Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

bers were thinned by the storm of arrows, and by the living mass that was hurled upon them, they fought with the valour of desperation until every one of their number had fallen. A monument was afterwards erected on the spot, bearing the following inscription:-“Go, stranger, and tell at Lacedæmon that we died here in obedience to her laws."

They fell devoted, but undying;

The meanest rill, the mightiest river, The very gales their names seemed sighing: | Rolls mingling with their fame for ever. The waters murmured of their name, Despite of every yoke she bears, The woods were peopled with their fame; That land is glory's still, and theirs! The silent pillar, lone and gray,

'Tis still a watch-word to the earth; Claimed kindred with their sacred clay; When man would do a deed of worth, Their spirit wrapped the dusky moun He points to Greece, and turns to tread, tain,

So sanctioned, on the tyrant's head; Their memory sparkled o'er the foun He looks to her, and rushes on, tain;

Where life is lost, or freedom won.

BYRON.

GREECE.

HE who hath bent him o'er the dead, Was freedom's home, or glory's grave! Ere the first day of death is fled

Shrine of the mighty ! can it be, Before Decay's effacing fingers

That this is all remains of thee? Have swept the lines where beauty lingers; Approach, thou craven, crouching slave: And marked the mild, angelic air,

Say, is not this Thermopylæ? The rapture of repose that's there

These waters blue that round you lave, The fixed, yet tender traits, that streak O servile offspring of the freeThe languor of the placid cheek;

Pronounce what sea, what shore is this? And-but for that sad, shrouded eye, The gulf, the rock of Salamis ! That fires not, wins not, weeps not now; These scenes, their story not unknown, And but for that chill, changeless brow, Arise, and make again your own; Where cold obstruction's apathy

Snatch from the ashes of your sires Appals the gazing mourner's heart,

The embers of their former fires; As if to him it could impart

And he who in the strife expires, The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon; Will add to theirs a name of fear, Yes, but for these, and these alone, That tyranny shall quake to hear, Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour, And leave his sons a hope, a fame, He still might doubt the tyrant's power; They, too, will rather die than shame: So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,

For freedom's battle, once begun, The first, last look, by death revealed! Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son, Such is the aspect of this shore.

Though baffled oft, is ever won.
'Tis Greece--but living Greece no more ! Bear witness, Greece, thy living page,
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,

Attest it many a deathless age !
We start-for soul is wanting there. | While kings, in dusty darkness hid.
Hers is the loveliness in death

Have left a nameless pyramid;
That parts not quite with parting breath; Thy heroes, though the general doom
But beauty with that fearful bloom, Hath swept the column from their tomb,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb A mightier monument command-
Expression's last receding ray,

The mountains of their native land! A gilded halo hovering round decay There points thy Muse to stranger's The farewell beam of feeling passed away ! Spark of that flame, that flame of heavenly | The graves of those that cannot die ! birth,

'Twere long to tell, and sad to trace, Which gleams, but warms no more its Each step from splendour to disgrace; cherished earth!

Enough--no foreign foe could quell

Thy soul, till from itself it fell; Clime of the unforgotten brave!

Yes ! self-abasement paved the way Whose land from plain to mountain cave | To villain bonds and despot sway.

BYRON

eye

PAUL AT ATHENS.

THERE was something, to such a one as Paul, that was spiritstirring in the mighty array that he had to cope with at Athens. He was full of courage and of hope. In the cause of Christ he had gone on conquering, and would trust that, even here, he came to conquer. He felt that it was enough, even if he saved but one, to recompense the effort and the peril—that it was enough, if, by his faithfulness, he only delivered his own soul. But his was a mind to look and aim at more than this. He felt the splendour of the triumph there would be in levelling the wisdom of Athens and the idolatry of Athens at the foot of the Cross; in making Jupiter, Neptune, and all their tribes, give place to Jehovah; and Zeno, and Epicurus, and Aristotle, and Plato, and Socrates, succumb to the Man of Nazareth. He burned to make Olympus bow its awful head, and cast down its coronet of gods, at His feet who dwelt in Zion; and the pæans of Bacchus and Apollo were, in his ear, but preludes to the swelling “ song of Moses and the Lamb.”

Animated by such feelings, we may now regard Paul, in what must have been one of the most interesting moments of even his eventful life, preparing himself on the Hill of Mars to address an auditory of Athenians on behalf of Christianity. He would feel the imposing associations of the spot on which he stood, where justice had been administered in its most awful form, by characters the most venerable, in the darkness of night, under the canopy of heaven, with the solemnities of religion, and with an authority which legal institution and public opinion had assimilated rather with the decrees of conscience and of the gods, than with the ordinary power of human tribunals. He would look around on many an immortal trophy of architect and sculptor, where genius had triumphed, but triumphed only in the cause of that idolatry to which they were dedicated, and for which they existed. And beyond the city, clinging round its temples, like its inhabitants to their enshrined idols, would open on his view that lovely country,

(13)

17

and the sublime ocean, and the serene heavens bending over them, and bearing that testimony to the universal Creator which man and man's works withheld. And with all would Grecian glory be connected—the brightness of a day that was closing, and of a sun that had already set, where recollections of grandeur faded into sensations of melancholy. And he would gaze on a thronging auditory, the representatives, to his fancy, of all that had been, and of all that was; and think of the intellects with which he had to grapple, and of the hearts in whose very core he aimed to plant the barbed arrows of conviction.

There was that Multitude, so acute, so inquisitive, so polished, so athirst for novelty, and so impressible by eloquence; yet with whom a barbarian accent might break the charm of the most persuasive tongue; over whom their own oligarchy of orators would soon re-assert their dominion, in spite of the invasion of a stranger; and with whom sense, feeling, and habit would throw up all their barriers against the eloquence of Christianity. There would be the Priest, astonished at an attempt so daring; and as the speaker's design opened on his mind, anxiously, and with alternate contempt and rage, measuring the strength of the Samson who thus grasped thė pillars of his temple, threatening to whelm him, his altars, and his gods beneath their ruins. There would be the Stoic, in the coldness of his pride, looking sedately down, as on a child playing with children, to see what new game was afloat, and what trick or toy was now produced for wonderment. There the Epicurean, tasting, as it were, the preacher's doctrine, to see if it promised aught of merriment; just lending enough of idle attention not to lose amusement should it offer; and venting the full explosion of his ridicule on the resurrection of the dead. There the Sophist, won, perhaps, into something of an approving and complacent smile by the dexterity of Paul's introduction; but finding, as he proceeded, that this was no mere show of art or war of words, and vibrating between the habitual love of entangling, bewildering, and insulting an opponent, and the repulsiveness which there always is to such men in the language of honest and zealous conviction. There the Slave, timidly crouching at a distance to catch what stray sounds the winds might waft to him, after they had reached his master's ears, of that doctrine, so strange and blessed, of man's fraternity. There the young and noble Roman, who had come to Athens for education—not to sit like a humble scholar at a master's feet, but with all the pride of Rome upon his brow, to accept what artists, poets, and philosophers could offer as their homage to the lords of earth. And there, perhaps, aloof, some scowling Jew, hating and hated, loathing the contamination of idolaters, but glaring with savage fury on the apostate son of Abraham (as he would deem him), who held so much communion with their souls as to invite them to a union of love and piety in the name of the detested Nazarene.

If for a moment Paul felt, as one would think man must feel, at being the central object of such a scene and such an assemblage, there would rush upon his mind the majesty of Jehovah ; and the words of the glorified Jesus; and the thunders that struck him to the earth on the road to Damascus; and the sense of former efforts, conflicts, and successes; and the approach of that judgment to come, whose righteousness and universality it was now his duty to announce.

Unappalled and collected, he began :—“ Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

Fox.

[blocks in formation]

I WENT to see the Coliseum by moonlight. It is the monarch, the majesty of all ruins; there is nothing like it. All the associations of the place, too, give it the most impressive character. When you enter within this stupendous circle of ruinous walls and arches, and grand terraces of masonry rising one above another, you stand upon the arena of the old gladiatorial combats and Christian martyrdoms; and as you lift your eyes to the vast amphitheatre, you meet, in imagination, the eyes of a hundred thousand Romans, assembled to witness these bloody spectacles. What a multitude and mighty array of human beings! and how little do we know in modern times of great assemblies! One, two, and three, and at its last enlargement by Constantine, more

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »