The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

    And ever, when the moon was low,
      And the shrill winds were up and away
    In the white curtain, to and fro
      She saw the gusty shadow sway. 
    But when the moon was very low,
      And wild winds bound within their cell,
      The shadow of the poplar fell
    Upon her bed, across her brow. 
      She only said, “The night is dreary—­
        He cometh not,” she said;
      She said, “I am aweary, weary,
        I would that I were dead!”

    All day, within the dreary house,
      The doors upon their hinges creak’d;
    The blue-fly sang i’ the pane; the mouse
      Behind the mould’ring wainscot shriek’d,
    Or from the crevice peer’d about. 
      Old faces glimmer’d through the doors;
      Old footsteps trod the upper floors;
    Old voices called her from without: 
      She only said, “My life is dreary—­
        He cometh not,” she said;
      She said, “I am aweary, weary,
        I would that I were dead!”

    The sparrow’s chirrup on the roof,
      The slow clock ticking, and the sound
    Which to the wooing wind aloof
      The poplar made, did all confound
    Her sense; but most she loathed the hour
      When the thick-moated sunbeam lay
      Athwart the chambers, and the day
    Was sloping towards his western bower. 
      Then said she, “I am very dreary—­
        He will not come,” she said;
      She wept, “I am aweary, weary,
        I would that I were dead!”


* * * * *


The Romans, in the infancy of their state, were entirely rude and unpolished.  They came from shepherds; they were increased from the refuse of the nations around them; and their manners agreed with their original.  As they lived wholly on tilling their ground at home, or on plunder from their neighbours, war was their business, and agriculture the chief art they followed.  Long after this, when they had spread their conquests over a great part of Italy, and began to make a considerable figure in the world—­even their great men retained a roughness, which they raised into a virtue, by calling it Roman spirit; and which might often much better have been called Roman barbarity.  It seems to me, that there was more of austerity than justice, and more of insolence than courage, in some of their most celebrated actions.  However that be, this is certain, that they were at first a nation of soldiers and husbandmen:  roughness was long an applauded character among them; and a sort of rusticity reigned, even in their senate-house.


In a nation originally of such a temper as this, taken up almost always in extending their territories, very often in settling the balance of power among themselves, and not unfrequently in both these at the same time, it was long before the politer arts made any appearance; and very long before they took root or flourished to any degree.  Poetry was the first that did so; but such a poetry as one might expect among a warlike, busied, unpolished people.

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