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XIX. HOW TO TELL BAD NEWS.
Mr. H. and the Steward.
Mr. H. Ha! Steward, how are you, my old boy? How do things go on at home ?
Steward. Bad enough, your honor; the magpie's dead.
H. Did he? A greedy dog; why, what did he get he liked so well?
S. Horse-flesh, sir; he died of eating horse-flesh.
H. To carry water! and what were they carrying water for?
S. Sure, sir, to put out the fire.
A. My father's house burned down! and how came it set on fire ?
S. I think, sir, it must have been the torches.
S. Yes, poor gentleman! he took to his bed as soon as he heard of it.
H. Heard of what?
S. Yes, sir; your bank has failed, and your credit is lost, and you are not worth a shilling in the world. I made bold, sir, to wait on you about it, for I thought you would like to hear the news.
XX. THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM.
Robert Southey (b. 1774, d. 1843) was born in Bristol, England. He entered Baliol College, Oxford, in 1793. In 1804 he established himself permanently at Greta Hall, near Keswick, Cumberland, in the “lake country," where he enjoyed the friendship and society of Wordsworth and Coleridge, other poets of the “Lake School.” He was appointed poet laureate in 1813, and received a pension of £300 a year from the goyernment in 1835. Mr. Southey was a voluminous writer in both prose and verse. As a poet, he can not be placed in the first rank, although some of his minor pieces are very happy in thought and expression. Among his most noted poetical works are “Joan of Arc,” “ Thalaba the Destroyer,” “Madoc,” “Roderick," and the “Curse of Kehama.”
1. It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
Was sitting in the sun;
2. She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
In playing there, had found;
3. Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by; And then the old man shook his head, And, with a natural sigh, “'Tis some poor fellow's skull,” said he, “Who fell in the great victory.
4. “I find them in the garden,
For there's many here about;
The plowshare turns them out;
5. “Now tell us what 't was all about,”
Young Peterkin he cries;
With wonder-waiting eyes;
6. “It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout, But what they killed each other for,
I could not well make out; But every body said," quoth he, “ That 't was a famous victory:
7. “My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream, hard by;
And he was forced to fly;
8. “ With fire and sword, the country round
Was wasted, far and wide;
And new-born baby died;
9. “They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
Lay rotting in the sun :
10. “Great praise the Duke of Marlboro' won,
And our young prince, Eugene.”
Said little Wilhelmine.
11. “And every body praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
Quoth little Peterkin.
NOTES.—The Battle of Blenheim, in the “War of the Spanish Succession,” was fought August 13, 1704, near Blenheim, in Bavaria, between the French and Bavarians, on one side, and an allied army under the great English general, the Duke of Marlborough, and Eugene, Prince of Savoy, on the other. The latter won a decisive victory: 10,000 of the defeated army were killed and wounded, and 13,000 were taken prisoners.
XXI. “I PITY THEM.”
1. A POOR man once undertook to emigrate from Castine, Me., to Illinois. When he was attempting to cross a river in New York, his horse broke through the rotten timbers of the bridge, and was drowned. He had but this one animal to conyey all his property and his family to his new home.
2. His wife and children were almost miraculously saved from sharing the fate of the horse; but the loss of this poor animal was enough. By its aid the family, it may be said, had lived and moved; now they were left helpless in a land of strangers, without the ability to go on or return, without money or a single friend to whom to appeal. The case was a hard one.
3. There were a great many who “passed by on the other side." Some even laughed at the predicament in which the man was placed; but by degrees a group of people began to collect, all of whom pitied him.
4. Some pitied him a great deal, and some did not pity him very much, because, they said, he might have known better than to try to cross an unsafe bridge, and should have made his horse swim the river. Pity, however, seemed rather to predominate. Some pitied the man, and some the horse; all pitied the poor, sick mother and her six helpless children.
5. Among this pitying party was a rough son of the West, who knew what it was to migrate some hundreds of miles over new roads to locate a destitute family on a prairie. Seeing the man's fortorn situation, and looking around on the bystanders, he said, “All of you seem to pity these poor people very much, but I would beg leave to ask each of you how much."
6. “There, stranger," continued he, holding up a ten dollar bill, “there is the amount of my pity; and if others