* * * * *
Robert M. Bird, 1803-1854. (Manual, p. 510.)
From "Nick of the Woods: a Tale of Kentucky."
295. THE QUAKER HUNTSMAN.
"I have a thing to say to thee, which it concerns thee and the fair maid, thee cousin, to know. There was a will, friend, a true and lawful last will and testament of thee deceased uncle, in which theeself and thee cousin was made the sole heirs of the same. Truly, friend, I did take it from the breast of the villain that plotted thee ruin; but, truly, it was taken from me again, I know not how."
"I have it safe," said Roland, displaying it, for a moment, with great satisfaction, to Nathan's eyes. "It makes me master of wealth, which you, Nathan, shall be the first to share. You must leave this wild life of the border, go with me to Virginia—"
"I, friend!" exclaimed Nathan, with a melancholy shake of the head; "thee would not have me back in the Settlements, to scandalize them that is of my faith? No, friend; my lot is cast in the woods, and thee must not ask me again to leave them. And, friend, thee must not think I have served thee for the lucre of money or gain; for truly these things are now to me as nothing. The meat that feeds me, the skins that cover, the leaves that make my bed, are all in the forest around me, to be mine when I want them; and what more can I desire? Yet, friend, if thee thinks theeself obliged by whatever I have done for thee, I would ask of thee one favor that thee can grant."
"A hundred!" said the Virginian, warmly.
"Nay, friend," muttered Nathan, with both a warning and beseeching look, "all that I ask is, that thee shall say nothing of me that should scandalize and disparage the faith to which I was born."
"I understand you," said Roland, "and will remember your wish.... Come with us, Nathan; come with us."
But Nathan, ashamed of the weakness which he could not resist, had turned away to conceal his emotion, and, stalking silently off, with the ever-faithful Peter at his heels, was soon hidden from their eyes.
* * * * *
Nathaniel Hawthorne, about 1805-1864. (Manual, pp. 505, 508.)
From the "Twice-Told Tales."
296. PORTRAIT OF EDWARD RANDOLPH.
Within the antique frame which so recently had enclosed a sable waste of canvas, now appeared a visible picture—still dark, indeed, in its hues and shadings, but thrown forward in strong relief.... The whole portrait started so distinctly out of the background, that it had the effect of a person looking down from the wall at the astonished and awe-stricken spectators. The expression of the face, if any words can convey an idea of it, was that of a wretch detected in some hideous guilt, and exposed to the bitter hatred, and laughter, and withering scorn of a vast, surrounding multitude. There was the struggle of defiance, beaten down and overwhelmed by the crushing weight of ignominy. The torture of the soul had come forth upon the countenance. It seemed as if the picture, while hidden behind the cloud of immemorial years, had been all the time acquiring an intenser depth and darkness of expression, till now it gloomed forth again, and threw its evil omen over the present hour. Such, if the wild legend may be credited, was the portrait of Edward Randolph, as he appeared when a people's curse had wrought its influence upon his nature.
* * * * *
297. DESCRIPTION OF AN OLD SAILOR.
Many such a day did I sit snugly in Mr. Bartlett's store, attentive to the yarns of Uncle Parker—uncle to the whole village by right of seniority, but of southern blood, with no kindred in New England. His figure is before me now, enthroned upon a mackerel barrel—a lean, old man, of great height, but bent with years, and twisted into an uncouth, shape by seven broken limbs; furrowed, also, and weather-worn, as if every gale, for the better part of a century, had caught him somewhere on the sea. He looked like a harbinger of tempest, a shipmate of the Flying Dutchman.... One of Uncle Parker's eyes had been blown out with gunpowder, and the other did but glimmer in its socket. Turning it upward as he spoke, it was his delight to tell of cruises against the French, and battles with his own ship-mates, when he and an antagonist used to be seated astride of a sailor's chest, each fastened down, by a spike-nail through his trousers, and there to fight it out.
* * * * *
From the "Blithedale Romance."
298. A PICTURE OF GIRLHOOD.
Priscilla had now grown to be a very pretty girl, and still kept budding and blossoming, and daily putting on some new charm, which you no sooner became sensible of than you thought it worth all she had previously possessed. So unformed, vague, and without substance, as she had come to us, it seemed as if we could see Nature shaping out a woman before our very eyes, and yet had only a more reverential sense of the mystery of a woman's soul and frame. Yesterday, her cheek was pale,—to-day it had a bloom. Priscilla's smile, like a baby's first one, was a wondrous novelty. Her imperfections and short-comings affected me with a kind of playful pathos, which was as absolutely bewitching a sensation as ever I experienced. After she had been a month or two at Blithedale, her animal spirits waxed high, and kept her pretty constantly in a state of bubble and ferment, impelling her to far more bodily activity than she had yet strength to endure. She was very fond of playing with the other girls out of doors. There is hardly another sight in the world so pretty as that of a company of young girls, almost women grown, at play, and so giving themselves up to their airy impulse that their tiptoes barely touch the ground.
Girls are incomparably wilder and more effervescent than boys, more untamable, and regardless of rule and limit, with an ever-shifting variety, breaking continually into new modes of fun, yet with a harmonious propriety through all. Their steps, their voices, appear free as the wind, but keep consonance with a strain of music inaudible to us. Young men and boys, on the other hand, play according to recognized law, old, traditionary games, permitting no caprioles of fancy, but with scope enough for the outbreak of savage instincts....
Especially it is delightful to see a vigorous young girl run a race, with her head thrown back, her limbs moving more friskily than they need, and an air between that of a bird and a young colt. But Priscilla's peculiar, charm, in a foot-race, was the weakness and irregularity with which she ran....
When she had come to be quite at home among us, I used to fancy that Priscilla played more pranks, and perpetrated more mischief, than any other girl in the community. For example, I once heard Silas Foster, in a very gruff voice, threatening to rivet three horse-shoes round Priscilla's neck, and chain her to a post, because she, with some other young people, had clambered upon a load of hay, and caused it to slide off the cart. How she made her peace I never knew; but very soon afterwards I saw old Silas, with his brawny hands round Priscilla's waist, swinging her to and fro, and finally depositing her on one of the oxen, to take her first lessons in riding. She met with terrible mishaps in her efforts to milk a cow; she let the poultry into the garden; she generally spoilt whatever part of the dinner she took in charge; she broke crockery; she dropped our biggest pitcher into the well; and—except with her needle and those little wooden instruments for purse-making—was as unserviceable a member of society as any young lady in the land. There was no other sort of efficiency about her. Yet everybody was kind to Priscilla; everybody loved her and laughed at her to her face, and did not laugh behind her back; everybody would have given her half of his last crust, or the bigger share of his plum-cake. These were pretty certain indications that we were all conscious of a pleasant weakness in the girl, and considered her not quite able to look after her own interests, or fight her battle with the world.
* * * * *
From "The Marble Faun."
299. SCULPTURE: ART AND ARTISTS.
A sculptor, indeed, to meet the demands which our preconceptions make upon him, should be even more indispensably a poet than those who deal in measured verse and rhyme. His material, or instrument, which serves him in the stead of shifting and transitory language, is a pure, white, undecaying substance. It insures immortality to whatever is wrought in it, and therefore makes it a religious obligation to commit no idea to its mighty guardianship, save such as may repay the marble for its faithful care, its incorruptible fidelity, by warming it with an etherial life. Under this aspect, marble assumes a sacred character; and no man should dare to touch it unless he feels within himself a certain consecration and a priesthood, the only evidence of which, for the public eye, will be the high treatment of heroic subjects, or the delicate evolution of spiritual, through material beauty....
No ideas such as the foregoing—no misgivings suggested by them—probably troubled the self complacency of most of these clever sculptors. Marble, in their view, had no such sanctity as we impute to it....
Yet we love the artists, in every kind; even these, whose merits we are not quite able to appreciate. Sculptors, painters, crayon sketchers, or whatever branch of aesthetics they adopted, were certainly pleasanter people, as we saw them that evening, than the average whom we meet in ordinary society. They were not wholly confined within the sordid compass of practical life; they had a pursuit which, if followed faithfully out, would lead them to the beautiful, and always had a tendency thitherward, even if they lingered to gather up golden drops by the wayside. Their actual business (though they talked about it very much as other men talk of cotton, politics, flour barrels, and sugar) necessarily illuminated their conversation with something akin to the ideal....
As interesting as any of these relics was a large portfolio of old drawings, some of which, in the opinion of their possessor, bore evidence on their faces of the touch of master-hands.
... According to the judgment of several connoisseurs, Raphael's own hand had communicated its magnetism to one of these sketches; and if genuine, it was evidently his first conception of a favorite Madonna, now hanging in the private apartment of the Grand Duke, at Florence.... There were at least half a dozen others, to which the owner assigned as high an origin. It was delightful to believe in their authenticity, at all events; for these things make the spectator, more vividly sensible of a great painter's power, than the final glow and perfected art of the most consummate picture that may have been elaborated from them. There is an effluence of divinity in the first sketch; and there, if any where, you find the pure light of inspiration, which the subsequent toil of the artist serves to bring out in stronger lustre, indeed, but likewise adulterates it with what belongs to an inferior mood. The aroma and fragrance of new thought were perceptible in these designs, after three centuries of wear and tear. The charm lay partly in their very imperfection; for this is suggestive, and sets the imagination at work; whereas, the finished picture, if a good one, leaves the spectator nothing to do, and if bad, confuses, stupefies, disenchants, and disheartens him.
* * * * *
From the "English Note Books."
300. RUINS OF FURNESS ABBEY.
The most interesting part is that which was formerly the church, and which, though now roofless, is still surrounded by walls, and retains the remnants of the pillars that formerly supported the intermingling curves of the arches. The floor is all overgrown with grass strewn with fragments and capitals of pillars. It was a great and stately edifice, the length of the nave and choir having been nearly three hundred feet, and that of the transept more than half as much. The pillars along the nave were alternately, a round solid one, and a clustered one. Now, what remains of some of them is even with the ground: others present a stump just high enough to form a seat; and others are perhaps a man's height from the ground; and all are mossy, and with grass and weeds rooted into their chinks, and here and there a tuft of flowers giving its tender little beauty to their decay. The material of the edifice is a soft red stone, and it is now extensively overgrown with a lichen of a very light gray hue, which at a little distance makes the walls look as if they had long ago been whitewashed and now had partially returned to their original color. The arches of the nave and transept were noble and immense; there were four of them together, supporting a tower which has long since disappeared,—arches loftier than I ever conceived to have been made by man. Very possibly, in some cathedral that I have seen, or am yet to see, there may be arches as stately as these, but I doubt whether they can ever show to such advantage in a perfect edifice as they do in this ruin,—most of them broken, only one, as far as I recollect, still completing its sweep. In this state they suggest a greater majesty and beauty than any finished human work can show; the crumbling traces of the half-obliterated design producing somewhat of the effect of the first idea of any thing admirable, when it dawns upon the mind of an artist or a poet,—an idea which, do what he may, he is sure to fall short of in his attempt to embody it....
Conceive all these shattered walls, with here and there an arched door, or the great arched vacancy of a window; these broken stones and monuments scattered about; these rows of pillars up and down the nave, these arches, through which a giant might have stepped, and not needed to bow his head, unless in reverence to the sanctity of the place,—conceive it all, with such verdure and embroidery of flowers as the gentle, kindly moisture of the English climate procreates on all old things, making them more beautiful than new, conceive it with the grass for sole pavement of the long and spacious aisle, and the sky above for the only roof. The sky, to be sure, is more majestic than the tallest of those arches; and yet these latter, perhaps, make the stronger impression of sublimity, because they translate the sweep of the sky to our finite comprehension. It was a most beautiful, warm, sunny day, and the ruins had all the pictorial advantage of bright light, and deep shadows. I must not forget that birds flew in and out among the recesses, and chirped and warbled, and made themselves at home there. Doubtless, the birds of the present generation are the posterity of those who first settled in the ruins, after the Reformation; and perhaps the old monks of a still earlier day may have watched them building about the abbey, before it was a ruin at all.
* * * * *
From the "American Note Books."
301. SCENERY OF THE MERRIMAC.
I never could have conceived that there was so beautiful a river-scene in Concord as this of the North Branch. The stream flows through the midmost privacy and deepest heart of a wood, which, as if but half satisfied with its presence, calm, gentle and unobtrusive as it is, seems to crowd upon it, and barely to allow it passage, for the trees are rooted on the very verge of the water, and dip their pendent branches into it. On one side there is a high bank forming the side of a hill, the Indian name of which I have forgotten, though Mr. Thoreau told it to me; and here in some instances the trees stand leaning over the river, stretching out their arms as if about to plunge in headlong. On the other side, the bank is almost on a level with the water, and there the quiet congregation of trees stood with feet in the flood, and fringed with foliage down to its very surface. Vines here and there twine themselves about bushes or aspens or alder-trees, and hang their clusters, though scanty and infrequent this season, so that I can reach them from my boat, I scarcely remember a scene of more complete and lovely seclusion than the passage of the river through this wood. Even an Indian canoe in olden times, could not have floated onward in deeper solitude than my boat. I have never elsewhere had such an opportunity to observe how much more beautiful reflection is than what we call reality. The sky and the clustering foliage on either hand, and the effect of sunlight as it found its way through the shade, giving lightsome hues in contrast with the quiet depth of the prevailing tints, all these seemed unsurpassably beautiful when beheld in upper air. But on gazing downward, there they were, the same even to the minutest particular, yet arrayed in ideal beauty which satisfied the spirit incomparably more than the actual scene. I am half convinced that the reflection is indeed the reality, the real thing which Nature imperfectly images to our grosser sense. At any rate the disembodied shadow is nearest to the soul.
* * * * *
From the "French and Italian Note Books."
302. A DUNGEON OF ANCIENT ROME.
We were now in the deepest and ugliest part of the old Mamertine Prison, one of the few remains of the kingly period of Rome, and which served the Romans as a state prison for hundreds of years before the Christian era. A multitude of criminals or innocent persons, no doubt, have languished here in misery, and perished in darkness. Here Jugurtha starved; here Catiline's adherents were strangled; and methinks, there can not be in the world another such an evil den, so haunted with black memories and indistinct surmises of guilt and suffering. In old Rome, I suppose, the citizens never spoke of this dungeon above their breath. It looks just as bad as it is; round, only seven paces across, yet so obscure that our tapers could not illuminate it from side to side,—the stones of which it is constructed being as black as midnight. The custode showed us a stone post at the side of the cell, with the hole in the top of it, into which, he said, St. Peter's chain had been fastened; and he uncovered a spring of water, in the middle of the stone floor, which he told us had miraculously gushed up to enable the Saint to baptize his jailor. The miracle was perhaps the more easily wrought, inasmuch as Jugurtha had found the floor of the dungeon oozy with wet. However, it is best to be as simple and childlike as we can in these matters; and whether St. Peter stamped his visage into the stone, and wrought this other miracle or no, and whether or no he ever was in the prison at all, still the belief of a thousand years and more, gives a sort of reality and substance to such traditions. The custode dipped an iron ladle into the miraculous water, and we each of us drank a sip; and, what is very, remarkable, to me it seemed hard water and almost brackish, while many persons think it the sweetest in Rome. I suspect that St. Peter still dabbles in this water, and tempers its qualities according to the faith of those who drink it.
* * * * *
William Gilmore Simms, 1806-1870. (Manual, pp. 490, 510.)
From "Eutaw, a Sequel to The Foragers."
303. THE BATTLE OF EUTAW.
Up to this moment nothing had seemed more certain than the victory of the Americans. The consternation in the British camp was complete. Everything was given up for lost by a considerable portion of the army. The commissaries destroyed their stores, the loyalists and American deserters, dreading the rope, seizing every horse which they could command, fled incontinently for Charleston, whither they carried such an alarm that the stores along the road were destroyed, and the trees felled across it for the obstruction of the victorious Americans, who were supposed to be pressing down upon the city with all their might.
Equally deceived were the conquerors. Flushed with success, the infantry scattered themselves about the British camp, which, as all the tents had been left standing, presented a thousand objects to tempt the appetites of a half-starved and half-naked soldiery. Insubordination followed disorder....
No more could be done. The laurels won in the first act of this exciting drama, were all withered in the second. Both parties claimed a victory. It belonged to neither. The British were beaten from the field at the point of the bayonet, sought shelter in a fortress, and repulsed their assailants from that fortress. It is to the shame and discredit of the Americans that they were repulsed. The victory was in their hands.
* * * * *
From the "Life of Francis Marion."
304. CHARACTER AND SERVICES OF GENERAL MARION.
No commander had ever been more solicitous of the safety and comfort of his men. It was this which had rendered him so sure of their fidelity, which had enabled him to extract from them such admirable service. This simple entreaty stayed their quarrels; ... No duel took place among his officers during the whole of his command.
The province which was assigned to his control by Governor Rutledge, was the constant theatre of war. He was required to cover an immense extent of country. With a force constantly unequal and constantly fluctuating, he contrived to supply its deficiencies by the resources of his own vigilance and skill. His personal bravery was frequently shown, and the fact that he himself conducted an enterprise, was enough to convince his men that they were certain to be led to victory.... He had no lives to waste, and the game he played was that which enabled him to secure the greatest results, with the smallest amount of hazard. Yet, when the occasion seemed to require it, he could advance and strike with an audacity, which in the ordinary relations of the leader with the soldier, might well be thought inexcusable rashness.... The reader will perceive a singular discrepancy between the actual events detailed in the life of every popular hero, and the peculiar fame which he holds in the minds of his countrymen. Thus, while Marion is every where regarded as the peculiar representative in the southern States, of the genius of partizan warfare, we are surprised, when we would trace, in the pages of the annalist, the sources of this fame, to find the details so meagre and so unsatisfactory. Tradition mumbles over his broken memories, which we vainly strive to pluck from his lips, and bind together in coherent and satisfactory records. The spirited surprise, the happy ambush, the daring onslaught, the fortunate escape,—these, as they involve no monstrous slaughter,—no murderous strife of masses,—no rending of walled towns and sack of cities, the ordinary historian disdains. The military reputation of Marion consists in the frequent performance of deeds, unexpectedly, with inferior means, by which the enemy was annoyed and dispirited, and the hearts and courage of his countrymen warmed into corresponding exertions with his own. To him we owe that the fires of patriotism were never extinguished, even in the most disastrous hours, in the low country of South Carolina. He made our swamps and forests sacred, as well because of the refuge which they gave to the fugitive patriot, as for the frequent sacrifices which they enabled him to make, on the altars of liberty and a befitting vengeance.... It is enough that his fame has entered largely into that of his country, forming a valuable portion of its national stock of character. His memory is in the very hearts of our people.
* * * * *
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1812-. (Manual, p. 484.)
From "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
305. MEMORIALS OF A DEAD CHILD.
At the door, however, he stopped a moment, and then coming back, he said, with some hesitation,—
"Mary, I don't know how you'd feel about it, but there's that drawer full of things-of-of-poor little Henry's." So saying, he turned quickly on his heel, and shut the door after him.
His wife opened the little bedroom door adjoining her room, and taking the candle, set it down on the top of a bureau there; then from a small recess she took a key, and put it thoughtfully in the lock of a drawer, and made a sudden pause, while two boys, who, boy-like, had followed close on her heels, stood looking, with silent, significant glances, at their mother. And O, mother that reads this, has there never been in your house a drawer, or a closet, the opening of which has been to you like the opening again of a little grave? Ah! happy mother that you are, if it has not been so.
Mrs. Bird slowly opened the drawer. There were little coats, of many a form and pattern, piles of aprons, and rows of small stockings; and even a pair of little shoes, worn and rubbed at the toes, were peeping from the folds of a paper. There was a toy horse and wagon, a top, a ball,—memorials gathered with many a tear and many a heart-break! She sat down by the drawer, and leaning her head on her hands over it, wept till the tears fell through her fingers into the drawer; then, suddenly raising her head, she began, with nervous haste, selecting the plainest and most substantial articles, and gathering them into a bundle.
"Mamma," said one of the boys, gently touching her arm, "are you going to give away those things?"
"My dear boys," she said, softly and earnestly, "if our dear loving little Henry looks down from heaven, he would be glad to have us do this. I could not find it in my heart to give them away to any common person—to anybody that was happy; but I give them to a mother more heart-broken and sorrowful than I am; and I hope God will send his blessing with, them!"
* * * * *
From "Old-Town Folks."
306. THE OLD MEETING HOUSE.
Going to meeting, in that state of society into which I was born, was as necessary and inevitable a consequence of waking up on Sunday morning, as eating one's breakfast. Nobody thought of staying away,—and, for that matter, nobody wanted to stay away. Our weekly life was simple, monotonous, and laborious; and the chance of seeing the whole neighborhood together in their best clothes on Sunday, was a thing which, in the dearth of all other sources of amusement, appealed to the idlest and most unspiritual of loafers. They who did not care for the sermon or the prayers, wanted to see Major Broad's scarlet coat and laced ruffles, and his wife's brocade dress, and the new bonnet which Lady Lothrop had just had sent up from Boston. Whoever had not seen these would be out of society for a week to come, and not be able to converse understandingly on the topics of the day.
The meeting on Sunday united in those days, as nearly as possible, the whole population of a town,—men, women, and children. There was then in a village but one fold and one shepherd, and long habit had made the tendency to this one central point so much a necessity to every one, that to stay away from "meetin," for any reason whatever, was always a secret source of uneasiness. I remember in my early days, sometimes when I had been left at home by reason of some of the transient ailments of childhood, how ghostly and supernatural the stillness of the whole house and village outside the meeting-house used to appear to me, how loudly the clock ticked and the flies buzzed down the window-pane, and how I listened in the breathless stillness to the distant psalm-singing, the solemn tones of the long prayer, and then to the monotone of the sermon, and then again to the closing echoes of the last hymn, and thought sadly, what if some day I should be left out, when all my relations and friends had gone to meeting in the New Jerusalem, and hear afar the music from the crystal walls.
The arrangement of our house of worship in Oldtown was somewhat peculiar, owing to the fact of its having originally been built as a missionary church for the Indians. The central portion of the house, usually appropriated to the best pews, was in ours devoted to them; and here were arranged benches of the simplest and most primitive form; on which were collected every Sunday, the thin and wasted remnants of what once was a numerous and powerful tribe. There were four or five respectable Indian families, who owned comfortable farms in the neighborhood, and came to meeting in their farm-wagons, like any of their white neighbors.
... Besides our Indian population, we had also a few negroes, and a side gallery was appropriated to them. One of them was that of Aunt Nancy Prime, famous for making election-cake and ginger-pop, and who was sent for at all the great houses on occasions of high festivity, as learned in all mysteries relating to the confection of cakes and pies. A tight, trig, bustling body she, black and polished as ebony, smooth-spoken and respectful, and quite a favorite with everybody. Nancy had treated herself to an expensive luxury in the shape of a husband,—an idle, worthless mulatto man, who was owned as a slave in Boston. Nancy bought him, by intense labors in spinning flax, but found him an undesirable acquisition, and was often heard to declare, in the bitterness of her soul, when her husband returned from his drinking bouts, that she should never buy another nigger, she knew. Prominent there was the stately form of old Boston Foodah, an African Prince, who had been stolen from the coast of Guinea in early youth, and sold in Boston at some period of antiquity whereto the memory of man runneth not.
* * * * *
Maria J. McIntosh, 1815-. (Manual, p. 484.)
From "Two Pictures."
307. DEBATE BETWEEN WEBSTER AND HAYNE.
... Webster, Clay, Calhoun—the triumvirate to which, it is to be feared, we shall long have to look back as to our last, were still living; and as Augusta Moray gazed on the dark, melancholy eyes of the first, shadowed by that wonderful brow, or looked into the face of the second, where if prescient thought sometimes rose as a flitting cloud, it was chased away before the glow of the warm heart and the quick kindling fancy, or turned to the sharp angular lines and firmly compressed lips that marked the iron strength of the third, she felt that she stood in the midst of her dream fulfilment. The session was one of peculiar interest. Great questions agitated the public mind, and were treated greatly. Two great parties, springing from the very foundations of our civil polity, strove for supremacy in our legislative halls. The one, looking into the depths of our colonial history, took its stand on the unquestionable truth, that each state of the Union was sovereign over herself, from which was drawn the corollary, that she was as free to leave as she had been to enter the Union. The other contended that the present constitution of these United States defined the boundary of the powers of each state, as well as of the great whole into which they had been voluntarily fused; that to look behind that, was such a resort to first principles or natural rights, as is involved in revolution, and must be decided as revolution ever is, by the relative strength of the ruling and the revolting forces.
On neither side was there any trickery, any bullying, any flimsy display of rhetorical power. All was grand as the subject for which they contended, solemn as the doom to which they seemed, approaching. In the chief magistrate of that time all saw the unflinching executor of the nation's will—a man whose words were the sure prefigurements of his deeds. Their verdict must be carefully weighed, for it would be surely executed. In stern silence each sat to hear, to deliberate, to judge. The sharp logic and fiery vehemence of Hayne called up no angry flash, roused no personal vindictiveness; and the deep tones of Webster found as ready an entrance to southern as to northern hearts, while in those powerful, words which seemed the fit weapons of a nation's champion, his mighty mind swept away all that opposed it, save that principle which lay imbedded in the very deepest stratum of the life of his opponents, and which could not be torn away from them till feeling and life were extinct.
It was in the capital, and in the presence of these great men, that Augusta liked best to find herself. We are afraid she did not always listen when men of more ordinary power occupied the floor,—the gallery was an excellent dreaming place at such times.
* * * * *
Catharine Anne Warfield, 1817-.
From "The Romance of Beauseincourt."
308. VIEW OF THE SKY BY NIGHT.
I had derived great and constant pleasure from the undisturbed possession of this place of promenade during my whole sojourn.... Often, when my mind had been distracted with anxious cares, I had literally waited down its excitement and anguish in my fierce and rapid movements to and fro, over its smooth painted floor, the daily care of Sylphy, who might be heard in the hot season busily employed in refreshing it with mop and broom and water during the first hours of the morning, the pleasant, dewy freshness of which operation might be felt gratefully in the atmosphere of our heated chamber.
The long gallery was very solitary, of course, at an hour like this, and it was with a feeling of calm relief that I paced its lonely length, stopping at intervals to look out upon the night; one of cloudy sultriness, occasionally relieved by gusts of warm, damp wind, that bore the distant odors of swamp and forest on its wings, and promised speedy rain. Here and there in the dappled heavens were liquid purple spaces, like the open sea described by Arctic voyagers, around which hung masses of silvery clouds, projecting like ice cliffs; and into these patches of sky the large yellow moon would now and then sail majestically, suddenly emerging, like a ship from a fog, from the fleecy screen that veiled her light, to cross these spaces, and plunge into mist and shadow again.
There was something in the whole effect calculated to absorb the mind of an absent dreamer, intent on the future, and for the first time for many weeks putting aside all foreign considerations, in favor of self too long merged in others and neglected.
[Footnote 70: One of our most accomplished female writers; a native of Mississippi, but long resident in Kentucky.]
* * * * *
Herman Melville, 1819-. (Manual, p. 505.)
From "Moby Dick."
309. SPERM WHALE FISHING.
It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe! The vast swells of the omnipotent sea; the surging, hollow roar they made as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like gigantic bowls in a boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended agony of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong, sled-like slide down its other side; all these, with the cries of the headsmen and harpooners, and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats, with outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming brood; all this was thrilling. Not the raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead man's ghost, encountering the first unknown phantom in the other world; neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted sperm whale.
Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of mist; neither ship nor boat to be seen.
"Give way, men," whispered Starbuck, drawing still further aft the sheet of his sail; "there is time to kill a fish yet before the squall comes. There's white water again! close to! Spring!" Though not one of the oarsmen was then facing the life and death peril so close to them ahead, yet with their eyes on the intense countenance of the mate in the stern of the boat, they knew that the imminent instant had come; they heard, too, an enormous wallowing sound as of fifty elephants stirring in their litter. Meanwhile the boat was still booming through the mist, the waves curling and hissing around us like the erected crests of enraged serpents.
"That's his hump. There, there, give it to him!" whispered Starbuck.
A short rushing sound leaped out of the boat; it was the darted iron of Queequeg. Then all in one welded commotion, came an invisible push from astern, while forward the boat seemed striking on a ledge; the sail collapsed and exploded; a gush of scalding vapor shot up near by; something rolled and tumbled like an earthquake beneath us. The whole crew were half suffocated as they were tossed helter-skelter into the white curdling cream of the squall. Squall, whale, and harpoon had all blended together and the whale, merely grazed by the iron, escaped.
Though completely swamped, the boat was nearly unharmed. Swimming round it we picked up the floating oars, and lashing them across the gunwale, tumbled back to our places. There we sat up to our knees in the sea, the water covering every rib and plank, so that to our downward gazing eyes, the suspended craft seemed a coral boat grown up to us from the bottom of the ocean.
* * * * *
Josiah Gilbert Holland, 1819-.
From The Bay Path.
310. THE WEDDING-PRESENT.
John Woodcock was the first to break the silence. Rising from his seat, and making his way out of the crowd around him, he crossed the room to where his daughter was standing absorbed in, and half bewildered by the scene, and whispering a few words in her ear, took her by the hand, and led her before the married pair. Mary extended her hand to him instantly and cordially, and exclaimed, "I knew that you would come to me and congratulate me."
"That wan't my arrant any way," said Woodcock bluntly, "and I shouldn't begin with you if it was."
"Why John! I am astonished!" exclaimed the bride; "I thought you was one of the best friends I had in the world."
But Mary was somewhat affected with Woodcock's seriousness, and, with no reply to Holyoke, beyond a smile, she asked Woodcock's reasons for the statement he had made.
"I didn't come up here to talk about this, and p'raps it ain't the right time to do it, but there's no use backin' down when you begin. I've got a consait that men and women ain't built out of the same kind of timber. Look at my hand—a great pile o' bones covered with brown luther, with the hair on,—and then look at yourn. White oak ain't bass, is it? Every man's hand ain't so black as mine, and every woman's ain't so white as yourn, but there's always difference enough to show, and there's just as much odds in their doin's and dispositions as there is in their hands. I know what women be. I've wintered and summered with 'em, and take 'em by and large, they're better'n men. Now and then a feller gets hitched to a hedgehog, but most of 'em get a woman that's too good for 'em. They're gentle and kind, and runnin' over with good feelin's, and will stick to a fellow a mighty sight longer'n he'll stick to himself. My woman's dead and gone, but if there wan't any women in the world, and I owned it, I'd sell out for three shillin's, and throw in stars enough to make it an object for somebody to take it off my hands.
"Some time ago," resumed Woodcock. "I heerd the little ones and some of the old ones tellin' what they was goin' to give Mary Pynchon when she got married; and it set me to thinkin' what I could give her, for I knew if anybody ought to give her anything, it was me. But I hadn't any money, and I couldn't send to the Bay for anything, and I shouldn't 'a known what to get if I could, I might have shot a buck, but I couldn't 'a brought it to the weddin', and it didn't seem exactly ship-shape to give her anything she could eat up and forget. So I thought I'd give her a keepsake my wife left me when she died. It's all I've got of any vally to me, and it's somethin' that'll grow better every day it is kep', if you'll take care of it. I don't know what'll come of me, and I want to leave it in good hands."
The bride began to grow curious, and despite their late repulse the group began to collect again.
"It's a queer thing for a present, perhaps, (and Woodcock's lip began to quiver and his eye to moisten,) but I hope it'll do you some service. 'Taint anything't you can wear in your hair, or throw over your shoulders. It's—it's—"
"It's what?" inquired Mary, with an encouraging smile.
Woodcock took hold of the hand of his child, and placing it in that of the questioner, burst out with, "God knows that's the handle to it," and retreated to the window, where he spent several minutes looking out into the night, and endeavoring to repress the spasms of a choking throat. Neither Mary Holyoke nor her husband could disguise their emotions, as they saw before them the living testimonial of Woodcock's gratitude and trust. Mary stooped and kissed the gift-child, who clung to her as if, contrary to her father's statement, she was an article of wearing apparel.
* * * * *
John Esten Cooke, 1830-.
From "Estcourt, or the Memoirs of a Virginia Gentleman."
311. THE PORTRAIT.
"I see you are prepared now," said the painter; "the thought I endeavored to suggest has entered your mind, for I read the expression in your face like an open book. Well, see if I have deceived you—look!"
And as he spoke, the painter removed a green curtain from the frame of a picture, so arranged that the full light of the middle window fell upon it.
Estcourt almost cried out with astonishment. Here, before him, as though ready to start from the canvas, was the woman who had been, his fate—who had died long years before; there in the full blaze of light, he saw her who had thrown the shadow upon his existence, which still clouded it, fresh, softly smiling, alive almost on the speaking and eloquent canvas. The blue eyes beamed with a tender and subdued sweetness, the delicate forehead, with its soft brown curls, rose airily above the perfectly arched brows, the innocent lips were half parted, and the portrait seemed almost ready to move from its frame, and descend, a living woman, into the apartment.
[Footnote 71: Conspicuous among the younger writers of Virginia, of which State he is a native; author of many novels.]
* * * * *
312. ASPECTS OF SUMMER.
The glory of the summer deepened and grew more intense, the foliage assumed a darker tint of emerald, the sky glowed with a more dazzling blue, and the songs of the busy harvesters came sad and slow, like the long, melancholy swell of pensive sighs across the hills and fields, dying away finally into the "harvest home," which told that the golden grain would wave no more in the wind until another year. The "harvest moon" looked down on bare fields now, and June was dead. At last came August, the month of great white clouds and imperial sunsets, the crowning hours of the rich summer, soon to fade away into the yellow autumn, the month of reveries and dreams on the banks of shadowy streams, or beneath, the old majestic trees of silent forests.
* * * * *
Sarah A. Dorsey, about 1835-.
From "Lucia Dare."
313. SCENERY AND SOCIETY AT NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI.
The village of Natchez, under the hill, was clustered close to the water's edge; the bluffs rose precipitously, garnished with pine trees, and locusts, and tufted grasses; the vista here terminated in Brown's beautiful gardens, gay with flower-beds and closely-clipped hedges. Far away over the river stretched the broad emerald plain of Louisiana, level with the stream, extending for many, many miles, its champaign checkered with groups of white plantation-houses, spotted with groves of trees, rich in autumnal beauty, glowing with crimson, gold, and green, softened by veils of long, gray moss. This plain was dotted with lovely lakes, whose waters shone in the slanting rays of the declining sun.... The sun went down quickly, as he does at sea, a round, red fire-ball, while light, splendid clouds of purple, pink, lilac, and gray, on the blue, blue heavens, refracted the ascending, slender, quivering rays of the disappearing orb, the type of Deity in all natural religions, the Totem of the Natchez Indians. Beloved city—bright "city of the Sun"! How often have I paced with restless child's feet, the road that Lucian was now traveling over, and listened, as he did, but more lingeringly, to the sounds of gentle human life, stirring within thy peaceful homes! How often have I thanked God for my beautiful childhood's home—for my precious Southern Land—for its sunshine, its verdure, its forests, its flowers, its perfume; but oh! above all, for the loving, refined, intelligent, gentle race of people it was my great, my priceless privilege, to be born amongst—a people worthy to live with, yes, worthy to die for! The stern besom of war has wept over you, beloved Natchez—your fairest homes have been desolated, your lovely gardens are now only remembrances—your family circles are broken up—your bravest sons are sleeping in the dust of death, or weeping tears of bitterness in exile—your daughters, bowed down with penury and grief, are mourning beside their darkened firesides—your joyous households transferred to other and kindlier lands. The forms of my kindred faded into phantoms of the past—strangers sit now in the place that once was mine; but yet, thou art lovely, still beloved in thy ruin, in thy desolation—city of my heart—city of my love—city of my childish joy! Oh! city of my dead!
[Footnote 72: Prominent among the living authors of Louisiana.]
* * * * *
Anne Moncure Crane.
From "Opportunity;" a Novel.
314. IMPRESSION OF A SEA SCENE.
The tide had been out, but it was now rising; and they stood silently watching the long, low waves dissolve in foam, whose white edges each time crept nearer and nearer their feet. No one was conscious of the duration of the silence. The sea's monotony of motion and sound seemed to fill the void, and lull them to quietude. But beautiful as was the scene that lay before her, Harvey gradually forgot it ...
The two women had been nearly facing each other; and in a moment or two Harvey put his hand upon Rose's shoulder, and with the other, motioned her to look out upon the sea at her side. As she obeyed, her faint, inarticulate expression of surprise and pleasure made both men follow her example. It was only a coasting vessel, which had come rather close to the shore, and was sailing swiftly by, before the freshening breeze; but Its broad, white sails, with the moonlight upon them, and its gliding, soundless motion, gave it an unearthly effect, as of a phantom of light floating between the dark sea and sky, or a great white-winged spirit sweeping past. When it had vanished into the distance and darkness, Rose turned, and looked up at Harvey with mute but half-parted lips, with eyes dilating with light, only this for a moment, but Miss Barney knew she had accomplished her wish.
The others also did not speak. But Grahame made an involuntary angry movement of his foot upon the sand.
[Footnote 73: A young authoress of Maryland: has written two novels of unusual promise.]
* * * * *
Mary Clemmer Ames, about 1837-.
From "A Woman's Right."
315. A RAILWAY DEPOT IN THE COUNTRY.
... Yet this depot was the centre of attraction for miles around. It was the grand hall of re-union for all the people of the scattered town, not second in importance even to the meeting-house. Here, twice a day, stopped the great Western and Eastern trains, the two fiery arteries through which flowed all the tumultuous life of the vast outer world that had ever come to this secluded hamlet. Its primitive inhabitants in their isolated farm-houses, under the hills and on the stony mountain-moors, could never have realized the existence of another world than the green, grand world of nature around them and above them, and would have been as oblivious of the great god "News" as the denizens of Greenland, if it had not been for the daily visits of this Cyclops with the burning eye. Now twice a day, the shriek of his diabolical whistle pierced the umbrageous woods and hilly gorges for miles away, and its cry to many a solitary household was the epoch of the day. Hearing it, John mounted his nag and scampered away to the station for the Boston journals of yesterday. Seth harnessed Peggy, and drove off in the buggy in all possible haste, to see if the mail had brought a letter from Amzi who was in New York, or from Nimrod who had gone to work in "Bosting," or if the train had brought Sally and her children from the city, who were expected home on a visit. Here, under pretext of waiting for the cars, congregated the drones and supernumeraries of the different neighborhoods, lounging on the steps, hacking the benches with their jack-knives for hours together, while they discussed politics, and talked over their own and their neighbors' affairs.
A walk to the station on a summer evening, was more to the boys and girls of this rural region, than a Broadway promenade to a metropolitan belle. Their day's task done, here they met in pairs, comparing finery and indulging in flirtations, with an impunity which would not have been tolerated by their elders at the Sunday recess in the meeting-house. Then, besides, it was such an exciting sight to see the cars come in, to see the long rows of strange faces, and to catch glimpses of the new fashions at their open windows. Besides, at rare intervals, a real city lady would actually alight at the rustic station of Hilltop, followed by an avalanche of trunks, "larger than hen-houses," the girls would afterwards affirm to their astonished mothers, when it was discovered that the city-lady, in her languishing necessity for country-air, had really condescended to come in search of a remote country-cousin. Besides the fine lady, sometimes small companies of dashing young gentlemen, with fishing-rods and retinues of long-eared dogs, or a long-haired artist with a portfolio under his arm, all lured by the mountains and woods and streams, to seek pleasure in far different ways, would alight at the station, and ask of some staring rustic where they could find the hotel.
[Footnote 74: An active writer, chiefly known as a newspaper correspondent from Washington; a native of Vermont, has published a novel of much descriptive vigor.]
Francis Hopkinson, 1737-1791.
From "The Battle of the Kegs."
Gallants, attend, and hear a friend Trill forth harmonious ditty; Strange things I'll tell, which late befell In Philadelphia city.
'Twas early day, as poets say, Just when the sun was rising, A soldier stood on a log of wood, And saw a thing surprising.
As in amaze he stood to gaze,— The truth can't be denied, sir,— He spied a score of kegs, or more, Come floating down the tide, sir.
A sailor, too, in jerkin blue, This strange appearance viewing, First rubbed his eyes, in great surprise, Then said some mischief's brewing.
* * * * *
Some fire cried, which some denied, But said the earth had quaked; And girls and boys, with hideous noise, Ran through the streets half naked.
* * * * *
The royal band now ready stand, All ranged in dread array, sir, With stomach stout, to see it out, And make a bloody day, sir.
The cannons roar from shore to shore; The small arms make a rattle; Since wars began, I'm sure no man E'er saw so strange a battle.
A hundred men, with each a pen, Or more,—upon my word, sir, It is most true,—would be too few Their valor to record, sir.
[Footnote 75: A prominent author of the revolutionary era.]
[Footnote 76: In the revolutionary war, while the British held Philadelphia, some floating torpedoes were one day sent down the river to destroy their vessels, and this novel mode of attack caused the alarm described by the poet.]
* * * * *
John Trumbull, 1750-1831. (Manual, pp. 490, 512.)
Though this, not all his time was lost on, He fortified the town of Boston, Built breastworks that might lend assistance To keep the patriots at a distance; For, howsoe'er the rogues might scoff, He liked them best the farthest off; Works of important use to aid His courage when he felt afraid.
* * * * *
For Providence, disposed to tease us, Can use what instruments it pleases; To pay a tax, at Peter's wish, His chief cashier was once a fish.
* * * * *
An English bishop's cur of late Disclosed rebellions 'gainst the State; So frogs croaked Pharaoh to repentance, And lice delayed the fatal sentence: And Heaven can rain you at pleasure, By Gage, as soon as by a Caesar. Yet did our hero in these days Pick up some laurel-wreaths of praise; And as the statuary of Seville Made his cracked saint an excellent devil. So, though our war small triumph brings, We gained great fame in other things. Did not our troops show great discerning, And skill, your various arts in learning? Outwent they not each native noodle By far, in playing Yankee-doodle? Which, as 'twas your New England tune, 'Twas marvellous they took so soon. And ere the year was fully through, Did they not learn to foot it too, And such a dance as ne'er was known For twenty miles on end lead down? Did they not lay their heads together, And gain your art to tar and feather, When Colonel Nesbitt, thro' the town, In triumph bore the country-clown? Oh! what a glorious work to sing The veteran troops of Britain's king, Adventuring for th'heroic laurel With bag of feathers and tar-barrel! To paint the cart where culprits ride, And Nesbitt marching at its side. Great executioner and proud, Like hangman high, on Holborn road; And o'er the slow-drawn rumbling car, The waving ensigns of the war!
* * * * *
Philip Freneau, 1752-1832. (Manual, pp. 486, 511.)
From "An Indian Burying-ground."
In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep; The posture that we give the dead, Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands;— The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds, and painted bowl, And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul,— Activity, that wants no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent, And arrows, with a head of bone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the finer essence gone.
* * * * *
Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace, Now wasted half by wearing rains, The fancies of a ruder race.
* * * * *
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In vestments for the chase arrayed. The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer—a shade.
* * * * *
David Humphreys, 1783-1818. (Manual, p. 512.)
From "The Happiness of America."
319. RECOLLECTIONS OF THE WAR.
I too, perhaps, should Heaven prolong my date, The oft-repeated tale shall oft relate; Shall tell the feelings in the first alarms, Of some bold enterprise the unequalled charms; Shall tell from whom I learnt the martial art, With what high chiefs I played my early part— With Parsons first—
* * * * * Death-daring Putnam—then immortal Greene— Then how great Washington my youth approved, In rank preferred, and as a parent loved. With him what hours on warlike plains I spent, Beneath the shadow of th' imperial tent; With him how oft I went the nightly round Through moving hosts, or slept on tented ground; From him how oft—(nor far below the first, In high behests and confidential trust)— From him how oft I bore the dread commands, Which destined for the fight the eager bands; With him how oft I passed the eventful day, Bode by his side, as down the long array His awful voice the columns taught to form, To point the thunders and direct the storm. But, thanks to Heaven! those days of blood are o'er; The trumpet's clangor, the loud cannon's roar.
* * * * *
No more this hand, since happier days succeed, Waves the bright blade, or reins the fiery steed. No more for martial fame this bosom burns; Now white-robed Peace to bless a world returns; Now fostering Freedom all her bliss bestows, Unnumbered blessings for unnumbered woes.
* * * * *
Samuel J. Smith, 1771-1835.
320. PEACE, BE STILL.
When, on his mission from his home in heaven, In the frail bark the Saviour deigned to sleep, The tempest rose—with headlong fury driven, The wave-tossed vessel whirled along the deep: Wild shrieked the storm amid the parting shrouds, And the vexed billows dashed the darkening clouds.
Ah! then how futile human skill and power,— "Save us! we perish in the o'erwhelming wave!" They cried, and found in that tremendous hour, "An eye to pity, and an arm to save." He spoke, and lo! obedient to His will, The raging waters, and the winds were still.
And thou, poor trembler on life's stormy sea, Where dark the waves of sin and sorrow roll, To Him for refuge from the tempest flee,— To Him, confiding, trust the sinking soul; For O, He came to calm the tempest-tossed, To seek the wandering, and to save the lost.
For thee, and such as thee, impelled by love, He left the mansions of the blessed on high; Mid sin, and pain, and grief, and fear, to move, With lingering anguish, and with shame to die. The debt to Justice, boundless Mercy paid, For hopeless guilt, complete atonement made.
O, in return for such surpassing grace, Poor, blind, and naked, what canst thou impart? Canst thou no offering on his altar place? Yes, lowly mourner; give him all thy heart: That simple offering he will not disown,— That living incense may approach his throne.
[Footnote 77: A gentleman of fortune and literary culture; a life-long resident in the country, in his native State, New Jersey.]
* * * * *
William Clifton, 1772-1790. (Manual, p. 512.)
From lines "To Fancy."
321. PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION.
Is my lonely pittance past? Fleeting good too light to last? Lifts my friend the latch no more? Fancy, thou canst all restore; Thou canst, with thy airy shell, To a palace raise my cell.
* * * * *
With thee to guide my steps, I'll creep In some old haunted nook to sleep, Lulled by the dreary night-bird's scream, That flits along the wizard stream, And there, till morning 'gins appear, The tales of troubled spirits hear.
Sweet's the dawn's ambiguous light, Quiet pause 'tween day and night, When afar the mellow horn Chides the tardy gaited morn, And asleep is yet the gale On sea-beat mount, and rivered vale. But the morn, though sweet and fair; Sweeter is when thou art there; Hymning stars successive fade, Fairies hurtle through the shade, Lovelorn flowers I weeping see, If the scene is touched by thee.
* * * * * Thus through life with thee I'll glide, Happy still what'er betide, And while plodding sots complain Of ceaseless toil and slender gain, Every passing hour shall be Worth a golden age to me.
* * * * *
Robert Treat Paine, 1773-1811. (Manual, p. 512.)
From "The Ruling Passion."
322. THE MISER.
Next comes the miser; palsied, jealous, lean, He looks the very skeleton of Spleen! 'Mid forests drear, he haunts, in spectred gloom, Some desert abbey or some druid's tomb; Where hearsed in earth, his occult riches lay, Fleeced from the world, and buried from the day. With crutch in hand, he points his mineral rod, Limps to the spot, and turns the well-known sod. While there, involved in night, he counts his store By the soft tinklings of the golden ore, He shakes with terror lest the moon should spy, And the breeze whisper, where his treasures lie.
This wretch, who, dying, would not take one pill, If, living, he must pay a doctor's bill, Still clings to life, of every joy bereft; His God is gold, and his religion theft! And, as of yore, when modern vice was strange, Could leathern money current pass on 'change, His reptile soul, whose reasoning powers are pent Within the logic bounds of cent per cent, Would sooner coin his ears than stocks should fall, And cheat the pillory, than not cheat at all!
* * * * *
John Blair Linn, 1777-1804.
From "The Powers of Genius."
323. WRETCHEDNESS OF SAVAGE LIFE.
The human fabric early from its birth, Feels some fond influence from its parent earth; In different regions different forms we trace, Here dwells a feeble, there an iron race; Here genius lives, and wakeful fancies play, Here noiseless stupor sleeps its life away. * * * * * Chill through his trackless pines the hunter passed, His yell arose upon the howling blast; Before him fled, with all the speed of fear, His wealth—and victim, yonder helpless deer. Saw you the savage man, how fell and wild, With what grim pleasure, as he passed, he smiled? Unhappy man! a wretched wigwam's shed Is his poor shelter, some dry skins his bed; Sometimes alone upon the woodless height He strikes his fire, and spends his watchful night; His dog with howling bays the moon's red beam, And starts the wild deer in his nightly dream. Poor savage man! for him no yellow grain Waves its bright billows o'er the fruitful plain; For him no harvest yields its full supply, When winter hurls his tempest through the sky. No joys he knows but those which spring from strife, Unknown to him the charms of social life. Rage, malice, envy, all his thoughts control, And every dreadful passion burns his soul. Should culture meliorate his darksome home, And cheer those wilds where he is wont to roam; * * * * * Should fields of tillage yield their rich increase, And through his wastes walk forth the arts of peace, His sullen soul would feel a genial glow, Joy would break in upon the night of woe; Knowledge would spread her mild, reviving ray, And on his wigwam rise the dawn of day.
[Footnote 78: A Presbyterian clergyman, who died prematurely; an associate and connection of Charles Brockden Brown. Has left several poems of merit. A native of Pennsylvania.]
* * * * *
Francis S. Key, 1779-1843. (Manual, p. 523.)
324. THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.
O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming; And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
On that shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner; O, long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where are the foes who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war, and the battle's confusion, A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave; And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war's desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto, "In God is our trust;" And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
* * * * *
Washington Alston, 1779-1843. (Manual, pp. 504. 510.)
From the "Sylphs of the Seasons."
Methought, within a desert cave, Cold, dark, and solemn as the grave, I suddenly awoke. It seemed of sable night the cell Where, save when from the ceiling fell An oozing drop, her silent spell No sound had ever broke.
There motionless I stood alone, Like some strange monument of stone Upon a barren wild; Or like (so solid and profound The darkness seemed that walled me round) A man that's buried under ground, Where pyramids are piled.
* * * * *
Then spake the Sylph of Spring serene, "'Tis I thy joyous heart, I ween. With sympathy shall move: For I with living melody Of birds in choral symphony, First waked thy soul to poesy, To piety and love.
"When thou, at call of vernal breeze, And beckoning bough of budding trees, Hast left thy sullen fire; And stretched thee in some mossy dell, And heard the browsing wether's bell, Blithe echoes rousing from their cell To swell the tinkling choir:
"Or lured by some fresh-scented gale That wooed the moored fisher's sail To tempt the mighty main, Hast watched the dim, receding shore, Now faintly seen the ocean o'er, Like hanging cloud, and now no more To bound the sapphire plain.
"Then, wrapped in night, the scudding bark, (That seemed, self-poised amid the dark, Through upper air to leap,) Beheld, from thy most fearful height, The rapid dolphin's azure light Cleave, like a living meteor bright, The darkness of the deep."
* * * * *
John Pierpont, 1785-1866. (Manual, p. 513.)
326. A TEMPERANCE SONG.
In Eden's green retreats, A water-brook—that played Between soft, mossy seats, Beneath a plane tree's shade, Whose rustling leaves Danced o'er its brink— Was Adam's drink, And also Eve's.
* * * * *
And, when the man of God From Egypt led his flock, They thirsted, and his rod Smote the Arabian rock, And forth a rill Of water gushed, And on they rushed, And drank their fill.
Had Moses built a still, And dealt out to that host To every man his gill, And pledged him in a toast, Would cooler brains, Or stronger hands, Have braved the sands Of those hot plains?
If Eden's strength and bloom, Gold water thus hath given, If e'en beyond the tomb, It is the drink of heaven, Are not good wells And crystal springs The very things for our Hotels?
* * * * *
327. THE PILGRIM FATHERS.
The Pilgrim Fathers,—where are they? The waves that brought them o'er Still roll in the bay, and throw their spray, As they break along the shore: Still roll in the bay, as they roll'd that day When the Mayflower moor'd below, When the sea around was black with storms, And white the shore with snow.
The mists, that wrapp'd the Pilgrim's sleep, Still brood upon the tide; And his rocks yet keep their watch by the deep, To stay its waves of pride. But the snow-white sail, that he gave to the gale When the heavens look'd dark, is gone;— As an angel's wing, through an opening cloud, Is seen, and then withdrawn.
The Pilgrim exile,—sainted name! The hill, whose icy brow Rejoiced when he came, in the morning's flame, In the morning's flame burns now. And the moon's cold light, as it lay that night On the hill-side and the sea, Still lies where he laid his houseless head;— But the Pilgrim,—where is he?
The Pilgrim Fathers are at rest. When summer's throned on high, And the world's warm breast is in verdure dress'd Go, stand on the hill where they lie. The earliest ray of the golden day On that hallow'd spot is cast; And the evening sun, as he leaves the world, Looks kindly on that spot last.
The Pilgrim spirit has not fled; It walks in the noon's broad light; And it watches the bed of the glorious dead, With their holy stars, by night. It watches the bed of the brave who have bled, And shall guard this ice-bound shore, Till the waves of the bay, where the Mayflower lay, Shall foam and freeze no more.
* * * * *
James G. Percival, 1786-1856. (Manual, p. 515.)
328. THE CORAL GROVE.
Deep in the wave is a coral grove, Where the purple mullet and gold-fish rove; Where the sea-flower spreads its leaves of blue, That never are wet with the falling dew, But in bright and changeful beauty shine, Far down in the green and glassy brine. The floor is of sand, like the mountain drift, And the pearl-shells spangle the flinty snow; From coral rocks, the sea-plants lift Their boughs, where the tides and billows flow; The water is calm and still below, For the winds and waves are absent there, And the sands are bright as the stars that glow In the motionless fields of upper air. There, with its waving blade of green, The sea-flag streams through the silent water, And the crimson leaf of the dulse is seen To blush like a banner bathed in slaughter. There, with a light and easy motion, The fan-coral sweeps through the clear, deep sea, And the yellow and scarlet tufts of ocean Are bending like corn on the upland lea, And life, in rare and beautiful forms, Is sporting amid those bowers of stone.
* * * * *
Richard H. Dana, 1787-. (Manual, pp. 501, 504, 514.)
From "The Buccaneer."
A sweet, low voice, in starry nights, Chants to his ear a 'plaining song; Its tones come winding up the heights, Telling of woe and wrong; And he must listen, till the stars grow dim, The song that gentle voice doth sing to him.
O, it is sad that aught so mild Should bind the soul with bands of fear; That strains to soothe a little child The man should dread to hear! But sin hath broke the world's sweet peace, unstrung The harmonious chords to which the angels sung.
* * * * *
But he no more shall haunt the beach, Nor sit upon the tall cliff's crown, Nor go the round of all that reach, Nor feebly sit him down, Watching the swaying weeds; another day, And he'll have gone far hence that dreadful way.
To-night the charmed number's told. "Twice have I come for thee," it said. "Once more, and none shall thee behold. Come, live one, to the dead!" So hears his soul, and fears the coming night, Yet sick and weary of the soft, calm light.
Again he sits within that room; All day he leans at that still board; None to bring comfort to his gloom, Or speak a friendly word. Weakened with fear, lone, haunted by remorse, Poor, shattered wretch, there waits he that pale horse.
* * * * *
Richard Henry Wilde, 1789-. (Manual, pp. 521, 501.)
330. MY LIFE IS LIKE THE SUMMER ROSE.
My life is like the summer rose That opens to the morning sky, But, ere the shades of evening close, Is scattered on the ground to die; Yet on that rose's humble bed The softest dews, of night are shed, As if she wept such waste to see; But none shall drop a tear for me.
My life is like the autumn leaf That trembles in the moon's pale ray; Its hold is frail, its state is brief, Restless, and soon to pass away; But when that leaf shall fall and fade, The parent tree will mourn its shade, The winds bewail the leafless tree; But none shall breathe a sigh, for me.
My life is like the print which feet Have left on Tampa's desert strand; Soon as the rising tide shall beat, Their track will vanish from the sand; Yet, as if grieving to efface All vestige of the human race, On that lone shore loud moans the sea; But none shall thus lament for me.
* * * * *
James A. Hillhouse, 1789-1844. (Manual, p. 487.)
Hadad. Confide in me. I can transport thee, O, to a paradise To which this Canaan is a darksome span. Beings shall welcome, serve thee, lovely as angels; The elemental powers shall stoop, the sea Disclose her wonders, and receive thy feet Into her sapphire chambers; orbed clouds Shall chariot thee from zone to zone, while earth, A dwindled, islet, floats beneath thee. Every Season and clime shall blend for thee the garland. The Abyss of time shall cast its secrets, ere The flood marred primal nature, ere this orb Stood in her station. Thou shalt know the stars, The houses of eternity, their names, Their courses, destiny—all marvels high.
Tam. Talk not so madly.
* * * * *
From "The Judgment."
As, when from some proud capital that crowns Imperial Ganges, the reviving breeze Sweeps the dank mist, or hoary river fog Impervious mantled o'er her highest towers, Bright on the eye rush Bramah's temples, capp'd With spiry tops, gay-trellised minarets, Pagods of gold, and mosques with burnish'd domes, Gilded, and glistening in the morning sun, So from the hill the cloudy curtains roll'd, And, in the lingering lustre of the eve, Again the Saviour and his seraphs shone. Emitted sudden in his rising, flash'd Intenser light, as toward the right hand host Mild turning, with a look ineffable, The invitation he proclaim'd in accents Which on their ravish'd ears pour'd thrilling, like The silver sound of many trumpets, heard Afar in sweetest jubilee: then, swift Stretching his dreadful sceptre to the left, That shot forth horrid lightnings, in a voice Clothed but in half its terrors, yet to them Seem'd like the crush of heaven, pronounced the doom. The sentence utter'd as with life instinct, The throne uprose majestically slow; Each angel spread his wings; in one dread swell Of triumph mingling as they mounted, trumpets And harps, and golden lyres, and timbrels sweet, And many a strange and deep-toned instrument Of heavenly minstrelsy unknown on earth, And angels' voices, and the loud acclaim Of all the ransom'd like a thunder shout, Far through the skies melodious echoes roll'd And faint hosannas distant climes return'd.
* * * * *
John M. Harney, 1789-1855.
From "Crystallina: a Fairy Tale."
On the stormy heath a ring they form; They place therein the fearful maid, And round her dance in the howling storm. The winds beat hard on her lovely head: But she clasped her hands, and nothing said.
O, 'twas, I ween, a ghastly sight To see their uncouth revelry. The lightning was the taper bright, The thunder was the melody, To which they danced with horrid glee.
The fierce-eyed owl did on them scowl, The bat played round on leathern wing, The coal-black wolf did at them howl, The coal-black raven did croak and sing, And o'er them flap his dusky wing.
An earthquake heaved beneath their feet, Pale meteors revelled in the sky, The clouds sailed by like a routed fleet, The night-winds shrieked as they passed by, The dark-red moon was eclipsed on high.
[Footnote 79: One of the earliest poets of the West, but a native of Delaware.]
* * * * *
Charles Sprague, 1791-. (Manual, p. 514.)
334. THE NEWSPAPER.
Turn to the Press—its teeming sheets survey, Big with the wonders of each passing day; Births, deaths, and weddings, forgeries, fires, and wrecks, Harangues and hailstorms, brawls and broken necks; Where half-fledged bards, on feeble pinions, seek An immortality of near a week; Where cruel eulogists the dead restore, In maudlin praise, to martyr them once more; Where ruffian slanderers wreak their coward spite, And need no venomed dagger while they write.
* * * * *
Yet, sweet or bitter, hence what fountains burst, While still the more we drink the more we thirst. Trade hardly deems the busy day begun Till his keen eye along the page has run; The blooming daughter throws her needle by, And reads her schoolmate's marriage with a sigh; While the grave mother puts her glasses on, And gives a tear to some old crony gone. The preacher, too, his Sunday theme lays down. To know what last new folly fills the town. Lively or sad, life's meanest, mightiest things, The fate of fighting cocks, or fighting kings— Nought comes amiss; we take the nauseous stuff, Verjuice or oil, a libel or a puff.
* * * * *
Lydia H. Sigourney, 1791-1865. (Manual, pp. 484, 523.)
335. THE WIDOW AT HER DAUGHTER'S BRIDAL.
Deal gently, thou whose hand hath won The young bird from its nest away, Where, careless, 'neath a vernal sun, She gayly carolled day by day; The haunt is lone, the heart must grieve, From where her timid wing doth soar They pensive lisp at hush of eve, Yet hear her gushing song no more.
Deal gently with her; thou art dear, Beyond what vestal lips have told, And, like a lamb from fountains clear, She turns, confiding, to thy fold. She round thy sweet, domestic bower The wreath of changeless love shall twine, Watch for thy step at vesper hour, And blend her holiest prayer with thine.
Deal gently, thou, when, far away, 'Mid stranger scenes her foot shall rove, Nor let thy tender care decay; The soul of woman lives in love. And shouldst thou, wondering, mark a tear, Unconscious, from her eyelids break, Be pitiful, and soothe the fear That man's strong heart may ne'er partake.
A mother yields her gem to thee, On thy true breast to sparkle rare; She places 'neath thy household tree The idol of her fondest care; And, by thy trust to be forgiven When judgment wakes in terror wild, By all thy treasured hopes of heaven, Deal gently with the widow's child.
* * * * *
William O. Sutler, 1793-.
From "The Boatman's Horn."
O Boatman, wind that horn again; For never did the listening air Upon its lambent bosom bear So wild, so soft, so sweet a strain. What though thy notes are sad and few, By, every simple boatman blown? Yet is each pulse to nature true, And melody in every tone. How oft, in boyhood's joyous day, Unmindful of the lapsing hours, I've loitered on my homeward way, By wild Ohio's bank of flowers, While some lone boatman from the deck Poured his soft numbers to that tide, As if to charm from storm and wreck The boat where all his fortunes ride! Delighted Nature drank the sound, Enchanted Echo bore it round In whispers soft and softer still, From hill to plain, and plain to hill.
[Footnote 80: A native of Kentucky; a favorite Western poet; at one time prominent as a politician.]
* * * * *
337. THE BATTLE-FIELD OF RAISIN.
The battle's o'er; the din is past; Night's mantle on the field is cast; The Indian yell is heard no more; The silence broods o'er Erie's shore. At this lone hour I go to tread The field where valor vainly bled; To raise the wounded warrior's crest, Or warm with tears his icy breast; To treasure up his last command, And bear it to his native land. It may one pulse of joy impart To a fond mother's bleeding heart, Or, for a moment, it may dry The tear-drop in the widow's eye. Vain hopes, away! The widow ne'er Her warrior's dying wish shall hear. The passing zephyr bears no sigh; No wounded warrior meets the eye; Death is his sleep by Erie's wave; Of Raisin's snow we heap his grave. How many hopes lie buried here— The mother's joy, the father's pride, The country's boast, the foeman's fear, In 'wildered havoc, side by side! Lend me, thou silent queen of night, Lend me a while thy waning light, That I may see each well-loved form That sank beneath the morning storm.
* * * * *
William Cullen Bryant, 1794-. (Manual, pp. 487, 524.)
From his "Poems."
338. LINES TO A WATER FOWL.
Whither, midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean side?
There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,— The desert and illimitable air,— Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere, Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end, Soon shalt thou find a summer home and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone; the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.
* * * * *
From "The Antiquity of Freedom."
339. FREEDOM IRREPRESSIBLE.
O Freedom, thou art not, as poets dream, A fair, young girl, with light and delicate limbs, And wavy tresses gushing from the cap With which the Roman master crowned his slave When he took off the gyves. A bearded man, Armed to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow, Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee. They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven. Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep, And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires, Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound, The links are shivered, and the prison walls Fall outward; terribly thou springest forth, As springs the flame above a burning pile, And shoutest to the nations, who return Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.
* * * * *
340. COMMUNION WITH NATURE, SOOTHING.
To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language: for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile, An eloquence of beauty, and she glides Into his darker musings, with a mild And healing sympathy, that steals away Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house. Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;— Go forth, under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all around— Earth and her waters, and the depths of air,— Comes a still voice. Yet a few days, and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground. Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, And lost each human trace, surrendering up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix for ever with the elements, To be a brother to the insensible rock, And to the sluggish clod which the rude swain Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
* * * * *
As the long train Of ages glide away, the sons of men, The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes In the full strength of years, matron, and maid, And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man,— Shall one by one be gathered to thy side, By those, who in their turn shall follow them. So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, that moves To that mysterious realm where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
* * * * *
341. THE LIVING LOST.
Matron! the children of whose love, Each to his grave, in youth had passed, and now the mould is heaped above The dearest and the last! Bride! who dost wear the widow's veil Before the wedding flowers are pale! Ye deem the human heart endures No deeper, bitterer grief than yours.
Yet there are pangs of keener wo, Of which the sufferers never speak, Nor to the world's cold pity show The tears that scald the cheek, Wrung from their eyelids by the shame And guilt of those they shrink to name, Whom once they loved with cheerful will, And love, though fallen and branded, still.
Weep, ye who sorrow for the dead; Thus breaking hearts their pain relieve; And reverenced are the tears ye shed. And honored ye who grieve. The praise of those who sleep in earth, The pleasant memory of their worth, The hope to meet when life is past, Shall heal the tortured mind at last.
But ye, who for the living lost That agony in secret bear, Who shall with soothing words accost The strength of your despair? Grief for your sake is scorn for them Whom ye lament, and all condemn; And o'er the world of spirits lies A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.
* * * * *
342. THE SONG OF THE SOWER.
Brethren, the sower's task is done. The seed is in its Winter bed. Now let the dark-brown mould be spread, To hide it from the sun, And leave it to the kindly care Of the still earth and brooding air. As when the mother, from her breast, Lays the hushed babe apart to rest, And shades its eyes, and waits to see How sweet its waking smile will be. The tempest now may smite, the sleet All night on the drowned furrow beat, And winds that from the cloudy hold Of winter, breathe the bitter cold, Stiffen to stone the yellow-mould, Yet safe shall lie the wheat; Till, out of heaven's unmeasured blue, Shall walk again the genial year, To wake with warmth, and nurse with dew, The germs we lay to slumber here. O blessed harvest yet to be! Abide thou with the love that keeps, In its warm bosom tenderly, The life which wakes, and that which sleeps. The love that leads the willing spheres Along the unending track of years, And watches o'er the sparrow's nest, Shall brood above thy winter rest, And raise thee from the dust, to hold Light whisperings with the winds of May; And fill thy spikes with living gold, From Summer's yellow ray. Then, as thy garners give thee forth, On what glad errands shalt thou go, Wherever, o'er the waiting earth, Roads wind, and rivers flow! The ancient East shall welcome thee To mighty marts beyond the sea; And they who dwell where palm-groves sound To summer winds the whole year round, Shall watch, in gladness, from the shore, The sails that bring thy glistening store.
* * * * *
343. THE PLANTING OF THE APPLE-TREE.
Come, let us plant the apple-tree! Cleave the tough greensward with the spade; Wide let its hollow bed be made; There gently lay the roots, and there Sift the dark mould with kindly care, And press it o'er them tenderly, As, round the sleeping infant's feet, We softly fold the cradle-sheet: So plant we the apple-tree.
What plant we in the apple-tree? Buds, which the breath of summer days Shall lengthen into leafy sprays; Boughs, where the thrush with crimson breast Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest. We plant upon the sunny lea A shadow for the noontide hour, A shelter from the summer shower, When we plant the apple-tree.
What plant we in the apple-tree? Sweets for a hundred flowery springs, To load the May-wind's restless wings, When, from the orchard-row, he pours Its fragrance through our open doors; A world of blossoms for the bee; Flowers for the sick girl's silent room; For the glad infant, sprigs of bloom, We plant with the apple-tree.
What plant we in the apple-tree? Fruits that shall swell in sunny June, And redden in the August noon, And drop as gentle airs come by That fan the blue September sky; While children, wild with noisy glee, Shall scent their fragrance as they pass, And search for them the tufted grass At the foot of the apple-tree.
And when above this apple-tree The winter stars are quivering bright, And winds go howling through the night, Girls, whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth, Shall peel its fruit by cottage-hearth, And guests in prouder homes shall see, Heaped with the orange and the grape, As fair as they in tint and shape, The fruit of the apple-tree.
The fruitage of this apple-tree, Winds, and our flag of stripe and star, Shall bear to coasts that lie afar, Where men shall wonder at the view, And ask in what fair groves they grew; And they who roam beyond the sea, Shall look, and think of childhood's day, And long hours passed in summer play In the shade of the apple-tree.
Each year shall give this apple-tree A broader flush of roseate bloom, A deeper maze of verdurous gloom, And loosen, when the frost-clouds lower, The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower; The years shall come and pass, but we Shall hear no longer, where we lie, The summer's songs, the autumn's sigh, In the boughs of the apple-tree.
And time shall waste this apple tree. Oh, when its aged branches throw Thin shadows on the sward below, Shall fraud and force and iron-will Oppress the weak and helpless still? What shall the tasks of mercy be, Amid the toils, the strifes, the tears Of those who live when length of years Is wasting this apple-tree?
"Who planted this old apple-tree?" The children of that distant day Thus to some aged man shall say; And gazing on its mossy stem, The gray-haired man shall answer them: "A poet of the land was he. Born in the rude, but good, old times; 'Tis said he made some quaint old rhymes On planting the apple-tree."
* * * * *
Maria Brooks, 1795-1845. (Manual, p. 523.)
The bard has sung, God never formed a soul Without its own peculiar mate, to meet Its wandering half, when ripe to crown the whole Bright plan of bliss, most heavenly, most complete!
But thousand evil things there are that hate To look on happiness: these hurt, impede, And, leagued with time, space, circumstance, and fate, Keep kindred heart from heart, to pine, and pant, and bleed.
And as the dove to far Palmyra flying, From where her native founts of Antioch beam, Weary, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing, Lights sadly at the desert's bitter stream;
So, many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring, Love's pure, congenial spring unfound, unquaffed, Suffers, recoils, then thirsty and despairing Of what it would, descends, and sips the nearest draught.
* * * * *
Joseph Rodman Drake, 1795-1820. (Manual, p. 517.)
From "The Culprit Fay."
345. THE FAY'S DEPARTURE.
* * * * *
The moon looks down on old Crow-nest, She mellows the shades, on his shaggy breast, And seems his huge grey form to throw In a silver cone on the wave below; His sides are broken by spots of shade, By the walnut bough and the cedar made, And through their clustering branches dark Glimmers and dies the fire-fly's spark— Like starry twinkles that momently break, Through the rifts of the gathering tempest's rack.
The stars are on the moving stream, And fling, as its ripples gently flow, A burnished length of wavy beam In an eel-like, spiral line below; The winds are whist, and the owl is still, The bat in the shelvy rock is hid. And naught is heard on the lonely hill But the cricket's chirp, and the answer shrill Of the gauze-winged katy-did; And the plaint of the wailing whip-poor-will, Who mourns unseen, and ceaseless sings, Ever a note of wail and woe, Till morning spreads her rosy wings, And earth and sky in her glances grow.
The moth-fly, as he shot in air, Crept under the leaf, and hid her there; The katy-did forgot its lay, The prowling gnat fled fast away, The fell mosquito checked his drone And folded his wings till the Fay was gone, And the wily beetle dropped his head, And fell on the ground as if he were dead; They crouched them close in the darksome shade, They quaked all o'er with awe and fear, For they had felt the blue-bent blade, And writhed at the prick of the elfin spear; Many a time on a summer's night. When the sky was clear, and the moon was bright, They had been roused from the haunted ground, By the yelp and bay of the fairy hound; They had heard the tiny bugle-horn, They had heard the twang of the maize-silk string, When the vine-twig bows were tightly drawn, And the nettle shaft through air was borne, Feathered with down of the hum-bird's wing. And now they deemed the courier-ouphe, Some hunter sprite of the elfin ground; And they watched till they saw him mount the roof That canopies the world around; Then glad they left their covert lair, And freaked about in the midnight air.
* * * * *
Fitz-Greene Halleck, 1795-1869. (Manual, p. 515.)
346. MARCO BOZZARIS.
At midnight, in his guarded tent, The Turk was dreaming of the hour When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent, Should tremble at his power; In dreams, through camp and court he bore The trophies of a conqueror; In dreams his song of triumph heard; Then wore his monarch's signet ring: Then pressed that monarch's throne—a king; As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing, As Eden's garden bird.
At midnight, in the forest shades, Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band, True as the steel of their tried blades, Heroes in heart and hand. There had the Persian thousands stood, There had the glad earth drunk their blood On old Platoea's day; And now there breathed that haunted air The sons of sires that conquer'd there, With arm to strike and soul to dare, As quick, as far as they.
An hour pass'd on—the Turk awoke; That bright dream was his last; He woke to hear his sentries shriek, "To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!" He woke—to die, midst flame, and smoke, And shout, and groan, and sabre-stroke, And death-shots, falling thick and fast As lightnings from the mountain-cloud; And heard, with voice as trumpet loud, Bozzaris cheer his band: "Strike—till the last arm'd foe expires; Strike—for your altars and your fires; Strike—for the green graves of your sires: God, and your native land!"
They fought—like brave men, long and well; They piled that ground with Moslem slain; They conquer'd—but Bozzaris fell, Bleeding at every vein. His few surviving comrades saw— His smile when rang their proud hurrah, And the red field was won: Then saw in death his eyelids close Calmly, as to a night's repose Like flowers at set of sun.
Come to the bridal chamber, Death! Come to the mother's, when she feels, For the first time, her first-born's breath; Come when the blessed seals That close the pestilence, are broke, And crowded cities wail its stroke; Come in consumption's ghastly form, The earthquake shock, the ocean storm; Come when the heart beats high and warm, With banquet-song, and dance, and wine; And thou art terrible: the tear, The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier, And all we know, or dream, or fear, Of agony, are thine.