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TONE OF SOLEMNITY.
(See Tone Drill No. 189.)
[The tone of Solemnity denotes the appreciation of the gravity of a situation or thing. The ego is humble or is submerged in sympathetic contemplation.]
Death of Copernicus.
At length he draws near his end. He is seventy-three years of age, and he yields his work on "The Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs” to his friends for publication. The day at last has come on which it is to be ushered into the world. It is the 24th of May, 1543.
On that day—the effect, no doubt, of the intense excitement of his mind, operating upon an exhausted frame-an effusion of blood brings him to the gates of the grave. His last hour has come; he lies stretched upon the couch from which he will never rise.
The beams of the setting sun glance through the Gothic windows of his chamber; near his bedside is the armillary sphere which he has contrived to represent his theory of the heavens; his picture painted by himself, the amusement of his earlier years, hangs before him; beneath it are his astralobe and other imperfect astronomical instruments; and around him are gathered his sorrowing disciples.
The door of the apartment opens; the eye of the departing sage is turned to see who enters: it is a friend who brings him the first printed copy of his immortal treatise. He knows that in that book he contradicts all that has ever been distinctly taught by former philosophers; he knows that he has rebelled against the sway of Ptolemy, which the scientific world has acknowledged for a thousand years; he knows that the popular mind will be shocked by his innovations; he knows
that the attempt will be made to press even religion into the service against him; but he knows that his book is true.
He is dying, but he leaves a glorious truth as his dying bequest to the world. He bids the friend who has brought it place himself between the window and his bedside, that the sun's rays may fall upon the precious volume, and he may behold it once more before his eye grows dim. He looks upon it, takes it in his hands, presses it to his breast, and expires.
But no, he is not wholly gone. A smile lights upon his dying countenance; a beam of returning intelligence kindles in his eye; his lips move; and the friend who leans over him can hear him faintly murmur the beautiful sentiments which the Christian lyrist of a later age has so finely expressed in
“Ye golden lamps of heaven, farewell, with all your feet le
light; Farewell, thou ever-changing moon, pale empress of the
night; And thou, effulgent orb of day, in brighter flames arrayed; My soul, which springs beyond thy sphere, no more demands
Ye stars are but the shining dust of my divine abode,
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
Yet a few days, and thee
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
And millions in those solitudes, since first
TONE OF INDIGNATION.
(See Tone Drill No. 118.) [The tone of Indignation is the antithesis of the tone of Geniality. It proclaims a feeling against some person or thing. Its legitimate province is the exposure of sham and the denunciation of wrong.]
Crossing the Rubicon.
A gentleman speaking of Cæsar's benevolent disposition, and of the reluctance with which he entered into the civil war, observes: “How long did he pause upon the brink of the Rubicon ?" How came he to the brink of that river? How dared he cross it? Shall a private man respect the boundaries of private property, and shall a man pay no respect to the boundaries of his country's rights? How dared he cross that river ? Oh! but he paused upon the brink. He should have perished on the brink before he had crossed it! Why did he pause? Why does a man's heart palpitate when he is on the point of committing an unlawful deed? Why does the very murderer, his victim sleeping before him, and
his glaring eye taking the measure of the blow, strike wide of the mortal part? Because of conscience! 'Twas that made Cæsar pause upon the brink of the Rubicon! Compassion! What compassion? The compassion of an assassin, that feels a momentary shudder as his weapon begins to cut! Cæsar paused upon the brink of the Rubicon! What was the Rubicon? The boundary of Cæsar's province. From what did it separate his province? From his country. Was that country a desert? No; it was fertile and cultivated, rich and populous! Its sons were men of genius, spirit and generosity! Its daughters were lovely, susceptible and chaste ! Friendship was its inhabitant! Love was its inhabitant ! Domestic affection was its inhabitant! Liberty was its inhabitant! All bounded by the stream of the Rubicon! What was Cæsar who stood upon the brink of that stream? A traitor, bringing war and pestilence into the heart of that country! No wonder that he paused, -no wonder if, his imagination wrought upon by his conscience, he had beheid blood instead of water, and heard groans instead of murmurs ! No wonder if some gorgon horror had turned him into stone upon the spot! But, no! he cried, "The die is cast!” He plunged ! he crossed ! and Rome was free no more!
The Partition of Poland.
CHARLES JAMES FOX.
Now, sir, what was the conduct of your own allies to Poland ? Is there a single atrocity of the French in Italy, in Switzerland, in Egypt, if you please, more unprincipled and inhuman than that of Russia, Austria and Prussia, in Poland ? What has there been in the conduct of the French to foreign powers; what in the violation of solemn treaties; what in the plunder, devastation, and dismemberment of