This dear little plant that springs from our soil, When its three little leaves are extended, Betokens that each for the other should toil, And ourselves by ourselves be befriended,— And still through the bog, through the brake, through the mireland, From one root should branch like the shamrock of Ireland— The sweet little shamrock, the dear little shamrock, The sweet little, green little shamrock of Ireland!
[Footnote 41: By Andrew Cherry, an Irish poet (1762-1812).]
III. MY HEART'S IN THE HIGHLANDS
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer, Chasing the wild deer and following the roe— My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, The birthplace of valor, the country of worth; Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands forever I love.
Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow; Farewell to the straths and green valleys below; Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods; Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.
My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here; My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer, Chasing the wild deer and following the roe— My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.
[Footnote 42: By Robert Burns, a famous Scottish poet (1759-1796).]
IV. THE FATHERLAND
Where is the true man's fatherland? Is it where he by chance is born? Doth not the yearning spirit scorn In such scant borders to be spanned? Oh, yes! his fatherland must be As the blue heaven wide and free!
Is it alone where freedom is, Where God is God, and man is man? Doth he not claim a broader span For the soul's love of home than this? Oh, yes! his fatherland must be As the blue heaven wide and free!
Where'er a human heart doth wear Joy's myrtle wreath or sorrow's gyves, Where'er a human spirit strives After a life more true and fair, There is the true man's birthplace grand, His is a world-wide fatherland!
Where'er a single slave doth pine, Where'er one man may help another,— Thank God for such a birthright, brother,— That spot of earth is thine and mine! There is the true man's birthplace grand, His is a world-wide fatherland!
[Footnote 43: By James Russell Lowell.]
But where to find that happiest spot below, Who can direct when all pretend to know? The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own— Extols the treasures of his stormy seas, And his long nights of revelry and ease; The naked negro, panting at the line, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam, His first, best country, ever is at home. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare, And estimate the blessings which they share, Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find An equal portion dealt to all mankind; As different good, by art or nature given, To different nations makes their blessing even.
[Footnote 44: By Oliver Goldsmith.]
EXPRESSION: Read all of these poems silently with a view towards sympathizing with the feelings which they express. Now read each one separately, and compare them, one with another. What is the leading sentiment inculcated by each? Which poem appeals the most strongly to your own emotions?
WORD STUDY: Caledonia, shamrock, brake, Erin, gyves, yearning, frigid, tepid, patriot.
THE AGE OF COAL
Come with me, in fancy, back to those early ages of the world, thousands, yes millions, of years ago. Stand with me on some low ancient hill, which overlooks the flat and swampy lands that are to become the American continent.
Few heights are yet in sight. The future Rocky Mountains lie still beneath the surface of the sea. The Alleghanies are not yet heaved up above the level surface of the ground, for over them are spread the boggy lands and thick forests of future coal fields. The Mississippi River is not yet in existence, or if in existence, is but an unimportant little stream.
Below us, as we stand, we can see a broad and sluggish body of water, in places widening into shallow lakes. On either side of this stream, vast forests extend in every direction as far as the horizon, bounded on one side by the distant ocean, clothing each hilly rise, and sending islets of matted trees and shrubs floating down the waters.
Strange forests these are to us. No oaks, no elms, no beeches, no birches, no palms, nor many colored wild flowers are there. The deciduous plants so common in our modern forests are nowhere found; but enormous club mosses are seen, as well as splendid pines and an abundance of ancient trees with waving, frondlike leaves. Here also are graceful tree ferns and countless ferns of lower growth filling up all gaps.
No wild quadrupeds are yet in existence, and the silent forests are enlivened only by the stirring of the breeze among the trees or the occasional hum of monstrous insects. But upon the margin of yonder stream a huge four-footed creature creeps slowly along. He looks much like a gigantic salamander, and his broad, soft feet make deep impressions in the yielding mud.
No sunshine but only a gleam of light can creep through the misty atmosphere. The earth seems clothed in a garment of clouds, and the air is positively reeking with damp warmth, like the air of a hothouse. This explains the luxuriant growth of foliage.
Could we thus stand upon the hilltops and keep watch through the long coal building ages, we should see generation after generation of forest trees and underwoods living, withering, dying, falling to earth. Slowly a layer of dead and decaying vegetation thus collects, over which the forest flourishes still—tree for tree, and shrub for shrub, springing up in the place of each one that dies.
Then, after a very long time, through the working of mighty underground forces, the broad lands sink a little way—perhaps only a few feet—and the ocean tide rushes in, overwhelming the forests, trees and plants and living creatures, in one dire desolation.—No, not dire, for the ruin is not objectless or needless. It is all a part of the wonderful preparation for the life of man on earth.
Under the waves lie the overwhelmed forests—prostrate trunks and broken stumps in countless numbers overspreading the gathered vegetable remains of centuries before. Upon these the sea builds a protective covering of sand or mud, more or less thick. Here sea creatures come to live, fishes swim hungrily to and fro, and shellfishes die in the mud which, by and by, is to become firm rock with stony animal remains embedded in it.
After a while the land rises again to its former position. There are bare, sandy flats as before, but they do not remain bare. Lichens and hardier plants find a home. The light spores of the ancient forest trees take root and grow, and luxuriant forests, like those of old, spring again into being. Upon river and lake bottoms, and over the low damp lands, rich layers of decaying vegetation again collect. Then once more the land sinks and the ocean tide pours in; and another sandy or muddy stratum is built up on the overflowed lands. Thus the second layer of forest growth is buried like the first, and both lie quietly through the long ages following, hidden from sight, slowly changing in their substance from wood to shining coal.
* * * * *
Thus time after time, the land rose and sank, rose and sank, again and again. Not the whole continent is believed to have risen or sunk at the same time; but here at one period, there at another period, the movements probably went on.
The greater part of the vegetable mass decayed slowly; but when the final ruin of the forest came, whole trunks were snapped off close to the roots and flung down. These are now found in numbers on the tops of the coal layers, the barks being flattened and changed to shining black coal.
How wonderful the tale of those ancient days told to us by these buried forests!
[Footnote 45: By Agnes Giberne, an English writer on scientific subjects.]
SOMETHING ABOUT THE MOON
I am going to say a few words about the moon; but there are many matters relating to her of great interest which I must leave untouched, for the simple reason that there is not room to speak of them in a single paper.
Thus the moon's changes of shape from the horned moon to the half, and thence to the full moon, with the following changes from full to half, and so to the horned form again, are well worth studying; but I should want all the space I am going to occupy, merely to explain properly those changes alone.
So a study of the way in which the moon rules the tides would, I am sure, interest every thoughtful reader; but there is not room for it here.
Let us now turn to consider the moon; not as the light which makes our nights beautiful, nor as the body which governs the mighty ocean in its tidal sway, but as another world,—the companion planet of the earth.
It has always been a matter not only of the deepest curiosity, but of the greatest scientific import, whether other planets, and particularly our own satellite, are inhabited or exhibit any traces whatever of animal or vegetable life.
One or two astronomers have claimed the discovery of vegetation on the moon's surface by reason of the periodic appearance of a greenish tint; but as the power of the telescope can bring the moon to within only about a hundred and twenty miles of us, these alleged appearances cannot be satisfactorily verified.
The moon is a globe, two thousand one hundred and sixty-five miles in diameter; very much less, therefore, than our earth, which has a diameter of about seven thousand nine hundred and twenty miles.
Thus the moon's surface is less than one thirteenth of the earth's. Instead of two hundred millions of square miles as the earth has, the moon has only about fourteen millions of square miles, or about the same surface as North and South America together, without the great American Islands of the Arctic regions.
The volume of the earth exceeds that of the moon more than forty-nine times. But the moon's substance is somewhat lighter. Thus the mass, or quantity of matter in the moon, instead of being a forty-ninth part of the earth's, is about an eighty-first part.
This small companion world travels like our own earth around the sun, at a distance of ninety-three millions of miles. The path of the moon around the sun is, in fact, so nearly the same as that of the earth that it would be almost impossible to distinguish one from the other, if they were both drawn on a sheet of paper a foot or so in diameter.
You may perhaps be surprised to find me thus saying that the moon travels round the sun, when you have been accustomed to hear that the moon travels round the earth. In reality, however, it is round the sun the moon travels, though certainly the moon and the earth circle around each other.
The distance of the moon from the earth is not always the same; but the average, or mean distance, amounts to about two hundred and thirty-eight thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight miles. This is the distance between the centers of the two globes. With this distance separating them, the companion worlds—the earth and the moon—circle round each other, as they both travel round the central sun.
But now you will be curious to learn whether our companion planet, the moon, really presents the appearance of a world, when studied with a powerful telescope.
If we judged the moon in this way, we should say that she is not only not inhabited by living creatures, but that she could not possibly be inhabited. What is it that makes our earth a fit abode for us who live upon it? Her surface is divided into land and water. We live on the land; but without the water we should perish.
Were there no water, there would be no clouds, no rain, no snow, no rivers, brooks, or other streams. Without these, there could be no vegetable life; and without vegetable life, there could be no animal life, even if animals themselves could live without water.
Yet again, the earth's globe is enwrapped in an atmosphere,—the air we breathe. Without this air, neither animals nor vegetables could live. I might go further and show other features of the earth, which we are at present justified in regarding as essential to the mere existence, and still more to the comfort, of creatures living upon the earth.
Now, before the telescope was invented, many astronomers believed that there was water on the moon, and probably air also. But as soon as Galileo examined the moon with his largest telescope (and a very weak telescope it was), he found that whatever the dark parts of the moon may be, they certainly are not seas.
More and more powerful telescopes have since been turned on the moon. It has been shown that there are not only no seas, but no rivers, pools, lakes, or other water surfaces. No clouds are ever seen to gather over any part of the moon's surface. In fact, nothing has ever yet been seen on the moon which suggests in the slightest degree the existence of water on her surface, or even that water could at present possibly exist; and, of course, without water it is safe to infer there could be neither vegetable nor animal existence.
It would seem, then, that apart from the absence of air on the moon, there is such an entire absence of water that no creatures now living on the earth could possibly exist upon the moon. Certainly man could not exist there, nor could animals belonging to any except the lowest orders of animal life.
[Footnote 46: By Richard A. Proctor, a noted English astronomer (1837-1888).]
THE COMING OF THE BIRDS
I know the trusty almanac Of the punctual coming-back, On their due days, of the birds. I marked them yestermorn, A flock of finches darting Beneath the crystal arch, Piping, as they flew, a march,— Belike the one they used in parting Last year from yon oak or larch; Dusky sparrows in a crowd, Diving, darting northward free, Suddenly betook them all, Every one to his hole in the wall, Or to his niche in the apple tree.
I greet with joy the choral trains Fresh from palms and Cuba's canes. Best gems of Nature's cabinet, With dews of tropic morning wet, Beloved of children, bards and Spring, O birds, your perfect virtues bring, Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight, Your manners for the heart's delight; Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof, Here weave your chamber weather-proof, Forgive our harms, and condescend To man, as to a lubber friend, And, generous, teach his awkward race Courage and probity and grace!
[Footnote 47: By Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American poet and philosopher (1803-1882).]
THE RETURN OF THE BIRDS
The coming and going of the birds is more or less a mystery and a surprise. We go out in the morning, and no thrush or finch is to be heard; we go out again, and every tree and grove is musical; yet again, and all is silent. Who saw them come? Who saw them depart?
This pert little winter wren, for instance, darting in and out the fence, diving under the rubbish here and coming up yards away,—how does he manage with those little circular wings to compass degrees and zones, and arrive always in the nick of time? Last August I saw him in the remotest wilds of the Adirondacks, impatient and inquisitive as usual; a few weeks later, on the Potomac, I was greeted by the same hardy little busybody. Does he travel by easy stages from bush to bush and from wood to wood? or has that compact little body force and courage to brave the night and the upper air, and so achieve leagues at one pull?
And yonder bluebird, with the earth tinge on his breast and the sky tinge on his back,—did he come down out of heaven on that bright March morning when he told us so softly and plaintively that spring had come? Indeed, there is nothing in the return of the birds more curious and suggestive than in the first appearance, or rumors of the appearance, of this little bluecoat.
The bird at first seems a mere wandering voice in the air; one hears its call or carol on some bright March morning, but is uncertain of its source or direction; it falls like a drop of rain when no cloud is visible; one looks and listens, but to no purpose. The weather changes, perhaps a cold snap with snow comes on, and it may be a week before I hear the note again, and this time or the next perchance see the bird sitting on a stake in the fence, lifting his wing as he calls cheerily to his mate. Its notes now become daily more frequent; the birds multiply, and, flitting from point to point, call and warble more confidently and gleefully.
Not long after the bluebird comes the robin, sometimes in March, but in most of the Northern states April is the month of the robin. In large numbers they scour the field and groves. You hear their piping in the meadow, in the pasture, on the hillside. Walk in the woods, and the dry leaves rustle with the whir of their wings, the air is vocal with their cheery call. In excess of joy and vivacity, they run, leap, scream, chase each other through the air, diving and sweeping among the trees with perilous rapidity.
In that free, fascinating, half work and half play pursuit,—sugar making,—a pursuit which still lingers in many parts of New York, as in New England, the robin is one's constant companion. When the day is sunny and the ground bare, you meet him at all points and hear him at all hours. At sunset, on the tops of the tall maples, with look heavenward, and in a spirit of utter abandonment, he carols his simple strain. And sitting thus amid the stark, silent trees, above the wet, cold earth, with the chill of winter in the air, there is no fitter or sweeter songster in the whole round year. It is in keeping with the scene and the occasion. How round and genuine the notes are, and how eagerly our ears drink them in! The first utterance, and the spell of winter is thoroughly broken, and the remembrance of it afar off.
Another April bird, which makes her appearance sometimes earlier and sometimes later than Robin, and whose memory I fondly cherish, is the Phoebe bird, the pioneer of the fly catchers. In the inland fanning districts, I used to notice her, on some bright morning about Easter Day, proclaiming her arrival with much variety of motion and attitude, from the peak of the barn or hay shed. As yet, you may have heard only the plaintive, homesick note of the bluebird, or the faint trill of the song sparrow; and Phoebe's clear, vivacious assurance of her veritable bodily presence among us again is welcomed by all ears. At agreeable intervals in her lay she describes a circle, or an ellipse in the air, ostensibly prospecting for insects, but really, I suspect, as an artistic flourish, thrown in to make up in some way for the deficiency of her musical performance.
Another April comer, who arrives shortly after robin redbreast, with whom he associates both at this season and in the autumn, is the golden-winged woodpecker, alias "high-hole," alias "flicker," alias "yarup." He is an old favorite of my boyhood, and his note to me means very much. He announces his arrival by a long, loud call, repeated from the dry branch of some tree, or a stake in the fence,—a thoroughly melodious April sound. I think how Solomon finished that beautiful climax on spring, "And the voice of the turtle is heard in the land," and see that a description of spring in this farming country, to be equally characteristic, should culminate in like manner, "And the call of the high-hole comes up from the wood."
The song sparrow, that universal favorite and firstling of the spring, comes before April, and its simple strain gladdens all hearts.
May is the month of the swallows and the orioles. There are many other distinguished arrivals, indeed, nine tenths of the birds are here by the last week in May, yet the swallows and orioles are the most conspicuous. The bright plumage of the latter seems really like an arrival from the tropics. I see them flash through the blossoming trees, and all the forenoon hear their incessant warbling and wooing. The swallows dive and chatter about the barn, or squeak and build beneath the eaves; the partridge drums in the fresh sprouting woods; the long, tender note of the meadow lark comes up from the meadow; and at sunset, from every marsh and pond come the ten thousand voices of the hylas. May is the transition month, and exists to connect April and June, the root with the flower.
With June the cup is full, our hearts are satisfied, there is no more to be desired. The perfection of the season, among other things, has brought the perfection of the song and plumage of the birds. The master artists are all here, and the expectations excited by the robin and the song sparrow are fully justified. The thrushes have all come; and I sit down upon the first rock, with hands full of the pink azalea, to listen. In the meadows the bobolink is in all his glory; in the high pastures the field sparrow sings his breezy vesper hymn; and the woods are unfolding to the music of the thrushes.
[Footnote 48: By John Burroughs.]
EXPRESSION: Read again the four descriptive selections beginning on page 179. Observe the wide difference in style of composition. Of the three prose extracts, which is the most interesting to you? Give reasons why this is so. Which passages require the most animation in reading? Read these passages so that those who are listening to you may fully appreciate their meaning.
THE POET AND THE BIRD
I. THE SONG OF THE LARK
On a pleasant evening in late summer the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife, Mary Shelley, were walking near the city of Leghorn in Italy. The sky was cloudless, the air was soft and balmy, and the earth seemed hushed into a restful stillness. The green lane along which they were walking was bordered by myrtle hedges, where crickets were softly chirping and fireflies were already beginning to light their lamps. From the fields beyond the hedges the grateful smell of new-mown hay was wafted, while in the hazy distance the church towers of the city glowed yellow in the last rays of the sun, and the gray-green sea rippled softly in the fading light of day.
Suddenly, from somewhere above them, a burst of music fell upon their ears. It receded upward, but swelled into an ecstatic harmony, with fluttering intervals and melodious swervings such as no musician's art can imitate.
"What is that?" asked the poet, as the song seemed to die away in the blue vault of heaven.
"It is a skylark," answered his wife.
"Nay," said the poet, his face all aglow with the joy of the moment; "no mere bird ever poured forth such strains of music as that. I think, rather, that it is some blithe spirit embodied as a bird."
"Let us imagine that it is so," said Mary. "But, hearken. It is singing again, and soaring as it sings."
"Yes, and I can see it, too, like a flake of gold against the pale purple of the sky. It is so high that it soars in the bright rays of the sun, while we below are in the twilight shade. And now it is descending again, and the air is filled with its song. Hark to the rain of melody which it showers down upon us."
They listened enraptured, while the bird poured forth its flood of song. When at length it ceased, and the two walked home in the deepening twilight, the poet said:—
"We shall never know just what it was that sang so gloriously. But, Mary, what do you think is most like it?"
"A poet," she answered. "There is nothing so like it as a poet wrapt in his own sweet thoughts and singing till the world is made to sing with him for very joy."
"And I," said he, "would compare it to a beautiful maiden singing for love in some high palace tower, while all who hear her are bewitched by the enchanting melody."
"And I," said she, "would compare it to a red, red rose sitting among its green leaves and giving its sweet perfumes to the summer breezes."
"You speak well, Mary," said he; "but let me make one other comparison. Is it not like a glowworm lying unseen amid the grass and flowers, and all through the night casting a mellow radiance over them and filling them with divine beauty?"
"I do not like the comparison so well," was the answer. "Yet, after all, there is nothing so like it as a poet—as yourself, for instance."
"No poet ever had its skill, because no poet was ever so free from care," said Shelley, sadly. "It is like an unbodied joy floating unrestrained whithersoever it will. Ah, Mary, if I had but half the gladness that this bird or spirit must know, I would write such poetry as would bewitch the world, and all men would listen, entranced, to my song."
That night the poet could not sleep for thinking of the skylark's song. The next day he sat alone in his study, putting into harmonious words the thoughts that filled his mind. In the evening he read to Mary a new poem, entitled "To a Skylark." It was full of the melody inspired by the song of the bird. Its very meter suggested the joyous flight, the fluttering pauses, the melodious swervings, the heavenward ascent of the bird. No poem has ever been written that is fuller of beautiful images and sweet and joyous harmonies.
Have you ever listened to the song of a bird and tried to attune your own thoughts to its unrestrained and untaught melodies? There are no true skylarks in America, and therefore you may never be able to repeat the experience of the poet or fully to appreciate the "harmonious madness" of his matchless poem; for no other bird is so literally the embodiment of song as the European skylark.
* * * * *
But now let us read Shelley's inimitable poem.
II. TO A SKYLARK
Hail to thee, blithe spirit! Bird thou never wert, That from heaven, or near it, Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher From the earth thou springest Like a cloud of fire; The blue deep thou wingest, And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
In the golden lightning Of the sunken sun, O'er which clouds are bright'ning, Thou dost float and run, Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even Melts around thy flight; Like a star of heaven, In the broad daylight Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight.
Keen as are the arrows Of that silver sphere, Whose intense lamp narrows In the white dawn clear, Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
All the earth and air With thy voice is loud, As, when night is bare, From one lonely cloud The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.
What thou art we know not; What is most like thee? From rainbow clouds there flow not Drops so bright to see, As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
Like a poet hidden In the light of thought, Singing hymns unbidden, Till the world is wrought To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not;
Like a highborn maiden In a palace tower, Soothing her love-laden Soul in secret hour With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower;
Like a glowworm golden In a dell of dew, Scattering unbeholden Its aerial hue Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view;
Like a rose embowered In its own green leaves, By warm winds deflowered, Till the scent it gives Make faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves.
Sound of vernal showers On the twinkling grass, Rain-awakened flowers, All that ever was Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.
Teach us, sprite or bird, What sweet thoughts are thine: I have never heard Praise of love or wine That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
Chorus Hymeneal, Or triumphal chaunt, Matched with thine would be all But an empty vaunt, A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
What objects are the fountains Of thy happy strain? What fields, or waves, or mountains? What shapes of sky or plain? What love of thine own kind? What ignorance of pain?
With thy clear keen joyance Languor cannot be: Shadow of annoyance Never came near thee: Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
Waking or asleep, Thou of death must deem Things more true and deep Than we mortals dream, Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
We look before and after, And pine for what is not; Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught: Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
Yet if we could scorn Hate, and pride, and fear; If we were things born Not to shed a tear, I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
Better than all measures Of delightful sound, Better than all treasures That in books are found, Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
Teach me half the gladness That thy brain must know, Such harmonious madness From thy lips would flow, The world should listen then, as I am listening now.
HARK, HARK! THE LARK
Hark, hark! The lark at Heaven's gate sings, And Phoebus 'gins arise, His steeds to water at those springs On chaliced flowers that lies; And winking Mary-buds begin To ope their golden eyes; With everything that pretty is, My lady sweet, arise; Arise, arise!
[Footnote 49: From "Cymbeline," by William Shakespeare.]
EXPRESSION: Read Shelley's poem with care, trying to understand and interpret the poet's enthusiasm as he watched the flight of the lark. Point out the five passages in the poem which seem the most striking or the most beautiful. Memorize Shakespeare's song and repeat it in a pleasing manner. Point out any peculiarities you may notice.
ECHOES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
I. PATRICK HENRY'S FAMOUS SPEECH
Mr. President, it is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that lamp is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And, judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry, for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the house?
Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters, and darken our land.
Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation,—the last arguments to which kings resort.
I ask, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.
And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable, but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find, which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.
Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.
Our petitions have been slighted, our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult, our supplications have been disregarded, and we have been spurned with contempt from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.
If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate these inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained,—we must fight. I repeat it, sir, we must fight. An appeal to arms, and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us.
They tell us, sir, that we are weak,—unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?
Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.
Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest.
There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. The war is inevitable; and let it come!—I repeat it, sir, let it come. It is vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, peace! but there is no peace. The war is actually begun.
The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but, as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
[Footnote 50: Before the Virginia Convention, March 25, 1775.]
II. MARION'S MEN
We follow where the Swamp Fox guides, His friends and merry men are we, And when the troop of Tarleton rides, We burrow in the cypress tree.
The turfy hummock is our bed, Our home is in the red deer's den, Our roof, the treetop overhead, For we are wild and hunted men.
We fly by day and shun its light, But, prompt to strike the sudden blow, We mount and start with early night, And through the forest track our foe.
And soon he hears our chargers leap, The flashing saber blinds his eyes, And, ere he drives away his sleep And rushes from his camp, he dies.
Free bridle bit, good gallant steed, That will not ask a kind caress, To swim the Santee at our need, When on his heels the foemen press,—
The true heart and the ready hand, The spirit stubborn to be free, The trusted bore, the smiting brand,— And we are Marion's men, you see.
Now light the fire and cook the meal, The last perhaps that we shall taste; I hear the Swamp Fox round us steal, And that's a sign we move in haste.
He whistles to the scouts, and hark! You hear his order calm and low, Come, wave your torch across the dark, And let us see the boys that go.
Now pile the brush and roll the log— Hard pillow, but a soldier's head That's half the time in brake and bog Must never think of softer bed.
The owl is hooting to the night, The cooter crawling o'er the bank, And in that pond the flashing light Tells where the alligator sank.
* * * * *
What! 'tis the signal! start so soon? And through the Santee swamps so deep, Without the aid of friendly moon, And we, Heaven help us! half asleep?
But courage, comrades! Marion leads, The Swamp Fox takes us out to-night; So clear your swords and spur your steeds, There's goodly chance, I think, of fight.
We follow where the Swamp Fox guides, We leave the swamp and cypress tree, Our spurs are in our coursers' sides, And ready for the strife are we.
The Tory's camp is now in sight, And there he cowers within his den; He hears our shouts, he dreads the fight, He fears, and flies from Marion's men.
[Footnote 51: By William Gilmore Simms, an American author (1806-1870).]
III. IN MEMORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
How, my fellow-citizens, shall I single to your grateful hearts his preeminent worth? Where shall I begin in opening to your view a character throughout sublime? Shall I speak of his warlike achievements, all springing from obedience to his country's will—all directed to his country's good?
Will you go with me to the banks of the Monongahela, to see our youthful Washington supporting, in the dismal hour of Indian victory, the ill-fated Braddock and saving, by his judgment and his valor, the remains of a defeated army, pressed by the conquering savage foe? Or when, oppressed America nobly resolving to risk her all in defense of her violated right, he was elevated by the unanimous vote of Congress to the command of her armies?
Will you follow him to the high grounds of Boston, where to an undisciplined, courageous, and virtuous yeomanry his presence gave the stability of system and infused the invincibility of love of country? Or shall I carry you to the painful scenes of Long Island, York Island, and New Jersey, when, combating superior and gallant armies, aided by powerful fleets and led by chiefs high in the roll of fame, he stood the bulwark of our safety, undismayed by disasters, unchanged by change of fortune?
Or will you view him in the precarious fields of Trenton, where deep gloom, unnerving every arm, reigned triumphant through our thinned, worn-down, unaided ranks, to himself unknown? Dreadful was the night. It was about this time of winter; the storm raged; the Delaware, rolling furiously with floating ice, forbade the approach of man.
Washington, self-collected, viewed the tremendous scene. His country called; unappalled by surrounding dangers, he passed to the hostile shore; he fought, he conquered. The morning sun cheered the American world. Our country rose on the event, and her dauntless chief, pursuing his blow, completed in the lawns of Princeton what his vast soul had conceived on the shores of the Delaware.
Thence to the strong grounds of Morristown he led his small but gallant band; and through an eventful winter, by the high effort of his genius, whose matchless force was measurable only by the growth of difficulties, he held in check formidable hostile legions, conducted by a chief experienced in the arts of war, and famed for his valor on the ever memorable Heights of Abraham, where fell Wolfe, Montcalm, and since our much-lamented Montgomery, all covered with glory. In this fortunate interval, produced by his masterly conduct, our fathers, ourselves, animated by his resistless example, rallied around our country's standard, and continued to follow her beloved chief through the various and trying scenes to which the destinies of our union led.
Who is there that has forgotten the vales of Brandywine, the fields of Germantown, or the plains of Monmouth? Everywhere present, wants of every kind obstructing, numerous and valiant armies encountering, himself a host, he assuaged our sufferings, limited our privations, and upheld our tottering Republic. Shall I display to you the spread of the fire of his soul, by rehearsing the praises of the hero of Saratoga and his much-loved compeer of the Carolinas? No; our Washington wears not borrowed glory. To Gates, to Greene, he gave without reserve the applause due to their eminent merit; and long may the chiefs of Saratoga and of Eutaw receive the grateful respect of a grateful people.
Moving in his own orbit, he imparted heat and light to his most distant satellites; and combining the physical and moral force of all within his sphere, with irresistible weight, he took his course, commiserating folly, disdaining vice, dismaying treason, and invigorating despondency; until the auspicious hour arrived when united with the intrepid forces of a potent and magnanimous ally, he brought to submission the since conqueror of India; thus finishing his long career of military glory with a luster corresponding to his great name, and in this, his last act of war, affixing the seal of fate to our nation's birth....
First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere, uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was edifying to all around him, as were the effects of that example lasting.
To his equals he was condescending; to his inferiors, kind; and to the dear object of his affections, exemplarily tender. Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence, and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. His last scene comported with the whole tenor of his life. Although in extreme pain, not a sigh, not a groan, escaped him; and with undisturbed serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the man America has lost! Such was the man for whom our nation mourns!
[Footnote 52: By Henry Lee of Virginia. Extract from an oration delivered in the House of Representatives, 1799.]
THREE GREAT AMERICAN POEMS
One day when Dr. Peter Bryant of Cummington, Massachusetts, was looking through his writing desk, he found a small package of papers on which some verses were written. He recognized the neat, legible handwriting as that of his son, and he paused to open the papers and read. Presently, he called aloud to his wife, "Here, Sallie, just listen to this poem which Cullen has written!"
He began to read, and as he read, the proud mother listened with tears in her eyes. "Isn't that grand?" she cried. "I've always told you that Cullen would be a poet. And now just think what a pity it is that he must give up going to Yale College and settle down to the study of law!"
"Yes, wife," responded Dr. Bryant, "it is to be regretted. But people with small means cannot always educate their children as they wish. A lawyer is a better breadwinner than most poets are, and I am satisfied that our boy will be a successful lawyer."
"Of course he will," said Mrs. Bryant; "he will succeed at anything he may undertake. But that poem—why, Wordsworth never wrote anything half so grand or beautiful. What is the title?"
"Thanatopsis? I wonder what it means."
"It is from two Greek words, and means 'A View of Death.' I have half a notion to take the poem to Boston with me next winter. I want to show it to my friend Mr. Philips."
"Oh, do; and take some of Cullen's other poems with it. Perhaps he might think some of them good enough to publish."
Dr. Peter Bryant was at that time a member of the senate in the Massachusetts general assembly. When the time came for the meeting of the assembly he went up to Boston, and he did not forget to take several of his son's poems with him. The North American Review was a great magazine in those days, and Dr. Bryant was well acquainted with Mr. Philips, one of its editors. He called at the office of the Review, and not finding Mr. Philips, he left the package of manuscript with his name written upon it.
When Mr. Philips returned he found the package, and after reading the poems concluded that Dr. Bryant had written "Thanatopsis," and that the others were probably by his son Cullen.
"It is a remarkable poem—a remarkable poem," he said, as he showed it to his two fellow-editors. "We have never published anything better in the Review," he said, and he began to read it to them.
When he had finished, one of them, Richard Henry Dana, who was himself a poet, said doubtingly:
"Mr. Philips, you have been imposed upon. There is no person in America who can write a poem like that."
"Ah, but I know the man who wrote it," answered Mr. Philips. "He is in the state senate, and he isn't a man who would impose upon any person."
"Well, I must have a look at the man who can write such lines as those," said Mr. Dana.
He went to the statehouse, and to the senate chamber, and asked to see Senator Bryant. A tall, gray-bearded man was pointed out to him. Mr. Dana looked at him for a few minutes and then said to himself, "He has a fine head; but he is not the man who could write 'Thanatopsis'" So without speaking to him he returned to his office.
Mr. Philips, still full of enthusiasm, soon had an interview with Dr. Bryant, and learned the truth in regard to the authorship of the poem. It was printed in the next issue of the North American Review. It was the first great poem ever produced in America; it was the work of a young man not eighteen years of age, and it is without doubt the greatest poem ever written by one so young. But let us read it.
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 And 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 forever 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 mold.
Yet not to thine eternal resting place Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulcher. The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun—the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between— The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound Save his own dashings,—yet the dead are there; And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep,—the dead reign there alone. So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care Plod on, and each one as before will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments and shall come And make their bed with thee. As the long train Of ages glides away, the sons of men, The youth in life's fresh spring, and he who goes In the full strength of years, matron and maid, The speechless 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 the pale realms of shade, 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.
EXPRESSION: Observe that this poem is written in blank verse. In what respects does it differ from other forms of verse? Read it with great care, observing the marks of punctuation and giving to each passage the proper inflections and emphasis. Compare it with some other poems you have read.
One Sunday evening, in the summer of 1848, Edgar Allan Poe was visiting at the house of a friend in New York city. The day was warm, and the windows of the conservatory where he was sitting were thrown wide open to admit the breeze. Mr. Poe was very despondent because of many sorrows and disappointments, and he was plainly annoyed by the sound of some near-by church bells pealing the hour of worship.
"I have made an agreement with a publisher to write a poem for him," he said, "but I have no inspiration for such a task. What shall I do?"
His friend Mrs. Shew gave him an encouraging reply, and invited him to drink tea with her. Then she placed paper and ink before him and suggested that, if he would try to write, the required inspiration would come.
"No," he answered; "I so dislike the noise of bells to-night, I cannot write. I have no subject—I am exhausted."
Mrs. Shew then wrote at the top of the sheet of paper, The Bells, by E. A. Poe, and added a single line as a beginning:
"The bells, the little silver bells."
The poet accepted the suggestion, and after some effort finished the first stanza. Then Mrs. Shew wrote another line:
"The heavy iron bells."
This idea was also elaborated by Mr. Poe, who copied off the two stanzas and entitled them The Bells, by Mrs. M. L. Shew. He went home, pondering deeply upon the subject; the required inspiration was not long lacking; and in a few days the completed poem was ready to be submitted to the publisher.
Hear the sledges with the bells— Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight, Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rime, To the tintinnabulation that so musically swells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Hear the mellow wedding bells— Golden bells! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! Through the balmy air of night How they ring out their delight! From the molten-golden notes, And all in tune, What a liquid ditty floats To the turtledove that listens while she gloats On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells, What a gush of euphony voluminously wells! How it swells! How it dwells On the Future! how it tells Of the rapture that impels To the swinging and the ringing Of the bells, bells, bells— Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— To the riming and the chiming of the bells!
Hear the loud alarum bells— Brazen bells! What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells! In the startled ear of night How they scream out their affright! Too much horrified to speak, They can only shriek, shriek, Out of tune, In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire, In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire Leaping higher, higher, higher, With a desperate desire And a resolute endeavor Now—now to sit or never, By the side of the pale-faced moon. Oh, the bells, bells, bells, What a tale their terror tells Of despair! How they clang and crash and roar! What a horror they outpour On the bosom of the palpitating air! Yet the ear it fully knows, By the twanging And the clanging, How the danger ebbs and flows; Yet the ear distinctly tells, In the jangling And the wrangling, How the danger sinks and swells, By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells, Of the bells, Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells! In the clamor and the clangor of the bells.
Hear the tolling of the bells— Iron bells! What a world of solemn thought their monody compels! In the silence of the night, How we shiver with affright At the melancholy menace of their tone! For every sound that floats From the rust within their throats Is a groan. And the people—ah, the people— They that dwell up in the steeple, All alone, And who, tolling, tolling, tolling, In that muffled monotone, Feel a glory in so rolling On the human heart a stone: They are neither man nor woman; They are neither brute nor human; They are ghouls: And their king it is who tolls; And he rolls, rolls, rolls, Rolls A paean from the bells! And his merry bosom swells With the paean of the bells, And he dances and he yells, Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rime, To the paean of the bells— Of the bells: Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rime, To the throbbing of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells— To the sobbing of the bells; Keeping time, time, time, As he knells, knells, knells, In a happy Runic rime, To the rolling of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells,— To the tolling of the bells— Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells— To the moaning and the groaning of the bells!
In the early part of the nineteenth century Fitz-Greene Halleck was regarded as one of the greatest of American poets. He is now, however, remembered chiefly as the author of a single poem, "Marco Bozzaris," published in 1827. This poem has been described, perhaps justly, as "the best martial lyric in the English language."
It was written at a time when the people of Greece were fighting for their independence; and it celebrates the heroism of the young Greek patriot, Marco Bozzaris, who was killed while leading a desperate but successful night attack upon the Turks, August 20, 1823. As here presented, it is slightly abridged.
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's thousands stood, There had the glad earth drunk their blood On old Plataea's day; And now there breathed that haunted air The sons of sires who conquered there, With arm to strike and soul to dare, As quick, as far as they.
An hour passed 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 saber 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 armed 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 conquered—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.
* * * * *
Bozzaris! with the storied brave Greece nurtured in her glory's time, Rest thee—there is no prouder grave, Even in her own proud clime. She wore no funeral weeds for thee, Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume Like torn branch from death's leafless tree In sorrow's pomp and pageantry, The heartless luxury of the tomb; But she remembers thee as one Long-loved and for a season gone. For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed, Her marble wrought, her music breathed; For thee she rings the birthday bells; Of thee her babes' first lisping tells; For thine her evening prayer is said At palace couch and cottage-bed.... And she, the mother of thy boys, Though in her eye and faded cheek Is read the grief she will not speak, The memory of her buried joys, And even she who gave thee birth, Will, by their pilgrim-circled hearth, Talk of thy doom without a sigh; For thou art Freedom's now, and Fame's: One of the few, the immortal names, That were not born to die.
EXPRESSION: Talk with your teacher about these three poems, and the proper manner of reading each. Learn all that you can about their authors.
Think of the country for which the Indians fought! Who can blame them? As Philip looked down from his seat on Mount Hope and beheld the lovely scene which spread beneath at a summer sunset,—the distant hilltops blazing with gold, the slanting beams streaming across the waters, the broad plains, the island groups, the majestic forests,—could he be blamed, if his heart burned within him, as he beheld it all passing, by no tardy process, from beneath his control, into the hands of the stranger?
As the river chieftains—the lords of the waterfalls and the mountains—ranged this lovely valley, can it be wondered at, if they beheld with bitterness the forest disappearing beneath the settler's ax—the fishing places disturbed by his sawmills?
Can we not imagine the feelings, with which some strong-minded savage chief, who should have ascended the summit of the Sugarloaf Mountain, in company with a friendly settler, contemplating the progress already made by the white man and marking the gigantic strides with which he was advancing into the wilderness, should fold his arms, and say:—
"White man, there is an eternal war between me and thee. I quit not the land of my fathers, but with my life. In those woods where I bent my youthful bow, I will still hunt the deer; over yonder waters I will still glide unrestrained in my bark canoe; by those dashing waterfalls I will still lay up my winter's store of food; on these fertile meadows I will still plant my corn.
"Stranger! the land is mine. I understand not these paper rights. I gave not my consent, when, as thou sayest, these broad regions were purchased, for a few baubles, of my fathers. They could sell what was theirs; they could sell no more. How could my father sell that which the Great Spirit sent me into the world to live upon? He knew not what he did.
"The stranger came, a timid suppliant; he asked to lie down on the red man's bearskin, and warm himself at the red man's fire, and have a little piece of land to raise corn for his women and children. Now he is become strong and mighty and bold, and spreads out his parchment over the whole, and says, 'It is mine!'
"Stranger, there is no room for us both. The Great Spirit has not made us to live together. There is poison in the white man's cup; the white man's dog barks at the red man's heels.
"If I should leave the land of my fathers, whither shall I fly? Shall I go to the south, and dwell among the graves of the Pequots? Shall I wander to the west? The fierce Mohawk—the man-eater—is my foe. Shall I fly to the east? The great water is before me. No, stranger! Here have I lived, and here will I die; and if here thou abidest, there is eternal war between me and thee.
"Thou hast taught me thy arts of destruction; for that alone I thank thee. And now take heed to thy steps—the red man is thy foe.
"When thou goest forth by day, my bullet shall whistle past thee. When thou liest down by night, my knife shall be at thy throat. The noonday sun shall not discover thy enemy; and the darkness of midnight shall not protect thy rest. Thou shalt plant in terror, and I will reap in blood. Thou shalt sow the earth with corn, and I will strew it with ashes. Thou shalt go forth with the sickle, and I will follow after with the scalping knife. Thou shalt build, and I will burn—till the white man or the Indian perish from the land."
[Footnote 53: By Edward Everett, an American statesman and orator (1794-1865).]
EXPRESSION: This selection and also the selections on pages 202, 209, and 231 are fine examples of American oratory, such as was practiced by the statesmen and public speakers of the earlier years of our republic. Learn all that you can about Patrick Henry, Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, Theodore Parker, and other eminent orators. Before attempting to read this selection aloud, read it silently and try to understand every statement or allusion contained in it. Call to mind all that you have learned in your histories or elsewhere concerning the Indians and their treatment by the American colonists. Now read with energy and feeling each paragraph of this extract from Mr. Everett's oration. Try to make your hearers understand and appreciate the feelings which are expressed.
Do you know how empires find their end?
Yes. The great states eat up the little. As with fish, so with nations.
Come with me! Let us bring up the awful shadows of empires buried long ago, and learn a lesson from the tomb.
Come, old Assyria, with the Ninevitish dove upon thy emerald crown! What laid thee low?
Assyria answers: "I fell by my own injustice. Thereby Nineveh and Babylon came with me to the ground."
O queenly Persia, flame of the nations! Wherefore art thou so fallen? thou who trod the people under thee, bridged the Hellespont with ships, and poured thy temple-wasting millions on the western world?
Persia answers: "Because I trod the people under me, because I bridged the Hellespont with ships, and poured my temple-wasting millions on the western world, I fell by my own misdeeds!"
And thou, muselike Grecian queen, fairest of all thy classic sisterhood of states, enchanting yet the world with thy sweet witchery, speaking in art, and most seductive in song, why liest thou there with thy beauteous yet dishonored brow reposing on thy broken harp?
Greece answers: "I loved the loveliness of flesh, embalmed in Parian stone. I loved the loveliness of thought, and treasured that more than Parian speech. But the beauty of justice, the loveliness of love, I trod down to earth. Lo! therefore have I become as those barbarian states, and one of them."
O manly, majestic Rome, with thy sevenfold mural crown all broken at thy feet, why art thou here? 'Twas not injustice brought thee low, for thy great Book of Law is prefaced with these words, "Justice is the unchanging, everlasting will to give each man his right." It was not the saint's ideal. It was the hypocrite's pretense.
And Rome says: "I made iniquity my law! I trod the nations under me! Their wealth gilded my palaces, where now thou mayst see the fox and hear the owl. Wicked men were my cabinet counselors. The flatterer breathed his poison in my ear. Millions of bondmen wet the soil with tears and blood! Do you not hear it crying yet to God? Lo here have I my recompense, tormented with such downfalls as you see.
"Go back and tell the newborn child who sitteth on the Alleghanies, laying his either hand upon a tributary sea,—tell him there are rights which States must keep, or they shall suffer punishment. Tell him there is a God who hurls to earth the loftiest realm that breaks his just, eternal law. Warn the young empire, that he come not down, dim and dishonored, to my shameful tomb. Tell him that Justice is the unchanging, everlasting will, to give each man his right. I knew this law. I broke it. Bid him keep it, and be forever safe."
[Footnote 54: By Theodore Parker, an eminent American clergyman and author (1810-1860).]
WHO ARE BLESSED
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven....
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
[Footnote 55: From the Gospel of Matthew.]
LITTLE GEMS FROM THE OLDER POETS
I. THE NOBLE NATURE
It is not growing like a tree In bulk doth make man better be; Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sear. A lily of a day Is fairer far in May, Although it fall and die that night,— It was the plant and flower of light. In small proportions we just beauties see; And in short measures life may perfect be.
[Footnote 56: By Ben Jonson (1573-1637).]
II. A CONTENTED MIND
I weigh not fortune's frown or smile; I joy not much in earthly joys; I seek not state, I seek not style; I am not fond of fancy's toys; I rest so pleased with what I have, I wish no more, no more I crave.
I quake not at the thunder's crack; I tremble not at noise of war; I swound not at the news of wrack; I shrink not at a blazing star; I fear not loss, I hope not gain, I envy none, I none disdain.
I feign not friendship, where I hate; I fawn not on the great in show; I prize, I praise a mean estate— Neither too lofty nor too low; This, this is all my choice, my cheer— A mind content, a conscience clear.
[Footnote 57: By Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618).]
III. A HAPPY LIFE
How happy is he born and taught That serveth not another's will; Whose armor is his honest thought, And simple truth his utmost skill;
Whose passions not his masters are, Whose soul is still prepared for death, Not tied unto the world with care Of public fame, or private breath;
Who envies none that chance doth raise, Nor vice; who never understood How deepest wounds are given by praise; Nor rules of state, but rules of good.
This man is freed from servile bands Of hope to rise or fear to fall; Lord of himself, though not of lands, And having nothing, yet hath all.
[Footnote 58: By Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639).]
Happy the man, whose wish and care A few paternal acres bound, Content to breathe his native air In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, Whose flocks supply him with attire; Whose trees in summer yield him shade, In winter, fire.
Blest, who can unconcern'dly find Hours, days, and years slide soft away In health of body, peace of mind, Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease Together mixt, sweet recreation, And innocence, which most does please With meditation.
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown; Thus unlamented let me die; Steal from the world, and not a stone Tell where I lie.
[Footnote 59: By Alexander Pope (1688-1744).]
V. A WISH
Mine be a cot beside the hill; A beehive's hum shall soothe my ear; A willowy brook that turns a mill With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch Shall twitter from her clay-built nest; Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch, And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew; And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing In russet gown and apron blue.
The village church among the trees, Where first our marriage vows were given, With merry peals shall swell the breeze And point with taper spire to Heaven.
[Footnote 60: By Samuel Rogers (1763-1855).]
EXPRESSION: Which of these poems do you like best? Give reasons for your preference. What sentiment is emphasized by all of them? What other pleasant ideas of life are expressed? What mental pictures are called up by reading the fourth poem? the fifth? What traits of character are alluded to in the first poem? the second? Now read each poem aloud, giving to each line and each stanza the thought which was in the author's mind when he wrote it.
HOW KING ARTHUR GOT HIS NAME
One day at sunset, Snowbird, the young son of a king, came over the brow of a hill that stepped forward from a dark company of mountains and leaned over the shoreless sea which fills the West and drowns the North. All day he had been wandering alone, his mind heavy with wonder over many things. He had heard strange tales of late, tales about his heroic father and the royal clan, and how they were not like other men, but half divine. He had heard, too, of his own destiny,—that he also was to be a great king. What was Destiny, he wondered....
Then, as he wondered, he turned over and over in his mind all the names he could think of that he might choose for his own; for the time was come for him to put away the name of his childhood and to take on that by which he should be known among men.
He came over the brow of the hill, and out of the way of the mountain wind, and, being tired, lay down among the heather and stared across the gray wilderness of the sea. The sun set, and the invisible throwers of the nets trailed darkness across the waves and up the wild shores and over the faces of the cliffs. Stars climbed out of shadowy abysses, and the great chariots of the constellations rode from the West to the East and from the North to the South.
His eyes closed, ... but when he opened them again, he saw a great and kingly figure standing beside him. So great in stature, so splendid in kingly beauty, was the mysterious one who had so silently joined him, that he thought this must be one of the gods.
"Do you know me, my son?" said the kingly stranger.
The boy looked at him in awe and wonder, but unrecognizingly.
"Do you not know me, my son?" he heard again ... "for I am your father, Pendragon. But my home is yonder, and that is why I have come to you as a vision in a dream ..." and, as he spoke, he pointed to the constellation of the Arth, or Bear, which nightly prowls through the vast abysses of the polar sky.
When the boy turned his gaze from the great constellation which hung in the dark wilderness overhead, he saw that he was alone again. While he yet wondered in great awe at what he had seen and heard, he felt himself float like a mist and become like a cloud, rise beyond the brows of the hills, and ascend the invisible stairways of the sky....
It seemed to him thereafter that a swoon came over him, in which he passed beyond the far-off blazing fires of strange stars. At last, suddenly, he stood on the verge of Arth, Arth Uthyr, the Great Bear. There he saw, with the vision of immortal, not of mortal, eyes, a company of most noble and majestic figures seated at what he thought a circular abyss, but which had the semblance of a vast table. Each of these seven great knights or lordly kings had a star upon his forehead, and these were stars of the mighty constellation of the Bear which the boy had seen night after night from his home among the mountains by the sea.
It was with a burning throb at his heart that he recognized in the King of all these kings no other than himself.
While he looked, in amazement so great that he could hear the pulse of his heart, as in the silence of a wood one hears the tapping of a woodpecker, he saw this mighty phantom self rise till he stood towering over all there, and heard a voice as though an ocean rose and fell through the eternal silences.
"Comrades in God," it said, "the time is come when that which is great shall become small."
And when the voice was ended, the mighty figure faded in the blue darkness, and only a great star shone where the uplifted dragon helm had brushed the roof of heaven. One by one the white lords of the sky followed in his mysterious way, till once more were to be seen only the stars of the Bear.
The boy dreamed that he fell as a falling meteor, and that he floated over land and sea as a cloud, and then that he sank as mist upon the hills of his own land.
A noise of wind stirred in his ears. He rose stumblingly, and stood, staring around him. He glanced upward and saw the stars of the Great Bear in their slow march round the Pole.... Then he remembered.
He went slowly down the hill, his mind heavy with thought. When he was come to his own place, lo! all the fierce chivalry of the land came out to meet him; for the archdruid had foretold that the great King to be had received his mystic initiation among the holy silences of the hills.
"I am no more Snowbird, the child," the boy said, looking at them fearless and as though already King. "Henceforth I am Arth-Urthyr, for my place is in the Great Bear which we see yonder in the north."
So all there acclaimed him as Arthur, the wondrous one of the stars, the Great Bear.
"I am old," said his father, "and soon you shall be King, Arthur, my son. So ask now a great boon of me and it shall be granted to you."
Then Arthur remembered his dream.
"Father and King," he said, "when I am King after you, I shall make a new order of knights, who shall be pure as the Immortal Ones, and be tender as women, and simple as little children. But first I ask of you seven flawless knights to be of my chosen company. To-morrow let the wood wrights make for me a round table, such as that where we eat our roasted meats, but round and of a size whereat I and my chosen knights may sit at ease."
The king listened, and all there.
"So be it," said the king.
Then Arthur chose the seven flawless knights, and called them to him. "Ye are now Children of the Great Bear," he said, "and comrades and liegemen to me, Arthur, who shall be King of the West.
"And ye shall be known as the Knights of the Round Table. But no man shall make a mock of that name and live: and in the end that name shall be so great in the mouths and minds of men that they shall consider no glory of the world to be so great as to be the youngest and frailest of that knighthood."
And that is how Arthur, who three years later became King of the West, read the rune of the stars that are called the Great Bear, and took their name upon him, and from the strongest and purest and noblest of the land made Knighthood, such as the world had not seen, such as the world since has not seen.
[Footnote 61: A Gaelic legend, by Fiona Macleod.]
[Footnote 62: Pronounced Arth-Ur. In the ancient British language, Arth means Bear, and Urthyr, great, wondrous.]
EXPRESSION: Read this selection very carefully to get at the true meaning of each sentence and each thought. What peculiarities do you notice in the style of the language employed? Talk about King Arthur, and tell what you have learned elsewhere about him and his knights of the Round Table. In what respects does this legend differ from some other accounts of his boyhood? Now reread the selection, picturing in your mind the peculiarities of place and time.
ANTONY'S ORATION OVER CAESAR'S DEAD BODY
Antony. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answered it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest— For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they all, all honorable men— Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me; But Brutus says he was ambitious, And Brutus is an honorable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome, Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill; Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, And Brutus is an honorable man. You all did see, that on the Lupercal, I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, And, sure, he is an honorable man. I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause; What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him? O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason.—Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.
But yesterday the word of Caesar might Have stood against the world; now lies he there, And none so poor to do him reverence. O masters! If I were disposed to stir Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage, I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong, Who, you all know, are honorable men. I will not do them wrong; I rather choose To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you, Than I will wrong such honorable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar, I found it in his closet; 'tis his will. Let but the commons hear this testament,— Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,— And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds, And dip their napkins in his sacred blood; Yea, beg a hair of him for memory, And, dying, mention it within their wills, Bequeathing it as a rich legacy Unto their issue.
Citizen. We'll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
All. The will, the will! we will hear Caesar's will.
Ant. Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it; It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you. You are not wood, you are not stones, but men; And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar, It will inflame you, it will make you mad. 'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs; For, if you should, oh, what would come of it!
Cit. Read the will! we'll hear it, Antony! You shall read the will! Caesar's will!
Ant. Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile? I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it. I fear I wrong the honorable men Whose daggers have stabbed Caesar. I do fear it.
Cit. They were traitors! honorable men!
All. The will! the testament!
Ant. You will compel me, then, to read the will? Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar, And let me show you him that made the will. Shall I descend? And will you give me leave?
All. Come down.
2 Citizen. Descend. You shall have leave.
(Antony comes down from the pulpit.)
Ant. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. You all do know this mantle; I remember The first time ever Caesar put it on. 'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent, That day he overcame the Nervii. Look! in this place, ran Cassius's dagger through; See what a rent the envious Casca made; Through this, the well-beloved Brutus stabbed; And, as he plucked his cursed steel away, Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it, As rushing out of doors, to be resolved If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no; For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.— Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!—
This was the most unkindest cut of all; For, when the noble Caesar saw him stab, Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms, Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart; And, in his mantle muffling up his face, Even at the base of Pompey's statua, Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen! Then I, and you, and all of us fell down, Whilst bloody treason flourished over us. Oh, now you weep, and I perceive you feel The dint of pity; these are gracious drops. Kind souls, What! weep you when you but behold Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here, Here is himself, marred, as you see, with traitors.
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up To such a sudden flood of mutiny. They that have done this deed are honorable. What private griefs they have, alas! I know not, That made them do it; they are wise and honorable, And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts. I am no orator, as Brutus is, But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man, That love my friend; and that they know full well That gave me public leave to speak of him. For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, To stir men's blood: I only speak right on; I tell you that which you yourselves do know; Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor, poor dumb mouths, And bid them speak for me. But were I Brutus, And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue In every wound of Caesar that should move The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.
[Footnote 63: From "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare (1564-1616).]
SELECTIONS TO BE MEMORIZED
I. THE PRAYER PERFECT
Dear Lord! kind Lord! Gracious Lord! I pray Thou wilt look on all I love, Tenderly to-day! Weed their hearts of weariness; Scatter every care Down a wake of angel-wings, Winnowing the air.
Bring unto the sorrowing All release from pain; Let the lips of laughter Overflow again; And with all the needy Oh, divide, I pray, This vast treasure of content That is mine to-day!
[Footnote 64: From "Rhymes of Childhood," by James Whitcomb Riley, copyright, 1890. Used by special permission of the publishers, The Bobbs-Merrill Company.]
II. BE JUST AND FEAR NOT
Be just and fear not; Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's, Thy God's, and truth's.
[Footnote 65: By William Shakespeare.]
III. IF I CAN LIVE
If I can live To make some pale face brighter and to give A second luster to some tear-dimmed eye, Or e'en impart One throb of comfort to an aching heart, Or cheer some wayworn soul in passing by; If I can lend A strong hand to the falling, or defend The right against one single envious strain, My life, though bare, Perhaps, of much that seemeth dear and fair To us of earth, will not have been in vain. The purest joy, Most near to heaven, far from earth's alloy, Is bidding cloud give way to sun and shine; And 'twill be well If on that day of days the angels tell Of me, "She did her best for one of Thine."
[Footnote 66: Author unknown.]
IV. THE BUGLE SONG
The splendor falls on castle walls And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, dearer, farther going! O sweet and far from cliff and scar The horns of Elfland faintly blowing! Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying: Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O love, they die in yon rich sky, They faint on hill or field or river; Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow for ever and for ever. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
[Footnote 67: By Alfred Tennyson.]
V. THE NINETIETH PSALM
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Thou turns man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Thou carried them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom....
Oh, satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days....
Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
God of our fathers, known of old— Lord of our far-flung battle line— Beneath Whose awful Hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies— The captains and the kings depart— Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice, A humble and a contrite heart. God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away— On dune and headland sinks the fire— Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!