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If the pictures were to be trusted, the mutual resemblance,
it must be confessed, was marvellous. We must not forget
to mention that there was a band of music, which made the
echoes of the mountains ring and reverberate with the loud
triumph of its strains; so that airy and soul-thrilling melodies
broke out among all the heights and hollows, as if e\ery nook
of his native valley had found a voice to welcome the dis-
tinguished guest. But the grandest effect was when the
far-off mountain precipice flung back the music; for then
the Great Stone Face itself seemed to be swelling the tri-
umphant chorus, in acknowledgment that, at length, the
man of prophecy was come.

All this while the people were throwing up their hats and
shouting, with enthusiasm so contagious that the heart ol
Ernest kindled up, and he likewise threw up his hat, and
shouted, as loudly as the loudest, " Huzza for the great man!
Huzza for Old Stony Phiz ? " But as yet he had not seen him.

"Here he is, now!" cried those who stood near Ernest.
"There! There! Look at Old Stony Phiz and then at the
Old Man of the Moimtain, and see if they are not as like as
two twin-brothers!"

In the midst of all this gallant array, came an open
barouche, drawn by four white horses; and in the barouche,
with his massive head uncovered, sat the illustrious states-
man, Old Stony Phiz himself.

"Confess it," said one of Ernest's neighbours to him,
"the Great Stone Face has met its match at last!"

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x64 Stories Every Child Should Know

Now, it must be owned that, at his first glimpse of the
coimtenance which was bowing and smiling from the ba-
rouche, Ernest did fancy that there was a resemblance be-
tween it and the old familiar face upon the moimtainsidc.
The brow, with its massive depth and loftiness, and all the
other features, indeed, were boldly and strongly hewn, as
if in emulation of a more than heroic, of a Titanic model.
But the sublimity and stateliness, the grand expression of a
divine sympathy, that illuminated the mountain \Tsage,
and etherealised its ponderous granite substance into spirit,
might here be sought in vain. Something had been
originally left out, or had departed. And therefore the
marvellously gifted statesman had always a weary gloom in
the deep caverns of his eyes, as of a child that has outgrown
its playthings, or a man of mighty faculties and little aims,
whose life, with all its high performances, was vague and
empty, because no high purpose had endowed it with reality.

Still, Ernest's neighbour was thnisting his elbow into
his side, and pressing him for an answer.

"Confess! confess! Is not he the very picture of your
Old Man of the Mountain?"

" No!" said Ernest, bluntly, " I see little or no likeness."

"Then so much the worse for the Great Stone Face!"
answered his neighbour; and again he set up a shout for
Old Stony Phiz.

But Ernest turned away, melancholy, and almost
despondent: for this was the saddest of his disappointments,
to behold a man who might have fulfilled the prophecy,
and had not willed to do so. Meantime, the cavalcade, ^e
banners, the music, and the barouches swept past him, with
the vociferous crowd in the rear, leaving the dust to settle
down, and the Great Stone Face to be revealed again, wit?
the grandeur that it had worn for untold centuries.


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The Great Stone Face 165

**Loy here I am, Ernest!" the benign lips seemed to say.
**I have waited longer than thou, and am not yet weary.
Fear not; the man will come."

The years hurried onward, treading in their haste on one
another's heels. And now they began to bring white hairs,
and scatter them over the head of Ernest; they made
reverend wrinkles across his forehead, and furrows in his
cheeks. He was an aged man. But not in vain had he
grown old; more than the white hairs on his head were the
sage thoughts in his mind; his wrinkles and furrows were
inscriptions that Time had graved, and in which he had
written legends of wisdom that had been tested by the tenor
of a life. And Ernest had ceased to be obscure. Unsought
for, undesired, had come the fame which so many ^ek, and
made him known in the great world, beyond the limits of
the valley in which he had dwelt so quietly. College pro-
fessors, and even the active men of cities, came from far to
see and converse with Ernest i for the report had gone
abroad that this simple husbandman had ideas unlike those
of other men, not gained from books, but »f a higher tone —
a tranquil and familiar majesty, as if he had b^en talking
with the angels as his daily friends. Whether it were sage,
statesman, or philanthropist, Ernest received thjese visitors
with the gentle sincerity that had characterised him from
boyhood, and spoke freely with them of whatever came
uppermost, or lay deepest in his heart or their own. While
they talked together, his face woiJd kindle, unawares, and
shine upon them, as with a mild evening light. Pensive
with the fulness of such discourse, his guests took leave and
went their way; and passing up the valley, paused to look
at the Great Stone Face, imagining that they had seen its
likeness in a human coimtenance^ but could not remember


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r66 Si&ries Every Child Should Knm

While Ernest had been growing up and growing old, a
bountiful Providence had granted a new poet to this earth.
He, likewise, was a native of the valley, but had spent the
greater part of his life at a distance from that romantic
region, pouring out his sweet music amid the bustle and din
of cities. Often, however, did the mountains which had
been familiar to him in his childhood, lift their snowy peaks
into the clear atmosphere of his poetry. Neither was the
Great Stone Face forgotten, for the poet had celebrated it
in an ode, which was grand enough to have been uttered by
its own majestic lips. This man of genius, we may say,
had come down from heaven with wonderful endowments.
If he sang of a mountain, the eyes of all mankind beheld a
mightier grandeur reposing on its breast, or soaring to its
summit, than had before been seen there. If his theme
were a lovely lake, a celestial smile had now been thrown
over it, to gleam forever on its surface. If it were the vast
old sea, even the deep immensity of its dread bosom seemed
to swell the higher, as if moved by the emotions of the song.
Thus the world assumed another and a better aspect from
the hour that the poet blessed it with his happy eyes. The
Creator had bestowed him, as the last best touch to his own
handiwork. Creation was not finished till the poet came to
interpret, and so complete it.

The effect was no less high and beautiful, when his human
brethren were the subject of his verse. The man or woman^
sordid with the common dust of life, who crossed his daily
path, and the little child who played in it, were glorified if
he beheld them in his mood of poetic faith. He showed
the golden links of the great chain that intertwined them
with an angelic kindred; he brought out the hidden traits
of a celestial birth that made them worthy of such kin.
Some, indeed, there were, who thought to show the sound-

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rhe Great Sione Face 167

ness of their judgment by affirming that all the beauty and
dignity of the natural world existed only in the poet's fancy.
Let such men speak for themselves, who undoubtedly
appear to have been spawned forth by Nature with a con-
temptuous bitterness; she having plastered them up out of
her refuse stuff, after all the swine were made. As respects
all things else, the poet's ideal was the truest truth.

The songs of this poet found their way to Ernest. He
read them after his customary toil, seated on the bench
before his cottage-door, where for such a length of time he
had filled his repose with thought, by gazing at the Great
Stone Face. And now as he read stanzas that caused the
soul to thrill within him, he lifted his eyes to the vast
countenance beaming on him so benignantly.

" O majestic friend," he murmured, addressing the Great
Stone Face, "is not this man worthy to resemble thee?'*

The Face seemed to smile, but answered not a word.

Now it happened that the poet, though he dwelt so far
away, had not only heard of Ernest, but had meditated
much upon his character, until he deemed nothing so de-
sirable as to meet this man, whose untaught wisdom walked
hand in hand with the noble simplicity of his life. One
summer morning, therefore, he took passage by the railroad,
and, in the decline of the afternoon, alighted from the cars
at no great distance from Ernest's cottage. The great hotel,
which had formerly been the palace of Mr. Gathergold,
was close at hand, but the poet, with his carpet-bag on his
arm, inquired at once where Ernest dwelt, and was resolved
to be accepted as his guest.

Approaching the door, he there found the good old man
holding a volume in his hand, which alternately he read,
and then, with a finger between the leaves, looked lovingly
at the Great Stone Face.


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i68 Stories Every Child Should Know

" Good evening," said the poet. " Can you give a traveller
a night's lodging?"

"Willingly," answered Emest; and then he added,
smiling, " Methinks I never saw the Great Stone Face look
so hospitably at a stranger."

The poet sat down on the bench beside him, and he and
Emest talked together. Often had the poet held intercourse
with the wittiest and the wisest, but never before with a man
like Emest, whose thoughts and feelings gushed up with
such a natural freedom, and who made gieat tmths so
familiar by his simple utterance of them. Angels, as had
been so often said, seemed to have wrought with him at his
labour in the fields; angels seemed to have sat with him by
the fireside; and, dwelling with angels as friend with friends,
he had imbibed the sublimity of their ideas, and imbued it
with the sweet and lowly charm of household words. So
thought the poet. And Ernest, on the other hand, was
moved and agitated by the living images which the poet
flung out of his mind, and which peopled all the air about
the cottage-door with shapes of beauty, both gay and pensive.
The sympathies of these two men instructed them with a
profounder sense than either could have attained alone.
Their minds accorded into one strain, and made delightful
music which neither of them could have claimed as all his
own, nor distinguished his own share from the other's.
They led one another, as it were, into a high pavilion of
their thoughts, so remote, and hitherto so dim, that they
had never entered it before, and so beautiful that they
desired to be there always.

As Emest listened to the poet, he imagined that the Great
Stone Face was bending forward to listen too. He gazed
eamestly into the poet's glowing eyes.

"Who are you, my strangely gifted guest?" he said.

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The GrecU Stone Face 169

The poet laid his finger on the volume that Ernest had
been reading.

" You have read these poems," said he. " You know me,
then — ^for I wrote them."

Again, and still more earnestly than before, Ernest ex-
amined the poet's features; then turned towards the Great
Stone Face; then back, with an uncertain aspect, to his
guest. But his countenance fell; he shook his head, and

"Wherefore are you sad?" inquired the poet.

"Because," replied Ernest, "all through life I have
awaited the fulfilment of a prophecy; and, when I read
these poems, I hoped that it might be fulfilled in you."

"You hoped," answered the poet, faintly smiling, "to
find in me the likeness of the Great Stone Face. And you
are disappointed, as formerly with Mr. Gathergold, and
Old Blood-and-Thunder, and Old Stony Phiz. Yes, Ernest,
it is my doom. You must add my name to the illustrious
three, and record another failure of yoiu- hopes. For — ^in
shame and sadness do I speak it, Ernest — I am not worthy
to be typified by yonder benign and majestic image."

"And why?" asked Ernest. He pointed to the volume.
"Are not those thoughts divine?"

"They have a strain of the Divinity," replied the poet.
" You can hear in them the far-off echo of a heavenly song.
But my life, dear Ernest, has not corresponded with my
thought. I have had grand dreams, but they have been
only dreams, because I have Hved — and that, too, by my
own choice — among poor and mean realities. Sometimes
even — shall I dare to say it? — I lack faith in the grandeur,
the beauty, and the goodness, which my own works
are said to have made more evident in nature and in
human life. Why, then, pure seeker of the good and


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xyo Stories Every Child Should Know

true, shouldst thou hope to find me, in yonder inuige
of the divine?"

The poet spoke sadly, and his eyes were dim with tears.
So, likewise, were those of Ernest.

At the hour of sunset, as had long been his frequent cus-
tom, Ernest was to discourse to an assemblage of the neigh-
bouring inhabitants in the open air. He and the poet, arm
in arm, still talking together as they went along, proceeded to
the spot. It was a small nook among the hills, with a gray
precipice behind, the stem front of which was relieved by the
pleasant foliage of many creeping plants, that made a
tapestry for the naked rocks, by hanging their festoons from
all its rugged angles. At a small elevation above the ground,
set in a rich framework of verdure, there appeared a niche,
spacious enough to admit a human figure, with freedom
for such gestures as spontaneously accompany earnest
thought and genuine emotion. Into this natural pulpit
Ernest ascended, and threw a look of familiar kindness
around upon his audience. They stood, or sat, or reclined
upon the grass, as seemed good to each, with the departing
sunshine falling obliquely over them, and mingling its sub-
dued cheerfulness with the solemnity of a grove of ancient
trees, beneath and amid the boughs of which the golden
rays were constrained to pass. In another direction was
seen the Great Stone Face, with the same cheer, combined
with the same solemnity, in its benignant aspect.

Ernest began to speak, giving to the people of what was
in his heart and mind. His words had power, because they
accorded with his thoughts; and his thoughts had reality
and depth, because they harmonised with the life which he
had always lived. It was not mere breath that this preacher
uttered; they were the words of life, because a life of good
deeds and holy love was melted into them. Pearls, piire and


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The Great Stone Face 171

rich, had been dissolved into this precious draught. The
poet, as he listened, felt that the being and character of
Ernest were a nobler strain of poetry than he had ever
written. His eyes glistening with tears, he gazed reveren-
tially at the venerable man, and said within himself that
never was there an aspect so worthy of a prophet and a sage
as that mild, sweet, thoughtful countenance, with the glory
of white hair diffused about it. At a distance, but distinctly
to be seen, high up in the golden light of the setting sun,
appeared the Great Stone Face, with hoary mists around
it, like the white hairs around the brow of Ernest. Its look
of grand beneficence seemed to embrace the world.

At that moment, in sympathy with a thought which he
vms about to utter, the face of Ernest assumed a grandeiu:
of expression, so imbued with benevolence, that the poet,
by an irresistible impulse, threw his arms aloft, and shouted:

"Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the
Great Stone Face.''

Then all the people looked, and saw that what the deep-
sighted poet said was true. The prophecy was fulfilled.
But Ernest, having finished what he had to say, took the
poet's arm, and walked slowly homeward, still hoping that
some wiser and better man than himself would by and by
appear, bearing a resemblance to the Great Stone Face.


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JOHN GILPIN was a citizen
Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
"Though wedded we have been

These twice ten tedious years, yet we
No holiday have seen.

** To-morrow is our wedding-day,

And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton

All in a chaise and pair.

**My sister and my sister's child,

Myself, and children three.
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride

On horseback after we."

He soon replied, "I do admire

Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear.

Therefore it shall be done.


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The Diverting History of John GUpin 173

** I am a linen-draper bold,

As all the world doth know,
And my good friend the calender

Will lend his horse to go."

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said)

And for that wine is dear.
We will be furnished with our own,

Which is both bright and clear."

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife;

O'erjoyed was he to find.
That, though on pleasure she was bent,

She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brougjit^

But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all

Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stayed,

Where they did all get in;
Six precious souls, and all agog

To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the whedfli

Were never folks so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath,

As if Cheapside were mad.

John Gilpin at his horse's side

Seized fast the flowing mane,
Vnd up he got, in haste to ride,

But soon came down again;


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174 Stories Every Child Should Know

For saddle-tree scarce reached had he.

His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw

Three customers come in.

So down he came; for loss of time,
Although it grieved him sore,

Yet loss of pence, full well he knew.
Would trouble him much more.

T was long before the customers

Were suited to their mind,
When Betty screaming came down stairs,

"The wine is left behind!"

*'Good lack!" quoth he — "yet bring it mCj

My leathern belt likewise.
In which I bear my trusty sword,

When I do exercise."

Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul!)
Had two stone bottles toimd,

To hold the liquor that she loved,
And keep it safe and sound.

Each bottle had a curling ear,
Through which the belt he drew.

And hung a bottle on each side.
To make his balance true.

Then over all, that he might be

Equipped from top to toe,
His long red cloak, well brushed and fteat,

Fe manfully did throw,


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History of John Gilpin 175

Now see him mounted once again

Upon his nimble steed,
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,

With caution and good heed.

But finding soon a smoother road

Beneath his well-shod feet,
The snorting beast began to trot,

Which galled him in his seat.

So, " Fair and softly," John he cried.

But John he cried in vain;
That trot became a gallop soon,

In spite of curb and rein.

So stooping down, as needs be must

Who cannot sit upright.
He grasped the mane with both his hands

And eke with all his might.

His horse, who never in that sort

Had handled been before,
What thing upon his back had got

Did wonder more and more.

Away went Gilpin, neck or nought;

Away went hat and wig;
He little dreamt, when he set out.

Of running such a rig.

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly.

Like streamer long and gay.
Till loop and button failing both,

At last it flew away.


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176 Stories Every Child Should Know

Then might all people well discern

The bottles he has slung;
A bottle swinging at each side,

As hath been said or sung.

The dogs did bark, the children screamad.

Up flew the windows all;
And every soul cried out, "Well donel'*

As loud as he could bawl.

Away went Gilpin — ^who but he?

His fame soon spread around;
" He carries weight ! " " He rides a racel*' •

" 'T is for a thousand poimdl"

And still, as fast as he drew near,

*T was wonderful to view.
How in a trice the turnpike-men

Their gates wide open threw.

And now, as he went bowing down

His reeking head full low.
The bottles twain behind his back

Were shattered at a blow.

Down ran the wine into the road,

Most piteous to be seen.
Which made his horse's flanks to smote

As they had basted been.

But still he seemed to carry weight
With leathern girdle braced;

For all might see the bottle necks
Still dangling at his waisL


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History of John Gilpin 171

Thus all through meny Islington

These gambols he did play,
Until he came unto the Wash

Of Edmonton so gay;

And there he threw the Wash about

On both sides of the way,
Just like unto a trundling mop.

Or a wild goose at play.

At Edmonton his loving wife

From the balcony she spied
Her tender husband, wondering much

To see how he did ride.

** Stop, stop, John Gilpin I — Bieace^s the houee^^

They all at once did cry;
"The dinner waits, and we are tired; ^

Said Gilpin— "So am II"

But yet his horse was not a whit

Inclined to tarry there;
For why? — ^his owner bad a houflt

Full ten miles off, at Ware.

So like au arrow awift he flew.

Shot by an archer strong;
So did he fly— which brings me to

The middle of my song.

Away went Gilpin, out of breath,

And sore against bis wiU,
Till at his friend's the calender's

His horse at last stood still.


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ijS stories Every Child Shoidd Know

The calender, amazed to see

His nei^bour in such triniy
Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate.

And thus accosted him:

*'What news? what news? your tidings tdl;

Tell me you must and shall —
Say why bareheaded you are come,

Or why you come at all?"

Now Gflpin had a pleasant wit.

And loved a timely joke;
And thus unto the calender

In merry guise he spoke:

^1 came because your horse would coim

And, if I well forebode,
My hat and wig will soon be here,

They are upon the road."

The calender, right ^d to find

His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,

But to the house went in;

Whence straight he came with hat and wig^

A wig that flowed behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,

Each comely in its kind.

He held them up, and in his turn

Thus showed his ready wit,
** My head is twice as big as yours,

They therefore needs must fit.


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History 0} John GUpin 179

••But let me scrape the dirt away

That hangs upon your foce;
And stop and eat, for well you may

Be in a hungry case."

Said John, " It is my wedding-day,

And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton,

And I should dine at Ware."

So turning to his horse, he said,

''I am in haste to dine;
T was for your pleasure you came heie^

You shall go back for mine."

Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boasti

For which he paid full dear;
For, while he spake, a braying ass

Did sing most loud and clear;

Whereat his horse did snort, as he

Had heard a lion roar.
And galloped off with all his might.

As he had done before.

Away went Gilpin, and away

Went Gilpin's hat and wig:
He lost them sooner than at first;

For why? — ^they were too big.

Now Mrs. Gilpin, when she saw

Her husband posting down
Into the country far away.

She pulled out half-a-crown;


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xte StaHet Every Child Should Knew

And thuK unto the youth, she said,

Tlat drove them to the Bdl,
''This shall be yours, when you bring back

My huabuid safe and well."

ne youth did ride, and soon did meet

John ooming back amain;
Whom in a trice he tried to stop^

By ralrhing at his rein;

But not performing what he meant.
And gladly would have done,

The frightened steed he frighted moce^
And made him faster run.

Away went Gilpin, and away
Went postboy at his heels,

Tlie postboy's horse right glad to
The lumbering of the wheels.

Six gentlemen upon the road,

Thus sedng Gilpin fly.
With postboy scampering in the rear.

They raised the hue and cry: —

''Stop thief t atop thief I a highwayman!'

Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that passed that way

Did join tm the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again

Flew open in short space;
Hie toll-men thinking, as beforCi

That Gilpin rode a race.


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History of John Gilpin i8i

And so he did, and won it too,

For he got first to town;
Nor stopped till where he had got up

He did ags^in get down.

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Online LibraryHamilton Wright MabieFamous stories every child should know: a selection of the best stories of ... → online text (page 13 of 22)