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for reading? Is there a man in the community, of an intelligent mind, and with any, the least, tincture of improvement, derived from education, who, when coming, at nightfall, from his labor, (I care not how hard or humble,) if told that, beneath his roof, he would find Shakespeare, or Milton, or Scott, or Irving, or Channing, seated in actual presence by his fireside, and waiting to converse with him, would talk of wanting leisure, or of fatigue? Would he not bound forward to meet them, as the panting hart bounds to the water-brooks? Would not the stars grow pale in the sky before he would think of weariness?
10. Well, sir, there is not an individual in the community who cannot, for a few dollars, surround his fireside with these and kindred spirits, the lights and guides of humanity; not in bodily, but in intellectual presence. They will speak to his understanding; not through the ear, but through the eye. They will discourse to him, not in their every-day language, in which the most gifted do not always greatly excel their fellows, but in the choicest and purest strains to which, by study and meditation, and, I had almost said, by inspiration, they have elevated their thoughts; and this they will do, not for a hasty moment, in a brief visit, but again and again, for days and for years; yea, until by long-continued intercourse with the noblest intellects of our race, his own becomes purified and exalted.
LXXXVII. THE SHIP OF STATE.
THOU, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity, with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what master laid thy keel,
What workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock, -
'Tis of the wave, and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee;
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -
are all with thee!
This production, like Milton's Hymn of Adam and Eve, and Coleridge's Eines in the Vale of Chamouni, forms one of the finest specimens of devotional poetry in the language. It is the conclusion to Thomson's well-known poem of "The Seasons."
See in Index, INDIAN, PHILOMELA, THOMSON.
Delivery. The style is meditative and devotional, requiring middle pitch, pure quality, gentle force, short pauses, varied inflections, and animated expression. See § 50.
THESE, as they change, Almighty Father, these
Are but the varied God. The rolling year
Is full of Thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring
Thy beauty walks, Thy tenderness and love.
Wide flush the fields; the softening air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles;
And every sense and every heart is joy.
Then comes Thy glory in the Summer months,
With light and heat refulgent. Then Thy sun
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year;
And oft Thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks:
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve,
By brooks and groves, in hollow-whispering gales.
Thy bounty shines in Autumn unconfined,
And spreads a common feast for all that lives.
In Winter, awful Thou! with clouds and storms
Around Thee thrown, tempest o'er tempest rolled, -
Majestic darkness, on the whirlwind's wing,
Riding sublime, Thou bidd'st the world adore,
And humblest Nature with Thy northern blast.
Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine,
Deep felt, in these appear! a simple train,
Yet so delightful mixed, with such kind art,
Such beauty and beneficence combined;
Shade, unperceived, so softening into shade;
And all so forming an harmonious whole;
That, as they still succeed, they ravish still.
But wandering oft with brute unconscious gaze,
Man marks not Thee, marks not the mighty hand,
That, ever busy, wheels the silent spheres;
Works in the secret deep; shoots, steaming, thence
The fair profusion that o'erspreads the Spring;
Flings from the sun direct the flaming day;
Feeds every creature; hurls the tempest forth ; ❤
And, as on earth this grateful change revolves,
With transport touches all the springs of life.
Nature, attend! join, every living soul Beneath the spacious temple of the sky, In adoration join; and, ardent, raise One general song! To Him, ye vocal gales, Breathe soft, whose Spirit in your freshness breathes; O, talk of Him in solitary glooms,
Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely-waving pine
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe.
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar,
Who shake the astonished world, lift high to Heaven The impetuous song, and say from whom you rage.
His praise, ye brooks, attune, ye trembling rills;
And let me catch it as I muse along.
Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound;
Ye softer floods, that lead the humid maze
Along the vale; and thou, majestic main,
A secret world of wonders in thyself,
Sound His stupendous praise; whose greater voice
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall.
Soft roll your incense, herbs and fruits and flowers,
In mingled clouds to Him, whose sun exalts,
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints.
Ye forests bend, ye harvests wave, to Him;
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart,
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon.
Ye that keep watch in heaven, as earth asleep
Unconscious lies, effuse your mildest beams,
Ye constellations, while your angels strike,
Amid the spangled sky, the silver lyre!
Great source of day! best image here below
Of thy Creator, ever pouring wide,
From world to world, the vital ocean round;
On Nature write with every beam His praise.
The thunder rolls: be hushed the prostrate world;
While cloud to cloud returns the solemn hymn.
Bleat out afresh, ye hills: ye mossy rocks,
Retain the sound: the broad responsive low,
Ye valleys raise; for the great Shepherd reigns;
And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come.
Ye woodlands all, awake! a boundless song
Burst from the groves! * and when the restless day,
Expiring, lays the warbling world asleep,
Sweetest of birds! sweet Philomela, charm
The listening shades, and teach the night His praise.
Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles,
At once the head, the heart, and tongue of all;
Crown the great hymn! In swarming cities vast,
Assembled men! to the deep organ join
The long-resounding voice, oft breaking clear,
At solemn pauses, through the swelling bass;
And, as each mingling flame increases each,
In one united ardor rise to heaven!
you rather choose the rural shade,
And find a fane in every sacred grove,
There let the shepherd's flute, the virgin's lay,
The prompting seraph, and the poet's lyre,
Still sing the God of Seasons, as they roll.
For me, when I forget the darling theme, -
Whether the blossom blows, the Summer ray
Russets the plain, inspiring Autumn gleams,
Or Winter rises in the blackening east, -
Be my tongue mute, my fancy paint no more,
And, dead to joy, forget my heart to beat!
* An elliptical expression, meaning, "Let a boundless song burst," &c.