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Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own:
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her inmate man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.
The poet next describes the amusements of a child of six years old, building his little houses of bits of wood or of clay, or showing a wedding or funeral procession with carved figures. When he is a little older, he learns "dialogues of business, love, or strife," and so goes on, from one thing to another, till he has gone through, in his amusements, the scenes of human life, "as if his whole vocation were endless imitation."
Behold the child among his new-born blisses-
A mourning or a funeral:
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song,
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this is thrown aside;
And, with new joy and pride,
The little actor cons another part,
Filling from time to time his "humorous stage"
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
[Those who appreciate this manner of opening up the meaning of poetry to children, will find the most popular poems in the language so dealt with in John Heywood's Explanatory Book of Standard Poetry, 160 pages, price One Shilling.]
The Sultan Mahmoud and his Vizier.
E are told that the Sultan Mahmoud, by his perpetual wars abroad and his tyranny at home, had filled his dominions with ruin and desolation, and half unpeopled the Persian empire. The vizier to this great sultan pretended to have learned of a certain dervis to understand the language of birds, so that there was not a bird that could open his mouth, but the vizier knew what it was he said. As he was one evening with the emperor, in their return from hunting, they saw a couple of owls upon a tree that grew near an old wall out of a heap of rubbish. "I would fain know," says the sultan, "what these two owls are saying to one another; listen to their discourse, and give me an account of it." The vizier approached the tree, pretending to be very attentive to the two owls. Upon his return to the sultan, "Sir," says he, "I have heard part of their conversation, but dare not tell you what it is." The sultan would not be satisfied with such an answer, but forced him to repeat, word for word, everything the owls had said. "You must know, then," said the vizier, "that one of these owls has a son, and the other a daughter, between whom they are now on a treaty of marriage. The father of the son said to the father of the daughter, in my hearing, 'Brother, I consent to this marriage, provided you will settle upon your daughter fifty ruined villages for her portion.' To which the father of the daughter replied, 'Instead of fifty, I will give her five hundred, if you please. God grant a long life to Sultan Mahmoud; whilst he reigns over us we shall never want ruined -villages.""
The story says the sultan was so touched with the fable, that he rebuilt the towns and villages which had been destroyed, and from that time forward consulted the good of his people.
In spending always leave a margin;
And let this maxim stick like pitch
very slow to think you're rich.-Franklin.
Life of Columbus.
(ABRIDGED FROM IRVING'S LIFE.)
HE situation of Columbus was daily becoming more critical. The impatience of the seamen rose to absolute mutiny. They gathered together in the retired parts of the ships, at first in little knots of two and three, which gradually increased and became formidable, joining in murmurs and
menaces against the admiral. They exclaimed against him as an ambitious desperado, who, in a mad phantasy, had determined to do something extravagant, to render himself notorious. They had already penetrated into seas in which no ship had ever been before: were they to sail on till they should perish, or until all return with their frail ships should become impossible? Who would blame them, should they consult their safety and return? The admiral was a foreigner without friends or influence. His scheme had been condemned by the learned as idle and visionary, and discountenanced by people of all ranks. There was, therefore, no party on his side, but rather a large number who would be gratified by his failure.
Such are some of the reasonings by which these men prepared themselves for open rebellion. Some even proposed, as an effectual mode of silencing all after-complaints of the admiral, that they should throw him into the sea, and give out that he had fallen overboard while contemplating the stars and signs of the heavens with his astronomical instruments.
Columbus was not ignorant of these secret cabals, but he kept a serene and steady countenance, soothing some with gentle words, stimulating the pride or the avarice of others, and openly threatening the most refractory with punishment. New hopes diverted them for a time. On the 25th September, Martin Alonzo Pinzon, mounted on the stern of his vessel, and shouted "Land! land! Señor, I claim the reward!" There was indeed such an appearance of land in the south-west, that Columbus threw himself upon his knees, and returned thanks to God, and
all the crews joined in chanting gloria in excelsis (glory in the highest). The ships altered their course and stood all night to the south-west, but the morning light put an end to all their hopes, as to a dream—the fancied land proved to be nothing but an evening cloud, and had vanished in the night.
For several days they continued on with alternate hopes and murmurs, until the various signs of land became so numerous, that the seamen, from a state of despondency passed to one of high excitement. Eager to obtain the promised pension, they were continually giving the cry of land; until Columbus decided that, should any one give a notice of this kind, and land not be discovered within three days afterwards, he should thenceforth forfeit all claim to the reward.
On the 7th of October they had come 750 leagues. There were great flights of small field-birds to the south-west, which seemed to indicate some neighbouring land in that direction, where they were sure of food and a resting-place. Yielding to the solicitations of Martin Alonzo Pinzon and his brothers, Columbus, on the evening of the 7th, altered his course, therefore, to the west south-west. As he advanced the signs of land increased: the birds came singing about the ships; and herbage floated by as fresh and as green as if recently from shore. When, however, on the evening of the third day of this new course, the seamen beheld the sun go down upon a shoreless horizon, they again broke forth into loud clamours, and insisted upon abandoning the voyage. Columbus endeavoured to pacify them by gentle words and liberal promises; but, finding these only increased their violence, he assumed a different tone, and told them it was useless to murmur; the expedition had been sent by the sovereigns to seek the Indies, and, happen what might, he was determined to persevere, until, by the blessing of God, he should accomplish the enterprise.
He was now at open defiance with his crew, and his situation would have been desperate, but, fortunately, the manifestations of land on the following day were such as no longer to admit of doubt. A green fish, such as creeps about rocks, swam by the ships; and a branch of thorn, with berries on it, floated by; they picked up, also, a reed, a small board, and, above all, a staff artificially carved. All the gloom and murmuring was now at
an end, and throughout the day each one was on the watch for the long-sought land.
In the evening, when, according to custom, the mariners had sung the salve regina, or vesper hymn, to the Virgin, Columbus made an impressive address to his crew, pointing out the goodness of God in thus conducting them, by soft and favouring breezes, across a tranquil ocean, to the promised land. He expressed a strong confidence of making land that very night, and ordered that a vigilant look-out should be kept from the forecastle, promising to whomsoever should make the discovery a doublet of velvet, in addition to the pensions to be given by the sovereigns (Ferdinand and Isabella).
The breeze had been fresh all day, with more sea than usual; at sunset they stood again to the west, and were ploughing the waves at a rapid rate, the Pinta keeping the lead, from her superior sailing. The greatest animation prevailed throughout the ships; not an eye was closed that night. As the evening darkened, Columbus took his station on the top of the castle or cabin on the high poop of his vessel. However he might carry a cheerful and confident countenance during the day, it was to him a time of the most painful anxiety; and now, when he was wrapped from observation by the shades of night, he maintained an intense and unremitting watch, ranging his eye along the dusky horizon, in search of the most vague indications of land. Suddenly, about ten o'clock, he thought he beheld a light glimmering in the distance. Fearing that his eager hopes might deceive him, he called to Pedro Gutierrez, gentleman of the king's bedchamber, and demanded if he saw a light in that direction; the latter replied in the affirmative. Columbus, yet doubtful whether it might not be some delusion of the fancy, called Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, and made the same inquiry. By the time the latter had ascended the round-house the light had disappeared. They saw it once or twice afterwards in passing gleams, as if it were a torch in the barque of a fisherman, rising and sinking with the waves; or in the hands of some person on shore, borne up and down as he walked from house to house. So transient and uncertain were these gleams, that few attached any importance to them; Columbus, however, considered them as certain signs of land, and that the land was inhabited.