Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

POSTHUMOUS INFLUENCE OF THE WISE AND GOOD. The relations between man and man cease not with life. The dead leave behind them their memory, their example, and the effects of their actions. Their influence still abides with us. Their names and characters dwell in our thoughts and hearts. We live and commune with them in their writings. We enjoy the benefit of their labors. Our institutions have been founded by them. We are surrounded by the works of the dead. Our knowledge and our arts are the fruit of their toil. Our minds have been formed by their instructions. We are most intimately connected with them by a thousand dependencies. Those whom we have loved in life are still objects of our deepest and holiest affections. Their power over us remains. They are with us in our solitary walks ; and their voices speak to our hearts in the silence of midnight. Their image is impressed upon our dearest recollections and our most sacred hopes. They form an essential part of our treasure laid up in heaven. For, above all, we are separated from them but for a little time. We are soon to be united with them. If we follow in the path of those we have loved, we too shall soon join the innumerable company of the spirits of just men made perfect. Our affections and our hopes are not buried in the dust, to which we commit the poor remains of mortality. The blessed retain their remembrance and their love for us in heaven; and we will cherish our remembrance and our love for them while on earth.

Creatures of imitation and sympathy as we are, we look around us for support and countenance even in our virtues. We recur for them, most securely, to the examples of the dead. There is a degree of insecurity and uncertainty about living worth. The stamp has not yet been put upon it which precludes all change, and seals it up as a just object of admiration for future times. There is no service which a man of commanding intellect can render his fellow-creatures better than that of leaving behind him an unspotted example. If he do not confer upon them this benefit; if he leave a character dark with vices in the sight of God, but dazzling with shining qualities in the view of men, it may be that all his other services had better have been forborne, and he had passed inactive and unnoticed through life. It is a dictate of wisdom, therefore, as well as feeling, when a man, eminent for his virtues and talents, has been taken away, to collect the riches of his goodness and add them to the treasury of human improvement. The true Christian liveth not for himself, and dieth not

for himself; and it is thus, in one respect, that he dieth not for himself.

REFORMERS. It is delightful to remember that there have been men who, in the cause of truth and virtue, have made no compromises for their own advantage or safety; who have recognised “the hardest duty as the highest;" who, conscious of the possession of great talents, have relinquished all the praise that was within their grasp, all the applause which they might have so liberally received, if they had not thrown themselves in opposition to the errors and vices of their fellow-men, and have been content to take obloquy and insult instead; who have approached to lay on the altar of God “their last infirmity.” They, without doubt, have felt that deep conviction of having acted right which supported the martyred philosopher of Athens, when he asked, “What disgrace is it to me if others are unable to judge of me, or to treat me as they ought?” There is something very solemn and sublime in the feeling produced by considering how differently these men have been estimated by their contemporaries, from the manner in which they are regarded by God. We perceive the appeal which lies from the ignorance, the folly, and the iniquity of man, to the throne of Eternal Justice. A storm of calumny and reviling has too often pursued them through life, and continued, when they could no longer feel it, to beat upon their graves. But it is no matter. They had gone where all who have suffered and all who have triumphed in the same noble cause receive their reward; and where the wreath of the martyr is more glorious than that of the conqueror.

SCENE AFTER A SUMMER SHOWER.

The rain is o'er. How dense and bright

Yon pearly clouds reposing lie!
Cloud above cloud, a glorious sight,

Contrasting with the dark blue sky!
In grateful silence earth receives
· The general blessing: fresh and fair
Each flower expands its little leaves,

As glad the common joy to share.
The soften'd sunbeams pour around

A fairy light, uncertain, pale;
The wind flows cool; the scented ground

Is breathing odors on the gale.
Mid yon rich clouds' voluptuous pile,

Methinks some spirit of the air
Might rest to gaze below a while,

Then turn to bathe and revel there.

The zun breaks forth; from off the scene

Its floating veil of mist is flung, And all the wilderness of green

With trembling drops of light is hung. Now gaze on nature-yet the same

Glowing with life, by breezes fann'd, Luxuriant, lovely, as she came

Fresh in her youth from God's own hand! Hear the rich music of that voice

Which sounds from all below, above: She calls her children to rejoice,

And round them throws her arms of love. Drink in her influence-low-born care,

And all the train of mean desire, Refuse to breathe this holy air,

And mid this living light expire!

FORTITUDE.

Faint not, poor traveller, though thy way

Be rough, like that thy Saviour trod; Though cold and stormy lower the day,

This path of suffering leads to God. Nay, sink not; though from every limb

Are starting drops of toil and pain; Thou dost but share the lot of Him

With whom his followers are to reign. Thy friends are gone, and thou, alone,

Must bear the sorrows that assail; Look upward to the eternal throne,

And know a Friend who cannot fail. Bear firmly; yet a few more days,

And thy hard trial will be past; Then, wrapt in glory's opening blaze,

Thy feet will rest on heaven at last. Christian! thy Friend, thy Master, pray'd

When dread and anguish shook his frame; Then met his sufferings undismay'd:

Wilt thou not strive to do the same ? 0! think'st thou that his Father's love

Shone round him then with fainter rays Than now, when, throned all height above,

Unceasing voices hymn his praise ? Go, sufferer! calmly meet the woes

Which God's own mercy bids thee bear; Then, rising as thy SAVIOUR rose,

Go! his eternal victory share.

RICHARD H. DANA.

RICHARD H. Dana, eminent alike as a poet and essayist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 15th of November, 1787. His father, Francis Dana, was minister to Russia during the Revolution, and subsequently member of the Massachusetts Convention for adopting the United States Constitution, member of Congress, and chief-justice of his native State. At the age of ten, the son went to Newport, Rhode Island, the residence of his maternal grandfather, the Hon. William Ellery, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here he remained till he entered Harvard College; on leaving which, he entered upon the study of the law. After admission to the Boston bar, he was for a time in the office of Gen. Robert Goodloe Harper, of Baltimore. Eventually, however, he concluded to return to his native town and there enter upon the practice of his profession. But he soon found it too laborious for his health and not congenial to his tastes: accordingly he gave it up, and made an arrangement with his relative, Prof. Edward T. Channing, to assist him in conducting the “North American Review,” which had then been established about two years. In 1821, he published his Idle Man, in numbers, in which were some of his most admirable tales. But the general tone of it was too high to be popular, and the publication was relinquished. His first poem, The Dying Raven, he published in 1825, in the “New York Review," then edited by the poet Bryant. Two years after, he published The Buccaneer, and other Poems, and in 1833, his Poems and Prose Writings. His lectures on Shakspeare, which have been delivered in many cities of the Union, he has not given to the press. In 1850, Baker & Scribner published a coinplete edition of his Poems and Prose Writings, in two volumes. Of late years Mr. Dana has given us nothing new; nor need he, to be secure of his immortality. He lives a life of quiet domestic retirement, his summer residence being a picturesque spot on the shores of Cape Ann, while during the winter months he lives in Boston.

The longest poem of Mr. Dana is The Buccaneer. It is a tale of piracy and murder, and of a terrible supernatural retribution. The character of the Buccaneer, Matthew Leo, is drawn in a few bold and masterly lines. Disappointed in an effort to engage in honest trade, he makes up his mind to devote his life to piracy. A young bride, whose husband has fallen in the Spanish war, seeks a passage in his ship to some distant shore. The ship is at sea. The murderer is

1 “In Mr. Dana's poetry the moral and religious element is as strongly marked as in his prose, and constitutes that indwelling power which elevates the whole to 84) high a sphere. Inasmuch as religious truth touches the soul so closely, affects its most hidden and secret life, and excites its profoundest and loftiest emotions, no mind which has not been moved by such truths can fully appreciate the highest products of literature or art, much less produce them."-North American Revier, January, 1851.

“We admire Mr. Dana more than any other American poet, because he has aimed not merely to please the imagination, but to rouse up the soul to a solemn consideration of its future destinies. We admire him because his poetry is full of benevolent, domestic feeling; but, more than this, because it is full of religious feeling. The fountain wbich gushes here bas mingled with the well of water springing up to everlasting life.'"-Rev. GEORGE B. CAEEVEP.

meditating his deed of death. The fearful scene follows. How strong, distinct, and terrible is the description of the pirate's feelings, and

THE SCENE OF DEATH.

He cannot look on her mild eye,

Her patient words his spirit quell.
Within that evil heart there lie

The hates and fears of hell.
His speech is short; he wears a surly brow.
There's none will hear the shriek. What fear ye now?
The workings of the soul ye fear;

Ye fear the power that goodness hath;
Ye fear the Unseen One, ever near,

Walking his ocean path.
From out the silent void there comes & cry:-
“Vengeance is mine! Thou, murderer, too shalt die!"
Nor dread of ever-during woe,

Nor the sea's awful solitude,
Can make thee, wretch, thy crime forego.

Then, bloody hand, -to blood !
The scud is driving wildly overhead;
The stars burn dim; the ocean moans its dead.
Moan for the living,-moan our sins,

The wrath of man, more fierce than thine.
Hark! still thy waves! The work begins :

Lee makes the deadly sign.
The crew glide down like shadows. Eye and hand
Speak fearful meanings through the silent band.
They're gone. The helmsman stands alone,

And one leans idly o'er the bow.
Still as a tomb the ship keeps on;

Nor sound nor stirring now.
Hush! hark! as from the centre of the deep,
Shrieks! fiendish yells! They stab them in their sleep!
The scream of rage, the groan, the strife,

The blow, the gasp, the horrid cry,
The panting, throttled prayer for life,

The dying's heaving sigh,
The murderer's curse, the dead man's fix'd, still glare,
And fear's and death's cold sweat,--they all are there!
On pale, dead men, on burning cheek,

On quick, fierce eyes, brows hot and damp,
On hands that with the warm blood reek,

Shines the dim cabin-lamp.
Lee look'd. “They sleep so sound,” he, laughing, said,
“ They'll scarcely wake for mistress or for maid."
A crash! They've forced the door; and then

One long, long, shrill, and piercing scream
Comes thrilling 'bove the growl of men.
'Tis hers! O God, redeem

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »