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LXI.-QUR HEROES, LIVING AND DEAD.
[From an address delivered in 1865 in honor of the students and graduatos of Harvard Collogo, in the war for the Union.]
1. But sorrow, while it has its fit seasons and its sacred rights of indulgence, is not the highest sentiment for the dead, such dead as ours; nor is it the best tribute to their memory. The death of these true martyrs is not the principal fact about them to contemplate in the highest mood to which we aspire to-day; not their death, but their life, such as it was while they lived it here, in the grace of opening manhood, and such as it was in the spirit in which they surrendered it, and such as it is here still as a spiritual presence and power in the lives of those who survive them and those who shall come after them; this is the theme we must essay to rise to, from out of the depths of our sorrow and the mist of our tears and the darkness of the grave.
2. In spiritual estimates, visible success is of the smallest account. Though the cause to which these gallant youths gave themselves had perished utterly, it would have detracted nothing from the beauty and nobleness of their sacrifice. And yet it is a supreme satisfaction and joy to us, and it seems as if it must be to them in their higher sphere, that it has not perished but triumphed completely. They have not died in vain. The great hope that inspired and armed them has been realized, how gloriously! They have accomplished their work. They have saved their country,— they and such as they. The pillars of this vast national fabric were leaning and trembling to their fall, and they have reerected them. A parricidal hand was raised against the . nation's life, and they have struck it down. Disruption, disintegration, anarchy, and the elements of eternal strife were
coming upon us like a tide, and they have stayed the ruin. They have restored the perishing nationality, established it on the rock of humanity and right, made it imperial among the powers of the earth, and let it forth upon a grander and happier career of power and beneficence.
3. They have won peace out of the bloody strife,-a righteous and beautiful peace, — that is even now diffusing its blessings and smiles over the land from ocean to ocean, from lake to gulf, over all the fields of industry, along all the lines of commerce, into all homes and hearts. They have deliv. ered a numerous and unhappy race from cruel bondage. They have cut out the one consuming cancer from the body politic, lifted the one curse, wiped out the one stain. They have conquered the very cause of the war, dug up the root of all this bitterness, slain the one guilty shedder of all their blood. They have given the charter of manhood to every being that bears the image of God throughout the continent; shame and woe to us if we do not ratify and maintain it! They have made the conquest of their arms the triumph of universal humanity. Their blood will cry out to us from the ground for our base recreancy if we let that stupendous victory go back, that sacred banner of freedom go down again.
4. Such are the successes of our dead warriors. This is what they have done -- they and their million compatriots in arms, gathered in ones and tens, in squads and regiments, from the cities, the prairies, the mountain sides, from every village and cross-road, from sequestered homes that in giving them gave their all, — this is what they have achieved. Or, rather, these are the splendid and beautiful results which a
benignant Providence has wrought out through the instru. mentality of their valor and patriotism. Not unto us, 0
Lord, not unto us, and not unto them, but unto thy name be the glory!
5. It is most fit that, amid this day's solemnities, we, with the spirits of our dead martyrs hovering over us, and all loyal men giving us their sympathies, and the freeman lifting to heaven his unshackled hands and his eyes streaming with grateful joy - it is fit that we bend our knee in fervent thanksgiving to God, for our country saved, for sweet peace restored, for our fathers' graves redeemed from threatened dishonor, and for the bow of promise that spans the heavens for us, its one limb brightening in the present gladness, and the other encompassing the far, far destinies of our posterity. Let us rejoice before the Lord and be glad! Let us praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men; and bless his name for that he hath saved us from our enemies and redeemed his people Israel.
6. It is with a great price that we have obtained these results. We have given of our very best. We know how death is wont to transfigure those we have loved, and make invisible their failings and their limitations. But there is little of this illusion here, and little room for it. Indeed, indeed, they were of our best and choicest. We knew it before as well as now. We knew it and said it of one and another of them, when we saw them in these scenes, and looked into their faces radiant with intelligence, with genius, and life's young ardors of hope and promise. We knew it and said it of how many of them, when we saw them gird on their arms and march away. We knew it and said it, when we were watching with trembling their career in distant campaigns. We can no more than know it now that they have died; only we know it, say it, feel it, over their green graves, with more thoughtfulness, more tenderness, and more admiring and grateful reverence.
7. Is it not, think ye, the mysterious privilege of souls to dwell and shine and soar amid the heavenly intelligences, and by the waters of the river of life, and at the same time to visit and inhabit, as a presence and a power, the scenes they have loved and the hearts that will welcome them on earth ? Indeed it is, we will not doubt it. Aye, have we not known it sometimes by the burnirg of our hearts when we have walked and talked in the spirit with the saintly and heroic dead.
8. Oh, then, ye noble and beautiful ones! we will not call you back from your glory above; yet we will not bid you farewell, we will not speak a parting word, nor think a parting thought. We invoke your continual presence. Come and abide in these scenes of your earthly love! We install you in the highest places! Come very near to the heart of our ingenuous youth! Others shall give them knowledge; do ye bend over them in your glistening robes, and be to them, in your example and in your memories, a shining presence and guiding light! Hallow their learning, consecrate their genius, brace them to manliness, ennoble their aims, inspire them for duty and fidelity and self-sacrifice, the martyr's devotion and the hero's valor! Make them dear lovers of truth and virtue, of their country and race, of God and the right-mold them into your own spiritual likeness — make them your very brothers in the family of God!
LXII.—THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE.
1. Have you heard the tale of the Aloe plant
Away in the sunny clime ?
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
Is the pride of the tropical bowers.
That grows in the sunny clime,
As they drop in the blooming time,
In the place where it falls on the ground; And, fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely around ?
The Arab's Gimel el Bahr,
Where the birds that live lonely are ?
And cares and toils for their good ?
And fishes the seas for their food.
The blood of its bosom, and feeding them dies.
4. Have you heard the tale they tell of the swan,
The snow-white bird of the lake?
It silently sits in the brake;
And then, in the soft, still even,