Графични страници
PDF файл

Page 31.- While the Halcyon bent over the streamlet to view. Halcyon or Kingfisher, the most beautiful of our native birde. It inhabits the banks of rivers and streams, where it will sit for hours on a projecting branch watching for its prey. The ancients relate many fabulous stories of this bird, as that of its laying its eggs in the depth of winter, and that during the time of its incubation the weather remains perfectly calm, whence the expression IIalcyon days.

Page 31.-1Vith the guide Indicator, who showed them the road. The Indicator is a bird of the Cuckoo kind, found in the interior parts of Africa. It has a shrill note, which the natives answer by a soft whistle ; and the birds repeating the note, the natives are thereby conducted to the wild bee-hives, which this bird frequents.

Page 31.— There wus Lord Cassowary and General Flamingo. The head of the Cassowary is armed with a kind of natural helmet, extending from the base of the bill to near half way over the head. It is a large singular bird, found in Africa and the couthern parts of India. The Flamingo is a bird of the crane kind, whose plumage is of a bright scarlet. When standing erect it measures above six feet; it is a native of Africa, Persia, and South America,

Page 31.--And the Duchess of Ptarmigan flew from the north. The Ptarmigan, or White Grouse, inhabits the Highlands of Scotland and the Western Islands. It prefers the coldest situations on the highest mountains, where it burrows under the snow.

Page 32.The Chough came from Cornwall. The Chough, a bird almost the size of a Daw. It has a long curved bill, sharp at the point, which, as well as the legs and feet, is of a bright scarlet. Its general haunts are the crevices of high cliffs in Devonshire and Cornwall.

Page 32.-And the IVidow-Bird came. The Widow-Bird is a species of Bunting, a native of Africa, and is remarkable for the feathers of its tail. The two middle ones are about four inches long, and ending in a long thread ; the two next are thirteen inches in length, broad, and narrowing towards the points ; from these proceeds another long thread.

Page 32.—And the Yaffil laughed loud. The name of.Yaffil for the Woodpecker is provincial, but is very expressive of the noise it continually makes.

[ocr errors]

Page 32.-— With his beautiful partner the fair Demoiselle. The Numidian Crane, from the elegance of its appearance and its singular carriage, is called the Demoiselle, which means the young lady.

Page 33.-And Sieur Guillemot next performed a pas seul. Guillemot, a sea-bird, numerously spread over the northern world. Towards winter they come to the British shores, and remain till they have reared their young.

Page 33.— The Dowager Lady Toucan first cut in. The Toucan is a native of America. It is about the size of a magpie, but the head large in proportion, to enable it to support its immense bill, which is six inches and a half in length, but extremely thin. It is a mild inoffensive bird, and easily tamcd, but cannot endure the cold of our climate. Page 33. — And how wrong in the Greenfinch to flirt with the Siskin.

The Siskin is a migratory bird, sometimes called the barley-bird, because it is seen in the southern parts of England at the time of the barley harvest. It has a pleasing note, and is sold as a singing bird in the London bird-shops by the name of Aberdevine.

Page 39.—The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day. William the Conqueror commanded that in every town and village a bell should be rung every night at eight o'clock, and that all persons should then put out their fire and candle and go to bed ; the ringing of which bell was called curfew, Fr., couvrefeu, that is, cover. fire.

Page 40.—No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. Some readers, keeping in mind the narrow cell mentioned in the preceding verse, have mistaken the lowly bed for the grave; an error young persons should be guarded against.

Page 62.-L'Allegro. Milton derives the title of this and the following poem from the Italian, which language was principally in vogue when they were written. L'Allegro is the cheerful, merry man.

Page 62.-In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. The Cimmerians were a people who, according to the ancients, lived in caves under ground, and never saw the light of the sun.

Page 62.-In Heav'n yclep'd Euphrosyne. Cleped, is called, named; the letter y is sometimes prefixed to lengthen it a syllable.

Page 62. The clouds in thousand liveries dight. Dight, dressed, adorned ; a word used by Spenser and our old writers.

Page 53.-The Cynosure of neighhouring eyes. As if the poet had said the pole-star of neighbouring eyes, an affected expression. Cynosure is the constellation of Ursa Minor.

Page 64. —And the jocund rebecs sound. Rebec, a name for a musical instrument, somewhat similar to a violin, having three strings tuned in fifths, and played with a bow.

Page 65.If Jonson's learned sock be on.
Ben Jonson, a dramatic writer contemporary with Shakespeare.
The sock was the shoe worn by the comedians of old.

Page 66.-11 Penseroso.
Il Penseroso is the thoughtful melancholy man.

Page 66.-Prince Memnon's sister might beseem. Memnon, King of Ethiopia, repairing with a great host to the relief of Priam, King of Troy, was there slain by Achilles.

Page 66 Or that starr'd Ethiop Queen. In mythology, Cassiope is the wife of Cepheus, King of Ethiopia, and mother of Andromede ; she was placed in the Heavens with her head from the pole, so as to turn round apparently upside down, because she boasted of her own beauty as superior to that of the Nereids. The constellation Cassiopeia is in the northern hemisphere.

Page 68.-With thrice great Hermes. Hermes Trismegistus, the Egyptian Philosopher, flourished a little after Moses. He maintzined the truth of one God against the idolatry and polytheism of his countrymen.

Page 68.—The spirit of Plato to unfold, &c. Plato treated more largely than any of the philosophers, concerning the separate state of the soul after death, and concerning demons residing in the elements, and influencing the planets.

Page 68.- Presenting Thebes' or Pelops' line. The ancient tragedians drew the subjects of their principal dramas from the history of the kings of Thebes, &c. Page 68.- Or call him up that left half told

The story of Cambuscan bold. Chaucer and his Squire's Tale, wherein Cambuscan is King of Sarra in Tartary, and his two sons Algarsife and Camball, and a daughter named Canace. This Tartar King received a present from the King of Araby and Ind, of a wondrous horse of brass that could transport him through the air to any place, and a sword of rare qualities; and at the same time his daughter Carnace is presented with a virtuous ring and glass, a glass by which she could discover secrets and future events, and a ring by which she could understand the language of birds. This tale was either never finished by Chaucer, or part of it was lost.

Page 69.-Hide me from day's garish eye. Garish, splendid, gaudy. The eye of day for the sun was a common image in Spenser and other poets.

Page 76.-Ode to Erening. One of the few English odes, and, perhaps, the only succesful one without rhyme. The ideas, language, and rhythm are so perfect that any further ornament would have been superfluous. It is easy to see that this ode suggested many images in Gray's cele. brated Elegy.

Page 81.- The Passions. In this ode, the chief of Collin's productions," there is not a single figure," says Sir Egerton Brydges, “ that is not perfect both in conception and language. The oftener it is read the more it will please, both in detail, and also as one grand picture.

Page 93.-As some surmise, a circling mist betray. The ruddy complexion of Mars has been attributed to its density, and regarded as a phenomenon similar to the redness of our morning and evening sky near the horizon, which arises from the sun's rays passing through the densest part of our atmosphere, which reflects or absorbs the other colours, while the red rays are those which chiefly make their way through the resisting medium, According to Sir John Herschel, the fiery aspect of Mars proceeds from the geology of the planet, its general soil having this · colour, like the red sand-stone districts of the Earth.

[ocr errors]

Page 93.-Four smaller Planets run their distant face. Next to the orbit of Mars we find the orbits of thirty-three smaller planets, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Astræa, Hebe, Iris, Hora, Metis, Hygeia, Parthenope, Victoria, Egeria, Irene, Eunomia, Psyche, Thetis, Melpomene, Fortuna, Massilia, Lutitia, Calliope, Thalia, Themis, Phocea, Proserpine, Euterpe, Bellona, Amphitrite, Urania, Euphrosyne, Pomona, Polyphimnia. The dimensions of the orbits of these are nearly the same. Their diameters are so very small that they have not yet been accurately determined. They have all been discovered within the present century, and twenty-nine of them have been discovered within the last ten or eleven years. Only four of these were known at the time the greater part of the poem on the Superior Planets was written. Page 94. -A thousand Earths would scarce his power

attain. Jupiter is 1,281 greater in bulk than the earth, but his mean density is little more than one-fourth that of the earth, so that the quantity of matter actually contained in his bulk is only 331 tiines that of the earth.

Page 94.- To Roemer proved how swiftly light is driven. Roemer, a Danish astronomer and mathematician, was born at Arhusen in Jutland, A. D. 1644. He was the first who found out the velocity with which light moves, by noticing that when Jupiter was in opposition to the sun, the eclipses of his satellites happened about 15 minutes earlier than when the same planet was in conjunction. From this fact, he concluded that light occupied this tiine in traversing the earth's orbit. Page 94.-When from on high, o'er Newton's soul serene,

Dawned mighty truths, and wonders yet unseen. Sir Isaac Newton, an illustrious English philosopher, born a. D. 1642, on the estate of Woolstrop, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire. He was as distinguished for his patient and exemplary disposition as for his sublime talents. His chief discoreries were the composition of light, and the universal principle of gravitation.

Page 95.— The age of man in vain awaits the end. Uranus (Herschell's world) completes his revolution round the sun in rather more than eighty-four years, and Neptune in about one hundrel and sixty-six years.

« ПредишнаНапред »