The furniture of the cabins was, like the clothing of the pioneers, homemade. A bedstead was contrived by stretching poles from forked sticks driven into the ground and laying clapboards across them; the bedclothes were 30 bearskins. Stools, benches, and tables were roughed out with auger and broadax; the puncheon floor was left bare, and if the earth formed the floor, no rug ever replaced the grass which was its first carpet. The cabin had but one room, where the whole of life went on by day; the father and mother slept there at night, and the children mounted to their chamber in the loft by means of a ladder. 5
The food was what has been already named. The meat was venison, bear, raccoon, wild turkey, wild duck, and pheasant; the drink was water, or rye coffee, or whisky, which the little stills everywhere supplied only too abundantly. Wheat bread was long unknown, and corn cakes 10 of various makings and bakings supplied its place. The most delicious morsel of all was corn grated while still in the milk and fashioned into round cakes eaten hot from the clapboard before the fire, or from the mysterious depths of the Dutch oven buried in coals and ashes on the hearth. 15 There was soon a great flow of milk from the kine that multiplied in the pastures in the woods, and there was sweetening enough from the maple tree and the bee tree, but salt was very scarce and very dear, and long journeys were made through the perilous woods to and from the 20 licks, or salt springs, which the deer had discovered before the white man or the red man knew them.
The bees which hived their honey in the hollow trees were tame bees gone wild, and with the coming of the settlers some of the wild things increased so much that 25 they became a pest. Such were the crows which literally blackened the fields after the settlers plowed, and which the whole family had to fight from the corn when it was planted. Such were the rabbits, and such, above all, were the squirrels, which overran the farms and devoured every 30 green thing till the people combined in great squirrel hunts and destroyed them by tens of thousands. The larger game had meanwhile disappeared. The buffalo and the elk went first; the deer followed, and the bear, and even the useless wolf. But long after these the poisonous reptiles lingered, the rattlesnake, the moccasin, and the yet-deadlier copperhead; and it was only when the whole 5 country was cleared that they ceased to be a very common danger.
—Stories of Ohio.
1. Make a pen or pencil sketch of the log house Howells describes; of the bedstead. Help the class make a display board of printed pictures that illustrate the objects mentioned.
2. What were the hardships of pioneering? The pleasures? Make a list of modern household conveniences the American pioneer did not have.
BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is one of the best-known figures in American literature. He was a New Englander, and most of his writings deal with events or situations located in New England. He was especially happy in retelling old stories or in constructing tales from historical events.
Sir William Phips became Governor of Massachusetts in 1692. Almost as soon as he assumed the government he became engaged in a frightful business which might have perplexed a wiser and better-cultivated head than his. This was the witchcraft delusion, which originated 5 in the wicked arts of a few children. They belonged to the Rev. Mr. Parris, minister of Salem. These children complained of being pinched, and pricked with pins, and otherwise tormented, by the shapes of men and women, who were supposed to have power to haunt them invisibly both in darkness and daylight.
Often in the midst of their family and friends the children would pretend to be seized with strange convulsions and 5 would cry out that the witches were afflicting them. These stories spread abroad and caused great tumult and alarm. From the foundation of New England it had been the custom of the inhabitants, in matters of doubt and difficulty, to look to their ministers for counsel. So they did now; 10 but unfortunately the ministers and wise men were more deluded than the illiterate people. Cotton Mather, a very learned and eminent clergyman, believed that the whole country was full of witches and wizards who had given up their hopes of heaven and signed a covenant with 15 the Evil One.
Nobody could be certain that his nearest neighbor or most intimate friend was not guilty of this imaginary crime. The number of those who pretended to be afflicted by witchcraft grew daily more numerous; and they bore 20 testimony against many of the best and worthiest people. A minister named George Burroughs was among the accused. In the months of August and September, 1692, he and nineteen other innocent men and women were put to death. The place of execution was a high hill on the 25 outskirts of Salem; so that many of the sufferers, as they stood beneath the gallows, could discern their habitations in the town.
The killing of these guiltless persons served only to increase the madness. The afflicted now grew bolder in 30 their accusations. Many people of rank and wealth were either thrown into prison or compelled to flee for their lives. Among these were two sons of old Simon Bradstreet, the last of the Puritan governors. Mr. Willard, a pious minister of Boston, was cried out upon as a wizard in open court. Mrs. Hale, the wife of the minister of Beverly, was likewise accused. Philip English, a rich merchant of 5 Salem, found it necessary to take flight, leaving his property and business in confusion. But a short time afterward the Salem people were glad to invite him back.
The boldest thing the accusers did was to cry out against the Governor's own beloved wife. Yes, the lady of Sir 10 William Phips was accused of being a witch and of flying through the air to attend witch meetings. When the Governor heard this, he probably trembled.
Our forefathers soon became convinced that they had been led into a terrible delusion. All the prisoners on 15 account of witchcraft were set free. But the innocent dead could not be restored to life, and the hill where they were executed will always remind people of the saddest and most humiliating passage in our history.
1. Find a biography of Hawthorne and report to the class on one of the following topics: his youth and education; his early manhood; his writings. In place of either of these subjects you may substitute the retelling of another story of Hawthorne's you have read.
2. Briefly, what is the history of witchcraft in New England?
3. How do you account for people as level-headed as the New England settlers believing in witches?
TEA PARTIES IN OLD NEW YORK
BY WASHINGTON IRVING
This extract portrays social life among the early Dutch settlers on the island of Manhattan. It is written in Irving's deliciously humorous style.
In those happy days, a well-regulated family always rose with the dawn, dined at eleven, and went to bed at sundown. Dinner was invariably a private meal, and the fat old burghers showed incontestable symptoms of disapprobation and uneasiness on being surprised by a 5 visit from a neighbor on such occasions. But though our worthy ancestors were thus singularly averse to giving dinners, yet they kept up the social bonds of intimacy by occasional banquetings, called tea parties.
As this is the first introduction of those delectable orgies 10 which have since become so fashionable in this city, I am conscious my fair readers will be very curious to receive information on the subject. Sorry am I that there will be but little in my description calculated to excite their admiration. I can neither delight them with accounts of suffocating 15 crowds, nor brilliant drawing rooms, nor towering feathers, nor sparkling diamonds, nor immeasurable trains.
I can detail no choice anecdotes of scandal, for in those primitive times the simple folk were either too stupid or too good-natured to pull each other's characters to pieces; 20 nor can I furnish any whimsical anecdotes of brag—how one lady cheated or another bounced into a passion; for as yet there was no junto of dulcet old dowagers who met to win each other's money and lose their own tempers at a card table.
These fashionable parties were generally confined to the higher classes, or noblesse; that is to say, such as kept their own cows and drove their own wagons. The company 5 commonly assembled at three o'clock and went away about six, unless it was winter time, when the fashionable hours were a little earlier, that the ladies might get home before dark. I do not find that they ever treated their company to ice creams, jellies, or sillabubs, or regaled them with 10 musty almonds, moldy raisins, or sour oranges, as is often done in the present age of refinement. Our ancestors were fond of more sturdy, substantial fare. The tea table was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well stored with slices of fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, and swimming 15 in gravy.
The company, being seated around the genial board and each furnished with a fork, evinced their dexterity in launching at the fattest pieces of this mighty dish in much the same manner as sailors harpoon porpoises at sea or 20 our Indians spear salmon in the lakes. Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple pies or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast of an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough fried in hog's fat and called doughnuts; a delicious kind 25 of cake, at present scarce known in this city except in genuine Dutch families.
The tea was served out of a majestic delft teapot ornamented with paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses tending pigs, with boats sailing in the air 30 and houses built in the clouds, and sundry other ingenious Dutch fantasies. The beaux distinguished themselves by their adroitness in replenishing this pot from a huge copper teakettle which would have made the pigmy macaronis of these degenerate days sweat merely to look at it. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar was laid beside each cup, and the company alternately nibbled and sipped with 5 great decorum; until an improvement was introduced by a shrewd and economic old lady, which was to suspend a large lump directly over the tea table by a string from the ceiling, so that it could be swung from mouth to mouth—an ingenious expedient, which is still kept up by some 10 families in Albany, but which prevails without exception in Communipaw, Bergen, Flatbush, and all our uncontaminated Dutch villages.
At these primitive tea parties the utmost propriety and dignity of deportment prevailed. No flirting nor coquetting; 15 no gambling of old ladies nor hoyden chattering and romping of young ones; no self-satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen with their brains in their pockets nor amusing conceits and monkey divertisements of smart young gentlemen with no brains at all. 20
The parties broke up without noise and without confusion. They were carried home by their own carriages; that is to say, by the vehicles nature had provided them, excepting such of the wealthy as could afford to keep a wagon.
—Knickerbocker's History of New York.
1. Read some passages in which Irving pokes fun at the Dutch customs; at the customs of his own times.
2. How was a tea party conducted in New Amsterdam?
3. Explain these words: incontestable, disapprobation, averse, delectable, orgies, whimsical, junto, dulcet, dowagers, macaronis, pigmy, hoyden, divertisements. Read your definition into the sentence where the word occurs.
A SCHOOL OF LONG AGO
BY EDWARD EGGLESTON
The following description of a pioneer school in Pennsylvania affords a fine opportunity to study the methods of teaching then in vogue. Many of them may appeal to us as being ludicrous; but undoubtedly Dock's teaching was in many ways far in advance of the times, when the usual and most-approved method of "imparting knowledge" consisted in beating ideas into pupils' heads with hickory switches.
A hundred and fifty years ago there was a famous teacher among the German settlers in Pennsylvania, who was known as "The Good Schoolmaster." His name was Christopher Dock, and he had two little country schools. For three days he would teach at a little place called Skippack, 5 and then for the next three days he would teach at Salford.
People said that the good schoolmaster never lost his temper. There was a man who thought he would try to make him angry. He said many harsh and abusive words 10 to the teacher, and even cursed him; but the only reply the teacher made was, "Friend, may the Lord have mercy on you."
Other schoolmasters used to beat their scholars severely with whips and long switches; but Schoolmaster Dock 15 had found a better way. When a child came to school for the first time, the other scholars were made to give the new scholar a welcome by shaking hands with him one after another. Then the new boy or girl was told that this was not a harsh school but a place for those who would behave. And if a scholar were lazy, disobedient, or stubborn, the master would in the presence of the whole school pronounce him not fit for this school but only for a school where children were flogged. The new scholar was asked 5 to promise to obey and to be diligent. When he had made this promise, he was shown to a seat.
"Now," the good master would say, when this was done, "who will take this new scholar and help him to learn?" When the new boy or girl was clean and bright 10 looking, many would be willing to take charge of him or her; but there were few ready to teach a dirty, ragged little child. Sometimes no one would wish to do it. In such a case the master would offer to the one who would take such a child a reward of one of the beautiful texts of Scripture 15 which the schoolmasters of that time used to write and decorate for the children. Or he would give him one of the pictures of birds which he was accustomed to paint with his own hands.
Whenever one of the younger scholars succeeded in 20 learning his A, B, C, Christopher Dock would send word to the father of the child to give him a penny, and he would ask his mother to cook two eggs for him as a treat. These were fine rewards for poor children in a new country.
There were no clocks or watches in the country. The 25 children came to school one after another, taking their places near the master, who sat writing. They spent their time reading until all were there; but everyone who succeeded in reading his passage without mistake stopped reading and came and sat at the writing table to write. 30 The poor fellow who remained last on the bench was called the Lazy Scholar.
Every Lazy Scholar had his name written on the blackboard. If a child at any time failed to read correctly, he was sent back to study his passage and called again after a while. If he failed a second or a third time, all the scholars cried out, "Lazy!" Then his name was written on 5 the blackboard, and all the poor Lazy Scholar's friends went to work to teach him to read his lesson correctly. And if his name should not be rubbed off the board before school was dismissed, all the scholars might write it down and take it home with them. But if he could read well before 10 school was out, the scholars, at the bidding of the master, called out, "Industrious!" and then his name was erased.
The funniest of Dock's rewards was that which he gave to those who made no mistake in their lessons. He marked a large O with chalk on the hand of the perfect scholar. 15 Fancy what a time the boys and girls must have had, trying to go home without rubbing out this O!
If you had gone into this school some day, you might have seen a boy sitting on a punishment bench, all alone. This was a fellow who had told a lie or used bad language. 20 He was put there as not fit to sit near anybody else. If he committed the offense often, a yoke would be put round his neck, as if he were a brute. Sometimes, however, the teacher would give the scholars their choice of a blow on the hand or a seat on the punishment bench. They usually 25 preferred the blow.
The old schoolmaster in Skippack wrote one hundred rules of good behavior for his scholars. This is perhaps the first book on good manners written in America. But rules of behavior for people living in houses of one or two rooms, 30 as they did in that day, were very different from those needed in our time. Here are some of the rules:
"When you comb your hair, do not go out in the middle of the room," says the schoolmaster. This was because families were accustomed to eat and sleep in the same room.
"Do not eat your morning bread on the road or in school," he tells them, "but ask your parents to give it to you at 5 home." From this we see that the common breakfast was bread alone, and that the children often ate it as they walked to school.
"Put your knife upon the right and your bread on the left side," he says. Forks were little used in those days, 10 and the people in the country did not have any. He also tells them not to throw bones under the table. It was a common practice among some people of that time to throw bones and scraps under the table, where the dogs ate them.
As time passed on, Christopher Dock had many friends, 15 for all his scholars of former years loved him greatly. He lived to be very old, and taught his schools to the last. One evening he did not come home, and the people went to look for the beloved old man. They found their dear old master on his knees in the schoolhouse. He had died 20 while praying alone.
—Stories of American Life and Adventure.
1. How was Christopher Dock's school different from most pioneer schools of that day?
2. How did he teach good behavior? What inducements were offered for scholarship? You often hear people say that only the "three R's" were taught when they went to school. What do they mean?
3. What information about pioneer home life does this article give you?
4. You will be interested to know that the pupils in the early schools studied their reading aloud at the top of their voices. They learned reading by singing "ab," "ba," etc. Later, when geography was taught, the capitals of the states were sung.
FRENCH LIFE IN THE NORTHWEST
BY JAMES BALDWIN
You will recall that the French explorers Marquette, Joliet, La Salle, and others established missions and trading posts in the Illinois country. It was due to these early explorations that the French got control of a large part of the Northwest Territory.
The following narrative tells of the simple life of the French settlers in that territory.
It is interesting to learn how the French people in the Illinois country lived in friendship with the savage tribes around them. The settlements were usually small villages on the edge of a prairie or in the heart of the woods. They were always near the bank of a river; for the watercourses 5 were the only roads and the light canoes of the voyageurs were the only means of travel. There the French settlers lived like one great family, having for their rulers the village priest and the older men of the community.
The houses were built along a single narrow street and so 10 close together that the villagers could carry on their neighborly gossip each from his own doorstep. These houses were made of a rude framework of corner posts, studs, and crossties, and were plastered, outside and in, with "cat and clay"—a kind of mortar, made of mud and 15 mixed with straw and moss. Around each house was a picket fence, and the forms of the dooryards and gardens were regulated by the village lawgivers.
Adjoining the village was a large inclosure, or "common field," for the free use of all the villagers. The size of 20 this field depended upon the number of families in the settlement; it sometimes contained several hundred acres. It was divided into plots or allotments, one for each household, and the size of the plot was proportioned according to the number of persons in the family. Each household 5 attended to the cultivation of its own ground and gathered its own harvest. And if anyone should neglect to care for his plot and let it become overgrown with weeds and thistles, he forfeited his right to any part of the common field and his ground was given to another. 10
Surrounding the common field was a large tract of cleared land that was used as a common pasture ground. In some cases there were thousands of acres in this tract, and yet no person was allowed to use any part of it except for the pasturage of his stock. When a new family came 15 into the settlement or a newly married couple began housekeeping, a small part of the pasture ground was taken into the common field, in order to give the new household its proper allotment.
The priest occupied the place of father to all the villagers, 20 whether white or red. They confided all their troubles to him. He was their oracle in matters of learning as well as of religion. They obeyed his word as law.
The great business of all was fur trading and the care of their little plots of ground. The women kept their homes 25 in order, tended their gardens, and helped with the plowing and the harvesting. The men were the protectors of the community. Some were soldiers, some were traders, but most were engaged in hunting and in gathering beaver skins and buffalo hides to be sold to the traders. 30
The traders kept a small stock of French goods—laces, ribbons, and other articles, useful and ornamental—and these they exchanged for the products of the forest. The young men, as a rule, sought business and pleasure in the great woods. Some of them became voyageurs, or boatmen, in the service of the traders. In their light canoes they explored every rivulet and stream and visited the distant 5 tribes among the sources of the Mississippi and Missouri. Others took to the forest as woods rangers, or coureurs de bois, and became almost as wild as the Indians themselves. They wandered wherever their fancy led them, hunting game, trapping beavers, and trading with their dusky 10 friends. Those who roamed in the Lake regions built here and there small forts of logs and surrounded them with palisades. In one of these forts a company of two or three coureurs would remain for a few weeks and then leave it to be occupied by anyone who might next come that way. 15 A post of this kind was built at Detroit long before any permanent settlement was made there; and scattered long distances apart on the Lake shore and in the heart of the wilderness, were many others.
The northern coureurs, when returning from the woods, 20 resorted to Mackinac as their headquarters; or loaded with beaver skins they made their way to Montreal, where they conducted themselves in a manner that would have shamed a Mohawk or a Sioux. But the rangers of the Illinois country were in the habit of returning once 25 each year to their village homes. There they were welcomed with joy, balls and festivals were given in their honor, and old and young gathered around them to hear the story of their adventures.
Thus in the heart of the wilderness, these French settlers 30 passed their lives in the enjoyment of unbounded freedom. They delighted in amusements and there were almost as many holidays as working days. Being a thousand miles from any center of civilization they knew but little of what was taking place in the world. In their hearts they were devoted to their mother country; they believed that "France ruled the world and therefore all must be right." 5 Further than this they troubled themselves but little. They were contented and happy and seldom allowed themselves to be annoyed by the perplexing cares of business.
They had no wish to subdue the wilderness—to hew 10 down the forest, and make farms, and build roads, and bring civilization to their doors. To do this would be to change the modes of living that were so dear to them. It would destroy the fur trade, and then what would become of the traders, the voyageurs, and the coureurs 15 de bois? These French settlers were not the kind of people to found colonies and build empires.
We are indebted to Father Marest for a description of the daily routine of life among the converts and French settlers at Kaskaskia. At early dawn his pupils came to 20 him in the church, where they had prayers and all joined in singing hymns. Then the Christians in the village met together to hear him say Mass—the women standing on one side of the room, the men on the other.
The French women were dressed in prettily colored 25 jackets and short gowns of homemade woolen stuffs or of French goods of finer texture. In summer most of them were barefooted, but in winter and on holidays they wore Indian moccasins gayly decorated with porcupine quills, shells, and colored beads. Instead of hats they wore 30 bright-colored handkerchiefs, interlaced with gay ribbons and sometimes wreathed with flowers.
The men wore long vests drawn over their shirts, leggings of buckskin or of coarse woolen cloth, and wooden clog shoes or moccasins of heavy leather. In winter they wrapped themselves in long overcoats with capes and hoods that could be drawn over their heads and thus serve for 5 hats. In summer their heads were covered with blue handkerchiefs worn turbanlike as a protection from mosquitoes as well as from the rays of the sun.
After the morning devotions were over, each person betook himself to whatever business or amusement was 10 most necessary or congenial; and the priest went out to visit the sick, giving them medicine and consoling them in whatever way he could. In the afternoon those who chose to do so came again to the church to be taught the catechism. During the rest of the day the priest walked about 15 the village, talking with old and young and entering into sympathy with all their hopes and plans. In the evening the people would meet together again to chant the hymns of the church. This daily round of duty and devotion was often varied by the coming of holidays and festivals 20 and sometimes by occurrences of a sadder nature—death, or misfortune, or the threatened invasion of savage foes.
—The Discovery of the Old Northwest.
1. Contrast the life of these French communities with the life of the Dutch settlers as described in pages 70-72. How did it differ from pioneer life in Ohio (pages 62-67)?
2. Why did the French communities not make progress? Why did the English colonists finally overcome them?
3. Longfellow's Evangeline describes French life in Nova Scotia. If you have read it, tell your classmates how Evangeline lived.
4. Find from your histories what parts of North America were settled by the French. What parts of it are still peopled largely by French?
A BEAR STORY
BY MAURICE THOMPSON
Not the least of the perils of the pioneers were the wild animals of the forest. Bears, wolves, and panthers were the worst terrors. Mothers were in constant fear of their children straying away from the cabin into the woods where four-footed danger lurked.
A man and his wife with three children—a boy aged nine and two little girls, the elder seven and the younger five years old—lived in a comfortable cabin not far from the eastern line of Indiana. Their nearest neighbor was six or seven miles distant, and all around their little clearing 5 stood a wall of dense forest. The father tended a small field of corn and vegetables, but their main dependence for food was upon the game killed by him, so he was often absent all day in the woods, hunting deer and turkeys.
The children were forbidden to go outside the inclosure 10 while their father was away, and the mother, at the slightest hint of danger, was instructed to close the door and bar it and shut the portholes. But even in times of such danger, people grew careless and permitted themselves to take risks in a way quite incredible to our minds. Children 15 were restless when confined to a cabin or within a small yard, when the green woods were but a few steps away, with flowers blooming and rich mosses growing all around. They constantly longed to be free, if only for a few moments, to wander at will and make playhouses in the dusky shade, 20 to climb upon the great logs and watch the gay-winged birds flit about in the foliage on high.
One day in early spring the father went to the woods to hunt. Before setting forth with his rifle on his shoulder, he particularly charged his wife not to permit the children, no matter how much they begged and cried for it, to go outside the yard. 5
"At this time of the year," he said, "bears and all other wild beasts are cross. They wander everywhere and are very dangerous when met with. Watch the children."
The wife did try faithfully to keep her eyes upon her darlings; but she had many household duties to perform, 10 and so at last she forgot.
The spring was very early that year, and although it was not yet May, the green tassels were on the maples and the wild flowers made the ground gay in places. All around the clearing ran a ripple of bird song. The sunshine was 15 dreamy, the wind soft and warm.
The little boy felt the temptation. It was as if a sweet voice called him to the wood. Nor were the little girls less attracted than he by the thought of gathering mosses and flowers and running at will under the high old trees. 20
Before their mother knew it, they were gone. She had not yet discovered their truancy when a cry coming from some distance startled her; it was her little boy's voice screaming lustily, and upon looking out she saw all three of the children running as fast as they could across the 25 clearing from the wood toward the house. Behind them, at a slow, peculiar lope, a huge bear followed.
Frightened almost to death, the poor woman scarcely knew what she was doing; but she had the fighting instinct of all backwoods people, and her first motion was to snatch 30 off the wall, where it lay in a deer's-horn rest, a large horse pistol. With this in hand she ran to meet her children. Some hunter had broken the bear's fore leg with a bullet a few days before, which accounted for its strange, waddling gait; but it was almost within reach of the hindmost child when the mother arrived. The bear at once turned its attention to the newcomer, and with a terrific snarl rushed 5 at her. On sped the children, screaming and crazy with fright. It was a moment of imminent peril to the mother, but she was equal to the occasion. She leveled the pistol and fired. Six leaden slugs struck the bear in the head and neck, knocking it over. 10
Not very far away in the woods at the time, the man heard the loud report, and fearing that Indians were murdering his family, he ran home to find his wife just reviving from a swoon. She had fainted immediately after seeing the effect of her shot. 15
The bear was not yet dead, but a ball from the rifle finished him. He was a monster in size. Doubtless the wound in his fore leg had made it difficult for him to get food, and he had attacked the children on account of sheer hunger. But had he not been in that maimed condition, 20 his attack would have been successful and the hindmost child would have been torn to pieces and eaten up in the shortest time and with little show of table manners.
—Stories of Indiana.
1. There must be in your community some older person who knows stories of the pioneer days. Ask your teacher to have him tell your class about the life of an earlier day.
2. What other bear stories have you read or heard?
3. Maurice Thompson (1844-1901) knew life in the Middle West at first hand. His home was in Indiana. He was the author of several stories, his widest-read novel being Alice of Old Vincennes.
A PATRIOT OF GEORGIA
BY JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
Many of the most interesting incidents of the Revolutionary War are buried in old state documents, in family records, or in stray personal letters. Others are largely traditional; for our ancestors of pioneer days were doers rather than chroniclers of their doings.
The following event is largely legendary, but none the less true. It is dramatically told here by the author of the Uncle Remus stories.
The Revolutionary War in Georgia developed some very romantic figures, which are known to us rather by tradition than by recorded history. First among them, on the side of the patriots, was Robert Sallette. Neither history nor tradition gives us the place of his birth or the 5 date of his death; yet it is known that he played a more important part in the struggle in the colony than any man who had no troops at his command. He seems to have slipped mysteriously on the scene at the beginning of the war. He fought bravely, even fiercely, to the end; and 10 then, having nothing else to do, slipped away as mysteriously as he came.
Curious as we may be to know something of the personal history of Robert Sallette, it is not to be found chronicled in the books. The French twist to his name makes it 15 probable that he was a descendant of those unfortunate Acadians who, years before, had been stripped of their lands and possessions in Nova Scotia by the British, their houses and barns burned, and they themselves transported away from their homes. They were scattered at various 20 points along the American coast. Some were landed at Philadelphia, and some were carried to Louisiana. Four hundred were sent to Georgia. The British had many acts of cruelty to answer for in those days, but none more infamous than this treatment of the gentle and helpless 5 Acadians. It stands in history to-day a stain upon the British name.
Another fact that leads to the belief that Robert Sallette was a descendant of the unfortunate Acadians was the ferocity with which he pursued the British and the Tories. 10 The little that is told about him makes it certain that he never gave quarter to the enemies of his country.
His name was a terror to the Tories. One of them, a man of considerable means, offered a reward of one hundred guineas to any person who would bring him the head of 15 Robert Sallette. The Tory had never seen Sallette, but his alarm was such that he offered a reward large enough to tempt some one to assassinate the daring partisan. When Sallette heard of the reward, he disguised himself as a farmer, and provided himself with a pumpkin, which 20 he placed in a bag. With the bag swinging across his shoulder, he made his way to the house of the Tory. He was invited in, and deposited the bag on the floor beside him, the pumpkin striking the boards with a thump.
"I have brought you the head of Robert Sallette," said 25 he. "I hear that you have offered a reward of one hundred guineas for it."
"Where is it?" asked the Tory.
"I have it with me," replied Sallette, shaking the loose end of the bag. "Count out the money and take the head." 30
The Tory, neither doubting nor suspecting, counted out the money and placed it on the table.
"Now show me the head," said he.
Sallette removed his hat, tapped himself on the forehead, and said, "Here is the head of Robert Sallette!"
The Tory was so frightened that he jumped from the room, and Sallette pocketed the money and departed. 5
1. Who was Sallette? What guess does the author make as to his nationality? Why?
2. Relate the incident told.
3. Explain the meaning of: Tory, Acadians, chronicled, "never gave quarter," assassinate, partisan.
4. Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908) was born, and spent most of his life, in Georgia. For many years he was editor of The Atlanta Constitution. You are doubtless acquainted with his charming Uncle Remus stories.
SONG OF THE PIONEERS
BY W. D. GALLAGHER
A song for the early times out West, And our green old forest home, Whose pleasant memories freshly yet Across the bosom come; A song for the free and gladsome life, 5 In those early days we led, With a teeming soil beneath our feet, And a smiling heaven o'erhead! Oh, the waves of life danced merrily, And had a joyous flow, 10 In the days when we were pioneers, Seventy years ago!
The hunt, the shot, the glorious chase, The captured elk or deer; The camp, the big, bright fire, and then The rich and wholesome cheer: The sweet, sound sleep, at dead of night, 5 By our camp fire, blazing high, Unbroken by the wolf's long howl, And the panther springing by. Oh, merrily passed the time, despite Our wily Indian foe, 10 In the days when we were pioneers, Seventy years ago!
Our forest life was rough and rude, And dangers closed us round; But here, amid the green old trees, 15 Freedom was sought and found. Oft through our dwellings wintry blasts Would rush with shriek and moan; We cared not—though they were but frail, We felt they were our own! 20 Oh, free and manly lives we led, 'Mid verdure or 'mid snow, In the days when we were pioneers, Seventy years ago!
1. In your own community how many years past are the days of pioneering?
2. What pleasant things about pioneer life does the author recall?
3. Imagine that you are a pioneer man or woman. Tell what one day of your life is like.
There come days in the lives of men, of nations, of races, and in the life of civilization itself which are of such conspicuous importance that they are set apart from the ordinary run of days and the events they stand for are duly remembered each recurring year on the proper date. Birthdays, religious feast days, days of battle—many are the occasions commemorated. The value to us of such special days is in their observance—that we dedicate ourselves to the spirit they perpetuate.
COLUMBUS AND THE ECLIPSE
BY JAMES JOHONNOT
This incident is related to show, first, something of the character of Columbus, and, second, the superstitions of the Indians. Read it to determine what the author wished to bring out about Columbus. Was Columbus justified in deceiving the Indians?
When Columbus first landed upon the shores of the New World, and for a long time after, the natives thought that he had come down from heaven, and they were ready to do anything for this new friend. But at one place, where he stayed for some months, the chiefs 5 became jealous of him and tried to drive him away. It had been their custom to bring food for him and his companions every morning, but now the amount they brought was very small, and Columbus saw that he would soon be starved unless he could make a change. 10
Now Columbus knew that in a few days there was to be an eclipse of the sun; so he called the chiefs around him and told them that the Great Spirit was angry with them for not doing as they agreed in bringing him provisions, and that to show his anger, on such a day, he would cause the 15 sun to be darkened. The Indians listened, but they did not believe Columbus and there was a still greater falling off in the amount of the food sent in.
On the morning of the day set, the sun rose clear and bright, and the Indians shook their heads as they thought 20 how Columbus had tried to deceive them. Hour after hour passed and still the sun was bright, and the Spanish began to fear that the Indians would attack them soon, as they seemed fully convinced that Columbus had deceived them. But at length a black shadow began to steal over the face of the sun. Little by little the light faded and darkness spread over the land. 5
The Indians saw that Columbus had told them the truth. They saw that they had offended the Great Spirit and that he had sent a dreadful monster to swallow the sun. They could see the jaws of this horrible monster slowly closing to shut off their light forever. Frantic with fear, they filled 10 the air with cries and shrieks. Some fell prostrate before Columbus and entreated his help; some rushed off and soon returned laden with every kind of provisions they could lay their hands on. Columbus then retired to his tent and promised to save them if possible. About the time for the 15 eclipse to pass away, he came out and told them that the Great Spirit had pardoned them this time and he would soon drive away the monster from the sun; but they must never offend in that way again.
The Indians promised, and waited. As the sun began 20 to come out from the shadow their fears subsided, and when it shone clear once more, their joy knew no bounds. They leaped, they danced, and they sang. They thought Columbus was a god, and while he remained on the island the Spaniards had all the provisions they needed. 25
—Stories of Heroic Deeds.
FIRST THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION
BY GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1789
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all 5 unite in the rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation—for the single and manifold mercies, and for the favorable interpellation of His providence, in the course and conclusion of 10 the late war.
1. This old document comes down to us with a fine message of inspiration from the past and from its great author. Explain the reference in line 8; in lines 10 and 11. Compare this proclamation with the President's proclamation for the current year.
THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION, 1905
BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT
When, nearly three centuries ago, the first settlers came to the country which has now become this great republic, they fronted not only hardship and privation, but terrible risk to their lives. In those grim years the custom grew of setting apart one day in each year for a 5 special service of thanksgiving to the Almighty for preserving the people through the changing seasons. The custom has now become national and hallowed by immemorial usage. We live in easier and more plentiful times than our forefathers, the men who with rugged strength faced the rugged days; and yet the dangers to national life are quite as great now as at any previous time 5 in our history. It is eminently fitting that once a year our people should set apart a day for praise and thanksgiving to the Giver of Good, and, at the same time that they express their thankfulness for the abundant mercies received, should manfully acknowledge their shortcomings 10 and pledge themselves solemnly and in good faith to strive to overcome them. During the past year we have been blessed with plentiful crops. Our business prosperity has been great. No other people has ever stood on as high a level of material well-being as ours now stands. We are 15 not threatened by foes from without. The foes from whom we should pray to be delivered are our own passions, appetites, and follies; and against these there is always need that we should war.
Therefore, I now set apart Thursday, the thirtieth day 20 of this November, as a day of thanksgiving for the past and of prayer for the future, and on that day I ask that throughout the land the people gather in their homes and places of worship, and in rendering thanks unto the Most High for the manifold blessings of the past year, consecrate themselves 25 to a life of cleanliness, honor, and wisdom, so that this nation may do its allotted work on the earth in a manner worthy of those who founded it and of those who preserved it.
1. Keep a lookout for the current Thanksgiving Day proclamation of the President. Read it with those of Washington and Roosevelt, and contrast the three, as to style of writing and historical facts mentioned.
BY JAMES MONTGOMERY
The God of harvest praise; In loud thanksgiving raise Hand, heart, and voice. The valleys laugh and sing, Forests and mountains ring, 5 The plains their tribute bring, The streams rejoice.
Yes, bless His holy name, And joyous thanks proclaim Through all the earth. 10 To glory in your lot Is comely; but be not God's benefits forgot Amid your mirth.
The God of harvest praise; 15 Hands, hearts, and voices raise, With sweet accord. From field to garner throng, Bearing your sheaves along, And in your harvest song 20 Bless ye the Lord.
1. Sing these three stanzas to the tune of America.
2. Explain lines 11-14; 18.
3. Search for a Thanksgiving story in current newspapers and magazines or in books. Read it and report on your story in class.
THE CRATCHITS' CHRISTMAS
BY CHARLES DICKENS
Old Scrooge was a rich and grasping business man; Bob Cratchit was his underpaid and overworked clerk. On Christmas Eve three spirits in succession appeared to Scrooge: Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet-to-Come. The second showed him, with other visions, this Christmas feast in Cratchit's home. The lessons the spirits taught him so influenced Scrooge that he set out early next morning to spend a real Christmas; and he was a changed man ever after.
Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in ribbons; 5 while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private property, conferred upon his son and heir in honor of the day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly attired and yearned to show his 10 linen in the fashionable parks. And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing in, screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the goose and known it for their own; and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion these young Cratchits danced about the table 15 and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked him) blew the fire until the slow potatoes, bubbling up, knocked loudly at the saucepan lid to be let out and peeled.
"What has ever got your precious father, then?" said Mrs. Cratchit. "And your brother, Tiny Tim! And Martha warn't as late last Christmas Day by half an hour!"
"Here's Martha, mother," said a girl, appearing as she 5 spoke.
"Here's Martha, mother!" cried the two young Cratchits. "Hurrah! There's such a goose, Martha!"
"Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are!" said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times and 10 taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal.
"We'd a deal of work to finish up last night," replied the girl, "and had to clear away this morning, mother!"
"Well! never mind so long as you are come," said Mrs. Cratchit. "Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have 15 a warm, Lord bless ye!"
"No, no! There's father coming," cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. "Hide, Martha, hide!"
So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, 20 with at least three feet of comforter, exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch and had his limbs supported by an iron frame! 25
"Why, where's our Martha?" cried Bob Cratchit, looking round.
"Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit.
"Not coming!" said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high spirits; for he had been Tim's blood horse all the 30 way from church and had come home rampant. "Not coming upon Christmas Day!"
Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were only a joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim and bore him off into the washhouse, that he might hear the pudding singing in the 5 copper.
"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.
"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he 10 gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple and it might be pleasant to them to remember, upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars 15 walk and blind men see."
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the floor and 20 back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool beside the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs—as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby—compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons 25 and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer, Master Peter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a 30 goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course—and in truth it was something very like it, in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside 5 him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on 10 and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long-expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, 15 and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife and feebly cried, "Hurrah!"
There never was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal 20 admiration. Eked out by apple sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't eaten it all at last! Yet everyone had had enough, and the 25 youngest Cratchits, in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone—too nervous to bear witnesses—to take the pudding up, and bring it in. 30
Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back yard and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose—a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.
Halloo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out 5 of the copper. A smell like a washing day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating house and a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with 10 the pudding, like a speckled cannon ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half a quartern of ignited brandy and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success 15 achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for 20 a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted and considered perfect, apples and oranges 25 were put upon the table and a shovelful of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass—two tumblers and a custard cup without a handle. 30
These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:
"A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"
Which all the family reechoed.
"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all. 5
—A Christmas Carol.
1. A few days before Christmas you should read Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It is one of the best, if not the best, Christmas story ever written. How does Dickens make you feel while you read this selection? How many people are present at the Cratchits'? To whom does your sympathy go?
2. Select a list of words and phrases that suggest happiness. How does Dickens make you wish you were at the Cratchit feast?
3. Appoint a committee of three from your class to report fully on Dickens's life and writings. Take brief notes on their report.
THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
BY EMILE SOUVESTRE
Twelve o'clock.—A knock at my door; a poor girl comes in and greets me by name. At first I do not recall her, but she looks at me and smiles. Ah, it is Paulette! But it is nearly a year since I have seen her, and Paulette is no longer the same; the other day she was 5 a child; to-day she is almost a young woman.
Paulette is thin, pale, and miserably clad; but she has always the same open and straightforward look—the same mouth, smiling at every word as if to plead for sympathy—the same voice, timid yet caressing. Paulette is not 10 pretty—she is even thought plain; as for me, I think her charming. Perhaps that is not on her account but on my own. Paulette is a part of one of my happiest recollections.
It was the evening of a public holiday. Our principal buildings were lighted with festoons of fire, a thousand flags floated in the night wind, and the fireworks had just shot forth their jets of flame in the midst of the Champ de Mars. Suddenly one of those unaccountable panics which 5 seize a multitude falls upon the dense crowd; they cry out, they rush on headlong; the weaker ones fall and the frightened crowd tramples them down in its convulsive struggles. Escaping from the confusion by a miracle, I was hastening away when the cries of a perishing child 10 arrested me; I went back into that human chaos and after unheard-of exertions I brought Paulette away at the peril of my life.
That was two years ago; since then I had seen the child only at long intervals and had almost forgotten her; but 15 Paulette had a grateful heart, and she came at the beginning of the year to bring me her good wishes. She brought me, too, a wallflower in full bloom; she herself had planted and reared it; it was something that belonged wholly to herself, for it was because of her care, her perseverance, 20 and her patience that it was hers.
The wallflower had grown in a common pot; but Paulette, who is a bandbox maker, had put it into a case of varnished paper ornamented with arabesques. These might have been in better taste, but I felt the good will 25 none the less.
This unexpected present, the little girl's modest blushes, the compliments she stammered out, dispelled, as by a sunbeam, the mist which had gathered round my heart; my thoughts suddenly changed from the leaden tints of 30 evening to the rosiest colors of dawn. I made Paulette sit down and questioned her with a light heart.
At first the little girl replied by monosyllables; but very soon the tables were turned and it was I who interrupted with short interjections her long confidences. The poor child leads a hard life. She was left an orphan long ago and with a brother and sister lives with an old grandmother, 5 who has brought them up to poverty, as she says.
However Paulette now helps her to make bandboxes, her little sister Perrine begins to sew, and her brother Henri is apprenticed to a printer. All would go well if it were not for losses and want of work—if it were not for clothes which 10 wear out, for appetites which grow larger, and for the winter, when you must buy your sunshine. Paulette complains that candles go too quickly and that the wood costs too much. The fireplace in their garret is so large that a fagot produces no more effect than a match; it is so near 15 the roof that the wind blows down the rain and in winter it hails upon the hearth; so they have given up using it. Henceforth they must be content with an earthen chafing dish, upon which they cook their meals. The grandmother had often spoken of a stove that was for sale at the huckster's 20 on the ground floor, but he asked seven francs for it and the times are too hard for such an expense; the family, therefore, resign themselves to cold for economy's sake!
As Paulette spoke I felt more and more that I was rising above my low spirits. The first disclosures of the little 25 bandbox maker created within me a wish that soon became a plan. I questioned her about her daily occupations and she told me that on leaving me she must go with her brother, her sister, and her grandmother, to the different people for whom they work. My plan was immediately settled. I 30 told the child that I would go to see her in the evening, and I sent her away, thanking her anew.
I placed the wallflower in the open window, where a ray of sunshine bade it welcome; the birds were singing around, the sky had cleared, and the day which began so gloomily had become bright. I sang as I moved about my room, and having hastily got ready I went out. 5
Three o'clock.—All is settled with my neighbor, the chimney doctor; he will repair my old stove, the old stove which I had replaced, and promises to make it as good as new. At five o'clock we are going to put it up in Paulette's grandmother's room. 10
Midnight.—All has gone well. At the hour agreed upon I was at the old bandbox maker's; she was still out. My Piedmontese fixed the stove, while I arranged in the great fireplace a dozen logs borrowed from my winter's stock. I shall make up for them by warming myself with 15 walking or by going to bed earlier.
My heart beat at every step which was heard on the staircase; I trembled lest they should interrupt me in my preparations and should thus spoil my intended surprise. But no—everything is ready; the lighted stove murmurs 20 gently, the little lamp burns upon the table, and a bottle of oil for it is provided on the shelf. The chimney doctor is gone. Now my fear lest they should come is changed into impatience at their delay. At last I hear children's voices; here they are! They push open the door and 25 rush in—but they stop with cries of astonishment.
At sight of the lamp, the stove, and the visitor who stands there like a magician in the midst of these wonders, they draw back almost frightened. Paulette is the first to understand, and the arrival of the grandmother, mounting 30 the stairs more slowly, finishes the explanation. Then come tears, ecstasies, thanks!
Surprises are not over yet. The little sister opens the oven and discovers some chestnuts just roasted; the grandmother puts her hand on the bottles of cider arranged on the dresser; and I draw forth from the basket that I have hidden, a cold tongue, a wedge-shaped piece of butter, 5 and some fresh rolls.
Now their wonder turns into admiration; the little family have never taken part in such a feast! They lay the cloth, they sit down, they eat; it is a perfect festival for all, and each contributes his share. I had brought only the supper; 10 the bandbox maker and the children supplied the enjoyment.
What bursts of laughter at nothing! What a hubbub of questions which waited for no reply, of replies which answered no question! The old woman herself shared in the wild merriment of the little ones! I have always wondered 15 at the ease with which the poor forget their wretchedness. Accustomed to live in the present, they use every pleasure as soon as it offers itself. But the rich, blunted by luxury, gain happiness less easily. They must have all things in harmony before they consent to be happy. 20
The evening passed like a moment. The old woman has told me the story of her life, sometimes smiling, sometimes crying. Perrine has sung an old ballad with her fresh young voice. Henri has told us what he knows of the great writers of the day, whose proofs he has to carry. 25 At last we were obliged to separate, not without new thanks on the part of the happy family.
I have come home slowly, with a full heart, thinking over the pure memories of this evening. It has given me comfort and much instruction. Now the years can come 30 and go. I know that no one is so unhappy as to have nothing to receive and nothing to give.
As I came in I met my rich neighbor's new equipage. She too had just returned from her evening party; and as she sprang from the carriage step with feverish impatience, I heard her murmur, "At last!"
I, when I left Paulette's family, said, "So soon!" 5
1. Is this a Christmas story? Give reasons for your answer. Is its title fitting? What in the story itself suggests the time of year? Where do the events take place? Contrast this story with "The Cratchits' Christmas," preceding, as to (a) kind of people; (b) place; (c) the chief actor; (d) the feast itself; (e) the manner of telling.
2. Describe Paulette's family. How did they make a living? How had the author become acquainted with Paulette?
3. Emile Souvestre (soo ves tr') was a French novelist and dramatist (1806-1854). His chief works deal with his native Brittany, but his last book has in it charming studies of Paris life.
CHRISTMAS IN THE PINES
BY MEREDITH NICHOLSON
Here is a Christmas story of the northland, in which cities give way to pine woods, and people to silences and snow. Get the picture each stanza portrays as you read through the poem, and make a mental comparison with snow scenes with which you are familiar.
The sky was clear all yesterday, From dawn until the sunset's flame; But when the red had grown to gray, Out of the west the snow clouds came.
At midnight by the dying fire, 5 Watching the spruce boughs glow and pale, I heard outside a tumult dire, And the fierce roaring of the gale.
Now with the morning comes a lull; The sun shines boldly in the east Upon a world made beautiful In vesture for the Christmas feast.
Into the pathless waste I go, 5 With muffled step among the pines That, robed in sunlight and soft snow, Stand like a thousand radiant shrines.
Save for a lad's song, far and faint, There is no sound in all the wood; 10 The murmuring pines are still; their plaint At last was heard and understood.
Here floats no chime of Christmas bell, There is no voice to give me cheer; But through the pine wood all is well, 15 For God and love and peace are here.
1. What does each of the first three stanzas portray? The last three stanzas describe the sights and sounds as seen by whom?
2. Explain what pictures these phrases make for you: "sunset's flame"; "spruce boughs glow and pale"; "tumult dire"; "beautiful In vesture"; "muffled step"; "radiant shrines." Read lines 11 and 12, putting the thought in your own words.
3. Make a Christmas card, sketching one of the scenes suggested above as the corner or center decoration.
4. Meredith Nicholson (1866- ) is an American writer. He is the author of several popular novels, an essayist, and a writer of excellent verse. He lives in Indianapolis.
("Christmas in the Pines" is used by special courtesy of Mr. Nicholson.)
THE NEW YEAR'S DINNER PARTY
BY CHARLES LAMB
The following essay is a humorous treatment of the days of the year, with emphasis on the holidays and special days in the English calendar. You should read it with a sharp lookout for the play on words. Each day supposedly acts in keeping with its character, and so the New Year's dinner party is kept in high mirth. But you cannot appreciate the humor until you understand what each day stands for.
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. 5
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. 10
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 invitations had been sent out. 15 The carriers were the Hours—twelve as merry little whirligig foot pages as you should desire to see. They went all around, 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. 20
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 5 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 10 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 15 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 marrowbone. Ash Wednesday got wedged in betwixt 20 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; 25 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 30 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 5 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, all the Days called for their cloaks and greatcoats, and took their leaves. Lord Mayor's Day went off in a Mist, as usual; Shortest Day 10 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. 15
Longest Day set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold—the rest, some in one fashion some in another, took their departure.
—Last Essays of Elia.
1. Lord Mayor's Day falls on November 9. Explain the reference to Mist. Quarter Day is the day usually looked upon as the day rent falls due. Why did April Fool decide against the Quarter Days in behalf of the Forty Days before Easter? The Second of September is the beginning of the open season for shooting. Explain the reference to "pheasant."
2. How many were at this feast? Why did the Festivals come? Why have only twelve carriers, in the fourth paragraph? Explain how April Fool added to the merriment in seating the guests. What pun did April Fool make?
3. What American holidays would you add if you were writing this essay? How could you make them fit in humorously?
4. Charles Lamb (1775-1834), English essayist, is noted for his humorous sketches. You should read his "Dissertation on Roast Pig" With his sister Mary, he wrote Tales from Shakespeare, which you will enjoy reading.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
(WRITTEN FOR JESSE W. FELL, December 20, 1859)
Abraham Lincoln enjoyed telling stories of his youth and early manhood, but he wrote very little about himself. The following is the longest statement he has set down anywhere about his own life. And he did this only at the earnest request of a fellow citizen in Illinois, Mr. Fell. You should read this brief autobiography with two things in mind: the facts of Lincoln's life, and the simplicity and modesty of the statement of these facts.
I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families—second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now reside 5 in Adams, and others in Macon County, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky about 1781 or 1782, where a year or two later he was killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when he was laboring 10 to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort to identify them with the New England family of the same name ended in nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian names in both families, such 15 as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like.
My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age, and he grew up literally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the state came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called, but no qualification was ever required of a teacher 5 beyond "readin', writin', and cipherin'" to the rule of three. If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did not 10 know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the rule of three, but that was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity. 15
I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, Macon County. Then I got to New Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where I remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store. 20
Then came the Black Hawk war, and I was elected a captain of volunteers, a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the legislature the same year (1832), and was beaten—the only time I have ever been beaten by the 25 people. The next and three succeeding biennial elections I was elected to the legislature. I was not a candidate afterward. During this legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower house of Congress. Was 30 not a candidate for reelection. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always Whig in politics; and generally on the Whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known. 5
If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No other marks or brands recollected. 10
1. Outline Lincoln's life, ancestry, etc., as here presented, under the proper heads. Test your outline by trying to group all the facts under their proper headings. This will require careful re-reading of the selection.
2. Next take one of your topics and practice thinking of the items you have included under it. Be ready to speak on any one of your topics at class recitation.
3. What major events of Lincoln's life are omitted from this document? Why? (To answer this, refer to your history for the dates of Lincoln's presidency; compare with the date when this was written.)
4. Is there anything in the article that sounds the least boastful? Explain lines 25-26 in this connection.
5. Who were the Whigs? What was the Missouri Compromise?
6. One sentence in this suggests the sly humor of Lincoln. Find it.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN
BY WALT WHITMAN
The Civil War between the North and the South lasted from 1861-1865. Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States at the time, and it was largely due to his wisdom that the great conflict lasted no longer. The Northern armies were generally victorious in the winter and spring of 1865. The nation, however, was suddenly bowed in grief. The President was shot by an assassin on April 14, and died next day.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) at the time was employed in a clerical position in the War Department, and, outside office hours, in nursing wounded soldiers in Washington. He often saw Lincoln, who passed Whitman's house almost every day. The "Good Gray Poet" and the President had a bowing acquaintance; and in one of his books Whitman refers to the dark-brown face, deep-cut lines, and sad eyes of Lincoln. Whitman gave expression to his grief at the country's loss in the following poem, in which he refers to the martyred President as the captain of the Ship of State.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and 5 daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. 10
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding. 5 For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning. Here, Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck 10 You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, 15 From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. 20
1. Explain the references to the safe arrival of the ship in port, the ringing of the bells, and the general exultation.
2. Re-read the poem carefully. Picture to yourself what each stanza contributes as you read. When you have finished, test yourself to see how much of it you can recall exactly. Complete the memorization by this same process of careful re-reading.
3. Whitman had his volume, Drum Taps, practically completed when Lincoln's assassination occurred. He held up its publication to include "O Captain! My Captain" and another poem on the death of Lincoln, called "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." Why is the title of the latter poem appropriate?
WASHINGTON'S GREATEST BATTLE
BY FREDERICK TREVOR HILL
By 1781 the French were cooeperating with our colonial troops against the armies and navies of the British. Lafayette was in the South helping Greene worry Cornwallis. Rochambeau was working with Washington near New York, to keep Clinton from uniting his forces with those of Cornwallis. De Grasse, in charge of the French fleet, was planning a blow at the British squadron. The stage was thus set for a great military stroke—and Washington readily took up the cue.
Word was received from Lafayette that Cornwallis had moved to Yorktown on the York River, Virginia, close to Chesapeake Bay, and almost at the same moment the long-expected dispatch arrived from de Grasse, advising Washington that he was just on the point of 5 sailing for Chesapeake Bay. The instant he received this news the American commander realized that his chance had come. Cornwallis had evidently brought his army to Yorktown that it might cooeperate with a British fleet in the Chesapeake, and by good luck de Grasse was heading 10 directly for this very spot. A bold, swift stroke might now end the war, and the plan which Washington immediately put in operation was daring to a really perilous degree.
Up to this point all the movements of the French and Americans had convinced Clinton that an attack would 15 soon be made against New York. Never for a moment did he imagine that his opponent would dare leave the Hudson unguarded and throw his whole army against Cornwallis. The risk of losing West Point and the difficulty of covering the hundreds of miles that lay between New York and Yorktown seemed to forbid any such maneuver. Nevertheless, this was precisely what Washington intended to do, and within a few days after the receipt of de Grasse's message he was hurrying southward with every man he could 5 possibly spare.
Secrecy and speed were essential to success, for if Clinton discovered what was happening, he would undoubtedly try to throw his army between Cornwallis and the Americans, and even though he failed in stopping them he could 10 easily delay their march until the British force at Yorktown had time to escape. Washington, therefore, took extraordinary care to conceal his plans, not only from his foes but also from his friends. Indeed, Rochambeau was the only officer who knew where the men were being headed as 15 they hurried through New Jersey, and so cleverly was their route selected that even when Clinton learned of their march he still believed that the Americans, having failed in the attempt on his rear door near King's Bridge, were about to swing around and try to get in at the front door 20 from Staten Island or Sandy Hook.
This was just what Washington wanted him to think, and to deceive him still further, camp kitchens were erected along the expected line of march and the troops were so handled that they seemed to be moving straight to an 25 attack on New York. But at the proper moment they were suddenly turned southward at a pace that defied pursuit, and before the true situation dawned on the British commander they were almost at the Delaware River. But though he had by this time acquired a fairly safe lead, 30 Washington did not slacken his speed, and with a roar of cheers from the now excited populace, the dusty columns were soon pouring through Philadelphia, the American commander pushing on ahead to Chester, and sending back word that de Grasse had arrived in Chesapeake Bay and that not a moment must be lost.
Clinton then made a frantic effort to save the day by 5 sending Arnold to attack some of the New England towns, thinking that the American commander might hurry back to their rescue. But Washington was first and foremost a man of good, hard common sense, and he knew that all Arnold could accomplish would be the destruction of a few 10 defenseless towns, and to let Cornwallis escape in order to protect them did not appeal to his practical mind at all. He therefore paid no attention to the traitor's movements, but bent all his efforts on speeding his army southward.
At Chesapeake Bay an exasperating delay occurred, for 15 there were not sufficient vessels to transport the army over the water, and for a time the success of the whole expedition was threatened. But Washington was in no mood to be blocked by obstacles of this sort. If his troops could not be ferried down the bay, they must march around it, and 20 march many of them did, their general obtaining the first glimpse he had had in six years of his beloved Mount Vernon as he swept by, and on September 28, 1781, his whole force was in front of Yorktown, with success fairly within its grasp. 25
Meanwhile de Grasse's fleet had fiercely assailed a British squadron which had been sent to the rescue, and after a sharp engagement the French had been able to return to the bay while the British vessels were obliged to retire to New York, leaving Cornwallis with the York River on one 30 side of him, the James River on the other, and the Chesapeake Bay at his back, but no ships to carry him to safety. Only one chance of escape now remained, and that was to hurl his whole army through the narrow neck of land immediately in front of him and beat a hasty retreat to the south. But Washington had anticipated this desperate move by positive instructions to Lafayette, and acting upon them the 5 young marquis rushed a body of French troops from the fleet into the gap, and the arrival of the American army completely blocked it.
But, though the enemy was now in his clutch, Washington lost no time in tightening his hold, for de Grasse 10 declared that his orders would not allow him to tarry much longer in the Chesapeake, and the failure of the other attempts to work with the French warned him to take no risks on this occasion.
He therefore instantly set the troops at work with pickaxes 15 and shovels throwing up intrenchments, behind which they crept nearer and nearer the imprisoned garrison, and he kept them at their tasks night and day, supervising every detail of the siege and organizing the labor with such method that not a second of time nor an ounce of strength 20 was wasted.
Finally, on October 14th—just sixteen days after the combined armies had arrived on the scene—the commander in chief determined to hurry matters still further by carrying two of the enemy's outer works by assault, and 25 Hamilton was assigned to lead the Americans and Colonel de Deuxponts the French. A brilliant charge followed, and Washington and Rochambeau, closely watching the movement, saw the Americans scale one of the redoubts and capture it within ten minutes, while the French soon 30 followed with equal success. From these two commanding positions a perfect storm of shot and shell was then loosed against the British fortifications, but still Cornwallis would not yield.
Indeed, he made an heroic attempt to break through the lines on the following night, and actually succeeded in spiking some of the French cannon before he was driven 5 back; and again on the next night he made a desperate effort to escape by water, only to be foiled by a terrific storm. By this time, however, his defenses were practically battered to the ground and the town behind them was tumbling to pieces beneath the fire of more than fifty guns. 10
In the face of this terrific bombardment further resistance was useless, and at ten o'clock on the morning of October 17, 1781, exactly four years after the surrender of Burgoyne, a red-coated drummer boy mounted on the crumbling ramparts and beside him appeared an officer with a white 15 flag. Instantly the firing ceased, and an American officer approaching, the flag bearer was blindfolded and conducted to Washington. The message he bore was a proposition for surrender and a request that hostilities be suspended for twenty-four hours. But to this Washington 20 would not consent. Two hours was all he would grant for arranging the terms of surrender. To this Cornwallis yielded, but his first propositions were promptly rejected by Washington, and it was not until eleven at night that all the details were finally agreed upon, and Cornwallis, 25 with over eight thousand officers and men, became prisoners of war.
Two days later the British marched from their intrenchments, their bands playing a quaint old English tune, called The World Turned Upside Down, and, passing between 30 the French and American troops drawn up in line to receive them, laid down their arms. At the head of the victorious columns rode Washington, Hamilton, Knox, Steuben, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Lincoln, and many other officers, but the British commander, being ill, was not present in person, and when his representative, General O'Hara, tendered his superior's sword to Washington, the 5 commander in chief allowed General Lincoln, who had once been Cornwallis's prisoner, to receive it, and that officer, merely taking it in his hand for a moment, instantly returned it.
Meanwhile horsemen were flying in all directions with 10 the joyful tidings, and within a week the whole country was blazing with enthusiasm, while Washington was calmly planning to finish the work to which he had set his hand.
(From Frederick Trevor Hill's On the Trail of Washington. Used by permission of the publishers, D. Appleton & Company.)
1. Make a sketch showing the position of the various armies and navies at the time Washington conceived the bold stroke of trapping Cornwallis, and explain from your map how this stroke was achieved.
2. Tell who the following are: De Grasse, Greene, Clinton, Rochambeau, Lafayette, Lincoln, Steuben, Cornwallis, Burgoyne.
3. What might have disjointed all Washington's plans? Discuss.
Where may the wearied eye repose, When gazing on the great, Where neither guilty glory glows Nor despicable state? Yes, one—the first—the last—the best— 5 The Cincinnatus of the West, Whom envy dared not hate Bequeathed the name of Washington, To make men blush there was but one!
—George Gordon Byron.
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON
BY W. F. MARKWICK AND W. A. SMITH
Our birds and our trees are often honored together on a Bird and Arbor Day. The names of many naturalists might be selected, whose biographies could fittingly be read on such an occasion; but none could be more appropriately chosen than that of John James Audubon, the American pioneer among the scientist lovers of both birds and trees.
In 1828 a wonderful book, The Birds of America, by John James Audubon, was issued. It is a good illustration of what has been accomplished by beginning in one's youth to use the powers of observation. Audubon loved and studied birds. Even in his infancy, lying under the orange 5 trees on his father's plantation in Louisiana, he listened to the mocking-bird's song, watching and observing every motion as it flitted from bough to bough. When he was older he began to sketch every bird that he saw, and soon showed so much talent that he was taken to France to be 10 educated.