Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

said he, pouting a lip, as he was wont to do when agitated, “I wished to kill the bear, that I might carry the skin to my father.”

By prudent management the ships were extricated from the ice, and on their return to England the crews were dispersed. His uncle then placed him with Captain Farmer, in the Seahorse, of twenty guns, then going out to the East Indies in the squadron under Sir Edward Hughes. His good conduct crew the attention of the master of the ship, upon whose advice the captain made him a midshipman.

When he had been about eighteen months in India he fell into a dangerous illness, which threatened to prove fatal in its termination. The disease baffled all the power of medicine; he was reduced almost to a skeleton; the use of his limbs was for some time entirely lost; and the only hope that remained was a voyage home. Accordingly, he was brought home by Captain Pigot in the Dolphin; and had it not been for the attentive and careful kindness of that officer on the way, Nelson would never have lived to reach his native shores. Long afterwards, when the name of Nelson was as well known as that of England itself, he spoke of the feelings which he at this time endured. “I felt impressed,” said he, “with a feeling that I should never rise in my profession. My mind was staggered with a view of the difficulties I had to surmount, and the little interest with the Admiralty I possessed. I could discover no means of reaching the object of my ambition. After a long and gloomy reverie, in which I almost wished myself overboard, a sudden glow of patriotism was kindled within me, and presented my king and my country as my patron. Well then, I exclaimed, I will be a hero! and, confiding in Providence, I will brave every danger!

His interest, however, was far better than he had imagined. During his absence, his uncle, Captain Suckling, had been made Comptroller of the Navy. His health had greatly improved upon the voyage ; and as soon as the Dolphin was paid off, he was appointed acting lieutenant on a ship going to Gibraltar. Soon after his return, on the 8th of April, 1777, he passed his examination for a lieutenancy. His uncle, Captain Suckling, sat at the head of the board ; and when the examination had ended in a manner highly honourable to Nelson, rose from his seat and

introduced him to the examining captains as his nephew. They expressed their wonder that he had not informed them of this relationship before. He replied that he did not wish the youngster to be favoured; he knew his nephew would pass a good examination, and he had not been deceived. The next day he received his commission as second lieutenant on board a frigate then fitting out for Jamaica, of which Captain Locker was the commander.

Soon after this he lost his uncle, Captain Suckling. Captain Locker, however, who had perceived the excellent qualities of Nelson, and formed a friendship with him which continued during his life, recommended him warmly to Sir Peter Parker, then commander-in-chief upon that station.

His promotion from that time became rapid ; but he had many dangers to encounter in the war against the Spaniards. In April, 1780, he attacked one of the islands which the Spaniards had fortified. Nelson, at the head of a few of his

seamen,

leaped upon the beach. The ground upon which he sprang was so muddy that he had some difficulty in getting out of it, and in doing so lost his shoes. Barefooted, however, he advanced, and, in his own phrase, “boarded the Spanish battery.” The castle of St. Juan was situated about sixteen miles higher up, and the men had to march through woods almost impassable. One of the men was bitten under the eye by a snake, which darted upon him from the bough of a tree. He was unable to proceed from the violence of the pain; and when, after a short while, some of his comrades were sent back to assist him, he was dead, and the body already putrid.

Nelson himself narrowly escaped a similar fate. He had ordered his hammock to be strung under some trees, being very tired, and was fast asleep, when a monitory lizard passed over his face. The Indians happily observed the reptile, and, knowing that it indicated that a poisonous serpent was near, awoke him at once. He started up, and found one of the deadliest serpents of the country coiled up at his feet. Though he escaped this danger, he suffered from poison of another kind, for, drinking at a spring in which some boughs of a poisonous tree had been cast, the effects were so severe as, in the opinion of some of his friends, to inflict a lasting injury on his constitution.

[ocr errors]

a

THE

Yohn Barleycorn.
HERE were three kings into the East,

Three kings, both great and high.
And they have sworn a solemn oath,

John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,

Put clods upon his head,
And they have sworn a solemn oath,

John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerful spring came kindly on,

And showers began to fall ;
John Barleycorn got up again,

And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,

And he grew thick and strong,
His head well armed with pointed spears,

That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,

When he grew wan and pale ;
His bending joints and drooping head

Showed he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,

He faded into age ;
And then his enemies began

To show their deadly rage.
They've ta’en a weapon long and sharp,

And cut him by the knee ;
And tied him fast upon the cart,

Like a rogue for forgery.
They laid him down upon his back,

And cudgell’d him full sore ;
They hung him up before the storm,

And turned him o'er and o'er.
They filléd up a darksome pit

With water to the brim,
They heavéd in John Barleycorn,

There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,

To work him further woe ;
And still as signs of life appeared,

They toss'd him to and fro.

They wasted o’er a scorching flame

The marrow of his bones
But a miller used him the worst of all,

For he crush'd him between two stones.
And they have ta’en his very heart's blood,

And drunk it round and round ;
And ill the more and more they drank,

Their joy did more abound.

OLD BALLAD.

The Angel of the Iceberg.

BY THE REV. JOHN TODD.

IN TWO PARTS.

PART I.

AR, far up toward the North Pole, in the gloom of the
long winter, during which not a ray of sunlight fell
on all the dreary region, were a number of poor freez-
ing men, who lay down to die. Their ship had been
crushed amid the ice, their provisions all destroyed,
and without fire or wood-weary and exhausted, they

knew that here they must die.
They gathered in a circle on the cold snow, shook each other
by the hand, spoke a few words about their homes and friends
whom they were never to see again, and then asked their com-
mander to offer up one more prayer for them. He was a tall,
noble-looking, white-haired old man of seventy ; and as he knelt
down on the snow, and lifted up his frozen hands to heaven, he
poured out a simple, child-like prayer for the friends they had
left, for the country they had loved, and then asked mercy for
those whose spirits would all meet in eternity in a few hours.
Before he had finished his prayer some of his companions had
sunk into that deep sleep from which there is no awakening.

With tears rolling and freezing on his cheeks, he laid his own head down on the drifting snow and slept also ! The cold clouds hung far round the horizon, with here and there a bright star that looked down on the frozen men. The polar bear passed

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sea.

near with his heavy tread, and the wild fox stole over the ice after him, but disturbed not the sleepers.

Just then, two spirits stood with folded wings looking at the icy men, and silent as they gazed. They had come from a fardistant world to catch the last prayer of the dying men, to close their eyes in death, and to see that their bodies were safely buried from the wild beasts. The prayer they had poured into the golden censer : their eyelids they had gently shut; and their bodies were then placed so far down under deep eternal graves that no created eye could ever see them till the morning of the resurrection. The keen-scented bear knew not when he passed over them.

“We have done our errand,” says one of the spirits to the other. “Shall we now leave this dreary spot and go

back?" “I suppose we must; but I have been thinking

Just then a noise was heard, so loud and so sudden that it startled the angels. It seemed as if a world had fallen into the

They peered through the gloom and saw the end of a mighty river of ice, which had been growling and pushing for years till it had now reached the ocean. Here it slowly slid into the water, till the huge mass broke off with a crash that made the earth quake and the ocean to foam and roar. lay rolling, rising, and falling in the water—a great iceberg, two miles long and a mile wide, and towering far up toward heaven. It had just been born.

“Ah! that's the way the icebergs are made. How grand it floats! And there are thousands and thousands of such stretching off far beyond where the eye can see.

But of what were you thinking ?

“I was thinking that it is these awful icebergs that make these waters so certain to crush the ship, and these regions so sure to be the grave of all that come here. Who knows what a summer might be found here, and what fleets of ships might sail here, and what beauty might spread over all these shores, what birds with the plumage of Paradise might sing here, what cities might rise up and what nations might live here, were it not that these terrible icebergs destroy everything? I do believe that only one thing is wanting to make this a lovely spot—and that is to melt away these icebergs! And I do believe that I could con

It now

a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »