MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

      What are monuments of bravery,
        Where no public virtues bloom? 
      What avail in lands of slavery
        Trophied temples, arch, and tomb?

      Pageants!—­let the world revere us
        For our people’s rights and laws,
      And the breasts of civic heroes
        Bared in Freedom’s holy cause.

Yours are Hampden’s Russell’s glory,
Sydney’s matchless shade is your,—­
Martyrs in heroic story,
Worth a thousand Agincourts!

We’re the sons of sires that baffled
Crown’d and mitred tyranny: 
They defied the field and scaffold,
For their birthrights—­so will we.


[Notes:  Thomas Campbell, born 1777, died 1844.  Author of the ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ ‘Gertrude of Wyoming,’ and many lyrics.  His poetry is careful, scholarlike and polished. Men whose undegenerate spirit, &c. In prose, this would run, “(Ye) men whose spirit has been proved (to be) undegenerate,” &c.  The word “undegenerate,” which is introduced only as an epithet, is the real predicate of the sentence.

By the foes ye’ve fought uncounted.  “Uncounted” agreeing with “foes.”

Fruitless wreaths of fame.  A poetical figure, taken from the wreaths of laurel given as prizes in the ancient games of Greece.  “Past history will give fame to a country, but nothing more fruitful than fame, unless its virtues are kept alive.”

Trophied temples, i.e., Temples hung (after the fashion of the ancients) with trophies.

Arch, i.e., the triumphal arch erected by the Romans in honour of victorious generals.

Pageants = “these are nought but pageants.”

And (for) the beasts of civic heroes.  Civic heroes, those who have striven for the rights of their fellow citizens.

Hampden, i.e., John Hampden (born 1594, died 1643), the maintainer of the rights of the people in the reign of Charles I. He resisted the imposition of ship-money, and died in a skirmish at Chalgrove during the Civil War.

Russell, i.e., Lord William Russell, beheaded in 1683, in the reign of Charles II. on a charge of treason.  He had resisted the Court in its aims at establishing the doctrine of passive obedience.

Sydney, i.e., Algernon Sydney.  The friend of Russell, who met with the same fate in the same year.

Sydney’s matchless shade.  Shade = spirit or memory.

Agincourt.  The victory won by Henry V. in France, in 1415.

Crown’d and mitred tyranny.  Explain this.]

* * * * *


On the noon of the 14th of November, 1743, just as the clock had struck one, Barbara S——­, with her accustomed punctuality, ascended the long, rabbling staircase, with awkward interposed landing-places, which led to the office, or rather a sort of box with a desk in it, whereat sat the then Treasurer of the Old Bath Theatre.  All over the island it was the custom, and remains so I believe to this day, for the players to receive their weekly stipend on the Saturday.  It was not much that Barbara had to claim.

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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