Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sufficient to have briefly suggested these considerations; every mind would anticipate me in filling up the details.

No, Land of Liberty!- thy children have no cause to blush for thee. What, though the arts have reared few monuments among us, and scarce trace of the Muse's footstep is found in the paths of our forests, or along the banks of our rivers, — yet our soil has been consecrated by the blood of heroes, and by great and holy deeds of peace. Its wide extent has become one vast temple, and hallowed asylum, sanctified by the prayers and blessings of the persecuted of every sect, and the wretched of all Nations. Land of Refuge, – Land of Benedictions ! — Those prayers still arise, and they still are heard : “May peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces!" "May there be no decay, no leading into captivity, and no complaining, in thy streets !” · May truth flourish out of the earth, and righteousness look down from Heaven!”

39. THE TRUE KING. Translated from Seneca, by Leigh Hunt.

"T is not wealth that makes a King,
Nor the purple coloring;
Nor a brow that's bound with gold,
Nor gate on mighty hinges rolled.
The King is he, who, void of fear,
Looks abroad with bosom clear ;
Who can tread ambition down,
Nor be swayed by smile or frown;
Nor for all the treasure cares,
That mine conceals, or harvest wears,
Or that golden sands deliver,
Bosomed in a glassy river.
What shall move his placid might ?
Not the headlong thunder-light,
Nor all the shapes of slaughter's trade,
With onward lance, or fiery blade.
Safe, with wisdom for his crown,
He looks on all things calmly down;
He welcomes Fate, when Fate is near,
Nor taints his dying breath with fear.
No— to fear not earthly thing,
This it is that makes the King;
And all of us, whoe'er we be
May carve us out that royalty.

40. DEATH IS COMPENSATION. — Original Trans. from Rousseau, B. 1712 ; d. 1778.

The more intimately I enter into communion with myself, - the more I consult my own intelligence, — the more legibly do I find writ

ten in my soul these words : BE JUST, AND THOU SHALT BE HAPPY! But let us not base our expectations upon the present state of things. The wicked prosper, and the just remain oppressed. At this frustration of our hopes, our indignation is kindled. Conscience takes umbrage, and murmurs against its Author; it murmurs, “Thou hast deceived me!—“I have deceived thee, say’st thou? How dost thou know it ? Who has proclaimed it to thee? Is thy soul annihilated ? Hast thou ceased to exist? O, Brutus ! O, my son! Soil not thy noble life by turning thine own hand against it. Leave not thy hope and thy glory with thy mortal body on the field of Philippi. Why dost thou say, virtue is nothing, when thou goest to enjoy the price of thine? Thou goest to die, thou thinkest; no, thou goest to live, and it is then that I shall fulfil all that I have promised thee.”

One would say, from the murmurs of impatient mortals, that God owed them recompense before merit, and that He ought to requite their virtue in advance. O! let us first be good, and afterwards we shall be happy. Let us not exact the prize before the victory, nor the wages before the labor. It is not on the course, says Plutarch, that the conquerors in our games are crowned ; it is after they have gone over it. If the soul is immaterial, it can survive the body; and, in that survival, Providence is justified. Though I were to have no other proof of the immateriality of the soul than the triumph of the wicked and the oppression of the just in this world, that spectacle alone would prevent my doubting the reality of the life after death. So shocking a dissonance in this universal harmony would make me seek to explain it. I should say to myself: “ All does not finish for me with this mortal life; what succeeds shall make concord of what went before."

41. FATE OF CHARLES THE TWELFTH. - Samuel Johnson. Born, 1709; died, 1784.

On what foundation stands the warrior's pride,
How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide !
A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,
No dangers fright him, and no labors tire;
O'er love, o'er fear, extends his wide domain,
Unconquered lord of pleasure and of pain;
No joys to him pacific sceptres yield,
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field ;
Behold surrounding Kings their powers combine,
And one capitulate, and one resign ;
Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain ;
“Think nothing gained," he cries, till naught remain ;
On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly,
And all be mine beneath the Polar sky."
The march begins in military state,
And Nations on his eye suspended wait;
Stern Famine guards the solitary coast,

And Winter barricades the realms of Frost;
He comes nor want nor cold his course delay;
Hide, blushing Glory, hide Pultowa's day!
The vanquished hero leaves his broken bands,
And shows his miseries in distant lands;
Condemned a needy supplicant to wait,
While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
But did not Chance at length her error mend ?
Did no subverted empire mark his end ?
Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound ?
Or hostile millions press him to the ground ?
His fall was destined to a barren strand,
A petty fortress, and a dubious hand;
He left the name, at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a tale!

42. OUR DUTIES TO THE REPUBLIC. — Judge Story. Born, 1779 ; died, 1815.

Tue Old World has already revealed to us, in its unsealed books, the beginning and end of all its own marvellous struggles in the cause of liberty. Greece, lovely Greece,

“ The land of scholars and the nurse of arms,” where Sister Republics, in fair procession, chanted the praises of liberty and the Gods, where and what is she? For two thousand years the oppressor has ground her to the earth. Her arts are no more. The last sad relics of her temples are but the barracks of a ruthless soldiery. The fragments of her columns and her palaces are in the dust, yet beautiful in ruins. She fell not when the mighty were upon her. Her sons were united at Thermopylæ and Marathon; and the tide of her triumph rolled back upon the Hellespont. She was conquered by her own factions. She fell by the hands of her own People. The man of Macedonia did not the work of destruction. It was already done, by her own corruptions, banishments, and dissensions. Rome, republican Rome, whose eagles glanced in the rising and setting sun,

where and what is she? The eternal city yet remains, proud even in her desolation, noble in her decline, venerable in the majesty of religion, and calm as in the composure of death. The malaria has but travelled in the paths worn by her destroyers. More than eighteen centuries have mourned over the loss of her empire. A mortal disease was upon her vitals before Cæsar had crossed the Rubicon; and Brutus did not restore her health by the deep probings of the Senate-chamber. The Goths, and Vandals, and Huns, the swarms of the North, completed only what was already begun at home. Romans betrayed Rome. The Legions were bought and sold; but the People offered the tribute money,

We stand the latest, and, if we fail, probably the last experiment of self-government by the People. We have begun it under circum

stances of the most auspicious nature. We are in the vigor of youth. Our growth has never been checked by the oppressions of tyranny. Our constitutions have never been enfeebled by the vices or luxuries of the Old World. Such as we are, we have been from the beginning, — simple, hardy, intelligent, accustomed to self-government, and to self-respect. The Atlantic rolls between us and

any

formi. dable foe. Within our own territory, stretching through many degrees of latitude and longitude, we have the choice of many products, and many means of independence. The Government is mild. The Press is free. Religion is free. Knowledge reaches, or may reach, every home. What fairer prospect of success could be presented ? What means more adequate to accomplish the sublime end? What more is necessary than for the People to preserve what they have themselves created ? Already has the age caught the spirit of our institutions. It has already ascended the Andes, and snuffed the breezes of both oceans. It has infused itself into the life-blood of Europe, and warmed the sunny plains of France and the low lands of Holland. It has touched the philosophy of Germany and the North ; and, moving onward to the South, has opened to Greece the lessons of her better days. Can it be that America, under such circumstances, can betray herself? Can it be that she is to be added to the catalogue of Republics, the inscription upon whose ruins is : THEY WERE, BUT THEY ARE NOT ? Forbid it, my countrymen! Forbid it, Heaven !

43. LOVE OF COUNTRY AND HOME. - James Montgomery.

THERE is a land, of every land the pride, Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside ; Where brighter suns dispense serener light, And milder moons emparadise the night; There is a spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest, Where man, creation's tyrant, casts aside His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride, While in his softened looks benignly blend The sire, the son, the husband, brother, friend ; “Where shall that land, that spot of earth, be found ” ? Art thou a man? a patriot? look around ! 0, thou shalt find, howe'er thy footsteps roam, That land thy country, and that spot thy home!

On Greenland's rocks, o'er rude Kamschatka's plains, In pale Siberia's desolate domains ; When the wild hunter takes his lonely way, Tracks through tempestuous snows his savage prey, Or, wrestling with the might of raging seas, Where round the Pole the eternal billows freeze,

Plucks from their jaws the stricken whale, in vain
Plunging down headlong through the whirling main ;
His wastes of snow are lovelier in his eye
Than all the flowery vales beneath the sky;
And dearer far than Cæsar's palace-dome,
His cavern-shelter, and his cottage-home.

O'er China's garden-fields and peopled floods,
In California's pathless world of woods ;
Round Andes' heights, where Winter, from his throne,
Looks down in scorn upon the Summer zone ;
By the gay borders of Bermuda's isles,
Where Spring with everlasting verdure smiles;
On pure Madeira's vine-robed hills of health ;
In Java's swamps of pestilence and wealth ;
Where Babel stood, where wolves and jackals drink,
'Midst weeping willows, on Euphrates' brink;
On Carmel's crest; by Jordan's reverend stream,
Where Canaan’s glories vanished like a dream ;
Where Greece, a spectre, haunts her heroes' graves,
And Rome's vast ruins darken Tiber's waves;
Where broken-hearted Switzerland bewails
Her subject mountains and dishonored vales;
Where Albion's rocks exult amidst the sea,
Around the beauteous isle of Liberty ;
Man, through all ages of revolving time,
Unchanging man, in every varying clime,
Deems his own land of every land the pride,
Beloved by Heaven o'er all the world beside;
His home the spot of earth supremely blest,
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest !

44. NATURE A HARD CREDITOR. - Thomas Carlyle. NATURE admits no lie. Most men profess to be aware of this, but few in any measure lay it to heart. Except in the departments of mere material manipulation, it seems to be taken practically as if this grand truth were merely a polite flourish of rhetoric. Nature keeps silently a most exact Savings-bank and official register, correct to the most evanescent item, Debtor and Creditor, in respect to one and all of us; silently marks down, Creditor by such and such an unseen act of veracity and heroism ; Debtor to such a loud, blustery blunder, twenty-seven million strong or one unit strong, and to all acts and words and thoughts executed in consequence of that, — Debtor, Debtor, Debtor, day after day, rigorously as Fate (for this is Fate that is writing); and at the end of the account you will have it all to pay, my friend; — there is the rub! Not the infinitesimallest fraction of a farthing but will be found marked there, for you and against you ; and

« ZurückWeiter »