Page images
PDF
EPUB

7. Where now is the ship? Far away yonder, hardly visible in the pallid gloom of the horizon.

8. The wind blows in gusts; the billows overwhelm him. He raises his eyes, but sees only the livid clouds. He, in his dying agony, makes part of this immense insanity of the sea. He is tortured to his death by its immeasurable madness. He hears sounds which are strange to man,-sounds which seem to come not from earth, but from some frightful realm beyond.

9. There are birds in the clouds, even as there are angels above human distresses; but what can they do for him? They fly, sing, and float, while he is gasping. He feels that he is buried at once by those two infinities, the ocean and the sky: the one is a tomb, the other a pall.

10. Night descends. He has been swimming for hours: his strength is almost exhausted. That ship, that far-off thing, where there were men, is gone : he is alone in the terrible gloom of the abyss. He sinks, he strains, he struggles; he feels beneath him the shadowy monsters of the unseen; he shouts.

11. Men are no more. Where is God ? He shouts. “Help! help!" He shouts incessantly. Nothing in the horizon. Nothing in the sky !

12. He implores the blue vault, the wave, the rocks. All are deaf. He supplicates the tempest: the imperturbable tempest obeys only the Infinite.

13. Around him are darkness, storm, solitude, wild and unconscious tumult, the ceaseless tumbling of the fierce waters; within him, horror and exhaustion ; beneath him, the ingulfing abyss : no resting-place.

14. He thinks of the shadowy adventures of his lifeless body in the limitless gloom. The biting cold paralyses him. His hands clutch wildly, and grasp at nothing. Winds, clouds, whirlwinds, blasts, stars,—all useless.

15. What shall he do? He yields to despair : worn out, he seeks death; he no longer resists; he gives himself up. He abandons the contest, and he is rolled away into the dismal depths of the abyss for ever.

on.

SUMMARY.—A man has fallen overboard, but the ship passes

The wind is blowing, and the vessel must proceed. The man disappears, but rises again, and vainly stretches out his hands for help. His cries of despair are unheeded, and the departing sail looks to him like a spectre. He sinks again, and the terrors of the deep are before him. He struggles hard and tries to defend himself. He rises once more to the surface, but there is no help at hand. The struggle is prolonged, but he at last gives way and is rolled into the dismal depths for ever. A populace of waves spit upon him-allusion is here, and indeed

all through the lesson, made to the pitiless treatment that the populace (i.e., the general body of the people) give to the unfortunate.

A-byss', (lit. bottomless) the Im-per-turb-a-ble, passionless, deep.

unfeeling. Des-tined, pre-arranged, deter- In-cess-ant-ly, without ceasing. mined.

Liv-id, leaden-coloured.
Fren-zy, maddening despair. Merged, mixed with.
Im-meas-ur-a-ble, that cannot Pall, black funeral-cloth.

be measured, boundless. Spec-tre, a ghost.

QUESTIONS. What has happened? Why | meet his eye when he again reaches does the ship sail on? How does the surface? How does he perthe man try to save himself? severe? How long? What is With what result? What is seen his fate at last? What is the beneath the waters? What sights | moral of this extract ?

EXERCISES.-1. Parse and analyse-The imperturbable tempest obeys only the Infinite.

2. Adjectives are formed by adding en, which means “made of;" as, wo made of wood; earthen, made of earth. Give the exact meaning of the following words-woollen, leaden, silken, golden.

XXVI.—ALFRED THE GREAT. o-beyed' am-bi-tion

in-va-sions a-bil-i-ty rout-ed ar-riv-al

joy-ful-ly il-lus-trat-ed strag-gling cir'-cum-stance mes-sen-gers

in-ter-est-ing tal-ent dis-tin-guish se-cret-ly oc-cu-pa-tion with-al' en-e-mies

vic-to-ries un-suc-cess-ful 1. England had long been disturbed by the invasions of the Danes or Northmen, who were the same people whom the French called Normans. They landed on various parts of the coast, burned the towns, robbed and murdered the people, and were even daring enough to break open monasteries for the sake of plunder. The nobles were obliged to keep their vassals constantly armed against them; but it was not in their power to remedy the evil. The pirates came in such vast numbers, that no one nobleman could muster a force strong enough to oppose them, and no one dared to go to the aid of another, because by doing so, his own family and property must, in the meantime, be left unprotected.

2. Things were in this state in the year 871, when Alfred, at the age of twenty, became King of England. He was a prince of remarkable talent and virtue, brave in war, a wise legislator, fond of learning, and withal possessed of a most amiable disposition. Such a monarch as this could not fail to be a blessing to the country, and so he proved; yet, when he was twelve years old, he knew not how to read. It is said that his ambition to attain this accomplishment was excited by the following circumstance.

3. His mother had a book of Saxon poetry, the pages of which were illustrated in a splendid manner, and the verses of a nature to delight a youthful hero who was looking forward to the time when he should be a man, able to distinguish himself in battle. Alfred and his brothers stood round the queen as she read aloud to them from the admired volume, which she promised to give to the one who should first learn to read it; and although Alfred was the youngest, he won the prize. Such was the beginning of the studies of this renowned prince, who afterwards went to Rome to complete his education, and became one of the best scholars of his time.

4. During the first years of his reign, he was entirely occupied in fighting against the Danes, who were now carrying on a regular warfare in England, with the view of making an entire conquest of the country; but they were at length defeated, and consequently forced to betake themselves once more to their own land. Some of the particulars of this war are so very interesting that I shall relate them.

5. After several unsuccessful battles the young king was deserted by so many of his soldiers, that he was left almost alone, and was obliged to disguise himself in order to escape being made prisoner by the Danes, who were searching for him in all directions. Destitute of food and lodging, he applied to a cow-herd for employment, and was engaged to look after the cows—a singular occupation for the king of a great nation. Nevertheless, he performed his humble duties to the best of his ability, so that no one had the least suspicion of his rank.

6. Here, while the Danes sought him far and wide, he was left alone one day, by the cow-herd's wife, to watch some cakes which she put to bake upon the hearth. Being at work upon his bow and arrows, with which he hoped to punish the false Danes when a brighter time should come, and thinking deeply of his poor unhappy

subjects whom they chased through the land, his noble mind forgot the cakes and they were burnt. “What !” said the cow-herd's wife, who scolded him well when she came back, and little thought she was scolding the king, "you will be ready enough to eat them by and by, and yet you cannot watch them, you idle dog !"

[graphic]

7. At last his enemies concluded he was dead, and left off seeking him, when he quitted the service of the cow-herd, and collecting around him a few of his most faithful friends, they built and fortified a castle in a wild desolate spot, where it was not likely to be easily discovered.

8. Here they concealed themselves for a long while, now and then going out to watch for straggling parties of Danes, whom they surprised and defeated. Having gained several small victories in this way, the king began

« PreviousContinue »