« PreviousContinue »
In youth, the cheek was crimsoned with her glow;
Her smile was loveliest then, her matin song Was heaven's own music; and the note of woe
Was all unheard her sunny bowers among. Life's li tle world of bliss was newly born:
We knew not, cared not, it was born to die.
With dancing heart we gazed on the pure sky,
And manhood felt her sway too :-on the eye,
Half realized, her early dreams burst bright;
Its days of joy, its vigils of delight;
And the red lightnings threaten, still the air
The rainbow of the heart, — was hovering there. 'Tis in life's noontide she is nearest seen, Her wreath the summer flower, her robe of summer green
But though less dazzling in her twilight dress,
There's more of heaven's pure beam about her now: That angel smile of tranquil loveliness,
Which the heart worships, glowing on her brow, That smile shall brighten the dim evening star
That points our destined tomb, nor e'er depart
And hushed the last deep beating of the heart;
THE SPECTATOR'S RETURN TO TOWN.
[The greater part of the following piece is in the style of animated
conversation. In the narrative and descriptive parts, the tone is “ lively,” — in the language of the captain, it becomes “gay” and “ humorous," — in that of the Quaker, it is “ serious,” but bland and good-humoured. T'he “ quality" of voice, throughout, is “pure tone," modified according to the above technical designations, as explained in the preliminary rules. Natural ease, and vivacity of expression, - simplicity, without feebleness, should be the prevailing style in the reading of such pieces : insipidity and affectation are the extremes to be avoided.]
Having notified to my good friend Sir Roger, that I should set out for London the next day, his horses were ready at the appointed hour in the evening; and, attended by one of his grooms, I arrived at the county town at twilight, in order to be ready for the stage-coach the day following.
As soon as we arrived at the inn, the servant who waited upon me, inquired of the chamberlain, in my hearing, what company he had for the coach? The fellow answered, “ Mrs. Betty Arable, the great fortune, and the widow her mother; a recruiting officer, (who took a place because they were to go;) young Squire Quickset, her cousin, (that her mother wished her to be married to ;) Ephraim, the Quaker, her guardian; and a gentleman that had studied himself dumb, from Sir Roger de Coverly's."
I observed, by what he said of myself, that, according to his office, he dealt much in intelligence, and doubted not but there was some foundation for his reports of the rest of the company, as well as for the whimsical account he gave of me.
The next morning, at daybreak, we were all called; and I, who know my own natural shyness, and endeavour to be as little liable to be disputed with as possible, dressed immediately, that I might make no one wait. The first preparation for our setting out, was, that the captain's half pike was placed near the coachman, and a druin behind the coach. In the meantime, the drummer, the captain's equipage, was very loud, " that none of the captain's things should be placed so as to be spoiled ;” upon which his cloak-bag was fixed in the seat of the coach; and the captain himself, according to a frequent though invidious behaviour of military men, ordered his man to look sharp, that none but one of the ladies should have the place he had taken fronting to the coach-box.
We were, in some little time, fixed in our seats, and sat with that dislike which people, not too good-natured, usually conceive of each other, at first sight. The coach jumbled us insensibly into some sort of familiarity; and we had not moved above two miles, when the widow asked the captain
what success he had in his recruiting? The officer, with a frankness he believed very graceful, told her that indeed he had had but very little luck, and had suffered much by desertion, therefore should be glad to end his warfare in the service of her or her fair daughter. “In a word,” continued he, “ I am a soldier, and to be plain is my character : you see me, madam, young, sound, and impudent; take me yourself, widow, or give me to her, — I will be wholly at your disposal. I am a soldier of fortune, ha! ha!” — This was followed by a vain laugh of his own, and a deep silence of all the rest of the company. I had nothing left for it but to seem to fall fast asleep, which I did with all speed.
"Come,” said he,“ resolve upon it, we will make a wedding at the next town : we will wake this pleasant companion, who is fallen asleep, to be the brideman; and,” giving the Quaker a clap on the knee, he concluded, “ This sly saint, who, I'll warrant, understands what's what, as well as you or I, widow, shall give the bride as father.”
The Quaker, who happened to be a man of smartness, answered, “ Friend, I take it in good part that thou hast given me the authority of a father over this comely and virtuous child; and I must assure thee, that if I have the giving of her, I shall not bestow her on thee. Thy mirth, friend, savoureth of folly : thou art a person of a light mind; thy drum is the type of thee, it soundeth because it is empty. Verily it is not from thy fulness, but thy emptiness, that thou hast spoken this day. Friend, friend! we have hired this coach in partnership with thee, to carry us to the great city: we cannot go any other way. This worthy mother must hear thee, if thou wilt needs utter thy follies :— we cannot help it, friend, I say. If thou wilt, we must hear thee; but if thou wert a man of understanding, thou wouldst not take advantage of thy courageous countenance to abash us children of peace. Thou art, thou sayest, a soldier: give quarter to us who cannot resist thee. Why didst thou fleer at our friend who feigned himself asleep? He said nothing; but how dost thou know what he containeth? If thou speakest improper things in the hearing of this virtuous young woman, consider it is an outrage against a distressed person that cannot get from thee: to speak indiscreetly what we are obliged to hear, by being hasped up with thee in this public vehicle, is in some degree assaulting on the high road."
Here Ephraim paused, and the captain with a happy and upcommon impudence, (which can be convicted and support itself at the same time,) cries, “ Faith, friend, I thank thee: I should have been a little impertinent, if thou hadst not reprimanded me. Come, thou art, I see, a smoky old fellow : and I will be very orderly the ensuing part of the journey. ] was going to give myself airs, but, ladies, I beg pardon.”
The captain was so little out of humour, and our company was so far from being soured by this little ruffle, that Ephraim and he took a particular delight in being agreeable to each other for the future, and assumed their different provinces in the conduct of the company. Our reckonings, apartments, and accommodation, fell under Ephraim; and the captain looked to all disputes on the road, to the good behaviour of our coachman, and the right we had of taking place, — as going to London, -of all vehicles coming from thence.
The occurrences we met with were ordinary; and very little happened which could entertain by the relation of it; but when I considered the company we were in, I took it for no small good fortune, that the whole journey was not spent in impertinences, which to one part of us might be an entertainment, to the other a suffering. What therefore Ephraim said when we were almost arrived at London, had to me an air not only of good understanding, but good breeding. Upon the young lady's expressing her satisfaction in the journey, and declaring how delightful it had been to her, Ephraim delivered himself as follows:
“There is no ordinary part of human life, which expresseth so much a good mind, and a right inward man, as his behaviour upon meeting with strangers, especially such as may seem the most unsuitable companions to him : such a man, when he falleth in the way with persons of simplicity and innocence, however knowing he may be in the ways of men, will not vaunt himself thereof, but will the rather hide his superiority to them, that he may not be painful unto them.”
“My good friend,” continued he, turning to the officer, " thee and I are to part by and by; and peradventure we may never meet again : but be advised by a plain man. — Modes and apparels are but trifles to the real man, therefore do not think such a man as thyself terrible for thy garb, nor such a one as me contemptible for mine. When two such as thce and I meet, with affections as we ought to have towards each other, thou shouldst rejoice to see my peaceable demeanour, and I should be glad to see thy strength and ability to protect me in it."
THE RICH AND THE POOR. — A DIALOGUE.
Mrs. Beechwood, Harriet Beechwood. (Conversational dialogues are among the most effective means of
breaking up monotonous and mechanical tones, and are of great service in facilitating the acquisition of an appropriate style of reading. The point to be aimed at in practice, is, that the reader should imagine herself, for the moment, to be the person who speaks, and read as if every sentiment were her own, and uttered by herself, in lively conversation, with all the earnestness of familiar talk and true feeling. The first step in practice, is to learn to read one part well, — then to read both; changing the voice, as the reading proceeds, from the lively tone of the girl, - in the present case, — to the grave tone of the mother.]
Harriet. Mamma! I have just heard such a proud speech of a poor man! you would wonder if you heard it.
Mrs. B. Not much, Harriet; for pride and poverty can very well agree together:- but what was it?
Harriet. Why, mamma, you know the charity-school Lady Mary has set up, and how neat the girls look in their brown stuff gowns and little straw bonnets.
Mrs. B. Yes, I think it a very good institution : the poor girls are taught to read and spell and sew, and what is better still, to be good.
Harriet. Well, mamma, Lady Mary's gardener, a poor man who lives in a cottage just by the great house, has a little girl; and so, because she was a pretty little girl, Lady Mary offered to put her into this school; — and do you know he would not let her go!
Mrs. B. Indeed !
Harriet. Yes: he thanked her, and said, “I have only one little girl, and I love her dearly: and though I am a poor man, I had rather work my fingers to the bone than she should wear a charity dress.”
Mrs. B. I do not doubt, my dear Harriet, that a great many people will have the same idea of this poor man's behaviour which you have; but, for my own part, I am inclined to think it indicates something of a noble and generous spirit.