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to understand how wretched the roads must then have been.
6. More strange still is it to find this blind fiddler marching in a blue and buff uniform and a goldlaced hat at the head of a volunteer regiment into Scotland to help to put down the rebellion of the Young Pretender in 1745. His regiment suffered severely in an engagement near Falkirk, and many were taken prisoners of war. Metcalf, though he escaped unhurt, endured many hardships, and incurred most serious risks.
7. It was not until he was nearly fifty years old that he entered upon the great business of his life upon which his fame depends—that of a road-maker. Up to this time it was not considered necessary to have any special skill for making roads, so the business was left to any one who might chance to take it up. Hence this
blind man, who had not been brought up as an engineer, or even as a mechanic, who had no practical experience in the arts of surveying and bridge-building, but who was a man of extraordinary natural gifts, was our first extensive road-maker and bridge-builder, and a most successful one. For nearly thirty years he was engaged in this laborious occupation. At Boroughbridge it was necessary to build a bridge, and Metcalf, although frankly stating that he never had constructed one, applied for the work, and showed so much practical knowledge that he obtained it.
8. He then agreed to make the short road between Knaresborough and Harrogate, with every foot of
which he was already familiar. “Walking one day,” says Dr. Smiles, “ over a portion of the ground on which the road was to be made, while still covered with grass, he told the workmen that he thought it differed from the ground adjoining it, and he directed them to try for stone or gravel underneath, and, strange to say, not many feet down the men came upon the stones of an old Roman causeway, from which he obtained much valuable material for the making of his new road. At another part of the contract there was a bog to be crossed, and the surveyor thought it impossible to make a road over it. Metcalf assured him that he could readily accomplish it, on which the other offered, if he succeeded, to pay him for the straight road the price which he would have to pay if the road were constructed round the bog. Metcalf set to work accordingly, and had a large quantity of furze and ling laid upon the bog, over which he spread layers of gravel. The plan answered effectually, and when the materials had become consolidated it proved one of the best parts of the road.”
9. He continued at this occupation until he was seventy-five years of age, and then retired to a farm. He lived to be nearly ninety-three, and then this strong-hearted and resolute man peacefully departed, having left behind, as an imperishable legacy, the memory of one who had shown in his long and marvellous career what can be accomplished by steady, unflinching perseverance and energy, amid difficulties and privations which might have condemned many men to helpless poverty and obscurity.
experience, what we learn thrifty, saving. through life.
familiar, fully acquainted illustration, proof.
with. sterling, real.
consolidated, hardened. integrity, nobleness. resolute, strong. expert, skilful.
unflinching, never giving solitary, by himself.
way. volunteer, raised at pri- imperishable, that will
vate expense and not by never die. government.
per-se-ver-ance oc-ca-sion pre-fer-ring spe-ci-al
reg-i-ment ex-tra-or-di-na-ry to-tal-ly trav-el-led re-bel-li-on suc-cess-ful re-cov-er-y
anx-i-ous bus-i-ness leg-a-cy er-rands car-ri-age ne-ces-sa-ry con-demn-ed
What lesson does the life of Metcalf teach us? When and where was he born? How did he become blind? What could he do as a blind child ? Describe his return from London to Harrogate. On what occasion did he go into Scotland? What was the great business of his life? At what age did he enter upon this business? Where did he build his first bridge? What short road did he first construct? What did he find when making that road? What difficulty had he to overcome? Show how he overcame it. At what age did he die ? What legacy did he leave behind ?
THE DATE TREE. 1. The date tree is one of the large family of palms. It is a native of both Asia and Africa, and
will grow readily on any sandy soil where the climate is not too cold. The cultivation of this tree is an object of the highest importance in the countries of the East. In the interior of Barbary, in Egypt, in the drier districts of Syria, and in Arabia, it is almost the sole object of agriculture.
2. The date palm is a majestic tree rising to the height of sixty feet and upwards without branch or division, and of uniform thickness throughout its entire length. Its trunk is elegantly divided by rings. From its summit it throws out a crown of large leaves, which are equally graceful in their formation and arrangement. The
begins to bear fruit about eight years after it has been planted, and continues to be productive for from seventy to one hundred years. The fruit is disposed in ten to twelve long pendent clusters from the summit. These clusters sometimes weigh from twenty to twenty-five pounds each.
3. Dates form the principal food of the inhabitants of some of the countries of the East, and are an
important article of commerce. They are oval in shape, having a large stone. The best are firm and of a yellow colour. They are sugary, nourishing, and require no preparation. When they are intended to be eaten fresh they are allowed to ripen perfectly. In this state they possess a delicious per