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.

ADDISON.

* * * * *

ODE TO ST. CECILIA.

[Illustration]

    Now strike the golden lyre again: 
    A louder yet, and yet a louder strain. 
    Break his bands of sleep asunder,
    And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder. 
        Hark, hark, the horrid sound
          Has raised up his head,
          As awaked from the dead,
        And amazed, he stares around.

Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise: 
See the snakes that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes! 
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand! 
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,
And unburied remain
Inglorious on the plain. 
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew. 
Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glitt’ring temples of their hostile gods! 
The Princes applaud, with a furious joy;
And the King seized a flambeau, with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way,
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy.

        Thus, long ago,
      Ere heaving bellows learn’d to blow,
        While organs yet were mute;
      Timotheus, to his breathing flute
        And sounding lyre,
    Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire. 
      At last divine Cecilia came,
      Inventress of the vocal frame;
    The sweet enthusiast, from the sacred store,
      Enlarged the former narrow bounds,
      And added length to solemn sounds,
    With nature’s mother-wit, and arts unknown before. 
      Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
        Or both divide the crown: 
      He raised a mortal to the skies;
        She drew an angel down.

    DRYDEN

* * * * *

SATIN BOWER-BIRDS.

The Satin Bower-Bird was one of the earliest known species in the Australian fauna, and probably received the name of Satin Grakle, by which it was described in Latham’s “General History of Birds,” from the intensely black glossy plumage of the adult male.  But, although the existence of this bird was noticed by most of the writers on the natural history of Australia subsequent to Latham, it appears that no suspicion of its singular economy had extended beyond the remotest settlers, until Mr. Gould, whose great work on the “Birds of Australia” is known to every one, unravelled the history of the bowers, which had been discovered in many parts of the bush, and which had been attributed to almost every possible origin but the right one.

The bower, as will be seen by the Illustration, is composed of twigs woven together in the most compact manner, and ornamented with shells and feathers, the disposition of which the birds are continually altering.  They have no connexion with the nest, and are simply playing-places, in which the birds divert themselves during the months which precede nidification.

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