Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Their mirth and their enjoyments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. 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,
The bowed with age, the infant in the smiles
And beauty of its innocent age cut off, —
Shall, one by one, be gathered to thy side,

By those, who, in their turn, shall follow them.
8. 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 fdrapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”

BRYANT.

LESSON CX. i 10

THE CHURCH-YARD.

(Two Voices from the Grave.) First Voice. How frightful the grave! how deserted and drear !

With the howls of the storm-wind, the creaks of the bier,

And the white bones all +clattering together! Second Voice. How peaceful the grave! its quiet how deep!

Its + zephyrs breathe calmly, and soft is its sleep,

And flow'rets perfume it with ether.
First Voice. There, + riots the + blood-crested worm on the dead,

And the yellow skull serves the foul toad for a bed,

And snakes in the nettle-weeds hiss.
Second Voice. How lovely, how sweet the repose of the tomb!

No tempests are there ; but the nightingales come,

And sing their sweet chorus of bliss.
First Voice. The ravens of night flap their wings o'er the grave;

'Tis the vulture's abode ; 't is the wolf's dreary cave,

Where they tear up the dead with their fangs. Second Voice. There, the tcony, at evening, disports with his love,

Or rests on the sod; while the turtles above

Repose on the bough that o'erhangs. First Voice. There, darkness and dampness, with poisonous breath,

And loathsome decay, fill the dwelling of death ;

The trees are all barren and bare.

Second Voice. O! soft are the breezes that play round the tomb,

And sweet, with the violet's wafted perfume,

With lilies and jessamine fair.
First Voice. The pilgrim, who reaches this valley of tears,

Would fain hurry by; and, with trembling and fears,

He is launched on the wreck-covered river.
Second Voice. Here, the traveler, worn with life's pilgrimage dreary,

Lays down his rude staff, like one that is weary,
And sweetly reposes forever.

KARAMISIN.

LESSON CXI. ! 11

THE GRAVE.

1. The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal; every other affliction, to forget; but this wound, we consider it a duty to keep open.

This affliction we cherish, and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother, who would willingly forget the infant that has perished like a blossom from her arms, though every recollection is a pang ? Where is the child, that would willingly forget a tender parent, though to remember be but to lament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend, over whom he mourns ?

2. No, the love which survives the tomb, is one of the noblest attributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it bas likewise its delights; and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear of recollection; when the sudden anguish, and the + convulsive agony over the present ruins of all that we most loved, is softened away into pensive meditation on all that it was, in the days of its loveliness, who would root out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may, sometimes, throw a passing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadness over the hour of gloom, yet, who would exchange it, even for the song of pleasure, or the burst of +revelry? No, there is a voice from the tomb sweeter than song. There is a remembrance of the dead, to which we turn, even from the charms of the living.

3. Oh, the grave! the grave! It buries every error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment! From its peaceful bosom, spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look down upon the grave, even of an enemy, and not feel a + compunctious throb, that he should have warred with the poor bandful of earth that lies moldering before him? But the

[ocr errors]

grave of those we loved, what a place for meditation! There it is, that we call up, in long review, the whole history of virtue and gentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us, almost unheeded, in the daily intercourse of intimacy; there it is, that we dwell upon the tenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness of the parting scene; the bed of death, with all its stifled griefs, its noiseless attendance, its mute, watchful + assiduities ! the last testimonies of expiring love! the feeble, fluttering, thrilling,-oh, how thrilling!--pressure of the hand! the last fond look of the glazing eye turning upon us, even from the threshold of existence! the faint, faltering accents, struggling in death to give one more assurance of affection !

4. Ay, go to the grave of buried love, and meditate! There settle the account with thy conscience, for every past benefit + unrequited; every past endearment unregarded, of that departed being, who can never never — never return to be soothed by thy + contrition! If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul, or a furrow to the silvered brow of an affectionate parent; if thou art a husband, and hast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thy arms, to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth; if thou art a friend, and hast ever wronged, in thought, or word, or deed, the spirit that generously confided in thee; if thou hast given one unmerited pang to that true heart, which now lies cold and still beneath thy feet; then be sure, that every unkind look, every ungracious word, every ungentle action, will come thronging back upon thy memory, and knocking dolefully at thy soul; then be sure, that thou wilt lie down sorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan, and pour the unavailing tear; more deep, more bitter, because unheard and unavailing.

5. Then weave thy + chaplet of flowers, and strew the beauties of nature about the grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender, yet + futile + tributes of regret; but take warning, by the bitterness of this, thy contrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth, be more faithful and affectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.

W. IRVING.

LESSON CXII. ! 1 L

CHARACTER OF COLUMBUS. 1. COLUMBUS was a man of great and inventive genius. The operations of his mind were energetic, but irregular; bursting forth, at times, with that irresistible force which characterizes

com

intellect of such an order. His ambition was lofty and noble, inspiring him with high thoughts, and an anxiety to distinguish himself by great + achievements. He aimed at dignity and wealth in the same elevated spirit with which he sought renown; they were to rise from the territories he should discover, and be + mensurate in importance.

2. His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his views, and the magnanimity of his spirit. Instead of ravaging the newly found countries, like many of his cotemporary discoverers, who were intent only on immediate gain, he regarded them with the eyes of a legislator; he sought to colonize and cultivate them, to civilize the natives, to build cities, introduce the useful arts, subject every thing to the control of law, order, and religion, and thus to found regular and prosperous empires. That he failed in this, was the fault of the dissolute +rabble which it was his misfortune to command, with whom all law was tyranny, and all order oppression.

3. He was naturally + irascible and impetuous, and keenly sensible to injury and injustice; yet the quickness of his temper was counteracted by the generosity and benevolence of his heart. The magnanimity of his nature shone forth through all the troubles of his stormy career. Though continually outraged in his dignity, braved in his authority, foiled in his plans, and endangered in his person, by the + seditions of + turbulent and worthless men, and that, too, at times when suffering under anguish of body and anxiety of mind, enough to exasperate the most patient, yet he restrained his valiant and indignant spirit, and brought himself to forbear, and reason, and even to supplicate. Nor can the reader of the story of his eventful life, fail to notice how free he was from all feeling of revenge, how ready to forgive and forget, on the least sign of repentance and atonement. He has been exalted for his skill in controlling others, but far greater praise is due to him for the firmness he displayed in governing himself.

4. His piety was genuine and fervent. Religion mingled with the whole course of his thoughts and actions, and shone forth in his most private and unstudied writings. Whenever he made any great discovery, he devoutly returned thanks to God. The voice of prayer and the melody of praise, rose from his ships on discovering the new world, and his first action on landing was, to prostrate himself upon the earth, and offer up thanksgivings. All his great enterprises were undertaken in the name of the Holy Trinity, and he partook of the holy sacrament previous to embarkation. He observed the festivals of the Church in the wildest situations. The sabbath was to him a day of sacred rest, on which he would never sail from a port, unless in case of extreme necessity. The religion thus deeply scated in his soul, diffused a sober dignity and a benign composure, over his whole + deportment; his very language was pure and guarded, and free from all gross or irreverent expressions.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

+

5. A peculiar trait in his rich and varied character remains to be noticed; namely, that ardent and enthusiastic imagination, which threw a magnificence over his whole course of thought. A poetical + temperament is discernible throughout all his writings, and in all his actions. We see it in all his descriptions of the beauties of the wild lands he was discovering, in the enthusiasm with which he extolled the + blandness of the temperature, the purity of the atmosphere, the fragrance of the air, "full of dew and sweetness,” the verdure of the forests, the grandeur of the mountains, and the crystal purity of the running streams. It spread a glorious and golden world around him, and tinged every thing with its own * gorgeous colors. +6. He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon kind, and successful in his dreams. The manner in which his ardent imagination and + mercurial nature were controlled by a powerful judgment, and directed by an acute + sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus governed, his imagination, instead of exhausting itself in idle flights, lent aid to his judgment, and enabled him to form conclusions at which common minds could never have arrived, nay, which they could not conceive, when pointed out. To his intellectual vision it was given to read the signs of the times, and to trace in the conjectures and + reveries of past ages, the indications of an unknown world. “ His soul,” observes a Spanish writer, was superior to the age in which he lived. For him was reserved the great enterprise of * traversing a sea which had given rise to so many fables, and of

eciphering the mystery of his age.” -7. With all the visionary + fervor of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. Until his last breath, he entertained the idea that he had merely opened a new way to the old resorts of +opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the east. What visions of glory would have broken upon his mind, could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the old world in magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans, from all the earth hitherto known by civilized man! How would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled amid the aflictions of age and the cares of penury, the neglect of a fickle public and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have anticipated the splendid empires which would arise in the beautiful world he had discovered ; and the nations, and tongues,

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »