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hereafter ; and I neither knew him, nor understood what he said.
Pep.—Master, you must have been troubled with a dream.
Alc.-Right, my child. Hear another : I have seen the dead beget the living, and the dead have been then consumed by the breath of the living.
Pep. You speak of a fire kindled by rubbing dry sticks together, and consuming the sticks afterwards.
These illustrations are interesting, as throwing light on the science of teaching in early times. Alcuin was esteered the most famous teacher of his day ; he taught the sons of the great Emperor Charlemagne, and some account of him ought to be known by every student of English history. We are indebted for these illustrations to Archdeacon Churton's “ History of the Early English Church.”
The Natural Bridge; or, One Niche the Highest.
HE scene opens with a view of the great Natural
Bridge in Virginia. There are three or four lads standing in the channel below, looking up with awe to that vast arch of unhewn rocks which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting butments " when the morning stars sang together.” The little piece of
sky spanning those measureless piers is full of stars, although it is mid-day. It is almost five hundred feet from where they stand, up those perpendicular bulwarks of limestone, to the key of that vast arch, which appears to them only the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel. The sun is darkened, and the boys have uncovered their heads, as if standing in the presence-chamber of the Majesty of the whole earth. At last this feeling begins to wear away ; they look around them, and find that others have been there before them. They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone butments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their knives are in their hands in an instant. “What
THE NATURAL BRIDGE; OR, ONE NICHE THE HIGHEST.
man has done man can do,” is their watchword, while they draw themselves up, and carve their names a foot above those of a hundred full-grown men who have been there before them.
They are all satisfied with this feat of physical exertion except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth that there is “no royal road to learning.” This ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach-a name which will be green in the memory of the world when those of Alexander, Cæsar, and Bonaparte shall rot in oblivion. It was the name of Washington. Before he marched with Braddock to that fatal field, he had been there and left his name a foot above any of his predecessors. It was a glorious thought to write his name side by side with that great father of his country. He grasps his knife with a firmer hand, and, clinging to a little jutting crag, he cuts again into the limestone, about a foot above where he stands; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands. 'Tis a dangerous adventure ; but as he puts his feet and hands into those gains, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself a foot above every name chronicled in that mighty wall. While his companions are regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in wide capitals, large and deep, in that flinty album. His knife is still in his hand, and strength in his sinews, and a new-created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he cuts his name in larger capitals. This is not enough.
Heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The gradations of his ascending scale grow
wider apart. He measures his length at every gain he cuts. The voices of his friends wax weaker and weaker, till their words are finally lost on his ear. He now for the first time casts a look beneath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings with a convulsive shudder to his little niche in the rock. An awful abyss awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint with severe exertion, and trembling from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is exposed. His knife is worn half way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words, of his terror-stricken companions below. What a moment! What a meagre chance to escape destruction! There is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to put his hands into the same niche with his feet, and
retain his slender hold a moment. His companions instantly perceive this new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that "freeze their young blood.” He is too high to ask for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, to come and witness or avert his destruction. But one of his companions anticipates his desire. Swift as the wind, he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon his father's hearthstone.
Minutes of almost eternal length roll on, and there are hundreds standing in that rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and awaiting the fearful catastrophe. The poor boy hears the hum of new and numerous voices both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting with all the energy of despair“William! William! Don't look down! Your mother, and Henry, and Harriet, are all here praying for you! Don't look down! Keep your eyes towards the top!” The boy didn't look down. His eye is fixed like a flint towards heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below. How carefully he uses his wasting blade ! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain ! How he economises his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts. motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother and sister, on the very spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone. The sun is half-way down in the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rock, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to get from this over-hanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is in his bosom ; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shout of hundreds perched upon cliffs, trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands upon the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty more gains must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully foot by foot, from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are in the hands of those
who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more, and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half-inch. The boy's head reels; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart—his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last flint gash he makes, his knife--his faithful knife-falls from his little nerveless hand, and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet. An involuntary groan of despair rang like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet the devoted boy lifts his devoted heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there ! one foot swings off! He is reeling-trembling---toppling over into eternity! Hark! a shout falls on his ears from above! The man, who is lying with half his length over the bridge, has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought, the noosed rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint convulsive effort the swooning boy drops his arms into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words “God!” and “mother!” whispered on his lips, just loud enough to be heard in heaven, the tightening rope lifts him out of his last shallow niche. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful abyss; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him up in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitude, such shouting, and such leaping and weeping for joy never greeted a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.
NE honest. John Tomkins, a hedger and ditcher,
Although he was poor, did not want to be richer;
By a fortunate habit of being contented.
“ For why should I grumble or murmur," he said ;
The Golden Lily of Rouen.
HE lily is the ancient crest of France, and Rouen
is one of its most famous cities. It was in the year 1391 that Isabelle d'Obert bequeathed to the city of Rouen a small estate, the rents of which were to be applied every third year to give prizes to such youths as chose to compete with each
other in poetry, painting, and sculpture. There were three prizes to be contended for. The first was for poetry, and consisted of a “golden lily,” which was worth twenty sovereigns; the second was for painting, and consisted of a “golden violet," value fifteen sovereigns; and the third, for sculpture, consisted of a “golden rose," of the same value. The candidates were all to be lads under the age of twenty.
The distribution of these prizes was always a fête day at Rouen, as by one accord business was suspended, and the houses decorated with flags, banners and the like. A procession was formed of the clergy, a certain number of the burgesses of the town, with the Mayor at their head, a chosen number of the maidens of the city neatly attired, and a company of young men