Autumn winds revive no more Leaves that once are shed, And the sickle cannot reap Corn once gathered; Flows the ruffled streamlet on, 5 Tranquil, deep, and still, Never gliding back again To the water mill; Truly speaks the proverb old, With a meaning vast— 10 "The mill cannot grind With the water that is past."
Take the lesson to thyself, True and loving heart! Golden youth is fleeting by, 15 Summer hours depart; Learn to make the most of life, Lose no happy day, Time will never bring thee back Chances swept away! 20 Leave no tender word unsaid, Love while love shall last; "The mill cannot grind With the water that is past."
Work while yet the daylight shines, 25 Man of strength and will! Never does the streamlet glide Useless by the mill; Wait not till to-morrow's sun Beams upon thy way, 30
All that thou canst call thine own Lies in thy to-day; Power and intellect and health May not always last; "The mill cannot grind 5 With the water that is past."
Oh, the wasted hours of life That have drifted by! Oh, the good that might have been— Lost, without a sigh! 10 Love that we might once have saved By a single word; Thoughts conceived but never penned, Perishing unheard; Take the proverb to thine heart, 15 Take, and hold it fast— "The mill cannot grind With the water that is past."
1. How does a water mill work? Find a picture of one. What was this mill probably used to grind? Why is it appropriate to have the reapers in the picture in the first stanza?
2. What other proverbs with the same meaning as this one can you find?
A MOTTO OF OXFORD
This stanza is engraved over one of the old colleges of Oxford University, a great seat of learning in England.
He who reads and reads And does not what he knows, Is he who plows and plows And never sows.
SAILING AND FAILING
BY HAMILTON W. MABIE
There are two kinds of men in the world: those who sail and those who drift; those who choose the ports to which they will go and skillfully and boldly shape their course across the seas, with the wind or against it, and those who let winds and tides carry them where they will. The 5 men who sail, in due time arrive; those who drift, often cover greater distances but they never make port.
The men who sail know where they want to go and what they want to do; they do not wait on luck or fortune or favorable currents; they depend on themselves and 10 expect no help from circumstances. Success of the real kind is always in the man who wins it, not in conditions. No man becomes great by accident; great things are never done by chance; a man gets what he pays for it, in character, in work, and in energy. A boy would better put 15 luck out of his mind if he means to accomplish anything. There are few really fine things which he cannot get if he is willing to pay the price.
Keep ahead of your work, and your work will push your fortunes for you. Our employers do not decide whether we 20 shall stay where we are or go on and up; we decide that matter ourselves. We can drift along, doing our work fairly well; or we can set our faces to the front and do our work so well that we cannot be kept back. In this way we make or mar our own fortunes. Success or failure is not 25 chosen for us; we choose for ourselves.
USE AND ABUSE OF TIME
BY ARCHER BROWN
Time is the stuff life is made of, says Benjamin Franklin. Every man has exactly the same amount of it in a year. One improves it and reaps great results. Another wastes it and reaps failure. The first class, they call lucky; the second, unfortunate. 5
To use time aright, have a system. Shape everything to it. Divide the twenty-four hours between work, recreation, sleep, and mental culture according to a scheme that suits your judgment and circumstances. Then make things go that way. The scheme will quickly go to pieces 10 unless backed by persistent purpose.
When you work, work. Put the whole mind and heart in it. Know nothing else. Do everything the very best. Distance everybody about you. This will not be hard, for the other fellows are not trying much. Master details and 15 difficulties. Be always ready for the next step up. If a bookkeeper, be an expert. If a machinist, know more than the boss. If an office boy, surprise the employer by model work. If in school, go to the head and stay there. All this is easy when the habit of conquering takes possession. 20
It is wholesome in this connection to read what men have accomplished who have once learned the art of redeeming time. Study the causes of the success of Benjamin Franklin, of Lincoln, of McKinley, of Sir Michael Faraday, of Agassiz, of Edison. Learn the might of minutes. 25 "Every day is a little life, and our whole life is a day repeated. Those that dare lose a day are dangerously prodigal; those that dare misspend it, desperate." Emerson says, "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
Sound and wholesome recreation is important in our scheme; but in this age of athletic frenzy the danger of 5 neglect on that line is not excessive. The real fact is that athletic sports are educating the muscles too often at the expense of the brain.
It is the mind work that differentiates you from the herd. Mental culture calls for study—carefully planned, regular, 10 persistent. One or two hours a day, aiming at some distinct object, mastering what you learn, adding little by little, like a miser to his store, will in a few years make of you a broad, educated man, no matter what your schooling.
To abuse time, have no system. Chance everything. 15 Do your work indifferently. Growl if too much is asked. Hunt for an easy job. Change often. Dodge obstacles. Always come a little short of the standard. Fritter away in silly things the few golden moments left for self-culture. Then you will not crowd anybody very hard in the contest 20 for leadership.
Time abused is bad luck.
1. What great men do you know of who divided up their day in the way suggested here? Make out a timetable for yourself and see how you can improve it and how long you can stick to its use.
2. In what did the "success" of each of the men mentioned in the fourth paragraph consist? Make one of the studies suggested and report your findings to the class.
3. What out-of-door exercises educate both brain and muscles? What is the special value of games played by a team? What great people of ancient times trained the body as well as the mind?
4. Which paragraphs define bad luck? What is it?
BY CHARLES READE
Charles Reade (1814-1884) was born at Ipsden, England, and educated at Oxford. He wrote plays and novels, the latter usually with some purpose of reform. Compare this story with "Ali Hafed's Quest" (page 13) as to setting, characters, ending, and moral.
Once upon a time there was an old farmer that had heard or read about treasures being found in odd places—a potful of gold pieces or something of the sort—and it took root in his heart till nothing would satisfy him but he must find a potful of gold pieces too. He spent 5 all his time hunting in this place and in that for buried treasures. He poked about all the old ruins in the neighborhood and even wished to take up the floor of the church.
One morning he arose with a bright face and said to his wife, "It's all right, Mary. I've found the treasure." 10
"No! Have you, though?" said she.
"Yes!" he answered; "at least it's as good as found. It's only waiting till I've had my breakfast, and then I'll go out and fetch it in."
"Oh, John! How did you find it?" 15
"It was revealed to me in a dream," said he, as grave as a judge.
"Oh! and where is it?"
"Under a tree in our orchard—no farther than that."
"Oh, how long you are at your breakfast, John! Let's 20 hurry out and get it."
They went out together into the orchard.
"Now which tree is it under?" asked the wife.
John scratched his head and looked very sheepish. "I'm blessed if I know!"
"Oh, you foolish fellow," said the wife. "Why didn't you take the trouble to notice?" 5
"I did notice," said he. "I saw the exact tree in my dream, but now there's so many of them, they muddle it all."
"Well, I think you're stupid," said the wife angrily. "You ought to have cut a nick in the right one while you 10 were there."
"That may be," answered John; "but now I see that I'll have to begin with the first tree and keep on digging till I come to the one with the treasure under it."
This made the wife lose all hope; for there were eighty 15 apple trees and a score of cherry trees. She heaved a sigh and said: "Well, I guess if you must, you must. But mind you don't cut any of the roots."
John was in no good humor. He abused the trees with all the bad words he could think of. 20
"What difference does it make if I cut all the roots? The old fagots aren't worth a penny apiece. The whole lot of them don't bear a bushel of good apples. In father's time they used to bear wagonloads of choice fruit. I wish they were every one dead!" 25
"Well, John," said the woman, trying to soothe his anger, "you know that father always gave them a good deal of attention."
"Attention? Nonsense!" he answered spitefully. "They don't need attention. They've got old, like ourselves. 30 They're good for nothing but firewood."
Then, muttering to himself, he brought out pickax and spade and began his work. He dug three feet deep all around the first tree, and finding nothing but earth and stones went on to the next. He heaped up a mound half as high as his head—but no pot of gold did he strike.
He had dug round three or four trees before his neighbors 5 began to notice him. Then their curiosity was awakened, and each one told another about his queer actions. After that there was scarcely an hour in the day that seven or eight were not sitting on the fence and passing sly jokes. Then it became the fashion for the boys to fling a stone or 10 two or a clod of dry earth at John.
To defend himself, John brought out his gun, loaded with fine shot, and the next time a stone was thrown he fired sharp in the direction it came from. The boys took the hint, and John dug on in peace till the fourth Sunday, when 15 the parson alluded to him in church. "People ought not to heap up to themselves treasures on earth."
But it seemed that John was only heaping up dirt; for when he had dug the fivescore holes, no pot of gold came to light. Then the neighbors called the orchard "Jacobs's 20 folly"; his name was Jacobs—John Jacobs.
"Now then, Mary," said he, "you and I will have to find some other village to live in, for the jokes and gibes of these people are more than I can bear."
Mary began to cry. 25
"Oh, John, we have been here so long!" she said. "You brought me here when we were first married. I was just a lass then, and you were the smartest young man I ever saw—at least I thought so."
"Well, Mary," answered John, "I guess we'll try to stay. 30 Perhaps it will all blow over some time."
"Yes, John, it will be like everything else by and by. But if I were you, I'd fill those holes. The people come from far and wide on Sundays to see them."
"Mary, I haven't the heart to do that," said the disappointed man. "You see, when I was digging for treasure I felt sure I was going to find it, and that kept my heart up. 5 But take a shovel and fill all those holes? I'd rather do without eggs every Sunday!"
So for six months the heaps of earth stood in the heat and the frost. Then in the spring the old man took heart and filled the holes, smoothing the ground until it was as level 10 as before. And soon everybody forgot "Jacobs's folly" because it was out of sight.
The month of April was warm, and out burst the trees. "Mary," said John, "the bloom is richer than I've seen it for many a year; it's a good deal richer than in any of 15 our neighbors' orchards."
The bloom died, and then out came a million little green things, quite hard. Summer passed. Autumn followed, and the old trees staggered under their weight of fruit.
The trees were old and needed attention. John's 20 letting in the air to them and turning the soil up to the frost and sun had renewed their youth. And so, in that way, he learned that tillage is the way to get treasure from the earth.
1. What other stories about buried treasure have you read? What is fascinating about the theme besides the get-rich-quick idea?
2. In what country is the scene of this story laid? At about what time? Give evidence in support of your answer.
3. Do apple trees bear better when the ground is cultivated around them? Where do you get your first hint of the end of the story? Is the conclusion satisfying to you? Was it to John?
THE SOLITARY REAPER
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
A friend of Wordsworth's, while traveling in the Highlands of Scotland, was impressed by the beautiful singing voice of a girl whom he saw working alone in a field; he wrote in his diary—"the sweetest human voice I ever heard. The strains felt delicious long after they were heard no more." Wordsworth had traveled through the same country, and from the note and his own impressions he built up this poem. The first stanza gives the real picture, the second offers two comparisons—the nightingale and the cuckoo—one sad, the other happy, both associated with solitude and open spaces. The third stanza relates the girl and her song to the background of history and human experience that belongs to the scene; and the last refers to Wordsworth's delight in recalling beautiful things.
Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland lass! Reaping and singing by herself; Stop here, or gently pass! Alone she cuts and binds the grain, 5 And sings a melancholy strain; O listen! for the vale profound Is overflowing with the sound.
No nightingale did ever chant More welcome notes to weary bands 10 Of travelers in some shady haunt Among Arabian sands; A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard In springtime from the cuckoo bird, Breaking the silence of the seas 15 Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings? Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow For old, unhappy, far-off things, And battles long ago; Or is it some more humble lay, 5 Familiar matter of to-day— Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, That has been and may be again?
Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang As if her song could have no ending; 10 I saw her singing at her work And o'er the sickle bending; I listened, motionless and still, And as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore 15 Long after it was heard no more.
1. Describe what is seen and heard. To what bird songs is the girl's voice compared? Have you ever heard the song of the nightingale? What widely different places are thought of in the second stanza? What have the desert and the sea in common? Where are the Hebrides?
2. Explain: numbers, lay, sickle, lass, vale, profound.
3. What in this poem reminds you of "The Daffodils?" How is the theme identical with Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song?"
* * * * *
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson.
IN GOOD HUMOR
He is twice blessed who has a sense of humor; he is saved from taking too seriously the shortcomings of his fellows; and he makes glad the hearts of his friends. For it has been wisely said that humor is the measure of a gentleman, even as its possession distinguishes civilized from savage man.
BY MARK TWAIN
Before the days of the railroad, the lumbering, horse-drawn stagecoach was the general vehicle used for cross-country passenger travel. Following the Civil War, the brother of Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) was appointed Territorial Secretary of Nevada. Samuel accompanied his brother as private secretary. The journey was made largely in a stagecoach, the inconveniences of which are whimsically set forth in the following extract from Twain's Roughing It.
As the sun went down and the evening chill came on, we made preparation for bed. We stirred up the hard leather letter sacks, and the knotty canvas bags of printed matter (knotty and uneven because of projecting ends and corners of magazines, boxes, and books). We 5 stirred them up and redisposed them in such a way as to make our bed as level as possible. And we did improve it, too, though after all our work it had an upheaved and billowy look about it, like a little piece of a stormy sea. Next we hunted up our boots from odd nooks among 10 the mail bags where they had settled, and put them on.
Then we got down our coats, vests, pantaloons, and heavy woolen shirts, from the arm loops where they had been swinging all day, and clothed ourselves in them—for, there being no ladies either at the stations or in the coach, 15 and the weather being hot, we had looked to our comfort by stripping to our underclothing at nine o'clock in the morning. All things being now ready, we stowed the uneasy Dictionary where it would lie as quiet as possible and placed the water canteen and pistols where we could find 20 them in the dark. Then we smoked a final pipe and swapped a final yarn; after which we put the pipes, tobacco, and bag of coin in snug holes and caves among the mail bags, and then fastened down the coach curtains all around, and made the place as "dark as the inside of a cow," as 5 the conductor phrased it in his picturesque way. It was certainly as dark as any place could be—nothing was even dimly visible in it. And finally we rolled ourselves up like silkworms, each person in his own blanket, and sank peacefully to sleep. 10
Whenever the stage stopped to change horses we would wake up, and try to recollect where we were—-and succeed—and in a minute or two the stage would be off again, and we likewise. We began to get into country now, threaded here and there with little streams. These had 15 high, steep banks on each side, and every time we flew down one bank and scrambled up the other, our party inside got mixed somewhat. First we would all be down in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture, and in a second we would shoot to the other end 20 and stand on our heads. And we would sprawl and kick, too, and ward off ends and corners of mail bags that came lumbering over us and about us; and as the dust rose from the tumult, we would all sneeze in chorus, and the majority of us would grumble, and probably say some hasty 25 thing, like, "Take your elbow out of my ribs!—can't you quit crowding?"
Every time we avalanched from one end of the stage to the other, the Unabridged Dictionary would come too; and every time it came it damaged somebody. One trip 30 it "barked" the Secretary's elbow; the next trip it hurt me in the stomach; and the third it tilted Bemis's nose up till he could look down his nostrils—he said. The pistols and coin soon settled to the bottom, but the pipes, pipestems, tobacco, and canteens clattered and floundered after the Dictionary every time it made an assault on us, and aided and abetted the book by spilling tobacco in 5 our eyes and water down our backs.
Still, all things considered, it was a very comfortable night. It wore gradually away, and when at last a cold, gray light was visible through the puckers and chinks in the curtains, we yawned and stretched with satisfaction, 10 shed our cocoons, and felt that we had slept as much as was necessary. By and by, as the sun rose up and warmed the world, we pulled off our clothes and got ready for breakfast. We were just pleasantly in time, for five minutes afterward the driver sent the weird music of his bugle winding over 15 the grassy solitudes, and presently we detected a low hut or two in the distance. Then the rattling of the coach, the clatter of our six horses' hoofs, and the driver's crisp commands, awoke to a louder and stronger emphasis, and we went sweeping down on the station at our smartest speed. 20 It was fascinating—that old Overland stagecoaching.
We jumped out in undress uniform. The driver tossed his gathered reins out on the ground, gaped and stretched complacently, drew off his heavy buckskin gloves with great deliberation and insufferable dignity—taking not 25 the slightest notice of a dozen solicitous inquiries after his health, and humbly facetious and flattering accostings, and obsequious tenders of service, from five or six hairy and half-civilized station keepers and hostlers who were nimbly unhitching our steeds and bringing the fresh team out of the 30 stables—for in the eyes of the stage driver of that day, station keepers and hostlers were a sort of good-enough low creatures, useful in their place and helping to make up a world, but not the kind of beings which a person of distinction could afford to concern himself with; while on the contrary, in the eyes of the station keeper and the hostler, the stage driver was a hero—a great and shining dignitary; 5 the world's favorite son, the envy of the people, the observed of the nations.
When they spoke to him they received his insolent silence meekly and as being the natural and proper conduct of so great a man; when he opened his lips 10 they all hung on his words with admiration (he never honored a particular individual with a remark, but addressed it with a broad generality to the horses, the stables, the surrounding country, and the human underlings); when he discharged a facetious insulting personality at a hostler, 15 that hostler was happy for the day; when he uttered his one jest—old as the hills, coarse, profane, witless, and inflicted on the same audience, in that same language, every time his coach drove up there—the varlets roared, and slapped their thighs, and swore it was the best thing they'd 20 ever heard in all their lives. And how they would fly around when he wanted a basin of water, a gourd of the same, or a light for his pipe!—but they would instantly insult a passenger if he so far forgot himself as to crave a favor at their hands. They could do that sort of insolence as 25 well as the driver they copied it from—for, let it be borne in mind, the Overland driver had but little less contempt for his passengers than he had for his hostlers.
The hostlers and station keepers treated the really powerful conductor of the coach merely with the best 30 of what was their idea of civility, but the driver was the only being they bowed down to and worshiped. How admiringly they would gaze up at him in his high seat as he gloved himself with lingering deliberation, while some happy hostler held the bunch of reins aloft and waited patiently for him to take it! And how they would bombard him with glorifying ejaculations as he cracked his long whip 5 and went careering away.
The station buildings were long, low huts, made of sun-dried, mud-colored bricks, laid up without mortar (adobes, the Spaniards call these bricks, and Americans shorten it to 'dobies). The roofs, which had no slant to them worth 10 speaking of, were thatched and then sodded, or covered with a thick layer of earth, and from this sprang a pretty rank growth of weeds and grass. It was the first time we had ever seen a man's front yard on top of his house. The buildings consisted of barns, stable room for twelve or 15 fifteen horses, and a hut for an eating room for passengers. This latter had bunks in it for the station keeper and a hostler or two. You could rest your elbow on its eaves, and you had to bend in order to get in at the door. In place of a window there was a square hole about large enough 20 for a man to crawl through, but this had no glass in it. There was no flooring, but the ground was packed hard. There were no shelves, no cupboards, no closets. In a corner stood an open sack of flour, and nestling against its base were a couple of black and venerable tin coffeepots, 25 a tin teapot, a little bag of salt, and a side of bacon.
By the door of the station keeper's den, outside, was a tin washbasin, on the ground. Near it was a pail of water and a piece of yellow bar soap, and from the eaves hung a hoary blue-woolen shirt, significantly—but this latter was 30 the station keeper's private towel, and only two persons in all the party might venture to use it—the stage driver and the conductor. The latter would not, from a sense of decency; the former would not, because he did not choose to encourage the advances of a station keeper. We had towels—in the valise; they might as well have been in Sodom and Gomorrah. 5
We (and the conductor) used our handkerchiefs, and the driver his pantaloons and sleeves. By the door, inside, was fastened a small old-fashioned looking-glass frame, with two little fragments of the original mirror lodged down in one corner of it. This arrangement afforded 10 a pleasant double-barreled portrait of you when you looked into it, with one half of your head set up a couple of inches above the other half. From the glass frame hung the half a comb by a string—but if I had to describe that patriarch or die, I believe I would order some sample 15 coffins. It had come down from Esau and Samson, and had been accumulating hair ever since—along with certain impurities. In one corner of the room stood three or four rifles and muskets, together with horns and pouches of ammunition. 20
The station men wore pantaloons of coarse country-woven stuff, and into the seat and the inside of the legs were sewed ample additions of buckskin to do duty in place of leggings when the man rode horseback—so the pants were half dull blue and half yellow, and 25 unspeakably picturesque. The pants were stuffed into the tops of high boots, the heels whereof were armed with great Spanish spurs whose little iron clogs and chains jingled with every step. The man wore a huge beard and mustachios, an old slouch hat, a blue-woolen shirt, no 30 suspenders, no vest, no coat; in a leathern sheath in his belt, a great long "navy" revolver (slung on right side, hammer to the front), and projecting from his boot a horn-handled bowie knife. The furniture of the hut was neither gorgeous nor much in the way. The rocking-chairs and sofas were not present and never had been, but they were represented by two three-legged stools, a pine-board bench 5 four feet long, and two empty candle boxes. The table was a greasy board on stilts, and the tablecloth and napkins had not come—and they were not looking for them, either. A battered tin platter, a knife and fork, and a tin pint cup, were at each man's place, and the driver had a queen's-ware 10 saucer that had seen better days. Of course this duke sat at the head of the table.
There was one isolated piece of table furniture that bore about it a touching air of grandeur in misfortune. This was the caster. It was German silver and crippled and rusty, 15 but it was so preposterously out of place there that it was suggestive of a tattered exiled king among barbarians, and the majesty of its native position compelled respect even in its degradation. There was only one cruet left, and that was a stopperless, fly-specked, broken-necked 20 thing, with two inches of vinegar in it and a dozen preserved flies with their heels up and looking sorry they had invested there.
The station keeper upended a disk of last week's bread, of the shape and size of an old-time cheese, and carved some 25 slabs from it which were as good as Nicholson pavement, and tenderer.
He sliced off a piece of bacon for each man, but only the experienced old hands made out to eat it, for it was condemned army bacon which the United States would not feed 30 to its soldiers in the forts, and the stage company had bought it cheap for the sustenance of their passengers and employees. We may have found this condemned army bacon further out on the plains than the section I am locating it in, but we found it—there is no gainsaying that.
Then he poured for us a beverage which he called slumgullion and it is hard to think he was not inspired when 5 he named it. It really pretended to be tea, but there was too much dishrag, and sand, and old bacon rind in it to deceive the intelligent traveler. He had no sugar and no milk—not even a spoon to stir the ingredients with.
We could not eat the bread or the meat, or drink the 10 "slumgullion." And when I looked at that melancholy vinegar cruet, I thought of the anecdote (a very, very old one, even at that day) of the traveler who sat down at a table which had nothing on it but a mackerel and a pot of mustard. He asked the landlord if this was all. The 15 landlord said:
"All! Why, thunder and lightning, I should think there was mackerel enough there for six."
"But I don't like mackerel."
"Oh—then help yourself to the mustard." 20
1. How much of this selection is given over to a description of actual travel inside a stagecoach? To what is the remainder devoted?
2. Re-read only the description of the night's traveling and decide which parts of it are most humorous. Why are they funny?
3. Describe the driver. Make a sketch of him.
4. How much of the central paragraph, page 257, is serious description? What parts of it are humorous? Test your answer by reading the paragraph with the humor omitted.
5. Much of Twain's humor depends on an occasional single sentence or a startling word. Prove or disprove this statement.
6. Report fully on Samuel L. Clemens's life. If possible, read his Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.
BY JAMES MERRICK
Two travelers of conceited cast, As o'er Arabia's wilds they passed, And on their way, in friendly chat, Now talked of this and then of that, Discoursed awhile 'mongst other matter 5 Of the chameleon's form and nature.
"A stranger animal," cries one, "Sure never lived beneath the sun; A lizard's body, lean and long; A fish's head; a serpent's tongue; 10 Its foot with triple claw disjoined; And what a length of tail behind! How slow its pace! And then its hue!— Who ever saw so fine a blue?"
"Hold, there!" the other quick replies; 15 "'Tis green—I saw it with these eyes, As late with open mouth it lay, And warmed it in the sunny ray; Stretched at its ease, the beast I viewed, And saw it eat the air for food." 20
"I've seen it, sir, as well as you, And must again affirm it blue. At leisure I the beast surveyed, Extended in the cooling shade."
"'Tis green, 'tis green, sir, I assure ye." "Green!" cries the other in a fury; "Why, sir, d'ye think I've lost my eyes?" "'Twere no great loss," the friend replies, "For if they always serve you thus, 5 You'll find them of but little use."
So high at last the contest rose, From words they almost came to blows; When luckily came by a third— To him the question they referred, 10 And begged he'd tell them, if he knew, Whether the thing was green, or blue.
"Sirs," cries the umpire, "cease your pother! The creature's neither one nor t'other. I caught the animal last night, 15 And viewed it o'er by candle light; I marked it well—'twas black as jet; You stare—but, sirs, I've got it yet, And can produce it." "Pray, sir, do; I'll lay my life the thing is blue." 20 "And I'll engage that when you've seen The reptile, you'll pronounce him green."
"Well, then, at once to ease the doubt," Replies the man, "I'll turn him out; And when before your eyes I've set him, 25 If you don't find him black, I'll eat him." He said: then full before their sight Produced the beast, and lo—'twas white!
Both stared; the man looked wondrous wise!— "My children," the chameleon cries (Then first the creature found a tongue), "You all are right, and all are wrong, When next you talk of what you view, 5 Think others see as well as you; Nor wonder if you find that none Prefers your eyesight to his own."
1. You should read with this poem Saxe's "The Blind Men and the Elephant." Is it like any other selection you have read?
2. Does the chameleon actually change color? Wherein does the humor of the poem lie?
THE PICKWICK CLUB ON ICE
BY CHARLES DICKENS
"Now," said Wardle, after a substantial lunch had been done ample justice to, "what say you to an hour on the ice? We shall have plenty of time."
"Capital," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
"Prime," ejaculated Mr. Bob Sawyer. 5
"You skate, of course, Winkle?" said Wardle.
"Ye—yes; oh, yes!" replied Mr. Winkle. "I—I—am rather out of practice."
"Oh, do skate, Mr. Winkle," said Arabella. "I like to see it so much." 10
"Oh, it is so graceful," said another young lady.
A third young lady said it was "elegant," and a fourth expressed her opinion that it was "swanlike."
"I should be very happy, I'm sure," said Mr. Winkle, reddening; "but I have no skates." 15
This objection was at once overruled. Trundle had a couple of pair, and the fat boy announced that there were half a dozen more in the house; whereat Mr. Winkle expressed exquisite delight and looked exquisitely uncomfortable. 5
Mr. Winkle, with his face and hands blue with the cold, forced a gimlet into the soles of his feet, put his skates on with the points behind, and got the straps into a very complicated and entangled state, with the assistance of Mr. Snodgrass, who knew rather less about skates than a 10 Hindu. At length, however, with the assistance of Mr. Weller, the unfortunate skates were firmly screwed and buckled on, and Mr. Winkle was raised to his feet.
"Now, then, sir," said Sam in an encouraging tone; "off with you, and show 'em how to do it." 15
"Stop, Sam, stop," said Mr. Winkle, trembling violently and clutching hold of Sam's arm with the grasp of a drowning man. "How slippery it is, Sam."
"Not an uncommon thing upon ice, sir," replied Mr. Weller. "Hold up, sir." 20
This last observation of Mr. Weller's bore reference to a demonstration Mr. Winkle made at the instant, of a frantic desire to throw his feet in the air and dash the back of his head on the ice.
"These—these—are very awkward skates, ain't they, 25 Sam?" inquired Mr. Winkle, staggering.
"I'm afraid there's an awkward gentleman in 'em, sir," replied Sam.
"Now, Winkle," cried Mr. Pickwick, quite unconscious that there was anything the matter. "Come, the ladies 30 are all anxiety."
"Yes, yes!" replied Mr. Winkle with a ghastly smile.
"Just a goin' to begin," said Sam, endeavoring to disengage himself. "Now, sir, start off."
"Stop an instant, Sam," gasped Mr. Winkle, clinging most affectionately to Mr. Weller. "I find I've got a couple of coats at home that I don't want, Sam. You may 5 have them, Sam."
"Thank'ee, sir," replied Mr. Weller.
"Never mind touching your hat, Sam," said Mr. Winkle hastily. "You needn't take your hand away to do that. I meant to have given you five shillings this morning for a 10 Christmas box, Sam; I'll give it to you this afternoon, Sam."
"You're very good, sir," replied Mr. Weller.
"Just hold me at first, Sam, will you?" said Mr. Winkle. "There—that's right. I shall soon get in the way of it, 15 Sam. Not too fast, Sam; not too fast."
Mr. Winkle, stooping forward with his body half doubled up, was being assisted over the ice by Mr. Weller in a very singular and unswanlike manner when Mr. Pickwick most innocently shouted from the opposite bank, 20
"Sir?" said Mr. Weller.
"Here. I want you."
"Let go, sir," said Sam. "Don't you hear the governor a callin'? Let go, sir." 25
With a violent effort Mr. Weller disengaged himself from the grasp of the agonized Pickwickian; and in so doing administered a considerable impetus to the unhappy Mr. Winkle. With an accuracy which no degree of dexterity or practice could have insured, that gentleman bore swiftly 30 down into the center of a group at the very moment when Mr. Bob Sawyer was performing a flourish of unparalleled beauty. Mr. Winkle struck wildly against him, and with a wild crash they fell heavily down. Mr. Pickwick ran to the spot. Bob Sawyer had risen to his feet, but Mr. Winkle was far too wise to do anything of the kind in skates. He was seated on the ice, making spasmodic efforts to smile; 5 but anguish was depicted on every lineament of his countenance.
Mr. Pickwick was excited and indignant. He beckoned to Mr. Weller and said in a stern voice, "Take his skates off." 10
"No; but really I had scarcely begun," remonstrated Mr. Winkle.
"Take his skates off," repeated Mr. Pickwick firmly.
The command was not to be resisted. Mr. Winkle allowed Sam to obey it in silence. 15
"Lift him up," said Mr. Pickwick. Sam assisted him to rise.
Mr. Pickwick retired a few paces apart from the bystanders, and beckoning his friend to approach, fixed a searching look upon him and uttered in a low but distinct 20 and emphatic tone these remarkable words:
"You're a humbug, sir."
"A what?" said Mr. Winkle, starting.
"A humbug, sir. I will speak plainer if you wish it. An impostor, sir." 25
With these words, Mr. Pickwick turned slowly on his heel and rejoined his friends.
While Mr. Pickwick was delivering himself of the sentiment just recorded, Mr. Weller and the fat boy, having by their joint endeavors cut out a slide, were exercising themselves 30 thereupon in a very masterly and brilliant manner. Sam Weller, in particular, was displaying that beautiful feat of fancy sliding which is currently denominated "knocking at the cobbler's door," and which is achieved by skimming over the ice on one foot and occasionally giving a two-penny postman's knock upon it with the other. It was a good long slide, and there was something in the motion 5 which Mr. Pickwick, who was very cold with standing still, could not help envying.
"It looks a nice warm exercise, that, doesn't it?" he inquired of Wardle, when that gentleman was thoroughly out of breath by reason of the indefatigable manner in 10 which he had converted his legs into a pair of compasses and drawn complicated problems on the ice.
"Ah, it does, indeed," replied Wardle. "Do you slide?"
"I used to do so, on the gutters, when I was a boy," replied Mr. Pickwick. 15
"Try it now," said Wardle.
Mr. Pickwick paused, considered, pulled off his gloves and put them in his hat, took two or three short runs, balked himself as often, and at last took another run and went slowly and gravely down the slide with his feet about 20 a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators.
It was the most intensely interesting thing to observe the manner in which Mr. Pickwick performed his share in the ceremony; to watch the torture of anxiety with 25 which he viewed the person behind, gaining upon him at the imminent hazard of tripping him up; to see him gradually expend the painful force which he had put on at first and turn slowly round on the slide, with his face towards the point from which he had started; to contemplate 30 the playful smile which mantled on his face when he had accomplished the distance and the eagerness with which he turned round when he had done so and ran after his predecessor, his black gaiters tripping pleasantly through the snow and his eyes beaming cheerfulness and gladness through his spectacles. And when he was knocked down (which happened upon the average every third round), 5 it was the most invigorating sight that can possibly be imagined to behold him gather up his hat, gloves, and handkerchief with a glowing countenance, and resume his station in the rank with an ardor and enthusiasm which nothing could abate. 10
The sport was at its height, the sliding was at the quickest, the laughter was at the loudest, when a sharp, smart crack was heard. There was a quick rush towards the bank, a wild scream from the ladies, and a shout from Mr. Tupman. A large mass of ice disappeared, the water bubbled 15 up over it, and Mr. Pickwick's hat, gloves, and handkerchief were floating on the surface; and this was all of Mr. Pickwick that anybody could see.
Dismay and anguish were depicted on every countenance; the males turned pale, and the females fainted; Mr. Snodgrass 20 and Mr. Winkle grasped each other by the hand and gazed at the spot where their leader had gone down, with frenzied eagerness; while Mr. Tupman, by way of rendering the promptest assistance and at the same time conveying to any persons who might be within hearing the clearest 25 possible notion of the catastrophe, ran off across the country at his utmost speed, screaming "Fire!" with all his might and main.
It was at this very moment—when old Wardle and Sam Weller were approaching the hole with cautious steps and 30 Mr. Benjamin Allen was holding a hurried consultation with Mr. Bob Sawyer on the advisability of bleeding the company generally, as an improving little bit of professional practice—it was at this very moment that a head, face, and shoulders emerged from beneath the water, and disclosed the features and spectacles of Mr. Pickwick.
"Do you feel the bottom there, old fellow?" said Wardle. 5
"Yes, certainly," replied Mr. Pickwick, wringing the water from his head and face and gasping for breath. "I fell upon my back. I couldn't get on my feet at first."
The clay upon so much of Mr. Pickwick's coat as was yet visible bore testimony to the accuracy of this statement; 10 and as the fears of the spectators were still further relieved by the fat boy's suddenly recollecting that the water was nowhere more than five feet deep, prodigies of valor were performed to get him out. After a vast quantity of splashing, and cracking, and struggling, Mr. Pickwick was at 15 length fairly extricated from his unpleasant position and once more stood on dry land.
1. The members of the Pickwick Club herein presented are Mr. Pickwick, a heavy, pompous, dignified gentleman, and three friends, Messrs. Snodgrass, Winkle, and Tupman. Characterize each. Weller is a guide-valet. Pickwick Papers records the experiences of the Club during a series of tours.
2. How many episodes are related?
3. Why didn't Winkle admit his inability to skate? What do you consider the funniest part of the Winkle story?
4. What is ludicrous about Pickwick's sliding? When he fell into the water, why was there so little assistance offered at first, and so much later?
5. If you have had a funny experience of your own on ice, tell it to the class.
DARIUS GREEN AND HIS FLYING MACHINE
BY JOHN TOWNSEND TROWBRIDGE
If ever there lived a Yankee lad, Wise or otherwise, good or bad, Who, seeing the birds fly, didn't jump With flapping arms from stake or stump, Or spreading the tail 5 Of his coat for a sail, Take a soaring leap from post or rail, And wonder why He couldn't fly, And flap and flutter and wish and try— 10 If ever you knew a country dunce Who didn't try that as often as once— All I can say is, that's a sign He never would do for a hero of mine.
An aspiring genius was D. Green: 15 The son of a farmer—age fourteen; His body was long and lank and lean— Just right for flying, as will be seen; He had two eyes as bright as a bean, And a freckled nose that grew between, 20 A little awry;—for I must mention That he had riveted his attention Upon his wonderful invention, Twisting his tongue as he twisted the strings, And working his face as he worked the wings, 25 And with every turn of gimlet and screw Turning and screwing his mouth round too, Till his nose seemed bent To catch the scent, Around some corner, of new-baked pies, And his wrinkled cheeks and squinting eyes 5 Grew puckered into a queer grimace, That made him look very droll in the face, And also very wise.
And wise he must have been, to do more Than ever a genius did before, 10 Excepting Daedalus of yore, And his son Icarus, who wore Upon their backs Those wings of wax He had read of in the old almanacs. 15 Darius was clearly of the opinion, That the air was also man's dominion, And that, with paddle or fin or pinion, We soon or late Shall navigate 20 The azure as now we sail the sea. The thing looks simple enough to me; And if you doubt it, Hear how Darius reasoned about it:
"The birds can fly, 25 An' why can't I? Must we give in," Says he with a grin, "That the bluebird an' phoebe Are smarter 'n we be? 30 Jest fold our hands an' see the swaller An' blackbird an' catbird beat us holler? Does the leetle chatterin', sassy wren, No bigger'n my thumb, know more than men? Jest show me that 5 Er prove 't the bat Hez got more brains than's in my hat, An' I'll back down, an' not till then!"
He argued further: "Ner I can't see What's th' use o' wings to a bumblebee 10 Fer to git a livin' with, more'n to me; Ain't my business Importanter'n his'n is? That Icarus Made a perty muss— 15 Him an' his daddy Daedalus. They might 'a' knowed wings made o' wax Wouldn't stan' sun heat an' hard whacks: I'll make mine o' luther, Er suthin' er other." 20
And he said to himself, as he tinkered and planned: "But I ain't goin' to show my hand To nummies that never can understand The fust idee that's big an' grand." So he kept his secret from all the rest, 25 Safely buttoned within his vest; And in the loft above the shed Himself he locks, with thimble and thread And wax and hammer and buckles and screws, And all such things as geniuses use: 30 Two bats for patterns, curious fellows! A charcoal pot and a pair of bellows; An old hoop skirt or two, as well as Some wire and several old umbrellas; A carriage cover for tail and wings; 5 A piece of harness; and straps and strings; And a big, strong box, In which he locks These and a hundred other things.
His grinning brothers, Reuben and Burke 10 And Nathan and Jotham and Solomon, lurk Around the corner to see him work— Sitting cross-legged, like a Turk, Drawing the waxed end through with a jerk, And boring the holes with a comical quirk 15 Of his wise old head, and a knowing smirk. But vainly they mounted each other's backs, And poked through knot holes and pried through cracks; With wood from the pile and straw from the stacks He plugged the knot holes and calked the cracks; 20 And a bucket of water, which one would think He had brought up into the loft to drink When he chanced to be dry, Stood always nigh, For Darius was sly! 25 And whenever at work he happened to spy At chink or crevice a blinking eye, He let a dipper of water fly.
So day after day He stitched and tinkered and hammered away, 30 Till at last 'twas done,— The greatest invention under the sun! "An' now," says Darius, "hooray fer some fun!"
'Twas the Fourth of July, And the weather was dry, 5 And not a cloud was on all the sky, Save a few light fleeces, which here and there, Half mist, half air, Like foam on the ocean went floating by,— Just as lovely a morning as ever was seen 10 For a nice little trip in a flying machine.
Thought cunning Darius: "Now I shan't go Along 'ith the fellers to see the show: I'll say I've got sich a terrible cough! An' then, when the folks 'ave all gone off, 15 I'll have full swing Fer to try the thing, An' practice a little on the wing."
"Ain't goin' to see the celebration?" Says brother Nate. "No; botheration! 20 I've got sich a cold—a toothache—I— My gracious!—feel's though I should fly!" Said Jotham, "'Sho! Guess ye better go." But Darius said, "No! 25 Shouldn't wonder 'f you might see me, though, 'Long 'bout noon, if I get red O' this jumpin', thumpin' pain 'n my head." For all the while to himself he said: "I tell ye what! I'll fly a few times around the lot, To see how't seems, then soon's I've got The hang o' the thing, ez likely's not, I'll astonish the nation, 5 An' all creation, By flyin' over the celebration! Over their heads I'll sail like an eagle; I'll balance myself on my wings like a sea gull; I'll dance on the chimbleys; I'll stand on the steeple; 10 I'll flop up to winders an' scare the people! I'll light on the liberty pole an' crow; An' I'll say to the gawpin' fools below, 'What world's this 'ere That I've come near?' 15 Fer I'll make 'em b'lieve I'm a chap f'm the moon; An' I'll try a race 'ith their ol' balloon!"
He crept from his bed, And seeing the others were gone, he said: "I'm a gittin' over the cold 'n my head." 20 And away he sped, To open the wonderful box in the shed.
His brothers had walked but a little way, When Jotham to Nathan chanced to say, "What is the feller up to, hey?" 25 "Don'o',—the' 's suthin' er other to pay, Er he wouldn't 'a' stayed to hum to-day." Says Burke, "His toothache's all 'n his eye! He never'd miss a Fo'th o' July, Ef he hedn't got some machine to try." 30 Then Sol, the little one, spoke: "By darn! Le's hurry back an' hide 'n the barn, An' pay him fer tellin' us that yarn!"
"Agreed!" Through the orchard they creep back, Along by the fences, behind the stack, 5 And one by one, through a hole in the wall, In under the dusty barn they crawl, Dressed in their Sunday garments all. And a very astonishing sight was that, When each in his cobwebbed coat and hat 10 Came up through the floor like an ancient rat.
And there they hid; And Reuben slid The fastenings back, and the door undid. "Keep dark!" said he, 15 "While I squint an' see what the' is to see."
As knights of old put on their mail,— From head to foot An iron suit, Iron jacket and iron boot, 20 Iron breeches, and on the head No hat, but an iron pot instead, And under the chin the bail (I believe they called the thing a helm); And, thus accoutered, they took the field, 25 Sallying forth to overwhelm The dragons and pagans that plagued the realm,— So this modern knight Prepared for flight, Put on his wings and strapped them tight,— Jointed and jaunty, strong and light,— Buckled them fast to shoulder and hip,— Ten feet they measured from tip to tip! And a helm had he, but that he wore, 5 Not on his head, like those of yore, But more like the helm of a ship.
"Hush!" Reuben said, "He's up in the shed! He's opened the winder,—I see his head! 10 He stretches it out, An' pokes it about, Lookin' to see 'f the coast is clear, An' nobody near;— Guess he don'o' who's hid in here! 15 He's riggin' a springboard over the sill! Stop laffin', Solomon! Burke, keep still! He's climbin' out now. Of all the things! What's he got on? I van, it's wings! An' that t'other thing? I vum, it's a tail! An' there he sets like a hawk on a rail! 20 Steppin' careful, he travels the length Of his springboard, and teeters to try its strength.
"Now he stretches his wings like a monstrous bat; Peeks over his shoulder, this way an' that, 25 Fer to see 'f the' 's anyone passin' by; But the' 's on'y a ca'f an' a goslin' nigh. They turn up at him a wonderin' eye, To see—the dragon! he's goin' to fly! Away he goes! Jiminy! what a jump! Flop—flop—an' plump To the ground with a thump, Flutt'rin' an' flound'rin', all 'n a lump!"
As a demon is hurled by an angel's spear, 5 Heels over head, to his proper sphere, Heels over head, and head over heels, Dizzily down the abyss he wheels,— So fell Darius. Upon his crown, In the midst of the barnyard, he came down, 10 In a wonderful whirl of tangled strings, Broken braces and broken springs, Broken tail and broken wings, Shooting stars and various things, Barnyard litter of straw and chaff. 15 Away with a bellow fled the calf, And what was that? Did the gosling laugh?
'Tis a merry roar From the old barn door, And he hears the voice of Jotham crying, 20 "Say, D'rius! how do you like flyin'?"
Slowly, ruefully, where he lay, Darius just turned and looked that way, As he stanched his sorrowful nose with his cuff. "Wall, I like flyin' well enough," 25 He said, "but the' ain't sich a awful sight O' fun in't when ye come to light."
I just have room for the moral here: And this is the moral,—Stick to your sphere. Or, if you insist, as you have the right, On spreading your wings for a loftier flight, The moral is,—Take care how you light. 5
1. Tell the story of Icarus and Daedalus. Compare Darius's flying machine with a modern airplane. When and by whom was the airplane perfected as a practical flyer?
2. How much of the story is told from Darius's standpoint? Through whose eyes do we see the rest?
3. Describe Darius. Is he really a clever lad? Why do we laugh at his experiment?
4. The poem is written partially in dialect. Explain what "dialect" is. What other poems do you know that are in dialect?
5. J. T. Trowbridge (1827-1916) was a clever American writer of verse and fiction, chiefly boys' books. Can you find anything of interest about him?
AUNT DOLEFUL'S VISIT
How do you do, Cornelia? I heard you were sick, and I stepped in to cheer you up a little. My friends often say, "It's such a comfort to see you, Aunt Doleful. You have such a flow of conversation, and are so lively." Besides, I said to myself as I came up the stairs, "Perhaps 5 it's the last time I'll ever see Cornelia Jane alive."
You don't mean to die yet, eh? Well, now, how do you know? You can't tell. You think you are getting better; but there was poor Mrs. Jones sitting up, and everyone saying how smart she was, and all of a sudden she was taken 10 with spasms in the heart and went off like a flash.
But you must be careful and not get anxious or excited. Keep quite calm and don't fret about anything. Of course things can't go just as if you were downstairs; and I wondered whether you knew your little Billy was sailing about in a tub on the mill pond, and that your little Sammy 5 was letting your little Jimmy down from the veranda roof in a clothes basket.
Goodness! what's the matter? I guess Providence'll take care of them. Don't look so. You thought Bridget was watching them? Well, no, she isn't. I saw her talking 10 to a man at the gate. He looked to me like a burglar. No doubt she let him take the impression of the door key in wax, and then he'll get in and murder you all. There was a family at Murray Hill all killed last week.
How is Mr. Kobble? Well, but finds it warm in town, eh? 15 Well, I should think he would. They are dropping down by hundreds there with sunstroke. You must prepare your mind to have him brought home any day. Anyhow, a trip on these railroad trains is just risking your life every time you take one. Back and forth every day as he is, 20 is just trifling with danger.
Scarlet fever has broken out in the village, Cornelia. Little Isaac Potter has it, and I saw your Jimmy playing with him last Saturday.
Well, I must be going now. I've got another sick 25 friend, and I sha'n't consider my duty done unless I cheer her up a little before I sleep. You don't look so well as you did when I came in. But if anything happens, send for me at once. If I can't do anything else, I can cheer you up a little.
1. This is an old, favorite recitation. What do you think of this type of humor as compared with Mark Twain's?
GRADGRIND'S IDEA OF EDUCATION
BY CHARLES DICKENS
Thomas Gradgrind was proud of himself. He was a "self-made" man who attributed his own successes in life to his mastery of Facts. He is here represented as officially testing a school upon its knowledge of his favorite Facts.
"Now what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own 5 children. Stick to Facts, sir; nothing but Facts."
The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have gallons of facts poured into them 10 until they were full to the brim.
Thomas Gradgrind, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. 15 Thomas Gradgrind, sir, with a rule and a pair of scales and the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature and tell you exactly what it comes to.
It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple arithmetic. 20 You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind; but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind—no, sir!
Indeed, he seemed to be a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts.
"Girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely 5 pointing with his square forefinger. "I don't know that girl. Who is that girl?"
"Sissy Jupe, sir," explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtsying.
"Sissy is not a name," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Don't 10 call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia."
"Father calls me Sissy, sir," returned the young girl in a trembling voice and with another curtsy.
"Then he has no business to do it," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Tell him he mustn't. Cecilia Jupe. Let me see. What 15 is your father?"
"He belongs to the horse riding, if you please, sir."
Mr. Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.
"We don't want to know anything about that, here. 20 You mustn't tell us about that, here. Your father breaks horses, don't he?"
"If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring, sir."
"You mustn't tell us about the ring, here. Very well, 25 then. Describe your father as a horse breaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say."
"Oh, yes, sir!"
"Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and a horse breaker. Give me your definition of a horse." 30
Sissy Jupe was thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.
"Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!" said Mr. Gradgrind. "Girl number twenty possessed of no facts in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours."
The square finger, moving here and there, lighted suddenly 5 on Bitzer, perhaps because he chanced to sit in the same ray of sunlight which irradiated Sissy.
"Bitzer," said Thomas Gradgrind, "your definition of a horse."
"Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth: namely, 10 twenty-four grinders, four eyeteeth, and twelve incisors. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in the mouth."
"Now, girl number twenty," said Mr. Gradgrind, "you 15 know what a horse is."
She curtsied again and would have blushed deeper, if she could have blushed deeper than she had blushed all this time.
The third gentleman now stepped forth. A mighty man at 20 cutting and drying, was he; a government officer; always in training, always with a system to force down the general throat, always to be heard of at the bar of his little public office.
"Very well," said this gentleman briskly, smiling and 25 folding his arms. "That's a horse. Now, let me ask you, girls and boys, would you paper a room with representations of horses?"
After a pause, one half the children cried in a chorus, "Yes, sir!" Upon which the other half, seeing in the 30 gentleman's face that "yes" was wrong, cried out in a chorus, "No, sir!"—as the custom is in these examinations.
"Of course not. Why wouldn't you?"
A pause. One corpulent slow boy, with a wheezy manner of breathing, ventured to answer, "Because I wouldn't paper a room at all; I'd paint it."
"You must paper it," said the gentleman rather warmly. 5
"Yes, you must paper it," said Thomas Gradgrind, "whether you like it or not. Don't tell us you wouldn't paper it. What do you mean, boy?"
"I'll explain to you, then," said the gentleman, after a dismal pause, "why you wouldn't paper a room with representations 10 of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of a room in reality—in fact? Do you?"
"Yes, sir!" from one half. "No, sir!" from the other.
"Of course not," said the gentleman, with an indignant 15 look at the wrong half. "Why, then, you are not to see anywhere what you don't see in fact; you are not to have anywhere what you don't have in fact. What is called taste is only another name for fact. This is a new principle, a discovery, a great discovery," said the gentleman. "Now 20 I'll try you again. Suppose you were going to carpet a room, would you use a carpet having a representation of flowers upon it?"
There being a general conviction by this time that "No, sir!" was always the right answer to this gentleman, the 25 chorus of "No," was very strong. Only a few feeble stragglers said, "Yes"; among them Sissy Jupe.
"Girl number twenty," said the gentleman, smiling in the calm strength of knowledge.
Sissy blushed and stood up. 30
"So you would carpet your room with representations of flowers, would you?" said the gentleman. "Why?"
"If you please, sir, I am very fond of flowers," returned the girl.
"And is that why you would put tables and chairs upon them and have people walking over them with heavy boots?" 5
"It wouldn't hurt them, sir. They wouldn't crush and, wither, if you please, sir. They would be the pictures of what was very pretty and pleasant, and I fancy—"
"Aye, aye, aye! But you mustn't fancy," cried the gentleman, quite elated by coming so happily to his point. 10 "That's it! You are never to fancy."
"You are not, Cecilia Jupe," Thomas Gradgrind solemnly repeated, "to do anything of that kind."
"You are to be in all things regulated and governed," said the gentleman, "by Fact. You must discard the word 15 'fancy' altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down the walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon the walls. You must 20 use," said the gentleman, "for all these purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colors) of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is Fact. This is taste." 25
1. Make a list of adjectives that fit the character of Gradgrind.
2. Does Dickens agree with Gradgrind's ideas of teaching? Prove your answer. Define irony; sarcasm. Does either of these words apply to Dickens's presentation of Gradgrind?
3. What do you think of Gradgrind's theories? How far do you agree with him? In what do you disagree?
THE DEACON'S MASTERPIECE, OR THE WONDERFUL "ONE-HOSS SHAY"
BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was born at Cambridge, Mass. Although he practiced his profession of medicine, was Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at the Harvard Medical School, and wrote some scientific works, he is best known as the author of poems and essays, mostly humorous, light, and fanciful. He was very popular in his time as a witty conversationalist and a brilliant speech maker.
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— 5 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— 10 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. 15 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, thorough-brace,—lurking still, 5 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, 10 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't break daown.
"Fur," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain 15 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 20 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 25 The panels of whitewood, 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, 5 Steel of the finest, bright and blue; Thorough-brace, 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." 10 "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, 15 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. 20 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, 25 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— 5 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 10 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, 15 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! 20 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. 25
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, 5 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, 10 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. 15
End of the wonderful one-hoss shay. Logic is logic. That's all I say.
1. What kind of vehicle did the Deacon build? What was his theory as to building a "shay"?
2. How did he carry out his theory? Read the passages that answer this question. Make a list of the special parts of the chaise named.
3. On what day did the Deacon complete his task? Is Holmes correct as to the dates of Braddock's defeat and the Lisbon earthquake?
4. Explain lines 10-11, page 286; 8, 17, 27, page 289; 17, page 290.
5. What happened finally to the "masterpiece"? Was the Deacon still living? How did the chaise happen to go to pieces? Was the Deacon's theory of building correct?
6. Suggested readings: Holmes's "How the Old Horse Won the Bet"; Lowell's "The Courtin'."
THE SCHOOLMASTER'S RIDE
BY WASHINGTON IRVING
The time of this story is post-Revolutionary. Ichabod Crane, a lean, awkward schoolmaster, has been courting the village belle, Katrina Van Tassel, his rival being Brom Bones, a powerful fellow, noted for his pugnacity. He has frequently threatened Ichabod for aspiring to the charming Katrina. Here, Ichabod, at a late hour, is leaving the Van Tassel home after a "quilting frolic" where he took occasion to propose to Katrina. Judge of the young lady's answer!
Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travel homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarrytown. The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the 5 tall mast of a sloop riding quietly at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight he could even hear the barking of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his great distance from this faithful companion of 10 man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some farmhouse away among the hills. No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog 15 from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.
The night grew darker and darker, the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and 20 dismal. In the center of the road stood an enormous tulip tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood and formed a kind of landmark. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate Andre, who had been taken prisoner hard by, and was 5 universally known by the name of Major Andre's Tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition.
As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle. He thought his whistle was answered. It was 10 but a blast sweeping through the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white hanging in the midst of the tree. He paused and ceased whistling; but on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by 15 lightning and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly he heard a groan. His teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle. It was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him. 20
About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road and ran into a marshy and thickly wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley's Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this 25 identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured, and this has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.
As he approached the stream his heart began to thump. 30 He summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge. But instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement and ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side and kicked lustily with the contrary foot. It was all in 5 vain. His steed started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder bushes.
The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed 10 forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge with a suddenness which had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp on the bank of the stream, by the side of the bridge, caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the 15 dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the murmuring brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathering up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler. 20
The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late. Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded, in stammering tones, "Who are you?" He received no reply. 25
He repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he cudgeled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and with a 30 scramble and a bound, stood at once in the middle of the road.
Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now, in some degree, be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road. Ichabod, who had no relish for this 5 strange midnight companion, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind. The stranger quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind. The other did the same. His heart began to sink within him. He endeavored 10 to resume his psalm tune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and he could not utter a stave.
There was something in the moody and dogged silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On 15 mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow traveler in relief against the sky, gigantic in height and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless! But his horror was still more increased on observing that the head which should have 20 rested on his shoulders was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle! His terror rose to desperation. He rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the slip. But the specter started full jump with him. Away 25 then they dashed, through thick and thin, stones flying and sparks flashing at every bound.
An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook told him that 30 he was not mistaken. "If I can but reach that bridge," thought Ichabod, "I am safe." Just then he heard the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod 5 cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered 10 his cranium with a tremendous crash. He was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider passed by like a whirlwind.
The next morning the old horse was found without his saddle, and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping 15 the grass at his master's gate, while near the bridge, on the bank of a broad part of the brook where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it—a shattered pumpkin!
—A Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
1. You should read the entire "Legend" (see Irving's Sketch Book) and enjoy the detailed incidents leading up to this climax. Of course Ichabod leaves Sleepy Hollow, never to return. What evidence is there that Brom Bones was the ghost?
2. A ghost was supposed not to be able to cross running water. What evidence of this do you find in the story?
3. Why was Ichabod "heavy-hearted and crestfallen"? Give two reasons.
4. Pick out the elements of the first two paragraphs that make the situation appear lonely.
5. Who was Major Andre? Why should Ichabod have especially feared the Andre tree?
6. What is there in this selection that is humorous?
"Another petition!" exclaimed the banker. "No, I never sign them offhand—not any more. I used to do so—once to my sorrow and to the amusement of my friends. Leave yours with me till day after to-morrow and I'll consider it. I have at least four more now on the waiting 5 list, ranging in subject from the Removal of a Soap Factory to a Bridge Across the Pacific. Every business man is hounded week in and week out with petitions."
I reluctantly surrendered my long scroll with its formidable list of signatures. "But the one that you once signed—what 10 of that?"
"Oh, that one? Well, there was a bright newsboy down on the square whose booth had been removed from a street corner because of a petition to the Police Commissioner. Of course everybody had signed the petition; for signing 15 petitions was considered the proper thing if certain names headed the list. It came to be a roster of the best families in town. This newsboy retaliated—in kind. He drafted and circulated a petition that was in due form. Everybody, including myself, signed it. Next day it was published in 20 full with the names of its signers, by all our city papers, and by night everybody in the state was laughing at us.
"The petition recited that a sundial in Central Park, the gift of a wealthy citizen, was weathering badly. It should be protected. That sounded reasonable, so everybody 25 signed just below the name of everybody else. And what had we petitioned for? A roof to cover that sundial!
"You'll get no hasty signatures to a petition in this city—we remember the sundial!"
IN TIME OF WAR
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking; Dream of battled fields no more, Days of danger, nights of waking. . . .
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, Dream of fighting fields no more; Sleep the sleep that knows no breaking, Morn of toil, nor night of waking.
—SIR WALTER SCOTT.
GREAT LITTLE RIVERS
BY FRAZIER HUNT
The armies of the world were contending on the battlefields of France in a death struggle, known in history as the World War. It was a mighty clash of ideas and ideals. Frazier Hunt, a war correspondent and journalist, selected the Little Rivers of France as a subject to carry his theme: that little things sometimes set apart great differences, and that littleness and greatness are not matters of physical size.
For miles along the hard white road that had helped save France a tiny river ran. But it was such a quiet race with life and time. It had no steep banks; only gentle, green, silent slopes that fell gracefully back from its edges. Here and there fragrant woods wandered almost to its 5 drowsy waters.
A cuckoo sounded its call, and far off its mate sent back the echo. On sun-splashed mornings the thrush came, and in the moonlight the nightingale sang to this little stream. 10
It was a tiny river, and if in great America, only the countryside that knew its winding ways could have told its name. It was a brook for poets to dream by. Little islands of willows, weeping for France, slept in its heart. One could almost whisper across it, and as a French schoolgirl 15 of fourteen wrote, "Birds could fly over it with one sweep of their wings. And on the two banks there were millions of men, the one turned towards the other, eye to eye. But the distance which separated them was greater than the stars in the sky; it was the distance which separates right from injustice."
It was a tiny river; it was the Yser.
* * * * *
Oxen drawing the cultivating plows that will help feed France and win the war almost splash into its shallow edges 5 as they turn the furrow. And on hot July days, the old man who prods them with his pointed stick and the sturdy woman who handles the plow let them drink their fill of its cooling waters—not plunging their noses deep like thirsty horses but gently drawing in the water with the lips, 10 after the manner of oxen.
It is a quiet stream that a child could ford without danger. It flows slowly and sweetly from the mother hills to the embracing sea. A few arched bridges leap from one low bank to another. It has not cut deep into the land of 15 France but it has cut deep into the heart of France. It is one of the ribbons of victory and glory that France will always wear across her breast. And it is a ribbon made red by the blood of the men of France who have died for France.
And yet we of America would call it a little stream, and 20 old men would fish all day in it from a shaded velvet point, and boys swimming would hunt some favorite Devil's Hole where they might dive.
It is the Marne.
* * * * *
For four years now it has flowed peacefully on while 25 men have fought to scar its banks with trenches—burrowing themselves into the earth as only the muskrat had done in the forgotten days of peace. Strong, unafraid men came from the ends of the world to die by its side. And it would have gladly sung them a sweet, low lullaby, crooning a song 30 with which mothers on the shores of all the seven seas had once rocked them to sleep—only now the sound of heavy firing, dull booms of the cannon, and the spit and nervous drum of the machine gun, made its song as futile and indistinguishable as the whisper of a child in the roar of a mob. 5
What a story its sweet waters had to tell to all the rivers of the world when they met in the broad sea: a tale of strange men who fought and died that it might still be a part of France; a tale of deeds of glory and of valor and of sacrifice. And some of these men had come from faraway 10 America to this little river, this stream so tiny and so modest that it might have forever remained unknown and unsung.
It was the Somme.
* * * * *
After all, what does size matter—except the size of the 15 heart and of the soul?
The great Mississippi, the mystic Amazon, the majestic Hudson, the wide Danube—all mighty in power and commerce!
The Yser, the Aisne, the Oise, the Somme, the Marne—little 20 streams of France; old brooks as precious as Thermopylae or Bunker Hill!
Tiny are they—and so was Bethlehem!
—Red Cross Magazine.
1. What three rivers are discussed? For what does each stand?
2. Explain the French schoolgirl's letter. Which party, to her, represented justice?
3. What great general is called the "Hero of the Marne"? Why?
4. Why are Thermopylae and Bunker Hill "previous"? Name some other "precious" places in the world.
5. What lesson do you get from this selection?
(Used by permission of the Red Cross Magazine.)
THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE
BY CHARLES WOLFE
Sir John Moore (1761-1809) was a British general. His last engagement was at the head of the British forces in Spain, fighting against Napoleon. Upon word that Napoleon with an army of 70,000 was marching against him, he decided to make for the coast with his 25,000 men. They were obliged to march for 250 miles over slippery mountain roads, and were forced into battle before they could embark. The French were repulsed with heavy losses, but Moore was fatally wounded. This fine poem describes his burial on that foreign shore.
Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, As his corse to the ramparts we hurried; Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot O'er the grave where our hero we buried.
We buried him darkly at dead of night, 5 The sods with our bayonets turning, By the struggling moonbeam's misty light, And the lantern dimly burning.
No useless coffin inclosed his breast, Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him; 10 But he lay like a warrior taking his rest With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said, And we spoke not a word of sorrow; But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead, 15 And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed And smoothed down his lonely pillow, That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head. And we far away on the billow.
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone, 5 And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him; But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on, In the grave where a Briton has laid him.
But half of our heavy task was done When the bell tolled the hour for retiring; 10 And we heard the distant and random gun That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down, From the field of his fame fresh and gory; We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone, 15 But we left him alone with his glory!
1. Give synonyms for: corse, ramparts, martial, upbraid, tolled, reck, gory, random.
2. Describe this simple burial in your own words. What are the customary rites at a soldier's burial? Why did Sir John Moore not receive a military funeral?
3. Compare this burial with the one described on page 329.
4. Report briefly on Napoleon: who he was, what he did, and what finally became of him.
5. Memorize the poem. Time yourself to see how quickly you can do this.
LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
BY WILLIAM EMERSON
The Reverend William Emerson, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was pastor of the Congregational Church at Concord. The battle of April 19, 1775, was fought near his residence. He was called the "patriot preacher" and died while serving in the Revolutionary army.
This morning between one and two o'clock we were alarmed by the ringing of the church bell, and upon examination found that the troops, to the number of eight hundred, had stolen their march from Boston in boats and barges from the bottom of the Common over to a point 5 in Cambridge near to Inman's farm, and were at Lexington meetinghouse half an hour before sunrise, where they had fired upon a body of our men, and as we afterward heard, had killed several. This intelligence was brought to us at first by Dr. Samuel Prescott, who narrowly escaped the 10 guard that were sent before on horses purposely to prevent all posts and messengers from giving us timely information. He, by the help of a very fleet horse, crossing several walls and fences, arrived at Concord at the time above mentioned, when several posts were immediately dispatched, 15 that, returning, confirmed the presence of the regular army at Lexington, and that they were on their way to Concord. Upon this a number of our minutemen belonging to this town and Acton and Lincoln, with several others that were in readiness, marched out to meet them. 20
While the alarm company were preparing to meet them in the town, Captain Minot, who commanded them, thought it proper to take possession of the hill above the meetinghouse as the most advantageous situation. No sooner had we gained it than we were met by the company that were sent out to meet the troops, who informed us 5 they were just upon us and that we must retreat, as their number was more than thribble to ours. We then retreated from the hill near Liberty Pole and took a new post back of the town upon a rising eminence, where we formed into two battalions and waited the arrival of the enemy. 10 Scarcely had we formed before we saw the British troops at the distance of a quarter of a mile, glittering in arms, advancing toward us with the greatest celerity.
Some were for making a stand notwithstanding the superiority of their numbers, but others more prudent 15 thought best to retreat till our strength should be equal to the enemy by recruits from neighboring towns who were continually coming in to our assistance. Accordingly we retreated over the bridge; when the troops came into the town, set fire to several carriages for the artillery, destroyed 20 sixty barrels of flour, rifled several houses, took possession of the Town House, destroyed five hundred pounds of ball, set a guard of a hundred men at the North Bridge, and sent up a party to the house of Colonel Barrett, where they were in expectation of finding a quantity of warlike 25 stores; but these were happily secured just before their arrival by transfer into the woods and other by-places. In the meantime, the guard set by the enemy to secure the pass at the North Bridge were alarmed by the approach of our people, who had retreated, as mentioned before, 30 and were now advancing with special orders not to fire upon the troops unless fired upon.
These orders were so punctually observed that we received the fire of the enemy in three several and separate discharges of their pieces before it was returned by our commanding officer. The firing then soon became general for several minutes, in which skirmish two were killed on 5 each side and several of the enemy wounded. It may here be observed, by the way, that we were the more careful to prevent beginning a rupture with the King's troops as we were then uncertain what had happened at Lexington and knew not that they had begun the quarrel there by 10 first firing upon our party and killing eight men upon the spot. The British troops soon quitted their post at the bridge and retreated in great disorder and confusion to the main body, who were soon upon the march to meet them. For half an hour the enemy, by their marches and countermarches, 15 discovered great fickleness and inconstancy of mind, sometimes advancing, sometimes returning to their former posts, till at length they quitted the town and retreated by the way they came. In the meantime a party of our men (one hundred and fifty) took the back way through 20 the great fields into the East Quarter and had placed themselves to advantage, lying in ambush behind walls, fences, and buildings, ready to fire upon the enemy on their retreat.
1. This entry in Mr. Emerson's journal was made on the day of the Lexington-Concord battle. Give the date of it.
2. What poem did the Reverend Mr. Emerson's grandson write about the battle of Concord? Bring it to class and read it.
3. What famous ride is connected with this battle?
4. Describe the fight. Was Mr. Emerson actually engaged in the battle? Give proof of your answer.
BY ROBERT BROWNING
Robert Browning (1812-1889) is one of the great poets of England. The following incident of a simple French sailor performing a deed of heroism appealed to Browning's dramatic sense; hence this stirring ballad. The poem was written in 1871, when France was suffering defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The proceeds from its sale (one hundred pounds) were contributed to French war sufferers.
On the sea and at the Hogue, sixteen hundred ninety-two, Did the English fight the French,—woe to France! And, the thirty-first of May, helter-skelter through the blue, Like a crowd of frightened porpoises a shoal of sharks 5 pursue, Came crowding ship on ship to Saint Malo on the Rance, With the English fleet in view.
'Twas the squadron that escaped, with the victor in full chase; 10 First and foremost of the drove, in his great ship, Damfreville; Close on him fled, great and small, Twenty-two good ships in all; And they signaled to the place— 15 "Help the winners of a race! Get us guidance, give us harbor, take us quick—or, quicker still, Here's the English can and will!"
Then the pilots of the place put out brisk and leapt on board. "Why, what hope or chance have ships like these to pass?" laughed they. "Rocks to starboard, rocks to port, all the passage scarred 5 and scored, Shall the Formidable here, with her twelve and eighty guns, Think to make the river mouth by the single narrow way, Trust to enter where 'tis ticklish for a craft of twenty tons, And with flow at full beside? 10 Now, 'tis slackest ebb of tide. Reach the mooring? Rather say, While rock stands or water runs, Not a ship will leave the bay!"
Then was called a council straight. 15 Brief and bitter the debate: "Here's the English at our heels; would you have them take in tow All that's left us of the fleet, linked together stern and bow, For a prize to Plymouth Sound? 20 Better run the ships aground!"— (Ended Damfreville his speech)— "Not a minute more to wait! Let the captains all and each Shove ashore, then blow up, burn the vessels on the 25 beach! France must undergo her fate.
"Give the word!" But no such word Was ever spoke or heard; For up stood, for out stepped, for in struck, amid all these— 30 A captain? A lieutenant? A mate—first, second, third? No such man of mark, and meet With his betters to compete, But a simple Breton sailor pressed by Tourville for the fleet— 5 A poor coasting pilot he, Herve Riel the Croisickese. And "What mockery or malice have we here?" cries Herve Riel. "Are you mad, you Malouins? Are you cowards, fools, or rogues? 10 Talk to me of rocks and shoals, me who took the soundings, tell On my fingers every bank, every shallow, every swell, 'Twixt the offing here and Greve where the river disembogues? 15 Are you bought by English gold? Is it love the lying's for? Morn and eve, night and day, Have I piloted your bay, Entered free and anchored fast at the foot of Solidor. 20 Burn the fleet and ruin France? That were worse than fifty Hogues! Sirs, they know I speak the truth! Sirs, believe me there's a way! Only let me lead the line, 25 Have the biggest ship to steer; Get this Formidable clear, Make the others follow mine, And I lead them, most and least, by a passage I know well, Right to Solidor past Greve, 30 And there lay them safe and sound; And if one ship misbehave— Keel so much as grate the ground— Why, I've nothing but my life—here's my head!" cries Herve Riel.
Not a minute more to wait. "Steer us in, then, small and great! 5 Take the helm, lead the line, save the squadron!" cried its chief. "Captains, give the sailor place! He is admiral, in brief." Still the north wind, by God's grace! 10 See the noble fellow's face As the big ship, with a bound, Clears the entry like a hound, Keeps the passage as its inch of way were the wide seas profound! 15 See, safe through shoal and rock, How they follow in a flock, Not a ship that misbehaves, not a keel that grates the ground, Not a spar that comes to grief! 20 The peril, see, is past, All are harbored to the last, And just as Herve Riel hollas "Anchor!"—sure as fate, Up the English come—too late!
So the storm subsides to calm; 25 They see the green trees wave On the heights o'erlooking Greve; Hearts that bled are stanched with balm. "Just our rapture to enhance, Let the English rake the bay, 30 Gnash their teeth and glare askance As they cannonade away! 'Neath rampired Solidor pleasant riding on the Rance!" How hope succeeds despair on each captain's countenance!