Page images

single head of poppy, and if all were to come up, the whole of our globe would, in a few years, be covered with poppies. One of our native thistles would, by the second year of its growth, if all its seeds were to take root, be the progenitor of about five hundred and eighty millions of thistles. The majestic Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria) bears on every tree from twenty to thirty fruits, and each fruit contains about three hundred kernels. In some parts of the country where these grow, when left to themselves, these trees form immense forests, extending north and south for eight hundred miles. The tobacco has been known to produce on one plant three hundred and sixty thousand seeds; and the annual produce of a single stalk of spleenwort has been estimated at a million.

" All the Year Round.




furl-ed blaz-on ry

“Oh! tell me, harper, wherefore flow
Thy wayward notes of wail and woe
Far down the deserts of Glencoe,

Where none may hear their melody?
Say, harpest thou to the mists that fly,
Or to the dun deer dancing by,
Or to the eagle that from high

Screams chorus to thy minstrelsy?”

“No, not to these, for they have rest;
The mist-wreath hath the mountain-crest,
The stag his lair, the erne her nest,

Abode of lone security;
But those for whom I pour the lay,
Not wild wood deep nor mountains grey,
Not this deep dell that shrouds from day,

Could screen from treacherous cruelty.

Their flags were furled, and mute their drum,
The very household dogs were dumb,
Unwont to bay at guests that come

In guise of hospitality.
His blithest notes the piper plied,
Her gayest snood the maiden tied,
The dame her distaff flung aside,

To tend her kindly housewifery.

“ The hand that mingled in the meal
At midnight drew the felon steel,
And gave the host's kind breast to feel

Meed for his hospitality.
The friendly heart which warmed that band,
At midnight armed it with the brand,
And bade destruction's flames expand

Their red and fearful blazonry.

“ Then woman's shriek was heard in vain,
Nor infancy's unpitied plain,
More than the warrior's groan, could gain

Respite from ruthless butchery.

The winter wind that whistles shrill,
The snows that night that choked the hill,
Though wild and pitiless, had still

Far more than Southron's clemency.
Long have my harp's best notes been gone,
Few are its strings, and faint its tone,
They can but sound in deserts lone

Their grey-haired master's misery.
Were each grey hair a minstrel string,
Each chord should imprecations fling,
Till startled Scotland loud should ring-
* Revenge from blood and treachery!






A greedy pig fattened itself under a lofty oaktree with the acorns which fell from it. Whilst it was eating one, it devoured another with its eyes.

« Unthankful animal !" cried the oak-tree down to it at length. “ Thou nourishest thyself with my fruit, without ever having the grace to cast one look of gratitude upwards to me.

The pig was silent for a moment, then it grunted its answer,

6. Thou shouldst certainly not go without grateful looks from me, if I only could be sure that thou hadst dropped thy acorns down here for

my sake.”


pas-sen-gers mo-del-ling pul-leys
ob-serv-ant gi-gan-tic


al-pha-bet When we see a railway-train drawn by a locomotive at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour, and carrying as many as five hundred passengers, how little are we apt to think that this marvel of science and art is due mainly to two men, who, in the outset of their career, occupied an obscure position

-James Watt and George Stephenson. George Stephenson had a very humble beginning. His father, Robert Stephenson, lived in a colliery village on the banks of the Tyne, and was a fireman to the engine which pumped water from the pit. He had six children, of whom George was the second. He was born in 1781. When he was eight years old he was put to work to help the family, and his work was herding a few cows, for which light employment he received twopence a day. He was a very active, observant, little boy, very fond of trying to make water-mills of reeds and straws, and modelling little steam-engines with clay. He examined every mechanical contrivance that came in his way, and made all kinds of things with no other help than an old knife. From being a herd-boy, he was promoted to lead horses when ploughing, hoe turnips, and do other farm-work, by which he now earned fourpence a day; but his great desire was to be employed about a colliery, so as to be among the bustle of wheels, gins, and pulleys.

Accordingly, quitting farm-work, he got engaged to drive a gin-horse, and now his wages were three shillings a week; and so it went on until he gradually did a little more work and earned a little more money. But he had never yet learned his letters. When at last his wages rose to twelve shillings and threepence a week, he said, and thought he was “a made man ” for life. His occupation was attending to the furnace of one of those gigantic steam-engines which pumped water from a coal-pit. While at this occupation, he gained a character for steadiness. The world is always groping about for steady men, and sometimes it is not easy getting hold of them. George was rigorously sober, and was never so happy as when at work. He was so fond of his engine, that he was never tired of looking at it, as it worked with regularity the enormous pumps.

He kept it in such excellent order, that there was little for him to do. It worked by itself, and required only a look now and then.

By way of filling up his time, he began to model little steam-engines in clay. While so engaged, he was told of engines of a form and character he had never seen. They were not within reach, but were described in books. Alas! George, though now eighteen years of age, did not know his alphabet. He soon saw if he wished to do anything to raise himself, he must learn to read. He found a poor teacher, who agreed to give him

« PreviousContinue »