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THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON READING BOOK
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED AT THE OFFICE
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS,
THIRD EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS
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[Illustration: PRINCE ALBERT IN HIS ROBES AS CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.]
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To read and speak with elegance and ease, Are arts polite that never fail to please; Yet in those arts how very few excel!
Ten thousand men may read–not one read well. Though all mankind are speakers in a sense, How few can soar to heights of eloquence! The sweet melodious singer trills her lays, And listening crowds go frantic in her praise; But he who reads or speaks with feeling true, Charms and delights, instructs, and moves us too.
To deprive Instruction of the terrors with which the young but too often regard it, and strew flowers upon the pathways that lead to Knowledge, is to confer a benefit upon all who are interested in the cause of Education, either as Teachers or Pupils. The design of the following pages is not merely to present to the youthful reader some of the masterpieces of English literature in prose and verse, arranged and selected in such a manner as to please as well as instruct, but to render them more agreeable to the eye and the imagination by Pictorial Representations, in illustration of the subjects. It is hoped that this design has not been altogether unsuccessful, and that the ILLUSTRATED LONDON READING BOOK will recommend itself both to old and young by the appropriateness of the selections, their progressive arrangement, the fidelity of their Illustrations, and the very moderate price at which it is offered to the public.
It has not been thought necessary to prefix to the present Volume any instructions in the art of Elocution, or to direct the accent or intonation of the student by the abundant use of italics or of large capitals. The principal, if not the only secrets of good reading are, to speak slowly, to articulate distinctly, to pause judiciously, and to feel the subject so as, if possible, “to make all that passed in the mind of the Author to be felt by the Auditor,” Good oral example upon these points is far better for the young Student than the most elaborate written system.
A series of Educational Works, in other departments of study, _similarly illustrated,_ and at a price equally small, is in preparation. Among the earliest to be issued, may be enumerated a Sequel and Companion to the ILLUSTRATED LONDON READING BOOK, designed for a more advanced class of Students, and consisting of extracts from English Classical Authors, from the earliest periods of English Literature to the present day, with a copious Introductory Chapter upon the arts of Elocution and Composition. The latter will include examples of Style chosen from the beauties of the best Authors, and will also point out by similar examples the Faults to be avoided by all who desire to become, not simply good Readers and Speakers, but elegant Writers of their native language.
Amongst the other works of which the series will be composed, may be mentioned, profusely Illustrated Volumes upon Geographical, Astronomical, Mathematical, and General Science, as well as works essential to the proper training of the youthful mind.
Abbey, Account of Strata Florida
Adam and Eve in Paradise (MILTON)
Alfred, Anecdote of King (BEAUTIES OF HISTORY) Alfred, Character of King (HUME)
Angling, Lines on (DOUBLEDAY)
Antioch, The Siege of (POPULAR DELUSIONS) Artillery Tactics
Athens, Present Appearance of
Attock, Description of the Fort of
Bacon, Remarks on Lord (D’ISRAELI)
Balloons, Account of
Baltic, Battle of the (CAMPBELL)
Bell, The Founding of the (MACKAY)
Bible, Value of the (BUCK)
Birds, Appropriateness of the Songs of (DR. JENNER) Bower-Birds, Description of the
Bridges, Account of Tubular Railway Bunyan’s Wife, Anecdote of (LORD CAMPBELL) Bushmen, Account of the
Caesar, Character of Julius (MIDDLETON) Canada, Intense Cold of (SIR F. HEAD)
Canary, Account of the
Chatterton, Lines by
Cheerfulness, Description of (ADDISON) China, Account of the Great Wall of
Christian Freedom (POLLOCK)
Clarendon, Account of Lord
Cobra di Capello, Description of the Condors, Account of
Cruelty to Animals, Wickedness of (JENYNS) Culloden Battle-field, Description of (HIGHLAND NOTE-BOOK) Cyprus, Description of
Danish Encampment, Account of a
Deity, Omniscience of the (ADDISON) Dogs, A Chapter on
Dove, Return of the (MACKAY)
Edward VI., Character of (BURNET)
Elegy in a Country Churchyard (GRAY) Elizabeth (Queen), at Tilbury Fort (ENGLISH HISTORY) Envy, Wickedness of (DR. JOHNSON)
Faith’s Guiding Star (ELIZA COOK)
Filial Love (DR. DODD)
Fox, Description of the Long-eared
Frederick of Prussia and his Page (BEAUTIES OF HISTORY)
Gambier Islanders, Account of
Gelert (W. SPENCER)
Gentleness, Character of (BLAIR)
Goldsmith, Remarks on the Style of (CAMPBELL) Goliah Aratoo, Description of the
Greece, Isles of (BYRON)
Greece, The Shores of (BYRON)
Gresham, Account of Sir Thomas
Grief, The First (MRS. HEMANS)
Grouse, Description of the
Hagar and Ishmael, Story of
Hampden, Account of John
Hercules, The Choice of (TATLER)
Holly Bough (MACKAY)
Iguana, Description of the
Industry, Value of (BLAIR)
Integrity (DR. DODD)
Ivy in the Dungeon (MACKAY)
“Jack The Giant Killer,” Origin of (CARLYLE) Jalapa, Description of
Jewels, Description of the Crown
Joppa, Account of
Jordan, Description of the River
Jordan’s Banks (BYRON)
Juggernaut, Account of the Car of
Kaffir Chiefs, Account of
Kaffir Letter-carrier, Account of
Kangaroo, Description of the
Knowledge, on the Attainment of (DR. WATTS)
Leopard, Description of the Black
Lighthouse, Description of Hartlepool Lilies (MRS. HEMANS)
Mangouste, Description of the
Mariners of England (CAMPBELL)
Martello Towers, Account of
Mary’s (Queen) Bower, at Chatsworth Microscope, Revelations of the (DR. MANTELL) Midnight Thoughts (YOUNG)
Mill-stream, Lines on a (MARY HOWITT) Music, Remarks on (USHER)
Napoleon, Character of (GENERAL FOY)
Nature and its Lord
Nature, The Order of (POPE)
Nests of Birds, Construction of (STURM) Niagara, Account of the Falls of (SIR JAMES ALEXANDER) Nightingale and Glowworm (COWPER)
Olive, Description of the
Othello’s History (SHAKESPEARE)
Owls, Account of
Owls, (Two) and the Sparrow (GAY)
Palm-Tree, Account of the
Palm-Tree, Lines on a (MRS. HEMANS) Parrot, Lines on a (CAMPBELL)
Patmos, Description of the Isle of
Paul and Virginia, Supposed Tombs of Pekin, Description of
Peter the Hermit Preaching the First Crusade (POPULAR DELUSIONS) Poetry, Rise of, among the Romans (SPENCE) Polar Regions, Description of the
Pompeii, Account of
Poor, The Afflicted (CRABBE)
Pyramid Lake, Account of the
Railway Tunnels, Difficulties of
Rainbow, Account of a Lunar
Rattlesnake, Account of the (F.T. BUCKLAND) Rome, Lines on (ROGERS)
Rookery, Dialogue about a (EVENINGS AT HOME)
Sardis, Description of
Schoolboy’s Pilgrimage (JANE TAYLOR) Seasons (THOMSON)
Shakspeare, Remarks on
Sheep, Description of Thibetan
Sierra Nevada, Description of the (FREMONT’S TRAVEL) Siloam, Account of the Pool of
Sleep, Henry IV.’s Soliloquy on (SHAKSPEARE) Sloth, Description of the
Smyrna, Description of
Staffa, Description of (HIGHLAND NOTE-BOOK) Stag, The hunted (SIR W. SCOTT)
Starling, Story of a (STERNE)
St. Bernard, Account of the Dogs of (THE MENAGERIES) St. Cecilia, Ode to (DRYDEN)
Stepping-stones, The (WORDSWORTH)
Stony Cross, Description of
Stream, the Nameless (MACKAY)
Study, Remarks on (LORD BACON)
Sun Fish, Capture of a (CAPTAIN BEDFORD, R.N.) Sydney, Generosity of Sir Philip (BEAUTIES of HISTORY)
Tabor, Description of Mount
Tapir, Description of the
Telegraph, Account of the Electric (SIR F. HEAD) Time, What is it? (REV. J. MARSDEN)
Tyre, the Siege of (LANGHORNE’S PLUTARCH)
Una and the Lion (SPENSER)
Universe, Grandeur of the (ADDISON)
Waterloo, Description of the Field of Winter Thoughts (THOMSON)
Writing, On Simplicity in (HUME)
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THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON READING BOOK
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THE SCHOOLBOY’S PILGRIMAGE.
[Illustration: Letter N.]
Nothing could be more easy and agreeable than my condition when I was first summoned to set out on the road to learning, and it was not without letting fall a few ominous tears that I took the first step. Several companions of my own age accompanied me in the outset, and we travelled pleasantly together a good part of the way.
We had no sooner entered upon our path, than we were accosted by three diminutive strangers. These we presently discovered to be the advance-guard of a Lilliputian army, which was seen advancing towards us in battle array. Their forms were singularly grotesque: some were striding across the path, others standing with their arms a-kimbo; some hanging down their heads, others quite erect; some standing on one leg, others on two; and one, strange to say, on three; another had his arms crossed, and one was remarkably crooked; some were very slender, and others as broad as they were long. But, notwithstanding this diversity of figure, when they were all marshalled in line of battle, they had a very orderly and regular appearance. Feeling disconcerted by their numbers, we were presently for sounding a retreat; but, being urged forward by our guide, we soon mastered the three who led the van, and this gave us spirit to encounter the main army, who were conquered to a man before we left the field. We had scarcely taken breath after this victory, when, to our no small dismay, we descried a strong reinforcement of the enemy, stationed on the opposite side. These were exactly equal in number to the former army, but vastly superior in size and stature; they were, in fact, a race of giants, though of the same species with the others, and were capitally accoutred for the onset. Their appearance discouraged us greatly at first, but we found their strength was not proportioned to their size; and, having acquired much skill and courage by the late engagement, we soon succeeded in subduing them, and passed off the field in triumph. After this we were perpetually engaged with small bands of the enemy, no longer extended in line of battle, but in small detachments of two, three, and four in company. We had some tough work here, and now and then they were too many for us. Having annoyed us thus for a time, they began to form themselves into close columns, six or eight abreast; but we had now attained so much address, that we no longer found them formidable.
After continuing this route for a considerable way, the face of the country suddenly changed, and we began to enter upon a vast succession of snowy plains, where we were each furnished with a certain light weapon, peculiar to the country, which we flourished continually, and with which we made many light strokes, and some desperate ones. The waters hereabouts were dark and brackish, and the snowy surface of the plain was often defaced by them. Probably, we were now on the borders of the Black Sea. These plains we travelled across and across for many a day.
Upon quitting this district, the country became far more dreary: it appeared nothing but a dry and sterile region, the soil being remarkably hard and slatey. Here we saw many curious figures, and we soon found that the inhabitants of this desert were mere ciphers. Sometimes they appeared in vast numbers, but only to be again suddenly diminished.
Our road, after this, wound through a rugged and hilly country, which was divided into nine principal parts or districts, each under a different governor; and these again were reduced into endless subdivisions. Some of them we were obliged to decline. It was not a little puzzling to perceive the intricate ramifications of the paths in these parts. Here the natives spoke several dialects, which rendered our intercourse with them very perplexing. However, it must be confessed that every step we set in this country was less fatiguing and more interesting. Our course at first lay all up hill; but when we had proceeded to a certain height, the distant country, which is most richly variegated, opened freely to our view.
I do not mean at present to describe that country, or the different stages by which we advance through its scenery. Suffice it to say, that the journey, though always arduous, has become more and more pleasant every stage; and though, after years of travel and labour, we are still very far from the Temple of Learning, yet we have found on the way more than enough to make us thankful to the kindness of the friends who first set us on the path, and to induce us to go forward courageously and rejoicingly to the end of the journey.
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Pekin, or Peking, a word which in Chinese means “Northern Capital,” has been the chief city of China ever since the Tartars were expelled, and is the residence of the Emperor. The tract of country on which it stands is sandy and barren; but the Grand Canal is well adapted for the purpose of feeding its vast population with the produce of more fertile provinces and districts. A very large portion of the centre of the part of Pekin called the Northern City is occupied by the Emperor with his palaces and gardens, which are of the most beautiful description, and, surrounded by their own wall, form what is called the “Prohibited City.”
[Illustration: GRAND CANAL AT THE ENTRANCE TO PEKIN.]
The Grand Canal, which runs about five hundred miles, without allowing for windings, across the kingdom of China, is not only the means by which subsistence is brought to the inhabitants of the imperial city, but is of great value in conveying the tribute, a large portion of the revenue being paid in kind. Dr. Davis mentions having observed on it a large junk decorated with a yellow umbrella, and found on enquiry that it had the honour of bearing the “Dragon robes,” as the Emperor’s garments are called. These are forwarded annually, and are the peculiar tribute of the silk districts. The banks of the Grand Canal are, in many parts through which it flows, strongly faced with stone, a precaution very necessary to prevent the danger of inundations, from which some parts of this country are constantly suffering. The Yellow River so very frequently overflows its banks, and brings so much peril and calamity to the people, that it has been called “China’s Sorrow;” and the European trade at Canton has been very heavily taxed for the damage occasioned by it.
The Grand Canal and the Yellow River, in one part of the country, run within four or five miles of each other, for about fifty miles; and at length they join or cross each other, and then run in a contrary direction. A great deal of ceremony is used by the crews of the vessels when they reach this point, and, amongst other customs, they stock themselves abundantly with live cocks, destined to be sacrificed on crossing the river. These birds annoy and trouble the passengers so much by their incessant crowing on the top of the boats, that they are not much pitied when the time for their death arrives. The boatmen collect money for their purchase from the passengers, by sending red paper petitions called _pin_, begging for aid to provide them with these and other needful supplies. The difficulties which the Chinese must have struggled against, with their defective science, in this junction of the canal and the river, are incalculable; and it is impossible to deny them the praise they deserve for so great an exercise of perseverance and industry.
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THE GOLIAH ARATOO.
The splendid family of parrots includes about one hundred and sixty species, and, though peculiar to the warmer regions of the world, they are better known in England than any other foreign bird. From the beauty of their plumage, the great docility of their manners, and the singular faculty they possess of imitating the human voice, they are general favourites, both in the drawingroom of the wealthy and the cottage of humble life.
The various species differ in size, as well as in appearance and colour. Some (as the macaws) are larger than the domestic fowl, and some of the parakeets are not larger than a blackbird or even a sparrow.
The interesting bird of which our Engraving gives a representation was recently brought alive to this country by the captain of a South-seaman (the _Alert_), who obtained it from a Chinese vessel from the Island of Papua, to whom the captain of the _Alert_ rendered valuable assistance when in a state of distress. In size this bird is one of the largest of the parrot tribe, being superior to the great red Mexican Macaw. The whole plumage is black, glossed with a greenish grey; the head is ornamented with a large crest of long pendulous feathers, which it erects at pleasure, when the bird has a most noble appearance; the orbits of the eyes and cheeks are of a deep rose-colour; the bill is of great size, and will crack the hardest fruit stones; but when the kernel is detached, the bird does not crush and swallow it in large fragments, but scrapes it with the lower mandible to the finest pulp, thus differing from other parrots in the mode of taking food. In the form of its tongue it differs also from other birds of the kind. A French naturalist read a memoir on this organ before the Academy of Sciences at Paris, in which he aptly compared it, in its uses, to the trunk of an elephant. In its manners it is gentle and familiar, and when approached raises a cry which may be compared to a hoarse croaking. In its gait it resembles the rook, and walks much better than most of the climbing family.
[Illustration: GOLIAH ARATOO.]
From the general conformation of the parrots, as well as the arrangement and strength of their toes, they climb very easily, assisting themselves greatly with their hooked bill, but walk rather awkwardly on the ground, from the shortness and wide separation of their legs. The bill of the parrot is moveable in both mandibles, the upper being joined to the skull by a membrane which acts like a hinge; while in other birds the upper beak forms part of the skull. By this curious contrivance they can open their bills widely, which the hooked form of the beak would not otherwise allow them to do. The structure of the wings varies greatly in the different species: in general they are short, and as their bodies are bulky, they cannot consequently rise to any great height without difficulty; but when once they gain a certain distance they fly easily, and some of them with rapidity. The number of feathers in the tail is always twelve, and these, both in length and form, are very varied in the different species, some being arrow or spear-shaped, others straight and square.
In eating, parrots make great use of the feet, which they employ like hands, holding the food firmly with the claws of one, while they support themselves on the other. From the hooked shape of their bills, they find it more convenient to turn their food in an outward direction, instead of, like monkeys and other animals, turning it towards their mouths.
The whole tribe are fond of water, washing and bathing themselves many times during the day in streams and marshy places; and having shaken the water from their plumage, seem greatly to enjoy spreading their beautiful wings to dry in the sun.
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A DOMESTIC ANECDOTE.
[Illustration: Letter T.]
The deep affections of the breast,
That Heaven to living things imparts, Are not exclusively possess’d
By human hearts.
A parrot, from the Spanish Main,
Full young, and early-caged, came o’er, With bright wings, to the bleak domain Of Mulla’s shore.
To spicy groves, where he had won
His plumage of resplendent hue– His native fruits, and skies, and sun– He bade adieu.
For these he changed the smoke of turf, A heathery land and misty sky;
And turn’d on rocks and raging surf His golden eye.
But, petted, in our climate cold,
He lived and chatter’d many a day; Until, with age, from green and gold
His wings grew grey.
At last, when blind and seeming dumb, He scolded, laugh’d, and spoke no more, A Spanish stranger chanced to come
To Mulla’s shore.
He hail’d the bird in Spanish speech, The bird in Spanish speech replied:
Flapt round his cage with joyous screech– Dropt down and died.
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[Illustration: Letter T.]
‘Tis true, said I, correcting the proposition–the Bastile is not an evil to be despised; but strip it of its towers, fill the fosse, unbarricade the doors, call it simply a confinement, and suppose it is some tyrant of a distemper, and not a man which holds you in it, the evil vanishes, and you bear the other half without complaint. I was interrupted in the heyday of this soliloquy, with a voice which I took to be of a child, which complained “It could not get out.” I looked up and down the passage, and seeing neither man, woman, or child, I went out without further attention. In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words repeated twice over; and looking up, I saw it was a starling, hung in a little cage; “I can’t get out, I can’t get out,” said the starling. I stood looking at the bird; and to every person who came through the passage, it ran fluttering to the side towards which they approached it with the same lamentation of its captivity. “I can’t get out,” said the starling. “Then I will let you out,” said I, “cost what it will;” so I turned about the cage to get at the door–it was twisted and double twisted so fast with wire there was no getting it open without pulling the cage to pieces; I took both hands to it. The bird flew to the place where I was attempting his deliverance, and thrusting his head through the trellis, pressed his breast against it, as if impatient. “I fear, poor creature,” said I, “I cannot set thee at liberty.” “No,” said the starling; “I can’t get out, I can’t get out,” said the starling.
I vow, I never had my affections more tenderly awakened; nor do I remember an incident in my life, where the dissipated spirits to which my reason had been a bubble were so suddenly called home. Mechanical as the notes were, yet so true in tune to nature were they chaunted, that in one moment they overthrew all my systematic reasonings upon the Bastile, and I heavily walked up-stairs unsaying every word I had said in going down them.
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THE CAR OF JUGGERNAUT.
[Illustration: Letter J.]
Juggernaut is the principal idol worshipped by the Hindoos, and to his temple, which is at Pooree, are attached no less than four thousand priests and servants; of these one set are called Pundahs. In the autumn of the year they start on a journey through India, preaching in every town and village the advantages of a pilgrimage to Juggernaut, after which they conduct to Pooree large bodies of pilgrims for the Rath Justra, or Car Festival, which takes place in May or June. This is the principal festival, and the number of devotees varies from about 80,000 to 150,000. No European, Mussulman, or low cast Hindoo is admitted into the temple; we can therefore only speak from report of what goes on inside. Mr. Acland, in his manners and customs of India, gives us the following amusing account of this celebrated idol:–
“Juggernaut represents the ninth incarnation of Vishnoo, a Hindoo deity, and consists of a mere block of sacred wood, in the centre of which is said to be concealed a fragment of the original idol, which was fashioned by Vishnoo himself. The features and all the external parts are formed of a mixture of mud and cow-dung, painted. Every morning the idol undergoes his ablutions; but, as the paint would not stand the washing, the priests adopt a very ingenious plan–they hold a mirror in front of the image and wash his reflection. Every evening he is put to bed; but, as the idol is very unwieldy, they place the bedstead in front of him, and on that they lay a small image. Offerings are made to him by pilgrims and others, of rice, money, jewels, elephants, &c., the Rajah of Knoudah and the priests being his joint treasurers. On the day of the festival, three cars, between fifty and sixty feet in height, are brought to the gate of the temple; the idols are then taken out by the priests, Juggernaut having golden arms and diamond eyes for that one day, and by means of pulleys are hauled up and placed in their respective carriages: to these enormous ropes are attached, and the assembled thousands with loud shouts proceed to drag the idols to Juggernaut’s country-house, a small temple about a mile distant. This occupies several days, and the idols are then brought back to their regular stations. The Hindoos believe that every person who aids in dragging the cars receives pardon for all his past sins; but the fact that people throw themselves under the wheels of the cars, appears to have been an European conjecture, arising from the numerous deaths that occur from accidents at the time the immense cars are in progress.”
[Illustration: CAR OF JUGGERNAUT.]
These cars have an imposing air, from their great size and loftiness: the wheels are six feet in diameter; but every part of the ornament is of the meanest and most paltry description, save only the covering of striped and spangled broad-cloth, the splendid and gorgeous effect of which makes up in a great measure for other deficiencies.
During the period the pilgrims remain at Pooree they are not allowed to eat anything but what has been offered to the idol, and that they have to buy at a high price from the priests.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Letter C.]
Cyprus, an island in the Levant, is said to have taken its name from the number of shrubs of that name with which it once abounded. From this tall shrub, the cypress, its ancient inhabitants made an oil of a very delicious flavour, which was an article of great importance in their commerce, and is still in great repute among Eastern nations. It once, too, abounded with forests of olive trees; and immense cisterns are still to be seen, which have been erected for the purpose of preserving the oil which the olive yielded.
Near the centre of the island stands Nicotia, the capital, and the residence of the governor, who now occupies one of the palaces of its ancient sovereigns. The palaces are remarkable for the beauty of their architecture, but are abandoned by their Turkish masters to the destructive hand of time. The church of St. Sophia, in this place, is built in the Gothic style, and is said to have been erected by the Emperor Justinian. Here the Christian Kings of Cyprus were formerly crowned; but it is now converted into a mosque.
The island was formerly divided into nine kingdoms, and was famous for its superb edifices, its elegant temples, and its riches, but can now boast of nothing but its ruins, which will tell to distant times the greatness from which it has fallen.
The southern coast of this island is exposed to the hot winds from all directions. During a squall from the north-east, the temperature has been described as so scorching, that the skin instantly peeled from the lips, a tendency to sneeze was excited, accompanied with great pain in the eyes, and chapping of the hands and face. The heats are sometimes so excessive, that persons going out without an umbrella are liable to suffer from _coup de soleil_, or sun-stroke; and the inhabitants, especially of the lower class, in order to guard against it, wrap up their heads in a large turban, over which in their journeys they plait a thick shawl many times folded. They seldom, however, venture out of their houses during mid-day, and all journeys, even those of caravans, are performed in the night. Rains are also rare in the summer season, and long droughts banish vegetation, and attract numberless columns of locusts, which destroy the plants and fruits.
The soil, though very fertile, is rarely cultivated, the Greeks being so oppressed by their Turkish masters that they dare not cultivate the rich plains which surround them, as the produce would be taken from them; and their whole object is to collect together during the year as much grain as is barely sufficient to pay their tax to the Governor, the omission of which is often punished by torture or even by death.
The carob, or St. John’s bread-tree, is plentiful; and the long thick pods which it produces are exported in considerable quantities to Syria and Egypt. The succulent pulp which the pod contains is sometimes employed in those countries instead of sugar and honey, and is often used in preserving other fruits. The vine grows here perhaps in greater perfection than in any other part of the world, and the wine of the island is celebrated all over the Levant.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Letter T.]
This terrible reptile is found in great abundance on the continent of America; and if its instinct induced it to make use of the dreadful means of destruction and self-defence which it possesses, it would become so great a scourge as to render the parts in which it is found almost uninhabitable: but, except when violently irritated, or for the purpose of self-preservation, it seldom employs the fatal power bestowed upon it. The rattlesnake inserts its poison in the body of its victim by means of two long sharp-pointed teeth or fangs, which grow one on each side of the forepart of the upper jaw. The construction of these teeth is very singular; they are hollow for a portion of their length, and in each tooth is found a narrow slit communicating with the central hollow; the root of the fang rests on a kind of bag, containing a certain quantity of a liquid poison, and when the animal buries his teeth in his prey, a portion of this fluid is forced through these openings and lodged at the bottom of the wound. Another peculiarity of these poison teeth is, that when not in use they turn back, as it were, upon a hinge, and lie flat in the roof of the animal’s mouth.
The name of rattlesnake is given to it on account of the singular apparatus with which the extremity of its tail is furnished. This consists of a series of hollow horn-like substances, placed loosely one behind the other in such a manner as to produce a kind of rattling noise when the tail is shaken; and as the animal, whenever it is enraged, always carries its tail raised up, and produces at the same time a tremulous motion in it, this provision of nature gives timely notice of its dangerous approach. The number of pieces of which this rattle is formed points out the age of the snake, which acquires a fresh piece every year. Some specimens have been found with as many as from forty to fifty, thus indicating a great age.
[Illustration: RATTLESNAKE AND YOUNG.]
The poison of the Viper consists of a yellowish liquid, secreted in a glandular structure (situated immediately below the skin on either side of the head), which is believed to represent the parotid gland of the higher animals. If a viper be made to bite something solid, so as to avoid its poison, the following are the appearances under the microscope:–At first nothing is seen but a parcel of salts nimbly floating in the liquor, but in a very short time these saline particles shoot out into crystals of incredible tenuity and sharpness, with something like knots here and there, from which these crystals seem to proceed, so that the whole texture in a manner represents a spider’s web, though infinitely finer and more minute. These spiculae, or darts, will remain unaltered on the glass for some months. Five or six grains of this viperine poison, mixed with half an ounce of human blood, received in a warm glass, produce no visible effects, either in colour or consistence, nor do portions of this poisoned blood, mixed with acids or alkalies, exhibit any alterations. When placed on the tongue, the taste is sharp and acrid, as if the tongue had been struck with something scalding or burning; but this sensation goes off in two or three hours. There are only five cases on record of death following the bite of the viper; and it has been observed that the effects are most virulent when the poison has been received on the extremities, particularly the fingers and toes, at which parts the animal, when irritated (as it were, by an innate instinct), always takes its aim.
* * * * *
ORIGIN OF “JACK THE GIANT-KILLER.”
[Illustration: Letter A.]
After various adventures, Thor, accompanied by Thialfi and Loke, his servants, entered upon Giantland, and wandered over plains–wild uncultivated places–among stones and trees. At nightfall they noticed a house; and as the door, which indeed formed one whole side of the house, was open, they entered. It was a simple habitation–one large hall, altogether empty. They stayed there. Suddenly, in the dead of the night, loud voices alarmed them. Thor grasped his hammer, and stood in the doorway, prepared for fight. His companions within ran hither and thither, in their terror, seeking some outlet in that rude hall: they found a little closet at last, and took refuge there. Neither had Thor any battle; for lo! in the morning it turned out that the noise had been only the snoring of a certain enormous, but peaceable, giant–the giant Skrymir, who lay peaceably sleeping near by; and this, that they took for a house, was merely his glove thrown aside there: the door was the glove-wrist; the little closet they had fled into was the thumb! Such a glove! I remark, too, that it had not fingers, as ours have, but only a thumb, and the rest undivided–a most ancient rustic glove!
Skrymir now carried their portmanteau all day; Thor, however, who had his suspicions, did not like the ways of Skrymir, and determined at night to put an end to him as he slept. Raising his hammer, he struck down into the giant’s face a right thunderbolt blow, of force to rend rocks. The giant merely awoke, rubbed his cheek, and said, “Did a leaf fall?” Again Thor struck, as soon as Skrymir again slept, a better blow than before; but the giant only murmured, “Was that a grain of sand!” Thor’s third stroke was with both his hands (the “knuckles white,” I suppose), and it seemed to cut deep into Skrymir’s visage; but he merely checked his snore, and remarked, “There must be sparrows roosting in this tree, I think.”
At the gate of Utgard–a place so high, that you had to strain your neck bending back to see the top of it–Skrymir went his way. Thor and his companions were admitted, and invited to take a share in the games going on. To Thor, for his part, they handed a drinking-horn; it was a common feat, they told him, to drink this dry at one draught. Long and fiercely, three times over, Thor drank, but made hardly any impression. He was a weak child, they told him; could he lift that cat he saw there? Small as the feat seemed, Thor, with his whole godlike strength, could not: he bent up the creature’s back, could not raise its feet off the ground–could at the utmost raise one foot. “Why, you are no man,” said the Utgard people; “there is an old woman that will wrestle you.” Thor, heartily ashamed, seized this haggard old woman, but could not throw her.
[Illustration: THE GIANT SKRYMIR.]
And now, on their quitting Utgard–the chief Jotun, escorting them politely a little way, said to Thor–“You are beaten, then; yet, be not so much ashamed: there was deception of appearance in it. That horn you tried to drink was the sea; you did make it ebb: but who could drink that, the bottomless? The cat you would have lifted–why, that is the Midgard Snake, the Great World Serpent–which, tail in mouth, girds and keeps up the whole created world. Had you torn that up, the world must have rushed to ruin. As for the old woman, she was Time, Old Age, Duration: with her what can wrestle? No man, nor no god, with her. Gods or men, she prevails over all! And then, those three strokes you struck–look at these valleys–your three strokes made these.” Thor looked at his attendant Jotun–it was Skrymir. It was, say old critics, the old chaotic rocky earth in person, and that glove house was some earth cavern! But Skrymir had vanished. Utgard, with its sky-high gates, when Thor raised his hammer to smite them, had gone to air–only the giant’s voice was heard mocking; “Better come no more to Jotunheim!”
* * * * *
VALUE OF THE BIBLE.
What an invaluable blessing it is to have the Bible in our own tongue. It is not only the oldest, but the best book in the world. Our forefathers rejoiced when they were first favoured with the opportunity of reading it for themselves. Infidels may reject, and the licentious may sneer; but no one who ever wished to take away this foundation-stone, could produce any other equal to it, on which the structure of a pious mind, a solid hope, a comfortable state, or wise conduct, could be raised. We are told, that when Archbishop Crammer’s edition of the Bible was printed in 1538, and fixed to a desk in all parochial churches, the ardour with which men flocked to read it was incredible. They who could, procured it; and they who could not, crowded to read it, or to hear it read in churches. It was common to see little assemblies of mechanics meeting together for that purpose after the labour of the day. Many even learned to read in their old age, that they might have the pleasure of instructing themselves from the Scriptures.
It is recorded of Edward VI., that upon a certain occasion, a paper which was called for in the council-chamber happened to be out of reach; the person concerned to produce it took a Bible that lay near, and, standing upon it, reached down the paper. The King, observing what was done, ran to the place, and taking the Bible in his hands kissed it, and laid it up again. This circumstance, though trifling in itself, showed his Majesty’s great reverence for that _best of all books_; and his example is a striking reproof to those who suffer their Bibles to lie covered with dust for months together, or who throw them about as if they were only a piece of useless lumber.
* * * * *
NATURE AND ITS LORD.
[Illustration: Letter T.]
There’s not a leaf within the bower, There’s not a bird upon the tree,
There’s not a dew-drop on the flower, But bears the impress, Lord, of Thee!
Thy hand the varied leaf design’d,
And gave the bird its thrilling tone; Thy power the dew-drops’ tints combined, Till like a diamond’s blaze they shone!
Yes, dew-drops, leaves, and buds, and all– The smallest, like the greatest things– The sea’s vast space, the earth’s wide ball, Alike proclaim thee King of Kings.
But man alone to bounteous heaven
Thanksgiving’s conscious strains can raise; To favour’d man alone ’tis given,
To join the angelic choir in praise!
* * * * *
The struggling rill insensibly is grown Into a brook of loud and stately march, Cross’d ever and anon by plank or arch; And for like use, lo! what might seem a zone Chosen for ornament–stone match’d with stone In studied symmetry, with interspace
For the clear waters to pursue their race Without restraint. How swiftly have they flown– Succeeding, still succeeding! Here the child Puts, when the high-swoll’n flood runs fierce and wild, His budding courage to the proof; and here Declining manhood learns to note the sly And sure encroachments of infirmity–
Thinking how fast time runs–life’s end how near.
* * * * *
During the retreat of the famous King Alfred at Athelney, in Somersetshire, after the defeat of his forces by the Danes, the following circumstance happened, which shows the extremities to which that great man was reduced, and gives a striking proof of his pious and benevolent disposition:–A beggar came to his little castle, and requested alms. His Queen informed him that they had only one small loaf remaining, which was insufficient for themselves and their friends, who were gone abroad in quest of food, though with little hopes of success. But the King replied, “Give the poor Christian the one half of the loaf. He that could feed live thousand with five loaves and two fishes, can certainly make that half of the loaf suffice for more than our necessities.” Accordingly the poor man was relieved; and this noble act of charity was soon recompensed by a providential store of fresh provisions, with which his people returned.
Sir Philip Sydney, at the battle near Zutphen, displayed the most undaunted courage. He had two horses killed under him; and, whilst mounting a third, was wounded by a musket-shot out of the trenches, which broke the bone of his thigh. He returned about mile and a half on horseback to the camp; and being faint with the loss of blood, and parched with thirst from the heat of the weather, he called for drink. It was presently brought him; but, as he was putting the vessel to his mouth, a poor wounded soldier, who happened to be carried along at that instant, looked up to it with wistful eyes. The gallant and generous Sydney took the flagon from his lips, just when he was going to drink, and delivered it to the soldier, saying, “Thy necessity is greater than mine.”
Frederick, King of Prussia, one day rang his bell and nobody answered; on which he opened the door and found his page fast asleep in an elbow-chair. He advanced toward him, and was going to awaken, him, when he perceived a letter hanging out of his pocket. His curiosity prompting him to know what it was, he took it out and read it. It was a letter from the young man’s mother, in which she thanked him for having sent her part of his wages to relieve her in her misery, and finished with telling; him that God would reward him for his dutiful affection. The King, after having read it, went back softly into his chamber, took a bag full of ducats, and slipped it with the letter into the page’s pocket. Returning to his chamber, he rang the bell so violently that he awakened the page, who instantly made his appearance. “You have had a sound sleep,” said the King. The page was at a loss how to excuse himself and, putting his hand into his pocket by chance, to his utter astonishment he there found a purse of ducats. He took it out, turned pale, and looking at the bag, burst into tears without being able to utter a single word. “What is that?” said the King; “what is the matter?” “Ah, sire!” said the young man, throwing himself on his knees, “somebody seeks my ruin! I know nothing of this money which I have just found in my pocket!” “My young friend,” replied Frederick, “God often does great things for us even in our sleep. Send that to your mother, salute her on my part, and assure her that I will take care of both her and you.”
_Beauties of History_.
* * * * *
THE SPANIELS OF THE MONKS OF ST. BERNARD.
The convent of the Great St. Bernard is situated near the top of the mountain known by that name, near one of the most dangerous passes of the Alps, between Switzerland and Savoy. In these regions the traveller is often overtaken by the most severe weather, even after days of cloudless beauty, when the glaciers glitter in the sunshine, and the pink flowers of the rhododendron appear as if they were never to be sullied by the tempest. But a storm suddenly comes on; the roads are rendered impassable by drifts of snow; the avalanches, which are huge loosened masses of snow or ice, are swept into the valleys, carrying trees and crags of rock before them.
[Illustration: CONVENT OF MONT ST. BERNARD.]
The hospitable monks, though their revenue is scanty, open their doors to every stranger that presents himself. To be cold, to be weary, to be benighted, constitutes the title to their comfortable shelter, their cheering meal, and their agreeable converse. But their attention to the distressed does not end here. They devote themselves to the dangerous task of searching for those unhappy persons who may have been overtaken by the sudden storm, and would perish but for their charitable succour. Most remarkably are they assisted in these truly Christian offices. They have a breed of noble dogs in their establishment, whose extraordinary sagacity often enables them to rescue the traveller from destruction. Benumbed with cold, weary in the search of a lost track, his senses yielding to the stupefying influence of frost, the unhappy man sinks upon the ground, and the snow-drift covers him from human sight. It is then that the keen scent and the exquisite docility of these admirable dogs are called into action. Though the perishing man lie ten or even twenty feet beneath the snow, the delicacy of smell with which they can trace him offers a chance of escape. They scratch away the snow with their feet; they set up a continued hoarse and solemn bark, which brings the monks and labourers of the convent to their assistance.
To provide for the chance that the dogs, without human help, may succeed in discovering the unfortunate traveller, one of them has a flask of spirits round his neck, to which the fainting man may apply for support; and another has a cloak to cover him. Their wonderful exertions are often successful; and even where they fail of restoring him who has perished, the dogs discover the body, so that it may be secured for the recognition of friends; and such is the effect of the cold, that the dead features generally preserve their firmness for the space of two years. One of these noble creatures was decorated with a medal, in commemoration of his having saved the lives of twenty-two persons, who, but for his sagacity, must have perished. Many travellers, who have crossed the pass of St. Bernard, have seen this dog, and have heard, around the blazing fire of the monks, the story of his extraordinary career. He perished about the year 1816, in an attempt to convey a poor traveller to his anxious family.
[Illustration: HEAD OF ST. BERNARD DOG.]
* * * * *
Joppa is the principal sea-port town of Palestine and it is very often mentioned in Scripture.
Hiram, King of Tyre, is said to have sent cedars of Lebanon by sea to Joppa, for the building of Solomon’s Temple; and from Joppa the disobedient Jonah embarked, when ordered by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.
It was at Joppa that the apostle Peter lived, for some time, with one Simon, a tanner, whose house was by the sea-shore; and it was on the flat roof of this dwelling that he saw the wonderful vision, which taught him not to call any man common or unclean.
Tabitha or Dorcas, the pious woman who spent all her life in working for the poor, and in giving alms to those who needed relief, lived in Joppa; and here it pleased God that she should be taken ill and die, and her body was laid out in the usual manner before burial, in an upper chamber of the house where she lived. The apostle Peter, to whom this pious woman had been well known, was then at Lydda, not far from Joppa, and the disciples sent to tell him of the heavy loss the Church had met with in the death of Dorcas, and begged that he would come and comfort them. The apostle directly left Lydda and went over to Joppa. He was, by his own desire, taken to the room where the corpse lay, and was much moved when he saw the tears of the poor women who had been fed and clothed by the charity of Dorcas, and who were telling each other how much good she had been the means of doing them.
Peter desired to be left alone with the body, and then he knelt down and prayed, and, receiving strength from God, he turned to the body and cried, “Tabitha, arise!” She then, like one awaking from sleep, opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. He then took her by the hand, and she arose and was presented alive to those who, thinking she was dead, had so lately been mourning for her loss. This was the first miracle performed by the apostles, and it greatly surprised the people of Joppa, who began one and all to believe that Peter was really a preacher sent by God.
The name of Joppa signified beautiful. It was built upon the side of a rocky mountain, which rises from the sea-shore, and all around it were lovely gardens, full of vines, figs, and other fruits.
* * * * *
THE AMERICAN TAPIR.
There are but three known species of the Tapir, two of which–the Peccary and the Tapir–are natives of South America, the other of Sumatra and Malacca. Its anatomy is much like that of the rhinoceros, while in general form the tapir reminds us of the hog. It is a massive and powerful animal, and its fondness for the water is almost as strong as that displayed by the hippopotamus. It swims and dives admirably, and will remain submerged for many minutes, rising to the surface for breath, and then again plunging in. When hunted or wounded, it always, if possible, makes for the water; and in its nightly wanderings will traverse rivers and lakes in search of food, or for pleasure. The female is very attentive to her young one, leading it about on the land, and accustoming it at an early period to enter the water, where it plunges and plays before its parent, who seems to act as its instructress, the male taking no share in the work.
The tapir is very common in the warm regions of South America, where it inhabits the forests, leading a solitary life, and seldom stirring from its retreat during the day, which it passes in a state of tranquil slumber. During the night, its season of activity, it wanders forth in search of food, which consists of water-melons, gourds, young shoots of brushwood, &c.; but, like the hog, it is not very particular in its diet. Its senses of smell and hearing are extremely acute, and serve to give timely notice of the approach of enemies. Defended by its tough thick hide, it is capable of forcing its way through the thick underwood in any direction it pleases: when thus driving onwards, it carries its head low, and, as it were, ploughs its course.
The most formidable enemy of this animal, if we except man, is the jaguar; and it is asserted that when that tiger of the American forest throws itself upon the tapir, the latter rushes through the most dense and tangled underwood, bruising its enemy, and generally succeeds in dislodging him.
The snout of the tapir greatly reminds one of the trunk of the elephant; for although it is not so long, it is very flexible, and the animal makes excellent use of it as a crook to draw down twigs to the mouth, or grasp fruit or bunches of herbage: it has nostrils at the extremity, but there is no finger-like appendage.
In its disposition the tapir is peaceful and quiet, and, unless hard pressed, never attempts to attack either man or beast; when, however, the hunter’s dogs surround it, it defends itself very vigorously with its teeth, inflicting terrible wounds, and uttering a cry like a shrill kind of whistle, which is in strange contrast with the massive bulk of the animal.
[Illustration: AMERICAN TAPIR.]
The Indian tapir greatly resembles its American relative; it feeds on vegetables, and is very partial to the sugar-cane. It is larger than the American, and the snout is longer and more like the trunk of the elephant. The most striking difference, however, between the eastern and western animal is in colour. Instead of being the uniform dusky-bay tint of the American, the Indian is strangely particoloured. The head, neck, fore-limbs, and fore-quarters are quite black; the body then becomes suddenly white or greyish-white, and so continues to about half-way over the hind-quarters, when the black again commences abruptly, spreading over the legs. The animal, in fact, looks just as if it were covered round the body with a white horse-cloth.
Though the flesh of both the Indian and American tapir is dry and disagreeable as an article of food, still the animal might be domesticated with advantage, and employed as a beast of burthen, its docility and great strength being strong recommendations.
* * * * *
THE FIELD OF WATERLOO.
Waterloo is a considerable village of Belgium, containing about 1600 inhabitants; and the Field of Waterloo, so celebrated as the scene of the battle between two of the greatest generals who ever lived, is about two miles from it. It was very far from a strong position to be chosen for this purpose, but, no doubt, was the best the country afforded. A gently rising ground, not steep enough in any part to prevent a rush of infantry at double-quick time, except in the dell on the left of the road, near the farm of La Haye Sainte; and along the crest of the hill a scrubby hedge and low bank fencing a narrow country road. This was all, except La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont. This _chateau_, or country-seat, one of those continental residences which unite in them something of the nature of a castle and a farm-house, was the residence of a Belgic gentleman. It stands on a little eminence near the main road leading from Brussels to Nivelles. The buildings consisted of an old tower and a chapel, and a number of offices, partly surrounded by a farm-yard. The garden was enclosed by a high and strong wall; round the garden was a wood or orchard, which was enclosed by a thick hedge, concealing the wall. The position of the place was deemed so important by the Duke of Wellington, that he took possession of the Chateau of Goumont, as it was called, on the 17th of June, and the troops were soon busily preparing for the approaching contest, by perforating the walls, making loop-holes for the fire of the musketry, and erecting scaffolding for the purpose of firing from the top.
The importance of this place was also so well appreciated by Bonaparte, that the battle of the 18th began by his attacking Hougoumont. This name, which was bestowed upon it by the mistake of our great commander, has quite superseded the real one of Chateau Goumont. The ruins are among the most interesting of all the points connected with this memorable place, for the struggle there was perhaps the fiercest. The battered walls, the dismantled and fire-stained chapel, which remained standing through all the attack, still may be seen among the wreck of its once beautiful garden; while huge blackened beams, which have fallen upon the crumbling heaps of stone and plaster, are lying in all directions.
On the field of battle are two interesting monuments: one, to the memory of the Hon. Sir Alexander Gordon, brother to the Earl of Aberdeen, who there terminated a short but glorious career, at the age of twenty-nine, and “fell in the blaze of his fame;” the other, to some brave officers of the German Legion, who likewise died under circumstances of peculiar distinction. There is also, on an enormous mound, a colossal lion of bronze, erected by the Belgians to the honour of the Prince of Orange, who was wounded at, or near, to the spot.
Against the walls of the church of the village of Waterloo are many beautiful marble tablets, with the most affecting inscriptions, records of men of various countries, who expired on that solemn and memorable occasion in supporting a common cause. Many of these brave men were buried in a cemetery at a short distance from the village.
[Illustration: FIELD OF WATERLOO]
* * * * *
THE TWO OWLS AND THE SPARROW.
[Illustration: Letter T.]
Two formal Owls together sat,
Conferring thus in solemn chat:
“How is the modern taste decay’d! Where’s the respect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian sages knew; They gave our sires the honour due:
They weigh’d the dignity of fowls, And pry’d into the depth of Owls.
Athens, the seat of earned fame,
With gen’ral voice revered our name; On merit title was conferr’d,
And all adored th’ Athenian bird.” “Brother, you reason well,” replies
The solemn mate, with half-shut eyes: “Right: Athens was the seat of learning, And truly wisdom is discerning.
Besides, on Pallas’ helm we sit,
The type and ornament of wit:
But now, alas! we’re quite neglected, And a pert Sparrow’s more respected.”
A Sparrow, who was lodged beside, O’erhears them sooth each other’s pride.
And thus he nimbly vents his heat:
“Who meets a fool must find conceit. I grant you were at Athens graced,
And on Minerva’s helm were placed; But ev’ry bird that wings the sky,
Except an Owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know How false we judge by outward show;
That we should never looks esteem, Since fools as wise as you might seem. Would you contempt and scorn avoid,
Let your vain-glory be destroy’d: Humble your arrogance of thought,
Pursue the ways by Nature taught: So shall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praise your care; So shall sleek mice your chase reward, And no keen cat find more regard.”
* * * * *
See the beetle that crawls in your way, And runs to escape from your feet;
His house is a hole in the clay,
And the bright morning dew is his meat.
But if you more closely behold
This insect you think is so mean, You will find him all spangled with gold, And shining with crimson and green.
Tho’ the peacock’s bright plumage we prize, As he spreads out his tail to the sun, The beetle we should not despise,
Nor over him carelessly run.
They both the same Maker declare–
They both the same wisdom display, The same beauties in common they share– Both are equally happy and gay.
And remember that while you would fear The beautiful peacock to kill,
You would tread on the poor beetle here, And think you were doing no ill.
But though ’tis so humble, be sure, As mangled and bleeding it lies,
A pain as severe ’twill endure,
As if ’twere a giant that dies.
* * * * *
THE FOUNDING OF THE BELL.
[Illustration: Letter H.]
Hark! how the furnace pants and roars, Hark! how the molten metal pours,
As, bursting from its iron doors, It glitters in the sun.
Now through the ready mould it flows, Seething and hissing as it goes,
And filling every crevice up,
As the red vintage fills the cup– _Hurra! the work is done!_
Unswathe him now. Take off each stay That binds him to his couch of clay,
And let him struggle into day!
Let chain and pulley run,
With yielding crank and steady rope, Until he rise from rim to cope,
In rounded beauty, ribb’d in strength, Without a flaw in all his length–
_Hurra! the work is done!_
The clapper on his giant side
Shall ring no peal for blushing bride, For birth, or death, or new-year tide, Or festival begun!
A nation’s joy alone shall be
The signal for his revelry;
And for a nation’s woes alone
His melancholy tongue shall moan– _Hurra! the work is done!_
Borne on the gale, deep-toned and clear, His long, loud summons shall we hear,
When statesmen to their country dear Their mortal race have run;
When mighty Monarchs yield their breath, And patriots sleep the sleep of death, Then shall he raise his voice of gloom, And peal a requiem o’er their tomb–
_Hurra! the work is done!_
Should foemen lift their haughty hand, And dare invade us where we stand,
Fast by the altars of our land
We’ll gather every one;
And he shall ring the loud alarm, To call the multitudes to arm,
From distant field and forest brown, And teeming alleys of the town–
_Hurra! the work is done!_
And as the solemn boom they hear,
Old men shall grasp the idle spear, Laid by to rust for many a year,
And to the struggle run:
Young men shall leave their toils or books, Or turn to swords their pruning-hooks; And maids have sweetest smiles for those Who battle with their country’s foes– _Hurra! the work is done!_
And when the cannon’s iron throat
Shall bear the news to dells remote, And trumpet blast resound the note–
That victory is won;
When down the wind the banner drops, And bonfires blaze on mountain tops,
His sides shall glow with fierce delight, And ring glad peals from morn to night– _Hurra! the work is done!_
But of such themes forbear to tell– May never War awake this bell
To sound the tocsin or the knell– Hush’d be the alarum gun.
Sheath’d be the sword! and may his voice But call the nations to rejoice
That War his tatter’d flag has furl’d, And vanish’d from a wiser world–
_Hurra! the work is done!_
Still may he ring when struggles cease– Still may he ring for joy’s increase,
For progress in the arts of peace, And friendly trophies won;
When rival nations join their hands, When plenty crowns the happy lands,
When Knowledge gives new blessings birth, And Freedom reigns o’er all the earth– _Hurra! the work is done!_
[Illustration: FOUNDING OF THE BELL.]
* * * * *
With his passions, and in spite of his errors, Napoleon was, taking him all in all, the greatest warrior of modern times. He carried into battle a stoical courage, a profoundly calculated tenacity, a mind fertile in sudden inspirations, which, by unlooked-for resources, disconcerted the plans of his enemy. Let us beware of attributing a long series of success to the organic power of the masses which he set in motion. The most experienced eye could scarcely discover in them any thing but elements of disorder. Still less, let it be said, that he was a successful captain because he was a mighty Monarch. Of all his campaigns, the most memorable are the campaign of the Adige, where the general of yesterday, commanding an army by no means numerous, and at first badly appointed, placed himself at once above Turenne, and on a level with Frederick; and the campaign in France in 1814, when, reduced to a handful of harrassed troops, he combated a force of ten times their number. The last flashes of Imperial lightning still dazzled the eyes of our enemies; and it was a fine sight to see the bounds of the old lion, tracked, hunted down, beset–presenting a lively picture of the days of his youth, when his powers developed themselves in the fields of carnage.
Napoleon possessed, in an eminent degree, the faculties requisite for the profession of arms; temperate and robust; watching and sleeping at pleasure; appearing unawares where he was least expected: he did not disregard details, to which important results are sometimes attached. The hand which had just traced rules for the government of many millions of men, would frequently rectify an incorrect statement of the situation of a regiment, or write down whence two hundred conscripts were to be obtained, and from what magazine their shoes were to be taken. A patient, and an easy interlocutor, he was a home questioner, and he could listen–a rare talent in the grandees of the earth. He carried with him into battle a cool and impassable courage. Never was mind so deeply meditative, more fertile in rapid and sudden illuminations. On becoming Emperor he ceased not to be the soldier. If his activity decreased with the progress of age, that was owing to the decrease of his physical powers. In games of mingled calculation and hazard the greater the advantages which a man seeks to obtain the greater risks he must run. It is precisely this that renders the deceitful science of conquerors so calamitous to nations.
Napoleon, though naturally adventurous, was not deficient in consistency or method; and he wasted neither his soldiers nor his treasures where the authority of his name sufficed. What he could obtain by negotiations or by artifice, he required not by force of arms. The sword, although drawn from the scabbard, was not stained with blood unless it was impossible to attain the end in view by a manoeuvre. Always ready to fight, he chose habitually the occasion and the ground: out of fifty battles which he fought, he was the assailant in at least forty. Other generals have equalled him in the art of disposing troops on the ground; some have given battle as well as he did–we could mention several who have received it better; but in the manner of directing an offensive campaign he has surpassed all. The wars in Spain and Russia prove nothing in disparagement of his genius. It is not by the rules of Montecuculi and Turenne, manoeuvring on the Renchen, that we ought to judge of such enterprises: the first warred to such or such winter quarters; the other to subdue the world. It frequently behoved him not merely to gain a battle, but to gain it in such a manner as to astound Europe and to produce gigantic results. Thus political views were incessantly interfering with the strategic genius; and to appreciate him properly, we must not confine ourselves within the limits of the art of war. This art is not composed exclusively of technical details; it has also its philosophy.
To find in this elevated region a rival of Napoleon, we must go back to the times when the feudal institutions had not yet broken the unity of the ancient nations. The founders of religion alone have exercised over their disciples an authority comparable with that which made him the absolute master of his army. This moral power became fatal to him, because he strove to avail himself of it even against the ascendancy of material force, and because it led him to despise positive rules, the long violation of which will not remain unpunished. When pride was bringing Napoleon towards his fall, he happened to say, “France has more need of me than I have of France.” He spoke the truth: but why had he become necessary? Because he had committed the destiny of France to the chances of an interminable war: because, in spite of the resources of his genius, that war, rendered daily more hazardous by his staking the whole of his force and by the boldness of his movements, risked, in every campaign, in every battle, the fruits of twenty years of triumph: because his government was so modelled that with him every thing must be swept away, and that a reaction, proportioned to the violence of the action, must burst forth at once both within and without. But Napoleon saw, without illusion, to the bottom of things. The nation, wholly occupied in prosecuting the designs of its chief, had previously not had time to form any plans for itself. The day on which it should have ceased to be stunned by the din of arms, it would have called itself to account for its servile obedience. It is better, thought he, for an absolute prince to fight foreign armies than to have to struggle against the energy of the citizens. Despotism had been organized for making war; war was continued to uphold despotism. The die was cast–France must either conquer Europe, or Europe subdue France. Napoleon fell–he fell, because with the men of the nineteenth century he attempted the work of an Attila and a Genghis Khan; because he gave the reins to an imagination directly contrary to the spirit of his age; with which, nevertheless, his reason was perfectly acquainted; because he would not pause on the day when he felt conscious of his inability to succeed. Nature has fixed a boundary, beyond which extravagant enterprises cannot be carried with prudence. This boundary the Emperor reached in Spain, and overleaped in Russia. Had he then escaped destruction, his inflexible presumption would have caused him to find elsewhere a Bayleu and a Moscow.
* * * * *
I am in Rome! Oft as the morning ray Visits these eyes, waking at once, I cry, Whence this excess of joy? What has befallen me? And from within a thrilling voice replies– Thou art in Rome! A thousand busy thoughts Rush on my mind–a thousand images;
And I spring up as girt to run a race!
Thou art in _Rome!_ the city that so long Reign’d absolute–the mistress of the world! The mighty vision that the Prophet saw And trembled; that from nothing, from the least, The lowliest village (what, but here and there A reed-roof’d cabin by a river side?)
Grew into everything; and, year by year, Patiently, fearlessly working her way
O’er brook and field, o’er continent and sea; Not like the merchant with his merchandise, Or traveller with staff and scrip exploring; But hand to hand and foot to foot, through hosts, Through nations numberless in battle array, Each behind each; each, when the other fell, Up, and in arms–at length subdued them all.
Thou art in _Rome!_ the city where the Gauls, Entering at sun-rise through her open gates, And through her streets silent and desolate Marching to slay, thought they saw gods, not men; The city, that by temperance, fortitude, And love of glory tower’d above the clouds, Then fell–but, falling, kept the highest seat, And in her loveliness, her pomp of woe, Where now she dwells, withdrawn into the wild, Still o’er the mind maintains, from age to age, Its empire undiminish’d. There, as though Grandeur attracted grandeur, are beheld All things that strike, ennoble; from the depths Of Egypt, from the classic fields of Greece– Her groves, her temples–all things that inspire Wonder, delight! Who would not say the forms. Most perfect most divine, had by consent Flock’d thither to abide eternally
Within those silent chambers where they dwell In happy intercourse?
* * * * *
[Illustration: Letter I.]
Is that a rookery, papa?
_Mr. S._ It is. Do you hear what a cawing the birds make?
_F_. Yes; and I see them hopping about among the boughs. Pray, are not rooks the same with crows?
_Mr. S._ They are a species of crow. But they differ from the carrion crow and raven, in not feeding upon dead flesh, but upon corn and other seeds and grass, though, indeed, they pick up beetles and other insects and worms. See what a number of them have alighted on yonder ploughed field, almost blackening it over. They are searching for grubs and worms. The men in the field do not molest them, for they do a great deal of service by destroying grubs, which, if suffered to grow to winged insects, would injure the trees and plants.
_F_. Do all rooks live in rookeries?
_Mr. S._ It is their nature to associate together, and they build in numbers of the same, or adjoining trees. They have no objection to the neighbourhood of man, but readily take to a plantation of tall trees, though it be close to a house; and this is commonly called a rookery. They will even fix their habitations on trees in the midst of towns.
_F_. I think a rookery is a sort of town itself.
_Mr. S._ It is–a village in the air, peopled with numerous inhabitants; and nothing can be more amusing than to view them all in motion, flying to and fro, and busied in their several occupations. The spring is their busiest time. Early in the year they begin to repair their nests, or build new ones.
_F_. Do they all work together, or every one for itself?
_Mr. S._ Each pair, after they have coupled, builds its own nest; and, instead of helping, they are very apt to steal the materials from one another. If both birds go out at once in search of sticks, they often find at their return the work all destroyed, and the materials carried off. However, I have met with a story which shows that they are not without some sense of the criminality of thieving. There was in a rookery a lazy pair of rooks, who never went out to get sticks for themselves, but made a practice of watching when their neighbours were abroad, and helping themselves from their nests. They had served most of the community in this manner, and by these means had just finished their own nest; when all the other rooks, in a rage, fell upon them at once, pulled their nest in pieces, beat them soundly, and drove them from their society.
_F_. But why do they live together, if they do not help one another?
_Mr. S._ They probably receive pleasure from the company of their own kind, as men and various other creatures do. Then, though they do not assist one another in building, they are mutually serviceable in many ways. If a large bird of prey hovers about a rookery for the purpose of carrying away the young ones, they all unite to drive him away. And when they are feeding in a flock, several are placed as sentinels upon the trees all round, to give the alarm if any danger approaches.
_F_. Do rooks always keep to the same trees?
_Mr. S._ Yes; they are much attached to them, and when the trees happen to be cut down, they seem greatly distressed, and keep hovering about them as they are falling, and will scarcely desert them when they lie on the ground.
_F_. I suppose they feel as we should if our town was burned down, or overthrown by an earthquake.
_Mr. S._ No doubt. The societies of animals greatly resemble those of men; and that of rooks is like those of men in the savage state, such as the communities of the North American Indians. It is a sort of league for mutual aid and defence, but in which every one is left to do as he pleases, without any obligation to employ himself for the whole body. Others unite in a manner resembling more civilised societies of men. This is the case with the heavers. They perform great public works by the united efforts of the whole community–such as damming up streams and constructing mounds for their habitations. As these are works of great art and labour, some of them probably act under the direction of others, and are compelled to work, whether they will or not. Many curious stories are told to this purpose by those who have observed them in their remotest haunts, where they exercise their full sagacity.
_F_. But are they all true?
_Mr. S._ That is more than I can answer for; yet what we certainly know of the economy of bees may justify us in believing extraordinary things of the sagacity of animals. The society of bees goes further than that of beavers, and in some respects beyond most among men themselves. They not only inhabit a common dwelling, and perform great works in common, but they lay up a store of provision, which is the property of the whole community, and is not used except at certain seasons and under certain regulations. A bee-hive is a true image of a commonwealth, where no member acts for himself alone, but for the whole body.
_Evenings at Home._
[Illustration: A HERONRY.]
* * * * *
These beautiful trees may be ranked among the noblest specimens of vegetation; and their tall, slender, unbranched stems, crowned by elegant feathery foliage, composed of a cluster of gigantic leaves, render them, although of several varieties, different in appearance from all other trees. In some kinds of palm the stem is irregularly thick; in others, slender as a reed. It is scaly in one species, and prickly in another. In the _Palma real_, in Cuba, the stem swells out like a spindle in the middle. At the summit of these stems, which in some cases attain an altitude of upwards of 180 feet, a crown of leaves, either feathery or fan-shaped (for there is not a great variety in their general form), spreads out on all sides, the leaves being frequently from twelve to fifteen feet in length. In some species the foliage is of a dark green and shining surface, like that of a laurel or holly; in others, silvery on the under-side, as in the willow; and there is one species of palm with a fan-shaped leaf, adorned with concentric blue and yellow rings, like the “eyes” of a peacock’s tail.
[Illustration: PALMS OF ARIMATHEA.]
The flowers of most of the palms are as beautiful as the trees. Those of the _Palma real_ are of a brilliant white, rendering them visible from a great distance; but, generally, the blossoms are of a pale yellow. To these succeed very different forms of fruit: in one species it consists of a cluster of egg-shaped berries, sometimes seventy or eighty in number, of a brilliant purple and gold colour, which form a wholesome food.
South America contains the finest specimens, as well as the most numerous varieties of palm: in Asia the tree is not very common; and of the African palms but little is yet known, with the exception of the date palm, the most important to man of the whole tribe, though far less beautiful than the other species.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Letter I.]
It waved not through an Eastern sky, Beside a fount of Araby;
It was not fann’d by Southern breeze In some green isle of Indian seas;
Nor did its graceful shadow sleep O’er stream of Afric, lone and deep.
But fair the exiled Palm-tree grew, ‘Midst foliage of no kindred hue:
Through the laburnum’s dropping gold Rose the light shaft of Orient mould;
And Europe’s violets, faintly sweet, Purpled the moss-beds at its feet.
Strange look’d it there!–the willow stream’d Where silv’ry waters near it gleam’d;
The lime-bough lured the honey-bee To murmur by the Desert’s tree,
And showers of snowy roses made
A lustre in its fan-like shade.
There came an eve of festal hours– Rich music fill’d that garden’s bowers; Lamps, that from flow’ring branches hung, On sparks of dew soft colours flung;
And bright forms glanced–a fairy show, Under the blossoms to and fro.
But one, a lone one, ‘midst the throng, Seem’d reckless all of dance or song:
He was a youth of dusky mien,
Whereon the Indian sun had been;
Of crested brow, and long black hair– A stranger, like the Palm-tree, there.
And slowly, sadly, moved his plumes, Glittering athwart the leafy glooms:
He pass’d the pale green olives by, Nor won the chesnut flowers his eye;
But when to that sole Palm he came, Then shot a rapture through his frame.
To him, to him its rustling spoke;
The silence of his soul it broke. It whisper’d of his own bright isle,
That lit the ocean with a smile.
Aye to his ear that native tone
Had something of the sea-wave’s moan.
His mother’s cabin-home, that lay
Where feathery cocoos fringe the bay; The dashing of his brethren’s oar,
The conch-note heard along the shore– All through his wak’ning bosom swept:
He clasp’d his country’s tree, and wept.
Oh! scorn him not. The strength whereby The patriot girds himself to die;
The unconquerable power which fills The foeman battling on his hills:
These have one fountain deep and clear, The same whence gush’d that child-like tear!–
* * * * *
A CHAPTER ON DOGS.
[Illustration: Letter N.]
Newfoundland Dogs are employed in drawing sledges laden with fish, wood, and other articles, and from their strength and docility are of considerable importance. The courage, devotion, and skill of this noble animal in the rescue of persons from drowning is well known; and on the banks of the Seine, at Paris, these qualities have been applied to a singular purpose. Ten Newfoundland dogs are there trained to act as servants to the Humane Society; and the rapidity with which they cross and re-cross the river, and come and go, at the voice of their trainer, is described as being most interesting to witness. Handsome kennels have been erected for their dwellings on the bridges.
* * * * *
There is a breed of very handsome dogs called by this name, of a white colour, thickly spotted with black: it is classed among the hounds. This species is said to have been brought from India, and is not remarkable for either fine scent or intelligence. The Dalmatian Dog is generally kept in our country as an appendage to the carriage, and is bred up in the stable with the horses; it consequently seldom receives that kind of training which is calculated to call forth any good qualities it may possess.
[Illustration: DALMATIAN DOG.]
* * * * *
The Terrier is a valuable dog in the house and farm, keeping both domains free from intruders, either in the shape of thieves or vermin. The mischief effected by rats is almost incredible; it has been said that, in some cases, in the article of corn, these little animals consume a quantity in food equal in value to the rent of the farm. Here the terrier is a most valuable assistant, in helping the farmer to rid himself of his enemies. The Scotch Terrier is very common in the greater part of the Western Islands of Scotland, and some of the species are greatly admired. Her Majesty Queen Victoria possesses one from Islay–a faithful, affectionate creature, yet with all the spirit and determination that belong to his breed.
[Illustration: HEAD OF THE SCOTCH TERRIER.]
* * * * *
The modern smooth-haired Greyhound of England is a very elegant dog, not surpassed in speed and endurance by that of any other country. Hunting the deer with a kind of greyhound of a larger size was formerly a favourite diversion; and Queen Elizabeth was gratified by seeing, on one occasion, from a turret, sixteen deer pulled down by greyhounds upon the lawn at Cowdry Park, in Sussex.
[Illustration: HEAD OF THE GREYHOUND.]
* * * * *
OLD ENGLISH HOUND.
The dog we now call the Staghound appears to answer better than any other to the description given to us of the old English Hound, which was so much valued when the country was less enclosed, and the numerous and extensive forests were the harbours of the wild deer. This hound, with the harrier, were for many centuries the only hunting dogs.
[Illustration: HEAD OF THE OLD ENGLISH HOUND.]
* * * * *
Instinct and education combine to fit this dog for our service: the pointer will act without any great degree of instruction, and the setter will crouch; but the Sheep Dog, especially if he has the example of an older one, will, almost without the teaching of his master, become everything he could wish, and be obedient to every order, even to the slightest motion of the hand. If the shepherd’s dog be but with his master, he appears to be perfectly content, rarely mingling with his kind, and generally shunning the advances of strangers; but the moment duty calls, his eye brightens, he springs up with eagerness, and exhibits a sagacity, fidelity, and devotion rarely equalled even by man himself.
[Illustration: HEAD OF THE SHEPHERDS DOG.]
* * * * *
Of all dogs, none surpass in obstinacy and ferocity the Bull-dog. The head is broad and thick, the lower jaw generally projects so that the under teeth advance beyond the upper, the eyes are scowling, and the whole expression calculated to inspire terror. It is remarkable for the pertinacity with which it maintains its hold of any animal it may have seized, and is, therefore, much used in the barbarous practice of bull-baiting, so common in some countries, and but lately abolished in England.
[Illustration: HEAD OF THE BULL-DOG.]