« AnteriorContinuar »
Stanzas on the Sea. - BERNARD BARTON.
2. In the surf-beaten sands that encircled it round,
Power and Gentleness, or the Cataract and the Streamlet.
2. Thence, in a summer-shower,
3. It flows through flowery meads,
4. More gayly now it sweeps
5. What are the trophies gained
human happiness be undisturbed :
Virtues of Washington. — E. P. WHIPPLE. 1. The virtues of Washington appear moral or mental
, according as we view them with the eye of conscience or of
In him loftiness did not exclude breadth, but resulted from it; justice did not exclude wisdom, but grew out of it; and, as the wisest as well as justest man in America, he was preëminently distinguished among his contemporaries for moderation, - a word under which weak politicians conceal their want of courage, and knavish politicians their want of principle, but which in him was vital and comprehensive energy, tempering audacity with prudence, self-reliance with modesty, austere principles with merciful charities, inflexible purpose with serene courtesy, and issuing in that persistent and unconquerable fortitude, in which he excelled all mankind
2. In scrutinizing the events of his life, to discover the processes by which his character grew gradually up to its amazing height, we are arrested, at the beginning, by the character of his mother, a woman temperate, like him, in the use of words, from her clear perception and vigorous grasp of things. There is a familiar anecdote recorded of her, which enables us to understand the simple sincerity and genuine heróism she early instilled into his strong and aspiring mind.
3. At a time when his glory rang through Europe; when excitable enthusiasts were crossing the Atlantic for the single purpose of seeing him ; when bad poets all over the world were sacking the dictionaries for hyperboles of panegyric; when the pedants of republicanism were calling him the American Cincinnatus and the American Fabius, -as if our Washington were honored ir. playing the adjective to any Roman, however illustrious ! she, in her quiet dignity, simply said, to the voluble friends who were striving to flatter her mother's pride into an expression of exulting praise, “ that he had been a good son, and she believed he had done his duty as a man.
4. Under the care of a mother who flooded common words with such a wealth of meaning, the boy was not likely to mistake mediocrity for excellence, but would naturally domesticate in his heart lofty principles of conduct, and act. from them as a matter of course, without expecting or obtaining praise.
5. The consequence was, that in early life, and in his first occupation as surveyor, and through the stirring events of the French war, he built up character, day by day, in a systematic endurance of hardship; in a constant sacrifice of inclinations to duty ; in taming hot passions into the service of reason; in assiduously learning from other minds ; in wringing knowledge, which could not be taught him, from the reluctant grasp of a flinty experience ; in completely mastering every subject on which he fastened his intellect, so that whatever he knew he knew perfectly and forever, transmuting it into mind, and sending it forth in acts. Intellectual and moral principles, which other men lazily contemplate and talk about, he had learned through a process which gave them the toughness of muscle and bone.
6. A man thus sound at the core and on the surface of his nature; so full at once of integrity and sagacity ; speaking ever from the level of his character, and always ready to substantiate opinions with deeds ; a man without any morbid
When he ap
egotism, or pretension, or extravagance; simple, modest, dignified, incorruptible ; never giving advice which events did not endorse as wise, never lacking fortitude to bear calamities which resulted from his advice being overruled ; — such a man could not but exact that recognition of commanding genius which inspires universal confidence.
7. Accordingly, when the contest between the colonies and the mother country was assuming its inevitable form of civil war, he was found to be our natural leader, in virtue of being the ablest man among a crowd of able men. peared among the eloquent orators, the ingenious thinkers, the vehement patriots, of the Revolution, his modesty and temperate professions could not conceal his superiority; he at once, by the very nature of great character, was felt to be their leader; towered up, indeed, over all their heads; as naturally as the fountain, sparkling in the sun, which, in its long, dark, downward journey, forgets not the altitude of its parent lake, and no sooner finds an outlet in our lower lands than it mounts, by an impatient instinct, surely up to the level of its far-off inland source.
Military Character of Washington. - E. P. WHIPPLE.
1. To do justice to Washington's military career, we must consider that he had to fuse the hardest individual materials into a mass of national force, which was to do battle, not only with disciplined armies, but with frost, famine and disease. Missing the rapid succession of brilliant engagements between forces almost equal, and the dramatic storm and swift 'consummation of events, which European campaigns have made familiar, there are those who see in him only a slow, sure, and patient commander, without readiness of combination or energy of movement.
2. But the truth is, the quick eye of his prudent audacity seized occasions to deliver blows with the prompt felicity of Marlborough or Wellington. He evinced no lack of the highest energy and skill when he turned back the tide of defeat åt Monmouth, or in the combinations which preceded the siege of Yorktown, or in the rapid and masterly move. ments by which, at a period when he was considered utterly
ruined, he stooped suddenly down upon Trenton, broke up all the enemy's posts on the Delaware, and snatched Philadelphia from a superior and victorious foe.
3. Again, some eulogists have caricatured him as passionless, imperturbable, proper” man; but, at the battle of Monmouth, General Lee was privileged to discover, that from those firm, calm lips could leap words hotter and more smiting than the hot June sun that smote down upon their heads. Indeed, Washington's incessant and various activity answered to the strange complexity of his position, as the heart and brain of a revolution, which demanded not merely generalship, but the highest qualities of the statesman, the diplomatist and the patriot.
4. As we view him in his long seven years' struggle with the perilous difficulties of his situation, his aetivity constantly entangled in a mesh of conflicting considerations, — with his eye fixed on Congress, on the states, and on the people, as well as on the enemy, — compelled to compose sectional quarrels, to inspire faltering patriotism, and to triumph over all the forces of stupidity and selfishness, - compelled to watch, and wait, and warn, and forbear, and endure, as well as to act,
- compelled, amid vexations and calamities which would sting the dullest sensibilities into madness, to transmute the fire of the fiercest passion into an element of fortitude ; and, especially, as we view him coming out of that terrible and obscure scene of trial and temptation, without any bitterness in his virtue, or hatred in his patriotism, but full of the loftiest wisdom and serenest power ;
as we view all this in the order of its history, that placid face grows gradually subliine, and in its immortal repose looks rebuke to our presumptuous eulogium of the genius which breathes through it!
5. We all know that towards the end of the wearying struggle, and when his matchless moderation and invincible fortitude were about to be crowned with the hallowing glory which Liberty piously reserves for her triumphant saints and martyrs, that a committee of his officers proposed to make him king; and we sometimes do him the cruel injustice to say that his virtue overcame the temptation. He was not knave enough, or fool enough, to be tempted by such criminal baubles. What was his view of the proposal ?
6. He who had never sought popularity, but whom popularity had sought, -he who had entered public life, not for the pleasure of exercising power, but for the satisfaction of