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DIES AND GENTLEMEN,-It is usual, I believe, to open a Penny Reading with
a few prefatory remarks. I must ask you to allow me to avail myself of the privilege to explain to you the intention of this selection. It is intended, not only as a hand-book for public readings, but as a fireside companion on occasions when the weather or ill-health may forbid attendance at the Institute or the Lecture Hall. It will be offered to you weekly, so that in the absence of a Public Reading, some member of your family may give you a Home Reading-a practice I would especially recommend. It will, moreover, as far as I am able to make it, add to your libraries a collection of the gems to be found in the English literature of all ages. For the permission which enables me to add selections from the popular works of our own times, I am glad to take this public opportunity of thanking those Authors and Publishers who have so readily granted the use of their copyrights.
There are two specialities in this series of Readings to which I would, in conclusion, draw your attention—their Illustration and their Cheapness.
The drawings will, by the direct appeal they make to the eye, assist materially in impressing on your memories the recollection of the passages placed before you. The low price at which the series is issued will enable all to overcome the one drawback to public readings—that generally, through the mere straining of the attention in order not to miss anything, we fail to appreciate fully the very finest passages when read aloud to us for the first time.
With these few words I make my tow, opening to you the riches of the finest literature in the world.
THE BROKEN HEART.
grow dim-how many self; but when otherwise, she buries it in the
exhaled to heaven; and have repeatedly fancied
As the dove will clasp that I could trace their deaths through the various its wings to its side, and cover and conceal declensions of consumption, cold, debility, languor, the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is melancholy, until I reached the first symptom of the nature of woman to hide from the worid aisappointed love. But an instance of the kind the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a was lately told to me. The circumstances are well delicate female is always shy and silent. Even known in the country where they happened, and I
shall but give them in the manner in which they But it was all in vain. There are some strokes of were related.
calamity that scathe and scoreh the soul-that Every one must recollect the tragical story penetrate to the vital seat of happiness- and blast of young E- , the Irish patriot: it was too touch- it, never again to put forth the bud or blossom. ing to be soon forgotten. During the troubles in She never objected to frequent the haunts of Ireland, he was tried, condemned, and executed on pleasure, but she was as much alone there as in a charge of treason. His fate made a deep im. the depths of solitude. She walked about in a pression on public sympathy. He was so young,' sad reverie, apparently unconscious of the world so intelligent, so generous, so brave, so everything around her. She carried with her an inward woe that we are apt to like in a young man. His con- that mocked at all the blandishments of friend. duct under trial, too, was so lofty and intrepid.ship, and “ heeded not the song of the charmer, The noble indignation with which he repelled the charm he never so wisely." charge of treason against his country; the elo The person who told me her story bad seen her quent vindication of his name; and the pathetic at a masquerade. There can be no exhibition of appeal to posterity, in the hopeless hour of con- ; far-gone wretchedness more striking and painful demnation; all these entered deeply into every than to meet it in such a scene. To find it wan. generous bosom, and even his enemies lamented dering like a spectre, lonely and joyless where all the stern policy that dictated his execution. around is gay; to see it dressed out in the trap
But there was one heart whose anguish it would pings of mirth, and looking so wari and woebe impossible to describe. In happier days and begone as if it had tried in vain to cheat the poor fairer fortunes he had won the atfections of a heart into a momentary forgetfulness of sorrow. beautiful and interesting girl, the daughter of a After strolling through the splendid rooms and late celebrated Irish barrister. She loved him with giddy crowd with an air of utter abstraction, she the disinterested fervour of a woman's first and į sat herself down on the steps of an orchestra, early love. When every worldly maxim arrayed ' and looking about for some time with a vacant itself against him; when blasted in fortune, and air that showed her insensibility to the garish disgrace and danger darkened around his name, scene, she began, with the capriciousness of a she loved him the more ardently for his very sickly heart, to warble a little plaintive air. She sufferings. If, then, his fate could awaken the had an exquisite voice; but on this occasion it was sympathy even of his foes, what must have been so simple, so touching, it breathed forth such a the agony of her whose whole soul was occupied soul of wretchedness, that she drew a crowd mute by his image! Let those tell who have had the and silent around her, and melted every one into portals of the tomb suddenly closed between them and the being they most loved on earth; who have The story of one so true and tender could not sat at its threshold as one shut out in a cold and but excite great interest in a country remarkable lonely world, from whence all that was most lovely for enthusiasm. It completely won the heart of a and loving had departed.
brave officer, who paid his addresses to her, and But then the horror of such a grave! so fright- thought that one so true to the dead could not but ful, so disgraceful! so dishonoured! There was prove affectionate to the living. She declined his nothing for memory to dwell on that could soothe attentions, for her thoughts were irrevocably enthe pang of separation-none of those tender, those grossed by the memory of her former lover. He, melancholy circumstances, that endear the parting however, persisted in his suit. He solicited not scene; nothing to melt sorrow into those blessed her tenderness, but her esteem. He was assisted tears, sent, like the dews of heaven, to revive the by her conviction of his worth, and her sense of heart in the parching hour of anguish.
her own destitute and dependent situation, for she To render her widowed situation more desolate, was existing on the kindness of friends. In a she had incurred her father's displeasure by her word, he at length succeeded in gaining her hand, unfortunate attachment, and was an exile from the though with the solemn assurance that her heart paternal roof. But could the sympathy and kind was unalterably another's. offices of friends have reached a spirit so shocked! He took her with him to Sicily, hoping that a and driven in by horror, she would have expe- change of scene might wear out the remembrance rienced no want of consolation, for the Irish are a of early woes. She was an amiable and exemplary people of quick and generous sensibilities. The wife, and made an effort to be a happy one; but most delicate and cherishing attentions were paid nothing could cure the silent and devouring her by families of wealth and distinction. She melancholy that had entered into her very soul. was led into society, and they tried by all kinds of She wasted away in a slow but hopeless decline, occupation and amusement to dissipate her grief, and at length sunk into the grave, the victim of And wean her from the tragical story of her lover.) a broken soul.
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.*
Miss ELIZABETH BARRETT BARRETT, married Robert Browning the poet, and spent the chief part of her life in Italy. Died in 1861,
and was buried at Floren
Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers, 1 Crying, 'Get up, little Alice ! it is day.'
If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower, They are leaning their young heads against their With your ear down, little Alice never cries ! mothers,
| Could we see her face, be sure we should not know And that cannot stop their tears.
her, The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, For the smile has time for growing in her eyes!
The young birds are chirping in the nest, | And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in The young fawns are playing with the shadows, | The shroud, by the kirk-chime !
The young flowers are blowing toward the west; It is good when it happens," say the children, But the young, young children, O my brothers, “That we die before our time.”
They are weeping bitterly!-
Alas, alas, the children! they are seeking
Death in life, as best to have !
They are binding up their hearts away from Do you question the young children in the sorrow, breaking, Why their tears are falling so ?
With a cerement from the grave. The old man may weep for his to-morrow, Go out, children, from the mine and from the city, Which is lost in Long Ago;
Sing out, children, as the little thrashes do ; The old tree is leafless in the forest,
Pluck your handfuls of the meadow-cowslips pretty, The old year is ending in the frost,
Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them. The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest,
through! The old hope is hardest to be lost:
But they answer, “ Are your cowslips of the But the young, young children, O my brothers! I
meadows Do you ask them why they stand
Like our weeds anear the mine? Weeping sore before the bosoms of their mothers, Leave us quiet in the dark of the coal-shadows; In our happy fatherland ?
From your pleasures fair and fine !
And we cannot run or leap;
To drop down in them and sleep.
Our young feet," they say, “are very weak! We fall upon our faces, trying to go; Few paces have we taken, yet are weary
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping, Our grave-rest is very far to seek :
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow : Ask the aged why they weep, and not the children, For, all day, we drag our burden tiring For the outside earth is cold,
Through the coal-dark, undergroundAnd we young ones stand without, in our be. Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron wildering,
In the factories, round and round. And the graves are for the old !
“For, all day, the wheels are droning, turning ; “True," say the children, “it may happen
Their wind comes in our faces, That we die before our time..
Till our hearts turn, our head, with pulses Little Alice died last year, her grave is shapen
burning, Like a snowball in the rime.
And the walls turn in their places We looked into the pit prepared to take her Turns the sky in the high window blank and Was no room for any work in the close clay!
reelingFrom the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake Turns the long light that drops adown the her,
• By kind permission of Messrs. Chapman and Hall.