« PreviousContinue »
servility, it may have a character of its own, corresponding to the freedom and equality of our institutions. One Europe is enough. One Paris is enough. How much to be desired is it, that, separated, as we are, from the Eastern continent, by an ocean, we should be still more widely separated by simplicity of manners, by dcmestic purity, hy inward piety, by reverence for human nature, by moral independence, by withstanding the subjection to fashion, and that debilitating sensuality, which characterize the most civilized portions of the Old World! Of this country, I may say, with peculiar emphasis, that its happiness is bound up in its virtue!
35. WHAT MAKES A HERO? - Henry Taylor.
Of glutted Avarice, - caps tossed up in air,
pen of journalist with flourish fair;
These, though his rightful tribute, he can spare ;
Or true reward; for never yet did these
Refresh the soul, or set the heart at ease.
And if there be preëminence of right,
Derived through pain well suffered, to the height
But worse - ingratitude and poisonous darts,
Launched by the country he had served and loved :
A dignity to noble deeds imparts,
This is the hero's complement and crown;
One self-approval in his heart of hearts.
36. THE LAST HOURS OF SOCRATES. — Original Adaptation.
SOCRATES was the reverse of a sceptic. No man ever looked upon life with a more positive and practical eye. No man ever pursued his mark with a clearer perception of the road which he was travelling. No man ever combined, in like manner, the absorbing enthusiasm of a missionary, with the acuteness, the originality, the inventive resources,
and the generalizing comprehension, of a philosopher. And yei this man was condemned to death, — condemned by a hostile tribunal of more than five hundred citizens of Athens, drawn at hazard from all classes of society. A majority of six turned the scale, in the most momentous trial that, up to that time, the world had witnessed. And the vague charges on which Socrates was condemned were, that he was a vain babbler, a corrupter of youth, and a setter-forth of strange Gods!
It would be tempting to enlarge on the closing scene of his life, scene which Plato has invested with such immortal glory; — on the affecting farewell to the Judges; on the long thirty days which passed in prison before the execution of the verdict; on his playful equnnimity, amid the uncontrollable emotions of his companions; on the gathering in of that solemn evening, when the fading of the sunset hues on the tops of the Athenian hills was the signal that the last hour was at hand; on the introduction of the fatal hemlock; the immovable countenance of Socrates, the firm hand, and then the burst of frantic lamentation from all his friends, as, with his habitual ease and cheerfulness, he drained the cup to its dregs; then the solemn silence enjoined by himself; the pacing to and fro; the strong religious persuasions attested by his last words; the cold palsy of the poison creeping from the extremities to the heart; the gradual torpor ending in death! But I must forbear.
O for a modern spirit like his! O for one hour of Socrates! O for one hour of that voice whose questioning would make men see what they knew, and what they did not know; what they meant, and what they only thought they meant; what they believed in truth, and what they only believed in name; wherein they agreed, and wherein they differed. That voice is, indeed, silent; but there is a voice in each man's heart and conscience, which, if we will, Socrates has taught us to use rightly. That voice still enjoins us to give to ourselves a reason for the hope that is in us,— both hearing and asking questions. It tells us, that the fancied repose which self-inquiry disturbs is more than compensated by the real repose which it gives; that a wise questioning is the half of knowledge; and that a life without self-examination is no life at all.
37. TO A CHILD.-Yankee.
Dear child, though now thou mayst not feel their power ;
Forget them not, and when earth's tempests lower,
pure celestial Truth, —whose birth Was in the Heaven of Heavens, clear, sacred, shrined
In Reason's light. — Not oft she visits earth,
But her majestic port, the willing mind,
But from the one which Passion forges — be
The rule o'er chance, sense, circumstance. Be free.
Then, as a wrestler gathers strength from strife,
By each contending, turbulent ill of life.
If rightly cherished, to uphold, sustain,
Neglect them — thy celestial gifts are vain
38. AMERICA'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLD. - Gulian C. Verplanck. What, it is asked, has this Nation done to repay the world for the benefits we have received from others ? — Is it nothing for the universal good of mankind to have carried into successful operation a system of self-government, -uniting personal liberty, freedom of opinion, and equality of rights, with national power and dignity, -- such as had before existed only in the Utopian dreams of philosophers ? Is it nothing, in moral science, to have anticipated, in sober reality, numerous plans of reform in civil and criminal jurisprudence, which are, but now, received as plausible theories by the politicians and economists of Europe ? Is it nothing to have been able to call forth, on every emergency, either in war or peace, a body of talents always equal to the difficulty? Is it nothing to have, in less than half a century, exceedingly improved the sciences of political economy, of law, and of medicine, with all their auxiliary branches; to have enriched human knowledge by the accumulation of a great mass of useful facts and observations, and to have augmented the power and the comforts of civilized man by miracles of mechanical invention ? Is it nothing to have given the world examples of disinterested patriotism, of political wisdom, of public virtue; of learning, eloquence and valor, never exerted save for some praiseworthy end? It is sufficient to have briefly suggested these considerations; epury mind would anticipate me in filling up the details.
No, Land of Liberty! — thy children have no cause to blush for thee. What, though the arts have reared few monuments among Is, and scarce a trace of the Muse's footstep is found in the paths of our forests, or along the banks of our rivers, — yet our soil has been consecrated by the blood of heroes, and by great and holy deeds of peace.
Its wide extent has become one vast temple, and hallowed asylum, sanctified by the prayers and blessings of the persecuted of every sect, and the wretched of all Nations. Land of Refuge, Land of Benedictions ! Those prayers still arise, and they still are heard: “May peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces!" "May there be no decay, no leading into captivity, and no complaining, in thy streets !” • May truth flourish out of the earth, and righteousness look down from Heaven!”
39. THE TRUE KING. — Translated from Seneca, by Leigh Hunt.
'Tis not wealth that makes a King,
40. DEATH IS COMPENSATION. --Original Trans. from Rousseau. B. 1712 ; d. 1778.
The more intimately I enter into communion with myself, — the more I consult my own intelligence, — the more legibly do I find written in my soul these words: BE JUST, AND THOU SHALT BE HAPPY! But let us not base our expectations upon the present state of things. The wicked prosper, and the just remain oppressed. At this fruse tration of our hopes, our indignation is kindled. Conscience takes umbrage, and murmurs against its Author; it murmurs, “ Thou hast deceived me!” —“I have deceived thee, say'st thou? How dost thou know it? Who has proclaimed it to thee? Is thy soul annihilated ? Hast thou ceased to exist ? O, Brutus! O, my son! Soil not thy noble life by turning thine own hand against it. Leave not thy hope and thy glory with thy mortal body on the field of Philippi. Why dost thou say, virtue is nothing, when thou goest to enjoy the price of thine? Thou goest to die, thou thinkest; no, thou goest to live, and it is then that I shall fulfil all that I have promised thee.”
One would say, from the murmurs of impatient mortals, that God owed them recompense before merit, and that He ought to requite their virtue in advance. O! let us first be good, and afterwards we shall be happy. Let us not exact the prize before the victory, nor the wagos before the labor. It is not on the course, says Plutarch, that the conquerors in our games are crowned ; it is after they have gone cver it. If the soul is immaterial, it can survive the body; and, in that survival, Providence is justified. Though I were to have no other proof of the immateriality of the soul than the triumph of the wicked and the oppression of the just in this world, that spectacle alone would prevent my doubting the reality of the life after death. So shocking a dissonance in this universal harunony would make me seek to explain it. I should say to myself: “All does not finish for de with this mortal life; what succeeds shall make concord of what Tent before."
41. FATE OF CHARLES THIE TWELFTH. - Samuel Johnson. Born, 1709; died, 1784.
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride,