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Title: The Ontario Readers: Fourth Book
Release Date: June 27, 2006 [eBook #18702]
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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ONTARIO READERS: FOURTH BOOK***
|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/OSIEontarioreadersfourth00miniuoft|
The Minister of Education is indebted to Goldwin Smith, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Newbolt, The Earl of Dunraven, Sir W. F. Butler, Frank T. Bullen, Charles G. D. Roberts, W. Wilfred Campbell, Frederick George Scott, Agnes Maule Machar, Agnes C. Laut, Marjorie L. C. Pickthall, and S. T. Wood, for special permission to reproduce, in this Reader, selections from their writings.
He is indebted to Lord Tennyson for special permission to reproduce the poems from the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; to Lloyd Osbourne for permission to reproduce the extract from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped"; and to C. Egerton Ryerson for permission to reproduce the extract from Egerton Ryerson's "The Loyalists of America and their Times."
He is also indebted to Macmillan & Co., Limited, for special permission to reproduce selected poems from the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Sir F. H. Doyle, Cecil Frances Alexander; to Longmans, Green & Co., for the selections from Froude's "Short Studies on Great Subjects" and from his "History of England"; to Smith, Elder & Co., for the extract from F. T. Bullen's "The Cruise of the Cachalot"; to Elkin Mathews for Henry Newbolt's poem from "The Island Race"; to Thomas Nelson & Sons for the extract from W. F. Collier's "History of the British Empire"; to The Copp Clark Co., Limited, for selected poems from the works of Charles G. D. Roberts, and of Agnes Maule Machar; to the Hunter-Rose Company for the extract from Canniff Haight's "Country Life in Canada"; to Morang & Company for selected poems from the works of Archibald Lampman, and for the extract from Roberts' "History of Canada"; and to Houghton Mifflin Company for the article from "The Atlantic Monthly" on "British Colonial and Naval Power."
The Minister is grateful to these authors and publishers and to others, not mentioned here, through whose courtesy he has been able to include in this Reader so many copyright selections.
|The Children's Song||Rudyard Kipling||1|
|Our Country||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||2|
|Tom Tulliver at School||George Eliot||3|
|The Giant||Charles Mackay||11|
|The Discovery of America||William Robertson||12|
|The First Spring Day||Christina G. Rossetti||17|
|The Battle of the Pipes||Robert Louis Stevenson||18|
|Bega||Marjorie L. C. Pickthall||24|
|A Musical Instrument||Elizabeth Barrett Browning||26|
|Wolfe and Montcalm||Francis Parkman||28|
|Canada||Charles G. D. Roberts||37|
|Scrooge's Christmas||Charles Dickens||39|
|Hands All Round||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||49|
|Judah's Supplication to Joseph||Bible||51|
|Miriam's Song||Thomas Moore||55|
|The Destruction of Sennacherib||George Gordon, Lord Byron||56|
|The Lark at the Diggings||Charles Reade||58|
|The Ancient Mariner||Samuel Taylor Coleridge||61|
|At the Close of the French Period in Canada||Charles G. D. Roberts||65|
|A Hymn of Empire||Frederick George Scott||74|
|Story of Absalom||Bible||76|
|The Burial of Moses||Cecil Frances Alexander||80|
|The Crusader and the Saracen||Sir Walter Scott||83|
|From "An August Reverie"||William Wilfred Campbell||90|
|Work and Wages||John Ruskin||91|
|Untrodden Ways||Agnes Maule Machar||94|
|The First Ploughing||Charles G. D. Roberts||95|
|The Archery Contest||Sir Walter Scott||97|
|In November||Archibald Lampman||102|
|Autumn Woods||William Cullen Bryant||103|
|In a Canoe||Lord Dunraven||105|
|Afton Water||Robert Burns||109|
|David Copperfield's First Journey Alone||Charles Dickens||110|
|The Barefoot Boy||John G. Whittier||118|
|Country Life in Canada in the "Thirties"||Canniff Haight||122|
|The Two Paths||Bible||130|
|Bernardo del Carpio||Felicia Hemans||131|
|Moses' Bargains||Oliver Goldsmith||136|
|The Maple||Charles G. D. Roberts||141|
|The Greenwood Tree||William Shakespeare||142|
|Lake Superior||Major W. F. Butler||143|
|The Red River Plain||Major W. F. Butler||145|
|The Unnamed Lake||Frederick George Scott||147|
|Life in Norman England||William F. Collier||149|
|Ye Mariners of England||Thomas Campbell||154|
|Home Thoughts From Abroad||Robert Browning||157|
|The Bells of Shandon||Francis Mahony||158|
|The Vision of Mirzah||Joseph Addison||160|
|Forbearance||Ralph Waldo Emerson||168|
|Mercy to Animals||William Cowper||169|
|The United Empire Loyalists||Egerton Ryerson||170|
|Oft, in the Stilly Night||Thomas Moore||173|
|The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls||Thomas Moore||174|
|Hudson Strait||Agnes C. Laut||175|
|Scots, Wha Hae||Robert Burns||179|
|St. Ambrose Crew Win Their First Race||Thomas Hughes||180|
|Hunting Song||Sir Walter Scott||189|
|Border Ballad||Sir Walter Scott||191|
|The Great Northern Diver||Samuel T. Wood||192|
|To the Cuckoo||William Wordsworth||196|
|On the Grasshopper and Cricket||John Keats||197|
|The Great Northwest||Major W. F. Butler||198|
|Rule, Britannia||James Thomson||202|
|The Commandment and the Reward||Bible||204|
|The Spacious Firmament||Joseph Addison||205|
|June||James Russell Lowell||206|
|The Fifth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor||"The Arabian Nights Entertainments"||208|
|Ocean||George Gordon, Lord Byron||216|
|Pontiac's Attempt to Capture Fort Detroit||Major Richardson||219|
|My Native Land||Sir Walter Scott||227|
|Morning on the Lièvre||Archibald Lampman||228|
|An Elizabethan Seaman||James Anthony Froude||231|
|The Sea-King's Burial||Charles Mackay||237|
|My Castles in Spain||George William Curtis||243|
|Aladdin||James Russell Lowell||247|
|Drake's Voyage Round the World||James Anthony Froude||248|
|The Solitary Reaper||William Wordsworth||261|
|Clouds, Rains, and Rivers||John Tyndall||262|
|Fitz-James and Roderick Dhu||Sir Walter Scott||270|
|The Indignation of Nicholas Nickleby||Charles Dickens||275|
|Dickens in Camp||Bret Harte||287|
|Dost Thou Look Back on What Hath Been||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||289|
|The Passing of Arthur||Sir Thomas Malory||290|
|The Armada||Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay||296|
|Departure and Death of Nelson||Robert Southey||302|
|Waterloo||George Gordon, Lord Byron||311|
|Ode Written in 1746||William Collins||315|
|Balaklava||William Howard Russell||316|
|Funeral of Wellington||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||324|
|In a Cave with a Whale||Frank T. Bullen||326|
|The Glove and the Lions||Leigh Hunt||334|
|Three Scenes in the Tyrol||Richter||336|
|Marston Moor||William Mackworth Praed||343|
|How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix||Robert Browning||351|
|An Incident of the French Camp||Robert Browning||356|
|British Colonial and Naval Power||"Atlantic Monthly"||358|
|England, My England||William Ernest Henley||363|
|A Good Time Going||Oliver Wendell Holmes||365|
|God is Our Refuge||Bible||367|
|Indian Summer||Susanna Moodie||369|
|The Skylark||James Hogg||372|
|What is War||John Bright||373|
|The Homes of England||Felicia Hemans||375|
|To a Water-Fowl||William Cullen Bryant||377|
|The Fascination of Light||Samuel T. Wood||379|
|To the Dandelion||James Russell Lowell||384|
|True Greatness||George Eliot||384|
|The Private of the Buffs||Sir Francis Hastings Doyle||389|
|Honourable Toil||Thomas Carlyle||391|
|On his Blindness||John Milton||393|
|Mysterious Night||Joseph Blanco White||394|
|Vitaï Lampada||Henry Newbolt||395|
|The Irreparable Past||Frederick W. Robertson||396|
|A Christmas Hymn, 1837||Alfred Domett||400|
|The Quarrel||William Shakespeare||402|
It was Mr. Tulliver's first visit to see Tom, for the lad must learn not to think too much about home.
"Well, my lad," he said to Tom, when Mr. Stelling had left the room to announce the arrival to his wife, and Maggie had begun to kiss Tom freely, "you look rarely. School agrees with you."
Tom wished he had looked rather ill.
"I don't think I am well, father," said Tom; "I wish you'd ask Mr. Stelling not to let me do Euclid—it brings on the toothache, I think."
(The toothache was the only malady to which Tom had ever been subject.)
"Euclid, my lad; why, what's that?" said Mr. Tulliver.
"Oh, I don't know. It's definitions, and axioms, and triangles, and things. It's a book I've got to learn in; there's no sense in it."
"Go, go!" said Mr. Tulliver, reprovingly, "you mustn't say so. You must learn what your master tells you. He knows what it's right for you to learn."
"I'll help you now, Tom," said Maggie, with[Pg 4] a little air of patronizing consolation. "I'm come to stay ever so long, if Mrs. Stelling asks me. I've brought my box and my pinafores, haven't I, father?"
"You help me, you silly little thing!" said Tom, in such high spirits at this announcement that he quite enjoyed the idea of confounding Maggie by showing her a page of Euclid. "I should like to see you doing one of my lessons! Why, I learn Latin too! Girls never learn such things. They're too silly."
"I know what Latin is very well," said Maggie, confidently. "Latin's a language. There are Latin words in the Dictionary. There's 'bonus, a gift.'"
"Now, you're just wrong there, Miss Maggie!" said Tom, secretly astonished. "You think you're very wise. But 'bonus' means 'good,' as it happens—'bonus, bona, bonum.'"
"Well, that's no reason why it shouldn't mean 'gift,'" said Maggie, stoutly. "It may mean several things—almost every word does. There's 'lawn'—it means the grass-plot, as well as the stuff pocket-handkerchiefs are made of."
"Well done, little 'un," said Mr. Tulliver, laughing, while Tom felt rather disgusted with Maggie's knowingness, though beyond measure[Pg 5] cheerful at the thought that she was going to stay with him. Her conceit would soon be overawed by the actual inspection of his books.
Mrs. Stelling, in her pressing invitation, did not mention a longer time than a week for Maggie's stay; but Mr. Stelling, who took her between his knees, and asked her where she stole her dark eyes from, insisted that she must stay a fortnight. Maggie thought Mr. Stelling was a charming man, and Mr. Tulliver was quite proud to leave his little wench where she would have an opportunity of showing her cleverness to appreciating strangers. So it was agreed that she should not be fetched home till the end of the fortnight.
"Now, then, come with me into the study, Maggie," said Tom, as their father drove away. "What do you shake and toss your head now for, you silly?" he continued; for, though her hair was now under a new dispensation, and was brushed smoothly behind her ears, she seemed still in imagination to be tossing it out of her eyes. "It makes you look as if you were crazy."
"Oh, I can't help it," said Maggie, impatiently. "Don't tease me, Tom. Oh, what books!" she exclaimed, as she saw the book[Pg 6]-cases in the study. "How I should like to have as many books as that!"
"Why, you couldn't read one of 'em," said Tom, triumphantly. "They're all Latin."
"No, they aren't," said Maggie. "I can read the back of this ... 'History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.'"
"Well, what does that mean? You don't know," said Tom, wagging his head.
"But I could soon find out," said Maggie, scornfully.
"I should look inside, and see what it was about."
"You'd better not, Miss Maggie," said Tom, seeing her hand on the volume. "Mr. Stelling lets nobody touch his books without leave, and I shall catch it if you take it out."
"Oh, very well! Let me see all your books, then," said Maggie, turning to throw her arms round Tom's neck, and rub his cheek with her small, round nose.
Tom, in the gladness of his heart at having dear old Maggie to dispute with and crow over again, seized her round the waist, and began to jump with her round the large library table. Away they jumped with more and more vigour,[Pg 7] till Maggie's hair flew from behind her ears, and twirled about like an animated mop. But the revolutions round the table became more and more irregular in their sweep, till at last reaching Mr. Stelling's reading-stand, they sent it thundering down with its heavy lexicons to the floor. Happily it was the ground-floor, and the study was a one-storied wing to the house, so that the downfall made no alarming resonance, though Tom stood dizzy and aghast for a few minutes, dreading the appearance of Mr. or Mrs. Stelling.
"Oh, I say, Maggie," said Tom at last, lifting up the stand, "we must keep quiet here, you know. If we break anything, Mrs. Stelling'll make us cry peccavi."
"What's that?" said Maggie.
"Oh, it's the Latin for a good scolding," said Tom, not without some pride in his knowledge.
"Is she a cross woman?" said Maggie.
"I believe you!" said Tom, with an emphatic nod.
"I think all women are crosser than men," said Maggie. "Aunt Glegg's a great deal crosser than Uncle Glegg, and mother scolds me more than father does."
"Well, you'll be a woman some day," said Tom, "so you needn't talk."[Pg 8]
"But I shall be a clever woman," said Maggie, with a toss.
"Oh, I daresay, and a nasty, conceited thing. Everybody'll hate you."
"But you oughtn't to hate me, Tom. It'll be very wicked of you, for I shall be your sister."
"Yes, but if you're a nasty, disagreeable thing, I shall hate you."
"Oh but, Tom, you won't! I shan't be disagreeable. I shall be very good to you, and I shall be good to everybody. You won't hate me really, will you, Tom?"
"Oh, bother, never mind! Come, it's time for me to learn my lessons. See here, what I've got to do," said Tom, drawing Maggie towards him and showing her his theorem, while she pushed her hair behind her ears, and prepared herself to prove her capability of helping him in Euclid. She began to read with full confidence in her own powers; but presently, becoming quite bewildered, her face flushed with irritation. It was unavoidable: she must confess her incompetency, and she was not fond of humiliation.
"It's nonsense!" she said, "and very ugly stuff; nobody need want to make it out."
"Ah, there now, Miss Maggie!" said Tom, drawing the book away and wagging his head at[Pg 9] her; "you see you're not so clever as you thought you were."
"Oh," said Maggie, pouting, "I daresay I could make it out if I'd learned what goes before, as you have."
"But that's what you just couldn't, Miss Wisdom," said Tom. "For it's all the harder when you know what goes before; for then you've got to say what definition 3 is, and what axiom V is. But get along with you now; I must go on with this. Here's the Latin Grammar. See what you can make of that."
Maggie found the Latin Grammar quite soothing after her mathematical mortification, for she delighted in new words, and quickly found that there was an English Key at the end, which would make her very wise about Latin, at slight expense. It was really very interesting—the Latin Grammar that Tom had said no girls could learn, and she was proud because she found it interesting.
"Now, then, Magsie, give us the Grammar!"
"Oh, Tom, it's such a pretty book!" she said, as she jumped out of the large arm-chair to give it him; "it's much prettier than the Dictionary. I could learn Latin very soon. I don't think it's at all hard."[Pg 10]
"Oh, I know what you've been doing," said Tom; "you've been reading the English at the end. Any donkey can do that."
Tom seized the book and opened it with a determined and business-like
air, as much as to say that he had a lesson to learn which no donkeys
would find themselves equal to. Maggie, rather piqued, turned to the
book-cases to amuse herself with puzzling out the titles.
George Eliot: "The Mill on the Floss."
Next morning, being Friday the third day of August, in the year 1492, Columbus set sail, a little before sunrise, in presence of a vast crowd of spectators, who sent up their supplications to Heaven for the prosperous issue of the voyage, which they wished rather than expected. Columbus steered directly for the Canary Islands, and arrived there without any occurrence that would have deserved notice on any other occasion. But, in a voyage of such expectation and importance, every circumstance was the object of attention.
As they proceeded, the indications of approaching land seemed to be more certain, and excited hope in proportion. The birds began to appear in flocks, making towards the south-west. Columbus, in imitation of the Portuguese navigators, who had been guided in several of their discoveries by the motion of birds, altered his course from due west towards that quarter whither they pointed their flight. But, after holding on for several days in this new direction, without any better success than formerly, having seen no object during thirty[Pg 13] days but the sea and the sky, the hopes of his companions subsided faster than they had risen; their fears revived with additional force; impatience, rage, and despair appeared in every countenance. All sense of subordination was lost. The officers, who had hitherto concurred with Columbus in opinion, and supported his authority, now took part with the private men; they assembled tumultuously on the deck, expostulated with their commander, mingled threats with their expostulations, and required him instantly to tack about and return to Europe. Columbus perceived that it would be of no avail to have recourse to any of his former arts, which, having been tried so often, had lost their effect; and that it was impossible to rekindle any zeal for the success of the expedition among men in whose breasts fear had extinguished every generous sentiment. He saw that it was no less vain to think of employing either gentle or severe measures to quell a mutiny so general and so violent. It was necessary, on all these accounts, to soothe passions which he could no longer command, and to give way to a torrent too impetuous to be checked. He promised solemnly to his[Pg 14] men that he would comply with their request, provided they would accompany him and obey his command for three days longer, and if, during that time, land were not discovered, he would then abandon the enterprise, and direct his course towards Spain.
Enraged as the sailors were, and impatient to turn their faces again towards their native country, this proposition did not appear to them unreasonable; nor did Columbus hazard much in confining himself to a term so short. The presages of discovering land were now so numerous and promising that he deemed them infallible. For some days the sounding-line reached the bottom, and the soil which it brought up indicated land to be at no great distance. The flocks of birds increased, and were composed not only of sea-fowl, but of such land-birds as could not be supposed to fly far from the shore. The crew of the Pinta observed a cane floating, which seemed to have been newly cut, and likewise a piece of timber artificially carved. The sailors aboard the Nigna took up the branch of a tree with red berries perfectly fresh. The clouds around the setting sun assumed a new appearance; the air was more mild and warm, and during[Pg 15] night the wind became unequal and variable. From all these symptoms, Columbus was so confident of being near land, that on the evening of the eleventh of October, after public prayers for success, he ordered the sails to be furled, and the ships to lie to, keeping strict watch lest they should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man shut his eyes, all kept upon deck, gazing towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land, which had so long been the object of their wishes.
About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light in the distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez, a page of the Queen's wardrobe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo, comptroller of the fleet, all three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight, the joyful sound of "Land! Land!" was heard from the Pinta, which kept always ahead of the other ships. But, having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, every man was now become slow of belief, and waited in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience for the return of day. As soon as morning dawned,[Pg 16] all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an island was seen about two leagues to the north, whose flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented the aspect of a delightful country.
The crew of the Pinta instantly began the Te Deum, as a hymn of
thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships with
tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude
to Heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They
threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of
self-condemnation, mingled with reverence. They implored him to pardon
their ignorance, incredulity, and insolence, which had created him so
much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obstructed the prosecution
of his well-concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their
admiration, from one extreme to the other, they now pronounced the man
whom they had so lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired
by Heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to
accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conceptions of all
William Robertson: "The History of America."
Be that which you would make others.
A thing happened worth narrating at the close of a visit paid me by Robin Oig, one of the sons of the notorious Rob Roy. As he was leaving, just in the door, he met Alan coming in; and the two drew back and looked at each other like strange dogs. They were neither of them big men, but they seemed fairly to swell out with pride. Each wore a sword, and by a movement of his haunch, thrust clear the hilt of it, so that it might be the more readily grasped and the blade drawn.
"Mr. Stewart, I am thinking," says Robin.
"Troth, Mr. Macgregor, it's not a name to be ashamed of," answered Alan.
"I did not know ye were in my country, sir," says Robin.
"It sticks in my mind that I am in the country of my friends, the Maclarens," says Alan.
"That's a kittle point," returned the other. "There may be two words to say to that. But I think I will have heard that you are a man of your sword?"
"Unless ye were born deaf, Mr. Macgregor, ye[Pg 19] will have heard a good deal more than that," says Alan. "I am not the only man who can draw steel in Appin; and when my kinsman and captain, Ardshiel, had a talk with a gentleman of your name, not so many years back, I could never hear that the Macgregor had the best of it."
"Do you mean my father, sir?" says Robin.
"Well, I wouldnae wonder," says Alan. "The gentleman I have in my mind had the ill-taste to clap Campbell to his name."
"My father was an old man," returned Robin. "The match was unequal. You and me would make a better pair, sir."
"I was thinking that," said Alan.
I was half out of bed, and Duncan had been hanging at the elbow of these fighting cocks, ready to intervene upon the least occasion. But when that word was uttered, it was a case of now or never; and Duncan, with something of a white face to be sure, thrust himself between.
"Gentlemen," said he, "I will have been thinking of a very different matter. Here are my pipes, and here are you two gentlemen who are baith acclaimed pipers. It's an auld dispute which one of ye's the best. Here will be a braw chance to settle it."[Pg 20]
"Why, sir," said Alan, still addressing Robin, from whom indeed he had not so much as shifted his eyes, nor yet Robin from him, "why, sir," says Alan, "I think I will have heard some sough of the sort. Have ye music, as folk say? Are ye a bit of a piper?"
"I can pipe like a Maccrimmon!" cries Robin.
"And that is a very bold word," quoth Alan.
"I have made bolder words good before now," returned Robin, "and that against better adversaries."
"It is easy to try that," says Alan.
Duncan Dhu made haste to bring out the pair of pipes that was his principal possession, and to set before his guests a muttonham and a bottle of that drink which they call Athole brose. The two enemies were still on the very breach of a quarrel; but down they sat, one upon each side of the peat fire, with a mighty show of politeness. Maclaren pressed them to taste his muttonham and "the wife's brose," reminding them the wife was out of Athole and had a name far and wide for her skill in that confection. But Robin put aside these hospitalities as bad for the breath.
"I would have ye to remark, sir," said Alan,[Pg 21] "that I havenae broken bread for near upon ten hours, which will be worse for the breath than any brose in Scotland."
"I will take no advantages, Mr. Stewart," replied Robin. "Eat and drink; I'll follow."
Each ate a small portion of the ham and drank a glass of the brose to Mrs. Maclaren; and then, after a great number of civilities, Robin took the pipes and played a little spring in a very ranting manner.
"Ay, ye can blow," said Alan; and, taking the instrument from his rival, he first played the same spring in a manner identical with Robin's; and then wandered into variations, which, as he went on, he decorated with a perfect flight of grace-notes, such as pipers love, and call the "warblers."
I had been pleased with Robin's playing, Alan's ravished me.
"That's no very bad, Mr. Stewart," said the rival, "but ye show a poor device in your warbler."
"Me!" cried Alan, the blood starting to his face. "I give ye the lie."
"Do ye own yourself beaten at the pipes, then," said Robin, "that ye seek to change them for the sword?"[Pg 22]
"And that's very well said, Mr. Macgregor," returned Alan; "and in the meantime" (laying a strong accent on the word) "I take back the lie. I appeal to Duncan."
"Indeed, ye need appeal to naebody," said Robin. "Ye're a far better judge than any Maclaren in Balwhidder: for it's a God's truth that you're a very creditable piper for a Stewart. Hand me the pipes."
Alan did as he asked; and Robin proceeded to imitate and correct some part of Alan's variations, which it seemed that he remembered perfectly.
"Ay, ye have music," said Alan, gloomily.
"And now be the judge yourself, Mr. Stewart," said Robin; and taking up the variations from the beginning, he worked them throughout to so new a purpose, with such ingenuity and sentiment, and with so odd a fancy and so quick a knack in the grace-notes, that I was amazed to hear him.
As for Alan his face grew dark and hot, and he sat and gnawed his fingers, like a man under some deep affront. "Enough!" he cried. "Ye can blow the pipes—make the most of that." And he made as if to rise.[Pg 23]
But Robin only held out his hand as if to ask for silence, and struck into the slow music of a pibroch. It was a fine piece of music in itself, and nobly played; but, it seems besides, it was a piece peculiar to the Appin Stewarts and a chief favourite with Alan. The first notes were scarce out, before there came a change in his face; when the time quickened, he seemed to grow restless in his seat; and long before that piece was at an end, the last signs of his anger died from him, and he had no thought but for the music.
"Robin Oig," he said, when it was done, "ye are a great piper. I am not fit to blow in the same kingdom with ye. Body of me! ye have more music in your sporran than I have in my head! And, though it still sticks in my mind that I could show ye another of it with the cold steel, I warn ye beforehand—it'll no be fair! It would go against my heart to haggle a man that can blow the pipes as you can!"
Thereupon the quarrel was made up. All night long the pipes were
changing hands, and the day had come pretty bright before Robin as much
as thought upon the road.
Robert Louis Stevenson: "Kidnapped."
Marjorie L. C. Pickthall
Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing.
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is
I. Peter, III.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The eventful night of the twelfth was clear and calm, with no light but that of the stars. Within two hours before daybreak thirty boats, crowded with sixteen hundred soldiers, cast off from the vessels and floated downward in perfect order with the current of the ebb-tide. To the boundless joy of the army, Wolfe's malady had abated, and he was able to command in person. His ruined health, the gloomy prospect of the siege, and the disaster at Montmorenci, had oppressed him with the deepest melancholy, but never impaired for a moment the promptness of his decisions, or the impetuous energy of his action.
He sat in the stern of one of the boats, pale and weak, but borne up to a calm height of resolution. Every order had been given, every arrangement made, and it only remained to face the issue. The ebbing tide sufficed to bear the boats along, and nothing broke the silence of the night but the gurgling of the river, and the low voice of Wolfe, as he repeated to the officers about him the stanzas of Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard," which had recently appeared, and which he had just received from[Pg 29] England. Perhaps as he uttered those strangely appropriate words:—
"The paths of glory lead but to the grave," the shadows of his own approaching fate stole with mournful prophecy across his mind. "Gentlemen," he said, as he closed his recital, "I would rather have written those lines than take Quebec to-morrow."
As they approached the landing-place, the boats edged closer in towards the northern shore, and the woody precipices rose high on their left like a wall of undistinguished blackness.
"Qui vive?" shouted a French sentinel from out the impervious gloom.
"La France!" answered a captain of Fraser's Highlanders from the foremost boat.
As boats were frequently passing down the river with supplies for the garrison, and as a convoy from Bougainville was expected that very night, the sentinel was deceived and allowed the English to proceed. A few moments later, they were challenged again, and this time they could discern the soldier running close down to the water's edge, as if all his suspicions were aroused; but the skilful replies of the Highlander once more saved the party from discovery.
They reached the landing-place in safety,—an[Pg 30] indentation in the shore about a league above the city and now bearing the name of Wolfe's Cove. Here a narrow path led up the face of the heights, and a French guard was posted at the top to defend the pass. By the force of the current the foremost boats, including that which carried Wolfe himself, were borne a little below the spot. The general was one of the first on shore. He looked upward at the rugged heights which towered above him in the gloom. "You can try it," he coolly observed to an officer near him; "but I don't think you'll get up."
At the point where the Highlanders landed, one of their captains, Donald Macdonald, apparently the same whose presence of mind had just saved the enterprise from ruin, was climbing in advance of his men, when he was challenged by a sentinel. He replied in French, by declaring that he had been sent to relieve the guard, and ordering the soldier to withdraw. Before the latter was undeceived, a crowd of Highlanders were close at hand, while the steeps below were thronged with eager climbers, dragging themselves up by trees, roots, and bushes. The guard turned out and made a brief though brave resistance. In a moment they were cut to pieces,[Pg 31] dispersed, or made prisoners, while men after men came swarming up the height and quickly formed upon the plains above. Meanwhile the vessels had dropped downward with the current and anchored opposite the landing-place. The remaining troops disembarked, and with the dawn of day, the whole were brought in safety to the shore.
The sun rose, and from the ramparts of Quebec the astonished people saw the Plains of Abraham glittering with arms, and the dark-red lines of the English forming in array of battle. Breathless messengers had borne the evil tidings to Montcalm, and far and near his wide-extended camp resounded with the rolling of alarm-drums and the din of startled preparation. He, too, had had his struggles and his sorrows. The civil power had thwarted him; famine, discontent, and disaffection were rife among his soldiers; and no small portion of the Canadian militia had dispersed from sheer starvation. In spite of all, he had trusted to hold out till the winter frosts should drive the invaders from before the town, when on that disastrous morning the news of their successful temerity fell like a cannon-shot upon his ear. Still he assumed a tone of confidence. "They have got to the weak[Pg 32] side of us at last," he is reported to have said, "and we must crush them with our numbers." With headlong haste his troops were pouring over the bridge of St. Charles, and gathering in heavy masses under the western ramparts of the town. Could numbers give assurance of success, their triumph would have been secure, for five French battalions and the armed colonial peasantry amounted in all to more than seven thousand five hundred men. Full in sight before stretched the long, thin lines of the British forces—the Highlanders, the steady soldiery of England, and the hardy levies of the provinces—less than five thousand in number, but all inured to battle, and strong in the full assurance of success.
It was nine o'clock, and the adverse armies stood motionless, each gazing on the other. The clouds hung low, and at intervals warm light showers descended besprinkling both alike. The coppice and corn-fields in front of the British troops were filled with French sharp-shooters, who kept up a distant spattering fire. Here and there a soldier fell in the ranks, and the gap was filled in silence.
At a little before ten the British could see that Montcalm was preparing to advance, and[Pg 33] in a few moments all his troops appeared in rapid motion. They came on in three divisions, shouting after the manner of their nation, and firing heavily as soon as they came within range. In the British ranks not a trigger was pulled, not a soldier stirred, and their ominous composure seemed to damp the spirits of the assailants. It was not till the French were within forty yards that the fatal word was given, and the British muskets blazed forth at once in one crashing explosion. Like a ship at full career arrested with sudden ruin on a sunken rock, the ranks of Montcalm staggered, shivered, and broke before that wasting storm of lead. The smoke rolling along the field for a moment shut out the view, but, when the white wreaths were scattered on the wind, a wretched spectacle was disclosed: men and officers tumbled in heaps, battalions resolved into a mob, order and obedience gone; and, when the British muskets were levelled for a second volley, the masses of the militia were seen to cower and shrink with uncontrollable panic. For a few minutes the French regulars stood their ground, returning a sharp and not ineffectual fire. But now, echoing cheer on cheer, redoubling volley on volley, tramp[Pg 34]ling the dying and the dead, and driving the fugitives in crowds, the British troops advanced and swept the field before them. The ardour of the men burst all restraint. They broke into a run and with unsparing slaughter chased the flying multitude to the gates of Quebec. Foremost of all, the light-footed Highlanders dashed along in furious pursuit, hewing down the Frenchmen with their broadswords and slaying many in the very ditch of the fortifications. Never was victory more quick or more decisive.
In the short action and pursuit the French lost fifteen hundred men, killed, wounded, and taken. Of the remainder some escaped within the city, and others fled across the St. Charles to rejoin their comrades who had been left to guard the camp. The pursuers were recalled by sound of trumpet, the broken ranks were formed afresh, and the English troops withdrawn beyond reach of the cannon of Quebec. Townshend and Murray, the only general officers who remained unhurt, passed to the head of every regiment in turn and thanked the soldiers for the bravery they had shown; yet the triumph of the victors was mingled with sadness as tidings went from rank to rank that Wolfe had fallen.[Pg 35]
In the heat of the action, as he advanced at the head of the grenadiers of Louisburg, a bullet shattered his wrist, but he wrapped his handkerchief about the wound, and showed no sign of pain. A moment more and a ball pierced his side. Still he pressed forward waving his sword and cheering his soldiers to the attack, when a third shot lodged deep within his breast. He paused, reeled, and staggering to one side, fell to earth. Brown, a lieutenant of the grenadiers, Henderson, a volunteer, an officer of artillery, and a private soldier, raised him together in their arms, and bearing him to the rear laid him softly on the grass. They asked if he would have a surgeon, but he shook his head and answered that all was over with him. His eyes closed with the torpor of approaching death, and those around sustained his fainting form. Yet they could not withhold their gaze from the wild turmoil before them, and the charging ranks of their companions rushing through fire and smoke. "See how they run," one of the officers exclaimed, as the French fell in confusion before the levelled bayonets. "Who run?" demanded Wolfe, opening his eyes like a man aroused from sleep. "The enemy, sir," was the reply;[Pg 36] "they give way everywhere." "Then," said the dying general, "tell Colonel Burton to march Webb's regiment down to Charles River, to cut off their retreat from the bridge. Now, God be praised, I shall die in peace," he murmured; and turning on his side he calmly breathed his last.
Almost at the same moment fell his great adversary, Montcalm, as he strove with vain bravery to rally his shattered ranks. Struck down with a mortal wound, he was placed upon a litter and borne to the General Hospital on the banks of the St. Charles. The surgeons told him that he could not recover. "I am glad of it," was his calm reply. He then asked how long he might survive, and was told that he had not many hours remaining. "So much the better," he said; "I am happy that I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec." Officers from the garrison came to his bedside to ask his orders and instructions. "I will give no more orders," replied the defeated soldier; "I have much business that must be attended to, of greater moment than your ruined garrison and this wretched country. My time is very short, therefore, pray leave me."
The victorious army encamped before Quebec[Pg 37] and pushed their
preparations for the siege with zealous energy, but, before a single gun
was brought to bear, the white flag was hung out, and the garrison
surrendered. On the eighteenth of September, 1759, the rock-built
citadel of Canada passed for ever from the hands of its ancient masters.
Parkman: "The Conspiracy of Pontiac."
Charles G. D. Roberts
Love your country, believe in her, honour her, work for her, live for
her, die for her. Never has any people been endowed with a nobler
birthright or blessed with prospects of a fairer future.
(On Christmas Eve, Scrooge, "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner," is visited by three ghosts in succession—The Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The first recalled the experiences of Scrooge's youth, the second showed him Christmas as it might be spent and incidentally, too, what some people thought of him. The third showed him the "shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us." He saw himself dead, uncared for, unwept, unwatched, his effects plundered by the charwoman, laundress, and undertaker's man and realized the end to which he must come unless he led an altered life. Holding up his hands he prayed to have his fate reversed and saw the Ghost shrink and dwindle down into a bedpost.)
Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own to make amends in.
"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. O Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!"
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice could scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
"They are not torn down," cried Scrooge,[Pg 40] folding one of his bed curtains in his arms,—"they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here,—I am here,—the shadows of the things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!"
His hands were busy with his garments all this time; turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.
"I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A Merry Christmas to everybody! A Happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there, perfectly winded.
"There's the sauce-pan that the gruel was in!" cried Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fireplace. "There's the door by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present sat! There's the window where I saw[Pg 41] the wandering Spirits! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha!"
Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs!
"I don't know what day of the month it is," said Scrooge. "I don't know how long I have been amongst the Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!"
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clang, clash, hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! O, glorious, glorious!
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; golden sunlight; heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. O, glorious, glorious!
"What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.[Pg 42]
"Eh?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.
"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.
"To-day!" replied the boy. "Why, CHRISTMAS DAY."
"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow?"
"Hallo!" returned the boy.
"Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street but one, at the corner?" Scrooge inquired.
"I should hope I did," replied the lad.
"An intelligent boy!" said Scrooge. "A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they've sold the prize turkey that was hanging up there?—Not the little prize turkey, the big one?"
"What, the one as big as me?" said the boy.
"What a delightful boy!" said Scrooge. "It's a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!"
"It's hanging there now," replied the boy.
"Is it?" said Scrooge. "Go and buy it."
"WALK-ER!" exclaimed the boy.[Pg 43]
"No, no," said Scrooge, "I am in earnest. Go and buy it and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I'll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes, and I'll give you half-a-crown!"
The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at the trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.
"I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's," whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. "He shan't know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be!"
The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one, but write he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to open the street door, ready for the coming of the Poulterer's man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye.
"I shall love it as long as I live!" cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand. "I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest expression it has in its face! It's a wonderful knocker!—Here's the turkey. Hallo! Whoop! How are you? Merry Christmas!"[Pg 44]
It was a turkey! He could never have stood upon his legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em off short in a minute, like sticks of sealing-wax.
"Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town," said Scrooge. "You must have a cab."
The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathlessly in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried.
Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very much; and shaving requires attention, even when you don't dance while you are at it. But, if he had cut the end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of sticking-plaster over it, and been quite satisfied.
He dressed himself "all in his best," and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present; and, walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded everyone with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a[Pg 45] word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said: "Good-morning, sir! A Merry Christmas to you!" And Scrooge said often afterwards, that, of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears....
He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses and up to the windows, and found that every thing could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon, he turned his steps towards his nephew's house.
He passed the door a dozen times before he had the courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash and did it.
"Is your master at home, my dear?" said Scrooge to the girl. "Nice girl! Very."
"Where is he, my love?" said Scrooge.
"He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll show you upstairs, if you please."
"Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, with his hand already on the dining-room lock. "I'll go in here, my dear."[Pg 46]
He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door. They were looking at the table (which was spread out in great array); for these young housekeepers are always nervous on such points, and like to see that everything is right.
"Fred!" said Scrooge. Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started!...
"Why, bless my soul!" cried Fred, "Who's that?"
"It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?"
Let him in! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did everybody when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!
But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the first thing he had set his heart upon.
And he did it; yes, he did! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a[Pg 47] half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.
His hat was off, before he opened the door, his comforter, too. He was on his stool in a jiffy, driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock.
"Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. "What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?"
"I am very sorry, sir," said Bob. "I am behind my time."
"You are!" repeated Scrooge. "Yes, I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please."
"It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. "It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir."
"Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, "I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore," he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in his waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again,—"and, therefore, I am about to raise your salary!"
Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking[Pg 48] Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.
"A Merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A Merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we'll discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop. Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another scuttle of coal before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind any way, he thought[Pg 49] it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total
Abstinence Principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him,
that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the
knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny
Tim observed, GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!
Dickens: "A Christmas Carol."
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; and he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? know ye not that such a man as I can indeed divine? And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's bondmen, both we, and he also in whose hand the cup is found. And he said, God forbid that I should do so: the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my bondman; but as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him. And thou[Pg 52] saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, Go again, buy us a little food. And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons: and the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I have not seen him since: and if ye take this one also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. Now, therefore, when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life; it shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to[Pg 53] the grave. For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then shall I bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest I see the evil that shall come on my father.
Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him;
and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man
with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept
aloud: and the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard. And
Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And
his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his
presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray
you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother whom ye
sold into Egypt. And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that
ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For
these two years hath the famine been in the land; and there are yet five
years in the which there shall[Pg 54] be neither ploughing nor harvest. And
God sent me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth, and to
save you alive by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent
me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of
all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up
to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made
me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shalt dwell
in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy
children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds,
and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee; for there are yet
five years of famine; lest thou come to poverty, thou, and thy
household, and all that thou hast. And, behold, your eyes see, and the
eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.
And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye
have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. And he
fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon
his neck. And he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them; and after
that his brethren talked with him.
The friends strode briskly on, and a little after eleven o'clock they came upon a small squatter's house and premises. "Here we are," cried George, and his eyes glittered with innocent delight.
The house was thatched and whitewashed, and English was written on it and on every foot of ground round it. A furze-bush had been planted by the door. Vertical oak palings were the fence, with a five-barred gate in the middle of them. From the little plantation, all the magnificent trees and shrubs of Australia had been excluded with amazing resolution and consistency, and oak and ash reigned safe from overtowering rivals. They passed to the back of the house, and there George's countenance fell a little, for on the oval grass-plot and gravel-walk he found from thirty to forty rough fellows, most of them diggers.
"Ah, well," said he, on reflection, "we could not expect to have it all to ourselves, and indeed it would be a sin to wish it, you know. Now, Tom, come this way; here it is, here it is,—there." Tom looked up, and in a gigantic cage was a light brown bird.[Pg 59]
He was utterly confounded. "What, is it this we came twelve miles to see?"
"Ay! and twice twelve wouldn't have been much to me."
"Well, but what is the lark you talked of?"
"This is it."
"This? This is a bird."
"Well, and isn't a lark a bird?"
"O, ay! I see! ha! ha! ha! ha!"
Robinson's merriment was interrupted by a harsh remonstrance from several of the diggers, who were all from the other end of the camp.
"Hold your—cackle," cried one, "he is going to sing;" and the whole party had their eyes turned with expectation towards the bird.
Like most singers, he kept them waiting a bit. But at last, just at noon, when the mistress of the house had warranted him to sing, the little feathered exile began, as it were, to tune his pipes. The savage men gathered round the cage that moment, and amidst a dead stillness the bird uttered some very uncertain chirps, but after awhile he seemed to revive his memories, and call his ancient cadences back to him one by one, and string them sotto voce.
And then the same sun that had warmed his little heart at home came glowing down on him[Pg 60] here, and he gave music back for it more and more, till at last—amidst breathless silence and glistening eyes of the rough diggers hanging on his voice—out burst in that distant land his English song.
It swelled his little throat and gushed from him with thrilling force and purity, and every time he checked his song to think of its theme, the green meadows, the quiet stealing streams, the clover he first soared from, and the spring he sang so well, a loud sigh from many a rough bosom, many a wild and wicked heart, told how tight the listeners had held their breath to hear him; and when he swelled with song again, and poured with all his soul the green meadows, the quiet brooks, the honey clover, and the English spring, the rugged mouths opened and so stayed, and the shaggy lips trembled, and more than one drop trickled from fierce unbridled hearts down bronzed and rugged cheeks.
And these shaggy men, full of oaths and strife and cupidity, had once
been white-headed boys, and had strolled about the English fields with
little sisters and little brothers, and seen the lark rise, and heard
him sing this very song. The little playmates lay in the churchyard,
and[Pg 61] they were full of oaths and drink and lusts and remorses,—but no
note was changed in this immortal song. And so for a moment or two,
years of vice rolled away like a dark cloud from the memory, and the
past shone out in the song-shine: they came back, bright as the immortal
notes that lighted them, those faded pictures and those fleeted days;
the cottage, the old mother's tears when he left her without one grain
of sorrow; the village church and its simple chimes; the clover field
hard by in which he lay and gambolled, while the lark praised God
overhead; the chubby playmates that never grew to be wicked, the sweet
hours of youth—and innocence—and home.
Charles Reade: "It is Never Too Late to Mend."
When the flag of France departed from Canada, it left a people destined to find under the new rule a fuller freedom, an ampler political development, a far more abundant prosperity. It left a people destined to honour their new allegiance by loyalty and heroic service in the hour of trial.
This people, which thus became British by a campaign and a treaty, was destined to form the solid core around which should grow the vast Confederation of Canada. But for them there would now, in all likelihood, be no Canada. By their rejection of the proposals of the revolted colonies, the northern half of this continent was preserved to Great Britain. The debt which the empire owes to the French Canadians is immeasurably greater than we at[Pg 66] present realize. Let us examine the characteristics of the small and isolated people which was to exercise such a deep influence on the future of this continent.
The whole population of Canada when she came under the British flag was about sixty thousand. This hardy handful was gathered chiefly at Quebec, Three Rivers, and Montreal. The rest trailed thinly along the shores of the St. Lawrence and the Richelieu. The lands about the Great Lakes, and the western country, were held only by a few scattered forts, buried here and there in the green wilderness. At Detroit had sprung up a scanty settlement of perhaps one thousand souls. In these remote posts the all-important question was still that of the fur-trade with the Indians. The traders and the soldiers, cut off from civilization, frequently took wives from the Indian tribes about them, and settled down to a life half barbarous. These men soon grew as lawless as their adopted kinsfolk. They were a weakness and a discredit to the country in time of peace, but in war their skill and daring were the frontier's best defence.
Quebec had seven thousand inhabitants. Most of them dwelt between the water's edge[Pg 67] and the foot of the great cliff whose top was crowned by the citadel. Where the shoulder of the promontory swept around toward the St. Charles, the slope became more gentle, and there the houses and streets began to clamber toward the summit. Streets that found themselves growing too precipitous had a way, then as now, of changing suddenly into flights of stairs. The city walls, grimly bastioned, ran in bold zigzags across the face of the steep in a way to daunt assailants. Down the hillside, past the cathedral and the college, through the heart of the city, clattered a noisy brook, which in time of freshet flooded the neighbouring streets. Part of the city was within walls, part without. Most of the houses were low, one-story buildings, with large expanse of steep roof, and high dormer windows. Along the incline leading down to the St. Charles stretched populous suburbs. On the high plateau where now lies the stately New Town, there was then but a bleak pasture-land whose grasses waved against the city gates.
Montreal, after its childhood of awful trial, had greatly prospered. Its population had risen to about nine thousand. The fur-trade of the mysterious Northwest, developed by a[Pg 68] succession of daring and tireless wood-rangers, had poured its wealth into the lap of the city of Maisonneuve. The houses, some of which were built of the light gray stone which now gives dignity to the city, were usually of but one story. They were arranged in three or four long lines parallel to the river. The towers of the Seminary of St. Sulpicius and the spires of three churches, standing out against the green of the stately mountain, were conspicuous from afar to voyagers coming up the river from Quebec. The city was inclosed by a stone wall and a shallow ditch, once useful as a defence against the Indians, but no protection in the face of serious assault. At the lower end of the city, covering the landing-place, rose a high earthwork crowned with cannon.
The houses of the habitants, tillers of the soil, were small cabins, humble but warm, with wide, overhanging eaves, and consisting at most of two rooms. The partition, when there was one, was of boards. Lath and plaster were unknown. The walls within, to the height of a man's shoulders, were worn smooth by the backs that leaned against them. Solid wooden boxes and benches usually took the place of chairs. A clumsy loom, on which the women wove their[Pg 69] coarse homespuns of wool or flax, occupied one corner of the main room; and a deep, box-like cradle, always rocking, stood beside the ample fireplace. Over the fire stood the long, black arms of a crane, on which was done most of the cooking; though the "bake-kettle" sometimes relieved its labours, and the brick oven was a standby in houses of the rich habitants, as well as of the gentry. For the roasting of meats the spit was much in use; and there was a gridiron with legs, to stand on the hearth, with a heap of hot coals raked under it. The houses even of the upper classes were seldom two stories in height. But they were generally furnished with a good deal of luxury; and in the cities they were sometimes built of stone.
A typical country mansion, the dwelling of a seigneur on his own domain, was usually of the following fashion. The main building, one story in height but perhaps a hundred feet long, was surmounted by lofty gables and a very steep roof, built thus to shed the snow and to give a roomy attic for bed-chambers. The attic was lighted by numerous, high-peaked dormer windows, piercing the expanse of the roof. This main building was flanked by one or more wings. Around it clustered the wash-house[Pg 70] (adjoining the kitchen), coach house, barns, stable, and woodsheds. This homelike cluster of walls and roofs was sheltered from the winter storm by groves of evergreen, and girdled cheerily by orchard and kitchen-garden. On one side, and not far off, was usually a village with a church-spire gleaming over it; on the other a circular stone mill, resembling a little fortress rather than a peaceful aid to industry. This structure, where all the tenants of the seigneur were obliged to grind their grain, had indeed been built in the first place to serve not only as a mill, but as a place of refuge from the Iroquois. It was furnished with loopholes, and was impregnable to the attacks of an enemy lacking cannon.
The dress of the upper classes was like that prevailing among the same classes in France, though much less extravagant. The long, wide-frocked coats were of gay-coloured and costly material, with lace at neck and wristbands. The waistcoat might be richly embroidered with gold or silver. Knee-breeches took the place of our unsightly trousers, and were fastened with bright buckles at the knee. Stockings were of white or coloured silk, and shoes were set off by broad buckles at the instep. These, of course, were the[Pg 71] dresses of ceremony, the dresses seen at balls and grand receptions. Out-of-doors, and in the winter especially, the costumes of the nobility were more distinctly Canadian. Overcoats of native cloth were worn, with large, pointed hoods. Their pattern is preserved to the present day in the blanket coats of our snow-shoers. Young men might be seen going about in colours that brightened the desolate winter landscape. Gay belts of green, blue, red, or yellow enriched the waists of their thick overcoats. Their scarlet leggings were laced up with green ribbons. Their moccasins were gorgeously embroidered with dyed porcupine quills. Their caps of beaver or martin were sometimes tied down over their ears with vivid handkerchiefs of silk. The habitants were rougher and more sombre in their dress. A black homespun coat, gray leggings, gray woollen cap, heavy moccasins of cowhide,—this grave costume was usually brightened by a belt or sash of the liveliest colours. The country-women had to content themselves with the same coarse homespuns, which they wore in short, full skirts. But they got the gay colours which they loved in kerchiefs for their necks and shoulders.[Pg 72]
In war the regulars were sharply distinguished from those of the British
army by their uniforms. The white of the House of Bourbon was the colour
that marked their regiments, as scarlet marked those of the British. The
militia and wood-rangers fought in their ordinary dress,—or,
occasionally, with the object of terrifying their enemies, put on the
war-paint and eagle-quills of the Indians. The muskets of the day were
the heavy weapons known as flint-locks. When the trigger was pulled the
flint came down sharply on a piece of steel, and the spark, falling into
a shallow "pan" of powder called the "priming," ignited the charge. The
regulars carried bayonets on the ends of their muskets, but the militia
and rangers had little use for these weapons. They depended on their
marksmanship, which was deadly. The regulars fired breast high in the
direction of their enemy, trusting to the steadiness and closeness of
their fire; but the colonials did not waste their precious bullets and
powder in this way. They had learned from the Indians, whom they could
beat at their own game, to fight from behind trees, rocks, or hillocks,
to load and fire lying down, and to surprise their enemies by stealing
noiselessly through the underbrush. At close quar[Pg 73]ters they fought, like
the Indians, with knife and hatchet, both of which were carried in their
belts. From the ranger's belt, too, when on the march, hung the leathern
bag of bullets, and the inevitable tobacco-pouch; while from his neck
swung a powder-horn, often richly carved, together with his cherished
pipe inclosed in its case of skin. Very often, however, the ranger
spared himself the trouble of a pipe by scooping a bowl in the back of
his tomahawk and fitting it with a hollow handle. Thus the same
implement became both the comfort of his leisure and the torment of his
enemies. In winter, when the Canadians, expert in the use of the
snow-shoe and fearless of the cold, did much of their fighting, they
wore thick peaked hoods over their heads, and looked like a procession
of friars wending through the silent forest on some errand of piety or
mercy. Their hands were covered by thick mittens of woollen yarn, and
they dragged their provisions and blankets on sleds or toboggans. At
night they would use their snow-shoes to shovel a wide, circular pit in
the snow, clearing it away to the bare earth. In the centre of the pit,
they would build their camp fire, and sleep around it on piles of spruce
boughs, secure from the winter wind. The[Pg 74] leaders, usually members of
the nobility, fared on these expeditions as rudely as their men, and
outdid them in courage and endurance. Some of the most noted chiefs of
the wood-rangers were scions of the noblest families; and though living
most of the year the life of savages, were able to shine by their graces
and refinement in the courtliest society of the day.
Charles G. D. Roberts: "History of Canada."
F. G. Scott
So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim; where the people of Israel were slain before the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the face of all the country: and the wood devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away.
And a certain man saw it, and told Joab, and said, Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak.
And Joab said unto the man that told him, And, behold, thou sawest him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle.
And the man said unto Joab, Though I should receive a thousand shekels of silver in mine[Pg 77] hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Beware that none touch the young man Absalom. Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have set thyself against me.
Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him.
And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.
And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone. And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the[Pg 78] king said, If he be alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And he came apace, and drew near.
And the watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold another man running alone. And the king said, He also bringeth tidings. And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings.
And Ahimaaz called, and said unto the king, All is well. And he fell down to the earth upon his face before the king, and said, Blessed be the Lord thy God, which hath delivered up the men that lifted up their hand against my lord the king.
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king's servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. And the king said unto him, Turn aside, and stand here. And he turned aside, and stood still.
And, behold, Cushi came; and Cushi said, Tidings, my lord the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose up against thee. And the king said unto Cushi, Is[Pg 79] the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O
my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!
II. Samuel, XVIII-XIX.
Cecil Frances Alexander
As the Knight of the Couchant Leopard continued to fix his eyes attentively on the yet distant cluster of palm trees, it seemed to him as if some object was moving among them. The distant form separated itself from the trees, which partly hid its motions, and advanced towards the knight with a speed which soon showed a mounted horseman, whom his turban, long spear, and green caftan floating in the wind, on his nearer approach, showed to be a Saracen cavalier.
"In the desert," saith an Eastern proverb, "no man meets a friend." The Crusader was totally indifferent whether the infidel, who now approached on his gallant barb, as if borne on[Pg 84] the wings of an eagle, came as friend or foe; perhaps, as a vowed champion of the Cross, he might rather have preferred the latter. He disengaged his lance from his saddle, seized it with the right hand, placed it in rest with its point half-elevated, gathered up the reins in the left, waked his horse's mettle with the spur, and prepared to encounter the stranger with the calm self-confidence belonging to the victor in many contests.
The Saracen came on at the speedy gallop of an Arab horseman, managing his steed more by his limbs and the inflection of his body than by any use of the reins, which hung loose in his left hand; so that he was enabled to wield the light round buckler of the skin of the rhinoceros, ornamented with silver loops, which he wore on his arm, swinging it as if he meant to oppose its slender circle to the formidable thrust of the Western lance. His own long spear was not couched or levelled like that of his antagonist, but grasped by the middle with his right hand, and brandished at arm's length above his head.
As the cavalier approached his enemy at full career, he seemed to expect that the Knight of the Leopard should put his horse to the gallop[Pg 85] to encounter him. But the Christian knight, well acquainted with the customs of Eastern warriors, did not mean to exhaust his good horse by any unnecessary exertion; and, on the contrary, made a dead halt, confident that, if the enemy advanced to the actual shock, his own weight, and that of his powerful charger, would give him sufficient advantage, without the additional momentum of rapid motion. Equally sensible and apprehensive of such a probable result, the Saracen cavalier, when he had approached towards the Christian within twice the length of his lance, wheeled his steed to the left with inimitable dexterity, and rode twice around his antagonist, who, turning without quitting his ground, and presenting his front constantly to his enemy, frustrated his attempts to attack him on an unguarded point; so that the Saracen, wheeling his horse, was fain to retreat to the distance of a hundred yards.
A second time, like a hawk attacking a heron, the Heathen renewed the charge, and a second time was fain to retreat without coming to a close struggle. A third time he approached in the same manner, when the Christian knight, desirous to terminate this[Pg 86] illusory warfare, in which he might at length have been worn out by the activity of his foeman, suddenly seized the mace which hung at his saddle-bow, and, with a strong hand and unerring aim, hurled it against the head of the Emir, for such and not less his enemy appeared. The Saracen was just aware of the formidable missile in time to interpose his light buckler betwixt the mace and his head; but the violence of the blow forced the buckler down on his turban, and though that defence also contributed to deaden its violence, the Saracen was beaten from his horse. Ere the Christian could avail himself of this mishap, his nimble foeman sprang from the ground, and, calling on his steed, which instantly returned to his side, he leaped into his seat without touching the stirrup, and regained all the advantage of which the Knight of the Leopard hoped to deprive him. But the latter had in the meanwhile recovered his mace, and the Eastern cavalier, who remembered the strength and dexterity with which his antagonist had aimed it, seemed to keep cautiously out of the reach of that weapon, of which he had so lately felt the force, while he showed his purpose of waging a distant warfare with[Pg 87] missile weapons of his own. Planting his long spear in the sand at a distance from the scene of combat, he strung, with great address, a short bow, which he carried at his back, and, putting his horse to the gallop, once more described two or three circles of a wider extent than formerly, in the course of which he discharged six arrows at the Christian with such unerring skill that the goodness of his harness alone saved him from being wounded in as many places. The seventh shaft apparently found a less perfect part of the armour, and the Christian dropped heavily from his horse. But what was the surprise of the Saracen, when, dismounting to examine the condition of his prostrate enemy, he found himself suddenly within the grasp of the European, who had had recourse to this artifice to bring his enemy within his reach! Even in this deadly grapple the Saracen was saved by his agility and presence of mind. He unloosed the sword-belt, in which the Knight of the Leopard had fixed his hold, and, thus eluding his fatal grasp, mounted his horse, which seemed to watch his motions with the intelligence of a human being, and again rode off. But in the last encounter the Saracen had lost his sword and his quiver of arrows, both of[Pg 88] which were attached to the girdle, which he was obliged to abandon. He had also lost his turban in the struggle. These disadvantages seemed to incline the Moslem to a truce: he approached the Christian with his right hand extended, but no longer in a menacing attitude.
"There is truce betwixt our nations," he said, in the lingua franca commonly used for the purpose of communication with the Crusaders; "Wherefore should there be war betwixt thee and me? Let there be peace betwixt us."
"I am well contented," answered he of the Couchant Leopard; "but what security dost thou offer that thou wilt observe the truce?"
"The word of a follower of the Prophet was never broken," answered the Emir. "It is thou, brave Nazarene, from whom I should demand security, did I not know that treason seldom dwells with courage."
The Crusader felt that the confidence of the Moslem made him ashamed of his own doubts.
"By the cross of my sword," he said, laying his hand on the weapon as he spoke, "I will be true companion to thee, Saracen, while our fortune wills that we remain in company together."
"By Mohammed, Prophet of God, and by Allah, God of the Prophet," replied his late foeman, "there is not treachery in my heart towards thee. And now wend we to yonder fountain, for the hour of rest is at hand, and the stream had hardly touched my lip when I was called to battle by thy approach."
The Knight of the Couchant Leopard yielded a ready and courteous assent;
and the late foes, without an angry look or gesture of doubt, rode side
by side to the little cluster of palm trees.
Scott: "The Talisman."
W. Wilfred Campbell
There will always be a number of men who would fain set themselves to
the accumulation of wealth as the sole object of their lives.
Necessarily, that class of men is an uneducated class, inferior in
intellect, and, more or less, cowardly. It is physically impossible for
a well-educated, intellectual, or brave man to make money the chief
object of his thoughts; just as it is for him to make his dinner the[Pg 92]
principal object of them. All healthy people like their dinners, but
their dinner is not the main object of their lives. So all
healthily-minded people like making money—ought to like it, and to
enjoy the sensation of winning it: but the main object of their life is
not money; it is something better than money. A good soldier, for
instance, mainly wishes to do his fighting well. He is glad of his
pay—very properly so, and justly grumbles when you keep him ten years
without it—still, his main notion of life is to win battles, not to be
paid for winning them. So of clergymen. They like pew-rents, and
baptismal fees, of course; but yet, if they are brave and well-educated,
the pew-rent is not the sole object of their lives, and the baptismal
fee is not the sole purpose of the baptism; the clergyman's object is
essentially to baptize and preach, not to be paid for preaching. So of
doctors. They like fees no doubt,—ought to like them; yet if they are
brave and well-educated, the entire object of their lives is not fees.
They, on the whole, desire to cure the sick; and,—if they are good
doctors, and the choice were fairly put to them—would rather cure their
patient, and lose their fee, than kill him, and get it. And so with all
other brave[Pg 93] and rightly-trained men; their work is first, their fee
second—very important always, but still second. But in every nation,
as I said, there are a vast class who are ill-educated, cowardly, and
more or less stupid. And with these people, just as certainly the fee is
first, and the work second, as with brave people the work is first, and
the fee second. And this is no small distinction. It is the whole
distinction in a man; distinction between life and death in him,
between heaven and hell for him. You cannot serve two masters:—you
must serve one or other. If your work is first with you, and your fee
second, work is your master, and the lord of work, who is God. But, if
your fee is first with you, and your work second, fee is your master,
and the lord of fee, who is the Devil; and not only the Devil but the
lowest of devils—the 'least erected fiend that fell.' So there you have
it in brief terms; Work first—you are God's servants; Fee first—you
are the Fiend's. And it makes a difference, now and ever, believe me,
whether you serve Him who has on His vesture and thigh written, 'King of
Kings,' and whose service is perfect freedom; or him on whose vesture
and thigh the name is written, 'Slave of Slaves,' and whose service is
Agnes Maule Machar
Charles G. D. Roberts
"The day," said Waldemar, "is not yet very far spent—let the archers shoot a few rounds at the target, and the prize be adjudged."
One by one the archers, stepping forward, delivered their shafts yeomanlike and bravely. Of the ten shafts which hit the target, two within the inner ring were shot by Hubert, a forester in the service of Malvoisin, who was accordingly pronounced victorious.
"Now, Locksley," said Prince John with a bitter smile, "wilt thou try conclusions with Hubert?"
"Sith it be no better," said Locksley, "I am content to try my fortune; on condition that when I have shot two shafts at yonder mark of Hubert's, he shall be bound to shoot one at that which I shall propose."
"That is but fair," answered Prince John, "and it shall not be refused thee. If thou dost beat this braggart, Hubert, I will fill the bugle with silver pennies for thee."
"A man can but do his best," answered Hubert; "but my grandsire drew a good long bow at Hastings, and I trust not to dishonour his memory."[Pg 98]
The former target was now removed, and a fresh one of the same size placed in its room. Hubert took his aim with great deliberation, long measuring the distance with his eye, while he held in his hand his bended bow, with the arrow placed on the string. At length he made a step forward, and raising the bow at the full stretch of his left arm, till the centre or grasping-place was nigh level with his face, he drew his bow-string to his ear. The arrow whistled through the air, and lighted within the inner ring of the target, but not exactly in the centre.
"You have not allowed for the wind, Hubert," said his antagonist, bending his bow, "or that had been a better shot."
So saying, and without showing the least anxiety to pause upon his aim, Locksley stepped to the appointed station, and shot his arrow as carelessly in appearance as if he had not even looked at the mark. He was speaking almost at the same instant that the shaft left the bow-string, yet it alighted in the target two inches nearer to the white spot which marked the centre than that of Hubert.
"By the light of heaven!" said Prince John to Hubert, "an thou suffer that runagate knave to overcome thee, thou art worthy of the gallows!"[Pg 99]
"An your highness were to hang me," said Hubert, "a man can but do his best. Nevertheless, my grandsire drew a good bow——"
"The foul fiend on thy grandsire and all his generation!" interrupted John; "shoot, knave, and shoot thy best, or it shall be the worse for thee!"
Thus exhorted, Hubert resumed his place, and making the necessary allowance for a very light air of wind, which had just arisen, shot so successfully that his arrow alighted in the very centre of the target.
"Thou canst not mend that shot, Locksley," said the Prince with an insulting smile.
"I will notch his shaft for him, however," replied Locksley.
And letting fly his arrow with a little more precaution than before, it lighted right upon that of his competitor, which it split to shivers.
"And now," said Locksley, "I will crave your Grace's permission to plant such a mark as is used in the North Country, and welcome every brave yeoman who shall try a shot at it."
He then turned to leave the lists. "Let your guards attend me," he said, "if you please—I go but to cut a rod from the next willow-bush."[Pg 100]
Locksley returned almost instantly with a willow wand about six feet in length, perfectly straight, and rather thicker than a man's thumb. He began to peel this, observing that to ask a good woodman to shoot at a target so broad as had hitherto been used, was to put shame upon his skill. "For my own part," he said, "and in the land where I was bred, men would as soon take for their mark King Arthur's round table, which held sixty knights around it. A child of seven years old," he said, "might hit yonder target with a headless shaft; but," added he, walking deliberately to the other end of the lists, and sticking the willow wand upright in the ground, "he that hits that rod at five-score yards, I call him an archer fit to bear bow and quiver before a king."
"My grandsire," said Hubert, "drew a good bow at the battle of Hastings, and never shot at such a mark in his life—and neither will I. If this yeoman can cleave that rod, I give him the bucklers—or rather, I yield to the devil that is in his jerkin, and not to any human skill; a man can but do his best, and I will not shoot where I am sure to miss. I might as well shoot at a sunbeam, as at a twinkling white streak which I can hardly see."[Pg 101]
"Cowardly dog!" said Prince John—"Sirrah Locksley, do thou shoot; but, if thou hittest such a mark, I will say thou art the first man ever did so. Howe'er it be, thou shalt not crow over us with a mere show of superior skill."
"I will do my best, as Hubert says," answered Locksley; "no man can do more."
So saying, he again bent his bow, but on the present occasion looked with attention to his weapon, and changed the string, which he thought was no longer truly round, having been a little frayed by the two former shots. He then took his aim with some deliberation, and the multitude awaited the event in breathless silence. The archer vindicated their opinion of his skill: his arrow split the willow rod against which it was aimed. A jubilee of acclamations followed; and even Prince John, in admiration of Locksley's skill, lost for an instant his dislike to his person. "These twenty nobles," he said, "which, with the bugle, thou hast fairly won, are thine own; we will make them fifty, if thou wilt take livery and service with us as a yeoman of our body-guard, and be near to our person. For never did so strong a hand bend a bow, or so true an eye direct a shaft."[Pg 102]
"Pardon me, noble Prince," said Locksley; "but I have vowed, that, if ever I take service, it should be with your royal brother, King Richard. These twenty nobles I leave to Hubert, who has this day drawn as brave a bow as his grandsire did at Hastings. Had his modesty not refused the trial, he would have hit the wand as well as I."
Hubert shook his head as he received with reluctance the bounty of the
stranger; and Locksley, anxious to escape further observation, mixed
with the crowd, and was seen no more.
Among all the modes of progression hitherto invented by restless man, there is not one that can compare in respect of comfort and luxury with travelling in a birch-bark canoe. It is the poetry of progression. Along the bottom of the boat are laid blankets and bedding; a sort of wicker-work screen is sloped against the middle thwart, affording a delicious support to the back; and indolently, in your shirt sleeves if the day be warm, or well covered with a blanket if it is chilly, you sit or lie on this most luxurious of couches, and are propelled at a rapid rate over the smooth surface of a lake or down the swift current of some stream. If you want exercise, you can take a paddle yourself. If you prefer to be inactive, you can lie still and placidly survey the scenery, rising occasionally to have a shot at[Pg 106] a wild duck; at intervals reading, smoking, and sleeping. Sleep, indeed, you will enjoy most luxuriously, for the rapid bounding motion of the canoe as it leaps forward at every impulse of the crew, the sharp quick beat of the paddles on the water, and the roll of their shafts against the gunwale, with the continuous hiss and ripple of the stream cleft by the curving prow, combine to make a most soothing soporific.
Dreamily you lie side by side—you and your friend—lazily gazing at the pine-covered shores and wooded islands of some unknown lake, the open book unheeded on your knee; the half-smoked pipe drops into your lap; your head sinks gently back; and you wander into dreamland, to awake presently and find yourself sweeping round the curve of some majestic river, whose shores are blazing with the rich crimson, brown, and gold of the maple and other hardwood trees in their autumn dress.
Presently the current quickens. The best man shifts his place from the stern to the bow, and stands ready with his long-handled paddle to twist the frail boat out of reach of hidden rocks. The men's faces glow with excitement. Quicker and quicker flows the stream, breaking into little rapids, foaming round rocks, and[Pg 107] rising in tumbling waves over the shallows. At a word from the bowman the crew redouble their efforts, the paddle shafts crash against the gunwale, the spray flies beneath the bending blades. The canoe shakes and quivers through all its fibres, leaping bodily at every stroke.
Before you is a seething mass of foam, its whiteness broken by horrid
black rocks, one touch against whose jagged sides would rip the canoe
into tatters and hurl you into eternity. Your ears are full of the roar
of waters; waves leap up in all directions, as the river, maddened at
obstruction, hurls itself through some narrow gorge. The bowman stands
erect to take one look in silence, noting in that critical instant the
line of deepest water; then bending to his work, with sharp, short words
of command to the steersman, he directs the boat. The canoe seems to
pitch headlong into space. Whack! comes a great wave over the bow;
crash! comes another over the side. The bowman, his figure stooped, and
his knees planted firmly against the sides, stands, with paddle poised
in both hands, screaming to the crew to paddle hard; and the crew cheer
and shout with excitement in return. You, too, get wild, and feel
inclined to yell defiance to the roaring, hissing flood[Pg 108] that madly
dashes you from side to side. After the first plunge you are in a
bewildering whirl of waters. The shore seems to fly past you. Crash! You
are right on that rock, and (I don't care who you are) you will feel
your heart jump into your mouth, and you will catch the side with a grip
that leaves a mark on your fingers afterwards. No! With a shriek of
command to the steersman, and a plunge of his paddle, the bowman
wrenches the canoe out of its course. Another stroke or two, another
plunge forward, and with a loud exulting yell from the bowman, who
flourishes his paddle round his head, you pitch headlong down the final
leap, and with a grunt of relief from the straining crew glide rapidly
into still water.
Lord Dunraven: "The Great Divide."
"With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
I slept soundly until we got to Yarmouth and drove to the inn yard. A lady looked out of a bow-window where some fowls and joints of meat were hanging up, and said:
"Is that the little gentleman from Blunder-stone?"
"Yes, ma'am," I said.[Pg 111]
The lady then rang a bell and called out: "William! show the coffee-room!" upon which a waiter came running out of a kitchen on the opposite side of the yard to show it, and seemed a good deal surprised when he found he was only to show it to me.
It was a large, long room with some large maps in it. I doubt if I could have felt much stranger if the maps had been real foreign countries, and I cast away in the middle of them. I felt it was taking a liberty to sit down, with my cap in my hand, on the corner of the chair nearest the door; and when the waiter laid a cloth on purpose for me, and put a set of casters on it, I think I must have turned red all over with modesty.
He brought me some chops, and vegetables, and took the covers off in such a bouncing manner that I was afraid I must have given him some offence. But he greatly relieved my mind by putting a chair for me at the table, and saying, very affably: "Now, six-foot! come on!"
I thanked him, and took my seat at the board; but found it extremely difficult to handle my knife and fork with anything like dexterity, or to avoid splashing myself with the gravy, while he was standing opposite, staring so hard, and[Pg 112] making me blush in the most dreadful manner every time I caught his eye. After watching me into the second chop, he said:
"There's half a pint of ale for you. Will you have it now?"
I thanked him and said "Yes." Upon which he poured it out of a jug into a large tumbler, and held it up against the light, and made it look beautiful.
"My eye!" he said. "It seems a good deal, don't it?"
"It does seem a good deal," I answered with a smile. For it was quite delightful to me to find him so pleasant. He was a twinkling-eyed, pimple-faced man, with his hair standing upright all over his head; and as he stood with one arm a-kimbo, holding up the glass to the light with the other hand, he looked quite friendly.
"There was a gentleman here, yesterday," he said—"a stout gentleman, by the name of Topsawyer—perhaps you know him."
"No," I said, "I don't think—"
"In breeches and gaiters, broad-brimmed hat, gray coat, speckled choker," said the waiter.
"No," I said, bashfully, "I haven't the pleasure—"[Pg 113]
"He came in here," said the waiter, looking at the light through the tumbler, "ordered a glass of this ale—would order it—I told him not—drank it, and fell dead. It was too old for him. It oughtn't to be drawn; that's the fact."
I was very much shocked to hear of this melancholy accident, and said I thought I had better have some water.
"Why, you see," said the waiter, still looking at the light through the tumbler, with one of his eyes shut up, "our people don't like things being ordered and left. It offends 'em. But I'll drink it, if you like. I'm used to it, and use is everything. I don't think it'll hurt me, if I throw my head back, and take it off quick. Shall I?"
I replied that he would much oblige me by drinking it, if he thought he could do it safely, but by no means otherwise. When he did throw his head back and take it off quick, I had a horrible fear, I confess, of seeing him meet the fate of the lamented Mr. Topsawyer, and fall lifeless on the carpet. But it didn't hurt him. On the contrary, I thought he seemed the fresher for it.
"What have we got here?" he said, putting a fork into my dish. "Not chops?"[Pg 114]
"Chops," I said.
"Bless my soul!" he exclaimed, "I didn't know they were chops. Why, a chop's the very thing to take off the bad effects of that beer! Ain't it lucky?"
So he took a chop by the bone in one hand, and a potato in the other, and ate away with a very good appetite, to my extreme satisfaction. He afterwards took another chop, and another potato; and after that another chop, and another potato. When he had done, he brought me a pudding, and having set it before me, seemed to ruminate, and to become absent in his mind for some moments.
"How's the pie?" he said, rousing himself.
"It's a pudding," I made answer.
"Pudding!" he exclaimed. "Why, bless me, so it is! What!" looking at it nearer. "You don't mean to say it's a batter-pudding?"
"Yes, it is indeed."
"Why, a batter-pudding," he said, taking up a table-spoon, "it's my favourite pudding! Ain't that lucky? Come on, little 'un, and let's see who'll get most."
The waiter certainly got most. He entreated me more than once to come in and win, but what with his table-spoon to my tea-spoon, his[Pg 115] despatch to my despatch, and his appetite to my appetite, I was left far behind at the first mouthful, and had no chance with him. I never saw any one enjoy a pudding so much, I think; and he laughed, when it was all gone, as if his enjoyment of it lasted still.
Finding him so very friendly and companionable, it was then that I asked for the pen and ink and paper, to write to Peggoty. He not only brought it immediately, but was good enough to look over me while I wrote the letter. When I had finished it, he asked me where I was going to school.
I said: "Near London," which was all I knew.
"Oh! my eye!" he said, looking very low-spirited, "I am sorry for that."
"Why?" I asked him.
"Oh!" he said, shaking his head, "that's the school where they broke the boy's ribs—two ribs—a little boy he was. I should say he was—let me see—how old are you, about?"
I told him between eight and nine.
"That's just his age," he said. "He was eight years and six months old when they broke his first rib; eight years and eight months old when they broke his second, and did for him."
I could not disguise from myself, or from the[Pg 116] waiter, that this was an uncomfortable coincidence, and inquired how it was done. His answer was not cheering to my spirits, for it consisted of two dismal words, "With whopping."
The blowing of the coach-horn in the yard was a seasonable diversion, which made me get up and hesitatingly inquire, in the mingled pride and diffidence of having a purse (which I took out of my pocket), if there were anything to pay.
"There's a sheet of letter-paper," he returned. "Did you ever buy a sheet of letter-paper?"
I could not remember that I ever had.
"It's dear," he said, "on account of the duty. Threepence. That's the way we're taxed in this country. There's nothing else, except the waiter. Never mind the ink! I lose by that."
"What should you—what should I—how much ought I to—what would it be right to pay the waiter, if you please?" I stammered, blushing.
"If I hadn't a family, and that family hadn't the cowpock," said the waiter, "I wouldn't take a sixpence. If I didn't support a aged pairint, and a lovely sister,"—here the waiter was greatly agitated—"I wouldn't take a farthing.[Pg 117] If I had a good place, and was treated well here, I should beg acceptance of a trifle, instead of taking of it. But I live on broken wittles—and I sleep on the coals"—here the waiter burst into tears.
I was very much concerned for his misfortunes, and felt that any recognition short of ninepence would be mere brutality and hardness of heart, Therefore I gave him one of my three bright shillings, which he received with much humility and veneration, and spun up with his thumb, directly afterwards, to try the goodness of.
It was a little disconcerting to me, to find, when I was being helped up
behind the coach, that I was supposed to have eaten all the dinner
without any assistance. I discovered this, from overhearing the lady in
the bow-window say to the guard: "Take care of that child, George, or
he'll burst!" and from observing that the women-servants who were about
the place came out to look and giggle at me as a young phenomenon. My
unfortunate friend, the waiter, who had quite recovered his spirits, did
not appear to be disturbed by this, but joined in the general admiration
without being at all confused. If I had any doubt of him, I suppose this
half-[Pg 118]awakened it; but I am inclined to believe that, with the simple
confidence and natural reliance of a child upon superior years
(qualities I am very sorry any children should prematurely change for
worldly wisdom), I had no serious mistrust of him on the whole, even
Dickens: "David Copperfield."
Country life in Western Canada in the "Thirties" was very simple and uneventful. There were no lines of social division such as now exist. All alike had to toil to win and maintain a home; and if, as was natural, some were more successful in the rough battle of pioneer life than others, they did not feel, on that account, disposed to treat their neighbours as their inferiors. Neighbours, they well knew, were too few and too desirable to be coldly and haughtily treated. Had not all the members of each community hewn their way side by side into the fastnesses of the Canadian bush? And what could a little additional wealth do for them, when the remoteness of the centres which might supply luxuries, enforced simplicity and made superfluities almost impossible?[Pg 123]
The furnishings of their houses were plain, and the chief articles of dress, if substantial and comfortable, were of coarse homespun—the product of their own labour. The sources of amusement were limited. The day of the harmonium or piano had not come. Music, except in its simplest vocal form, was not cultivated; only the occasional presence of some fiddler afforded rare seasons of merriment to the delight both of old and young.
The motto of "Early to bed and early to rise" was, even in winter, the strict rule of family life. In the morning all were up, and breakfast was over usually before seven. As soon as the gray light of dawn appeared, men and boys were off to the barns, not merely to feed the cattle but to engage in the needful and tedious labour of threshing by hand. In the evenings, the family gathered together for lighter tasks and pleasant talk around a glowing fire. In firewood, at least, there was, in those days, no need for economy.
We scarcely realize how largely little things may contribute to convenience and comfort. There were no lucifer matches at that date. It was needful to cover up carefully the live coals on the hearth before going to bed, so that there[Pg 124] might be the means of starting the fire in the morning. This precaution was rarely unsuccessful; but sometimes a member of the family had to set out for a supply of fire from a neighbour's, in order that breakfast might be prepared. I remember well having to crawl out of my warm nest and run through the keen frosty air for half a mile or more, to fetch live coals from a neighbour's. It was, however, my father's practice to keep bundles of finely split pine sticks tipped with brimstone. With the aid of these, the merest spark served to start the fire.
In the spring, tasks of various kinds crowded rapidly upon us. The hams and beef that had been salted down in casks during the preceding autumn were taken out of the brine, washed off, and hung in the smoke-house. On the earthen floor beech or maple was burned; the oily smoke, given off by the combustion of these woods in a confined space, not only acted as a preservative but also lent a special flavour to the meat. Then ploughing, fencing, sowing, and planting followed in quick succession. No hands could be spared. The children must drive the cows to and from pasture. They must also take a hand at churning. It was a weary task, I well remember, to stand, perhaps for an[Pg 125] hour, and drive the dasher up and down through the thick cream. How often did we examine the handle for evidence that the butter was forming, and what was the relief when the monotonous task was at an end. As soon as my legs were long enough, I had to follow a team; indeed, I drove the horses, mounted on the back of one of them, when my nether limbs were scarcely sufficiently grown to give me a grip.
The instruments for the agricultural operations were few and rough. Iron ploughs with cast-iron mould-boards and shares were commonly employed. Compared with our modern ploughs, they were clumsy things, but a vast improvement on the earlier wooden ploughs which, even at that date, had not wholly gone out of use. For drags, tree-tops were frequently used.
In June came sheep-washing. The sheep were driven to the bay shore and secured in a pen. One by one they were taken out, and the fleeces carefully washed. Within a day or two, shearing followed in the barn. The wool was sorted; some was reserved to be carded by hand; the remainder was sent to the mills to be turned into rolls. Then, day after day, for weeks, the noise of the spinning-wheel was[Pg 126] heard, accompanied by the steady beat of the girls' feet, as they walked forward and backward drawing out and twisting the thread and running it on the spindle. This was work that required some skill, for on the fineness and evenness of the thread the character of the fabric largely depended. Finally, the yarn was carried to the weavers to be converted into cloth.
The women of the family found their hands very full in the "Thirties." Besides the daily round of housewifely cares, every season brought its special duties. There were wild strawberries and raspberries to be picked and prepared for daily consumption, or to be preserved for winter use. Besides milking, there was the making both of butter and cheese. There was no nurse to take care of the children, no cook to prepare the dinner. To be sure, in households when the work was beyond the powers of the family, the daughter of some neighbour might come as a helper. Though hired, she was treated in all respects as one of the family, and in return was likely to take the same sort of interest in the work, as if the tie that bound her to the family was closer than wages. In truth, such help was regarded as a favour, and not as in any way affecting the girl's social position.[Pg 127]
The girls in those days were more at home in a kitchen than a drawing-room. They did better execution at a tub than at a spinet, and could handle a rolling-pin more satisfactorily than a sketch-book. At a pinch, they could even use a rake or fork to good purpose in field or barn. Their finishing education was received at the country school along with their brothers. Of fashion books and milliners, few of them had any experiences.
Country life in Canada was plodding in the "Thirties" and there was no
varied outlook. The girls' training for future life was mainly at the
hands of their mothers; the boys followed in the footsteps of their
fathers. Neither sex felt that life was cramped or burdensome on that
account. They were content to live as their parents had done. And though
we can see that, as compared with later conditions, there may be
something wanting in such an existence, this at least we know, that, in
such a school and by such masters, the foundations of Canadian character
and prosperity were laid.
Canniff Haight: "Country Life in Canada in the 'Thirties'."
He who knows most grieves most for wasted time.
(The Spanish champion, Bernardo del Carpio, having made many ineffectual efforts to procure the release of his father, the Count Saldana, who had been imprisoned by King Alfonso, at last took up arms. The war proved so destructive that the people demanded of the King, Saldana's liberty. Alfonso offered Bernardo possession of his father's person in exchange for his castle. Bernardo accepted the offer, gave up his castle, and rode forth with the king to meet his father.)
"My second boy, Moses, whom I designed for business," says the vicar, "received a sort of miscellaneous education at home."
As we were now to hold up our heads a little higher in the world, it would be proper to sell the colt, which was grown old, at a neighbouring fair, and buy us a horse that would carry single or double upon an occasion, and make a pretty appearance at church or upon a visit. This at first I opposed stoutly; but it was as stoutly defended. However, as I weakened, my antagonists gained strength, till at last it was resolved to part with him.
As the fair happened on the following day, I had intentions of going myself; but my wife persuaded me that I had got a cold, and nothing could prevail upon her to permit me from home.
"No, my dear," said she, "our son Moses is a discreet boy and can buy and sell to very good advantage; you know all our great bargains are of his purchasing. He always stands out and higgles, and actually tires them till he gets a bargain."
As I had some opinion of my son's prudence, I was willing enough to intrust him with this[Pg 137] commission; and the next morning I perceived his sisters mighty busy in fitting out Moses for the fair—trimming his hair, brushing his buckles, and cocking his hat with pins.
The business of the toilet being over, we had at last the satisfaction of seeing him mounted upon the colt, with a deal box before him to bring home groceries in. He had on a coat made of that cloth they call thunder and lightning, which, though grown too short, was much too good to be thrown away. His waistcoat was of gosling green, and his sisters had tied his hair with a broad black ribbon. We all followed him several paces from the door, bawling after him: "Good luck, good luck!" till we could see him no longer.
As night came on, I began to wonder what could keep our son so long at the fair.
"Never mind our son," cried my wife, "depend upon it, he knows what he is about. I'll warrant we'll never see him sell his hen of a rainy day. I have seen him buy such bargains as would amaze one. I'll tell you a good story about that, that will make you split your sides with laughing. But, as I live, yonder comes Moses, without a horse, and the box at his back."[Pg 138]
As she spoke, Moses came slowly on foot, and sweating under the deal box, which he had strapped round his shoulders like a pedlar.
"Welcome, welcome, Moses; well, my boy, what have you brought us from the fair?"
"I have brought you myself," cried Moses, with a sly look, and resting the box on the dresser.
"Ah, Moses," cried my wife, "that we know, but where is the horse?"
"I have sold him," cried Moses, "for three pounds, five shillings, and twopence."
"Well done, my good boy," returned she, "I knew you would touch them off. Between ourselves, three pounds, five shillings, and twopence is no bad day's work. Come, let us have it then."
"I have brought back no money," cried Moses again. "I have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is," pulling out a bundle from his breast: "here they are, a gross of green spectacles, with silver rims and shagreen cases."
"A gross of green spectacles!" repeated my wife, in a faint voice. "And you have parted with the colt and brought us back nothing but a gross of green paltry spectacles!"[Pg 139]
"Dear mother," cried the boy, "why won't you listen to reason? I had them a dead bargain, or I should not have bought them. The silver rims will sell for double the money."
"A fig for the silver rims!" cried my wife, in a passion. "I dare swear they won't sell for above half the money at the rate of broken silver, five shillings an ounce."
"You need be under no uneasiness," cried I, "about selling the rims; for they are not worth sixpence, for I perceive they are only copper varnished over."
"What," cried my wife, "not silver, the rims not silver!"
"No," cried I, "no more silver than your sauce-pan."
"And so," returned she, "we have parted with the colt, and have only got a gross of green spectacles, with copper rims and shagreen cases! A murrain take such trumpery! The blockhead has been imposed upon, and should have known his company better."
"There, my dear," cried I, "you are wrong; he should not have known them at all."
"Marry, hang the idiot," returned she, "to bring me such stuff; if I had them, I would throw them into the fire."[Pg 140]
"There again you are wrong, my dear," cried I; "for though they be copper, we will keep them by us, as copper spectacles, you know, are better than nothing."
By this time the unfortunate Moses was undeceived. He now saw that he had been imposed upon by a prowling sharper, who, observing his figure, had marked him for an easy prey. I therefore asked the circumstances of his deception. He sold the horse, it seems, and walked the fair in search of another. A reverend-looking man brought him to a tent, under pretence of having one to sell.
"Here," continued Moses, "we met another man, very well dressed, who
desired to borrow twenty pounds upon these, saying that he wanted money
and would dispose of them for a third of the value. The first gentleman,
who pretended to be my friend, whispered me to buy them, and cautioned
me not to let so good an offer pass. I sent for Mr. Flamborough, and
they talked him up as finely as they did me, and so at last we were
persuaded to buy the two gross between us."
Goldsmith: "The Vicar of Wakefield."
Charles G. D. Roberts
Believe me, thrift of time will repay you in after life with a usury of
profit beyond your most sanguine dreams, and the waste of it will make
you dwindle, alike in intellectual and moral stature, beyond your
Before turning our steps westward from this inland ocean, Lake Superior, it will be well to pause a moment on its shore and look out over its bosom. It is worth looking at, for the world possesses not its equal. Four hundred English miles in length, one hundred and fifty miles in breadth, six hundred feet above Atlantic level, nine hundred feet in depth; one vast spring of purest crystal water, so cold that during summer months its waters are like ice itself, and so clear that hundreds of feet below the surface the rocks stand out as distinctly as though seen through plate-glass. Follow in fancy the outpourings of this wonderful basin; seek its future course in Huron, Erie, and Ontario—in that wild leap from the rocky ledge which makes Niagara famous through the world. Seek it farther still—in the quiet loveliness of the Thousand Isles, in the whirl and sweep of the Cedar Rapids, in the silent rush of the great current under the rocks at the foot of Quebec. Ay, and even farther away still—down where the lone Laurentian Hills come forth to look again upon that water whose earliest beginnings they cradled[Pg 144] along the shores of Lake Superior. There, close to the sounding billows of the Atlantic, two thousand miles from Superior, these hills—the only ones that ever last—guard the great gate by which the St. Lawrence seeks the sea.
There are rivers whose currents, running red with the silt and mud of
their soft alluvial shores, carry far into the ocean the record of their
muddy progress; but this glorious river system, through its many lakes
and various names, is ever the same crystal current, flowing pure from
the fountain-head of Lake Superior. Great cities stud its shores; but
they are powerless to dim the transparency of its waters. Steam-ships
cover the broad bosom of its lakes and estuaries; but they change not
the beauty of the water, no more than the fleets of the world mark the
waves of the ocean. Any person looking at a map of the region bounding
the great lakes of North America will be struck by the absence of rivers
flowing into Lakes Superior, Michigan, or Huron, from the south—in
fact, the drainage of the States bordering these lakes on the south is
altogether carried off by the valley of the Mississippi. It follows that
this valley of the Mississippi is at a much lower level than the surface
of the lakes.[Pg 145] These lakes, containing an area of some seventy-three
thousand square miles, are therefore an immense reservoir held high over
the level of the great Mississippi valley, from which they are separated
by a barrier of slight elevation and extent.
Major W. F. Butler: "The Great Lone Land."
The plain through which Red River flows is fertile beyond description.
At a little distance it seems one vast level plain, through which the
windings of the river are marked by a dark line of woods fringing the
whole length of the stream. Each tributary has also its line of
forest,—a line visible many miles away over the great sea of grass. As
one travels on, there first rise above the prairie the tops of the
trees; these gradually grow larger, until finally, after many hours, the
river is reached. Nothing else breaks the uniform level. Standing upon
the ground, the eye ranges over many miles of grass; standing on a
wagon, one doubles the area of vision; and to look over the plains from
an elevation of twelve feet above the earth, is to survey at a glance a
space so vast that distance alone seems[Pg 146] to bound its limits. The effect
of sunset over these oceans of verdure is very beautiful. A thousand
hues spread themselves upon the grassy plains, a thousand tints of gold
are cast along the heavens, and the two oceans of the sky and of the
earth intermingle in one great blaze of glory at the very gates of the
setting sun. But to speak of sunsets now is only to anticipate. Here, at
the Red River, we are only at the threshold of the sunset; its true home
lies yet many days' journey to the west—there, where the long shadows
of the vast herds of bison (used to) trail slowly over the immense
plains, huge and dark against the golden west—there, where the red man
still sees, in the glory of the setting sun, the realization of his
dream of heaven.
Major W. F. Butler: "The Great Lone Land."
As every action is capable of a peculiar dignity in the manner of it, so
also it is capable of dignity still higher in the motive of it. There is
no action so slight, nor so mean, but it may be done to a great purpose,
and ennobled therefore; nor is any purpose so great but that slight
actions may help it, and may be so done as to help it much, most
especially that chief of all purposes, the pleasing of God.
F. G. Scott
We are not sent into this world to do anything into which we cannot put
our hearts. We have certain work to do for our bread, and that is to be
done strenuously; other work to do for our delight, and that is to be
done heartily; neither is to be done by halves or shifts, but with a
The tall, frowning keep and solid walls of the great stone castles, in which the Norman barons lived, betokened an age of violence and suspicion. Beauty gave way to the needs of safety. Girdled with a green and slimy ditch, round the inner side of which ran a parapeted wall pierced along the top with shot-holes, stood the buildings, spreading often over many acres.
If an enemy managed to cross the moat and force the gateway, in spite of a portcullis crashing from above, and melted lead pouring in burning streams from the perforated top of the rounded arch, but little of his work was yet done; for the keep lifted its huge angular block of masonry within the inner bailey or courtyard, and from the narrow chinks in its ten-foot wall rained a sharp incessant shower of arrows, sweeping all approaches to the high and narrow stair, by which alone access could be had to its interior.
These loopholes were the only windows, except in the topmost story, where the chieftain, like a vulture in his rocky nest, watched all the surrounding country. The day of splendid oriels had not yet come in castle architecture.[Pg 150] Thus a baron in his keep could defy, and often did defy, the king upon his throne. Under his roof, eating daily at his board, lived a throng of armed retainers; and around his castle lay farms tilled by martial franklins, who at his call laid aside their implements of husbandry, took up the sword and spear, which they could wield with equal skill, and marched beneath his banner to the war.
The furniture of a Norman keep was not unlike that of an English house. There was richer ornament—more elaborate carving. A faldestol, the original of our arm-chair, spread its drapery and cushions for the chieftain in his lounging moods. His bed now boasted curtains and a roof, although, like the English lord, he still lay only upon straw. Chimneys tunnelled the thick walls, and the cupboards glittered with glass and silver. Horn lanterns and the old spiked candle-sticks lit up his evening hours, when the chess-board arrayed its clumsy men, carved out of walrus-tusk, then commonly called whale's-bone. But the baron had an unpleasant trick of breaking the chess-board on his opponent's head, when he found himself checkmated; which somewhat marred that player's enjoyment of the game. Dice of horn and bone[Pg 151] emptied many a purse in Norman England. Draughts were also sometimes played.
Dance and music whiled away the long winter nights; and on summer evenings the castle courtyards resounded with the noise of football, wrestling, boxing, leaping, and the fierce joys of the bull-bait. But out of doors, when no fighting was on hand, the hound, the hawk, and the lance attracted the best energies and skill of the Norman gentleman.
The Normans probably dined at nine in the morning. When they rose they took a light meal; and ate something also after their day's work, immediately before going to bed. Goose and garlic formed a favourite dish. Their cookery was more elaborate, and, in comparison, more delicate, than the preparations for an English feast; but the character for temperance, which they brought with them from the continent, soon vanished.
The poorer classes hardly ever ate flesh, living principally on bread, butter, and cheese; a fact in social life which seems to underlie that usage of our tongue by which the living animals in field or stall bore English names—ox, sheep, calf, pig, deer; while their flesh, promoted to Norman dishes, rejoiced in names of French ori[Pg 152]gin—beef, mutton, veal, pork, venison. Round cakes, piously marked with a cross, piled the tables, on which pastry of various kinds also appeared. In good houses cups of glass held the wine, which was borne from the cellar below in jugs.
Squatted around the door or on the stairs leading to the Norman dining-hall, which was often on an upper floor, was a crowd of beggars or gluttons, who grew so insolent in the days of Rufus, that ushers, armed with rods, were posted outside to beat back the noisy throng, who thought little of snatching the dishes as the cooks carried them to table!
The juggler, who under the Normans filled the place of the English gleeman, tumbled, sang, and balanced knives in the hall; or, out in the bailey of an afternoon, displayed the acquirements of his trained monkey or bear. The fool, too, clad in coloured patchwork, cracked his ribald jests and shook his cap and bells at the elbow of roaring barons, when the board was spread and the circling of the wine began.
Monasteries served many useful purposes at this time. Besides their manifest value as centres of study and literary work, they gave alms to the poor, a supper and a bed to travellers;[Pg 153] their tenants were better off and better treated than the tenants of the nobles; the monks could store grain, grow apples, and cultivate their flower-beds with little risk of injury from war, because they had spiritual penalties at their call, which usually awed even the most reckless of the soldiery into a respect for sacred property.
As schools, too, the monasteries did no trifling service to society in
the Middle Ages. In addition to their influence as great centres of
learning, English law had enjoined every mass-priest to keep a school in
his parish church where all the young committed to his care might be
instructed. The youth of the middle classes, destined for the cloister
or the merchant's stall, chiefly thronged these schools. The aristocracy
cared little for book-learning. Very few indeed of the barons could read
or write. But all could ride, fence, tilt, play at cards, and carve
extremely well; for to these accomplishments many years of pagehood and
squirehood were given.
W. F. Collier, (Adapted)
Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, These three alone lead
life to sovereign power.
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them
not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For
they are life unto those that find them and health to all their flesh.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before
thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
The man whom I call worthy of the name, is one whose thoughts and
exertions are for others rather than for himself; whose high purpose is
adopted on just principles, and is never abandoned while heaven or earth
affords means of accomplishing it. He is one who will neither seek an
indirect advantage by a specious road, nor take an evil path to secure a
really good purpose.
When I was at Grand Cairo, I picked up several Oriental manuscripts, which I have still by me. Among others, I met with one entitled, "The Visions of Mirzah," which I have read over with great pleasure. I intend to give it to the public when I have no other entertainment for them; and shall begin with the first Vision, which I have translated word for word, as follows:—
"On the fifth day of the moon, which, according to the custom of my forefathers, I always keep holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here airing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation on the vanity of human life; and passing from one thought to another, 'Surely,' said I, 'man is but a shadow, and life a dream.'
"Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eyes towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, with a little musical instrument in[Pg 161] his hand. As I looked upon him, he applied it to his lips, and began to play upon it. The sound of it was exceeding sweet, and wrought into a variety of tunes that were inexpressibly melodious, and altogether different from anything I had ever heard. They put me in mind of those heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men upon their first arrival in paradise, to wear out the impressions of the last agonies, and qualify them for the pleasures of that happy place. My heart melted away in secret raptures.
"I had been often told that the rock before me was the haunt of a genius; and that several had been entertained with music who had passed by it, but never heard that the musician had before made himself visible. When he had raised my thoughts by those transporting airs which he played, to taste the pleasures of his conversation, as I looked upon him like one astonished, thereupon he beckoned to me and, by the waving of his hand, directed me to approach the place where he sat.
"I drew near with that reverence which is due to a superior nature; and as my heart was entirely subdued by the captivating strains I had heard, I fell down at his feet and wept. The[Pg 162] Genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability that familiarized him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the ground, and taking me by the hand, 'Mirzah,' said he, 'I have heard thee in thy soliloquies; follow me.'
"He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock, and placing me on the top of it, 'Cast thy eyes eastward,' said he, 'and tell me what thou seest.' 'I see,' said I, 'a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it.' 'The valley that thou seest,' said he, 'is the Vale of Misery, and the Tide of Water that thou seest is part of the great Tide of Eternity,' 'What is the reason,' said I, 'that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other?' 'What thou seest,' said he, 'is that portion of eternity which is called Time, measured out by the sun, and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation.'
"'Examine now,' said he, 'this sea that is bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it.' 'I see a bridge,' said I, 'standing in the midst of the[Pg 163] tide.' 'The bridge thou seest,' said he, 'is Human Life; consider it attentively.' Upon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of threescore and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which, added to those that were entire, made up the number about an hundred. As I was counting the arches, the Genius told me that this bridge had consisted at first of a thousand arches; but that a great flood swept away the rest and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it.
"'But tell me further,' said he, 'what thou discoverest on it.' 'I see multitudes of people passing over it,' said I, 'and a black cloud hanging on each end of it.' As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge, into the great tide that flowed underneath it; and, upon further examination, perceived that there were innumerable trap-doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod upon, but they fell through them into the tide and immediately disappeared.
"These hidden pitfalls were set very thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that the throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud, but[Pg 164] many of them fell into them. They grew thinner towards the middle, but multiplied and lay closer together towards the end of the arches that were entire.
"There were indeed some persons, but their numbers were very small, that continued a kind of hobbling march on the broken arches, but fell through one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk.
"I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure, and the great variety of objects which it presented. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching at everything that stood by them to save themselves.
"Some were looking up towards the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and, in the midst of a speculation, stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in the pursuit of bubbles that glittered in their eyes and danced before them; but often, when they thought themselves within reach of them, their footing failed and down they sunk.
"In this confusion of objects, I observed some with scymetars in their hands, who ran to and fro upon the bridge, thrusting several persons on[Pg 165] trap-doors which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped had they not been thus forced upon them.
"The Genius, seeing me indulge myself on this melancholy prospect, told me that I had dwelt long enough upon it: 'Take thine eyes off the bridge,' said he, 'and tell me if thou yet seest anything thou dost not comprehend.' Upon looking up, 'What mean,' said I, 'those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants, and, among many other feathered creatures, several little winged boys that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches.' 'These,' said the Genius, 'are envy, avarice, superstition, despair, love, with the like cares and passions that infest human life.'
"I here fetched a deep sigh, 'Alas,' said I, 'man was made in vain! How is he given away to misery and mortality! tortured in life, and swallowed up in death.'
"The Genius, being moved with compassion towards me, bid me quit so uncomfortable a prospect: 'Look no more,' said he, 'on man in the first stage of his existence, in his setting out for eternity; but cast thine eye on that thick[Pg 166] mist into which the tide bears the several generations of mortals that fall into it.'
"I directed my sight as I was ordered, and (whether or no the good Genius strengthened it with any supernatural force, or dissipated part of the mist that was before too thick for the eye to penetrate) I saw the valley opening at the farther end and spreading forth into an immense ocean, that had a huge rock of adamant running through the midst of it and dividing it into two equal parts.
"The clouds still rested on one half of it, insomuch that I could discover nothing in it; but the other appeared to me a vast ocean, planted with innumerable islands that were covered with fruits and flowers and interwoven with a thousand little shining seas that ran among them. I could see persons dressed in glorious habits with garlands upon their heads, passing among the trees, lying down by the side of fountains, or resting on beds of flowers; and could hear a confused harmony of singing birds, falling waters, human voices, and musical instruments.
"Gladness grew in me upon the discovery of so delightful a scene. I wished for the wings of an eagle, that I might fly away to those happy seats; but the Genius told me there was no pas[Pg 167]sage to them, except through the gates of Death, which I saw opening every moment upon the bridge.
"'The islands,' said he, 'that lie so fresh and green before thee, and with which the whole face of the ocean appears spotted as far as thou canst see, are more in number than the sands on the sea-shore: there are myriads of islands behind those which thou here discoverest, reaching farther than thine eye or even thine imagination can extend itself. These are the mansions of good men after death, who, according to the degree and kinds of virtue in which they excelled, are distributed among these several islands, which abound with pleasures of different kinds and degrees, suitable to the relishes and perfections of those who are settled in them: every island is a paradise accommodated to its respective inhabitants. Are not these, O Mirzah, habitations worth contending for? Does life appear miserable, that gives thee opportunities of earning such a reward? Is death to be feared, that will convey thee to so happy an existence? Think not man was made in vain, who has such an eternity reserved for him.'
"I gazed with inexpressible pleasure on these happy islands. At length, I said: 'Show me[Pg 168] now, I beseech thee, the secrets that lie hid under those dark clouds which cover the ocean on the other side of the rock of adamant.'
"The Genius making me no answer, I turned about to address myself to him
a second time, but found that he had left me; I then turned again to the
Vision which I had been so long contemplating; but instead of the
rolling tide, the arched bridge, and the happy islands, I saw nothing
but the long, hollow valley of Bagdat, with oxen, sheep, and camels
grazing upon the sides of it."
Addison: "The Spectator, No. 159."
The Americans inaugurated their Declaration of Independence by enacting that all the United Empire Loyalists—that is the adherents to connection with the mother country—were rebels and traitors; they followed the recognition of Independence by England with an order exiling such adherents from their territories. But while this policy depleted the United States of some of their best blood, it laid the foundation of the settlement and the institutions of the country which has since become the great, free, and prosperous Dominion of Canada.
Upper Canada was then unknown, or known only as a region of dense wilderness and swamps; of venomous reptiles and beasts of prey; of numerous and fierce Indian tribes; of intense cold in winter; and with no redeeming feature except abundance of game and fish.
After the war of Independence, many Loyalists went to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and settled there. The British Commander of New York, having found out that Upper Canada was capable of supporting a numerous population along the great river and the lakes, undertook to send colonies of Loyalists there.[Pg 171]
Five vessels were procured and furnished to convey the first colony from New York. They sailed round the coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and up the St. Lawrence to Sorel, where they arrived in October, 1783. Here they wintered, having built themselves huts, or shanties, and in May, 1784, they continued their voyage in boats, and reached their destination, Cataraqui, afterwards Kingston, in the month of July.
Other bands of Loyalists came by land over the military highway to Lower Canada, as far as Plattsburg, and then northward to Cornwall and up the St. Lawrence, along the north side of which many of them settled.
But the most common route was by way of the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers, through Oneida Lake and down the Oswego River to Lake Ontario. Flat-bottomed boats, specially built or purchased for the purpose by the Loyalists, were used in this journey. The portages, over which the boats had to be hauled and all their contents carried, are said to have been thirty miles long.
On reaching Oswego, some of the Loyalists coasted along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario to Kingston, and thence up the Bay of Quinte;[Pg 172] others went westward along the south shore of the lake to Niagara and Queenston. Some conveyed their boats over the portage of ten or twelve miles to Chippewa, thence up the river and into Lake Erie, settling chiefly in what was called "Long Point Country," now the County of Norfolk.
This journey of hardship, privation, and exposure occupied from two to three months. The obstacles encountered may readily be imagined in a country where the primeval forest covered the earth, and where the only path was the river or the lake. The parents and family of the writer of this history were from the middle of May to the middle of July making the journey in an open boat. Generally two or more families would unite in one company, and thus assist each other in carrying their boats and goods over the portages.
"These excellent men," wrote Sir Richard Bonnycastle, "were willing to sacrifice life and fortune rather than forego the enviable distinction of being British subjects." The stern adherence of the Pilgrim Fathers to their principles was quite equalled by the stern adherence of the Loyalists to their principles; but the privations and hardships experienced by many[Pg 173] of the Loyalist patriots for years after the first settlement in Canada were much more severe than anything experienced by the Puritans during the first years of their settlement in Massachusetts.
Canada has, indeed, a noble parentage, the remembrance of which its
inhabitants may well cherish with respect, affection, and pride.
Egerton Ryerson: "The Loyalists of America and their Times." (Adapted)
Hudson Strait opens from the Atlantic between Resolution Island on the north and the Button Islands on the south. From point to point, this end of the strait is forty-five miles wide. At the other end, the west side, between Digges' Island and Nottingham Island, is a distance of thirty-five miles. From east to west, the straits are four hundred and fifty miles long—wider at the east where the south side is known as Ungava Bay, contracting at the west, to the Upper Narrows. The south side of the strait is Labrador; the north, Baffin's Land. Both sides are lofty, rocky, cavernous shores lashed by a tide that rises in places as high as thirty-five feet and[Pg 176] runs in calm weather ten miles an hour. Pink granite islands dot the north shore in groups that afford harbourage, but all shores present an adamant front, edges sharp as a knife or else rounded hard to have withstood and cut the tremendous ice jam of a floating world suddenly contracted to forty miles, which Davis Strait pours down at the east end and Fox Channel at the west.
Seven hundred feet is considered a good-sized hill; one thousand feet, a mountain. Both the north and the south sides of the straits rise two thousand feet in places. Through these rock walls ice has poured and torn and ripped a way since the ice age preceding history, cutting a great channel to the Atlantic. Here, the iron walls suddenly break to secluded silent valleys, moss-padded, snow-edged, lonely as the day Earth first saw light. Down these valleys pour the clear streams of the eternal snows, burnished as silver against the green, setting the silence echoing with the tinkle of cataracts over some rock wall, or filling the air with the voice of many waters at noontide thaw. One old navigator—Coates—describes the beat of the angry tide at the rock base and the silver voice of the mountain brooks, like the treble and bass of some[Pg 177] great cathedral organ sounding its diapason to the glory of God in this peopleless wilderness.
Perhaps the kyacks of some solitary Eskimo, lashed abreast twos and threes to prevent capsizing, may shoot out from some of these bog-covered valleys like sea-birds; but it is only when the Eskimos happen to be hunting here, or the ships of the whalers and fur traders are passing up and down—that there is any sign of human habitation on the straits.
Walrus wallow on the pink granite islands in huge herds. Polar bears flounder from icepan to icepan. The arctic hare, white as snow but for the great bulging black eye, bounds over the boulders. Snow buntings, whistling swans, snow geese, ducks in myriads—flacker and clacker and hold solemn conclave on the adjoining rocks, as though this were their realm from the beginning and for all time.
Of a tremendous depth are the waters of the straits. Not for nothing has
the ice world been grinding through this narrow channel for billions of
years. No fear of shoals to the mariner. Fear is of another sort. When
the ice is running in a whirlpool and the incoming tide meets the ice
jam and the waters mount thirty-five feet high and a wind roars between
the high shores[Pg 178] like a bellows—then it is that the straits roll and
pitch and funnel their waters into black troughs where the ships go
down. "Undertow," the old Hudson's Bay captains called the suck of the
tide against the ice wall; and that black hole, where the lumpy billows
seemed to part like a passage between wall of ice and wall of water, was
what the mariners feared. The other great danger was just a plain crush,
getting nipped between two icepans rearing and plunging like fighting
stallions, with the ice blocks going off like pistol shots or smashed
glass. No child's play is such navigating either for the old sailing
vessels of the fur traders or the modern ice-breakers propelled by
steam! Yet, the old sailing vessels and the whaling fleets have
navigated these straits for two hundred years.
Agnes C. Laut: "The Conquest of the Great Northwest."
(The chief characters in this sketch are Miller, the tyrannical little cockswain of the crew; old Jervis, the captain; Tom Brown, number two, who is rowing his first race; Hardy, a friend of Tom's and one of the best oarsmen in the college—also Jack, the college dog. Though there are several crews in the race the real struggle is between the boats from St. Ambrose and Exeter Colleges. If St. Ambrose can drive the nose of its boat against the Exeter boat—"bump it"—it wins.)
Hark!—the first gun. The report sent Tom's heart into his mouth again. Several of the boats pushed off at once into the stream; and the crowds of men on the bank began to be agitated, as it were, by the shadow of the coming excitement. The St. Ambrose fingered their oars, put a last dash of grease on their rowlocks, and settled their feet against the stretchers.
"Shall we push her off?" asked Bow.
"No; I can give you another minute," said Miller, who was sitting, watch in hand, in the stern; "only be smart when I give the word."
The captain turned on his seat, and looked up the boat. His face was quiet, but full of confidence, which seemed to pass from him into the crew. Tom felt calmer and stronger, as he met his eye. "Now mind, boys, don't quicken," he[Pg 181] said, cheerily; "four short strokes to get way on her, and then, steady. Here, pass up the lemon."
And he took a sliced lemon out of his pocket, put a small piece in his own mouth, and then handed it to Blake, who followed his example, and passed it on. Each man took a piece; and just as Bow had secured the end, Miller called out,—
"Now, jackets off, and get her head out steadily."
The jackets were thrown on shore, and gathered up by the boatman in attendance. The crew poised their oars, Number Two pushing out her head, and the captain doing the same for the stern. Miller took the starting-rope in his hand.
"How the wind catches her stern," he said; "here, pay out the rope one of you. No, not you—some fellow with a strong hand. Yes, you'll do," he went on, as Hardy stepped down the bank and took hold of the rope; "let me have it foot by foot as I want it. Not too quick; make the most of it—that'll do. Two and Three, just dip your oars in to give her way."
The rope paid out steadily, and the boat settled to her place. But now the wind rose again, and the stern drifted in towards the bank.[Pg 182]
"You must back her a bit, Miller, and keep her a little further out or our oars on stroke side will catch the bank."
"So I see; curse the wind. Back her, one stroke all. Back her, I say!" shouted Miller.
It is no easy matter to get a crew to back her an inch just now, particularly as there are in her two men who have never rowed a race before, except in the torpids, and one who has never rowed a race in his life.
However, back she comes; the starting-rope slackens in Miller's left hand, and the stroke, unshipping his oar, pushes the stern gently out again.
There goes the second gun! one short minute more, and we are off. Short minute, indeed! you wouldn't say so if you were in the boat, with your heart in your mouth and trembling all over like a man with the palsy. Those sixty seconds before the starting-gun in your first race—why, they are a little lifetime.
"By Jove, we are drifting in again," said Miller, in horror. The captain looked grim but said nothing; it was too late now for him to be unshipping again. "Here, catch hold of the long boat-hook and fend her off."
Hardy, to whom this was addressed, seized the[Pg 183] boat-hook, and, standing with one foot in the water, pressed the end of the boat-hook against the gunwale, at the full stretch of his arm, and so, by main force, kept the stern out. There was just room for stroke oars to dip, and that was all. The starting-rope was as taut as a harp-string; will Miller's left hand hold out?
It is an awful moment. But the coxswain, though almost dragged backwards off his seat, is equal to the occasion. He holds his watch in his right hand with the tiller rope. "Eight seconds more only. Look out for the flash. Remember, all eyes in the boat."
There it comes, at last—the flash of the starting-gun. Long before the sound of the report can roll up the river, the whole pent-up life and energy which has been held in leash, as it were, for the last six minutes, is loose, and breaks away with a bound and a dash which he who has felt it will remember for his life, but the like of which, will he ever feel again? The starting-ropes drop from the coxswains' hands, the oars flash into the water and gleam on the feather, the spray flies from them, and the boats leap forward.
The crowds on the bank scatter and rush along, each keeping as near as may be to its own[Pg 184] boat. Some of the men on the towing-path, some on the very edge of, often in, the water; some slightly in advance, as if they could help to drag their boat forward; some behind, where they can see the pulling better; but all at full speed, in wild excitement, and shouting at the top of their voices to those on whom the honour of the college is laid.
"Well pulled, all!" "Pick her up there, Five!" "You're gaining every stroke!" "Time in the bows!" "Bravo, St. Ambrose!"
On they rushed by the side of the boats, jostling one another, stumbling, struggling, and panting along.
For a quarter of a mile along the bank the glorious, maddening hurly-burly extends, and rolls up the side of the stream.
For the first ten strokes Tom was in too great fear of making a mistake to feel or hear or see. His whole soul was glued to the back of the man before him, his one thought to keep time and get his strength into the stroke. But, as the crew settled down into the well-known long sweep, what we may call consciousness returned; and, while every muscle in his body was straining, and his chest heaved, and his heart leaped, every nerve seemed to be gathering new life,[Pg 185] and his senses to wake into unwonted acuteness. He caught the scent of wild thyme in the air, and found room in his brain to wonder how it could have got there, as he had never seen the plant near the river, or smelt it before. Though his eye never wandered from the back of Diogenes, he seemed to see all things at once. The boat behind, which seemed to be gaining;—it was all he could do to prevent himself from quickening on the stroke as he fancied that;—the eager face of Miller, with his compressed lips, and eyes fixed so earnestly ahead that Tom could almost feel the glance passing over his right shoulder; the flying banks and the shouting crowd; see them with his bodily eyes he could not, but he knew, nevertheless, that Grey had been upset and nearly rolled down the bank into the water in the first hundred yards, that Jack was bounding and scrambling and barking along by the very edge of the stream; above all, he was just as well aware as if he had been looking at it, of a stalwart form in cap and gown, bounding along, brandishing the long boat-hook, and always keeping just opposite the boat; and amid all the Babel of voices, and the dash and pulse of the stroke, and the labouring of his own breathing, he heard Hardy's voice coming to[Pg 186] him again and again, and clear as if there had been no other sound in the air, "Steady, Two! steady! well pulled! steady, steady." The voice seemed to give him strength and keep him to his work. And what work it was! he had had many a hard pull in the last six weeks, but never aught like this.
But it can't last forever; men's muscles are not steel, or their lungs bulls' hide, and hearts can't go on pumping a hundred miles an hour long, without bursting. The St. Ambrose boat is well away from the boat behind, there is a great gap between the accompanying crowds; and now, as they near the Gut, she hangs for a moment or two in hand, though the roar from the bank grows louder and louder, and Tom is already aware that the St. Ambrose crowd is melting into the one ahead of them.
"We must be close to Exeter!" The thought flashes into him, and, it would seem, into the rest of the crew at the same moment; for, all at once, the strain seems taken off their arms again; there is no more drag; she springs to the stroke as she did at the start; and Miller's face, which had darkened for a few seconds, lightens up again.
Miller's face and attitude are a study. Coiled[Pg 187] up into the smallest possible space, his chin almost resting on his knees, his hands close to his sides, firmly but lightly feeling the rudder, as a good horseman handles the mouth of a free-going hunter; if a coxswain could make a bump by his own exertions, surely he will do it. No sudden jerks of the St. Ambrose rudder will you see, watch as you will from the bank; the boat never hangs through fault of his, but easily and gracefully rounds every point. "You're gaining! you're gaining!" he now and then mutters to the captain, who responds with a wink, keeping his breath for other matters. Isn't he grand, the captain, as he comes forward like lightning, stroke after stroke, his back flat, his teeth set, his whole frame working from the hips with the regularity of a machine? As the space still narrows, the eyes of the fiery little coxswain flash with excitement, but he is far too good a judge to hurry the final effort before the victory is safe in his grasp.
The two crowds are mingled now, and no mistake; and the shouts come all in a heap over the water. "Now, St. Ambrose, six strokes more." "Now, Exeter, you're gaining; pick her up." "Mind the Gut, Exeter." "Bravo, St. Ambrose!" The water rushes by, still eddy[Pg 188]ing from the strokes of the boat ahead. Tom fancies now he can hear their oars and the workings of their rudder, and the voice of their coxswain. In another moment both boats are in the Gut, and a perfect storm of shouts reaches them from the crowd, as it rushes madly off to the left to the footbridge, amidst which "Oh, well steered, well steered, St. Ambrose!" is the prevailing cry. Then Miller, motionless as a statue till now, lifts his right hand and whirls the tassel round his head. "Give it her now, boys; six strokes and we're into them." Old Jervis lays down that great broad back and lashes his oar through the water with the might of a giant, the crew catch him up in another stroke, the tight new boat answers to the spurt, and Tom feels a little shock behind him, and then a grating sound, as Miller shouts, "Unship oars, Bow and Three!" and the nose of the St. Ambrose boat glides quietly up the side of the Exeter till it touches their stroke oar.
"Take care where you're coming to." It is the coxswain of the bumped boat who speaks.
Tom finds himself within a foot or two of him when he looks round; and, being utterly unable to contain his joy, and yet unwilling to[Pg 189] exhibit it before the eyes of a gallant rival, turns away towards the shore, and begins telegraphing to Hardy.
"Now, then, what are you at there in the bows? Cast her off, quick. Come, look alive! Push across at once out of the way of the other boats."
"I congratulate you, Jervis," says the Exeter stroke, as the St. Ambrose
boat shoots past him. "Do it again next race and I shan't care."
Thomas Hughes: "Tom Brown at Oxford."
It is not what he has, nor even what he does, which directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is.
The weird, long call, or the shrill, demoniacal laugh coming out of the night tells of the sleepless activity of the loon. The whip-poor-will in the adjacent shrubbery seems companionable, and there is a friendly spirit in the short, shrill tremolo of the night-hawk from the invisible sky. Even the plaint of the screech-owl has a tone of human sympathy. But the dreary cadence of the loon is the voice of the inhospitable night, repelling every thought of human association. It does not entreat, it does not warn; yet there is a fascination in its expressionless strength. Over the black water, under the lowering sky, or through the bright still moonlight, the same unfeeling tone fills the ear of night. And sometimes, when the lingering moon sheds a broad trail of light along the still waters of the lake, the graceful swimmer will glide across and disappear in the darkness, breaking the bright reflection into a multitude of chasing, quivering, trailing threads of silver. Throughout the day, where the cedars come down to meet their shadows in the dark water, he swims ceaselessly about, sitting low, with black, glossy neck[Pg 193] gracefully curved and displaying its delicate white markings. Sometimes he stretches himself wearily, flapping his wings, and displaying his white breast and the handsome, showy markings of his sides. Though wary and aloof, and without a trace of animation in his loud, penetrating cries, he shows his kinship by the scrupulous care with which he preens his handsome feathers—even lying on his back in the water to comb out and smooth his glossy, white breast.
A hurried cry from overhead may unexpectedly reveal the presence of a pair of loons in another element, and it is always fascinating to watch their steady, strained, energetic flight above the tops of the pines, generally to curve down to some more attractive expanse in the cedar-girt lake. For the water is the loon's natural element. There is an amusing deliberateness in his graceful, silent dive. He does not make the hurried dip of his smaller cousin, the grebe, but more calmly curves both neck and body, disappearing under the surface in a graceful arch. Settling down and swimming with only head and neck exposed is an evidence of suspicion, and is generally followed by a long dive, with a belated reappearance in some remote part of the lake.[Pg 194]
When the mother loon takes her two offspring out for a swim, it is a big event in the domestic circle. The outing is announced by prolonged and unusual repetitions of the laughing call. For half an hour the echoes of the lake are kept alive with sounds portentous of new departures in the loon world. Then a peculiar object is seen to emerge from the marshy bay and cross under the shadowy cedars toward the open water. A field-glass shows it to be the mother loon and her two offspring, the three huddled so closely together that they are almost indistinguishable. The mother is unceasing in her care and attention. She strokes the backs of the young birds with her bill, playing and fussing around and close to them, as if they could not exist without her constant attention. Now and then she leans over and lifts a broad, black, webbed foot out of the water, holding it up distended, as if to endorse the modern theory that the parent loon teaches her young to swim. They cling to each other and cling to her, as if afraid of being lost in the great expanse of water to which they have been so recently introduced.
A short distance away the father swims about in lordly indifference,
diving occasionally and[Pg 195] regaling himself on the unsuspecting fish. A
boat comes out from the shore, rowed by an industrious guide, with an
angler, picturesquely protected by mosquito net, sitting in the stern.
The mother loon pushes and urges her indolent pair in the direction of
safety. How slow they must seem as she hurries and encourages them! The
trio moves at a snail's pace compared with her ordinary speed, but the
young ones show no inclination to dive out of harm's way. Their
clinging, crowding tendency serves but to incommode and obstruct her.
And where is the male protector? Alas for the romance of chivalry! When
the boat comes near, he deliberately dives, and, after the usual
protracted wait, reappears in another part of the lake, away from the
danger that alarms and threatens the defenceless trio. But the mother
remains and urges the encumbering young things to speed. They do make
some headway, though slowly, toward the marshy bay from which they
recently emerged with so much loud, wild laughter. The indifference of
the fisherman and the guide does not reassure them, and they never cease
their entangled struggle till lost to sight in the winding lagoon.
S. T. Wood
And now let us turn our glance to this great Northwest, whither my wandering steps are about to lead me. Fully nine hundred miles as bird would fly, and one thousand two hundred as horse can travel, west of Red River, an immense range of mountains eternally capped with snow rises in rugged masses from a vast stream-scarred plain. They who first beheld these grand guardians of the central prairies named them the Montagnes des Rochers (Rocky Mountains),—a fitting title for such vast accumulations of rugged magnificence. From the glaciers and ice-valleys of this great range of mountains, innumerable streams descend into[Pg 199] the plains. For a time they wander, as if heedless of direction, through groves and glades and green-spreading declivities; then, assuming greater fixity of purpose, they gather up many a wandering rill and start eastward upon a long journey. At length the many detached streams resolve themselves into two great water systems. Through hundreds of miles these two rivers pursue their parallel courses, now approaching, now opening out from each other. Suddenly the southern river bends towards the north, and, at a point some six hundred miles from the mountains, pours its volume of water into the northern channel. Then the united river rolls, in vast, majestic curves, steadily towards the north-east, turns once more towards the south, opens out into a great reed-covered marsh, sweeps on into a large cedar-lined lake, and finally, rolling over a rocky ledge, casts its waters into the northern end of the great Lake Winnipeg, fully one thousand three hundred miles from the glacier cradle where it took its birth. This river, which has along it every diversity of hill and vale, meadow-land and forest, treeless plain and fertile hillside, is called by the wild tribes who dwell along its glorious shores, the Saskatchewan or "rapid-flowing[Pg 200] river." But this Saskatchewan is not the only river which drains the great central region between Red River and the Rocky Mountains. The Assiniboine or "stony river" drains the rolling prairie-lands five hundred miles west from Red River; and many a smaller stream, and rushing, bubbling brook, carries into its devious channel the waters of that vast country which lies between the American boundary line and the pine woods of the Lower Saskatchewan.
So much for the rivers; and now for the land through which they flow. How shall we picture it? how shall we tell the story of that great, boundless, solitary waste of verdure? The old, old maps, which the navigators of the sixteenth century formed from the discoveries of Cabot and Cartier, of Verrazanno and Hudson, played strange pranks with the geography of the New World. The coast-line, with the estuaries of large rivers, was tolerably accurate; but the centre of America was represented as a vast inland sea, whose shores stretched far into the Polar North—a sea through which lay the much-coveted passage to the long-sought treasures of the old realms of Cathay. Well, the geographers of that period erred only in the description of ocean which they placed in the centre of the[Pg 201] continent; for an ocean there is—an ocean through which men seek the treasures of Cathay even in our own times. But the ocean is one of grass, and the shores are the crests of mountain ranges and the dark pine forests of sub-Arctic regions. The great ocean itself does not present such infinite variety as does this prairie-ocean of which we speak:—in winter, a dazzling surface of purest snow; in early summer, a vast expanse of grass and pale pink roses; in autumn, too often a wild sea of raging fire! No ocean of water in the world can vie with its gorgeous sunsets; no solitude can equal the loneliness of a night-shadowed prairie: one feels the stillness, and hears the silence: the wail of the prowling wolf makes the voice of solitude audible; the stars look down through infinite silence upon a silence almost as intense. This ocean has no past;—time has been nought to it, and men have come and gone, leaving behind them no track, no vestige of their presence. Some French writer, speaking of these prairies, has said that the sense of this utter negation of life, this complete absence of history, has struck him with a loneliness, oppressive and sometimes terrible in its intensity. Perhaps so, but, for my part, the prairies[Pg 202] had nothing terrible in their aspect, nothing oppressive in their loneliness. One saw here the world, as it had taken shape and form from the hands of the Creator. Nor did the scene look less beautiful because nature alone tilled the earth, and the unaided sun brought forth the flowers.
October had reached its latest week; the wild geese and swans had taken
their long flight to the south, and their wailing cry no more descended
through the darkness; ice had settled upon the quiet pools and was
settling upon the quick-running streams; the horizon glowed at night
with the red light of moving prairie fires. It was the close of the
Indian Summer, and Winter was coming quickly down, from his far northern
Major W. F. Butler: "The Great Lone Land."
All the troubles and calamities I had undergone could not cure me of my inclination to make new voyages. I therefore bought goods, departed with them for the best seaport, and there, that I might not be obliged to depend upon a captain, but have a ship at my own command, I remained till one was built on purpose at my own charge. When the ship was ready, I went on board with my goods: but not having enough to load her, I agreed to take with me several merchants of different nations, with their merchandise.
We sailed with the first fair wind, and after a long navigation the first place we touched at was a desert island, where we found an egg of a roc, equal in size to that I saw on a former voyage, fifty paces round, and shining as a great white dome when seen even from afar. There was a young roc in it, just ready to be hatched, and its bill had begun to appear.
The merchants whom I had taken on board, and who landed with me, broke the egg with hatchets, and having made a hole in it, pulled[Pg 209] out the young roc piecemeal and roasted it. I had earnestly entreated them not to meddle with the egg, but they would not listen to me.
Scarcely had they finished their repast, when there appeared in the air, at a considerable distance from us, two great clouds. The captain whom I had hired to navigate my ship, knowing by experience what they meant, said they were the male and female roc that belonged to the young one, and pressed us to re-embark with all speed, to prevent the misfortune which he saw would otherwise befall us. We hastened on board and set sail with all possible expedition. In the meantime, the two rocs approached with a frightful noise, which they redoubled when they saw the egg broken and their young one gone. They flew back in the direction they had come, and disappeared for some time, while we made all the sail we could to endeavour to prevent that which unhappily befell us.
They soon returned, and we observed that each of them carried between its talons, stones, or rather rocks, of a monstrous size. When they came directly over my ship they hovered, and one of them let fall a stone, but by the dexterity of the steersman it missed us, and, falling into the sea, divided the water so that we could[Pg 210] almost see the bottom. The other roc, to our misfortune, threw his massy burden so exactly into the middle of the ship as to split it into a thousand pieces. The mariners and passengers were all crushed to death, or sunk. I myself was of the number of the latter, but, as I came up again, I fortunately caught hold of a piece of the wreck, and swimming, sometimes with one hand and sometimes with the other, but always holding fast my board, the wind and tide favouring me, I came to an island whose shore was very steep. I overcame that difficulty, however, and got ashore.
I sat down upon the grass to recover myself from my fatigue, after which I went into the island to explore it. It seemed to be a delicious garden. I found trees everywhere, some of them bearing green, and others ripe fruits; and there were streams of fresh, pure water running in pleasant meanders. I ate of the fruits, which I found excellent; and drank of the water, which was very light and good.
When I was a little advanced into the island I saw an old man, who appeared very weak and infirm. He was sitting on the bank of a stream, and at first I took him to be one who had been shipwrecked like myself. I went towards him[Pg 211] and saluted him, but he only slightly bowed his head. I asked him why he sat so still; but instead of answering me, he made a sign for me to take him upon my back and carry him over the brook, signifying that it was to gather fruit.
I believed him really to stand in need of my assistance, took him upon my back, and having carried him over, bade him get down, and for that end stooped, that he might get off with ease; but instead of doing so (which I laugh at every time I think of it), the old man who appeared to me quite decrepit, threw his legs nimbly about my neck. He sat astride upon my shoulders, and held my throat so tight that I thought he would have strangled me, the apprehension of which made me swoon and fall down.
Notwithstanding my fainting, the ill-natured old fellow kept fast about my neck. When I had recovered my breath, he thrust one of his feet against my stomach, and struck me so rudely on the side with the other, that he forced me to rise up against my will. Having arisen, he made me carry him under the trees, and forced me now and then to stop, to gather and eat fruit such as we found. He never left me all day, and when I lay down to rest at night, he[Pg 212] laid himself down with me, holding always fast about my neck. Every morning he pushed me to make me awake, and afterwards obliged me to get up and walk, and pressed me with his feet. You may judge then, what trouble I was in to be loaded with such a burden of which I could not get rid.
One day I found in my way several dry calabashes that had fallen from a tree. I took a large one, and after cleaning it, pressed into it some juice of grapes, which abounded in the island. Having filled the calabash, I put it by in a convenient place; and going thither again some days after, I tasted it and found the wine so good that it soon made me forget my sorrow, gave me new vigour, and so exhilarated my spirits, that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.
The old man, perceiving the effect which this liquor had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than before, made me a sign to give him some of it. I handed him the calabash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. There being a considerable quantity of it, and the fumes getting into his head, he began to sing and dance upon my shoulders, and to loosen his legs from about me by degrees.[Pg 213] Finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion; then I took up a great stone and crushed his head.
I was extremely glad to be thus freed for ever from this troublesome fellow. I now walked towards the beach, where I met the crew of a ship that had cast anchor, to take water. They were surprised to see me, but more so at the particulars of my adventures. "You fell," said they, "into the hands of the old man of the sea, and are the first who ever escaped strangling by his malicious tricks. He never quitted those he had once made himself master of till he had destroyed them, and he has made this island notorious by the number of men he has slain."
After having informed me of these things, they carried me with them to the ship; the captain received me with great kindness when they told him what had befallen me. He put out again to sea, and after some days' sail, we arrived at the harbour of a great city, the houses of which were built with hewn stone.
One of the merchants who had taken me into his friendship invited me to go along with him and carried me to a place appointed for the[Pg 214] accommodation of foreign merchants. He gave me a large bag, and having recommended me to some people of the town, who used to gather cocoa-nuts, desired them to take me with them. "Go," said he, "follow them, and act as you see them do; but do not part from them, otherwise you may endanger your life." Having thus spoken, he gave me provisions for the journey, and I went with them.
We came to a thick forest of cocoa trees, very lofty, with trunks so smooth that it was not possible to climb to the branches that bore the fruit. When we entered the forest, we saw a great number of apes of several sizes, who fled as soon as they perceived us and climbed up to the tops of the trees with surprising swiftness.
The merchants gathered stones and threw them at the apes in the trees. I did the same, and the apes, out of revenge, threw cocoa-nuts at us so fast, and with such gestures, as sufficiently testified their anger and resentment. We gathered up the cocoa-nuts, and from time to time threw stones to provoke the apes; so that by this stratagem we filled our bags with cocoa-nuts, which it had been impossible otherwise to have done. I thus gradually collected[Pg 215] as many cocoa-nuts as produced me a considerable sum.
We sailed towards the islands, where pepper grows in great plenty. From
thence we went to the isle of Comari, where the best species of wood of
aloes grows. I exchanged my cocoa in those islands for pepper and wood
of aloes, and went with other merchants a-pearl-fishing. I hired divers,
who brought me up some that were very large and pure. I embarked in a
vessel that happily arrived at Bussorah; from thence I returned to
Bagdat, where I made vast sums of my pepper, wood of aloes, and pearls.
I gave the tenth of my gains in alms, as I had done upon my return from
my other voyages, and endeavoured to dissipate my fatigues by amusements
of different kinds.
"The Arabian Nights Entertainments."
Byron: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."
In the year 1763, a celebrated chief of the Ottawas, called Pontiac, succeeded in forming a confederacy of the Ottawas, Hurons, Chippewas, and some other tribes, with the avowed object of expelling the British from the lake regions of the country. With the craftiness peculiar to the Indian race, an ingenious stratagem was devised, by means of which it was hoped that the allies would easily gain possession of the forts.
For this purpose a grand Lacrosse match was organized at each post, and the officers of the garrison invited to become participators in the game.
Pontiac and his attendant chiefs had, while the warriors and braves were engaged in the game of Lacrosse on the common, sought an audience of the governor of the fort. He received them in the mess-room, apparently not suspecting any artifice on their part.
"The pale warrior, the friend of the Ottawa chief, is not here," said the governor, as he glanced his eye along the semi-circle of Indians.[Pg 220] "How is this? Is his voice still sick, that he cannot come? or has the great chief of the Ottawas forgotten to tell him?"
"The voice of the pale warrior is still sick, and he cannot speak," replied the Indian. "The Ottawa chief is very sorry; for the tongue of his friend, the pale-face, is full of wisdom."
Scarcely had the last words escaped his lips when a wild, shrill cry from without the fort rang on the ears of the assembled council, and caused a momentary commotion among the officers. It arose from a single voice, and that voice could not be mistaken by any who had heard it once before. A second or two, during which the officers and chiefs kept their eyes intently fixed on one another, passed anxiously away; and then nearer to the gate, apparently on the very drawbridge itself, was pealed forth the wild and deafening yell of a legion of fiendish voices. At that sound, the Ottawa and the other chiefs sprang to their feet, and their own fierce cry responded to that yet vibrating on the ears of all. Already were their gleaming tomahawks brandished wildly over their heads, and Pontiac had even bounded a pace forward to reach the governor with the deadly weapon, when, at the sudden stamping of the foot of the[Pg 221] latter upon the floor, the scarlet cloth in the rear was thrown aside, and twenty soldiers, their eyes glancing along the barrels of their levelled muskets, met the startled gaze of the astonished Indians.
An instant was enough to satisfy the keen chief of the true state of the case. The calm, composed mien of the officers, not one of whom had even attempted to quit his seat amid the din by which his ears were so alarmingly assailed,—the triumphant, yet dignified, and even severe expression of the governor's countenance; and, above all, the unexpected presence of the prepared soldiery,—all these at once assured him of the discovery of his treachery, and the danger that awaited him. The necessity for an immediate attempt to join his warriors without was now obvious to the Ottawa; and scarcely had he conceived the idea before he sought to execute it. In a single spring he gained the door of the mess-room, and, followed eagerly and tumultuously by the other chiefs, to whose departure no opposition was offered, in the next moment stood on the steps of the piazza that ran along the front of the building whence he had issued. The surprise of the Indians on reaching this point was now too[Pg 222] powerful to be dissembled; and incapable either of advancing or receding, they remained gazing on the scene before them with an air of mingled stupefaction, rage, and alarm. Scarcely ten minutes had elapsed since they had proudly strode through the naked area of the fort, and yet even in that short space of time its appearance had been entirely changed. Not a part was there now of the surrounding buildings that was not replete with human life and hostile preparation. Through every window of the officers' low rooms was to be seen the dark and frowning muzzle of a field-piece bearing upon the gateway, and behind these were artillerymen holding their lighted matches, supported again by files of bayonets that glittered in their rear. In the block-houses the same formidable array of field-pieces and muskets was visible; while from the four angles of the square as many heavy guns, that had been artfully masked at the entrance of the chiefs, seemed ready to sweep away everything that should come before them. The guard-room near the gate presented the same hostile front. The doors of this, as well as of the other buildings, had been firmly secured within; and from every window affording cover to the troops gleamed a line of bayonets, rising[Pg 223] above the threatening field-pieces, pointed, at a distance of little more than twelve feet, directly upon the gateway. In addition to his musket, each man of the guard held a hand grenade, provided with a short fuse that could be ignited in a moment from the matches of the gunners, with immediate effect. The soldiers in the block-houses were similarly provided.
Almost magical as was the change thus suddenly effected in the appearance of the garrison, it was not the most interesting feature in the exciting scene. Choking up the gateway, in which they were completely wedged, and crowding the drawbridge, a dense mass of "husky" Indians were to be seen casting their fierce glances around, yet paralyzed in their movements by the unlooked-for display of resisting force, threatening instant annihilation to those who should attempt either to advance or recede. Never, perhaps, were astonishment and disappointment more forcibly depicted on the human countenance, than they were now exhibited by these men, who had already in imagination secured to themselves an easy conquest. They were the warriors who had so recently been engaged in the manly yet innocent exercise of the ball; but, instead of the harmless[Pg 224] hurdle, each now carried a short gun in one hand and a gleaming tomahawk in the other.
After the first general yelling heard in the council-room, not a sound was uttered. Their burst of rage and triumph had evidently been checked by the unexpected manner of their reception; and they now stood on the spot on which the further advance of each had been arrested, so silent and motionless, that, but for the rolling of their dark eyes, as they keenly measured the insurmountable barriers that were opposed to their progress, they might almost have been taken for a wild group of statuary. Conspicuous at the head of these was he who wore the blanket; a tall warrior on whom rested the startled eye of every officer and soldier who was so situated as to behold him. His face was painted black as death; and as he stood under the arch of the gateway, with his white turbaned head towering far above those of his companions, this formidable and mysterious enemy might have been likened to the spirit of darkness presiding over his terrible legions.
In order to account for the extraordinary appearance of the Indians, armed in every way for death, at a moment when neither gun nor tomahawk was apparently within miles of their[Pg 225] reach, it was necessary to revert to the first entrance of the chiefs into the fort. The fall of Pontiac had been the effect of design; and the yell pealed forth by him, on recovering his feet, as if in taunting reply to the laugh of his comrades, was in reality a signal intended for the guidance of the Indians without. These now following up their game with increasing spirit, at once changed the direction of their line, bringing the ball nearer to the fort. In their eagerness to effect this object, they had overlooked the gradual secession of the unarmed troops, spectators of their sport from the ramparts, until scarcely more than twenty stragglers were left. As they neared the gate, the squaws broke up their several groups, and, forming a line on either hand of the road leading to the drawbridge, appeared to separate solely with a view not to impede the players. For an instant a dense group collected around the ball, which had been drawn to within a hundred yards of the gate, and fifty hurdles were crossed in their endeavour to secure it, when the warrior, who formed the solitary exception to the multitude, in his blanket covering, and who had been lingering in the extreme rear of the party, came rapidly up to the spot where the well-affected[Pg 226] struggle was maintained. At his approach the hurdles of the other players were withdrawn, when, at a single blow from his powerful arm, the ball was seen flying in an oblique direction and was for a moment lost altogether to the view. When it again met the eye, it was descending into the very centre of the fort.
With the fleetness of thought now commenced a race which had ostensibly for its object the recovery of the lost ball, and in which he who had driven it with resistless force outstripped them all. Their course lay between the two lines of squaws; and scarcely had the head of the bounding Indians reached the opposite extremity of those lines, when the women suddenly threw back their blankets, and disclosed each a short gun and tomahawk. To throw away their hurdles and seize upon these, was the work of an instant. Already, in imagination, was the fort their own; and, such, was the peculiar exaltation of the black and turbaned warrior when he felt the planks of the drawbridge bending beneath his feet, all the ferocious joy of his soul was pealed forth in the terrible cry which, rapidly succeeded by that of the other Indians, had resounded so fearfully through the council-room.[Pg 227]
What their disappointment was, when, on gaining the interior, they found
the garrison prepared for their reception, has already been shown.
Scott: "The Lay of the Last Minstrel."
I call, therefore, a complete and generous education, that which fits a
man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices,
both private and public, of peace and war.
Milton: "On Education."
Some two miles above the port of Dartmouth, once among the most important harbours in England, on a projecting angle of land which runs out into the river at the head of one of its most beautiful reaches, there has stood for some centuries the Manor House of Greenaway. The water runs deep all the way to it from the sea, and the largest vessels may ride with safety within a stone's throw of the windows. In the latter half of the sixteenth century there must have met, in the hall of this mansion, a party as remarkable as could have been found anywhere in England. Humfrey and Adrian Gilbert, with their half-brother, Walter Raleigh, here, when little boys, played at sailors in the reaches of Long Stream, in the summer evenings doubtless rowing down with the tide to the port, and wondering at the quaint figure-heads and carved prows of the ships which thronged it; or climbing on board, and listening, with hearts beating, to the mariners' tales of the new earth beyond the sunset. And here in later life, matured men, whose boyish dreams had become heroic action, they used again to meet in the intervals of quiet, and the rock is shown underneath the[Pg 232] house where Raleigh smoked the first tobacco. Another remarkable man could not fail to have made a fourth at these meetings. A sailor-boy of Sandwich, the adjoining parish, John Davis, showed early a genius which could not have escaped the eye of such neighbours, and in the atmosphere of Greenaway he learned to be as noble as the Gilberts, and as tender and delicate as Raleigh.
In 1585 John Davis left Dartmouth on his first voyage into the Polar Seas; and twice subsequently he went again, venturing in small, ill-equipped vessels of thirty or forty tons into the most dangerous seas. These voyages were as remarkable for their success as for the daring with which they were accomplished, and Davis' epitaph is written on the map of the world, where his name still remains to commemorate his discoveries. Brave as he was, he is distinguished by a peculiar and exquisite sweetness of nature, which, from many little facts of his life, seems to have affected every one with whom he came in contact in a remarkable degree. We find men, for the love of Master Davis, leaving their firesides to sail with him, without other hope or motion; we find silver bullets cast to shoot him in a mutiny; the hard, rude natures[Pg 233] of the mutineers being awed by something in his carriage which was not like that of a common man. He has written the account of one of his northern voyages himself; and there is an imaginative beauty in it, and a rich delicacy of expression, which is called out in him by the first sight of strange lands and things and people.
We have only space to tell something of the conclusion of his voyage north. In latitude sixty-three degrees, he fell in with a barrier of ice, which he coasted for thirteen days without finding an opening. The very sight of an iceberg was new to all his crew; and the ropes and shrouds, though it was midsummer, becoming compassed with ice,—
"The people began to fall sick and faint-hearted—whereupon, very orderly, and with good discretion, they entreated me to regard the safety of mine own life, as well as the preservation of theirs; and that I should not, through over-boldness, leave their widows and fatherless children to give me bitter curses.
"Whereupon, seeking counsel of God, it pleased His Divine Majesty to move my heart to prosecute that which I hope shall be to His glory and to the contentation of every Christian mind."[Pg 234]
He had two vessels—one of some burden, the other a pinnace of thirty tons. The result of the counsel which he had sought was, that he made over his own large vessel to such as wished to return, and himself, "thinking it better to die with honour than to return with infamy," went on with such volunteers as would follow him, in a poor leaky cutter, up the sea now in commemoration of that adventure called Davis' Strait. He ascended four degrees north of the furthest known point, among storms and icebergs, when the long days and twilight nights alone saved him from being destroyed, and, coasting back along the American shore, he discovered Hudson Strait, supposed then to be the long desired entrance into the Pacific. This exploit drew the attention of Walsingham, and by him Davis was presented to Burleigh, "who was also pleased to show him great encouragement." If either these statesmen or Elizabeth had been twenty years younger, his name would have filled a larger space in history than a small corner of the map of the world; but, if he was employed at all in the last years of the century, no vates sacer has been found to celebrate his work, and no clew is left to guide us. He disappears; a cloud falls over him. He is known[Pg 235] to have commanded trading vessels in the Eastern seas, and to have returned five times from India. But the details are all lost, and accident has only parted the clouds for a moment to show us the mournful setting with which he, too, went down upon the sea.
In taking out Sir Edward Michellthorne to India, in 1604, he fell in with a crew of Japanese, whose ship had been burnt, drifting at sea, without provisions, in a leaky junk. He supposed them to be pirates, but he did not choose to leave them to so wretched a death, and took them on board; and in a few hours, watching their opportunity, they murdered him.
As the fool dieth, so dieth the wise, and there is no difference; it was
the chance of the sea, and the ill reward of a humane action—a
melancholy end for such a man—like the end of a warrior, not dying
Epaminondas-like on the field of victory, but cut off in some poor brawl
or ambuscade. But so it was with all these men. They were cut off in the
flower of their days, and few of them laid their bones in the sepulchres
of their fathers. They knew the service which they had chosen, and they
did not ask the wages for which they had not laboured. Life with them
was no summer[Pg 236] holiday, but a holy sacrifice offered up to duty, and
what their Master sent was welcome. Beautiful is old age—beautiful is
the slow-dropping mellow autumn of a rich, glorious summer. In the old
man, Nature has fulfilled her work; she loads him with her blessings;
she fills him with the fruits of a well-spent life; and, surrounded by
his children and his children's children, she rocks him softly away to a
grave, to which he is followed with blessings. God forbid we should not
call it beautiful. It is beautiful, but not the most beautiful. There is
another life, hard, rough, and thorny, trodden with bleeding feet and
aching brow; the life of which the cross is the symbol; a battle which
no peace follows, this side the grave; which the grave gapes to finish,
before the victory is won; and—strange that it should be so—this is
the highest life of man. Look back along the great names of history;
there is none whose life has been other than this. They to whom it has
been given to do the really highest work in this earth—whoever they
are, Jew or Gentile, Pagan or Christian, warriors, legislators,
philosophers, priests, poets, kings, slaves—one and all, their fate has
been the same—the same bitter cup has been given them to drink. And so
it was with[Pg 237] the servants of England in the sixteenth century. Their
life was a long battle, either with the elements or with men; and it was
enough for them to fulfil their work, and to pass away in the hour when
God had nothing more to bid them do.
Froude: "Short Studies on Great Subjects."
Reading enables us to see with the keenest eyes, to hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time.
I am the owner of great estates. Many of them lie in the west, but the greater part in Spain.
You may see my western possessions any evening at sunset when their spires and battlements flash against the horizon. But my finest castles are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, and my castles are all of perfect proportions and appropriately set in the most picturesque situations.
I have never been in Spain myself, but I have naturally conversed much with travellers to that country; although, I must allow, without deriving from them much substantial information about my property there.
The wisest of them told me that there were more holders of real estate in Spain than in any other region he had ever heard of, and they are all great proprietors.
Every one of them possesses a multitude of the stateliest castles. It is remarkable that none of the proprietors have ever been to Spain to take possession and report to the rest of us the state of our property there, and it is not easy for me to say how I know so much about my castles in Spain.[Pg 244]
The sun always shines upon them. They stand lofty and fair in a luminous, golden atmosphere, a little hazy and dreamy, perhaps, like the Indian summer, but in which no gales blow and there are no tempests.
All the sublime mountains and beautiful valleys and soft landscapes that I have not yet seen are to be found in the grounds.
I have often wondered how I should reach my castles. I have inquired very particularly, but nobody seemed to know the way. It occurred to me that Bourne, the millionaire, must have ascertained the safest and most expeditious route to Spain; so I stole a few minutes one afternoon and went into his office.
He was sitting at his desk, writing rapidly, and surrounded by files of papers and patterns, specimens, boxes,—everything that covers the tables of a great merchant.
"A moment, please, Mr. Bourne." He looked up hastily, and wished me good-morning, which courtesy I attributed to Spanish sympathy.
"What is it, sir?" he asked blandly, but with wrinkled brow.
"Mr. Bourne, have you any castles in Spain?" said I, without preface. He looked at me for a few moments, without speaking and without[Pg 245] seeming to see me. His brow gradually smoothed, and his eyes apparently looking into the street were really, I have no doubt, feasting upon the Spanish landscape.
"Too many, too many," said he, at length, musingly, shaking his head and without addressing me.
He feared, I thought, that he had too much impracticable property elsewhere to own so much in Spain: so I asked:—
"Will you tell me what you consider the shortest and safest route thither, Mr. Bourne? for, of course, a man who drives such an immense trade with all parts of the world will know all that I have come to inquire."
"My dear sir," answered he, wearily, "I have been trying all my life to discover it; but none of my ships have ever been there—none of my captains have any report to make.
"They bring me, as they brought my father, gold-dust from Guinea, ivory, pearls, and precious stones from every part of the earth; but not a fruit, not a solitary flower, from one of my castles in Spain.
"I have sent clerks, agents, and travellers of all kinds, philosophers, pleasure hunters, and invalids, in all sorts of ships, to all sorts of[Pg 246] places, but none of them ever saw or heard of my castles, except a young poet, and he died in a madhouse."
"Mr. Bourne, will you take five thousand at ninety-seven?" hastily demanded a man whom, as he entered, I recognized as a broker. "We'll make a splendid thing of it."
Bourne nodded assent, and the broker disappeared.
"Happy man!" muttered the merchant, as the broker went out; "he has no castles in Spain."
"I am sorry to have troubled you, Mr. Bourne," said I, retiring.
"I'm glad you came," returned he; "but, I assure you, had I known the route you hoped to ascertain from me I should have sailed years and years ago. People sail for the Northwest Passage, which is nothing when you have found it. Why don't the English Admiralty fit out expeditions to discover all our castles in Spain?"
Yet I dream my dreams and attend to my castles in Spain. I have so much property there that I could not in conscience neglect it.
All the years of my youth and hopes of my manhood are stored away, like precious stones, in the vaults; and I know that I shall find[Pg 247] everything elegant, beautiful, and convenient when I come into possession.
As the years go by, I am not conscious that my interest diminishes.
Shall I tell a secret? Shall I confess that sometimes when I have been
sitting reading to my Prue "Cymbeline," perhaps, or a "Canterbury Tale,"
I have seemed to see clearly before me the broad highway to my castles
in Spain, and, as she looked up from her work and smiled in sympathy, I
have even fancied that I was already there?
George William Curtis: "Prue and I."
Francis Drake was born near Tavistock in the year 1545. He served his time as an apprentice in a Channel coaster, and his master, who had been struck with his character, left the vessel to him in his will when he died. He was then twenty-one. His kinsman, John Hawkins, was fitting out his third expedition to the Spanish Main, and young Drake, with a party of his Kentish friends, went to Plymouth and joined him. In 1572 "he made himself whole with the Spaniards" by seizing a convoy of bullion at Panama, and on that occasion, having seen the South Pacific from the mountains, "he fell on his knees and prayed God that he might one day navigate those waters," which no English keel as yet had furrowed.[Pg 249]
The time and the opportunity had come. He was now in the prime of his strength, thirty-two years old, of middle height, with crisp brown hair, a broad high forehead; gray, steady eyes, unusually long; small ears tight to the head; the mouth and chin slightly concealed by the moustache and beard, but hard, inflexible, and fierce. His dress, as he appears in his portrait, is a loose, dark, seaman's shirt, belted at the waist. About his neck is a plaited cord with a ring attached to it, in which, as if the attitude was familiar, one of his fingers is slung, displaying a small, delicate, but long and sinewy hand. When at sea he wore a scarlet cap with a gold band, and was exacting in the respect with which he required to be treated by his crew.
Such was Francis Drake when he stood on the deck of the Pelican in Plymouth harbour, in November, 1577. The squadron, with which he was preparing to sail into a chartless ocean and invade the dominions of the King of Spain, consisted of his own ship, of a hundred and twenty tons, the size of the smallest class of our modern Channel schooners, two barques of fifty and thirty tons each, a second ship as it was called, the Elizabeth, of eighty tons, not larger than a common revenue cutter, and a pinnace,[Pg 250] hardly more than a boat, intended to be burnt if it could not bear the seas. These vessels, with a hundred and sixty-four men, composed the force. The object of the expedition was kept as far as possible secret. On the fifteenth of November the expedition sailed from Plymouth Sound. The vessels struck across the Atlantic and made the coast of South America on the fifth of April in latitude thirty-three degrees South.
The perils of the voyage were now about to commence. No Englishman had as yet passed Magellan's Strait. Cape Horn was unknown. Tierra del Fuego was supposed to be part of a solid continent which stretched unbroken to the Antarctic pole. A single narrow channel was the only access to the Pacific then believed to exist. There were no charts, no records of past experiences. It was known that Magellan had gone through, but that was all. It was the wildest and coldest season of the year, and the vessels in which the attempt was to be made were mere cockle-shells. They were taken on shore, overhauled and scoured, the rigging looked to, and the sails new bent.
On the seventeenth of August, answering to the February of the northern hemisphere, all was[Pg 251] once more in order. Drake sailed from Port St. Julian, and on the twentieth entered the Strait and felt his way between the walls of mountain "in extreme cold with frost and cold continually." To relieve the crews, who were tried by continual boat work and heaving the lead in front of the ships, they were allowed occasional halts at the islands, where they amused and provisioned themselves with killing infinite seals and penguins. Everything which they saw, birds, beasts, trees, climate, country, were strange, wild, and wonderful. After three weeks' toil and anxiety, they had accomplished the passage and found themselves in the open Pacific. But they found also that it was no peaceful ocean into which they had entered, but the stormiest they had ever encountered. Their vessels were now reduced to three; the pinnace had been left behind at Port St. Julian, and there remained only the Pelican, the Elizabeth, and the thirty-ton cutter. Instantly that they emerged out of the Strait, they were caught in a gale which swept them six hundred miles to the south-west. For six weeks they were battered to and fro, in bitter cold and winds which seemed as if they blew in these latitudes for ever. The cutter went down in the fearful seas,[Pg 252] carrying her crew with her. The Elizabeth and the Pelican were separated. The bravest sailor might well have been daunted at such a commencement, and Winter, recovering the opening again and, believing Drake to be lost, called a council in his cabin and proposed to return to England. They had agreed to meet, if they were parted, on the coast in the latitude of Valparaiso. The men, with better heart than their commander, desired to keep the appointment. But those terrible weeks had sickened Winter. He overruled the opinions of the rest, re-entered the Strait, and reached England in the following June.
Drake, meanwhile, had found shelter among the islands of Tierra del Fuego. At length spring brought fair winds and smooth seas, and running up the coast and looking about for her consort, the Pelican or Golden Hind—for she had both names—fell in with an Indian fisherman, who informed Drake that in the harbour of Valparaiso, already a small Spanish settlement, there lay a great galleon which had come from Peru. Galleons were the fruit that he was in search of. He sailed in, and the Spanish seamen, who had never yet seen a stranger in those waters, ran up their flags, beat their drums, and prepared a[Pg 253] banquet for their supposed countrymen. The Pelican shot up alongside. The English sailors leaped on board, and one "Thomas Moore," a lad from Plymouth, began the play with knocking down the first man that he met, saluting him in Spanish as he fell, and crying out "Down, dog." The Spaniards, overwhelmed with surprise, began to cross and bless themselves. One sprang overboard and swam ashore; the rest were bound and stowed away under the hatches while the ship was rifled. The beginning was not a bad one. Wedges of gold were found weighing four hundred pounds, besides miscellaneous plunder. The settlement, which was visited next, was less productive, for the inhabitants had fled, taking their valuables with them.
At Arica, the port of Potosi, fifty-seven blocks of precious metal were added to the store; and from thence they made haste to Lima, where the largest booty was looked for. They found that they had just missed it. Twelve ships lay at anchor in the port without arms, without crews, and with their sails on shore. In all of these they discovered but a few chests of reals and some bales of silk and linen. A thirteenth, called by the seamen the Cacafuego, but[Pg 254] christened in her baptism "Our Lady of the Conception," had sailed for the Isthmus a few days before, taking with her all the bullion which the mines had yielded for the season. She had been literally ballasted with silver, and carried also several precious boxes of gold and jewels.
Not a moment was lost. The cables of the ships at Lima were cut, and they were left to drive on shore to prevent pursuit; and then away sped the Pelican due north, with every stitch of her canvas spread. A gold chain was promised to the first man who caught sight of the Cacafuego. A sail was seen the second day of the chase: it was not the vessel which they were in pursuit of, but the prize was worth the having. They took eighty pounds' weight of gold in wedges, the purest which they yet had seen.
For eight hundred miles the Pelican flew on. At length, one degree to the north of the line, off Quito, and close to the shore, a look-out on the mast-head cried out that he saw the chase and claimed the promised chain; she was recognized by the peculiarities in her sails, of which they had received exact information at Lima. There lay the Cacafuego; if they could take her their work would be done, and they[Pg 255] might go home in triumph. She was several miles ahead of them; if she guessed their character, she would run in under the land, and they might lose her. It was afternoon: several hours remained of daylight, and Drake did not wish to come up with her till dark.
The Pelican sailed two feet to the Cacafuego's one, and dreading that her speed might rouse suspicion, he filled his empty wine casks with water and trailed them astern. The chase meanwhile unsuspecting, and glad of company on a lonely voyage, slackened sail and waited for her slow pursuer. The sun sank low, and at last set into the ocean, and then, when both ships had become invisible from the land, the casks were hoisted in, the Pelican was restored to her speed, and shooting up within a cable's length of the Cacafuego, hailed to her to run into the wind. The Spanish commander, not understanding the meaning of such an order, paid no attention to it. The next moment the corsair opened her ports, fired a broadside, and brought his main-mast about his ears. His decks were cleared by a shower of arrows, with one of which he was himself wounded. In a few minutes more he was a prisoner, and his ship and all that it contained was in the hands of the[Pg 256] English. The wreck was cut away, the ship cleared, and her head turned to the sea; by daybreak even the line of the Andes had become invisible, and at leisure, in the open ocean, the work of rifling began. The full value of the plunder taken in this ship was never actually confessed. It remained a secret between Drake and the Queen. In a schedule afterwards published, he acknowledged to have found in the Cacafuego alone twenty-six tons of silver bullion, thirteen chests of coined silver, and almost a hundredweight of gold. But this was only so much as the Spaniards could prove to have been on board.
Drake imagined, like most other English seamen, that there was a passage to the north corresponding to Magellan's Strait, of which Frobisher conceived that he had found the eastern entrance. He went on therefore at his leisure towards the coast of Mexico, intending to follow the shore till he found it. Another ship coming from China crossed him on his way loaded with silks and porcelain. He took the best of the freight with a golden falcon and a superb emerald. Then needing fresh water he touched at the Spanish settlement of Guatulco.[Pg 257]
The work of plunder was nearly over. Again sailing north, the Pelican fell in with a Spanish nobleman who was going out as Governor to the Philippines. He was detained a few hours and relieved of his finery, and then, says one of the party: "Our general, thinking himself both in respect of his private injuries received from the Spaniards, as also their contempt and indignities offered to our country and prince in general, sufficiently satisfied and revenged, and supposing her Majesty would rest contented with this service, began to consider the best way for his country."
The first necessity was a complete repair of the Pelican's hull. Before the days of copper sheathing, the ships' bottoms grew foul with weed; the great barnacles formed in clusters and stopped their speed, and the sea-worms bored holes into the planking. Twenty thousand miles of unknown water lay between Drake and Plymouth Sound, and he was not a man to run idle risks. Running on till he had left the furthest Spanish station far to the south, he put into the Bay of Canoa in Lower California. There he laid his ship on shore, set up forge and workshop, and refitted her with a month's labour from stem to stern.[Pg 258]
By the sixteenth of April, 1579, the Pelican was once more in order, and started on her northern course in search of the expected passage. She held on up the coast for eight hundred miles into latitude forty-three degrees North, but no signs appeared of an opening. Though it was summer the air grew colder, and the crew having been long in the tropics suffered from the change. Not caring to run risks in exploring with so precious a cargo, and finding by observation that the passage, if it existed, must be of enormous length, Drake resolved to go no further, and expecting, as proved to be the case, that the Spaniards would be on the look-out for him at Magellan's Strait, he determined on the alternative route by the Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese had long traded with China. In the ship going to the Philippines he had found a Portuguese chart of the Indian Archipelago, and with the help of this and his own skill he trusted to find his way.
At the little island of Ternate, south of the Celebes, the ship was again docked and scraped. The crew were allowed another month's rest, when they feasted their eyes on the marvels of tropical life, then first revealed to them in[Pg 259] their luxuriance—vampires "as large as hens," crayfish a foot round, and fireflies lighting the midnight forest. Starting once more, they had now to feel their way among the rocks and shoals of the most dangerous waters in the world. They crept round Celebes among coral reefs and low islands scarcely visible above the water-line. The Malacca Straits formed the only route marked in the Portuguese chart, and between Drake and his apparent passage lay the Java Sea and the channel between Borneo and Sumatra. But it was not impossible that there might be some other opening, and the Pelican crawled in search of it along the Java coast. Here, if nowhere else, her small size and manageableness were in her favour. In spite of all the care that was taken, she was almost lost. One evening as the black tropical night was closing, a grating sound was heard under her keel: another moment she was hard and fast upon an invisible reef. The breeze was light and the water calm, or the world would have heard no more of Francis Drake and the Pelican. She lay immovable till morning; "we were out of all hope to escape danger," but with the daylight the position was seen not to be utterly desperate. "Our general, then as[Pg 260] always, showed himself most courageous, and of good confidence in the mercy and protection of God; and as he would not seem to perish wilfully, so he and we did our best endeavour to save ourselves, and in the end cleared ourselves of that danger."
The Pelican had no more adventures; and sweeping in clear fine weather
close to the Cape of Good Hope, and touching for water at Sierra Leone,
she sailed in triumph into Plymouth harbour in the beginning of October,
having marked a furrow with her keel round the globe.
Froude: "History of England."
Wordsworth: "The Happy Warrior."
Every occurrence in Nature is preceded by other occurrences which are its causes, and succeeded by others which are its effects. The human mind is not satisfied with observing and studying any natural occurrence alone, but takes pleasure in connecting every natural fact with what has gone before it, and with what is to come after it. Thus, when we enter upon the study of rivers, our interest will be greatly increased by taking into account, not only their actual appearances but also their causes and effects.
Let us trace a river to its source. Beginning where it empties itself into the sea, and following it backwards, we find it from time to time joined by tributaries which swell its waters. The river,[Pg 263] of course, becomes smaller as these tributaries are passed. It shrinks first to a brook, then to a stream; this again divides itself into a number of smaller streamlets, ending in mere threads of water. These constitute the source of the river, and are usually found among hills. Thus, the Severn has its source in the Welsh Mountains; the Thames in the Cotswold Hills; the Rhine and the Rhone in the Alps; the Missouri in the Rocky Mountains; and the Amazon in the Andes of Peru.
But it is quite plain, that we have not yet reached the real beginning of the rivers. Whence do the earliest streams derive their water? A brief residence among the mountains would prove to you that they are fed by rains. In dry weather you would find the streams feeble, sometimes indeed quite dried up. In wet weather you would see them foaming torrents. In general these streams lose themselves as little threads of water upon the hillsides; but sometimes you may trace a river to a definite spring. You may, however, very soon assure yourself that such springs are also fed by rain, which has percolated through the rocks or soil, and which, through some orifice that it has found or formed, comes to the light of day.[Pg 264]
But we cannot end here. Whence comes the rain which forms the mountain streams? Observation enables you to answer the question. Rain does not come from a clear sky. It comes from clouds. But what are clouds? Is there nothing you are acquainted with, which they resemble? You discover at once a likeness between them and the condensed steam of a locomotive. At every puff of the engine, a cloud is projected into the air. Watch the cloud sharply: you notice that it first forms at a little distance from the top of the funnel. Give close attention, and you will sometimes see a perfectly clear space between the funnel and the cloud. Through that clear space the thing which makes the cloud must pass. What, then, is this thing which at one moment is transparent and invisible, and at the next moment visible as a dense opaque cloud?
It is the steam or vapour of water from the boiler. Within the boiler this steam is transparent and invisible; but to keep it in this invisible state a heat would be required as great as that within the boiler. When the vapour mingles with the cold air above the hot funnel, it ceases to be vapour. Every bit of steam shrinks, when chilled, to a much more[Pg 265] minute particle of water. The liquid particles thus produced form a kind of water-dust of exceeding fineness, which floats in the air, and is called a cloud.
Watch the cloud-banner from the funnel of a running locomotive; you see it growing gradually less dense. It finally melts away altogether; and if you continue your observations, you will not fail to notice that the speed of its disappearance depends upon the character of the day. In humid weather the cloud hangs long and lazily in the air; in dry weather it is rapidly licked up. What has become of it? It has been reconverted into true invisible vapour.
The drier the air, and the hotter the air, the greater is the amount of cloud which can be thus dissolved in it. When the cloud first forms, its quantity is far greater than the air is able to maintain in an invisible state. But, as the cloud mixes gradually with a larger mass of air, it is more and more dissolved, and finally passes altogether from the condition of a finely-divided liquid into that of transparent vapour or gas.
Make the lid of a kettle air-tight, and permit the steam to issue from the spout; a cloud is formed in all respects similar to that issuing[Pg 266] from the funnel of the locomotive. To produce the cloud, in the case of the locomotive and the kettle, heat is necessary. By heating the water we first convert it into steam, and then by chilling the steam we convert it into cloud. Is there any fire in Nature which produces the clouds of our atmosphere? There is: the fire of the sun.
When the sunbeams fall upon the earth, they heat it, and also the water which lies on its surface, whether it be in large bodies, such as seas or rivers, or in the form of moisture. The water being thus warmed, a part of it is given off in the form of aqueous vapour, just as invisible vapour passes off from a boiler when the water in it is heated by fire. This vapour mingles with the air in contact with the earth. The vapour-charged air, being heated by the warm earth, expands, becomes lighter, and rises. It expands also, as it rises, because the pressure of the air above it becomes less and less with the height it attains. But an expanding body always becomes colder as the result of its expansion. Thus the vapour-laden air is chilled by its expansion. It is also chilled by coming in contact with the colder, higher air. The consequence is that the invisible vapour which it[Pg 267] contains is chilled, and forms into tiny water-drops, like the steam from a kettle or the funnel of the locomotive. And so, as the air rises and becomes colder, the vapour gathers into visible masses, which we call clouds.
This ascending moist air might become chilled, too, by meeting with a current of cold, dry air, and then clouds would be formed; and should this chilling process continue in either case until the water-drops become heavier than the surrounding air, they would fall to the earth as raindrops. Rain is, therefore, but a further stage in the condensation of aqueous vapour caused by the chilling of the air.
Mountains also assist in the formation of clouds. When a wind laden with moisture strikes against a mountain, it is tilted and flows up its side. The air expands as it rises, the vapour is chilled and becomes visible in the form of clouds, and if sufficiently chilled, it comes down to the earth in the form of rain, hail, or snow.
Thus, by tracing a river backwards, from its end to its real beginning, we come at length to the sun; for it is the sun that produces aqueous vapour, from which, as we have seen, clouds are formed, and it is from clouds that water falls to the earth to become the sources of rivers.[Pg 268]
There are, however, rivers which have sources somewhat different from those just mentioned. They do not begin by driblets on a hillside, nor can they be traced to a spring. Go, for example, to the mouth of the river Rhone, and trace it backwards. You come at length to the Lake of Geneva, from which the river rushes, and which you might be disposed to regard as the source of the Rhone. But go to the head of the lake, and you find that the Rhone there enters it; that the lake is, in fact, an expansion of the river. Follow this upwards; you find it joined by smaller rivers from the mountains right and left. Pass these, and push your journey higher still. You come at length to a huge mass of ice—the end of a glacier—which fills the Rhone valley, and from the bottom of the glacier the river rushes. In the glacier of the Rhone you thus find the source of the river Rhone.
But whence come the glaciers? Wherever lofty mountains, like the Alps, rise into the high parts of the atmosphere where the temperature is below the freezing-point, the vapour condensed from the air falls upon them, not as rain, but as snow. In such high mountainous regions, the heat of the summer melts the snow from the lower hills, but the higher parts remain covered,[Pg 269] for the heat cannot melt all the snow which falls there in a year. When a considerable depth of snow has accumulated, the pressure upon the lower layers squeezes them into a firm mass, and after a time the snow begins to slide down the slope of the mountain. It passes downward from one slope to another, joined continually by other sliding masses from neighbouring slopes, until they all unite into one long tongue, which creeps slowly down some valley to a point where it melts. This tongue from the snow-fields is called a glacier.
Without solar fire, therefore, we could have no atmospheric vapour,
without vapour no clouds, without clouds no snow, and without snow no
glaciers. Curious then as the conclusion may be, the cold ice of the
Alps has its origin in this heat of the sun.
Tyndall: "The Forms of Water."
Scott: "The Lady of the Lake."
("Nicholas Nickleby" deals with the gross mismanagement of schools in Yorkshire, England. Squeers, a vulgar, crafty despot, is head of Dotheboys Hall. Nicholas is an usher or undermaster in the school; Smike, a little, friendless, starved pupil who has run away to escape from drudgery and harshness.)
"He is off," said Mrs. Squeers. "The cow-house and stable are locked up, so he can't be there; and he's not down-stairs anywhere, for the girl has looked. He must have gone York way, and by a public road, too."
"Why must he?" inquired Squeers.
"Stupid!" said Mrs. Squeers, angrily. "He hadn't any money, had he?"[Pg 276]
"Never had a penny of his own in his whole life, that I know of," replied Squeers.
"To be sure," rejoined Mrs. Squeers, "and he didn't take anything to eat with him; that I'll answer for. Ha! ha! ha!"
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Squeers.
"Then, of course," said Mrs. S., "he must beg his way, and he could do that nowhere but on the public road."
"That's true," exclaimed Squeers, clapping his hands.
"True! yes; but you would never have thought of it for all that, if I hadn't said so," replied his wife. "Now, if you take the chaise and go one road, and I borrow Swallow's chaise and go the other, what with keeping our eyes open, and asking questions, one or other of us is pretty sure to lay hold of him."
The worthy lady's plan was adopted and put in execution without a moment's delay. After a hasty breakfast, and the prosecution of some inquiries in the village, the result of which seemed to show that he was on the right track, Squeers started forth in the pony-chaise, intent upon discovery and vengeance. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Squeers, arrayed in the white topcoat and tied up in various shawls and[Pg 277] handkerchiefs, issued forth in another chaise in another direction, taking with her a good-sized bludgeon, several odd pieces of strong cord, and a stout labouring man; all provided and carried upon the expedition with the sole object of assisting in the capture, and (once caught) insuring the safe custody of the unfortunate Smike.
Nicholas remained behind, in a tumult of feeling, sensible that whatever might be the upshot of the boy's flight, nothing but painful and deplorable consequences were likely to ensue from it. Death, from want and exposure to the weather, was the best that could be expected from the protracted wanderings of so poor and helpless a creature, alone and unfriended, through a country of which he was wholly ignorant. There was little, perhaps, to choose between this fate and a return to the tender mercies of the Yorkshire school: but the unhappy being had established a hold upon his sympathy and compassion, which made his heart ache at the prospect of the suffering he was destined to undergo. He lingered on in restless anxiety, picturing a thousand possibilities, until the evening of the next day when Squeers returned alone and unsuccessful.[Pg 278]
"No news of the scamp!" said the schoolmaster, who had evidently been stretching his legs, on the old principle, not a few times during the journey. "I'll have consolation for this out of somebody, Nickleby, if Mrs. Squeers don't hunt him down. So I give you fair warning."
"It is not in my power to console you, sir," said Nicholas. "It is nothing to me."
"Isn't it?" said Squeers, in a threatening manner. "We shall see!"
"We shall," rejoined Nicholas.
"Here's the pony run right off his legs, and me obliged to come home with a hack cob, that'll cost fifteen shillings besides other expenses," said Squeers; "who's to pay for that, do you hear?"
Nicholas shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.
"I'll have it out of somebody, I tell you," said Squeers, his usual harsh, crafty manner changed to open bullying. "None of your whining vapourings here, Mr. Puppy: but be off to your kennel, for it's past your bed-time! Come, get out!"
Nicholas bit his lip and knit his hands involuntarily, for his finger ends tingled to avenge the insult; but remembering that the man was[Pg 279] drunk, and that it could come to little but a noisy brawl, he contented himself with darting a contemptuous look at the tyrant and walked, as majestically as he could, upstairs, and sternly resolved that the outstanding account between himself and Mr. Squeers should be settled rather more speedily than the latter anticipated.
Another day came, and Nicholas was scarcely awake when he heard the wheels of a chaise approaching the house. It stopped. The voice of Mrs. Squeers was heard, and in exultation, ordering a glass of spirits for somebody, which was in itself a sufficient sign that something extraordinary had happened. Nicholas hardly dared to look out of the window; but he did so, and the very first object that met his eyes was the wretched Smike; so bedabbled with mud and rain, so haggard and worn, and wild, that, but for his garments being such as no scarecrow was ever seen to wear, he might have been doubtful, even then, of his identity.
"Lift him out," said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his eyes in silence upon the culprit. "Bring him in; bring him in!"
"Take care," cried Mrs. Squeers, as her husband proffered his assistance. "We tied his legs under the apron and made 'em fast to the[Pg 280] chaise, to prevent him giving us the slip again."
With hands trembling with delight, Squeers unloosed the cord; and Smike, to all appearances more dead than alive, was brought into the house and securely locked up in a cellar, until such time as Mr. Squeers should deem it expedient to operate upon him, in the presence of the assembled school.
The news that Smike had been caught and brought back in triumph ran like wild fire through the hungry community, and expectation was on tiptoe all morning. On tiptoe it was destined to remain, however, until afternoon; when Squeers, having refreshed himself with his dinner and further strengthened himself by an extra libation or so, made his appearance (accompanied by his amiable partner) with a countenance of portentous import, and a fearful instrument of flagellation, strong, supple, wax-ended, and new—in short, purchased that morning expressly for the occasion.
"Is every boy here?" asked Squeers, in a tremendous voice.
Every boy was there, but every boy was afraid to speak; so Squeers glared along the lines to assure himself; and every eye dropped, and every head cowered down, as he did so.[Pg 281]
"Each boy keep his place," said Squeers, administering his favourite blow to the desk and regarding with gloomy satisfaction the universal start it never failed to occasion.
"Nickleby! to your desk, sir."
It was remarked by more than one small observer that there was a very curious and unusual expression in the usher's face; but he took his seat without opening his lips in reply. Squeers, casting a triumphant glance at his assistant and a look of most comprehensive despotism on the boys, left the room, and shortly afterward returned, dragging Smike by the collar—or rather by that fragment of his jacket which was nearest to the place where his collar would have been, had he boasted such a decoration.
In any other place, the appearance of the wretched, jaded, spiritless object would have occasioned a murmur of compassion and remonstrance. It had some effect even there; for the lookers-on moved uneasily in their seats; and a few of the boldest ventured to steal looks at each other, expressive of indignation and pity.
They were lost on Squeers, however, whose gaze was fastened on the luckless Smike, as he inquired, according to custom in such cases,[Pg 282] whether he had anything to say for himself.
"Nothing, I suppose?" said Squeers, with a diabolical grin.
Smike glanced round, and his eyes rested for an instant on Nicholas, as if he had expected him to intercede; but his look was riveted on his desk.
"Have you anything to say?" demanded Squeers again, giving his right arm two or three flourishes to try its power and suppleness.
"Stand a little out of the way, Mrs. Squeers, my dear; I've hardly got enough room."
"Spare me, sir!" cried Smike.
"Oh! that's all, is it?" said Squeers. "Yes, I'll flog you within an inch of your life, and spare you that."
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Mrs. Squeers, "that's a good un!"
"I was driven to it," said Smike, faintly; and casting another imploring look about him.
"Driven to it, were you?" said Squeers. "Oh! it wasn't your fault; it was mine, I suppose—eh?"
"A nasty, ungrateful, pig-headed, brutish, obstinate, sneaking dog," exclaimed Mrs. Squeers, taking Smike's head under her arm and administering a cuff at every epithet; "what does he mean by that?"[Pg 283]
"Stand aside, my dear," replied Squeers. "We'll try and find out."
Mrs. Squeers being out of breath with her exertions, complied. Squeers caught the boy firmly in his grip; one desperate cut had fallen on his body—he was wincing from the lash and uttering a scream of pain—it was raised again, and again about to fall—when Nicholas Nickleby, suddenly starting up, cried "Stop!" in a voice that made the rafters ring.
"Who cried stop?" asked Squeers, turning savagely round.
"I," said Nicholas, stepping forward. "This must not go on."
"Must not go on!" cried Squeers, almost in a shriek.
"No!" thundered Nicholas.
Aghast and stupefied at the boldness of the interference, Squeers released his hold of Smike, and, falling back a pace, gazed upon Nicholas with looks that were positively frightful.
"I say must not," repeated Nicholas, nothing daunted; "shall not, I will prevent it."
Squeers continued to gaze upon him with his eyes starting out of his head; but astonishment had actually for the moment bereft him of speech.[Pg 284]
"You have disregarded all my quiet interference in this miserable lad's behalf," said Nicholas; "you have returned no answer to the letter in which I begged forgiveness for him and offered to be responsible that he would remain quietly here. Don't blame me for this public interference. You have brought it upon yourself; not I."
"Sit down, beggar!" screamed Squeers, almost beside himself with rage, and seizing Smike as he spoke.
"Wretch," rejoined Nicholas, fiercely, "touch him at your peril! I will not stand by and see it done. My blood is up, and I have the strength of ten such men as you. Look to yourself, for by Heaven I will not spare you, if you drive me on!"
"Stand back!" cried Squeers, brandishing his weapon.
"I have a long series of insults to avenge," said Nicholas, flushed with passion; "and my indignation is aggravated by the dastardly cruelties practised on helpless infancy in this foul den. Have a care; for if you do raise the devil within me, the consequences shall fall heavily upon your own head!"
He had scarcely spoken, when Squeers in a[Pg 285] violent outbreak of wrath, and with a cry like the howl of a wild beast, spat upon him and struck him a blow across the face with his instrument of torture, which raised a bar of livid flesh as it was inflicted. Smarting with the agony of the blow, and concentrating into that one moment all his feelings of rage, scorn, and indignation, Nicholas sprang upon him, wrested the weapon from his hand, and pinning him by the throat beat the ruffian till he roared for mercy.
The boys—with the exception of Master Squeers, who, coming to his father's assistance, harassed the enemy in the rear—moved not hand or foot; but Mrs. Squeers, with many shrieks for aid, hung on to the tail of her partner's coat and endeavoured to drag him from his infuriated adversary; while Miss Squeers, who had been peeping through the keyhole in the expectation of a very different scene, darted in at the very beginning of the attack, and after launching a shower of inkstands at the usher's head, beat Nicholas to her heart's content; animating herself, at every blow, with the recollection of his having refused her proffered love, and thus imparting additional strength to an arm which (as she took after her mother in this respect) was, at no time, of the weakest.[Pg 286]
Nicholas, in the full strength of his violence, felt the blows no more than if they had been dealt with feathers; but, becoming tired of the noise and uproar, and feeling that his arm grew weaker besides, he threw all his remaining strength into half a dozen finishing cuts, and flung Squeers from him, with all the force he could muster. The violence of his fall precipitated Mrs. Squeers completely over an adjacent form; Squeers, striking his head against it in his descent, lay at his full length on the ground, stunned and motionless.
Having brought affairs to this happy termination, and ascertained, to his thorough satisfaction, that Squeers was only stunned, and not dead (upon which point he had some unpleasant doubts at first), Nicholas left his family to restore him, and retired to consider what course he had better adopt. He looked anxiously round for Smike, as he left the room, but he was nowhere to be seen.
After a brief consideration, he packed up a few clothes in a small
valise, and, finding that nobody offered to oppose his progress, marched
boldly out by the front door, and, shortly afterward, struck into the
road which led to the Greta Bridge.
Dickens: "Nicholas Nickleby."
Tennyson: "In Memoriam, LXIV."
And so both hosts dressed them together. And king Arthur took his horse, and said, Alas this unhappy day, and so rode to his party: and Sir Mordred in like wise. And never was there seen a more dolefuller battle in any Christian land. For there was but rushing and riding, foining and striking, and many a grim word was there spoken either to other, and many a deadly stroke. But ever king Arthur rode throughout[Pg 291] the battle of Sir Mordred many times, and did full nobly as a noble king should; and at all times he fainted never. And Sir Mordred that day put him in great peril. And thus they fought all the long day, and never stinted, till the noble knights were laid to the cold ground, and ever they fought still, till it was near night, and by that time was there an hundred thousand laid dead upon the down.
Then was Arthur wroth out of measure, when he saw his people so slain from him. Then the king looked about him, and then was he ware of all his host, and of all his good knights, were left no more alive but two knights, that was Sir Lucan de Butlere, and his brother Sir Bedivere: and they full were sore wounded. Jesu mercy, said the king, where are all my noble knights becomen. Alas that ever I should see this doleful day. For now, said Arthur, I am come to mine end. But would to God that I wist where were that traitor Sir Mordred, that hath caused all this mischief. Then was king Arthur ware where Sir Mordred leaned upon his sword among a great heap of dead men. Now give me my spear, said Arthur unto Sir Lucan, for yonder I have espied the traitor that all this woe hath wrought.[Pg 292]
Then the king gat his spear in both his hands, and ran toward Sir Mordred, crying, Traitor, now is thy death day come. And when Sir Mordred heard Sir Arthur, he ran until him with his sword drawn in his hand. And then king Arthur smote Sir Mordred under the shield, with a foin of his spear throughout the body more than a fathom. And when Sir Mordred felt that he had his death's wound, he thrust himself, with the might that he had, up to the bur of king Arthur's spear. And right so he smote Arthur with his sword holden in both his hands, on the side of the head, that the sword pierced the helmet and the brain-pan, and therewithal Sir Mordred fell stark dead to the earth. And the noble Arthur fell in a swoon to the earth, and there he swooned oft-times. And Sir Lucan de Butlere and Sir Bedivere oft-times heaved him up, and so weakly they led him betwixt them both to a little chapel not far from the sea side.
Then Sir Lucan took up the king the one part, and Sir Bedivere the other part, and in the lifting, the king swooned, and Sir Lucan fell in a swoon with the lift and therewith the noble knight's heart burst. And when king[Pg 293] Arthur came to himself again, he beheld Sir Lucan how he lay foaming at the mouth. Alas, said the king, this is unto me a full heavy sight to see this noble duke so die for my sake, for he would have holpen me that had more need of help than I. Alas, he would not complain him, his heart was so set to help me. Now Jesu have mercy upon his soul. Then Sir Bedivere wept for the death of his brother. Leave this mourning and weeping, said the king, for all this will not avail me: for, wit thou well, and I might live myself the death of Sir Lucan would grieve me evermore; but my time hieth fast, said the king.
Therefore, said Arthur, take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go with it to yonder water side, and when thou comest there, I charge thee throw my sword in that water, and come again, and tell me what thou there seest. My lord, said Bedivere, your commandment shall be done, and lightly bring you word again. So Sir Bedivere departed, and by the way he beheld that noble sword, that the pommel and haft were all of precious stones, and then he said to himself, If I throw this rich sword in the water, thereof shall never come good, but harm and loss. And then Sir[Pg 294] Bedivere hid Excalibur under a tree. And as soon as he might he came again unto the king, and said he had been at the water, and had thrown the sword into the water. What sawest thou there? said the king. Sir, he said, I saw nothing but waves and winds. That is untruly said of thee, said the king; therefore go thou lightly again, and do my command as thou art to me lief and dear, spare not, but throw it in.
Then Sir Bedivere returned again, and took the sword in his hand; and then him thought sin and shame to throw away that noble sword; and so eft he hid the sword, and returned again, and told to the king that he had been at the water, and done his commandment. What sawest thou there? said the king. Sir, he said, I saw nothing but the waters wap and the waves wan. Ah traitor, untrue, said king Arthur, now hast thou betrayed me twice. Who would have wend that thou that hast been to me so lief and dear, and thou art named a noble knight, and would betray me for the riches of the sword. But now go again lightly, for thy long tarrying putteth me in great jeopardy of my life, for I have taken cold. And unless if thou do now as I bid thee, if ever I may see thee,[Pg 295] I shall slay thee with mine own hands, for thou wouldest for my rich sword see me dead.
Then Sir Bedivere departed, and went to the sword, and lightly took it up, and went to the water side, and there he bound the girdle about the hilts, and then he threw the sword as far into the water as he might, and there came an arm and an hand above the water, and met it, and caught it, and so shook it thrice and brandished, and then vanished away the hand with the sword in the water. So Sir Bedivere came again to the king, and told him what he saw. Alas, said the king, help me hence, for I dread me I have tarried over long.
Then Sir Bedivere took the king upon his back, and so went with him to that water side. And when they were at the water side, even fast by the bank hoved a little barge, with many fair ladies in it, and among them all was a queen, and all they had black hoods, and all they wept and shrieked when they saw king Arthur. Now put me into the barge, said the king: and so he did softly. And there received him three queens with great mourning, and so they set him down, and in one of their laps king Arthur laid his head, and then that queen said, Ah, dear brother, why have ye tarried so long from[Pg 296] me? Alas, this wound on your head hath caught over much cold. And so then they rowed from the land; and Sir Bedivere beheld all those ladies go from him.
Then Sir Bedivere cried, Ah, my lord Arthur, what shall become of me now
ye go from me, and leave me here alone among mine enemies. Comfort
thyself, said the king, and do as well as thou mayest, for in me is no
trust for to trust in. For I will into the vale of Avilion, to heal me
of my grievous wound. And if thou hear never more of me, pray for my
soul. But ever the queens and the ladies wept and shrieked, that it was
pity to hear. And as soon as Sir Bedivere had lost the sight of the
barge, he wept and wailed, and so took the forest.
Sir Thomas Malory
Read: Tennyson's Morte D'Arthur.
Nelson, having despatched his business at Portsmouth, endeavoured to elude the populace by taking a by-way to the beach, but a crowd collected in his train, pressing forward to obtain a sight of his face: many were in tears, and many knelt down before him and blessed him as he passed. England has had many heroes, but never one who so entirely possessed the love of his fellow-countrymen as Nelson. All men knew that his heart was as humane as it was fearless; that there was not in his nature the slightest alloy of selfishness or cupidity; but that, with perfect and entire devotion, he served his country with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his strength; and therefore, they loved him as truly and as fervently as he loved England. They pressed upon the parapet to gaze after him when his barge pushed off, and he returned their cheers by waving his hat.[Pg 303] The sentinels, who endeavoured to prevent them from trespassing upon this ground, were wedged among the crowd; and an officer who, not very prudently upon such an occasion, ordered them to drive the people down with their bayonets, was compelled speedily to retreat; for the people would not be debarred from gazing till the last moment upon the hero—the darling hero of England!
It had been part of Nelson's prayer, that the British fleet might be distinguished by humanity in the victory which he expected. Setting an example himself, he twice gave orders to cease firing on the Redoubtable, supposing that she had struck, because her guns were silent; for, as she carried no flag, there was no means of instantly ascertaining the fact. From this ship, which he had thus twice spared, he received his death. A ball fired from her mizzen-top, which, in the then situation of the two vessels, was not more than fifteen yards from that part of the deck where he was standing, struck the epaulet on his left shoulder, about a quarter after one, just in the heat of action. He fell upon his face, on the spot which was covered with his poor secretary's blood. Hardy, who was a few steps from him, turning round, saw[Pg 304] three men raising him up. "They have done for me at last, Hardy," said he. "I hope not," cried Hardy. "Yes," he replied, "my backbone is shot through." Yet even now, not for a moment losing his presence of mind, he observed, as they were carrying him down the ladder, that the tiller ropes, which had been shot away, were not yet replaced, and ordered that new ones should be rove immediately: then, that he might not be seen by the crew, he took out his handkerchief, and covered his face and his stars. Had he but concealed these badges of honour from the enemy, England, perhaps, would not have had cause to receive with sorrow the news of the battle of Trafalgar.
The cockpit was crowded with wounded and dying men, over whose bodies he was with some difficulty conveyed, and laid upon a pallet in the midshipmen's berth. It was soon perceived, upon examination, that the wound was mortal. This, however, was concealed from all except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the medical attendants. He himself being certain, from the sensation in his back and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no human care could avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him and attend to those to whom[Pg 305] he might be useful; "for," said he, "you can do nothing for me." All that could be done was to fan him with paper, and frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate his intense thirst.
He was in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for the event of the action, which now began to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew of the Victory hurrahed; and at each hurrah, a visible expression of joy gleamed in the eyes and marked the countenance of the dying hero. But he became impatient to see Hardy; and as that officer, though often sent for, could not leave the deck, Nelson feared that some fatal cause prevented him, and repeatedly cried, "Will no one bring Hardy to me? He must be killed! He is surely dead!"
An hour and ten minutes elapsed from the time when Nelson received his wound, before Hardy could come to him. They shook hands in silence, Hardy in vain struggling to suppress the feelings of that most painful and yet sublime moment. "Well, Hardy," said Nelson, "how goes the day with us?" "Very well," replied Hardy: "ten ships have struck, but five of the van have tacked and show an intention to bear down upon the Victory. I have called two or three of our fresh ships round, and have[Pg 306] no doubt of giving them a drubbing." "I hope," said Nelson, "none of our ships have struck." Hardy answered, "There is no fear of that." Then, and not till then, Nelson spoke of himself. "I am a dead man, Hardy," said he; "I am going fast; it will be all over with me soon." Hardy observed that he hoped Mr. Beatty could yet hold out some prospect of life. "Oh, no," he replied; "it is impossible. My back is shot through. Beatty will tell you so." Hardy then once more shook hands with him, and, with a heart almost bursting, hastened upon deck.
By this time all feeling below the breast was gone, and Nelson, having made the surgeon ascertain this, said to him: "You know I am gone. I know it. I feel something rising in my breast," putting his hand on his left side, "which tells me so." And upon Beatty's inquiring whether his pain was very great, he replied, it was so great that he wished he was dead. "Yet," he added in a lower voice, "one would like to live a little longer, too!"
Captain Hardy, some fifty minutes after he had left the cockpit, returned, and again taking the hand of his dying friend and commander, congratulated him on having gained a complete[Pg 307] victory. How many of the enemy were taken he did not know, as it was impossible to perceive them distinctly, but fourteen or fifteen at least. "That's well," said Nelson; "but I bargained for twenty." And then, in a stronger voice, he said, "Anchor, Hardy, anchor." Hardy, thereupon, hinted that Admiral Collingwood would take upon himself the direction of affairs. "Not while I live, Hardy," said the dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavouring to raise himself from the bed: "do you anchor." His previous orders for preparing to anchor had shown how clearly he foresaw the necessity for this.
Presently calling Hardy back, he said to him in a low voice, "Don't throw me overboard:" and he desired that he might be buried beside his parents, unless it should please the king to order otherwise. Then reverting to private feelings,—"Kiss me, Hardy," said he. Hardy knelt down and kissed his cheek; and Nelson said, "Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my duty!" Hardy stood over him in silence for a moment or two, then knelt again and kissed his forehead. "Who is that?" said Nelson; and being informed, he replied, "God bless you, Hardy." And Hardy then left him for ever.[Pg 308]
Nelson now desired to be turned upon his right side, and said, "I wish I had not left the deck, for I shall soon be gone." Death was, indeed, rapidly approaching. His articulation now became difficult, but he was distinctly heard to say, "Thank God, I have done my duty!" These words he repeatedly pronounced, and they were the last words which he uttered. He expired at thirty minutes after four, three hours and a quarter after he had received his wound.
The death of Nelson was felt in England as something more than a public calamity: men started at the intelligence and turned pale, as if they had heard of the loss of a near friend. An object of our admiration and affection, of our pride and of our hopes, was suddenly taken from us; and it seemed as if we had never till then known how deeply we loved and reverenced him. What the country had lost in its great naval hero—the greatest of our own and of all former times—was scarcely taken into the account of grief. So perfectly, indeed, had he performed his part, that the maritime war, after the battle of Trafalgar, was considered at an end. The fleets of the enemy were not merely defeated—they were destroyed: new navies must be built, and a new race of seamen reared for them,[Pg 309] before the possibility of their invading our shores could again be contemplated. It was not, therefore, from any selfish reflection upon the magnitude of our loss that we mourned for him; the general sorrow was of a higher character.
The people of England grieved that the funeral ceremonies, and public monuments, and posthumous rewards, were all that they could now bestow upon him whom the king, the legislature and the nation would have alike delighted to honour; whom every tongue would have blessed; whose presence in every village through which he might have passed would have awakened the church bells, have given school-boys a holiday, have drawn children from their sports to gaze upon him, and "old men from the chimney-corner" to look upon Nelson ere they died.
The victory of Trafalgar was celebrated, indeed, with the usual forms of rejoicing, but they were without joy; for such already was the glory of the British navy, through Nelson's surpassing genius, that it scarcely seemed to receive any addition from the most signal victory that ever was achieved upon the seas. The destruction of this mighty fleet, by which all the maritime schemes of France were totally frustrated, hardly appeared to add to our security and strength;[Pg 310] for while Nelson was living to watch the combined squadrons of the enemy, we felt ourselves as secure as now, when they were no longer in existence.
There was reason to suppose, from the appearances upon opening his body,
that in the course of nature he might have attained, like his father, to
a good old age. Yet he cannot be said to have fallen prematurely whose
work was done; nor ought he to be lamented who died so full of honours,
and at the height of human fame. The most triumphant death is that of
the martyr; the most awful, that of the martyred patriot; the most
splendid, that of the hero in the hour of victory; and if the chariot
and the horses of fire had been vouchsafed for Nelson's translation, he
could scarcely have departed in a brighter blaze of glory. He has left
us, not indeed a mantle of inspiration, but a name and an example which
are at this moment inspiring thousands of the youth of England—a name
which is our pride, and an example which will continue to be our shield
and strength. Thus it is that spirits of the great and the wise continue
to live and to act after them.
England expects that every man will do his duty.
Byron: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."
Show me the man you honour; I know by that symptom better than by any
other, what kind of a man you are yourself; for you show me what your
ideal of manhood is, what kind of a man you long to be.
The cavalry who have been pursuing the Turks on the right are coming up to the ridge beneath us, which conceals our cavalry from view. The heavy brigade in advance is drawn up in two lines. The light cavalry brigade is on their left, in two lines also. The silence is oppressive: between the cannon bursts one can hear the champing of bits and the clink of sabres in the valley below.
The Russians on their left drew breath for a moment and then in one grand line dashed at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses' feet. Gathering speed at every stride they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel. The Turks fire a volley at eight hundred yards and run. As the Russians come within six hundred yards, down goes that line of steel in front, and out rings a rolling volley of Minié musketry. The distance is too great: the Russians are not checked, but still sweep onward through the smoke with the whole force of horse and man, here and there knocked over by the shot of our batteries above. With breathless suspense every[Pg 317]one awaits the bursting of the wave upon the line of Gaelic rock, but ere they come within a hundred and fifty yards another deadly volley flashes from the levelled rifles and carries death and terror into the Russians. They wheel about, open files right and left, and fly back faster than they came. "Bravo, Highlanders! well done!" shout the excited spectators.
But events thicken. The Highlanders and their splendid front are soon forgotten; men scarcely have a moment to think of this fact, that they never altered their formation to receive that tide of horsemen. "No," said Sir Colin Campbell, "I did not think it worth while to form them even four deep!" The ordinary British line, two deep, was quite sufficient to repel the attack of these Muscovite cavaliers.
Our eyes were, however, turned in a moment on our own cavalry. We saw Brigadier-General Scarlett ride along in front of his massive squadrons. The Russians, evidently corps d'élite, their light blue jackets embroidered with silver lace, were advancing on their left at an easy gallop towards the brow of the hill. A forest of lances glistened in their rear, and several squadrons of gray-coated dragoons moved up quickly to support them as they reached the[Pg 318] summit. The instant they came in sight the trumpets of our cavalry gave out the warning blast which told us all that in another moment we should see the shock of battle beneath our very eyes. Lord Raglan, all his staff and escort and groups of officers, the Zouaves, French generals and officers, and bodies of French infantry on the height were spectators of the scene as though they were looking on the stage from the boxes of a theatre. Nearly every one dismounted and sat down, and not a word was said.
The Russians advanced down the hill at a slow canter, which they changed to a trot, and at last nearly halted. Their first line was at least double the length of ours—it was three times as deep. Behind them was a similar line equally strong and compact. They evidently despised their insignificant-looking enemy: but their time was come. The trumpets rang out again through the valley, and the Greys and the Enniskilleners went right at the centre of the Russian cavalry. The space between them was only a few hundred yards; it was scarcely enough to let the horses "gather way," nor had the men quite space sufficient for the full play of their sword-arms.[Pg 319]
The Russian line brings forward each wing as our cavalry advance, and threatens to annihilate them as they pass on. Turning a little to their left so as to meet the Russian right the Greys rush on with a cheer that thrills to every heart—the wild shout of the Enniskilleners rises through the air at the same instant. As lightning flashes through a cloud the Greys and Enniskilleners pierced through the dark masses of Russians. The shock was but for a moment. There was a clash of steel and a light play of sword-blades in the air, and then the Greys and the Red-coats disappear in the midst of the shaken and quivering columns. In another moment we see them emerging and dashing on with diminished numbers and in broken order against the second line, which is advancing against them as fast as it can to retrieve the fortune of the charge. It was a terrible moment. "God help them! they are lost!" was the exclamation of more than one man and the thought of many.
With unabated fire, the noble hearts dashed at their enemy. It was a fight of heroes. The first line of Russians—which had been smashed utterly by our charge and had fled off at one flank and towards the centre—was coming[Pg 320] back to swallow up our handful of men. By sheer steel and sheer courage Enniskillener and Scot were winning their desperate way right through the enemy's squadrons, and already gray horses and red coats had appeared right at the rear of the second mass, when, with irresistible force like a bolt from a bow, the second line of the heavy brigade rushed at the remnants of the first line of the enemy, went through it as though it were made of paste-board and, dashing on the second body of Russians as they were still disordered by the terrible assault of the Greys and their companions, put them to utter rout.
And now occurred the melancholy catastrophe which fills us all with sorrow. It appears that the Quartermaster-General, Brigadier Airey, thinking that the light cavalry had not gone far enough in front when the enemy's horse had fled, gave an order in writing to Captain Nolan to take to Lord Lucan, directing his lordship "to advance" his cavalry nearer the enemy. Lord Lucan, with reluctance, gave the order to Lord Cardigan to advance upon the guns, conceiving that his orders compelled him to do so.[Pg 321]
It is a maxim of war that "cavalry never act without a support," that "infantry should be close at hand when cavalry carry guns as the effect is only instantaneous," and that it is necessary to have on the flank of a line of cavalry some squadrons in column—the attack on the flank being most dangerous. The only support our light cavalry had was the reserve of heavy cavalry at a great distance behind them, the infantry and guns being far in the rear. There were no squadrons in column at all and there was a plain to charge over before the enemy's guns could be reached, of a mile and a half in length!
At ten minutes past eleven our light cavalry brigade advanced. The whole brigade scarcely made one effective regiment according to the numbers of continental armies, and yet it was more than we could spare. As they rushed towards the front the Russians opened on them from the guns in the redoubt on the right with volleys of musketry and rifles. They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war.
We could scarcely believe the evidence of our senses. Surely that handful of men are not going to charge an army in position? Alas! it was[Pg 322] but too true. Their desperate valour knew no bounds, and far indeed was it removed from its so-called better part—discretion. They advanced in two lines, quickening their pace as they closed upon the enemy. A more fearful spectacle was never witnessed than by those who beheld these heroes rushing to the arms of Death.
At the distance of twelve hundred yards, the whole line of the enemy belched forth from thirty iron mouths a flood of smoke and flame, through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain. The first line is broken—it is joined by the second—they never halt or check their speed an instant. With diminished ranks thinned by those thirty guns which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow's death-cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries, but ere they were lost from view the plain was strewn with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses. They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to a[Pg 323] direct fire of musketry. Through the clouds of smoke we could see their sabres flashing as they rode up to the guns and dashed into their midst, cutting down the gunners where they stood. We saw them riding through the guns, as I have said: to our delight we saw them returning after breaking through a column of Russian infantry and scattering it like chaff, when the flank fire of the battery on the hill swept them down scattered and broken as they were. Wounded men and riderless horses flying towards us told the sad tale. Demi-gods could not have done what they had failed to do.
At the very moment when they were about to retreat an enormous mass of Lancers was hurled on their flank. Colonel Shewell saw the danger and rode his few men straight to them, cutting his way through with fearful loss. The other regiments turned and engaged in a desperate encounter.
With courage too great almost for credence, they were breaking their way through the columns which enveloped them, when there took place an act of atrocity without parallel in the modern warfare of civilized nations. The Russian gunners, when the storm of cavalry passed, returned to their guns. They saw their own cavalry mingled with the troopers who had just ridden over them, and, to the eternal disgrace of the Russian name, the miscreants poured a murderous volley of grape and canister on the mass of struggling men and horses, mingling friend and foe in one common ruin!
It was as much as our heavy cavalry could do to cover the retreat of the
miserable remnants of the band of heroes as they returned to the place
they had so lately quitted. At thirty-five minutes past eleven not a
British soldier, except the dead and the dying, was left in front of
William Howard Russell
Just when the delightful days were beginning to pall upon us, a real adventure befell us, which, had we been attending strictly to business, we should not have encountered. For a week previous we had been cruising constantly without ever seeing a spout, except those belonging to whales out at sea, whither we knew it was folly to follow them. At last, one afternoon as we were listlessly lolling (half-asleep, except the look-out man) across the thwarts, we suddenly came upon a gorge between two cliffs that we must have passed before several times unnoticed. At a certain angle it opened, disclosing a wide sheet of water extending a long distance ahead. I put the helm up, and we ran through the passage, finding it about a[Pg 327] boat's length in width and several fathoms deep, though overhead the cliffs nearly came together in places. The place was new to us, and our languor was temporarily dispelled, and we paddled along, taking in every feature of the shores with keen eyes that let nothing escape. After we had gone on in this placid manner for maybe an hour, we suddenly came to a stupendous cliff—that is, for those parts—rising almost sheer from the water for about a thousand feet. Of itself it would not have arrested our attention, but at its base was a semicircular opening, like the mouth of a small tunnel. This looked alluring, so I headed the boat for it, passing through a deep channel between two reefs which led straight to the opening. There was ample room for us to enter, as we had lowered the mast; but just as we were passing through, a heave of the unnoticed swell lifted us unpleasantly near the crown of this natural arch. Beneath us, at a great depth, the bottom could be dimly discerned, the water being of the richest blue conceivable, which the sun, striking down through, resolved into some most marvellous colour-schemes in the path of its rays. A delicious sense of coolness, after the fierce heat outside, saluted us as we entered a vast hall,[Pg 328] whose roof rose to a minimum height of forty feet, but in places could not be seen at all. A sort of diffused light, weak, but sufficient to reveal the general contour of the place, existed, let in, I supposed, through some unseen crevices in the roof or walls. At first, of course, to our eyes, fresh from the fierce glare outside, the place seemed wrapped in impenetrable gloom, and we dared not stir lest we should run into some hidden danger. Before many minutes, however, the gloom lightened as our pupils enlarged, so that, although the light was faint, we could find our way about with ease. We spoke in low tones, for the echoes were so numerous and resonant that even a whisper gave back from those massy walls in a series of recurring hisses, as if a colony of snakes had been disturbed.
We paddled on into the interior of this vast cave, finding everywhere the walls rising sheer from the silent, dark waters, not a ledge or a crevice where one might gain foothold. Indeed, in some places there was a considerable overhang from above, as if a great dome whose top was invisible sprang from some level below the water. We pushed ahead until the tiny semi-circle of light through which we had entered[Pg 329] was only faintly visible; and then, finding there was nothing to be seen except what we were already witnessing, unless we cared to go on into the thick darkness, which extended apparently into the bowels of the mountain, we turned and started to go back. Do what we would, we could not venture to break the solemn hush that surrounded us, as if we were shut within the dome of some vast cathedral in the twilight. So we paddled noiselessly along for the exit, till suddenly an awful, inexplicable roar set all our hearts thumping fit to break our bosoms. Really, the sensation was most painful, especially as we had not the faintest idea whence the noise came or what had produced it. Again it filled that immense cave with its thunderous reverberations; but this time all the sting was taken out of it, as we caught sight of its author. A goodly bull-humpback had found his way in after us, and the sound of his spout, exaggerated a thousand times in the confinement of that mighty cavern, had frightened us all so that we nearly lost our breath. So far so good; but, unlike the old negro though we were "doin' blame well," we did not "let blame well alone." The next spout that intruder gave, he was right alongside of us. This was too much for the[Pg 330] semi-savage instincts of my gallant harpooner, and before I had time to shout a caution he had plunged his weapon deep into old Blowhard's broad back.
I should like to describe what followed, but, in the first place, I hardly know; and, in the next, even had I been cool and collected, my recollections would sound like the ravings of a fevered dream. For of all the hideous uproars conceivable, that was, I should think, about the worst. The big mammal seemed to have gone frantic with the pain of his wound, the surprise of the attack, and the hampering confinement in which he found himself. His tremendous struggles caused such a commotion that our position could only be compared to that of men shooting Niagara in a cylinder at night. How we kept afloat, I do not know. Some one had the gumption to cut the line, so that by the radiation of the disturbance we presently found ourselves close to the wall, and trying to hold the boat in to it with our finger tips. Would he never be quiet? we thought, as the thrashing, banging, and splashing still went on with unfailing vigour. At last, in, I suppose, one supreme effort to escape, he leaped clear of the water like a salmon. There was a perceptible hush, during[Pg 331] which we shrank together like unfledged chickens on a frosty night; then, in a never-to-be-forgotten crash that ought to have brought down the massy roof, that mountainous carcass fell. The consequent violent upheaval of the water should have smashed the boat against the rocky walls, but that final catastrophe was mercifully spared us. I suppose the rebound was sufficient to keep us a safe distance off.
A perfect silence succeeded, during which we sat speechless, awaiting a resumption of the clamour. At last Abner broke the heavy silence by saying: "I doan' see the do'way any mo' at all, sir." He was right. The tide had risen, and that half-moon of light had disappeared, so that we were now prisoners for many hours, it not being at all probable that we should be able to find our way out during the night ebb. Well, we were not exactly children, to be afraid of the dark, although there is considerable difference between the velvety darkness of a dungeon and the clear, fresh night of the open air. Still, as long as that beggar of a whale would only keep quiet or leave the premises, we should be fairly comfortable. We waited and waited until an hour had passed, and then came to the conclusion that our friend was either dead or had[Pg 332] gone out, as he gave no sign of his presence.
That being settled, we anchored the boat, and lit pipes, preparatory to passing as comfortable a night as might be under the circumstances, the only thing troubling me being the anxiety of the skipper on our behalf. Presently the blackness beneath was lit up by a wide band of phosphoric light, shed in the wake of no ordinary-sized fish, probably an immense shark. Another and another followed in rapid succession, until the depths beneath were all ablaze with brilliant foot-wide ribbons of green glare, dazzling to the eye and bewildering to the brain. Occasionally a gentle splash or ripple alongside, or a smart tap on the bottom of the boat, warned us how thick the concourse was that had gathered below. Until that weariness which no terror is proof against set in, sleep was impossible, nor could we keep our anxious gaze from that glowing inferno beneath, where one would have thought all the population of Tartarus were holding high revel. Mercifully, at last we sank into a fitful slumber, though fully aware of the great danger of our position. One upward rush of any of those ravening monsters, happening to strike the frail shell of our boat, and a few fleeting seconds would have sufficed for our obliteration as if we had never been.[Pg 333]
But the terrible night passed away, and once more we saw the tender,
iridescent light stream into that abode of dread. As the day
strengthened, we were able to see what was going on below, and a grim
vision it presented. The water was literally alive with sharks of
enormous size, tearing with never-ceasing energy at the huge carcass of
the whale lying on the bottom, who had met his fate in a singular but
not unheard-of way. At that last titanic effort of his he had rushed
downward with such terrific force that, striking his head on the bottom,
he had broken his neck. I felt very grieved that we had lost the chance
of securing him; but it was perfectly certain that before we could get
help to raise him, all that would be left on his skeleton would be quite
valueless to us. So with such patience as we could command, we waited
near the entrance until the receding ebb made it possible for us to
emerge once more into the blessed light of day.
Frank T. Bullen: "The Cruise of the Cachalot."
You are standing on a narrow, thread-like road, which has barely room to draw itself along between the rocky bank of the River Inn, and the base of a frowning buttress of the Solstein, which towers many hundred feet perpendicularly above you. You throw your head far back and look up; and there you have a vision of a plumed hunter, lofty and chivalrous in his bearing, who is bounding heedlessly on after a chamois to the very verge of a precipice. Mark!—he loses his footing—he rolls helplessly from rock to rock! There is a pause in his headlong course. What is it that arrests him? Ah! he puts forth his mighty strength, and clings, hand and foot, with the grip of despair, to a narrow ledge of rock, and there he hangs over the abyss! It is the Emperor Maximilian! The Abbot of Wiltau comes forth from his cell, sees an imperial destiny suspended between heaven and earth, and, crossing himself with awe, bids prayers be put up for the welfare of a passing soul.
Hark! there is a wild cry ringing through the upper air! Ha! Zyps of Zirl, thou hunted and hunting outlaw, art thou out upon the[Pg 337] heights at this fearful moment? Watch the hardy mountaineer! He binds his crampons on his feet,—he is making his perilous way towards his failing Emperor;—now bounding like a hunted chamois; now creeping like an insect; now clinging like a root of ivy; now dropping like a squirrel:—he reaches the fainting monarch just as he relaxes his grasp on the jutting rock. Courage, Kaiser!—there is a hunter's hand for thee, a hunter's iron-shod foot to guide thee to safety. Look! They clamber up the face of the rock, on points and ledges where scarce the small hoof of the chamois might find a hold; and the peasant-folk still maintain that an angel came down to their master's rescue. We will, however, refer the marvellous escape to the interposing hand of a pitying Providence.
Zyps, the outlaw, becomes Count Hallooer von Hohenfeldsen—"Lord of the wild cry of the lofty rock;" and in the old pension-list of the proud house of Hapsburg may still be seen an entry to this effect: that sixteen florins were paid annually to one "Zyps of Zirl." As you look up from the base of the Martinswand, you may, with pains, distinguish a cross, which has been planted on the narrow ledge where the Emperor was rescued by the outlaw.[Pg 338]
There is another vision, an imperial one also. The night is dark and wild. Gusty winds come howling down from the mountain passes, driving sheets of blinding rain before them, and whirling them round in hissing eddies. At intervals the clouds are rent asunder, and the moon takes a hurried look at the world below. What does she see? and what do we hear? for there are other sounds stirring besides the ravings of the tempest, in that wild cleft of the mountains, which guard Innsbruck, on the Carinthian side.
There is a hurried tramp of feet, a crowding and crushing up through the steep and narrow gorge, a mutter of suppressed voices, a fitful glancing of torches, which now flare up bravely enough, now wither in a moment before the derisive laugh of the storm. At the head of the melée there is a litter borne on the shoulders of a set of sure-footed hunters of the hills; and around this litter is clustered a moving constellation of lamps, which are anxiously shielded from the rude wrath of the tempest. A group of stately figures, wrapped in rich military cloaks, with helms glistening in the torch-light, and plumes streaming on the wind, struggle onward beside the litter.[Pg 339]
And who is this reclining there, his teeth firmly set to imprison the stifled groan of physical anguish? He is but fifty-three years of age, but the lines of premature decay are ploughed deep along brow and cheek, while his yellow locks are silvered and crisped with care. Who can mistake that full, expansive forehead, that aquiline nose, that cold, stern blue eye, and that heavy, obstinate, Austrian underlip, for other than those of the mighty Emperor Charles V? And can this suffering invalid, flying from foes who are almost on the heels of his attendants, jolted over craggy passes in midnight darkness, buffeted by the tempest, and withered by the sneer of adverse fortune—can this be the Emperor of Germany, King of Spain, Lord of the Netherlands, of Naples, of Lombardy, and the proud chief of the golden Western World? Yes, Charles, thou art reading a stern lesson by that fitful torch-light; but thy strong will is yet unbent, and thy stern nature yet unsoftened.
And who is the swift "avenger of blood" who is following close as a sleuth-hound on thy track? It is Maurice of Saxony—a match for thee in boldness of daring, and in strength of will. But Charles wins the midnight race;[Pg 340] and yet, instead of bowing before Him whose "long-suffering would lead to repentance," he ascribes his escape to the "star of Austria," ever in the ascendant, and mutters his favourite saying, "Myself, and the lucky moment."
One more scene: it is the year 1809. Bonaparte has decreed in the secret council chamber, where his own will is his sole adviser, that the Tyrol shall be cleared of its troublesome nest of warrior-hunters. Ten thousand French and Bavarian soldiers have penetrated as far as the Upper Innthal, and are boldly pushing on towards Prutz.
But the mountain-walls of this profound valley are closing gloomily together, as if they would forbid even the indignant river to force its wild way betwixt them. Is there a path through the frowning gorge other than that rocky way which is fiercely held by the current? Yes, there is a narrow road, painfully grooved by the hand of man out of the mountain side, now running along like a gallery, now dropping down to the brink of the stream. But the glittering array winds on. There is the heavy tread of the foot-soldiers, the trampling of horse, the dull rumble of the guns, the waving and flapping of the colours,[Pg 341] and the angry remonstrance of the Inn. But all else is still as a midnight sleep, except, indeed, when the eagles of the crag, startled from their eyries, raise their shrill cry as they spread their living wings above the gilded eagles of France.
Suddenly a voice is heard far up amid the mists of the heights—not the eagle's cry this time—not the freak of a wayward echo—but human words, which say "Shall we begin?" Silence! It is a host that holds its breath and listens. Was it a spirit of the upper air parleying with its kind? If so, it has its answer countersigned across the dark gulf. "Noch nicht!"—"Not yet!" The whole invading army pause: there is a wavering and writhing in the glittering serpent-length of that mighty force which is helplessly uncoiled along the base of the mountain. But hark! the voice of the hills is heard again, and it says "Now!"
Now, then, descends the wild avalanche of destruction, and all is tumult, dismay, and death. The very crags of the mountain side, loosened in preparation, come bounding, thundering down. Trunks and roots of pine trees, gathering speed on their headlong way, are launched down upon the powerless foe, mingled[Pg 342] with the deadly hail of the Tyrolese rifles. And this fearful storm descends along the whole line at once. No marvel that two-thirds of all that brilliant invading army are crushed to death along the grooved pathway, or are tumbled, horse and man, into the choked and swollen river.
Enough of horrors! Who would willingly linger on the hideous details of
such a scene? Sorrowful that man should come, with his evil ambitions
and his fierce revenges, to stain and to spoil such wonders of beauty as
the hand of the Creator has here moulded. Sorrowful that man, in league
with the serpent, should writhe into such scenes as these, and poison
them with the virus of sin.
(A Cavalier Song)
W. M. Praed
The huge city perhaps never impressed the imagination more than when approaching it by night on the top of a coach you saw its numberless lights flaring, as Tennyson says "like a dreary dawn." The most impressive approach is now by the river through the infinitude of docks, quays, and shipping. London is not a city, but a province of brick and stone. Hardly even from the top of St. Paul's or of the Monument can anything like a view of the city as a whole be obtained. It is indispensable, however, to make one or the other of those ascents when a clear day can be found, not so much because the view is fine, as because you will get a sensation of vastness and multitude not easily to be forgotten. There is or was, not long ago, a point on the ridge that connects[Pg 348] Hampstead with Highgate from which, as you looked over London to the Surrey Hills beyond, the modern Babylon presented something like the aspect of a city. The ancient Babylon may have vied with London in circumference, but the greater part of its area was occupied by open spaces; the modern Babylon is a dense mass of humanity. London with its suburbs has five millions of inhabitants, and still it grows. It grows through the passion which seems to be seizing mankind everywhere, on this continent as well as in Europe, for emigration from the country into the town, not only as the centre of wealth and employment, but as the centre of excitement, and, as the people fondly fancy, of enjoyment. The Empire and the commercial relations of England draw representatives of trading communities or subject races from all parts of the globe, and the faces and costumes of the Hindoo, the Parsi, the Lascar, and the ubiquitous Chinaman, mingle in the motley crowd with the merchants of Europe and America. The streets of London are, in this respect, to the modern, what the great Place of Tyre must have been to the ancient world. But pile Carthage on Tyre, Venice on Carthage, Amsterdam on Venice, and[Pg 349] you will not make the equal, or anything near the equal, of London. Here is the great mart of the world, to which the best and richest products are brought from every land and clime, so that if you have put money in your purse you may command every object of utility or fancy which grows or is made anywhere, without going beyond the circuit of the great cosmopolitan city. Parisian, German, Russian, Hindoo, Japanese, Chinese industry is as much at your service here, if you have the all-compelling talisman in your pocket, as in Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Benares, Yokohama or Pekin. That London is the great distributing centre of the world is shown by the fleets of the carrying trade of which the countless masts rise along her wharves and in her docks. She is also the bank of the world. But we are reminded of the vicissitudes of commerce and the precarious tenure by which its empire is held when we consider that the bank of the world in the middle of the last century was Amsterdam.
The first and perhaps the greatest marvel of London is the commissariat. How can the five millions be regularly supplied with food, and everything needful to life, even with such things as milk and those kinds of fruit which[Pg 350] can hardly be left beyond a day? Here again we see reason for concluding that though there may be fraud and scamping in the industrial world, genuine production, faithful service, disciplined energy, and skill in organization cannot wholly have departed from the earth. London is not only well fed, but well supplied with water and well drained. Vastly and densely peopled as it is, it is a healthy city. Yet the limit of practicable extension seems to be nearly reached. It becomes a question how the increasing multitude shall be supplied not only with food and water but with air.
There is something very impressive in the roar of the vast city. It is a sound of a Niagara of human life. It ceases not except during the hour or two before dawn, when the last carriages have rolled away from the balls and the market carts have hardly begun to come in. Only in returning from a very late ball is the visitor likely to have a chance of seeing what Wordsworth saw from Westminster Bridge:
Goldwin Smith: "A Trip to England."
The sagacity of England is in nothing more clearly shown than in the foresight with which she has provided against the emergency of war. Let it come when it may, it will not find her unprepared. So thickly are her colonies and naval stations scattered over the face of the Earth, that her war-ships can speedily reach every commercial centre on the globe.
There is that great centre of commerce, the Mediterranean Sea. It was a great centre long ago, when the Phœnician traversed it, and, passing through the Pillars of Hercules, sped on his way to the distant, and then savage, Britain. It was a great centre when Rome and Carthage wrestled in a death-grapple for its possession. But at the present day England is as much at home on the Mediterranean as if it were one of her own Canadian lakes.
Nor is it simply the number of the British colonies, or the evenness with which they are distributed, that challenges our admiration. The positions which these colonies occupy, and their natural military strength, are quite as[Pg 359] important facts. There is not a sea or a gulf in the world, which has any real commercial importance, but England has a stronghold on its shores. And wherever the continents tending southward come to points, around which the commerce of nations must sweep, there is a British settlement; and the cross of St. George salutes you as you are wafted by. There is hardly a little desolate, rocky island or peninsula, formed apparently by Nature for a fortress, and nothing else, but the British flag floats securely over it.
These are literal facts. Take, for example, the great Overland Route from Europe to Asia. Despite its name, its real highway is on the waters of the Mediterranean and Red Seas. It has three gates—three only. England holds the key to every one of these gates. Count them—Gibraltar, Malta, Aden. But she commands the entrance to the Red Sea, not by one, but by several strongholds. Midway in the narrow strait is the black, bare rock of Perim, sterile, precipitous, a perfect counterpart of Gibraltar; and on either side, between it and the mainland, are the ship-channels which connect the Red Sea with the great Indian Ocean. This rock England holds.[Pg 360]
A little farther out is the peninsula of Aden, another Gibraltar, as rocky, as sterile, and as precipitous, connected with the mainland by a narrow strait, and having a harbour safe in all winds, and a central coal depôt. This England bought in 1839. And to complete her security, she has purchased from some petty sultan the neighbouring islands of Socotra and Kouri, giving, as it were, a retaining fee, so that, though she does not need them herself, no rival power may ever possess them.
As we sail a little farther on, we come to the China Sea. What a beaten track of commerce is this! What wealth of comfort and luxury is wafted over it by every breeze!—the teas of China; the silks of farther India; the spices of the East. The ships of every clime and nation swarm on its waters—the stately barques of England, France, and Holland; the swift ships of America; and mingled with them, in picturesque confusion, the clumsy junk of the Chinaman, and the slender, darting canoe of the Malaysian islanders.
At the lower end of the China Sea, where it narrows into Malacca Strait, England holds the little island of Singapore—a spot of no use to her whatever, except as a commercial depôt, but[Pg 361] of inestimable value for that; a spot which, under her fostering care, is growing up to take its place among the great emporiums of the world. Half-way up the sea she holds the island of Labuan, whose chief worth is this, that beneath its surface and that of the neighbouring mainland there lie inexhaustible treasures of coal, which are likely to yield wealth and power to the hand that controls them. At the upper end of the sea she holds Hong-Kong, a hot, unhealthy island, but an invaluable base from which to threaten and control the neighbouring waters.
Even in the broad, and as yet comparatively untracked Pacific, she is making silent advances towards dominion. The vast continent of Australia, which she has secured, forms its south-western boundary. And pushed out six hundred miles eastward from this lies New Zealand, like a strong outpost, its shores so scooped and torn by the waves that it must be a very paradise of commodious bays and safe havens for the mariner. The soil, too, is of extraordinary fertility; and the climate, though humid, deals kindly with the Englishman's constitution. Nor is this all; for, advanced from it, north and south, like picket stations,[Pg 362] are Norfolk Island, and the Auckland group, both of which have good harbours. And it requires no prophet's eye to see that, when England needs posts farther eastward, she will find them among the green coral islets that stud the Pacific.
Turn now your steps homeward, and pause a moment at the Bermudas, those
beautiful isles, with their fresh verdure—green gems in the ocean, with
air soft and balmy as Eden's was! They have their home uses too. They
furnish arrow-root for the sick, and ample supplies of vegetables
earlier than sterner climates will yield them. Is this all that can be
said? Reflect a little more deeply. These islands possess a great
military and naval depôt; and a splendid harbour, landlocked, strongly
fortified, and difficult of access to strangers;—and all within a few
days' sail of the chief ports of the Atlantic shores of the New World.
England therefore retains them as a station on the road to her West
Indian possessions; and should America go to war with her, she would use
it as a base for offensive operations, where she might gather and whence
she might hurl upon any unprotected port all her gigantic naval and
W. E. Henley
(Charles Mackay, at the end of his American tour in 1859, was entertained in Boston by the leading literary men. This poem, written for the occasion, was read to speed the parting guest.)
Oliver Wendell Holmes
 Robert Burns
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good
things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil
things. But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
St. Matthew, XII.
What is war? I believe that half the people that talk about war have not the slightest idea what it is. In a short sentence it may be summed up to be the combination and concentration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, and sufferings of which human nature on this globe is capable.
If you go into war now, you will have more banners to decorate your cathedrals and churches. Englishmen will fight now as well as they ever did; and there is ample power to back them, if the country can be but sufficiently excited and deluded. You may raise up great generals. You may have another Wellington, and another Nelson, too; for this country can grow men capable of every enterprise. Then there may be titles, and pensions, and marble monuments to eternize the men who have thus become great;—but what becomes of you, and your country, and your children?
You profess to be a Christian nation. You make it your boast even—though boasting is somewhat out of place in such questions—you make it your boast that you are a Christian[Pg 374] people, and that you draw your rule of doctrine and practice, as from a well pure and undefiled, from the lively oracles of God, and from the direct revelation of the Omnipotent. You have even conceived the magnificent project of illuminating the whole earth, even to its remotest and darkest recesses, by the dissemination of the volume of the New Testament, in whose every page are written for ever the words of peace. Within the limits of this island alone, every Sabbath-day, twenty thousand, yes, far more than twenty thousand temples are thrown open, in which devout men and women assemble to worship Him who is the "Prince of Peace."
Is this a reality? or is your Christianity a romance, and your
profession a dream? No; I am sure that your Christianity is not a
romance, and I am equally sure that your profession is not a dream. It
is because I believe this that I appeal to you with confidence, and that
I have hope and faith in the future. I believe that we shall see, and at
no very distant time, sound economic principles spreading much more
widely amongst the people; a sense of justice growing up in a soil which
hitherto has been deemed unfruitful; and—which will be better than
all—the churches of the United Kingdom, the[Pg 375] churches of Britain,
awaking as it were from their slumbers, and girding up their loins to
more glorious work, when they shall not only accept and believe in the
prophecy, but labour earnestly for its fulfilment, that there shall come
a time—a blessed time—a time which shall last for ever—when "nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any
The strange fascination of light takes hold of all animated creatures, and commands a subtle devotion that cannot be set forth in a confession of faith. The delight of a boy in a bonfire is a breath of the heaven that is about us in our infancy. Though it be but a heap of rubbish, revealed by the removal of the mantle of snow, lighting up with flickering, changing glow a rectangular door yard, the children stand and gaze into the dancing flame, their vast, distorted, ghostlike shadows lost in the night, their faces reflecting every evanescent glare, and their spirits charmed by the same spell that took form in the fire-worship of their ancestors. How they delight in stirring up the embers and sending up a fountain spray of sparks! What joy in seeing the big sticks break into glowing coals, darting out new tongues of flame to lick up the escaping embers!
Fire is one of nature's universal fascinations. The wildest and most wary animals approach and gaze at it in the night, and though it sometimes warns them off, it always holds them by a spell. The night migrating birds perish in[Pg 380] scores against the plate-glass of coast lighthouses, swerving from the control of the all-powerful migratory instinct toward the fascinating glare that is their destruction. It is not sportsmanlike to hang a lantern in the marsh and shoot the duck that gather under it. But the night, the silent marsh, and the lantern have charms that the sportsman, with his legal and mechanical paraphernalia, can never understand. Fish are devoted fire-worshippers, and that boy who has never speared by a jack-light is an object of compassion.
The earth and the waters under the earth have no more fascinating sight than the gray, silent form of a pike, moving and motionless in the shallow water, a shadow more tangible than himself thrown by a jack-light on the mottled yellow rocks and sands of the bottom. A passing breath of wind, even the slightest motion of the punt, breaks every shadow and indentation into myriad fleeting ripples and waves of light, transforming the slender, silent fish into a sheaf of wriggling glimmers. With the stilling of the surface, the waiting pike and all the shadows and lights of the bottom grow once more still and distinct. There floats the greatest cannibal of the fishes, paying his devo[Pg 381]tion to the flame, and above him stands the greatest cannibal of all created beings, pointing his deadly spear.
There is no moon. The stars cannot penetrate the thickening clouds. The bay is still and its shores invisible, the distant light of a farmhouse only serving to intensify the lonely silence. The savage joy of that moment repays the boy for all his laborious preparations. He brought two boards down the river from the mill, and toiled at them with all the tools in the woodshed till the ends and edges were made smooth. He collected lumber from all available sources for the ends and bottom, fastening them on with a miscellaneous collection of nails and springs. Then he patiently picked an old piece of tarred rope into oakum, and caulked it into the seams with a sharpened gate-hinge. He notched a pine tree, gathered the gum and boiled it into pitch to make the joints tight. That extraordinary pair of oars he sawed, chopped, and whittled from an old plank. The spear is a family relic which he dug up and fitted with a white-ash pole, and the anchor is a long stone, tied by the slack of a clothes-line. The jack is a basket made of old pail-hoops, and fastened to an upright stick[Pg 382] to hold the burning pine knot. Yet we wonder why it is always the country boy who succeeds in the city!
Will he too, be lured by the seductive glimmer? Will he turn away from
the conquest of nature and embark in the conquest of his fellow-mortals?
Will he go to a resort for his fishing and a preserve for his shooting?
Will that bunch of hair protruding from under his hat be worn thin and
gray in scrambling after the delights of the vain and the covetous? Will
he devote his superb strength of body and mind to outstripping and
circumventing his fellows in the pursuit of that transient glimmer, that
all-alluring ignis fatuus which the Babylon world calls success?
S. T. Wood
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty
give him water to drink; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his
head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
On the evening of the twenty-second of May, 1509, two figures were seated at the wide doorway of a handsome house in Florence. Lillo, a boy of fifteen, sat on the ground, with his back against the angle of the door-post, and his long legs stretched out, while he held a large book open on his knee, and occasionally made a dash with his hand at an inquisitive fly, with an air[Pg 385] of interest stronger than that excited by the finely-printed copy of Petrarch which he kept open at one place, as if he were learning something by heart.
Romola sat nearly opposite Lillo, but she was not observing him. Her hands were crossed on her lap, and her eyes were fixed absently on the distant mountains: she was evidently unconscious of anything around her. An eager life had left its marks upon her: the finely-moulded cheek had sunk a little, the golden crown was less massive; but there was a placidity on Romola's face which had never belonged to it in youth. It is but once that we can know our worst sorrows, and Romola had known them while life was new.
Absorbed in this way, she was not at first aware that Lillo had ceased to look at his book, and was watching her with a slightly impatient air, which meant that he wanted to talk to her, but was not quite sure whether she would like that entertainment just now. But persevering looks make themselves felt at last. Romola did presently turn away her eyes from the distance and met Lillo's impatient dark gaze with a brighter and brighter smile. He shuffled along the floor, still keeping the book on his lap, till[Pg 386] he got close to her and lodged his chin on her knee.
"What is it, Lillo?" said Romola, pulling his hair back from his brow. Lillo was a handsome lad, but his features were turning out to be more massive and less regular than his father's. The blood of the Tuscan peasant was in his veins.
"Mamma Romola, what am I to be?" he said, well contented that there was a prospect of talking till it would be too late to con Petrarch any longer.
"What should you like to be, Lillo? You might be a scholar. My father was a scholar, you know, and taught me a great deal. That is the reason why I can teach you."
"Yes," said Lillo, rather hesitatingly. "But he is old and blind in the picture. Did he get a great deal of glory?"
"Not much, Lillo. The world was not always very kind to him, and he saw meaner men than himself put into higher places because they could flatter and say what was false. And then his dear son thought it right to leave him and become a monk; and after that, my father, being blind and lonely, felt unable to do the things that would have made his learning of[Pg 387] greater use to men, so that he might still have lived in his works after he was in his grave."
"I should not like that sort of life," said Lillo, "I should like to be something that would make me a great man, and very happy besides—something that would not hinder me from having a good deal of pleasure."
"That is not easy, my Lillo. It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by caring very much about our own narrow pleasures. We can have the highest happiness, such as goes along with being a great man, only by having wide thoughts, and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves; and this sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it, that we can tell it from pain only by its being what we would choose before everything, because our souls see it is good. There are so many things wrong and difficult in the world, that no man can be great—he can hardly keep himself from wickedness—unless he gives up thinking much about pleasure or rewards, and gets strength to endure what is hard and painful. My father had the greatness that belongs to integrity; he chose poverty and obscurity rather than falsehood. And so, my Lillo, if you mean to act nobly and seek to know the best things[Pg 388] God has put within reach of men, you must learn to fix your mind on that end, and not on what will happen to you because of it. And remember, if you were to choose something lower, and make it the rule of your life to seek your own pleasure and escape from what is disagreeable, calamity might come just the same; and it would be calamity falling on a base mind, which is the one form of sorrow that has no balm in it, and that may well make a man say, 'It would have been better for me if I had never been born.' I will tell you something, Lillo."
Romola paused for a moment. She had taken Lillo's cheeks between her hands, and his young eyes were meeting hers.
"There was a man to whom I was very near, so that I could see a great
deal of his life, who made almost everyone fond of him, for he was
young, and clever, and beautiful, and his manners to all were gentle and
kind. I believe, when I first knew him, he never thought of doing
anything cruel or base. But because he tried to slip away from
everything that was unpleasant, and cared for nothing else so much as
his own safety, he came at last to commit some of the basest deeds—such
as make men infamous. He denied his father, and left him[Pg 389] to misery; he
betrayed every trust that was reposed in him, that he might keep himself
safe and get rich and prosperous. Yet calamity overtook him."
George Eliot: "Romola."
F. H. Doyle
Two men I honour, and no third. First, the toilworn Craftsman, that, with earth-made Implement, laboriously conquers the Earth, and makes her man's. Venerable to me is the hard Hand; crooked, coarse; wherein, notwithstanding, lies a cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of the Sceptre of this Planet. Venerable, too, is the rugged face, all weather-tanned, besoiled, with its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a Man living manlike. O, but the more venerable for thy rudeness, and even because we must pity as well as love thee! Hardly-entreated Brother! For us was thy back so bent, for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed: thou wert our Conscript, on whom the lot fell, and fighting our battles wert so marred. For in thee, too, lay a god-created Form, but it was not to be unfolded; encrusted must it stand with the thick adhesions and defacements of Labour: and thy body, like thy soul, was not to know freedom. Yet toil on, toil on: thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may; thou toilest for the altogether indispensable, for daily bread.
A second man I honour, and still more highly: him who is seen toiling for the spirit[Pg 392]ually indispensable; not daily bread, but the bread of Life. Is not he, too, in his duty; endeavouring towards inward Harmony; revealing this, by act or by word, through all his outward endeavours, be they high or low? Highest of all, when his outward and his inward endeavour are one; when we can name him Artist; not earthly Craftsman only, but inspired Thinker, who with heaven-made Implement conquers Heaven for us! If the poor and humble toil that we have Food, must not the high and glorious toil for him in return, that he have Light, have Guidance, Freedom, Immortality?—These two, in all their degrees, I honour: all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth.
Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united;
and he, that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man's wants, is also
toiling inwardly for the highest. Sublimer in this world know I nothing
than a Peasant Saint, could such now anywhere be met with. Such a one
will take thee back to Nazareth itself; thou wilt see the splendour of
Heaven spring forth from the humblest depths of Earth, like a light
shining in great darkness.
Carlyle: "Sartor Resartus."
Joseph Blanco White
(The Torch of Life)
("And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest; it is enough, the hour is come; behold the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand." Mark, XIV. 41, 42)
The words of Christ are not like the words of other men. His sentences do not end with the occasion which called them forth: every sentence of Christ's is a deep principle of human life, and it is so with these sentences. The principle contained in "Sleep on now" is this, that the past is irreparable, and after a certain moment waking will do no good. You may improve the future, the past is gone beyond recovery. As to all that is gone by, so far as the hope of altering it goes, you may sleep on and take your rest: there is no power in earth or heaven that can undo what has once been done.
Let us proceed to give an illustration of this. This principle applies to a misspent youth. The young are by God's Providence, exempted in a great measure from anxiety; they are as the apostles were in relation to their Master: their friends stand between them and the struggles of existence. They are not called upon to[Pg 397] think for themselves: the burden is borne by others. They get their bread without knowing or caring how it is paid for: they smile and laugh without a suspicion of the anxious thoughts of day and night which a parent bears to enable them to smile. So to speak, they are sleeping—and it is not a guilty sleep—while another watches.
My young brethren—youth is one of the precious opportunities of life—rich in blessing if you choose to make it so; but having in it the materials of undying remorse if you suffer it to pass unimproved. Your quiet Gethsemane is now. Do you know how you can imitate the apostles in their fatal sleep? You can suffer your young days to pass idly and uselessly away; you can live as if you had nothing to do but to enjoy yourselves: you can let others think for you, and not try to become thoughtful yourselves: till the business and difficulties of life come upon you unprepared, and you find yourselves like men waking from sleep, hurried, confused, scarcely able to stand, with all the faculties bewildered, not knowing right from wrong, led headlong to evil, just because you have not given yourselves in time to learn what is good. All that is sleep.[Pg 398]
And now let us mark it. You cannot repair that in after-life. Oh! remember every period of human life has its own lesson, and you cannot learn that lesson in the next period. The boy has one set of lessons to learn, and the young man another, and the grown-up man another. Let us consider one single instance. The boy has to learn docility, gentleness of temper, reverence, submission. All those feelings which are to be transferred afterwards in full cultivation to God, like plants nursed in a hotbed and then planted out, are to be cultivated first in youth. Afterwards, those habits which have been merely habits of obedience to an earthly parent, are to become religious submission to a heavenly parent. Our parents stand to us in the place of God. Veneration for our parents is intended to become afterwards adoration for something higher. Take that single instance; and now suppose that that is not learned in boyhood. Suppose that the boy sleeps to the duty of veneration, and learns only flippancy, insubordination, and the habit of deceiving his father,—can that, my young brethren, be repaired afterwards? Humanly speaking not. Life is like the transition from class to class in a school. The school-boy who[Pg 399] has not learned arithmetic in the earlier classes, cannot secure it when he comes to mechanics in the higher: each section has its own sufficient work. He may be a good philosopher or a good historian, but a bad arithmetician he remains for life; for he cannot lay the foundation at the moment when he must be building the superstructure. The regiment which has not perfected itself in its manœuvres on the parade ground, cannot learn them before the guns of the enemy. And just in the same way, the young person who has slept his youth away, and become idle, and selfish, and hard, cannot make up for that afterwards. He may do something, he may be religious—yes; but he cannot be what he might have been. There is a part of his heart which will remain uncultivated to the end. The apostles could share their Master's sufferings—they could not save him. Youth has its irreparable past.
And therefore, my young brethren, let it be impressed upon
you,—now is a time, infinite in its value for eternity, which
will never return again. Sleep not; learn that there is a very solemn
work of heart which must be done while the stillness of the garden of
Gethsemane gives you time. Now, or Never. The treasures at[Pg 400] your command
are infinite. Treasures of time—treasures of youth—treasures of
opportunity that grown-up men would sacrifice everything they have to
possess. Oh for ten years of youth back again with the added experience
of age! But it cannot be: they must be content to sleep on now and take
Rev. F. W. Robertson: "Sermons."
Enter Brutus and Cassius
Cas. That you have wrong'd me doth appear in this:
You have condemn'd and noted Lucius Pella
For taking bribes here of the Sardians;
Wherein my letters, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, were slighted off.
Bru. You wrong'd yourself to write in such a case.
Cas. In such a time as this it is not meet
That every nice offence should bear his comment.
Bru. Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemn'd to have an itching palm;
To sell and mart your offices for gold
Cas. I an itching palm!
You know that you are Brutus that speak this,
Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last.
Bru. The name of Cassius honours this corruption,
And chastisement doth therefore hide his head.
Bru. Remember March, the ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?
What villain touch'd his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What, shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
[Pg 404]For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.
Cas. Brutus, bay not me;
I'll not endure it: you forget yourself,
To hedge me in; I am a soldier, I,
Older in practice, abler than yourself
To make conditions.
Bru. Go to; you are not, Cassius.
Cas. I am.
Bru. I say you are not.
Cas. Urge me no more, I shall forget myself;
Have mind upon your health, tempt me no farther.
Bru. Away, slight man!
Cas. Is't possible?
Bru. Hear me, for I will speak.
Must I give way and room to your rash choler?
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?
Cas. O ye gods, ye gods! must I endure all this?
Bru. All this! ay, more: fret till your proud heart break;
Go show your slaves how choleric you are,
And make your bondmen tremble. Must I budge?
[Pg 405]Must I observe you? must I stand and crouch
Under your testy humour? By the gods,
You shall digest the venom of your spleen,
Though it do split you; for, from this day forth,
I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.
Cas. Is it come to this?
Bru. You say you are a better soldier:
Let it appear so; make your vaunting true,
And it shall please me well: for mine own part,
I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
Cas. You wrong me every way; you wrong me, Brutus;
I said, an elder soldier, not a better:
Did I say "better"?
Bru. If you did, I care not.
Cas. When Cæsar lived, he durst not thus have moved me.
Bru. Peace, peace! you durst not so have tempted him.
Cas. I durst not!
Cas. What, durst not tempt him!
Bru. For your life you durst not.
Cas. Do not presume too much upon my love;
[Pg 406]I may do that I shall be sorry for.
Bru. You have done that you should be sorry for.
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,
For I am arm'd so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind,
Which I respect not. I did send to you
For certain sums of gold, which you denied me:
For I can raise no money by vile means:
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,
And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection: I did send
To you for gold to pay my legions,
Which you denied me: was that done like Cassius?
Should I have answer'd Caius Cassius so?
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous,
To lock such rascal counters from his friends,
Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts;
Dash him to pieces!
Cas. I denied you not.
Bru. You did.
Cas. I did not: he was but a fool that brought
[Pg 407]My answer back. Brutus hath rived my heart:
A friend should bear his friend's infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.
Bru. I do not, till you practise them on me.
Cas. You love me not.
Bru. I do not like your faults.
Cas. A friendly eye could never see such faults.
Bru. A flatterer's would not, though they do appear
As huge as high Olympus.
Cas. Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius,
For Cassius is aweary of the world;
Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;
Check'd like a bondman; all his faults observ'd,
Set in a note-book, learn'd, and conn'd by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep
My spirit from mine eyes! There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold;
If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth;
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart;
Strike, as thou didst at Cæsar; for, I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better
[Pg 408]Than ever thou lovedst Cassius.
Bru. Sheath your dagger:
Be angry when you will, it shall have scope;
Do what you will, dishonour shall be humour.
O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb
That carries anger as the flint bears fire;
Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark,
And straight is cold again.
Cas. Hath Cassius lived
To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus,
When grief, and blood ill-temper'd, vexeth him?
Bru. When I spoke that I was ill-temper'd too.
Cas. Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.
Bru. And my heart too.
Cas. O Brutus!
Bru. What's the matter?
Cas. Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humour which my mother gave me,
Makes me forgetful?
Bru. Yes, Cassius; and, from henceforth,
When you are over-earnest with your Brutus,
He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so.
Shakespeare: "Julius Cæsar," IV. 3
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