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Intermediate Language Lessons Part 3, Lesson 96, Selection For Study

 

William Wordsworth

William WordsworthOf the three famous poets whose names are linked with the beautiful Lake Country of England—Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey—Wordsworth's life and work especially belong to it. Most of his poems are about nature, or thoughts inspired by it.

He was born, in 1770, at Cockermouth, Cumberland, at one end of this district, and went to school in quaint old Hawkshead at the other end. In its woods he searched for nuts, on its grassy moors he caught woodcock, and he climbed its steep crags in hunting the raven. Here it was— at Grasmere—that he returned, after his studies at Cambridge University and his travels abroad, to live, and to write. A visit from Coleridge made him determine to be a poet.

Nearly all of his poems were composed under the open sky, as he was walking along hill or lake side. A stranger who visited Rydal Mount, as Wordsworth's home was called, asked to see where he worked. The servant took him first into a room filled with books. "This," said she, "is my master's library, but his study is out of doors." On his daily jaunts Wordsworth not only composed poems, but visited the cottagers far and near. When his birthday came they repaid his interest in them by gathering at his home for a merry old English festival. Sometimes with his own hands he planted a holly-tree to make a hillside more beautiful.

By those who were closest to him, especially his sister Dorothy, his wife and his daughter, Wordsworth was revered and greatly loved. "Large-boned, lean but still firm-knit, tall and strong-looking when he stood, a right good old steel-gray figure," Carlyle found him. Hazlitt says that there was "a peculiar sweetness in his smile," and De Quincy, that in his eyes was "a light which seems to come from depths below all depths." Wordsworth succeeded Southey as poet laureate. He died in 1850.

 

 

Intermediate Language Lessons, Part 3, Lesson 87

I included this short biography for those interested in learning a bit about the author of the poem, Columbus.

Joaquin Miller

Joaquin MillerCincinnatus Heine Miller, better known by the pen-name of Joaquin Miller, was born in Wabash district, Indiana, November 10, 1841. His mother was a cousin of General Ambrose E. Burnside. His father, Hulings Miller, was a school teacher of considerable learning, who removed to Oregon when the son was nine years old.

Young Miller was early sent to the country school, but ran away to California, where he spent two years in the mines, experiencing many hardships. He is said to have been a filibuster with Walker, an Indian sachem and Spanish vaquero. He returned with one hundred dollars, which he gave to his father, and began life where he left off. The school was now Columbia College, and he graduated in 1858, valedictorian of his class. He read law under George H. Williams, afterward Attorney General in the cabinet of President Grant, and on completing his course was admitted to the bar in 1860. In the spring of 1861 he went to the gold mines of Idaho, where he practiced his profession with such indifferent success that he turned express messenger. He returned to Oregon in 1863, and edited the "Democratic Register," published at Eugene. The paper was suppressed for alleged treasonable utterances, and he resumed the practice of law in 1864 at Canon City, Oregon. The town being attacked by the Snake Indians, Miller marched into the heart of the Indian country, and was rewarded by being made judge of Grant county in 1866, holding his position four years.

He now collected his writings under the title of "Songs of the Sierras," and not being able to secure a publisher in the United States, he went to London, where he brought out the work. To this he signed the Christian name of "Joaquin," which he had assumed from having written a paper in defense of the Mexican brigand, Joaquin Murietta, and by which name he is now universally known. He returned to America, but again visited London in 1873, when he published "Song of Sunland" and "One Fair Woman." He then returned to New York for a time, and subsequently settled in Washington, D. C., where he wrote for various periodicals, but in 1887 returned to California, making his home near Oakland. Miller was a great lover of the Indians. He says in "My Own Story," "all that I am or hope to be I owe to them. I owe no white man anything at all. The Indians are my true and warm friends." Although a northern man in sentiment, Miller was liberal and kind in spirit to the south—so much so as to be accused at one time of disloyalty. In addition to the works mentioned he published "Songs of Italy," and "Songs of Mexican Seas." He wrote several prose works among which are "The Danites in the Sierras," which was drawn from his experiences in the mines; the characters were taken from life, he himself being the Billy Piper; "Shadows of Shasta;" "Memorie and Rime," and " '49, or the Goldseekers of the Sierras." Miller also wrote several plays which were produced with success upon the stage; notable among them is "The Danites." He died February 17, 1913.

 

 

Intermediate Language Lessons Part 3, Lesson 79, Selection To Be Memorized

This short biography was written while Henry Bennett was still alive, thus it reads in the present tense. Henry died on April 30, 1924.

 

Henry Holcomb Bennett

Henry Holcomb Bennett, son of John Briscoe Henry and Eliza (McClintock) Bennett, and elder brother of John Bennett, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, December 5, 1863. He was educated in the public schools of his native city, and in Kenyon College, class of 1886. After leaving college he devoted himself, for a period, to various lines of business, chiefly railroading, in the West, where he lived five or six years. Returning to Chillicothe, he became a reporter for, and, later, city editor of, the Scioto Gazette. Mr. Bennett withdrew from journalism in the autumn of 1897, since which time he has given his energy chiefly to writing stories of army life and articles on ornithology, the latter illustrated by his own drawings. He has been an occasional contributor to several leading periodicals of the day, including Munsey's, McClure's, the Century, and Lippincott's; and in the last-named magazine appeared (1898-9) a series of his sketches on the National Guard.

This versatile writer is a thorough student of American history, and a specialist of recognized authority on matters pertaining to the annals of Ohio, especially in the territorial period and the period of early statehood. He was secretary of the committee in charge of the "Constitutional" Centennial of Ohio, held in 1902, and chairman of the committee on decoration, of the Ohio Centennial of 1903; and it was he who, in 1902, designed the large bronze tablet erected to mark the site of the old Capitol at Chillicothe, the first state-house in America.

As a landscape-painter, Mr. Bennett has studied under some of the best American artists, and his work in water-color and in book-illustration has secured for him a reputation which keeps his talents increasingly in demand. Though he has not yet published any book of verse, he is well known as a poet, owing to the universal popularity of his patriotic lyric, "The Flag Goes By." Poems from his pen have appeared in the Century Magazine, the Youth's Companion, and the New York Independent.

 

 

Helen Hunt JacksonHELEN HUNT, THE LITTLE GIRL

Several years ago a very mischievous little girl was living in the old-fashioned town of Amherst, Massachusetts. This little girl was Helen Maria Fiske. She was mischievous to be sure and she loved fun dearly, but her frank, honest confessions always kept her from being actually naughty.

Now, if there was one thing little Helen loved more than all others it was to run wild in the fields and meadows around Amherst. Without fear she climbed high fences—so high that no other children would think of climbing them. She waded across brooks in the pasture land to find the first touches of early spring. Then she came home loaded with fresh red berries, and strange plants which she had found by the way.

On one of these trips, Helen with a little girl friend, ran from one grove to another, fairly delighting in the treasures of the woods. No one knew where they were going. As they pushed away the pine needles they found mosses, cones, and acorns which they collected in little heaps to be picked up on their way home.

They begged a lunch from a nearby farm house and seated on a sunny doorstep they ate their bread and milk with hungry relish and then hid their spoons and bowls under a lilac bush in the door yard.

When twilight came and the children had not returned, the people in the town of Amherst, the college boys and the professors all started out to search for them. Several miles from home they found the happy little girls sitting before a warm kitchen fire to dry their shoes and stockings.

A little before ten o'clock that night Helen rushed into her house exclaiming in her very merriest tones. "Oh, mother, I've had a perfectly splendid time."

Childhood days at Amherst were altogether too short. At the age of twelve, Miss Helen and her younger sister were left without father or mother. A dear old grandfather took care of them, but these little girls never knew again the joy of a childhood home. They went to school—learning a little here and a little there, wherever they happened to be.

While still a young lady, Miss Helen married Major Edward Hunt, to begin again the home life which she had dropped at the age of twelve.

HELEN HUNT JACKSON, THE WOMAN

Although Mrs. Jackson was no longer a child, she never lost her joy in things out-of-doors. Early in the morning she was up to watch the sun rise over the hilltops, and all day long she lived in its warmth and sunshine until it faded away into evening.

Everywhere she found something to delight her. The procession of garden flowers from the lily-of-the-valley to the great purple aster, the woodlands, the meadows and the hills, each poured its share of joy into her out-stretched hands.

During many summers Mrs. Jackson made her home in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, a small hamlet in the White Mountains. She wrote her friends of the beauty of the place. Many of them came to see it and stayed all summer. The next year the little village was so crowded that Mrs. Jackson could find no rooms.

"Ah," she laughingly said, "it's a bad plan to tell other boys where the birds' nests are."

The summers at Bethlehem were very happy ones for Mrs. Jackson. She tramped almost daily through fields of daisies and golden cups, or farther away over the wooded hills, —always watching for the surprises of nature.

At sight of an empty nest she would say, "Oh, an empty nest, I wonder where the little brood has flown." A tiny track showed her that a squirrel had passed that way in gathering in his nuts. A trailing vine, a stone of unusual beauty, a plant in its last flowering—nothing was too small to claim her attention.

At each fresh surprise her face would brighten and become as innocently childish as when she came home from the Amherst woods after the "perfectly splendid time."

With her marriage in 1875 to Mr. William Jackson, her home was afterwards in Colorado Springs. In those old-time days Colorado was fairly brimming with wild flowers. The ravines and slopes were covered with wide-eyed anemones, the yellow columbine, crimson and white roses, lilies, and painter's brush. Mrs. Jackson soon learned to know them all, and watched with eagerness for the return of each in its own season.

At the foot of Cheyenne Mountain there is a little plot which is still called Mrs. Jackson's Garden. To this little garden Mrs. Jackson came each day, always sure she would find just what she wanted. With loaded arms she carried flower patch and rose thicket from the mountain into her home. Great vases of flowers were in every possible place. Around her desk and pictures were trailing vines and berries, and through the wide open windows came the very breath of the fresh air in which they grew.

It was Mrs. Jackson's wish to be buried on the slope of this same mountain. In the early summer of 1884 she was laid to rest in a peaceful spot, "tree shaded and sun warmed," with only the forest birds, the mountain streams, and the wild flowers around her.