Слике страница
PDF
ePub

And, for success, I ask no more than this,
To bear unflinching witness to the truth.
All true, whole men succeed ; for what is worth
Success's name, unless it be the thought,
The inward surety, to have carried out
A noble purpose to a noble end,
Although it be the gallows or the block ?
"Tis only Falsehood that doth ever need
These outward shows of gain to bolster her.
Be it we prove the weaker with our swords ;
Truth only needs to be for once spoke out,
And there's such music in her, such strange rhythm,
As makes men's memories her joyous slaves,
And clings around the soul, as the sky clings
Round the mute earth, for ever beautiful,
And, if o'erclouded, only to burst forth
More all-embracingly divine and clear :
Get but the truth once uttered, and 'tis like
A star new-born, that drops into its place,
And which, once circling in its placid round,
Not all the tumult of the earth can shake.

• What should we do in that small colony Of pinched fanatics, who would rather choose Freedom to clip an inch more from their hair, Than the great chance of setting England free? Not there, amid the stormy wilderness, Should we learn wisdom ; or if learned, what room To put it into act—else worse than nought ? We learn our souls more, tossing for an hour Upon this huge and ever-vexed sea Of human thought, where kingdoms go to wreck Like fragile bubbles yonder in the stream, Than in a cycle of New England sloth, Broke only by some petty Indian war, Or quarrel for a letter more or less In some hard word, which, spelt in either way Not their most learned clerks can understand. New times demand new measures and new men ; The world advances, and in time outgrows The laws that in our fathers' day were best; And, doubtless, after us, some purer scheme Will be shaped out by wiser men than we, Made wiser by the steady growth of truth. We cannot bring Utopia by force; But better, almost, be at work in sin, Than in a brute inaction browse and sleep.

No man is born into the world, whose work
Is not born with him ; there is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blessed are the horny hands of toil!
The busy world shoves angrily aside
The man who stands with arms akimbo set
Until occasion tells him what to do;
And he who waits to have his task marked out
Shall die and leave his errand unfulfilled.
Our time is one that calls for earnest deeds:
Reason and Government, like two broad seas,
Yearn for each other with outstretched arms
Across this narrow isthmus of the throne,
And roll their white surf higher every day.
One age moves onward, and the next builds up
Cities and gorgeous palaces, where stood
The rude log-huts of those who tamed the wild,
Rearing from out the forests they had felled
The goodly framework of a fairer state ;
The builder's trowel and the settler's axe
Are seldom wielded by the selfsame hand;
Ours is the harder task, yet not the less
Shall we receive the blessing for our toil
From the choice spirits of the aftertime.
My soul is not a palace of the past,
Where outworn creeds, like Rome's gray senate, quake,
Hearing afar Vandal's trumpet hoarse,
That shakes old systems with a thunder-fit.
The time ripe, and rotten-ripe, for change.
Then let it come: I have no dread of what
Is called for by the instinct of mankind;
Nor think I that God's world will fall apart,
Because we tear a parchment more or less.
Truth is eternal, but her effluence,
With endless change is fitted to the hour;
Her mirror is turned forward to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
He who would win the name of truly great
Must understand his own age and the next,
And make the present ready to fulfil
Its prophecy, and with the future merge
Gently and peacefully, as wave with wave.
The future works out great men's destinies ;
The present is enough for common souls,
Who, never loozing forward, are indeed
Mere clay, wherein the footprints of their age
Are petrified for ever: better those

[ocr errors]

Who lead the blind old giant by the hand
From out the pathless desert where he gropes,
And set him onward in his darksome way.
I do not fear to follow out the truth,
Albeit along the precipice's edge.
Let us speak plain: there is more force in names
Than most men dream of; and a lie may keep
Its throne a whole age longer, if it skulk
Behind the shield of some fair-seeming name.
Let us call tyrants, tyrants, and maintain,
That only freedom comes by grace of God,
And all that comes not by His grace must fall;
For men in earnest have no time to waste
In patching fig-leaves for the naked truth.

'I will have one more grapple with the man
Charles Stuart: whom the boy o'ercame,
The man stands not in awe of. I, perchance,
Am one raised up by the Almighty arm
To witness some great truth to all the world.
Souls destined to o'erleap the vulgar lot,
And mould the world unto the scheme of God,
Have a fore-consciousness of their high doom ;
As men are known to shiver at the heart,
When the cold shadow of some coming ill
Creeps slowly o'er their spirits unawares.
Hath Good less power of prophecy than Ill ?
How else could men whom God hath called to sway
Earth's rudder, and to steer the bark of Truth,
Beating against the tempest tow’rd her port,
Bear all the mean and buzzing grievances,
The petty martyrdoms, wherewith Sin strives
To weary out the tethered hope of Faith,
The sneers, the unrecognising look of friends,
Who worship the dead corpse of old King Custom,
Where it doth lie in state within the Church,
Striving to cover up the mighty ocean
With a man's palm, and making even the truth
Lie for them, holding up the glass reversed,
To make the hope of man seem further off?
My God! when I read o'er the bitter lives
Of men whose eager hearts were quite too great
To beat beneath the cramped mode of the day,
And see them mocked at by the world they love,
Haggling with prejudice for pennyworths
Of that reform which their hard toil will make
The common birthright of the age to come-

When I see this, spite of my faith in God,
I marvel how their hearts bear up so long;
Nor could they, but for this same prophecy,
This inward feeling of the glorious end.

Deem me not fond; but in my warmer youth,
Ere my heart's bloom was soiled and brushed away,
I had great dreams of mighty things to come;
Of conquest, whether by the sword or pen
I knew not; but some conquest I would have,
Or else swift death: now wiser grown in years,
I find youth's dreams are but the flutterings
Of those strong wings whereon the soul shall soar
In aftertime to win a starry throne;
And so I cherish them, for they were lots,
Which I, a boy, cast in the helm of Fate.
Now will I draw them, since a man's right hand,
A right hand guided by an earnest soul,
With a true instinct, takes the golden prize
From out a thousand blanks. What mon call luck
Is the prerogative of valiant souls,
The fealty life pays its rightful kings.
The helm is shaking now, and I will stay
To pluck my lot forth; it were sin to flee!'

So they two turned together; one to die,
Fighting for freedom on the bloody field;
The other, far more happy, to become
A name earth wears for ever next her heart;
One of the few that have a right to rank
With the true Makers : for his spirit wrought
Order from Chaos; proved that right divine
Dwelt only in the excellence of truth ;
And far within old Darkness' hostile lines
Advanced and pitched the shining tents of Light.
Nor shall the grateful Muse forget to tell,
That-not the

least among his many claims
To deathless honour-he was Milton's friend,
A man not second among those who lived
To show us that the poet's lyre demands
An arm of tougher sinew than the sword.

1843, SONG.

O, MOONLIGHT deep and tender,

A year and more agone
Your mist of golden splendour

Round my betrothal shone!
O, elm-leaves dark and dewy,

The very same ye seem,
The low wind trembles through ye,

Ye murmur in my dream!
O, river, dim with distance,

Flow thus for ever by,
A part of my existence

Within your heart doth lie!
O, stars, ye saw our meeting,

Two beings and one soul,
Two hearts so madly beating

To mingle and be whole!
0, happy night, deliver

Her kisses back to me,
Or keep them all, and give her

A blissful dream of me!

1842.

A CHIPPEWA LEGEND.*

[ocr errors]

αλγεινά μέν μοι και λέγειν εστίν τάδε
άλγος δε σιγαν. .

Æschylus, Prom. Vinct. 197.
The old chief, feeling now well-nigh his end,
Called his two eldest children to his side,
And gave them, in few words, his parting charge !

My son and daughter, me ye see no more; The happy hunting grounds await me, green With change of spring and summer through the year: But, for remembrance, after I am gone, Be kind to little Sheemah for my sake : Weakling he is and young, and knows not yet To set the trap, or draw the seasoned bow; Therefore of both your loves he hath more need, And he, who needeth love, to love hath right;

* For the leading incidents in this tale, I am indebted to the very Paluable 'Algic Researches' of Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq.

« ПретходнаНастави »