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nim a similar edition of Euripides, "you will be so good as to find it for me in that little book."
4. The young Oxonian" returned again to his task, but with no better success. The tittering of the ladies informed him that he had got into a dilemma". At last, "Bless me, sir," said he, " how dull I am! I recollect now; yes, yes, I perfectly remember that the passage is in iEs'chylus." The inexorable professor returned again to his inexhaustible pocket, and was in the act of handing him an iEschylus, when our astonished student vociferated, "Stop the coach !— holloa, coachman! let ma out, I say, instantly, — let me out! There's a fellow here haa got the whole Bodleian" library" in his pocket."
XXIII. LEARNING TO WRITE.
1. The winter I was nine years old, I made another advance toward" the top of the ladder, in the circumstance of learning to write. I desired and pleaded to commence the chirographical47 art the summer, and, indeed, the winter before ; for others of my own age were at it thus early. But my father said that my fingers were hardly stout enough to manage a quill from his geese; but that, if I would put up with the quill of a hen, I inight try. This pithy satire put an end to my teasing.
2. Having previously had the promise of writing this winter, I had made all the necessary preparations days before school was to begin. I had bought me a new birch ruler, and had given a third of my wealth—four cents — for it. To this I had appended, by a well-twisted flaxen string, a plummet of my own running, whittling, and scraping. I had hunted up an old pewter inkstand, which had come down from the ancestral eminence of my great grandfather, for aught I knew; and it bore many marks of a speedier and less honorable descent, to wit, from table or desk to the floor.
3. I had succeeded in becoming the owner of a penknife ; — not that it was likely to be appplied to its appropriate use, that winter, at least; for such beginners generally used the instrument to mar that kind of pens they wrote in, rather than to make or mend those they wrote with. I had selected me of the fairest quills out of an enormous bunch. Half a quire of foolscap" had been folded into the shape of a writing-book by the maternal hand, and covered with brown paper nearly as thick aa a sheepskin.
4. Behold me now, on the first Monday1' in December," starting for school with my new and clean writing-book buttoned under my jacket, my inkstand in my pocket, a bundle of necessary books in one hand, and in the other my ruler and swinging plummet, which I flourished in the air and around my head, till the sharpened lead made its first mark on my own face. My long, white-feathered goose-quill was twisted into my hat-band, like a plumy badge of the distinction to which I had arrived, and of the important enterprise before me.
5. On arriving at the school-house I took a seat higher up and more honorable than the one I occupied the winter before. At the proper time, my writing-book, which with my quill I had handed to the master on entering, was returned to me, with a copy set, and paper ruled and pen made. My copy was a single straight mark at the first corner of my sheet of paper. "A straight mark! who could not make so simple a thing as that?" thought I. I waited, however, to see how the boy next to me, a beginner also, should succeed, as he had got ready a moment91 before me.
6. Never shall I forget the first chirographicalH exploit of this youth. That inky image will never fade from my memory, so long as a single trace of early experience is left on its tablet. The fact is, it was an epoch" in my life: something great was to be done, and my attention was intensely awake to whatever had a bearing on this new33 and important trial of my powers. I looked to see a mark as straight as a ruler, having its four corners as distinctly defined as the angles of a parallelogram."
7. But, O me! what a spectacle! What a shocking contrast to my anticipation! That mark had as many crooks as a ribbon in the wind, and nearer eight angles than four; and its two sides were nearly as rough and as notched as a fine handsaw; and, indeed, the mark somewhat resembled it in width, for the fellow** had laid in a store of ink sufficient to last the journey of the whole line. "Shame on him!" said I, internally. "I can beat that, I know."
8. I began by setting my pen firmly on the paper, and 1 brought a mark half-way down with rectilinear1' precision. But by this time my head began to swim, and my hand to tremble. I was, as it were, in vacancy, far below the upper ruling, and as far above the lower. My self-possession failed; my pen diverged to the right, then to the left, crooking all the remainder of its way, with as many zig-zags as could well be in so short a distance. Mine was as sad a failure as my neighbor's. I covered it over with my fingers, and did not jog him with a " see there," as I had vainly anticipated.
9. So much for pains-taking,—now for chance. By good luck the next effort wa> quite successful. I now dashed on, fcr better or worse, till in one half-hour I had covered the whole page. In the afternoon a similar copy was set, and I dashed on asaiu, as if I had taken so much writing by the job, and my only object was to save time. Now and then there was quite a reputable mark; but, alas for him whose perception of the beautiful was particularly delicate, should he get a glimpse of these sloughs0 of ink!
10. The third morning, my copy was the first** element of the m and n, or what in burlesque is called a hook. Ou the fourth, I had the last half of the same letters, or the trammel; and indeed they were the similitudes* of hooks and trammels, forged in a country plenteous in iron, and by the youngest apprentice at the hammer and anvil. In this way I went through all the small loners, as they are called. Then I must learn to make the capitals, before entering on joining hand. Capital letters !1a They were capital offences against all that is graceful, i.ideed decent, yea" tolerable, in that art which is so capable of beautiful forms and proportions.
11. I came next to joining hand, about three weeks after my commencement; and joining hand indeed it was! It seemed as if my hooks and trammels were overheated in the forge, and were melted into one another; the shapeless masses so cluna wgether at points where they ought to have been separate,'-i" and so very far were they from all resemblance to conjoined yet distinct and well-defined characters.
12. Thus I went on, a perfect little prodigal in the expenditure of paper, ink, pens and time. The first winter I splashed two, and the next three writing-books with inky puddle, in learning coarse hand; and, after all, I had gained not much in penmanship, except a workmanlike assurance and celerity of execution, such as is natural to an old hand at the business.
XXIV. THE LIFE-BOAT.
1 Quick! man the life-boat I96 See yon bark,
Avert the doom that's o'er her?
The life-boat! Man the life-boat!
2. Quick i man the life-boat! hark! the gun
'6 Quick! man the life-boat! See — the crew8*
Are "battling with the wave;
As thoughts of home come o'er him;
4. Speed, speed the life-boat! Off she goes!
And, as they pulled tho oar,
That startled ship and shore.
Has human lives within her;
Thou 'It save if thou canst win her.
5. Hurra! the life-boat dashes on,
Though darkly the reef may frown;
Full twenty fathoms down.
With the billows single-handed:
And now they are safely landed,
XXV. — THE SNOW OF WINTEE.'
I. What can surpass, in festal90 magnificence, a clear winter morning, when all things are firm with the cold? The early sunbeams play upon the glittering frost. The crystal icicles, like pend'ulous" diamonds, adorn every branch. Hills, valleys34 and plains, are robed in a pure attire of snow, upon the delicate and Icy points of which103 the hues of the rainbow seem daueing. The once variegated36 and wide-spreading landscape is transformed, by its white and dazzling mantle, into a scene simple and uniform as some ex'quisite marble statue. What profound stillness far and near! What a hush in the forest, as if the very winds were frozen!
2. And yet it is not the universal stillness which broods over the snow-clad plains, not the icy jewels which adoin both twig and branch, not the mirror-like surface of the ice on river and lake, which are worthy of our admiring wonder; but the create ive power of the Father of the universe, and the plenitude95 of His divine goodness. Thus did David contemplate84 the wonders of nature. Ever did his adoring soul ascend from the incomprehensible grandeur of creation, to the Omnipotent Creator. "Great is the Lord," he sang, "and great is His power; yea," and His wisdom is infinite." "He giveth snow like wool, and Bcattereth the hoar frost like ashes.'' "He casteth His ice like morsels: who is able to abide His frost?"
3. Yes, great is He, and incomprehensible, as He governs I92 But how few are they who are sensible of the greatness and mysterious wonder displayed in the benevolent91 appearances of nature! And yet, each single snow-flake, as it floats down from its cloud, is a subject for wonder, and proclaims He is great, and incomprehensible, as He governs! How do these mighty masses of delicately frozen water originate in the chambers of the heavens ?30 Who holds these weighty volumes of snow, undei -which the branches of the trees are broken, and many huts are hidden91 from sight; volumes which in the aggregate weigh many thousand tons, yet which float with feathery lightness, long invisible, in the expanse of the heavens, in order that they may not sink to earth till the proper time, and then so softly as to be rendered harmless, and which give a nourishing warmth to the 6eeds of the fields, the food of the ensuing year for man and beast?
4. If we examine with minuteness the falling snow, we will observe, particularly if the air be calm, that each flake consists of a number of exceedingly delicate particles of ice, which are united together with wonderful regularity. Thus they usually i form little, six-cornered, and finely-united stars, the hal/-transparent crystals of which are exquisitely pointed. Now they resemble fur with its regularly shooting points; now' they assume the form of feathers; and now they may be likened unto fibrous flowers, as if of braid and moss. So extremely delicate are these heavenly images, that the gentlest breeze severs them, and givofl them another form.