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Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye !
(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 'Bxplanatory Book of Standard Poetry, 160 pages, price One Shilling. The above is a selection from the work.)
Tossing the Pancake,
N Shrove Tuesday, one of the few relics of our fore
fathers' Shrovetide pastimes may be witnessed in the ancient schoolroom of Westminster by any one who happens to be passing through Little Dean's Yard. About eleven o'clock in the day one of the Abbey vergers, in his gown of office and silver
wand, opens the door of the schoolroom (where the boys are busy at work) and announces the advent of the college cook. This gentleman appears in the room in his official costume—white cap, jacket, &c.—bearing in his hand a mysteriouslooking compound, which tradition supposes to be a pancake. After poising it deftly on a wooden fork, he tosses it over a bar which separates the upper from the lower school, and goes
his way. The pancake falls among the boys, who thereupon scramble for it in the accustomed manner.
This curious ceremony is coeval with the foundation of the school, and is expressly ordered by the statute, the cook receiving an annual fee of two guineas on condition of performing his duty satisfactorily. If any one of the boys can catch the pancake as it falls, and preserve it whole in spite of all the efforts of the others to get it from his grasp, he takes it to the Dean and claims a guinea, which is also provided for by statute.
The Man who Killed his Neighbour.
EUBEN BLACK was a torment in the neighbourhood
where he lived. His wife had a sharp, uncomfortable look. His boys seemed to be in perpetual fear. His dog dropped his tail between his legs and eyed him askance, as if to see what humour he was in. The cat looked wild, and rushed straight up the chimney
when he moved towards her. Every day he cursed the town and neighbourhood, because the people poisoned his dogs and stoned his hens. Continual lawsuits involved him in so much trouble and expense that he had neither time nor money to spend in the improvement of his farm.
Such was the ate of things when John Brown bought the farm next to Reuben Black's. It had been much neglected, and had caught thistles and other weeds from the neighbouring fields. But John was a diligent man, and one who commanded well his own temper; for he had learned of Him who “is meek and lowly in heart." His steady perseverance and industry soon changed the aspect of things on the farm. River mud, autumn leaves, and old bones were all put into use to assist in producing fertility and beauty. His sleek horse tossed his mane and neighed when his master came near, as much as to say, “The world is all the pleasanter and better for having you in it, John Brown.” When John turned his steps homeward, his children threw
their caps and ran shouting, “Father's coming !” His wife sometimes said, “Every one who knows my husband loves him; they cannot help it."
Now John Brown's acquaintances knew that he was never engaged in a lawsuit in his life, but they predicted that he would find it impossible to avoid it now. They told him that his next neighbour was determined to quarrel with people, whether they would or not; that he was like John Lilburne, of whom it was said, “If the world were emptied of every person but himself, Lilburne would still quarrel with John, and John with Lilburne."
“Is that his character ?” said John. “If he exercises it upon me I will soon kill him."
People were not slow in repeating John Brown's remark to his wrangling neighbour. “Kill me, will he ?” exclaimed Reuben. He said no more; but his tightly-compressed mouth had such a significant expression that his dog slunk from him in alarm, and the cat bolted up the chimney.
Then commenced a series of teasing, worries, and persecutions; for Reuben was determined to make his new neighbour quarrel with him. But all his attempts failed : John would not be quarrelled with. Nay, more : he and his wife made many little advances towards a friendly state of things, and never seemed affronted when they were rejected. This imperturbable goodnature vexed Reuben more than all the taunts he met with from others. Evil deeds he could understand, and repay them, too, with compound interest; but he did not know what to make of this perpetual forbearance. He disliked John more than all the rest of the people put together, because he made him feel so uncomfortably in the wrong, and did not afford him the slightest pretext for quarrel.
At last, however, one night, after sitting thoughtfully smoking for a long time, he knocked the ashes from his pipe and said, with a sigh, “Peg, John Brown has killed me!”. “What do you mean ?" said his wife, dropping her knitting with a look of surprise. “Why, you know when he first came into the neighbourhood he said he would kill me; and he has done it. The other day he asked me to help his team out of the bog; and I told him I had enough to do to mind my own business. To-day my team stuck fast in the same bog, and he came with two yoke of oxen to draw it out. I felt ashamed to have him lend me a hand, so I told him I wanted none of his help; but he answered just as pleasantly as if nothing contrary had happened. He said that night was coming on, and he could not leave me in the mud."
“Well, he is a pleasant-spoken man," said Mrs. Black, “and always has a kind word to every one.
His wife seems to be a nice neighbourly body, too."
The next morning, much to his wife's astonishment, Reuben cut a fine ripe melon, and said he was going to take it “over there." Over, accordingly, to Mr. Brown's house he went, feeling very awkward, and after brushing his hat the wrong way, and rubbing his head, and looking out of the window, he said suddenly, as if by
a desperate effort
_" The fact is, Mr. Brown, I didn't behave right about the oxen.'
« Never mind, never mind," replied Mr. Brown; " perhaps I shall get into the bog again one of thesė rainy days; if I do, I shall know whom to call to help me out.".
"Why you see," said Reuben, still much confused, and avoiding John's mild, clear eye, " you see the neighbours here are very ugly. If I had always lived with such neighbours as you are, I should not be just what I am."
“Ah, well, we must try to be to others what we want them to be to us," rejoined John. “You know the good Book says 80. I have learned by experience that if we speak kind words, we hear kind echoes in life. If we try to make others happy, it fills them with a wish to make us happy. Perhaps you and I can bring these “ugly' neighbours round in time to this way of thinking and acting—who knows? Let us try, let us try,” he added. “ Čome," said John, “and look at my orchard; I want to show you a tree which I have grafted with very choice apples. If you like, I will procure you some cuttings from the same stock."
So they went into the orchard together, and friendly chat soon put Reuben at his ease.
When he returned home, he made no remarks about his visit, for he could not, as yet, summon sufficient greatness of soul to tell his wife that he had confessed himself in the wrong. stood behind the kitchen door in readiness to shoot Mr. Brown's dog for having barked at his horse. He now fired the contents into the air, and put the gun away. From that day forward he never sought for any pretext to quarrel with the dog or his master.
That evening John Brown smiled as he said to his wife, “Well, my love, I thought we should kill him at last.”
HEALTHY HOUSES.— There are five essential points in securing the health of houses: 1. Pure air; 2. Pure water ; 3. Efficient drainage ; 4. Cleanliness; 5. Light. Without these no house can be healthy; and it will be unhealthy just in proportion as they are deficient.
Folly of Attempting to Please all Mankind.
NCE on a time, a son and sire, we're told
The stripling tender, and the father old
Purchased a jackass at a country fair,
A MISCHIEVOUS PARROT. One day a party of ladies paid us a visit aboard, and several had been hoisted on deck by the usual means of a “whip” on the mainyard. The chair had descended for another “whip;" but scarcely had its fair freight been lifted out of the boat alongside than the unlucky parrot piped, “ Let go !” The order being instantly obeyed, the unfortunate lady, instead of being comfortably seated on deck, as had been those who preceded her, was soused over-head in the sea.Lord Dundonald's Autobiography.