« PreviousContinue »
the giddy traitors whirled in a maze of exhilaration, dim horrors were already advancing, that were ere long to fill the land with blood.
3. To-day you are returned again. We devoutly join with you in thanksgiving to Almighty God, that he has spared your honored life and vouchsafed to you the glory of this day. The heavens over you are the same; the same shores are here; morning comes and evening as they did. All else how changed! What grim batteries crowd the burdened shores! What scenes hare filled this air and disturbed these waters! These shattered heaps of shapeless stone are all that is left of Fort Sumter. Desolation broods in yonder sad city* — solemn retribution hath avenged our dishonored banner! You have come back with honor, who departed hence four years ago, leaving the air sultry with fanaticism. The surging crowds that rolled up their frenzied shouts, as the flag came down, are dead or scattered or silent; and their habitations are desolate. Ruin sits in the cradle of treason. Rebellion has perished. But there flies the same flag that was insulted. With starry eyes it looks all over this bay for that banner that supplanted it, and sees it not. You that then, for the day, were humbled, are here again to triumph once and forever. In the storm of that assault, this glorious ensign was often struck, but, memorable fact, not one of its stars was torn out by shot or shell. It was a prophecy.
4. It said, “Not one state shall be struck from this nation by treason.” The fulfillment is at hand. Lifted to the air to-day it proclaims that after four years of war, “Not a state is blotted out.” Hail to the flag of our fathers, and our flag! Glory to the banner that has gone through four years black with the tempests of war, to pilot the nation back to peace
* Charleston, S. C., then in the possession of the United States forces.
without dismemberment! And glory be to God, who above all hosts and banners, hath ordained victory and shall ordain peace!
5. Wherefore have we come hither, pilgrims from distant places ? Are we come to exult that Northern hands are stronger than Southern ? No; but to rejoice that the hands of those who defended a just and beneficent government are mightier than the hands that assaulted it! Do we exult over fallen cities? We exult that a nation has not fallen. We sorrow with the sorrowful. We sympathize with the desolate. We look upon this shattered fort and yonder dilapidated city, with sad eyes, grieved that men should have committed such treason, and glad that God hath set such a mark upon treason that all ages shall dread and abhor it.
6. We exult, not for a passion gratified, but for a sentiment victorious ; not for temper, but for conscience; not, as We devoutly believe, that our will is done, but that God's will hath been done! We should be unworthy of that liberty intrusted to our care, if, on such a day as this, we sullied our hearts by feelings of aimless vengeance; and equally unworthy, if we did not devoutly thank Him who hath said, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay saith the Lord, that He hath set a mark upon arrogant rebellion, ineffaceable while time lasts !
7. Since this flag went down on that dark day, who shall tell the mighty woes that have made this land a spectacle to angels and men ? The soil has drunk blood and is glutted. Millions mourn for millions slain, or, envying the dead, pray for oblivion. Towns and villages have been razed. Fruitful fields have turned back to wilderness. It came to pass as the prophet said: The sun was turned to darkness and the moon to blood. The course of law was ended. The sword sat chief magistrate in half the nation; industry was paralyzed; morals corrupted; the public weal invaded by rapine and anarchy; whole states ravaged by avenging armies. The world was amazed. The earth reeled. When the flag sank here, it was as if political night had come, and all beasts of prey had come forth to devour. .
8. That long night is ended! And for this returning day we have come from afar, to rejoice and give thanks. No more war. No more accursed secession! No more slavery that spawned them both !
CXXIII.- MY COUSIN BRIDGET.
CHARLES LAMB. 1. It has been the lot of my cousin, oftener perhaps than I could have wished, to have for her associates and mine, free-thinkers,—leaders and disciples of novel philosophies and systems; but she neither wrangles with, nor accepts, their opinions. That which was good and venerable to her when a child, retains its authority over her mind still. She never juggles or plays tricks with her understanding.
2. We are both of us inclined to be a little too positive; and I have observed the result of our disputes to be almost uniformly this,—that in matters of fact, dates and circumstances, it turns out that I was in the right and my cousin in the wrong. But where we have differed upon moral points; upon something proper to be done, or let alone; whatever heat of opposition or steadiness of conviction I set out with, I am sure always, in the long-run, to be brought over to her way of thinking.
3. I must touch upon the foibles of my kinswoman with a gentle hand, for Bridget does not like to be told of her faults. She hath an awkward trick (to say no worse of it) of reading in company; at which time she will answer yes or no to a question without fully understanding its purport, — which is provoking, and derogatory in the highest degree to the dignity of the putter of said question. Her presence of mind is equal to the most pressing trials of life, but will sometimes desert her upon trifling occasions. When the purpose requires it, and is a thing of moment, she can speak to it greatly; but in matters which are not stuff of the conscience, she hath been known sometimes to let slip a word less seasonably.
4. Her education in youth was not much attended to; and she happily missed all that train of female garniture which passeth by the name of accomplishments. She was tumbled early, by accident or design, into a spacious closet of good old English reading, without much selection or prohibition, and browsed at will upon that fair and wholesome pasturage. Had I twenty girls, they should be brought up exactly in this fashion. I know not whether their chance in wedlock might not be diminished by it; but I can answer for it that it makes (if the worst comes to the worst) most incomparable old maids.
5. In a season of distress she is the truest comforter; but in the teasing accidents and minor perplexities, which do not call out the will to meet them, she sometimes maketh matters worse by an excess of participation. If she does not always divide your trouble, upon the pleasanter occasions of life she is sure always to treble your satisfaction. She is excellent to be at a play with, or upon a visit, but best when she goes a journey with you.
CXXIV.—THE HUMANE SENATOR.
Mrs. H. B. STOWE. 1. The light of the cheerful fire shone on the rug and carpet of a cozy parlor, and glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing off his boots, preparatory to inserting his feet in a pair of new handsome slippers, which his wife had been working for him while away on his senatorial tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of delight, was superintending the arrangements of the table, ever and anon mingling admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles who were effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that have astonished mothers ever since the flood.
2. “ Tom, let the door-knob alone,—there's a man! Mary! Mary! don't pull the cat's tail, - poor pussy! Jim, you mustn't climb on that table, - no, no! You don't know, my dear, what a surprise it is to us all, to see you here to-night !” said she, at last, when she found space to say something to her husband.
“Yes, yes, I thought I'd just make a run down, spend the night, and have a little comfort at home. I'm tired to death, and my head aches !"
3. Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a camphor-bottle which stood in the half-open closet, and appeared to meditate an approach to it, but her husband interposed.
“No, no, Mary, no doctoring ! a cup of your good hot tea, and some of our good home living, is what I want. It's a tiresome business, this legislating !"
And the senator smiled, as if he rather liked the idea of considering himself a sacrifice to his country.