Page images
PDF
EPUB

what was literally “the best house in the place,” namely, the family mansion of Mr. Featherstone.

15. Goldsmith accordingly rode up to what he supposed was an inn, ordered his horse to be taken to the stable, walked into the parlor, seated himself by the fire, and demanded what he could have for supper. On ordinary occasions he was diffident and even awkward in his manners, but here he was “at ease in his inn," and felt called upon to show his manhood and enact the experienced traveler.

16. His person was by no means calculated to play off his pretensions; for he was short and thick, with a pock-marked face, and an air and carriage by no means of a distinguished cast. The owner of the house, however, soon discovered his whimsical mistake, and, being a man of humor, determined to indulge it, especially as he accidentally learned that this intruding guest was the son of an old acquaintance. Accordingly Goldsmith was “fooled to the top of his bent,” and permitted to have full sway throughout the evening. Never was schoolboy more elated.

17. When supper was served, he most condescendingly insisted that the landlord, his wife and daughter, should partake, and ordered a bottle of wine to crown the repast and benefit the house. His last flourish was on going to bed, when he gave especial order to have a hot cake at breakfast. His confusion and dismay, on discovering the next morning that he had been swaggering in this free and easy way in the house of a private gentleman, may be readily conceived. True to his habit of turning the events of his life to literary account, he dramatized this chapter of ludicrous blunders and cross purposes, many years afterward, in his comedy of “She Stoops to Conquer; or, the Mistakes of a Night.”

WASHINGTON IRVING. (1783—1860.)

[merged small][ocr errors]

1. We are told by Sir Walter Scott that those persons acquainted with the pipe-music of Scotland affect to discover, in a well-composed pibroch, the imitative sounds of a march, conflict, pursuit, and all the current of a heady fight. To this opinion Dr. Beattie has given his suffrage in the following passage:

2. “A pibroch is a species of tune peculiar, I think, to the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. It is performed on a bagpipe, and differs totally from all other music. Its rhythm is so irregular, and its notes, especially in the quick movement, so mixed and hud. dled together, that a stranger finds it impossible to reconcile his ear to it, so as to perceive its modulation.

3. “Some of these pibrochs, being intended to represent a battle, begin with a grave motion, resembling a march; then gradually quicken into the onset; run off with noisy confusion and turbulent rapidity, to imitate the conflict and pursuit; then swell into a few flourishes of triumphant joy; and perhaps close with the wild and slow wailings of a funeral procession."

4. In the following admirable poem, Sir Walter Scott seems to have tried to convey, as far as he could by language, an idea of this imitative modulation. The first two stanzas should be delivered in a moderate

though animated style. At the third stanza the reader's utterance should increase in rapidity, and then rise louder and louder, and quicker and quicker, with cumulative force, to the conclusion.

« Pibroch of Dónuil Dhu, pibroch of Donuil,
Wake thy wild voice anew, summon Clan Conuil !
Come away, come away - hark to the summons !
Come in your war array, Gentles and Commons !

“ Come from deep glen, and from mountain so rocky ;

The war-pipe and pennon are at Inverlochy.
Come every hill-plaid, and true heart that wears one;
Come every steel blade, and strong hand that bears one.

" Leave untended the herd, the flock without shelter ;

Leave the corpse uninterred, the bride at the altar;
Leave the deer, leave the steer, leave nets and barges ;
Come with your fighting gear, broadswords and targes.

" Come, as the winds come, when forests are rended';

Come, as the waves come, when navies are stranded.
Faster come, faster come, faster and faster!

Chief, vassal, page and groom, tenant and master !
“ Fast they come, fast they come, see how they gather!

Wide waves the eagle's plume, blended with heather.
Cast your plaids, draw your blades; forward each man set !
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, knell for the onset !”.

5. The coronach of the Highlanders, like the ululoo or funeral song of the Irish, was a wild expression of lamentation, poured forth by the mourners over the body of a departed friend. When the words of it were articulate, they expressed the praises of the deceased, and the loss the clan would sustain by his death. Sir Walter Scott has given us an exquisite imitation of the coronach in the following lines. They afford an excellent exercise in low vocal pitch, and in a modulation, slow, impressive, and pathetic as a fune ral march.

“ He is gone on the mountain, he is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain, when our need was the sõrest.
The fount, reäppearing, from the rain-drops shall borrow;
But to us comes no cheering, to Duncan no morrow!

“ The hand of the reaper takes the ears that are hòary,

But the voice of the weeper wails manhood in glory;
The autumn winds, rushing, waft the leaves that are serest,
But our flower was in flushing when blighting was nearest.

“ Fleet foot on the corei, sage counsel in cumber,

Red hand in the foray, how sound is thy slumber!
Like the dew on the mountain, like the foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain, thou art gone, and forever ! !

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1. JOAN OF ARC was born, in 1412, in the little village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, in France. Her parents were poor, and maintained themselves by their own labor upon a little land, with a few cattle. Jo'an worked in the field in summer, and in winter she sewed and spun. Small was her stock of learning, for she could neither read ncr write; but she would often go apart by herself, in the pasture, as if to talk with God. She was a devout attendant at church, and gave to the poor to the utmost extent

of her means; a girl of natural piety, that saw God in forests, and hills, and fountains, but did not the less seek him in places consecrated by religion.

2. Her native land was, at this period, in a distracted state. Paris was occupied by English troops, and the King of England was declared by a strong party the rightful heir of the throne of France. The people of the north of France, seeing in his success the end of strife, favored his cause; but in the south the country people and a part of the nobility stood by the lineal heir, Charles the Seventh, and by the old nătionality. Meanwhile the English were extending their power; and the city of Orleans was so closely besieged by them that its fall seemed inevitable. It was a dark day for France.

3. For some time Joan had entertained the belief that she was in communion with the spirits of departed saints; that she saw angelic visions, and heard angelic voices. These voices now whispered to her the duty imposed upon herself of delivering France and restoring its nationality. She found the means of making her way to the presence of the true heir of the throne, Charles the Seventh ; and although, as he stood among his courtiers, he at first, in order to test her prophetic gift, maintained that he was not the king, she fell down and embraced his knees, declaring that he was the man. She offered to raise the siege of Orleans, and to conduct Charles to Rheims to be crowned.

4. At this time she was eighteen years old, slender: and delicate in shape, with a pleasant countenance, a somewhat pale complexion, eyes rather melancholy than eager, and rich chestnut-brown hair. As the king's affairs were hopeless, he did not refuse what seemed the preternatural aid proffered by Joan. She demanded for herself a particular sword in the church

« PreviousContinue »