Page images


“Freely ye have received, freely give.”—Matt. x. 8.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”—Acts xx. 35.
1. Give! as the morning that flows out of heaven;

Give! as the waves when their channel is riven;
Give! as the free air and sunshine are given;

Lavishly, utterly, joyfully give:-
Not the waste drops of thy cup overflowing,
Not the faint sparks of thy hearth ever glowing,
Not a pale bud from the June roses blowing;

Give, as He gave thee, who gave thee to live. 2. Pour out thy love, like the rush of a river,

Wasting its waters, for ever and ever,
Through the burnt sands that reward not the giver;

Silent or songful, thou nearest the sea.
Scatter thy life, as the summer showers pouring !
What if no bird through the pearl-rain is soaring?
What if no blossom looks upward adoring?

Look to the life that was lavished for thee! 3. So the wild wind strews its perfumed caresses,

Evil and thankless the desert it blesses,
Bitter the wave that its soft pinion presses,

Never it ceaseth to whisper and sing.
What if the hard heart give thorns for thy roses ?
What if on rocks thy tired bosom reposes?
Sweetest is music with minor-keyed closes,

Fairest the vines that on ruin will cling. 4. Almost the day of thy giving is over;

Ere from the grass dies the bee-haunted clover,
Thou wilt have vanished from friend and from lover;

What shall thy longing avail in the grave?

Give, as the heart gives, whose fetters are breaking,
Life, love, and hope, all thy dreams and thy waking,
Soon heaven's river thy soul-fever slaking,
Thou shalt know God, and the gift that He gave.


[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

1. Then was committed that great crime, memorable for its singular atrocity, memorable for the tremendous retribution by which it was followed. The English captives were left at the mercy of the guards, and the guards

1 From Lord Macaulay's Essay on Lord Clive, inserted by the permission of Messrs. Longmans, Green, & Co.


determined to secure them for the night in the prison of the garrison, a chamber known by the fearful name of the Black Hole. Even for a single European malefactor, that dungeon would, in such a climate, have been too close and narrow.

The space was only twenty feet square. The air-holes were small and obstructed. It was the summer solstice, the season when the fierce heat of Bengal can scarcely be rendered tolerable to natives of Eng. land by lofty halls and by the constant waving of fans.

2. The number of the prisoners was one hundred and forty-six. When they were ordered to enter the cell, they imagined that the soldiers were joking; and, being in high spirits on account of the promise of the Nabob to spare their lives, they laughed and jested at the absurdity of the notion. They soon discovered their mistake. They expostulated; they entreated; but in vain. The guards threatened to cut down all who hesitated.

The captives were driven into the cell at the point of the sword, and the door was instantly shut and locked upon them.

3. Nothing in history or fiction, not even the story which Ugolino told in the sea of everlasting ice, after he had wiped his bloody lips on the scalp of his murderer, approaches the horrors which were recounted by the few survivors of that night. They cried for mercy. They strove to burst the door. Holwell who, even in that extremity, retained some presence of mind, offered large bribes to the jailers. But the answer was that nothing could be done without the Nabob's orders, that the Nabob was asleep, and that he would be angry if anybody woke him.

4. Then the prisoners went mad with despair. They trampled each other down, fought for the places at the windows, fought for the pittance of water with which the cruel mercy of the murderers mocked their agonies, raved, prayed, blasphemed, implored the guards to fire among them. The jailers in the mean time held lights to the bars, and shouted with laughter at the frantic struggles of their victims.

5. At length the tumult died away in low gaspings and moanings. The day broke. The Nabob had slept off his debauch, and permitted the door to be opened. But it was some time before the soldiers could make a lane for the survivors, by piling up on each side the heaps of corpses on which the burning climate had already begun to do its loathsome work.

6. When at length a passage was made, twenty-three ghastly figures, such as their own mothers would not have known, staggered one by one out of the charnel-house. A pit was instantly dug. The dead bodies, a hundred and twenty-three in number, were flung into it promiscuously, and covered up.Lord Macaulay.

Questions on the lesson :-For what two things is the crime memorable? In what year did the event occur? What led to it? (see note). What were the dimensions of “the Hole” in which the prisoners were confined? The season? The number of the prisoners? What put them off their guard? How were they forced into the prison? In what ways did they seek relief? What was the result of the night's confinement?

summer solstice.—solstice is from the Lat. sol, the sun, and stare, to stand. It is that point furthest north or south of the equator at which the sun is overhead. The sun reaches this point in the north on the 21st of June, which is therefore the summer solstice. After this date the point at which the sun is vertical moves gradually southward until the 21st of December, which is the winter solstice.

Nabob.—The Nabob here referred to was Surajah Dowlah. He succeeded to the viceroyalty of Bengal on the death of his grand. father in 1756. He was then under 20 years of age.

Hating the English he soon found a pretext for quarrelling with them. He marched with an army against Fort William and captured it. The prison of the Fort went by the name of the “Black Hole.”


Englishmen who had acquired fortunes in India and had returned home were called nabobs.

Ugolino: in the Inferno of Dante, Ugolino a Count of Pisa and the Archbishop who had starved him and his four children to death are represented as frozen in one hole in the “ sea of everlasting ice.” Ugolino is gnawing his fellow-prisoner's skull, and when about to declare his wrongs he wipes his lips on the hair of the head he was gnawing.

Holwell, was the highest in rank of the prisoners who fell into the Nabob's hands on the capture of the fort.

Fort William, now the largest fortress in India. It defends Calcutta,




[Robert Clive was son of a small proprietor near Market Drayton, in Shropshire. As a ne'er-do-well he was sent off by his friends to Madras and found employment as a clerk in the service of the East India Company. In an attack made by the French on Madras he was taken prisoner, but afterwards escaped in disguise. He became an officer in the force which the Company at once raised in order to check the progress of the French power in India. Besides other exploits Clive seized Arcot at the head of a few hundred English and Sepoys and held it for fifty days. Afterwards he twice defeated the French and their allies in the field. Impaired health sent him for a time to England. He had, however, returned and been a few months in Madras when the tragedy of the Black Hole of Calcutta occurred. As soon as the news reached Madras Clive set sail with 1000 British troops and 2000 Sepoys to inflict punishment on Surajah Dowlah for his crime. The Battle of Plassey which ensued was fought on the 23d of June, 1757.]

1. Clive had advanced to Cossimbuzar; the Nabob lay with a mighty power a few miles off at Plassey; and still

1 From Lord Macaulay's Essay on Lord Clive, inserted by permission of Messrs. Longmans, Green, & Co.

« PreviousContinue »