Page images
PDF
EPUB

been formed. Another gave the mariner's compass and the printing press, and almost doubled the terrestrial inheritance of man by the discovery of a new world. Another gave the discovery of Copernicus, the Protestant Reformation, and the universal awakening consequent thereupon. Another opened the eyes of men to the advantages of commerce and discovery, and began the overturn of the old despotic notions concerning government.

3. Another gave the American Declaration of Independence, and the discovery of the law of gravitation. And the present is continually astonishing us by its contributions to human wealth and knowledge in every form and in every department. And what shall be achieved in the next? and the next? Let us not despair. Surely the millenium is coming! The stream of history is flowing on to a glorious consummation, notwithstanding an occasional small eddy that seems to be setting backwards. " 4. My friends, the theme upon which I have attempted to speak to you is one of the greatest that can engage the attention of men. It is no less than the history of human thought in its highest and noblest efforts. I know of nothing better fitted to impress upon one the conviction of his own insig. nificance, and yet of his great responsibility. Compared with the whole sum of human thought, how puny is that of an ordinary man,—or indeed of any man! And yet every man, and especially every scholar, comes into the line of succession, and is bound to transmit, unimpaired, and with whatever additions he may, the inheritance he has enjoyed.

5. I have touched upon a very few general facts, connected with the most prominent and best-known forms of civilization. But the subject needs to be examined in careful detail. To the scholar the study cannot fail of being in the highest degree interesting and stirring. The old Greeks thought that they

could best train their boys to virtue and valor, by placing before them the narrative of Homer, and requiring them to study his description of the heroes who "fought at Ilium, on each side mixed with auxiliar gods.” And if characters like these, stained with blood and debased by ignoble passions, could inspire Grecian youth with a love of what was good and great, how much may the scholar of to-day be built up and strengthened by a study of the men and women to whom he may be introduced in this history of human culture.

6. The memories of the good and wise are the noblest inheritance that comes to us from the past. They are the educational forces of the ages. And the ancient world is not alone our benefactor here. We have maintained that Christianity has not been a failure; and to declare that antiquity is alone our teacher here, that modern history furnishes no names illustrious enough to be held up as examples to the men of present and future time, is to declare that Christianity has signally failed.

7. But it is not so. Where shall we find such a spirit of self-sacrifice -of general love for man, as that which has characterized Christian societies from the fathers to the present times ?-a spirit which has filled every Christian country with asylums and hospitals for the unfortunate, the erring, the sick, and insane. Christianity does not, like the Spartans, throw its feeble children to the wolves and birds of prey because the state needs only those of strong limbs and lusty sinews.

8. No; it lavishes upon the feeble ones its most abundant cares. It labors to supply what nature and circumstances have failed to supply, whether the defect be in physical, intellectual, or moral strength. And inasmuch as it is more blessed to give than to receive, inasmuch as moral greatness

is more than intellectual,— we have here an element of greatness more glorious than anything of which the ancient world can boast.

9. Our heritage of culture comes to us from all the ages. It contains the good of all times. It offers for our use and enjoyment the profound meditations of the Orient, the chaste beauty of the Greek, the masculine energy of the Roman, the gorgeous speculation of the Arab, the serene self-denial of the Christian. It is the spur of our youth and the solace of our age. It kindles our aspirations and refines our souls. It establishes a bond between us and our kind through all time. It exalts our conception of common humanity by keeping before us the noblest results it has achieved.

10. And if fortune is to frown upon us at all, we bid her take our outward prosperity, our houses, our lands, our railways, and our shipping; let her derange our commerce, and suspend our business; yes, if the dire necessity comes, let her take from us even the institutions that have protected our infancy and nourished our manhood; but let her not rob us of that which underlies our institutions and is of more value than all our wealth, – that which pervades our very being and is the best part of our life,—the heritage of knowledge and culture which has descended from the good and great of bygone times.

LXXIX.-THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.

CHARLES WOLFE.

1. Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,

As his corse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot

O'er the grave where our hero we buried. 2. We buried him darkly at dead of night,

The sods with our bayonets turning;
By the struggling moon-beam's misty light,

And the lantern dimly burning.
3. No useless coffin enclosed his breast,

Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him; · But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,

With his martial cloak around him.

4. Few and short were the prayers we said,

And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead;

And bitterly thought of the morrow.

5. We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,

And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,

And we far away on the billow.

6. Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,

And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on

In the grave where a Briton has laid him. 7. But half of our heavy task was done

When the clock struck the hour for retiring ;
And we heard the distant random gun

That the foe was sullenly firing.
8. Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

From the field of his fame fresh and gory; We carved not a line,--and we raised not a stone,

But left him alone with his glory.

LXXX.–VIRTUE TO BE LOVED AND SOUGHT

FOR ITSELF.
FROM CLEVELAND'S CLASSICAL LITERATURE.

CICERO. 1. That everything which is honorable is to be sought for its own sake, is an opinion common to us with many other schools of philosophers. For, except the three sects which exclude virtue from the chief good, this opinion must be maintained by all philosophers, and above all by us, who do not rank anything whatever among goods except what is honorable. But the defense of this opinion is very easy and simple indeed; for who is there or who ever was there, of such violent avarice or of such unbridled desires, as not infinitely to prefer that anything which he wishes to acquire, even at the expense of any conceivable wickedness, should come into his power without crime (even though he had a prospect of perfect impunity) than through crime? And what utility or what personal advantage do we hope for, when we are anxious to know whether those bodies are moving whose movements are concealed from us, and owing to what causes they revolve through the heavens ?

2. And who is there that lives according to such clownish maxims, or who has so rigorously hardened himself against the study of nature, as to be averse to things worthy to be understood, and to be indifferent to and disregard such knowledge, merely because there is no exact usefulness or pleasure likely to result from it? Or, who is there that—when he comes to know the exploits and sayings and wise counsels of our forefathers, of the Africani, or of that ancestor of mine whom you are always talking of, and of other brave men and citizens of pre-eminent virtue— does not feel his mind affected

« PreviousContinue »