Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

More loud than sounds the swelling breeze,
More loud than speak the rolling seas !

Happier lands have met our view!
England's shores, adieu ! adieu !

LESSON CXII.

The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers.-MRS. HEM'ANS.

Written, 1825.

THE breaking waves dashed high

On a stern and rock-bound. coast;
And the woods, against a stormy sky,

Their giant branches tossed;

And the heavy night hung dark,

The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark

On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,

They, the true-hearted, came-
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,

And the trumpet that sings of fame;
Not as the flying come,

In silence, and in fear :-
They shook the depths of the desert's gloom

With their hymns of lofty cheer.
Amidst the storm they sang,

And the stars heard, and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang

To the anthem of the free.

The ocean-eagle soared

From his nest, by the white wave's foam,
And the rocking pines of the forest roared :-

This was their welcome home.

There were men with hoary hair

Amidst that pilgrim band :

Why had they come to wither there,

Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,

Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar ?

Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas ? the spoils of war? -

They sought a faith's pure shrine.

Ay, call it holy ground,

The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstained what there they found

Freedom to worship God!

LESSON CXIII.

The Pilgrim Fathers.-ORIGINAL.

Written, 1824.

The pilgrim fathers—where are they?

The waves that brought them o'er
Still roll in the bay, and throw their spray

As they break along the shore :
Still roll in the bay, as they rolled that day,

When the May-Flower moored below,
When the sea around was black with storms,

And white the shore with snow.

The mists, that wrapped the pilgrim's sleep,

Still brood upon the tide;
And his rocks yet keep their watch by the deep,

To stay its waves of pride.
But the snow-white sail, that he gave to the gale,

When the heavens looked dark, is gone ;-.
As an angel's wing, through an opening cloud,

Is seen, and then withdrawn.

The pilgrim exile-sainted name

The hill, whose icy brow,

Rejoiced, when he came, in the morning's flame,

İn the morning's flame burns now.
And the moon's cold light, as it lay that night

On the hill-side and the sea,
Still lies where he laid his houseless head ;-

But the pilgrim--where is he?

The pilgrim fathers are at rest :

When Summer's throned on high,
And the world's warm breast is in verdure dressed,

Go, stand on the hill where they lie.
The earliest ray of the golden day

On that hallowed spot is cast;
And the evening sun, as he leaves the world,

Looks kindly on that spot last.
The pilgrim spirit has not fled :

It walks in noon's broad light;
And it watches the bed of the glorious dead,

With the holy stars, by night.
It watches the bed of the brave who have bled,

And shall guard this ice-bound shore,
Till the waves of the bay, where the May-Flower lay,

Shall foam and freeze no more.

LESSON CXIV.

Character of the Puritan Fathers of New England.

GREENWOOD.

One of the most prominent features, which distinguished our forefathers, was their determined resistance to oppression. They seemed born and brought up, for the high and special purpose of showing to the world, that the civil and religious rights of man, the rights of self-government, of conscience and independent thought, are not merely things to be talked of, and woven into theories, but to be adopted with the whole strength and ardour of the mind, and felt :: in the profoundest recesses of the heart, and carried out into the general life, and made the foundation of practical usefulness, and visible beauty, and true nobility.

Liberty, with them, was an object of too serious desire and stern resolve, to be personified, allegorized and enshrin

ed. They made no goddess of it, as the ancients did ; they had no time nor inclination for such trifling; they felt that liberty was the simple birthright of every human creature; they called it so; they claimed it as such; they reverenced and held it fast as the unalienable gift of the Creator, wbich was not to be surrendered to power, nor sold for wages.

It was theirs, as men; without it, they did not esteen themselves men; more than any other privilege or possession, it was essential to their happiness, for it was essential to their original nature; and therefore they preferred it above wealth, and ease, and country; and, that they might enjoy and exercise it fully, they forsook houses, and lands, and kindred, their homes, their native soil, and their fathers graves.

They left all these; they left England, which, whatever it might have been called, was not to them a land of free. dom; they launched forth on the pathless ocean, the wide, fathomless ocean, soiled not by the earth beneath, and bounded, all round and above, only by heaven; and it seemed to them like that better and sublimer freedom, which their country knew not, but of which they had the conception and image in their hearts; and, after a toilsome and painful voyage, they came to a hard and wintry coast, unfruitful and desolate, but unguarded and boundless; its calm silence interrupted not the ascent of their prayers; it had no eyes to watch, no ears to hearken, no tongues to report of them; here again there was an answer to their souls' desire, and they were satisfied, and gave thanks; they saw that they were free, and the desert smiled.

I am telling an old tale; but it is one which must be told, when we speak of those men. It is to be added, that they transmitted their principles to their children, and that, peopled by such a race, our country was always free.

So long as its inhabitants were unmolested by the mother country in the exercise of their important rights, they submitted to the form of English government; but when those rights were invaded, they spurned even the form away.,

This act was the revolution, which came of course, and spontaneously, and had nothing in it of the wonderful or unforeseen. The wonder would have been, if it had not occurred. It was indeed a happy and glorious event, but by no means unnatural; and I intend no slight to the revered actors in the revolution, when I assert, that their fathers before them were as free as they,—every whit as free.

The principles of the revolution were not the suddenly acquired property of a few bosoms; they were abroad in the land in the ages before; they had always been taught, like the truths of the Bible; they had descended from father to son, down from those primitive days, when the pilgrim, established in his simple dwelling, and seated at his blazing fire, piled high from the forest which shaded his door, repeated to his listening children the story of his wrongs and his resistance, and bade them rejoice, though the wild winds and the wild beasts were howling without, that they had nothing to fear from great men's oppression and the bishops' rage.

Here were the beginnings of the revolution. Every settler's hearth was a school of independence; the scholars were apt, and the lessons sunk deeply; and thus it came that our country was always free; it could not be other than free.

As deeply seated as was the principle of liberty and resistance to arbitrary power, in the breasts of the Puritans, it was not more so than their piety and sense of religious obligation. They were emphatically a people, whose God was the Lord. Their form of government was as strictly theocratical, if direct communication be excepted, as was that of the Jews; insomuch that it would be difficult to say where there was any civil authority among them entirely distinct from ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Whenever a few of them settled a town, they immediately gathered themselves into a church; and their elders were magistrates, and their code of laws was the Pentateuch. These were forms, it is true, but forms which faithfully indicated principles and feelings; for no people could have adopted such forms, who were not thoroughly imbued with the spirit, and bent on the practice, of religion.

God was their King; and they regarded him as truly and literally so, as if he had dwelt in a visible palace in the midst of their state. They were his devoted, resolute, humble subjects; they undertook nothing which they did not beg of him to prosper ; they accomplished nothing without rendering to him the praise; they suffered nothing without carrying up their sorrows to his throne; they ate* nothing which they did not implore him to bless.

Their piety was not merely external; it was sincere; it had the proof of a good tree, in bearing good fruit; it produced and sustained a strict morality. Their tenacious purity of manners and speech'obtained for them, in the mother

* Pronet.

« AnteriorContinuar »