Richard Green Parker.

Exercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice online

. (page 37 of 38)
Online LibraryRichard Green ParkerExercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice → online text (page 37 of 38)
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breast of man. As Schlegel justly observes, " he lays open
to us in a single word a whole series of preceding condi-

30 In that part of the work which respects Nature, I have
exhibited to the reader those exquisitely beautiful natural
images which abound throughout our author's writings,
and which claim the admiration of every cultivated mind.
This excellence has been often alluded to, and is thus

85 beautifully expressed by one who was capable of appreciat-
ing it—

" He was familiar with all beautiful forms and images,
with all that is sweet or majestic in the simple aspects of
nature, — of that indestructible love of flowers and odors,

40 and dews and clear waters, and soft airs and sounds, and


bright skies and woodland solitudes, and moonlight bowers,
which are the material elements of poetry, — and with
that fine sense of their undefinable relation to mental
emotion which is its essence and vivifying soul, and which,
5 in the midst of his most busy and atrocious scenes, falls
like gleams of sunshine on rocks and ruins, contrasting
with all that is rugged and repulsive, and reminding us of
the existence of purer and brighter elements."

Take also the sentiments of the following writers who

10 speak in accordance with this work : — "To instruct by
delighting is a power seldom enjoyed by man, and still
seldomer exercised. It is in this respect that Homer may
be called the second of men, and Shakspeare the first.
The wisdom of the Greek was not so universal as that of

15 the Briton, nor his genius so omnipotent in setting it forth
attractively. From the several works of the latter, a single
work might be compiled little less worthy of divine sanction
than any other extant, and by the beauty of its nature far
more secure of human attention.

20 " But Shakspeare has done so much in this way — so
nearly all that is sufficient, — he has made the laws of the
decalogue, and all their corollaries, so familiar, — he has
exhibited the passions and propensities, the feelings and
emotions, incident to humanity, so freely, and, as we might

*2o say, graphically, that another such artist would be super-
fluous. Nature might create a second Shakspeare, but it
would be bad economy. What the first has left undone,
may be completed by a much less expense of Promethean
fire than would go to the creation of a second.

30 " We are therefore not to look for a similar being, at least
until we acquire new attributes, or are under a new moral
dispensation. Spirits of an inferior order, — a Milton, a
Pope, or a Cowper, — are potent enough to disseminate
the remaining or minor truths of natural morality amongst

35 the people ; or rather, to repeat, illustrate, and impress
them on our hearts and memories.

" Writers of this class, whom we may call the lay-minis-
ters of the deity, to teach from the press instead of the
pulpit, in the closet instead of the church, we may

40 expect ; and with them should be satisfied. Though we
cannot reasonably hope for another high prophet of profane
inspiration to recommunicate to us the lessons of divine
wisdom which are already to be found in Shakspeare, it is
no presumption to hope that the spirit of illumination will

420 Parker's exercises m [ex. crm.

descend upon humbler poets, and make them our secular
guides in morality."

The same sentiments, with respect to Shakspeare's writ-
ings, are thus expressed by another author: — "It is quite
5 impossible to estimate the benefit which this country has
received from the eternal productions of Shakspeare.
Their influence has been gradual, but prodigious, — oper-
ating at first on the loftier intellects, but becoming in time
diffused over all, spreading wisdom and charity amongst

10 us. There is, perhaps, no one person of any considerable
rate of mind who does not owe something to this matchless

" He is the teacher of all good, — pity, generosity, true
courage, love. His works alone (leaving mere science out

15 of the question) contain, probably, more actual wisdom than
the whole body of English learning. He is the text for
the moralist and the philosopher. His bright wit is cut
out ' into little stars ; ' his solid masses of knowledge are
meted out in morsels and proverbs ; and thus distributed,

20 there is scarcely a corner which he does not illuminate, or
a cottage which he does not enrich. His bounty is like the
sea, which, though often unacknowledged, is everywhere
felt — on mountains and plains, and distant places, carry-
ing its cloudy freshness through the air, making glorious

25 the heavens, and spreading verdure on the earth beneath."

It is with infinite satisfaction that I am borne out in my

opinion of the nature of this work by a similar remark of

Coleridge. " I greatly dislike beauties and selections in

general ; but as proof positive of his unrivalled excellence,

30 1 should like to try Shakspeare by this criterion. Make
out your amplest catalogue of all the human faculties, as
reason, or the moral law, the will, the feeling of the co-
incidence of the two called the conscience, the under-
standing, or prudence, wit, fancy, imagination, judgment,

35 — and then of the objects on which these are to be em-
ployed, as the beauties, the terrors, and the seeming ca-
prices, of nature, the realities and the capabilities — that is,
the actual and the ideal — of the human mind, conceived
as an individual or as a social being, as in innocence or in

40 guilt, in a play-paradise or in a war-field of temptation, —
and then compare with Shakspeare, under each of these
heads, all or any of the writers in prose and verse that
have ever lived. Who that is competent to judge doubts,
the result ? " — Rev. Thomas Price.


The Chameleon.

Oft has it been my lot to mark

A proud, conceited, talking spark

Returning from his finished tour,

Grown ten times perter than before :
6 Whatever word you chance to drop,

The travelled fool your mouth will stop —

" Sir, if my judgment you '11 allow —

I 've seen — and sure I ought to know." —

So begs you 'd pay a due submission,
10 And acquiesce in his decision.

Two travellers of such a cast.

As o'er Arabia's wilds they passed.

And on their way, in friendly chat.

Now talked of this, and then of that,
15 Discoursed a while, 'mongst other matter,

Of the chameleon's form and nature.

"A stranger animal," cries one,

" Sure never lived beneath the sun :

A lizard's body, lean and long,
20 A fish's head, a serpent's tongue.

Its tooth with triple claw disjoined ;

And what a length of tail behind !

How slow its pace ! and then its hue —

Who ever saw so fine a blue ! "
25 " Hold, there ! " the other quick replies

" 'T is green ; I saw it with these eyes,

As late with open mouth it lay,

And warmed it in the sunny ray ;

Stretched at its ease the beast I viewed,
30 And saw it eat the air for food."

" I 've seen it, sir, as well as you,

And must again affirm it blue.

At leisure I the beast surveyed,

Extended in the cooling shade."
35 " 'T is green, 't is green, sir, I assure ye." —

" Green ? " cries the other, in a fury ;

" Why, sir, d' ye think I 've lost my eyes ? " —

" 'Twere no great loss," the friend replies ;

" For if they always use you thus,
40 You '11 find them but of little use."

422 Parker's exercises in [ex. crv.

So high at last the contest rose,

From words they almost came to blows :

When luckily came by a third :

To him the question they referred ;
5 And begged he 'd tell them, if he knew,

Whether the thing was green or blue.

" Sirs," cries the umpire, " cease your pother,

The creature 's neither one nor t' other.

I caught the animal last night,
10 And viewed it o'er by candle-light :

I marked it well — 't was black as jet —

You stare — but, sirs, I 've got it yet,

And can produce it." — " Pray, sir, do ;

I '11 lay my life the thing is blue." —
15 "And I '11 be sworn, that when you 've seen

The reptile, you '11 pronounce him green." —

" Well then, at once to end the doubt,"

Keplies the man, " I '11 turn him out ;

And when before your eyes I 've set him,
20 If you don't find him black, I '11 eat him,"

He said : then full before their sight

Produced the beast ; and lo ! 't was white.
Both stared ; the man looked wondrous wise

" My children," the chameleon cries,
25 (Then first the creature found a tongue,)

" You all are right, and all are wrong.

When next you talk of what you view.

Think others see as well as you.

Nor wonder if you find that none
30 Prefers your eyesight to his own." Merrick,


Dominie Sampson's Encounter with Meg Merrilies.

Upon the next day at breakfast, however, the Dominie
did not make his appearance. He had walked out, a ser-
vant said, early in the morning. It was so common for
him to forget his meals that his absence never deranged
35 the family. The housekeeper, a decent old-fashioned Pres-
byterian matron, having, as such, the highest respect for
Sampson's theological acquisitions, had it in charge upon
these occasions to take care that he was no sufferer by his


absence of mind, and therefore usually waylaid him upon
his return, to remind him of his sublunary wants, and to
minister for their relief. It seldom, however, happened
that he was absent from two meals together, as was the
5 case in the present instance. We must explain the cause
of this unusual occurrence.

The conversation which Mr. Pleydell had held with
Mannering upon the subject of the loss of Harry Bertram
had awakened all the painful sensations which that event

10 had inflicted upon Sampson. The affectionate heart of the
poor dominie had always reproached him, that his negli-
gence in leaving the child in the care of Frank Kennedy
had been the proximate cause of the murder of the one,
the loss of the other, the death of Mrs. Bertram, and the

15 ruin of the family of his patron. It was a subject which
he never spoke upon, if indeed his mode of conversation
could be called speaking at any time ; but which was often
present to his imagination.

The sort of hope so strongly affirmed and asserted in

20 Mrs. Bertram's last settlement had excited a corresponding
feeling in the dominie's bosom, which was exasperated into
a sort of sickening anxiety by the discredit with which
Pleydell had treated it. "Assuredly," thought Sampson
to himself, "he is a man of erudition, and well skilled in

25 the weighty matters of the law ; but he is also a man of
humorous levity and inconstancy of speech ; and wherefore
should he pronounce ex cathedra^ as it were, on the hope
expressed by worthy Madam Margaret Bertram of Single-
side ? "

30 All this, I say, the dominie thought to himself; for had
he uttered half the sentence his jaws would have ached
for a month under the unusual fatigue of such a continued
exertion. The result of these cogitations was a resolution
to go and visit the scene of the tragedy at Warroch Point,

35 where he had not been for many years — not, indeed,
since the fatal accident had happened. The walk was a
long one, for the Point of Warroch lay on the further side
of the Elian go wan property, which was interposed between
it and Woodbourne. Besides, the dominie went astray

40 more than once, and met with brooks swollen into torrents
by the melting of the snow, where he, honest man, had
only the summer recollection of little trickling rills.

At length, however, he reached the woods which he had
made the object of his walk, and traversed them with care,

424 Parker's exercises in [ex. cxv.

muddling his disturbed brains with vague efforts to recall
every circumstance of the catastrophe. It will readily be
supposed that the influence of local situation and associa-
tion was inadequate to produce conclusions different from
5 those which he had formed under the immediate pressure
of the occurrences themselves. With " many a weary
sigh, therefore, and many a groan," the poor dominie re-
turned from his hopeless pilgrimage, and wearily plodded
his way towards Woodbourne, debating at times in his

10 altered mind a question which was forced upon him by
the cravings of an appetite rather of the keenest, namely,
whether he had breakfasted that morning or no.

It was in this twilight humor, — now thinking of the
loss of the child, then involuntarily compelled to meditate

15 upon the somewhat incongruous subject of hung-beef, rolls
and butter, — that his route, which was different from that
which he had taken in the morning, conducted him past
the small ruined tower, or rather vestige of a tower, called
by the country people the Kaim of Derncleugh.

20 The reader may recollect the description of this ruin as
the vault in which young Bertram, under the auspices of
Meg Merrilies, witnessed the death of Hatteraick's lieu-
tenant. The tradition of the country added ghostly ter-
rors to the natural awe inspired by the situation of this

25 place, which terrors the gypsies who so long inhabited the
vicinity had probably invented, or at least propagated, for
their own advantage.

The lights, often seen around the tower when used as
the rendezvous of the lawless characters by whom it was

30 occasionally frequented, were accounted for, under author-
ity of these tales of witchery, in a manner at once con
venient for the private parties concerned, and satisfactory
to the public.

Now it must be confessed that our friend Sampson,

35 although a profound scholar and mathematician, had not
travelled so far in philosophy as to doubt the reality of
witchcraft or apparitions. Born indeed at a time when a
doubt in the existence of witches was interpreted to be a
justification of their infernal practices, a belief of such

40 legends had been impressed upon him as an article indi-
visible from his religious faith, and perhaps it would have
been equally difficult to have induced him to doubt the
one as the other. With these feelings, and in a thick


misty day, which was already drawing to its close, Domi-
nie Sampson did not pass the Kaim of Derncleugh without
some feelings of tacit horror.

What, then, was his astonishment when, on passing the
5 door — that door which was supposed to have been placed
there by one of the latter lairds of Ellangowan to prevent
presumptuous strangers from incurring the dangers of the
haunted vault — that very door supposed to be always
locked, and the key of which was popularly said to be

10 deposited with the presbytery — that very door opened
suddenly, and the figure of Meg Merrilies, well known,
though not seen for many a revolving year, was placed at
once before the eyes of the startled dominie.

She stood immediately before him in the foot-path, con-

15 fronting him so absolutely that he could not avoid her
except by fairly turning back, which his manhood prevent-
ed him from thinking of. " I kenned ye wad be here,"
she said, with her harsh and hollow voice, " I ken wha
ye seek ; but ye maun do my bidding."

20 " Get thee behind me ! " said the alarmed dominie —
"Avoid ye ! — Co7ijuro te^ scelestissima — nequissima —
spurcissima — iniquissima — atque miserrima — conjuro
te ! ! ! " Meg stood her ground against this tremen-
dous volley of superlatives, which Sampson hawked up

25 from the pit of his stomach, and hurled at her in thunder.
" Is the carl daft," she said, " wi' his glamor ? "

"Co7i;wro," continued the dominie, ^^ adjuro, contestor,

atque viriliter impero tibi ! " " What, in the name

of Sathan, are ye feared for, wi' your French gibberish,

30 that would make a dog sick ? Listen, ye stickit stibler, to
what I tell ye, or ye sail rue it whiles there 's a limb o' ye
hings to anither ! Tell Colonel Mannering that I ken he 's
seeking me. He kens, and I ken, that the blood will be
wiped out, and the lost will be found,

35 And Bertram's right and Bertram's might

Shall meet on Ellangowan height.

Hae, there 's a letter to him ; I was gaun to send it in
another way. I canna write mysell ; but 1 hae them that
will baith write and read, and ride and rin for me. Tell
40 him the time 's coming now, and the weird 's dree'd and
the wheel 's turning. Bid him look at the stars as he has
looked at them before ; will ye mind a' this ?"

"Assuredly," said the dominie, " I am dubious — for,

426 Parker's exercises in [ex. cxv.

woman, I am perturbed at thy words, and my flesh quakes
to hear thee." — "They'll do you nae ill, though, and
maybe muckle gude." — "Avoid ye! I desire nae good
that comes by unlawfu' means."
5 " Fule-body that thou art I " said Meg, stepping up to
him with a frown of indignation that made her dark eyes
flash like lamps from under her bent brows — " Fule-body \
if I meant ye wrang, could na I clod ye ower that craig,
and wad man ken how ye cam by your end mair than

10 Frank Kennedy ? Hear ye that, ye worricow ? "

" In the name of all that is good," said the dominie, re-
coiling and pointing his long pewter-headed walking-cane
like a javelin at the supposed sorceress, " in the name of
all that is good, bide off hands ! I will not be handled —

15 woman, stand off upon thine own proper peril ! — desist, 1
say — I am strong — lo, I will resist ! " Here his speech
was cut short, for Meg, armed with supernatural strength,
(as the dominie asserted,) broke in upon his guard, put by
a thrust which he made at her with his cane, and lifted

20 him into the vault, " as easily," said he, " as I could sway
a Kitchen's atlas."

"Sit doun there," she said, pushing the half-throttled
preacher with some violence against a broken chair, " sit
doun there, and gather your wind and your senses, ye

25 black barrow-tram o' the kirk that ye are — are ye fou or
fasting ? "

" Fasting from all but sin," answered the dominie, who,
recovering his voice, and finding his exorcisms only served
to exasperate the intractable sorceress, thought it best to

30 affect complaisance and submission, inwardly conning over,
however, the wholesome conjurations which he durst no
longer utter aloud. But as the dominie's brain was by no
means equal to carry on two trains of ideas at the same
time, a word or two of his mental exercise sometimes es-

35 caped, and mingled with his uttered speech in a manner
ludicrous enough, especially as the poor man shrunk him-
self together after every escape of the kind, from terror of
the effect it might produce upon the irritable feelings of
the witch.

40 Meg, in the mean while, went to a great black cauldron
that was boiling on a fire on the floor, and lifting the lid,
an odor was diffused through the vault, which, if the vapors
of a witch's cauldron could in aught be trusted, promised
better things than the hell-broth which such vessels are


usually supposed to contain. It was in fact the savor of a
goodly stew, composed of fowls, hares, partridges, and
moor-game, boiled in a large mess with potatoes, onions
and leeks, and, from the size of the cauldron, appeared to
5 be prepared for half a dozen of people at least. " So ye
hae eat naething a' day ? " said Meg, heaving a large por-
tion of this mess into a brown dish, and strewing it savor-
ily with salt and pepper.

"Naething," answered the dominie, — ^^scelestlssima! —

10 that is, gudewife." — " Hae, then," said she, placing the dish
before him ; " there 's what will warm your heart." — "I
do not hunger — malefica — that is to say, Mrs. Merrilies ; "
for he said unto himself, " the savor is sweet, but it hath
been cooked by a Canidia or an Ericthoe."

15 " If ye dinna eat instantly, and put some saul in ye, by the
bread and the salt, I '11 put it doun your throat wi' the cutty
spoon, scauding as it is, and whether ye will or no. Gape,
sinner, and swallow ! " Sampson, afraid of eye of newt,
and toe of frog, tiger's chaudrons, and so forth, had deter-

20 mined not to venture ; but the smell of the stew was fast

melting his obstinacy, which flowed from his chops as it

were in streams of water, and the witch's threats decided

him to feed. Hunger and fear are excellent casuists.

" Saul," said Hunger, " feasted with the witch of Endor."

25 " And," quoth Fear, " the salt which she sprinkled upon
the food showeth plainly it is not a necromantic banquet,
in which that seasoning never occurs." — "And besides,"
says Hunger, after the first spoonful, "it is savory and
refreshing viands."

30 " So ye like the meat ? " said the hostess. — " Yea,"
answered the dominie, " and I give thee thanks — scelera-
tissima. ! — which means Mrs. Margaret." — " Aweel, eat
your fill ; but an ye kenn'd how it was gotten, ye maybe
wadna like it sae weel." — Sampson's spoon dropped, in the

35 act of conveying its load to his mouth. — " There 'e been
mony a moonlight watch to bring a' that trade thegither;
the folk that are to eat that dinner thought little o' your

"Is that all?" thought Sampson, resuming his spoon,

40 and shovelling away manfully ; " I will not lack my food
upon that argument." — "Now ye maun tak a dram."
" I will," quoth Sampson — " conjuro te — that is, I thank
you heartily ; " for, he thought to himself, in for a penny
in for a pound, and he fairly drank the witch's health in a

428 Parker's exercises in [ex. cxv.

cupful of brandy. When he had put this cope-stone upon
Meg's good cheer, he felt, as he said, " mightily elevated,
and afraid of no evil which could befall unto him."

" Will ye remember my errand now ? " said Meg Merri-
5 lies ; " I ken by the cast o' your e'e that ye 're anither man
than when you cam in." — "I will, Mrs. Margaret," re-
peated Sampson, stoutly ; " I will deliver unto him the
sealed yepistle, and will add what you please to send by
word of mouth."
10 " Then I '11 make it short," says Meg. " Tell him to
look at the stars without fail this night, and to do what I
desire him in that letter, as he would wish

That Bertram's right and Bertram's might
Should meet on Ellangowan height.

15 I have seen him twice when he saw na me ; I ken when

he was in this country first, and 1 ken what 's brought him
back again. Up, and to the gate ! ye 're ower lang here ;
follow me."

Sampson followed the sybil accordingly, who guided him

20 about a quarter of a mile through the woods, by a shorter
cut than he could have found for himself; they then en-
tered upon the common, Meg still marching before him at
a great pace, until she gained the top of a small hillock
which overhung the road.

25 " Here," she said, " stand still here. Look how the set-
ting sun breaks through yon cloud that 's been darkening
the lift a' day. See where the first stream o' light fa's ;
it 's upon Donagild's round tower — the auldest tower in
the castle of Ellangowan, — that 's no for naething. See

30 as it 's glooming to seaward abune yon sloop in the bay, —
that 's no for naething neither.

" Here I stood, on this very spot," said she, drawing
herself up so as not to lose one hair-breadth of her uncom-
mon height, and stretching out her long sinewy arm and

35 clenched hand — " here I stood, when I tauld the last Laird
of Ellangowan what was coming on his house ; and did
that fa' to the ground ? — na ! it hit even ower sair ! And
here, where I brake the wand of peace ower him — here I
stand again, to bid God bless and prosper the just heir of

40 Ellangowan, that will sune be brought to his ain ; and the
best laird he shall be that Ellangowan has seen for three
hundred years. I '11 no live to see it, maybe ; but there
will be mony a blithe e'e see it, though mine be closed.


And now, Abel Sampson, as ever ye lo'ed the house of
Ellangovvan, away wi' my message to the English colonel,
as if life and death were upon your haste ! "

So saying, she turned suddenly from the amazed domi-
5 nie, and regained with swift and long strides the shelter
of the wood from which she had issued at the point where
it most encroached upon the common. Sampson gazed
after her for a moment in utter astonishment, and then
obeyed her directions, hurrying to Woodbourne at a pace

10 very unusual for him, exclaiming three times, " Prodigious!
prodigious ! pro-di-gi-ous ! "

As Mr. Sampson crossed the hall with a bewildered
look, the good housekeeper, who was on the watch for his
return, sallied forth upon him : — "What 's this o't now,

Online LibraryRichard Green ParkerExercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice → online text (page 37 of 38)