Studies in Reading, 1913. Fifth Reader. (A Rare Book)
The Old Puritan Lawmaker
General Robert E. Lee wrote the following in a letter to his son, G.W. Curtis Lee, while his son was attending college. The letter contains such good advice from an eminent father to his son that we are naturally anxious to read it closely. The incident told of the old Puritan legislator is one of the best illustrations we have of faithful adherence to duty.
“You must study to be frank with the world. Frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right. If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it, if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot; you would wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind.
Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly, with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not.
If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back. We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it a path of peace and honor.
In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that nearly a hundred years ago there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness, - still known as “the dark day,” – a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse.
The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in the general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that the last day – the judgment day – had come. Some one, in the consternation of the hour, moved an adjournment.
Then there arose an old Puritan legislator, Davenport, of Stamford, and said that, if the last day had come, he wished to be found at his place doing his duty, and therefore moved that candles be brought in, so that the house could proceed with its duty.
There was a quietness in that man’s mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. Duty, then, is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things like the old Puritan. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.”
- Robert E. Lee
All is Beauty
The Nature of LoveLove is the river of life in this world. Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill – the first small fountain. Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges, and not lost the stream; not until you have gone through the meadow, and the stream has widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasures into its depths – not until then can you know what love is.
A Good Name
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Dare to do Right
The Death of the Dauphin
There is something humorous in the awe with which almost every one views the rich man or the man of lofty station. The world recognizes the folly of empty titles or falsely acquired wealth, yet the world makes its best bow to the purse and to the scepter. Notwithstanding this, there is one reckoning that must be made in common by millionaire and clown; by prince and peasant. When Death approaches, gold, station, pride, all earthly vanities appear in their true values and help not at all to ward off the threatened stroke. This pathetic little story tells us of the powerlessness of even the most powerful to resist death, and sets forth the emptiness of titles, place, and authority in the presene of the Great Messenger. The little Dauphin (do fin) is the prince royal heir to the throne of France. He is guarded and cared for like a king. Her has been trained to put his trust in cannons, in swords and in soldiers, in titles and in money. This story tells the extent to which he can rely on these things to keep Death from him.
“The little Dauphin is ill; the little dauphin is dying. The streets of the old capital are sad and silent, the bells ring no more, the carriages slacken their pace. In the neighborhood of the palace the curious townspeople gaze through the railings upon the beadles, who converse in the courts and put on important airs.
All the castle is in a flutter. Chamberlains and majordomos run up and down the marble stairways. The galleries are full of pages and of courtiers in silken apparel, who hurry from one group to another, begging in low tones for news. Upon the wide perrons the maids of honor, in tears, exchange low courtesies and wipe their eyes with daintily embroidered handkerchiefs.
A large assemblage of robed physicians has gathered in the Orangery. They can be seen through the panes waving their black sleeves and inclining their periwigs with professional gestures. The governor and the equerry of the little Dauphin walk up and down before the door awaiting the decision of the Faculty. Scullions pass by without saluti8ng them. The equerry swears like a pagan; the governor quotes verses from Horace.
Meanwhile, over here, in the direction of the stabls, is heard a long and plaintive neighing; it is the little Dauphin’s sorrel, forgotten by the hostlers, and calling sadly before his empty manger.
And the King? Where is his Highness, the King? The King has locked himself up in a room at the other end of the castle. Majesties do not like to be seen weeping. For the Queen, it is different. Sitting by the bedside of the little Dauphin, she bows her fair face, bathed in tears, and sobs very loudly before everybody, like a mere draper’s wife.
On the bed embroidered with lace the little Dauphin, whiter than the pillows on which he is extended, lies with closed eyes. They think that he is asleep; but no, the little Dauphin is not asleep. He turns towards his mother, and seeing her tears, he asks: -
Madame la Reine, why do you weep? Do you really believe that I am going to die?”
The Queen tries to answer. Sobs prevent her from speaking.
“Do not weep, Madame la Reine. You forget that I am the Dauphin, and that Dauphins cannot die thus.
The Queen sobs more violently, and the little Dauphin begins to feel frightened.
“Halloa!” says he, “I do not want Death to come and take me away, and I know how to prevent him from coming here. Order up on the spot forty of the strongest lansquenets to keep guard around our bed! Have a hundred big cannons watch day and night, with lighted fuses, under our windows! And woe to Death if he dares to come near us!”
In order to humor the royal child, the Queen makes the sign. On the spot the great cannons are heard rolling in the courts, and forty tall lansquenets, with halberds in their fists, draw up around the room. They are all veterans, with grizzly mustaches. The little Dauphin claps his hands on seeing them. He recognizes one, and calls, -
The veteran makes a step towards the bed.
“I love you well, my old Lorrain. Let me see your big sword. If Death wants to fetch me you will kill him, won’t you?”
Lorrain answers: “Yes, Monseigneur.”
And two great tears rolled down his tanned cheeks.
At that moment the chaplain approaches the little Dauphin, and talks to him in low tones. The little Dauphin listens with astonished air; then, suddenly interrupting him –
“I understand well what you are saying, Monsieur l’Abbe; but still, couldn’t my little friend Beppo die in my place, if I gave him plenty of money?”
The chaplain continues to talk to him in low tones, and the little Dauphin looks more and more astonished.
When the chaplain has finished, the little Dauphin resumes, with a heavy sigh: -
“What you have said is all very sad, Monsieur l’Abbe; but one thing consoles me, and that is that up there, in the Paradise of the stars, I shall still be the Dauphin. I know that the good God is my cousin, and cannot fail to treat me according to my rank.”
Then he adds, turning toward his mother:“Bring me my fairest clothes, my doublet of white ermine, and pumps of velvet! I wish to look brave to the angels, and to enter Paradise in the dress of a Dauphin.”
A third time the chaplain bends over the little Dauphin, and talks to him in low tones. In the midst of his discourse the royal child interrupts him angrily.
“Why, them” he cries, “to be Dauphin is nothing at all!”
And refusing to listen to anything more, the little Dauphin turns toward the wall and weeps bitterly.”
- Alphonse Daudet
The Man who Sings
Give us, O give us, the man who sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenness. He will do more in the same time, he will do it better, he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous, a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright.
- Thomas Carlyle