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The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON.
QUESTIONS FOR STUDY
Line 3. Why does the poet say “beauty and chivalry” rather than “women and men”?
Line 13. What does he mean by “Youth and Pleasure"? Try substituting plain, unfigurative language for these. What is the effect ?
Does this poem make war seem glorious or the contrary?
What is the meaning of lines 43-46 ?
Find ten figures of speech in the poem. Which do
you think the finest ? Why? Find out all you can about the Battle of Waterloo. What was it all about? What nations were concerned in it? What famous generals led the opposing sides? Who won? What were the final results ?
Charles Lamb is deservedly one of the most popular of English essayists, as during his life he
was personally one of the most popularliterary people in England. A man of high ideals, sensitive and artistic taste, charming personality, he numbered among
his friends the choicest spirits of England,
including such men as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Landor, and Hood.
He was not only a charming writer, but he was a brilliant and witty conversationalist. His wit has become proverbial. It is said to have been somewhat accented by the fact that he stuttered. His most famous book is his Essays of Elia, from which the following selection is taken.
Bear in mind that this essay was written more than a century ago, and see if times have changed for better or worse as to the treatment of women.
In comparing modern with ancient manners, we are pleased to compliment ourselves upon the point of gallantry; a certain obsequiousness,' or deferential respect, which we are supposed to pay to females, as females.
I shall believe that this principle actuates 2 our conduct, when I can forget, that in the nineteenth century, of the era from which we date our civility, we are but just beginning to leave off the very frequent practice of whipping females in public, in 10 common with the coarsest male offenders.
I shall believe it to be influential, when I can shut my eyes to the fact that in England women are still occasionally — hanged.
. I shall believe in it, when actresses are no longer 15 subject to be hissed off a stage by gentlemen.
Obsequiousness, deference, extreme politeness. 2 Actuates, directs.
I shall believe in it, when Dorimant 1 hands a fishwife across the kennel;2 or assists the applewoman to pick up her wandering fruit, which some unlucky 20 dray has just dissipated.3
I shall believe in it, when the Dorimants in humbler life, who would be thought in their way notable adepts in this refinement, shall act upon it in places where they are not known, or think themselves not ob25 served, when I shall see the traveler for some rich tradesman part with his admired box coat, to spread it over the defenseless shoulders of the poor woman, who is passing to her parish on the roof of the same stagecoach with him, drenched in the rain, when I 30 shall no longer see a woman standing up in the pit of a London theater, till she is sick and faint with the exertion, with men about her, seated at their ease, and jeering at her distress; till one, that seems to have more manners or conscience than the rest, sig35 nificantly declares "she should be welcome to his seat if she were a little younger and handsomer." Place this dapper warehouse-man, or that rider, in a circle of their own female acquaintance, and you shall confess you have not seen a politer-bred man in Loth40 bury.
Lastly, I shall begin to believe that there is some
1 Dorimant, a character in an old play, The Man of Mode, a brilliant, witty person of low character.
2 Kennel, gutter.
3 Dissipated, scattered.
4 Adepts, persons skilled.
such principle influencing our conduct, when more than one half of the drudgery and coarse servitude of the world shall cease to be performed by women.
Until that day comes, I shall never believe this 45 boasted point to be anything more than a conventional 1 fiction; a pageant 2 got up between the sexes, in a certain rank, and at a certain time of life, in which both find their account equally.
I shall be even disposed to rank it among the salu-50 tary : fictions of life, when in polite circles I shall see the same attentions paid to age as to youth, to homely features as to handsome, to coarse complexions as to clear, - to the woman, as she is a woman, not as she is a beauty, a fortune, or a title.
I shall believe it to be something more than a name, when a well dressed gentleman in a well dressed company can advert4 to the topic of female old age without exciting, and intending to excite, a a sneer; — when the phrases "antiquated virginity,” 60 and such a one has “overstood her market,” pronounced in good company, shall raise immediate offense in man, or woman, that shall hear them spoken.
Joseph Paice, of Bread Street Hill, merchant, and 65 one of the Directors of the South Sea Company, the
1 Conventional, agreed upon, generally accepted.