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Fierce as a deluge rushing from the hills,
, They strew in fragments, and their labours spoil; And smite in death the ranks that dare
And now the hostile fleet an effort tries To force its way, and aid to win the prize; To bring its thunder on the walls to bear, And in the glory of the conquest share, And lo! they spread their canvass to the breeze ! And ships and galleys roll along the seasBut their united force is urged in vain To pierce the haven, where the guarding chain, And booms that stretch across, their power defy; And entrance to the inner space deny: From whence the thunder of the fleet within, Bursts on their baffled ships with hideous din; Rolling its purple smoke along the waves, And sweeping down its victims to their graves. Loud on their vessels' sides is heard the crashAnd o'er the decks the masts are seen to dashWbile slaughter strews their reeling planks with gore, Until the shouts, the cries, the vollied roar, Appal their friends on land, and shake the sounding shore. Soon farther off they point there keels again, With shatter'd vessels, and with seamen slain; While from the walls exulting shouts arose, That more inflamed the madness of their foes.
But nought could turn the Tyrant from his path, Curb his ambition, or disarm his wrath, He grew
the fiercer as his arms were foild, Determined more--the more in vain he toil'd ; The more he witness’d of his legions slainThe more resolved he grew the prize to gain ; Order'd new levies from each subject realm, That envied seat of power and
pomp to whelm. And soon fresh hosts from every part appear’d, His hopes established, and his warriors cheer'd: Until such myriads cover'd all the plain, As seem'd to make all further contest vain ; While all the friends, the Emperor could boast, Would scarce suffice to count that hostile host. He fear'd-he felt his reign too soon must close ; Nought but a miracle could chase those foes;
The interposing arm of heaven alone
conquer where I battle, or I die !" Was his repeated and unchang'd reply.
And now with tenfold force the awful roar Bursts forth again; the blazing cannons pour Their wrath against the walls with deafening sound, And all heaven's thunders seem to rage around. No bulwarks long can brave such desperate shock; The ramparts and the towers appear to rock ; Volcanoes seem to rush against the wall, And many a mass-split-crush'd, is seen to fall, And as it tumbles, buries with its weight Its own defenders in the tomb of fate. Till through those breaches gleam the city's towers; And 'twixt each opening pour the deadly showers; Sweeping away whoever dares to brave The iron rain that makes each breach a grave. Man might as well attempt to seize the flash Of lightning, when the nearest thunders crash, As think those blazing fissures to defend, Through which the guns their ceaseless fury send. As rocks that on the verge of ocean rise, Hurled by volcanic impulse, pierce the skies ; Then plunge with dashing fury in the main, Leaving their parent mountains rent in twainSo did the sever'd fragments of that wall, In its surroundiug waters roaring fall, While thus the breaches wider seem'd to spread, At every shaking shot the cannons sped; Through all the city there was wild despair, And cries of grief and terror rent the air, And every curse of life seem'd gather'd there.
END OF BOOK I.
IS THE PROSPERITY OF GREAT BRITAIN CHIEFLY ATTRIBU.
On the discusssion of this subject, which engaged the members of the Society at two of their weekly meetings, it was observed, that it was equally important and difficult to determine what were the chief causes that co-operated in producing national prosperity. To say of what elements prosperity precisely consisted, was not very easy ; and, unless we could ascertain the specific subject contemplated in the question, it was idle to attempt to trace the cause which produced it. In general terms it might be said, that national prosperity consisted of wealth, of power, and of a population proportioned to territory. To these general characteristics, freedom and intelligence should be added; though, in their largest signification, wealth and power could scarcely exist without including liberty and knowledge.
Great Britain possessed these prosperous qualities to a considerable extent; but they were not all possessed in the same, or equal degree; and, in tracing the circumstances out of which they had arisen, we should distinguish the progress of each. The intelligence of the people, which had doubtless
produced much improvement, could not strictly be referred either to the local circumstances in which Great Britain had been placed, or to the state of her institutions. The capacity of the national mind was an endowment of nature, and that capacity had been partly stimulated by physical, and partly by moral
, The local circumstances consisted of the insular situation of the country, its climate, and the nature and fertility of its soil. The national institutions comprised not only all those establishments by which the government performed its operations, but those also for the diffusion of learning and knowledge, of religion and charity.
However probable it might, at first sight, appear, that moral were superior to physical causes; yet, in examining into the origin of our wealth and power, it would be found that soil, climate, and situation, were the first things in the order of national progression. We should commence the investigation at a time when but few social or national institutions existed, and enquire into the circumstances out of which they arose.
It was probable that every nation, under favourable circumstances, would become distinguished for intellectual and moral
excellence. We could not reasonably presume that there existed a natural superiority in the character of one nation over another. Although there might be an existing difference, that difference had probably been the result of dissimilar cultivation. That these were the germs of excellence in every country, was obvious from the occasional instances which history presented of genius and renown in the most unfavoured situations.
It was obvious that the institutions of a nation were the result of its own intelligence and exertions. They ranked amongst the beneficial consequences of industry and enterprize. They were effects, not causes. It was true, that, after these institutions had been established, they contributed, in their turn, to the general good, and formed part of that mass of causes to which national prosperity might be referred.
We were driven back, then, to enquire into the circum. stances which preceded the existence of these national establishments, and which might be supposed to have given rise to theie formation. How had it happened that Great Britain possessed a greater degree of freedom than other countries ? How had it happened that she possessed also greater pecuniary resources than
other nation? If we could answer these questions, the difficulty would be at an end, for liberty and wealth were the great elements of national power, and were always followed by an increasing population, and by every thing that could be aggregately denominated prosperity.
The wealth and freedom of Great Britain, (it was contended,) had originated from her peculiar local circumstances.
The geographical situation of England was eminently advantageous. She was near enough to the Continent to derive every benefit of intercourse and commerce; and by emulation her energies were excited, yet sufficiently removed to secure her from attack. Thus she had been enabled to cultivate her own peculiar resources, and to avail herself of the improvements of others. The corruptions and the evils of other countries had floated round the island, but had never permanently been permitted to gain a dwelling. Whilst many of the nations of Europe had been convulsed by disorder and anarchy, she had steadily pursued her career. Her mind had “ample room and verge enough” to expand, and her prosperity had consequently increased. The disasters that had marked other states, had perpetually thrown them back to recommence their exertions, but Great Britain had for many centuries been gradually advancing. It was not, therefore, surprising, that with comparatively few interruptions, and with every inducement and means to improve, she had outstepped her less fortunate competitors.
The climate of Great Britain was precisely of that kind which was calculated to produce a due degree of labour. A severe climate would deprive industry of its full reward, and that which was not sufficiently encouraged would not flourish. On the other hand, a warmer and more voluptuous atmosphere would diminish the inclination to exertion, and prevent the gradual acquirement of those habits of perseverance and energy upon which all superiority depended. Of all propositions in political economy, none was more clear than that labour was the best source of national wealth. The spontaneous productions of the earth, which were exchanged with other countries, were not attended by so valuable a result as those which the hand of industry had partly created. The commodities thus received were not equally prized nor valued; nor so frugally or usefully applied, and wealth without labour was accompanied by indolence, slavishness, and profligacy.
The nature of the soil was also of a character highly favourable to promote exertion. It presented a varied aspect and different degrees of fertility. It was calculated both to stimulate and reward cultivation. It had excited, not merely to labour, but to ingenuity; without the one we should not have the means of subsistence, whilst, with the other, we possessed abundance and superfluity. The habits which thus originated, and the wealth which was thus acquired, were rendered available to national improvement in an infinite variety of respects. Hence the liberal arts became cultivated, and science refined. It was obvious that, in the first stages of our prosperity, we could owe but little to those public institutions which now abound in such multitudes, for they had risen up at a late period of our history, and were the consequence, and not the forerunner, of improvement. They constituted, indeed, the means, by which prosperity would be extended and rendered wider and more permanent, but history shewed the era at which they must be placed, and reason should distinguish between the effects which had followed in the career of nations, from the causes that produced or accelerated their progress.
It might not be popular to suggest any thing that should tend to depreciate the public institutions for learning and science; but, if we consulted experience, it would appear, that all those public schools and colleges which had been founded in ancient times, were far behind the private academies of a modern date, not only in the system of instruction, but in the principles of knowledge which they taught. Indeed, of old established bodies, in general, it might be said, that they were averse to improvement because they disliked alteration. They assumed that their founders were the wisest of mankind, not only in the ages in which they lived; (and such might, proba