Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Thy throne is on the mountain top;

Thy fields—the boundless air; And hoary peaks, that proudly prop

The skies—thy dwellings are.

Thou sittest like a thing of light,

Amid the noontide blaze:
The midway sun is clear and bright—

It cannot dim thy gaze.
Thy pinions, to the rushing blast

O'er the bursting billow spread,
Where the vessel plunges, hurry past

Like an angel of the dead.

Thou art perched aloft on the beetling crag,

And the waves are white below, And on, with a haste that cannot lag,

They rush in an endless flow.
Again, thou hast plumed thy wing for flight

To lands beyond the sea,
And away, like a spirit wreathed in light,

Thou hurriest wild and free.

Thou hurriest over the myriad waves,

And thou leavest them all behind; Thou sweepest that place of unknown graves,

Fleet as the tempest wind. When the night storm gathers dim and dark,

With a shrill and boding scream, Thou rushest by the foundering bark,

Quick as a passing dream.

Lord of the boundless realm of air!

In thy imperial name,
The hearts of the bold and ardent dare,

The dangerous path of fame
Beneath the shade of thy golden wings,

The Roman legions bore,
From the river of Egypt's cloudy springs,

Their pride, to the polar shore.

For thee they fought, for thee they fell, And their oath was on thee laid;
To thee the clarions raised their swell, And the dying warrior prayed.

Thou wert, through an age of death and fears,

The image of pride and power,
Till the gathered rage of a thousand years

Burst forth in one awful hour.

And then, a deluge of wrath it came,

And the nations shook with dread; And it swept the earth till its fields were flame

And piled with the mingled dead. Kings were rolled in the wasteful flood,

With the low and crouching slave; And together lay, in a shroud of blood,

The coward and the brave.

And where was then thy fearless flight?

'O'er the dark mysterious sea,
To the lands that caught the setting light,

The cradle of Liberty.
There, on the silent and lonely shore,

For ages, I watched alone,
And the world, in its darkness, asked no more,

Where the glorious bird had flown.

But then came a bold and hardy few,

And they breasted the unknown wave; I caught afar the wandering crew;

And I knew they were high and brave. I wheeled around the welcome bark,

As it sought the desolate shore; And up to heaven, like a joyous lark,

My quivering pinions bore.

And now that bold and hardy few

Are a nation wide and strong,
And danger and doubt I have led them through,

And they worship me in song;
And over their bright and glancing arms

On field and lake and sea,
With an eye that fires, and a spell that charms,

I guide them to victory.'

LESSON XXVIII.

The Union of the States.Webster.

From an Address delivered at Washington city on the Centennial Anniversary of the Birth of Washington.

There was in the breast of Washington one sentiment deeply felt, so constantly uppermost, that no proper occasion escaped without its utterance.—From the letter which he signed in behalf of the convention, when the constitution was sent out to the people, to the moment when he put his hand to that last paper, in which he addressed his countrymen, the union was the great object of his thoughts.

In that first letter, he tells them'that to him, and his brethren of the convention, union is the greatest interest of every true American; and in that last paper he conjures them to regard that unity of government, which constitutes them one people, as the very palladium of their prosperity and safety, and the security of liberty itself. He regarded the union of these states, not so much one 6f our blessings, as the great treasure-house which contained them all.

Here, in his judgment)was the great magazine of all our means of prosperity; here, as he thought, and as every true American still thinks, are deposited all our animating prospects, all our solid hopes for future greatness. He has taught us to maintain this government, not by seeking to enlarge its powers on the one hand, nor by surrendering them on the other; but by an administration of them, at once firm and moderate, adapted for objects truly national, and carried on in a spirit of justice and equity.

The extreme solicitude for the preservation of the union, at all times manifested by him, shows not only the opinion he entertained of its usefulness, but his clear perception of those causes which were likely to spring up to endanger it, and which, if once they should overthrow the present system, would leave little hope of any future beneficial reunion.

Of all the presumptions indulged by presumptuous man, that is one of the rashest, which looks for repeated and favorable opportunities,for the deliberate establishment of a united government, over distinct and widely extended communities. Such a thing has happened once in human affairs, and but once: the event stands out, as a prominent exception to all ordinary history; and, unless we suppose ourselves running into an age of miracles, we may not expect its repetition.

Washington, therefore, could regard, and did regard, nothing as of paramount political interest, but the integrity of the union itself. With a united government, well administered, he saw we had nothing to fear; and without it, nothing to hope. The sentiment is just, and its momentous truth should solemnly impress the whole country.

If we might regard our country as personated in the spirit of Washington; if we might consider him as representing her, in her past renown, her present prosperity, and her future career, and as in that character demanding of ua all, to account for our conduct, as political men, or as private citizens, how should he answer him, who has ventured to talk of disunion and dismemberment? Or, how should he answer him, who dwells perpetually on local interests, and fans every kindling flame of local prejudice? How should he answer him, who would array state against state, interest against interest, and party against party, careless of the continuance of that unity of government which constitutes us one people?

Gentlemen, the political prosperity which this country has attained, and which it now enjoys, it has acquired mainly through the instrumentality of the present government. While this agent continues, the capacity of attaining to still higher degrees of prosperity exists also. We have, while this lasts, a political life, capable of beneficial exertion, with power to resist or overcome misfortunes, to sustain us against the ordinary accidents of human affairs, and to promote, by active efforts, every public interest.

But dismemberment strikes at the very being which preserves these faculties; it would lay its rude and ruthless hand on this great agent itself. It would sweep away, not only what we possess, but all power of regaining lost, or acquiring new possessions. It would leave the country, not only bereft of its prosperity and happiness, but without limbs, or organs, or faculties, by which to exert itself, hereafter, in the pursuit of that prosperity and happiness.

Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous war sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it; if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation, they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a trifle, even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the dust of the valley.

All these might be rebuilt. But who shall reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again the well proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame together the skilful architecture which unites national sovereignty with state rights, individal security, and public prosperity?

No, gentlemen, if these columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coloseum and the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them, than were ever shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the remnants of a more.glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw—the edifice of constitutional American liberty.

But, gentlemen, let us hope for better things. Let us trust in that Gracious Being, who has hitherto held our country as in the hollow of his hand. Let us trust to the virtue and the intelligence of the people, and to the efficacy of religious obligation. Let us trust to the influence of Washington's example. Let us hope that that fear of Heaven, which expels all other fear, and that regard to duty, which transcends all other regard, may influence public men and private citizens and lead our country still onward in her happy career.

Full of these gratifying anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century which is now commenced. A hundred years hence, other disciples of Washington will celebrate his birth, with no less of sincere admiration than we now commemorate it. When they shall meet, as we now meet, to do themselves and him that honor, so surely as they shall see the blue summits of his native mountains rise in the horizon; so surely as they shall behold the river on whose banks he lived, and on whose banks he rests, still flowing to the sea; so surely may they see, as we now see, the flag of the union floating on the top of the Capitol; and then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more loveiv, than this our own country

6*

« AnteriorContinuar »