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Is light, and hope, and life, and power!
The night of mind, — is gone!
All lands to bless.
The Press, the Press, the Press!
64. A DEFENCE OF POETRY. - Rev. Charles Wolfe. Born, 1791; died, 1823. BELIEVE not those who tell you that Poetry will seduce the youthful mind from severe occupations. Didactic Poetry not only admits, but requires, the coöperation of Philosophy and Science. And true Poetry must be always reverent. Would not an universal cloud settle upon all the beauties of Creation, if it were supposed that they had not emanated from Almighty energy? In works of art, we are not content with the accuracy of feature, and the glow of coloring, until we have traced them to the mind that guided the chisel, and gave the pencil its delicacies and its animation. Nor an we look with delight on the features of Nature, without hailing the celestial Intelligence that
gave them birth. The Deity is too sublime for Poetry to doubt His existence. Creation has too much of the Divinity insinuated into her beauties to allow Poetry to hesitate in her creed. She demands no proof. She waits for no demonstration. She looks, and she believes. She admires, and she adores. Nor is it alone with natural religion that she maintains this intimate connection ; for what is the Christian's hope, but Poetry in her purest and most ethereal essence ?
From the beginning she was one of the ministering spirits that stand round the Throne of God, to issue forth at His word, and do His errands upon the earth. Sometimes she has been the herald of an offending nation's downfall. Often has she been sent commissioned to offending man, with prophecy and warning upon her lips. At other times she has been intrusted with “ glad tidings of great joy.": Poetry was the anticipating Apostle, the prophetic Evangelist, whose feet "were beautiful upon the mountains ; ” who published salvation who said unto Zion, “Thy God reigneth!”
65. GREAT IDEAS. - Rev. W. E. Channing. What is needed to elevate the soul is, not that a man should know all that has been thought and written in regard to the spiritual nature, not that a man should become an Encyclopedia, but that the Great Ideas in which all discoveries terminate, which sum up all sciences which the philosopher extracts from infinite details, may be comprehended and felt. It is not the quantity, but the quality of knowledge, which determines the mind's dignity. A man of immense
information may, through the want of large and comprehensive ideas, be far inferior in intellect to a laborer, who, with little knowledge, has yet seized on great truths. For example, I do not expect the laborer to study theology in the ancient languages, in the writings of the Fathers, in the history of sects; nor is this needful. All theology, scattered as it is through countless volumes, is summed up in the idea of God; and let this idea shine bright and clear in the laborer's soul, and he has the essence of theological libraries, and a far higher light than has visited thousands of renowned divines. A great mind is formed by a few great ideas, not by an infinity of loose details.
I have known very learned men who seemed to me very poor in intellect, because they had no grand thoughts. What avails it that a man has studied ever so minutely the histories of Greece and Rome, if the Great Ideas of Freedom, and Beauty, and Valor, and Spiritual Energy, have not been kindled, by those records, into living fires in his soul ? The illumination of an age does not consist in the amount of its knowledge, but in the broad and noble principles of which that knowledge is the foundation and inspirer. The truth is, that the most laborious and successful student is confined in his researches to a very few of God's works; but this limited knowledge of things may still suggest universal laws, broad principles, grand ideas ; and these elevate the mind. There are certain thoughts, principles, ideas, which by their nature rule over all knowledge, which are intrinsically glorious, quickening, all-comprehending, eternal !
66. ENGLAND.-Ebenezer Elliot.
NURSE of the Pilgrim Sires, who sought, beyond the Atlantic foam,
throne! Home of the Russells, Watts, and Lockes! Earth's greatest are thine
own! And shall thy children forge base chains for men that would be free? No! by the Eliots, Hampdens, Vanes, Pyms, Sidneys, yet to be! No! For the blood which kings have gorged hath made their victims
wise; While every lie that Fraud hath forged veils wisdom from his eyes. But time shall change the despot's mood; and Mind is mightiest then, When turning evil into good, and monsters into men. If round the soul the chains are bound that hold the world in thrall, If tyrants laugh when men are found in brutal fray to fall,Lord ! let not Britain arm her hands, her sister states to ban ; But bless through her all other lands — Thy family of Man!
For freedom if thy Hampden fought, for peace if Falkland fell, –
67. WHAT'S HALLOWED GROUND:—Thomas Campbell. Born, 1777; died, 1844.
What 's hallowed ground? Has earth a clod
Erect and free,
To bow the knee?
Their turf may bloom;
Their coral tomb.
Lifts thine on high ?
Is not to die !
The sword he draws:
A noble cause !
The charging cheer,
Shall still be dear!
O God above!
Transfer it from the sword's appeal
To peace and love!
When they are not;
Earth's compass round;
All hallowed ground!
68. NATURE PROCLAIMS A DEITY.—Chateaubriand. Born, 1769 ; died, 1848.
THERE is a God! The herbs of the valley, the cedars of the mountain, bless Him; the insect sports in His beam; the bird singg Him in the foliage ; the thunder proclaims Him in the Heavens ; the ocean declares His immensity; man alone has said, there is
Unite in thought at the same instant the most beautiful objects in nature. Suppose that you see, at once, all the hours of the day, and all the seasons of the year: a morning of spring, and a morning of autumn; a night bespangled with stars, and a night darkened by clouds ; meadows enamelled with flowers; forests hoary with snow; fields gilded by the tints of autumn, then alone you will have a just conception of the universe !
While you are gazing on that sun which is plunging into the vault of the West, another observer admires him emerging from the gilded gates of the East. By what inconceivable power does that aged star, which is sinking fatigued and burning in the shades of the evening, reäppear at the same instant fresh and humid with the rosy dew of the morning? At every hour of the day, the glorious orb is at once rising, resplendent as noon-day, and setting in the west ; or, rather, our senses deceive us, and there is, properly speaking, no East or West, no North or South, in the world.
69. WHAT WE OWE TO THE SWORD.-- T. S. Grimké. Born, 1778; died, 1834.
To the question, “what have the People ever gained but by Revolution," I answer, boldly, If by Revolution be understood the law of the Sword, Liberty has lost far more than she has ever gained by it. The Sword was the destroyer of the Lycian Confederacy and the Achæan league. The Sword alternately enslaved and disenthralled Thebes and Athens, Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth. The Sword of Rome conquered every other tree State, and finished the murder of
hberty in the ancient world, by destroying herself. What but the Sword, in modern times, annihilated the Republics of Italy, the Hanse. atic towns, and the primitive independence of Ireland, Wales and Scotland ? What but the Sword partitioned Poland, assassinated the rising liberty of Spain, banished the Huguenots from France, and made Cromwell the master, not the servant, of the People ? And what but the Sword of Republican France destroyed the Independence of half of Europe, deluged the continent with tears, devoured its millions upon millions, and closed the long catalogue of guilt, by founding and defending to the last the most powerful, selfish, and insatiable of military despotisms?
The Sword, indeed, delivered Greece from the Persian invaders, expelled the Tarquins from Rome, emancipated Switzerland and Holland, restored the Bruce to his Throne, and brought Charles to the scaffold. And the Sword redeemed the pledge of the Congress of '76, when they plighted to each other “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.” And yet, what would the redemption of that pledge have availed towards the establishment of our present Government, if the spirit of American institutions had not been both the birthright and the birth-blessing of the Colonies ? The Indians, the French, the Spaniards, and even England herself, warred in vain against a People, born and bred in the household, at the domestic altar, of Liberty herself. They had never been slaves, for they were born free. The Sword was a herald to proclaim their freedom, but it neither created nor preserved it. A century and a half had already beheld them free in infancy, free in youth, free in early manhood. Theirs was already the spirit of American institutions; the spirit of Christian freedom, of a temperate, regulated freedom, of a rational civil obedience. For such a People, the Sword, the law of violence, did and could do nothing, but sever the bonds which bound her colonial wards to their unnatural guardian. They redeemed their pledge, Sword in hand; but the Sword left them as it found them, unchanged in character, — freemen in thought and in deed, instinct with the immortal spirit of American institutions !
70. ABOU BEN ADHEM. - Leigh Hunt.