Page images
PDF
EPUB

serve him, to enjoy him, was with them the great end of existence. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity, through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on his intolerable brightness, and to commune with him habitually face to face. Hence originated their contempt for all terrestial distinctions. They recognised no title to superiority but his favour; and, confident of that favour, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets they were deeply read in the oracles of God. It their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels had charge over them. Their palaces were houses not made with hands; their diadems, crowns of glory which should never fade away. On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt; for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language-nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance belonged,-on whose slightest action the spirits of light and darkness looked with anxious interest; who had been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which should continue when heaven and earth should have passed away. Events, which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes, had been ordained on his account. For his sake empires had risen, and flourished and decayed. For his sake the Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist and the harp of the prophet. He had been wrested by no common deliverer from the grasp of no common foe.

Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men,-the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other, proud, calm, inflexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in the dust before his Maker; but he set his foot on the neck of his king. In his devotional retirement he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears. He was half maddened by glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the lyres of angels, or the tempting whispers of fiends. He caught a gleam of the beatific vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting fire. Like Vane, he thought himself entrusted with the sceptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God had hid his face from him. But when he took his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who saw nothing of the godly' but their uncouth visages, and heard nothing from them but their groans and their whining hymns, might laugh at them. But those had little reason to laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate or in the field of battle. These fanatics brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment and an immutability of purpose which some writers have thought inconsistent with their religious zeal, but which were, in fact, the necessary effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had subjected to itself pity and hatred, ambition and fear. Death had lost its terrors, and pleasure its charms. They had their smiles and their tears, their raptures and their sorrows, but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them stoics, had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and corruption. It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise ends, but never to choose unwise means. They went on their way crushing and trampling down oppressors, -mingling with human beings, but having neither part nor lot in human intirmities; insensible to fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain; not to be pierced by any weapon, nor to be withstood by any barrier. Such we believe to have been the character of the Puritans. We perceive the absurdity of their manners; we dislike the sullen gloom of their domestic habits; we acknowledge that the tone of their minds was often injured by straining after things too high for mortal reach. Yet, when all circumstances are taken into consideration, we do not hesitate to state that they were men, to whose bravery, honesty, and invincible devotion to right their country is indebted for some of the most precious privileges she enjoys.-MACAULAY.

THE PILGRIM FATHERS.

They sailed to America in the “Mayflower," and landed Dec. 22, 1620.

“Hail to thee, poor little ship 'Mayflower,' of Delft Haven: poor common-looking ship, hired by common charterparty for coined dollars; caulked with mere oakum and tar; provisioned with vulgarest biscuit and bacon; yet what ship Argo,'or miraculous epic ship, built by the sea gods, was not a foolish bumbarge in comparison! Golden fleeces or the like, these sailed for, with or without effect; thou little 'Mayflower' hádst in thee a veritable Promethean spark; the life-spark of the largest nation on our earth; so we may already name thé Transatlantic Saxon nation. They went seeking leave to hear sermon in their own method, these Mayflower Puritans; a most honest indispensable search; and yet, like Saul, the son of Kish, seeking a small thing, they found this unexpected great thing! Honour to the brave and true; they verily, we say, carry fire from heaven, and have a power that themselves dream not of."-CARLYLE.

The breaking waves dash'd high

On a stern and rock-bound coast;
And the woods, against a stormy sky,

Their giant branches toss'd;

And the heavy night hung dark,

The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moor'd their bark

On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,

They, the true-hearted, came;-
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,

And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come,

In silence, and in fear;
They shook the depths of the desert's gloom

With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang :

This the stars heard, and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang

To the anthem of the free,

The ocean-eagle soar'd

From his nest, the white wave's foam, And the rocking pines of the forest roar'd:

Such was their welcome home.

There were men with hoary hair

Amidst that pilgrim band :
Why had they come to wither there,

Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,

Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,

And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?

Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas? the spoils of war ? -

No'twas a faith's pure shrine.

Yes, call that holy ground,

Which first their brave feet trod !
They have left unstain'd what there they found-

FREEDOM to WORSHIP GOD!-Mrs. HEMANS. THE REASON WHY.

A CORNISH BALLAD.

A good sword and a trusty hand,

A merry heart and true;
King James's men shall understand

What Cornish men can do.
And have they fixed the Where and When?

And shall Trelawney die?
Then twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!
What, will they scorn Tre, Pol, and Pen,

And shall Trelawney die ?
Then twenty thousand underground

Will know the reason why!

Out spake the captain brave and bold,

A gallant wight was he,-
“ Though London's Tower were Michael's hold,

We'll set Trelawney free.
We'll cross the Tamar, hand to hand,

The Exe shall be no stay-
Go, side by side, from strand to strand,
And who shall bid us nay?
What, will they scorn Tre, Pol, and Pen,

And shall Trelawney die?
Then twenty thousand Cornish men

Will know the reason why!

And when we come to London wall

We'll shout with it in view,-
Come forth, come forth, ye cowards all,

We're better men than you !
Trelawney is in keep and hold,

Trelawney e'en may die;
But twenty

thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!
What, will they scorn Î're, Pol, and Pen,

And shall Trelawney die?
Then twenty thousand underground
Will know the reason why!”

Note 1.-Trelawney was one of the seven Bishops whom James the Second sent to the Tower.

2.-By pol. pen. tre. and an,

Ye shall know the Cornish man.
Thus, Polwhele, Penrice, Trelawney, Vivian.

THE DEATH OF WOLFE.

(1759.) Silently and swiftly, unchallenged by the French sentries, Wolfe's flotilla dropped down the stream in the shade of the overhanging cliffs. The rowers scarcely stirred the waters with their oars; the soldiers sat motionless. Not a word was spoken, save by the young general. He (as a midshipman on board of his boat afterwards related) repeated in a low voice to the officers by his side, Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard,” and as he concluded the beautiful verses, said, “Now, gentlemen, I would rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec !” But while Wolfe thus, in the poet's words, gave vent to the intensity of his feelings, his eye was constantly bent upon the dark outline of the heights

under which he hurried past. He recognised at length the appointed spot, and leaped ashore. Some of the leading boats-conveying the light company of the 78th Highlanders—had in the meantime been carried about 200 yards lower down by the strength of the tide. These Highlanders, under Captain M’Donald, were the first to land. Immediately over their heads hung a woody precipice, without path or track upon its rocky face. At the summit a French sentinel marched to and fro, still unconscious of their presence. Without a moment’s hesitation, M'Donald and his men dashed at the height. They scrambled up, holding on by rocks and branches of trees, guided only by the stars that shone over the top of the cliff. Half the ascent was already won, when for the first time “Qui Vive ?broke the silence of the night. La France,” answered the Highland captain, with ready self-possession, and the sentry shouldered his musket and pursued his round. In a few minutes, however, the rustling of the trees close at hand at length alarmed' the French guard.

They hastily turned out, fired one irregular volley down the precipice, and fled in panic. The captain, alone, though wounded, stood his ground. When summoned to surrender, he fired at one of the leading, assailants, but was instantly overpowered. The Highlanders, incensed at his vain valour, tore from his breast a decoration which he bore, and sent him a prisoner to the rear. In the meantime nearly 500 men landed and made their way up the height. Those who had first reached the summit then took possession of the intrenched post at the top of that path which Wolfe had selected for the ascent of his army. Wolfe, Monckton, and Murray, landed with the first division. As fast as each boat was cleared it put back for reinforcements to the ships, which had now also floated down with the tide nearly opposite to the point of disembarkation. The battalions formed on the narrow beach at the foot of the winding path, then they ascended the cliff, and again formed upon the plains above. There all was quiet. The Light Infantry, under Lieutenant Colonel Howe, had driven away the enemy's picquets. The boats plied busily. Company after company was quickly landed, and as soon as the men touched the shore they swarmed up the steep ascent with ready

« PreviousContinue »