« AnteriorContinuar »
vigorous exercise of the nobler functions of our nature, wherein our true existence lies; and, too frequently, that we relapse for a time into a state of somnolency or inanity, which is almost equivalent to spiritual extinction.
---Man here buries all his thoughts,
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh! In the school of Pythagoras there was an admirable conceit for reproving this death-like slothfulness. Whenever a disciple abandoned his duties, and sunk into a state of inactivity, he was thenceforth reputed dead; his obsequies were performed, and a tomb erected to his memory. Indeed, there are numbers who virtually depart this life long before their names appear in the obituaries of the newspapers, or the graceful colump shoots up from a flower-bed in the cemetery to do them posthumous honour.
It is somewhat to be lamented that human beings should ever live as though they were merely confederates with the animal creation, when by descent and position the humblest is entitled to rank amongst all that is honourable and dignified in the universe. If man were, in some respects, a prouder, he would be a better creature. If he gloried in his high prerogatives as he might—as he ought-he would heroically stride over the little molebills of wealth and dignity which are thrust up in society, under the belief that they are towering, “ heaven-kissing” Chimborazos, and take his stand upon the far more honourable basis of divine gifts and descent. Is he not by pedigree a prince of creation; by position a member of the great family of intelligences dispersed through the habitable isles of space, but yet associated into one vast hierarchy? He has, in truth, but one Master, to whom he is responsible for his acts and for his life-no viceroys or delegates are permitted to interpose themselves between him and his Sovereign-none cau bear his burden, or deprive him of his reward. He does not receive the bounties of the Deity second. hand; nor need he account to any beside.
The position of man is one of commanding eminence, when his glance is directed to the objects which lie scattered about in the habitation where he is reared. He stands at the very verge of terrestrial existence; amongst myriads of creatures chiselled into forms of beauty and strength by the hand of the Deity, he is the noblest and most favoured; to him alone has been granted the free command and exercise of a responsible spirit. It is true that, when his thoughts transport him beyond his own planet, he becomes sensible that in his present form he belongs to an only art of innumerable orders of being; he perceives that he has his place (like the sun in the milky way) in the magnificent galaxy of life which arches the universe; then he perceives
How high progressive Life may go,
Around how wide; how deep extend below! But though he is thus placed, as it were, “ midway between the insect and the Deity," is he not eligible to every rank and dignity above him, except the very highest ? May he not be destined to graduate perpetually into spiritual organizations still Joftier than his own? Is not the transmigration of souls-from the humbler to the
higher-from the more confined to the more comprehensive-pos. sible in this sense? It may be true that there can be no elaboration of the brute into the man—that the instinct of the beaver or elephant can never be sublimated into the intelligence of the mortal, though the much-disputed question, respecting the capacity of animals, has not served to establish such specific differences as would reduce them, according to Descartes, to the condition of mere articles of mechanism. But man has a patent of immortality. He has a whole eternity before him in which to accomplish these changes ; in that eternity he cannot be idle or impassive; the germ of spiritual life, which ought to put forth its young shoots in this earth, must then grow and expand beneath those powerful influences which cannot but awaken what is dormant, and evoke what is latent in his nature. Give him but time, and he may get promotion. The future is the true alchemical power, which can transmute the baser fabric of an earth-born mind into the golden texture of a pure aspiring spirit. Indeed, we may say that man is the only thing in this world which does not properly, because not exclusively, appertain to it; he belongs rather to a life of which this is but a mere preliminary experiment. Considered with reference to his future existence, this is but an embryo-state-a place where human spirits are mysteriously warmed into being-where the rude mass should be shaped into form, and joints and sinews fully compacted ; and then a blow from Death ruptures the fragile shell of their earthly life, and introduces them to their natural sphere of existence. Yes, truly, if man with his present glorious faculties and lofty endowments_with his vast aims and stupendous achievements—with his temples, palaces, pyramids, cities, capitals—with his printing, travelling, creating processeswith his vast and gigantic machinery for the communication of good, or the infliction of evil upon his fellows-and above all, with the command of a spiritual constitution which may fashion itself into such radiant shapes as a Luther or Saint Paul, a Milton or Shakspere-if man, with all these, is yet but in his grub-state, what may not be expected of him in the thousand, thousand years, which still await him?
TO MY SISTER
I have known many friends-kind friends and true--
Friends of the heart, not lip ;-'mid every scene
The same, when life smiled lovely and serene
As a fair child, or when the fierce winds blew,
And Hope's bright eyes dim with vain watchings grew !
But no dear friend to me so dear has been
As thou, sweet sister mine-my heart's May Queen,
That o'er my path dost ever roses strew.
And love like ours, dear Mary, cannot die;
Old Time may bring his changes ; Death, his tomb:
Pass Time! come Death! we can their power defy,
Faith's holy star shines brighter through their gloom-
The fadeless beacon of that glorious shore,
Where Love shall reign when “ Time shall be no more !"
WAKE, comrades !—from the misty east the sun is redly breaking.
Before it sink what eyes will close in sleep that knows no waking!
Come, rouse ye! 'tis no time to dream ; there sound our rolling drums,
To arms—to horse! Curse on this fog, how every limb it numbs !
I cannot see two pike-lengths off ; through it the struggling light
Of morning scarce can pierce to earth ; 'twill turn the day to night.
What flames are those that through the mist glare redly o'er the plain ?
Lützen is fired-Duke Friedland fears our king his flank will gain.
Ha! Wallenstein knows well that he who with our king will play
For victory, and hopes to win, must throw no chance away.
'Twas truth what “ the old corporal” Count Tilly spoke, when,“ much,”
He said, “ they gain, who nothing lose, when venturing 'gainst such.”
Hurrah ! though Lech's and Leipsic's days the world will aye remember,
We'll crown with glory greater far this sixth of dull November.
To prayer! our chaplain kneels.“ O Lord ! with whom are power and might,
Strike with thy servants, who but crave to worship Thee aright;
Confound these sons of Anti-Christ, blind men in Rome who trust-
Strike thou these worshippers of wood and marble to the dust.
O Lord ! put thou these men of blood this day to open shame,
That we of the pure faith in peace may glorify thy name.
Avenge the slaughter of thy saints, whom these fierce men have slain-
Because with holy rites they sought thy favour, Lord, to gain;
Because to senseless images, by sinful men's hands made,
They would not bow them down, nor call upon their saints for aid.
Stretch out thy arm, put these vain men-these godless men-to flight,
That all the earth may know that we find favour in thy sight;
And shield our sovereign lord, the king-from harm preserve him when
For Faith and Liberty he spurs amongst the foes. Amen."
“God is our tower of refuge." Listen! rising clear and strong
Great Luther's noble hymn bursts forth, and rolls our ranks along.
Now high the anthem slowly mounts with deep rich mellow swell,
Such thundering sound as organs pour through fretted roof and cell;
Mingled with trump and deep-toned drum, the choral strain floats by,
Now sinking low, with sweet soft fall, it melting seems to die.
'Tis done : noon must be nigh; the sun, a blood-red globe of fire,
Glares luridly o'erhead. Rejoice! the fog is rising higher-
Its waves of mist are rolling off, the plain will soon be clear.
I see the flash of beams flung back from many a helm and spear
Across the plain. Hurrah ! before another hour has fled
We'll try how well each glancing helm can keep its owner's head.
Ha, ha ! if every call for aid they hear to them addrest,
The saints 'till close of day, I trow, will find but little rest.
Rejoice! a breeze springs up, along the fog before it drifting.
Already see the misty veil that hides the foe 'tis lifting;
How gloriously the sunshine bursts down upon the plain-
I would not lose this gallant sight our colonel's rank to gain.
The eye can, at a glance, their long embattled line command-
Its bristling squares of pikemen that in the centre stand-
Its mingled bands of musqueteers, the scum of every land-
Its columns of fierce horse, that flank its wings on either hand.
Dull Holland's heavy cuirassiers, all sheathed in steel, are there,
With Isolan's wild Croats, who man nor woman sparel;
Priest-rid Italians, venomous and subtle as the snake,
Who never take a pledge or oath they glory not to break;
Maradas' bigot Spaniards, as heartless as their steel,
And Poland's savage lancers, who mercy never feel.
O Lord, hear thou thy servants; arise this day in wrath,
And sweep these foes of us and Thee like chaff from out our path!
How monks, the spawn of cursed Rome, are hurrying to and fro,
With crucifix in hand along their bending ranks they go;
Idolaters, the cross each holds on high they bow before,
Blind as the senseless heathen who wood and stone adore.
Now, priests, fail not to cheer to-day your bloodhounds on to fight,
Preach all who slaughter heretics find favour in God's sight;
Remit all sins ; swear Paradise its gates will ope' to all
Who fighting for false Ferdinand and Rome this day shall fall.
Spare not your words, of eloquence you ne'er stood more in need,
If on the fat of all the land like drones you still would feed.
Woe to the monk who crosses me-to hell he sure goes down,
Despite his saints, his holy garb-despite his shaven crown;
Far safer shriving nuns were he in cloister far away,
Than here to meet a heretic on Lützen's field to-day.
Hollo! what woman through their ranks is borne in yonder chair?
Now, as I hope for grace, I vow 'tis Friedland's self they bear.
Ha, ha ! if I err not, ere eve, despite his haughty pride,
More like a man our chasing horse will teach yon duke to ride.
Hark! shouts, like bursting thunder, roll down from yonder wing-
“ God save the great Gustavus-God save our Lion King !”.
With what a princely bearing along our van he rides
How gallantly his noble snow-white war-horse he bestrides.
He comes! Look! he who never bowed his head before a foe,
Before our shouting squadrons bends down to his saddle-bow.
No chair-borne general is he from whom stern Tilly fled,
And Friedland ne'er had coped with him could he the stars have read;
For fate had taught him what ere eve full well he'll learn to know-
His star was never made to melt this Swedish King of Snow.
He reins his milk-white charger in, that, champing, paws the air,
And tosses high his head, as he were proud his lord to bear.
Gustavus leaps to earth-his helm is off-his head is bare;
He humbly downwards points his sword-as low he kneels to prayer.
Hushed are the shouts by thousands poured-no sound, no voice is heard ;
So still it is, the ear will catch our monarch's every word.
“ Almighty God, disposer of the fate of battles, rise;
In pity, we beseech thee, on thy servants turn thine eyes.
Injustice and oppression have forced them from their home :
In defence of thy pure Gospel's truth and liberty they come
Into a far-off foreign land. Exalt, O Lord, thy fame;
Grant us the victory, for the sake of thy most holy name !"
One bound, he's on his rearing steed; from thousands, hushed till then,
Loud as the roar of thunder bursts forth the deep Amen.
He comes-God save the king! our ranks he spurs his charger nigher;
Hush ! he will speak; I know it by his blue eyes' kindling fire.
“ Swedes! Fellow-soldiers ! Friends ! whose fame is trumpeted afar,
The world's eyes are upon you now-show what in truth you are ;
Be this day still yourselves-be what you've ever been before--
Be what you were on Leipsic's day; I ask of you no more.
Strike home for Germany, for faith, for freedom ; and the Lord,
Whose battles, Swedes, you fight, will pour his blessing on each sword.
Then Lützen's name with Breitenfeldt's and Lech's will live in story,
And generations yet unborn tell of your deathless glory.
But if in flight you forfeit fame, then damning infamy
And death, from which you fly in vain, will your sure portion be.
But why talk I of what can never be? Defeat and shame
Will never blast your glory, or stain your spotless fame.
“ Germans! Friends ! you for whom my Swedes and I have marched from far,
Leaving our peaceful homes to dare the bloody toils of war-
You for whom this day pledged to fall or conquer we stand here-
Forget not that your swords are drawn for all men hold most dear.
Fight as becomes brave men who strike for their own father-land
Against the scum of Europe-ruffians who, with sword and brand,
Have made a desert of its fields, where smouldering ruins tell
Of deeds from which had shrunk aghast the very fiends of hell.
Think that in every foe struck down by you in this day's fight,
Falls one who would deny to all the precious, blood-bought right,
Bequeathed you by your fathers—to worship God aright.
Remember if, like dastards, you safety seek in flight,
Your children, and their children, through all time, will curse the name
Of those who doomed the Future to slavery, Rome, and shame.
“ Not under me, but with me, friends, you shall fight to-day;
My sword shall hew a path for you, my blood shall stain your way.
Seek me where'er the bravest fall-where deadliest grows the fight-
A mangled corpse I lie, or am earth's greatest king ere night.
Lord Jesus, aid us! we who now dare death to honour Thee.
Swedes! Germans! onward to the charge! Steinbockers, follow me!"
Hurrah, hurrah! God with us. Hark! thousands swell the roar!
Tramp, tramp! Earth trembles 'neath our tread, as on we charging pour.
Now, comrades, to the rowels drive the spur in every steed!
For, far before the foremost, see, Gustavus takes the lead.
He spurs his foaming war-horse on-ever that plume of green-
Or heads the charge, or dancing o'er the thickest fight is seen.
On come the foe; down with them, men! Quarter? No; hell-hound, die !
No mercy! Think of Magdeburgh. Hurrah, hurrah ! they fly !
How speed Duke Bernhard and the Count ? Goring his courser's sides,
With slackened rein, comes one who'll tell- here to the king he rides.
“ Sire, through a storm of shot that laid full many a brave man low,
Pellmell across the trench we dashed-before us fled the foe;
Upon their foremost line bore down our serried mass of spears.
On-on we drove-before our charge went down their musqueteers ;
Their pikemen wavered-on we prest-whole squadrons turned to fly.
Their ranks were broken-loud from us burst forth the thunder-cry
Of Victory. On, on we poured--we deemed the day our own-
But, curses on him, Wallenstein, by his blood-red plume known,
Rallied the routed foe-rolled back on us the tide of flight,
And on, with thousands more, came leading those who fled. The fight
Grew murderous then, for hand to hand with pike and sword we fought,
Worn with fatigue, against us still fresh thousands on were brought;
Exhausted, overborne, at length they forced us, fighting, o'er
The trench-our men are rallied, but they will not on once more.”
“ Say to the Count, I come-My men, follow your king once more.
Halt! What! my own blues, do you blench who ne'er knew fear before?