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That mocks the tear it forced to flow; And keen Remorse, with blood defiled, And moody Madness, laughing wild,
Amid severest woe.
8. Lo! in the vale of years beneath,
A grisly troop are seen, —
More hideous than their Queen :
Those in the deeper vitals rage;
And slow-consuming age.
9. To each his sufferings ; all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
The unfeeling for his own.
And happiness too swiftly flies ?
where ignorance is bliss 'Tis folly to be wise.
Gray (1716-1771). 1. Eton College.--A large school, 4. Silver-winding.
That is, founded by Henry VI. in 1441 ; it shining like silver as it winds along. stands near to Windsor Castle, the 5. Beloved in vain.-Because the residence of the Sovereign, on the poet had been obliged to leave them. banks of the Thames.
He had himself been educated at 2. Henry's holy shade.-Called Eton. holy, from the saintliness of charac- 6. Redolent is here used figurater attributed to Henry VI.
tively, in connection with joy and 3. Whose turf, &c.-Observe the youth. preposition among put after the 7. Father Thames.--The river is nouns instead of before them. Each here personified, or spoken to as a of the nouns pair with those in the person. previous line, thus, the turf of whose 8. The hideous family of Death. lawn, the shade of whose grove, the The different kinds of disease flowers of whose meadow,
which are afterwards described,
9. Queen.- This is probably the Compare Milton's description, “Paronly instance in our literature in adise Lost," Book ii., 666-673. which Death is spoken of as feminine.
Two remarks are necessary, to prevent the young reader from falling into error. The first fourteen lines form a sort of prolonged vocative case, and the construction remains incomplete until we reach the line, “I feel the gales,” &c. Then it must be remembered that the author was by disposition a man of a somewhat melancholy disposition, and could only see the dark side of the future awaiting these boys. All he says is quite true, but, happily, it is not the whole truth. Joys as well as sorrows are in store for us if we live wisely and uprightly.
GULLIVER AT THE COURT OF THE KING
OF BROBDINGNAG. 1. It is the custom that every Wednesday the King and Queen of Brobdingnag, with the royal children, dine together in the apartment of his Majesty; and at these times my little chair and table were placed at his left hand, before one of the salt-cellars.
2. This prince took a pleasure in conversing with me, inquiring into the manners, religion, laws, government, and learning of Europe; wherein I gave him the best account I was able. His apprehension was so clear, and his judgment so exact, that he made very wise reflections and observations upon all I said.
3. But I confess that after I had been a little too copious in talking of my own beloved country, of our trade and wars by sea and land, and parties in the state, the prejudices of his education prevailed so far, that he could not forbear taking me up in his right hand, and, stroking me gently
with the other, and after a hearty fit of laughing, asked me whether I was a Whig or a Tory?
4. Then turning to his first minister, who waited behind him with a white staff near as tall as the mainmast of the Royal Sovereign, he observed, “How contemptible a thing was human grandeur, which could be mimicked by such diminutive insects as I; and yet,” says he, “I dare engage these creatures have their titles and distinctions of honour; they contrive little nests and burrows that they call houses and cities; they make a figure in dress and equipage; they fight, they love, they dispute, they cheat, they betray.”
5. And thus he continued on, while my colour came and went several times with indignation, to hear our noble country, the mistress of arts and arms, the scourge of France, the arbitress of Europe, the seat of virtue, piety, honour, and truth, the pride and envy of the world, so contemptuously treated.
6. To show the miserable effects of the king's confined education, I shall here insert a passage which will hardly obtain belief. In hope to ingratiate myself further into his Majesty's favour, I told him of “an invention, discovered between three and four hundred years ago, to make a certain powder, into a heap of which, the smallest spark of fire falling, would kindle the whole in a moment, although it were as big as a mountain, and make it all fly up in the air together, with a noise and agitation greater than thunder.
7. “That a proper quantity of this powder
rammed into a hollow tube of brass or iron, according to its bigness, would drive a ball of iron or lead with such violence and speed as nothing was able to sustain its force.
8. “That the largest balls thus discharged would not only destroy whole ranks of an army at once, but batter the strongest walls to the ground, sink down ships, with a thousand men in each, to the bottom of the sea, and when linked together by a chain would cut through masts and rigging, divide hundreds of bodies in the middle, and lay all waste before them.
9. “That we often put this powder into large hollow balls of iron, and discharge them by an engine into some city we were besieging, which would rip up the pavements, tear the houses to pieces, burst and throw splinters on every side, killing or wounding all who were near. That I knew the ingredients very well, which were cheap and common.
10. “ I understood the manner of compounding them, and could direct his workmen how to make those tubes, of a size proportionable to all other things in his Majesty's kingdom, and the largest need not be above a hundred feet long; twenty or thirty of which tubes, charged with the proper quantity of powder and balls, would batter down the walls of the strongest town in his dominions in a few hours, or destroy the whole metropolis, if ever it should pretend to dispute his absolute commands. This I humbly offered to his Majesty, as a small tribute of acknowledgment in return for
so many marks that I had received of his royal favour and protection.”
11. The king was struck with horror at the description I had given of those terrible engines, and the proposal I had made. “He was amazed how so impotent and grovelling an insect as I (these were his expressions) could entertain such inhuman ideas, and in so familiar a manner as to appear wholly unmoved at all the scenes of blood and desolation which I had painted as the common effects of those destructive machines; whereof (he said) some evil genius, enemy to mankind, must have been the first contriver.
12. “As for himself, he protested that although few things delighted him so much as new discoveries in art or in nature, yet he would rather lose half his kingdom than be acquainted with such a secret; which he commanded me, as I valued my life, never to mention any more.”
13. A strange effect of narrow principles and views, that a prince, possessed of every quality which procures veneration, love, and esteem,—of strong parts, great wisdom, and profound learning, endowed with admirable talents, and almost adored by his subjects, should, from a nice, unnecessary scruple, whereof in Europe we can have no conception, let slip an opportunity put into his hands that would have made him absolute master of the lives, the liberties, and the fortunes of his people.
14. Neither do I say this with the least intention to detract from the many virtues of that excellent