The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

    Its clinging roots grew deep and strong;
    Its stem expanded firm and long;
    And in the currents of the air
    Its tender branches flourish’d fair.

    It reach’d the beam—­it thrill’d, it curl’d,
    It bless’d the warmth that cheers the world;
    It rose towards the dungeon bars—­
    It look’d upon the sun and stars.

    It felt the life of bursting spring,
    It heard the happy sky-lark sing. 
    It caught the breath of morns and eves,
    And woo’d the swallow to its leaves.

    By rains, and dews, and sunshine fed,
    Over the outer wall it spread;
    And in the daybeam waving free,
    It grew into a steadfast tree.

    Upon that solitary place
    Its verdure threw adorning grace. 
    The mating birds became its guests,
    And sang its praises from their nests.

    Wouldst know the moral of the rhyme? 
    Behold the heavenly light, and climb! 
    Look up, O tenant of the cell,
    Where man, the prisoner, must dwell.

    To every dungeon comes a ray
    Of God’s interminable day. 
    On every heart a sunbeam falls
    To cheer its lonely prison walls.

    The ray is TRUTH.  Oh, soul, aspire
    To bask in its celestial fire;
    So shalt thou quit the glooms of clay,
    So shaft thou flourish into day.

    So shalt thou reach the dungeon grate,
    No longer dark and desolate;
    And look around thee, and above,
    Upon a world of light and love.

    MACKAY.

[Illustration]

* * * * *

THE NESTS OF BIRDS.

[Illustration:  Letter H.]

How curious is the structure of the nest of the goldfinch or chaffinch!  The inside of it is lined with cotton and fine silken threads; and the outside cannot be sufficiently admired, though it is composed only of various species of fine moss.  The colour of these mosses, resembling that of the bark of the tree on which the nest is built, proves that the bird intended it should not be easily discovered.  In some nests, hair, wool, and rushes are dexterously interwoven.  In some, all the parts are firmly fastened by a thread, which the bird makes of hemp, wool, hair, or more commonly of spiders’ webs.  Other birds, as for instance the blackbird and the lapwing, after they have constructed their nest, plaster the inside with mortar, which cements and binds the whole together; they then stick upon it, while quite wet, some wool or moss, to give it the necessary degree of warmth.  The nests of swallows are of a very different construction from those of other birds.  They require neither wood, nor hay, nor cords; they make a kind of mortar, with which they form a neat, secure, and comfortable habitation for themselves and their family.  To moisten the dust, of which they build their nest,

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The Illustrated London Reading Book from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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