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Açres. Odds files !—I've practiced that, all right.
There (turning his side towards his imaginary opponent), Sir Lucius—there—a side-front, hey! Odd! I'll make myself small enough; I'll stand
edge-ways. Sir Lucius. Now you're quite out-for if you stand
so when I take aim (leveling his pistol at Acres) Acres (shying to one side). Zounds! Sir Lucius; be
careful-are you sure it's not cocked? Sir Lucius. Never fear. Acres. But—but-you don't know—it may go off of
its own head! Sir Lucius. Be easy, man.-Well, now if I hit you in
the body, my bullet has a double chance for if it misses a vital part on your right side, it will suc
ceed on your left! Acres. A vital part! Oh, my poor vitals ! Sir Lucius. But, therefix yourself so (placing
Acres so as to face full front). Let him see the broad side of your full front.—There.—Now a ball or two may pass clean through your body and never
do any harm at all. Acres. Clean through me!-a ball or two clean
through me! Sir Lucius. Yes; that they may-and it's much the
genteelest attitude into the bargain. Acres. Now look here, Sir Lucius !-I'd just as soon
be shot in an awkward posture as in a genteel one -so by my valor! I'll stand edge-ways.
Sir Lucius (ignoring his remark and looking at his
watch). Sure they don't mean to disappoint us
hah !-No, faith-I think I see them coming. Acres (more frightened than ever). Hey !—What!
Coming !Sir Lucius (calmly). Yes. Who are those yonder
getting over the stile! Acres (beginning to tremble and fidget with his
clothes). There are two of them indeed !-Well (drawing a long breath)-let 'em come—hey, Sir
Lucius ?-We-we-we won't run, will we? Sir Lucius (scornfully to Acres). Run! Acres. No-I say-we won't run, by my valor! Sir Lucius (losing all patience). What the devil is
the matter with you! Acres. Nothing—nothing-my-my dear Sir Lucius, -but-1-1-I don't feel quite so bold, somehow
-as I did. Sir Lucius (trying to encourage him). Oh, fie! Con.
sider your honor. Acres (a bit more hopefully). Yes—that's true-my
honor. Do, Sir Lucius, you edge in a word or two
every now and then about my honor. Sir Lucius. Well, here they're coming. Acres (getting very close to Sir Lucius). Sir Lucius,
if I wa’n’t with you, I should almost think I was afraid.—What if my valor should leave me!-Valor
will come and go. Sir Lucius. Then keep it while you've got it.
Acres. Sir Lucius—I just know it's going.Yes; it
is certainly going !—It is sneaking off !—I feel it
oozing out, as it were, at the palms of my hands! Sir Lucius. Your honor, man-your honor! Here
they are. Acres (hardly able to stand). Oh, mercy-now
that I were safe at home! or could be shot before I know it!
4. An Oral Composition
POETRY AND SCIENCE*
There is no conflict between science and poetry. All great periods of poetry were great periods of science. Greece, in a sense, is the mother of science and poetry. The great Latin poet Lucretius based his poetry on the scientific philosophy of Epicurus. He tried to do away with superstition and follow
Virgil was somewhat like Lucretius. He didn't pray to the poetic muse to teach him about poetic beauties and fancies, but to teach him the causes back of all things,-I mean the physical causes. One of the greatest English poets was, in a sense, a scientist-Milton. He knew music and astronomy. And the only contemporary he mentions in “Paradise Lost” was the greatest scientist of his age. This was
* Part of a student oral composition based on an inaugural lecture, “Poetry and Science," delivered at Rice Institute, Houston, Texas, October, 1912, by John William Mackail, former Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, England. See Vol. III, p. 755, The Book of the Opening of Rice Institute.
Galileo. Milton thought so much of him that he visited him in Italy.
Both science and poetry aim at the truth and beauty back of man and the universe. Science opens up a world of truth, of material fact. It gives the poet facts, accuracy, system. Many of our best poets were interested in science, and used scientific facts in their poetry. Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, and Browning belong to this group. Poetry helps science too. It is suggestive, imaginative. It helps speculation. It develops the imaginative faculty and aids us to see beyond the mere concrete immediately before us. It has that element of feeling which helps to keep us human.
American education has been accused of being developed on one side, that is, the scientific side. For a man to be truly educated he ought to know the facts and laws of nature, and, also, he ought to know the best things that have been thought and felt, and expressed in the most beautiful and noble language. That form of beautiful expression is poetry. Every person's education should be along these two lines, no matter what business he is to follow. If it is not, he is not an all round educated man.
The practice of oral composition is no new thing. In fact, if we but stop to think, we can see that its use antedates that of written composition. Before our uncivilized ancestors learned to communicate their ideas by means of the simplest forms of hieroglyphics or other erude methods of writing, they were expressing their thoughts orally. When the savage messenger of one tribe delivered his chief's message to the leader of another tribe, that messenger was merely employing oral composition. The Bible furnishes us with many excellent specimens. Below is given such an example. When the patriarch Abraham wished to select a wife for his son Isaac, he did not write a long letter to his kinsman in the city of Nahor, but he sent an intelligent and trusted servant, who was to win the bride by an impromptu talk. The speech is a unit. It is full enough, though brief and to the point. When the servant stands before the master of the house, he is able to appreciate the situation and weave into his little talk just such things as would mean most at the particular time. Notice how he shows that God has blessed his master in the past, and has especially been present to direct and bless all the happenings of this journey. A letter written by Abraham could not have been so effective as this speech.
An Oral Composition from Primitive Man THE SPEECH OF ABRAHAM'S SERVANT TO LABAN*
I am Abraham's servant. And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great. And He hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.
* From Genesis 24:34-49.