Harper's Young People, April 27, 1880 online

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by the adding of many Greek and Latin words, especially scientific and
technical terms.

The two great events in the history of the English language, as of the
English people, are the Saxon and the Norman conquests. To the former it
owes its grammatical frame-work, or skeleton; to the latter much of its
vocabulary, or the flesh that fills out the living body.

It must not be inferred that our grammar is just like the Anglo-Saxon
because this is the _basis_ of it. The Anglo-Saxon had many more
_inflections_ (case-endings of nouns and pronouns, etc.) than the
French, and in the forming of English most of these were dropped,
prepositions and auxiliaries coming to be used instead. It was not until
about A.D. 1550 that the language had become in the main what it now is.
Some words have since been lost, and many have been added, but its
grammar has changed very little. Our version of the Bible, published in
1611, shows what English then was (and had been for fifty years or
more), and has done much to keep it from further change.

As a rule the most common words - those that chiefly make up the language
of childhood and of every-day life - are Saxon; and very many of them are
words of one syllable. In the inscription above, every monosyllable is
Saxon, with _Boston_, _grateful_, and _coming_; the rest are French or
Latin. In the case of pairs of words having the same meaning, one is
likely to be Saxon, the other Classical. Thus _happiness_ is Saxon,
_felicity_ is French; _begin_ is Saxon, _commence_ is French; _freedom_
is Saxon, _liberty_ is French, etc. The Saxon is often to be preferred,
though not always; but, as has been implied above, if a short and simple
word conveys our meaning, we should never put it aside for a longer and
less familiar one. In such cases the chances are that the former is
Saxon, and the latter Classical. Thus above, _citizens_, _sacrificed_,
_preserved_, _integrity_, and _erected_ are all Classical.




Washington spent about nine months with the army around Boston. Several
times he was ready to attack the British, and to try and drive them from
the city; but his officers were afraid the army was not strong enough.
So Washington had to wait and watch - he had a good deal of waiting and
watching to do all through the war, for that matter. At last, in March,
1776, the Americans around Boston having gradually pushed closer and
closer, the British found that they must either leave or fight. Their
General did not feel strong enough to fight, so he put his men on ships
and sailed away to Halifax. Of course the Americans were greatly
rejoiced. Washington got much praise, and deserved it, for he had shown
great good judgment and skill in his management of the army.

Washington knew that the British would soon come back, and thought they
would come to New York. So he took nearly all his army, and marched them
westward to that city.

Early in July the British came, as Washington had expected, and made
their camp on the beautiful hillsides of Staten Island. They brought
with them what they called propositions for peace. These were simply
offers to pardon the Americans for resisting the British tax laws, if
they would now obey them. But this would only have left things exactly
as they were in the beginning; it came too late. The Americans had
already made up their minds that they would not obey the British laws
which taxed them, nor any laws of Great Britain, but that in the future
they would make their own laws in such manner as seemed to them most
just. This purpose was written out in a long paper called the
Declaration of Independence, and was signed on the Fourth of July, 1776,
by the members of Congress. General Washington caused the Declaration of
Independence to be read to his soldiers. "Now," he said to them, "the
peace and safety of our country depend, under God, solely on the success
of our arms," and he appealed to "every officer and soldier to act with
fidelity and courage."

The year 1776 was a very gloomy one. All efforts to hold New York
failed. A hard battle was fought around Brooklyn (August 27), and the
Americans were badly beaten. Washington had to give up New York, and
content himself with trying to keep the British from going to
Philadelphia. Late in the fall he got across the Delaware River, with
the British close on his heels. Soon the river filled with ice, as the
cold weather came on, and the two armies lay one on one side and the
other on the other. The American troops had dwindled away until there
were only about three thousand of them.

Washington resolved that something must be done to raise the spirits of
the country, or the people would lose all hope of resisting the British
with success. At Trenton, on the opposite side from his own army, lay a
force of Hessians, who were German soldiers, hired by Great Britain to
come to America to fight, and Washington formed the plan of capturing

On Christmas-eve, 1776, he crossed the Delaware with 2400 men. The night
was bitterly cold; a pelting hail-storm was falling; ice in great blocks
was running down the stream, and hindered the boats, so that the army
did not get across until four o'clock in the morning. Then the soldiers
formed in ranks in the darkness, and being divided into two parties,
started for Trenton, nine miles below. Washington led one of the
parties, and General Sullivan the other. As they plodded along through
the hail and snow, some of the men, exhausted, fell by the road-side,
and of these two froze to death before they could be rescued.

As the men under Washington reached Trenton, and began to capture the
Hessian soldiers set as sentinels to watch the road, they heard firing
on the other side of the town, and knew that Sullivan's men had come up.
Then both parties rushed swiftly toward the centre of the town, and with
very little bloodshed a thousand prisoners were taken. This was a great
success of itself, and had the effect which Washington had hoped for: it
gave the whole country new courage.

Washington then started back toward New York, and so rapid was his march
that the British commander became frightened lest the Americans should
retake the city, and he too went quickly back, and gave up all thought
of reaching Philadelphia that year.




"Now, lads, there's the battery; remember the Emperor himself is
watching you, and carry it in true French style. The moment you get into
it, make yourselves fast against attack; and mind that any man who comes
out again to pick up the wounded, even though I myself should be among
them, shall be tried for disobedience as soon as the battle's over."

So spoke Colonel Lasalle to his French grenadiers just before the final
charge that decided the battle of Wagram. Then he waved his sword, and
shouted, "_En avant!_"

Forward swept the grenadiers like a torrent, with the shout which the
Austrians opposed to them already knew to their cost. Through blinding
smoke and pelting shot they rushed headlong on, with mouths parched,
faces burning, and teeth set like a vise. Ever and anon a red flash rent
the murky cloud around them, and the cannon-shot came tearing through
their ranks, mowing them down like grass. But not a man flinched, for
the same thought was in every mind, that they were fighting under the
eye of their "Little Corporal," as they affectionately called the
terrible Napoleon.

Suddenly the smoke parted, and right in front of them appeared the dark
muzzles of cannon, and the white uniforms of Austrian soldiers. One last
shout, which rose high above all the roar of the battle, the bayonets
went glittering over the breastwork like the spray of a breaking wave,
and the battery was won.

"Where's the Colonel?" cried a voice, suddenly.

There was no answer. The handful of men that remained of the doomed band
looked meaningly at each other, but no one spoke. Strict disciplinarian
as he was, seldom passing a day without punishing some one, the old
Colonel had nevertheless won his men's hearts completely by his reckless
courage in battle; and every man in the regiment would gladly have
risked his life to save that of "the old growler," as they called him.

But if he were not with them, where was he? Outside the battery the
whole ground was scourged into flying jets of dust by a storm of bullets
from the fight that was still raging on the left. In such a cross-fire
it seemed as if nothing living could escape, and if he had fallen
_there_, there was but little hope for him.

"_I_ see him!" cried a tall grenadier. "He's lying out yonder, and
alive, too, for I saw him wave his hand just now. I'll have him here in
five minutes, boys, or be left there beside him."

"But you mustn't disobey orders, Dubois," said a young Captain (now the
oldest surviving officer, so terrible had been the havoc), hoping by
this means to stop the reckless man from rushing upon certain death.
"Remember what the Colonel told you - that even if he _were_ left among
the wounded, no one must go out to pick them up."

"I can't help that," answered the soldier, laying down his musket and
tightening the straps of his cross-belts. "Captain, report Private
Dubois for insubordination and breach of discipline. I'm going out to
bring in the Colonel."

And he stepped forth unflinchingly into the deadly space beyond.

They saw him approach the spot where the Colonel lay; they saw him bend
over the fallen man, shielding him from the shot with his own body. Then
he was seen to stagger suddenly, as if from a blow; but the next moment
he had the Colonel in his arms, and was struggling back over the
shot-torn ground, through the dying and the dead. Twice he stopped
short, as if unable to go farther; but on he came again, and had just
laid his officer gently down inside the battery, when, with his
comrades' shout of welcome still ringing in his ears, he fell fainting
to the earth, covered with blood.

* * * * *

By the next morning Colonel Lasalle had recovered sufficiently to amaze
the whole regiment by putting under arrest the man who had saved his
life; but the moment it was done, the Colonel mounted his horse, and
rode off to head-quarters at full gallop. In about an hour he was seen
coming back again, side by side with a short, square-built man in a gray
coat and cocked hat, at sight of whom the soldiers burst into deafening
cheers, for he was no other than the Emperor Napoleon.

"Let me see this fellow," said Napoleon, sternly; and two grenadiers led
forward Pierre Dubois, so weak from his wounds that he could hardly

"So, fellow, thou hast dared to disobey orders, ha?" cried the Emperor,
in his harshest tones.

"I have, sire. And if it were to be done again, I'd do it."

"And what if we were to shoot thee for insubordination?"

"My life is your Majesty's, now as always," answered the grenadier,
boldly. "And if I must choose between dying myself and leaving my
Colonel to die, the old regiment can better spare a common fellow like
me than a brave officer like him."

A sudden spasm shook the old Colonel's iron face as he listened, and
even Napoleon's stern gray eyes softened as few men had ever seen them
soften yet.

"Thou'rt wrong _there_," said he, "for I would not give a 'common
fellow' of thy sort for twenty Colonels, were every one of them as good
as my old Lasalle here. Take this, _Sergeant_ Dubois" - and he fastened
his own cross of the Legion of Honor to Pierre's breast. "I warrant me
thou'lt be a Colonel thyself one of these days."

And sure enough, five years later, Pierre Dubois was not only a Colonel,
but a General.




Spring had come, with its buds and blossoms, warm bright days and gentle
showers, and the old apple-tree at the end of the garden was putting on
its new spring dress of green leaves and tiny pink buds, which before
long would open into sweet blossoms, and still later turn into ripe
golden fruit, when a pair of Bobolinks came flying through the garden
one fine morning house-hunting, or rather looking for a nice place to
build a nest and go to housekeeping.

"Here is a good spot," said the little husband, whose name was Robert,
perching on a limb of the old apple-tree and poking his bill into a
crotch formed by a crooked branch.

"So it is," said Linny, his wife, "for the leaves will soon be out and
hide the nest from sight:" and they began to chatter so fast about the
nice home they would have there, that it sounded like nothing but
"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink," so that two little girls
who were playing with their dolls under the tree said, "What a noise
those Bobolinks make! what are they chattering so about?"

Soon, however, they saw the little birds flying back and forth, back and
forth, with bits of hair and straw in their bills, and then they said to
one another, "The Bobolinks are building a nest," and they hung pieces
of cotton and bunches of thread on the lower limbs of the tree, and
watched to see Robert carry them off to weave into the outside of the
nest, while Linny made a soft lining of hair inside. And at last the
little home was finished, and three pretty eggs laid snugly inside; when
one day, while Robert and Linny had gone to stretch their wings by a
short flight around the garden, an ugly old Cuckoo, who had seen the
Bobolinks flying in and out of the tree, came and laid a big egg in the
nest; for Cuckoos are lazy birds, and never build houses for themselves,
but steal places to lay their eggs, and let somebody else take care of
their children.

Now Robert and Linny had never been to school, and could not count; so
when they came back they did not notice that there were four eggs in the
nest instead of three, and Linny settled down on them, quite happy,
while Robert sang a merry song to her, all about birds and flowers, and
brought her nice fat worms and flies to eat, and was just the best
little Bobolink husband in the whole garden.

And after a while a faint "_peep-peep_" was heard, the eggs all cracked,
and out came four little blind birdies, without any feathers, and ugly
enough, you would have said, but their papa and mamma thought them
lovely. One, however, was as large as the other three put together, and
took up so much room that Linny said: "Oh dear, we have made the nest
too small! When the children grow larger, some will be crowded out."

"That is strange," said Robert, "for it is the same size as the other
Bobolinks have built, and they have plenty of room."

"Yes, but just see how big one of the babies is," said Linny.

Just then Robert saw the Cuckoo on a tree near by, winking one eye, and
laughing until her sides shook, and exclaimed: "I see how it is: that
old thief of a Cuckoo has laid an egg in our nest. I will throw her ugly
child out, and she can look after it herself;" and he made a dive for
the little Cuckoo, but Linny caught him by his tail-feathers, saying:

"No, no; poor little fellow, he will die if you throw him on the ground.
Let him stay until he gets too big for the nest."

So the Cuckoo staid. But he was a very bad bird, for after a while, when
he and the little Bobolinks got their eyes open, and had nice coats of
feathers, he would peck at his companions, and take away all the best
bits of bread and fattest worms that their papa and mamma brought them
home for dinner, and was so cross and greedy that Robert would have
pitched him out on the grass if Linny had not begged he might stay a
little longer, and tried to make him behave better.

The apple-tree was now covered with pink and white blossoms, which grew
around the little nest and made it like a bower. And now the birdies
were learning to fly, and could go to the outer branches of the tree,
where they sat in a row, while their father taught them how to sing.

"Bob-o-link, bob-o-link, spink, spank, spink," sang Robert. And the
little ones, who could not speak plain, all repeated, "Bob-o-link,
bob-o-link, pink, pank, pink" - all except the biggest bird, who would
only say, "Cuckoo, cuckoo," in a harsh voice.

At last, one day, Robert said, "Now, children, you are old enough to
leave the tree, and to-day you must begin to go a little way into the

"Yes," said their mother, "but take care, and never sit on the ground,
for there is a great yellow cat who will surely eat you up."

"We will be very careful," said all the little Bobolinks.

After Billy, Bobby, and Jenny, as well as Cuckoo, had had their feathers
brushed nice and smooth, they were sent out to try their wings; but the
Cuckoo was stronger, and could fly farther than the Bobolinks.

Bobby flew over to the fence, to see what was on the other side, and the
first thing he spied was the yellow cat creeping slowly along, and she
fixed her eyes right on him. He tried to fly back, but just then the
Cuckoo came behind, and gave him a push which sent him fluttering to the
ground, right in front of Mrs. Pussie. Poor Bobby gave himself up for
lost; but as the cat was about to spring on him, a great dog came
bounding across the yard, which sent the cat scampering off in a hurry,
and saved Bobby, who hastened home as fast as his little wings could
carry him.

"Pshaw!" said the Cuckoo; "I thought there would be one out of the nest.
But there is the cat under a bush, and Jenny is tilting on a twig just
above, without seeing her." So the naughty bird flew to the rose-bush,
and said, "Jenny, you look as if you were having a nice time."

"I am," said Jenny; "but don't come on this twig, it won't hold you."

"Oh yes, it will," said Cuckoo, leaning on the slender spray, which
broke, and fell with Jenny, who was too frightened to fly; and quick as
lightning the cat seized and carried her off in her mouth.

"Ha, ha, ha," laughed Cuckoo; "there will be room in the nest now." But
at that moment the two little girls came out of the house, saw the cat
with the bird, and made her drop Jenny on the grass. She was not much
hurt, and they carried her gently back to the apple-tree, and gave her
to her papa and mamma. The Cuckoo then went to look for Billy; but as he
was passing the flower garden he saw a juicy white angle-worm lying in a
bed of violets, and feeling hungry, stopped to take a little lunch.

The worm was very nice, and Cuckoo enjoyed it very much, when, just as
he was swallowing the last morsel, the cat came stealing softly from
under a wood-pile, and thinking if birds could lunch on worms, she could
lunch on birds, pounced upon Cuckoo, and carried him off; and nothing
more was ever seen of him, except a few feathers scattered near the door
of the wood-shed. These Billy saw, and went home to tell the sad story.

[Illustration: ROBINSON CRUSOE JAP.]

[Illustration: OUR POST-OFFICE BOX.]


I am a little boy, and I take YOUNG PEOPLE, which I like very
much. I enjoy reading the children's letters, and I want to tell
you about my squirrel that I caught the 26th of March, while
hunting with one of my playmates. His dog chased it into a hollow
stump. He put his hat on top of the slump, and we built a little
fire at the bottom, and the smoke drove the squirrel into the hat.
I carried it home, and a few days ago I found in the cage five
little baby squirrels. One of them died, but I hope the rest will
live. I think they will, for their mother takes good care of them.
I feed her with all kinds of nuts, and she is getting very tame.


* * * * *


I think that YOUNG PEOPLE is a very nice paper. I am making a
collection of birds' eggs, shells, stones, and other curiosities.
Papa made me a birthday present of some minerals, nicely labelled.
I saw some willow "pussies" on March 21. Now we have robins,
bluebirds, blackbirds, and many other birds singing. We have a
great deal of fun with "Misfits," given in YOUNG PEOPLE No. 22.


* * * * *


I have been very sick, and can not go to school, so I will write
you about my turtles. I brought them from Kiskatom last summer.
There were five, but the smallest one died. The largest was two
inches long, and the smallest one only an inch and a quarter. They
are in the cellar, in a tub half filled with mud and water, in
which they buried themselves last fall. I am anxious to see if
they will come out again this spring. I fed them on flies and
earth-worms, and they became very tame. I am going to take them
back to their native place this summer, and let them go.


* * * * *


I read HARPER'S WEEKLY and YOUNG PEOPLE in a subscription
reading-room opposite my house, and some time ago I saw an
invitation to English boys to write, which invitation I beg to
accept. You invited correspondents to write about their pets. I
have a paroquet. It was brought me by a captain. It was captured
in India. It can not quite talk, but I often think it tries to. It
imitates my whistle very well. Its usual note is a sort of
chirping whistle. It always knows when meal-times are, and cries
out until it has a share. About ten o'clock in the morning it
becomes very talkative in its own language, and I answer it.


* * * * *


I am a little girl seven years old. I go to a lovely place on the
sea-shore in summer. Crabbing is the best fun you can have there.
It is best to go on a rainy day. You take a crab-net, which is a
long pole with an iron ring at one end, and a net dropping from
it. Another person takes a line with some meat on it, and lets it
down into the water. When the crab comes to eat, you catch it with
the net. I went crabbing with my nurse one day, and we caught a
peach-basketful of crabs.

N. D.

* * * * *


I want to tell you about some Punch-and-Judy figures I made
myself. I give a Punch-and-Judy show every Saturday, and I make
from five to ten cents each time. The boys tease me to play it all
the time. I am eleven years old, and I can play Punch and Judy
very well.


* * * * *


I was very much interested in Gertrude Balch's letter in No. 17,
because her name is the same as my own. I have a little brother,
who asks every day if that is not the day for YOUNG PEOPLE to
come. At grandma's, where I am visiting, there are two cats, named
Nancy and John, and my aunt has an Esquimaux dog that is very
large and handsome. He sleeps under my bed every night. I wish
some little girl would please tell me how I can tame birds.


* * * * *

I thought, perhaps, you would like a letter from Tallahoma,
Tennessee; and I want to tell you that YOUNG PEOPLE is a very
welcome visitor at our house. The story "Across the Ocean" is just
splendid. Spring is here. Peach-trees were in bloom before the
middle of March, and now we have a great many flowers.


* * * * *


I heard a whip-poor-will this morning for the first time this
year, and would be very glad if others would inform me if they
have heard the bird this spring. I heard a cat-bird trilling its
notes about a week ago, and bluebirds, martins, and other birds
have made their appearance. Pewits are building their nests.
Brother Le Verne gets YOUNG PEOPLE, and we have all the numbers
published. We all like it very much. I like the articles on
natural history best, and as I have seen some of the animals
described, it makes it more interesting to me.


* * * * *


I am very fond of reading; and when I go to my father's office
every Wednesday evening to get YOUNG PEOPLE, the first thing I
look at is the Post-office Department. Nearly all of your

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Online LibraryVariousHarper's Young People, April 27, 1880 → online text (page 3 of 4)