« PreviousContinue »
For these he changed the smoke of turf,
His golden eye.
But, petted, in our climate cold
At last, when, seeming blind and dumb,
To Mulla's shore.
He hailed the bird in Spanish speech;
Dropped down, and died.*
XI. - THE GOLD AND SILVER SHIELD.
[This piece, introduced mainly for the excellent moral it conveys, on the danger of rash decisions and the propriety of looking at both sides of a question, is taken from the Elegant Extracts; and it there appears with the name of BEAUMONT — who lo was I have not been able to learn.]
In the days of knight errantry and paganism, one of our old British princes set up a statue to the goddess of victory in a point where four roads met. In her right hand she held a spear, and her left rested upon a shield. The outside of this shield was of gold, and the inside of silver. On the former was inscribed, in the old British language, “ To the goddess
• The above poem records an incident which actually took place.
trer favorable and on the other, “ For four victories obtained successively over the Picts and other inhabitants of the northern islands.”
It happened one day that two knights completely armed, one in black armor, the other in white, arrived, from opposite parts of the country, at this statue, just about the same time; and as neither of them had seen it before, they stopped to read the inscription, and observe the excellence of its workmanship.
After contemplating it for some time, “ This golden shield,” says the black knight. “ Golden shield !” cried the white knight, who was as strictly observing the opposite side; "why, if I have my eyes, it is silver.” “I know nothing of your eyes,” replied the black knight,“ but if ever I saw a golden shield in my life, this is one.”
“Yes,” returned the white knight, smiling, “it is very probable, indeed, that they should expose a shield of gold in so public a place as this : for my part, I wonder even a silver one is not too strong a temptation for the devotion of some people who pass
and it appears by the date, that this has been here above three years.”
The black knight could not bear the smile with which this was delivered, and grew so warm in the dispute that it soon ended in a challenge; they both therefore turned their horses, and rode back so far as to have sufficient space for their career; then fixing their spears in their rests, they flew at each other with the greatest fury and impetuosity. Their shock was so rude, and the blow on each side so effectual, that they both fell to the ground, much wounded and bruised, and lay there for some time as in a trance.
A good Druid, who was travelling that way, found them in this condition. The Druids were the physicians of those times, as well as the priests. He had a sovereign balsam about him, which he had composed himself, for he was very skilful in all the plants that grew in the fields or in the forests ; he stanched their blood, applied his balsam to their wounds, and brought them, as it were, from death to life again. As soon as they were sufficiently recovered, he began to inquire into the occasion of their quarrel. “Why, this man,” cried the black
knight, “will have it that yonder shield is silver.” “ And he will have it," replied the white knight, " that it is gold," and then told him all the particulars of the affair. Ah,"
,” said the Druid with a sigh, “you are both of you, my brethren, in the right, and both of you in the wrong: had either of you given himself time to look at the opposite side of the shield, as well as that which first presented itself to view, all this passion and bloodshed might have been avoided; however, there is a very good lesson to be learned from the evils that have befallen you on this occasion. Permit me, therefore, to entreat you by all our gods, and by this goddess of victory in particular, never to enter into any dispute for the future, till you have fair'y considered both sides of the question.”
XII. - ENVY AND EMULATION.
[ANNA LETITIA AIKIN was born in Kibworth Harcourt, in Leicestershire, England, June 20, 1743, was married to the Rev. Rochemond Barbauld, a gentleman of French extraction, in 1774, and died March 29, 1825. Her father, the Rev. John Aikin, was teacher of a boys' school, and by him she was carefully and well educated. For many years after her marriage she assisted her husband in the instruction of youth, in which she showed great skill. Her Early Lessons, and her Hymns in Prose, - for which 80 many children, both in England and America, have had occasion to be grateful to her, - were written as practical manuals for the training of some of her own pupils. She also assisted her brother, the Rev. Dr. Aikin, in the composition of that admirable book, Evenings at Home.
Mrs. Barbauld wrote admirably in prose, and her poetry is always graceful and polished, and occasionally elevated and impressive, - especially in her moral and religious pieces. She was a warm friend of religious and political liberty, at a time when the cause of liberty was not so popular in England as it is now; and some of her occasional pamphlets, called forth by the political questions of the day, are written with masculine vigor and eloquence. Her manners and conversation were attractive, and she had a large circle of loving and admiring friends.
Mrs. Barbauld's works were collected, after her death, and published in two volumes, with a momoir by her niece, Miss Lacy Aikin.]
At one of the celebrated schools of painting in Italy, a young man named Giudotto * produced a piece so excellent that
The first syllable in this word is pronounced like the word Jer.
it gained the admiration of all the masters in the art. This performance was looked upon with very different eyes by two of his fellow-scholars.
Brunello, the elder of them, who had himself acquired some reputation in his studies, regarded all the honor Giudotto had arquired as so much taken from himself, and longed for nothing else so much as to see him lose the credit he had gained. Afraid openly to decry the merit of a work which had gained the approbation of the best judges, he threw out secret insinuations that Giudotto had been assisted in it by one or other of his masters; and he affected to represent it as a sort of lucky hit, which the reputed author would probably never equal.
Not so Lorenzo. Though a very young proficient in the art, he comprehended in its full extent the excellence of Giudotto's performance, and became one of his sincerest admirers. Fired with the praises he daily heard bestowed on Giudotto, his fellow-pupil, he ardently desired to deserve the same, and placed him before his eyes as a model, which it was his highest ambition to equal. He entered with his whole soul into the career of improvement, was the first and last of all the scholars in the designing room, and devoted to practice those hours at home which other youths passed in amusement. It was long before he could please himself with any of his attempts, and he was continually repeating to himself, “ Alas! how far distant is this from Giudotto's!” At length, however, he had the satisfaction of becoming sensible of his progress; and having received considerable applause for one of his performances, he ventured to say to himself, “ And why may not I too become a Giudotto ?”
Giudotto had now prepared, for the anniversary of the day when prizes were awarded in the school, a piece which was to excel all he had before executed. He had just finished it on the evening before the exhibition, and nothing remained but to heighten the color by means of a transparent varnish. The malignant Brunello contrived artfully to convey into the vial containing his varnish some drops of a caustic preparation, the effect of which would be to entirely destroy the beauty and splendor of the piece. Giudotto laid it on by candle light, and then with great satisfaction hung up his picture in the public room against the morrow. Lorenzo, with vast application, had finished a piece, which he humbly hoped might appear not greatly inferior to some of Giudotto's earlier perform
The important day arrived. The company assembled in the great room, where the light had just been fully admitted by drawing a curtain. All went up to Giudotto's picture, when, behold, instead of the beauty which they had conceived, there was nothing but a dead surface of confused and blotched colors. The unfortunate youth burst into an agony of tears, and exclaimed that he was betrayed and undone. Lorenzo, little less affected than Giudotto himself, cried out, “ Gentlemen, this is not Giudotto's work: I saw it when only half finished, and it was then an exquisite performance."
Every one admired Lorenzo, and sympathized in the disgrace of Giudotto; but it was impossible to adjudge the prize to his picture, in the state in which they beheld it. It was therefore awarded to Lorenzo, who presented it to Giudotto, saying, “ Take what merit would have acquired you, had not the basest malice and envy defrauded you of it. If hereafter I may aspire to equal you, it shall be by means of fair competition, not by the aid of treachery."
Lorenzo's noble conduct excited the warmest encomiums among the judges, who at length determined that for this time there should be two equal prizes distributed; for, if Giudotto had deserved the prize of painting, Lorenzo was entitled to that of virtue.