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"I don't hear it."
"Gone deaf in a hour?" said Mr. Cruncher, ruminating, with his mind much disturbed; "wot's come to her?"
“I feel,” said Miss Pross, "as if there had been a flash and a crash, and that crash was the last thing I should ever hear in this life."
"Blest if she ain't in a queer condition!" said Mr. Cruncher, more and more disturbed. "Wot can she have been a takin', to keep her courage up? Hark! There's the roll of them dreadful carts! You can hear that, miss?",
"I can hear," said Miss Pross, seeing that he spoke to her, "nothing. Oh, my good man, there was first a great crash, and then a great stillness, and that stillness seems to be fixed and unchangeable, never to be broken any more as long as my life lasts."
"If she don't hear the roll of those dreadful carts, now very nigh their journey's end," said Mr. Cruncher, glancing over his shoulder, "it's my opinion that indeed she never will hear anything else in this world." And indeed she never did.
The extract is from Dickens's Tale of Two Cities. of this part of the story is in Paris, at the height of the "terror. Lucie Manette Darnay and her husband, together with Dr. Manette, who, through the recurrence of an old malady, is in a state of stupor, and Mr. Jarvis Lorry, are escaping from Paris
to the coast, where they expect to have no difficulty in crossing the Channel to England. Charles Darnay has been condemned to die by one of the unjust revolutionary tribunals, but through the efforts of Carton, who has not permitted any of the people interested to know his plans, has been almost miraculously taken out of the prison in a condition of unconsciousness caused by a drug which Carton has administered. A criminal who is in Carton's power, and Sidney Carton himself are the only ones who know that the latter intends to die that Charles Darnay may live.
The brother and sister of Madame De Farge had been, years before, frightfully wronged by the father of Charles Darnay. She has sworn that all of his kindred must die, and she is one of the leaders of the revolutionary party. When the death carts start to the place of execution, Madame De Farge goes to the home of Charles Darnay to see if she can not entrap his wife into some rebellious utterance so that she may secure her destruction.
The two characters, Jerry Cruncher and Miss Pross, not only play a leading part in the escape of Charles Darnay, but they provide the comic element never absent from Dickens's works, and particularly needed in this grim story, to relieve the tension. In London, Jerry's occupation was mostly that of a "body snatcher," who frequented burial grounds where the poor and unnamed were buried, for the purpose of securing bodies for medical schools. His wife was deeply religious, was much given to prayer, and Jerry, although he classified himself as an "honorable tradesman," doubted very much whether his occupation would bear praying for. In fact, he felt very certain that she must always be praying against his success, so he was persistently denouncing her for "floppin' agin" him. At various times in the past he had chastised her for this tendency to "flop," and now, appalled by the danger around him, he regrets very bitterly that he has ever interfered in the matter.
SELECTIONS FOR ORAL READING
THE INFLUENCE OF ATHENS
This selection is a fine example of "sonorous English". The pupil should note particularly the phrases used to paint the characteristics of the Roman orator, Cicero; the Roman satiric poet, Juvenal; the Italian poet, Dante; the Spanish novelist, Cervantes; the English statesman and philosopher, Bacon; the English satiric poet, Butler; and the greatest of all the poets, Shakespeare. Macaulay has compressed a whole volume into each of the phrases used to characterize the great men whose names form the roll of honor with which the second paragraph closes-Erasmus, the Dutch scholar; Pascal, the French philosopher; Mirabeau, the French Revolutionary orator; Galileo, the Italian philosopher; and Sidney, the English patriot. The swelling periodic sentence constituting the last paragraph is a fitting close to this splendid, though somewhat over-wrought, piece of English oratorical prose.
If we consider merely the subtlety of disquisition, the force of imagination, the perfect energy and elegance of expression, which characterize the great works of
Athenian genius, we must pronounce them intrinsically most valuable; but what shall we say when we reflect that from hence have sprung, directly or indirectly, all the noblest creations of the human intellect; that from hence were the vast accomplishments and the brilliant fancy of Cicero, the withering fire of Juvenal, the plastic imagination of Dante, the humor of Cervantes, the comprehension of Bacon, the wit of Butler, the supreme and universal excellence of Shakespeare?
All the triumphs of truth and genius over prejudice and power, in every country and in every age, have been the triumphs of Athens. Wherever a few great minds have made a stand against violence and fraud, in the cause of liberty and reason, there has been her spirit in the midst of them, inspiring, encouraging, consoling,-by the lonely lamp of Erasmus, by the restless bed of Pascal, in the tribune of Mirabeau, in the cell of Galileo, on the scaffold of Sidney.
But who shall estimate her influence on private happiness? Who shall say how many thousands have been made wiser, happier, and better by those pursuits in which she has taught mankind to engage,-to how many the studies which took their rise from her have been wealth in poverty, liberty in bondage, health in sickness, society in solitude?
Her power is indeed manifested at the bar, in the senate, in the field of battle, in the schools of philosophy. But these are not her glory. Wherever literature consoles sorrow or assuages pain, wherever it brings gladness to eyes which fail with wakefulness and tears, and
ache for the dark house and the long sleep,-there is exhibited, in its noblest form, the immortal influence of Athens.
The dervish, in the Arabian tale, did not hesitate to abandon to his comrade the camels with their load of jewels and gold, while he retained the casket of that mysterious juice which enabled him to behold at one glance all the hidden riches of the universe. Surely it is no exaggeration to say, that no external advantage is to be compared with that purification of the intellectual eye which gives us to contemplate the infinite wealth of the mental world, all the hoarded treasures of the primeval dynasties, all the shapeless ore of its yet unexplored mines. This is the gift of Athens to man.
Her freedom and her power have for more than twenty centuries been annihilated; her people have degenerated into timid slaves, her language into a barbarous jargon; her temples have been given up to the successive depredations of Romans, Turks, and Scotchmen; but her intellectual empire is imperishable.
And when those who have rivaled her greatness shall have shared her fate; when civilization and knowledge shall have fixed their abode in distant continents; when the scepter shall have passed away from England; when, perhaps, travelers from distant regions shall in vain labor to decipher on some moldering pedestal the name of our proudest chief, shall hear savage hymns chanted to some misshapen idol over the ruined dome of our proudest temple, and shall see a single naked fisherman wash his nets in the river of the ten thousand masts,-her influence