Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

IMMORTALITY.-MASSILLON.. TF we wholly perish with the body, what an imposture is this 1 whole system of laws, manners, and usages, on which human society is founded! If we wholly perish with the body, these maxims of charity, patience, justice, honor, gratitude, and friendship, which sages have taught and good men have practised, what are they but empty words, possessing no real and binding efficacy ? Why should we heed them, if in this life only we have hope? Speak not of duty. What can we owe to the dead, to the living, to ourselves, if all are, or will be, nothing? Who shall dictate our duty, if not our own pleasures,-if not our own passions ? Speak not of morality. It is a mere chimera, a bugbear of human invention, if retribution terminate with the grave.

If we must wholly perish, what to us are the sweet ties of kindred? What the tender names of parent, child, sister, brother, husband, wife, or friend? The characters of a drama are not more illusive. We have no ancestors, no descendants; since succession cannot be predicated of nothingness. Would we honor the illustrious dead? How absurd to honor that which has no existence! Would we take thought for posterity? How frivolous to concern ourselves for those whose end, like our own, must soon be annihilation! Have we made a promise? How can it bind nothing to nothing? Perjury is but a jest. The last injunctions of the dying,—what sanctity have they, more than the last sound of a chord that is snapped, of an instrument that is broken?

To sum up all: If we must wholly perish, then is obedience to the laws but an insensate servitude; rulers and magistrates are but the phantoms which popular imbecility has raised up; justice is an unwarrantable infringement upon the liberty of men,—an imposition, an usurpation; the law of marriage is a vain scruple ; modesty, a prejudice; honor and probity, such stuff as dreams are made of; and incests, murders, parricides, the most heartless cruelties and the blackest crimes, are but the legitimate sports of man's irresponsible nature; while the harsh epithets attached to them are merely such as the policy of legislators has invented, and imposed on the credulity of the people.

32

BEAUTY, WIT, AND GOLD.

Here is the issue to which the vaunted philosophy of unbelievers must inevitably lead. Here is that social felicity, that sway of reason, that emancipation from error, of which they eternally prate, as the fruit of their doctrines. Accept their maxims, and the whole world falls back into a frightful chaos; and all the relations of life are confounded; and all ideas of vice and virtue are reversed; and the most inviolable laws of society vanish; and all moral discipline perishes; and the government of states and nations has no longer any cement to uphold it; and all the harmony of the body politic becomes discord; and the human race is no more than an assemblage of reckless barbarians, shameless, remorseless, brutal, denaturalized, with no other law than force, no other check than passion, no other bond than irreligion, no other God than self! Such would be the world which impiety would make. Such would be this world, were a belief in God and immortality to die out of the human heart.

BEAUTY, WIT, AND GOLD.
TN a bower a widow dwelt;
1. At her feet three suitors knelt;
Each adored the widow much,
Each essayed her heart to touch;
One had wit, and one had gold,
And one was cast in beauty's mould;
Guess which was it won the prize,
Purse, or tongue, or handsome eyes ?
First appeared the handsome man,
Proudly peeping o'er her fan;
Red his lips, and white his skin,-
Could such beauty fail to win ?
Then stepped forth the man of gold;
Cash he counted, coin he told,
Wealth the burden of his tale,
Could such golden projects fail ?

Then the man of wit and sense
Wooed her with his eloquence.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

ICILIUS ON VIRGINIA'S SEIZURE.--T. B. MACAULAY.
N OW, by your children's cradles,-now, by your fathers' graves,

I Be men to-day, 0 Romans, or be forever slaves!
For this did Servius give us laws ? For this did Lucrece bleed ?
For this was the great vengeance wrought on Tarquin's evil seed ?
For this did those false sons make red the axes of their sire ?
For this did Scævola's right hand hiss in the Tuscan fire ?
Shall the vile earth-fox awe the race that stormed the lion's den ?
Shall we, who could not brook one lord, crouch to the wicked Ten ?
O for that aacient spirit which curbed the Senate's will!
O for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill!
In those brave days our fathers stood firmly, side by side ;
They faced the Marcian fury; they tamed the Fabian pride;
They drove the fiercest Quinctius an outcast forth from Rome;
They sent the haughtiest Claudius with shivered fasces home.
But what their care bequeathed us, our madness flung away :
All the ripe fruit of threescore years was blighted in a day.
Exult, ye proud Patricians! The hard-fought fight is o’er.
We strove for honors,—'twas in vain : for freedom,—'tis 110 more.
No crier to the polling summons the eager throng;
No Tribune breathes the word of might, that guards the weak

from wrong. Our very hearts, that were so high, sink down beneath your will. Riches, and lands, and power, and state-ye have them ;-keep

them still. Still keep the holy fillets ; still keep the purple gown, The axes and the curule chair, the car, and laurel crown. Still press us for your cohorts, and, when the fight is done, Still fill your garners from the soil which our good swords have won. But, by the Shades beneath us, and by the Gods above,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Add not unto your cruel hate your yet more cruel love !
Have ye not graceful ladies, whose spotless lineage springs
From Consuls, and High Pontiffs, and ancient Alban kings ?
Then leave the poor Plebeian his single tie to life-
The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife;
The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vexed soul endures,
The kiss, in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours.
Still let the maiden's beauty swell the father's breast with pride,
Still let the bridegroom's arms enfold an unpolluted bride;
Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to

flame, Lest, when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair, And learn, by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched

dare.

HYDER ALI.-BURKE. W H EN at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with

V men who either would sign no convention, or whom no treaty and no signature could bind, and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he decreed to make the country possessed by tliese incorrigible and predestinated criminals, a memorable example to mankind. He resolved, in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the whole Carnatic an everlasting monument of vengeance, and to put perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those against whom, the faith which holds the moral elements of the world together, was no protection.

He became at length so confident of his force, and so collected in his might, that he made no secret whatever of his dreadful resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy and every rival, who buried their mutual animosities in their common interest against the creditors of the Nabob of Arcot, he drew from every quarter whatever a savage ferocity could add to his new rudiments in the art of destruction; and, compounding all the materials of fury, havoc, and desolation, into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivities of the moun

THE TROUBLESOME WIFE.

tains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor (which blackened all the horizon), it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents upon the plains of the Carnatic.

Then ensued a scene of woe ; the like of which no eye had seen, nor heart conceived, and which no tongue can adequately tell. All the horrors of war, before known or heard of, were mercy to that new havoc. A storm of universal fire blasted every field, consumed every house, and destroyed every temple. The miserable inhabitants, flying from their flaming villages, in part, were slaughtered; others, without regard to sex, to age, to rank, or sacredness of function-fathers torn from their children, husbands from wives, enveloped in a whirlwind of cavalry, and amidst the goading spears of drivers, and the trampling of pursuing horses, were swept into captivity in an unknown and hostile land. Those who were able to evade this tempest, fled to the walled cities; but escaping from fire, sword, and exile, they fell into the jaws of famine.

For eighteen months, without intermission, this destruction raged from the gates of Madras to the gates of Tanjore; and so completely did these masters in their art, Hyder Ali and his more ferocious son, absolve themselves of their impious vow, that, when the British armies traversed, as they did, the Carnatic for hundreds of miles in all directions, through the whole line of their march they did not see one man, not one woman, not one child, not one four-footed beast of any description whatever. One dead, uniform silence reigned over the whole region.

THE TROUBLESOME WIFE.
A MAN had once a vicious wife-
A (A most uncommon thing in life);
His days and nights were spent in strife unceasing.

Her tongue went glibly all day long,
Sweet contradiction still her song,
And all the poor man did was wrong, and ill-done.

« AnteriorContinuar »