and
thoughtlessness enough to sink a three-decker. And so, during the next
two years, in which it was more than doubtful whether he would get good
or evil from the school, and before any steady purpose or principle grew
up in him, whatever his week's sins and shortcomings might have been, he
hardly ever left the chapel on Sunday evenings without a serious resolve
to stand by and follow the doctor, and a feeling that it was only
cowardice (the incarnation of all other sins in such a boy's mind) which
hindered him from doing so with all his heart.
_Tom Brown's School Days_.
[Note: _Dr. Arnold_, the head-master of Rugby School, died 1842.
His life, which gives an account of the work done by him to promote
education, has been written by Dean Stanley.]
* * * * *
Patriots have toil'd, and in their country's cause
Bled nobly; and their deeds, as they deserve,
Receive proud recompense. We give in charge
Their names to the sweet lyre. The Historic Muse,
Proud of the treasure, marches with it down
To latest times; and Sculpture, in her turn,
Gives bond in stone and ever-during brass
To guard them, and to immortalize her trust.
But fairer wreaths are due--though never paid--
To those who, posted at the shrine of Truth,
Have fallen in her defence. A patriot's blood,
Well spent in such a strife, may earn indeed,
And for a time ensure, to his loved land
The sweets of liberty and equal laws;
But martyrs struggle for a brighter prize,
And win it with more pain. Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim,--
Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar and to anticipate the skies.--
Yet few remember them! They lived unknown,
Till persecution dragged them into fame,
And chased them up to Heaven. Their ashes flew--
No marble tells us whither. With their names
No bard embalms and sanctifies his song;
And History, so warm on meaner themes,
Is cold on this. She execrates indeed
The tyranny that doom'd them to the fire,
But gives the glorious sufferers little praise.
[Notes:_William Cowper_ (born 1731, died 1800), the author of 'The
Task,' 'Progress of Error,' 'Truth,' and many other poems; all marked by
the same pure thought and chaste language.
This poem is written in what is called "blank verse," i.e., verse in
which the lines do not rhyme, the rhythm depending on the measure of the
_To the sweet lyre_ = To the poet, whose lyre (or poetry) is to keep
their names alive.
_The Historic Muse_. The ancients held that there were nine Muses or
Goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences; and of these, one was
the Muse of History.
_Gives bond in stone, &c._ = Pledges herself. The pith of the phrase is
in its almost homely simplicity, the more striking in its contrast with
the classical allusions by which it is surrounded.
_Her trust_, i.e., what is trusted to her.
_To anticipate the skies_ = to ennoble our life and so approach that
higher life we hope for after death.
_Till persecution dragged them into fame_ = forced them by its cruelty
to become famous against their will.
_No marble tells us whither_. Because they have no tombstone and no
* * * * *
A PSALM OF LIFE.
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest;"
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the Bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;--
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.
[Notes:_Art is long, and time is fleeting_. A translation from the
Latin, _Ars longa, vita brevis est._
The metaphor in the last two stanzas in this page is strangely mixed.
Footprints could hardly be seen by those sailing over the main.]
* * * * *
In no place in the world has individual character more weight than at
a public school. Remember this, I beseech you, all you boys who are
getting into the upper forms. Now is the time in all your lives,
probably, when you may have more wide influence for good or evil in the
society you live in than you ever can have again. Quit yourselves like
men, then; speak up, and strike out, if necessary, for whatsoever
is true, and manly, and lovely, and of good report; never try to be
popular, but only to do your duty, and help others to do theirs, and you
may leave the tone of feeling in the school higher than you found it,
and so be doing good, which no living soul can measure, to generations
of your countrymen yet unborn. For boys follow one another in herds like
sheep, for good or evil; they hate thinking, and have rarely any settled
principles. Every school, indeed, has its own traditionary standard of
right and wrong, which cannot be transgressed with impunity, marking
certain things as low and blackguard, and certain others as lawful and
right. This standard is ever varying, though it changes only slowly, and
little by little; and, subject only to such standard, it is the leading
boys for the time being who give the tone to all the rest, and make
the school either a noble institution for the training of Christian
Englishmen, or a place where a young boy will get more evil than he
would if he were turned out to make his way in London streets, or
anything between these two extremes.
* * * * *
WORK IN THE WORLD.
"I want to be at work in the world," said Tom, "and not dawdling away
three years at Oxford."
"What do you mean by 'at work in the world?'" said the master, pausing,
with his lips close to his saucerful of tea, and peering at Tom over it.
"Well, I mean real work; one's profession, whatever one will have really
to do, and make one's living by. I want to be doing some real good,
feeling that I am not only at play in the world," answered Tom, rather
puzzled to find out himself what he really did mean.
"You are mixing up two very different things in your head, I think,
Brown," said the master, putting down the empty saucer, "and you ought
to get clear about them. You talk of 'working to get your living,' and
'doing some real good in the world,' in the same breath. Now, you may be
getting a very good living in a profession, and yet doing no good at all
in the world, but quite the contrary, at the same time. Keep the latter
before you as your one object, and you will be right, whether you make
a living or not; but if you dwell on the other, you'll very likely drop
into mere money-making, and let the world take care of itself, for good
or evil. Don't be in a hurry about finding your work in the world for
yourself; you are not old enough to judge for yourself yet, but just
look about you in the place you find yourself in, and try to make things
a little better and honester there. You'll find plenty to keep your hand
in at Oxford, or wherever else you go. And don't be led away to think
this part of the world important, and that unimportant. Every corner of
the world is important. No man knows whether this part or that is most
so, but every man may do some honest work in his own corner."
_Tom Brown's School Days_.
* * * * *
THE ANT AND THE CATERPILLAR
As an ant, of his talents superiorly vain,
Was trotting, with consequence, over the plain,
A worm, in his progress remarkably slow,
Cried--"Bless your good worship wherever you go;
I hope your great mightiness won't take it ill,
I pay my respects with a hearty good-will."
With a look of contempt, and impertinent pride,
"Begone, you vile reptile," his antship replied;
"Go--go, and lament your contemptible state,
But first--look at me--see my limbs how complete;
I guide all my motions with freedom and ease,
Run backward and forward, and turn when I please;
Of nature (grown weary) you shocking essay!
I spurn you thus from me--crawl out of my way."
The reptile, insulted and vex'd to the soul,
Crept onwards, and hid himself close in his hole;
But nature, determined to end his distress,
Soon sent him abroad in a butterfly's dress.
Erelong the proud ant, as repassing the road,
(Fatigued from the harvest, and tugging his load),
The beau on a violet-bank he beheld,
Whose vesture, in glory, a monarch's excelled;
His plumage expanded--'twas rare to behold
So lovely a mixture of purple and gold.
The ant, quite amazed at a figure so gay,
Bow'd low with respect, and was trudging away.
"Stop, friend," says the butterfly; "don't be surprised,
I once was the reptile you spurn'd and despised;
But now I can mount, in the sunbeams I play,
While you must for ever drudge on in your way."
[Note: _Of nature (grown weary) you shocking essay_ = you wretched
attempt (= essay) by nature, when she had grown weary.]
* * * * *
OF AN ADJUDGED CASE, NOT TO BE FOUND IN
ANY OF THE BOOKS.
Between Nose and Eyes a strange contest arose.
The spectacles set them unhappily wrong;
The point in dispute was, as all the world knows,
To which the said spectacles ought to belong.
So Tongue was the lawyer, and argued the cause,
With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning,
While chief baron Ear sat to balance the laws,
So fam'd for his talent in nicely discerning.
In behalf of the Nose it will quickly appear,
And your lordship, he said, will undoubtedly find,
That the nose has had spectacles always in wear,
Which amounts to possession time out of mind.
Then holding the spectacles up to the court--
Your lordship observes they are made with a straddle,
As wide as the ridge of the nose is; in short,
Designed to sit close to it, just like a saddle.
Again, would your lordship a moment suppose
('Tis a case that has happen'd, and may be again)
That the visage or countenance had not a nose,
Pray who would, or who could, wear spectacles then?
On the whole it appears, and my argument shows,
With a reasoning the court will never condemn,
That the spectacles plainly were made for the Nose,
And the Nose was as plainly intended for them.
Then shifting his side as a lawyer knows how,
He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes;
But what were his arguments few people know,
For the court did not think they were equally wise.
So his lordship decreed, with a grave, solemn tone,
Decisive and clear, without one _if_ or _but_--
That, whenever the Nose put his Spectacles on,
By daylight or candlelight--Eyes should be shut!
* * * * *
CASTLES IN THE AIR.
Alnaschar was a very idle fellow, that never would set his hand to any
business during his father's life. When his father died he left him to
the value of a hundred drachmas in Persian money. Alnaschar, in order
to make the best of it, laid it out in bottles, glasses, and the finest
earthenware. These he piled up in a large open basket; and, having made
choice of a very little shop, placed the basket at his feet, and leaned
his back upon the wall in expectation of customers. As he sat in this
posture, with his eyes upon the basket, he fell into a most amusing
train of thought, and was overheard by one of his neighbours, as he
talked to himself in the following manner:--"This basket," says he,
"cost me at the wholesale merchant's a hundred drachmas, which is all I
had in the world. I shall quickly make two hundred of it by selling it
in retail. These two hundred drachmas will in a very little while rise
to four hundred; which, of course, will amount in time to four thousand.
Four thousand drachmas cannot fail of making eight thousand. As soon as
by these means I am master of ten thousand, I will lay aside my trade of
a glass-man and turn jeweller. I shall then deal in diamonds, pearls,
and all sorts of rich stones. When I have got together as much wealth
as I can well desire, I will make a purchase of the finest house I can
find, with lands, slaves, and horses. I shall then begin to enjoy myself
and make a noise in the world. I will not, however, stop there; but
still continue my traffic until I have got together a hundred thousand
drachmas. When I have thus made myself master of a hundred thousand
drachmas, I shall naturally set myself on the footing of a prince,
and will demand the grand vizier's daughter in marriage, after having
represented to that minister the information which I have received of
the beauty, wit, discretion, and other high qualities which his daughter
possesses. I will let him know at the same time that it is my intention
to make him a present of a thousand pieces of gold on our marriage day.
As soon as I have married the grand vizier's daughter, I must make my
father-in-law a visit, with a great train and equipage. And when I am
placed at his right hand, which he will do of course, if it be only to
honour his daughter, I will give him the thousand pieces of gold which
I promised him; and afterwards, to his great surprise, will present him
with another purse of the same value, with some short speech: as, 'Sir,
you see I am a man of my word: I always give more than I promise.'"
"When I have brought the princess to my house, I shall take particular
care to breed her in due respect for me. To this end I shall confine her
to her own apartments, make her a short visit, and talk but little to
her. Her women will represent to me that she is inconsolable by reason
of my unkindness; but I shall still remain inexorable. Her mother will
then come and bring her daughter to me, as I am seated on a sofa. The
daughter, with tears in her eyes, will fling herself at my feet, and beg
me to receive her into my favour. Then will I, to imprint her with a
thorough veneration for my person, draw up my legs, and spurn her from
me with my foot in such a manner that she shall fall down several paces
from the sofa."
Alnaschar was entirely swallowed up in his vision, and could not forbear
acting with his foot what he had in his thoughts: so that, unluckily
striking his basket of brittle ware, which was the foundation of all his
grandeur, he kicked his glasses to a great distance from him into the
street, and broke them into ten thousand pieces.
[Note: _Joseph Addison_, born 1672, died 1719. Chiefly famous as a
critic and essayist. His calm sense and judgment, and the attraction of
his style, have rendered his writings favourites from his own time to
* * * * *
THE INCHCAPE BELL.
No stir on the air, no swell on the sea,
The ship was still as she might be:
The sails from heaven received no motion;
The keel was steady in the ocean.
With neither sign nor sound of shock,
The waves flow'd o'er the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.
The pious abbot of Aberbrothock
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On the waves of the storm it floated and swung,
And louder and louder its warning rung.
When the rock was hid by the tempest swell,
The mariners heard the warning bell,
And then they knew the perilous rock,
And blessed the abbot of Aberbrothock.
The float of the Inchcape Bell was seen,
A darker spot on the ocean green.
Sir Ralph the Rover walked the deck,
And he fix'd his eye on the darker speck.
His eye was on the bell and float,--
Quoth he, "My men, put down the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,--
I'll plague the priest of Aberbrothock!".
The boat was lower'd, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go.
Sir Ralph leant over from the boat,
And cut the bell from off the float.
Down sunk the bell with a gurgling sound;
The bubbles rose, and burst around.
Quoth he, "Who next comes to the rock
Won't bless the priest of Aberbrothock!"
Sir Ralph the Rover sail'd away;
He scour'd the sea for many a day;
And now, grown rich with plunder'd store,
He steers his way for Scotland's shore.
So thick a haze o'erspread the sky,
They could not see the sun on high;
The wind had blown a gale all day;
At evening it hath died away.
"Canst hear," said one, "the breakers roar?
For yonder, methinks, should be the shore.
Now, where we are, I cannot tell,--
I wish we heard the Inchcape Bell."
They heard no sound--the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along:
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
"Oh heavens! it is the Inchcape Rock!"
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
And cursed himself in his despair;
And waves rush in on every side,
The ship sinks fast beneath the tide.
[Notes: _Robert Southey_, born 1774, died 1848. Poet Laureate and author
of numerous works in prose and verse.]
_Quoth_. Saxon _Cwaethan_, to say. A Perfect now used only in the first
and third persons singular of the present indicative; the nominative
following the verb.
_Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock_. Notice the effective
use of alliteration (_i.e_., the recurrence of words beginning with the
same letter), which is the basis of old-English rhythm.]
* * * * *
THE DEATH OF NELSON.
It had been part of Nelson's prayer that the British fleet might be
distinguished by humanity in the victory he expected. Setting an example
himself, he twice gave orders to cease firing upon the 'Redoubtable,'
supposing that she had struck because her great guns were silent; for,
as she carried no flag, there was no means of instantly ascertaining the
fact. From this ship, which he had thus twice spared, he received his
death. A ball, fired from her mizen-top, which, in the then situation of
the two vessels, was not more than fifteen yards from that part of the
deck where he was standing, struck the epaulette on his left shoulder,
about a quarter after one, just in the heat of action. He fell upon his
face, on the spot which was covered with his poor secretary's blood.
Hardy (his captain), who was a few steps from him, turning round, saw
three men raising him up.
"They have done for me at last, Hardy," said he.
"I hope not," cried Hardy. "Yes," he replied, "my backbone is shot
Yet even now, not for a moment losing his presence of mind, he observed,
as they were carrying him down the ladder, that the tiller ropes, which
had been shot away, were not yet replaced, and ordered that new ones
should be rove immediately; then, that he might not be seen by the crew,
he took out his handkerchief, and covered his face and his stars. Had he
but concealed these badges of honour from the enemy, England, perhaps,
would not have had cause to receive with sorrow the news of the battle
of Trafalgar. The cockpit was crowded with wounded and dying men, over
whose bodies he was with some difficulty conveyed, and laid upon
a pallet in the midshipmen's berth. It was soon perceived, upon
examination, that the wound was mortal. This, however, was concealed
from all except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants.
He himself being certain, from the sensation in his back, and the gush
of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no human care could
avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him, and attend to
those to whom he might be useful; "For," said he, "you can do nothing
for me." All that could be done was to fan him with paper, and
frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate his intense thirst. He was
in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for the event of the action,
which now began to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew
of the 'Victory' hurrahed, and at every hurrah a visible expression of
joy gleamed in the eyes and marked the countenance of the dying hero.
But he became impatient to see Captain Hardy; and as that officer,
though often sent for, could not leave the deck, Nelson feared some
fatal cause prevented him, and repeatedly cried, "Will no one bring
Hardy to me? He must be killed! He is surely dead!"
An hour and ten minutes elapsed from the time when Nelson received his
wound before Hardy could come to him. They shook hands in silence, Hardy
in vain struggling to suppress the feelings of that most painful yet
sublimest moment. "Well, Hardy," said Nelson, "how goes the day with
us?" "Very well," replied Hardy; "ten ships have struck, but five of the
van have tacked, and show an intention to bear down upon the 'Victory.'
I have called two or three of our fresh ships round, and have no doubt
of giving them a drubbing." "I hope," said Nelson, "none of our ships
have struck?" Hardy answered, "There was no fear of that." Then, and not
till then, Nelson spoke of himself. "I am a dead man, Hardy," said he;
"I am going fast; it will be all over with me soon; come nearer to me."
Hardy observed that he hoped Mr. Beattie (the surgeon) could yet hold
out some prospect of life. "Oh no," he replied, "it is impossible; my
back is shot through--Beattie will tell you so." Captain Hardy then once
more shook hands with him, and, with a heart almost bursting, hastened
By this time all feeling below the breast was gone; and Nelson, having
made the surgeon ascertain this, said to him, "You know I am gone; I
know it--I feel something rising in my breast (putting his hand on his
left side) which tells me so." And upon Beattie's inquiring whether
his pain was very great, he replied, "So great, that he wished he were
dead." "Yet," said he, in a lower voice, "one would like to live a
little longer too!"
Captain Hardy, some fifty minutes after he had left the cockpit,
returned, and again taking the hand of his dying friend and commander,
congratulated him on having gained a complete victory. How many of the
enemy were taken, he did not know, as it was impossible to perceive
them distinctly, but fourteen or fifteen at least. "That's well," cried
Nelson, "but I bargained for twenty." And then, in a stronger voice,
he said, "Anchor,! Hardy, anchor." Hardy upon this hinted that Admiral
Collingwood would take upon himself the direction of affairs. "Not while
I live, Hardy," said the dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavouring to
raise himself from the bed; "do you anchor." His previous order for
preparing to anchor had shown how clearly he foresaw the necessity of
this. Presently, calling Hardy back, he said to him in a low voice,
"Don't throw me overboard," and he desired that he might be buried by
his parents, unless it should please the king to order otherwise. "Kiss
me, Hardy," said he. Hardy knelt down and kissed his cheek, and Nelson
said, "Now, I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty." Hardy stood
over him in silence for a moment or two, then knelt again and kissed his
forehead. "Who is that?" said Nelson; and being informed, he replied,
"God bless you, Hardy." And Hardy then left him for ever.
[Note:_The death of Nelson_ took place at the Battle of Trafalgar,
* * * * *
BATTLE OF THE BALTIC.
Of Nelson and the North,
Sing the glorious day's renown,
When to battle fierce came forth
All the might of Denmark's crown,
And her arms along the deep proudly shone;
By each gun the lighted brand,
In a bold, determined hand,
And the Prince of all the land
Led them on.
Like leviathans afloat,
Lay their bulwarks on the brine;
While the sign of battle flew
On the lofty British line:
It was ten of April morn by the chime:
As they drifted on their path,
There was silence deep as death;
And the boldest held his breath
For a time.
But the might of England flushed
To anticipate the scene;
And her van the fleeter rushed
O'er the deadly space between.
"Hearts of oak!" our captains cried; when each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships.
Like the hurricane eclipse
Of the sun.
Again! again! again!
And the havoc did not slack,
Till a feebler cheer the Dane
To our cheering sent us back;--
Their shots along the deep slowly boom;--
Then cease--and all is wail,
As they strike the shattered sail;
Or, in conflagration pale,
Light the gloom.
Out spoke the victor then,
As he hailed them o'er the wave,
"Ye are brothers! ye are men!
And we conquer but to save:--
So peace instead of death let us bring;
But yield, proud foe, thy fleet,
With the crews, at England's feet,
And make submission meet
To our king."
Then Denmark blest our chief
That he gave her wounds repose;
And the sounds of joy and grief
From her people wildly rose,
As Death withdrew his shades from the day
While the sun looked smiling bright
O'er a wide and woeful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light
Now joy, Old England, raise!
For the tidings of thy might,
By the festal cities' blaze,
Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;
And yet amidst that joy and uproar,
Let us think of them that sleep,
Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,
Brave hearts! to Britain's pride
Once so faithful and so true,
On the deck of fame that died;--
With the gallant good Riou;--
Soft sigh the winds of heaven o'er their grave!
While the billow mournful rolls,
And the mermaid's song condoles;
Singing glory to the souls
Of the brave!
[Notes: This is the first specimen of the "ode" in this book. Notice the
variety in length between the lines, and draw up a scheme of the rhymes
in each stanza. The battle was fought, and Copenhagen bombarded, in
_It was ten of April morn by the chime_. It was ten o'clock on the
morning in April.
_Like the hurricane eclipse_. The eclipse of the sun in storm.]
* * * * *
Oh, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide border his steed is the best;
And, save his good broad-sword, he weapon had none;
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone!
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar!
He stay'd not for brake, and he stopped not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none--
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late;
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar!
So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall,
Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all!--
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword--
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