Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

Test Your Knowledge, Texas!

November 9, 2010


Texas - 1835

Larger version of this map at U of T Libraries’ website.

Texas History.

1. Why is it incorrect to speak of La Salle as “the discoverer of Texas?”

2. Where and by whom was the first settlement made in Texas?

3. (a) What are the five oldest towns in Texas? (b) Give the dates of their founding and the names of founders.

4. What is meant by the empresario system?


1. The following questions on modern history formed the final test for the senior class on Thursday last. They will be interesting to other pupils throughout the grades immediately below, it is thought. Who among these can find the right answers to the queries below? We hope to publish the  paper receiving the highest mark, next week. Look up the answers and compare them with those published.


I. State the five chief causes of the French revolution.

II. Who were the girondists and what was their aim?

III. What was the battle of Trafalgar? By whom fought? The results?

IV. State the condition of the Russian serfs; their number and by whom emancipated.

V. When and how were Sicily and Naples added to the kingdom of Victor Emanuel?

VI. What territory has been acquired by the United States in the last two years, and how?

VII. What were the causes of the present war in Africa?


U.S. Map 1899 (

Here are some very easy questions in geography. How many can you answer right away?

1. What does the word Transvaal mean?

2. What are the five great “lake shore” cities of the United States?

3. (a) Name the largest state. (b) The smallest state. (c) The longest state. (d) The state with the most neighbors. (i.e. The one that adjoins most other states.) (e) The state that has the longest coast line.

4. If you journey from New York City to San Francisco by rail, going by Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Denver, what states whould you cross?

5. (a) In what states are the following universities: Harvard, Yale, Cornett, Ann Arbor, Stanford? (b) Of these which is the oldest? The youngest?



I. What American poet is called “The Poet of the sea,” and why? [Anyone know this one?]

II. What American author is called “The Dutch Herodotus,” and why?

III. Who is called the “Quaker Poet?” What are his three most popular poems?

IV. (a) Who are the three greatest Southern poets? (b) Which of these once lived in San Antonio? (c) Did he write anything of San Antonio, and if so, what?

V. (a) Who wrote the novel, “Remember the Alamo?” (b) When was it written? (c) Write a brief review of this book, naming the characters, and giving as careful an analysis of the same as you can, also a brief sketch of the author.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Nov 26, 1899

Charles Dickens and the Unintended Joke

January 2, 2009

The “Butler” being referred to is Benjamin Franklin Butler.

He was nicknamed “Beast Butler,” and “Spoons,” for his alleged habit of pilfering the silverware of Southern homes in which he stayed.  [wikipedia]


Gen. Benjamin F. Butler

Butler at a Dickens Reading.

The Washington correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial gives the following incident:

An incident worth mentioning occurred in Carroll hall on the second night of the Dickens readings. Ben. Butler entered after the performance had commenced, and walked down the center aisle while Dickens was describing one of the most interesting scenes in his selection from David Copperfield. Perhaps Benjamin was unavoidably detained, or perhaps he wished to make his appearance at a time when he could attract that amount of attention which he thinks is due to his eminent abilities and great public services. There are those who adopt this as one of the ways of keeping before the people; some of them men of marked zeal in religious affairs, who never enter the church till the congregation is well-seated, and then walk straight to the front pew. If General Butler hadn’t had his mind’s eye on this idea on the occasion referred to, his motives were misunderstood by many, that’s all.

Well, the hero of Bermuda walked down the aisle the observed of all observers, and took his seat in a very select and advantageous part of the hall. The first selection was soon concluded, and Mr. Dickens retired as is his wont for 10 minutes of rest and refreshment. The rustle and bustle consequent upon a relaxation of attention followed. There were whisperings among the old folks, and flirtings among the younger, in the midst of which up rose Butler from his seat, either to observe or be observed, hard to tell which though I am inclined to the latter belief. There was no mistaking that bald head, or that strabismic eye. It was Benjamin F. Butler, and nobody else.

The intermission, like all things on this earth, had its end, Dickens reappeared and the readings were resumed. This time it was a selection from Pickwick — the famous Bob Sawyer scene. It was very funny, as we all know, and the laughing, at times, immoderate. There was a point, however, at which the laugh became very much like a vulgar roar, and it wasn’t the funniest part of the reading by any means. Mr. Dickens felt a little confused, I thought, for a man of his nice perceptions knows exactly where the fun comes in, and we all know there is such a thing possible as a laugh at the expense of an actor, which is always more vivid than that provoked by the play. Dickens evidently thought he had blundered. But he hadn’t. He had simply read the following colloquy between Hopkins and Noddy — and the audience had just seen Butler, and every one knew he was present.

“I request that you’ll favor me with your card, sir.”
“I’ll do nothing of the kind, sir.”
“Why not, sir?”
“Because you’ll stick it over your chimney-piece, and delude your visitors into the false belief that a gentleman has been to see you, sir.”
“Sir, a friend of mine shall wait on you in the morning.”
“Sir, I am very much obliged to you for the caution; and I’ll leave particular directions with the servants to lock up the spoons.

The laugh, Mr. Dickens, which so exceeded all bounds as to perplex you, was due solely to a connection in the popular mind between General Butler and spoons!

St Joseph Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan) Feb.  22, 1868

Read Like the DICKENS!

January 2, 2009
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

I can see using this in the classroom as a tool to work on oral reading. Maybe paired with some Dickens Readers’  Theatre?

–Of Mr. Dickens as an author we need not speak. His position is settled, for high or low, for good, bad or indfferent in the minds of all reading men and women. The people who idolize Dickens the author cannot be shaken from their hero-worship; and those who don’t like him cannot be made to see what it is that other folks find so wonderful in his writings. But of Mr. Dickens as a reader, as a histrionic artist, we do not think there can be two opinions. Here his power is supreme, and beyond cavil. Here he shows a side of the shield which everbody can see to be gold, unalloyed. Even those who do not enjoy Dickens as they read him, cannot fail to revel in him as read by himself. Why is this? What is the secret of this man, commanding as he does, at will, the tears and laughter of large audiences, or keeping them hushed and spell bound — the latter condition of his hearers being no less a proof of his skill than the eliciting of their active emotions? To put the answer into one word, we should say — Art — his elaborate, consummate Art. Dickens the author is a genius beyond doubt; but Dickens the reader is a most finished artist. There is no need of supposing that the divine faculty to the one species of work extends into the other; for there was Shakespeare, the greatest of all geniuses, who was a very common sort of an actor in his own plays, if we may credit tradition. Plenty of genius has existed, notably that of our own Irving, which never attained unto the mystery of thinking on one’s legs, or standing up in public, in a less graceful attitude than that of the town pump.

We say that Mr. Dickens is a great artist. In the preface to one of his books, he has acknowledged his indebtedness to hard work, and even his freshest literary achievements bear the marks of patient toil. He is known to have carried into his readings the same method of study, care and precision, and to have regarded the whole business in its minutest details, as a matter of deliberate design. He neglects nothing that can contribute to effect. Take the version of his writings which he reads. They differ from the published form in being trimmed, compressed, all the by-play and padding left out, and all the points and hits retained. We were particularly impressed with this in the neat reduction of the Christmas Carol to the smallest compass consistent with telling the story clearly; and also with the self-denying resolution manifested in omitting many of the ludicrous incidents, description and dialogue, in the Pickwick Trial. Mr. Dickens takes great care not to bore his audiences, but bows his retirement to them, while they still have a good appetite for more; an excellent rule for feasts of reason and flows of soul, as well as for more palpable banquets.

Look, too, at the mis en scene. A purple screen behind him (a pleasant color to look at, though it imparts an unpleasant complimentary green to other objects, ladies’ faces included) against which his figure stands in bold relief; powerful gas lights at each side shedding their glare upon him alone; a mere skeleton of a lectern which does not conceal the form of the speaker; even the inevitable English bottle of water (English water?) and tumbler standing upon the side of the desk, from the which he rewards himself with a sip after each stave of his carol, as Addison was reported to have done with a stronger beverage, at the termination of an uncommonly fine paragraph — and there are a great many such stopping places — in the Spectator. This is all Art, and so are the little bouquet in the left buttonhole of his coat, second from top, and the other details of his dress, into which Sartorian particulars we do not propose to enter. So much for what many persons would consider only trifles.

But when Dickens begins to read we see that all this preparation is a type of what follows, that it is the perfect prelude of a perfect work. For here, at every step we discern the most patient study, the most conscientious care. His voice, though not very strong (and a trifle husky the first night,) quite fills the large house. His accent is of a well-bred Englishman, but his pronunciation is clearer, more distinct and every way more agreeable to American ears than that of most of his countrymen, even the cultivated ones. It is very flexible, and managed with great skill, so as to give the growl of old Scrooge, the baby chirp of Tiny Tim, the bluster of Sergeant Buzzfuz and teh inanity of Mr. Justice Stareleigh to perfection. From one character to another, among the dozen or so which figure in the Carol, he passes with perfect ease, never for a moment confounding the tones which are a part of their individuality. No less appropriate are the gestures and the changing facial expressions — all finished studies, delicate touches like those of a cameo cutter. When he describes the mashing of the potatoes for the Cratchit feast, he mashes invisible Murphies with his hand. He sniffs audibly to express sage and onions, and the audience can almost smell that corollary of the Christmas goose. The crackle of chestnuts on the fire, he somehow brings home to us by a nervous lighning-like motion of his hands. When he wishes to bring before our mind that contradance, of which old Feezwig was the bright particular star, he mimics the woven paces all about his reading desk. This gesticulation and facial change is humor or pathos at pleasure. In Bob Cratchit’s lament over poor Tiny Tim, it touches the fountain of tears, in reader and listener alike; and in old Weller’s observations from the gallery, it puts hearers into convulsions of laughter, from which Dickens himself can hardly refrain.
And so on. we might quote a hundred instances, if we cared to, from his readings, to illustrate the thorough, pains-taking art of Dickens, the reader, with which its genius as an author has nothing to do. If his coming here shall elevate the standard of public readings and recitations, it will have had one very beneficial effect.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) 22 Dec 1867