« PreviousContinue »
screaming of swallows or the cackling of hens. Amidst the simple melody of the robin we are suddenly surprised by the shrill reiterations of the whip-poor-will; while the notes of the kildeer, blue jay, marten, baltimore, and twenty others, succeed with such imposing reality that we look round for the originals, and discover, with astonishment, that the sole performer in this singular concert is the admirable bird now before us.
8. During this exhibition of his powers he spreads his wings, expands his tail, and throws himself around the cage in all the ecstasy of enthusiasm, seeming not only to sing, but to dance, keeping time to the measure of his own music. Both in his native and domesticated state, during the solemn stillness of the night, as soon as the moon rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful solo, and serenades us with a full display of his vocal powers, making the whole neighbourhood ring with his inimitable melody.—Alexander Wilson (1766–1813).
Questions on the lesson :- What is said of the bird's plumagehis figure--his movements—his intelligence? What qualities does his voice possess? In what respects is the bird like-in what does he surpass his originals? How are his own notes described? How is he occupied while singing? What impression is produced on a bystander by listening to his song? How does he sometimes mislead? What amusing things does the mocking-bird do when domesticated? What is sometimes thought to impair his song?
THE BLOOM ON CHARACTER.
1. Over the plum and apricot there may be seen a bloom and beauty more exquisite than the fruit itself--a soft, delicate flush that overspreads its blushing cheek. Now, if you strike your
hand over that, and it is once gone, it is gone
2. The flower that hangs in the morning, impearled with dew, arrayed with jewels,—once shake it so that the beads roll off, and you may sprinkle water over it as you please, yet it.can never be made again what it was when the dew fellslightly upon it from heaven.
3. On a frosty morning you may see the panes of glass covered with landscapes, mountains, lakes, and trees, blended in a beautiful fantastic picture. Now, lay your hand upon the glass, and by the scratch of your fingers, or by the warmth of the palm, all the delicate tracery will be immediately obliterated.
4. So in youth there is a purity of character which when once touched and defiled can never be restored, — a fringe more delicate than frostwork, and which when torn and broken will never be re-embroidered.
5. A man who has spotted and soiled his garments in youth, though he may seek to make them white again, can never wholly do it, even were he to wash them with his tears. When a young man leaves his father's house, with the blessing of his mother's tears still wet upon his forehead, if he once loses that early purity of character, it is a loss he can never make whole again. Such is the consequence of crime. Its effects cannot be eradicated, they can only be forgiven.—Henry W. Beecher (b. 1813).
Questions on the lesson :—To what three different things is the bloom on the character of the young compared? In each case what results from a rude handling of them? How are these comparisons applied to the case of the young?
UNDER THE VIOLETS.
1. Her hands are cold: her face is white;
No more her pulses come and go; Her eyes are shut to life and light;
Fold the white vesture, snow on snow,
And lay her where the violets blow. 2. But not beneath a graven stone,
To plead for tears with alien eyes; A slender cross of wood alone
Shall say, that here a maiden lies
In peace beneath the peaceful skies. 3. And gray old trees of hugest limb
Shall wheel their circling shadows round, To make the scorching sunlight dim
That drinks the greenness from the ground,
And drop their dead leaves on her mound. 4. When o'er their boughs the squirrels run,
And through their leaves the robins call, And, ripening in the autumn sun,
The acorns and the chestnuts fall,
Doubt not that she will heed them all. 5. For her the morning choir shall sing
Its matins from the branches high, And every minstrel-voice of spring,
That trills beneath the April sky,
Shall greet her with its earliest cry. 6. When, turning round their dial-track,
Eastward the lengthening shadows pass,
The crickets, sliding through the grass,
7. If any, born of kindlier blood,
Should ask, What maiden lies below?
That tried to blossom in the snow,
0. W. Holmes (1809).
WILLIAM OF NORMANDY.1
“EMBODIMENT OF THE FIXED PURPOSE AND THE UNBENDING WILL.”
1. William, King of the English and Duke of the Normans, bears a name which must for ever stand forth among the foremost of mankind. No man that ever trod this earth was ever endowed with greater natural gifts; to no man was it ever granted to accomplish greater things. If we look only to the scale of a man's acts, without regard to their moral character, we must hail in the victor of Val-ės-dunes, of Varaville, and of Senlac, in the restorer of Normandy, the Conqueror of England, one who may fairly claim his place in the first rank of the world's greatest men.
2. No man ever did his work more thoroughly at the moment; no man ever left his work behind him as more truly an abiding posssession for all time. And when we consider all the circumstances of his life, when we judge him by the standard of his own age, above all when we compare him with those who came after him in his own house, we shall perhaps be inclined to dwell on his great qualities, on his many undoubted virtues, rather than to put his no less undoubted crimes in their darkest light.
3. As we cannot refuse to place him among the greatest 1 From The History of the Norman Conquest of England, by permission of Mr. Freeman and the Delegates of the Clarendon Press.
of men, neither will a candid judgment incline us to place him among the worst of men. If we cannot give him a niche among pure patriots and heroes, he is quite as little entitled to a place among mere tyrants and destroyers. William of Normandy has no claim to share in the pure glory of Timoleôn, Aelfred, and Washington; he cannot, even claim the more mingled fame of Alexander, Charles, and Cnut; but he has even less in common with the mere enemies of their species, with the Nabuchodonosors, the Swegens, and the Buonapartes, whom God has sent from time to time as simple scourges guilty world.
4. In estimating the character of William, one feature stands out pre-eminently above all others. Throughout his career we admire in him the embodiment, in the highest degree that human nature will allow, of the fixed purpose and the unbending will. From time to time there have been men who seem to have come into the world to sway the course of events at their good pleasure, men who have made destiny itself their vassal, and whose decrees it seems in vain for lesser men to seek to withstand.
5. Such was the man who, with the blood of thousands reeking on his hands, could lay down despotic power, could walk unattended to his house, and calmly offer to give an account for any of his actions; and such in might, though assuredly not such in crime, was our first Norman King. Whatever the will of William decreed, he found a means to bring it about. Whatever his hand found to do, he did it with all his might.
6. As a warrior, as a general, it is needless to sound his praises. His warlike exploits set him among the foremost captains of history, but his warlike exploits are but the smallest part of his fame. Others beside him could