Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

3. A powerful corps had been summoned from across the country, and if it came up in season all would yet be well. The great conqueror, confident in its arrival, formed his reserve' into an attacking column, and ordered them to charge the enemy. The whole world knows the result. Grouchy* failed to appear; the imperial guard was beaten back; Waterloo was lost. Napoleon died a prisoner at St. Helena because one of his marshals was behind time.

4. A leading firm in commercial circles had long struggled against bankruptcy. As it had enormous assets * in California, it expected remittances by a certain day, and if the sums promised arrived, its credit, its honor, and its future prosperity would be preserved. But week after week elapsed without bringing the gold. At last came the fatal day on which the firm had bills maturing: to enormous amounts. The steamer was telegraphed at daybreak; but it was found, on inquiry, that she brought no funds, and the house failed. The next arrival brought nearly half a million to the insolvents, but it was too late; they were ruined because their agent, in remitting, had been behind time.

5. A condemned man was led out for execution. He had taken human life, but under circumstances of the greatest provocation, and public sympathy was active in his behalf. Thousands had signed petitions for a reprieve', a favorable answer had been expected the night before, and though it had not come, even the sheriff felt confident that it would yet arrive in season. Thus the morning passed without the appearance of the messenger. The last moment was up. The prisoner took his place on the drop, the cap was drawn over his eyes, the bolt was drawn,

[ocr errors]

* Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, was defeated by the Allies under the Duke of Wellington, at Waterloo, June 18, 1815. Marshal Grouchy (pronounced Grô-she') was expected to aid the emperor with a body of troops, but failed to appear.

and a lifeless body swung revolving in the wind. Just at that moment a horseman came into sight, galloping down hill, his steed covered with foam. He carried a packet in his right hand, which he waved rapidly to the crowd. He was the express rider with the reprieve. But he had come too late. A comparatively innocent man had died an ignominious death, because a watch had been five minutes too slow, making its bearer arrive behind time.

6. It is continually so in life. The best laid plans, the most important affairs, the fortunes of individuals, the weal of nations, honor, happiness, life itself, are daily sacrificed because somebody is “ behind time.” There are men who always fail in whatever they undertake, simply because they are “ behind time.” There are others who put off reformation year by year, till death seizes them, and they perish unrepentant, because forever “ behind time.” Five minutes in a crisis is worth years. It is but a little period, yet it has often saved a fortune or redeemed a people. If there is one virtue that should be cultivated more than another by him who would succeed in life, it is punctuality; if there is one error that should be avoided it is being behind time.

1 CÕL'UMN. A body of troops in deep | 4 ÄS'SỆTS. Property or effects. files, with narrow front.

5 MA-TÜR'ING. Ripening; coming to 2 RE-EN-FORCE'MENTS. Supplies of a perfected state. Bills or notes additional troops.

mature when they become due. 3 RE-ŞËRVE'. A select body of troops 6 ÎN-SÓL'VENT. One who cannot pay

kept in the rear of an army in ac- his debts. tion, to give support when re- 1 7 RE-PRIEVE'. A suspension of a sett quired.

tence of death.

XLVIII. -- EVIL INFLUENCE OF SCEPTICISM.

CAMPBELL. 1. O, LIVES there, Heaven! beneath thy dread expanse,

One hopeless, dark idolater of Chance,
Content to feed, with pleasures unrefined,
The lukewarm passions of a lowly mind;
Who, mouldering earthward, reft' of every trust,
In joyless union wedded to the dust,
Could all his parting energy dismiss,
And call this barren world sufficient bliss ? —

2. There live, alas! of heaven-directed mien,

Of cultured soul, and sapient? eye serene,
Who hail thee, Man! the pilgrim of a day,
Spouse of the worm, and brother of the clay! .
Frail as the leaf in Autumn's yellow bower,
Dust in the wind, or dew upon the flower!
A friendless slave, a child without a sire,
Whose mortal life, and momentary fire,
Lights to the grave his chance-created form,
As ocean-wrecks illuminate the storm;
And, when the gun's tremendous flash is o'er,
To night and silence sink for evermore!

3. Are these the pompous tidings ye proclaim,

Lights of the world, and demigods 3 of Fame ?
Is this your triumph, this your proud applause,
Children of Truth, and champions of her cause ?
For this hath Science searched, on weary wing,
By shore and sea, each mute and living thing?
Launched with Iberia’s4 pilot from the steep,
To worlds unknown, and isles beyond the deep?
Or round the copes her living chariot driven,

And wheeled in triumph through the signs of heaven ?
O, star-eyed Science, hast thou wandered there,
To waft us home the message of despair? -
Then bind the palm, thy sage's brow to suit,
Of blasted leaf, and death-distilling fruit !

4. Ah me! the laurelled wreath that Murder rears,

Blood-nursed, and watered by the widow's tears,
Seems not so foul, so tainted, and so dread,
As waves the night-shade round the sceptic head.
What is the bigot's torch, the tyrant's chain ?
I smile on death, if heaven-ward Hope remain !
But, if the warring winds of Nature's strife
Be all the faithless charter of my life,
If Chance awaked, inexorable power!
This frail and feverish being of an hour,
Doomed o'er the world's precarious scene to sweep,
Swift as the tempest travels on the deep,
To know Delight but by her parting smile,
And toil, and wish, and weep, a little while;
Then melt, ye elements, that formed in vain
This troubled pulse, and visionary? brain!
Fade, ye wild flowers, memorials of my doom!
And sink, ye stars, that light me to the tomb!

5. Truth, ever lovely, since the world began,

The foe of tyrants, and the friend of man,-
How can thy words from balmy slumber start
Reposing Virtue, pillowed on the heart !
Yet, if thy voice the note of thunder rolled,
And that were true which Nature never told,
Let Wisdom smile not on her conquered field;
No rapture dawns, no treasure is revealed !
0, let her read, nor loudly, nor elate,
The doom that bars us from a better fate!

But, sad as angels for the good man’s ‘sin,

Weep to record, and blush to give it in ! 1 RĚFT Bereft ; deprived.

16 CÔPE. The concave of the sky; an 2 SA'PI-ENT. Wise.

arch or vault over head. 8 DĚM'T-GOD. A deified hero.

6 NĪGHT'SHĀDE. A noxious plant. 4 I-BE'RI-A'ş Pi'LỌT. Columbus. Ibe-? VI''ŞIỌN-A-R¥. Prone to see or capa

ria is an ancient name of Spain. ble of seeing visions ; imaginative,

XLIX. — THE RIVER SACO.

J. G. LYONS. [The Saco (så'co) has its springs in New Hampshire, near the Notch of the White Mountains, and reaches the Atlantic after a winding course through the State of Maine. It receives the waters of many lakes and streams, passes over numerous falls, and is throughout remarkable for its clearness and beauty.]

1. Forth from New Hampshire's granite steeps

Fair Saco rolls in chainless pride,
Rejoicing as it laughs and leaps

Down the gray mountain's rugged side:
The stern, rent crags, and tall, dark pines,

Watch that young pilgrim passing by,
While close above them frowns or shines,

The black, torn cloud, or deep-blue sky.
2. Soon, gathering strength, it swiftly takes

Through Bartlett's vales its tuneful way,
Or hides in Conway's fragrant brakes,

Retreating from the glare of day;
Now, full of vigorous life, it springs

From the strong mountain's circling arms,
And roams, in wide and lucid rings,

Among green Fryeburg's woods and farms,
3. Here, with low voice, it comes and calls

For tribute from some hermit lake;
And here it wildly foams and falls,

Bidding the forest echoes wake:

« AnteriorContinuar »