« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
By what name do we call the delaying of that which we know cannot be finally escaped or avoided ?
By what name do we designate that animal which has two horns, a long tail, and cloven feet, and that affords beef, butter, and cheese ?
Answer. The Cow.
By what name do we designate the restraint of appetite and passion ?
What name is given to the reverence of God?
What name is applied to an effort of genius and art, producing an association of exalted and brilliant ideas in language harmoniously arranged ?
A general coincident feeling between two persons ?
That tranquil state of mind in which the agitations of anxiety and dis. appointment are no longer felt?
That state of mind which suffers no dismay from danger ?
SIMPLE DIALOGUE, OR CONVERSATION. Young persons are seldom at a loss for topics of conversation, when left unrestrained to themselves. But as soon as they are required to write what is called a composition, they feel at a loss what to say. This arises from no inability to form ideas, nor from want of words to express them ; but rather from a vague apprehension that something is required of them, which they have never done before ; and to which they know not how to address themselves. The cultivation of the habits of observation, to which allusion has already
been made in the first exercise, will help them wholly out of the difficulty ; especially, if they be informed, that the art of writing is nothing more than the art of expressing with the hand, in signs which present themselves to the eye, that, which with their voice, they convey to the ears of others. In other words, that in their early attempts at writing composition, they may write down in letters, what they would say to their companions in their common conversations.
To cultivate the habits of observation, the following dialogue, from the pen of Dr. Aikin, is presented; with the recommendation that it be read to the young student, or that he be required to read it carefully, in order that he may learn to use his eyes aright, and attentively observe what passes before them.
THE TUTOR AND HIS PUPILS.
Eyes and no Eyes ; or, the Art of Seeing.
"Well, Robert, where have you been walking this afternoon?" said a *utor to one of his pupils, at the close of a holiday.
Robert. I have been to Broom-heath, and so round by the windmill upon Camp-mount, and home through the meadows by the river side.
Tutor. Well, that is a pleasant round.
Robert. I thought it very dull, Sir; I scarcely met with a single per son. I would much rather have gone along the turnpike road.
Tutor. Why, if seeing men and horses was your object, you would, indeed, have been better entertained on the high-road. But did you see William ?
Robert. We set out together, but he lagged behind in the lane, so I walked on and left him.
Tutor. That was a pity. He would have been company for you.
Robert. O, he is so tedious, always stopping to look at this thing and that! I would rather walk alone. I dare say he is not got home yet.
Tutor. Here he comes. Well, William, where have you been?
William. O, the pleasantest walk! I went all over Broom-heath, and so up to the mill at the top of the hill, and then down among the green meadows by the side of the river.
Tutor. Why, that is just the round Robert has been taking, and he complains of its dulness, and prefers the high-road.
William. I wonder at that. I am sure I hardly took a step that did not delight me, and I have brought home my handkerchief full of curiosities.
Tutor. Suppose, then, you give us an account of what amused you so much. I fancy it will be as new to Robert as to me. . William. I will do it readily. The lane leading to the heath, you
now, is close and sandy, so I did not mind it much, but made the best of ny way. However, I spied a curious thing enough in the hedge. It vas an old crab-tree, out of which grew a great bunch of something green. yuite different from the tree itself. Here is a branch of it.
Tutor. Ah! this is a mistletoe, a plant of great fame for the use made of it by the Druids of old in their religious rites and incantations. It bears a very slimy white berry, of which birdlime may be made, whence the Latin name, Viscus. It is one of those plants which do not grow in the ground by a root of their own, but fix themselves upon other plants ; whence they have been humorously styled parasitical, as being hangers on, or dependents. It was the mistletoe of the oak that the Druids par. ticularly honored.
William. A little farther on, I saw a green woodpecker fly to a trea and run up the trunk like a cat.
Tutor. That was to seek for insects in the bark, on which they live. They bore holes with their strong bills for that purpose, and do much damage to the trees by it.
William. What beautiful birds they are !
Tutor. Yes; they have been called, from their color and size, the English parrot.
William. When I got upon the open heath, how charming it was ! The air seemed so fresh, and the prospect on every side so free and unbounded! Then it was all covered with gay flowers, many of which 1 had never observed before. There were at least three kinds of heath, (I have got them in my handkerchief here,) and gorse, and broom, and bell-flower, and many others of all colors, of which I will beg you pre. sently to tell me the names.
Tutor. That I will, readily.
William. I saw, too, several birds that were new to me. There was a pretty grayish one, of the size of a lark, that was hopping about some great stones; and when he flew, he showed a great deal of white above his tail.
Tutor. That was a wheat-ear. They are reckoned very delicious birds to eat, and frequent the open downs in Sussex, and some other counties, in great numbers.
William. There was a flock of lapwings upon a marshy part of the heath, that amused me much. As I came near them, some of them kept flying round and round, just over my head, and crying pewit so distinctly, one might almost fancy they spoke. I thought I should have caught one of them, for he flew as if one of his wings was broken, and often tumbled close to the ground; but, as I came near, he always contrived to get away.
Tutor. Ha, ha! you were finely taken in, then! This was .all an artifice of the bird's, to entice you away from its nest; for they build upon the bare ground, and their nests would easily be observed, did they not draw off the attention of intruders, by their loud cries and counterfeit laineness.
William. I wish I had known that, for he led me a long chase, often over shoes in water. However, it was the cause of my falling in with an old man and a boy, who were cutting and piling up turf for fuel; and I had a good deal of talk with them, about the manner of preparing the turf, and the price it sells at. They gave me, too, a creature I never saw before – a young viper, which they had just killed, together with its dam. I have seen several common snakes, but this is thicker in proportion, and of a darker color than they are.
Tutor. True. Vipers frequent those turfy, boggy grounds pretty much, and I have known several turf-cutters bitten by them.
William. They are very venomous, are they not?
Tutor. Enough so to make their wounds painful and dangerous, though they seldom prove fatal.
William. Well - I then took my course up to the windmill on the inount. I climbed up the steps of the mill, in order to get a better view of the country round. What an extensive prospect! I counted fifteen church steeples; and I saw several gentlemen's houses peeping out from the midst of green woods and plantations; and I could trace the wind. ings of the river all along the low grounds, till it was lost behind a ridge of hills. But I'll tell you what I mean to do, if you will give me leave.
Tutor. What is that?
William. I will go again, and take with me Cary's country map, by which I shall probably be able to make out most of the places.
Tutor. You shall have it, and I will go with you, and take my pocket spying-glass.
William. I shall be very glad of that. Well - a thought struck me, that, as the hill is called Camp-mount, there might, probably, be some remains of ditches and mounds, with which I have read that camps were surrounded. And I really believe I discovered something of that sort running round one side of the mount.
Tutor. Very likely you might. I know antiquaries have described such remains as existing there, which some suppose to be Roman, others Danish. We will examine them further when we go.
William. From the hill I went straight down to the meadows below, and walked on the side of a brook that runs into the river. It was all bordered with reeds, and flags, and tall flowering plants, quite different from those I had seen on the heath. As I was getting down the bank to reach one of them, I heard something plunge into the water near me. It was a large water-rat, and I sew it swim over to the other sige, and go into its hole. There were a great many dragon-flies all about the stream. I caught one of the finest, and have got him here in a leaf. But how I longed to catch a bird that I saw hovering over the water, and every now and then darting down into it! It was all over a mixture of the most beautiful green and blue, with some orange color. It was somewhat less than a thrush, and had a large head and bill, and a short tail..
Tutor. I can tell you what that bird was — a kingfisher, the celebrated halcyon of the ancients, about which so many tales are told. It lives on fish, which it catches in the manner you saw. It builds in holes in the banks; and is a shy, retired bird, never to be seen far from the stream where it inhabits.
William. I must try to get another sight at him, for I never saw a bird that pleased me so much. Well, I followed this little brook, till it entered the river, and then took the path that runs along the bank. On the opposite side, I observed several little birds running along the shore, and making a piping noise. They were brown and white and about as big as a snipe.
Tutor. I suppose they were sand-pipers, one of the numerous family of birds that get their living by wading among the shallows, and picking up worms and insects.
William. There were a great many swallows, too, sporting upon the surface of the water, that entertained me with their motions. Sometimes they dashed into the stream ; sometimes they pursued one another so quickly, that the eye could scarcely follow them. In one place, where a
high, steep sand-bank rose directly above the river, I observed many of them go in and out of holes, with which the bank was bored full.
Tutor. Those were sand-martins, the smallest of our four species of swallows. They are of a mouse-color above, and white beneath. They make their nests and bring up their young in these holes, which run a great depth, and by their situation are secure from all plunderers.
William. A little farther, I saw a man in a boat, who was catching eels in an odd way. He had a long pole with broad iron prongs at the end, just like Neptune's trident, only there were five instead of three. This he pushed straight down into the mud, in the deepest parts of the river, and fetched up the eels sticking between the prongs.
Tutor. I have seen this method. It is called spearing of eels.
William. While I was looking at him, a heron came flying over my head, with his large flapping wings. He alighted at the next turn of the river, and I crept softly behind the bank to watch his motions. He had waded into the water as far as his long legs would carry him, and was standing with his neck drawn in, looking intently on the stream. Presently he darted his long bill as quick as lightning into the water, and drew out a fish, which he swallowed. I saw him catch another in the same manner. He then took alarm at some noise I made, and flew away slowly to a wood at some distance, where he settled.
Tutor. Probably his nest was there, for herons build upon the loftiest tree they can find, and sometimes in society together, like rooks. Formerly, when these birds were valued for the amusement of hawking, many gentlemen had their heronries, and a few are still remaining.
William. I think they are the largest wild birds we have.
Tutor. They are of great length and spread of wing, but their bodies are comparatively small.
William. I then turned homeward across the meadows, where I stopped awhile to look at a large flock of starlings, which kept flying about at no great distance. I could not tell, at first, what to make of them; for they rose all together from the ground, as thick as a swarm of bees, and formed themselves into a kind of black cloud, hovering over the field. After taking a short round, they settled again, and presently rose again in the same manner. I dare say there were hundreds of them.
Tutor. Perhaps so; for, in the fenny counties, their flocks are so numerous, as to break down whole acres of reeds by settling on them. This disposition of starlings to fly in close swarms was remarked even by Homer, who compares the foe flying from one of his heroes, to a cloud of starlings retiring dismayed at the approach of the hawk.
William. After I had left the meadows, I crossed the cornfields in the way to our house, and passed close by a deep marl-pit. Looking into it, I saw in one of the sides a cluster of what I took to be shells; and, upon going down, I picked up a clod of marl which was quite full of them; but how sea-shells could get there I cannot imagine.
Tutor. I do not wonder at your surprise, since many philosophers have been much perplexed to account for the same appearance. It is not uncommon to find great quantities of shells and relics of marine animals even in the bowels of high mountains very remote from the sea.
William. I got to the high field next to our house just as the sun was setting, and I stood looking at it till it was quite lost. What a glorious sight! The clouds were tinged with purple and crimson, and yellow of all shades and hues, and the clear sky varied from blue to a fine green at