Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

had been playing under a particular oak tree, in a certain meadow, with a strange boy-a pretty, forlorn-looking boy, who was very timid, and made signs! From fatal experience, the parents came to know that this was the Orphan Boy, and that the course of that child whom he chose for his little playmate was surely run.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Legion is the name of the German castles, where we sit up alone to wait for the Spectre · - where we are shown into a room, made comparatively cheerful for our reception where we glance round at the shadows, thrown on the blank walls by the crackling fire-where we feel very lonely when the village inn-keeper and his pretty daughter have retired, after laying down a fresh store of wood upon the hearth, and setting forth on the small table such suppercheer as a cold roast capon, bread, grapes, and a flask of old Rhine wine where the reverberating doors close on their retreat, one after another, like so many peals of sullen thunder - and where, about the small hours of the night, we come into the knowledge of divers supernatural mysteries. Legion is the name of the haunted German students, in whose society we draw yet nearer to the fire, while the schoolboy in the corner opens his eyes wide and round, and flies off the footstool he has chosen for his seat, when the door accidentally blows open. Vast is the crop of such fruit, shining on our Christmas Tree; in blossom, almost at the very top, ripening all down the boughs!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Among the latter toys and fancies hanging there-as idle often and less pure- - be the images once associated with the sweet old Waits, the softened music in the night, ever unalterable! Encircled by the social thoughts of Christmas time, still let the benignant figure of my childhood stand unchanged! In every cheerful image and suggestion that the season brings, may the bright star that rested above the poor roof, be the star of all the Christian world! A moment's pause, O vanishing tree, of which the

lower boughs are dark to me as yet, and let me look once more! I know there are blank spaces on thy branches, where eyes that I have loved have shone and smiled; from which they are departed. But, far above, I see the Raiser of the dead girl and the widow's son; and God is good! If Age be hiding for me in the unseen portion of thy downward growth, O may I, with a gray head, turn a child's heart to that figure yet, and a child's trustfulness and confidence!

Now, the tree is decorated with bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness. And they are welcome. Innocent and welcome be they ever held, beneath the branches of the Christmas Tree, which cast no gloomy shadow! But, as it sinks into the ground, I hear a whisper going through the leaves. "This, in commemoration of the law of love and kindness, mercy and compassion. This, in remembrance of Me!"

THE UNITED STATES.

It was in the reign of George the Third that England lost North America, by persisting in taxing her without her own consent. That immense country, made independent under Washington, and left to herself, became the United States, one of the greatest nations of the earth. In these times in which I write, it is honorably remarkable for protecting its subjects, wherever they may travel, with a dignity and a determination which is a model for England.

-FROM "A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND."

7. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

Over three hundred years ago, in the year 1564, in the English town of Stratford-upon-Avon was born the greatest master of English literature, William Shakespeare.

Only a very few facts are positively known regarding his life. He was one of the eight children of John Shakespeare, a man of intelligence and character.

The father followed at different times the occupation of glover, butcher, and wool-dealer. He was also an alderman and a justice of the peace.

Shakespeare's mother, whose maiden name was Mary Arden, was of an old and well-known family. During Shakespeare's childhood, his father was in good circumstances and the boy attended the grammar school at Stratford until about fourteen years of age. Then, his father failing in business, Shakespeare was obliged to leave school. He assisted his father in the butcher business and wool trade. Afterward he became a schoolmaster and was for a short time a lawyer's clerk.

At eighteen he married Miss Anne Hathaway. Three children were born, none of whom are known to fame.

Soon after his marriage he was charged with stealing a deer in the park of Sir Thomas Lucy,

whose severe treatment of the young marauder drove the latter to London.

He is said to have begun his London life by holding horses at the theatre doors. Then he became prompter and occasionally took part in a play.

His talent for writing soon began to appear and he was occasionally engaged to work upon some play process of preparation; it was customary then for several writers to produce a play in common.

in

However his genius may have first put forth its power, there soon began to appear, one after another, those wonderful dramas which in his own time were overlooked, but which later ages have marvelled at.

"Hamlet," "The Merchant of Venice," "Julius Cæsar," "Macbeth," "Othello," and "King Lear" are considered the best of his thirty-seven plays.

Having amassed a moderate fortune in London, Shakespeare returned to Stratford. Here he lived in comparative retirement until his death in 1616.

He was buried in Stratford Church, where his tomb is now to be seen. A life-sized colored bust of Shakespeare, erected in the church soon after his death, shows that he had hazel eyes, auburn hair and beard, full lips, and a large, symmetrical head.

The whole world unite to do homage to the greatest of their writers.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. (1600.)

ACT I.

SCENE I. Venice. A street.

Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.

Antonio. In sooth, I know not why I am so sad: It wearies me; you say it wearies you;

But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

Salarino. Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
There, where your argosies with portly sail,
Like signiors and rich burghers on the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,

That curtsy to them, do them reverence,

As they fly by them with their woven wings.
Salanio. Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
The better part of my affections would

Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind,
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads;
And every object that might make me fear

Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt,
Would make me sad.

Salarino.

My wind, cooling my broth, Would blow me to an ague, when I thought What harm a wind too great might do at sea. I should not see the sandy hour-glass run, But I should think of shallows and of flats, And see my wealthy Andrew dock'd in sand,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »