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CXIII. — ODE TO DUTY.
Delivery. Both the philosophy and the poetry of this ode have been deservedly extolled by Coleridge and others. It should be read in the middle pitch, with gentle force, moderate time, and generally short pauses. The first stanza should end with the rising slide, as the second is a continuation of the apostrophe.
See in Index, Erring, Humble, Sacrifice, Wordsworth.
Stern daughter of the voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love,
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring and reprove, —
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe, —
From vain temptations dost set free,
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity, —
There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad" hearts! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work, and know it not:
Long may the kindly impulse last!
But thou, if they should totter, teach them to stand fast!
Serene will be our days, and bright,
And happy will our nature be
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Tet find that other strength, according to their need.
I, loving freedom, and untried, —
Through no disturbance of my soul,
Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost weaV The Godhead's most benignant grace 1 Nor know we anytiiing so fair As is the smile u^on thy face: Flowers laugh before thee on their beds; And fragrance in thy footing treads; Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong; And the most ancient heavens through thee are fresh and strong.
To humbler functions, awful Power!
CXIV. — THE CAREER OF WASHINGTON.
See in Index, Equaled or Equalled, Sceptre or Scepter, THEATRE
Or THEATER, BROUGHAM, HENRV, PUTNAM.
1. Amid the excitements that were soon to blaze out into the war of independence, and while the several Colonies were drawing closer together in counsel and sympathy, for mutual support in that first incipient stage of nationality, we find Washington foremost among the earnest men who heard and sanctioned and reechoed such words as those of Patrick Henry, scouting the idea of sectional distinctions. "All America," said he, " is thrown into one mass. Where are your landmarks, — your boundaries of colonies? They are all thrown down. The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New-Yorkers,jmd New-Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American."
2. Behold him next in the first Congress, assembled in Philadelphia; yet spare but a single glance at him there, and that at the moment when he glides out of the hall on his being nominated by John Adams for Commander-in-Chief of the American forces. With his great commission in his hand he makes his way to the North. Take one instant to catch the gleam of his true steel as, under that old elm on Cambridge Common, he draws his sword and takes command of the army.
3. And what an army! Unorganized, undisciplined, ragged, hungry, half armed, without powder enough to fill their cartridge-boxes, discontented, always going home. With that army, such as it is, he invests Boston, held by British troops; his long, thin, straggling lines extending in a semicircle round from Medford and Charlestown to Dorchester. A hard, weary year it was, full of all conceivable discouragements; but at the end of it see him entering the town with his victorious troops, while the enemy were flying down the bay as fast as the winds could carry them, making for Halifax.
4. His work done here, he goes to New York. But then comes the disastrous defeat on Long Island, and he cannot hold the ciiy. He goes up the island. But he loses forts and loses battles, and he cannot stay there. He passes over the Raritan, retreats through the Jerseys, crosses the Delaware, and is in Pennsylvania. He recrosses that river at the fitting moment, and deals heavy blows at Trenton and at Princeton, and reanimates the spirits of the army and the country.
5. At last the British evacuate the Jerseys; but where will they go? It must be to Philadelphia, and so it proved. We fight and lose the battle of Brandy wine, and the way is opened for Sir William Howe, and he marches into tl^e city. Now comes that dreadful winter of suffering and despair at Valley Forge, though scarcely more severe than that endured two year* later at Morristown, New Jersey.
6. Pass over a year or two full of brave deeds and patient endurance, but marked by varied fortunes and no decisive results. In the autumn of 1781, we- find Washington in Virginia, confronting Lord Cornwallis, at Yorktown. His lordship is hemmed in, — by the French fleet on the water below, and by our army stretched across the peninsula above. His outworks are taken by storm. He cannot stay, and he cannot escape. He surrenders, and the war is virtually finished. Negotiations for peace begin, and in 1783 the news of the final ratifications of the treaty arrives.
7. In December, at New York, Washington's officers gather around him for the final leave-taking, as he is going to present himself to the Congress at Annapolis. He bids them an affectionate adieu, — a most touching scene, tears and embraces on both sides; — they have done and suffered so much together, — the father and his children, parting to meet no more! He appears before the Congress to deliver up his commission. 1 may not stay to describe the scene, — one of the subliinest I think in all history. He had but to stretch out his hand to have grasped a sceptre; he had but to bare his head for a regal crown, and such a crown would have encircled it. But instead of that — listen to him.
8. After expressing his obligations to the army in general, and to his officers, and, in fitting and . most solemn words, commending his country to the protection of Almighty God, he says in conclusion, in words unequaled for majestic simplicity, "Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theater of action; and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life."
9. Washington starts the next day for his beloved Mount Vernon, and writes to Governor Clinton thus: "The scene is at last closed; I feel myself eased of a load of public care. I hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and in the practice of the domestic virtues."
10. He enjoyed his beautiful retirement for three or four years, when it was found that the articles of the Confederation were not binding enough to constitute a nationality and maintain Union. A new Constitution must be formed. Washington presides in the Convention. The Constitution is ratified by the people. He is President for eight years. Then he returns again to his Potomac home. A brief interval followed, — in less than three years he rested from all earthly labors.
11. What the fame of Washington has been with his countrymen and with mankind since his death, needs no telling here. His name aud memory have been