Who else? Well, troops of cousins—good, bad, and indifferent. No man is accountable for his cousins, I think; or if he is, the law should be changed. If a man can't speak honestly of cousinhood, to the third or fourth degree, what can he speak honestly of? Didn't I see little Floy (who wore pea-green silk) make a saucy grimace when I made a false cut at that rolypoly turkey drumstick and landed it on the tablecloth?
There was that scamp Tom, too, who loosened his waistcoat before he went into dinner. I saw him do it. Didn't he make faces at me, till he caught a warning from Aunt Polly's uplifted finger?
How should I forget that good, kindly Aunt Polly—very severe in her turban, and with her meeting-house face upon her, but full of a great wealth of bonbons and dried fruits on Saturday afternoons, in I know not what capacious pockets; ample, too, in her jokes and in her laugh; making that day a great maelstrom of mirth around her?
H—— sells hides now, and is as rich as Croesus, whatever that may mean; but does he remember his venturesome foray for a little bit of crisp roast pig that lay temptingly on the edge of the dish that day?
There was Sarah, too,—turned of seventeen, education complete, looking down on us all—terribly learned (I know for a fact that she kept Mrs. Hemans in her pocket); terribly self-asserting, too. If she had not married happily, and not had a little brood about her in after years (which she did), I think she would have made one of the most terrible Sorosians of our time. At least that is the way I think of it now, looking back across the basted turkey (which she ate without gravy) and across the range of eager Thanksgiving faces.
There was Uncle Ned—no forgetting him—who had a way of patting a boy on the head so that the patting reached clear through to the boy's heart, and made him sure of a blessing hovering over. That was the patting I liked. That's the sort of uncle to come to a Thanksgiving dinner—the sort that eat double filberts with you, and pay up next day by noon with a pocketknife or a riding whip. Hurrah for Uncle Ned!
And Aunt Eliza—is there any keeping her out of mind? I never liked the name much; but the face and the kindliness which was always ready to cover, as well as she might, what wrong we did, and to make clear what good we did, make me enrol her now—where she belongs evermore—among the saints. So quiet, so gentle, so winning, making conquest of all of us, because she never sought it; full of dignity, yet never asserting it; queening it over all by downright kindliness of heart. What a wife she would have made! Heigho! how we loved her, and made our boyish love of her—a Thanksgiving!
Were there oranges? I think there were, with green spots on the peel—lately arrived from Florida. Tom boasted that he ate four. I dare say he told the truth—he looked peaked, and was a great deal the worse for the dinner next day, I remember.
Was there punch, or any strong liquors? No; so far as my recollection now goes, there was none.
I have a faint remembrance of a loud pop or two which set some cousinly curls over opposite me into a nervous shake. Yet I would not like to speak positively. Good bottled cider or pop beer may possibly account for all the special phenomena I call to mind.
Was there coffee, and were there olives? Not to the best of my recollection; or, if present, I lose them in the glamour of mince pies and Marlborough puddings.
How we ever sidled away from that board when that feast was done I have no clear conception. I am firm in the belief that thanksgiving was said at the end, as at the beginning. I have a faint recollection of a gray head passing out at the door, and of a fleece of golden curls beside him, against which I jostle—not unkindly.
Yes; I think the sun had gone down about the time when the mince pies had faded.
Did Dick and Tom and the rest of us come sauntering in afterwards when the rooms were empty, foraging for any little tidbits of the feast that might be left, the tables showing only wreck under the dim light of a solitary candle?
How we found our way with the weight of that stupendous dinner by us to the heights of Town-hill it is hard to tell. But we did, and when our barrel pile was fairly ablaze, we danced like young satyrs round the flame, shouting at our very loudest when the fire caught the tar barrel at the top, and the yellow pile of blaze threw its lurid glare over hill and houses and town.
Afterwards I have recollection of an hour or more in a snug square parlor, which is given over to us youngsters and our games, dimly lighted, as was most fitting; but a fire upon the hearth flung out a red glory on the floor and on the walls.
Was it a high old time, or did we only pretend that it was?
Didn't I know little Floy in that pea-green silk, with my hands clasped round her waist and my eyes blinded—ever so fast? Didn't I give Dick an awful pinch in the leg, when I lay perdu under the sofa in another one of those tremendous games? Didn't the door that led into the hall show a little open gap from time to time—old faces peering in, looking very kindly in the red firelight flaring on them? And didn't those we loved best look oftenest? Don't they always?
Well, well—we were fagged at last: little Floy in a snooze before we knew it; Dick, pretending not to be sleepy, but gaping in a prodigious way. But the romps and the fatigue made sleep very grateful when it came at last: yet the sleep was very broken; the turkey and the nuts had their rights, and bred stupendous Thanksgiving dreams. What gorgeous dreams they were, to be sure!
I seem to dream them again to-day.
Once again I see the old, revered gray head bowing in utter thankfulness, with the hands clasped.
Once again, over the awful tide of intervening years—so full, and yet so short—I seem to see the shimmer of her golden hair—an aureole of light blazing on the borders of boyhood: "For this, and all thy bounties, our Father, we thank thee."
[Footnote 20: From "Bound Together," by Donald G. Mitchell, published by Charles Scribner's Sons.]
Lord, thou hast given me a cell Wherein to dwell— A little house, whose humble roof Is weatherproof— Under the spans of which I lie Both soft and dry, Where thou, my chamber for to ward, Hast set a guard Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep Me while I sleep.
Low is my porch as is my fate— Both void of state— And yet the threshold of my door Is worn by the poor Who hither come, and freely get Good words or meat.
Like as my parlor, so my hall And kitchen's small. A little buttery, and therein A little bin. Which keeps my little loaf of bread Unchipt, unfled.
Some brittle sticks of thorn or brier Make me a fire Close by whose living coal I sit, And glow like it. Lord, I confess too, when I dine, The pulse is thine, And all those other bits that be There placed by thee.
'Tis thou that crown'st my glittering hearth With guiltless mirth, And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink, Spiced to the brink. Lord, 'tis thy plenty-dropping hand That soils my land, And giv'st me for my bushel sown Twice ten for one.
All these and better thou dost send Me to this end,— That I should render for my part, A thankful heart; Which, fired with incense, I resign As wholly thine— But the acceptance, that must be, My God, by thee.
[Footnote 21: By Robert Herrick, an English poet (1591-1674).]
FIRST DAYS AT WAKEFIELD
A proof that even the humblest fortune may grant happiness, which depends not on circumstances but constitution.
The place of our retreat was in a little neighborhood consisting of farmers, who tilled their own grounds, and were equal strangers to opulence and poverty. As they had almost all the conveniences of life within themselves, they seldom visited towns or cities in search of superfluity. Remote from the polite, they still retained the primeval simplicity of manners; and frugal by habit, they scarcely knew that temperance was a virtue.
They wrought with cheerfulness on days of labor; but observed festivals as intervals of idleness and pleasure. They kept up the Christmas carol, sent true love knots on Valentine morning, ate pancakes on Shrovetide, showed their wit on the first of April, and religiously cracked nuts on Michaelmas Eve.
Being apprised of our approach, the whole neighborhood came out to meet their minister, dressed in their finest clothes, and preceded by a pipe and tabor. A feast also was provided for our reception, at which we sat cheerfully down; and what the conversation wanted in wit was made up in laughter.
Our little habitation was situated at the foot of a slopping bill, sheltered with a beautiful underwood behind, and a prattling river before; on one side a meadow, on the other a green. My farm consisted of about twenty acres of excellent land, having given a hundred pounds for my predecessor's goodwill. Nothing could exceed the neatness of my little inclosures, the elms and hedgerows appearing with inexpressible beauty.
My house consisted of but one story, and was covered with thatch, which gave it an air of great snugness; the walls on the inside were nicely whitewashed, and my daughters undertook to adorn them with pictures of their own designing. Though the same room served us for parlor and kitchen, that only made it the warmer. Besides, as it was kept with the utmost neatness, the dishes, plates, and coppers being well scoured, and all disposed in bright rows on the shelves, the eye was agreeably relieved, and did not want richer furniture. There were three other apartments,—one for my wife and me, another for our two daughters, and the third, with two beds, for the rest of the children.
The little republic to which I gave laws was regulated in the following manner: by sunrise we all assembled in our common apartment, the fire being previously kindled by the servant. After we had saluted each other with proper ceremony—for I always thought fit to keep up some mechanical forms of good breeding, without which freedom ever destroys friendship—we all bent in gratitude to that Being who gave us another day.
This duty being performed, my son and I went to pursue our usual industry abroad, while my wife and daughters employed themselves in providing breakfast, which was always ready at a certain time. I allowed half an hour for this meal and an hour for dinner, which time was taken up in innocent mirth between my wife and daughters, and in philosophical arguments between my son and me.
As we rose with the sun, so we never pursued our labors after it was gone down, but returned home to the expecting family, where smiling looks, a neat hearth, and pleasant fire were prepared for our reception. Nor were we without guests: sometimes Farmer Flamborough, our talkative neighbor, and often the blind piper would pay us a visit, and taste our gooseberry wine, for the making of which we had lost neither the receipt nor the reputation.
The night was concluded in the manner we began the morning, my youngest boys being appointed to read the lessons of the day, and he that read loudest, distinctest and best was to have a halfpenny on Sunday to put in the poor's box.
When Sunday came it was indeed a day of finery, which all my sumptuary edicts could not restrain. How well soever I fancied my lectures against pride had conquered the vanity of my daughters, yet I still found them secretly attached to all their former finery; they still loved laces, ribbons, bugles, and catgut; my wife herself retained a passion for her crimson paduasoy, because I formerly happened to say it became her.
The first Sunday in particular their behavior served to mortify me; I had desired my girls the preceding night to be dressed early the next day; for I always loved to be at church a good while before the rest of the congregation. They punctually obeyed my directions; but when we were to assemble in the morning at breakfast, down came my wife and daughters dressed out all in their former splendor; their hair plastered up with pomatum, their faces patched to taste, their trains bundled up in a heap behind, and rustling at every motion.
I could not help smiling at their vanity, particularly that of my wife, from whom I expected more discretion. In this exigence, therefore, my only resource was to order my son, with an important air, to call our coach. The girls were amazed at the command; but I repeated it with more solemnity than before.
"Surely, my dear, you jest," cried my wife; "we can walk it perfectly well; we want no coach to carry us now."
"You mistake, child," returned I, "we do want a coach; for if we walk to church in this trim, the very children in the parish will hoot after us."
"Indeed," replied my wife, "I always imagined that my Charles was fond of seeing his children neat and handsome about him."
"You may be as neat as you please," interrupted I, "and I shall love you the better for it; but all this is not neatness, but frippery. These rufflings and pinkings and patchings will only make us hated by all the wives of all our neighbors. No, my children," continued I, more gravely, "those gowns may be altered into something of a plainer cut; for finery is very unbecoming in us, who want the means of decency. I do not know whether such flouncing and shredding is becoming even in the rich, if we consider, upon a moderate calculation, that the nakedness of the indigent world may be clothed from the trimmings of the vain."
This remonstrance had the proper effect; they went with great composure, that very instant, to change their dress; and the next day I had the satisfaction of finding my daughters, at their own request, employed in cutting up their trains into Sunday waistcoats for Dick and Bill, the two little ones; and what was still more satisfactory, the gowns seemed improved by this curtailing.
[Footnote 22: From "The Vicar of Wakefield," by Oliver Goldsmith, a celebrated English author (1728-1774).]
EXPRESSION: In this selection and the two which follow we have three other specimens of English prose fiction. You will observe that they are very different in style, as well as in subject, from the three specimens at the beginning of this book. Compare them with one another. Reread the selections from Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot, and compare them with these. Which do you like best? Why?
I. THE PILGRIMS LOSE THEIR WAY
Now I beheld in my dream that Christian and Hopeful had not journeyed far until they came where the river and the way parted, at which they were not a little sorry; yet they durst not go out of the way. Now the way from the river was rough, and their feet tender by reason of their travel; so the souls of the pilgrims were much discouraged because of the way. Wherefore, still as they went on, they wished for a better way.
Now, a little before them, there was in the left hand of the road a meadow, and a stile to go over into it; and that meadow is called By-path Meadow. Then said Christian to his fellow, "If this meadow lieth along by our wayside, let us go over into it." Then he went to the stile to see, and behold a path lay along by the way on the other side of the fence.
"'Tis according to my wish," said Christian; "here is the easiest going; come, good Hopeful, and let us go over."
"But how if this path should lead us out of the way?"
"That is not likely," said the other. "Look, doth it not go along by the wayside?"
So Hopeful, being persuaded by his fellow, went after him over the stile. When they were gone over, and were got into the path, they found it very easy for their feet; and withal they, looking before them, espied a man walking as they did, and his name was Vain-Confidence: so they called after him, and asked him whither that way led.
He said, "To the Celestial Gate."
"Look," said Christian, "did not I tell you so?—by this you may see we are right."
So they followed, and he went before them. But, behold, the night came on, and it grew very dark; so that they who were behind lost sight of them that went before. He, therefore, that went before—Vain-Confidence by name—not seeing the way before him, fell into a deep pit, and was dashed in pieces with his fall.
Now Christian and his fellow heard him fall; so they called to know the matter. But there was none to answer, only they heard a groan.
Then said Hopeful, "Where are we now?"
Then was his fellow silent, as mistrusting that he had led him out of the way; and now it began to rain and thunder and lightning in a most dreadful manner, and the water rose amain, by reason of which the way of going back was very dangerous.
Yet they adventured to go back; but it was so dark and the flood so high, that in their going back they had like to have been drowned nine or ten times. Neither could they, with all the skill they had, get back again to the stile that night. Wherefore, at last lighting under a little shelter, they sat down there until daybreak. But, being weary, they fell asleep.
II. IN THE GIANT'S DUNGEON
Now there was, not far from the place where they lay, a castle, called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair; and it was in his grounds they now were sleeping. Wherefore he, getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then with a grim and surly voice, he bid them awake, and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds.
They told him they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way.
Then said the giant, "You have this night trespassed on me, by trampling in and lying on my grounds, and therefore you must go along with me."
So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They also had but little to say, for they knew themselves in a fault. The giant, therefore, drove them before him, and put them into his castle, in a very dark dungeon.
Here, then, they lay from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, without one bit of bread, or drop of drink, or light, or any to ask how they did: they were, therefore, here in evil case, and were far from friends and acquaintance.
Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence. So, when he was gone to bed, he told his wife that he had taken a couple of prisoners, and had cast them into his dungeon for trespassing on his grounds. Then he asked her also what he had best do to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound; and he told her. Then she counseled him, that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without mercy.
So when he arose, he getteth him a grievous crabtree cudgel, and goes into the dungeon to them, and there first falls to rating of them as if they were dogs, although they never gave him an unpleasant word. Then he fell upon them, and beat them fearfully, in such sort that they were not able to help themselves, or to turn them upon the floor. This done he withdraws, and leaves them there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress. So all that day they spent their time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations.
The next night she, talking with her husband further about them, and understanding that they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away with themselves. So, when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them that, since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves, either with knife, halter, or poison: "for why," he said, "should you choose to live, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness?"
But they desired him to let them go. With that he looked ugly upon them, and, rushing to them, had doubtless made an end of them himself, but that he fell into one of his fits, and lost for a time the use of his hands. Wherefore he withdrew, and left them, as before, to consider what to do.
Then did the prisoners consult between themselves, whether it was best to take his counsel or no. But they soon resolved to reject it; for it would be very wicked to kill themselves; and, besides, something might soon happen to enable them to make their escape.
Well, towards evening the giant goes down to the dungeon again, to see if his prisoners had taken his counsel; but when he came there, he found them alive. I say, he found them alive; at which he fell into a grievous rage, and told them that, seeing they had disobeyed his counsel, it should be worse with them than if they had never been born.
At this they trembled greatly, and I think that Christian fell into a swoon; but, coming a little to himself again, they renewed their discourse about the giant's counsel, and whether yet they had best take it or no. Now Christian again seemed for doing it, but Hopeful reminded him of the hardships and terrors he had already gone through, and said that they ought to bear up with patience as well as they could, and steadily reject the giant's wicked counsel.
Now, night being come again, and the giant and his wife being in bed, she asked him concerning the prisoners, and if they had taken his counsel. To this he replied, "They are sturdy rogues, they choose rather to bear all hardships than to make away themselves."
Then said she, "Take them into the castle yard to-morrow, and show them the bones and skulls of those that thou hast already dispatched, and make them believe, thou wilt tear them in pieces, as thou hast done their fellows before them."
So when morning has come, the giant goes to them again, and takes them into the castle yard, and shows them as his wife had bidden him. "These," said he, "were pilgrims, as you are, once, and they trespassed on my grounds, as you have done; and when I thought fit, I tore them in pieces; and so within ten days I will do to you. Get you down to your den again."
And with that he beat them all the way thither.
Now, when night was come, Mrs. Diffidence and her husband began to renew their discourse of their prisoners. The old giant wondered that he could neither by his blows nor by his counsel bring them to an end.
And with that his wife replied, "I fear," said she, "that they live in hopes that some will come to relieve them, or that they have picklocks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape."
"And sayest thou so, my dear?" said the giant; "I will therefore search them in the morning."
Well, on Saturday, about midnight, they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.
Now a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out into a passionate speech: "What a fool am I, thus to lie in a dungeon! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle."
Then said Hopeful, "That's good news, good brother; pluck it out of thy bosom and try."
Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon door, whose bolt, as he turned the key, gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out.
After that, he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too, but that lock went desperately hard; yet the key did open it. Then they thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the King's highway, again, and so were safe.
[Footnote 23: From "The Pilgrim's Progress," by John Bunyan, a famous English preacher and writer (1628-1688).]
EXPRESSION: What peculiarities do you observe in Bunyan's style of writing? Select the three most striking passages in this story, and read them with spirit and correct expression.
SHOOTING WITH THE LONGBOW
Proclamation was made that Prince John, suddenly called by high and peremptory public duties, held himself obliged to discontinue the entertainments of to-morrow's festival: nevertheless, that, unwilling so many good yeomen should depart without a trial of skill, he was pleased to appoint them, before leaving the ground, presently to execute the competition of archery intended for the morrow. To the best archer a prize was to be awarded, being a bugle-horn, mounted with silver, and a silken baldric richly ornamented with a medallion of St. Hubert, the patron of sylvan sport.
More than thirty yeomen at first presented themselves as competitors, several of whom were rangers and underkeepers in the royal forests of Needwood and Charnwood. When, however, the archers understood with whom they were to be matched, upwards of twenty withdrew themselves from the contest, unwilling to encounter the dishonor of almost certain defeat.
The diminished list of competitors for sylvan fame still amounted to eight. Prince John stepped from his royal seat to view more nearly the persons of these chosen yeomen, several of whom wore the royal livery. Having satisfied his curiosity by this investigation, he looked for the object of his resentment, whom he observed standing on the same spot, and with the same composed countenance which he had exhibited upon the preceding day.
"Fellow," said Prince John, "I guessed by thy insolent babble thou wert no true lover of the longbow, and I see thou darest not adventure thy skill among such merry men as stand yonder."
"Under favor, sir," replied the yeoman, "I have another reason for refraining to shoot, besides the fearing discomfiture and disgrace."
"And what is thy other reason?" said Prince John, who, for some cause which perhaps he could not himself have explained, felt a painful curiosity respecting this individual.
"Because," replied the woodsman, "I know not if these yeomen and I are used to shoot at the same marks; and because, moreover, I know not how your grace might relish the winning of a third prize by one who has unwittingly fallen under your displeasure."
Prince John colored as he put the question, "What is thy name, yeoman?"
"Locksley," answered the yeoman.
"Then, Locksley," said Prince John, "thou shalt shoot in thy turn, when these yeomen have displayed their skill. If thou carriest the prize, I will add to it twenty nobles; but if thou losest it, thou shalt be stripped of thy Lincoln green, and scourged out of the lists with bowstrings, for a wordy and insolent braggart."
"And how if I refuse to shoot on such a wager?" said the yeoman. "Your grace's power, supported, as it is, by so many men at arms, may indeed easily strip and scourge me, but cannot compel me to bend or to draw my bow."
"If thou refusest my fair proffer," said the prince, "the provost of the lists shall cut thy bowstring, break thy bow and arrows, and expel thee from the presence as a faint-hearted craven."
"This is no fair chance you put on me, proud prince," said the yeoman, "to compel me to peril myself against the best archers of Leicester and Staffordshire, under the penalty of infamy if they should overshoot me. Nevertheless, I will obey your pleasure."
"Look to him close, men at arms," said Prince John, "his heart is sinking; I am jealous lest he attempt to escape the trial. And do you, good fellows, shoot boldly round; a buck and a butt of wine are ready for your refreshment in yonder tent, when the prize is won."
A target was placed at the upper end of the southern avenue which led to the lists. The contending archers took their station in turn, at the bottom of the southern access; the distance between that station and the mark allowing full distance for what was called a "shot at rovers." The archers, having previously determined by lot their order of precedence, were to shoot each three shafts in succession. The sports were regulated by an officer of inferior rank, termed the provost of the games; for the high rank of the marshals of the lists would have been held degraded had they condescended to superintend the sports of the yeomanry.
One by one the archers, stepping forward, delivered their shafts yeomanlike and bravely. Of twenty-four arrows shot in succession, ten were fixed in the target, and the others ranged so near it that, considering the distance of the mark, it was accounted good archery.
Of the ten shafts which hit the target, two within the inner ring were shot by Hubert, a forester, who was accordingly pronounced victorious.
"Now, Locksley," said Prince John to the bold yeoman, with a bitter smile, "wilt thou try conclusions with Hubert, or wilt thou yield up bow, baldric, and quiver to the provost of the sports?"
"Sith it be no better," said Locksley, "I am content to try my fortune; on condition that, when I have shot two shafts at yonder mark of Hubert's, he shall be bound to shoot one at that which I shall propose."
"That is but fair," answered Prince John, "and it shall not be refused thee. If thou dost beat this braggart, Hubert, I will fill the bugle with silver pennies for thee."
"A man can but do his best," answered Hubert; "but my grandsire drew a good longbow at Hastings, and I trust not to dishonor his memory."
The former target was now removed, and a fresh one of the same size placed in its room. Hubert, who, as victor in the first trial of skill, had the right to shoot first, took his aim with great deliberation, long measuring the distance with his eye, while he held in his hand his bended bow, with the arrow placed on the string. At length he made a step forward, and raising the bow at the full stretch of his left arm, till the center of grasping place was nigh level with his face, he drew the bowstring to his ear. The arrow whistled through the air, and lighted within the inner ring of the target, but not exactly in the center.
"You have not allowed for the wind, Hubert," said his antagonist, bending his bow, "or that had been a better shot."
So saying, and without showing the least anxiety to pause upon his aim, Locksley stepped to the appointed station, and shot his arrow as carelessly in appearance as if he had not even looked at the mark. He was speaking almost at the instant that the shaft left the bowstring, yet it alighted in the target two inches nearer to the white spot which marked the center than that of Hubert.
"By the light of heaven!" said Prince John to Hubert, "an thou suffer that runagate knave to overcome thee, thou art worthy of the gallows!"
Hubert had but one set of speech for all occasions. "An your highness were to hang me," he said, "a man can but do his best. Nevertheless, my grandsire drew a good bow—"
"The foul fiend on thy grandsire and all his generation!" interrupted John. "Shoot, knave, and shoot thy best, or it shall be the worse for thee!"
Thus exhorted, Hubert resumed his place, and, not neglecting the caution which he had received from his adversary, he made the necessary allowance for a very light breath of wind which had just arisen, and shot so successfully that his arrow alighted in the very center of the target.
"A Hubert! a Hubert!" shouted the populace, more interested in a known person than in a stranger. "In the clout!—in the clout! A Hubert forever!"
"Thou canst not mend that shot, Locksley," said the prince, with an insulting smile.
"I will notch his shaft for him, however," replied Locksley. And, letting fly his arrow with a little more precaution than before, it lighted right upon that of his competitor, which it split to shivers. The people who stood around were so astonished at his wonderful dexterity, that they could not even give vent to their surprise in their usual clamor.
"This must be the devil, and no man of flesh and blood," whispered the yeomen to each other; "such archery was never seen since a bow was first bent in Britain!"
"And now," said Locksley, "I will crave your grace's permission to plant such a mark as is used in the north country, and welcome every brave yeoman to try a shot at it."
He then turned to leave the lists. "Let your guards attend me," he said, "if you please. I go but to cut a rod from the next willow bush."
Prince John made a signal that some attendants should follow him, in case of his escape; but the cry of "Shame! shame!" which burst from the multitude induced him to alter his ungenerous purpose.
Locksley returned almost instantly, with a willow wand about six feet in length, perfectly straight, and rather thicker than a man's thumb. He began to peel this with great composure, observing, at the same time, that to ask a good woodsman to shoot at a target so broad as had hitherto been used was to put shame upon his skill.
"For my own part," said he, "in the land where I was bred, men would as soon take for their mark King Arthur's Round Table, which held sixty knights around it.
"A child of seven years old might hit yonder target with a headless shaft; but," he added, walking deliberately to the other end of the lists and sticking the willow wand upright in the ground, "he that hits that rod at fivescore yards, I call him an archer fit to bear both bow and quiver before a king, and it were the stout King Richard himself!"
"My grandsire," said Hubert, "drew a good bow at the battle of Hastings, and never shot at such a mark in his life; neither will I. If this yeoman can cleave that rod, I give him the bucklers—or, rather, I yield to the devil that is in his jerkin, and not to any human skill. A man can but do his best, and I will not shoot where I am sure to miss. I might as well shoot at the edge of our parson's whittle, or at a wheat straw, or at a sunbeam, as at a twinkling white streak which I can hardly see."
"Cowardly dog!" exclaimed Prince John.—"Sirrah Locksley, do thou shoot; but if thou hittest such a mark, I will say thou art the first man ever did so. However it be, thou shalt not crow over us with a mere show of superior skill."
"'A man can but do his best!' as Hubert says," answered Locksley.
So saying, he again bent his bow, but, on the present occasion, looked with attention to his weapon, and changed the string, which he thought was no longer truly round, having been a little frayed by the two former shots. He then took his aim with some deliberation, and the multitude awaited the event in breathless silence. The archer vindicated their opinion of his skill: his arrow split the willow rod against which it was aimed. A jubilee of acclamations followed: and even Prince John, in admiration of Locksley's skill, lost for an instant his dislike to his person.
"These twenty nobles," he said, "which with the bugle thou hast fairly won, are thine own: we will make them fifty if thou wilt take livery and service with us as a yeoman of our bodyguard, and be near to our person; for never did so strong a hand bend a bow, or so true an eye direct a shaft."
"Pardon me, noble prince," said Locksley; "but I have vowed that, if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother, King Richard. These twenty nobles I leave to Hubert, who has this day drawn as brave a bow as his grandsire did at Hastings. Had his modesty not refused the trial, he would have hit the wand as well as I."
Hubert shook his head as he received with reluctance the bounty of the stranger; and Locksley, anxious to escape further observation, mixed with the crowd and was seen no more.
[Footnote 24: From "Ivanhoe," by Sir Walter Scott.]
EXPRESSION: Compare this selection with the two which precede it. "Pilgrim's Progress," "The Vicar of Wakefield," and "Ivanhoe" rank high among the world's most famous books. Notice how long ago each was written. Talk with your teacher about Bunyan, Goldsmith, and Scott—their lives and their writings.
A CHRISTMAS HYMN
It was the calm and silent night! Seven hundred years and fifty-three Had Rome been growing up to might, And now was queen of land and sea. No sound was heard of clashing wars— Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain; Apollo, Pallas, Jove, and Mars Held undisturbed their ancient reign, In the solemn midnight, Centuries ago.
'Twas in the calm and silent night, The senator of haughty Rome Impatient urged his chariot's flight, From lordly revel rolling home; Triumphal arches, gleaming, swell His breast with thoughts of boundless sway; What recked the Roman what befell A paltry province far away, In the solemn midnight, Centuries ago?
Within that province far away, Went plodding home a weary boor; A streak of light before him lay, Fallen through a half-shut stable door Across his path. He paused—for naught Told what was going on within; How keen the stars, his only thought,— The air how cold and calm and thin, In the solemn midnight, Centuries ago!
Oh, strange indifference! low and high Drowsed over common joys and cares; The earth was still—but knew not why; The world was listening unawares. How calm a moment may precede One that shall thrill the world forever! To that still moment none would heed Man's doom was linked no more to sever, In the solemn midnight, Centuries ago.
It is the calm and solemn night: A thousand bells ring out and throw Their joyous peals abroad, and smite The darkness—charmed and holy now! The night that erst no name had worn, To it a happy name is given; For in that stable lay, newborn, The peaceful Prince of earth and heaven, In the solemn midnight, Centuries ago.
[Footnote 25: By Alfred Domett, (dŏm'et), an English writer (1811-1887).]
CHRISTMAS EVE AT FEZZIWIG'S
Old Fezziwig in his warehouse laid down his pen, and looked up at the clock which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his hands; adjusted his waistcoat; laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence; and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice:—
"Yo ho, there! Ebenezer! Dick!"
Ebenezer came briskly in, followed by his fellow-'prentice.
"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson."
You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it! They charged into the street with the shutters—one, two, three—had 'em in their places—four, five, six—barred 'em and pinned 'em—seven, eight, nine—and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like race horses.
"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from his desk, with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer!"
Clear away? There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life forevermore. The floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug and warm, and dry and bright, as any ballroom you would desire to see upon a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six young followers, whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and young women employed in the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin the baker. In came the cook, with her brother's particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having enough to eat from his master. In they all came, one after another—some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling. In they all came, anyhow and everyhow.
Away they all went, twenty couples at once; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them!
When this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance, cried out, "Well done!" Then there were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances; and there was cake, and there was a great piece of cold roast, and there was a great piece of cold boiled, and there were mince pies and other delicacies. But the great effect of the evening came after the roast and the boiled, when the fiddler, artful dog, struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Mr. Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with—people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many—aye, four times—old Mr. Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me higher and I'll use it.... And when Mr. Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance—advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and curtsy, thread the needle, and back to your place—Fezziwig "cut" so deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two apprentices, they did the same to them; and thus the cheerful voices died away and the lads were left to their beds—which were under a counter in the back shop.
[Footnote 26: From "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens.]
THE CHRISTMAS HOLLY
The holly! the holly! oh, twine it with bay— Come give the holly a song; For it helps to drive stern winter away, With his garment so somber and long; It peeps through the trees with its berries of red, And its leaves of burnished green, When the flowers and fruits have long been dead, And not even the daisy is seen. Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly, That hangs over peasant and king; While we laugh and carouse 'neath its glittering boughs, To the Christmas holly we'll sing.
[Footnote 27: By Eliza Cook, an English poet (1818-1889).]
EXPRESSION: Imagine that you see Mr. Fezziwig with his apprentices preparing for the Christmas festivities. What is your opinion of him? Now read the story, paragraph by paragraph, trying to make it as interesting to your hearers as a real visit to Fezziwig warehouse would have been.
THE NEW YEAR'S DINNER PARTY
The Old Year being dead, the New Year came of age, which he does by Calendar Law as soon as the breath is out of the old gentleman's body. Nothing would serve the youth but he must give a dinner upon the occasion, to which all the Days of the Year were invited.
The Festivals, whom he appointed as his stewards, were mightily taken with the notion. They had been engaged time out of mind, they said, in providing mirth and cheer for mortals below; and it was time that they should have a taste of their bounty.
All the Days came to dinner. Covers were provided for three hundred and sixty-five guests at the principal table; with an occasional knife and fork at the sideboard for the Twenty-ninth of February.
I should have told you that cards of invitation had been sent out. The carriers were the Hours—twelve as merry little whirligig footpages as you should desire to see. They went all round, and found out the persons invited well enough, with the exception of Easter Day, Shrove Tuesday, and a few such Movables, who had lately shifted their quarters.
Well, they were all met at last, four Days, five Days, all sorts of Days, and a rare din they made of it. There was nothing but "Hail! fellow Day!" "Well met, brother Day! sister Day!" only Lady Day kept a little on the aloof and seemed somewhat scornful. Yet some said that Twelfth Day cut her out, for she came in a silk suit, white and gold, like a queen on a frost-cake, all royal and glittering.
The rest came, some in green, some in white—but Lent and his family were not yet out of mourning. Rainy Days came in dripping, and Sunshiny Days helped them to change their stockings. Wedding Day was there in his marriage finery. Pay Day came late, as he always does. Doomsday sent word he might be expected.
April Fool (as my lord's jester) took upon himself to marshal the guests. And wild work he made of it; good Days, bad Days, all were shuffled together. He had stuck the Twenty-first of June next to the Twenty-second of December, and the former looked like a Maypole by the side of a marrow bone. Ash Wednesday got wedged in betwixt Christmas and Lord Mayor's Day.
At another part of the table, Shrove Tuesday was helping the Second of September to some broth, which courtesy the latter returned with the delicate thigh of a pheasant. The Last of Lent was springing upon Shrovetide's pancakes; April Fool, seeing this, told him that he did well, for pancakes were proper to a good fry-day.
May Day, with that sweetness which is her own, made a neat speech proposing the health of the founder. This being done, the lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but somewhat lofty tone, returned thanks.
They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The question being proposed, who had the greatest number of followers—the Quarter Days said there could be no question as to that; for they had all the creditors in the world dogging their heels. But April Fool gave it in favor of the Forty Days before Easter; because the debtors in all cases outnumbered the creditors, and they kept Lent all the year.
At last, dinner being ended, the Days called for their cloaks, and great coats, and took their leaves. Lord Mayor's Day went off in a Mist as usual; Shortest Day in a deep black Fog, which wrapped the little gentleman all round like a hedgehog.
Two Vigils, or watchmen, saw Christmas Day safe home. Another Vigil—a stout, sturdy patrol, called the Eve of St. Christopher—escorted Ash Wednesday.
Longest Day set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold—the rest, some in one fashion, some in another, took their departure.
[Footnote 28: By Charles Lamb, an English essayist and humorist (1775-1834).]
EXPRESSION: What holidays are named in this selection? What holidays do you know about that were not present at this dinner? Refer to the dictionary and learn about all the days here mentioned. Select the humorous passages in this story, and tell why you think they are humorous.
THE TOWN PUMP
[SCENE.—The corner of two principal streets. The Town Pump talking through its nose.]
Noon, by the north clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by those hot sunbeams which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke in the trough under my nose. Truly, we public characters have a tough time of it! And among all the town officers, chosen at the annual meeting, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed in perpetuity, upon the Town Pump?
The title of town treasurer is rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure the town has. The overseers of the poor ought to make me their chairman since I provide bountifully for the pauper, without expense to him that pays taxes. I am at the head of the fire department, and one of the physicians of the board of health. As a keeper of the peace all water drinkers confess me equal to the constable. I perform some of the duties of the town clerk, by promulgating public notices, when they am pasted on my front.
To speak within bounds, I am chief person of the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable pattern to my brother officers by the cool, steady, upright, downright, and impartial discharge of my business, and the constancy with which I stand to my post. Summer or winter, nobody seeks me in vain; for, all day long I am seen at the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms to rich and poor alike; and at night I hold a lantern over my head, to show where I am, and to keep people out of the gutters.
At this sultry noontide, I am cupbearer to the parched populace, for whose benefit an iron goblet is chained to my waist. Like a dram seller on the public square, on a muster day, I cry aloud to all and sundry, in my plainest accents, and at the very tiptop of my voice, "Here it is, gentlemen! Here is the good liquor! Walk up, walk up, gentlemen, walk up, walk up! Here is the superior stuff! Here is the unadulterated ale of father Adam! better than cognac, Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer, or wine of any price; here it is by the hogshead or the single glass, and not a cent to pay. Walk up, gentlemen, walk up, and help yourselves!"
It were a pity if all this outcry should draw no customers. Here they come. A hot day, gentlemen. Quaff and away again, so as to keep yourselves in a nice, cool sweat. You, my friend, will need another cupful to wash the dust out of your throat, if it be as thick there as it is on your cowhide shoes. I see that you have trudged half a score of miles to-day, and, like a wise man, have passed by the taverns, and stopped at the running brooks and well curbs. Otherwise, betwixt heat without and fire within, you would have been burnt to a cinder, or melted down to nothing at all—in the fashion of a jellyfish.
Drink, and make room for that other fellow, who seeks my aid to quench the fiery fever of last night's potations, which he drained from no cup of mine. Welcome, most rubicund sir! You and I have been strangers hitherto; nor, to confess the truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy till the fumes of your breath be a little less potent.
Mercy on you, man! The water absolutely hisses down your red-hot gullet, and is converted quite into steam in the miniature Tophet, which you mistake for a stomach. Fill again, and tell me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cellar, tavern, or any other kind of dramshop, spend the price of your children's food for a swig half so delicious? Now, for the first time these ten years, you know the flavor of cold water. Good-by; and whenever you are thirsty, recollect that I keep a constant supply at the old stand.
Who next? Oh, my little friend, you are just let loose from school, and come hither to scrub your blooming face, and drown the memory of certain taps of the ferule, and other schoolboy troubles, in a draft from the Town Pump. Take it, pure as the current of your young life; take it, and may your heart and tongue never be scorched with a fiercer thirst than now.
There, my dear child, put down the cup, and yield your place to this elderly gentleman, who treads so tenderly over the paving stones that I suspect he is afraid of breaking them. What! he limps by without so much as thanking me, as if my hospitable offers were meant only for people who have no wine cellars.
Well, well, sir, no harm done, I hope! Go, draw the cork, tip the decanter; but when your great toe shall set you a-roaring, it will be no affair of mine. If gentlemen love the pleasant titillation of the gout, it is all one to the Town Pump. This thirsty dog, with his red tongue lolling out, does not scorn my hospitality, but stands on his hind legs and laps eagerly out of the trough. See how lightly he capers away again! Jowler, did your worship ever have the gout?
Your pardon, good people! I must interrupt my stream of eloquence, and spout forth a stream of water, to replenish the trough for this teamster and his two yoke of oxen, who have come all the way from Staunton, or somewhere along that way. No part of my business gives me more pleasure than the watering of cattle. Look! how rapidly they lower the watermark on the sides of the trough, till their capacious stomachs are moistened with a gallon or two apiece, and they can afford time to breathe, with sighs of calm enjoyment! Now they roll their quiet eyes around the brim of their monstrous drinking vessel. An ox is your true toper.
I hold myself the grand reformer of the age. From the Town Pump, as from other sources of water supply, must flow the stream that will cleanse our earth of a vast portion of the crime and anguish which have gushed from the fiery fountains of the still. In this mighty enterprise, the cow shall be my great confederate. Milk and water!
Ahem! Dry work this speechifying, especially to all unpracticed orators. I never conceived, till now, what toil the temperance lecturers undergo for my sake. Do, some kind Christian, pump a stroke or two, just to wet my whistle. Thank you, sir. But to proceed.
The Town Pump and the Cow! Such is the glorious partnership that shall finally monopolize the whole business of quenching thirst. Blessed consummation! Then Poverty shall pass away from the land, finding no hovel so wretched where her squalid form may shelter itself. Then Disease, for lack of other victims, shall gnaw his own heart and die. Then Sin, if she do not die, shall lose half her strength.
Then there will be no war of households. The husband and the wife, drinking deep of peaceful joy, a calm bliss of temperate affections, shall pass hand in hand through life, and lie down, not reluctantly, at its protracted close. To them the past will be no turmoil of mad dreams, nor the future an eternity of such moments as follow the delirium of a drunkard. Their dead faces shall express what their spirits were, and are to be, by a lingering smile of memory and hope.
Drink, then, and be refreshed! The water is as pure and cold as when it slaked the thirst of the red hunter, and flowed beneath the aged bough, though now this gem of the wilderness is treasured under these hot stones, where no shadow falls but from the brick buildings. But still is this fountain the source of health, peace, and happiness, and I behold, with certainty and joy, the approach of the period when the virtues of cold water, too little valued since our father's days, will be fully appreciated and recognized by all.
[Footnote 29: By Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American writer of romances and short stories (1804-1864).]
EXPRESSION: Read this selection again and again until you understand it clearly and appreciate its rare charm. Study each paragraph separately, observing how the topic of each is developed. Select the expressions which are the most pleasing to you. Tell why each pleases.
Did you ever see a town pump? In the cities and larger towns, what has taken its place? Can we imagine a hydrant or a water faucet talking as this town pump did? If Hawthorne were writing to-day, would he represent the town pump as the "chief person of the municipality"? Discuss this question fully.
Talk with your teacher about the life and works of the author of this selection. If you have access to any of his books, bring them to the class and read selections from them. Compare the style of this story with that of the selection from Dickens, page 22; or from Thackeray, page 27; or from Goldsmith, page 94.
WORD STUDY: Refer to the dictionary for the pronunciation and meaning of: perpetuity, constable, municipality, cognac, quaff, rubicund, Tophet, decanter, titillation, capacious.
COME UP FROM THE FIELDS, FATHER
Come up from the fields, father; here's a letter from our Pete, And come to the front door, mother; here's a letter from thy dear son. Lo, 'tis autumn; Lo, where the fields, deeper green, yellower and redder, Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages, with leaves fluttering in the moderate wind;
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang, and grapes on the trellised vines, (Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines? Smell you the buckwheat, where the bees were lately buzzing?) Above all, lo! the sky so calm, so transparent after the rain, and with wondrous clouds; Below, too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,—and the farm prospers well.
Down in the fields all prospers well; But now from the fields come, father,—come at the daughter's call; And come to the entry, mother,—to the front door come, right away. Fast as she can she hurries,—something ominous,—her steps trembling; She does not tarry to smooth her white hair, nor adjust her cap.
Open the envelope quickly; Oh, this is not our son's writing, yet his name is signed! Oh, a strange hand writes for our dear son—O stricken mother's soul! All swims before her eyes,—flashes with black,—she catches the main words only; Sentences broken,—gunshot wound in the breast—cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital, At present low, but will soon be better.
Ah! now the single figure to me Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio, with all its cities and farms, Sickly white in the face and dull in the head, very faint, By the jamb of a door leans.
Grieve not so, dear mother (the just grown daughter speaks through her sobs; The little sisters huddle around, speechless and dismayed). See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better. Alas, poor boy! he will never be better (nor, maybe, needs to be better, that brave and simple soul). While they stand at home at the door he is dead already, The only son is dead.
But the mother needs to be better; She, with thin form, presently dressed in black; By day her meals untouched,—then at night fitfully sleeping, often waking, In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with one deep longing, Oh, that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent from life, escape and withdraw, To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son!
[Footnote 30: By Walt Whitman, an American poet (1819-1892).]
EXPRESSION: This poem is descriptive of an incident which occurred during the Civil War. There were many such incidents, both in the North and in the South. Read the selection silently to understand its full meaning. Who are the persons pictured to your imagination after reading it? Describe the place and the time.
Now read the poem aloud, giving full expression to its pathetic meaning. Select the most striking descriptive passage and read it. Select the stanza which seems to you the most touching, and read it.
Study now the peculiarities of the poem. Do the lines rime? Are they of similar length? What can you say about the meter?
Compare this poem with the two gems from Browning, pages 38 and 41. Compare it with the selection from Longfellow, page 54; with that from Lanier, page 66. How does it differ from any or all of these? What is poetry? Name three great American poets; three great English poets.
THE ADDRESS AT GETTYSBURG
Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation—or any nation so conceived and so dedicated—can long endure.
We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as the final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us;—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion;—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
[Footnote 31: By Abraham Lincoln, at the dedication of the National Cemetery, 1863.]
ODE TO THE CONFEDERATE DEAD
Sleep sweetly in your humble graves, Sleep, martyrs of a fallen cause; Though yet no marble column craves The pilgrim here to pause.
In seeds of laurel in the earth The blossom of your fame is blown, And somewhere, waiting for its birth, The shaft is in the stone.
Meanwhile, behalf the tardy years Which keep in trust your storied tombs, Behold! Your sisters bring their tears And these memorial blooms.
Small tribute! but your shades will smile More proudly on these wreathes to-day, Than when some cannon-molded pile Shall overlook this bay.
Stoop, angels, hither from the skies! There is no holier spot of ground Than where defeated valor lies, By mourning beauty crowned.
[Footnote 32: By Henry Timrod, an American poet (1829-1867).]
THE CHARIOT RACE
Orestes? He is dead. I will tell all as it happened.
He journeyed forth to attend the great games which Hellas counts her pride, to join the Delphic contests. There he heard the herald's voice, with loud and clear command, proclaim, as coming first, the chariot race, and so he entered, radiant, every eye admiring as he passed. And in the race he equaled all the promise of his form in those his rounds, and so with noblest prize of conquest left the ground.
Summing up in fewest words what many scarce could tell, I know of none in strength and act like him. And having won the prize in all the fivefold forms of race which the umpires had proclaimed, he then was hailed, proclaimed an Argive, and his name Orestes, the son of mighty Agamemnon, who once led Hellas's glorious host.
So far, well. But when a god will injure, none can escape, strong though he be. For lo! another day, when, as the sun was rising, came the race swift-footed of the chariot and the horse, he entered the contest with many charioteers. One was an Achaean, one was from Sparta, two were from Libya with four-horsed chariots, and Orestes with swift Thessalian mares came as the fifth. A sixth, with bright bay colts, came from AEtolia; the seventh was born in far Magnesia; the eighth was an AEnian with white horses; the ninth was from Athens, the city built by the gods; the tenth and last was a Boeotian.
And so they stood, their cars in order as the umpires had decided by lot. Then, with sound of brazen trumpet, they started.
All cheering their steeds at the same moment, they shook the reins, and at once the course was filled with the clash and din of rattling chariots, and the dust rose high. All were now commingled, each striving to pass the hubs of his neighbors' wheels. Hard and hot were the horses' breathings, and their backs and the chariot wheels were white with foam.
Each charioteer, when he came to the place where the last stone marks the course's goal, turned the corner sharply, letting go the right-hand trace horse and pulling the nearer in. And so, at first, the chariots kept their course; but, at length, the AEnian's unbroken colts, just as they finished their sixth or seventh round, turned headlong back and dashed at full speed against the chariot wheels of those who were following. Then with tremendous uproar, each crashed on the other, they fell overturned, and Crissa's broad plain was filled with wreck of chariots.
The man from Athens, skilled and wise as a charioteer, saw the mischief in time, turned his steeds aside, and escaped the whirling, raging surge of man and horse. Last of all, Orestes came, holding his horses in check, and waiting for the end. But when he saw the Athenian, his only rival left, he urged his colts forward, shaking the reins and speeding onward. And now the twain continued the race, their steeds sometimes head to head, sometimes one gaining ground, sometimes the other; and so all the other rounds were passed in safety.
Upright in his chariot still stood the ill-starred hero. Then, just as his team was turning, he let loose the left rein unawares, and struck the farthest pillar, breaking the spokes right at his axles' center. Slipping out of his chariot, he was dragged along, with reins dissevered. His frightened colts tore headlong through the midst of the field; and the people, seeing him in his desperate plight, bewailed him greatly—so young, so noble, so unfortunate, now hurled upon the ground, helpless, lifeless.
The charioteers, scarcely able to restrain the rushing steeds, freed the poor broken body—so mangled that not one of all his friends would have known whose it was. They built a pyre and burned it; and now they bear hither, in a poor urn of bronze, the sad ashes of that mighty form—that so Orestes may have his tomb in his fatherland.
Such is my tale, full sad to hear; but to me who saw this accident, nothing can ever be more sorrowful.
[Footnote 33: Translated from the "Electra" of Sophocles, written about 450 years before Christ. The narrative is supposed to have been related by the friend and attendant of the hero, Orestes.]
THE COLISEUM AT MIDNIGHT
I crossed the Forum to the foot of the Palatine, and, ascending the Via Sacra, passed beneath the Arch of Titus. From this point I saw below me the gigantic outline of the Coliseum, like a cloud resting upon the earth.
As I descended the hillside, it grew more broad and high,—more definite in its form, and yet more grand in its dimensions,—till, from the vale in which it stands encompassed by three of the Seven Hills of Rome, the majestic ruin in all its solitary grandeur "swelled vast to heaven."
A single sentinel was pacing to and fro beneath the arched gateway which leads to the interior, and his measured footsteps were the only sound that broke the breathless silence of night.
What a contrast with the scene which that same midnight hour presented, when in Domitian's time the eager populace began to gather at the gates, impatient for the morning sports! Nor was the contrast within less striking. Silence, and the quiet moonbeams, and the broad, deep shadow of the ruined wall!
Where now were the senators of Rome, her matrons, and her virgins? Where was the ferocious populace that rent the air with shouts, when, in the hundred holidays that marked the dedication of this imperial slaughter house, five thousand wild beasts from the Libyan deserts and the forests of Anatolia made the arena sick with blood?
Where were the Christian martyrs that died with prayers upon their lips, amid the jeers and imprecations of their fellow men? Where were the barbarian gladiators, brought forth to the festival of blood, and "butchered to make a Roman holiday"?
The awful silence answered, "They are mine!" The dust beneath me answered, "They are mine!"
[Footnote 34: From "Outre Mer," by Henry W. Longfellow.]
EXPRESSION: Learn all you can about the Coliseum. When was it built? by whom? For what was it used?
WORD STUDY: Forum, Palatine, Via Sacra, Titus, Domitian, Libyan, Anatolia.
THE DEACON'S MASTERPIECE
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day, And then, of a sudden, it—ah, but stay, I'll tell you what happened, without delay, Scaring the parson into fits, Frightening people out of their wits,— Have you ever heard of that, I say?
Seventeen hundred and fifty-five. Georgius Secundus was then alive,— Snuffy old drone from the German hive. That was the year when Lisbon town Saw the earth open and gulp her down, And Braddock's army was done so brown, Left without a scalp to its crown. It was on the terrible Earthquake day That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.
Now in building of chaises, I tell you what, There is always somewhere a weakest spot,— In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill, In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill, In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,—lurking still, Find it somewhere, you must and will,— Above or below, or within or without,— And that's the reason, beyond a doubt, A chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.
But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do, With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou,") He would build one shay to beat the taown 'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun'; It should be so built that it couldn' break daown: "Fur," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain; 'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain, Is only jest T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."
So the Deacon inquired of the village folk Where he could find the strongest oak, That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke, That was for spokes and floor and sills; He sent for lancewood to make the thills; The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees; The panels of white wood, that cuts like cheese, But lasts like iron for things like these; The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum," Last of its timber,—they couldn't sell 'em, Never an ax had seen their chips, And the wedges flew from between their lips, Their blunt ends frizzled like celery tips; Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw, Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin, too, Steel of the finest, bright and blue; Thoroughbrace bison skin, thick and wide; Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide Found in the pit when the tanner died. That was the way he "put her through."— "There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew."
Do! I tell you, I rather guess She was a wonder, and nothing less! Colts grew horses, beards turned gray, Deacon and deaconess dropped away, Children and grandchildren—where were they? But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake day!
EIGHTEEN HUNDRED,—it came and found The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound, Eighteen hundred increased by ten,— "Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then. Eighteen hundred and twenty came,— Running as usual; much the same. Thirty and forty at last arrive, And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.
Little of all we value here Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year Without both feeling and looking queer. In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth, So far as I know, but a tree and truth. (This is a moral that runs at large; Take it,—You're welcome.—No extra charge.)
FIRST OF NOVEMBER,—the Earthquake day.— There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay, A general flavor of mild decay, But nothing local, as one may say. There couldn't be,—for the Deacon's art Had made it so like in every part That there wasn't a chance for one to start, For the wheels were just as strong as the thills, And the floor was just as strong as the sills, And the panels just as strong as the floor, And the whippletree neither less nor more, And the back crossbar as strong as the fore, And spring and axle and hub encore. And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt In another hour it will be worn out!
First of November, Fifty-five! This morning the parson takes a drive. Now, small boys, get out of the way! Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay, Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay. "Huddup!" said the parson.—Off went they. The parson was working his Sunday's text,— Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed At what the—Moses—was coming next. All at once the horse stood still, Close by the meet'n'house on the hill. —First a shiver, and then a thrill, Then something decidedly like a spill,— And the parson was sitting upon a rock, At half-past nine by the meet'n'house clock,— Just the hour of the earthquake shock! —What do you think the parson found, When he got up and stared around? The poor old chaise in a heap or mound, As if it had been to the mill and ground. You see, of course, if you're not a dunce, How it went to pieces all at once,— All at once, and nothing first,— Just as bubbles do when they burst.
End of the wonderful one-hoss shay. Logic is logic. That's all I say.
[Footnote 35: From "The Autocrat or the Breakfast Table," by Oliver Wendell Holmes, a noted American author and physician (1809—1894).]
EXPRESSION: Read the selection silently to appreciate its humor. Now read it aloud with careful attention to naturalness of expression. Study the historical allusions—"Georgius Secundus," "Lisbon town," "Braddock's army," "the Earthquake day," etc.
Read again the passages in which dialect expressions occur. Try to speak these passages as the author intended them to be spoken.
Select the passages which appeal most strongly to your sense of humor. Read them in such manner as to make their humorous quality thoroughly appreciable to those who listen to you.
Now study the selection as a poem, comparing it with several typical poems which you have already studied. Remembering your definition of poetry (page 138), what is the real poetical value of this delightful composition? Is it a true poem? Find some other poems written by Dr. Holmes. Bring them to the class and read them aloud.
Talk with your teacher about the life of Dr. Holmes and about his prose and poetical works. As a poet, how does he compare with Longfellow? with Whittier? with Walt Whitman? with Browning?
DOGS AND CATS
Most people agree that the dog has intelligence, a heart, and possibly a soul; on the other hand, they declare that the cat is a traitor, a deceiver, an ingrate, a thief. How many persons have I heard say: "Oh, I can't bear a cat! The cat has no love for its master; it cares only for the house. I had one once, for I was living in the country, where there were mice. One day the cook left on the kitchen table a chicken she had just prepared for cooking; in came the cat, and carried it off, and we never saw a morsel of it. Oh, I hate cats; I will never have one."
True, the cat is unpopular. Her reputation is bad, and she makes no effort to improve the general opinion which people have of her. She cares as little about your opinion as does the Sultan of Turkey. And—must I confess—this is the very reason I love her.
In this world, no one can long be indifferent to things, whether trivial or serious—if, indeed, anything is serious. Hence, every person must, sooner or later, declare himself on the subjects of dogs and cats.
Well, then! I love cats.
Ah, how many times people have said to me, "What! do you love cats?"
"Well, don't you love dogs better?"
"No, I prefer cats every time."
"Oh, that's very queer!"
The truth is, I would rather have neither cat nor dog. But when I am obliged to live with one of these beings, I always choose the cat. I will tell you why.
The cat seems to me to have the manners most necessary to good society. In her early youth she has all the graces, all the gentleness, all the unexpectedness that the most artistic imagination could desire. She is smart; she never loses herself. She is prudent, going everywhere, looking into everything, breaking nothing.
The cat steals fresh mutton just as the dog steals it, but, unlike the dog, she takes no delight in carrion. She is fastidiously clean—and in this respect, she might well be imitated by many of her detractors. She washes her face, and in so doing foretells the weather into the bargain. You may please yourself by putting a ribbon around her neck, but never a collar; she cannot be enslaved.
In short, the cat is a dignified, proud, disdainful animal. She defies advances and tolerates no insults. She abandons the house in which she is not treated according to her merits. She is, in both origin and character, a true aristocrat, while the dog is and always will be, a mere vulgar parvenu.
The only serious argument that can be urged against the cat is that she destroys the birds, not caring whether they are sparrows or nightingales. If the dog does less, it is because of his stupidity and clumsiness, not because he is above such business. He also runs after the birds; but his foolish barking warns them of his coming, and as they fly away he can only watch them with open mouth and drooping tail.
The dog submits himself to the slavery of the collar in order to be taught the art of circumventing rabbits and pigeons—and this not for his own profit, but for the pleasure of his master, the hunter. Foolish, foolish fellow! An animal himself, he delights in persecuting other animals at the command of the man who beats him.
But the cat, when she catches a bird, has a good excuse for her cruelty—she catches it only to eat it herself. Shall she be slandered for such an act? Before condemning her, men may well think of their own shortcomings. They will find among themselves, as well as in the race of cats, many individuals who have claws and often use them for the destruction of those who are gifted with wings.
[Footnote 36: Translated from Alexandre Dumas, a noted French novelist (1802-1870).]
EXPRESSION: In what does the humor of this selection consist? Read aloud and with expression the passages which appeal to you as the most enjoyable. Do you agree with all the statements made by the author? Read these with which you disagree, and then give reasons for your disagreement.
THE OWL CRITIC
"Who stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop; The barber was busy, and he couldn't stop; The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading The Daily, the Herald, the Post, little heeding The young man who blurted out such a blunt question; Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion; And the barber kept on shaving.
"Don't you see, Mister Brown," Cried the youth, with a frown, "How wrong the whole thing is, How preposterous each wing is, How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is— In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck 'tis? I make no apology; I've learned owl-eology, I've passed days and nights in a hundred collections, And cannot be blinded to any deflections Arising from unskillful fingers that fail To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail. Mister Brown! Mister Brown! Do take that bird down, Or you'll soon be the laughingstock all over town!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"I've studied owls, And other night fowls, And I tell you What I know to be true: An owl cannot roost With his limbs so unloosed; No owl in this world Ever had his claws curled, Ever had his legs slanted, Ever had his bill canted, Ever had his neck screwed Into that attitude. He can't do it, because 'Tis against all bird laws. Anatomy teaches, Ornithology preaches, An owl has a toe That can't turn out so! I've made the white owl my study for years, And to see such a job almost moves me to tears! Mister Brown, I'm amazed You should be so gone crazed As to put up a bird In that posture absurd! To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness; The man who stuffed him don't half know his business!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"Examine those eyes. I'm filled with surprise Taxidermists should pass Off on you such poor glass; So unnatural they seem They'd make Audubon scream, And John Burroughs laugh To encounter such chaff. Do take that bird down: Have him stuffed again, Brown!" And the barber kept on shaving.
"With some sawdust and bark I could stuff in the dark An owl better than that. I could make an old hat Look more like an owl than that horrid fowl Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather. In fact, about him there's not one natural feather." Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch, The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch, Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic (Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic, And then fairly hooted, as if he should say, "Your learning's at fault this time, anyway; Don't waste it again on a live bird, I pray. I'm an owl; you're another. Sir Critic, good day!" And the barber kept on shaving.
[Footnote 37: By James T. Fields, an American publisher and author (1817-1881).]
MRS. CAUDLE'S UMBRELLA LECTURE
Bah! That's the third umbrella gone since Christmas. What were you to do? Why, let him go home in the rain, to be sure. I'm very certain there was nothing about him that could spoil. Take cold? Indeed! He doesn't look like one of the sort to take cold. Besides, he'd better have taken cold than taken our umbrella. Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, DO YOU HEAR THE RAIN?
Pooh! don't think me a fool, Mr. Caudle. Don't insult me. He return the umbrella? Anybody would think you were born yesterday. As if anybody ever did return an umbrella!
I should like to know how the children are to go to school to-morrow. They shan't go through such weather, I'm determined. No! they shall stay at home and never learn anything—the blessed creatures—sooner than go and get wet. And when they grow up, I wonder whom they'll have to thank for knowing nothing—who, indeed, but their father?
But I know why you lent the umbrella. Oh, yes! I know very well. I was going out to tea at dear mother's to-morrow—you knew that—and you did it on purpose. Don't tell me; you hate to have me to go there, and take every mean advantage to hinder me. But don't you think it, Mr. Caudle. No, sir; if it comes down in bucketfuls I'll go all the more.
No! and I won't have a cab! Where do you think the money's to come from? You've got nice, high notions at that club of yours. A cab, indeed! Cost me sixteen pence at least—sixteen pence?—two-and-eight-pence, for there's back again! Cabs, indeed! I should like to know who is to pay for them! I can't pay for them, and I'm sure you can't if you go on as you do; throwing away your property and beggaring your children, buying umbrellas.
Do you hear the rain, Mr. Caudle? I say, DO YOU HEAR IT? But I don't care—I'll go to mother's to-morrow, I will; and what's more, I'll walk every step of the way; and you know that will give me my death. Don't call me a foolish woman; it's you that's the foolish man. You know I can't wear clogs; and with no umbrella, the wet's sure to give me a cold—it always does. But what do you care for that? Nothing at all. I may be laid up for what you care, as I dare say I shall—and a pretty doctor's bill there'll be. I hope there will! It will teach you to lend your umbrella again. I shouldn't wonder if I caught my death; and that's what you lent your umbrella for. Of course!
Nice clothes I shall get, too, traipsing through weather like this. My gown and bonnet will be spoiled quite. Needn't I wear them, then? Indeed, Mr. Caudle, I shall wear them. No, sir; I'm not going out a dowdy to please you or anybody else. Gracious knows, it isn't often I step over the threshold; indeed, I might as well be a slave at once—better, I should say. But when I go out, Mr. Caudle, I choose to go as a lady.
Ugh! I look forward with dread for to-morrow. How I'm to go to mother's I'm sure I can't tell. But, if I die, I'll go. No, sir; I won't borrow an umbrella.
No; and you shan't buy one. Mr. Caudle, if you bring home another umbrella, I'll throw it into the street. Ha! it was only last week I had a new nozzle put to that umbrella. I'm sure if I'd known as much as I do now, it might have gone without one, for all of me.
The children, too, dear things, they'll be sopping wet; for they shan't stay at home; they shan't lose their learning; it's all their father will leave them, I'm sure. But they shall go to school. Don't tell me I said they shouldn't; you are so aggravating, Caudle, you'd spoil the temper of an angel; they shall go to school; mark that! And if they get their deaths of cold, it's not my fault. I didn't lend the umbrella.
[Footnote 38: By Douglas William Jerrold, an English humorous writer (1803-1857).]
NOTE: Which of the various specimens of humor here presented do you enjoy most? Give reasons.
THE DARK DAY IN CONNECTICUT
'Twas on a Mayday of the far old year, Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell Over the bloom and sweet life of the spring, Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon, A horror of great darkness, like the night In day of which the Norland sagas tell,— The Twilight of the Gods.... Birds ceased to sing, and all the barnyard fowls Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died; Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp To hear the doom blast of the trumpet shatter The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ Might look from the rent clouds, not as he looked A loving guest at Bethany, but stern As Justice and inexorable Law. Meanwhile in the old statehouse, dim as ghosts, Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut, Trembling beneath their legislative robes. "It is the Lord's Great Day! Let us adjourn," Some said; and then as if with one accord All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice The intolerable hush. "This well may be The Day of Judgment which the world awaits; But be it so or not, I only know My present duty, and my Lord's command To occupy till he come. So at the post Where he hath set me in his providence, I choose, for one, to meet him face to face,— No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do his work, we will see to ours.— Bring in the candles!" And they brought them in. Then, by the flaring lights the Speaker read, Albeit with husky voice and shaking hands, An act to amend an act to regulate The shad and alewive fisheries. Whereupon Wisely and well spake Abraham Davenport, Straight to the question, with no figures of speech Save the ten Arab signs, yet not without The shrewd, dry humor natural to the man— His awestruck colleagues listening all the while, Between the pauses of his argument, To hear the thunder of the wrath of God Break from the hollow trumpet of the cloud. And there he stands in memory to this day, Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen Against the background of unnatural dark, A witness to the ages as they pass, That simple duty hath no place for fear.
[Footnote 39: From "Abraham Davenport," by John Greenleaf Whittier.]
TWO INTERESTING LETTERS
I. COLUMBUS TO THE LORD TREASURER OF SPAIN
TO LORD RAPHAEL SANCHEZ:—
Knowing that it will afford you pleasure to learn that I have brought my undertaking to a successful termination, I have decided upon writing you this letter to acquaint you with all the events which have occurred in my voyage, and the discoveries which have resulted from it.
Thirty-three days after my departure from Cadiz I reached the Indian sea, where I discovered many islands, thickly peopled, of which I took possession without resistance in the name of our most illustrious monarchs, by public proclamation and with unfurled banners. To the first of these islands, which is called by the Indians Guanahani, I gave the name of the blessed Saviour, relying upon whose protection I had reached this as well as the other islands.
As soon as we arrived at that, which as I have said was named Juana, I proceeded along its coast a short distance westward, and found it to be so large and apparently without termination, that I could not suppose it to be an island, but the continental province of Cathay.
In the meantime I had learned from some Indians whom I had seized, that the country was certainly an island; and therefore I sailed toward the east, coasting to the distance of three hundred and twenty-two miles, which brought us to the extremity of it; from this point I saw lying eastwards another island, fifty-four miles distant from Juana, to which I gave the name Espanola.
All these islands are very beautiful, and distinguished by a diversity of scenery; they are filled with a great variety of trees of immense height, and which I believe to retain their foliage in all seasons; for when I saw them they were as verdant and luxurious as they usually are in Spain in the month of May,—some of them were blossoming, some bearing fruit, and all flourishing in the greatest perfection, according to their respective stages of growth, and the nature and quality of each; yet the islands are not so thickly wooded as to be impassable. The nightingale and various birds were singing in countless numbers, and that in November, the month in which I arrived there.
The inhabitants are very simple and honest, and exceedingly liberal with all they have; none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it, but on the contrary inviting us to ask them. They exhibit great love toward all others in preference to themselves: they also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with very little or nothing in return.
I, however, forbade that these trifles and articles of no value (such as pieces of dishes, plates, and glass, keys, and leather straps) should be given to them, although, if they could obtain them, they imagined themselves to be possessed of the most beautiful trinkets in the world.
It even happened that a sailor received for a leather strap as much gold as was worth three golden nobles, and for things of more trifling value offered by our men, the Indian would give whatever the seller required.
On my arrival I had taken some Indians by force from the first island that I came to, in order that they might learn our language. These men are still traveling with me, and although they have been with us now a long time, they continue to entertain the idea that I have descended from heaven; and on our arrival at any new place they published this, crying out immediately with a loud voice to the other Indians, "Come, come and look upon beings of a celestial race": upon which both men and women, children and adults, young men and old, when they got rid of the fear they at first entertained, would come out in throngs, crowding the roads to see us, some bringing food, others drink, with astonishing affection and kindness.
Although all I have related may appear to be wonderful and unheard of, yet the results of my voyage would have been more astonishing if I had had at my disposal such ships as I required. But these great and marvelous results are not to be attributed to any merit of mine, but to the holy Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our Sovereigns; for that which the unaided intellect of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to human exertions, for God is wont to hear the prayers of his servants who love his precepts even to the performance of apparent impossibilities.
Thus it has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished a task to which the powers of mortal men had never hitherto attained; for if there have been those who have anywhere written or spoken of these islands, they have done so with doubts and conjectures, and no one has ever asserted that he has seen them, on which account their writings have been looked upon as little else than fables.
Therefore let the king and queen, our princes and their most happy kingdoms, and all the other provinces of Christendom, render thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has granted us so great a victory and such prosperity.
EXPRESSION: In connection with this letter, read again the story of the discovery as narrated by Washington Irving, page 43. In what respect do the two accounts differ?
II. GOVERNOR WINSLOW TO A FRIEND IN ENGLAND
Although I received no letter from you by this ship, yet forasmuch as I know you expect the performance of my promise, which was to write to you truly and faithfully of all things, I have therefore, at this time, sent unto you accordingly, referring you for further satisfaction to our more large relations.
You shall understand that in this little time that a few of us have been here, we have built seven dwelling houses and four for the use of the plantation, and have made preparation for divers others.
We set the last spring some twenty acres of Indian corn, and sowed some six acres of barley and pease; and according to the manner of the Indians, we manured our ground with herrings, or rather shads, which we have in great abundance, and take with great ease at our doors.
Our corn did prove well; and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed; but the sun parched them in the blossom.
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four, in one day, killed as much fowl as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty....
We have often found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving, and ready to pleasure us. We often go to them, and they come to us.... Yea, it hath pleased God so to possess the Indians with a fear of us and love to us, that not only the greatest king amongst them, called Massasoit, but also all the princes and peoples round about us, have either made suit to us, or been glad of any occasion to make peace with us; so that seven of them at once have sent their messengers to us to that end.... They are a people without any religion or knowledge of any God, yet very trusty, quick of apprehension, ripe-witted, just....
Now, because I expect you coming unto us, with other of our friends, I thought good to advertise you of a few things needful. Be careful to have a very good bread room to put your biscuits in. Let not your meat be dry-salted; none can better do it than the sailors. Let your meal be so hard trod in your cask that you shall need an adz or hatchet to work it out with. Trust not too much on us for corn at this time, for we shall have little enough till harvest.
Build your cabins as open as you can, and bring good store of clothes and bedding with you. Bring every man a musket or fowling piece. Let your piece be long in the barrel, and fear not the weight of it, for most of our shooting is from stands.
I forbear further to write for the present, hoping to see you by the next return. So I take my leave, commending you to the Lord for a safe conduct unto us, resting in him,
Your loving friend, EDWARD WINSLOW.
Plymouth in New England, this 11th of December, 1621.
POEMS OF HOME AND COUNTRY
I. "THIS IS MY OWN, MY NATIVE LAND"
Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land! Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned As home his footsteps he hath turned, From wandering on a foreign strand? If such there breathe, go, mark him well. For him no minstrel raptures swell; High though his titles, proud his name, Boundless his wealth as wish can claim; Despite those titles, power, and pelf, The wretch concentered all in self, Living, shall forfeit fair renown, And, doubly dying, shall go down To the vile dust, from whence he sprung, Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
O Caledonia! stern and wild, Meet nurse for a poetic child! Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, Land of the mountain and the flood, Land of my sires! what mortal hand Can e'er untie the filial band, That knits me to thy rugged strand?
[Footnote 40: From the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," by Sir Walter Scott.]
II. THE GREEN LITTLE SHAMROCK OF IRELAND
There's a dear little plant that grows in our isle, 'Twas St. Patrick himself, sure, that set it; And the sun on his labor with pleasure did smile, And with dew from his eye often wet it. It thrives through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland, And its name is the dear little shamrock of Ireland— The sweet little shamrock, the dear little shamrock, The sweet little, green little shamrock of Ireland.
This dear little plant still grows in our land, Fresh and fair as the daughters of Erin, Whose smiles can bewitch, whose eyes can command, In what climate they chance to appear in; For they shine through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland, Just like their own dear little shamrock of Ireland— The sweet little shamrock, the dear little shamrock, The sweet little, green little shamrock of Ireland.