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passed away forever. Nay: consider how Plutarch, Aeschylus, Plato, living in a world so very different from ours,—in many respects, so infantile compared with ours,-can still instruct the wisest and delight the most critical among us, and you may well conclude that to write nobly, excellently, is a far loftier achievement than to rule, to conquer, or to kill, and that the truly great author looks down on the little strifes and agitations of mankind from an eminence which monarchs can but feebly emulate, and the ages can scarely wear away.

5. But eminence in any good or great undertaking implies intense devotion thereto,-implies patient, laborious exertion, either in the doing or in the preparing for it. He who fancies greatness an accident, a lucky hit, a stroke of good fortune, does sadly degrade the achievement contemplated, and undervalue the unerring wisdom and inflexible justice wherewith the universe is ruled. Ask who among modern poets have written most admirably, so far as manner and finish are regarded, and the lover of poetry least acquainted with literary history will unhesitatingly answer,-Pope, Goldsmith, Gray, Moore, Campbell, Bryant, Longfellow, Tennyson. He may place others above any or all of these in power, in genius, in force; but he cannot doubt that these have most smoothly, happily, faultlessly, sung what they had to sing,—that their thoughts have lost less than almost any others' by inharmony or infelicity of expression.

6. Then let him turn to Biography, and he will find that these men have excelled nearly or quite all others in patient study, in fastidious determination to improve, so long as improvement was practicable; in persistent labor, so long as labor could possibly avail. It was quite easy for Pope to say, "The things I have written fastest have always pleased most;" for he always studied and thought himself full of a subject before he began to write about it, and his composition was merely a setting down and arranging of ideas already present in his mind. And yet I apprehend that posterity has not ratified his judgment; I mean, that his works which "pleased most"

when first published, have not stood the test of time as well as some others. The world of letters knew him as a pains-taking, laborious, correct writer, even before he had established his claim to be honored as a great one. And the works he wrote so rapidly he afterward revised, corrected, altered, recast, before allowing the public to see them, to the sad encouragement of blasphemy among his printers, so that on one occasion his publisher decided that it would be easier to compose in type afresh than attempt to correct one of his proofs. No man ever wrote better so far as style is regarded; because no man was ever more determined to publish nothing that he could improve. So Goldsmith considered four lines of his "Deserted Village" a good day's work, and the world has ratified his judgment.

LESSON L.

THE VICTIM.

BY ALFRED TENNYSON.

Alfred Tennyson, one of the most illustrious poets of the age, was born at Somerby, in Lincolnshire, in 1809. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained the Chancellor's Medal for an English poem in blank verse, entitled Timbuctoo. His first efforts were condemned by the critics, but his genius soon asserted itself and compelled them, first to silence, then to applause. He succeeded William Wordsworth as poet-laureate in 1851, and a pension of £200 was added to the small salary attached to that office. Among his principal poems are The May Queen, The Miller's Daughter, Locksley Hall, Dora, Ulysses, The Princess, In Memoriam, Maud, The Idyls of the King, Enoch Arden, and The Holy Grail. His poems are characterized by beauty of imagery, richness of thought, and purity of measure. He resides at Farringford, on the Isle of Wight.

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PLAGUE upon the people fell,

A famine after laid them low,
Then thorpe and byre arose in fire,

For on them brake the sudden foe.
So thick they died, the people cried

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'The Gods are moved against the land!" The priest in horror about his altar,

To Thor and Odin lifted a hand.

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2. But still the foeman spoiled and burned,
And cattle died, and deer in wood,
And bird in air, and fishes turned,
And whiten'd all the rolling flood;
And dead men lay all over the way,
Or down in a furrow scathed with flame;
And ever and aye the Priesthood moaned
Till at last it seemed that an answer came :

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3. The Priest went out by heath and hill ;
The King was hunting in the wild;
They found the mother sitting still;
She cast her arms about the child.

The child was only eight summers old,

His beauty still with his years increased,
His face was ruddy, his hair was gold,

He seemed a victim due to the Priest.
The Priest beheld him,

And cried with joy,

"The Gods have answered;

We give them the boy."

4. The king returned from out the wild, He bore but little game in hand;

The mother said, "They have taken the child
To spill his blood and heal the land;
The land is sick, the people diseased,
And blight and famine on all the lea;
The holy Gods, they must be appeased,
So I pray you tell the truth to me.
They have taken our son,
They will have his life.
Is he your dearest ?
Or I, the wife ?”

5. The King bent low, with hand on brow, He stayed his arms upon his knee:

"O wife, what use to answer now?

For now the Priest has judged for me."

The King was shaken with holy fear;

"The Gods," he said, "would have chosen well;

You both are dear, you both are near,

And which is the dearest I cannot tell!"
But the Priest was happy,

His victim won.

"We have his dearest,

His only son."

6. The rites prepared, the victim bared,
The knife uprising toward the blow,
To the altar-stone she sprang alone:
"Me! not my darling-no!"

He caught her away with a sudden cry;
Suddenly from him brake his wife,
And shrieking, "I am his dearest, I—
I am his dearest!" rushed on the knife.
And the Priest was happy.

"O, Father Odin,

We give you a life.

Which was his nearest ?

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Ormsby Macknight Mitchel, a native of Kentucky and graduate of West Point, was born in 1810. In 1834, he became Professor of Mathematics, Philosophy, and Astronomy, in Cincinnati College, Ohio. It was due to his suggestion and efforts that an Observatory was erected at Cincinnati, and through his exertions, also, that the institution, over which he became director, was provided with one of the finest telescopes to be found in the United States. He delivered popular lectures on astronomy at various places, and published, besides other works, The Orbs of Heaven and Planetary and Stellar Worlds. In August, 1861, he was appointed a BrigadierGeneral in the Union army, rose to the rank of Major-General, and was appointed Commander of the Department of the South in 1862. He died in October, 1862. The extract which follows is from his Orbs of Heaven.

To the

O those who have given but little attention to the subject even in our day, with all the aids of modern science, the prediction of an eclipse seems sufficiently mysterious and unintelligible. How then it was possible thousands of years ago to accomplish the same great object, without any just views of the structure of the system, seems utterly incredible. Follow me, then, while I attempt to reveal the train of reasoning which led to the prediction of the first eclipse of the sun, the most daring prophecy ever made by human genius.

2. Follow in imagination this bold interrogator of the skies to his solitary mountain summit, withdrawn from the world, surrounded by his mysterious circles, there to watch and ponder through the long nights of many, many years. But hope cheers him on, and smooths his rugged pathway. Dark and deep is the problem; he sternly grapples with it, and resolves never to give over till victory crown his efforts.

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