Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

By Andrew Carnegie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
DUNFERMLINE AND AMERICA

MY good Uncle Lauder justly set great value upon recitation in education, and many were the pennies which Dod and I received for this. In our little frocks or shirts, our sleeves rolled up, paper helmets and blackened faces, with laths for swords, my cousin and myself were kept constantly reciting Norval and Glenalvon, Roderick Dhu and James Fitz-James to our schoolmates and often to the older people.

I remember distinctly that in the celebrated dialogue between Norval and Glenalvon we had some qualms about repeating the phrase, -- "and false as hell." At first we made a slight cough over the objectionable word which always created amusement among the spectators. It was a great day for us when my uncle persuaded us that we could say "hell" without swearing. I am afraid we practiced it very often. I always played the part of Glenalvon and made a great mouthful of the word. It had for me the wonderful fascination attributed to forbidden fruit. I can well understand the story of Marjory Fleming, who being cross one morning when Walter Scott called and asked how she was, answered:

"I am very cross this morning, Mr. Scott. I just want to say 'damn' [with a swing], but I winna."

Thereafter the expression of the one fearful word was a great point. Ministers could say "damnation" in the pulpit without sin, and so we, too, had full range on "hell" in recitation. Another passage made a deep impression. In the fight between Norval and Glenalvon, Norval says, "When we contend again our

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