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country, surrounded by all the forms of law, which hung witches at Salem; which affirmed the constitutionality of the Stamp Act, while it admonished “jurors and the people” to obey; and which now, in our day, has lent its sanction to the unutterable atrocity of the Fugitive-slave Bill.
Speech at Worcester, September, 1854.
This distinguished scholar, orator, and statesman was born in Dorchester, Mass. Of a wonderful memory, he committed all his rhetorically faultless orations and speeches, and declaimed them with the most studied precision of gesture. Whatever the subject or occasiou, we find the same grace and elegance of manner in style and speech. From the third volume of his works we make two selections.
DUDLEY OBSERVATORY, ALBANY, 1856.
WE derive from the observations of the heavenly bodies which are made at an observatory our only adequate measures of time, and our only means of comparing the time of one place with the
Our artificial timekeepers, — clocks, watches, and chronometers, — however ingeniously contrived and admirably fabricated, are but a transcript, so to say, of the celestial motions, and would be of no value without the means of regulating them by observation. It is impossible for them, under any circumstances, to escape the imperfection of all machinery, the work of human hands; and, the moment we remove with our timekeeper east or west, it fails us. It will keep home-time alone, like the fond traveler who leaves his heart behind him. The artificial instrument is of incalculable utility, but must itself be regulated by the eternal clockwork of the skies.
This single consideration is sufficient to show how completely the daily business of life is affected and controlled by the heavenly bodies. It is they, and not our main-springs, our expansionbalances, and our compensation-pendulums, which give us our time. To reverse the line of Pope,
66Tis with our watches as our judgments: none
Go just alike; yet each believes his own.” But for all the kindreds and tribes and tongues of men, — each upon their own meridian, from the arctic pole to the equator,
from the equator to the antarctic pole, the eternal sun strikes twelve at noon, and the glorious constellations far up in the everlasting belfries of the skies chime twelve at midnight, — twelve for the pale student over his flickering lamp; twelve amid the faming wonders of Orion's belt, if he crosses the meridian at that fated hour; twelve by the weary couch of languishing humanity; twelve in the star-paved courts of the empyrean; twelve for the heaving tides of the ocean; twelve for the weary arm of labor; twelve for the toiling brain ; twelve for the watching, waking, broken heart; twelve for the meteor which blazes for a moment, and expires; twelve for the comet whose period is measured by centuries; twelve for every substantial, for every imaginary thing, which exists in the sense, the intellect, or the fancy, and which the speech or thought of man at the given meridian refers to the lapse of time.
I had occasion, a few weeks since, to take the early train from Providence to Boston, and for this purpose rose at two o'clock in the morning. Every thing around was wrapped in darkness, and hushed in silence, broken only by what seemed at that hour the unearthly clank and rush of the train. It was a mild, serene midsummer's night: the sky was without a cloud; the winds were whoist. The moon, then in the last quarter, had just risen; and the stars shone with a spectral luster but little affected by her presence. Jupiter, two hours high, was the berald of the day; the Pleiades, just above the horizon, shed their sweet influence in the east; Lyra sparkled near the zenith; Andromeda veiled her newly-discovered glories from the naked eye in the south ; the steaily Pointers far beneath the pole looked meekly up from the depths of the north to their sovereign.
Such was the glorious spectacle as I entered the train. proceeded, the timid approach of twilight became more perceptiLle; the intense blue of the sky began to soften; the smaller stars, like little children, went first to rest; the sister-beams of the Pleiades soon melted together: but the bright constellations of the west and north remained unchanged. Steadily the wondrous transfiguration went on. Hands of angels hidden from mortal eyes shifted the scenery of the heavens; the glories of night dissolved into the glories of the dawn. The blue sky now turned more softly gray; the great watch-stars shut up their holy eyes; the east began to kindle. Faint streaks of purple soon blushed along the sky; the whole celestial concave was filled with the inflowing tides of the morning light, which came pouring down from above in one great ocean of radiance; till at length, as we reached the Blue Hills, a flash of purple fire blazed out from above the horizon, and turned the dewy tear-drops of flower and leaf
into rubies and diamonds. In a few seconds, the everlasting gates of the morning were thrown wide open, and the lord of day, arrayed in glories too severe for the gaze of man, began his state.
ADDRESS BEFORE THE NEW-YORK AGRICULTURAL
SOCIETY, 1857. A CELEBRATED skeptical philosopher of the last century — the historian Hume — thought to demolish the credibility of the Christian revelation by the concise argument, “ It is contrary to experience that a miracle should be true, but not contrary to experience that testimony should be false.” Contrary to experirience that phenomena should exist which we can not trace to causes perceptible to the human sense or conceivable by human thought! It would be much nearer the truth to say, that, within the husbandman's experience, there are no phenomena which can be rationally traced to any thing but the instant energy of crea
Did this philosopher ever contemplate the landscape at the close of the year, when seeds and grains and fruits have ripened, and stalks have withered, and leaves have fallen, and Winter has forced her icy curb even into the roaring jaws of Niagara, and sheeted half a continent in her glittering shroud, and all this teeming vegetation and organized life are locked in cold and marble obstructions? And after week upon week, and month upon month, have swept, with sleet, and chilly rain, and howling storm, over the earth, and riveted their crystal bolts upon the door of Nature's sepulcher, - when the sun at length begins to wheel in higher circles through the sky, and softer winds to breathe over melting snows, did he ever behold the long-hidden earth at length appear, and soon the timid grass peep forth, and anon the autumnal wheat begin to paint the field, and velvet leaflets to burst from purple buds throughout the reviving forest, and then the mellow soil to open its fruitful bosom to every grain and seed dropped from the planter's hand, — buried, but to spring up again, clothed with a new, mysterious being? And then, as more fervid suns inflame the air, and softer showers distill from the clouds, and gentler dews string their pearls on twig and tendril, did he ever watch the ripening grain and fruit, pendent from stalk and vine and tree; the meadow, the field, the pasture, the grove, each after his kind, arrayed in myriad-tinted garments, instinct with cireulating life; seven millions of counted leaves on a single tree, each of which is a system whose exquisite complication puts to shame the shrewdest cunning of the human hand; every planted seed
and grain which had been loaned to the earth compounding its pious usury, thirty, sixty, a hundred fold, — all harmoniously adapted to the sustenance of living nature, the bread of a hungry world ; here a tilled corn-field, whose yellow blades are nodding with the food of man; there an unplanted wilderness, great Father's farm, where He “who hears the raven's cry has cultivated with his own hand his merciful crop of berries and nuts and acorns and seeds for the humbler families of animated nature,- the solemn elephant; the browsing deer; the wild pigeon, whose fluttering caravan darkens the sky; the merry squirrel, who bounds from branch to branch in the joy of his little life, has he seen all this? Does he see it
every year and month and day? Does he live and move and breathe and think in this atmosphere of wonder, — himself the greatest wonder of all, whose smallest fiber and faintest pulsation is as much a mystery as the blazing glories of Orion's belt? And does he still maintain that a miracle is contrary to experience? If he has, and if he does, then let him go, in the name of Heaven, and say that it is contrary to experience that the august Power which turns the clods of the earth into the daily bread of a thousand million souls could feed five thousand in the wilderness.
One more suggestion, my friends, and I relieve your patience. As a work of art, I know few things more pleasing to the eye, or more capable of affording scope and gratification to a taste for the beautiful, than a well-situated, well-cultivated farm. The man of refinement will hang with never-wearied gaze on a landscape by Claude or Salvator: the price of a section of the most fertile land in the West would not purchase a few square feet of the canvas on which these great artists have depicted a rural scene. But Nature has forms and proportions beyond the painter's skill: her divine pencil touches the landscape with living lights and shadows never mingled on his pallet. What is there on earth which can more entirely charm the eye or gratify the taste than a noble farm? It stands upon a southern slope, gradually rising with variegated ascent from the plain, sheltered from the north-western winds by woody hights, broken here and there with moss-covered bowlders, which impart variety and strength to the outline. The native forest has been cleared from the greater part of the farm; but a suitable portion, carefully tended, remains in wood for economical purposes, and to give a picturesque effect to the landscape. The eye ranges round three-fourths of the horizon over a fertile expanse — bright with the cheerful waters of a rippling stream, a generous river, or a gleaming lake - dotted with hamlets, each with its modest spire; and, if the farm lies in the vicinity of the coast, a distant glimpse, from the high grounds, of the mysterious, everlastiug sea, completes the prospect. It is situated off the high
road, but near enough to the village to be easily accessible to the church, the schoolhouse, the post-office, the railroad, a sociable neighbor, or a traveling friend. It consists, in due proportion, of pasture and tillage, meadow and woodland, field and garden. A substantial dwelling, with everything for convenience, and nothing for ambition, — with the fitting appendages of stable and barn and corn-barn and other farm buildings, not forgetting a springhouse with a living fountain of water, — occupies upon a gravelly knoll a position well chosen to command the whole estate. A few acres on the front and on the sides of the dwelling, set apart to gratify the eye, with the choicer forms of rural beauty, are adorned with a stately avenue, with noble, solitary trees, with graceful clumps, shady walks, a velvet lawn, a brook murmuring over a pebbly bed, here and there a grand rock whose cool shadow at sunset streams across the field; all displaying in the real loveliness of Nature the original of those landscapes of which Art in its perfection strives to give us the counterfeit presentment. Animals of select breed, such as Paul Potter and Morland and Landseer and Rosa Bonheur never painted, roam the pastures, or fill the hurdles and the stalls; the plow walks in rustic majesty across the plain, and opens the genial bosom of the earth to the sun and air; Nature's holy sacrament of seed-time is solemnized beneath the vaulted cathedral sky; silent dews and gentle showers and kindly sunshine shed their sweet influence on the teeming soil; springing verdure clothes the plain ; golden wavelets, driven by the west wind, run over the joyous wheat-field; the tall maize flaunts in her crispy leaves and nodding tassels. While we labor and while we rest, while we wake and while we sleep, God's chemistry, which we can not see, goes on beneath the clods; myriads and myriads of vital cells ferment with elemental life; germ and stalk, and leaf and flower, and silk and tassel, and grain and fruit, grow up from the common earth; the mowing-machine and the reaper mute rivals of human industry - perform their gladsome task; the well-piled wagon brings home the ripened treasures of the year; the bow of promise fulfilled spans the foreground of the picture; and the gracious covenant is redeemed, that, while the earth remaineth, summer and winter, and heat and cold, and day and night, and seed-time and harvest, shall not fail.