Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

side, the river-meadows, golden with harvest, the twilight walk along the river, the summer Sunday in the old church, parents, wife, child, mistress, and go away to uncertain war. Putnam heard the call at his plough, and turned to go, without waiting. Wooster heard it, and obeyed.

Not less lovely in those days was this peaceful valley, not less soft this summer air. Life was dear, and love as beautiful, to those young men as it is to us, who stand upon their graves. But, because they were so dear and beautiful, those men went out, bravely to fight for them and fall. Through these very streets they marched, who never returned. They fell, and were buried; but they can never die. Not sweeter are the flowers that maké your valley fair, not greener are the pines that give your river its name, than the memory of the brave men who died for freedom. And yet no victim of those days, sleeping under the green sod of Connecticut, is more truly a martyr of Liberty than every murdered man whose bones lie bleaching in this summer sun upon the silent plains of Kansas.

Gentlemen, while we read history, we make history. Because our fathers fought in this great cause, we must not hope to escape fighting. Because, two thousand years ago, Leonidas stood against Xerxes, we must not suppose that Xerxes was slain, nor, thank God, that Leonidas is not immortal. Every great crisis of human history is a pass of Thermopylæ, and there is always a Leonidas and his three hundred to die in it, if they cannot conquer. And so long as Liberty has one martyr, so long as one drop of blood is poured out for her, so long from that single drop of bloody sweat of the agony of humanity shall spring hosts as countless as the forest-leaves, and mighty as the sea.

Brothers ! the call has come to us. I bring it to you in these calm retreats. I summon you to the great fight of Freedom. I call upon you to say, with your voices, whenever the occasion offers, and with your votes, when the day comes, that upon these fertile fields of Kansas, in the very heart of the continent, the upas-tree of slavery, dripping death-dews upon national prosperity and upon free labor, shall never be planted. I call upon you to plant there the palm of peace, the vine and the olive of a Christian civilization. I call upon you to determine whether this great experiment of human freedom, which has been the scorn of despotism, shall, by its failure, be also our sin and shame. I call upon you to defend the hope of the world.

The voices of our brothers who are bleeding, no less than of our fathers who bled, summon us to this battle. Shall the children of unborn generations, clustering over that vast Western empire, rise up and call us blessed, or cursed ? Here are our Marathon

and Lexington; here are our heroic fields. The hearts of all good men beat with us. The fight is fierce—the issue is wilk God. But God is good.

RICHARD HENRY STODDARD.

RICHARD HENRY STODDARD was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, on the 28 of July, 1825. His father, who was a sea-captain, sailed for Gottenburg when our author was about a year old, and the vessel was never after heard of. In 1835, his mother, who had married again, removed to New York, where he has resided ever since. When he was old enough to do any thing for himself, be went into a lawyer's office and copied law-papers; but, not liking this, he afterwards went into an iron-foundry, where he worked six years in learning the trade of an iron-moulder. Here he began to write verses, and, soon after the “ Union Magazine" (afterwards Sartain's) was started, he became, in 1847, a contributor to it. He now commenced his literary career, publishing, in 1848, a small volume of poetry, entitled Footprints, and writing for various magazines,—the “Knickerbocker,” “Putnam's Monthly,” “ Graham's,” and the " International.” In the fall of 1851, a second volume was brought out by Ticknor & Fields, entitled simply Poems, which consisted of his contributions to the above-mentioned magazines. About this time he was appointed to a situation in the New York Custom-House, and in the next year (1852) he gave to the public a volume of very sweet poetic prose, entitled Adventures in Fairy-Land, and in the autumn of the same year he was married to Miss Elizabeth D. Barston, of Mattapoisett, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, herself a poetess of rery decided merit. In 1856 appeared Songs of Summer,' in which are some short pieces of exquisite beauty.

Mr. Stoddard is still in the Custom-House in New York,-a location, one would think, not very near Parnassus; yet he continues to devote his leisure moments to poetry and general literature,— with what success the following beautiful pieces show.

HYMN TO THE BEAUTIFUL.

My heart is full of tenderness and tears,

And tears are in mine eyes, I know not why;
With all my grief, content to live for years,

Or even this hour to die.
My youth is gone, but that I heed not now;

My love is dead, or worse than dead can be ;
My friends drop off like blossoms from a bough,

But nothing troubles me,

See his Dedication to Songs of Summer, under George H. Boker, p. 745.

Only the golden flush of sunset lies
Within my heart like fire, like dew within my eyes !
Spirit of Beauty! whatsoe'er thou art,
I see thy skirts afar, and feel thy power;
It is thy presence fills this charméd hour

And fills my charméd heart;
Nor mine alone, but myriads feel thee now,
That know not what they feel, nor why they bow:

Thou canst not be forgot,
For all men worship thee, and know it not ;

Nor men alone, but babes with wondrous eyes,
New-comers on the earth, and strangers from the skies !
We hold the keys of heaven within our hands,

The gift and heirloom of a former state,

And lie in infancy at heaven's gate, Transfigured in the light that streams along the lands ! Around our pillows golden ladders rise,

And up and down the skies,

With wingéd sandals shod,
The angels come and go, the messengers of God !
Nor do they, fading from us, e'er depart,-

It is the childish heart;

We walk as heretofore, Adown their shining ranks, but see them never more!

Not heaven is gone, but we are blind with tears,
Groping our way along the downward slope of years!

From earliest infancy my heart was thine ;
With childish feet I trod thy temple-aisles ;
Not knowing tears, I worshipp'd thee with smiles,

Or if I ever wept, it was with joy divine !
By day and night, on land, and sea, and air,-

I saw thee everywhere!
A voice of greeting from the wind was sent ;

The mists enfolded me with soft white arms;
The birds did sing to lap me in content,

The rivers wove their charms,

And every little daisy in the grass
Did look up in my face, and smile to see me pass !
Not long can Nature satisfy the mind,

Nor outward fancies feed its inner flame;

We feel a growing want we cannot name,
And long for something sweet, but undefined ;
The wants of Beauty other wants create,
Which overflow on others soon or late;
For all that worship thee must ease the heart,

By Love, or Song, or Art :
Divinest Melancholy walks with thee,

Her thin white cheek forever lean'd on thine;
And Music leads her sister Poesy,

In exultation shouting songs divine !
But on thy breast Love lies,-immortal child !-
Begot of thine own longings deep and wild:

The more we worship him, the more we grow
Into thy perfect image here below,
For here below, as in the spheres above,
All Love is Beauty, and all Beauty, Love!
Not from the things around us do we draw

Thy light within; within the light is born;

The growing rays of some forgotten morn,
And added canons of eternal law.
The painter's picture, the rapt poet's song,

The sculpture's statue, never saw the Day;

Not shaped and moulded after aught of clay,
Whose crowning work still does its spirit wrong;
Hue after hue divinest pictures grow,

Line after line immortal songs arise,
And limb by limb, out-starting stern and slow,
The statue wakes with wonder in its eyes!

And in the master's mind
Sound after sound is born, and dies like wind,

That echoes through a range of ocean-caves,
And straight is gone to weave its spell upon the waves!

The mystery is thine,
For thine the more mysterious human heart,
The Temple of all wisdom, Beauty's shrine,

The oracle of Art!

Earth is thine outer court, and Life a breath ;

Why should we fear to die, and leave the earth?
Not thine alone the lesser key of Birth,-

But all the keys of Death;
And all the worlds, with all that they contain

Of Life, and Death, and Time, are thine alone;
The universe is girdled with a chain,

And hung below the throne
Where Thou dost sit, the universe to bless,-
Thou sovereign smile of God, eternal loveliness !

TIIE TWO BRIDES.

I saw two maidens at the kirk,

And both were fair and sweet ;
One in her wedding-robe,

And one in her winding-sheet.
The choristers sang the hymn,

The sacred rites were read,
And one for life to Life

And one to Death was wed.
They were borne to their bridal beds,

In loveliness and bloom,-
One in a merry castle,

The other a solemn tomb.

[blocks in formation]

BAYARD TAYLOR, whose ancestors emigrated with William Penn, was born in Kennet Square, Chester County, Pennsylvania, on the 11th of January, 1825. At the age of seventeen, he became an apprentice in a printing-office at West Chester, devoting his leisure time assiduously to the study of Latin and French, and writing poetry for the “New York Mirror” and for “Graham's Magazine.” These effusions were collected and published in 1844, in a volume called Ximena

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »