Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

Nation grew morally strong from its original elements. The great work was delayed only by a just preparation. Now, God is bringing hither the most vigorous scions from all the European stocks, to make of them all one new man; — not the Saxon, not the German, not the Gaul, not the Helvetian, but the American. Here they will unite as one brotherhood, will have one law, will share one interest. Spread over the vast region from the frigid to the torrid, from the Eastern to the Western Ocean, every variety of climate giving them choice of pursuit and modification of temperament, the ballot-box fusing together all rivalries, they shall have one national will. What is wanting in one race will be supplied by the characteristic energies of the others; and what is excessive in either, checked by the counter action of the rest. Nay, though for a time the newly-come may retain their foreign vernacular, our tongue, so rich in ennobling literature, will be the tongue of the Nation, the language of its laws, and the accent of its majesty. Eternal God, who seest the end with the beginning, Thou alone canst tell the ultimate grandeur of this People!

Such, Gentlemen, is the sphere, present and future, in which God calls us to work for Him, for our country, and for mankind. The language in which we utter truth will be spoken on this Continent, a century hence, by thirty times more millions than those dwelling on the island of its origin. The openings for trade on the Pacific coast, and the railroad across the Isthmus, will bring the commerce of the world under the control of our race. The empire of our language will follow that of our commerce; the empire of our institutions, that of our language. The man who writes successfully for America will yet speak for all the world.

—o-
33. COMPENSATIONS OF THE IMAGINATION.—Akenside.

O BLEST of Heaven, whom not the languid songs
Of Luxury, the Siren not the bribes
Of sordid Wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils
Of pageant Honor, can seduce to leave
Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the store
Of Nature fair Imagination culls
To charm the enlivened soul! What though not all
Of mortal offspring can attain the height -
Of envied life; though only few possess
Patrician treasures or imperial state; —
Yet Nature's care, to all her children just,
With richer treasures and an ampler state
Endows at large whatever happy man
Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp,
The rural honors his ' Whate'er adorns
The princely dome, the column, and the arch,
The breathing marbles, and the sculptured gold,

Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim,
His tuneful breast enjoys! For him, the Spring
Distils her dews, and from the silken germ
Its lucid leaves unfolds: for him, the hand
Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold, and blushes like the morn.
Each passing Hour sheds tribute from her wings;
And still new Beauties meet his lonely walk,
And Loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain
From all the tenants of the warbling shade
Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake
Fresh pleasure, unreproved : nor thence partakes
Fresh pleasure only : for the attentive mind,
By this harmonious action on her powers,
Becomes herself harmonious. – Thus the men
Whom Nature's works can charm, with God Himself
Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With His conceptions, act upon His plan,
And form to His the relish of their souls.

24. THE GREAT DISTINCTION OF A NATION. – W. E. Channing. B. 1780; d. 1842.

THE great distinction of a Nation—the only one worth possessing, and which brings after it all other blessings— is the prevalence of pure principle among the Citizens. I wish to belong to a State in the character and institutions of which I may find a spring of improvement, which I can speak of with an honest pride; in whose records I may meet great and honored names, and which is fast making the world its debtor by its discoveries of truth, and by an example of virtuous freedom. O, save me from a country which worships wealth, and cares not for true glory; in which intrigue bears rule; in which patriotism borrows its zeal from the prospect of office; in which hungry sycophants throng with supplication all the departments of State; in which public men bear the brand of private vice, and the seat of Government is a noisome sink of private licentiousness and public corruption.

Tell me not of the honor of belonging to a free country. I ask, does our liberty bear generous fruits? Does it exalt us in manly spirit, in public virtue, above countries trodden under foot by Despotism 2 Tell me not of the extent of our country. I care not how large it is, if it multiply degenerate men. Speak not of our prosperity. Better be one of a poor People, plain in manners, reverencing God, and respecting themselves, than belong to a rich country, which knows no higher good than riches. Earnestly do I desire for this country, that, instead of copying Europe with an undiscerning servility, it may have a character of its own, corresponding to the freedom and equality of our institutions. One Europe is enough. One Paris is enough. How much to be desired is it, that, separated, as we are, from the Eastern continent, by an ocean, we should be still more widely separated by simplicity of manners, by domestic purity, by inward piety, by reverence for human nature, by moral independence, by withstanding the subjection to fashion, and that debilitating sensuality, which characterize the most civilized portions of the Old World! Of this country, I may say, with peculiar emphasis, that its happiness is bound up in its virtue! —e— 35. WHAT MAKES A HERO Henry Taylor.

WHAT makes a hero?— not success, not fame,
Inebriate merchants, and the loud acclaim
Of glutted Avarice, — caps tossed up in air,
Or pen of journalist with flourish fair;
Bells pealed, stars, ribbons, and a titular name—
These, though his rightful tribute, he can spare;
His rightful tribute, not his end or aim,
Or true reward; for never yet did these
Refresh the soul, or set the heart at ease.
What makes a hero? — An heroic mind,
Expressed in action, in endurance proved:
And if there be preeminence of right,
Derived through pain well suffered, to the height
Of rank heroic, 'tis to bear unmoved,
Not toil, not risk, not rage of sea or wind,
Not the brute fury of barbarians blind,
But worse—ingratitude and poisonous darts,
Launched by the country he had served and loved;
This, with a free, unclouded spirit pure,
This, in the strength of silence to endure,
A dignity to noble deeds imparts,
Beyond the gauds and trappings of renown;
This is the hero's complement and crown;
This missed, one struggle had been wanting still, -
One glorious triumph of the heroic will,
One self-approval in his heart of hearts.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Socrates was the reverse of a sceptic. No man ever looked upon life with a more positive and practical eye. No man ever pursued his mark with a clearer perception of the road which he was travelling. No man ever combined, in like manner, the absorbing enthusiasm of a missionary, with the acuteness, the originality, the inventive resources, and the generalizing comprehension, of a philosopher. And yet this man was condemned to death, – condemned by a hostile tribunal of more than five hundred citizens of Athens, drawn at hazard from all classes of society. A majority of six turned the scale, in the most momentous trial that, up to that time, the world had witnessed. And the vague charges on which Socrates was condemned were, that he was a vain babbler, a corrupter of youth, and a setter-forth of strange Gods!

It would be tempting to enlarge on the closing scene of his life, — a scene which Plato has invested with such immortal glory; — on the affecting farewell to the Judges; on the long thirty days which passed in prison before the execution of the verdict; on his playful equamimity, amid the uncontrollable emotions of his companions; on the gathering in of that solemn evening, when the fading of the sunset hues on the tops of the Athenian hills was the signal that the last hour was at hand; on the introduction of the fatal hemlock; the immovable countenance of Socrates, the firm hand, and then the burst of frantic lamentation from all his friends, as, with his habitual ease and cheerfulness, he drained the cup to its dregs; then the solemn silence enjoined by himself; the pacing to and fro; the strong religious persuasions attested by his last words; the cold palsy of the poison creeping from the extremities to the heart; the gradual torpor ending in death ! But I must forbear.

0 for a modern spirit like his 0 for one hour of Socrates! O for one hour of that voice whose questioning would make men see what they knew, and what they did not know; what they meant, and what they only thought they meant; what they believed in truth, and what they only believed in name; wherein they agreed, and wherein they differed. That voice is, indeed, silent; but there is a voice in each man's heart and conscience, which, if we will, Socrates has taught us to use rightly. That voice still enjoins us to give to ourselves a reason for the hope that is in us, both hearing and asking questions. It tells us, that the fancied repose which self-inquiry disturbs is more than compensated by the real repose which it gives; that a wise questioning is the half of knowledge; and that a life without self-examination is no life at all.

—o

[ocr errors]

ThINGs of high import sound I in thine ears,
Dear child, though now thou mayst not feel their power;
But hoard them up, and in thy coming years
Forget them not, and when earth's tempests lower,
A talisman unto thee shall they be,
To give thy weak arm strength—to make thy dim eyes see.

Seek Truth, – that pure celestial Truth, – whose birth
Was in the Heaven of Heavens, clear, sacred, shrined

In Reason's light.—Not oft she visits earth,
But her majestic port, the willing mind,

Through Faith, may sometimes see. Give her thy soul,

Nor faint, though Error's surges loudly gainst thee roll.

Be free—not chiefly from the iron chain,
But from the one which Passion forges—be
The master of thyself. If lost, regain
The rule o'er chance, sense, circumstance. Be free.
Trample thy proud lusts proudly 'neath thy feet,
And stand erect, as for a heaven-born one is meet.

Seek Virtue. Wear her armor to the fight;
Then, as a wrestler gathers strength from strife,
Shalt thou be nerved to a more vigorous might
By each contending, turbulent ill of life.
Seek Virtue. — She alone is all divine;
And having found, be strong, in God's own strength and thine.

Truth—Freedom—Wirtue—these, dear child, have power,
If rightly cherished, to uphold, sustain,
And bless thy spirit, in its darkest hour;
Neglect them—thy celestial gifts are vain —
In dust shall thy weak wing be dragged and soiled;
Thy soul be crushed 'neath gauds for which it basely toiled.

[ocr errors]

38. AMERICA'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLD. Gulian C. Verplanck.

WHAT, it is asked, has this Nation done to repay the world for the benefits we have received from others?—Is it nothing for the universal good of mankind to have carried into successful operation a system of self-government, uniting personal liberty, freedom of opinion, and equality of rights, with national power and dignity, -such as had before existed only in the Utopian dreams of philosophers? Is it nothing, in moral science, to have anticipated, in sober reality, numerous plans of reform in civil and criminal jurisprudence, which are, but now, received as plausible theories by the politicians and economists of Europe? Is it nothing to have been able to call forth, on every emergency, either in war or peace, a body of talents always equal to the difficulty Is it nothing to have, in less than half a century, exceedingly improved the sciences of political economy, of law, and of medicine, with all their auxiliary branches; to have enriched human knowledge by the accumulation of a great mass of useful facts and observations, and to have augmented the power and the comforts of civilized man by miracles of mechanical invention ? Is it nothing to have given the world examples of disinterested patriotism, of political wisdom, of public virtue; of learning, eloquence and valor, never exerted save for some praiseworthy end ? It is

« ZurückWeiter »