to think of preparing for a battle; but before he ventured on so bold a measure, he wished to ascertain the strength of the enemy.

9. It is said that, instead of trusting to the reports of others, he went himself, in the disguise of a wandering minstrel, into the Danish camp, and was admitted to the presence of the chiefs. They were quite delighted with his performance on the harp, and made him partake of their good cheer, being entirely unaware of the real quality of their guest.

10. Alfred soon discovered that the Danes thought of little but feasting and enjoying themselves. He resolved, therefore, to attack them suddenly while they were thus unprepared, and sent messengers to all the English nobles on whose fidelity he could rely, desiring them to assemble secretly and speedily, with their vassals, in Selwood Forest.

11. The summons was joyfully obeyed, for most of his subjects, as well as his enemies, had believed that he was dead. The chiefs armed their followers, and led them to the spot, to wait the arrival of their monarch, whose appearance was greeted with long and loud cheers. To be brief, the war was renewed, the Danes were completely routed, and Alfred was happily restored to the throne.-Charles Dickens.

SUMMARY.-England suffered greatly for many years from the incursions of the Danes or Northmen, before the days of King Alfred, who began to reign in 871. He was a prince of remarkable ability and goodness, a wise law-maker, and brave in the day of battle. During the earlier years of his reign he was continually engaged in strife with the Danes, who were trying to conquer England. They were at last defeated, and compelled to retire to their native country. Alfred had to endure much personal suffering during these years of warfare; but his efforts were at last rewarded by a peaceful settlement on the throne.

Ac-com-plish-ment, acquirement. | Fi-del-i-ty, faithfulness, loyalty.

As-cer-tain', to learn, to make


Con-cealed', hid.

De-serted, forsaken.

Des-o-late, lonely, waste.

Des-ti-tute of, without.

Dis-guise', to conceal by an un

usual dress. Do-mes-tic, at home.

For-ti-fied, made strong.

Leg-is-lat-or, one who makes

Mon-as-ter-y, a house for reli-
gious retirement.
O-bliged', compelled.
Pi-rate, a sea robber.
Sus-pi-cion, mistrust.

Vas-sal, a dependant, a subject.


Who were long a cause of trouble to England? How were the nobles compelled to act? When did Alfred begin his reign? How were the earliest years spent? Why was Alfred compelled to

hide himself? Where did he seek shelter? How did he find out the weakness of the enemy's plans? Where did Alfred gather his followers? What happened to the Danes at last?

EXERCISES.-1. Parse and Analyse-Alfred went himself, in the disguise of a wandering minstrel, into the Danish camp.

2. Adjectives are formed by adding ish, which has the power of a diminutive; as, greenish, rather green; feverish, slightly fevered. Give the exact meaning of the following words-whitish, stiffish, blackish.

[blocks in formation]

[ROBERT SOUTHEY (b. 1774, d. 1843) was the son of a draper, and was born in Bristol. After trying a variety of occupations, he settled at last near Keswick, and devoted himself to study. He seems, indeed, to have overtasked his mind, for in the later years of his life it gave way altogether. In 1813 he was made poet-laureate, or poet to the king. His smaller pieces, such as the "Holly-Tree," "To a Bee," and "Mary, the Maid of the Inn," are the most popular of his poems, and possess a simplicity and grace not found in his more laboured productions. "Thalaba," "Madoc," and "The Curse of Kehama," are the names of his larger works.]

1. O reader! hast thou ever stood to see
The holly-tree?

The eye that contemplates it well perceives
Its glossy leaves,

Ordered by an intelligence so wise

As might confound the atheist's sophistries.

2. Below a circling fence its leaves are seen,

Wrinkled and keen;

No grazing cattle through their prickly round
Can reach to wound;

But, as they grow where nothing is to fear,
Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.

3. I love to view these things with curious eyes,
And moralise;

And in this wisdom of the holly-tree
Can emblems see

Wherewith perchance to make a pleasant rhyme,
One which may profit in the after-time.

4. Thus, though abroad perchance I might appear Harsh and austere,

To those who on my leisure would intrude
Reserved and rude,

Gentle at home amid my friends I'd be,
Like the high leaves upon the holly-tree.

5. And should my youth, as youth is apt, I know, Some harshness show,

All vain asperities I day by day

Would wear away,

Till the smooth temper of my age should be
Like the high leaves upon the holly-tree.

6. And as when all the summer trees are seen,
So bright and green,

The holly leaves a sober hue display
Less bright than they ;

But when the bare and wintry woods we see,
What then so cheerful as the holly-tree?

7. So serious should my youth appear among
The thoughtless throng;

So would I seem amid the young and gay
More grave than they;

That in my age as cheerful I might be
As the green winter of the holly-tree.


SUMMARY.-The growth of the holly-tree is very peculiar. Its foliage is of a very dark green, which it generally retains during the winter. The bark has a bitter acrid taste, so that rabbits and hares avoid it. Towards the bottom of the tree the leaves are furnished with stiff sharp prickles, which securely protect them from the bite of quadrupeds, but towards the top these prickles disappear. From this striking mode of growth the poet seeks to deduce a moral for the life of man. Youth, represented by the under leaves, is apt to be rash and impulsive, but this fiery zeal must be gradually tempered and moulded into the calm, harmless, and mature wisdom of age, fitly the holly-tree.

As-per-i-ty, roughness, harsh


A-the-ist, one who denies the

existence of a God.

Au-stere', severe, harsh.
Con-tem-plates, views.
Em-blem, a figure.

Gloss-y, smooth and shining.

represented by the top leaves of

Hue, colour, tint.

In-tel-li-gence, skill.
In-trude', to thrust in.

Mor-al-ise', to discourse on moral

Per-chance', perhaps.

Soph-is-try, fallacious reasoning.
Rhyme, poetry.


What kind of leaves has the holly? How are they described in the second verse? What is an emblem? What may be said to

resemble the holly-tree? What
are "vain asperities?"
hue?" "green winter?" "thought-
less throng?"

EXERCISES.-1. Parse and analyse-All vain asperities I day by day would wear away.

2. Adjectives are formed by adding less, which mean "without;" as, harmless, without harm; breathless, without breath. Give the exact meaning of the following words-lifeless, friendless, senseless, doubtless.

"All green was vanished save of pine and yew,
That still displayed their melancholy hue;
Save the green holly with its berries red,
And the green moss that o'er the gravel spread."


[blocks in formation]

1. I have heard that nothing gives a writer so great pleasure as to find his work respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate. I stopped my horse, lately, where a number of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times. One of the company called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks, "Pray, father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not those heavy taxes quite ruin the country? able to pay them? What would you advise us to do?"

How shall we ever be

2. Father Abraham stood up, and replied: "If you would have my advice, I will give it to you in short; for 'A word to the wise is enough,' as poor Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathered round him while he proceeded as follows.

3. "Friends," said he, "the taxes are indeed heavy; and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly and self-indulgence; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good

« VorigeDoorgaan »