Successful Recitations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about Successful Recitations.
His eye, methinks, pursued the flight
Of birds to Britain, half-way over,
With envy—­they could reach the white

    Dear cliffs of Dover.

A stormy midnight watch, he thought,
Than this sojourn would have been dearer,
If but the storm his vessel brought

    To England nearer.

At last, when care had banished sleep,
He saw one morning, dreaming, doating,
An empty hogshead from the deep

    Come shoreward floating.

He hid it in a cave, and wrought
The livelong day, laborious, lurking,
Until he launched a tiny boat,

    By mighty working.

Heaven help us! ’twas a thing beyond
Description wretched:  such a wherry,
Perhaps, ne’er ventured on a pond,

    Or crossed a ferry.

For ploughing in the salt-sea field,
It would have made the boldest shudder;
Untarred, uncompassed, and unkeeled,—­

    No sail—­no rudder.

From neighbouring woods he interlaced
His sorry skiff with wattled willows;
And thus equipped he would have passed

    The foaming billows.

But Frenchmen caught him on the beach,
His little Argo sorely jeering. 
Till tidings of him chanced to reach

    Napoleon’s hearing.

With folded arms Napoleon stood,
Serene alike in peace and danger,
And, in his wonted attitude,

    Addressed the stranger.

“Rash man, that wouldst yon Channel pass
On twigs and staves so rudely fashioned,
Thy heart with some sweet British lass

    Must be impassioned.”

“I have no sweetheart,” said the lad;
“But,—­absent years from one another,—­
Great was the longing that I had

    To see my mother.”

“And so thou shalt,” Napoleon said,
“You’ve both my favour fairly won,
A noble mother must have bred

    So brave a son.”

He gave the tar a piece of gold,
And, with a flag of truce, commanded
He should be shipped to England old,

    And safely landed.

Our sailor oft could scantly shift
To find a dinner, plain and hearty,
But never changed the coin and gift

    Of Buonaparte.


(January 16, 1809.)


      Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
        As his corse to the rampant we hurried;
      Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
        O’er the grave where our hero we buried.

      We buried him darkly at dead of night,
        The sods with our bayonets turning,
      By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light,
        And the lantern dimly burning.

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Successful Recitations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.