Page images


A certain knight growing old, his hair fell off, and he became bald, to hide which imperfection he wore a periwig. But as he was riding out with some others a-hunting, a sudden gust of wind blew off the periwig, and exposed his bald pate. The company could not forbear laughing at the accident; and he himself laughed louder than anybody, saying : ‘How was it to be expected that I should keep strange hair upon my head, when my own would not stay there ?'

[ocr errors]


A youth, one hot summer's day, hired an ass to carry him from Athens to Megara. At mid-day the heat of the sun was so scorching that he dismounted, and would have sat down to repose himself under the shadow of the ass. But the driver of the ass disputed the place with him, declaring that he had an equal right to it with the other.

What !' said the youth, 'did I not hire the ass for the whole journey ?'

• Yes,' said the other, “you hired the ass, but not the ass's shadow.'

While they were thus wrangling and fighting for the place, the ass took to his heels and ran away.



It is recorded of Henry I. that after the death, by drowning, of his son Prince William, he never was seen to smile.

The bark that held a prince went down,

The sweeping waves rolled on;
And what was England's glorious crown,

To him that wept a son ?
He lived—for life may long be borne,

Ere sorrow break its chain :
Why comes not death to those who mourn?

He never smiled again !

There stood proud forms before his throne,

The stately and the brave;
But which could fill the place of one-

That one beneath the wave ?
Before him passed the young and fair,

In pleasure's reckless train;
But seas dashed o'er his son's bright hair

He never smiled again !

He sat where festal-bowls went round;

He heard the minstrel sing;
He saw the tourney's victor crowned,

Amidst the knightly ring :
A murmur of the restless deep

Was blent with every strain ;
A voice of winds that would not sleep

He never smiled again !

Hearts in that time closed o'er the trace,

Of vows once fondly poured,
And strangers took the kinsman's place,

At many a joyous board.
Graves which true love had bathed with tears

Were left to Heaven's bright rain;
Fresh hopes were born for other years-

He never smiled again !

Small service is true service while it lasts;

Of friends, however humble, scorn not one:
The daisy by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.




• He who travels the untracked forest is in a continual state of excitement; now buoyed with hope as he urges on his horse towards some distant range or blue mountain, or as he follows the favourable bend of a river; now all despairing and miserable, as he approaches the foot of the range without finding water, from which he could start again with renewed strength, or as the river turns in an unfavourable direction, and slips out of his course. Evening approaches; the sun has sunk below the horizon for some time, but still he strains his eye through the gloom



for the dark verdure of a creek, or strives to follow the arrow-like flight of a pigeon, the flapping of whose wings had filled him with a sudden hope, from which he relapses again into a still greater sadness. With a sickened heart he drops his head to a broken and interrupted rest, while his horse is standing hobbled by his side, unwilling, from excess of thirst, to feed on the dry grass.

• How often have I found myself in these different states of the brightest hope and the deepest misery, riding along, thirsty, almost lifeless, and ready to drop from my saddle with fatigue. The poor horse, tired like his rider, stumbling over every stone, running heedlessly against the trees, and wounding my knees. But suddenly the note of Grallina Australis, the call of cockatoos, or the croaking of frogs, is heard, and hopes are bright again. Water is certainly at hand; the spur is applied to the flank of the tired beast, which already partakes in its rider's anticipations, and quickening his pace, a lagoon, a river, or a creek is before him !

'The horse is soon unsaddled, hobbled, and well washed; a fire is made, the teapot is put to the fire, the meat is dressed, the enjoyment of the poor reconnoiterer is perfect, and a prayer of thankfulness to the Almighty God, who protects the wanderer on his journey, bursts from his grateful lips.


Amongst the presents carried out by our first embassy to China was a state-coach. It had been specially selected as a personal gift by George III.; but the exact mode of using it was an intense mystery to Pekin. The ambassador,

[ocr errors]

indeed, had given some imperfect explanations upon this point, but as his Excellency had communicated these in a diplomatic whisper at the very moment of his departure, the celestial intellect was very feebly illuminated, and it became necessary to call a cabinet council on the grand state question: Where was the emperor to sit?' The hammercloth happened to be unusually gorgeous ; and partly on that consideration, but partly also because the box offered the most elevated seat, was nearest to the moon, and undeniably went foremost, it was resolved by acclamation that the box was the imperial throne; and for the scoundrel who drove, he might sit where he could find a perch. The horses, therefore, being harnessed, solemnly his Imperial Majesty ascended his new English throne, under a flourish of trumpets, having the first lord of the treasury on his right hand, and the chief jester on his left.

Pekin gloried in the spectacle; and in the whole flowery people, constructively present by representation, there was but one discontented person, and that was the coachman. This mutinous individual audaciously shouted :

Where am I to sit ?' But the privy-council, incensed by his disloyalty, unanimously opened the door, and kicked him into the inside. He had all the inside places to himself; but such is the cupidity of ambition, that he was still dissatisfied. 'I say,' he cried out, in an extempore petition, addressed to the emperor through the window—'I say, how am I to catch hold of the reins ?

Anyhow,' was the imperial answer. Don't trouble me, man, in my glory. How catch the reins? Why, through the windows-through the keyholes—anyhow !'

Finally, this contumacious coachman lengthened the check-strings into a sort of jury-reins, communicating with


« PreviousContinue »