Part 7 out of 10
It was morning on hill and stream and tree,
And morning in the young knight's heart;
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
And gloomed by itself apart;
The season brimmed all other things up
Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.
As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate,
He was 'ware of a leper, crouched by the same,
Who begged with his hand and moaned as he sate;
And a loathing over Sir Launfal came;
The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,
The flesh 'neath his armor did shrink and crawl,
And midway its leap his heart stood still
Like a frozen waterfall;
For this man, so foul and bent of stature,
Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,--
So he tossed him a piece of gold in scorn.
The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
"Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold
Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives but a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."
PRELUDE TO PART SECOND
Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old;
On open wold and hilltop bleak
It had gathered all the cold,
And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere
From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare;
The little brook heard it and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him, winter-proof;
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars
As the lashes of light that trim the stars;
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt,
Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush-tops
And hung them thickly with diamond-drops,
That crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one:
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice;
'Twas as if every image that mirrored lay
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky,
Lest the happy model should be lost,
Had been mimicked in fairy masonry
By the elfin builders of the frost.
Within the hall are song and laughter,
The cheeks of Christmas grow red and jolly,
And sprouting is every corbel and rafter
With lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide
Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide;
The broad flame-pennons droop and flap
And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,
Hunted to death in its galleries blind;
And swift little troops of silent sparks,
Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear,
Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks
Like herds of startled deer.
But the wind without was eager and sharp,
Of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp,
And rattles and wrings
The icy strings,
Singing, in dreary monotone,
A Christmas carol of its own,
Whose burden still, as he might guess,
Was "Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!"
The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,
And he sat in the gateway and saw all night
The great hall-fire, so cheery and bold,
Through the window-slits of the castle old,
Build out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.
There was never a leaf on bush or tree,
The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
The river was dumb and could not speak,
For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun;
A single crow on the tree-top bleak
From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun;
Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold.
As if her veins were sapless and old,
And she rose up decrepitly
For a last dim look at earth and sea.
Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,
For another heir in his earldom sate;
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbed air,
For it was just at the Christmas time;
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
In the light and warmth of long ago;
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and small,
Then nearer and nearer, till, one by one,
He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red-hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass,
The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade,
And with its own self like an infant played,
And waved its signal of palms.
"For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms;"--
The happy camels may reach the spring,
But Sir Launfal sees naught save the grewsome thing,
The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
That cowers beside him, a thing as lone
And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas
In the desolate horror of his disease.
And Sir Launfal said, "I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side:
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to Thee!"
Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes
And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he
Remembered in what a haughtier guise
He had flung an alms to leprosie,
When he caged his young life up in gilded mail
And set forth in search of the Holy Grail.
The heart within him was ashes and dust;
He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink:
'Twas a mouldy crust of coarse brown bread,
'Twas water out of a wooden bowl,--
Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper fed,
And 'twas red wine he drank with his thirsty soul.
As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified,
Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,--
Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.
His words were shed softer than leaves from the pine,
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
That mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon;
And the voice that was calmer than silence said,
"Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes, without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here,--this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for Me but now;
This crust is My body broken for thee;
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need:
Not what we give, but what we share,--
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,--
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me."
Sir Launfal awoke as from a swound:--
"The Grail in my castle here is found!
Hang my idle armor up on the wall,
Let it be the spider's banquet-hall;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail."
The castle gate stands open now,
And the wanderer is welcome to the hall
As the hangbird is to the elm-tree bough;
No longer scowl the turrets tall,
The Summer's long siege at last is o'er;
When the first poor outcast went in at the door,
She entered with him in disguise,
And mastered the fortress by surprise;
There is no spot she loves so well on ground,
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;
The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land
Has hall and bower at his command;
And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.
HELPS TO STUDY.
Notes and Questions.
Into what two parts does the poem divide?
What purpose does the prelude to each part serve?
What were the conditions under which Sir Launfal set out in search of the
How did the sight of the leper affect the young knight when he "flashed
forth" from his castle?
How did the leper explain his refusal of the alms tossed him?
What picture does the prelude to Part Second give you? Contrast it with
that of the prelude to Part First.
Describe Sir Launfal's appearance on his return from his quest.
What had he lost while on his search?
What had he gained?
Describe the second meeting with the leper.
How much of this story was a dream? Explain why you think so.
With what line does Lowell begin the account of Sir Launfal's vision?
What effect did the dream or vision have upon Sir Launfal?
What do you think is the great lesson of this poem?
Of whom is Sir Launfal a type?
What does the cold grim castle represent?
Find lines in the prelude to Part First which show the first stirring of
Sir Launfal's spiritual nature. What influences prompted this?
Why did Lowell choose a leper to confront Sir Launfal?
Words and Phrases for Discussion.
"We Sinais climb and know it not"
"Behold it is here--the Grail in my castle here is found"
"With our faint hearts the mountain strives"
"Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune"
"For a god goes with it"
"Himself the Gate whereby men can Enter the temple of God in Man"
"She entered with him in disguise"
"He must be fenced with stronger mail"
* * * * *
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
A stranger came one night to Yussouf's tent,
Saying, "Behold one outcast and in dread,
Against whose life the bow of power is bent,
Who flies, and hath not where to lay his head;
I come to thee for shelter and for food,
To Yussouf, called through all our tribes 'The Good.'"
"This tent is mine," said Yussouf, "but no more
Than it is God's; come in, and be at peace;
Freely shalt thou partake of all my store
As I of His who buildeth over these
Our tents His glorious roof of night and day,
And at whose door none ever yet heard 'Nay.'"
So Yussouf entertained his guest that night,
And, waking him ere day, said: "Here is gold;
My swiftest horse is saddled for thy flight;
Depart before the prying day grow bold."
As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.
That inward light the stranger's face made grand,
Which shines from all self-conquest; kneeling low,
He bowed his forehead upon Yussouf's hand,
Sobbing: "O, Sheik, I cannot leave thee so;
I will repay thee; all this thou hast done
Unto that Ibrahim who slew thy son!"
"Take thrice the gold," said Yussouf, "for with thee
Into the desert, never to return,
My one black thought shall ride away from me;
First-born, for whom by day and night I yearn,
Balanced and just are all of God's decrees;
Thou art avenged, my first-born, sleep in peace!"
HELPS TO STUDY.
Notes and Questions.
Where do you think the scene of this poem was laid? Give the reason for
What do you know of the habits of people who live in tents?
What virtues would men living in this way most admire? Why?
How do you think Yussouf had won his title of "The Good"?
To what does the stranger compare himself?
What does the bending of the bow signify?
To what tribes does the stranger refer?
What do you learn of Yussouf's character from the second and third stanzas?
What emotions made the stranger's face "grand"?
What do you suppose Yussouf's "one black thought" had been?
How did he avenge his son?
When does Yussouf show himself most noble?
Words and Phrases for Discussion.
"nobleness enkindleth nobleness"
"for whom by day and night I yearn"
* * * * *
Sidney Lanier is a poet of the South who year by year appeals to a larger
number of lovers of good literature. He was born in Georgia of Huguenot and
Scotch ancestry and when only a small lad showed great talent and love for
music. His mother encouraged him in this, and from beginning with clapping
bones it was not long before he learned to play on the guitar, banjo,
violin, and flute. On the Christmas when he was seven years old he was
given a small one-keyed flute, and from that time on the flute became his
favorite instrument. When he grew to manhood he became first flutist in the
Baltimore orchestra. So passionately fond was he of music that he could
scarcely decide between that and poetry as his choice for a profession.
He was graduated from a Georgia college at the age of eighteen, and in the
following year, 1861, he enlisted in the Southern army. His younger
brother, Clifford, of whom he was very fond, also enlisted, and when
opportunities for promotion came to both they declined rather than be
separated. They engaged in many battles, but Sidney Lanier found time, even
during the war, to continue his study. In 1864 he was taken prisoner, while
doing duty as a signal officer, and spent five months in Point Lookout
prison. He came home from the hardships of war broken in health, so that
from that time on his life was one fierce struggle against disease.
From the time when as a boy he spent hours in his father's library reading
the tales of King Arthur, the stories of romantic chivalry were of
absorbing interest to him. He understood and loved boys, for he had four of
his own, and for these he has written "The Boy's Froissart," "The Boy's
King Arthur" and the "Knightly Legends of Wales."
In 1879 he was appointed lecturer on English literature at the Johns
Hopkins University, and his prospects were at last brightening when two
years later he died. During the last seven years of his life, struggling
ever with poverty and pain, he wrote his one volume of poetry. His poems
show his great faith--indeed, his poem, "The Marshes of Glynn," is religion
set to music.
* * * * *
THE MARSHES OF GLYNN
O braided dusks of the oak and woven shades of the vine,
While the riotous noonday sun of the June day long did shine
Ye held me fast in your heart and I held you fast in mine;
But now when the noon is no more, and riot is rest,
And the sun is a-wait at the ponderous gate of the West,
And the slant yellow beam down the wood aisle doth seem
Like a lane into heaven that leads from a dream,--
Aye, now, when my soul all day hath drunken the soul of the oak,
And my heart is at ease from men, and the wearisome sound of the stroke
Of the scythe of time and the trowel of trade is low,
And belief overmasters doubt, and I know that I know,
And my spirit is grown to a lordly great compass within,
That the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn
Will work me no fear like the fear they have wrought me of yore
When length was fatigue, and when breadth was but bitterness sore,
And when terror and shrinking and dreary unnamable pain
Drew over me out of the merciless miles of the plain,--
Oh, now, unafraid, I am fain to face
The vast, sweet visage of space.
To the edge of the wood I am drawn, I am drawn,
Where the gray beach glimmering runs, as a belt of the dawn,
For a mete and a mark
To the forest dark:--
Affable live oak, leaning low,--
Thus--with your favor--soft, with a reverent hand,
(Not lightly touching your person, lord of the land!)
Bending your beauty aside, with a step I stand
On the firm-packed sand,
By a world of marsh, that borders a world of sea.
Sinuous southward and sinuous northward the shimmering band
Of the sand beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the
Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight,
Softly the sand beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of light.
And what if behind me to westward the wall of the woods stands high?
The world lies east: how ample the marsh and the sea and the sky!
A league and a league of marsh grass, waist-high, broad in the blade,
Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or a shade,
Stretch leisurely off, in a pleasant plain,
To the terminal blue of the main.
Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea?
Somehow my soul seems suddenly free
From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.
Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea!
Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rains and the sun,
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily won
God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain.
As the marsh hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God!
I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies:
By so many roots as the marsh grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God:
Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within
The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.
And the sea lends large, as the marsh: lo, out of his plenty the sea
Pours fast: full soon the time of the flood tide must be:
Look how the grace of the sea doth go
About and about through the intricate channels that flow
Here and there,
Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the low-lying
And the marsh is meshed with a million veins,
That like as with rosy and silvery essences flow
In the rose-and-silver evening glow.
Farewell, my lord Sun!
The creeks overflow: a thousand rivulets run
'Twixt the roots of the sod; the blades of the marsh grass stir;
Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whir;
Passeth, and all is still; and the currents cease to run;
And the sea and the marsh are one.
How still the plains of the waters be!
The tide is in his ecstasy;
The tide is at its highest height:
And it is night.
And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep
Roll in on the souls of men,
But who will reveal to our waking ken
The forms that swim and the shapes that creep
Under the waters of sleep?
And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in
On the length and the breadth of the marvelous marshes of Glynn.
HELPS TO STUDY.
Notes and Questions.
What can you tell of the coastal plain in Georgia?
What effect on the poet had the "dusks of the oak" at noon?
At sunset what appealed more strongly to him?
How does the poet account for his lack of fear of the marshes now?
In the marsh region what is "lord of the land"?
What characteristics of the marshes does the poet point out?
What comparisons are found in lines fifty to fifty-five?
To what does the poet compare the extent of the marshes of Glynn?
In this region when does the flood tide come? What tells you?
Which picture in the poem do you like best?
Explain: "Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whir."
What is the meaning of the last nine lines?
Do you like this poem? Why? What can you tell of the author?
Point out parts that you like best.
Find examples of alliteration.
Why does the poet repeat "I am drawn"?
Select lines that are especially beautiful.
Words and Phrases for Discussion.
"Like a lane into heaven that leads from a dream"
"Bending your beauty aside"
"Glynn"--a county in Georgia which borders on the Atlantic.
"live oak"--a species of oak found along the coasts of the southern states.
"catholic man"--a broad-minded man.
"braided dusks"--shadows of branches crossing one another.
"woven shades"--shadows interlacing.
"riotous noonday sun"--beating down hard.
"ye held me fast in your heart"--attracted and delighted me.
"I held you fast in mine"--loved, enjoyed.
"riot is rest"--the heat of the day is past, all is quiet.
"ponderous gate"--vast western horizon at sunset.
"wood aisle"--path of sun's rays in the woods at sunset.
"drunken the soul of the oak"--absorbed its strength.
"scythe of time"--symbol of death.
"trowel of trade"--symbol of industry.
"belief overmasters doubt"--inner confidence, faith takes the place of
"I know that I know"--become self-confident thro' a Power greater than
"My spirit grows to a lordly great compass within"--My soul becomes its own
confident guide, relying on a Power greater than self.
"When length was fatigue"--tiresome to look at--he was unable to understand
"breadth was but bitterness sore"--so vast as to be disappointing and
beyond his ability to know and control.
"drew over me out of the merciless miles of the plain"--The vastness of the
marshes filled him with fear and awe.
"sweet visage of space"--He came to love the view of the marshes.
"belt of the dawn"--the line where the gray beach and the woods come
together is like the horizon at daybreak.
"For a mete and a mark"--a line to measure and distinguish the limits of
"affable live oak"--friendly, kindly.
"lord of the land"--the oak tree.
"sinuous southward"--irregular line connecting wood and marsh.
"fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land"--the line which
marks the coming together of the marsh and the land--"the shimmering band."
"gray looping of light"--the light reflected or thrown back from the woods
in the dim distance.
"terminal blue of the main"--the sea coast, the coast line.
"weighing of fate"--serious thoughts of the future.
"publish yourselves"--to show or to expose.
"offer yourselves"--the sea overruns the marsh.
"Tolerant plains"--generous, broad, liberal.
"mightily won God out of Knowledge"--won thro' kindness and love, and
"good out of infinite pain"--was helped by suffering to become noble and
"build me a nest on the greatness of God"--to establish himself on the
principles of the great Power.
"lay me a-hold on the greatness of God"--to lay hold of this Heavenly
beauty and goodness and greatness.
"liberal marshes"--great, broad. Thro' these he learned the beauty of
greatness and of broad-mindedness in man, and from that to the greatness of
God was but a natural step.
"sea lends large"--sends its waters out in tides over the marsh country
twice a day.
"grace of the sea"--the generous waters of the sea.
"rosy and silvery essences"--relates to the color of the water in the
channel, as determined by the setting sun's rays.
"passeth a hurrying sound of wings"--a sound of wings hurrying past.
"is in his ecstasy"--the tide has reached its highest point--it is the
moment of accomplishment; the task is finished.
"Vast of the Lord"--The influence of God upon men is compared to that of
the tides of the sea upon the marshes.
"waking ken"--Who can tell us the meaning of our dreams?
* * * * *
ORATIONS AND PATRIOTIC SELECTIONS
_"Stirred up with high hopes of living to be brave men and worthy
patriots, dear to God and famous to all ages."_
* * * * *
REGULUS BEFORE THE ROMAN SENATE
It ill becomes me, Senators of Rome, me, Regulus, after having so often
stood in this venerable assembly, clothed with the supreme dignity of the
republic, to stand before you to-day, a captive,--the captive of Carthage.
Though outwardly free, yet the heaviest of chains, the pledge of a Roman
Consul, makes me the bondsman of the Carthaginians. They have my promise to
return to them in the event of the failure of this their embassy.
But, Conscript Fathers, Senators, there is but one course to be pursued.
Abandon all thought of peace! Reject the overtures of Carthage! Reject them
wholly and unconditionally! What? What? Give back to her a thousand
able-bodied men, and receive in return this one, attenuated, war-worn,
fever-wasted frame,--this weed, whitened in a dungeon's darkness, pale and
sapless, which no kindness of the sun, no softness of the summer breeze,
can ever restore to life and vigor? It must not, shall not be! Oh, were
Regulus what he was once, before captivity had unstrung his sinews and
enervated his limbs, he might pause; he might think he were worth a
thousand of the foe; he might say, "Make the exchange, Rome shall not lose
by it!" But now, alas, 'tis gone,--that impetuosity of strength which could
once make him a leader indeed, to penetrate a phalanx, or guide a pursuit.
His very armor would be a burden now! His battlecry would be drowned in the
din of onset! His sword would fall harmless upon his opponents shield!
But if he cannot live, he can at least die, for his country. Do not deny
him this supreme consolation. Consider! Every indignity, every torture
which Carthage shall heap on his dying hours, will be better than a
trumpet's call to your armies. They will remember only Regulus, their
fellow-soldier and their leader. They will forget his defeats. They will
regard only his services to the Republic. Tunis, Sicily, Sardinia, every
well-fought field, won by his blood and theirs, will flash on their
remembrance and kindle their avenging wrath!
And so shall Regulus, though dead, fight as he never fought before against
Conscript Fathers, there is another theme,--my family. Forgive the thought.
To you and to Rome, I commit them. I leave no legacy but my name, no
testament but my example.
And you, ambassadors of Carthage, now in this august presence, I have
spoken, not as you expected. I am your captive. Lead me back to whatever
fate may await me. Doubt not that you shall find that to Roman hearts
country is dearer than life, and integrity more precious than freedom.
Epes Sargent, 1812-1880, was an American author and journalist. For a
number of years he was editor of the "Boston Evening Transcript."
Historical: Regulus was a celebrated Roman general. As consul he led the
Roman forces against the Carthaginians and defeated them in a number of
engagements, but finally was himself defeated and taken prisoner by the
Carthaginians. After five years of captivity he was sent to Rome to
negotiate for peace and an exchange of prisoners. Though he had been
promised his liberty, if the Romans should accept the treaty, yet when he
appeared before the Roman senate, he denounced the terms most emphatically.
Accordingly he returned to Carthage, where he suffered a cruel death.
* * * * *
THE RETURN OF REGULUS
The beams of the rising sun had gilded the lofty domes of Carthage, and
given, with its rich and mellow light, a tinge of beauty even to the
frowning ramparts of the outer harbor. Sheltered by the verdant shores, a
hundred triremes were riding proudly at their anchors, their brazen beaks
glittering in the sun, their streamers dancing in the morning breeze, while
many a shattered plank and timber gave evidence of desperate conflict with
the fleets of Rome.
No murmur of business or of revelry arose from the city. The artisan had
forsaken his shop, the judge his tribunal, the priest the sanctuary, and
even the stern stoic had come forth from his retirement to mingle with the
crowd that, anxious and agitated, were rushing toward the senate-house,
startled by the report that Regulus had returned to Carthage.
Onward, still onward, trampling each other under foot, they rushed, furious
with anger, and eager for revenge. Fathers were there, whose sons were
groaning in fetters; maidens, whose lovers, weak and wounded, were dying in
the dungeons of Rome, and gray-haired men and matrons, whom the Roman sword
had left childless.
But when the stern features of Regulus were seen, and his colossal form
towering above the ambassadors who had returned with him from Rome; when
the news passed from lip to lip that the dreaded warrior, so far from
advising the Roman senate to consent to an exchange of prisoners, had urged
them to pursue, with exterminating vengeance, Carthage and
Carthaginians,--the multitude swayed to and fro like a forest beneath a
tempest, and the rage and hate of that tumultuous throng vented itself in
groans, and curses, and yells of vengeance.
But calm, cold, and immovable as the marble walls around him, stood the
Roman; and he stretched out his hand over that frenzied crowd, with gesture
as proudly commanding as though he still stood at the head of the gleaming
cohorts of Rome. The tumult ceased; the curse, half muttered, died upon the
lip; and so intense was the silence, that the clanking of the brazen
manacles upon the wrists of the captive fell sharp and full upon every ear
in that vast assembly, as he thus addressed them:--
"Ye doubtless thought--for ye judge of Roman virtue by your own--that I
would break my plighted oath, rather than, returning, brook your vengeance.
I might give reasons for this, in Punic comprehension, most foolish act of
mine. I might speak of those eternal principles which make death for one's
country a pleasure, not a pain. But, by great Jupiter! methinks I should
debase myself to talk of such high things to you; to you, expert in womanly
inventions; to you, well-skilled to drive a treacherous trade with simple
Africans for ivory and gold!
"If the bright blood that fills my veins, transmitted free from godlike
ancestry, were like that slimy ooze which stagnates in your arteries, I had
remained at home, and broke my plighted oath to save my life. I am a Roman
citizen; therefore have I returned, that ye might work your will upon this
mass of flesh and bones, that I esteem no higher than the rags that cover
"Here, in your capital, do I defy you. Have I not conquered your armies,
fired your towns, and dragged your generals at my chariot wheels, since
first my youthful arms could wield a spear? And do you think to see me
crouch and cower before a tamed and shattered senate? The tearing of flesh
and rending of sinews is but pastime compared with the mental agony that
heaves my frame.
"The moon has scarce yet waned since the proudest of Rome's proud matrons,
the mother upon whose breast I slept, and whose fair brow so oft had bent
over me before the noise of battle had stirred my blood, or the fierce toil
of war nerved my sinews, did, with fondest memory of bygone hours, entreat
me to remain. I have seen her, who, when my country called me to the field,
did buckle on my harness with trembling hands, while the tears fell thick
and fast down the hard corselet scales--I have seen her tear her gray locks
and beat her aged breast, as on her knees she begged me not to return to
Carthage! and all the assembled senate of Rome, grave and reverend men,
proffered the same request. The puny torments which ye have in store to
welcome me withal, shall be, to what I have endured, even as the murmur of
a summer's brook to the fierce roar of angry surges on a rocky beach.
"Last night, as I lay fettered in my dungeon, I heard a strange, ominous
sound; it seemed like the distant march of some vast army, their harness
clanging as they marched, when suddenly there stood by me Xanthippus, the
Spartan general, by whose aid you conquered me, and, with a voice as low as
when the solemn wind moans through the leaflless forest, he thus addressed
"'Roman, I come to bid thee curse, with thy dying breath, this fated city:
know that in an evil moment, the Carthaginian generals, furious with rage
that I had conquered thee, their conqueror, did basely murder me. And then
they thought to stain my brightest honor. But, for this foul deed, the
wrath of Jove shall rest upon them here and hereafter.' And then he
"And now, go bring your sharpest torments. The woes I see impending over
this guilty realm shall be enough to sweeten death, though every nerve and
artery were a shooting pang. I die! but my death shall prove a proud
triumph; and, for every drop of blood ye from my veins do draw, your own
shall flow in rivers.
"Woe to thee, Carthage! Woe to the proud city of the waters! I see thy
nobles wailing at the feet of Roman senators! thy citizens in terror! thy
ships in flames! I hear the victorious shouts of Rome! I see her eagles
glittering on thy ramparts. Proud city, thou art doomed! The curse of God
is on thee--a clinging, wasting curse. It shall not leave thy gates till
hungry flames shall lick the fretted gold from off thy proud palaces, and
every brook runs crimson to the sea."
* * * * *
SPARTACUS TO THE GLADIATORS
It had been a day of triumph in Capua. Lentulus, returning with victorious
eagles, had amused the populace with the sports of the amphitheatre to an
extent hitherto unknown even in that luxurious city. The shouts of revelry
had died away; the roar of the lion had ceased; the last loiterer had
retired from the banquet, and the lights in the palace of the victor were
extinguished. The moon, piercing the tissue of fleecy clouds, silvered the
dewdrop on the corselet of the Roman sentinel, and tipped the dark waters
of Volturnus with wavy, tremulous light. It was a night of holy calm, when
the zephyr sways the young spring leaves, and whispers among the hollow
reeds its dreamy music. No sound was heard but the last sob of some weary
wave, telling its story to the smooth pebbles of the beach, and then all
was still as the breast when the spirit has departed.
In the deep recesses of the amphitheatre a band of gladiators were crowded
together,--their muscles still knotted with the agony of conflict, the foam
upon their lips, and the scowl of battle yet lingering upon their
brows,--when Spartacus, rising in the midst of that grim assemblage, thus
"Ye call me chief, and ye do well to call him chief who, for twelve long
years, has met upon the arena every shape of man or beast that the broad
Empire of Rome could furnish, and yet never has lowered his arm. And if
there be one among you who can say that, ever, in public fight or private
brawl, my actions did belie my tongue, let him step forth and say it. If
there be three in all your throng dare face me on the bloody sand, let them
"Yet, I was not always thus, a hired butcher, a savage chief of savage men.
My father was a reverent man, who feared great Jupiter, and brought to the
rural deities his offerings of fruits and flowers. He dwelt among the
vineclad rocks and olive groves at the foot of Helicon. My early life ran
quiet as the brook by which I sported. I was taught to prune the vine, to
tend the flock; and then, at noon, I gathered my sheep beneath the shade,
and played upon the shepherd's flute. I had a friend, the son of our
neighbor; we led our flocks to the same pasture, and shared together our
"One evening, after the sheep were folded, and we were all seated beneath
the myrtle that shaded our cottage, my grandsire, an old man, was telling
of Marathon and Leuctra, and how, in ancient times, a little band of
Spartans, in a defile of the mountains, withstood a whole army. I did not
then know what war meant; but my cheeks burned. I knew not why; and I
clasped the knees of that venerable man, till my mother, parting the hair
from off my brow, kissed my throbbing temples, and bade me go to rest, and
think no more of those old tales and savage wars.
"That very night the Romans landed on our shore, and the clash of steel was
heard within our quiet vale. I saw the breast that had nourished me
trampled by the iron hoof of the warhorse; the bleeding body of my father
flung amid the blazing rafters of our dwelling. To-day I killed a man in
the arena, and when I broke his helmet clasps, behold! he was my friend! He
knew me,--smiled faintly,--gasped,--and died; the same sweet smile that I
had marked upon his face when, in adventurous boyhood, we scaled some lofty
cliff to pluck the first ripe grapes, and bear them home in childish
triumph. I told the praetor he was my friend, noble and brave, and I begged
his body, that I might burn it upon the funeral-pile, and mourn over him.
Ay, on my knees, amid the dust and blood of the arena, I begged that boon,
while all the Roman maids and matrons, and those holy virgins they call
vestal, and the rabble, shouted in mockery, deeming it rare sport,
forsooth, to see Rome's fiercest gladiator turn pale, and tremble like a
very child, before that piece of bleeding clay; but the praetor drew back
as if I were pollution, and sternly said, 'Let the carrion rot! There are
no noble men but Romans!' And he, deprived of funeral rites, must wander, a
hapless ghost, beside the waters of that sluggish river, and look--and
look--and look in vain to the bright Elysian Fields where dwell his
ancestors and noble kindred. And so must you, and so must I, die like dogs!
"O Rome! Rome! thou hast been a tender nurse to me! Ay, thou hast given to
that poor, gentle, timid shepherd-lad, who never knew a harsher sound than
a flute-note, muscles of iron and a heart of flint; taught him to drive the
sword through rugged brass and plaited mail, and warm it in the marrow of
his foe! to gaze into the glaring eyeballs of the fierce Numidian lion,
even as a smooth-cheeked boy upon a laughing girl. And he shall pay thee
back till thy yellow Tiber is red as frothing wine, and in its deepest ooze
thy life-blood lies curdled!
"Ye stand here now like giants, as ye are! the strength of brass is in your
toughened sinews; but to-morrow some Roman Adonis, breathing sweet odors
from his curly locks, shall come, and with his lily fingers pat your brawny
shoulders, and bet his sesterces upon your blood! Hark! Hear ye yon lion
roaring in his den? 'Tis three days since he tasted meat; but to-morrow he
shall break his fast upon your flesh; and ye shall be a dainty meal for
"If ye are brutes, then stand here like fat oxen waiting for the butcher's
knife; if ye are men, follow me! strike down yon sentinel, and gain the
mountain passes, and there do bloody work as did your sires at old
ThermopylŠ! Is Sparta dead? Is the old Grecian spirit frozen in your veins,
that you do crouch and cower like base-born slaves beneath your master's
lash? O comrades! warriors! Thracians! if we must fight, let us fight for
ourselves; if we must slaughter, let us slaughter our oppressors; if we
must die, let us die under the open sky, by the bright waters, in noble,
Biographical and Historical: This is a supposed speech of Spartacus written
by Elijah Kellogg, a New England clergyman. Spartacus was a Thracian by
birth, who served in the Roman army. Having deserted, he was taken
prisoner, sold as a slave, and trained as a gladiator at Capua. He escaped
and gathered about him a large army of slaves and gladiators, with whom he
intended to push northward and allow them all to return to their homes.
They, however, after attacking many towns, were finally overcome. Spartacus
himself died in battle, and six thousand slaves were crucified on the road
from Capua to Rome.
Capua was a city of great luxury, containing an amphitheater nearly as
large as the Coliseum at Rome. The ancients attached great importance to
the rites of burial, and believed that the soul could not reach the Elysian
Fields unless the body had been buried.
* * * * *
MERIT BEFORE BIRTH
TRANSLATED FROM SALLUST
You have committed to my conduct, O Romans, the war against Jugurtha. The
patricians take offence. They say, "Why, he has no family statues. He can
point to no illustrious ancestors." What of that? Will dead ancestors or
motionless statues fight battles? Can your general appeal to them in the
hour of extremest danger? How wise it would be, surely, to intrust your
army to some untried person without a single scar, but with any number of
ancestral statues,--who knows not the simplest rudiments of military
service, but is very perfect in pedigree! I have known such holiday heroes,
raised, because of family, to positions for which they had no fitness. But,
then, in the moment of action they were obliged, in their ignorance and
trepidation, to intrust every movement, even the most simple, to some
subaltern, some despised plebeian.
What they have seen in books, I have seen written on battlefields, with
steel and blood. They sneer at my mean origin. Where,--and may the gods
bear witness,--where, but in the spirit of man, is nobility lodged? Tell
these despicable railers that their haughty lineage cannot make them noble,
nor will my humble birth make me base. I profess no indifference to noble
descent; but when a descendant is dwarfed in the comparison, it should be a
shame, and not a matter to boast of! I can show the standards, the armor,
and the spoils which I have in person wrested from the vanquished. I can
show the scars of many wounds received in combating the enemies of Rome.
These are my statues! These are my honors, to boast of; not inherited by
accident, but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valor, amid clouds of dust
and seas of blood. Their titles date from similar acts of their ancestors;
but these detractors did not even dare to appear on the field as
spectators. These are my credentials! These, O Romans, are my titles of
nobility! Tell me, are they not as deserving of your confidence and reward
as those of which any patrician of them all can boast?
Biographical and Historical: Sallust, the author of this selection, was a
famous Roman historian of the first century B. C. Caius Marius was the son
of a small farmer and worked his way up from this humble origin to the
highest position, that of consul, in spite of the determined opposition of
the senate, and the aristocracy. By the vote of the Roman people, he was
given command of the army in the campaign against Jugurtha, a prince who
had usurped the Numidian throne.
* * * * *
RIENZI'S ADDRESS TO THE ROMANS
MARY RUSSELL MITFORD
I come not here to talk. You know too well
The story of our thralldom. We are slaves!
The bright sun rises to his course, and lights
A race of slaves! he sets, and his last beam
Falls on a slave!--not such as, swept along
By the full tide of power, the conqueror leads
To crimson glory and undying fame,
But base, ignoble slaves--slaves to a horde
Of petty tyrants; feudal despots; lords,
Rich in some dozen paltry villages,
Strong in some hundred spearmen; only great
In that strange spell--a name.
Each hour dark fraud,
Or open rapine, or protected murder,
Cry out against them. But this very day,
An honest man, my neighbor--there he stands--
Was struck--struck like a dog, by one who wore
The badge of Ursini, because, forsooth,
He tossed not high his ready cap in air,
Nor lifted up his voice in servile shouts
At sight of that great ruffian! Be we men,
And suffer such dishonor?--Men, and wash not
The stain away in blood?
Such shames are common.
I have known deeper wrongs. I that speak to you,
I had a brother once, a gracious boy,
Full of gentleness, of calmest hope,
Of sweet and quiet joy: there was the look
Of heaven upon his face, which limners give
To the beloved disciple. How I loved
That gracious boy! Younger by fifteen years,
Brother at once and son! He left my side,
A summer bloom on his fair cheek, a smile
Parting his innocent lips: in one short hour,
The pretty, harmless boy was slain! I saw
The corse, the mangled corse, and then I cried
Rouse ye, Romans! rouse ye, slaves!
Have ye brave sons? Look in the next fierce brawl
To see them die. Have ye fair daughters? Look
To see them live, torn from your arms, distained,
Dishonored; and, if ye dare call for justice,
Be answered by the lash!
Yet this is Rome,
That sat on her seven hills, and from her throne
Of beauty ruled the world! Yet we are Romans!
Why, in that elder day, to be a Roman
Was greater than a king! And, once again,--
Hear me, ye walls, that echoed to the tread
Of either Brutus!--once again, I swear,
The Eternal City shall be free!
Biographical and Historical: Mary Russell Mitford, born in 1787, was an
English writer of miscellaneous works. Among her most noted productions is
the tragedy "Rienzi," which was presented in London in 1828. It is the
story of the Roman patriot, Rienzi, who led a revolution at Rome in 1347.
He overthrew the power of the aristocracy and introduced many reforms in
the government. After establishing himself in power, however, he is said to
have become in turn haughty and arbitrary.
* * * * *
MY LORDS: What have I to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced
on me, according to law? I have nothing to say that can alter your
predetermination, nor that it will become me to say with any view to the
mitigation of that sentence which you are here to pronounce, and I must
abide by. But I have that to say which interests me more than life, and
which you have labored to destroy. I have much to say why my reputation
should be rescued from the load of false accusation and calumny which has
been heaped upon it.
Were I only to suffer death, after being adjudged guilty by _your_
tribunal, I should bow in silence, and meet the fate that awaits me without
a murmur; but the sentence of law which delivers my body to the executioner
will, through the ministry of that law, labor, in its own vindication, to
consign my character to obloquy; for there must be guilt somewhere--whether
in the sentence of the court, or in the catastrophe, posterity must
determine. The man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not
perish--that it may live in the respect of my countrymen--I seize upon this
opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against
When my spirit shall be wafted to a more friendly port; when my shade shall
have joined the bands of those martyred heroes who have shed their blood,
on the scaffold and in the field, in defense of their country and virtue;
this is my hope--I wish that my memory and name may animate those who
survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that
perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most
High, which displays its powers over man as over the beasts of the forest,
which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand, in the name of God,
against the throat of his fellow who believes or doubts a little more or
less than the government standard--a government which is steeled to
barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows which its
cruelty has made.
I swear by the throne of Heaven, before which I must shortly appear--by the
blood of the murdered patriots who have gone before me--that my conduct has
been, through all this peril and all my purposes, governed only by the
convictions which I have uttered, and no other view than that of the
emancipation of my country from the superinhuman oppression under which she
has so long and too patiently travailed; and that I confidently and
assuredly hope, wild and chimerical as it may appear, that there is still
union and strength in Ireland to accomplish this noble enterprise.
My country was my idol. To it I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing
sentiment; and for it I now offer up my life! I acted as an Irishman,
determined on delivering my country from the yoke of a foreign and
unrelenting tyranny, and from the more galling yoke of a domestic faction,
its joint partner and perpetrator in the patricide, whose reward is the
ignominy of existing with an exterior of splendor and a consciousness of
depravity. It was the wish of my heart to extricate my country from this
doubly riveted despotism. I wished to place her independence beyond the
reach of any power on earth. I wished to exalt her to that proud station in
the world which Providence had fitted her to fill.
Let no man dare, when I am dead, to charge me with dishonor; let no man
attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but
that of my country's liberty and independence, or that I could have become
the pliant minion of power in the oppression or the miseries of my
countrymen. I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor, for the same
reason that I would resist the domestic tyrant; in the dignity of freedom I
would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and her enemies should
enter only by passing over my lifeless corpse. Am I, who lived but for my
country, and who have subjected myself to the vengeance of the jealous and
wrathful oppressor, and to the bondage of the grave, only to give my
countrymen their rights and my country her independence--am I to be loaded
with calumny, and not to be suffered to resent or repel it? No! God forbid!
If the spirits of the illustrious dead participate in the concerns and
cares of those who are dear to them in this transitory life, O ever dear
and venerated shade of my departed father, look down with scrutiny on the
conduct of your suffering son, and see if I have even for a moment deviated
from those principles of morality and patriotism which it was your care to
instill into my youthful mind, and for an adherence to which I am now to
offer up my life!
My Lords, you are all impatient for the sacrifice. The blood which you seek
is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it
circulates warmly and unruffled through the channels which God created for
noble purposes, but which you are bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous
that they cry to Heaven!
Be ye patient; I have but a few words more to say. I am going to my silent
grave; my lamp of life is nearly extinguished; my race is run; the grave
opens to receive me, and I sink into its bosom. I have but one request to
ask at my departure from this world--it is the charity of its silence. Let
no man write my epitaph; for, as no one who knows my motives dare now
vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and
me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until
other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country
shall take her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till
then, let my epitaph be written! I have done.
Biographical and Historical: During the latter part of the eighteenth
century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the spirit of independence was
abroad. The American Revolution was followed by the French Revolution, and
in 1803 Robert Emmet, an Irish patriot, headed a band to gain independence
for Ireland. After an unsuccessful attempt to take the arsenal and castle
at Dublin, he fled to the Wicklow mountains, whence he planned to escape to
the continent. Contrary to the advice of his friends, he determined to have
a last interview with his sweetheart, but the delay proved fatal to him. He
was seized and condemned to death. This extract is from the remarkably
eloquent speech with which he vainly defended himself.
* * * * *
KING PHILIP TO THE WHITE SETTLER
Think of the country for which the Indians fought. Who can blame them? As
Philip looked down from his seat on Mount Hope, that glorious eminence,
"----throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,
Or where the gorgeous East, with richest hand,
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,"--
as he looked down, and beheld the lovely scene which spread beneath, at a
summer sunset, the distant hill-tops glittering as with fire, the slanting
beams streaming across the waters, the broad plains, the island groups, the
majestic forest,--could he be blamed, if his heart burned within him, as he
beheld it all passing, by no tardy process, from beneath his control, into
the hands of the stranger?
As the river chieftains--the lords of the waterfalls and the
mountains--ranged this lovely valley, can it be wondered at, if they beheld
with bitterness the forest disappearing beneath the settler's ax--the
fishing-place disturbed by his saw-mills? Can we not fancy the feelings
with which some strong-minded savage, the chief of the Pocomtuck Indians,
who should have ascended the summit of the Sugar-loaf Mountain (rising as
it does before us, at this moment, in all its loveliness and grandeur),--in
company with a friendly settler,--contemplating the progress already made
by the white man, and marking the gigantic strides with which he was
advancing into the wilderness, should fold his arms and say, "White man,
there is eternal war between me and thee! I quit not the land of my
fathers, but with my life. In those woods, where I bent my youthful bow, I
will still hunt the deer; over yonder waters I will still glide,
unrestrained, in my bark canoe. By those dashing waterfalls I will still
lay up my winter's store of food; on these fertile meadows I will still
plant my corn.
"Stranger, the land is mine! I understand not these paper rights. I gave
not my consent, when, as thou sayest, these broad regions were purchased,
for a few baubles, of my fathers. They could sell what was theirs; they
could sell no more. How could my fathers sell that which the Great Spirit
sent me into the world to live upon? They knew not what they did.
"The stranger came, a timid suppliant,--few and feeble, and asked to lie
down on the red man's bear-skin, and warm himself at the red man's fire,
and have a little piece of land to raise corn for his women and children;
and now he is become strong, and mighty, and bold, and spreads out his
parchments over the whole, and says, 'It is mine.'
"Stranger! there is not room for us both. The Great Spirit has not made us
to live together. There is poison in the white man's cup; the white man's
dog barks at the red man's heels. If I should leave the land of my fathers,
whither shall I fly? Shall I go to the south, and dwell among the graves of
the Pequots? Shall I wander to the west, the fierce Mohawk,--the
man-eater,--is my foe. Shall I fly to the east, the great water is before
me. No, stranger; here I have lived, and here will I die; and if here thou
abidest, there is eternal war between, me and thee.
"Thou hast taught me thy arts of destruction; for that alone I thank thee.
And now take heed to thy steps; the red man is thy foe. When thou goest
forth by day, my bullet shall whistle past thee; when thou liest down by
night, my knife is at thy throat. The noonday sun shall not discover thy
enemy, and the darkness of midnight shall not protect thy rest. Thou shalt
plant in terror, and I will reap in blood; thou shalt sow the earth with
corn, and I will strew it with ashes; thou shalt go forth with the sickle,
and I will follow after with the scalping-knife; thou shalt build, and I
will burn,--till the white man or the Indian perish from the land. Go thy
way for this time in safety,--but remember, stranger, _there is eternal
war between me and thee!_"
Biographical and Historical: Edward Everett was a celebrated American
orator and statesman. His career was varied, but he will be remembered
chiefly through his essays and orations. He was in turn clergyman,
professor of Greek at Harvard, representative in Congress, governor of
Massachusetts, minister to England, president of Harvard, and secretary of
state. He died at the close of the Civil War.
This extract is from an address delivered at Bloody Brook, South Deerfield,
Mass., September 30, 1835, in commemoration of the death of many colonists
in that spot during King Philip's War, September 18, 1675. King Philip, son
of Massasoit, was an Indian chief who resented the coming of the white man
and, gathering many Indian tribes about him, waged bitter war against the
colonists. He himself was killed at Mount Hope, Rhode Island.
* * * * *
THE CAPTURE OF QUEBEC (From "Montcalm and Wolfe.")
The sun rose, and, from the ramparts of Quebec, the astonished people saw
the Plains of Abraham glittering with arms, and the dark-red lines of the
English forming in array of battle. Breathless messengers had borne the
evil tidings to Montcalm, and far and near his wide-extended camp resounded
with the rolling of alarm drums and the din of startled preparation.
He, too, had had his struggles and his sorrows. The civil power had
thwarted him; famine, discontent, and disaffection were rife among his
soldiers; and no small portion of the Canadian militia had dispersed from
sheer starvation. In spite of all, he had trusted to hold out till the
winter frosts should drive the invaders from before the town; when, on that
disastrous morning, the news of their successful temerity fell like a
cannon-shot upon his ear.
Still he assumed a tone of confidence. "They have got to the weak side of
us at last," he is reported to have said, "and we must crush them with our
numbers." With headlong haste, his troops were pouring over the bridge of
the St. Charles, and gathering in heavy masses under the western ramparts
of the town. Could numbers give assurance of success, their triumph would
have been secure; for five French battalions and the armed colonial
peasantry amounted in all to more than seven thousand five hundred men.
Full in sight before them stretched the long, thin lines of the British
forces, the half-wild Highlanders, the steady soldiery of England, and the
hardy levies of the provinces,--less than five thousand in number, but all
inured to battle, and strong in the full assurance of success.
Yet, could the chiefs of that gallant army have pierced the secrets of the
future, could they have foreseen that the victory which they burned to
achieve would have robbed England of her proudest boast, that the conquest
of Canada would pave the way for the independence of America, their swords
would have dropped from their hands, and the heroic fire have gone out
within their hearts.
It was nine o'clock, and the adverse armies stood motionless, each gazing
on the other. The clouds hung low, and, at intervals, warm light showers
descended, besprinkling both alike. The coppice and cornfields in front of
the British troops were filled with French sharp-shooters, who kept up a
distant, spattering fire. Here and there a soldier fell in the ranks, and
the gap was filled in silence.
At a little before ten, the British could see that Montcalm was preparing
to advance, and, in a few moments, all his troops appeared in rapid motion.
They came on in three divisions, shouting after the manner of their nation,
and firing heavily as soon as they came within range.
In the British ranks, not a trigger was pulled, not a soldier stirred; and
their ominous composure seemed to damp the spirits of the assailants. It
was not till the French were within forty yards that the fatal word was
given, and the British muskets blazed forth at once in one crashing
explosion. Like a ship at full career, arrested with sudden ruin on a
sunken rock, the ranks of Montcalm staggered, shivered, and broke before
that wasting storm of lead.
The smoke, rolling along the field, for a moment shut out the view; but
when the white wreaths were scattered on the wind, a wretched spectacle was
disclosed; men and officers tumbled in heaps, battalions resolved into a
mob, order and obedience gone; and when the British muskets were leveled
for a second volley, the masses of the militia were seen to cower and
shrink with uncontrollable panic.
For a few minutes, the French regulars stood their ground, returning a
sharp and not ineffectual fire. But now, echoing cheer on cheer, redoubling
volley on volley, trampling the dying and the dead, and driving the
fugitives in crowds, the British troops advanced and swept the field before
them. The ardor of the men burst all restraint. They broke into a run, and
with unsparing slaughter chased the flying multitude to the gates of
Quebec. Foremost of all, the light-footed Highlanders dashed along in
furious pursuit, hewing down the Frenchmen with their broadswords, and
slaying many in the very ditch of the fortifications. Never was victory
more quick or more decisive.
Biographical and Historical: Francis Parkman is one of America's greatest
historians. He took for his theme the great conflict between the English,
the French, and the Indians on the frontiers of the northern new world. He
was not only a historian of genius, but was gifted with a delightful style.
His books are full of the fragrance of woods and streams and the fresh,
free air of the plains and the mountains.
* * * * *
ENGLAND AND HER COLONIES
England's hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from
common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal
protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as
links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights
associated with your government; they will cling and grapple to you, and no
force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But
let it once be understood that your government may be one thing, and their
privileges another; that these two things may exist without any mutual
relation--the cement is gone; the cohesion is loosened; and everything
hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep
the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the
sacred temple consecrated to our common faith; wherever the chosen race and
sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces toward you. The
more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they
love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can
have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from
Spain; they may have it from Prussia; but, until you become lost to all
feelings of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can
have from none but you. This is the commodity of price of which you have
the monopoly. This is the true Act of Navigation, which binds to you the
commerce of the colonies, and through them secures to you the wealth of the
world. Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole
bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the
empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and
your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, are what form the great
securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your letters of office, and
your instructions, and your suspending clauses, are the things that hold
together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not
make your government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is
the spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy
to them. It is the spirit of the English constitution, which, infused
through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies
every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member. Is it not the
same virtue which does everything for us here in England?
Do you imagine, then, that it is the land tax which raises your revenue?
That it is the annual vote in the committee of supply which gives you your
army? Or that it is the mutiny bill which inspires it with bravery and
discipline? No! surely no! It is the love of the people; it is their
attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they have
in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your navy,
and infuses into both that liberal obedience without which your army would
be a base rabble and your navy nothing but rotten timber.
Biographical and Historical: Edmund Burke was a British statesman of Irish
birth, who lived at the time of the American Revolution. While William Pitt
opposed, in the House of Lords, the policy of the British government,
Edmund Burke delivered, in the House of Commons, his famous speech on the
Conciliation of the Colonies, March 22, 1775. This extract is taken from
the closing paragraphs of this celebrated speech.
* * * * *
THE WAY TO WEALTH
COURTEOUS READER: I have heard that nothing gives an author so great
pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then,
how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to
I stopped my horse, lately, where a great number of people were collected
at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come,
they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company
called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks: "Pray, Father Abraham,
what think you of the times? Will not these heavy taxes quite ruin the
country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to
Father Abraham stood up and replied: "If you would have my advice, I will
give it to you in short; for 'a word to the wise is enough,' as Poor
Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and,
gathering around him, he proceeded as follows: "Friends," said he, "the
taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the Government were
the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we
have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.
"We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our
pride, and four times as much by our folly; and of these taxes the
commissioners can not ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However,
let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us. 'Heaven
helps them that help themselves,' as Poor Richard says.
"It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth
part of their time to be employed in its service; but idleness taxes many
of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life.
'Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is
always bright,' as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we
spend in sleep! forgetting that 'the sleeping fox catches no poultry,' and
that there will be sleeping enough in the grave.
"'Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough, always
proves little enough.' Let us, then, be up and doing, and doing to the
purpose; so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. 'Drive thy
business, and let not that drive thee'; and 'early to bed, and early to
rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,' as Poor Richard says.
"So, what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these
times better if we bestir ourselves. 'Industry need not wish, and he that
lives upon hopes will die fasting.' 'There are no gains without pains; then
help hands, for I have no lands.' 'He that hath a trade, hath an estate;
and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor'; but then
the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the
estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. Work while it is
called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow.
'One to-day is worth two to-morrows,' as Poor Richard says; and further,
'Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.'
"If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should
catch you idle? Are you, then, your own master? Be ashamed to catch
yourself idle, when there is so much to be done for yourself, your family,
and your country. It is true, there is much to be done, and perhaps you are
weak-handed; but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for
'constant dropping wears away stones,' and 'little strokes fell great
"But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful,
and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to
others; for, as Poor Richard says, 'Three removes are as bad as a fire';
and again, 'Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee'; and again, 'If you
would have your business done, go; if not, send'; and again, 'The eye of
the master will do more work than both his hands'; and again, 'Want of care
does us more damage than want of knowledge.'
"So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business; but
to these we must add frugality, if we would make our industry more
certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets,
keep his nose to the grindstone all his life, and die not worth a groat at
last. 'If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting.'
"Away with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause
to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for 'what
maintains one vice would bring up two children.' Beware of little expenses.
'Many a little makes a mickle'; 'A small leak will sink a great ship.' Here
you are all got together at this sale of fineries and knickknacks. You call
them goods, but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of
"You expect they will be sold cheap, and perhaps they may be, for less than
cost; but, if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you.
Remember what Poor Richard says: 'Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere
long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.' 'Silks, satins, scarlet, and velvets
put out the kitchen fire.' These are not the necessaries of life; they can
scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet, only because they look
pretty, how many want to have them!
"By these and other extravagances, the greatest are reduced to poverty, and
forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through
industry and frugality, have maintained their standing. 'If you would know
the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he that goes a-borrowing
goes a-sorrowing'; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people, when
he goes to get it again.
"It is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to
swell in order to equal the ox. After all, this pride of appearance can not
promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person;
it creates envy; it hastens misfortunes.
"But what madness it must be to run in debt for superfluities! Think what
you do when you run in debt: you give to another power over your liberty.
If you can not pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your creditor;
you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor, pitiful,
sneaking excuses, and by degrees come to lose your veracity, and sink into
base, downright lying; for 'the second vice is lying, the first is running
in debt,' as Poor Richard says; and again, 'Lying rides upon debt's back.'
"This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but industry, and
frugality, and prudence may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven.
Therefore ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that
at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them."
The old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the
doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a
common sermon; for the auction opened, and they began to buy extravagantly.
I found the good man had thoroughly studied my almanac, and digested all I
had dropped on these topics during the course of twenty-five years. The
frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity
was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth
part of the wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me, but rather the
gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations.
However, I resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and, although I
had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away resolved
to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy
profit will be as great as mine.--I am, as ever, thine to serve thee.
Biographical and Historical: These are paragraphs selected from Benjamin
Franklin's "Way to Wealth," about which he has the following to say in his
Autobiography: "In 1732, I first published my Almanac, under the name of
'Richard Saunders'; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and
commonly called 'Poor Richard's Almanac.' I filled all the little spaces
that occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial
sentences, chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality as the means
of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue. These proverbs, which
contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I assembled and formed into
a connected discourse, prefixed to the Almanac of 1757 as the harangue of a
wise old man to the people attending an auction. The bringing all these
scattered counsels thus into a focus enabled them to make greater
* * * * *
SPEECH ON A RESOLUTION TO PUT VIRGINIA INTO A STATE OF DEFENCE
BY PATRICK HENRY
MR. PRESIDENT,--No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as
well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the
House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights;
and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those
gentlemen, if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of a character very opposite
to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.
This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful
moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than
a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the
subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that
we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which
we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a
time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of
treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the Majesty
of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We
are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of
that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise
men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed
to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears,
hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For
my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the
whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of
experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And
judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of
the British Ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with
which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House? Is it
that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?
Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not
yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious
reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which
cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a
work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be
reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not
deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation--
the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, sir, what means this
martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can
gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any
enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of
navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can
be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those
chains which the British Ministry have been so long forging. And what have
we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that
for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject?
Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable;
but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble
supplication? What terms shall we find, which have not been already
exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir,
we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now
coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated;
we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its
interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the Ministry and
Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have
produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been
disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the
throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace
and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be
free--if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for
which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the
noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have
pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious abject of our
contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!
An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an
adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the
next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British
guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by
irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual
resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom
of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God
of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the
holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are
invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir,
we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over
the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our
battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the
vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we
were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the
contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are
forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is
inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace,
peace!--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale
that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding
arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What
is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace
so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it,
Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give
me liberty or give me death!
Biographical and Historical: Patrick Henry was an American patriot and
orator whose eloquent speech was a powerful force in moulding public
opinion at the time of the Revolution. This famous speech was made in the
Virginia Convention, March 28, 1775, and is an appeal to place the colonies
in a state of defence.
* * * * *
THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY
EDWARD EVERETT HALE
I first came to understand anything about "the man without a country" one
day when we over-hauled a dirty little schooner which had slaves on board.
An officer was sent to take charge of her, and, after a few minutes, he
sent back his boat to ask that someone might be sent him who could talk
Portuguese. But none of the officers did; and just as the captain was
sending forward to ask if any of the people could, Nolan stepped out and
said he should be glad to interpret, if the captain wished, as he
understood the language. The captain thanked him, fitted out another boat
with him, and in this boat it was my luck to go.
There were not a great many of the negroes; most of them were out of the
hold and swarming all round the dirty deck, with a central throng
surrounding Vaughan. "Tell them they are free, Nolan," said Vaughan; "and
tell them that I will take them all to Cape Palmas."
Cape Palmas was practically as far from the homes of most of them as New
Orleans or Rio Janeiro was; that is, they would be eternally separated from
home there. And their interpreters, as we could understand, instantly said,
"Ah, non Palmas." The drops stood on poor Nolan's white forehead, as he
hushed the men down, and said:
"He says, 'Not Palmas.' He says, 'Take us home, take us to our own country,
take us to our own house, take us to our own pickaninnies and our own
women.' He says he has an old father and mother who will die if they do not
see him. And this one says," choked out Nolan, "that he has not heard a
word from, his home in six months."
Even the negroes stopped howling, as they saw Nolan's agony, and Vaughan's
almost equal agony of sympathy. As quick as he could get words, Vaughan
"Tell them, yes, yes, yes; tell them they shall go to the Mountains of the
Moon, if they will."
And after some fashion Nolan said so. And then they all fell to kissing him
But he could not stand it long; and getting Vaughan to say he might go
back, he beckoned me down into our boat. As we lay back in the stern-sheets
and the men gave way, he said to me: "Youngster, let that show you what it
is to be without a family, without a home, and without a country. And if
you are ever tempted to say a word or to do a thing that shall put a bar
between you and your family, your home, and your country, pray God in his
mercy to take you that instant home to his own heaven. Think of your home,
boy; write and read, and talk about it. Let it be nearer and nearer to your
thought, the farther you have to travel from it; and rush back to it when
you are free, as that poor black slave is doing now. And for your country,
boy," and the words rattled in his throat, "and for that flag," and he
pointed to the ship, "never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids
you, though the service carry you through a thousand terrors. No matter
what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses you, never
look at another flag. Remember, that behind all these men you have to do
with,--behind officers, and government, and people even--there is the
Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong to
your own mother."
Biographical and Historical: This is an extract from "The Man Without a
Country," a book written by Edward Everett Hale, a clergyman and author
(1822-1909). He was a grand-nephew of Nathan Hale, of Revolutionary fame.
"The Man without a Country" is the story of Philip Nolan, a young officer
of the United States army. On account of his intimacy with Aaron Burr, he
was court-martialed and, having expressed the wish never to hear the name
of his country again, was banished and sentenced to live upon a government
boat, where no one was allowed to mention his country.
* * * * *
LOVE OF COUNTRY (From "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," Canto VI.)
SIR WALTER SCOTT
Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said:--
"This is my own, my native land!"
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
* * * * *
He is fallen! We may now pause before that splendid prodigy, which towered
among us like some ancient ruin, whose frown terrified the glance its
magnificence attracted. Grand, gloomy, and peculiar, he sat upon the
throne, a sceptered hermit, wrapt in the solitude of his own originality. A
mind, bold, independent, and decisive,--a will despotic in its dictates--an
energy that distanced expedition, and a conscience pliable to every touch
of interest, marked the outline of this extraordinary character--the most
extraordinary, perhaps, that, in the annals of this world, ever rose, or
reigned, or fell.
Flung into life in the midst of a revolution that quickened every energy of
a people who acknowledge no superior, he commenced his course, a stranger
by birth, and a scholar by charity! With no friend but his sword, and no
fortune but his talents, he rushed into the lists where rank and wealth and
genius had arrayed themselves, and competition fled from him as from the
glance of destiny. He knew no motive but interest--he acknowledged no
criterion but success--he worshiped no God but ambition, and, with an
Eastern devotion, he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry.
Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not profess, there was
no opinion that he did not promulgate; in the hope of a dynasty, he upheld
the Crescent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the Cross; the
orphan of St. Louis, he became the adopted child of the Republic; and, with
a parricidal ingratitude, on the ruins both of the throne and tribune, he
reared the throne of his despotism.
A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot, he
impoverished the country; and, in the name of Brutus, he grasped--without
remorse and wore without shame the diadem of the Caesars. Through this
pantomime of policy, fortune played the clown to his caprices. At his
touch, crowns crumbled, beggars reigned, systems vanished, the wildest
theories took the color of his whim, and all that was venerable, and all
that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama.
Even apparent defeat assumed the appearance of victory,--his flight from
Egypt confirmed his destiny,--ruin itself only elevated him to empire. But,
if his fortune was great, his genius was transcendent; decision flashed
upon his counsels; and it was the same to decide and to perform. To
inferior intellects his combinations appeared perfectly impossible, his
plans perfectly impracticable; but, in his hands, simplicity marked their
development, and success vindicated their adoption. His person partook the
character of his mind,--if the one never yielded in the cabinet, the other
never bent in the field. Nature had no obstacle that he did not
surmount--space no opposition that he did not spurn: and whether amid
Alpine rocks, Arabian sands, or Polar snows, he seemed proof against peril,
and empowered with ubiquity.
The whole continent trembled at beholding the audacity of his designs, and
the miracle of their execution. Skepticism bowed to the prodigies of his
performance; romance assumed the air of history; nor was there aught too
incredible for belief, or too fanciful for expectation, when the world saw
a subaltern of Corsica waving his imperial flag over her most ancient
capitals. All the visions of antiquity became commonplace in his
contemplation; kings were his people--nations were his outposts; and he
disposed of courts, and crowns, and camps, and churches, and cabinets, as
if they were titular dignitaries of the chess-board. Amid all these
changes, he stood immutable as adamant.
It mattered little whether in the field or in the drawing-room, with the
mob or the levee--wearing the Jacobin bonnet or the iron crown--banishing a
Braganza, or espousing a Hapsburg--dictating peace on a raft to the Czar of
Russia, or contemplating defeat at the gallows of Leipsic--he was still the
same military despot.
In this wonderful combination, his affectations of literature must not be
omitted. The jailer of the press, he affected the patronage of letters; the
proscriber of books, he encouraged philosophy; the persecutor of authors
and the murderer of printers, he yet pretended to the protection of
learning. Such a medley of contradictions, and at the same time, such an
individual consistency, were never united in the same character. A
royalist--a republican and an emperor--a Mohammedan--a Catholic and a
patron of the synagogue--a subaltern and a sovereign--a traitor and a
tyrant--a Christian and an infidel--he was, through all his vicissitudes,
the same stern, impatient, inflexible original--the same mysterious,
incomprehensible self--a man without a model and without a shadow.
* * * * *
THE TRUE GRANDEUR OF NATIONS
BY CHARLES SUMNER
The flowers of gentleness, of kindliness, of fidelity, of humanity, which
flourish in unregarded luxuriance in the rich meadows of peace, receive
unwonted admiration when we discern them in war, like violets shedding
their perfume on the perilous edges of the precipice, beyond the smiling
borders of civilization. God be praised for all the examples of magnanimous
virtue which he has vouchsafed to mankind! God be praised that the Roman
emperor, about to start on a distant expedition of war, encompassed by
squadrons of cavalry and by golden eagles which moved in the winds, stooped
from his saddle to listen to the prayer of the humble widow, demanding
justice for the death of her son! God be praised that Sidney, on the field
of battle, gave with dying hand the cup of cold water to the dying soldier!
That single act of self-forgetful sacrifice has consecrated the fenny field
of Zutphen far, oh, far beyond its battle; it has consecrated thy name,
gallant Sidney, beyond any feat of thy sword, beyond any triumph of thy
pen. But there are hands out-stretched elsewhere than on fields of blood
for so little as a cup of cold water; the world is full of opportunities
for deeds of kindness. Let me not be told, then, of the virtues of war. Let
not the acts of generosity and sacrifice which have triumphed on its fields
be invoked in its defense. In the words of Oriental imagery, the poisonous
tree, though watered by nectar, can produce only the fruit of death.
As we cast our eyes over the history of nations, we discern with horror the
succession of murderous slaughters by which their progress has been marked.
As the hunter traces the wild beast, when pursued to his lair, by the drops
of blood on the earth, so we follow man, faint, weary, staggering with
wounds, through the black forest of the past, which he has reddened with
his gore. Oh, let it not be in the future ages as in those which we now
contemplate. Let the grandeur of man be discerned in the blessings which he
has secured; in the good he has accomplished; in the triumphs of
benevolence and justice; in the establishment of perpetual peace.
And peace has its own peculiar victories, in comparison with which Marathon
and Bannockburn and Bunker Hill, fields held sacred in the history of human
freedom, shall lose their lustre. Our own Washington rises to a truly
heavenly stature--not when we follow him over the ice of the Delaware to
the capture of Trenton--not when we behold him victorious over Cornwallis
at Yorktown--but when we regard him, in noble deference to justice,
refusing the kingly crown which a faithless soldiery proffered, and at a
later day upholding the peaceful neutrality of the country, while he
received unmoved the clamor of the people wickedly crying for war....
To this great work let me summon you. That future which filled the lofty
visions of the sages and bards of Greece and Rome, which was foretold by
the prophets and heralded by the evangelists, when man in happy isles or in
a new paradise shall confess the loveliness of peace, may be secured by
your care, if not for yourselves, at least for your children. Believe that
you can do it, and you can do it. The true golden age is before you, not
Let it not be said that the age does not demand this work. The mighty
conquerors of the past from their fiery sepulchres demand it; the blood of
millions unjustly shed in war crying from the ground demands it; the voices
of all good men demand it; the conscience even of the soldier whispers
"peace." There are considerations springing from our situation and
condition which fervently invite us to take the lead in this great work. To
this should bend the patriotic ardor of the land; the ambition of the
statesman; the efforts of the scholar; the pervasive influence of the
press; the mild persuasion of the sanctuary; the early teachings of the
school. Here, in ampler ether and diviner air, are untried fields for
exalted triumphs, more truly worthy the American name than any snatched
from rivers of blood. War is known as the last reason of kings. Let it be
no reason of our republic. Let us renounce and throw off forever the yoke
of a tyranny more oppressive than any in the annals of the world. As those
standing on the mountain tops first discern the coming beams of morning,
let us, from the vantage-ground of liberal institutions, first recognize
the ascending sun of a new era. Lift high, the gates and let the King of
glory in--the King of true glory, of peace. I catch the last words of music
from the lips of innocence and beauty--
"And let the whole earth be filled with his glory!"
It is a beautiful picture in Grecian story that there was at least one
spot, the small island of Delos, dedicated to the gods, and kept at all
times sacred from war, where the citizens of hostile countries met and
united in a common worship. So let us dedicate our broad country. The
temple of honor shall be surrounded by the temple of concord, so that the
former can be entered only through the portals of the latter; the horn of
abundance shall overflow at its gates; the angel of religion shall be the
guide over its steps of flashing adamant; while within, Justice, returned
to the earth from her long exile in the skies, shall rear her serene and
majestic front. And the future chiefs of the republic, destined to uphold
the glories of a new era, unspotted by human blood, shall be "the first in
peace, and the first in the hearts of their countrymen."
But while we seek these blissful glories for ourselves, let us strive to
extend them to other lands. Let the bugles sound the truce of God to the
whole world forever. Let the selfish boast of the Spartan women become the
grand chorus of mankind, that they have never seen the smoke of an enemy's
camp. Let the iron belt of martial music which now encompasses the earth be
exchanged for the golden cestus of peace, clothing all with celestial
beauty. And now, on this Sabbath of our country, let us lay a new stone in