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And twist into a thousand idle shapes,
These filigree ornaments, are good for nothing,-
In vain you strive, in vain you study earnestly,-
And blow, with puffing breath, a struggling light,
21. THE CHRISTIAN ORATOR.- Original translation from Villemain.
By the introduction of Christianity, a tribune was erected, from which the most sublime truths were boldly announced to all the world; from which the purest lessons of morality were made familiar to the ignorant multitude; a tribune so authoritative, so august, that before it Emperors, soiled with the blood of the People, were humbled; a tribune so pacific and tutelary, that more than once it has given refuge to its mortal enemies; a tribune, from which many an interest, abandoned everywhere else, was long defended; a tribune which, singly and eternally, has pleaded the cause of the poor against the rich, of the oppressed against the oppressor, and of man against himself.
There, all becomes ennobled and deified. The Christian orator, with his mastery over the minds of his hearers, elevating and startling them by turns, can reveal to them a destiny grander than glory, or terribler than death. From the highest Heavens he can draw down an eternal hope to the tomb, where Pericles could bring only tributary lamentations and tears. If, with the Roman orator, he commemorates the warrior fallen on the field of battle, he gives to the soul of the departed that immortality which Cicero dared promise only to his renown; he charges Deity itself with the acquittal of a country's gratitude.
Would the orator confine himself to evangelical preaching? That science of morals, that experience of mankind, those secrets of the passions, which were the constant study of the philosophers and orators of antiquity, ought to be his, also, to command. It is for him, even
more than it was for them, to know all the windings of the human heart, all the vicissitudes of the emotions, all the sensibilities of the soul; not with a view to exciting those violent affections, those popular animosities, those fierce kindlings of passion, those fires of vengeance and of hate, in the outbursts of which the triumph of ancient eloquence was attained; but to appease, to soften, to purify, the soul. Armed against all the passions, without the privilege of availing himself of any, he is obliged, as it were, to create a new passion, if by that name we may profane the profound, the sublime sentiment, which can alone vanquish and replace all others in the heart, - an intelligent religious enthusiasm; and it is that, which should impart to his elocution, to his thoughts, to his words, rather the inspiration of a prophet than the art and manner of an orator.
22. AFFECTATION IN THE PULPIT. — William Cowper. Born, 1731; died, 1800.
Who handles things divine; and all besides,
I venerate the man whose heart is warm,
That he is honest in the sacred cause.
To such I render more than mere respect,
Whose actions say that they respect themselves.
To make God's work a sinecure; a slave
23. UTILITY OF HISTORY.-Original Translation from De Ségur. B. 1753; d. 1830.
WHATEVER, your career, a knowledge of history will always be to you a source of profit and delight. Examples strike deeper than precepts. They serve as proofs to convince, and as images to attract. History gives us the experience of the world, and the collective reason of ages. We are organized like men of the remotest times; we have the same virtues and the same vices; and, hurried forward, like them, by our passions, we listen with distrust to those warnings of wisdom which would thwart our inclinations. But History is an impartial instructor, whose reasonings, which are facts, we cannot gainsay. It exhibits to us the Past, to prefigure the Future. It is the mirror of truth. Nations and men, the most renowned, are judged in our eyes from a point of time which destroys all illusion, and with a singleness of purpose which no surviving interest can mislead.
Before the tribunal of History, conquerors descend from their triumphal cars; tyrants are no longer formidable by their satellites; princes appear before us unattended by their retinue, and stripped of that false grandeur with which Flattery saw them invested. You detest, without danger, the ferocity of Nero, the cruelties of Sylla, the hypocrisy of Tiberius, the licentiousness of Caligula. If you have seen Dionysius terrible at Syracuse, you behold him humbled at Corinth. The plaudits of an inconstant multitude do not delude your judgment in favor of the envious traducers of the good and great; and you follow, with enthusiasm, the virtuous Socrates to his prison, the just Aristides into exile. If you admire the valor of Alexander on the banks of the Granicus, on the plains of Arbēla, you condemn, without fear, that unmeasured ambition which hurried
him to the recesses of India, and that profligacy which, at Babylon, tarnished the close of his career. The love of liberty, cherished by the Greeks, may kindle your soul; but their jealousies, their fickleness, their ingratitude, their sanguinary quarrels, their corruption of manners, at once announce and explain to you their ruin. If Rome, with her colossal power, excite your astonishment, you shall not fail soon to distinguish the virtues which constituted her grandeur, from the vices which precipitated her fall. Everywhere shall you recog nize the proof of this antique maxim, that, in the end, only what is honest is useful; that we are truly great only through justice, and entirely happy only through virtue. Time dispenses equitably its recompenses and its chastisements; and we may measure the growth and the decline of a People by the purity or corruption of their morals. Virtue is the enduring cement of the power of Nations; and without that, their ruin is inevitable!
24. FALSE COLORING LENT TO WAR.-Thomas Chalmers. Born, 1780; died, 1847.
ON every side of me I see causes at work which go to spread a most delusive coloring over war, and to remove its shocking barbaritics to the back-ground of our contemplations altogether. I see it in the history which tells me of the superb appearance of the troops, and the brilliancy of their successive charges. I see it in the poetry which lends the magic of its numbers to the narrative of blood, and transports its many admirers, as by its images, and its figures, and its nodding plumes of chivalry, it throws its treacherous embellishments over a scene of legalized slaughter. I see it in the music which represents the progress of the battle; and where, after being inspired by the trumpet-notes of preparation, the whole beauty and tenderness of a drawing-room are seen to bend over the sentimental entertainment; nor do I hear the utterance of a single sigh to interrupt the deathtones of the thickening contest, and the moans of the wounded men, as they fade away upon the ear, and sink into lifeless silence.
All, all, goes to prove what strange and half-sighted creatures we are. Were it not so, war could never have been seen in any other aspect than that of unmingled hatefulness; and I can look to nothing but to the progress of Christian sentiment upon earth to arrest the strong current of the popular and prevailing partiality for war. Then only will an imperious sense of duty lay the check of severe principle on all the subordinate tastes and faculties of our nature. Then will glory be reduced to its right estimate, and the wakeful benevolence of the Gospel, chasing away every spell, will be turned by the treachery of no delusion whatever from its simple but sublime enterprises for the good of the species. Then the reign of truth and quietness will be ushered into the world, and war-cruel, atrocious, unrelenting war-will be stripped of its many and its bewildering fascinations.
2. DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST.-James Shirley. Born, 1594; died, 1666.
THE glories of our blood and state
Must tumble down,
26. RELIGION OF REVOLUTIONARY MEN.- Original Adaptation from Lamartine.
I KNOW I sigh when I think of it- that hitherto the French People have been the least religious of all the Nations of Europe. The great men of other countries live and die on the scene of history, looking up to Heaven. Our great men live and die looking at the spectator; or, at most, at posterity. Open the history of America, the history of England, and the history of France. Washington and Franklin fought, spoke and suffered, always in the name of God, for whom they acted; and the liberator of America died confiding to God the liberty of the People and his own soul. Sidney, the young martyr of a patriotism guilty of nothing but impatience, and who died to expiate his country's dream of liberty, said to his jailer, "I rejoice that I die innocent toward the king, but a victim, resigned to the King on High, to whom all life is due." The Republicans of Cromwell sought only the way of God, even in the blood of battles. But look at Mirabeau on the bed of death. "" 'Crown me with flowers," said he; "intoxicate me with perfumes. Let me die to the sound of delicious music." Not a word was there of God or of his