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The poorest part of the poverty that was on him was that he could not give his children the letters.
13. They were good children, for all the crock of the shop was on their faces, and their fingers bent like eagles' claws, with handling nails. He had been a poor man all his days, and he knew his children would be poor all their days, and poorer than he, if the nail business should continue to grow
14. If he could only give them the letters, or the alphabet as they called it, it would make them the like of rich, for then they could read the Testament. He could read the Testament a little, for he had learned the letters by fire-light. It was a good book, was the Testament; never saw any other book, — heard tell of some in rich people's houses, but it mattered but little with him.
15. The Testament, he was sure, was made for nailers and such like. It helped him wonderfully when the loaf was small on his table. He had but little time to read it when the sun was up, and it took him long to read a little, for he learned the letters when he was old.
16. But he laid it beside his dish at dinner-time, and fed his heart with it, while his children were eating the bread that fell to his share ; and when he had spelt out a line of the shortest words, he read them aloud, and his eldest boy, the one at the block there, could say several whole verses he had learned in this way.
17. It was a great comfort to him to think that Jeems could take into his heart so many verses of the Testament, which he could not read. He intended to teach all his children in this way; it was all he could do for them, -and this he had to do at meal times, for all the other hours he had to be at the anvil. The nailing business was growing harder, he was growing old, and his family large.
18. He had to work from four o'clock in the morning till ten o'clock at night, to earn eighteen pence. His wages averaged only about seven shillings a week; and there were
five of them in the family to live on what they could earn. It was hard to make up the loss of an hour, - not one of their hands, however little, could be spared.
19. Jemmy was going on nine years of age, and a helpful lad he was,- and the poor man looked at him doatingly, Jemmy could work off a thousand nails a day, of the smallest size. The rent of their little shop, tenement, and garden, was five pounds a year; and a few pennies earned by the youngest of them was of great account.
THE NEEDLE, PEN, AND SWORD.
1. What hast thou seen, with thy shining eye,
Thou Needle, so subtle and keen?
To the form of its fallen queen.
2. The mantles and wimples, the hoods and veils,
That the belles of Judah wore,
I helped to fashion of yore.
3. The beaded belt of the Indian maid
I have decked with as true a zeal
Or the satrap's broidered heel.
4. I have lent to Beauty new power to reign
At bridal and courtly hall;
Have sometimes held in thrall.
5. I have drawn a drop, so round and red,
From the finger, small and white,
But wept at my puncture bright.
6. I have gazed on the mother's patient brow,
As my utmost speed she plied,
While they slumbered at her side.
7. I have heard, in the hut of the pining poor,
The shivering inmate's sigh,
She let me drop - to die!”
8. What dost thou know, thou gray Goose Quill?
And methought, with a spasm of pride,
sprang from the inkstand, and fluttered in vain Its nib to free from the ebon stain,
As it fervently replied :
9. What do I know ? — Let the lover tell,
When into his secret scroll
That move the maiden's soul.
10. What do I know ? — The wife can say,
As the leaden seasons move,
Inspired by a husband's love.
11. Do ye doubt my power? - Of the statesman ask,
Who buffets Ambition's blast;
And locked his fetters fast.
12. And a flourish of mine can his prison ope;
From the gallows its victim save;
And to liberty lead the slave.
13. Say, what were History, so wise and old
And Science, that reads the sky
Should the Pen its aid deny?
14. Oh, doubt, if ye will, that the rose is fair,
That the planets pursue their way;
And it scornfully turned away
15. What are thy deeds, thou fearful thing
By the lordly warrior's side ? And the Sword answered, stern and slow : “ The hearth-stone lone, and the orphan, know,
And the pale and widowed bride.
16. The shriek and the shroud of the battle-cloud,
And the field that doth rock below;
And the foul hyena, know.
17. The rusted plough, and the seed unsown,
And the grass that doth rankly grow
And the black-winged pestilence, know.
18. Death, with the rush of his harpy-brood,
Sad earth, in her pang and throe,
Demons that riot in slaughter and crime,
To the bar of the Judgment, know.”
19. Then the terrible Sword to its sheath returned,
While the Needle sped on in peace;
When the warfare of earth shall cease.
CHAPTER L X.
SAXON WORDS. *
1. OLD Saxon words, old Saxon words! your spells are round us
thrown; Ye haunt our daily paths and dreams, with a music all your own; Each one, in its own power a host, to fond remembrance brings The earliest, brightest aspect back, of life's familiar things.
2. Yours are the hills, the fields, the woods, the orchards, and the
streams, The meadows and the bowers that bask in the sun's rejoicing
beams; 'Mid them our childhood's years were kept, our childhood's
thoughts were reared, And by our household tones its joys were evermore endeared.
3. We have roamed since then where the myrtle bloomed in its own
unclouded realms, – But our hearts returned with changeless love to the brave old
Saxon elms; Where the laurel o'er its native streams of a deathless glory spoke, But we passed with pride to the later fame of the sturdy Saxon oak.
* Most of our domestic words — words expressive of objects which daily attract our attention — are from the Saxon. Of the sixty-nine words which comprise the Lord's Prayer, only five are not Saxon,