Imatges de pÓgina

2. Cuts off his tale.-That is, tale of work, or task.

3. On the winking of authority.-The "winking of authority" means the disposition of king or magistrate to overlook a crime. This, says John, is too often taken (understood) as a command to commit the crime.


1. And didst in signs again parley with sin. -The king's hints led Hubert to encourage the design by hints in response. Here the king reproaches Hubert for having expressed his knowledge of what was intended. He was desirous of having the young prince murdered, but would rather that Hubert should have done the deed as though he were ignorant of the king being aware of it. He was, in reality, blaming Hubert for making the king a partner in the deed, and not shielding him from public condemnation.

2. My state. My government and power.

3. Even at my gates.-The French force had landed in the country. 4. This confine of blood and breath-i.e. the king's own body. He was at war with himself.


1. I will meet him at Saint Edmund's-Bury.-Bury St. Edmund's, in Suffolk. It derives its name from the fact of St. Edmund, King of East Anglia, having been buried there. Magna Charta, which was signed by King John, at Runnymede, was prepared by the barons at St. Edmund's-Bury. Here, the Dauphin of France assembled an army to oppose King John.

2. Whose private with me of the Dauphin's love.-"Private " here is a noun and means confidential information.

3. Wall-ey'd wrath.—A wall-eye is an eye sometimes seen in horses, the iris being of a very light grey or whitish colour; in such cases the sight is imperfect. The phrase "wall-ey'd wrath is a figure of speech to denote anger, blinded, and made more ugly than usual.


1. All murders past do stand excus'd in this.-The meaning is that the alleged murder of this innocent youth was so foul an offence that

the murder of any ordinary person would be slight in comparison with this deed.

2. Never to be infected with delight, Nor conversant with ease and idleness.--"Infected" here has much the same meaning as affected.

3. Must I rob the law?—The law would hang the murderer. To kill him with the sword seemed therefore like robbing the law.

4. I shall gall you.-Shall do you an injury.

5. Toasting-iron was a vulgar term for sword.

6. Weep my date of life out.-That is, "weep to the end of life," or "weep without ceasing."


1. Trust not those cunning waters of his eyes.-Trust not his pretended tears.

2. The unow'd interest of proud swelling state.-Unow'd, unowned. This alludes to the possible fight that would ensue for the crown, as the rightful claimant for it was dead.

3. Now for the bare-pick'd bone of majesty.-The majesty of the king is likened to a bone that had been picked of its meat. The real honour and power of being king was of no value when the love and approval of the people had been lost.

4. The imminent decay of wrested pomp.-The king's honour being counted as gone, the glory of his position was rapidly decaying. "Imminent" means close at hand.



BYRON.-LORD GEORGE GORDON NOEL BYRON. Born, in London, 1788; Died, at Missolonghi, Greece, 1824.

Ar the age of nineteen he published his "Hours of Idleness," a volume of juvenile effusions which were severely criticised in the Edinburgh Review. Two years later appeared his reply, with the title, "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," a satire which obtained immediate celebrity, although Byron wished afterwards to suppress it.

He passed a great deal of his short and irregular life on the Continent. In 1823 he went to Cephalonia to take part with the Greeks in the cause of their independence. In the following year he was seized with a convulsive fit, followed by a fever. The affliction lasted only about ten days, when Byron died at the age of thirty-six years.

His greatest work was "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage," a poetic survey of the scenes he himself visited in his travels. He wrote also various dramas and other poems, which are considered to be among the finest of the English language.

CAMPBELL.-THOMAS CAMPBELL. Born, at Glasgow, 1777; Died, at Boulogne, 1844.

After passing

CAMPBELL was at one time a very popular poet. through the University of Glasgow, in which he excelled as a Greek scholar, he published his "Pleasures of Hope," which Byron pronounced to be one of the best didactic poems in the language. During a tour on the Continent he had a view from a distance of the

battle of Hohenlinden, which he afterwards celebrated in his lyric poem of that name.

In 1803 he took up his abode in London, where he began to pursue literature as a profession. In 1806, a pension of £200 a year was granted him, which pension he enjoyed for life. His "Gertrude of Wyoming" is one of his best poems. His lyrics are, perhaps, however, his noblest works. His body rests in Westminster Abbey.


THE fame of Coleridge rests not only on the comparatively few poems he wrote, but also on his philosophical writings and the records of his conversation. He went to live in a cottage at the foot of the Quantock Hills, Somersetshire, where, in conjunction with Mr. Wordsworth, who was his neighbour, he formed the plan of the famous "Lyrical Ballads."

In 1797 he wrote his "Ancient Mariner" and other poems. By the aid of some friends he was enabled to visit Germany, where he studied the literature of the country; and, on his return, he took up his residence at the Lakes, where Southey and Wordsworth had settled. The last years of his life were spent at Highgate.


Born 1731; Died 1800.

COWPER, the son of Dr. Cowper, Chaplain to George II., was intended for the law, and at the age of thirty-one years was nominated a clerk in the House of Lords. A constitutional timidity, however, prevented his accepting the office. He was next appointed Clerk of the Journals; but when he learned that it would be necessary for him to attend at the bar of the House, it had such an effect upon his nerves that he was obliged to resign the office. A morbid melancholy then seized him, and it was long before, under medical attendance, he recovered the use of his faculties. He afterwards retired to Olney, and devoted his life to poetry. He was fifty years of age before he published his first works. His "Task," "The Sofa," and "John Gilpin's Ride" are familiar as "household words." At the age of sixty-three his intellect again gave way, and never recovered.

ELIOT.-GEORGE ELIOT. Born 1820; Died 1880.

"GEORGE ELIOT" is an assumed name. The lady who wrote under this name was Mrs. Cross (formerly Miss Marian Evans), daughter of

a Warwickshire farmer and land steward. Miss Evans at one time wrote a good deal in the Westminster Review; but her fame rests on her works of fiction, which are amongst the finest in the English language.

Her principal stories and novels are-" Scenes from Clerical Life," "Adam Bede," "The Mill on the Floss," "Silas Marner," "Felix Holt, the Radical," "Middlemarch, a Study of English Provincial Life;" and, in poetry, the " Spanish Gipsy," "Agatha," and the Legend of Jubal."

[ocr errors]

GIBBON.-EDWARD GIBBON. Born, at Putney, 1737; Died, in London, 1794.

GIBBON was the most distinguished of English historians, and, perhaps, on the whole, the greatest historian who ever lived. He went to Oxford, but did not make any progress there. Afterwards he pursued classical studies at Lausanne, and returned to England in 1758, when he began to collect a noble library. Afterwards he travelled in Italy. In 1774 he was returned to Parliament for Liskeard; but, though he sat for eight years, he never shone as a speaker, always giving a silent vote for the Ministry.

In 1776, appeared the first volume of his great work, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." He tells us, "It was at Rome, on the 15th October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the Decline and Fall', of the city first started to my mind." In 1783, he returned once more to Lausanne, where he employed himself in completing his history.


Born 1728; Died 1774.

GOLDSMITH was the son of a clergyman of the Established Church, who held the living of Kilkenny West, in Ireland. He was sent to school in the village, under Thomas Byrne, a retired Irish soldier, whose peculiarities are recorded in the poem of the "Deserted Village." He was sent to Trinity College, Dublin, and thence to Edinburgh, to study the profession of medicine, but he failed in it through his convivial habits.

He was sent to an uncle at Leyden, which place he quitted for a tour on foot through Europe. On this occasion, and for this enterprise, he was furnished "with exactly one guinea in his pocket, a shirt on his back, and a flute in his hand." He frequently obtained

« AnteriorContinua »