Unknown.

The library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) online

. (page 21 of 75)
Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 21 of 75)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


For honey was his God, I wis !

Relaxing his sagacious snout,

He begged to know the whereabout

Of Rustyfile and his rich store ?

Said he, " I'll serve you evermore "

And then began to think, did he,

If one could find satiety

In honey, or get half enough

(He'd yet to learn the quantum suff.)

Quoth Reynard, "Come! an ye were twenty,

Of honey shall ye sup, and plenty !

What though for walking I'm but queasy,

No pains I'll spare, no toil, to please ye.

For trust me, Cousin, when I say

I've held you next my heart alway.

An influential man art thou :

And, squares it with your mood, canst now

Important services confer

Whene'er your friend shall ask ye, Sir.

This day ye surfeit on such honey

As never Bear, for love or money,

Did elsewhere get !"

Now Reynard wight,

Although this wise he spake, though quite
In other fashion, for, in sooth,
He knew the art to lie like truth.
The Bear, poor dupe ! did not once question
The treat in store, nor good digestion.
Thought Reynard, " What a chance is here
To trounce the churl!" When lo! appear
The cotter's hut and snug enclosure !
Bruin, with ill-portrayed composure,
Awaits the feast, nor dreamt mishaps,
(The way with fools!) nor afterclaps.
'T was night when Reynard Bruin led:
The clodpole slumbered sound abed :
A wheelwright was the man by trade,
And (Reynard knew it well) had laid
An oak stump in the yard, which he
Was shaping for an axletree.
The stump a good half-way was riven,
And in the cleft a wedge deep driven
Six inches down : quoth Reynard, "See!
More honey, coz ! lies in this tree
Than you may think just pop your snout in
The chink, there, and you'll not be doubting
But do not spill the luscious comb !
Shouldst feed like a true gastronome,



104



REYNARD'S CONFESSION.



With all deliberation due

Now, with gjod appetite, fall to!"

"Reynard!" said Bruin, "never fear!

I ever held one anxious clear :

'All things in moderation,' dear!"

Poor Bruin thus was sheer betwattled,
And in his hurry wellnigh throttled.
At length his snout well in he squeezed
Reynard, alert, the moment seized
Slap ! went the wedge from out the cleft !
And in the instant Bruin left
In pillory transfixed to swing!
No help his cries and curses bring
Not twenty Elephants could free
His nose and paws from chancery.
With piteous howl he tore the ground,
And filled with fright the country round :
E'en Rustyfile's tromboning nose
Its music ceased, whilst he arose,
And sallied out with half his clothes :
Much marvelling what the noise could be !

EETNARD'S CONFESSION.

Good people all ! be not amazed

To hear a penitent's last words,

As on the gallows, bound with cords,

He stands : you'll grant my prayer, I know:

Ere from the midst of ye I go !

One boon I beg, by all that's dear!

One little trifling boon 't is here:

That you will move the King's good grace

For my reprieve one instant's space,

Whilst I before ye all confess me,

And shrive my soul of sins that press me

Whereby the world may learn to shun

The thorns through which my feet have run,

And 'ware the courses that, you see,

Have brought me to the fatal tree.

I would not one man's curse ; but rather

By all be mourned as their own father."

The words were scarcely uttered, ere
The mass were touched by Reynard's prayer.
Said they : " It is a trifling thing ;
To grant it him we'll urge the King."
No sooner was't accorded, than
Reynard once more to breathe began,
And fervently ejaculated
"Thank God! I'm safe!" With mien pros-
trated,

Deep hollow voice, and upcast eye,
He groaned, " Spiritus Domini!
Now help me ! as I live, I see
None here whom I've not wronged : ah me !
All sorts of wickedness were sweet
To me, before I left the teat !
From early infancy inured
To waywardness in vice mature'! !
The flesh of lambs was my delight !



Stray kids I chased from morn to night !

Their lamentable cries for me

Made most enchanting melody !

My lickerous tooth was never sated,

After its taste was titillated

With their warm blood, so sweet and t cutler

Four kidlings and a lambkin slender

Made my first meal ; but as I grew

In size, my gluttony waxed too :

Both cocks and hens I made my prey,

And geese and ducks I did waylay ;

And after feasting, what was orer

I hoarded up in secret cover

Of bush, or hid in sand the treasure,

To feast my appetite at leisure.

One dreary winter, pinched for food,

The Wolf upon my threshold stood :

Spake of our blood relationship,

And strove to hide his empty scrip ;

Whilst, with much eloquence, he shewe j

What great advantages accrued

From partnerships; and then displayed

How mutual profit might be made

By clubbing, each, his several ration,

To make joint-stock association

Of all our booty. Well-a-way !

I rued the bargain from that day !

Full sorely was my patience tried ;

For when the spoil we did divide

I never got my share by half:

And were it sheep, or ox, or calf,

Or pig, or goat, or what beside,

Right o'er the carcass he would stride

And gobble all his share and mine!

Then ask me ' where I meant to dine ?'

Nor was this all : for did we hap

On something savory to snap,

His wife and seven children straight

Came up, and all my portion ate ;

Nothing but bones for me were left,

And these were of the flesh clean reft.

Though (God be praised, he knew it not !)

Great store of wealth and means I'd got

In secret place pearls, stones, and gold,

The which ten wagons would not hold."

Thereat the King, with ears erect :

" Whence did you all these goods collect?"

Reynard continued : " Why should I

Of this make any mystery ?

I'll tell you they were stolen, all.

From those who once conspired your fall,

By me, who, now about to shed

My blood, whilome did save your head !

The theft was mine ; the goods belonged

To my own father, who had wronged

Your Highness ; but your servant scented

The damned plot, and so prevented.

I saved my Sov' reign's life that time,

Certes ! if that be any crime 1"



INTOXICATED GEESE.



105



No sooner had the Fox made mention
Of plot, and murder, and prevention,
Than at the words the Queen, alarmed,
Nigh swooned before her fears were calmed
For her dear lord and master's life :
And when her speech returned, the wife,
Triumphing o'er the Queen, prevailed
'Gainst etiquette, and loud she railed:
Exhibited her teeth and claws,
And, opening her majestic jaws,
Forthwith she bade them ease the rope;
Conjured the Fox, by his last hope
Of mercy, and of happiness
Hereafter, he would straight confess
The whole of what he knew concerning
The treason ; for her soul was burning
With thirst for vengeance !

Said the King ;

" Let all the multitude form ring !
And from the gallows Reynard lift,
Whilst we this bloody treason sift.
The matter is of moment clearly !
Our person it concerneth nearly !"



INTOXICATED GEESE.

When geese take to drink the result is
preposterous. For nature never meant geese
to get intoxicated. In the first place, they
have no hands to hold on to lamp-posts
with ; while at the best of times, their bal-
ance is precarious. Even when sober, a fat
goose, if travelling on uneven ground, con-
stantly cants forward on to its beak, or
backward on to its tail ; but when inebriated
it is utterly helpless. A short while ago, a
farmer's wife in Germany had been making
some cherry brandy, but as she found during
the process, that the fruit was unsound, she
threw the whole mass out into the yard, and,
without looking to see what followed, shut
the window. As it fell out, a party of geese,
good fellows all of them, happened to be
waddling by at the time, and, seeing the
cherries trundling about, at once investigated
them. The preliminary inquiry proving sat-
isfactory, these misguided poultry set to and
ate the whole lot. " No heeltaps" was the
order of the carouse, and so they finished the
cherries off at one sitting, so to speak.

The effect of the spirituous fruit was soon
apparent, for, on trying to make the gate
which led from the scene of the debauch to
the horse-pond, they found everything against
them. Whether a high wind had got up, or



what had happened, they could not tell, but
it seemed to the geese that there was an un-
commonly high sea running, and the ground
set in toward them with a steady, strong
swell that was most embarrassing to progress.
To escape these difficulties some lashed their
rudders and hove to ; others tried to run be-
fore the wind, while the rest tacked for the
pig-sty. But there was no living in such
weather, and one by one, the craft lurched
over and went down all standing. Mean-
while the dame, the unconscious cause of
this disaster, was attracted by the noise in
the fowl-yard, and looking out, saw all her
ten geese behaving as if they were mad.
The gander himself, usually so solemn and
decorous, was balancing himself on his
beak, and spinning round the while in a pro-
digious flurry of feathers and dust, while the
old gray goose, remarkable even among her
kind for the circumspection of her conduct,
was lying stomach upwards in the gutter,
feebly gesticulating with her legs. Others
of the party were no less conspicuous for the
extravagance of their attitudes and gestures,
while the remainder were to be seen lying in
a helpless confusion of feathers in the lee
scupper that is to say, the gutter by the
pig-sty.

Perplexed by the spectacle, the dame
called in her neighbours, and, after careful
investigation, it was decided in council that
the birds had died of poison. Under these
circumstances their carcasses were worth
nothing for food, but, as the neighbors said,
the feathers were not poisoned, so they set
to work then and there and plucked the ten
geese bare.

Next morning the good woman got up as
usual, and remembering the feathers down
stairs, dressed betimes, for it was market
day and she hoped to get them off her hands
at once. And then she bethought her of
ten plucked bodies lying in the porch and
resolved that they should be buried before
she went out. But as she approached the
door on these decent rites intent, and was
turning the key, there fell on her ears the
sound of another familiar voice and then
another and another, until at last the as-
tonished dame heard in full chorus the well-
known accents of all her plucked and poi-
soned ^eese. ' The throat of the old gander
was no doubt a trifle husky, and the gray
goose spoke in muffled tones suggestive of
a chastening headache ; but there was no
mistaking those tongues, and the dame
fumbling at the door, wondered what it all



106



JEFFERSON'S CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON.



might mean. Has a goose a ghost ? Did
anyone ever read or hear of the spectre of a
gander ? The key turned at last, the door
opened, and there, quacking in subdued
tones, suppliant and shivering, stood all her
flock. There they stood, the ten miserable
birds, with splitting headaches and parched
tongues, contrite and dejected, asking to
have their feathers back again.

The situation was painful to both parties.
The forlorn geese saw in each others per-
sons the humiliating reflection of their own
condition, while the dame, guiltily conscious
of that bagful of feathers and down, remem-
bered how the one lapse of Noah, in that
" aged surprisal of six hundred years and
unexpected inebriation from the unknown
effects of wine," has been excused by re-
ligion and the unanimous voice of his pos-
terity. She and her neighbors with her,
however, had hastily misjudged the geese,
and, finding them dead drunk, had stripped
them, without remembering for a moment,
that if feathers are easy to get off they are
very hard to put on. So she called in her
neighbours again, but they proved only
sorry comforters, for they reminded her that,
after all, the fault was her own ; that it was
she, and no one else, who had thrown the
brandied cherries to the geese. As it was
with Job, these " oblique expostulations" of
her friends were harder for the widow to
bear " than the downright blows of the
devil," and so, turning from her neighbours,
she gathered her bald poultry about her
round the kitchen fire, and sat down to make
them flannel jackets.

THE LONDON DAILY TKLEORAPH.



JEFFERSON'S CHARACTER OF
WASHINGTON.

I think I knew General Washington inti-
mately and thoroughly, and were I called
on to delineate his character, it should be
in terms like these :

His mind was great and powerful, without
being of the very first order, his penetration
strong, though not so acute as that of a
Newton, Bacon or Locke ; and as far as he
saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It
was slow in operation, being little aided by
invention or imagination, but sure in con-
clusion. Hence the common remark of his



officers, of the advantage he derived from
councils of war, where hearing all sugges-
tions, he selected whatever was best ; and
certainly no general ever planned his battles
more judiciously. But if deranged during
the course of the action, if any member of
his plan was dislocated by sudden circum-
stances, he was slow in re-adjustment.
The consequence was, that he often failed
in the field, and rarely against an enemy in
station, as at Boston and New York. He
was incapable of fear, meeting personal
dangers with the calmest unconcern. Per-
haps the strongest feature in his character
was prudence, never acting until every
circumstance, every consideration, was ma-
turely weighed ; refraining if he saw a
doubt, but, when once decided, going
through with his purpose, whatever obsta-
cles opposed. His integrity was most pure,
his justice the most inflexible I have ever
known, no motives of interest or consan-
guinity, of friendship or hatred, being able
to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in
every sense of the words, a wise, a good,
and a great man. His temper was naturally
irritable and high-toned ; but reflection and
resolution had obtained a firm and habitual
ascendency over it. If ever, however, it
broke its bounds, he was most tremendous in
his wrath. In his expenses he was honora-
ble, but exact; liberal in contribution to
whatever promised utility ; but frowning and
unyielding on all visionary projects, and all
unworthy calls on his charity. His heart
was not warm in its affections ; but he
exactly calculated every man's value, and
gave him a solid esteem proportioned to it.
His person, you know, was fine, his stature
exactly what one could wish, his deportment
easy, erect and noble ; the best horseman
of his age, and the most graceful figure that
could be seen on horseback. Although in
the circle of his friends, where he might be
unreserved with safety, he took a free share
in conversation, his colloquial talents were
not above mediocrity, possessing neither
copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words.
In public, when called on for a sudden
opinion, he was unready, short and embar-
rassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather dif-
fusely, in an easy and correct style. This
he had acquired by conversation with the
world, for his education was merely reading,
writing and common arithmetic, to which
he added surveying at a later day. His
time was employed in action chiefly, reading
little, and that only in agriculture and



THE RECOVERY OF JERUSALEM.



107



English history. His correspondence be-
came necessarily extensive, and, with jour-
nalizing his agricultural proceedings, occu-
pied most of his leisure hours within doors.
On the whole, his character was, in its mass,
perfect, in nothing bad, in few points
indifferent ; and it may truly be said, that
never did nature and fortune combine more
perfectly to make a man great, and to place
him in the same constellation with whatever
worthies have merited from man an ever-
lasting remembrance. For his was the
singular destiny and merit, of leading the
armies of his country successfully through
an arduous war for the establishment of its
independence ; of conducting its councils
through the birth of a government, new in
its forms and principles, until it had settled
down into a quiet and orderly train ; and of
scrupulously obeying the laws through the
whole of his career, civil and military, of
which the history of the world furnishes no
other example. * * * These are my
opinions of General Washington, which I
would vouch at the judgment-seat of God,
having been formed on an acquaintance of
thirty years. I served with him in the
Virginia Legislature from 1769 to the
Revolutionary war, and again, a short time
in Congress, until he left us to take com-
mand of the army. During the war and
after it we corresponded occasionally, and
in the four years of my continuance in the
office of Secretary of State, our intercourse
was daily, confidential and cordial. After
I retired from that office, great and malig-
nant pains were taken by our federal mon-
archists, and not entirely without effect, to
make him view me as a theorist, holding
French principles of government, which
would lead infallibly to licentiousness and
anarchy. And to this he listened the more
easily, from my known disapprobation of
the British treaty. I never saw him after-
wards, or these malignant insinuations
should have been dissipated before his just
judgment, as mists before the sun. I felt
on his death, with my countrymen, that
u verily a great man hath fallen this day in
Israel."

THOMAS JEFFERSON.



THE RECOVERY OF JERUSALEM.

The nation then with crisped locks and fair,
That dwell between the seas and Ardenne
wood,



Where Moselle streams and Rhene the meadows

wear,

A battle soil, for grain, for pasture good,
Their islanders with them, who oft repair
Their earthen bulwarks 'gainst the Ocean

flood,

The flood, elsewhere that ships and barks de-
vours,

But drowns cities, countries, towns and towers,
Both in one troop, and but a thousand all,
Under another Robert fierce they run ;

When th' English squadron, soldiers stout

and tall,
By William led, their Sovereign's younger

son,
These Archers be, and with them come

withal,

A people near the northern pole that won,
Whom Ireland sent from loughs and forests

hoar,
Divided far by sea from Europe's shore.

Tancredie next, nor 'mongst them all was

one,

Rinald except, a prince of greater might,
With majesty his noble count' nance shone,
High were his thoughts, his heart was bold

in fight,

For shameful vice his worth had overgone.
His fault was love, by unadvised sight,
Bred in the dangers of adventurous arms,
And nurs'd with griefs, with sorrows, woes,
and harms.

Fame tells, that on that ever-blessed day,
When Christian swords with Persian blood

were died,

The furious prince Tancredie from that fray

His coward foes chaced through forests wide,

Till tired with the fight, the heat, the way,

He sought some place to rest his weary side.

And drew him near a silver stream, that

play'd

Among wild herbs, under the green-wood
shade.

A pagan damsel there unawares he met,
In shining steel, all save her visage fair,

Her hair unbound she made a wanton net
To catch sweet breathing in the cooling air.

On her at gaze his longing looks he set,
Light, wonder ; wonder, love ; love bred
his care ;

love, wonder; love new born, new bred,

Now grown, now arm'd, this champion cap-
tive led.

Her helm the virgin don'd, and but some

wight

She feared might come to aid him as thej
fought,



108



SCENERY ON LAKE SUPERIOR.



Her courage yearned to have assailed the

knight,

Yet thence she fled, uncompanied, unsought,
And left her image in his heart upright,
Her sweet idea wander'd through his

thought :
Her shape, her gesture, and her place in

mind
He kept, and blew love's fire with that wind.

Well might you read his sickness in his eyes,
Their banks were full ; their tide was at

the flow,

His help far off, his hurt within him lies,
His hopes unsprung, his cares were fit to

know.
Eight hundred horse, from Champaign came,

he guies,
Champaign, a land where wealth, ease,

pleasure grow,
Rich nature's pomp, and pride, the Tirrhene

main

There woos the hills ; hills woo the valleys
plain.

Two hundred Greeks came next, in fight well-
tried,

Not surely arm'd in steel or iron strong,
But each a glave had pendant by his side,
Their bows and quivers at their shoulders

hung.
Their horses well inured to chase and ride,

In diet spare, untried with labour long,
Ready to charge and to retire at will,
Though broken, scattered, fled, they skirmish
still.



Tatine, their guide, and except Tatine, none
Of all the Greeks went with the Christian
host :

Sin, O shame, Greece accurs'd alone !
Did not this fatal war affront thy coast ?

Yet sattest thou an idle looker-on,

And glad attendest which side won or lost:

Now if thou be a bond slave vile become

No wrong is that, but God's most righteous
doom.

In order last, but first in worth and fame,
Unfear'd in fight, untir'd with hurt or
wound,

The noble squadron of adventurers came,
Terrors to all that tread on Asian ground ;

Cease Orpheus of thy Minois, Arthur, shame
To boast of Launcelot, or thy table round,

For these whom antique times with laurel
drest,

These far excel, them, thee, and all the rest.



Dudon of Consa was their guide and Lord.

And for of worth and birth alike they been,

They chose him captain, by their free accord,

For he most acts had done, most battles

seen ;
Grave was the man in years, in looks, in

word,
His locks were gray, yet was his courage

green,

Of worth and might the noble badge he bore,
Old scars of grievous wounds receiv'd of yore.

******
Aurora bright her chrystal gates unbarred,
And bridegroom-like forth-step'd the glo-
rious sun,
When trumpets loud and clarions shrill were

heard,

And every one to rouse him fierce begun,
Sweet music to each heart for war prepar'd

The soldiers glad by heaps to harness run,
So, if with drought endanger' d be their grain,
Poor ploughmen, joy, when thunders promise



Some shirts of mail, some coats of plate put on,
Some donned a cuirass, some a corslet

bright,

An hawberk some, and some a habergeon,
So every one in arms was quickly dight.
His wonted guide each soldier tends upon,
Loose in the wind, waved their banners

light.
Their standard royal towards heaven they

spread,
The cross triumphant on the Pagans dead.

Meanwhile the car that bears the light' ning

brand,

Upon the eastern hill was mounted high,
And smote the glist ning armies as they stand.
With quiv'ring beams which daz'd the

wond'ring eye,
That Phaeton-like it fired sea and land,

The sparkles seem'd up to the skies to fly ;
The horses neigh, and clatt'ring armours

sowne,

Pursue the echo over dale and clown.
[FHUJI FAIRFAX'S TBANSLATIOJJ or TORQUATO TASSO.]



SCENERY OF LAKE SUPERIOR.

FROM ONEOTA.

[HENRY HOWE SCHOOLCEAFT, a copious writer on the
American Indians, born at Watervliet, N. Y., in 170.H,
died at Washington, D. C., in 1864. He early became a
traveller in the Western States and Territories, and was



OLD LAWYERS.



109



Appointed, in 1822, Indian Agent for the Lake Superior
Tribes, residing nearly twenty ytars near Mackinaw.
His investigations of Indian languages, traditions and
customs were industriously prosecuted through a long
life. Although not critically accurate as an investigator,
h-i has left in his voluminous works most valuable
material to serve as contributions towards the history
and description of the Indian tribes of North America.
Schoolcraft'g principal works were " Alrjic Researches "
(1839) ; "Oi/eota " (1844); "Notes on the Iroquois" (1848);
" Tlurtij Years rvith the Indian Tribes " (1851) ; and six
quarto volumes of Information respecting the Indian
Tribes (1851-57).

Few portions of America can vie in
scenic attractions with this interior sea. Its
size alone gives it all the elements of grand-
eur, but these have been heightened by the
mountain masses which nature has piled
along its shores. In some places these
masses consist of vast walls of coarse gray
or drab sandstone, placed horizontally until
they have attained many hundred feet in
height above the water. The action of
such an immense liquid area, forced against
these crumbling walls by tempests, has
caused wide and deep arches to be worn
into the solid structure at their base, into
which the billows rush with a noise resem-
bling low pealing thunder. By this means
large areas of the impending mass are at
length undermined and precipitated into the
lake, leaving the split and rent parts from
which they have separated standing like



Online LibraryUnknownThe library of choice literature : poetry and prose selected from the most admired authors (Volume 4) → online text (page 21 of 75)