Page images

as had been concerted, met at the palace and easily overcame the guards.

8. Nabonadius it would appear had long before fled from the city, leaving the government in the hands of his son Bil-shar-uzur (Belshazzar), whom he had already associated with him in the government. That night the youthful “king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” In the heat of intoxication he called for the golden vessels which his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem. Meantime the Persian archers had taken possession of the city, and Belshazzar was slain.

[graphic][merged small]


1. The hour is come! the hour is come! with voice

Heard in thy inmost soul, I summon thee,
Cyrus, the Lord's anointed!


And thou river, That flowest exulting in thy proud approach To Babylon, beneath whose shadowy walls And brazen gates and gilded palaces And groves, that gleam with marble obelisks, Thy azure bosom shall repose, with lights Fretted and chequered like the starry heavens: I do arrest thee in thy stately course, By Him that poured thee from thine ancient fountain, And sent thee forth, even at the birth of time, One of his holy streams, to lave the mounts Of Paradise.


Thou hear'st me: thou dost check
Abrupt thy waters as the Arab chief
His headlong squadrons. Where the unobserved
Yet toiling Persian breaks the ruining mound
I see thee gather thy tumultuous strength;
And, through the deep and roaring Naharmalca,
Roll on as proudly conscious of fulfilling
The omnipotent command!


While, far away,
The lake that slept but now so calm, nor moved
Save by the rippling moonshine, heaves on high
Its foaming surface like a whirlpool-gulf,
And boils and whitens with the unwonted tide.


5. But silent as thy billows used to flow

And terrible, the hosts of Elam move,
Winding their darksome way profound, where man
Ne'er trod nor light e’er shone nor air from heaven

Oh! ye secret and unfathomed depths,
How are ye now a smooth and royal way
For the army of God's vengeance! Fellow-slaves
And ministers of the Eternal purpose,
Not guided by the treacherous, injured sons
Of Babylon, but by my mightier arm
Ye come, and spread your banners and display
Your glittering arms as ye advance, all white
Beneath the admiring moon.

Come on! the gates
Are open-not for banqueters in blood
Like you! I see on either side o'erflow
The living deluge of armed men, and cry,
Begin! begin! with fire and sword begin
The work of wrath.

Upon my shadowy wings

and float a little while to see Mine human instruments fulfil my

Of final ruin. Then I mount, I fly,
And sing my proud song, as I ride the clouds,
That stars may hear and all the hosts of worlds,
That live along the interminable space,
Take up Jehovah's everlasting triumph!

-H. H. Milman (1791–1868).



Cyrus, the Lord's Anointed: See Isaiah xlv. 1.

Elam, Persia. It sometimes denotes a rtion of Persia, sc times a country distinct from Persia.



[Mr. Bright is speaking of the sin of a country involving itself in unnecessary war. He had been reminded that Rome pursued a policy of aggrandisement for eight centuries, and that for those centuries shế remained great.]

1. Now I do not think that examples taken from pagan, sanguinary, bloodthirsty Rome are proper models for the imitation of a Christian country, nor would I limit my hopes of the greatness of England even to the long duration of 800 years. But what is Rome now? The city is dead. A poet has described her as the lone mother of dead empires." Her language even is dead. Her very tombs are empty; the ashes of her most illustrious citizens are dispersed, for

[blocks in formation]

Yet I am asked, I, who am one of the legislators of a Christian country, to measure my policy by the policy of ancient and pagan Rome!

2. I believe there is no permanent greatness to a nation except it be based upon morality. I do not care for military greatness or military renown. I care for the constitution of the people among whom I live. There is no man in England who is less likely to speak irreverently of the Crown and monarchy of England than I am; but crowns, coronets, mitres, military display, the pomp of war, wide colonies, and a huge empire, are, in my view, all trifles light as air, and not worth considering, unless with them you can have a fair share of comfort, contentment, and happiness among the great body of the people. Palaces, princely castles, great halls, showy mansions do not make a nation. The nation in every country dwells in the cottage, and unless the light of your constitution can shine there, unless the beauty of your legislation and the excellence of your statesmanship are printed there in the feelings and condition of the people, rely upon it, you have yet to learn the duties of government.

3. I have not, as you have observed, pleaded that this country should remain without adequate and scientific means of defence. I acknowledge it to be the duty of your statesman, acting upon the known opinions and principles of 99 out of every 100 persons in the country, at all times, with all possible moderation, but with all possible efficiency, to take steps which shall preserve order within and on the confines of your kingdom. But I shall repudiate and denounce the expenditure of every shilling, the engagement of every man, the employment of every ship which has no object but intermeddling in the affairs of other countries, and endeavouring to extend the boundaries of an empire which is already large enough to satisfy the greatest ambition, and I fear is much too large for the highest statesmanship to which any man has yet attained.

4. The most ancient of profane historians has told us that the ancient Scythians were a very warlike people, and that they elevated an old scimitar upon a platform as a symbol of Mars, and to Mars alone, I believe, they built altars, and to this scimitar they offered sacrifices of horses and cattle, the main wealth of the country. I often ask myself whether we are at all advanced in one respect beyond these Scythians. What are our contributions to the church, to education, to morality, to religion, to justice, and to civil government, when compared with the wealth we expend in sacrifices to the old scimitar?

5. Two nights ago I addressed hall a vast assembly, composed to a great extent of your countrymen who

« PreviousContinue »