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Character of True Eloquence.
When public bodies are to be addressed on momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake, and strong passions excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is connected with high intellectual and 5 moral endowments. Clearness, force, and earnestness are the qualities which produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot. be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may 10 be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it.
It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it--they cannot reach it. It comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of 15 a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments, and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, 20 their children, and their country hang on the decision of the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. ven genius itself then feels rebuked, and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is 25 eloquent; then, self devotion is eloquent. The clea conception, out-running the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, 30 right onward to his object-this, this is eloquence; or rather it is something greater and higher than all eloquence, it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action. Webster.
55. The Pilgrims.
From the dark portals of the star chamber, and in the stern text of the acts of uniformity, the pilgrims received a commission, more efficient, than any that
ever bore the royal seal. Their banishment to Hol5 land was fortunate; the decline of their little company in the strange land was fortunate; the difficulties which they experienced in getting the royal consent to banish themselves to this wilderness were fortunate; all the tears and heartbreakings of that ever memo10 rable parting at Delfthaven, had the happiest influence
on the rising destinies of New England. All this purified the ranks of the settlers These rough touches of fortune brushed off the light, uncertain, selfish spirits. They made it a grave, solemn, self-denying ex15 pedition, and required of those who engaged in it to be so too. They cast a broad shadow of thought and seriousness over the cause, and if this sometimes deepened into melancholy and bitterness, can we find no apology for such a human weakness?
Their trials of wandering and exile, of the ocean, the winter, the wilderness, and the savage foe, were the final assurances of success. It was these that put far away from our fathers' cause, all patrician softness, all hereditary claims to preeminence. No effeminate 25 nobility crowded into the dark and austere ranks of the pilgrims. No Carr nor Villiers would lead on the ill provided band of despised Puritans. No well endowed clergy were on the alert, to quit their cathedrals, and set up a pompous hierarchy in the frozen wilder30 ness. No craving gov nors were anxious to be sent over to our cheerless El Dorados of ice and of snow. No, they could not say they had encouraged, patronised, or helped the pilgrims; their own cares, their own labours, their own councils, their own blood, contrived 35 all, achieved all, bore all, sealed all. They could not afterwards fairly pretend to reap where they had not strewn; and as our fathers reared this broad and solid fabric with pains and watchfulness, unaided, barely tolerated, it did not fall when the favour, which had al40 ways been withholden, was changed into wrath; when the arm which had never supported, was raised to destroy.
Methinks I see it now, that one solitary, adventurous vessel, the Mayflower of a forlorn hope, freighted with
45 the prospects of a future state, and bound across the unknown sea. I behold it pursuing, with a thousand misgivings, the uncertain, the tedious voyage. Suns rise and set, and weeks, and months pass, and winter surprises them on the deep, but brings them not the sight 50 of the wished for shore. I see them now scantily sup
plied with provisions, crowded almost to suffocation in their illstored prison ;-delayed by calms, pursuing a circuitous route,--and now driven in fury before the raging tempest, on the high and giddy waves. The aw55 ful voice of the storm howls through the rigging. The labouring masts seem straining from their base ;--the dismal sound of the pumps is heard ;--the ship leaps, as it were, madly, from billow to billow;-the ocean breaks, and settles with ingulphing floods over the floating deck, 60 and beats with deadening, shivering weight, against the staggered vessel.--I see them, escaped from these perils, pursuing their all but desperate undertaking, and landed at last, after a five months' passage, on the ice clad rocks of Plymouth,-weak and weary from the voyage, 65 --poorly armed, scantily provisioned, depending on the charity of their ship-master for a draught of beer on board, drinking nothing but water on shore,--without shelter,--without, means,-surrounded by hostile tribes.
Shut now the volume of history, and tell me, on any 70 principle of human probability, what shall be the fate of this handful of adventurers.--Tell me, man of military science, in how many months were they all swept off by the thirty savage tribes, enumerated within the early limits of New England? Tell me, politician, how 75 long did this shadow of a colony, on which your conventions and treaties had not smiled, languish on the distant coast? Student of history, compare for me the baffled projects, the deserted settlements, the abandoned adventures of other times, and find the parallel of 80 this. Was it the winter's storm, beating upon the houseless heads of women and children; was it hard labour and spare meals;-was it disease,-was it the tomahawk,—was it the deep malady of a blighted hope, a ruined enterprise, and a broken heart, aching in its last 85 moments at the recollection of the loved and left, be
yond the sea; was it some, or all of these united, that hurried this forsaken company to their melancholy fate? --And is it possible that neither of these causes, that not all combined, were able to blast this bud of hope ?— 90 Is it possible, that from a beginning so feeble, so frail,
so worthy, not so much of admiration as of pity, there has gone forth a progress so steady, a growth so wonderful, an expansion so ample, a reality so important, a promise, yet to be fulfilled, so glorious? Everett.
56. The Progress of Poesy.
Woods, that wave o'er Delphi's steep;
Or where Mæander's amber waves 5 In ling'ring lab'rinths creep,
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
When Latium had her lofty spirit lost,
They sought, O Albion! next thy sea-encircled coast. Far from the sun and summer gale, In thy green lap was nature's darling laid, 20 What time, where lucid Avon stray'd, To him the mighty mother did unveil Her awful face; the dauntless child Stretch'd forth his little arms and smil'd.
This pencil take, (she said,) whose colours clear 25 Richly paint the vernal year ;
Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy!
Of horror, that, and thrilling fears,
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears.
Nor second he, that rode sublime
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
40 Two coursers of ethereal race,
Bright-eyed fancy, hov'ring o'er,
With necks in thunder cloth'd, and long resounding pace.
45 Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
Sailing with supreme dominion
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beneath the good how far--but far above the great.
I HAD a dream, which was not all a dream.
5 Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Of this their desolation; and all hearts