Sir Henry Wonton was a distinguished poet, scholar and diplomat. He had an eventful of rewards and hazards of public life, which, however, found a tranquil, close in his last days. Writing from his personal experience, he contributed a rich share to the English poetic literature of his time.
The Poem: ‘The Character of Happy Life’ is a lovely little poem written by Sir Henry Wonton. It is concerned with the life and virtues of a good man. Also It is deeply religious in spirit and simple but dignified in expression. Finally It lays emphasis not only on the promise of a heavenly reward but also on the enjoyment of a sever life of peaceful virtue on this search. As such, Walton’s virtues man gets the best of both the words. A sharp sense of contrast, between the uneasy life of an ambitious man and the contended life of a man satisfied with his obscurity, runs right through his poem. Writing from his personal experience, he wishes to tell us that rewards of ambitious life were very dazzling indeed, but its anxieties and dangers were also all too real.
Context: These lines are from the poem, ‘The Character of a Happy Life’ written by Sir Henry Wonton. It tells us about the qualities essential for a truly happy life.
Indepencdence, Honesty of thought and Truthfulness
(1): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are independence, honesty of thought and truthfulness. He has not learnt to be the slave of others. He is upright in all his thoughts actions. His honesty shields him from all dangers. He believes only in pure, simple truth. It guides him in the day-to-day affairs of his life. Naturally therefore, he enjoys the blessings of real happiness.
Self-control and freedom from worldly ambitions
(2): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are self-control and freedom from worldly ambitions. He is not the slave of his derives and passions. He does not fear death; the world is not too much with him. So he does not have any anxieties, either. He does not care for fame or fortune. As such he does not worry in the least, for what people say about him in private. Naturally, therefore, he enjoys the blessings of real happiness.
Freedom from Envy, Dislike for Praise:
(3): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are freedom from envy of worldly success, dislike for praise and diplomacy and love for virtue and goodness. He does not envy anybody who has risen to high position by the stroke of good fortune or through his own wickedness. He does not seek praise for it corrupts character and provokes the enmity of the envious. However, insincere praise may be ironic or mocking. So he is totally unaware of the wounds inflicted by praise. His strong ignorant of the principles of statecraft. All that he knows and understands is absolute goodness. He hears no evil, he sees not evil, he speaks no evil and he does no evil. Naturally, therefore, he enjoys the blessing of real happiness.
Freedom from rumors, care for his conscience
(4): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are freedom from rumors, care for his conscience and lack of wealth and position. He keeps his life free from all kinds of rumors. He listens only to the inner voice of his conscience. As his sincere guide, it is a strong hold, which shelters him from all kinds of evils. The world is not too much with him. So his state is not so great that it can feel flatters or tempt people to accuse him and help them to plunder him when he in ruined. Naturally, therefore, he enjoys the blessings of real happiness.
Happy man are piety and simple life
(5): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are piety and simple life. He worshiped God with sincere devotion. He does not pray for worldly things. Instead, he prays for His kindness and mercy only. He spends his innocent life in plain living and high thinking which is his motto. He either studies good books or sits in the company of noble friends. Naturally, therefore, he enjoys the blessings of real happiness.
Independence , Povert and Contentment
(6): The poet says that the characteristics of a happy man are independence, poverty of contentment. He is the slave neither of another’s will nor of his own passions. Indeed he is his own master. The world is not too much with him. He has no desire for wealth or worldly cares; he leads an obscure life of peaceful virtue. As much, he has no fear of a downfall either. True he has no riches, but he has happiness, is the greatest wealth a man can have. Naturally, therefore, he enjoys the blessings of a truly real happiness.
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Character sketch of Counts of Monte Cristo (Edmund Dantes)
Count of Morcerf (Fernand Mondego)
Countess of Morcerf (Mercedes)
important characters of the drama Count of Monte Cristo
Reference to context
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A One Act Play: (Counts Revenge) is a short drama depicting a particular incident in the life of a particular character.
The incident invariably is significant in revealing of the person’s life in a way that from the part it is easy to understand.
The whole, sometimes a plurality of incidents and characters may also occur but even so they are intensely concentrated towards an isolated purpose.
Variety of Ideas
The One Act Play chooses its theme from a large variety of ideas much as politics, war, religion, society, sex and what not.
Naturally, this contributes to its immense value and universal appeal which, along with absolute economy of words and a keen, brisk treatment, make the One Act play a powerful weapon in the hands of modern writers.
Drama and Fiction
In its way, the One Act play is closely comparable with the short story. The former has the same place in drama as the latter has in fiction.
In neither can the writer invent situations and characters with anything like the complexity and fullness of interest that can be achieved in the full length play or novel.
But out of these very limitations, arise the many attracting qualities that make a good one act play or a good shot story irresistible for discerning tastes.
The most vivid of these qualities are precision and concentration which find strong expression in all their intensity and simplicity through the medium of the One Act play, making it so rich, sensitive and powerful at the same time.
For all its attractive qualities, the One Act play, however, has not achieved the same place in modern literature as the short story, which is largely due to practical obstacles.
The good short story lines in magazines and books but no play, of any kind is really alive until performed.
Needless to say, the professional theatres have all along given pride of place in entertainment to the full length play while the short play, known as ‘the curtain-raiser’ in stage parlance, has hardly ever found favour and has since gone almost completely out of fashion.
Very recently, however, the One Act play has made its re-appearance n the stage and won much applause from the audience.
Indeed, master-pieces like ‘The Browing Version’ have wonderfully demonstrated how rich and sensitive a short play can be.
Another good reason to be hopeful for the future of the One Act play is that sound broadcasting and more recently,
Television have come to demand short plays in abundance and attracted seasoned writers to apply their craft to the form.
But, more hopeful than anything else, is the popularity of One Act plays in the schools and colleges of English speaking countries which has come to be established all too firmly for they offer splendid entertainment without making large demands upon time, effort and property.
Besides, they have a high practical value for the student of a language; it demonstrates the use of the spoken language in vivid, meaningful contexts.
For types of language study are at once as useful and enjoyable as the study of a good play.
Two One Act Play
The Counts Revenge
(By J.H. Wash)
Introduction: – ‘The Counts Revenge’ is a fine One-Act play presented as a striking place of melodrama. “TheThe author, J.H. Wash, skillfully, adopts an incident from “The Count of Monte Cristo”, a famous novel of the 19th century by the French writer Alexander Dumas.
Edmund Dantes– The Sailor of Marseilles:
Long, long ago there lived a poor sailor in Marseilles, a large part on the Mediterrian sea coast of France, His name was Edmund Danties, and He was young and handsome, once he went on a long voyage and returned home after many years.
Mercedes– The Girl from Catalonia:
Not far from his place, lived a girl, from Catalonia, a region of Spain. Not far from his place, lived a girl, Mercedes from Catalonia, a region of Spain. She, too, was young and beautiful. Dantes fell in love with her, Soon he betrothed to her. He was happy for now hope to marry shortly to his sweet heart.
Fernand Mondego: The Fisherman
But there was also in that city another young man, a fisherman, Fernand Mondego, by name. He was a wicked villain. He resolved to win the Catalan girl from the young sailor.
The Most Devilish: (Plot ever hatched against Mortal).
So he hatched a plot against Dantes. Ind the most devilish plot ever hatched against mortal man. He produced false evidence to show that the sailor was a spy, an agent of the exiled Napoleon Buonaparte, once emperor of France.
He was trial in court, convicted as a spy and condemned to imprisonment for life, and then the poor innocent sailor was cast in an underground dungeon on an island fortress to pass the rest of his life as a victim of the black treachery of his rival.
Fernand Mondego Marries Mercedes:
Later on, He falsely informed Mercedes that Danties had died in goal. All men assured her of his death. Sometimes after, his cunning rival, the fisherman, asked her for her hand in marriage. She knew nothing of this villainy and his wickedness. Quite unaware of the deadly wrong, the simple girl easily taken in and gave her consent.Eventually, Fernand Mondego and Mercedes married together.
Fernand Mondego: (becomes the Count of Morcerf)
Now ever, the wicked rogue got on extremely well in life. He became an officer in the French Army and rose so far as to be a well-to-do nobleman with a distinguished place in society. In due course of time, he became the Count of Morcerf and lived in luxuriously furnished apartments in the Rue-du-Helder in Paris. More over his facial expression, Weak and fearful, his pale face, his thin compressed lips and his crafty expression easily defined him as a mean coward, a wicked, heartless villain.
Mercedes (become the Countess of Morcerf)
Needless to say, Mercedes, his wife now became the Countess of Morcerf. The unfortunate woman, soon after her marriage, discovered how mean and heartless her husband was indeed. True to his evil nature, he was often cruel not only to her but also to Albert, their only son.
Husband and wife had never been good friends before or they likely to be better friends now. On the other hand, Mercedes had never ceased to respect and admire Dantes and regard him noble.
Albert, a young French nobleman, was the only son of the Count and the Countess of Morcerf. Extremely sentimental by nature, he was a man of honour and a man of word. He was a close friend of the Count of Monte Cristo.
Beauchamp was the editor of a Paris newspaper. He, also, was a fast friend of Albert.
The Escape of Edmund Dantes & from the Dungeon:
The victim of the villainous Mondego.the innocent Dantes, betrayed to a living death, suffered slow, profound external torture in wrongful imprisonment in the underground dungeon on the island fortress for fourteen years. At last chance favoured him. He escaped from the dreadful place.
Edmund Dantes: (become the Count of Monte Cristo)
Edmund travelled and flourished. He re-established himself in life with wonderful speed and success. He grew rich and powerful. Within the short period of six years, he acquired wealth, influence, a title and a dazzling place in French society.
He lived like a prince, in the champs Elysses, a fashionable quarter of Paris, as the Count of Monte Cristo the mysterious stranger, who cloaked the person of Dantes splendidly dressed, handsome, gay, cymical, not very young, with a touch of the devil in him, he was ever his ordinary smiling self.
No wonder, he captured all Paris by his noble, charming, even obliging manners so that all loved and admired him. Moreover, the spirit of chivalry, romance and adventure raged a strong in him.
He was a good swordsman and a wonderful shot. His pistol never missed its aim, so excellent was his marksmanship indeed. He often travelled on holidays to Rome, to Normandy, to any place that caught his fancy.
Also, He always made it his first duty on returning to Paris from any journey to pay his compliments to the Countess of Morcerf.
He was a close friend of her son Albert as well. He often went with him to spend his holidays together to places like Rome and Normandy. Once he had actually saved his life from death. He was like a father to Albert.
In fact, he show many to mother and son and helped them in many ways. But there was one thing that struck singularity strange about him. He never broke bread in the house of Morcerf. He strictly followed the Arab custom not to eat in the house of a deadly enemy who was Cristo’s enemy. Morcerf enmity was against him and mortally offend him in the past.
The Counts Revenge:
Searching Investigations:-His one and only aim of life all along was to seek vengeance upon Fernand Mondego, now the count of Morcerf, the man who had done him deadly wrong for fourteen years which, unmistaken ably, is a large slice from a man’s life.
There was time enough for him to plan his revenge. Determined to pay back his bitter rival and enemy in his own coins, he made ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ the motto of his own life.
Ruthlessly, relentlessly, he pursued his wrong – door and ferreted his secrets. At last yet another gross, act of villainy committed by Morcerf came to light during the searching investigations.
The crime of High Treason:-
In 1823 when the French and the Turks were at war, Morcerf then a captain in the French Army, received bribes from the Turks and surrendered the French Fortress of Yanins to them.
The Count of Monte Cristo unearthed documents, signed, sealed and witnessed, which were unassailable proofs of Morcerf’s guilt.
He even found out an eye witness, a woman, who was actually present at the scene of the crime.
So, it was not he but Morcerf, who was a traitor to his people, who had betrayed his country, and who had committed the heinous crime of high treason against the motherland.
The Count of Monte Cristo wreaks his vengeance: –
At last the count of Monte Cristo wreaked his vengeance.
Keeping himself in the background, he brought the accusations of the crime first in the press and then in parliament.
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The Birkenhead was a troopship. It carried troops across the seas.
In February 1851, more than a hundred years ago, it happened to be sailing to Cape Town in South Africa. It was carrying soldiers and their families on board.
The voyage had been uneventful so far; the sea was calm as it was sound asleep.
There were 630 passengers on the ship. Of these, 460 were soldiers and 170 were women and children.
The soldiers were young and inexperienced. So were the few officers. Needless to say, they were not used to facing dangers.
The Hidden Rock:
An unknown rock lay hidden under the sea, forty miles from Cape Town. It was like a wild creature of the ocean, lying in wait for its prey.
The prey was the troopship Birkenhead. It was approaching fast. It was quite unaware of its fate.
At two O’clock, in the early morning of February 25th 1851, the Birkenhead struck the hidden rock. Ten minutes after, ship sank forthwith.
The other half, however, remained afloat, worst of all; only three of the several lifeboats were left in a useful condition.
The Passengers after the collision:
Awakened by the sudden crash, the unfortunate passengers ran out of their cabins and crawled to the deck of that half of the ship that was still afloat. For the time being at least they were safe.
Almost all the passengers faced certain death. Only 180 people could find room in the three lifeboats, 60 in each. The rest had no chance of life. The treacherous waters would drown them or else the hungry sharks would devour them. There was every cause for panic, for life is sweet.
If there had been a panic on the Birkenhead, not one of the 630 people would have been saved.
All would have struggled to get into one of the lifeboats. Many would have been crushed under feet. Many would have been pushed into the sea.
Boats might have been overloaded and sunk. The strongest would have won their way to the boats. The weakest – woman and children, the old and the sick – would have been left to their fate.
Such things had happened before. But, strange to say, there was no panic on the Birkenhead. The troops showed remarkable discipline and great heroism.
Women and Children First:
“Women and children first’, was the order of the day. The soldiers and sailors stood on the deck in proper drill order, line upon line, rank by rank.
The boats were lowered. The women and children filled them. As they sailed away, the men calmly awaited their fate with set faces.
Discipline and Gallantry:
These brave souls set an example of discipline and gallantry. The heroic action of the commander of the troops can hardly meet a parallel anywhere.
He was hanging on to wreckage, saw two young sailors struggling in the water. And he pushed the wreckage towards them. The three hold on to it.
It was not strong enough for all three. So he let go his hold and himself chose to die.
One of the survivors reported that the determination of all hands was far more than could be effected by the best discipline. Everyone did as directed.
Everyone was loyal to himself and to his duty. And never was a word of hoard.
The meaning of the Birkenhead Drill:
Ever since Birkenhead Drill – Woman and Children First has been the order followed on all ships that are in danger. “Birkenhead Drill” mean today “to stand and be still’ facing certain death, so that weaker ones may have a chance of life.
Question and Answer:
Ans: The Birkenhead sank forty miles from Cape Town on 25th February 1851.
Ans: The Birkenhead was carrying soldiers and their families.
Ans: The Birkenhead was wrecked because it struck a rock hidden under the sea. The rock was hidden under the sea. It was unknown & undiscovered. It was not shown in the sea maps. So the crew of the ship was not to blame.
Ans: When the ship struck against the rock, most of the lifeboats were damaged or destroyed. Only three were in a useful condition. Each boat could carry just 60 passengers. So there was lifeboat accommodation for 180 people in all after the collision with the rock.
Ans: Yes, there was enough room in the lifeboats for all the women and children on board. The women and children were only 130 in number but there was lifeboat accommodation for 180.
Ans: If there had been a panic on the Birkenhead, not one of the 630 people would saved. All the passengers would have made wild efforts to get into the boats. Moreover, Men, Women and Children would have been crushed under feet. They would have pushed one another into the sea. Also, The boats might have been overloaded and sunk under the weight. Such things had happened in panic before. The same would have happened again.
Ans:The sailors showed perfect discipline and great heroism. They stood at attention as if a drill. With set faces, they awaited their fate calmly as the boats sailed away with the women and children.
Ans: Finally a rescue ship saved only a few of the men left on the sinking ship. They struggled to the surface of the sea and held on to pieces of wreckage. A rescue ship arrived on the scene and picked them up.
Ans: The commander of the ship acted with great heroism. He was hanging on to wreckage in the sea. He saw two young sailors struggling in the water for their lives, pushed the wreckage towards them.
All the three held on to it. Soon the commander realized that the wreckage was not strong enough for all three. So he let go his hold and himself chose to die.
Ans: No, the troops on board of the Birkenhead were unexperienced. They never faced these kind of danger. An officer of the troops reported that the troops behaved with gallantry and discipline unto the very last.
Notes written by Al-saudia Expert English Language Online Tutors in Karachi.
The poem commences with a scene where Abu bin Adhem awakens to find an angel in his room, meticulously recording names in a golden book. Intrigued and respectful, he inquires about the angel’s purpose. The angel reveals that he’s inscribing the names of those who love God.
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Abu Bin Adhem
The Story of A night
The renowned English poet James Henry Leigh Hunt penned the well-known poem titled “Abu Bin Adhem.” This poem narrates the tale of Abu bin Adhem, a devout Muslim exemplifying the core principles of spirituality and selflessness. Through its straightforward yet impactful storytelling, the poem delves into themes such as love, compassion, and the profound significance of human connections.
The poem commences with a scene where Abu bin Adhem awakens to find an angel in his room, meticulously recording names in a golden book. Intrigued and respectful, he inquires about the angel’s purpose. The angel reveals that he’s inscribing the names of those who love God.
Adhem Love His Fellow Men
Despite his initial disappointment, Abu bin Adhem remains undeterred. He humbly requests the angel to include his name in the list of those who love their fellow human beings. The angel agrees and writes his name as one who loves his fellow men.
The poem’s narrative takes a beautiful turn as the angel returns to Abu bin Adhem’s room the following night. To Abu bin Adhem’s surprise, he discovers his name at the top of the list of those who love God. Overwhelmed with joy and deeply moved, he expresses his gratitude and recognizes the importance of loving one’s fellow beings.
Theme of The Poem
The central theme of ‘Abu bin Adhem’ underscores that genuine spirituality encompasses not just one’s connection with God but also compassion and love for humanity. Abu bin Adhem’s character exemplifies selflessness and kindness, prioritizing love for fellow human beings over personal recognition. This demonstration highlights that acts of love and compassion towards others hold equal importance in God’s eyes.
The Importance of Humanity
Also, the poem highlights the significance of humility and selflessness. When Abu bin Adhem’s name isn’t on the list, he selflessly requests to be counted among those who love their fellow men. This humble and caring act ultimately elevates his spiritual status.
True Devotion and Love For God
Furthermore, the poem emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity. Abu bin Adhem’s realization of the value of his relationships underscores the importance of human connection in our spiritual journey. His actions demonstrate that how we treat others reflects genuine devotion and love for God.
Moreover, ‘Abu bin Adhem’ is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem emphasizing the significance of love, compassion, and humility. Its central theme goes beyond religious rituals, highlighting our relationships with others. Through Abu bin Adhem’s character, it encourages us to prioritize human connections and recognize selflessness and love as integral to our spiritual growth.
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