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XIX. THE FISH I DIDN'T CATCH.
[JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (b. 1801,
-) was born in Haverhill, Mass. His boyhood was passed on a farm, and he never received a classical education. In 1829 he edited a newspaper in Boston. In the following year he removed to Hartford, Conn., to assume a similar position. In 1836 he edited an anti-slavery paper in Philadelphia. Since 1840 he has resided in Amesbury, Mass. Mr. Whittier's parents were Friends, and he has always held to the same faith. He has written extensively both in prose and verse. As a poet, he ranks among those most highly esteemed and honoured by his countrymen. "Snow-Bound," published in 1865, is one of the longest and best of his poems.]
1. Our bachelor uncle who lived with us was a quiet, genial man, much given to hunting and fishing; and it was one of the pleasures of our young life to accompany him on his expeditions to Great Hill, Brandy-brow Woods, the Pond, and, best of all, to the Country Brook We were quite willing to work hard in the corn-field or the haying-lot to finish the necessary day's labour in season for an afternoon stroll through the woods and along the brook-side.
2. I remember my first fishing excursion as if it were but yesterday. I have been happy many times in my life, but never more intensely so than when I received that first fishing-pole from my uncle's hand, and trudged off with him through the woods and meadows. It was a still, sweet day of early summer; the long afternoon shadows of the trees lay cool across our path; the leaves seemed greener, the flowers brighter, the birds merrier, than ever before.
3. My uncle, who knew by long experience where were the best haunts of the fish, considerately placed me at
the most favourable point. I threw out my line as I had so often seen others, and waited anxiously for a bite, moving the bait in rapid jerks on the surface of the water in imitation of the leap of a frog. Nothing came of it. "Try again," said my uncle. Suddenly the bait sank out of sight. "Now for it," thought I; "here is a fish at last."
arms, and drew it back empty. I looked at my uncle appealingly. "Try once more," he said; we fishermen must have patience."
5. Suddenly something tugged at my line, and swept off with it into deep water. Jerking it up, I saw a fine pickerel wriggling in the sun. Uncle !" I cried, looking back in uncontrollable excitement, "I have got a fish!" "Not yet," said my uncle. As he spoke there was a plash in the water. I caught the arrowy gleam of a scared fish shooting into the middle of the stream, my hook hung empty from the line. I had lost my prize.
6. We are apt to speak of the sorrows of childhood as trifles in comparison with those of grown-up people; but we may depend upon it the young folks don't agree with us. Our griefs, modified and restrained by reason, experience, and self-respect, keep the proprieties, and, if possible, avoid a scene; but the sorrow of childhood, unreasoning and all-absorbing, is a complete abandonment to the passion. The doll's nose is broken, and the world breaks up with it; the marble rolls out of sight, and the solid globe rolls off with the marble.
7. So, overcome with my great and bitter disappointment, I sat down on the nearest hassock, and for a time refused to be comforted, even by my uncle's assurance that there were more fish in the brook. He refitted my bait, and, putting the pole again in my hands, told me to try my luck once more.
8. "But remember, boy," he said, with a shrewd smile, "never brag of catching a fish until he is on dry ground. I've seen older folks doing that in more ways than one, and so making fools of themselves. It's no use to boast of any thing until it's done, nor then, either, for it speaks for itself."
9. How often since I have been reminded of the fish that I did not catch. When I hear people boasting of a work as yet undone, and trying to anticipate the credit which belongs only to actual achievement, I call to mind that scene by the brook-side, and the wise caution of my uncle in that particular instance takes the form of a proverb of universal application: "NEVER BRAG OF YOUR FISH BEFORE YOU CATCH HIM."-J. G. Whittier.
SUMMARY.-I was very fond of going with my bachelor uncle in his hunting and fishing expeditions. I well remember my first fishing excursion. I have never been happier in my life than on the day when I received the first fishing pole from my uncle's hands, and trudged off with him through woods and meadows. 1 was considerately placed at the most favourable point. I threw out my line and waited anxiously for a bite. For a long time it was all in vain, but at last there was a tug, and I exclaimed--“1 have got a fish." I was in too great a hurry, for the line broke, and the scared fish shot quickly into the middle of the stream. was greatly grieved, but I learned a proverb of universal application: "Never brag of your fish before you catch him."
EXERCISES.-1. Parse and analyse-Again and again I cast out my line with aching arms.
2. Adjectives are formed by adding ate, ful, ose, which mean "full of;" as, fortunate, full of fortune; doleful, full of grief (doleo, I grieve); verbose. full of words (verbum, a word). Give the exact meaning of the following words-passionato, cheerful, jocose.
XX.-MOSES AT THE FAIR.
light-ning rib-bon gin-ger-bread per-suad-ed
[OLIVER GOLDSMITH (b. 1728, d. 1744) was a poet, novelist, and miscellaneous writer. His best known prose works are the "Vicar of Wakefield," from which the following lesson is taken, and a series of miscellaneous essays entitled "The Citizen of the World ;" and two plays called "The Good-natured Man," and " She Stoops to Conquer." He is also the author of two poems, "The Traveller" and "The Deserted Village," some of the lines of which have come to be very familiar quotations.]
1. As we were now to hold up our heads a little higher in the world, my wife proposed that it was proper to sell our colt, which was grown old, and buy us a horse that would carry single and double upon an occasion, and make a pretty appearance at church or upon a visit.
2. This I at first opposed stoutly, but it was as stoutly defended. However, as I weakened, my antagonists gained strength, till at length it was resolved to part with him.
3. As the fair happened on the following day, I had intentions of going myself; but my wife persuaded me that I had a cold, and would not hear of my leaving home.
4. "No, my dear," said she ; our son Moses is a discreet boy, and can buy or sell to very good advantage. You know all our great bargains are of his purchasing. He always stands out and higgles, and actually tires them till he gets a bargain."
5. As I had some opinion of my son's prudence, I was willing enough to entrust him with this commission, and the next morning I perceived his sisters mighty busy