« PreviousContinue »
Long enough, have the despots of Europe kept their subjects in ignorance, in order to preserve their own sway. Long enough, have they lorded it over the consciences and
birthrights of men. The divine right of kings, which they 5 have altered into the milder term legitimacy, will not do.
“ The right divine of kings to govern wrong,” is not a maxim for this bold, busy, and inquiring age. There is a spirit abroad, too dangerous to be trified with. Its out
breakings have already been seen, in various parts of the 10 earth. If the masters of the old world yield to its progress,
it may reform abuses gradually, as the water-drop wears the marble, and they may hide in obscurity their imbecility and shame.
But let them form themselves into alliances, and, by 15 combinations, endeavor to preserve their sway, and “the
over-strung nations will arm in madness." Let them endeavor to breast and stop the tide of improvement which is rushing onward, and it will sweep them away, in its
mighty torrent. The murmurings of the storm are already 20 heard in the forest, the sighings of the gusts of wind, and
the groans of the laboring trees. If they prostrate themselves before the coming tempest, it may pass
them touched, unhurt; but woe to those who endeavor to brave
it; for the angel of death will ride on its rushing wings. 25 Reverses may ensue in the cause of freedom; hope
delayed may sicken the souls of patriots; the exertions of heroes and martyrs may be, for a while, in vain; brave hearts may spill their best blood, on the points of merce
nary bayonets, but the cause of human nature, and of God, 30 must triumph! I say the cause of God; for the Almighty
has not placed the longing after freedom, any more than the longing after immortality in our bosoms, that it should only forever be a source of disappointment and despair !
Our history must inspire all. And it is curious to reflect 35 that our forefathers, despised and insulted by the poten
tates of the old world, brought that here with them, which shall react, nay, is reacting on their persecutors, with tre mendous energy. They came here « to plant the tree of
life, to plant fair freedom's tree,” which has grown up so 40 large and beautiful, and will overshadow all the earth,
the tree which shall prove, to the free of all nations, a shelter and protection, but, to tyrants and oppressors, will be more deadly than the Upas, which blasts and withers all who approach it.
The only condition on which liberty is granted to man, is that of perpetual vigilance. This subtle spirit of oppres. sion must be met, in its first approaches, it must be guarded against, with ever anxious care.
Man cannot procure 5 anything of importance, unless by striving for it; nor can
he retain anything worth having, unless by guarding it. The husbandman, before he can expect the earth to yield its increase, must prepare it, by his toil; and after his
stores are gathered, his care is still necessary to preserve 10 them.
The accumulator of property, when he has amassed wealth, if he would not lose all the fruits of his labor and anxiety, must still be ever on the alert, lest it vanish, and
all his fond hopes be prostrated. No other blessing can 15 we expect to enjoy long, without activity and care on our
part; and why should we expect that liberty, the greatest of blessings, can be retained without either ? Why should we imagine, that, because we now have liberty, we must
always possess it, however supine we may be? If free20 dom is worth fighting for, it is worth preserving. Let us
never listen to the voice which would calm all our apprehensions, and lull us into slumbers of security; into a quiet which might be repose indeed, but would soon be the leaden sleep of despotism.
LESSON CXLVIII.-SCENE FROM MARINO FALIERO.
And my superiority in action,
In distant lands-on flood,-in field-in cities;
alone could minister. I knew not, 10 Sought not, wished not, drearned not, the election,
Which reached me first at Rome, and I obeyed;
To mock and map your sovereign's best intents, 15 You had, even in the interregnum of
My journey to the capitol, curtailed
And mutilated the few privileges
By the pollution of your ribaldry,
President. And can it be, that the great doge of Ven .e, With three parts of a century of years
And honors on his head, could thus allow 10 His fury, (like an angry boy's,) to master
All feeling, wisdom, faith, and fear, on such
Doge. A spark creates the flame; 'tis the last drop
Which makes the cup run o'er,—and mine was full 15 Already. You oppressed the prince and people :
I would have freed both,—and have failed in both
And, being lost, take what I would have taken. 20 I would have stood alone amidst
President. You do confess then and admit the justice Of our tribunal ? 25 Doge. I confess to have failed.
Fortune is female :~from my youth her favors
Pres. You do not, then, in aught arraign our equity ? 30 Doge. Noble Venetians, stir me not with questions.
I am resigned to the worst, but in me still
Further interrogation, which boots nothing,
you, And please your enemies,-a host already. 'Tis true, these sullen walls should yield no echo; But walls have ears,--nay more, they have tongues,
and if 40 There were no other way for truth to overleap them,-
You, who condemn me, you who fear and slay me, Yet could not bear in silence to your graves
What you would hear from me of good or evil.
defence would be, had I full scope
them. Bury mine,
And, though too oft ye made me live in wrath,
I ask of you but silence for myself, 15 And sentence from the court!
President. Marino Faliero,* doge of Venice,
Noble Venetian, many times and oft
Even to the highest, listen to the sentence !
Of treachery, and treason, yet unheard of 25 Until this trial,—the decree is death!
The place wherein as doge thou shouldst be painted,
Flung over these dim words engraved beneath,-
Doge. What crimes?
So that the contemplator might approve,
When the beholder knows a doge conspired,
Pres. Time must reply to that. Our sons will judge Their fathers' judgment, which I now pronounce. 40 As doge, clad in the ducal robes and cap,
Thou shalt be led hence to the Giant's Staircase,
* Pronounced Măreeno Fălecāyro.
Upon the spot where it was first assumed,
Doge. Is this the sentence ? 5 President. It is.
Doge. I can endure it. And the time?
Pres. Must be immediate. Make thy peace with God, Within an hour thou must be in His presence!
Doge. I am there already; and my blood will rise 10 Before the souls of those who shed it!
LESSON CXLIX.-THE RICH MAN'S SON, AND THE POOR MAN'S
SON.-J. R. LOWELL.
And he inherits soft, white hands,
The rich man's son inherits cares;
Some breath may burst his bubble shares ;
What does the poor man's son inherit?
A hardy frame, a hardier spirit;
What does the poor man's son inherit ?
A rank adjudged by toil-worn merit;